Empty Sky Chapter 15 – Pangiosi and Tom

What Real Monsters Are Like

Read Empty Sky Chapter 14 – Detective Colodnie Johnson


Earl Pangiosi poured himself another two-fingers of Macallan and turned on the stereo on low, Sinatra, soft and not distracting. Above the train’s rumblings and Sinatra’s croonings, he heard movement from the bedroom.

“Ah, Mr. McPherson, are you ready to join us?” He opened the door and flipped on the lights, turning the dial to full brilliance.

On the floor, straightjacketed and gagged, Tom McPherson closed his eyes and rolled away from the harsh lights.

“Well, Mr. McPherson how are you today? It’s such a relief to know you’re still with us. I was concerned, you know.” Pangiosi He helped Tom sit up then raised him up so both could sit on the edge of the bed. “It’s okay, Mr. McPherson. I am your friend.” He laid an arm across Tom’s shoulders and gave a gentle hug.

Tom hesitated, resisting Pangiosi’s gentle pressure, squinting at the silhouette Pangiosi made against the lights.

“Oh, so sorry, Tom. May I call you ‘Tom’? Let me turn those lights down a bit.”

Pangiosi walked to the switch and back. When he stood over Tom, Pangiosi adjusted his sportcoat to reveal his 92X in a sling holster.

Tom’s eyes went wide and fixed on him.

“Do you know, Tom, your wife, Eleanor, and I were quite close friends? Did she ever mention me?”

Tom’s eyes narrowed and his brow descended.

“God’s truth.” Pangiosi held up his right hand. “What became of her, Tom? Do you know? Can you tell me?”

Tom looked around the room, his eyes moving quickly, taking in the richly paneled walls, the dresser and vanity and entertainment system, the phone and computer recessed on the far wall, the slightly ajar lavatory door showing the hints of marble within, the other door showing the working table and chairs and paper stacks thereon.

But he never took his eyes off Pangiosi for long.

“Let me tell you what I know, Tom. Let’s see where it all fits.”

Pangiosi sat on the edge of the bed, his left foot touching the floor and his right leg crooked over the covers. He folded his hands in his lap and canted his face and eyes to the ceiling as if the memory was written there.

“I’m not sure where we recruited Eleanor. Oh, I have the information in the other room.” He waved towards the open door. “But that’s not important right now. I’m sure you agree. Don’t you, Tom?

“What I really want to discuss with you is the matter of her departure. It is most interesting and quite puzzling, to be sure.

“Now just so we’re clear, Tom, what I’m about to tell you is quite confidential. Top secret, hush-hush, eyes only and all that. I’m happy to tell you, of course, but then, as they say, I’ll have to kill you.” He laughed, looking sideways at Tom and punching a straight-jacketed arm. “Oh, laugh, Tom. I’m kidding.”

His voice grew quiet, confidential. He leaned in to Tom, an arm around his shoulders.

“The first thing you need to know is that I’m involved in dream research. That’s where all this begins, and Ellie got herself involved in it with us. Did you know Ellie is what some people in the field call ‘a gifted dreamer’? I don’t think she even knew it. Basically, she had the ability to go so deeply into her dreams they became her reality. Now this is something right out of mythology. Australia’s aboriginals have been telling us about this kind of thing for years but let’s face it; dreams become realities? You have that whole wishes-horses-beggars thing and nobody wants that.

“But back to Ellie. At one point Ellie was fully in D-sleep — that’s ‘desynchronized’ or ‘dreaming sleep. That’s what we call it, D-sleep — and had been for days. It almost seemed as if she’d been waiting for us to come along and help her succumb to Morpheus’ charms. Except we didn’t. My hand to god, we didn’t do a thing to her.” He slapped Tom’s thigh as if the two were enjoying a joke. “Can you beat that? We didn’t do a goddamn thing and, as soon as she can, she’s fast asleep and twitching to beat the band.”

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Empty Sky Chapter 14 – Detective Colodnie Johnson

Questions Without Answers

Read Empty Sky Chapter 13 – John Nighthorse


Detective Colodnie Johnson huffed and puffed her way to the Lake Shore Limited‘s security station at the rear of the kitchen car. Despite the smoothness of the ride she waddled in the narrow train aisles and pulled herself along as if climbing uphill. She hadn’t eaten before leaving Chicago and didn’t want Games or McPherson to know she followed them onboard so she stayed in her berth all through supper chain smoking. Her stomach moaned in disbelief.

She sneered into one of the security cameras as she passed underneath and wondered what whoever was on the other end saw. A big, black woman? She wasn’t really all that black. She could have passed for a dark skinned Mediterranean, maybe a Sicilian or a Moroccan, her features were soft and her skin rarely ashed. There was an Italian girl in college with Colodnie, big like Colodnie. The BSU, the college’s Black Student Union, approached her to join but not Colodnie. She found out years later they were so embarrassed by their first mistake they didn’t dare make another so never invited her to join.

In the beginning she thought she wasn’t good enough, maybe not black enough or not militant enough or not cerebral enough. Maybe they found out about her Aunt Connie, who ironed her hair and passed for the thirty years she worked as a secretary downtown, and that’s why they never spoke to her or called her “sistah.”

Or maybe they were just fucking morons, such totally inept fools, clods, and idiots they didn’t deserve the likes of her.

She got her degree, enrolled in the Chicago Police Academy, and started eating two portions instead of one with every meal all in the same week. Smoking came much, much later.

She tapped on the patrol station door. It was ajar and no one answered. She withdrew her GP100 7 Shot .357 Magnum from its holster and slammed herself against the door, ramming whoever might be on the other side into the wall.

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Empty Sky Chapter 13 – John Nighthorse

Teach Your Children Well

Read Empty Sky Chapter 12 – Shem


John stood before Earl Pangiosi in the latter’s private car, the two men still on his shoulders and showing no sign of strain.

“Mr. Nighthorse.” Pangiosi sat at the far end of the table, his chair tilted against the wall on its rear legs and his hands behind his head. He stared at John, cocking his head first right, then left, evaluating. “That’s quite a story.”

“Yes, it is, sir.

“Are you sure you’re alright?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You’re confident Mr. Steyle is the only one compromised?”

“As I said, Mr. Pangiosi, there were three suites I didn’t enter. Considering — ”

Pangiosi interrupted him. “Yes, yes. Well.” He rocked forward and got up. “Would you put what remains of Mr. Steyle on the floor, please.”

John knelt and lowered his comrade’s body without a word.

Pangiosi knelt beside the body. He arranged the shirt and sportcoat. He picked some lint from the lapel. He sighed.

The billy, still gripped in Steyle’s right hand, caught Pangiosi’s eye. He lifted it and the hand and arm came with it. Pangiosi tried to pry it free but Steyle claimed it even in death.

“Mr. Nighthorse, jacket that one in the next room, please, then bring me some sheets of plastic, a hammer or better, a mallet, and a knife, the sharpest you can find.”

“Yes sir.”

John gathered two plastic straws from the wetbar then lay Tom’s sleeping body on the bed in the next room. He pulled a straightjacket from the closet, gently maneuvered Tom into it and strapped it tight. He put the straws between Tom’s lips, took out a tube of SuperGlue out of his pocket and glued Tom’s mouth shut. Lastly he gently placed Tom on the floor and put a pillow under his head.

He returned with Pangiosi’s requested supplies.

“Thank you, Mr. Nighthorse. Spread out the plastic and center Mr. Steyle on it, would you?”

John did as instructed.

“Now stand back, please.”

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The Toadstool Bookshop in Keene Welcomes Joseph Carrabis Reading and Signing The Augmented Man

Come find out what The Augmented Man is really about

That’s right, you bet’cha, I’ll be at Keene’s Toadstool Bookstore on Saturday, 14 Sept 2019, 2-4pmET, reading and signing copies of The Augmented Man

 
The US Military concedes that any kind of combat leaves soldiers psychologically damaged and makes reintegration to society difficult.

The solution is to find individuals who are already so psychologically damaged the most horrendous combat experience will seem trivial by comparison. Better, find individuals psychologically damaged who’ve also experienced massive physical insult and trauma. Best, individuals psychologically damaged, physically traumatized, and emotionally vacant.

But where to find such individuals?

Captain James Donaldson suggests using massively abused and traumatized children as the basis, arguing “…they’ve already experienced more at home than they’ll ever experience in the field. All we need to is help their bodies catch up to where their psyches and emotions already are.

Nine individuals are selected for Augmentation and entered into combat.

One survives.

And comes home.

The Story Behind the Story
People’s reactions to The Augmented Man fascinate me. Yes, the book reads like a military sci-fi thriller, and intentionally so. However, the real story is in the metaphor of the abused child.

Children from abusive families tend to think of themselves as monsters unworthy of love, hence the suffering they go through – often without even being aware that what’s happening to them isn’t normal, a “fish don’t know they live in water” kind of thing.

This monster self-concept is often reinforced by society which, not being able to recognize the child’s trauma, blames the child for its behaviors and problems.

So for me, the real meat of the story occurs when Trailer (the main character) uses everything he’s been taught (to be a monster) to heal himself from trauma, and then further when he realizes how much monsterhood he must retain in order to survive in a normal world.

About me
You can find out more than you need to know at my About page.

Empty Sky Chapter 12 – Shem

A dog and his boy

Read Empty Sky Chapter 11 – Dr. Lupicen and Ann

Creator and above level members can download a PDF of this file to read offline


Two men, one shaved bald, tall, thin and quick like a whip and the other a fireplug on legs with a jet black ponytail halfway down his broad back, both in tailored, navy-blue pinstripe suits and wearing hand-made, alligator-skin shoes so polished they reflected the lights marking the aisle, made their way from the locomotive through the tender to the back of the train. The whip would walk a few long, waspish steps, wait, then spin the gold and diamond pinky ring on his right hand until the fireplug caught up. When the fireplug reached him the whip would walk a few more long, waspish steps, wait and spin his ring again.

The fireplug strolled, his hands clasped in front of his chest as if in prayer, his eyes skimming over his knuckles as they evaluated, the bands of the two turquoise rings he wore — one on each ring finger — clicking sometimes as he walked. He passed no one without reaching out to their carotid and checking for a pulse; conductors, stewards, clerks, passengers. It didn’t matter.

The fireplug’s slow methodicity and attention to detail frustrated the whip who released his frustration by aiming a small but powerful ruby laser into the lens of the security cameras while he waited for his partner to catch up.

“Christ, look at this place. What did Pangiosi use again?”

“Ambien. That’s what he had us dump in the food service trucks. It makes you sleep and wake up without feeling groggy. ‘Far as everyone on the train is concerned, they’ll all think they probably had too much to drink.”

“Do you have to test every mother’s son?” The whip broke protocol and used names in an attempt to make the fireplug move faster. “We’re supposed to get McPherson to Pangiosi before morning, you know.”

The fireplug stopped and stared at the whip who turned away before the fireplug answered. “We have plenty of time. Besides, we find one dead person, we got trouble.”

“Didn’t you tell me once something about your grandfather teaching you to help people die?”

The fireplug nodded as he worked. “Not exactly. He taught me to sing them from this world to the next, to carry the souls of the dead so they’d find peace.”

“Happy hunting ground stuff?”

“Something like that.”

“You believe in that stuff?”

“I don’t believe in much of anything anymore.”

“Yeah. Ditto that.”

The fireplug continued his slow inspection. The whip tapped his foot at the rear door to the car.

The fireplug stopped and looked up. “I wonder if these people dream.”

The whip broke protocol a second time. “John, who gives a shit. Pangiosi gave us an order. We carry it out.”

John stopped. His arms folded over an expansive chest.

The whip looked out a window and spun his gold and diamond pinky ring. “Sorry.”

John’s prayerful hands went back to work.

Shem twitched himself awake. His head rose up and he sniffed the air. A scent, something from deep dog memory, canine memory, canid memory, canis memory. He leapt off the bunk and growled. A door opened in the bedroom suite, a door only dogs, only canines, only the line that first walked before man then behind then beside could see, sworn under the first full moon to watch for such doors because humans, the canids knew, would grow to forget.

The door closed. Whatever had been there had been warned away by flashing eyes, by baring teeth.

He jumped back on the bunk. As he circled to lay down he remembered the Little Master had gone. He looked across the suite to the other cot. The Great Master snored lazily like an old Alpha in the tall grass on a hot summer day.

Shem scratched his ear with a hind paw then sniffed his genitals. He rested his head over his paws, flopped to his side and stretched on the mattress. The entire bed was his!

Glorious His!

A few minutes later he, like the Great Master, snored like an Alpha in the tall grass.

***
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