The Agency

colin salmon

Actor Colin Salmon as Charles Robinson in the 1999 film “The World is Not Enough.”

“Who are you, where am I, and where the hell is my solicitor?”

“Right now Ms. Parker, my name and your location aren’t important and frankly neither are your so-called rights. Our records indicate you are guilty of virtually every computer crime we have a law for, so you might want to be a bit more civil.”

The African-British gentleman, for that’s the image he had so carefully crafted, was sitting across a metal table from his prisoner, a young woman in her late teens. The most obvious aspects of her appearance were dominated by black attire, tattoos and body piercings.

“I want my solicitor.”

“This isn’t Scotland Yard, Danae.”

“I don’t care if it’s fucking MI6, I want my solicitor and I’m not saying a damn thing until I see one.”

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Treasure Hunter


Among Timbuktu’s places of study is the historic Sankore University – Photo Credit: DBImages, Alamy Stock Photo

Deidra Maher whored her way through France and Spain to earn passage across Morocco, Algeria, and finally to Mali. Since inheriting the cipher from her great-granduncle as his only living relative, she spent the next five years accomplishing what he had failed to do in twenty. Shon Knowles certainly had a keen mind but not a brilliant one, so the secret of the cipher eluded him. However, his great-grandniece was considered a prodigy, though an undisciplined one, yet it still took her half a decade to master the ancient code.

It was unusual for a woman to travel alone, even a European one, in Islamic nations, but she was now posing as a reporter covering the first Festival au Désert to be held in the region since 2013. Making her way through the horde of residents and tourists along Askia Mohamed Boulevard in Timbuktu, Deidra arrived at Hotel Colombe 2, a modest but adequate accommodation. She only planned to stay for a day, two at the most. For the present, comfort was her main interest.

The city had once been a hub of Islamic learning many centuries past, but eventually began to decline and finally collapsed under the heel of French rule. Yet, the cipher contained a map to what Knowles believed were long forgotten tunnels under Mosquée Sankoré. All she had to do was break in.

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A Great Time to Be Alive

moon base

Scene from the 1968 film, “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

Jason Fields sat in the Common Area of Lunar Base Five (LB5) sipping his coffee. He got there early enough to get a table by one of the windows. He liked looking out at the rest of the base and the wild and empty Moonscape beyond. He was pleased that the construction of Dome Three was progressing ahead of schedule, and could remember being one of the young men in a spacesuit building the first habitat for humans on the Moon. 2018 was great time to be alive.

Later, he planned to phone his son’s family back on Earth. His eight-year-old Grandson Billy gave a report in class yesterday about the Moon Base Program using some of Jason’s personal experiences and he was anxious to see how it went.

As one of the original engineers on Lunar Base One back in the 1980s, his contribution earned him permanent residency on the Moon in the colony of his choice. Taking another sip of coffee, he mused how he never thought he’d actually retire up here. He probably wouldn’t have if Cindy were still alive, poor soul, but cancer took her far to early in life.

“Hey, Jase.” He looked up at the man joining him at his table.

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The Girl with the Green Eyes

girl with green eyes

Photo credit: Ryn-Sweet-Surreal

She remembered looking at her reflection in a tidal pool. Her eyes were green, like the color of the seaweed coves. She had dark red hair and her “polka dots” (what Papa called her freckles) punctuated her face like the lakes and ponds in the Verdant Hills to the north. Merilyn dressed in clothes the color of her eyes.

She had only been six years old and lived in a village on a river near an estuary to the ocean. The ocean sustained them in so many ways. Some of the men and a few of the women fished on the long boats. Others managed the seaweed farms. A lot of the older kids worked on the desalination units, each of which stood out of the water like solitary and noble sentries, yet provided fresh water to be sold to the desert provinces and the Negev city of Quebracho.

Merilyn knew they were all necessary but none of them were exciting, not like pearl diving.

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Koi no Yokan

man on beach

Man on a beach – free stock photo

The sky was a brilliant cyan when she first saw him on the beach. He was staring out at the ocean as if witnessing a tragedy and in spite of her vow of utter celibacy, she experienced an overwhelming sense of Koi no Yokan. Whispering a curse and then immediately regretting it, Merilyn continued her run across the shoreline leaving the solitary young man behind.

The hostel was serving thin Miso soup and fish again that evening when he walked in. Merilyn tried not to roll her eyes as Donn, at the head of the table, was again vaunting about his prowess with the Shinai and how he was sure to win the Kendo games which would begin the next week. They heard a noise at the door and she recognized the man from the beach standing at the threshold. Tradition demanded that even an ego as big as Donn’s cease pontificating so they could greet the visitor.

They each in turn stood and bowed to the stranger, introducing themselves and welcoming him to the competitor’s hostel. He bowed in return in a gradual manner which she would learn was his way in social settings, though most certainly not during battle.

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The Switchman’s Lantern


Image: Google Images – labelled for re-use.

Josiah Bell was a switchman like his Pappy before him. He had a gimpy leg from an accident he had when he was six so he walked the tracks carrying his lantern in one hand and a long pole in the other. On top of the pole, he hung a red kerchief on a nail which he liked to wave at the engineers as they drove their enormous machines along the tracks.

He was working the yards in Chicago and it was damn early in the morning and cold. He done heard on the radio what those Hitler and Mussolini fellas was doing and how them Germans sent their army into peaceful Denmark and Norway. Josiah was a peaceful man and a simple one but he didn’t take to no bullies. He’d been bullied plenty as a child because of his bum leg. A lot of folks wanted America to stay out of that mess in Europe and maybe they were right, but then who was gonna take care of those bullies?

The 3:10 from Omaha was just coming up to his switch. Josiah set down his pole and grasped the metal bar and with a practiced hand and steely sinews, pulled, switching the course of the train from the main line to the freight yards. Then he stood, putting most of weight on his good leg and waved his lantern. No use waving the kerchief on the pole, too dark to see it.

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Tikkun Olam


© Hossein Zare

This world wasn’t real but then nothing he dreamed was real. Unfortunately, he was dead and all he had left were his dreams.

Jonathan Cypher stood on a salty white plain, the sky above a uniform gray mist. How had he gotten here? He woke up but the statement hardly did his situation justice. He was always dreaming and when he woke up, he was always in another dream.

The dream of the salt plain held two remarkable features. The first was a tree in the distance. Like everything else around him, it was presented in varying shades of charcoal, but it was lush and alive, or so it appeared as it stood on the distant horizon.

Then there were the tracks. Some looked like twin tire tracks but for others, the pair were too close together. What could have made them? There were no vehicles in sight, no sound of engines or people, not even birds. No wind, no rain, the only thing he could hear was the crunching of the salt that probably wasn’t salt under his feet as he stepped down.

The idea of following the tracks was compelling. Something had made them but whatever it was had disappeared at their vanishing points. The only reasonable destination, if reason could be said to apply here, was the tree.

He started walking.

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Test Flight


Image found at Vector News

Cory was conducting another sweep of the void in search of any contacts in the area of space where what Krista called “the indiscriminate drive” deposited the ship.

“Nothing, Captain. No coalescent bodies of any kind. I’m only reading dust and hydrogen gas. Impossible to tell our location in relation to the Solar System without a frame of reference.”

“That’s fine, Mr. McKenzie. Continue scans until further notice.”

“Aye, Captain.”

Captain Forest Quinn volunteered to command the experimental jump drive vessel Kingfisher, Elon Musk III’s brain child. In theory, a ship equipped with the Tesla drive could instantaneously jump from one point in space to another using a virtual point-to-point link through subspace. All of the unmanned probes including a quarter-sized model of the Kingfisher jumped to specific coordinates between fifty and three-hundred light years from Earth and returned safely by virtue of their AI guidance systems.

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Never Trust an Angel

woman pointing gun

Young woman pointing a gun (Shutterstock)

“As far from the east from the west has He distanced your transgressions from you, she said. If your sins are frozen like the snows on Kilimanjaro, I will melt your heart like the wings of Icarus, she said. Ha! The best of times, the worst of times and brother, this is the worst of times.”

“Quit your bitching Milo and put your back into it.” The prison guard waved his shotgun vaguely in the young convict’s direction to emphasize the point.

He held up his pickaxe momentarily entertaining murderous thoughts, but even if he could bury the business end of it in that fat pig’s chest before he could react, the others would cut him down in a New York minute. Not worth it. Milo brought his tool down on hard, merciless rock, as hard as his stoney heart.

How had he ended up here? Oh yeah. Her.

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Actor Christian Bale as John Connor in the 2009 film “Terminator Salvation.”

The words blurred into one another, every yellowed page like the one before. Joe Kelley had been confined in the Detention Center for nearly a week and compelled to read and view all manner of anti-Christian and progressive texts and films in an effort to “correct” his views on the existence of God and particularly the God of the Bible.

He was surprised they hadn’t simply arrested him, beaten a confession out of him (or “disappeared” him like so many of his friends), and then sentenced him to a long prison term. Then he realized that with his son Gabe being a high-ranking official on the local Public Education Council, the Progressive Enforcement (PE) Police didn’t want to embarrass him by having the news media report that his Dad had been convicted of seditious religious beliefs.

At first, his Counselor Mx Torres considered “converting” him to a state-approved inclusive Christian church, but when the psychological test results came back, the recommendation was to completely reprogram him to deny all faith in Christ.

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