A Family Friend (Garage Fiction #17)

Fidgety and perspiring, Dr. Ahmed Khoury’s eyes darted from left to right and back again.

He tried to control himself.  But all he could think about was wanting to run, to scream, to throw himself on the floor in the middle of the terminal and curl up in the fetal position.

Fleeting childish thoughts that would never reach daylight.  But for an instant they made him feel something, anything.

He’d been numb for the better part of 12 hours.  Utterly helpless after learning his daughter had never shown up for school today, having boarded a Turkish Airlines flight at Heathrow bound for Istanbul.

Every few minutes he wrestled another deluge of thoughts.  What did we do wrong?  Why did God forsake my family?  Please God keep her safe?

Desperate cries from a heart that was quickly losing faith.

Vigilantly scanning the passport control area, he didn’t see the them come up from behind.

“Dr. Khoury?”

Spinning around he was face to face with two agents from the British Consulate with badges at the ready for clear identification.

“Please come this way.”

Still visibly shaken he nodded and followed the agents through the security door at behind passport control.

The older agent motioned Dr. Khoury toward a sterile conference room as he continued down the hall.

“Please sit down.” The younger female agent pointed to one of four chairs surrounding a simple metal table that stood barren on a white stone floor. Dr. Khoury sat in the chair facing the door, with the wide two way mirror on his left.

“Would you care for something to drink Dr. Khoury? Tea?  Perhaps a coffee?”

Mouth parched he crackled a “No thank you.” Then thought better of it.  “Water would be fine.”

The agent smiled and left the room. She returned with a bottled of water and the other agent, her senior.

After some brief introductions. The agents had Dr. Khoury recount the days events.  And he complied. 

They already had his statements and his wife from the counter terrorism unit back in London.

But given his current state, the stress of losing his daughter and traveling 2000 miles to realize there is nothing he could do, they wanted to give him room to decompress if possible.

The last thing they wanted was for him going off half-cocked into Istanbul and ending up on the wrong side of town.  Or worse yet, the wrong side of whoever was involved in trafficking his daughter to Syria.

They continued the niceties, and as Dr. Khoury caught on his demeanor changed from resignation to defiance.  Defiance of the situation, the perpetrators, and anything that might stand in the way of him finding his daughter before it was too late.

“Dr. Khoury.  I know this is very difficult for you.  But there is nothing more you can do here.  We already have our counterterrorism unit working with our Turkish counterparts to try and locate your daughter right now. 

From what we’ve seen in the recruitment of foreign Jihadi brides, we have about a 48 hour window before they across the border into Syria.  Please know  we are doing all we can. And I strongly advise you consider traveling back to London and wait there for word from us when we know more.”

Glancing at the senior agent’s I.D. Card hanging from his breast pocket Dr. Khoury raised his head leveling a resolute gaze directly in the agents eyes.

“Agent Shannon. May I ask you a personal question?

“Of course.”

Do you have children?”

“I do.  A boy and girl.”

“How old are they?”

“William is 15 and Alison is 11.”

“May I ask you what you would do if you were in my position.”

Agent Shannon looked down at the table and paused before glancing over at his subordinate.

“Dr. Khoury. I can empathize with your position …”

Cutting into the agent’s answer, Dr. Khoury asked again. “With sincere respect Agent Shannon, I appreciate your empathy.  But my question was what would you do? What would you do if you were in my position.”

The agent blinked.  He looked down and then back at his subordinate who gave an approving glance.

“Off the record?”

“I’m a doctor. Agent Shannon.  I took an oath to maintain the confidence with every patient I see. I want to know what YOU would do.”

“I would do everything I could to get my daughter back.”

“That’s that I thought you might say. Please know that I respect your position.  And I am truly appreciative of everything you and your team are doing to secure my daughter’s return.  But as a father, I must do what I must do. I have come to Turkey to visit friends of the family and they will be expecting me soon. Am I free to leave.”

“Of course. Doctor. You are free to come and go as you wish. But I have to warn you.  The people who have lured your daughter to Turkey are professionals, and they are playing for keeps. It is important that you leave this matter to us.  Your daughters life may depend on it.”

Dr. Khoury smiled a warm smile.

“Before you go.  Do you have contact information where we can reach you while your staying in Istanbul.”

I do.  Taking the prescription pad from the outside pocket off his briefcase, he wrote the name and address of his host in Istanbul and handed it to Agent Shannon.

“I will be staying at this address for the duration of my stay.  You can also reach my on my cell as needed.”

Agent Shannon knew the meeting was over.

“Agent Brock will have your passport stamped and show you the way out. Please stay safe Dr. Khoury. Istanbul can be a treacherous place.”

As Dr. Khoury exited the secured area Agent Shannon made his way to one of the Gendarmes sitting at a computer terminal and he handed him Dr. Khoury’s contact information.

“Can you look this up for me.”

With a few key strokes the officer pulled Dr. Khoury’s host up on the screen. With raised eyebrows he grabbed Agent Shannon attention as he tapped the monitor.

Not only did it display the full name and address of Yaron Zahavy, but his full file as a former Captain in the Israeli Defense Forces and his current role as Mossad Deputy Station Chief for Istanbul and the Lavant.

Agent Shannon reached for a desk phone and started to dial.

Outside at baggage claim Dr. Khoury was nearing the terminal exit as his cell phone rang.

“Ahmed, Its Yaron.  Everything Ok?

“Yes.  I am on my way outside.”

“Glad you are well my friend.  Do hurry we don’t have much time.”

This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Dogwood Daniels…

“A Graveyard at 26,000 Feet: The Tragic Fate of Those Left Behind on Mount Everest”written by Mark Newton, published on April 24, 2015 on Movie Pilot

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Around 250 people have died attempting to conquer Mount Everest, and many of them are still up there. Most of the unfortunate perish in the death zone, where rescue and even the removal of the corpse is treacherous and almost impossible, as the air above 8,000 feet is too thin to allow helicopter rescue. Even becoming injured in the death zone can be fatal. There are frequent stories of climbers being left behind by their team, simply because they do not have the time, resources or energy to help them. Indeed, passing dying climbers isn’t an infrequent occurrence, as Dean ‘Rocket’ Hall, a former soldier and current video game developer, mentioned on his recent expedition. His team encountered a dying, semi-conscious climber on an ascent in 2013. He explained:

“We got there, our lead sherpa shook the guy’s hand, and its was floppy as anything. I looked at the guy. I’d seen plenty of bodies in the military before. He looked as dead as a doornail to me. At the time, I was like, ‘Look, there’s no way I’d carry on to the summit if I could be somewhere helping someone.’ But I realized that if we didn’t — the guy was unconscious, at least. Definitely. And we argued about this back at base camp. Well, what if we’d put oxygen on him? Sure, it would have revived him, if he was actually still alive. But then what? We couldn’t bring him down. It’s just not physically possible. In which case, we would have revived him so he could be in pain. I just remember realizing how sad it was. And that was the overwhelming feeling: just how sad it was that he died alone.”

Read the rest here: http://moviepilot.com/posts/2015/04/24/a-graveyard-at-26-000-feet-the-tragic-fate-of-those-left-behind-on-mount-everest-2878383


These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project called “Garage Fiction”. Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels and Me)  have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Fridays and dissect on Mondays via podcast.

Author’s Note: Depending on how Jinn and Dogwood are feeling, their writings, posts, or podcasts may warrant an R rating for mature content (99% of this comes from Dogwood).

Godspeed… and I hope you enjoy our project.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: The King of Cups
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: The Tramp

The Message (Garage Fiction #16)

The burnt orange hue of a cloudless evening sky filled John Cabot’s eyes as he made his way over the Potomac. He wondered what Ellen might be cooking.  Through the years she’d become a phenomenal chef, in spite of the Williams & Sonoma cookbooks. 

He smiled as he remembered their first epic fight.

“Who the hell buys cookbooks for their first anniversary present!”

“That’s what your supposed to do. It’s tradition … twenty-fifth is silver … fiftieth is gold.  The first year is paper. 

“So I have to wait until year sixty for a diamond?  You don’t get it do you?

His defensive position  held no ground as Ellen out flanked him on both sides before running right over top of him with military brilliance he hadn’t seen since Desert Storm back in ’90. He started to chuckle.  So much for tradition.  A hard lesson but any good soldier adapts.

Passing the Pentagon on his right, Cabot pointed his Silver Tahoe toward the exit ramp off Jefferson Memorial Highway.  He was just a few miles from his home in Arlington Ridge when his cell phone lit up with an unrecognized number.

He answered with a firm, “Cabot.”

“Hello General, it’s Miles Barton.”

Hearing the slithering voice Cabot’s body went tense. Ever the warrior, it was a fight not flight response.

“What can I do for you Mr. Barton.”

“Please call me Miles.”

Not one for placating the enemy with pleasantries he answered again in the same emotionless tone.  “What can I do for you Miles.”

“The President asked me to call.  He said your brief for the Security Counsel was very insightful.  And the early feedback he’s from other members raises some concern about our readiness.  He would like to meet with you privately before heading to China next week. Can you be here this Friday at eleven a.m.

“Give me a second while I check my calendar.”

He hit the mute button on his phone as he meandered through the front part of his neighborhood.  After about minute of thinking what Ellen might be cooking, he made a mental note of his schedule for Friday.  Morning off, take Radar to the vet. He knew there wasn’t a conflict, but making Miles wait was a luxury he might not get very often.

Cresting the hill overlooking his driveway, Cabot let another twenty seconds pass before unmuting the phone.

“Sorry to keep you waiting Miles.  Just had to run through my schedule and make sure I was good. Eleven will work fine for me.”

Cabot could hear Miles huff.  There was no love lost between them.  Having met just twelve hours prior, Cabot could tell it was going to be a long battle with this jayhole. But a battle he might come to enjoy.

“Thank you General.  The President and I look forward to meeting you on Friday.”  Miles stuck in the “I” to reiterate his level of importance as Chief of Staff.

“I thought you said it was a private meeting.” Cabot said with a grin.

“It is.  But it looks like the President wants us working a bit more closely together.  Especially now that you’ve pointed out ISIS has moved into Pakistan, Afghanistan, and even a training camp on the Mexican border not far from El Paso.  Point is the President wants to be briefed more frequently and those briefs usually go through me first. But we can discuss that in more detail on Friday General.”

Restraining a facetious comment Cabot let him go,  “Sounds great.  I look forward to seeing you and the President then. Goodnight Miles.”


As he hung up, he pulled the Tahoe into the middle bay of their three-car garage.  It forced him to look at the 1968 Austin Heeley 3000 cabriolet roadster he stopped working on when he accepted the appointment as Special Presidential Envoy. Thanks Pete, this job just gets getting better and better buddy. As he opened the door and walked toward the entrance to the kitchen, the smell of Ellen’s linguine and mussels snapped his mind out of the day’s work and on to what mattered most.

“Hey hunny, that you.”

“You expecting somebody else?”

“Yes as a matter of fact I am.  Kelsey’s finished her finals and came home for the weekend.  She and Amber went shopping.  They mentioned going to a movie so I wasn’t sure when they’d be back”

Where’s “Helen Keller?” Radar was already ninety-percent deaf.  And when the cataract surgery didn’t take, now he was blind too.

“Don’t call him that.” Ellen held her fist to her face and shook it at him.  But with the knuckle of middle finger as high as a teepee, the only thing she could hurth with a fist like that was her finger.

With a playful grin Cabot  grabbed her fist and pulled her close.  Giving her a strong quick kiss to calm her down.

“I was just kidding.” Radar could smell the old man.  Using the hard plastic edge of his cone, he tried to gouge the skin off Cabot’s ankle

“Don’t you be mean to him, he’s already on borrowed time.”

Cabot picked him up and scratched his head a belly.

“Did you give him his eye-juice?”

“No you can.”

He tried to keep a smile, but this was getting old, for both of them.  To stave off infection after the surgery,  Radar had to have eye drops every hour, twenty four hours a day, for a week.  The last time he’d been tortured this long with a lack of sleep  was in Kandahar, fighting the Taliban for nearly two straight weeks.

They both traded off the eye-juice rituals through a dinner and into bed.

As usual, Ellen coordinated the geriatric care.  “You’ve got nine through one a.m. And I’ll do two through six a.m.”

“Sounds good.”

After an amazing dinner for two and a 2004 bottle of De Stefano Sauvignon Blanc, he was too tired to worry about who had what.  He was just glad they were together.  And after twenty-five years together, he couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.

Ellen set her alarms and was asleep by the time her head hit the pillow.  Cabot put his phone on do-not-disturb and set his four alarms. As he finished, a text came in.

Puzzled, Cabot hit the message button. With the do-not-disturb button on he shouldn’t be getting any messages.

Cabot felt the hair on the back of his neck stand at attention he stared at the blood red font on the phone.

“Nighty night General. Hope you and the girls sleep well.”

Looking at the number of the sender, he quickly flipped to the “received calls” and found a match. Switching back to “messages” he scrolled top and bottom for the text but it was gone. Deleted, without a trace.

Miles you son of a bitch!

This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Jinn Zhong…

“The Woman Who Woke Up In The Future” written by Arielle Pardes, published on April 15, 2015 on Vice

Here’s the article’s lead:

Naomi Jacobs was a 32-year-old single mother living in Manchester, England, when she went to sleep on April 30, 2008. She lived in a small flat with her ten-year-old son Leo and their cat Sophia. At the time, she was unemployed, but she had gone back to school, where she was pursuing a degree in psychology. When Naomi woke up the next morning, she didn’t remember any of this. Instead, she woke up believing she was 15 years old, bewildered by how she had ended up in the future.

It took years for Naomi to figure out what happened to her that night, but eventually, doctors gave her the diagnosis: transient global amnesia. The disorder only affects about five per 100,000 people each year, and results in sudden loss of memories. Unlike other forms of amnesia, people typically remember who they are and how to do stuff (Naomi, for example, could still remember her pin number and how to drive a car), but they forget qualitative memories. Those memories return eventually, but not before the traumatic, disorienting experience of feeling like you’ve traveled through time.

For Naomi, the experience wasn’t just jarring—it was a catalyst to change her life. Now, seven years later, she’s detailed everything that happened in a memoir, called Forgotten Girl. The book reveals a woman who forget the entirety of her adult life, rediscovered the person she grew up to be, and ultimately learned how to forgive herself.

Read the rest here: http://www.vice.com/read/i-woke-up-in-the-future-interview-400


These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project called “Garage Fiction”. Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels, and me) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Fridays and dissect on Mondays via podcast.

Author’s Note: Depending on how Jinn and Dogwood are feeling, their writings, posts, or podcasts may warrant an R rating for mature content (99% of this comes from Dogwood).

Godspeed… and I hope you enjoy our project.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: Mirror, Mirror
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Salt, IIV

The Rose & Grain (Garage Fiction #15)

The Rose & Grain was always festive around eight thirty in the evening.  That’s when the thirty-something players around D.C. would file in after leaving their government perches on Capitol Hill or lobbying firm on Avenue K. 

Making sure not to leave the office before eight p.m. showed commitment to their work while still leaving room to let lose before heading home and starting the grind all over again at 6am.

Such is the life of the ambitious.

But Miles was more than ambitious. His thirst for wealth and power consumed him.  And it’s what drove the other young elite players to seek out  The Rose & Grain.

The only problem was getting in.  It was invitation only.  A single text to a burner cell phone number that changed every week.  If they answered your text with the code you were in.  If not, they were either at max capacity or you were not deemed valuable enough.  Not valuable enough for The Rose & Grain regulars nor for the finest whiskey selection inside the Beltway.

Once in, at some point you’d be expected to share some samples of pre-prohibition spirits like a 1917 bottle from Kentucky or a 1922 bottle from Baltimore. And at $88 an ounce these wallet-shocking libations told the regulars you were worth their time and attention.

Of course Miles never had to text.  His permanent code let him in anytime of day.  The burner phone was just his way of having the staff weed out the rif-faff and wannabes.

More than a regular, Miles was part owner of The Rose & Grain as well as the adjacent one-star restaurant, Grainery 39.  Just a couple of the holdings in his twenty-four million dollar blind trust.  A tidy sum built during his seven year stint at Goldman Sachs’s Special Situation’s Group right after Law School. Just another step Miles had mapped on the power ladder.

One that now included the White House. Especially since he helped the President raise over fourteen million for his last campaign.

Miles entered Grainery 39 off the 18th Street entrance and weaved his way past the long mahogany bar filled with new blood.  Ambitious young ower brokers trying to find their way around Washington, only to have missed the mark.  The real action was taking place just 150 feet away through a series of  behind-the-scenes passages and flights of stairs down to the Rose & Grain.

The serenity of this cozy den greeted miles with the smell of leather, wood, and fine whiskey. Not to mention a small whiff of Senator Chisolm’s Cohiba as he melted into his leather chair as a six foot blonde with a foreign accent massaged his neck and shoulders.

Miles mused that the costs of the suits and skirts in this room alone could have fed an African village for a decade.  But these people weren’t here for magnanimity or charity, it was all about the halls of wealth and power.  Near capacity, it would be a good night.

Spotting Mick behind the bar he ordered a Vieux Carre.  The blend of whisky, cognac, and bitters never looked good on the recipe card, but the smooth heat and gentle zest felt like heaven as it the icy concoction passed his mouth and warmed his throat.

“Thank you Mick. Perfect once again.”

“Avec plaisir mon ami.”

The young Irishman always dreamed of living in France, and he was always ready to let you know as he practiced his French with a near perfect accent.

Smiling at Mick, Miles lifted the Glencairn glass.  He always preferred it to a normal highball.

He walked toward his favorite highback chair only to see a long pair of black stockings peaking around the side.

Given it was a woman, he decide to take the adjacent chair without saying a word. Pretending to look at his drink then take his seat, he could see her charcoal hair laying longingly over her firm shoulders pointing to her ample breasts behind a tasteful blouse. He turned to her with long smile and slightly raised brow and .

“Hello Miles.”

Puzzled he asked, “Do I know you?”

“You should.” Her coal black eyes pierced through Miles as he peered into his soul.  The whole room stopped in time as she spoke without moving her lips.

“Lucius sends his greetings from Molech.”

Unsettled without giving in, Miles maintained his poise, “Have we met?”

The woman spoke as the room came to life, “We have not, but I was told I could find you here.”

“How did you get in?”

“Your code of course.”

Miles bristled but but still have nothing away, “If that’s true, you either are particularly good at getting to what you want, or we know some of the same people.”

She leaned closer to Miles chest first.  He couldn’t resist his eyes moving down, even if only for a fraction of second.

“Like what see.”

“That depends.”

“Ahh.” Smiling and sly. “I see your not one to lie down easily.”  She looked toward the table and grabbed an olive from the hor d’oeuvres gracing the table by his chair.  Putting the green flesh toward her open mouth, she bit down slightly on the edge as her teetch maneuvered around the pit.

“The answer is both. We do know the same people.  And yes, I am particularly good at getting what I want.”

Miles returned her sly smile with a long grin. She went on.

“As I said, “Lucius asked me to send you greetings from him and Molech.”

“I am afraid I know neither a Lucius or a Molech.”

“Yes but you do know Balaam and he has spoken of them many times.”

At her words, Miles sat back like a dandy stirring his Vieux Carrea and crossing his legs slowly with one knee behind the other.

“Hasn’t he?” Eyebrow raised she probed with a mix of disdain and sensual verve.

In no mood for games Miles confirmed, “he’s mentioned them on occasion but I’ve never met either of them.”

“Now that we agree we know the same people.  I’ll be brief.  Molech wants you to release Balaam.  He no longer has confidence in his ability to carry out his duties.  And frankly, Molech believes you can be even more useful in partnership with Lucius.  Let’s just say that he feels your new position as Chief of Staff makes you even more valuable. But you have one weakness that is keeping you from gaining more of the power you crave.”

“What’s that?” Miles scoured her from head to toe looking for any sign of weakness.  If she had one, she was’t letting on.

“Balaam.  Plain and simple. Molech questions his faithfulness.  Let’s just say he’s allowed one to many opportunities to fall through his hands.  And it has become tiring for his Lordship.”

“Then why doesn’t he take care of Balaam himself.”

“That would be too crass.  In effect, Molech wants your permission.  He feels you have great promise, and taking a long-time friend from you with any prior discussion would  complicate things. Molech wants to make sure you know you are valued, and he wouldn’t want to start off the next level of your assignment on the wrong foot.”

Miles looked down at his drink thinking of Balaam.  They had been together since Miles was a child.  He was there when the family was killed.  He had not only protected him, but had been a trusted mentor through school, his time on Wall Street, and even now at the White House.

Looking back at the women, her countenance had changed. Nearly sympathetic she spoke, “You should take some time Miles.  This isn’t an easy decision.”

She reached for his hand.  And when she touched him he instantly saw her from the edge of his bed.  Looking up anxiously he saw her angelic white skin framed by her charcoal and black lace panties that matched to perfection. Putting her black pump on the center of his chest, in one movement she shoved him back down on the bed and leapt on top of him.

Instantly the two of them were back in the bar.  He stared down at his drink, as the condensation dripped from his glass onto the tip of her black heels.  Pulling him up from the high back leather chair, her voice caressed his ears.

“No need to decide now Miles, I am sure will think much more clearly in the morning.  It’s time for us to go.

Standing up he pulled her toward the door with an entranced smile. “Yes perhaps I would have more clarity in the morning.”


This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Nicholas Brack…

The Rolling Stone’s “Sympathy for the Devil”


“Sympathy For The Devil”

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
I’ve been around for a long, long year
Stole many a man’s soul and faith
And I was ’round when Jesus Christ
Had his moment of doubt and pain
Made damn sure that Pilate
Washed his hands and sealed his fate
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game
I stuck around St. Petersburg
When I saw it was a time for a change
Killed the czar and his ministers
Anastasia screamed in vain
I rode a tank
Held a general’s rank
When the blitzkrieg raged
And the bodies stank
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guess my name, oh yeah
Ah, what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah
I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
I shouted out,
“Who killed the Kennedys?”
When after all
It was you and me
Let me please introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste
And I laid traps for troubadours
Who get killed before they reached Bombay
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, oh yeah, get down, baby
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, oh yeah
But what’s confusing you
Is just the nature of my game
Just as every cop is a criminal
And all the sinners saints
As heads is tails
Just call me Lucifer
Cause I’m in need of some restraint
So if you meet me
Have some courtesy
Have some sympathy, and some taste
Use all your well-learned politesse
Or I’ll lay your soul to waste, um yeah
Pleased to meet you
Hope you guessed my name, um yeah
But what’s puzzling you
Is the nature of my game, um mean it, get down
Woo, who
Oh yeah, get on down
Oh yeah
Oh yeah!
Tell me baby, what’s my name
Tell me honey, can ya guess my name
Tell me baby, what’s my name
I tell you one time, you’re to blame

These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project called “Garage Fiction”. Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels, and me) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Fridays and dissect on Mondays via podcast.

Author’s Note: Depending on how Jinn and Dogwood are feeling, their writings, posts, or podcasts may warrant an R rating for mature content (99% of this comes from Dogwood).

Godspeed… and I hope you enjoy our project.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: Sympathy For The Devil
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Salt II

Baptism (Garage Fiction #14)

The water was black and cool. The spring sun had yet to fully warm the lake. But even with the chill Salia was undeterred.  Her foot broke the surface of the water sending a slight shock up her spine. She smiled widely as she saw William ahead, waste deep and waiting for her.

This was nothing like the lake back Iran, blistering under a desert sun.   A rite of passage she was told.  Born into it.  But she was young.  The only thing she remembered was the cheers as she came up for air.  She’d checked the box.  But the questions lingered for nearly 20 years.  Was it free will or just obedience to her parents. Was it real? Did it take?  Was she really clean from the inside out?

Today, there would be no doubt.

William held out his had as she waded toward him.  His angelic face and soft-spoken manner gave the image of a dutiful pastor, but belied the warrior blood that coursed through his veins.  After Chaplaincy training, William had blown through the Army’s Special Forces Qualification Course graduating first in his class. Salia had admired how soldiers respected him for his Green Beret. But he’d told her it was just a tool.  A tool God would use to put him in the perfect places to wage war.

“For we do not battle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” He had said this was his “life verse”.  A word that was more than scripture, it was a calling.

She had heard the scripture before, maybe childhood, maybe a passing sermon.  But when William spoke, something came alive inside her.  Like scales falling off her eyes she had perfect vision.  She saw herself marrying William, sharing life, and waging war in the heavenly places.  Whatever that meant.

That was ten months ago, And with only a few weeks before the wedding.   She wanted make sure it took this time. Being fully buried in the likeness of his death and raised in the likeness of his resurrection.  The old woman would fall away and all would become new.   This time it was her choice.  Her own free will.

The water rose above her knees giving the tender olive skin on her thighs an icy lick.  Laughing and smiling wide, she hopped from one foot to the other other as the crisp water enveloped the her white skirt.  Stumbling forward William reached out and grabbed her hand to brink her close.

She could hear him speaking, “because of your profession of faith, I know baptize you in the name …” but it sounded miles away.

Looking up, Salia could see the Holy Spirit descended on her in bodily form like a dove. And a voice coming from heaven: “You are my daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

It was different this time.  Joy flooded through her body as William pulled her up from the water.

Breathless she tried to speak, “Dddid you sssee that?”

William’s eyes were smiling.  He didn’t even need to speak.  She knew he had seen it.  The anointing had fallen.  Sealed by the Holy Spirit William and Salia’s conscription was complete.  War would be waged together, until death do they part.

Salia’s eyes began to move rapidly behind her closed eyelids.  Cracking them open slowly she allowed the lamplight to gain some real estate as woke up.  Night had fallen and the house was unsettlingly still.  Salia looked around the room in under the dim light of her reading lamp.  Leaning her head back in the recliner she looked at the ceiling.  Without a sound, a tear began to form, filling the outside corner of her right eye.  The surface tension couldn’t take the flow and it sent a silent tear from her eye to her ear.

It had been seven years since William passed away in his sleep right beside her.   Salia had made peace with it.  God’s will.  His work on this earth was done.  She just wished he was here.  The battle was raging and growing bigger every day.

The nights were always the hardest.  In the stillness Salia would quiet herself and pray.  Alone she pressed in.  And the deeper she dove, the greater the revelation.  She could see the battles in the heavenly places moving between America, Europe and the Middle East like pieces on a chess board.  But she needed specifics.  She knew the heavenly host needed specific prayers.

“But when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”

She pressed on.  “I need you Holy Spirit, please come.”

This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by Dogwood Daniels…

The album cover of Monolord’s Vænir, a haunting piece of artwork painted by Julio Reyes.


These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project called “Garage Fiction”. Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels, and me) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Fridays and dissect on Mondays via podcast.

Author’s Note: Depending on how Jinn and Dogwood are feeling, their writings, posts, or podcasts may warrant an R rating for mature content (99% of this comes from Dogwood).

Godspeed… and I hope you enjoy our project.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: The Hunter’s Funeral Procession
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Dreams

Molech (Garage Fiction #13)

Balaam was already late. And he knew there’d be hell to pay.  His only hope was that Molech would be to busy to take notice.  Either that or have some pity that he’d fought Raphael and Micah for nearly three days across the Atlantic, just to make the meeting.

Rubbing the triskelion scar burned into his chest, he took a moment to collect himself before entering the council chamber

What looked like three interlocking spirals was actually the mark of the beast, whose number is 666.tumblr_lkeolbiflb1qiz2vro1_1280

If only I hadn’t been allured by the blinding light of his charms and lies, he thought. I would be winning this war from the other side.

Even though his destiny was set, he’d tortured himself every day, second guessing his decision to join the others at the fall. All of this could have been different.  One act of pride and eternity lost.

It was too late now.  He gathered his thoughts, and took a deep breath as he entered the old textile factory on the outskirts of Mosul.

While the outside of the building bore the scars of war, etched on nearly every inch of its forty-foot high walls, the inside was immaculate.  Balaam could see Namir al-Baghadadi and his staff preparing furiously for the arrival of the new Caliph.

The ruthless leader of Islamic State had dropped his given name of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for the divine Caliph Ibrahim. And it didn’t matter if the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims agreed or not.

Once Caliph of an established Caliphate had been declared, all Muslims would have to respond to him. And with nearly 30,000 people already killed or wounded at the hands of his militants, Caliph Ibrahim would make sure they did.

When his spokesman announced the new Caliph, he made the his stance eminently clear stating “The legality of all emirates, groups, states and organizations becomes null by the expansion of the caliph’s authority and the arrival of its troops to their areas. Listen to your caliph and obey him.”

And while forces in the west, were still debating whether Islamic State was a threat, or even a true Caliphate, Middle East Muslims were shaking in mortal fear as the Caliph took more and more real estate through out the region.

Confiscating all the oil fields of Syria, as well as oil fields in central Iraq, the new Islamic State started generating more than $90 million dollars a month, over $1 billion annually.  And this war chest is only going to get bigger when they stage their first attack on Saudi Arabia, doubling or tripling oil prices even if they don’t succeed in taking Saudi land.

But as threatening as Caliph Ibrahim and his army might be right now, it paled in comparison to what Molech had in store for the region.  Ushering in a Caliph was just the practice run.  The next leader would have a global impact and reach that eclipsed all world leaders combined.

Balaam could already feel the heat. It was dry as a bone.  Much too hot for Namir al-Baghadadi and his men, or even the Caliph.  But they’d never know the different.  The meeting would happen just over their heads and they wouldn’t have a clue.

Making his way to the center of the factory, he could see the fire raging on every wall.  The others had already gathered around the table as Molech looked up, piercing Balaam’s ears with an mind splitting roar.

“You’re Late!”

Balaam could feel his power, compressing him from every side.  Just as prayer and faith, empower Angels and the host of heave, the same holds true for the fallen.  A demon gets stronger as more people believe in him.  And Molech was as strong as he’d ever been.

While most people believe they were worshiping the Caliph, it was Molech who was growing in power.  He was now the King of the Lavant.  And his rule stretched from the Taurus Mountains of Turkey in the north, the Arabian desert in the east.    

“Why do you always test me Balaam?”

“I was detained by Rafae…”

“Silence.”  Molech’s voice boomed through the fiery hall.  All the other powers and principalities seated around the table dropped their heads, doing anything to stay off the radar.

“Yo are late again.  I can feel our weakness.  Your mind and heart are elsewhere.”

“I am with you till the end Sire. It is my destiny to serve you and this council.” Balaam forced the fervor into his voice.  If Molech new the depth of his doubt, he would be banished instantly and the eternal torment would start.  At lest by playing his part, he could avoid the weeping and gnashing of teeth for another decade, or century, or as long as they had free reign.

“Forgive me your highness.  I am tired.  The prayers of the saints in the West have been strong. Too strong.  And the enemy has been fortified.  More and more people are having the eyes of their hearts opened, seeing this war for what it is. And as they do, they are falling on their knees in fervent prayer. Please know my lord, I do not mean to test you. In fact, I need your help, to reign in the saints in the States. It has reached a critical phase.”

Molech eyed Balaam from the other end of room. Making his way around the table he approached Balaam, looking for any hint of a lie.

Balaam didn’t flinch.  He pulled his shoulders back and raised his head ever-so-slightly, just enough to confirm his strength and loyalty, but not enough to offend his lord.

“Something has bewitched you my son.  I can tell.  I am not sure what it is, but know this I will find out.  If it’s something out of our control so be it.  But if I find out you’ve betrayed this operation, you will rue the day you joined this legion. I will leave it up to you.”

Molech swiftly turned to head back to his seat at the head of the table.  All eyes were riveted on Balaam.  Dropping his head, he could see beneath the council chamber as the Caliph arrived. The stage was set.  As Balaam joined the others at the council table he knew there would be no turning back.

This week’s Garage Fiction prompt was provided by me, Jinn Zhong…

The Triskelion symbol, as found in various cultures and history.

These weekly scenes & stories are part of an ongoing project called “Garage Fiction”. Since January 2015, three writers (Jinn Zhong, Dogwood Daniels, and me) have committed to writing a flash fiction or scene each and every week. We post on Fridays and dissect on Mondays via podcast.

Author’s Note: Depending on how Jinn and Dogwood are feeling, their writings, posts, or podcasts may warrant an R rating for mature content (99% of this comes from Dogwood).

Godspeed… and I hope you enjoy our project.

To read Jinn Zhong’s Garage Fiction-of-the-week, Click Here: Collider
To read Dogwood Daniel’s GF-of-the-week, Click Here: Bereaved