I Am Still Here

I am still here.
Still breathing.
My heart still beats.
So I know
I am still here.

My fingertips still feel everything.
The flow of the air,
The slightest change in heat,
Be it warmer, or colder.
Every detail.
Of everything.

I hear the words you speak.
I hear the rustle of leaves,
Blowing in the wind.
The emotion in your words.
That little tint of color.
Though you try to hide it.
Squelch it.

I still see the details in your eyes.
The things you think
No one sees.
The hidden pain.
The hidden anger.
The hidden fear.
The desperation.
In the lines around your eyes.
In the color and its subtle shifts.

Though I lack the words.
Lack the ability to tell you.
To describe it to you.
It’s all there.
As it’s always been.

And again.
As I have throughout my life.
I look to God.
The universe.
And I ask,
As I always have.

Make me numb.
Turn my heart to stone.
Blind these eyes, so I see nothing.
Burn these fingers,
These hands,
Till no skin is left.

So I don’t have to feel.

Make me numb.

And even as I plead.
Even as my soul cries out.
I know.

The universe,
Sadly whisper once again.

I know.
I understand.
If I could not see the despair in your eyes.
Could not hear the desperation in your voice.
Could not feel the subtle tremble in your hands.

I would never see the magic in your eyes
Every time you smile.
I would never hear the passion in your words,
Your voice,
When you speak of the many things
You love.
I would never feel the warmth,
The tenderness,
Of your touch.

And when I scream in frustration,
And my own silent desperation,
I hear life whisper in my ear.

“Wait. Just wait.
And the storm will pass.
You will see.
You already know.

And I am still here.

#ThursThreads Week 242 : No Life In His Soul

Michelle’s neighbor promptly arrived from work at 1720 hours local time. The first thing he did was change out of his work clothes, and into camo cargo jeans, a t-shirt with a dragon on it, and a pair of Dallas Cowboys socks. He grabbed a Diet Coke, sat down on the sofa, turned on the Motor Racing Network, grabbed one of the tablets off the coffee table, and went to Porn Hub.

“It’s good to be home,” he took a sip of his soda. “Work sucks.” As NASCAR news played in the background, he picked a video, “I’d like to do this to Becky at work,” he mumbled as he watched his selected video.

His wife got home at 1848 hours, put a pizza box on the coffee table, kicked off her shoes, and sat next to him. “You heard Michelle got murdered, right?” She woke her tablet, found the news story about Michelle, and showed it to him.

“Good riddance.” The little man went on a verbal tirade about transgender people not being real people. Being sick. Being dangerous. Needing to be dealt with. “I’m glad she’s dead! I wish they all were!”

I nodded. “Little man has no life in his soul.” I’d recorded everything.

At 0430 the next morning, the little man’s car exploded, its remains burned in red, orange, yellow, and blue for hours, His tirade got shared 11 million times on the internet that day, and even aired on CNN.

And I continued my hunt.

250 Words
I’m not on Twitter you know.

This is part 3 of the Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 of #ThursThreads. It’s Week 242 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

#ThursThreads Week 241: What Did You Do?

I parked in the hotel parking lot, and went to my room. Inside, I stripped off my street clothes, which left me in the form fitting unitard I wore inside my armor. I touched the 3 dimensional sensor on my case. It would only respond to my fingers, only if they were still attached to me, and I remained fully functional, and was alone. If anyone was within range of its sensors, even I couldn’t open it.

I pressed a second sensor inside the case, and my armor assembled itself around my body. As it did, I vanished. Inside my armor, I spoke to my car, “What’s the first name on my list?”

“Michelle’s next door neighbor. Same structure.”

“Two home structure?”


I walked to my car. “Take me there.” It complied. On the way I studied the information my car had found on the neighbor. “What did you do to Michelle, little man? What did you do?”

Once there, I walked to the front door, scanned for a lock, inserted the dynamic key and paused for a second as it took the form of the required key, and unlocked the door. I stepped inside, and closed the door behind me.

Then, I waited, and watched. I had time. “How did you feel about your transgender neighbor, little man?” I waited for him to come home from work. Then, I’d learn what I needed to know. And he’d never know I’d been there.

243 Words
I’m not on Twitter you know.

The Armor 17 story I started in Week 239 continues this week. It’s Week 241 of #ThursThreads, hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

#NaNoWriMo 2016, Week 1 Clip.

We had no idea what it was, we’d never seen anything like it. We’d found it by accident, after Hurricane Alexander. That storm had flooded the entire coastline. A wall of water had washed into the area below. It wiped the farm town that had been there from the map. It was gone. An entire colony of ant workers, hundreds of thousands of them. Gone. Over 600 butterflies had drowned in their sleep, in their homes.

It had all washed away in a wall of water sixty monarchs high. We’d come to investigate, to search for any survivors, and found nothing.

Except for a polished slab of stone. It wasn’t natural, we knew that immediately. And it was huge. Ten monarchs across by three deep. We’d examined it, studied it, and reported it. They government sent a team to dig it up, find out what it was. That had been six months ago.

We still had no idea what it was, only that it was the size of a building, and solid, polished granite. With strange symbols carved into one side. And it wasn’t alone. We’d found a half dozen of them already, and the search tunnels the ants had dug indicated the area was full of them. There might be hundreds of these building sized stones down there, buried under the dirt.

It was a complete mystery to us. What were they? Where had they come from? Who had made them? How old were they? No one knew. Hell, we didn’t have clue.

The six we’d uncovered were in a rough line. Two had been found face down, for lack of a better way of describing it, with their etchings on the bottom. Fallen buildings. Except, they were solid. Not hollow. Nothing could have lived in them.

The tunnels indicated several lines of the stones existed. They were arranged, side by side. Then, a gap the size of an entire town, and another row. Then another gap, and another row.

#ThursThreads Week 239: Nothing Has Been Done Yet

I looked at the picture of the victim. She’d been a pretty girl. She’d been tied to a telephone pole, gagged so she could make no sound, then slowly murdered. Painfully murdered. All her pretty had been taken away. “Has anything been done on this case?” I asked, though I knew the answer.

“A transgender victim?” Officer S. Morgan sat at her desk and brought up the case record on her screen. “No.” She looked up at me. “Nothing has been done yet.” I watched her turn pale. I knew why. After all, I am the violence.

I didn’t ask where the crime scene was. I didn’t have to. The computers in my armor, and in my car, already had informed me. “Nothing?” I looked at her, and watched her grow more pale. “How long had she been dead before she was found?”

“It…” Officer Morgan grew more pale as she looked at me. “Seventeen hours.”

“So, she was left on display as a warning?”

Officer Morgan couldn’t speak.

I walked out of the precinct office, and returned to my car. Once there, I pressed a button on the dash, “17. Going fishing.” I turned on the car, and headed to the hotel I had elected to stay in while in town. As I drove, I had the car search publicly available information about the victim. I’d start with the people who lived near her, in the same building. I’d end with the police force.

Something would be done. Very soon.

250 words.
Mark Ethridge (I’m not on twitter)

I’ve decided to experiment with an Armor 17 story starting with Week 239 of #ThursThreads. As always, #ThursThreads is hosted by Siobhan Muir. Please go read all the entries in this week’s #ThursThreads. They are always fun to read.

#DiceGames3 : “Anywhere?” she murmured, “I can go anywhere?”

I know. I know. I can manipulate matter at the subatomic level. I can literally turn lead into gold by moving around protons, neutrons, and electrons. So, you ask why I would do this. Why would I care what a child on some backwater planet in a dwarf galaxy somewhere in a dark void in the universe dreams about, and wishes for.

Obviously, you haven’t lived too long. Far too long. You don’t know what that wish means.

I heard her. I’ll call it one night, as if when I heard her matters. I heard her when the world on which she lives had rotated so that she was on the side facing away from the start that world orbited. So, yes. I heard her one night.

“I wish I could see the universe.”

It’s a wish I’ve heard a trillion children make. At least a trillion. Isn’t it a wish all children make? To see the universe. To travel among the stars. To see other worlds, other people, other life forms, other galaxies. To know they aren’t alone in this universe. To make new friends.

To grow.

I’ve frequently wondered why adults no longer make such wishes. Even children know such wishes can’t come true. They know about the vast distances between the stars, about how many millions of years it takes to move from one galaxy to another. But they wish anyway. What happens to them as they grow that they stop making wishes?

I heard her one night.

“I wish I could see the universe.”

Did I mention she’d been bullied in school that day? I’d tell you the bully’s name, but it’s in a language you’ve never heard, and a frequency range your ears can’t even hear. He pulled her hair. So hard it hurt. And she cried. And the other children laughed. “Crybaby! Crybaby!”

She made a wish.

I heard.

She was surprised to see me. I can well imagine that. I don’t exactly look like her people look. For one thing, I’m only six feet tall by our standards of measure. She was 12 years old in her people’s time, and stood seven feet tall by that same measure. You would have thought her ugly. Kind of like a walking tree, with moss on it. In truth, she was a very pretty girl among her people.

She’d never seen anyone who looked like me.
“Who are you?” Of course she had to ask that. Doesn’t everyone?

“No one of any importance.” I’d learned long ago to speak in the language of the other person. After all, not everyone learned American English from a people that died out a couple of billion years ago.

“How did you get here?”

“The same way I can take you wherever you wish to go.” I waved my arm, and images of other worlds formed an arc through the air of her room. “Just ask. Wish. And I’ll take you anywhere.”

“Anywhere?” she murmured, “I can go anywhere?”

“You made a wish, didn’t you?”

She nodded.

And that, young ones, is how the adventure started.


“It was one thing for them to attack our camps, and bases. That we could live with. That we knew was coming.” John Paul looked up at the stars, and the moon, “But, they’ve been attacking more and more. Even places where we aren’t.” He raised his hands to God, “Why? Please, tell me why?”

God didn’t need to answer because John Paul knew the answer. No life was sacred to Satan’s minions. They’d do anything, kill anyone. They’d lash out blindly, like they had.

“We did our part, Father! We did what we had to do. We cleaned them out. We got rid of them. The devils. The demons. Those disguised as humans, the transgender monsters, the faggots, the vile Muslims.” It took everything he had not to cry. “We even put the animal niggers back in their place!” His heart was breaking, and he knew it. “And then they attacked.”

John Paul had made the long journey home from Norfolk. He’d received the phone call two weeks earlier. “You need to get here.” It was a call all his brothers in God’s Army knew too well. The call no one wanted to hear.

The bare, burned ground was hard, and cold against his knees, even through his pants. He hadn’t been able to stand since he’d arrived, however many hours ago that had been. He could make out the charred remains of the carriage of his mobile home. Along with pieces of his truck, scattered about.

His home was gone. His wife. His child. Gone. All that was left was ashes.

John Paul couldn’t imagine the nightmare it had been. The absolute silence of the darkness before the dawn, when even the crickets were silent, and the birds were all asleep. Everyone asleep, resting, getting ready to work the next day. He’d told her not to help. Told her it was dangerous to make the chemical packets the drones delivered against God’s enemies. Told her Satan’s minions would come for her, and all the neighbors.

He couldn’t imagine the sound of the sky being torn in half as the unmanned aircraft had flown just above the trees, faster than any human possibly could, with its computer guidance system guiding it, and adjusting its course 100,000 times a second. He wondered if his family even heard the sound.

John Paul couldn’t imagine the flash of light as the drone sent a video guided missile into his home. He couldn’t imagine the sound of the trailer’s roof being torn asunder as the missile collided with it, then passed through it, like a bullet through the side of a soda can.

And he couldn’t imagine the sound, the light, the smoke, the fire, the shock wave, when the missile then exploded.

“I pray they died in their sleep, Father.” He stared at his hands as they shook.

“I have nothing left, Father.” He wouldn’t cry. Only weak men cried. Only Satan’s minions cried. He heard the words of God once more, “There is a time for peace, and a time for war.”

He stayed on his knees. It didn’t matter how long. He couldn’t move.

It wasn’t until the sun began to rise that he knew what he had to do. The same thing that had happened in other strongholds of Satan’s armies. Where brave, Christian soldiers, men of God, did what had to be done to defeat Lucifer. He felt his strength returning.

“There is something at work in my soul,” John Paul looked at the sun as it rose above the horizon. “And you know what it is, Father.” He looked to the heavens once more. “Tell my family, my only child, and my beloved wife. Tell them I’ll be with them soon.”

He placed a call to his superiors. “I want to hand deliver a package to Norfolk, Virginia.”

“You know the procedure,” was all the response he received, before the line went dead.

It wouldn’t be long before he crossed back into Virginia, and returned to the Norfolk Naval Station. But this time, John Paul would carry a package in his backpack. When the time and place were right, he’d explode that package. He’d die in the explosion. He knew that.

The explosion would spread the contents of the package, and kill everyone demon within 50 miles of him, when he died. And each demon would die horribly, in agony, as their cells began exploding. One at a time.

It’s what Lucifer’s children deserved.


Mark (I’m not on twitter anymore)
745 words

This is my entry into the Monster Mash 2016 writing challenge over at Ink After Dark. Thanks to Ruth Long, Cara Michaels, and Laura James for hosting the challenge. Please, by all means, visit Ink After Dark, and read the other entries in Monster Mash 2016.