Sunday, July 05, 2015
RANDOM VIOLENCE - book#6 in my Bloodscreams Series = Writing as Geoffrey Caine
Dr. Abraham Stroud felt a disturbance in the universe here in the Canadian Badlands in Alberta near the Drumheller area. He pinched himself to determine if he was back where he was in charge of a new archeological dig. Of course, he had felt such disturbances before—in fact, ever since the first time that he was called on to combat supernatural forces, ever since the meatball surgeons at a field hospital had saved him from death when they’d plucked him from a pile of dead bodies cast into a common grave in Vietnam. And ever since surgeons in a German hospital equipped with the wherewithal to slap a steel plate in his head had done so. An archeologist now, one who had discovered and vanquished vampire and werewolf covens, zombies, and gargantuan cemetery worms, Abe knew the stirrings in his head and soul amounted to a new call for his services and likely his fortune, along with his mercenary squad.
However, this time the disturbance was somehow larger and more demanding than any he had ever felt. He was busy, of course, in the midst of the most important Canadian archeological find of prehistoric beasts ever uncovered. He and his students had been busily categorizing what seemed to be a limitless number of creatures from the Sabre-toothed Tiger to the Woolly Mammoth roaming eons ago in what was on the map today as The Badlands of Alberta, Canada. Everyone associated with the dig, Stroud’s backers at the university in Florida, and the Canadian Archeological Society—major contributors in both money and influence—were all ecstatic at the reports coming from Stroud that in part read:
Some species never before seen or known to have existed have been uncovered here. This is a major, major find, gentlemen and ladies. Some of the evidence suggests a number of strange and odd creatures without a name or classification save that they appear to belong in the reptile family.
Stroud lifted the skull of a creature no one had ever seen before. At least not in modern times. It appeared to be part reptile, sure, but it also appeared to be part hominoid – human. Could there have once been a race of reptilian-like homo-sapiens? Stroud recalled his brief brush with a kind of were-creature that inhabited the bayous of Louisiana that amounted to a were-gator, an alligator that walked upright like a man. At the time, he’d had his hands full with an entire coven of Bayou Wulves, werewolves of an evolved nature in that same vicinity, and as a result, he had not pursued the were-gator to uncover any others of its kind. Now this.
The skull was a far, far cry from a human skull, and yet there were marked similarities about the forehead and the crown. While the jawbone and what few teeth had been found still attached appeared more reptilian—crock-like. It might well be evidence of a creature that lived and died off without anyone’s ever knowing about it until now.
The skull was ugly and horribly misshapen, reminding Abe of the old joke about a camel being a horse designed by a committee. Whatever forces of nature had designed this beast, said forces had to have been interested in a thinking man’s reptile most assuredly. Close to the raptor dinosaur in design but not quite, Abe thought this creature might well have had wings too. Larger, more ferocious, more cunning than the raptor, this thing walked like a man.
The ugliness of the brown, dirt-encrusted skull stood at the opposite end of the spectrum of skulls found in other parts of the dig. Known skull types, even those of the Woolly Mammoth and the Sabre-toothed Tiger were sleeker, smoother, and more compact. This thing, Abe thought as he held it up to the light in his tent, this is pock marked with huge bony bubbles, and atop the head, sticking out like tree stumps, were two broken off horns. Whatever this creature was, it must have been a brutal beast and a terrible foe, and a brainy one at that. The size of the cranium had to house a sizable brain. The real question that likely would never be answered was whether or not this creature used its brain in ways that were human-like. Whether its kind hunted in packs or individually—and how successful were they? Had they died out from catastrophic events, pestilence, meteors, climate change, or had they cannibalized themselves to their own end?
Stroud was unsure how he could ever know the full truth about the creature he had no name for. He wanted to give it a name that might reflect on himself. After all, it was his diligence in locating the dig here and in its game-changing discovery. Humanoid Stroudius, he quipped and laughed. Maybe he’d leave the naming for the students; make a game of it, a lottery. Student with the best name gets a day off and a jet ride to the playground of his or her choice, a ride on Stroud’s private jet.
Stroud’s financial situation had only gotten better and better with each of his triumphs over the years. Stroud Foundation funds—funds to combat all manner of evil in the world—had catapulted since the very public and out in the open battles he had done with the Bayou Wulf clan in Louisiana and more recently the war he had waged against the giant fluke works of New York City that had come to be called the Subterraneans.
Stroud took his precious oddly shaped, once horned skull to his workbench where he pulled a lamp on a swivel arm over it. He studied it in its every detail as he picked at the final layer of encrusted dirt and debris about the hills and valleys around the cheek bones, the mouth, nose, and eye sockets. Once done with these areas, Abe worked off a large chunk of earth, fused to the area between the stumps of two horns—the forehead and the crown. This was a stubborn patch of glued-together earth and grass, a clay-based earth.
Abe, impatient to finish clearing off every speck of earth from the ancient skull while thinking about the Greek and Roman depictions of the Minotaur—half man, half bull—got the idea that perhaps—just perhaps—he was holding the skull of a Minotaur in his hands, or at least what passed for one in ancient Canada. There had to be more like him, Stroud thought. “There has to be. What would a lone ‘minotaur’ be doing in a land not on any maps of the day?” Stroud also wondered if this creature walked on two legs or four…or if it crawled on its belly snakelike. A snake with a humanoid head and horns. It sounded damned biblical, but they would not know anymore until or unless the dig provided a lot more bones belonging to the nameless species. Until then, all was pure speculation.
Then again, Stroud cautioned himself, “If you start talking out loud like you are doing inside here, you risk being called a fraud. He knew that every step of the way.” He knew one thing for certain: the dig here in Alberta must be recorded and religiously preserved.
His thoughts were interrupted by a ping on his Mac, and a glance at his watch told him it was Jessie, his wife now of a year and thirty odd days. She called Abe every night at this ungodly hour, unable to sleep as it were. She was pregnant with their son, and as much as she would have loved to see Canada—“No thanks! Not on a dig”. For this reason, she’d remained at home in Andover, Illinois in the safe confines of Stroud Manse.
She came on screen, and he worked up his best cheerfulness and smile, putting away any of the dark thoughts that he’d been juggling in his mind. She had enough to do seeing that their son was healthy and being cared for in the womb.
“I miss you terribly, Abe. When can you come home even for a weekend?” she asked, a radiant glow surrounding her.
Abe saw her aura as a bright yellow with orange splashes here and there, like the sun itself, he had told her. “I am hoping to get back soon, sweetheart, but we’re looking at something here that may be a breakthrough.”
“Ahhhhh, yes, breaking news!” she teased. “Can you share? I am bored and going out of my mind. There is one art gallery and one museum in Andover, and they are in the same room!”
“I know, I know. You have access to the chopper, so go shopping in Chicago, or go visit your folks in NYC.”
“I have done both, Abe, but I am freakin’ eight months along, so I’m going nowhere. Just staying close to home and sticking close to my doctor!”
“Tell me what your last visit with Dr. Shelby was like. All’s well, I pray.”
She frowned but began telling him of the waiting room gossip and politics.
Stroud half-listened as his mind wandered back to the strange find uncovered here in Canada. In his mind’s eye, he saw the Arctic land bridge and whole tribes of people coming across from Asia and with them something ugly and evil following, chasing, a wickedness that had come this way eons ago. How old is evil, he wondered to the beat of Jessie’s voice, and a strange, unfamiliar fear began to seep into his consciousness like nothing he’d felt before—not even when he thought himself dead in a stack of bodies in Vietnam. No…this was something new…or was it? Was it something ancient yet knew only to Dr. Abraham Stroud in 2015?
“Are you listening to me, Abe Stroud?” shouted Jessie. “You know very well I will not be ignored.”
“Oh, sorry…sorry dear. My mind wandered a bit but I am here. You know there is nothing more precious to me than you and our child, Jess.”
“If that’s true, then why are you there and we are here?” The conversation had taken a sudden tone of gloom.
“It’s my work, honey; it’s what I do.”
“No, Abe, it’s who you are, and I knew that when we signed the pre-nup, I did, but I am not sure I can live this way—with you gone so often.”
“Hold on, Jess! Don’t go. I need you and Gideon.”
“You certainly need something,” she countered. “This work-a-holic behavior is wearing on me, Abe.”
“I promise, I’ll be at your side soon, darling. There’s important work going on here, and I suspect an incredible discovery.”
“What sort of discovery?”
“Not sure I should say what it is over the internet, babe.”
“The hell you say! Just tell me.”
“A new species of humanoid, we suspect.”
“New? How new?”
“OK, not new—old! Ancient and extinct, newly discovered.”
“Wow, sounds like a huge deal. What? Like the bloody missing link or something?”
“Possibly…or something.” Abe found this completely foreign, having to explain such things and their importance to a wife.
Jessie waved her hands and said, “Show me.”
He frowned now. “No duplicating. This has to remain our secret until we publish our findings, hon, understood?”
“Abe, I no longer work for any government agency. No more undercover work to elicit information from you. Do you get that?”
He laughed lightly. “Understood.”
“Well then? Show me what is so damnably important.”
Stroud went to the horned skull with its huge jaw bone. He had to hold the two parts together, and they precariously fit like two ends of a shredded napkin where he held it up to the Skype screen. “This is crazy. Anyone might rob this information, so have a quick look and that’s that.” Abe was saying as Jessie stared aghast at the skull.
“Abe…what the hell is that thing?”
“We don’t know; fact is, we need to come up with a name for it. I was thinking Gideon, you know, after the boy, but then—”
“No! No, no, no. Do not name that thing after your son, Abe, after our son. Name it Tom, Dick, or Harry but not Gideon, ever! Banish that thought from your mind.”
“Sure, sure!” Abe picked up on her fear. He could see it in her eyes. “I was only joking, baby. It’s OK.”
“I don’t like the look of that thing, Abe. Not one bit. I think I’m not feeling well. Going to lie down now.”
“Sure, sure! I didn’t mean to upset you, Jess.”
“I know…I know. Say goodbye and remember, we want to see you this weekend if at all possible. Love you, miss you, and goodbye for now.”
Abe was speaking over her with words of endearment when she went off. He still had the unknown in his hands—the two parts of the skull: gorilla like snout and jawbone against the rest of the skull. His students were in a fever to find more like it; they’d be in a race to find another come sunup.
He wondered if Jessie had been able to make out the two broken off horns on the skull. She may well have not seen them or if so, perhaps she had no notion of what they were. Skype did not always get every detail. Still her sudden onset of illness worried him some; then again, she was well along and anything might set off a bout with nausea. He brushed it off.
Unable to sleep, he laid down and stared at the top of his tent where phantoms played within the fabric.
Thursday, July 02, 2015
Placing up right here Chapter One of my Work-in-Play for your perusal. Enjoy and let me know what you think. Sequel to The Sub-TerraneanS ...
An Abe Stroud Bloodscreams Series Title #6
Robert W. Walker writing as Geoffrey Caine
Dear Abraham –
There is a family of demonic origin - that has been set loose in the world by the demon of demons himself, Satan. These are humans turned to his evil cause, and the primary reason for Random Violence. The other bloodlines that produce genius and progress in the world, compassion and social concerns as well as the arts are targets for the Vdoq who survive generation after generation - infiltrating the weaker-minded among the human race. Some Vdoq become were-creatures, others vampires, still others sheer maniacs. The Devil may take a pleasing form or not.
From a letter written to Abraham Stoker, author of Dracula, from Elias Stroud, devoted grandfather.
Abraham Stroud’s mind reeled even as he swept out his .38 police special, realizing that his weapon was no match for the Uzi he faced. In that same instant, the staccato blasts of the automatic sliced the body of the man who’d been pinned atop the hood of Stroud’s police cruiser—literally sliced in two across the waist. The two parts of the poor devil slid off the hood in separate directions, one at the grill, the other body part at the passenger side front tire. Both parts of the man left a slug-trail of blood in each wake.
Stroud at first thought it all a dream, a nightmare hanger-on from his days as a Chicago cop, long before he was given the wherewithal to follow his dreams of being an archaeologist instead. But this was neither dream nor nightmare. This was altogether different as he found himself inside the mind and body of another cop and this was real time, happening now. Stroud had somehow become the cop in danger as he inhabited the man’s body at this crucial, dangerous moment.
That’s how he saw it even as he leapt from his car when first he’d stopped at the traffic light and the two men outside the cruiser wound up fighting against his—or rather Lt. Detective John Random’s car.
In a flash of thought that only the human mind could accomplish, Random—and so too Stroud—replayed it all in his head in a millisecond where they now crouched behind the vehicle. Stroud saw the lettering on the cruiser, which read: Teays Valley/Hurricane Police Department – We Aim to Serve.
Stroud learned in rapid secession that Detective John Random had just gone off duty, and his mind had joyfully wandered to his two little girls, and John Junior, now playing Pop-Warner football. It had been then that Random had first realized the explosion of violence out his windshield. One man, a slim, angular Abe Lincoln in torn jeans and a long black overcoat on a warm night just looked sinister.
Random had caught the devil’s look in the man’s eyes as the assailant had shoved the second man across Random’s hood when Random had stopped for a red light. A small, impish man was being pummeled viciously by the tall beardless Lincoln fellow.
Random had leapt from his car, his gold shield held out before him like a cross presented to a vampire. Random had left the engine idling, the headlights working just fine. He believed a good shout and a scare would break up this nonsense and send the attacker running. Such bold and loud action typically worked with lowlifes.
It turned out it wasn’t to be as simple as that—and Random, along with Stroud, ciphered this fact the moment they simultaneously saw the muzzle of a black weapon rise from out of the dark overcoat. Stroud was sharing the same eyesight, the same touch, the same loss of breath, odors, sounds, and fear as Random now. Stroud as Random and Random as Stroud thought the muzzle of the weapon looked like the head of a cobra rising from a basket.
Random had figured the overcoat in the valley in May was for shoplifting; no doubt about it, but he didn’t figure on a concealed weapon of this nature, but here it was, before him. He gave a thought to his wife and children while staring at the damnable ugly end of the state-of-the-art Uzi. Yes, like the head of a cobra.
“Now just keep cool, and all three of us will go home tonight to our loved ones,” Random said to the gun as much as to the man wielding it, this ‘cocaine cowboy’. Under the headlights, the man’s features proved dark, pock-marked with two rocks of coal for eyes—eyes set far back below a shaggy cliff for a brow.
“Ju got people, I dunt got nobody,” said the attacker, whose accent marked him as Hispanic, possibly Cuban or Columbian. Impossible to be sure, as the area was home to both, despite the majority white population.
Random held up both hands, and Stroud worried about his hands being so far from his weapon. “No need for this to go any further, amigo.”
“I am not your amigo! Do ju know me? No, and I dunt know ju neither, so shut that shit up, man!”
“You’re hardly out of your teens, aren’t you?” Random asked. “You finish high school?”
“Shut up, old man!”
Stroud realized that time was not the same in astral journey as he was on, not while inhabiting another being. This incident may well have all happened a day ago, a week, a year. There was no telling. Meanwhile, sequences from Random’s mind to Strouds jumped like bad reception.
Random had just turned thirty-six and thought of himself as eighteen. The little squirrely guy had wiggled out of the attacker’s grasp, and groaning in pain, climbed higher on the hood as if trying to get behind Random for protection.
Random then said, “No need for any more violence, young fellow. Tell me, what’s your name?” Random had negotiated many a good outcome as a negotiator with the local PD, and he was often called into nearby Charleston to help out there.
“Ju don’t need my damn name.”
“All right, Paco. I’ll just call you Paco and you can me John.”
“How ‘bout I call you Random!” the punk replied and opened fire on his victim there on the hood, the torrent of bullets tearing the victim in two. Bullets went through the dead man, tearing through the hood and pinging and ricocheting off the engine block.
Random dropped to the ground the moment Paco opened fire, but when the shooting stopped, hearing the gun jam, Detective Random rose to fire on the assailant when his full attention fell on the victim, seeing his now upper and lower torso disappearing over the front and passenger side of the hood. Somewhere in back of his mind, the detective wondered how this murdering SOB knew his name. In that single moment of hesitation, Paco opened fire on Random as he dove for cover. A round hit Random and Stroud felt the searing pain as it had torn through him as well.
John Random and Abe Stroud next heard the maniacal laughter; together they heard the killer’s footsteps rounding the car to get to Random where he lay helpless and bleeding from his check and from behind his right ear where the slug had exited, leaving a hole large enough for an iPhone to pocket.
“Now old-old man, Random, you can go to hell,” Paco said in a sneering voice.
Random, in great pain, tried to turn over, feeling his gun below him. If I can turn over like John Wayne in the old movies and fire,” he was thinking when he heard and felt the second bullet rip through his flesh. Random mercifully wafted off into a coma. He did so to the sound of Paco’s satanic laughter.
Paco was about to put another bullet into Random’s head when a close-on siren sounded, followed by a second, along with the sudden onslaught of strobe lights: two police cars racing toward the scene from two directions.
Stroud, terrified at what might happen should Random be killed outright with his astral body inside Random, trapped in a death spiral, had released Random and he now hovered over the scene. He saw Paco race off, taking his weapon with him, leaving behind his senseless act of seemingly random violence behind. As he did so, Stroud heard the he ask in Spanish something of the night sky, “Did I do good? I got Random. Now I want payback.”
Paco was not on a cellphone as he spoke. He seemed to be speaking to some voice inside his head, like a man possessed. The night sky failed to answer him. From the confusion on his face, Stroud guessed that the voice or voices inside his head also failed to answer him. In an attempt to understand the gunman’s motivation, Stroud’s astral self entered the killer as he had entered John Random, but this time he was fully conscious and making the decision himself. In Random’s case, some force outside him had sent him here.
“Ju wanna take time, eh? Caution. I know, but I put two bullets in the hero.”
Paco had re-attached his Uzi to the interior of his long coat. It anguished him that THEY had gone silent, but perhaps this was THEIR way once a mission was carried out. Maybe the beings he only knew as Vdocqs had to hold some sort of ritual or silent vigil when an enemy was killed…maybe, just maybe, but who knew? Then a creeping little fear for his own life seeped into his consciousness and Stroud shared his palpable fear.
Paco eyed a man walking a dog coming toward him. Jus’ a man and his dog, nothin’ to trouble myself over. Didn’t see nothin’. Knows nothin’. Might’ve seen me talkin’ to myself is all. No matter. Still…being close, the man had to’ve heard shots— unless deaf. Maybe I need do this guy. Leave nothin’ to chance. No witness to ID me in a lineup.
His fingers went for the still hot touch of his weapon, but before Paco could whip his monster gun out, the dog—a German shepherd that had morphed into a hound from Hades itself and leaped, knocking Paco over and thrusting huge fangs into his throat. Stroud rushed from Paco’s body as the hellhound ripped out Paco’s throat.
Hovering above the bloody scene, Abraham Stroud recounted in his own mind what had happened. All in an instant, the old man had released his hold on what appeared a harmless dog, and dragging the leash, the monstrous hound devoured Paco’s throat. Actually, the single bite threw Paco into a paroxysm of pain and trauma, and as he bled out, the dog walker stood over him with the grin of a satanic imp.
“Yes, Mister Cruz, you fulfilled your end of the bargain,” the impish fellow said, and then to the hellish creature, “Dante, stop it now. Come away. You can’t be lapping up so much. You know it makes you ill to do so.” Then the imp again addressed the dying Mr. Cruz. “Now you can become one of us in spirit over flesh.”
Back at the scene of the shootings, uniformed police had fanned out in an effort to locate the shooter. All this while EMS workers were doing all in their power to save Detective Random. One said to his partner, “I hear he was supposed to be promoted to captain status next week.”
“Won’t be at that ceremony,” replied his partner.
“Think he has a chance in hell?”
“Hard to say. Sometimes when they go into coma like this,” the partner began and shrugged, “it’s like the body’s way of shutting off the trauma. Hard to tell.”
“Coma…such a weird thing.”
“Likely the docs would’ve induced a coma if he hadn’t done it himself.”
“What do you think goes on in a person’s head when he’s…you know…out there in Coma-land?”
“Anyone’s guess. Science knows shit about that landscape.”
“Wonder about that, too,” said the first man.
“How it is that some people go into shock and die with such wounds, and others go into coma and live?”
“Not everyone who goes into coma lives either, Pat.”
“I know, Steve…but some do.”
“This cop-shooting across the country, and now here, in our city’s sucks man.”
The man’s partner, nodding agreed. “It’s gotten like some kind of carnival game for the gangs.”
“It is getting old fast.”
Loaded into the emergency medical van marked Putnam County, on IV, the comatose John Random found home, his wife, and his children. He had never felt so warmly welcomed, so at home, and so alive. But it was as though there was something gnawing, scratching at his door…at his consciousness. Some sort of danger and disharmony wishing to be visited upon him, upon his family, upon his city, upon his country, and perhaps upon his world. Yet a powerful opiate-like desire to focus only on his family now overtook him, banishing the thing at the door of his home here in the Teays Valley-Hurricane area, a bedroom community for both Huntington and Charleston, West Virgina; a place that hadn’t seen a murder case in six years.
“Where am I?” Stroud had wondered when he first entered the comatose John Random where he had begun his journey through Random’s mind. It had been Random, lying on the street, bleeding and comatose who had astrally entered the shooter’s mind. Stroud had only entered Random in his hospital bed where he remained in deep coma. All the time that Dr.Abraham Stroud, archaeologist and vampire slayer, had seen and felt the entire incident only through contact with the comatose patient’s memories. Stroud knew it was time for him to pull free of Random—at least for now. He did so with a swirl of questions left in his own mind.