Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 40

Chapter 40
"I don't know about this." Annie held the five-foot piece of pipe like an attacking snake.
"Those are the best weapons I could manufacture on short notice. A length of pipe makes a good staff." Maddie wrapped tape around the handle of a shorter piece of pipe as she talked.
Annie's face showed horror. "I've never trained with a staff. Tomás didn't allow us weapons, you know."
"Well, he's an idiot. You can do amazing things with a staff, but the simple technique is hit them hard with the end you aren't holding." Maddie smiled. "If they get too close, push them back with it."
"Some of the guards will have guns. They'll have some ammo, but they won't waste it. The Doc always has at least four people guarding the blood wine shipment. It's the Doc's best way of keeping people in line, since he's the one who knows how to create it." Rosa sighed. "It's amazing what addicts will do to get this stuff."
"We'll try to identify the ones with guns first. Anyone here ever use a sling?" asked Maddie. The other women shook their heads. "Okay, I'm pretty good with a sling, but not great. Jed is much better." Maddie looked determined. "We'll have to charge the guards and get their weapons if we can. We have surprise on our side."
Rosa pointed a finger at Maddie. "Surprise might be hard, mija. This shipment is routine for them, but sometimes local addicts try to steal the wine."
Maddie pursed her lips. "So they'll be a little vigilant. Well, we can plan all we want, but at some time you have to roll the dice. We'll have to be fast."
"Kill them?" Annie asked.
"Would they kill you?" Maddie replied. The women hesitated. "Then, yes, if you have to. I don't care." Maddie paused. "I'd rather they didn't report the theft for a long while, too. If you don't kill them, we have to tie them up."
"You're a little bloodthirsty," Annie said.
"No, just focused," Maddie retorted. "Well, maybe. But it's in a good cause." Maddie looked at the women. "You must have something to fight for - someone to fight for. Fight for your children. Fight for the chance to get to know them and watch them grow up."
Annie shivered, looking at the staff. "I still don't think I can do it."
Maddie crossed her arms, looking at Annie. "Then throw rocks at them after we start fighting."
"I can do that." Annie was close to tears.
Rosa spoke up. "I think I have a better idea."
"Let's hear it," said Maddie.
Maddie smiled as Rosa outlined her plan.
Annie laughed. "Now that I can do."

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 39

Chapter 39
August rode his cycle to the front of the Bellagio. Sam stepped forward to meet him outside the front doors. "You made good time, August." He looked up and down the street. "You by yourself?"
"You see anyone else, Sam?" asked August. He stood relaxed, facing Sam, his hands at his sides. "I see you have company, though." He nodded at the three guards who stood near Sam.
Sam shrugged. "Expecting you. Been tracking your progress since you entered the city. Nice cycle by the way. What happened to the one we found?" Sam laughed shortly. "Oh, never mind. I forgot. It developed a mechanical problem a few hours from Fort Collins."
August's face clouded. "And you know that how?"
"Because I'm an excellent mechanic and know how to fix things - or break them." Sam grinned widely. "I needed you out of the way to set my plan in motion."
August's mouth set tightly. "Where is Maddie?"
"She's safe, August," Sam answered.
"I want to see her." August made a move forward and the three vampires next to Sam moved forward as well, fierce looks on their faces and clubs held loosely in their hands. August cast them a sharp look.
Sam sighed. "She is safe, August. I never wanted her. I wanted you, and now you're here." He looked at one of the men next to him. "Bill, please go tell Terry he can quit watching Maddie. She's free to go."
Bill nodded and moved down the sidewalk.
"There. You satisfied?" Sam asked. He moved forward and motioned for August to hold out his hands for the handcuffs.
"No, Sam, but I guess I don't have a lot of choice, do I?" The cuffs tightened around his wrists.
"No, you don't," Sam answered, his face darkening. "I have to take you to the Doctor. He wants you bad, August. He's been hunting you for years now."
The four of them headed through the lobby of the Bellagio, August looking out the glass doors as they moved inside. Even he didn't see the figure in the shadows. August smiled to himself.
"Maybe you shouldn't have left your two goons upstairs, Sam," August said as the elevator descended.
"I've always liked you, August. This isn't personal." Sam waved the barrel of his pistol. "Besides," he sighed, "that's why I have a gun." The elevator doors opened and August stepped into the barren hallway.
August looked at the doors along the hallway, an involuntary shudder shaking his wide shoulders. "I spent a lot of time in these rooms, Sam," he said. "This isn't a good place."
Sam shrugged, his pistol aimed at August's heart as they continued down the hallway. "Not my problem, August. I'm supposed to deliver you." He motioned toward the far door.
"You don't have to deliver me, Sam. He's a madman, you know."
"Yeah, yeah, everyone knows that." Sam shook his head. "I thought about not turning you in, but he must have guessed I'd betray him, so he took my girl. We talked about leaving." Sam's eyes watched August. "He must have our room bugged, and I should have guessed that. So I turn you in, she goes free." A low growl escaped Sam. "And we're out of Vegas forever."
"I understand, Sam. Good luck on that." August turned the doorknob at the end of the hall. "Yeah, I've been here before," he said. "I never got to open the door myself, though."
August walked in, towering over Gary, who wiped orange powder from his fingers. "This is the guy?" He stood up from the desk. "He's not as big as Lawrence, so I don't know what the fuss is all about." He opened the inside door to the laboratory. "You might as well go in, Sam. He knows you two are here and he's waiting."
"Good day or bad, Gary?" Sam paused before he stepped forward.
"It's a bad day, Sam." Gary lowered his voice. "They've been getting worse, honestly. I don't know how much longer..." Gary coughed. "Never mind." He smiled awkwardly at Sam. "Good luck."
Sam nodded as he pushed August through the doorway, but looked back at Gary before entering. "Too bad about your ice cream warehouse, Gary."
Gary's face grew pale. "What?"
Sam reached to close the door behind him. "Yeah, a couple of the guys mentioned it. They were planning some sort of party."
Sam chuckled as he closed the door on Gary's worried face.

Next chapter, next Wednesday.
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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Haggai verse

I'm reading our family Bible - a Catholic Bible of intimidating thickness. I am currently in The Prophecy of Aggeus - better known as Haggai.

Haggai 1:9 struck me this morning.

“You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.

The New Testament is more clear in Matthew 6:33 - "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

It is a matter of priorities.

Doesn't God's statement in Haggai reflect the common perspective today? We ignore God - we ignore our fellow men and we run off to take care of our own business. The Hebrews did the same, and God acted in response to their selfishness.

As a Christian, I look to God for my guidance, and He is my standard - and my forgiveness for not meeting that standard.

As a human being, my focus should be on others. If our purpose in this world was simply to scramble to the top of the scrap heap and claim the largest pile of garbage, then life is futile. Helping others gives our lives meaning.

The Christmas season is over for now and it is a New Year. Find ways to help others in the weeks and months to come and enrich your own life in the process.

God bless you all in this New Year, and thanks for reading.

I do have one suggestion. If there is a retirement home near you, go and visit the people who live there, maybe during lunch in the cafeteria. Lift their hearts with an unexpected visit. Your heart will feel the difference also.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 38

Chapter 38
Maddie cinched her wide leather belt a notch tighter as she walked with Rosa and Annie to the front entrance of the hotel. She smiled at the sequins that stretched down the leg of her jeans and shook her blond hair. A good meal, a hot shower and a soft bed for the night made a world of difference. She tugged at the leather straps of her new jacket. "This sure is a lot of leather…," she muttered. "You sure we can't find any other working vehicles?" she asked Rosa.
"The Doc and his goons have the functional vehicles under lock and key, as well as the fuel," Rosa said. "He had years to gather them up and set up his little feudal kingdom."
Annie grinned. "It works, though. I mean, as long as we scavenge enough food to pay his 'tax' he lets us live in the building and leaves us alone."
Rosa's eyes narrowed. "Though people disappear often as well," she said. "The Doctor uses many for his experiments, we think."
"So you're the serfs and he's the master," commented Maddie.
"Not much different than it was before the virus, mija," said Rosa. "We all worked for someone, and got precious little in return."
Maddie agreed. "You're right, of course. The hardest lesson I ever learned was that security is an illusion and my government served itself instead of me."
Annie laughed. "I knew that as a little girl, gringa." She smiled to take the sting away from the words.
"Here goes nothing." Maddie stepped outside the front door and waited for the speaker to issue a challenge. Nothing happened.
Rosa stepped beside Maddie and pressed the small button under the speaker. "Hey, jefe! You there?"
There was no response.
Rosa's eyebrows knit together. "That's a little odd. Usually the doctor is watching someone, unless he needs the manpower."
"Won't they be suspicious of us leaving?" asked Maddie.
Annie reached into her purse, pulled out the lighter and lit a cigarette. "Nope. It takes a lot of work to scavenge the taxes. They let us come and go as we please." She blew the smoke into the air.
"Those will kill you, you know?" Maddie pointed at the cigarette.
Annie drew a lungful of smoke and blew it out. "Not any more, chica. We don't get sick and we don't get diseases." She grinned. "That includes cancer."
Maddie nodded, her mouth forming a small circle. "Oh. I never thought of that."
Annie shook the cigarette package, holding it out to Maddie. "Want one?"
Maddie laughed. "Not a chance, but thanks for the offer."
"So, you are free to go with us, and none will care." Rosa turned to Maddie. "It's your best chance to get a running vehicle, and frankly our best chance to get something that will easily pass through the gates of New Pueblo."
"Okay, then." Maddie looked at Rosa. "The truck is supposed to be ready at three?" Rosa nodded. "Then I guess we leave about two." She smiled at the two women. "We need to prepare."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Hunting August Moon - Chapter 37

Chapter 37
"So what's the plan?" Fae spoke as close to August's ear as she could reach, sitting on the back of the solar-powered cycle as it rolled down the highway.
August chuckled. "I thought you didn't believe in planning. I thought you only wanted to kick butt."
Fae rolled her eyes. "I'm not stupid, August. I know this is different than a bunch of zombies."
August agreed. "The mundanes will be okay, but the Transformed will be tough…"
"Oh, please. Everyone moves so slow. Even those fast zombies moved slow to me. How much faster is a vampire?" She giggled. "Besides, I'm impervious to harm."
August's voice grew serious. "Because a fast zombie couldn't hurt you doesn't mean nobody else can. You're being a little reckless, Fae."
"Reckless Fae. That's me."
August shook his head. "I'm serious, Fae. I don't know how many Transformed there will be. There might be quite a few like you, too."
Fae paused. "I guess I didn't think of that."
"Can you sense them or something?" August asked.
"Like what? Werewolf radar?" Fae screwed her face up. "I don't know. I doubt it. Maybe I can tell by how they smell or how their hearts beat or something…"
August steered around a hole in the road, the tall buildings of Las Vegas now visible in the distance. "I'm worried because you need more training," he said.
"Yeah, I guess I do." She brightened. "I'm good at throwing rocks, though. I used to bean the nasty dogs that came around our neighborhood. I was a good shot."
"Have you practiced shooting?"
"No. Dad didn't believe in guns. Nancy does, but she says there isn't enough ammo to practice with. She says to get good I have to shoot a lot. She did show me how to shoot, though. I was okay."
"So you can hit the broad side of a barn?" August grinned. "So let's assume that Sam has Maddie for some nefarious purpose, but she's also bait, probably for Jed." August rolled his shoulders, thinking aloud. "It might be worse than that. Sam told Lone Wolf he saw pictures of us, so it might be he wants Lone Wolf. Or me." August sighed and Fae could feel his heart speed up.
"Or both of you," Fae said. "Or he wants Maddie. She is really pretty."
"Sam's note said 'Bring the girl to me at the Bellagio.' That's stupid," observed August.
"Why is that stupid?" asked Fae.
"If you're my boss, you tell me to 'bring the girl' and you don't need to tell me where. How would his boss even know about Maddie? If he did know about Maddie and wanted her, he could have sent more than Sam to get her." August grunted. "No, it's a note written to get someone to go to the Bellagio and walk into a trap."
Fae was quiet for a moment. "So what are we going to do?"
August sighed. "I'm going to the Bellagio and walk into a trap."