Words, An Anthology of Short Writings

 Words, An Anthology of Short Writings is a book of short stories, memoirs and poems written by eleven members of The Highland League of Writers. It is a                              collection of all genres which will intrigue readers of all passions.

Book Editor

Charles “Chuck” Schwend.

Contributing authors and story titles are:

John W. Smith (His real name, honest) – Big Jump; Coma; In The Evil World…There Are No Rules; Treasure Hunt.

Charles “Chuck” Schwend – The Wilding.

Destiny Fritz – Real Men Wear Shawls.

Mike Warden – A Ticket To Far Enough; Patagonia; The Balloon Fair.

Jeanette D. Hammel – A Valentine Remembered; Autumn Afternoon; Jack O’Lantern; Leaf-Life; Shaw Kinship; Springtime; The Answer; Valentines.

JoAnn Jenner Bockenfeld – A Letter To Kaylee; Milo’s Day; Summer Memories; What I Learned From My Daughter.

Kat Perry – Dark Thoughts; His Choice; If I Was; The Calm.

Margaret Robinson Holthaus – Eight Legged Monsters; Pond’s Freckle Cream; The Power Of Love.

Sandra Kohler Kohlbrecher – Capturing The Art Of Fly Fishing; Memorable; My Quest; One Of Fifty-Two; Pickin Times; The Guessing Game; The Light; Write And Read.

Bobbie Anderson – A Holistic Holiday At Sea; Pyramid Poetry.

Luis R. (L.R.) Azure – Lessons; The Magdalen; Two Spirits

 

The Wilding

By Charles Schwend

 

The rabbit is just a few strides ahead, trying to lose me running through the underbrush and around obstacles. Leaping over the tangle of undergrowth I outsmart him. Leaning over to grab dinner, I hear a loud crack and feel a terrible pain across my back. Falling to the ground, my consciousness slowly slips away as I hear, “You damn fool, why did you have to shoot him?” I see a hunter approach and everything turns black.

Pain coursed over my back. My eyes slowly open. A fireplace is burning nearby throwing a blanket of heat over me. Trying to stand was useless, restraints kept me close to the floor. Water and food is within my reach, if I crawl. I feel safe, but from what I did not know, and I was frightened from the unknown.

The outside door slams open. A large hunter enters carrying firewood, and then puts the wood into a box next to the fireplace.  Looking down at me, he approaches warily. Squatting down he held out his hand and said, “How are we doing, big guy? My name is Jeb. I think you are going to be just fine. You just need a little TLC. Now don’t struggle, you’ll tear your wound open. Keep your eye on me while I fix myself something to eat. You’ll see, I’m not going to hurt you.” Getting up he starts a fire in a wood burning stove, then fried meat and heated beans.

The smell of the frying meat makes my mouth water and I look over to the food and water. I crawl over and wolf down the food in the pan, and then drink my fill of water. The pain seems to have lessened and my nervousness left, but I still kept watching the huge man for any sudden or threatening motion. Exhaustion takes me into another sleep.

I wake to soft spoken words. “Okay, time to get up. You’ve been sleeping too long. You need some exercise or you’ll get stiff.”

Opening my eyes, I see the man with long hair. His heavy beard parted in a smile. He is wearing a coarse weave shirt with suspenders and loose fitting pants. His boots were made for the outdoors. He slowly lowers his hands to me, his eyes looking into mine. I do not feel threatened and let him slowly unbuckle my restraint. “Come on, get up. Try to stand.” He slowly followed along side of me while I stagger around the room.

I make a full circle around the room, back to my pallet, where I again collapse from exhaustion. My restraints are not put back on and I will be able to move more freely. The food and water was refreshed, but I am too tired to go to it. The huge man went about his chores looking at me occasionally while he talks in his soft and nurturing tone. Once while I was lulled into a deep sleep, I woke to the gentle touch of his hand on me. It was a reassuring touch and I drifted back to sleep, feeling safe.

My sleep is restless, with dreams of danger and the call of the wild. Several times I wake thinking I hear someone calling me. I would lie still, listening intently, but could only hear the nightlife outside. I wake early, hours before sunrise, and slowly walk around the room softly, easily saw everything with my excellent night vision and investigate all that interest me. I stand by the man’s bed studying him while he slept. I could have left then, but I want to find out more about this caring man. After viewing everything in the room, I return to my bed on the floor and waited for daybreak. While waiting for the man to awake, I flex my muscles, stretching them to regain my strength. The wound is starting to knit and I am careful not to over extend my activities.

The sun is starting to burn the treetops when Jeb stirred. He looks over, noticed I was staring at him. “Looks like someone is feeling better this morning. Are you up for a walk outside?” I rise to my feet and carefully follow him to the door and outside.

Jeb sat on a chair and motioned me off the porch with a wave of his hand. “Go on, do your thing now. I may not be here to let you out when the urge comes.”

I walk down the two steps out into the grass. I find a suitable spot and relieve myself. I walk around taking in the sights, sounds, and smells. Satisfied with the area, I return to the porch to sit and watch Jeb rock in the chair.

Later that day, I follow Jeb do his outside chores. I take particular interest in the chickens, but he closed the door when entering the coop and they did not see me. Jeb came out the door with a small bucket of eggs. “Not for you.” He said. Those eggs look pretty good to me. I could feel my mouth water, and thought I could taste the eggs. We went back to the cabin. Jeb went in with the eggs and I stayed on the porch slumbering in the warm sunshine.

The closing door wakes me and Jeb is bringing my food and water out on the porch. I wonder if I lost my bed by the warm fireplace. The daylight is turning to dusk when Jeb opens the door to go inside. I stand still watching him to see what I should do. “Come on.” He said. I answer with a wag of my tail.

Later he brings my food and water back inside. I lick his hand to let him know I am happy with him. I follow him to a chair where he sits and examines my wound. “You’re healing nicely. Now I have to come up with a name for you. What do you think about Wolf? That’s a good name since you’re a wolf, Wolf.” Jeb chuckled, then petted me obviously pleased with himself on naming me wolf.

Weeks past, my wound heals and strength returns. Jeb feeds me and I guard the cabin at night and warn him of approaching animals or dangers during the day. We become a team with trust in each other. I still enjoy watching the chickens, but Jeb is diligent about closing the coop door. I try to let him know when he is taking eggs back to the cabin that I really like eggs, but he is very careful not to let them in my reach. I also like the chickens, but he knows better than to let the coop door open and he let me know that the chickens are off limits to me. There is no doubt that he knows, that I know, that there are no chickens for me.

A little past sunrise, I am sprawled on the porch, guarding the door, when a new man came out of the woods. He had a pack of skins on his back and carrying a gun. There was something about him that I do not like. My growl alerts Jeb and he opens the door. The new man hails Jeb like he knows him. I do not care, I still dislike the man. Approaching the porch he said, “I see you nursed that wolf back to health. I heard about it at the post. You must not have a brain in your head.”

I look at Jeb, asking him with my growls, what he wants me to do. “Easy Wolf. Everything’s Okay.” “Jake, you don’t have to concern yourself with Wolf. He’s the best friend I have. It’s you I have to worry about. I hear you’ve been making bad kills and not running your traps like you should. I hear you’re letting the beaver rot in your traps. That’s not the way you were taught.”

I look at the new man, see his face flush like the evening sun. His lips snarl in a language I understood.

“No one can talk to me like that. I’ll kill that damn nuisance animal now. You don’t control my life and what I do.” The new man swings the rifle from his shoulder toward me.

Jeb yells, “No.” Stepping forward, Jeb trips, falling down in front of me. I hear a crack. A noise I heard once before. Blood spatters onto my face. Before Jeb stopped rolling, I leapt at the new man. My lunge knocks the rifle from his hands, and throws him to the ground. My teeth clamp onto his throat in a death grip. Snorts and gasps come from his nose and mouth. His arms flail about my body, but he can not dislodge my grip. Soon his body starts shaking, then stills.

Crawling from his chest, I go to Jeb. His is on the ground not moving. His breathing is shallow and steady. I lick his face trying to wake him. Finally his eyes open. Jeb rolls over and I see blood on the front and back of his shoulder. “Wolf, help me into the cabin.” Jeb gets to his hands and knees but can not stand up. Throwing his arm over my back, he tests my strength by putting some of his weight on me. The weight is more than I have ever carried and I am surprised I can hold him up. Together we crawl into the cabin, over to his bunk, and I help him up and in. Putting my paws on the bed rail, I try to lick his wound, but his shirt had shifted and is covering it. Lopping to the sink, I pull down the towel still wet from the morning wash and give it to Jeb. He slowly unbuttons his shirt and carefully wipes his wound clean. He can barely hold his eyes open. Running to the table I pick up his unfinished morning coffee. My tongue slips into the fowl tasting liquid, but I continue to carry it to Jeb. Raising myself to the bed rail, I sit the tin cup on Jeb’s chest, waiting for him to get a firm hold on it.

Jeb drinks, spilling some on his chest, then drops the cup on the floor. I pick up the cup and put it back on the table. I pick up some biscuits left over from breakfast, taking them back to Jeb, laying them down next to him on the blanket. His eyes are closed and I can hear his breathing. He has somehow placed the wet towel over his shoulder, covering the wound, front and back. He needs his rest. Going back outside, I check the new man. Yes, he is still dead. Struggling with the dead weight, I manage to roll the dead man sideways, down the dropping yard to the creek at the bottom of the hill, near the woods. Hopefully, running water will float him down stream to feed the timber dwellers.

I return to my post on the porch. The evening chill is dropping down off the mountain. On my way to the wood box, I check on Jeb. He is sleeping soundly. I select some of the smaller pieces of wood and toss them one by one into the slumbering fire. Once in the fireplace, I cannot reposition them. They will have to stay where they land. I check that there were no embers outside the fire box on the stoop or floor. Jeb would never be able to escape a burning cabin. I man, or rather wolf, my post at the door. I check on Jeb through out the night, whenever I hear groans or Jeb talking in his sleep.

Sunrise shines through the front door and windows. I try to dip water out of the bucket, but cannot stand tall enough to gain access to the top with the dipper’s long handle. Wanting to somehow help, I go to Jeb and lick his face. I smell and taste the sweat and strain he slept through. I can not wipe the taste off my tongue, before going to my water bowl to drink and wash it off.

I stay with Jeb while he recovers, bringing him wild game to prepare and eat. During the nights my pack brothers call for me, but I must stay, until Jeb is well. I stay at his side during the day, letting him rest his hand on my head and back. This seems to comfort him. One day he gets up and goes outside to draw a fresh bucket of water. Heating some water he washed and shaved. I knew he was almost ready to be on his own. I continued to bring him wild game, and I did stop to watch the chickens when passing their coop. They had gotten use to me, and did not run around squawking, running back into their coop. I had not yet figured out a way to get to the eggs, maybe someday.

Jeb went outside and cut kindling and I know he is fully recovered. That night I answer my pack brothers and join them in the hunt. I return to Jeb daily to check up on him and to let him know I am around. My visits with him slowly decrease, but I always watch him while hiding in the wood. I know he thinks of me, because my food and water is always fresh sitting beside the door on the porch, at night, after patrolling around the cabin. I always leave my scent to ward off the predators that might pass in the night.

One evening I came to the cabin early, and a new scent reached out to me. I stood on my hind feet to look in the window. There is someone in the cabin talking to Jeb. A tall woman is cleaning and washing. I can tell from her scent and the sound of her voice, that she will be good for Jeb. I will not have to worry about him anymore.

 

In the Evil World…There are no rules.

By John W. Smith

 

“William Stanley.” The voice boomed through the speakers. The judge stared directly at William, via camera, “You have been found guilty of crimes against society. It is time for your sentencing.”

“Hold on there, judge!” William’s voice interrupted, filled with stress and under toned with anger. “There’s been no trial. What have I done?”

There was a short delay as the judge listened to Williams comment, shuffled some papers and then looked at the camera with a sober face. “The facts have been reviewed. Mr. Stanley, you are guilty of not maintaining the status quo. You have excelled in your studies, volunteer work and student employment. You failed to listen to your teachers and superiors. You have chosen to excel. I condemn you to the execution of your life; as the state sees fit.”

“This is insane.” William shouted. “I’ll appeal!”

The judge’s hand paused above the shutdown button. The camera closed on a shot of his face. “Sir; there is no appeal. You failed. You continue to excel. Even now you question authority. For the record, you have failed through written reports of your peers, superiors and through various historical reviews. You are now an adult; the execution of your sentence is immediate. Your family will be notified.” The judge’s finger hit the button and the screen went black.

Four large men, with no necks or body fat surrounded William. “You need chains or will you walk with us?” one of them asked.

“I’ll walk,” whispered William. He turned, head down, shoulders dropped. Defeated, he turned and walked between the four men.

Exiting the courtroom, William entered a world of concrete and cinderblock. Screened florescent lights gave everything a haze of green…headache green. If this was his new life, William hoped it would end soon.

The five men reached the end of the hall. William was turned to the left and shoved into a small room. “Strip and shower, you have 5 minutes. The door shut and water poured from the ceiling. He stripped quickly. There was no room to turn around, so he simply allowed the water to flow over him. A minute later soap was added to the mix. William used his hands to rub his body. The last two minutes was a rinse that smelled of antiseptic and warmed the skin.

A door opened in front of William. One of the four guards signaled for him to step forward onto a ramp. William stepped up and the ramp began to move towards his guards. Warm air blew from all directions, drying him. Reaching the end of the ramp, one of the guards handed him a paper gown. “All this seems to be a bit much for someone you are taking to execute.” William said. The guard pointed and once again they walked down another hall.

This was a short walk; William fell into step with his escorts for perhaps 50 yards when they came to a door. One of them knocked three times and the door opened. William couldn’t see over his escorts, but he could smell. His legs weakened as he was assaulted by the smell of antiseptic and formaldehyde. This was the smell of a medical lab. The two front guards entered the room; the rear guards gave William a gentle shove to enter the room.

William kept his eyes and head forward. Taking short breaths, he knew he was about to lie on a table and put to death.

“Welcome, Mr. Stanley.” A voice echoed throughout the room.  “Welcome to your new home.”

The two front guards stepped aside. William saw a chair, metal framework and some kind of cloth network that created what could have been a comfortable recliner if it had been covered with padding and brightly colored cloth.

The rear guards guided William to the chair simply by holding his elbows. William’s mouth hung open. He expected death; it looked like there would be torture before they did him in. All for their sick entertainment, he didn’t know any state secrets; he only excelled beyond his schoolmates.

He didn’t fight them, he simple walked to the chair and sat. He said nothing as the guards strapped his head, neck, arms, wrists, thighs, legs and feet to the chair. A tear rolled down his cheek as he prayed that he would remain strong and not give his tormentors the satisfaction of screaming…at least for a while.

“It is good to see that you came of your own free will.” The voice echoed. “No shackles, chains or even handcuffs. I think that says a lot about your stature.”

William continued to stare straight ahead, he wasn’t going to get roaming eyes and see what was on the trays beside him. “Thanks…but it’s not like I had a choice.”

“My son, there are always choices and you chose to come here like a man. I admire that. The court sentenced you to death, but they didn’t tell how you would die or at what particular time.” The voice responded. “Now, let me welcome you to Evil World. This is the beginning of the last place you will dwell. You will be trained. You will assist in controlling Evil World. But above all remember this…” His face was suddenly nose-to-nose with William…”There is but one rule…In Evil World, there are no rules”.

The old man was thin, wisps of hair going in all directions, his eye bugged from their sockets. He certainly represented what could be described the mayor of evil world.

“I wish we had more time, but an opening has occurred, so you will not get the normal orientation to EW, but I believe you will catch on quickly. So, let’s get to work.”

With that, an IV was inserted and William went to sleep. Hours later, he awoke. Still in the chair only lying flat, his head felt like it had been blown to bits and reassembled using a giant hammer beating all the parts into place. Slowly, in very dim light, he opened eyes.

“Welcome back,” the whiny voice of the old man greeted him. “You’ve been out for a week, but a lot has been done. Your desire to exceed expectations allowed us to complete months of work in days. We can now plug you in and start your training.” The old man showed William a series of plugs…three of them…then inserted them into various parts of his scull. William flinched, he groaned, but did not scream or cry out.

“Very good. These will come in and out while you are trained. Afterward, permanent implants will be used and you won’t feel a thing.” The old man laughed.

William was placed into a sitting position. Eyes wide, he watch as the old man sat twisting knobs and levers. William’s head began to buzz, his body stiffened and he blacked out.

Months passed. The mad doctor kept pumping data and skills into William’s head. He learned and responded in appropriate ways to various stimuli. William learned that when he did well, cooperated with the doctor, he was rewarded with better food, even though he was fed through IV tubes and physical gifts provided by various assistants that were brought into his room. He also learned how to relate the experiences through his brain. He really didn’t need external stimuli and quickly discovered what his mind had become far superior to those around him.

“William, my boy…you are ready to try out in the real world. Are you ready?” Doc asked. The screen flashed a ‘YES’. “I am proud of you my boy; you have accomplished in less than a year what some of your predecessors never learned. This is your first true simulation.”

William was hooked up to a new machine. Images whirled and his mind took over. He realized that he was controlling the world…transfer of information, power, directions, everything. He was the fabric of the universe. William loved it and grew with the power. He performed beyond expectation. He could tell day from night, coordinated world activities and still had time for an act of personal satisfaction.

Violently, William returned to the physical world. No pain, but one second, he was master of the world, the next he was strapped to the same recliner, held captive by the doctor.

“You are ready William. Despite your youth, I am placing you at the top of the pyramid. Let me warn you, if you are disconnected, you will die. I suggest you do your job, and do it well.”

“Yes sir…I will follow the rules.” William said with a smile. “One question if I may, doctor. What is your name?”

The old man cocked his head to the left, smiled and said “Moriarty…Dr. Moriarty.”

The guards appeared once again. William’s head was no longer restricted. Neither was his arms or legs; there was no need. After months of non use, he couldn’t get out of the chair, let alone run. “Hello boys, good to see you again.” William joked.

Without response, the guards pushed William to an area far from the lab. They entered a large warehouse area, filled with recliners, each held a person attached to wires and equipment. “OK, wise guy. Here’s where you live and die.” One of the guards said.

A woman, wearing a lab coat that said Betty, began hooking him to his spot in the center of the room. “Welcome, sir. I’m Betty, one of the four people who will care for your physical needs. We will guarantee that you are cleaned, fed and cared for, as long as you take care of the outside world. We can reward you for excellent work or disconnect you if you chose to become lax in your responsibilities.” With those words, William was plugged into Evil World.

He learned quickly, that every bit of information flowing through this computer complex known as Evil World, passed through him. He literally ran the world. The others attached to the computer or whatever transferred and executed commands were simply conduits to provide him with information or to execute his commands.

In time, he felt strong…stronger than the football players that used to beat him up at school. William knew he was monitored, but he had to learn by who and when. He learned how to control the information provided to the monitors. He made plans and treated the entire operation as a game. Did they think that because he didn’t obey the status quo that he would sit still and become a computer chip now?

It took months, perhaps years. William couldn’t tell as time stood still in Evil World…His World. He fed energy to his body, making it physically stronger. He expanded his mind by taking over parts of the minds of those below him, then compressed concepts, abilities and powers and returned them to his mind. He felt ready.

Ever so quietly, he located all those who had injured him in his old life. Accidents happen, something that he, the “Controller”, had no power over. Others were rewarded. Friends, parents and teachers all those who treated him with kindness quietly received promotions or rewards that made their lives easier.

William even found the Doctor and provided him with mild recognition for his work and improving the living conditions of the outside world. At last, William was ready. The Betty’s were somewhere in the warehouse. He had called them to the far corners from his chair to assist others who were failing to function.

He looked down; he was no longer restrained because his body was not to be physically able to move on its own. William commanded his unit to disconnect from his brain and to continue control through a wireless connection…”You’ve got to love wi-fi.” He thought.

He still controlled the world and now he had control of himself as well. Under his own power, he slowly walked to the exit; As he opened the door the command for all those under him was given for him to shut down. William proceeded to the lab that had made him the master of Evil World.

Through his link, he could hear the cries for help as the Betty’s were overwhelmed by the failing of operators and as services outside shut down. Power, water, all modern conveniences began ending in real the world. Evil World also began to die as the various ‘carbon based computer ceased to function.

At last William found the door and opened it. Dr. Moriarty had a new individual hooked up to the machines. “Training my replacement doctor?” William asked.

The doctor whipped around to see William slowly walking towards him. Stunned, the doctor backed away from William and muttered, “Not possible. It’s not possible.”

“Oh…it’s possible doctor. Believe your eyes. At this very moment, the world you created is coming to an end. I have taken control and shut it all down.”

The doctor stood and moved to a switch on the wall. “I will shut you down. I warned you….” He said and threw the switch. Nothing happened.

William slowly continued walking towards the doctor. William smiled, knowing that he had won, the Human Race had won. “Not to worry Doc…you can’t hurt me, I’m all ready dying. But before I go, just know I have shut down your entire computer system; I had eliminated all your carbon based computer modules and have placed this facility on lockdown. All life support will end in 30 seconds; you will have about 2 hours to think about what you have done to destroy the lives of achievers. I could have stayed at my station but I had to come and tell you good by.”

“This can’t happen.” The doctor screamed. “There are firewalls; there are programs…THERE, THERE, THERE ARE RULES.”

Smiling, William touted, “Ah doctor…you forgot …”IN EVIL WORLD, THERE ARE NO RULES.”

 

 

Previous Featured Writings:

3 July 2012 – Dark Thoughts by Kat Perry

6 August 2012 –  Jack O’Lantern by Jeanette D. Hammel

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