Saturday, April 14, 2007

Cat With A Past

Cat With A Past

The Cat
THE CAT LAY sprawled on the stainless steel table, its limbs strapped firmly to prevent it from moving. It wanted to lick its fur to clean off the scent of those that had been handling it and the smell of the antiseptic that covered everything. Its eyes nervously darted back and forth at the people in their white clothes as they moved around the room.
The doctor brought the large needle over to the table and unmercifully stabbed it into the cat. It screamed as he slowly depressed the plunger until it was empty. The cat lay silent, its eyes glazed, not understanding what was happening. Finally, drowsiness overcame it and sleep came.
The cat opened its eyes, still strapped to the stainless steel table. New perceptions overwhelmed the animal as thoughts taunted its mind. Where am I? What am I? These people, why have they strapped me down? They are bad people.
The doctor moved toward the cat again, another large needle protruding from his hands. He injected it into the cat's back and slowly squeezed the plunger once again. The cat didn't scream this time. Instead it thought about what was happening to it.
The cat, or what was left of its original genetic makeup, awoke. It was now something else...rather someone else. It found difficulty in hiding its newfound human thoughts from those who watched as it lay there. It knew that they expected some type of reaction.
I am a doctor, it thought. They probe and poke me looking for some result. They have injected what I was into this creature, some kind of experiment. I will not give them their results, for if they believe I am a failure, perhaps it will be an opportunity to escape. I will live again...

The Prospective Owners
"WHY DOES IT have to be a cat? I hate cats!" Milt argued.
"Well, I love cats! I want one and that's final," Rene said, folding her arms across her chest. Milt, recognizing the finality in her stance, knew he was in trouble. Trying to salvage this dispute, he changed his tact.
"What about the new breeds? Everyone has them now and—"
"Those aren't cats," she said disdainfully. "They're mixed with human DNA. It removes the entire real cat from them. I want a full bred cat!"
"But the new breeds have all the nasty cat traits removed. They are bred to be the perfect pets," he said, still not giving up. "Some of them have even been given speech capability. There's no tearing, chewing, scratching or..."
"I don't want one of those machines," she said in a scathing voice. "That's all they really are. I want a real cat."
Rene whirled and stomped out of the kitchen. As Milt exhaled and prepared to follow her, he heard the bedroom door slam and knew he was sofa-bound for the evening. After twenty years of marriage, after all the ups and downs, it had come to this...
"All over a damn cat," he snorted. "Why couldn't she like dogs or fish? The only things cats are good for are road ornaments, especially under the tires of my car." He walked over to the sofa and settled down for the night.
Milt dreamt of his childhood, his grandmother in particular because she had always been so kind to him. He smiled. Then he remembered her cat, and frowned. A big, fat, ugly cat named Jingles. It lived upstairs, usually sitting on the window ledge next to the entry door to the flat as if guarding it. Every time he would go by, it hissed at him and on more than one occasion it lashed out at him. He still wore many scars that reminded him of his trips upstairs. he hated that cat.
In his dream, he was walking up the stairs at his grandmother's house, trying to be quiet so as to elude the cat. Stepping onto the main landing, he looked around carefully. The cat was nowhere in sight. The windowsill where Jingles usually resided was blessedly empty and the window was open. Joy suddenly filled him as he imagined the cat finally meeting its demise and falling off the windowsill. Young Milt smiled, conjuring the image of the cat backstroking in a pool of its own blood on the hard cement below.
Suddenly from a shelf above the storage cabinet, the cat leapt at him. The surprise and momentum of the cat drove him to the floor. Jingles sat on his chest, hissing and displaying its claws in a sign of supreme dominance, its eyes locked onto his as it began to rip out pieces of flesh from his chest. He screamed....
"Wake up, Milt, you're dreaming. Wake up," Rene said, shaking him.
"'s killing me!" he screamed, flailing his arms in front of him, warding off the attack.
"You were having a bad dream," she said in disgust. "Get up! It's time to get ready for work, anyway."
Her demeanor from the evening before was obviously still alive and well, he thought, as he tried to shake off the remnants of his nightmare. Few words passed between them as they prepared for work.
After work, Milt joined his good friend Tony for a beer. He finished explaining the previous evening's events to Tony.
"Talk about a rock and a hard spot." Tony chuckled. "It doesn't sound like you have a whole lot of maneuvering room."
"No, when Rene gets like this, she's like a boulder. Unmovable." Milt downed his remaining mouthful of beer. Tony sat quietly gazing out at the people passing by outside.
"A plain cat does not come with a cheap price tag either," Milt commented. "They're getting scarce and run about five grand." He looked at Tony's empty beer glass and asked, "another beer?" There was no answer. "Hey, Tony, do you want another beer?"
Tony returned his gaze to Milt. " thanks. I was just thinking. I know an old friend who works at one of the smaller labs that's involved with those new breeds of cats. He might be able to help."
"How so?"
"Well," Tony began, staring into his beer, "what if you told Rene you bought a real cat and not a new breed? Do you think she would know the difference?"
Milt thought for a moment. "I don't know. Why?"
"What if you were able to get a kind of new breed at a good price? Would you be interested?"
"Well, I suppose so, but what do you mean by 'a kind of' new breed?"
"This friend of mine," Tony said, lowering his voice, "he makes some money on the side by taking the rejected cats, the ones that don't take the DNA splicing well enough to qualify to be sold by the sanctioned dealers, and sells them on the side. Normally they're destroyed, but my friend has been known to...well...'misplace' a few of them and sell them fairly cheap."
"What kind of shape are they in?" Milt asked skeptically. "They don't have two heads or anything do they?"
"No. Of course not. But, I tell you what, let me make some calls tonight and see what I can find out. Okay?"
"Sure," Milt said, thinking of the nice comfy bed he wouldn't be sleeping in again tonight. "I really appreciate anything you can do for me, Tony."
"Not a problem." Tony smiled. "I think I will have another beer."
The Facility
"HEY, STAN," DOCTOR Olivetti called, "got one more for you tonight."
Stan turned to see Doctor Olivetti, the primary geneticist at the facility, wheeling in a cart with a sedated cat on it.
"Didn't make the grade?" Stan said gazing at the still feline.
"No, not even close. Bad DNA I suspect," the doctor said.
Stan scratched his head. "You know, it will probably be tomorrow before I..."
"Have a good night." The doctor said, ignoring Stan, as he turned back toward the corridor of the central lab facility.
"You too, Doc," Stan said sarcastically as he watched the departing figure.
Turning toward the cat he said, "And for you, little kitty, a reprieve. And for me...payday."
When the phone rang, Stan answered, "New World Laboratories, Stan Lawsom speaking."
"Hey, Stan. It's Tony. How the hell are yah?"
"Hey, Tony, pretty good. How about you?"
"Can't complain. Hey...ah...I have a friend looking for a cat, a cheap cat. You don't just happen to have any 'lying around' do you there, buddy? If so, you might be able to line your pockets a bit."
Stan gazed toward the cat in the cage; it was beginning to stir. "I might be able to help out your friend. You're...ah...sure he's legitimate?"
"Oh yeah, no doubt about it. Known the guy for years. Work together."
Stan looked around to make sure he was alone. "Let me give you a call tomorrow. See if I can scrounge something up."
"Sounds good."
Stan lowered his voice. "Oh, and, Tony, tell your friend the price is a grand, okay?"
"Got you. Look forward to hearing from you."
TWO DAYS LATER, Milt and Tony sat in a strange bar in an area of town they didn't frequent very often.
"Why did he pick this place?" Milt asked, carefully avoiding eye contact with anyone.
Tony answered in a low tone. "Stan said he could get in a lot of trouble for doing this. It's not just losing his job, but you've got health agencies and all kinds of Feds that get involved in something like this. Imagine what would happen if some crazy strain of DNA got lose in a cat or dog and they escaped and began to breed."
"I hadn't ever thought about it that way," Milt answered, his voice unsure.
"Well, you had better," Tony said seriously, "because, if you get caught in the act of buying the animal, you're in for a long haul also."
Their discussion was interrupted by Stan's arrival.
"Hey, Tony, old pal," Stan said, as he walked up. Tony turned and they shook hands.
"Stan, this is my friend Milt. He's the 'interested party' I mentioned to you on the phone."
"Pleased to meet you." Stan extended his hand to Milt, who reciprocated.
"I have the item," he said to Milt. "Do you have the money?"
"Yes, where is...the 'item?'" Milt nearly whispered.
"Out in my car." Stan jabbed his thumb over his shoulder. "I thought it would be better to conduct the transaction outside in the alley next to this place."
"Good thinking," Tony said. "We're parked a block down. We'll meet you in the alley in five."
A few minutes later they assembled in the alley. Stan removed the cat carrying container from his car. He opened it, removed the animal, and handed it to Milt.
Milt backed away, turned to Tony and spoke in a low voice. "Ah...Tony, can you check it out for me? You know me and cats...I wouldn't know a good one from a bad one."
"Sure. Hand it to me. We have to be sure, after all. It's a gift for the missus."
Stan shrugged, and handed the cat to Tony while looking at Milt with an expression that said, "Who cares if the guy doesn't like cats, as long as I get the money."
Tony ran his hands through the cat's fur, looking for any obvious deformities. Milt stared at it, realizing it has been quite a while since he'd been around a cat. This one was the color he thought people referred to as a "tabby," although he wasn't really sure. He still thought all cats should be under the tires of a fast moving car.
As if the cat had heard his comment, the animal turned toward Milt. Feeling the diamond shaped pupils staring at him, Milt shivered.
"Are you sure the animal is safe?" he asked Stan, backing a little farther away.
"Sure it is. It just failed the DNA assimilation tests. It seems kitty here possesses the traits it was injected with, but for some reason the animal fails to display them. Can't sell a damaged product you know. Regulatory agencies say it has to be destroyed."
"So, it will act like a regular cat, then?"
"More or less, I guess." Stan shrugged.
"What does that mean?" Milt still felt the feline's eyes on him.
"What do you want for a grand? A guarantee or something?" Stan said sarcastically. "It means just what I said. It's not one hundred percent cat anymore. There's some human DNA in there lurking about and I don't know what it will do. The doc says that if the traits don't show up within three days after introduction, chances are they never will, but to play it safe, they destroy them."
Milt turned to Tony. "Well, what do you think?"
"Looks like the genuine article and all. Up to you, buddy. I'm sure Rene will be pleased," Tony said, still stroking the cat.
Milt thought for a few seconds, then handed an envelope to Stan, who immediately opened it and counted the money within.
"If something should go wrong..."
"No refunds and don't call me," Stan said, already getting into his car. "Just take it out and shoot it or something. I've taken some hefty risks by doing this." Placing the envelope inside his jacket pocket, he smiled. "It's been a pleasure doing business with you, boys. And can even have the carrier for free. Adios..."
Stan left Tony, Milt, and the cat in the alley. Tony placed the cat into the carrier and put it on the back seat of the car. Milt sat in the front seat, still imagining the eyes of the cat continuing to bore into him.
At least Rene will be happy. She better damn well be for a thousand dollars and my sanity.
The Feds
AGENT MICHAEL CUMMINGS stood in the outer office of Assistant Director Sorelson of the FBI.
"You may go in now," the secretary said curtly.
He entered and was quickly directed to a seat by the motion of a hand.
"Agent Cummings," the Assistant Director said. "You are aware of the DNA to animal project?"
"Yes, sir, I am."
Sorelson gave a brief nod. "You are also aware of the program to dispose of potentially dangerous DNA, past and current?"
"Yes, sir, I am."
"Well, there has been some kind of screw up. One of the lab workers decided he wanted to get even with the world. Some of the worse DNA in the lot has gotten through and made its way into civilian laboratories."
Agent Cummings grimaced at the thought of what could happen if the DNA got loose and spread. The Assistant Director handed him a folder. The file tab read: DNA 375ABD. He opened it and quickly scanned its contents.
"This is your assignment." Sorelson tapped the folder. "Track it down and either return it or destroy it."
"This one may be difficult to capture if the process has already occurred," Agent Cummings said after reviewing the report.
"Use the special unit if you have to, but keep it quiet. If word were to get out about this..."
"I understand." He rose from the chair and left the office.
The Doctor
"YOU UNDERSTAND THE importance of the matter, Doctor?" Agent Cummings began, "and that this visit is not for discussion with anyone."
"I understand," Doctor Olivetti said in a low tone. "How could this have happened?"
"Whenever humans are involved, there is always a chance of something like this happening. The DNA was intentionally mishandled and sent to the wrong facility."
"Well, I can understand the concern, but why the federal interest?"
"It's not so much the DNA being mishandled," Agent Cummings said, pausing as if he gauged his next words. "It's who the DNA originally belonged to that has federal interest."
"So whose DNA is it?" the Doctor asked his interest piqued.
The agent's lips parted in a thin smile. "Let's just say that some DNA does not need to be reintroduced into the world as we know it. The bureau has its own project underway that is incorporating the DNA from people who have, or had, unique investigative techniques and talents. They incorporate them into dogs and cats. These animals can assist dramatically in the solving of crimes. On the other hand, we are also making sure that the wrong type of DNA does not get reintroduced. In this case, that is exactly the type of mishap that has occurred. Instead of being removed and destroyed, it was distributed by the one facility that is licensed as the only distribution point for the genetic material. Your lab was the destination of the material."
The doctor stared in amazement as the FBI agent finished his story. He returned his gaze to the log book that contained all DNA records.
"Here it is," the doctor said excitedly pointing to an entry. "The DNA number matches up. It says here, 'Number 375ABD. Animal destroyed.'"
The agent looked into the log, again smiling a thin smile, then looked back at the doctor. The agent raised his eyebrows. "Your assistant is in charge of destroying the animals?"
The doctor snorted. "He's not really my assistant. He's more of a handy man of sorts. The company couldn't afford an assistant with credentials, if you get my drift."
"Then perhaps we need to talk to your assistant," the agent said as he closed the book.
The Interview
"AIN'T I SUPPOSED to have a lawyer present or something?" Stan asked Special Agent Cummings.
"By the book, yes," Agent Cummings said, positioning himself behind Stan. "However, let me explain the situation to you. You see, Stan, this matter is so important that I will ensure you do not get prosecuted as long as you cooperate."
"Prosecute me for what? And how do I know you're telling the truth?" Stan asked, beads of sweat breaking out on his large forehead.
"You don't," Agent Cummings snapped. "You're going to have to trust me on this."
"Humph. Trust you? I want reassurance that..." Stan started to say, but stopped as he was lifted out of his chair by the agent and held against the wall. His feet dangled several inches off the ground. Special Agent Cummings was not even breathing hard.
"Trust me on this, Stan," Agent Cummings breathed into his face. "I don't have the time to mess with little petty reassurances. Tell me who you sold this cat to, DNA 375ABD, or else you will spend a very long time in a 'special' jail where they like to use the inmates as test subjects."
Stan hesitated as if his fear had stolen his tongue. Finally he spoke in a quavering voice.
"I don't know any cat by that number. Let me see the log and I can probably figure it out by the date."
Special Agent Cummings lowered him to the ground. Before removing his hands from Stan's clothing, the agent smoothed the rumpled fabric. He directed Stan to the seat he had previously occupied.
Trembling, Stan sat and flipped through the logbook. Once he found the number, he pointed to it. Agent Cummings studied the date across the column.
"That was only four days ago," Stan said, a puzzled look crossing his face. Then with apparent dawning relief, he said, "I remember! I sold the cat to a friend of a friend."
"Does your friend of a friend have a name?" Agent Cummings inched closer to Stan.
The Gift
"HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HONEY!" Milt placed a large wrapped box on the table.
"Oh thanks," she said, nonchalantly, staring at the package. She looked at him suspiciously. "Wait a minute, my birthday is not for another two months. What's up with this?"
"Let's call it an early present, okay? Now, come on and open it."
"All right," she said sighing, tearing the paper away from the box. "What's in here?"
"You'll find out soon enough." Milt imagined the feel of the lovely bedroom mattress. "Come on now, what's taking you so long?"
Finally, pulling the last piece of tape off, she opened the box. Her expression was emotionless as she looked inside the box.
"What's wrong, honey?" Milt asked, his breath catching in his throat. "I thought you said you wanted a cat?"
"Oh...I did. It's beautiful," she said, picking it up carefully. She cradled the cat like a baby in her arms. "It's...beautiful," she said again, as tears glimmered in her eyes. She stared at Milt, and suddenly suspicion crept back over her face. "It's not one of those new breed cats is it?"
"Nope, it's the real McCoy," Milt said, watching as the cat turned toward him and...smiled?
Home Sweet Home
RENE WAS EXTREMELY happy with the new addition of the cat to the family. She debated for days over what to name it.
"Don't you have any ideas, Milt?"
"Yes, plenty," he muttered, "but none you'd like."
"Come on now," she said, playfully swatting him, "be serious. I know you aren't fond of cats, but this fella is now part of the family. Aren't you?" She stroked the cat's back. It was playing with a string with a bell on the end. The cat ignored her and fiercely slapped at the bell with its paw.
"What was the name of the cat your grandmother had? Rene asked
"I don't remember," Milt lied.
The cat now found how to make the bell on his toy jingle.
"At least think about it," she pleaded.
"It was a long time ago." The bell ringing was becoming unnerving as he relived those memories.
Jingle...Jingle. Jingle...Jingle.
"Are you really trying to remember?"
"For God sakes, Rene, I'm thinking." Milt felt his anger growing. She never knew when to leave something alone. His attention was drawn to the incessant jingle of the bell.
Milt grumbled, "Why don't you ask the cat what its name should be?"
"Don't be silly, and stop calling him an 'it.' He's a 'he.'"
"Well, maybe he wants to be called Jingles. He seems to have a knack for it," Rene said.
Milt's stomach soured. The thought of the cat having the same name as his grandmother's cat was revolting.
"Renee, I don't think..."
"Jingles it will be," she said picking up the cat.
Milt knew it was useless to argue. Rene would insist that it was providence or something that the cat was ringing the damn bell. It was all part of the big scheme of things in life. And one cannot go against providence.
He stared at the cat. It obviously loved it when Rene held it. It perched its head on her shoulder and peered at Milt.
It winked?
First Night
MILT WAS DRAGGED from sleep by the sound of the alarm clock. He felt miserable, his sleep having been continually disturbed by the cat. It wouldn't stay in one spot on the bed. It would come and go all hours of the night; at one point he heard it in the bathroom messing around.
He got out of bed and headed for the bathroom. After using the toilet, he groggily grabbed for his shaving stuff to begin his morning ritual. He applied the shave cream to his face and began the task of getting rid of the night's stubble.
"Ouch! What the hell?" he exclaimed as he dropped the razor and looked into the mirror.
There was a gash in his neck starting from his ear and running a good four inches along his neck. Blood was beginning to flow and he dabbed at it with a hand towel from the rack next to the sink. He picked up the razor and saw that the blade was unusually jagged; he thought it odd, having never seen a blade so gouged before.
"I could have slit my damn throat if I hadn't stopped," he said looking into the mirror at the wound. At that moment, Milt heard a tsk-tsk-tsk sound from the bed. He turned to look and saw Rene peacefully sleeping and the cat looking at him from beside her. He felt a cold chill, but immediately dismissed the thought that the cat had made the sound. But was the damn thing grinning at him?
Dismissing the look, he decided to forgo the shave this morning. He removed his pajamas and turned the shower on. As it warmed, he stepped in and slid the plastic curtain closed. The warm water stung the cut on his neck, causing him to wince from the pain. He heard the sound of the hair dryer click on. Rene must be up and doing her hair. He rinsed under the soothing warmth, reveling in its feeling. The sound of the hair dryer got louder.
When did Rene get a shower? She'd been sound asleep just a few moments ago? Suddenly the hair dryer was thrown into the shower, landing on the puddle-filled floor near the drain. Instinctively, without thinking, Milt lunged out of the shower pulling the plastic curtain, rings and the rod with him. He heard the arc and spark of electricity, the sound of the circuit breaker in the outlet popping and then the smoldering of wiring. Landing on the bathroom floor, wet and bruised, he found himself looking in the glimmering cat eyes just a few inches from of his face.
"I've got nine lives. How about you, Milty?" the cat said in a low whisper, smiling.
It turned and walked away.
The Morning After
RENE AWOKE FROM the noise in the bathroom and sat up in bed.
"Milt, what's going on?" she asked rubbing the sleep from her eyes. "I thought I heard something fall. Why are the lights off?"
He wanted to scream for Rene to run for her life. They had a crazy cat and it was trying to kill him, maybe both of them.
"I'm on the floor," Milt said to Rene in a low voice. "How about giving me a hand?"
Rene got out of bed, walked over to him.
"What the hell happened to you, Milt?" she asked, helping him to the bedroom.
"The hair dryer somehow found its way into the shower," he answered looking around the room for the cat. He didn't see it anywhere.
"What?" She was looking at him skeptically. "That's ridiculous. Are you sure it wasn't hanging on the towel holder next to the shower and it didn't just fall in?" She noticed the large cut on his neck. "How did you get the gash under your ear?"
"The razor blade...something wrong with it. Defective or something..." Milt muttered.
The cat suddenly jumped up on the bed. It had one of Milt's ties, playing with it. It looked up and stared at Milt. Milt stared back wondering if it really spoke to him or had he imagined it? Perhaps he had been knocked unconscious when he jumped from the shower, and dreamed the rest?
"You better take it easy there, honey," Rene said, concern in her eyes. "Too many bad omens for one day. I'll get you some coffee. You sit here and rest."
Rene headed for the kitchen. Milt grabbed a towel and began to dry himself. As he turned, he saw the cat had tied his necktie into a hangman's noose and was swinging it from its teeth, back and forth. It dropped the tie on the floor.
"Want to try it on, Milty? I'll make sure it fits nice and snug," the cat said. "Oh, and don't worry, I'll take care of Rene for you. She's the 'cat's meow,' no pun intended."
"What are you?" Milt asked, his voice a mere whisper, as he stared at the cat.
The cat stared back at him, then looked toward the door, as if checking to be sure they weren't overheard.
"Well...what do I look like there, Milty?" The cat had sarcastic grin on its face. "I guess I look like your average mouse chasing, garden variety cat. But no, I'm not just any cat. I am a brilliant cat. I have goals. One is that I will be the leader of all cats because my intellect is superior."
"Why are you trying to kill me?" Milt asked, still unable to believe he was carrying on a conversation with a cat.
"Nothing personal you understand, Milty," the cat said, "but, unfortunately, you're in the way. There's not room for two of us here. But...I will be a gentleman about it. I come from a very distinguished English background; highly educated you might say. In fact, in my former life, I was a doctor. I don't quite understand the process by which I have been transformed or placed into this feline body, but considering the options of death or this, I'll take this...for the meanwhile anyway."
"This can't be real," Milt said, shaking his head. "You're a damn cat!"
"You're not listening, Milty. I am, or was, a gentlemen of taste in my era. I remember the dark streets of London, the fog in the evening...the control and power of domination I exerted over most people. My point is, I do what I say no matter what it takes, or how long it takes. I have toyed with the most intelligent men from my time. Many thought they could best me...but there was only one that I had difficulty with. But that's another story for some other time. As for you, Milty, I want you gone. You can either leave or I will make you leave permanently."
"You little piece of crap." Milt's fear disappeared as anger took over. He lunged for the cat. The cat easily jumped away, bounded off the bed and stood in the doorway. Milt turned on the bed looking for the cat.
"I will be back for you, you fool," the cat spat at Milt from the doorway. "Rest assured, your death will be a painful one."
With those parting words, the cat took off down the hallway. Rene was walking toward the bedroom as the cat passed between her legs. It stopped in front of her and said, "I will return, my dear," and then dashed through the sliding glass door that was open. Milt came running out of the bedroom, almost toppling over Rene.
"What's going on here?" Rene asked, frozen in place. "The spoke to me."
"Where did it go? We have to kill it!" Milt screamed. "It's an abomination! Some kind of crazed doctor from London who was put into a cat's body or something!"
"Kill it? Doctor from London? What's going on, Milt?" Rene asked incredulous. "What's going on? Tell me everything and tell me right now!"
Milt told Rene all that had transpired, beginning with the purchase of the cat to what happened in the bathroom earlier that morning. She was disappointed in what he had done, but admitted that maybe she, too, was at fault for what was happening.
"I shouldn't have been so stubborn about it," she said, tears in her eyes.
"And I shouldn't have gone out and tried to be cheap." Milt hugged his wife. "I should have gotten the real thing. Now look at the mess I've gotten us into."
"It's all right, Milt. What's done is done," she said, hugging him back. "What do we do now? Do we report this...thing to the authorities?"
"We have to do something. It said it would be back."
The Visit
THE DOORBELL INTERRUPTED their conversation. When Milt opened the door, he immediately knew he was in trouble. Standing there was a tall man dressed in a poorly tailored black suit, the lump on the right side of his jacket clearly indicating a weapon...a combination which could only mean Fed.
"Mr. Capetti? Mr. Milt Capetti?" the man asked, flashing a badge.
"Yes, that's me. Can I help you?" His stomach lurched as his fear of his visitor's employment was confirmed.
"My name is Special Agent Cummings. I'm here to see you about a cat."
Milt, shocked by the comment, hesitated, not sure if he should deny or confirm what the agent said. At this point, he didn't know in whom he could trust.
"Please, come in Agent Cummings." Milt escorted the agent to the kitchen where he and Rene had been discussing the cat earlier.
"Agent Cummings, this is my wife Rene," Milt said, taking his wife's hand.
"Pleased to meet you ma'am." The agent took a seat at the table. "Obviously, I know you are in possession of a cat that you illegally purchased..."
"Was in possession, is more like it," Milt interjected, deciding to trust the man. "It high-tailed it out of here about ten minutes ago."
"That may complicate matters somewhat," the agent said with a furrowed brow. "Did it say it would be back?"
"Yes, it did," Milt answered, surprised at the agent's statement about the cat saying it would return.
"You sound like you know what it is...or was?" Rene asked the agent.
"More like 'who it was,' ma'am, would be more accurate."
"What's going on, Agent Cummings?" Milt asked. "A psycho talking cat is trying to kill me, federal agents in my home? What's the deal?"
Agent Cummings took a deep breath. "Sir, the less you know about what's going on the better. Basically, this is a classified operation, a possible matter of national security. Right now, if we can capture the cat, we will forget about all that has happened. Do you understand?"
Milt stared at him in confusion, thinking maybe it would be better if he didn't know. Finally he answered. "Yes, we understand. What do you want us to do?"
"You're sure it made threats to come back?"
"It most certainly did. It was quite convincing that it wanted me dead."
"Then it will be back, probably tonight," said Agent Cummings emotionlessly. "I will have to bring some help over to apprehend it. Of course I will need you both here as bait. Are you up to it?"
"Whatever it takes to end this nightmare," Rene said.
"Amen," Milt agreed.
The Trap
LATER THAT EVENING, Agent Cummings returned.
"We're all set. I have deployed our special unit outside. I need you to open the sliding glass door just a few inches."
"Won't that make it easier for the cat to get in?"
"Please, sir, just do as I ask," the agent said firmly.
Milt did as he was told.
"Okay, its late, why don't you two go to bed," Agent Cummings said.
Seeing their looks of distress, he added, "don't worry, I'll be inside if anything goes wrong."
Milt and Renee glanced at each other, then headed off to their bedroom.
OUTSIDE, THE TWO special agents shuffled quietly among the shrubbery.
"Are you sure he'll return so soon?" the gravelly voice of one of the agents asked.
"Yes. I am quite sure," the other responded with an undeniable air confidence.
"What's the plan?" the gravelly voice asked.
"It is a relatively simple plan. I have scouted the area thoroughly, examined all minute traces of evidence. Our feline friend has already been back and scouted the territory. I would guess it will try to enter through the glass door."
"Is that why you told Cummings to ensure it is left open?"
"Precisely not," the confident voice answered.
"I don't understand?" the gravelly voice said, obviously confused.
"Our friend will see that the door is left open, and for that exact reason, will not use it. It will be suspecting a trap in anticipation of its return."
"Then what?"
"Once it sees that a trap has been laid, the only obvious means of entry is through the crawl space access. It is there I instructed Cummings to rig the trap and then..."
"What's wrong?"
"Shhh! Our feline friend is here," the confident one whispered.

The Capture
MILT AND RENE were awakened from their light doze by the screeching of a cat mixed with yells of a man. They came running out of their room and were met by Agent Cummings.
"It's over, we have it," he said, simply. "The agents have it netted and are transporting it to the truck."
"How did they capture it so easily?" Rene asked.
"Well, according to the special team," the agent stated, "it was merely a matter of tricking it into thinking that the obvious was a trap, thereby causing it to look for another point of entry, which was indeed the true trap."
"It sounds like some kind of mind game," Milt said, relief flooding his body.
"In a way it was," the agent said, smiling cryptically. "You see, they have met before, a long time ago, but that is something you need not know. As I promised, all is as it was, and I will take my leave. And, Mr. Capetti, next time buy your cat from a reputable dealer, not in an alley."
Special Agents
OUTSIDE, AGENT CUMMINGS checked to ensure the cat was stowed away properly in the transportation van. Seeing the cat in the cage brought him satisfaction that the great ordeal was over. The cage bore a conspicuous, bright yellow tag that read: Dr. Moriarity.
Agent Cummings petted the heads of the two dogs that were lying in the back of the van.
"Good work, fellas," he said, then closed the van's doors.
The engine roared to life and the van was on its way.
The bloodhound seemed deep in retrospection as the English schnauzer stared at him.
"Really, Holmes, so dramatic?" the schnauzer said.
"No. No. Elementary, my dear Watson. Elementary."

The Purr-fect End

I hoped you enjoyed the story, Cat With A Past, from my short story collection, Aliens and Satanic Creatures Wanted: Humans Need Not Apply. Heck-if you liked it go out and buy a few copies:) (only kidding...well maybe:) Anyway if you would like to know you can get a copy from or order from your favorite bookstore.

And let us not forget...

If you like reading vampire stories, you might want to stop by my site and check out my latest work, Operation Immortal Servitude. I describe the book as Anne Rice and Tom Clancy rolled into one...

What would a collaboration of Anne Rice and Tom Clancy look like? Welcome to my vampire world!

Alien Deception
Nominated by ForeWord Magazine as Best Science Fiction from an independent publisher.
Nothing is as it appears. Nothing.
Your whole life you think you understand who and what you are, and then one day you learn that it is all a lie.
So what do you do? You have lunch with the leading candidate for President of the United States. You...and your alien friends.

Space opera with a Stanley Kubrick twist!
Learn more at or click on the cover to go to the myspace webpage.

Next Story Preview

The Story for Next Week Is...

Cat with a Past.

Here's a little teaser:
Rene wants a cat. Milt hates cats--especially because unaltered cats are very expensive. Today's cats are altered by the splicing of human DNA into theirs making them "more human." Rene insists that she must have a normal and unaltered cat. Giving in, Milt gets Rene the cat but from a back alley and from a man who sells at a significant cost savings those cats that have failed the DNA splicing, or at least that is what the man believes. The cat happens to have received the DNA from one of the most notorious criminals the world has ever known and is ready to begin again.
Cat and dog lovers will get a kick out of this one:)

Lucky Lucifer's Car Emporium

LUCKY LUCIFER SMILED sardonically as the signature was placed on the contract.
Another one bites the proverbial dust.
It would only be a matter of time before another soul was added to his collection. His pool was getting quite large these days, with all the lost hope and despair going around. He loved it when the conditions came together just right for "business." His advertising gimmick for the nineties had paid off in dividends that even he couldn't have imagined. Creative Marketing was how he liked to think of it.
Tired of your life? Need a change? Drive on over to Lucky Lucifer's Car Emporium and step into a new car that will put the fire back into your life. Not only will you leave with the car of your dreams, you can even trade your tired old soul in on a new one. No down payment required. No credit check; bankruptcy not a problem. Everything is negotiable as long as you can sign on the dotted line.
Lucky Lucifer had just wrapped up a sweet deal with a business executive from the city. He was the typical, worn thin and burnt-out type who needed a little lift to keep him on the razor's edge. Lucky cajoled him into a hot red Ferrari and sweetened the deal by throwing in the degenerate soul he had taken on a trade in. The guy left burning rubber and couldn't wait to get back to work so he could put the screws to some poor unsuspecting bastard. Yes...Lucky felt quite fulfilled.

GABE DROVE DOWN the dark and dreary highway, not going anywhere in particular. He was frustrated and fed up with everyone and everything around him lately. He decided to go out for a long drive tonight to get out of the house. He was tired of the work thing, always in a rush going here or there. It seemed like everyone tried to beat out somebody for something. His job seemed full of disgruntled employees moaning and groaning because one person took an extra fifteen minutes for lunch one day, or because one employee had a nicer computer than someone else, or because someone needed to complain about something in order for the union to have something to do.
Gabe remembered a time when people were grateful just to have a job. It seemed funny that when people had less, they appreciated it a lot more. He shook his head, thinking that everyone today had so much, yet all they wanted was more.
His car continued to sputter on, running on only three of its four cylinders, making its way down the dark road. The radio squawked out yet another advertisement. Gabe didn't usually pay much attention to them, but this one had such a unique voice to it. He could almost swear he'd heard it before, a long time ago.
"Tired...feeling left behind?" the voice blared. "Just don't have that 'get-up-and-go' anymore? Well, come on down to Lucky Lucifer's Car Emporium. Lucky Lucifer has a car with 'soul.' It'll snap you right out of your mundane little life. He guarantees that you will leave his lot with revitalized enthusiasm and even a whole new outlook. Financing not a problem...Lucky is sure you have something for collateral. Come barter with us and get the best deal of your life. Everyone rides to-day at Lucky's and that's a promise burnt in stone! Located at the corner of Lost Souls Road. Remember our motto: After you've been to Lucky's Car Emporium, you can go straight to H-E-double L, and even they can't beat Lucky's prices!"
The distraction of the ad oddly pleased Gabe. He chuckled. "Lucky Lucifer sure sounds like the hokiest car salesman I've ever heard. Although it might be kind of amusing to see his 'show.' Might even take my mind off the other stuff for a while and it wouldn't hurt to shop around a little either. Old Betsy here is on her last leg."
Gabe happened to be near Lucky's anyway, so he turned in that general direction, still chuckling as he remembered the radio ad.
He read the street signs as he peered through the windshield, trying to get his bearing. Lost Souls Road. Damnation Alley. Purgatory Road. He smiled. "Wonder how he got them to do that? I mean how the heck did he get the city to name these streets? Well, however he did, Lucky Lucifer's Car Emporium seems to fit right into the scheme of things."
As he continued to drive, Gabe noticed that there really wasn't anything out in this area. It was pretty desolate and seemingly uninhabited, all in all. But soon, lights glowed out on the horizon. He drove toward them until, finally, there he saw it: Lucky Lucifer's Car Emporium. Bright lights, spotlights, balloons, the whole works.
The first sign screamed: FIRE AND BRIMSTONE SALE...GET 'EM WHILE THEY'RE HOT!" There were scads of people walking about everywhere. Apparently, Lucky's advertising scheme was working well, because he sure wasn't hurting for business.
Gabe parked his old car and got out as it continued to sputter and wheeze as if having the final seizure of a long illness. He stood and stared at the large, red neon sign that stood on top of the main building flashing LUCKY LUCIFER'S CAR EMPORIUM. It also included, of course, the standard emblem of Satan himself in red with the typical horns and pitchfork. But the face was superimposed with that of, Gabe assumed, Lucky Lucifer's. The caption below read: At the price I sell cars for, I'm going to end up you-know-where.
Gabe shook his head and made his way toward the new car section. This is going to be interesting.
Everywhere he looked, people were milling about, peering at the cars. Salesmen seemed to materialize, always right on the spot, helping those who had questions and doubts about affording a new vehicle. Gabe overheard one conversation between a young couple and a salesman.
"We really love the car, but the price is just too high, and you know, with a baby on the way and all..." the young husband said innocently.
The salesman replied smoothly, "Don't you kids worry about what that little piece of paper says on the window. Everything is negotiable here at Lucky Lucifer's." The salesman eyed the swollen stomach of the woman. "Everything. You kids just go on up to the office and ask to see Lucky. He'll be able to reach some kind of deal just for y-o-u."
The young couple walked enthusiastically up to the office, smiling at each other.
Gabe just shook his head and wondered how gullible could people be. He strode along inspecting the large selection of vehicles, noticing there were a lot of red ones in models to accommodate everyone. There were conservative vehicles for families, mid-range stuff for those "up and coming" executives and, of course, the racy-type power cars for those trying to prove something.
"Now, there's something I like," Gabe said as he honed in on a car. It was a mid-size vehicle, yet it offered some sports appeal for his ego. "Very nice." He nodded and ran his fingers over the shiny paint job. Then he circled the vehicle like a vulture quarrying its prey, as if he were performing some type of sacred male ritual.
The salesman must have caught a whiff of those male car buying hormones in the breeze. "That vehicle is made for y-o-u. Yes, sir...been waiting right here just for you."
Gabe turned toward the source of the voice. The man was tall, with a dark complexion, jet-black hair, and of course he was wearing a leisure suit. His chin was sharp, and his nose almost hawklike. Gabe glanced at the nametag, but he didn't need to. He already knew that this was none other than Lucky Lucifer himself, in the flesh.
The man stepped forward and extended his hand. "Pleased to meet you there, Gabe. I'm Lucky Lucifer. My friends call me 'Luce' for short."
Gabe returned the gesture and immediately noticed how warm Luce's hand was.
"Please to meet you, too, Luce. How do you know my name?" Gabe asked warily.
"It's my business to know these things, Gabe, and I am very good at my business." Lucky stared him directly in the eye. Gabe almost thought he saw a red light there for a minute. Must have been the reflection from the red neon.
"Well...uh...I was your neighborhood," Gabe stuttered. "I thought I would stop by to take a look around. Nice place you have here."
"Thank you. I'm so glad you could drop in and visit my humble establishment." Lucky grinned so wide that Gabe almost thought he could hear skin ripping. Lucky continued on. "I was quite serious about that little gem you were looking at. She's a beauty and was made just for you. You belong in it."
Gabe glanced longingly at the vehicle. What a sweet piece of machinery. It appeared even more enticing than it had earlier, almost like it was beckoning to him. He suddenly had the overwhelming desire to sit in it. Lucky Lucifer obviously anticipated this craving and moved to stand next to the car. He held the door open, inviting Gabe in.
Without hesitation, Gabe slid into the vehicle's seat. He sighed with pleasure. The black leather warmed immediately to his body and the seat conformed to his every move. He'd never felt such comfort before. He gripped the steering wheel and placed his other hand on the shifter, liking the feel. He closed his eyes and breathed in the new car aroma. The car seemed to have a personality all of its own.
"She likes you. I can tell." Lucky smiled charmingly.
Waking out of his dreamy daze, Gabe blinked and reluctantly got out of the car.
"She sure is a nice car." He stroked his chin as he walked around looking for the price sticker. Always wanted one of these babies.
Before he could reach the sticker, Lucky leapt in front of him like a mad magician.
"Now, hold on a minute there, Gabe!" Lucky held up a hand. "Let's think on this for a spell. How much does that number on the window really matter, anyway? I've seen so many read that number and get depressed, seen the want disappear from their eyes." Lucky put his hand on his sharp chin. "I tell you what, Gabe. I can tell that you are a man of your word. If you say 'yes,' everyone knows you mean business. You make me an offer without even looking at the sticker. Come on, now!"
Gabe just stood there watching Lucky in action, somewhat amused. Boy this guy is good. Good and fast, that is.
He decided to play the dufus car buyer for a little while longer. He wanted to see just how far Lucky was going to play his game.
"You want me to make an offer?" Gabe smiled innocently, placing a finger on his chest. "Hmmm," he said without waiting for Lucky's response. "Okay, let's say fifteen thousand dollars." He fully realized the offer was far below the dealer's price.
Lucky's eyes got big and he roared with laughter. "I said make me an offer...not tell me a joke, my young friend. This is a vehicle of distinction and style and is worth three times as much of that minuscule sum you just mentioned."
"What's the point, then? I can't afford it anyway, can I now?" Gabe shrugged and then said innocently, "Why dicker over money that I don't even have?" He turned, chuckling to himself, and began to walk away.
"Well, my new-found friend," Lucky began, clasping Gabe on the shoulder. "I guess I am a bit of a hothead when it comes to selling my cars. They are like my children. You know what I mean? I can't just let them go for a mere fraction of their worth."
Gabe thought he saw that red gleam in Lucky's eyes again as he continued. "I tell you what, Gabe, let's go on up to the office and have a cup of hot coffee. We can discuss terms. I'm a reasonable man. I'm sure that we can work something out."
Gabe turned around and looked at Lucky skeptically. "Sure, I'll entertain what you have to say. Just don't treat me like one of your sappy customers. I wasn't born yesterday, you know? I know that you're out to make a big buck just like the rest of us," he said, feeling like he was in control. "Let's be up front with each other, Lucky old boy. I may want the car but it's not like I am going to sell you my soul for it."
Lucky's disposition suddenly changed. His face became menacing.
Gabe continued on as he chuckled. "Hey, Lucky you get it? It's a joke. You know, Lucifer, Prince of Darkness. You know the soul thing? Get it?"
Lucky's face, however, had returned to its previous sardonic smile. "Ah, yes, a joke. I get it. Selling of the soul. Very funny. You're good with words, Gabe. Perhaps you missed your calling in life. Maybe you should have been the car salesman instead of me. How about that cup of coffee?"
The two men walked toward the office. Gabe was quite pleased with himself as he imagined sitting in the driver's seat of the new car. They walked into the building and passed through the showroom. Gabe noticed there were a lot of people in the little cubicle offices conducting business. He caught bits and pieces of their conversations as he walked by.
"Just sign right there on the line and you'll be out of here with that new car before the ink dries."
"Our financing arrangements are the easiest and simplest in this world. Don't worry about the small print, it's just standard stuff."
"Yes, we do all of our business in red ink."
"Exactly how long is eternity?" What a strange question. "Would you like another cup of coffee?"
"Death clause? Yes, that is common practice. Other places just keep that stuff buried."
"Just sign right here... Just sign right here... Just sign right here..."
Lucky ushered Gabe into his private office. Gabe had the feeling that only special customers made it this far. Lucky placed a cup of coffee in front of him and got another for himself. The cups were all the same design—black with red flames licking the sides. Lucky then reached into his lower desk drawer and retrieved a bottle of EL Diablo Whiskey.
"Would you like me to warm up that coffee for you there, Gabe?" Lucky said, waving the bottle in front of him.
"No thanks, unleaded is just fine." Gabe watched in amusement as Lucky filled half his cup with the liquor and quickly downed it one large gulp. The devil's brew they say.
After relinquishing a rather loud, "Ahhh," Lucky put down the cup and looked squarely at him.
"You know, Gabe," Lucky's swivel chair creaked like old bones as he leaned back, "we didn't really talk about options. I can sweeten this deal up even more for you. What do you say to a new outlook? Not just from the car. How about a fresh new soul? It's becoming the biggest rage you know."
"Cute, Lucky. Very amusing," Gabe said wryly. "How about we stick with the straight car thing and just cut to the chase."
"As you wish ," Lucky said seriously. "Let's get down under shall we?" His face almost seemed to glow as he continued. "I have a car that you desire. Yes?"
Gabe nodded in agreement.
"You can't really afford that car, though can you, Gabe?"
Gabe shook his head, sensing that the temperature in the office was getting a little warm. He loosened his collar as he felt the perspiration starting to ebb its way from his armpits.
"Okay, Gabe, I'm not exactly what you would call your down to earth car salesman. I can help you get into her, but you have to work with me on this. Are you willing?"
Gabe nodded, mesmerized by the gleam in the man's eyes. The longer he listened to Lucky, the more comfortable he felt.
"So, here's my best and final offer." Lucky put his fingers in church steeple fashion under his chin. "I will let you have the car for the fifteen thousand dollars that you offered me earlier. But, I will need a little additional collateral to make sure you don't change your mind or try to pull one over on old Lucky."
"Exactly what kind of additional collateral did you have in mind? I don't have a lot to offer," Gabe said skeptically as he thought, here it comes.
Lucky smiled. "You have just as much as anyone else who's sat in that chair. All I want from you is a promise that I get your mortal soul when you die. It's just that easy. You won't need it anymore, so what the hell? That's all I want."
Gabe tried his best to keep from laughing. "Okay, Lucky, aren't you taking this Lucifer thing just a little too far? Come on soul? Let me guess, you just happen to have some type of contract that I have to sign in blood..."
"Not blood. Red ink will do." Lucky set a long document in front of Gabe. In bold letters across the top: STANDARD SOUL CONTRACT (FORM 666).
This time Gabe did laugh out loud. "Boy, I tell you what, you can sure play this Satan deal up right." He then continued in a serious tone. "Look, you have the car of my dreams and I'm willing to pay you a fair price. If you agree to that, I'll sign any damn thing you want. I don't believe in this 'devil gets your soul' mumbo-jumbo. So what's it going to be, Lucky?"
Lucky smiled smugly, sliding the paperwork in front of him again and offering him a pen.
"You sure drive a hard bargain. But, I guess you showed me, huh? You got exactly what you wanted," Lucky said, with the gleam still in his eye.
Gabe distractedly listened to Lucky as he looked over the paperwork. He made sure the bottom line price was the fifteen thousand he'd agreed to pay. He didn't really pay much attention to the rest of the fine print that dealt with the soul thing.
As soon as Gabe signed the contract, Lucky plucked it from his hands and handed him the keys, which were quite warm to the touch.
"Hey, Luce what's with the high body temp, there buddy? You really should have that looked at. Never know, you might just fall the hell over one day."
"It was nice doing business with you, Gabe. Enjoy the ride. I'll see you soon to collect the balance of what you owe," Lucky said waving a finger, his eyes shining.
"Jeez. Give it a rest already. You sold the car, and I'm on the hook for the Fifteen-K. What more could you ask for?" Gabe jingled the keys, recalling how the leather had felt. "I know—just my soul. I'm outta here, my friend."
LUCKY WATCHED AND snickered as Gabe sauntered toward his new car. "Think you know it all, don't you? Got a real sweet deal there buddy, didn't you? Taught old Lucky a thing or two. Well I'll be collecting in the end, Gabe, don't you forget that. Our contract is an old one."
GABE FELT LIKE he was in heaven driving his new vehicle home. She sure rode smooth, he thought as he snuggled down into the leather seat.
The radio blared, "Come on down to Lucky Lucifer's Car Emporium... We'll turn and burn to get you the best deal this side of eternity."
Gabe chuckled as he glanced at the bold print on his copy of his contract.
Payable in full upon death. No redemption allowed.
"Gotta love this stuff. One thing about old Lucky, he never learns." He balled up the contract in his hand and tossed it out the window into the evening air, laughing.
Moments later, the red and blue lights from a police car flickered into life behind Gabe's new car. Glancing at his speedometer, he realized he was traveling about ten miles over the speed limit. He pulled over to the shoulder and waited for the police officer.
"Not again," he muttered under his breath.
"Going a little fast there, sir, weren't we? And littering?" The officer said to Gabe, as he peered into the window.
"Uh, sorry officer. You know how it is. It's a new car and all. I must have gotten caught up in the moment." Gabe smiled.
"Can I please see your license and registration," the officer asked, obviously not impressed.
Gabe retrieved the documents from his wallet and handed them to the officer, who then walked back to the police cruiser.
After several minutes, the officer returned.
"Here you go, Mr. Gabriel. I'm going to let you off with a warning because you have no previous violations. Which is strange, because I could have sworn I've seen you somewhere before. But please, try to be more careful. And watch that littering."
"I shall, and thank you, officer."
"Mr. Gabriel, I do have a question about your driver's license, though." The officer's tone sounded somewhat perplexed. "I noticed that you only have the initials A.A. in front of your last name. That's unusual. DMV usually requires a full name and birth certificate."
"Well, my young friend, it just makes things somewhat easier," Gabe said with a saintly grin. "The initials aren't as conspicuous or intimidating as saying 'Arch Angel,' which is a little too obvious even in this day and age. Wouldn't you agree?"
"How's that?" the officer asked.
His eyes widened and Gabe knew the man saw the glowing white light around him.
"Er...yeah. I mean, I guess so," the officer said.
Gabe neatly folded his wings into the contour of the Corinthian leather seat. "Have a nice evening officer and God Bless."

*This story is from Aliens and Satanic Creatures Wanted: Humans Need Not Apply. Copyright Tony Ruggiero. For more information, please visit

*The audio version of this book is also available for FREE via podcast at and Itunes.

Also by Tony Ruggiero:
Operation Immortal Servitude--Vampires in the Military! Described as Anne Rice and Tom Clancy having a baby!

Alien Deception-Aliens in the White House! Space Opera with a Stanley Kubrick twist!

Coming July 2007:
Alien Revelation

Catching Up.

Catching Up!

I've been spending too much time at my myspace site--so I am going to mirror the blog entries from myspace to here as well. So the next few messages are going to play catch up.

What's Too Come This Week!

From scary to funny to just bizzare...Welcome to ALIENS AND SATANIC CREATURES WANTED: HUMANS NEED NOT APPLY
Do you think its easy being an alien, a satanic creature or anything else not considered part of the Homo sapiens only club? They have tough days just like humans do and their frustration is growing. Don't believe it? Well, what about Lucifer, the prince of darkness, who runs a car dealership--what about his feelings when he is faced with that impossible sale and he can't get that signature on form 666, the standard soul contract? Or maybe you wondered about how an extremely vain alien copes with having a bad hair day as he tries to alter the future of Earth? Will his cosmetic problems be our problems in other ways? Perhaps you heard about the opposite vampire who loves to give blood, hates the darkness and has a fetish for garlic - how does he get through a bad relationship? How about a DNA altered cat that has been given the personality of one of the world's most fearsome criminals? Will its human owners understand or will it be a less then purr-fect arrangement? What's the common thread do all this discontent, you ask? What is it about most stories that stay the same? It's the human! These aliens and demonic creatures are sick and tired of being the second fiddle in the story. They want what everybody wants: to be the center of attention of the stories instead of the pesky humans for a change...and now they finally get their wish. In Aliens and Satanic Creatures Wanted: Humans Need Not Apply, they finally get top billing and they exploit it as far as they can.
What's Coming Up First--Lucky Lucifer's Car Emporium
Gabe's tired and frustrated with life's drudgery and now he needs to replace his car. He dreads the thought of dealing with those car salesmen from -- well you can imagine where. He hears an ad on the radio for a new place called 'Lucky Lucifer's Car Emporium' and decides the advertisement is so amusing he may as well check it out. Once there, he finds the car of his dreams and meets the colorful owner, Lucky Lucifer himself. They sit down to strike a deal that is a bit different from the usual sales contract you might find offered, but then again, does anyone or anything really appear to be who or what they really are?
Story begins this week!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

On Top of Stromboli Part II


There once was a man from Stromboli whose…well you know how the rest of it goes. A little rhyme children, teenagers, and perhaps even some adults have used illegitimately for years and years. Like the rhyme, it’s funny how we find comfort in that we believe all things go in a certain way, a preordained order if you wish. Call it induction or perhaps deduction, but just about everything falls into its own niche. Yet things are not always what you think they are. The island of Stromboli is one of these cases. I know. I was there when it happened...when my world changed.

Stromboli is one of the Aeolian Islands of Italy. The island is about 3 miles (2 km) in diameter and 2,900 feet (900 m) above sea level. It rises 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above the floor of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. It has been in nearly continuous eruption for about 2,000 years (some volcanologists suggest 5,000 years). Most of the present cone was well developed 15,000 years ago. Violent eruptions are rare at Stromboli. In 1919, four people were killed and twelve homes destroyed by blocks, some of which weighed 60 tons (50 metric tons). In 1930, during the largest eruption of Stromboli this century, three people were killed by pyroclastic flows. A fourth was scalded to death in the sea near the point the flows entered the ocean. The amount of ash erupted in the explosive eruptions in 1930 was equivalent to that produced during five years of normal, quiet activity. Most recently, in 1986, a biologist was killed by a block while on the crater rim. Information courtesy of website at


Sorry for the info dump but you needed to have that information to understand that there is a pattern here. It's been quiet for a while but now it is acting up again. But first, you have to understand that I did not know what was happening until it was too late. It was just too late…and I hope you will agree with me when I finish this story.

Did I say I was drawn to the island? Remember in that movie, E.T. when that guy was building a mountain out of just about everything? It was a sign that he had to go there. Pretty weird connection huh? Well that’s not what happened to me but it’s a good lead in I guess. I wasn't really drawn, but the price was so darn cheap and the guide said he could guarantee I got laid there so I couldn't’t pass it up. So I went. Did I mention the people there?

Have you ever met anyone from Stromboli? I doubt that you have and that is very relevant to the discussion that will follow. I have, because I was there. They are the strangest type of people. What’s so strange? Well let’s start with the way they talk. They never say anything that really means anything. It’s as if they purposely talk in circles. Of course many will say that it is just the Italian way…but that’s not it. I know all about the “relaxed” atmosphere in Italy and the Italian way of life, but this goes way beyond that. I’ll give you an example to make my point. One day when I was out for a stroll I met this young woman. One thing led to another and we stopped at a little cafe for coffee.

“So what do you do?” she asked
“I’m a writer,” I said.
“Ah… fascinating. So tell me, how do you get started on a story? Does it just come to you and that’s it?”
“No, not exactly,” I replied. “I get an idea for a story but it is only a small part, like the beginning or end. I have to develop the idea to turn it into a much longer story.”
“And how does that process work?”
“Well I use what they call prompts.”
“Yes. They are words or a sentence that get me started writing.”
“I’m not sure I follow.”
“Okay,” I said, “here’s an example. Let’s say that you tell me about something you heard on the radio or saw while out walking. That becomes the prompt and I take that and use my mind to make it into something greater which gets me going on the story. It’s like a writing exercise.”
“I see,” she said and giggled.
“What? Did I miss something here?”
“Well,” she began, “sorry I am not very prompt with prompts. You will have to prompt me promptly to get a prompt.”
“Ah…that’s interesting,” I said and before I could say anything else she continued.
“Peter Piper picked a prompt of prompted peppers;
A prompt of prompted peppers Peter Piper prompted;
If Peter Piper prompted a prompt of prompted peppers,
Where’s the prompt of prompted peppers Peter Piper prompted?”

“So…what’s the point to all of this?” I asked.
“I thought we were talking about prompts?”
“Well we were until you took it to the extreme,” I said with more than a usual payload of sarcasm but thought was appropriate given the situation.
“Well if that’s the way you feel,” she said as she rose from the table. “Find someone else to get your prompts from.” She then walked away.
“Huh?” I said.

And that was my first indication that something was very wrong with the people on the island of Stromboli. I just didn't know how wrong at the time...

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

On Top of Stromboli-Part 1

Hey folks. Time to play around with another short story. I have no idea where it is going, which is a hint that input would be greatly appreciated. I have learned over time that the act of creation is a fun thing and I hope you will join me in this one. In fact, I would love a challenge in that you give me some sort of prompt that you want me to include into the story.

So come on and let’s have some fun!

On Top of Stromboli…

There once was a man from Stromboli whose…well you know how the rest of it goes. A little rhyme children, teenagers, and perhaps even some adults have used illegitimately for years and years. Like the rhyme, it’s funny how we find comfort in that we believe all things go in a certain way, a preordained order if you wish. Call it induction or perhaps deduction, but just about everything falls into its own niche. Yet things are not always what you think they are. The island of Stromboli is one of these cases. I know. I was there when it happened...when my world changed.

Stromboli is one of the Aeolian Islands of Italy. The island is about 3 miles (2 km) in diameter and 2,900 feet (900 m) above sea level. It rises 10,000 feet (3,000 m) above the floor of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes on Earth. It has been in nearly continuous eruption for about 2,000 years (some volcanologists suggest 5,000 years). Most of the present cone was well developed 15,000 years ago. Violent eruptions are rare at Stromboli. In 1919, four people were killed and twelve homes destroyed by blocks, some of which weighed 60 tons (50 metric tons). In 1930, during the largest eruption of Stromboli this century, three people were killed by pyroclastic flows. A fourth was scalded to death in the sea near the point the flows entered the ocean. The amount of ash erupted in the explosive eruptions in 1930 was equivalent to that produced during five years of normal, quiet activity. Most recently, in 1986, a biologist was killed by a block while on the crater rim. Information courtesy of website at

And now it is acting up again…

Friday, February 23, 2007

Book of the Year

Alien Deception
has been nominated for best science fiction novel by Foreword Magazine.
I'm quite surprised and pleased to get the nomination for the award.
Happy dancing!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Freddy Lives...

I have knocked off the dust from an older manuscript and have started the rewrite process. It's tentatively called "Freddy." Here's the premise of the story:

Sitting atop the Fairfax hotel, there is a statue of a gargoyle. It preys on the personal wants and desires of humans for its own perverse gratification. Unaware of its sordid past of human sacrifice and murder, which it utilizes to open the way for those that fall under it's spell to achieve wealth, power, and success, Sam finds himself in the middle of a close-knit circle of deceit that involves the people that have entered into his life, and the mental pull from the creature and its promises. For Sam his life becomes not his own as he tries to survive the strong and tempting pull from the dark side of a medieval creature and from the humans who serve it.

For those of you that have read the short story of mine by the same title, that was where the idea came from.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Where I am Going...

Yes it's been a while since I have posted but life has gotten in the way to the point of sapping all my time, but mostly all my energy or desire from writing a n y t h i n g...

Anyway, I have...well I haven't but someone else has been doing me a huge favor by developing me a page over at myspace to increase my visibility. It's coming along superbly so hopefully if you get a chance you can take a look at it.

Have fun.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Perspective-Final Installment


Commander Keefe turned in the direction and saw Commander Reese, the leader of the vampire unit. A hybrid: half human and half vampire, he appeared mostly human with the exception of the red pupils of his eyes and the pale skin. But unlike the men he led, he received no detrimental effect from sunlight—the benefit of the mixture of the two species.

“Commander Reese,” the captain said, “please join us.”

The commander strode over to where the CO and XO stood.

“Gentleman,” he said in greeting.

“Tell me, Commander,” Captain Priestly began, “seeing as how we are so close to the destination which even I was not informed of, where the hell are you taking us?”

The Commander hesitated, a look of confusion momentarily passing over the features of his face and then he spoke. “According to intelligence, this planet is at a stage of development that may pose a risk to our civilization due to their violent and destructive nature. Our mission is to infiltrate the native population to…” he paused as if he was carefully choosing his words, “to affect a change in their development.”

“You mean kill them, don’t you?” the Captain said. “It’s a little late to be mincing words, Commander, isn’t it?”

Commander Reese showed no emotion as he answered, “If that is what it takes to ensure survival, then yes, sir. But there are always possibilities.”

“Such a diplomat, Commander…your careful choice of words. And they call this war. Such bullshit—this is as dark ops as they come.”

“The preservation and the security of the United Planets is our main concern,” Commander Reese said plainly.

“That’s a rehearsed answer if I ever heard one,” Commander Keefe chimed in, “even from one of your kind.”

Commander Reese looked sternly at the XO. “You don’t approve of my kind.”

“No. No, I don’t, and with good reason,” Keefe said, wanting to blurt out what happened five years ago. Instead he took another approach. “I can understand the creatures you command for they are an alien race which existed on another world. They are what they are and they can’t help that. But I have issues with what you are; when we start altering the ways things are by using them in a way that perhaps they were not intended to be—or when we start playing the game of altering the species, I don’t feel comfortable about that.” His tone softened, “But at least you have some human inside of you, unlike your…men. They have no human in them. Hell, by all logic and legal standards, they are not even alive anymore.”

“Definition is not always the accurate way to approach some situations,” answered Reese.

Keefe ignored Reese’s comment and continued, “It’s such a wonderful ploy…they, these creatures, can’t be held accountable under law because a dead person cannot commit murder. Nor can anyone scream forced servitude because dead people can’t be slaves or used against their wills because simply stated they have no will to be concerned about. So the military gets off scott-free in terms of any liability. The lawyers have been and will be spinning for years over this one.”

“But I am one of them,” Reese said, his red pupils glowing strongly in the dim light of the bridge. “I possess characteristics of human and vampire. I accept what I have become because there was no choice.”

“That’s right,” Priestly began, “you were part of the reconnaissance team that discovered them—they tried to kill you but your body reacted in a different way.”

“One in a billion…they tell me,” Reese added. “The odds of this type of mutation happening. I have no choice but to accept this living death.”

“But you are still alive,” Keefe countered, “not completely dead like the rest.”

“Perhaps,” Commander Reese said and offered no further explanation on that subject.

Keefe continued, “I’m curious, Reese, your men—the vampires, they were found on the devastated world on the edge of the system?”
“Yes,” Reese agreed, his voice tentative sounding, as if he wished to avoid the subject.

“The chain of command had to be concerned about their destructive nature?” asked Keefe. “I mean after all—look what they had done to their own world.”

“From what we were able to ascertain,” Reese began, “after years of coexisting with the human colonists, there was a war of the vampire factions on the planet. Because vampires cannot reproduce in the normal sense, the only way to increase their numbers was to turn more and more of the human population into vampires so that they could fight each other. By this over-multiplication, the vampires destroyed their own food supply, which led them to the point of their own extinction. There was only a few hundred left out of thousands when the world was discovered.”

“Perhaps that would have been better,” Keefe said. “Maybe some other lives could have been spared.”

“The extinction of a race?” asked Reese. “That’s a bit cynical wouldn’t you say?”

“Not really,” Keefe snapped the defiance evident in his voice.
Reese continued, “Have not our own world and civilizations been on the brink of destruction several times? Have we not almost destroyed our race by war?”

“Not the same,” Keefe scoffed.

“Why?” Reese countered. “Just because you do not agree with the way in which my kind live or survive.”

“Like you said, Reese,” Keefe retorted, “they destroyed their own food supply, which included the human inhabitants. That’s murder.”

“Is it that different than what some of the animals on our own world do to survive? Is that not the law of natural selection that the stronger species survives and the weaker perish?”

“But not at the expense of the human race?” Captain Priestly interjected.

“Exceptions to the rule, sir, isn’t that a double standard?” asked Reese, “The picking and choosing of who shall live and who shall die?”

“So you side with them?” Keefe asked.

“I side with what I am,” Reese said casually. “Is that not what we all do? My race did not ask to be removed from the home world, as has been done. Maybe they would have perished and maybe not. The rules of evolution are never specific beyond the fact that the fittest part of a race will survive where the weakest shall perish. But by removing them from the planet—everything has changed. Perhaps for the worse. ”

Keefe thought about what Reese said and could not avoid the fact that there was some logic on his stance.

A beep emanated from the communications console, followed by the announcement, “Communication for the Captain’s Eyes Only,” the computer voice said, “orders clarification.”

“It’s about damn time,” Priestly said as he went over to the computer and retrieved the message.

Commanders Keefe and Reese stood together alone—the silence after the debated conversation seeming to haunt both of them, evident by their restless and fidgety movements.

Reese broke the silence, “It’s happening all over again.”

“What? What’s happening?” Keefe asked.

Reese looked intently at Keefe and spoke, “An element of society has decided what the proper requirements are for those who shall be first-rate citizens and who shall be the dredges of society, who shall be trusted and who shall be feared, and who shall live and who shall die.”

“What are you talking about?” Keefe asked. He stared at Reese quizzically as if not sure how to interpret the man’s ramblings.

“History, Commander Keefe,” Reese said as he smiled sardonically, “we never learn. We just keep repeating the same mistakes over and over.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Wait a minute,” the captain interjected as he stepped back toward Reese and Keefe with a piece of paper in his hands. “I’m to ensure that your landing craft is permanently disabled? This is a one way? You’re not…coming back…?”

“No Captain, we are not coming back,” Reese began. “Unfortunately, the rest of our so-called civilized world agrees with your position. We are a threat and an undesirable element. We are the last of our kind and we are to be deposited on this world and left to our own ends as to whether we live or die.”

“So what you said earlier…that the life on this planet was a threat to our civilization was all just bullshit?”

“Yes,” Reese agreed. “This planet is some backwater world with very little technical capability. I understand that the culture is still entrenched in myth and legends. We are to be deposited here and left to our own devices.”

“But you…you’re not like the others…Why you?” Keefe asked.

“I still require blood to survive, so I too am considered a risk. I am the only one of my race. And I also am a threat of polluting the human gene pool.”

“And what about the other vampires?” asked Keefe.

“They were all killed with the exception of me and my group. We are the last of our kind. We were spared by the fact that I was able to convince the Joint Chiefs of my argument of survival of the fittest. So we are being left on this planet where there is no chance of space travel for a very long time. The odds suggest that we will not survive that long but this way the conscience of mankind is not completely blemished by the destruction of another race.”

“Orbit established,” the computer said.

“View screen on,” Priestly said.

As the screen initialized, a planet loomed in the main viewing screen. They all stared at the blue oceans, the land masses of brown, gold, green and white which were accentuated by the assorted shapes of clouds that spotted the atmosphere.
After a few moments of silence Captain Priestly spoke, “Well let’s get to it then. Commander, join your…men in the shuttle launch and we’ll get you on your way.” The captain then turned his back on Commander Reese in a dismissive gesture.

“Good luck,” Keefe said, the words flowing across his lips before he had a chance to consider what he was saying.

“Thank you,” Reese said and departed the bridge.

Captain Priestly and Commander Keefe stood in silence as the computer counted off the time to shuttle departure. Finally Keefe spoke, “God help them.”

“Who?” Priestly asked, “The people on the planet or the vampires?”

Keefe smirked and said, “You know, I’m not sure anymore. Some of the things that Reese said made sense. He has some valid points.”
“I suppose,” Priestly added, “but it’s still hard to figure where it fits into the grand scheme of things.”

“Some say we evolved from apes,” Priestly said. “It sounds so foolish, doesn’t it?”

“Scientists, some days you don’t know who or what to believe,” Keefe added.

This last statement hung in the air as the two men remained silent. Minutes later they received confirmation of the landing and the destruction of the shuttle engines which would prevent escape from the planet.

“We’re done,” Keefe said.

“What the hell is the name of this place?” asked Priestly.

“The information blackout should be complete by now,” Keefe said. “Let’s see what information the computer has on it. Computer—state planet designation and location of shuttle launch.”
The computer responded: No formal designation in library. Intelligence reports only local designations.”

“They must really want to hide this place,” Keefe said, “they won’t even name it.”

“Apparently,” Priestly agreed. “Computer, what are the local designations and location of shuttle?”

“Planet is locally designated as Earth. Shuttle has landed in one of the major continents called Europe in a region known as Transylvania.”

“What was it that Reese said,” Keefe said aloud, “that the inhabitants of this world believed in myths and legends—well I guess they will have a new one to go on now.”