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THE FAITHFUL, THE BETRAYED, THE BELIEVERS

Eschatos by Leoncio-Harmr

Eschatos by Leoncio-Harmr

THE FAITHFUL, THE BETRAYED, THE BELIEVERS
by E.C. McMullen Jr.
Copyright 2014

“It doesn’t make sense,” my grandchild said.

She watched the devout make their way toward the last church.

“This,” I said, “is the aftermath of Christianity.”

“But why would anyone go when they know there is no God?”

“They aren’t going for God,” I said, coughing on the word. “During the war, when the Vatican was ransacked and its libraries were exposed, the entire world discovered the complete lineage of lies they had kept. The creation of God. The creation of Jesus, Satan, even the Prophet Mohammed. The exposure of the Catholic lies exposed all Christian, Jewish, and Islamic lies.

Which left the faithful adrift, the war crumbled in on itself, and people all over the world -“

“I know all of that Grandpa,” she interrupted irritably. “So why would anyone still go to church?”

“To understand the present you have to know its history,” I said, and cleared my throat. “Churches, Synagogues, and Temples by the millions were destroyed. Beautiful art and antiquities were lost forever in the aftermath of betrayed rage.

There are no gods and likely never were.

Except for this one church, Souls of the Sea. The betrayed came for it too: To plunder its treasures and obliterate it from the earth. Then in the sight of the gathered rapists, the great silver cross above the entrance lit up with an intense white fire. As now, the cross could be seen through night and storm from a hundred miles away. And it burned with an intensity that neither melted the metal or cracked the stone.

Just as now, clouds encircled the Souls of the Sea, the ocean embraced it, and engineers with their technology came to measure the dynamic energy so focused upon it.”

“What was it?” my granddaughter whispered.

“Lost Souls. The condensed energy of the faithful who died yet had no afterlife to escape to. The destruction of so many churches throughout the world made them flee to the ones that remained, until only this one was left. The combined life force of thousands and thousands of years of billions upon billions of souls with nowhere else to go, forever fueled by an omnipresent sun, all stream here to infuse the Souls of the Sea.”

She took that in for a moment as we walked toward the church and watched the pilgrims who slowly, with measured step, move around us.

“So all of these people go to church and don’t believe in god?”

“Yes,” I answered. “These people aren’t god’s Faithful, they have no use for faith or god. These are Believers. They believe the proof that our souls exist. They all come to here to visit and pay respect to their living dead.”

My grandchild’s hand shrunk back in mine, as if she was ready to pull away and flee.

“Why have you brought me here, Grandpa?” she stuttered, panic edging into her voice.

I spoke calmly with gentle assurance.

“I heard your Mother call to me last night,” I said. “She yearns to see you, and it’s time you met her.”

Looking at the church with new knowledge, my grandchild was reluctant with fear, but there was also curiosity in her eyes. I stopped to give her a moment. She swallowed, took a deep breath, and held herself bravely. Only my breathing rattled in the silence. She looked up at me.

“You won’t leave me?”

“I won’t leave you in the church,” I said. “But I won’t be leaving the church with you.”

Her features were at first confused, then stricken.

I nodded.

END

Story by E.C. McMullen Jr.

Artwork Eschatos by Leoncio-Harmr on deviantART


image descriptionWant more? Get my book
PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection
A trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller – plus bonus stories
Featuring: Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem!
By E.C. McMullen Jr.
Now on sale for $2.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, Smashwords, WHSmith, and more).

Also look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the 2013 anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt and available in Paperback and eBook.

MULTIMEDIA

“Multimedia is any combination of text, graphic art, sound, animation, and video that is delivered by computer.”
– Tay Vaughan, Multimedia: Making It Work, 1993

The author at the Zapotec ruins of Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico

The author at the Zapotec ruins of Mitla, Oaxaca, Mexico

For over two decades, the United States, then the rest of the world, entered the era of Internet Multimedia. This Information Age, which came into its own ten years ago with the advent of high-speed Internet (and thus online videos became a practicality) is talked about, used, monetized, but understood by few.

Any one of us can rattle off the handful of companies that grew huge by offering multimedia. They are the ones who either understood it, or guided its creation.

Most companies that fall outside of the big five want to grasp multimedia, but they don’t understand it.

Of course Multimedia is attractive because you, me, and nearly everyone else uses it (on our laptops, tablets, iPhones and Androids). We use it like a Driver uses a car. So businesses large and small want to get their share of the pie and sell it, like a Salesperson sells a car. But many small businesses (and quite a few large ones) don’t understand it they way they need to: like a Mechanic understands a car.

What holds these businesses back is, they don’t know how to hire that mechanic.

As graphic artists have expanded into multimedia, they find themselves growing right out of a job market that desires them (and many are creating their boutique businesses).

For Example -

Small business High-End press and print shops want a piece of the multimedia pie.

Advertising and Marketing agencies want a piece of the multimedia pie.

Magazines and Newspapers, awkwardly attempting the money hemorrhaging transition to an profitable online business model, want a piece of the multimedia pie.

Even cable companies and local television stations – who should be on top of this better than anyone – want a piece of the multimedia pie as their customers abandon premium Cable TV for streaming Internet (a service cable companies also provide, yet are having difficulty monetizing to meet their aging business model).

There is an awful lot of pie there and it is growing. And so many companies are watching their clients leave them for that pie, when there is only one thing stopping such companies from offering it.

The Problem -

In a recent conversation, a friend in the high tech Internet industry revealed (to his own surprise) the problem.

Companies are thirsting for people who have such multimedia knowledge.

Then they read the resumes of such people: People who grasp multimedia are proficient in Graphic Art as it relates to Print.

- BUT -

Such people are also proficient in front-end Web Design.

- BUT -

Such people are also proficient in theatrical, stage, Commercial, and/or Broadcast Video.

In today’s reality, these are all the foundations of a multimedia artist.

And such a large umbrella of proficiency frightens the companies who want to hire multimedia artists, because the management of such companies don’t understand what they want. To the hiring manager of a company who needs multimedia to survive, the resumes of multimedia artists appear unfocused: they’re all over the place! They aren’t experts in anything!

Such companies don’t understand that any person who can seamlessly, repeatedly, transition their work from Print to Broadcast to Internet, and make money doing it, IS a focused expert. One with a formidable set of skills in today’s marketplace.

And more: they are an Adaptable Focused Expert. You won’t find such people still stuck using 2008 technology.

Prove it -

Major software companies like Adobe, get this. Adobe is the Number One selling software used by professionals in Print, Broadcast, and Internet. The Adobe software suites reflect this. The companies that are in Print, Broadcast, and Internet buy Adobe products.

Yet even though companies buy multimedia suites from companies like Adobe, they are still wary of someone who understands how to use the full multimedia suite.

Adobe Gets It.

The biggest magazine for web designers is named, aptly enough, Web Designer.

In addition to the latest updated articles on coding in HTML5, CSS3, JQuery, PHP, and WordPress (as you’d expect), Web Designer also contains a constant trove of articles on graphics: textures, creating gifs pixel by pixel, site design, RWD (I hope you or your department head already understands – not just knows, but understands – what RWD, Foundation5, and Bootstrap is. Your “unfocused” multimedia artist does), and why the RICG community group* is as vitally important to cross platform multimedia graphic artists as the JPEG, MPEG, GIF, and PNG development groups.

And…? Web Designer tells web designers what they need to know in online Multimedia.

In short, Web Designer Gets It.

Does your department head not simply know of RWD, but understand its use and value? Can he or she easily explain why you do and don’t want it and if you do or don’t need it, based entirely on your specific desires for your business?

The Information Age is for the User. The Multimedia Age is for the Provider.

Multimedia is smoothly grafting a new hybrid of the former stand alone businesses of Print, Broadcast, and Internet into one. You can successfully choose to remain a stand-alone vendor of a specific part of that, but you cannot hope to remain ignorant of what your new function requires of you, and expect to carry on, business as usual. Why?

Because You cannot stop multimedia. And the reason you can’t is because You and nearly everyone else wants it. Companies that resist it, are already finding themselves fading away. Former giants are evaporating (Alphagraphics) and many others are already gone forever. In fact, just by reading this paragraph, several former household names have probably already passed through your mind.

The Peter Principle

Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull’s THE PETER PRINCIPLE

Print – Broadcast – Internet

Perhaps your company is just one of these things. Maybe you are a high-end print shop and will never be a broadcaster or run a major website. You believe you need someone who isn’t a Jack-of-All-Trades, but has a thorough, focused, in-depth knowledge of Print.

Yet you also want to take orders online. So you need a dedicated IT department to handle your online presence, security, and orders. Again, you want your IT employees to have a thorough, focused, in-depth knowledge of the Internet.

That calls for helpful online videos that will guide potential customers through the myriad of services you offer, so they won’t get lost or look elsewhere. Videos that look and sound professional, with professional, camera friendly actors.

Yet you also need your focused IT department to understand how videos stream online, so they won’t bog down your servers or create long load times for the potential client. Website visitors (like you and me) are notoriously impatient when it comes to waiting for a website to appear in our browser.

So you hire your Print expert(s), who doesn’t understand Internet or Broadcasting. You hire your IT expert(s), who doesn’t understand Print or Broadcasting. And you contract out a vendor to shoot a few instructional, helpful videos.

Now who do you hire to make all of these different experts work together as a cohesive unit?

Who at your company is going to make sure that you have the servers (or hosting service) that will handle the videos?
How will you insure that your high definition videos will smoothly stream on any platform and device (if you don’t know what I mean by platform or device, you are in seriously bad shape already. The sharks have spotted you and are heading your way)?
How are you going to make sure that your client’s coveted company color in print (Pantone 485 C), will translate to compressed RGB jpeg, gif, and/or png  in Internet? And then further translate to lossy compressed animated RGB mpeg in video, crushed down further for quick loading?

How will you hire someone like that to orchestrate your departments, smoothly mediate all issues (and foresee them), when your thought process is fixed on the idea that such people are unfocused, Jack-Of-All-Trade non-experts?

It’s a well-known, yet still tragic failure of companies to hire experts for their departments, then have that group of experts managed by someone who has No Idea of how their own department works. In fact, it is such a flawed ingrained corporate policy in business: a failure that resonates with so many people in the workplace, it has become the joke in popular movies and TV shows (OFFICE SPACE [1999], THE OFFICE [2001 - 2013, televised in both the UK and the US], THE IT CROWD [2006 - 2013, televised in both the UK and US]), and the long running comic strip DILBERT.

Like Laurence J. Peter and  Raymond Hull’s 1969 book, THE PETER PRINCIPLE: Why Things Always Go Wrong, or Scott Adams’ 1996 book, THE DILBERT PRINCIPLE, the fact that a problem is recognized and laughed about does nothing to end its existence.

There are Those  Who Get It, But Their Success is Not Contagious -

Amazon, without a single brick and mortar bookstore, grew and ate the lunch of every other single bookstore nationwide. Major bookstores that should have known better, and had plenty of years to adapt to the new business model, collapsed. And these bookstores collapsed all the while Jeff Bezos was telling anyone who would listen, what he was doing and how he would go about doing it.

Then Amazon went on to music stores and succeeded in selling millions of CDs at a time when people were buying MP3s: Selling millions of DVDs at a time when people were streaming more.

Amazon got it where the experts, Tower and Borders didn’t, and Barnes & Noble still does not. Unfortunately for the management of Barnes & Noble, they’ve spent well over a decade, and three CEOs, looking at What Amazon does and How they do it, and Why they do it – yet B&N still Does Not Get It. What a waste of over 125 years of expertise in the book selling business. For some time now, Amazon’s success allowed them to expand beyond books into music and video and more. Meanwhile B&N shut down their store’s music and video departments and recently ended their eBook reader, NOOK (largely beaten by Amazon’s Kindle).

Netflix gets it where the experts, Hollywood Video and Blockbuster did not.

Even brick and mortar stores like the burgeoning Frys and Microcenter gets it where experts like Circuit City and Computer City didn’t and Best Buy still does not.

Radio Shack, which had the jump on all of them and sold the same products, has been mismanaged for so long it is going the way of Blockbuster and Best Buy (Radio Shack stock down 40% so far this year – 2014 – and has or is closing 1,300 stores by July of 2014).
money.cnn.com/2014/06/10/investing/radioshack-earnings-close-stores

Still, with all of this evidence – every bit of it – so many small and large business leaders watch the slow demise of these former giants of the corporate world, and don’t recognize that they are circling the same drain.

Meanwhile, Print shop Graphic Artists who have expanded their work into motion pictures or commercial broadcast, and Internet, aren’t resting on their laurels. HTML5 and CSS3, in combination with PHP and JQuery, are taking bite after bite out of Java, JavaScript, and Flash. The method of presenting multimedia is changing (and always will). Adobe Flash gurus are adapting to the change or becoming dinosaurs.

You cannot take today’s reality of Multimedia and retrofit it to the archival legacy of a 1980s, 1990s, or 2000s business model. Attempting to do so is gutting your company, even while you watch your competition succeed.

If you are one of those business owners who desire multimedia, yet fear that Multimedia professionals are unfocused, you need to understand where the focus really is. Quickly.

Adapt to Change.

*doubtful that changes of any importance to the Internet or multimedia, could be wrought by a mere “community group”? You should know that the W3C is now working with the RICG community group, and Tab Atkins Jr. of Google is one of their specification editors.

- E.C. McMullen Jr.
Portfolio
IMDb page
Amazon page


image descriptionWant more? Get my book
PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection
A trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller – plus bonus stories
Featuring: Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem!
By E.C. McMullen Jr.
Now on sale for $2.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, SmashwordsWHSmith, and more).

Also look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the 2013 anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt and available in Paperback and eBook.

VIKINGS vs WATER DRAGON

Viking-seas

Viking Seas by Santos Garijo

VIKINGS vs WATER DRAGON
Copyright 2014 by E.C. McMullen Jr.

Norse Captain: “Ha, HA! Foul sea creature! We have you know!”
Water Dragon: “YOU MEAN YOU HAVE ME, NOW ?”
Norse Captain: “Huh? … Oh! Yes! We have you now!”
Water Dragon: “YOU’RE 300 YARDS AWAY AND NO ONE IS ROWING. HOW, PRAY TELL, DO YOU HAVE ME NOW?”
Norse Chief: “The Great Wizard enchanted our swords and axes to pierce your flesh and claim your heart! Ha! HA!

( All the Norsemen ): “Ha! HAA!!!”

Water Dragon: “Tcha!  WHAT GREAT WIZARD?”
Norse Chief: “Gustafson!”
Water Dragon: “WHOA! THE GUSTAFSON?”
Norse Captain: “The Same!”
Water Dragon: “WOW THAT’S PRETTY IMPRES… NO WAIT A MINUTE. WHAT AM I THINKING? YOU POOR FOOLS, IN YOUR SIX SHIELD DINKY DINGHY, CAN’T EVEN BUY A WARSHIP. YOU CAN’T AFFORD THE GREAT WIZARD GUSTAFSON!”
Norse Chief: “We honored the price of our-“
Norse Captain: “Let me handle this.”
Norse Chief: “You’re the Captain.”
Norse Captain: “We vouchsafed his magics with the liberty of our village!”
Water Dragon: “YOU IDIOTS ENSLAVED YOUR VILLAGE TO A GREAT WIZARD? FOR MAGIC SWORDS?!?
Norse Captain: “Ah! But what Gustafson really wants are a Dragon’s teeth and heart!”
Water Dragon: “NOW I GET IT.”
Norse Captain: “So come at us, Dragon! And meet thy doom this day!”

( All the Norsemen ): “Ha! HAA!!!”

Water Dragon: “NO.”

( Moment of shocked silence. The dragon’s reaction was clearly never considered )

Norse Captain: “Whhu- Wha- What?”
Water Dragon: “AS IN: NAH, NOT INTERESTED.”
Norse Captain:
“I’ve challenged you! You can’t refuse a challenge!”
Water Dragon: “YOU’RE NOTHING BUT BEARDED MONKEYS FLOATING IN A WOODEN HAT.
Norse Chief: “Whoa! Hey now!”
Water Dragon:THERE’S NO CHALLENGE.”
Norse Captain: “Buh – buh –  But you must! You ha- have to! The wiza…! Whew! …er… Fight you COWARD!”
Water Dragon: “AND IF YOU WERE A THREAT, THAT MIGHT MEAN SOMETHING. LATERS.”

Water Dragon vanishes beneath the waves.

Norse Captain: “No wait!”
Norse Chief: “Come back!”

The Norse captain stares at the air where the dragon was. He looks at the water where the dragon vanished. His magic sword drops to the deck of the dinghy as he sits down hard.

The little boat rocks alone on the waves of the sea. The Norse captain stares out at nothing.

Clouds pass overhead. Finally,

Norse Warrior 1: “It’s not coming back.”
Norse Warrior 2: “We are Fucked!”
Norse Chief: “Uh… belay that.”
Norse Warrior 2: “We are *SO* fucked!”
Norse Chief: “I said-!”
Norse Warrior 1: “We have nothing to BARTER!”
Norse Warrior 2: “The wizard will ENSLAVE us!”
Norse Warrior 1: “With the rest of our Village as soon as we RETURN!”
Norse Chief: “Well. Ah…mm…  yeah. …Yep. Any ideas, Captain?”
Norse Captain ( looks blankly out over the rolling, empty sea ): ” . . . “
Norse Chief: “Captain?”
Norse Captain: “Anyone speak French?”

END

Story by E.C. McMullen Jr.

Artwork, Viking Seas, by Santos Garijo.


image descriptionWant more? Get my book
PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection
A trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller – plus bonus stories
Featuring: Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem!
By E.C. McMullen Jr.
Now on sale for $2.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, Smashwords, WHSmith, and more).

Also look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the 2013 anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt and available in Paperback and eBook.

AND THE AWARD GOES TO…?

UDMPAwardsIn 2009 I worked as Production Designer and Art Director on the Science Fiction Horror Thriller webseries, UNIVERSAL DEAD. It starred Doug Jones, Gary Graham, and D.B. Sweeney.

It was written and produced by my bro and long-time Feo Amante’s Horror Thriller alumni, Kelly Parks, and released as a webseries in 2010, where it became an Internet hit.

Eventually, Kelly had it re-edited into a short film, and it began sweeping film festivals, finally winning the 2013 winning the LAWebfest, and competed in the Marseilles, France Worldfest (representing the U.S.), later that year.

Now UNIVERSAL DEAD is again nominated in a film festival, and the San Diego Film Awards have nominated me for Best Costume and Makeup.

You know, I’ve been so focused on helping UNIVERSAL DEAD  become a TV series or feature film, I never gave any thought to the idea of my winning an award.

Yet now that I know I’m nominated? I want to win!

If you’re in the San Diego area and plan to attend, IF  I should  win, my award will be accepted by Kelly Parks.

News by E.C. McMullen Jr.


image descriptionWant more? Get my book
PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection
A trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller – plus bonus stories
Featuring: Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem!
By E.C. McMullen Jr.
Now on sale for $2.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, Smashwords, Sony, WHSmith, and more).

Also look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the 2013 anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt and available in Paperback and eBook.

SATAN’S SINISTER PLAN!

Inspired by the real world news of -
Video: Harlem Church Angry At Obama For Unleashing “Homo Demons”

Satan’s Sinister Plan!
Copyright 2014 by E.C. McMullen Jr.

ATLAH

via JoeUnseen

Satan: RELEASE THE HOMO DEMONS!
Minion: “You mean all of them? Is it the Apocalypse? So soon?”
Satan: EH? Oh… No, no. Just some local mischief.
Minion: “Still, that’s a tall order. Any particular ones, sire?”
Satan: Uh… I don’t know. What have we got?
Minion: “We have pretty much everything sire. Every shape or hybrid of shape, and every color of the spectrum, from traditional red up to and including black and white.”
Satan: BLACK. Demons always look cool in black. It’s got that Matrix vibe. Tcha! Red is so 20th Century.
Minion: “Black it is, sire.”
Satan: “NO WAIT! I’m trying to scare black women. Hmm… better make it White Homo Demons.
Minion: “White it is sire.” *CLAP!* CLAP!* “Attention, Damned: Release the White Homo Demons!”
Satan: Eugh! Is that what they look like?
Minion: “White as fresh snow, sire.”
Satan:But they’re so … pale!
Minion: “Well, yes. Indeed sire.”
Satan: And… HELLS BELLS! What are they DOING? Why are they  … Oh NO!  They’re WHIGGERS!
Minion: “You Damned fools! You released the White HOMEY Demons!”

THE END?

Story by E.C. McMullen Jr.

ATLAH sign Photograph via: Joe Unseen.


image descriptionWant more? Get my book
PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection
A trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller – plus bonus stories
Featuring: Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem!
By E.C. McMullen Jr.
Now on sale for $2.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook, Sony Reader, and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, Smashwords, Sony, WHSmith, and more).

Also look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the 2013 anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt and available in Paperback and eBook.

THE RIDE OF YOUR LIFE

Photo from My-Walls.org

Photo from My-Walls.org

THE RIDE OF YOUR LIFE
Copyright 2012
by E.C. McMullen Jr.

With apprehension, Caleb looked away from the Oldster, to see the rising dust cloud over the mountain’s rocky crest. The horsemen were coming for him. How could they raise such dust on a rocky mountain?

Shaking his head, Caleb forced this question down. No distractions. Focus.

He was standing on a mountain. Rock! Could he really be feeling the ground shake from those things, those horses hoofbeats?

Damn it! His mind fought to betray him with needless, needling questions. He had to focus on the here. The Now. The Moment.

It was the horses with the Oldster. They pawed the ground in anticipation. It was their impatient hooves that rumbled the mountain.

“Your wish is now, Caleb,”  the Oldster intoned with deep gravity.

His wish: Caleb was closer than ever before to his wish. The very presence of the Oldster proved this.

Caleb’s wish would come true: Immortality. But the Oldster grants the wish with a price. Not all are worthy of their dreams.

“At the edge of the river,”  The Oldster said, “await the spirits of your wish, your eternal youth: the feline and canine, in a balloon.”

Caleb turned his head to look into the valley, and sure enough, a hot air balloon; bright colorful dot on the rugged desert landscape, was inflating.

“Your will, Caleb, and only your will alone, will get you there in time. Allow anything to slow you down, anything at all, and your life will leave without you.”

Caleb’s rational mind had so many questions. His brain wanted to pick apart everything the Oldster said, everything that was happening, and analyze it right down to the minutia. But that was his mind’s attempt to blur the moment, to procrastinate. No time in Caleb’s life ever required more concentration than now.

“Choose which horse you’ll have for your vitality, as you and the horse will become one.”

All the horses were eager to run, but only one was looking right at Caleb as if she knew him.

“Every minute you ride will be a year of your life, and the horsemen of time will chase you down, as surely as the storm of death behind them.”

Caleb looked back to the mountain’s crest. Of course. It wasn’t the dust of  riders. That was a desert storm.

Caleb chose the horse that chose him. She took the bit without hesitation. He swung up and over her back, and with merely a nudge of his bare boots into her flank, she shot off so fast she nearly left him behind.

Down the mountain they went, watching only the switchback trail rushing toward them. The Horse had a mind of her own, and was quick to react and act, so Caleb didn’t need to steer her clear of the treacherous dangers of the path, he only needed to hold on.

The balloon ahead was upright and expanding. It would be rising soon. He had to reach it before it was beyond reach.

As fast as they rode, sound was still faster, and Caleb could hear the thunderstorm, and the horsemen behind them. They weren’t gaining, but they weren’t falling behind either.

Yet through all of this, every bit of it, Caleb was a man of science. His rational, curious mind reeled with unanswered questions and demanded that he stop and analyze everything. Pick it apart, and figure it out.

It told him that he was really still back in a dry river bed, dying from exposure and dehydration. No immortal ‘Oldster’ had come to save him. All of this was a sunstroke hallucination.

His horse, which he hadn’t bothered to name in his rush, began to slow from exhaustion. The sound of his pursuers grew louder.

“No!”

The riders were fast approaching. Caleb  was pursued by no ordinary cowboys, but heatwave hell furies riding out of the mouth of morning’s dark from a Lewis Carroll nightmare.

‘The teeth that bite, the claws that snatch!’

With fear’s icy panic, Caleb brought all of his knowledge to the fore. Instead of questioning anything, he forced himself to answer everything.

“Impossible physical feats are achieved because we believe!”  He howled to the sky. “Stamina and endurance because we believe!”

A part of his mind, as if a distant observer, dismissed his words as cornball.
‘You’re smarter than that,’  it sneered.

Yet Caleb shouted down his doubts even louder.

“The perfect Omnivore can be created by nothing more than a few thrown switches on the spiral ladder!”  he shouted.

Caleb’s yelling on the outside beat down the negative nattering voices within.

“Immortality is possible!”  Caleb roared. “It’s locked within our DNA!”

His horse ran faster, making time.

‘Think,’  his doubting side told him. ‘This is fantasy. Supernatural.’

“All reality is natural by definition!”  Caleb crowed. “So this too is real!”

Now was not the time to question, but do. With immortality there would be time enough to research all of this: pull the veil of mystery from the truth.

Somehow, some way, with someone, the primitive creature that was the Oldster, made a deal for immortality. Eventually it outlived everyone it ever loved, then everyone it ever knew. Then everything it ever knew, and eventually its own species.

It saw another dominant species rise and thrive and eventually die. It saw humanity rise and thrive. Everything was eventual. Even the loss of hope: Caleb felt it with the Oldster. There was no human definition for the word ‘Alone’ as acute as the very presence of the Oldster.

Just learning what it endured in a life that spanned millions of years had, according to the creature, put every other human off the idea of its proffered immortality. They chose instead to welcome death.

But not Caleb. His desire of knowledge, to see what was on the other side of everything, understand it, know it, and create from it, was unquenchable.

“My thirst is unquenchable!”   Caleb shouted.

His doubting side whispered ‘Failure!’

Thunder from behind. The lightening strikes and rider’s hooves shook the very air in shockwave.

Caleb laughed out loud at his terror, as Horse and Man, they moved swiftly across the valley floor, toward the river and balloon.

So concentrated was his focus, that sometimes he felt as if it was he, running across the valley floor on two legs. Then, just as swiftly, he could feel all four of his hooves galloping across the desert.

“…you and the horse will become one,”  the Oldster said.

Caleb laughed again and they gained speed. Yet as Caleb looked toward the balloon, he saw it skirt a bit across the ground. It was so light now, that a mere errant breeze could move it – and it moved farther away.

Soon it would be rising beyond his reach.

Caleb kicked his boot heels into his flanks – the horse’s flanks – their flanks.

“Faster! Faster! Faster!

So it was that Caleb, man and horse, rode furiously toward water and clear blue skies: as eternal youth slowly rose before them, and death thundered from behind.

END

Story by E.C. McMullen Jr.

Photograph: Photographer Unknown. Stock image available for free at My-Walls.org.

Music: Ghost Riders In The Sky. Performed by Johnny Cash. Penned by Stan Jones.


image descriptionWant more? Get my book
PERPETUAL BULLET: A Science Fiction Collection
A trove of previously published Science Fiction Horror Thriller – plus bonus stories
Featuring: Weird Sex, True Love, Monsters and Mayhem!
By E.C. McMullen Jr.
Now on sale for $2.99 and available for your Android Tablet, iPad, Kindle, Nook,  and every other “E”!
Find it at (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, !ndigo, iTunes, KoboBooks, Smashwords, WHSmith, and more).

Also look for my story Cedo Looked Like People, in the 2013 anthology, FEAR THE REAPER, edited by Joe Mynhardt and available in Paperback and eBook.

Oh Yeah?

ECI got so upset with them, that I went to the grocery store and spent $180 dollars!

Then I returned to the hotel, hotwired their car, spun it in circles a few times in the parking lot, and drove it straight into the hotel lobby, smashing right through the glass doors.

Then I pelted container after container of cake frosting at the car until it was covered, then garnished it with sprinkles.

I bet that’s the last time they’ll ever call ME crazy!

- E.C. McMullen Jr.

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