Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 33

Chapter 33
"Keep your feet under your shoulders, Fae. Maintain your balance." Fae stepped back from August, her red hair damp with sweat. Each held crudely shaped sticks, wasters, modeled to simulate the swords they used in real fights. Fae had one in each hand, crossed in front of her, while August held a single waster relaxed at his side.
"The two swords Claire gave you when we left are similar to katanas, but with shorter blades. For someone your size, they are easier to manage."
The morning sun was high in the sky, already warming the earth. The dry, hard earth was flat and mostly free of debris. The warm wind blew from the east as their lessons progressed. "How about if I just attack you like I'd attack zombies?" Fae grinned at her teacher.
"A haphazard technique works fine against zombies or dumb animals, Fae, but not against other trained warriors. Learning to fight the coordinated attacks of skilled fighters is much better." He smiled at her. "So do you want to spar more, or shall we hit the road? The cycle finished charging a while ago."
Fae didn't answer, her eyes unfocused. She raised her face and sniffed the air, which now came from the west. "August, there's something coming this way." She cocked her head. "No, that's not right. Some things. And they're coming fast."
August belted his holster on. He checked the magazine. Fae strapped on her two swords in sheaths that crossed on her back.
"You know," she said, "I can draw these swords pretty well, but putting them back is a chore."
"You'll get used to it. After a few hundred times, it will be second nature." He reached over and pulled Ted's heavy club from the saddlebags on the cycle, hefting it. "I like this thing. I'm going to have to make myself one."
"It was nice of Ted to loan it to you." Fae drew one sword, and clumsily slid it back into the sheath, her face a picture of concentration.
"Yeah, he did say he'd come get it if I didn't bring it back," August said.
Fae looked at August. "They're here."
He nodded back at her. "I know. I can hear them now, too."
August fingered the butt of his pistol. "I think I need to keep the ammo for whatever Sam has planned in Vegas." He pulled binoculars from the cycle's bags.
Fae's eyebrows rose. "You think Vegas is a trap?"
August grunted. "Did you read the note we found? I know it's a trap." He shook his head, his hair moving across his shoulders. "Vegas is always a trap," he muttered.
"I can hear you, you know."
About a half dozen small dots appeared to the west of them, rapidly increasing in size. Fae watched the scantily clad human forms running toward them. August grunted again, looking at them through the binoculars. "Persistents. They are faster than normal zombies, Fae. Some are smarter than others. If they pause before they attack, then we know they plan their attacks."
"Well, they smell like regular zombies." Fae squinted, looking toward the oncoming creatures. "They dress like zombies, too. I count seven."
"I agree. I wish I'd brought my bow." He sighed. "Well, I can't carry everything." August put the binoculars back and moved away from the cycle. Fae followed.
Fae had both swords out, held loosely at her sides. She wrinkled her small nose. "What is it about zombies that make them go out of their way to attack us, anyway?"
"I don't know. I guess if they didn't fight us we wouldn't have much of a story to tell." Fae looked at August from the corner of her eye and shrugged.
The seven zombies moved as fast as vampires, their limbs a blur as their loping gait drew them closer to their prey. Fae and August stood a few yards apart, facing the oncoming group. When the zombies were within a dozen feet they paused, forming a semicircle facing the two humans.
"Well, Fae, that means..." Fae cut August's lecture short with a loud yell as she rushed the zombies, her swords slicing into the two on the right side, decapitating the first and slicing the second one in half at the waist. The blood flying through the air did not even hit the ground before she moved toward the next one. The others moved away from the fierce attack, eyeing the red-haired demon slicing at them.
August came up behind the zombies as they moved backward from Fae's attack. His short club crushed the skull of one as he swung forward. On the backswing, he swung toward another. It dodged, the club catching it on the left shoulder, turning its arm into a useless appendage.
The zombies backed away from the two attackers, their movements confused. Fae moved forward and cut the head from the one with the crushed arm. She and August stood side by side again, now facing three zombies, who eyed them warily.
"I was going to say they might move strategically," commented August. Fae laughed and shot forward toward the zombies again, her twin swords killing another.
One of the other two zombies slashed at Fae with lightning speed, ripping through the sleeve on her shirt. August shot forward and sliced its arm off, the blood pouring slowly from the open wound. The two zombies stumbled and ran back the way they came, disappearing into the distance, the armless one not slowed by its injury.
"Hey, look at this, August!" Fae felt along her torn sleeve to the skin beneath. "They couldn't even scratch me!"
August examined her arm. "Hemanth did say his skin was tougher. I see some light scratch marks, and those don't even look like they took off any skin." He touched her bare upper arm, wrapping his massive hands around it and squeezing."Your skin feels normal to me. Does it hurt?"
Fae grinned, barely able to keep from jumping up and down. "Not a bit! So I'm like a superhero or something. I can't even get hurt!" She danced around August. "I don't even need combat gear!" A giggle escaped her. "Hey, I could fight naked!"
August rolled his eyes. "Well, I suppose so, but I'd rather you didn't."
Fae tore the tattered shirt from one of the dead zombies and cleaned her swords. "Well, it would sure distract my enemies!"
August laughed as he bent down and used dirt to scrub the club clean. "Well, the human ones, I suppose. That's an interesting strategy, Fae."
Fae replaced her swords in her scabbards. "Strategy, shmategy. I say they come at us, we kill them." Fae laughed again. "Simple is better."
August shook his head as they moved toward the cycle. He looked at the dead zombies on the ground. "Well," he chuckled, "you might be right, but please keep your clothes on!"
~oo~

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

IF



If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too,
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:


If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master,
If you can think and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:


If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much, 

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!

By Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936). 

I kept this posted above my desk at college for years, and cannot recall how many times my tired eyes stared at it, hoping it would give me insight into my life. I don't know that it did, but here it is for someone else who might want to try.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cleaning Guns

I worked with a guy at Boeing that really knows a lot about guns. This is how he says to clean them, which is a lot simpler than I ever thought.

I had to post this so I would not forget it.

Thanks Brian O'Keeffe. You know your guns!

Well, this is going to sound funny. 

But while most people will use the usual gun cleaners like Hopps or Outers or Gunslick from all the gun shops & sporting goods store, I learned from a Master Armourer Gunsmith video (yes, it was VHS) that Simple Green works best, followed by warm water rinse & dried thoroughly, followed by a good oiling.

Word of caution here, do not mix dissimilar metals/finishes while immersed in Simple Green (I did not learn this from a video or reading, but by experience), Simple Green is slightly caustic and will cause dissimilar metals to react enough to mess up a gun finish when the dissimilar metal parts touch!

I have used this method of cleaning with great success on my semiautos & revolvers & black powder guns.

A Blessed Life



My thoughts interspersed with the Raw Notes from the sermon on Sunday, 27-November-2016.
The sermon encompassed Psalm 1. Here's the entire passage:

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper. The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.

The world can be an ugly place. Wickedness abounds, and we see evil all around us. Just look at the news of the woman kidnapped for three weeks and finally returned to her family, beaten, bruised and with her hair shaved off. As bad as the incident was, the ugly responses of people toward the family also astound me.

God calls us to a higher standard, one I cannot honestly meet all the time.

Yet, it's not what can I get, but what can I give? Sometimes it is because of ignorance. Some have never heard the name of Jesus. I do not expect the brightest of humanity to glow with Christianity, for I know many kind people who are not Christian. Yet, my Christian beliefs call me to give to others, and I do expect that from Christians, and I don't always find it.

If you say, "I know I want the blessed life, but I'm trapped."
Rom 6:11 In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rom 8:1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
Rom 8:39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is the Christian message. Surrender your life to Jesus. Jesus needs to be more than a wise teacher that lived 2000 years ago.

Delight is in the law of the Lord.

It's about others. That might be too big for some people. It might be too big for most people. Here's the beauty of it. Choose only one other, and make your life about serving that person. Choose Jesus, live your life to serve Him, and you will find yourself serving a host of others.

Zach (the Pastor) has a theory with hula hoops.
It does not say those who know the law, nor those who talk about the law. It says you will delight in the law of the Lord.
Four possible hoops to be stuck in:
  1. Some want to argue with God, fight against the law of the Lord. Jonah, at the first.
  2. Ignore the law of the Lord. Jonah below decks in the boat.
  3. Accept the law of the Lord. You fought and lost, so you accept it.
  4. DELIGHT in the law of the Lord.

What does DELIGHT look like?
On His law he meditates day and night. Read your Bible! We are and become what we think. If we meditate - think - about things that are holy, we tend to move toward doing the things that are holy.

You know it's true. You get in the most trouble when you think about doing something bad. You ponder it, roll it around in your mind - and then do it. Here's a hint. Stop the thought before it becomes a deed.

You can become blessed, a tree planted next to a stream of water. Connected to life. Yields its fruit in its season, its leaf does not wither, and all that he does prospers.

John 10:10 I have come to give you life, and to give it abundantly.

Some people don't want to be a blessing - they simply want to be blessed.

The most blessed people I know are the ones who seek to be blessings. Aim for that.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 32

Chapter 32
Maddie was glad to get out of the Vegas sun as they stepped into the cold interior of the small building to the north of the Bellagio. From the outside, it looked like a simple maintenance building. The door opened to a room where old plastic chairs sat against the white paint. An abandoned grey desk with a beat up swivel chair sat near the single door in the opposite wall.
Sam remained sullen and silent.
"That's quite the shiner." Maddie grinned at Sam.
He scowled at her and walked to the door, opening it toward him. A stainless steel elevator faced them. Sam pushed the single button.
"Your fault," he growled. "Agnes and I were doing fine until you piped up." The elevator opened and Sam motioned for Maddie to enter, following her. He reached over and pressed the single button on the elevator panel.
"So you think. While you were taking your little nap on the floor Agnes and I had a nice chat. I let her know what you've been up to." Maddie looked around at the stainless box, noting the plastic panel in the corner that concealed a camera. She furtively tested the handcuffs as the elevator doors opened on the new floor.
Sam touched his bruised eye. "Well, I have to say my girl has quite the punch," he said proudly. He glared at her. "I wish I'd shot you in the desert."
Maddie walked down the hallway, noting the pristine white concrete walls and reinforced doors on either side. "If I don't get the antidote to Jed in time, you'll wish you shot me." Her voice was low and intense. A shiver went down Sam's spine in spite of himself.
"Jed will be fine. He'll shake it off." Sam cleared his throat. "There isn't an antidote for the poison."
Maddie stopped walking, staring at Sam. "You played me? You lied to me?"
Sam shrugged again, glancing away from her. "Well, that shouldn't surprise you." He looked up and glared back at her. "And you're the one to talk! What's with the derringer trick?"
Maddie couldn't help grinning. "Yeah, that was a good one." Her face sobered. "But make no mistake, Sam. If Jed doesn't survive that poison, I'll hunt you to the ends of the Earth. Nothing will stop me from finding you and killing you." She snarled at him. "And it won't be slow dying either."
Sam growled back at her. "Yeah, if you ever get out of here. It's the doorway at the end." He pointed at a solid-looking metal door at the end of the hall, the one with a doorknob instead of an electronic key slot.
"So what are these other doors?" Maddie indicated the side doors as she moved forward.
Sam shrugged. "Holding cells, mostly. Empty right now, I think, but you never know. This whole place gives me the creeps."
"We can agree on that, Sam," Maddie said.
Sam reached for the doorknob, pausing. He looked at Maddie. "Whatever you do, don't stare. The Doc is real touchy about people staring."
Sam turned the knob and moved aside for Maddie to enter. She walked into the tiny room, dominated by another grey military desk, this one covered with papers and two computer monitors. Maddie heard the whine of a computer hard disk. A short and very fat man, perhaps in his late twenties, sat behind the desk, typing on a keyboard one finger at a time.
"Just a minute," he muttered, "my operating system is acting up again."
His white lab coat was dotted with an orange powder. The green t-shirt he wore had a guitar and drums on it, with the name of an obscure band Maddie never heard of. His white skin glistened under the fluorescent light as he typed, his thick glasses reflecting the screen.
Maddie waited a second, trying not to stare. "You don't look like what I imagined, Doctor."
Sam snickered, and the fat man hit the enter key with a flair and stood up. "Oh," he said, his eyes behind the thick glasses traveling from Maddie's feet to her head, pausing appropriately for an adolescent male. "I'm not Doctor Davenfeld." He tried to puff his chest out but the fat jiggled. "I'm Gary, the Doctor's main assistant. His hands, to be more precise."
Sam interrupted, irritated. "I think the Doctor is expecting me, Gary."
"He's expecting you." He pointed at Sam, his face grim. "But he isn't expecting her." He pointed at Maddie. "That's not who you're supposed to bring, Sam."
"So you're not the Doctor." Maddie's voice was quiet.
Gary's face reddened. "I see you staring at me," he accused, scowling at Maddie. "Just because I have a glandular condition doesn't make me a freak."
"I wasn't staring, Gary. My little sister had the same problem, so I understand the pain you have to endure from people who judge you by your looks." She inclined her head toward Sam.
Gary face brightened. He self-consciously wiped his palm on the back of his crumpled cargo shorts, holding it out for Maddie to shake. "I'm Gary. I'm the Doctor's assistant. I help him with his experiments."
Maddie reached forward with her manacled hands. Shaking Gary's hand was like holding a bag full of warm putty. "I'm Maddie, and I don't want to be one of his experiments."
Gary dropped his fat hands to his side. "Oh, you won't be. I'm afraid those experiments failed, so the Doctor isn't interested in more women vampires." He raised his eyebrows. "You are a vampire like the others, right?"
Maddie nodded then addressed Sam, her eyebrows knit together. "So, if the Doctor doesn't want to see me, I guess I should be going." She held her hands out, handcuffs raised.
"Not a chance. He'll still want to see you, I'm sure." Sam ignored her hands.
"No, no he doesn't." Gary shook his head, his face apologetic. "When you sent word you were coming he said some bad things. He said she's only another, uhm, woman… well, he didn't use that word…" Gary's face reddened as he glanced at Maddie.  "And he doesn't care that you brought her here. He wants the big guy. He wants her…" he pointed at Maddie, then realized his forefinger was orange and wiped it on his shorts. "He wants her put in the same building as the other ones."
"Oh, c'mon, Gary. She's not like the others…" Sam gestured with his hands.
Gary interrupted. "To Dr. Davenfeld she is. Like I said, he's not interested in that research any longer." He lowered his voice, whispering to Sam. "It was a dead end. He's pretty angry about it, too. I wouldn't mention it if you see him."
"Well, at least let me talk to him and explain…" Sam started to push to the inner door, but Gary stepped in front of him, blocking him.
"No, that won't work. Dr. Davenfeld was very specific. He doesn't want to see you until you have the big guy – uhm, March."
Sam sighed. "August. It's August, Gary."
Gary's eyebrows raised and his eyes widened. "Really? No, that's not right because it's getting cooler outside…"
"The big guy's name is August!" Sam shouted. Maddie could hear his teeth grinding and a low growl starting in his throat. A long moment passed and Sam took a deep breath. "Okay, the Doc will want to know that I found the Indian that helped free August in the first place."
Gary shuffled his feet, looking down at the floor. He looked up at Sam. "Wait here. I'll be right back."
Gary stepped through the door. It slammed closed behind him.
Sam sat on the edge of the desk, arms crossed, his face like a thundercloud. He tapped his foot and bit his lower lip.
Maddie leaned against the wall, her hands in front of her. She watched Sam, saying nothing.
The door swung open and Gary stepped back into the room, pushing his thick glasses higher on the bridge of his nose. He looked at Sam. "Dr. Davenfeld isn't interested in the Indian, either. Not anymore. He says bring him the big guy." He shrugged. "Sorry, Sam."
"Fine! I'll go make arrangements to get August." He pushed his right forefinger into Gary's flabby chest. "The big guy. And then I'll bring him here, so be ready."
Sam turned to leave. Gary's voice cracked as he added "Uh, Sam! You better make it soon. He's having a bad couple weeks and now you're sort of the current…"
Sam waved his hands in the air. "The current what? Target of opportunity?" He opened the door and pushed Maddie back into the hallway. "I should never have come back," he muttered, closing the door behind him.
As they walked back to the elevator, Maddie looked at Sam and smiled sweetly. "Not going according to plan, is it?"
"Shut up," growled Sam.
Maddie pointed back toward the closed door. "So what's with Gary? He doesn't seem too bright."
Sam shrugged. "The Doctor needs help doing experiments and Gary seems perfect for the job. I think the Doc keeps him around because Gary has absolutely no imagination and isn't a threat to him at all. And even if he isn't creative, Gary has the most amazing memory…" Sam stopped talking and nearly stopped walking, his mind suddenly elsewhere.
"Well, Gary is the fattest man I've seen in years. I didn't even know there were any fat people left in our post-apocalyptic world." Maddie paused. "That's why you didn't want me to stare?" she asked curiously."His condition?"
Sam snorted. "Are you kidding me? Do you know how much junk food was in Vegas when the Z virus hit? I think Gary found it all and squirreled it away. He has his own warehouse full of the stuff. Rumor has it he also has a refrigerated warehouse full of frozen pizzas and ice cream." He shook his head. "No, I didn't want you to stare at Dr. Doctor. He hates that."
"Why? Is he fat, too?"
Sam said nothing for a moment. "Something like that. If you ever meet him, don't stare."
Maddie entered the small elevator. "So that orange powder on Gary's coat?"
"Some sort of cheese puffs, I'm sure. Those things last forever." The elevator moved smoothly upward. "What was that about your sister?"
"A lie. She was as thin as a rail. Died in the first month." Maddie paused, looking at Sam. "Why don't you release me, Sam? It's obvious your Doctor isn't going to let you go. He's more likely to kill you." The elevator door opened and they got out, the dusty, empty steel desk looking lonely in the small room.
Sam sat on the edge of the desk, looking at Maddie. "I could. Maybe I should take Agnes and go elsewhere." His eyes lost their focus for a moment. "We might be able to pull it off, even though the Doctor keeps us under observation." Sam shook his head. "It doesn't matter, now, Maddie. I'm pretty sure August is coming to get you. Once I deliver him, the Doc will give me what I want and let us leave. And if he doesn't, he'll still be distracted by August, so we'll have a better chance of escaping this town." For a moment, Sam's face looked sad. "I used to love this town, and I had a real good thing going for a while."
Maddie sighed. "Too bad, Sam. I think this will end badly for you."
Sam's gaze hardened. "Come on. It's time for you to meet the mothers of Tomás's children." He opened the outer door, and the blazing sun blinded them for a moment. "Then I'm rid of you, and glad of it."
~oo~

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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Author commentary on Chapter

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