This week we have stories by:
By: chance I won this week. Thank you to everyone who voted for me. And Thank to Mur who gave me the inspiration.
By: Mick Bordet
I don’t know what I was thinking at the time. It was an instinctive reaction; get everybody I could find into the lifeboat and get off the ship before it went down. I couldn’t think of letting an animal suffer, so I grabbed the tiny dog and took it along with us. A chihuahua wasn’t going to get in anyone’s way or weigh down the boat to excess, in fact it was built for ten and there were only six of us on board, so I didn’t see any harm.
No, I didn’t consider that it would be lonely, pining for the mistress who had abandoned it to fend for itself, that it would be neurotic and run incessantly from one end of the raft to the other, hour after hour, day after day, and it never occurred to me that it would yap at every single wave that hit the side of the lifeboat.
It never crossed my mind that, after weeks floating at sea, becoming weaker and more despondent every day, the single pound of flesh attached to its fragile skeleton would be enough to keep us alive for the extra three days it would take for a rescue boat to find us.
I can honestly say I didn’t give it a single thought.
Not at first, anyway.
2. Ground Zero
Approximately five days prior to the arrival of the two FBI agents at the Harrison County Sheriff’s department, Dr.’s Kevin Star and Bernard Gillery were engaged in a very common activity for the two honorary members of the Potters Bluff archaeological collaboration. Day and night, the two scientists argued endlessly. Though an outsider couldn’t possibly guess, the two had become and remained fast friends.
“You’ve got to be kidding, Berney. How could you possibly believe those tunnels are full of artifacts from any of the currently known Paleo-Indian tribes?” asked Dr. Star.
“Well,” answered Dr. Gillery. “Why wouldn’t I?”
“Berney, you’re not an archaeologist now are you?”
“Well, neither are you and stop calling me Berney. You know how I hate that. My name is pronounced Bernard not Berney, okay?”
“Whatever, I just don’t see how you can think that. I mean, really, what about all the unusual artifacts we’re finding? If one was to seriously think on the matter and review all of the evidence so far uncovered, then one would surely conclude that we are dealing with a previously unknown tribe here,” Dr. Star concluded with a broad sweep of his hand.
The two scientists, both geologists by education and trade, continued their argument unabated. Though neither had any formal training in archaeology whatsoever, both had definite opinions. Star and Gillery stood in the middle of the central tunnel, some ten to fifteen feet wide and half again as tall. The walls were polished to the point of nearly being slick, though the actual methodology used to achieve this polish was as yet undiscovered. Some of the artifacts unearthed so far within the warren of caves were highly anomalous as well.
Approximately three months prior to the two scientists current argument, the Harvest Corporation, which owned several thousand square acres including the area of the discovered cave complex, had initiated preliminary lignite mining. During the first week of active exploration, the cave complex was discovered unexpectedly when the excavation equipment punched a hole in the ceiling of a feeder tunnel.
Excavation was paused, and the state was called in before continuation of the preliminary mining project. Almost immediately the government representatives established that this cave was in fact a previous habitation for semi-nomadic Paleo-Indians. The government representative’s first act was to place an open ended cease and desist order on the activities of the miners virtually shutting down the mining operation. Initially, the findings delighted and excited the archeologists that were part of the government team. All the usual suspects were present from carved bone fish hooks, needles and other tools to evidence of brown coal fires paralleling closely the artifacts found within the Stanfield-Worley bluff shelter located just some scant 50 miles away.
As the preliminary excavation proceeded, more of the cave system continued to be discovered, all previously inhabited. In these new areas, some of the artifacts discovered began to raise the educated eyebrows of the members of the Archaeological Research Association who were present and conducting the investigation. Many of the artifacts seemed to be ritualistic in use, but violent in nature. One of the strangest uncovered so far was a type of war club that had not been previously unearthed anywhere but here. Not war clubs exactly, those were well known from the other sites in the area, but more like different types of spike covered heavy balls each attached to a string. Also uncovered was a great many figurines all exclusively depicting a large worm-like being or a hunched over creature with what appeared to be four legs and three arms.
Several smallish caverns were found to be full of herbs and totems, thought to be used by prophets and doctors dealing with the supernatural. The working archaeologists were unsure what to make of these finds. They were sure, though, that this site was very important and required extensive further study and excavation.
The founding of the Potters Bluff archaeological collaboration was a direct result of the preliminary findings. The Harvest Corporation assigned both Dr.’s Star and Gillery to the collaboration as dual facilitators between the project archaeologists and themselves.
Dr. Gillery looked at his watch, frowned then looked back up the tunnel from the direction the two scientists had just come. The tunnels surface shown like glass giving the freestanding lights something of an ethereal effect. The light seemed to imbibe into the stone then diffuse out as a strange otherworldish glow.
“Didn’t Jake say he was supposed to be meeting us here at 0700?” asked Dr. Gillery.
“Yes,” responded Dr. Star frowning also. Both scientists had one thing scrupulously in common; neither would ever be even the slightest bit late if at all possible. “That was my understanding,” he finished looking at his watch also.
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not wait here all day until Jake decides to drag himself to work.”
“So why are we waiting,” asked Dr. Star. “The lighting has already been laid so we can just go ahead and have a look. The rest will be along about nineish as usual.” He looked at Dr. Gillery and smiled, “Jake can just catch up if he likes. Do we really need him anyway?”
“Not really,” answered Dr. Gillery.
The two scientists smiled amicably at each other for the first time that morning, then turned towards the waiting end of the cave complex, near the newly discovered areas. As the pair began walking, they picked up their earlier argument as if there hadn’t been any interruption at all.
Jake Martin cursed roundly as he looked around. He saw plenty of cavern, desolate and as spooky as advertised, but no scientists. He stood in the main tunnel that led to the newly discovered areas where the archaeologists were currently concentrating. The two Harvest Corporation guys were supposed to meet him here for an escort into the new dig area this morning at 0800. Or was it 0700. Jake shook his head, the mental cobwebs stubbornly remained. He just couldn’t remember.
He figured that if he split the difference, everything would be fine. This was typical Jake Martin philosophy at work, just don’t worry about it too much and everything will eventually work out.
The extra thirty minutes of sleep had not, however, helped with his hangover. It was that cursed Tequila that the hired hands loved to swig. That stuff sure caught up with a person before they knew it. Maybe they should rename it to- kill-ya.
Damn them, those two science guys must have gone on ahead. They knew full well that they were not supposed to be going down into any of those dig tunnels without an escort, it was policy.
Jake repeated his daily curse at pulling the assignment of those two. Really though, the two science guys were likeable enough, but when it came to this here dig, they were nothing but a couple of kids. Jake glanced back the way he had come and added mentally, a couple of damn disobedient kids.
He looked around for a final time, hopeful, but there was nowhere to hide. All around him, the tunnel seemed almost to glow with the halo of the lights reflecting from the polished walls. If anything happened to those guys his boss was sure to remove a very large pound of flesh from his backside. He’d had some major butt chewing’s before, but that would not be one to look forward to.
With a deflated sigh, he cinched up his ruck sack and headed down the tunnel in the direction he was pretty sure the two delinquent scientists had gone. “Well,” said Jake out loud. “At least I got to eat the worm last night.” He headed down the tunnel wearing a smile that carried no mirth.
The two scientists argued merrily as they walked down the main dig tunnel into the bowels of the cave complex. As the walls began to close in, their chatter began to peter off. The tunnel finally narrowed to around two to three feet wide, but remained approximately six feet tall giving the view before them a bizarrely foreboding appearance.
The lights were present here as well and lit, though the spacing was more like twenty or thirty feet than ten. Up ahead, both Dr.’s could clearly see the wall were the feeder tunnel in which they traveled ended. Except for the breathing of the two scientists, the silence within the tunnel was absolute
Dr. Gillery stopped short and turning asked Dr. Star, “What do you think Star? Should we go back and get Jake or someone else before proceeding?”
“Not on your life, Berney. It just looks spooky. Let’s go to the end up there and then we can decide what to do, okay?”
“Well, okay. And Star,” said Dr. Gillery.
“Don’t call me Berney, you know I hate that.”
Both scientists moved, single file now, without speaking to the end of the tunnel. Here the tunnel seemed to make a tee, one left the other right. Once there, Dr. Star noticed that there were no footprints to the left, but the sand had been disturbed. The stung lighting continued into the fork on the right, the left fork was dark as pitch.
Dr. Star pointed to the floor and said, “Berney, what’s that?”
“Looks like something was drub across the floor this way.” Both men shined their flash lights down the dark tunnel. Something farther back in the tunnel glinted gold.
“Look at that, Berney. Let’s go see what it is; it doesn’t seem to be far.”
“Wait,” said Dr. Gillery, “I think we should stay here and wait.”
“Tell you what,” said Dr. Star. “We’ll just go have a look and come right back. We won’t touch a thing, what harm can that be?”
Looking more and more unsure, Dr. Gillery said quietly, “Okay, but stop calling me Berney.”
The two scientists eased down the tunnel attempting to shine their flashlights in every direction at once. The tunnel opened up into a smallish cavern wide enough for Dr. Gillery to move up beside his companion. Sitting before them was a staff driven upright into the ground, A small coin, inlaid into the top of the staff, glinted brilliant gold with each pass of the flashlight beam.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Dr. Star. “Come on Berney.” Dr. Star grabbed Dr. Gillery by the arm and strode over to the staff.
“Stop calling me Berney,” Dr. Gillery got out just before the floor collapsed beneath them.
Jake was still cursing his bad luck with every step when he heard the roar from somewhere ahead. He stopped and, eyes wide, looked back. Seeing no one, he cursed louder and sprinted toward the noise.
When Jake arrived at the fork, he almost went right without slacking his pace, but noticed a haze in the air that brought him up short. He looked to the left fork, the light from his hard hat illuminating the tunnel. The haze seemed to be worse that way. “What the hell did they go in there for,” he cursed. Jake spoke aloud, but not with a yell, “Hey, are you guys alright?”
As he advanced, he heard some groans and saw a flashlight beam suddenly walk across the ceiling. He noticed that the ceiling in this room was not polished and shook his head for caring. Jake carefully walked to the edge that loomed before him and peered down into the hazy gloom, his flashlight illuminating the slowly settling dust. The floor here had collapsed into a twenty foot drop. As Jake looked down, both faces of the scientists gazed back up.
“You guys okay?” asked Jake.
“I think I’m fine,” answered Dr. Gillery coughing. “How about you Star?”
Dr. Star looked up through gritted teeth and said, “I can’t move my leg.”
Dr. Star heard Jake say from up above, “you guys just stay put, I’ll go get some help. Everything’s going to be just fine.” Dr. Star closed his eyes and grimaced against the pain. His leg felt like it was on fire. He could hear Berney scrambling around to his right and was beginning to get irritated with Jake for not going to get help now, not tomorrow, when he heard a great whooshing sound somewhere in front of him, at the opposite end of the pit. Dr. Star’s eyes snapped open.
He heard Berney say, “What was that?” Dr. Star watched as Berney’s light shone on a strange brown rock. Despite the pain, he was thinking, “What kind of freaky rock is that,” when the rock moved. Berney flung his flashlight and began screaming for Jake to get him out as he tried to scramble up the wall of the pit. Jake’s light was bathing the ledge just in front of where the rock was, when it stepped into the light.
The body of the thing reminded Dr. Star of a collection of puffed out membranes perched on two pairs of stick-like legs. One appendage, an arm maybe, came out from under the ledge and gripped the rock with a set of horny claws. Two other arms became visible beneath a great tube that opened like an iris on the end to reveal two huge moist eyes. Beneath the monster another long tube seemed to throb and pulse.
Dr. Star watched, shocked into silence, as the thing flung something on a string upwards at Jake and yanked several times. Jake’s hard hat fell into the pit and illuminated the monster completely. That’s when the thing hissed. It was just too much.
Dr. Star began screaming then. He screamed as he watched the thing grab a still scrambling Berney from the side of the pit and throw him down onto the floor. He screamed as he watched Berney land and lay still. Dr. Star screamed as the thing turned on him and grasped his throat with two of its bony hands, the claws digging into his flesh. He gasped when something was rammed into his stomach. He tried again to scream as the two great wet eyes settled within inches of his, but nothing came out. Dr. Star was aware of the coppery taste of blood, his abdomen afire with scalding pain. His vision began to darken, as if falling into a great yawning pit of darkness. Far away, the great unblinking eyes filled Dr. Star’s world. Then even the monstrous eyes became blurry, falling victim to the onslaught of shade. Finally all became black. After that Dr. Star knew no more.
The Price of Friendship
By: Norval Joe
“Mr. Baker. you appear to be semi-conscious. Can you repeat what I have just said.” Chad looked up from his book to see the teacher looking directly at him. She added in a mutter, but loud enough for the entire class to hear,” Heaven forbid that any of you could make the leap to logical correlation that it would take to explain this on your own.’
The sinking feeling in his stomach reminded him that he understood the correlation all to well.
“Mrs. Walker?” He stammered, and could see her inflating for an explosive tirade. You couldn’t show weakness in her classroom without feeling the sarcastic bite of her condescending wit. The students knew that hesitation and indecision were weakness in her mind, so Chad launched into a reply before she could get started. “You said that the term, ‘A pound of flesh’, used in Shakespeare’s play, ‘The Merchant of Venice’ has become synonymous with an onerous, undesirable debt that must be repaid.” He repeated as best he could remember.
The surprise was as evident on her face as the dread was on his own. He understood completely well what it meant to have an onerous debt. In fact the payment of his own pound of flesh would be made in just a few hours.
“Since you are so very clever,” she said, laying sarcastic emphasis on the word, ‘clever’, ” maybe you could give us an example of this kind of debt in a way that your fellow, less astute classmates could understand.” She grinned what he felt was her most evil and conniving grin, so far this year.
She obviously hated children. Chad figured that she was still a teacher, as old as she was, so that she could exact revenge for some actual or maybe only perceived childish insult, that she had received earlier in her career. Some say that she killed her husband with an especially lethal cynical jab, shortly after they were married. He was a well liked, unassuming and kindly florist, but within months of their sudden and unexpected marriage, he died mysteriously in his sleep. No cause of death was ever determined; no charges were filed. Forty years later, she remained a teacher, and alone.
He stared at the teacher as the blood drained from his face and his mouth opened and closed several times, giving him the appearance of a fish, glassy eyed and pale. He was hesitating again, but the only thing that would come to his mind as an example would be to reveal his own complex and embarrassing situation. She saw his hesitation, and added with an evil smirk, “And why don’t you come stand in front, so that the class can hear you clearly?”
As Chad walked to the front of the classroom his mind raced for an example from a movie or a TV show that the students could relate to. Then it came to him. These were 8th graders. They could all understand peer pressure to perform a dare or an act of vandalism.
“An onerous debt is like,” he began, but everyone in the class was staring at him. Some were making faces, or mouthing threats. ‘They’re laughing at me,’ he thought, ‘And why not? What makes me so qualified to tell the class anything, there are tons of kids smarter than me.’ “Umm,” he paused as his mind went blank. He began to panic, he was sweating and his vision going red around the edges. He just wanted to sit back down and disappear; go back to being nobody; then the words just poured out of his mouth, “It’s like you borrow something from someone that you know you shouldn’t borrow anything from, because if it gets lost or broken, they’ll kill you and then when you realize that its broken and they’re going to beat you up, you…” He was rambling and saying everything that he had wanted to keep to himself. He stopped, looked around at his fellow students, who stared back, blankly, as stunned by his rapid delivery as he was. He glanced at the teacher who was nodding her head in agreement. He took that as affirmation and made his way back to his seat.
A series of large oak trees formed a line from one wing of the Junior High School, past the baseball field and to the basket ball court, delineating the far end of the outdoor grassy area where the students ate their lunch. Under the protection of the spreading branches were benches forming octagons around the base of each tree.
Chad sat n his usual spot, under the tree farthest from the basketball courts. His normal group of friends arrived, one by one to eat their lunches. Amy came last and was heading to the empty place next to him. He was so absorbed by dread that he didn’t even notice her sit down. He didn’t eat, just looked despondently at his sandwich. Amy looked at Chad several times, but turned and started a conversation with one of her girlfriends, when he failed to acknowledge her sitting there.
A tal,l dark haired, boy walked up, “I hear Walker was picking on you today, Chad.” His heart froze. The boy kicked Chads foot when he didn’t respond, “What did you do to make her so mad at you,” he asked good naturedly. Chad looked up at the boy who was smiling down at him. “I don’t know, she asked me about the story we were reading. She’s just mean, and she needed someone to pick on. Besides, it just happened last period; How’d you hear about it?” The taller boy didn’t reply, he just barked a short, forced, laugh.
Amy turned to the two, and said, “I don’t think she intends to be mean. I know, she comes across that way, but I think she’s really just sad. Carol Ann was saying that she sees Mrs. Walker go past their house every Saturday morning, early, like before seven. Carol Ann said that she goes to the grave yard and visits her husbands grave.”
“Probably checking to make sure he’s still dead,” another boy, Tony, said too loudly, and laughed even louder. It wasn’t funny, but all the boys laughed along out of loyalty to their gender. Amy was about to continue her defense of Mrs. Walker, when the bell rang, ending their lunch, and said instead, “Well, I’ll see you after Choir, Chad?”
“Sure,” he said and watched her turn and walk off. He thought about how pretty she was; her wavy brown hair falling just past her shoulders. She wasn’t skinny, or sexy, the way the popular girls tried to be. She was a bit shorter than most the girls, but not fat, and she always dressed nicely. He admired her choice of sweater and blue jeans and thought about the last school dance. The night ended with a slow song, and he got to stand close to her, feeling her body against him, and breathing in the scent of her hair as it tickled his nose.
Derrick started him from his revelry, “You have my game, right?” He asked Chad, stepping in close to him. Chad tried to step back, uncomfortable at the taller boys closeness, as well as the menacing tone in his voice, but the bench was behind him and it buckled his knees, dropping him suddenly to sit on the hard wooden bench. The rest of the kids were halfway back to the school building and clearly out of hearing distance. “Yeah, Derrick, I have the game. It’s in my locker, but,” Derrick interrupted him, his already threatening eyes turning even colder, “But, what!” He said, bending over to grab Chad by the shirt.
“I don’t know,” Chad started lamely. “I never played it. When I got home, I took it out of my backpack and it wouldn’t start. It wouldn’t come on.”
“You broke my game.” Derrick said, letting go of Chads shirt and pushing him back at the same time. “My Dad’s going to kill me.” He started turning from side to side, opening and closing his hands like he was trying to squeeze something out of the air. When the color of his face had past through all the shades of red, and was approaching purple, he stopped and pointed his finger at Chad. “You’re going to pay! You’re going to pay for that game. I’m telling you.” He was shouting now, and shaking his finger.
“I can’t pay for it. I don’t have any money, and my Mom is still out of work. I don’t even have a bike! What can I give you?” He was getting frantic; it sounded clearly in his voice.
Derrick stopped, dead still, with his head tilted to the side and up, as if listening to a far off voice, its message coming to him in pieces on the wind. A smile spread slowly across his face, until he had the look of a cat that had just trapped a mouse. “I know what you can give me. Your girl friend. Bring her to the first base dugout after school.” Without waiting for a reply, Derrick turned and strode toward the school.
Mr. Johnson the Very Minor God
By: Jeff Hite
When Johnson, or Mister Johnson, as his one and only subject called him was called into being he knew two things: first that he had only one subject, Alexandra, an otherwise normal little girl, and second that he was a very minor god. Alexandra made up for being his one and only subject very well. She was always faithful, completed penance
with never a complaint, she even did extra from time to time. All in all what more could a god ask for.
From time to time he would check with the other gods and none of them had as successful a track record as he did, one hundred percent faithfulness from their subjects. He was the envy of all the other very minor gods. Not one of them even came close.
This made him proud, and in return he took good care of his faithful subject. He made sure that she never got sick, she never so much as stubbed a toe. He even gave her special powers from time to time. When that brat Thomas Middleberg pulled her hair and teased her in second grade, Mister Johnson made sure the she could catch him on
the playground that afternoon, despite the fact that he was much faster than her normally. That was why on the day that it happened it was so very devastating.
The second of July had started like any normal day for Mister Johnson. Alexandra had woken him with her morning prayer. She sang softly in the way that he had taught her, and he was very happy that her voice was starting to take on the qualities that maturity would bring. It was a soft and soothing way to wake up. Today she was going to ask
Tom Middleberg to the Sadie Hawkins Dance. She had fallen for him all those many years ago when she had chased him down on the playground. He had kissed her on the cheek that day so that she would not hit him, saying he was sorry for being rude to her. From that day forth, she had a crush on him, but he had paid her little attention. When she had found out that the school was going to hold the traditional girl asks the boy dance, she had begun to pray. Mister Johnson was all but too happy to comply, his one and only subject had always been faithful after all. He had endowed her with the gifts she had requested and prepared her the best way he could.
Today was important for another reason. Today was the day that he was going to fix the one thing about his existence that had always bothered him. He was going before the god council to present his record and get his status elevated from very minor god to minor god. But, in truth he had much higher aspirations.
“Mister Johnson,” the head of the council said. “We have seen your record, and it is positively glowing.” A round of here heres would follow. “It is in the judgment
of this council that instead of the normal adjustment from very minor god to minor god, that you be elevated to the level of major god. And because of your incredible achievements you will be given control of the entire southern hemisphere.” Clapping and cheers breaking out as he finished the proclamation.
“Johnson, Johnson,” the man with the annoying little voice broke into his thoughts. He stood up and made his way to the little barred window.
“I’m Johnson,” he said.
“I will need proof of that.” Johnson pulled out his very minor god ID and showed it to the annoying little man.
“Oh, you are a very minor god,” he said never making eye contact and shaking his head. “You will have to come back on Wednesday, the council only takes up
very minor god issues on the third Wednesday of February on leap years.”
“But I have this appointment, and a spotless record.” He said holding out his appointment slip and record.
“Let me see that.” the little man said snatching it from Johnson. As he did his dirty fingers left smudges on the nearly glowing record. Johnson felt is blood begin boiling at this. But he controlled himself. “Oh I see, you are that Johnson. Yes, yes have a seat the council will see you in a little while.”
Alexandra, like her god, was not having the best of days. She had asked for and gotten the things that she had wanted from Mister Johnson, but the extra height and the extra pound or so of flesh she had been given were making her a little awkward. She did her best to compensate, but she was still having a little trouble. Oddly enough when she had prayed to him for a bit of grace he had not answered her. No matter she thought, she could go it on her own, but she had decided to put the encounter off until the end of the day when there had been more time to work on her balance.
“Johnson!” The annoying voice said.
“The council will see you now. If I were you I would turn off your prayer catcher, in the off chance that it goes off in there it will reflect badly.”
“But what if my subject needs me?”
“As always if your prayer catcher is off your subjects’ prayers will go to prayer mail that you can pick up later. But emergencies will be routed through the switch board here, and we can interrupt you if it is really important. But you better hope that doesn’t happen.”
Johnson reluctantly turned off his prayer catcher, but as he did he noticed that the signal was non-existent. He wondered how many of Alexandra’s prayers he had missed. He truly felt empty without them.
He made his way to the council chambers. The two huge chamber doors were made for the much older and larger gods, and he had to struggle to get one of them open enough to get in. When he finally got in, his toga was wrinkled and his record had picked up a new crease as well. He thought about trying to straighten them but he could feel the stares of the
council upon him. He walked quickly forward and handed his paperwork to the clerk, who looked at it in dismay. She checked her paperwork against his twice before taking them to the huge bench where the nine super elevated gods sat. They looked casually at his record, passing it quickly from one to the other.
“It says here that your record is clean Johnson.” the least of the super elevated god said blandly “That is rather impressive. How have you managed to keep your subjects happy?”
“Alexandra has few demands, and I have carefully taught the proper prayers and they are coming along nicely as she grows.”
“Ahh but how do you teach that to all of your subjects with no discontent? Surely there must be some that don’t like you.” The second most elevated god said. This was not going as Johnson had imagined.
“Well that is the thing, I only have one subject.”
“One!” Bellowed a particularly large god. They all passed his record around again examining it much more carefully this time. “How did this happen?” He asked the head god. There was silence among them and some very knowing glances were exchanged. Finally the head super elevated god spoke.
“Johnson, it appears that there has been a mistake. A god, even a very minor god is normally not given the care of just one subject, that is normally the dominion of the guardian angels,” He paused looking at the record again and frowning. “Hmmm… it says here that you have even given powers to the girl from time to time. That is not normally allowed, but otherwise you seem to have done a remarkable job with her. We are going to review your case and…”
There was a knock at the chamber doors, and the Clerk obviously annoyed at the interruption hurried to answer it. There was a brief exchange that Johnson could not hear then the clerk came forward and handed a prayer mail recorder to Johnson.
“Well, you have interrupted us… Let’s hear it, if it is that important.” The head god said. Johnson, mortified of what it might be, tried to figure out how the device worked. Alexandra had never had an emergency before. The worst thing that happened to her were nightmares and he could usually take care of them before they got bad. Then he remembered Thomas and the time he had pulled her hair. Just then he found the play button and pushed it.
“Mister Johnson,” her young voice sung with obvious strain. “Why have you forsaken me? He hates me! I hate you! ” The final words came with such force that it shook the recorder in his hand.
When the echo died down the head god shook his head sadly and said, “This changes things a bit you understand.” He handed Johnson’s now considerably less that perfect record back to the clerk. Johnson looked down at it. It now had an ugly red scrawl across it, ‘Guardian Angel training needed.’ He took it and walked slowly out of the chambers. She would pay for this.