A Personal Journey to Self-Publishing, Part One

Available now, three new novelsThe Ones Before, Discovery, and An Ancient Fire. All part of the Discovery Trilogy (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction). An adventure dealing with a time where mankind is finally recovering from a major apocalyptic event, and in the first two novels deal with a myth of a great people known as The Ones Before. Yet there is no proof they ever lived. It will be up to the present Head Keeper of the Past to either prove or disprove those myths.

Of Gods Strangers and Messengers, Science Fiction Adventure, ISBN: 978-1-946179-12-8 Paperback, (and the link to the webpage for this book: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction), and Unexpected Unplanned and into the Unknown, a Post-Apocalyptic episodic novel, ISBN: 978-1-946179-15-9 Paperback, (and the link to the webpage for this book: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) Both are available as paperback and in the EBook format. They were released on July 14,2017.

The Harsh Lands, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) is available as a paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5, for Kindle, ASIN: B01N69YCCW, or in the EPub format ISBN: 978-1-946179-02-9. This novel is the complete Survival trilogy in a single book with a length of over 1150 pages.

Time of Isolation: (link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction)  Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-06-1, Kindle, ISBN: 978-1-946179-07-4, and Epub, ISBN: 978-1-946179-08-1. Desperate to Survive: (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) Paperback, ISBN: 978-1-946179-09-8, Kindle, ISBN: 978-1-946179-10-4, and Epub, ISBN: 978-1-946179-11-1, are available for purchase as of April 21, 2017. These releases are second editions with the novels revised and updated. At this time A Taste of History Past, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/science-fiction) will remain as a first edition and EBook only with this being the final book in the Survival trilogy.

The Woman in the Snow 2nd edition, (Link to webpage: https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/christian-fiction). Contemporary Christian Fiction available now: Paperback, ISBN 978-1-946179-03-6, Kindle, ISBN 978-1-946179-04-3, and Epub, 978-1-946179-05-0)

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Yes, I’m an Indie publisher, and as such I’m responsible for all of it. And what I mean is, from the writing, to the editing, to contracting for covers, and submitting all materials to a print house, to the final product you find at your favorite book outlet, literally everything. This is a journey that has taken years to accomplish. There were a lot of mistakes made along the way, and a really steep learning curve. Still at this time my novels are available in paperback, and EBook. I haven’t attacked the audio market as of yet, but sometime in the future it may be a direction that I will take. (Also remember that everybody’s path is different, and this is mine.)

And now that I’m looking at reaching an end to most of what I’ve done, I thought it was time to look back and trace the pathways to now. So with this first post in the new series I will go back to the beginnings which began eleven years ago. 2006 was the year I retired, and then moved from where we were living to the great northwest, and all the work that happens when you not only move into to a new home, but add to that a new state, meaning the changing of all your vehicle licenses, driver’s license, and address changes and such. Add to it not knowing anything about anything meant more learning.

So this early time was simply spent on becoming familiar with the area, and the changes that one faces. Still, after this what was I planning to do? I knew, from statistics, that if one didn’t occupy oneself with something productive that life expectancy after retirement would be short. And I wanted time to spend with my wife, who is still working at this time, once she retired, and finally after all the years together to actually have it be just the two of us. That will finally happen in the second half of 2019.

So I thought maybe I should try to write. While I’ve written a short story or two, and when we’d do Halloween haunted walks, create stories to heighten the suspense, I had never tried to write a complete novel. At the time in the past where I’d attempt to write, life got in the way, so it was something that had to be placed on the backburner until such time where I might be able to devote more time to the craft. Decades went by, and between family and job it reached a point where I had to give up recreational reading totally. So for the last years of my career, it was work, home life, no real vacations, and a wildfire close to the end of my career that once again changed our direction, and lives forever.

I’ve never claimed to be anything but a country hick. I lived most of my life on family property that was forty-one acres in size. A two mile dirt road to get there, we are on wells for water, and then in the seventies we finally got electricity and a telephone. Yet, when we made this move from there to where we are living presently it was in a city. The original plan was to only be here a short time while we recovered, sell, and return to the country. Then came the housing crash, and so here we are still living in the city, and that same house twelve years later.

Back when I had begun this journey, decades in the past, the publishing industry was completely different. There were no agents, and in reality there were no classes, internet, webinars and such, to teach one how to create a query, and one dealt with publishers and editors directly. It meant when I decided to pursue a writing career as a second occupation that what we see today was completely unknown to me. Meaning that I went into this as I remembered, not knowing the reality of today and the massive changes that had taken place. Let alone the ones that I didn’t see coming in the future, which is now the past. Even though what is happening today is still changing and growing.

In a sense what we see has led to a revolution in the publishing world. Now anybody who has thoughts of publishing can do it. So this has led to the massive amounts of published material out there making it even more difficult for a writer to become known. And is usually the case there’s lots of this new material that’s really not worth reading. In many ways this is like the old west, it is the frontier, a revolution, and a freedom for any to get one’s book out and into the hands of readers.

So late in 2006 I began my first novel. Still I knew that it was important to set a goal. I mean, was this novel going to be my only attempt, or did I have aspirations to go further? At first I didn’t know, but eventually set a goal of eight novels. Was it realistic? There was no way to know, and if it wasn’t I could always adjust it later. So off into the darkness of the unknown future I went. And the obstacles that was ahead of me were all unknown – which was probably a good thing. I really thought, in my mind that it would be simple. Write the novel, submit it, and see it published.

For any who have tried, they know that this isn’t reality, and this road is a long and hard one. Yes there are always a few who seem to hit everything just right and go to the best seller’s list. But for most of us we end in obscurity and what we’ve produced ends up on our personal shelves to collect dust. Still even to have accomplished this is far greater then ninety nine percent of the ones who have attempted to write only to fail.

Next week I’ll be continuing this final series of posts. Have a great week, and God Bless! (https://fdbrant.godaddysites.com/)

Published in: on January 6, 2018 at 7:07 am  Leave a Comment  
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Sixty Years On

Now available in July, two new novels: Of Gods Strangers and Messengers, Science Fiction Adventure, and Unexpected Unplanned and into the Unknown, a Post-Apocalyptic episodic novel. Both are available as paperback and in the EBook format. Release date was yesterday, July 14, 2017. Blurb and information can be found on my website (found at the bottom of this page).

The Harsh Lands is available as a paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-00-5), for Kindle (ASIN: B01N69YCCW), or in the EPub format (ISBN: 978-1-946179-02-9). This novel is the complete Survival trilogy in a single book with a length of over 1150 pages.

Time of Isolation: Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-06-1) Kindle (ISBN: 978-1-946179-07-4) and Epub (ISBN: 978-1-946179-08-1) and Desperate to Survive: Paperback (ISBN: 978-1-946179-09-8) Kindle (ISBN: 978-1-946179-10-4) and Epub (ISBN: 978-1-946179-11-1) are available for purchase as of April 21, 2017. These releases are second editions with the novels revised and updated. At this time A Taste of History Past will remain as a first edition and EBook only with this being the final book in the Survival trilogy.

The Woman in the Snow 2nd edition. Contemporary Christian Fiction available now: Paperback (ISBN 978-1-946179-03-6) Kindle (ISBN 978-1-946179-04-3) and Epub (978-1-946179-05-0).

* * *

I picked this title from the title of a song by Elton John that he sang back in the seventies. I have to admit that I always liked it. Still in many ways what it reflects is a view of when one reaches those older years. And in my case I definitely qualify. If any of you out there haven’t heard the song here’s the link to one of the versions from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eEcafVVUxqk

In a sense what one takes away from this song will be as a result of who and where you are personally. For me it has to do with the title referring to sixty years plus, which is where I am, since I’ll turn sixty eight this year. Others may think about the fact that it seems that every generation have their wars to fight, others who want to see guns disappear will see a possible future where they don’t exist. And still others might focus on the religious aspect, and because of this none of us would agree what this song is about – and that’s what keeps life interesting.

What I am writing here will be through my eyes as I’ve viewed events, and marked time. And if we truly think about it for all of us it is this way. What is being witnessed throughout our lives will always be colored by who we are, what our experiences have been, our heredity, the influences that are around us, and where we are in our own timeline. Nothing we see is what it truly is. It cannot be any other way since we view all things from our inner selves, and our personal senses.

For example, in my case I’m partially colorblind. That means that certain colors do not exist for me and when you remove those colors what I see instead is the color that would be created if that missing color didn’t exist. To explain what I mean, here is what would happen. If you remove red from purple the color you would end up with is blue. And we can say the same thing with brown. Since red is the most common colorblind color then if we remove red from brown we get green. So this would mean that to any of us with that particular color blindness trait those other colors wouldn’t exist, i.e. brown and purple.

By the way, back when you were a kid, and for me that’s a long time ago, did you ever try to mix all the colors with your crayons or colored pencils to get white? Logically you’d think it would work since sunlight is white and we were shown and told that it is created from all the colors.  And by using a prism they prove it. Yet when we mix those colors on a sheet of paper we end up with black – one of those mysteries of life I guess.

Memory or memories can be tricky things. It has been shown that what we remember isn’t necessarily what really happened. Time and distance has changed those memories into something different, yet we believe what we see in our minds is correct. There have been a number of experiments done over the years that prove that memories can be implanted and have no basis in reality. So when I look back on my memories I find that with some there are warm nostalgic feelings that can lead me to smile, while others I’d sooner forget. Are they accurate, I believe so, but there’s no way for me to prove them to be so. If we think about this too hard it can leave us on shaky ground with nothing firm to stand upon. It comes down to do we trust or not trust our personal memories. Personally I’d rather trust them until they are proven to be wrong.

So what’s your earliest memory? Mine, and I’d guess I had to be around three at the time, has to do with a family outing to an observatory, standing on the steps leading up to the entrance. That’s it, nothing about going inside, or about the trip to and from, or any other aspect. There must have been something about that one location that created this permanent memory.

Other memories? Well, there’s the one where we went out to look at property when I was six. We turned a corner and everything to the west fell away and suddenly it was like I could see forever. As a boy scout taking that ninety mile hike we did as a troop, graduating from high school, (fifty years ago) the night I left home on the way to a war zone as a soldier, wild fires, where eventually one did destroy our homes, marrying the woman I love, who brought two daughters into my life and our family, being there for the birth of our sons, and now after all these years going to their weddings. As you can see most of these memories are ordinary and as such could belong to anyone. Yet, each and every one makes me who I am, as the ones you have make you who you are.

Local and beyond memories? The Kennedy assassination when I was in high school, the space race and landing on the moon, an airliner crash that almost hit an elementary school, and further back and personal, a military fighter crashing on the property and almost hitting our home, 9-11-2001, and the resulting wars that we still face today, terrorism and the many tragic losses from these extremists, and I guess I can throw in the mine rescue. In this mix I can add the resignation of a president and vice-president, and the first time we had a president who came to office unelected. And all of these form the backdrop of my and our lives influencing how we see and view our world.

The common factor in all of this is time. And for all of us time is the limiting factor. We are only given so much of it before we die. And it’s surprising how fast that time approaches. It seems like yesterday when I graduated from school and while I was in school it seemed like it was forever. Now fifty years later I’m returning from that reunion celebrating a half century since graduating. Yeah this means I’ve been out of school much longer than I was in, and that time between has more than flown – leaving me to wonder what happened

It is here at this time in one’s life that they realize that much of their lives are over, and whatever dreams and goals one had are no longer obtainable. It is sobering when one realizes that all the chances are pretty much used up, and are part of your past. Still I can say that once I retired that it allowed me one more chance at one of those life goals, and here it is right before you. I always had a desire to write, and in truth I never knew if I could be successful or not. I guess, in the end, I can say yes. When I seriously began to write, (after retiring) I set goals, whether I’d ever reach them I didn’t know. I honestly didn’t know if I could write a book or novel and finish it. Yet, in the end, I did reach those goals, surpassed them, reset those goals and will reach and possibly surpass those new ones.

Still, time is piling up, burying me under that weight, telling me that soon those creative juices will probably dry up. So next year as I work on two new novels,  they may be my last. Still I’m happy with the results of my writing. In the end I’ll have written twelve novels, plus one of short stories that I’ve presented over the years on this blog. And when I do look back on my life I see many twists and turns, dead ends, failures, and a few successes now and then. Still overall I have my health – more or less – and a loving family. I believe in God and would love to see a peaceful world. Still, I’m realistic enough to know that this will probably never happen. It still doesn’t mean that I hope to be wrong. We are still a world of tribes and have that tribe mentality. And until that changes nothing ever will.

In conclusion, all I can say is to keep reaching. Keep yourself active mentally and physically. Set those goals, and reach for them. If you don’t make them, at least you tried, and in a sense that’s the bottom line isn’t it. It has been said many many times, it’s the journey, the road you travel. Even though that road will have many unexpected turns, dead ends, and branches that will completely change your life and direction, you only fail when you give up. And unlike the games we play we cannot go back and start a level again. In life we get one chance, and it matters not whether you have the experience to make an educated decision, we must decide and then live by where that decision sends us.Whether my novels become more than a hobby only time will tell. Still I’m happy to have traveled down those many roads, and I love following my fictitious characters through their lives, and must admit that I’ve enjoyed their life stories and journeys as they unfolded. And if I want to admit to it I think I would like to meet many of them personally. Of course this is impossible since they’ve never lived except in my mind and on the pages of those books – still, they are real to me. Remember –

Don’t be afraid to reach high and to seek the impossible. Who knows, you may be the one who makes the impossible possible. God Bless! Have a great week, and learn from all the mistakes we all have a tendency to make. It is only then that we grow. (http://www.fdbrant.com)


Changes, Part 9


When we concluded last week’s post it appeared that Elsa and Ed were at an impasse. Elsa, isn’t trusting (for obvious reasons), and while she hasn’t seen the speaker, feels she’s at least in control where she is. And because of this she makes demands of her own. Meanwhile Ed is beginning to make progress in understanding Elsa’s words, but needs for this impasse to end. He is still monitoring both siblings and is still waiting to see if and when her brother will return from his search.

Jay, after finding out the area he is located is much larger than anticipated, begins to wonder how he ever found the building himself. Still he feels responsible for the loss or disappearance of his sister, and decides he will continue to search for her. Even with the weight of guilt and depression weighing heavily on him, he will not give up his search. It’s that important to him. (And if this is the first time here the story in its entirety can be found under short stories, in the sidebar on the right, or under June, July, and August of 2015.) And for your reading pleasure is the conclusion to Changes:

Ed needed to get this moving as he continued to monitor the situation, and as he continued to speak with Elsa he saw movement out of the corner of his eye and could see the young male, her brother had returned. He looked defeated and beat, not a good sign. In Ed’s mind he could head back out at any time and he really didn’t want to see that happen. Turning back to the monitor where he was watching the girl he could still see and hear the mistrust in both her body language and her voice. Well, he really couldn’t blame her. If he had been in her place he’d probably feel the same way. Remembering back to the way she looked when her brother brought her into the welcome center he suspected that something really bad had happened and this would only add to the suspicion and lack of trust.

He had no answers. And time wasn’t going to allow him the luxury of slowly working this out. “Look Elsa, what’s it going to take for us to see each other and at least confirm that what I’m saying is accurate?”

She shrugged, not realizing she had. In truth she had no idea what she needed to feel safe or what to tell him. She realized that he knew her name but she didn’t remember if he had mentioned his so she decided she’d ask. “Ah, I don’t remember if I got your name. If you gave it to me, then I’m sorry to have to be asking again. But you do have mine and now my brother’s. It would be a start.”

“Ed, Edward Carson.”

“Ed Edward Carson? That’s a funny name. Is this place then called Carson?”

The way she stated it almost made him laugh. Still he had to admit he was unfamiliar with their lives and how they lived, so it wouldn’t be any different for them. “No, Ed is my nickname, and Edward is my full name. And no this place isn’t Carson. It’s known as The Deeps to any of us who lived here. Why would you think this place would be named Carson?”

She was perplexed. It was common knowledge or so she thought. “Ah, one takes their last name from the name of the village, town, or trading center where one lives, don’t you know that?”

“Ah, no I don’t.” When she stated this, somewhere in the back of his mind, he had seen in history, a place somewhere in this world, where this had been a common practice, but he didn’t remember if he had studied it or had just found it during some research. “Look, we can continue talking this way or we can begin to talk where we can see each other. Right now I can see you, but you can’t see me.”

When he stated this she immediately got up and looked quickly around. Was he here and close by? She immediately jumped over the counter and crouched down. She didn’t want anybody sneaking up on her. With a bit of fear and panic in her voice she asked, “Where are you?”

Damn! Ed wondered if he had just undone all he had accomplished. “No, no, I’m not close to you. In fact I’m completely on the opposite side of the park, and in truth a lot further away.”

“So why is it I can hear you? I know I haven’t seen you, but nobody can talk like this and be far away. It’s not possible.”

How did one explain technology to someone who had never been around it? And Ed felt he didn’t have the time. Again he was afraid that Jay would leave mistakenly thinking his sister had abandoned the Welcome center and had disappeared into the desert. (He had returned once again.) Maybe he should at least contact him, but he didn’t know if he could carry on this many conversations at the same time and stay ahead of them let alone even. Again, damn. Why can’t something be simple for once? I just finished, in the near past fixing that leak, and it was a bear of a project. Now I’m trying to coax someone in here that knows nothing about their true past or what we had accomplished before the bombardment.

As he stared at the two monitors and looked back to the one with Elsa and his heart went out for her once again. Whatever had happened to her, had to be life changing. And whatever it was wasn’t for the good. “Look Elsa I watched as your brother brought you out of the desert. Something bad had happened and you were unconscious. And if he hadn’t found you I suspect you would have died – another victim of the unforgiving desert. I don’t know how your brother found this place, but if he hadn’t then this conversation wouldn’t be taking place. Again, I know you have no reason to trust me, but at least come into the park and I will do the same. There will be enough distance between us so that you will be able to determine if you want to continue and meet with me.”

He glanced over to the other monitor and saw Jay preparing to get up and from what Ed could determine Jay appeared to be getting ready to head out again. Ed hadn’t looked to see what time of day it was on the surface, but he needed Jay to remain. So with a decision made he opened up a mic to the center and simply said, “Jay, stay put!”


Jay knew it was night out, but thought maybe he’d simply go outside and let the cool desert night air caress him giving him a chance to do some deep thinking, to possibly come up with a solution to his dilemma. Elsa had to be somewhere and he needed to know where. Overall there had been too few clues. And, in truth, the only real one had been the fact that she had been sleeping, and had left before taking care of their normal housekeeping. Other than that he had to admit there was nothing. So with his decision made he got up and headed towards the door that led out to the tank only to stop midstride when a voice out of nowhere stated in no uncertain terms, “Jay, stay put!”

He quickly looked around trying to find the source of the voice only to see nothing. He immediately began to do a quick search. Somebody had to be here it was the only explanation he could come up. Voices didn’t just appear out of the thin air. It was something that was impossible. But after a quick and thorough search the results netted him nothing other than puzzlement. There was nobody here other than himself – nobody.


Ed watched in amazement as Jay stopped and began an immediate search for the one who spoke. Haven’t any of these people heard about any of this stuff I take for granted? The obvious answer again was no. At least there was now a great possibility Jay would stay, now he needed to concentrate on Elsa. He looked back at the monitor that was watching her and he saw she was still behind the counter and still crouched down. With the action of Jay grabbing his attention he had no idea if she had responded or not. He sighed, and shook his head. He needed to be twins, then he might be able to stay on top of this situation. Right now it was anything but.

He was running out of ideas and was almost disgusted with himself for causing whatever distress Elsa was feeling. He was sure it had to do with whatever happened in her past, but in reality had no idea what it had been. Still he had an idea since people don’t normally hike the desert naked – at least he didn’t think they did. As he stared at the images he remained silent. There has to be a way. “Okay, Elsa, I’m sorry if what I said caused you a problem. Look, I’m taking this on faith. I’m heading for the park. Please come out and I think you’ll see you have nothing to fear from me.”

Without waiting for an answer he left the security office and headed for the park. It was going to take some time to reach it since he was close to the center of the facility. Like her, and not sure of her reaction he strapped on a knife. It was a precaution he hoped wouldn’t be necessary but he really didn’t know how the world on the surface worked.


Elsa was about to reply when she realized it would do no good. It was obvious whoever this Ed was he was heading to, as he called it, the park. What to do, that was the question, and she wasn’t sure if she wanted to leave the perceived safety of the tunnels or not. Still, if she wanted to be honest, there was nowhere for her to go. She either stayed in the tunnels where it was just that, or she went into the park where the privies were located, and there was all that greenery that shouldn’t be here but was. So her safety here was an illusion anyway. Besides, if she wanted to be honest, she was getting tired of crouching down like she was. It was hard on her knees and leg muscles.

She stood back up and then sat in one of those chairs and stared out through the narrow slit of a window to see if she could see anything. Unfortunately these windows were more for breaking up the monotony than allowing a true view of what happened out there in the park. Still she felt she would remain until she saw movement or something signifying he was there. Once that happened then she would decide whether to go through those doors.

She found she was leaning forward on the desk straining to see any change, or anything, but so far she couldn’t detect anything. The time seemed to be dragging and she wondered how far away this Edward could be. He did say this place was large, but how large could such a place be? Honestly it truly couldn’t be that big could it? She was about to give up when she saw what she thought might be movement, and waited to have it confirmed. After all her imagination could be playing tricks on her.

* * *

Jay was becoming impatient. Since that one contact by the voice nothing else had happened. He began to wonder if maybe he had imagined it, but it had been sharp, and in almost a command voice had told him to stay. He wished he could locate the one who spoke. Maybe he knew where his sister was, and maybe he, whoever this was, is close by. Yet, all of it was unknown, and simply a guess on his part. He began to pace the area. How’d whoever this is know I was about to head out those doors? It was a good question and at this moment he had no answer. It was then he thought about those windows that saw in the distance. Maybe there were more of them somewhere else. Then he realized the voice had named him also. How is that possible?

Then he remembered there was at least one door they hadn’t been able to go through. Maybe whoever this is was in that other room and there were more of these windows there. It was a possibility but once again it was only a guess. There was no way in there, and the door was solid and with what he had there was no way to go through. Still, at this moment it was the only thing that made any sense. With those thoughts he went over to that door and banged on it trying to get the attention of whoever this had to be. He even raised his voice trying to get some reaction – anything, but he heard nothing, and if there was someone there they hadn’t moved at all.

Frustrated he began pacing once again and finally went to one of the lines of chairs and sat down with his arms crossed. If he heard nothing for a while maybe he would go out anyway, be away from this place, and think this through. Suddenly there appeared to be too many strange things happening, and maybe this place was actually a trap, a danger to both he and his sister. And there was a great possibility she had already fallen into it. And even though he didn’t know it, his conclusion was accurate. Although not in the way he thought.

* * *

Out of the corner of her eye she caught the movement a second time and this confirmed for her that someone had to be out there. She still wasn’t sure if she was ready for this or not, so she remained sitting trying to come to some kind of decision. Finally she sighed, pushed herself up from the desk and left from behind the counter through the opening for that purpose. She came around and returned to the set of doors she had gone through earlier, turned around and leaned on them still not sure if she was ready to leave this area or not. At least here she had some type of protection. Out there, there wasn’t any place to hide or anything to use for protection.

Might as well get this over with, she thought. Things weren’t going to change until this meeting happened. She honestly had no idea how long this Edward would wait before taking things into his own hands, and with what she had witnessed so far – wonders well beyond anything she had ever imagined – she hadn’t a clue what he could do. Turning around she carefully pushed through those swinging double doors and entered the park.

She was still in awe since this area seemed to be bathed in sunlight, but this was quite impossible. She was underground and knew it. So how was it accomplished? With a tentativeness that was obvious she began to walk one of those solid paths towards the center area with her hand resting comfortably on her knife hilt. At least it gave her a bit of false confidence. As she neared the center of the park there appeared to be benches on either side of the path and sitting one of them was an old man. An old man? Really? Was this who she feared? He seemed harmless. But she knew such appearances could fool one. Again, with tentativeness in her speech she asked, “Are you Edward?”

He smiled back at her pointing to a bench on the other side of the walkway and said, “Yes, that’s me.”

Carefully, keeping him in sight at all times she moved over to the bench he had pointed to and slowly sat down keeping her weight on her legs so she could move quickly if it was required. She saw he was leaning back with his one of his arms lying across the top of the bench and he appeared to be relaxed. And thusly began the conversation between the two of them with the distance between remaining.

At the end she found herself being drawn to this oldster – one who had lived alone for too much time. It was then he asked, “Elsa, are you ready to face something different, and do you think you can convince your brother Jay that you are okay, and if the answer is yes, I will open the wall and either let you go back to him, or have him come to us – your call.”

* * *

“Wait a minute writer! What’s this? You call this a conclusion? You’ve left us hanging. Yeah, we can see that things are heading to a successful conclusion . . . still . . . really?” And it may seem to be still open – unfinished. Still if you have been following these series of short stories from the beginning you know that in truth they are a series of episodes from the book “Unexpected, Unplanned, and into the Unknown”. So while each episode concludes within itself, it also leads one on to the next episode, which will begin in two weeks. It is titled, “A Time of Learning, Death, and Revenge”, which is broken down into 8 parts. And with this next short story, we are one short story or episode away from the conclusion of the book. The last short story or episode is titled, “Reconciliation”. Next week my post is titled “A Review”. Since I have had a number of readers come on board in the middle I decided (like those countdown shows) to present a review of all the episodes up and through “Changes” so all will know the history, the overall story, and thusly understand how we arrived here. Have a great week and see you here next Saturday. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Changes, Part 8

Running out of options Jay continues to try to locate Elsa, which is becoming an impossible task. He has no clues, and nothing to work from. Still until he finds her he will continue to search, hoping for a good outcome in the end. Elsa, with her meal consumed, finds she has questions about this underground world. There is so much impossibility surrounding her that she wants to understand. In fact if some other person had stated they had seen and experienced what she has, she suspects she would laugh and consider it a tall tale. And Ed is trying to keep track of the two of them and not really succeeding. He takes a break himself as he tries to figure out how to make this deteriorating situation come to a successful conclusion.

Of the three it seems that Elsa has become the key to making all of this work. Still it is Ed who must set it all in motion since he began the steps to bring her down to the lower levels in the first place. Jay, once again, is on the outside and completely unaware of what’s transpiring under his feet. Yet, at this very moment in time anything can happen. (And if this is the first time here parts 1 thru 3 are under June 2015, in the right sidebar, with parts 4 thru 6 under July 2015, and part 7 under August 2015, or you can go to the short stories in the sidebar instead.) And for your reading pleasure is part 8:

Jay stood up and headed back out into the desert pushing through the crack. He stood for a moment as his eyes adjusted to the bright sunshine, and the breezes that were blowing. The wind was warm and was blowing quite hard picking up sand and small pebbles when the gusts hit him. Fortunately it wasn’t hard enough to create a sandstorm but this didn’t bode well either. It meant that any tracks Elsa would have left would already be gone and as such there would be nothing to let him know which way she may have gone or how long in the past it had happened. From what little evidence he had found in those rooms it could have been right up to just before he had arrived.

Part of the problem he faced simply was the fact that Elsa hadn’t any idea as to where this was. She had been injured, and delirious, semiconscious when he had found her. And it was days before she was herself once more. Other than what had happened to her at the hands of the raiders she remembered none of it. Yeah leaving their camp in the dark and disappearing into the desert but that was about all. He remembered her saying that she remembered heading out from the raider camp in full darkness and then waking up inside of the building with he watching and caring for her. Still, like all of them, she could use landmarks and such to locate and to travel, but when you had none to start with such was almost useless.

So where to look? Where should he go to search? Maybe I can do a few full widening circles around this area. It’d give me a chance to learn a little more about the lay of the land, and if she did leave I might trip across something to give me a direction. With his mind made up he headed on down the wash and deeper into the desert. He would spend most of the daylight working the area and then return as the sun set. He had enough water and rations to do this. Besides, once he completed his first circuit he could always return to the tank and refill his water container.


The sun was beginning to set and he was still a little way from completing his first circuit of this area. The badlands encompassed a greater area than he thought. There were literally hundreds of places for one to get lost or to hide in. He felt it would take a search party greater than the size of all the able-bodied males in the village to do a complete search of this area. So how was he going to do it on his own? That brought up another question. How did he ever find this place when he had been close to death himself? He had no answers and with a heavy heart pushed on until he came to one of his markers and returned to the underground building.

He sat heavily in one of those seats that were in a row with his head resting on his hands and with his eyes closed breathed a silent prayer that Elsa was all right. At this moment this place felt empty and it emphasized his position as being the only one here. With his sister here it had given him a reason to keep going. It gave him the impetus to make plans and to take the dangerous trip back to the ruins, and to come back here. Now he was at a complete loss as to what to do. He heard his stomach rumble and realized he hadn’t eaten anything all day, but still remained sitting. He felt his depression deepening, and he felt miserable and responsible. But, in truth, he wasn’t here to know what happened. And to blame himself was stupid, he knew that, still he couldn’t help it. When he had rescued her, not that she didn’t rescue herself initially, she became his responsibility. She, after all, is his sister, and a younger sister at that. He remembered too many times being reminded, as he grew up, to watch out for her and be responsible. Well, as far as he was concerned, he failed.

* * *

Elsa, once she finished the food, putting the trash back in the basket, went back to those doors and pushed once again. While she hadn’t really thought about it at the time she had gone through them, and in both directions, it seemed like they swung both ways. Since she now knew this to be true, since she had tested her theory, and it would be the first time she had ever encountered anything like this. Not that everything she had been discovering up to this point had been anything she had seen, because it all was impossible. And if she hadn’t seen it with her own two eyes, hadn’t walked the tunnels, and been in the building with Jay, she would have chalked it up as a tall tale with no truth in it at all. And the strangest part of all of this so far was what lay on the other side of this double doorway.

How could all that greenery exist? She knew from personal experience that the sunlight kept green things alive – that plus the soil and water. And then there was all this light. She didn’t understand the light at all – Jay hadn’t either. Yet the brief time she was out in all of that greenery she could smell it, feel the movement of the air, see the leaves in the trees move with the slight breeze – all stating these were real plants and trees. If she didn’t know she was this deep underground she would have sworn she had found a hidden oasis in the desert – a strange one that’s for sure, but none the less real.

This brought her full circle when once again she realized that somewhere along the line she had come to the conclusion that there had to be someone else here. Someone who had manipulated her in coming through that wall, someone who had also provided this food, and had to be hiding here somewhere, wherever somewhere was. Maybe there’s more than one. This thought brought back a bit of fear. Still, she hadn’t seen anybody, and found nothing that signified anyone living here. It was at this moment she jumped because a disembodied voice said, “Elsa”.

* * *

“This is getting crazy!” Ed whispered. He was still working on bringing Elsa in so they could at least meet, and yet at the same time keep track of the young male. He had sworn he heard the girl mention his name, but with everything going on he had missed it, and for some reason he was quite busy right now and unable continue the replays or listen to them. He could see the Welcome center was still empty. He hoped that wherever the young male had gone he would return. If he didn’t he wasn’t sure if he could blame himself for it or not. Ed could tell from the reaction he saw in the cameras that the young male cared deeply for Elsa. Still what their relationship was he didn’t have any idea. It had been something he hoped to have answered before he came back.

Ed could see the reaction of Elsa when he spoke her name. He cringed when he saw her jump. Haven’t they, or she seen or heard anything like this? This stopped him for a moment. Could it be what he took for granted did not exist in this world now? It was something he hadn’t considered, and when he began to think on it, it could be that way. So, if it was, what would they think of this place, or the security office where he had seen them watching the monitors, or all of it for that matter? All of it, including the buildings would seem to be magic, to be something created by mythological gods maybe. Well, however they viewed it he needed to coax Elsa out into the park where he could make contact with her on neutral ground, and soon.

He continued to watch her giving it a few more seconds before calling her name again. He knew that to her his voice must be hard to understand, as much as theirs were for him. Still if he spoke slowly she should understand him, and if he could get the same from her it should be reciprocal – at least one hoped. He could see her looking around trying to locate where the voice was coming from and expecting to find someone standing there. Well, even though she didn’t know that it was possible, he was in a different place than she. “Elsa, look you don’t know me, as much as I don’t know you.”

He could see her continue to look around until she finally centered on where the speaker was located. When she did he smiled and said, “Please speak to me, and when you do, do it slowly. While we speak the same language, our accents make it hard for each of us to understand the other.”

Speak to him? Speak to whom? Elsa thought. She continued to look around until she centered on the area above the counter and on the wall. There seemed to be something that covered a small area there that had a lot of holes in it. She had been through the doors and knew the wall behind those desks wasn’t thick enough to have a place inside of them for a person to hide. So where was the person behind the voice? And just because he had asked her to speak to him, and she was sure it was a him, why should she comply? Was he hiding from her on purpose?

Ed could almost read her thoughts from the way she was reacting. In a sense it brought another brief smile to him, but at the same time confirmed what he had been thinking. They had none of what was here. Radio, or intercom systems, would be unknown, so she would expect to see someone if a voice was heard. With this new insight he said, “Elsa, no I’m not there, and I’m not close by. Try to understand that what seems impossible to you is common for me. And no, I’m not performing magic, or am I some god or something. I’m just a person like you.” Again he waited for her to say something.

Elsa held her breath for a moment trying to come to a decision, then shrugged asking, “If what you are saying is true, are you the one who opened the wall that I came through? And if so why won’t you let me back through so I can go see my brother Jay?”

Brother? Ah, so they are part of the same family, Ed thought. And at the same time he gave her credit, what she asked would probably have been the same questions he would have asked. So how to answer? “Elsa, somehow I needed to meet with you so that you could see that I mean you no harm. To gain a little bit of trust so I, with your help, can get your brother here also. I watched him leave, and saw that this was troubling you. I don’t know why, but from what I could see, you were scared, worried, had fears – I don’t know, but you see from my history I had no idea that any others existed.”

“What do you mean, any others existed? Have you always been isolated, away from the villages, towns, and trading centers?”

It was Ed’s turn to be surprised. “You mean there are lots of people out there?”

“Out there? What do you mean out there?” She asked.

“Never mind. Look, can you come back out into the park. . .”

“Park? What’s a park?”

Shaking his head before continuing Ed said, “Park huh, never heard of a park. Okay, can you go out where the green things are? You know, where the trees, and bushes and grass are.”

“Oh”, was all she said for a moment. “Is that what you call such a place?” She wasn’t sure if she wanted to comply or not. Still she did have her knife for defense if it came down to it, but remembered when the raiders attacked that having such a weapon meant little to nothing. And from what little she had seen and understood such a weapon could be useless here as it was against the raiders. “And why would you want me to come out there?”

“Look, it’s really simple. I thought it could be considered neutral ground. A place where we can see each other, and there is enough distance between us that it will give us time to decide if we do want to come closer, okay?”

One thing for sure, since he seemed to control the situation, including that moving wall, she was kind of stuck. “Was it you that provided the basket?”

“Yeah, that was me. I have no desire for you to starve. This isn’t what this is all about.”

“Well, thank you sir. I was always told to use manners when I’m supposed to. Still, I’m worried that you are putting me in a dangerous situation, and I’m not sure I like that. Been there already and it almost killed me.”

“And that’s why if we meet, like I’m suggesting, it will give you a chance to hopefully eliminate some of this lack of trust.”

“Let my brother in and we can talk about it.”

“Sorry, can’t. Two reasons really. The first is simply he isn’t in the Welcome center right now, and secondly I can only face one of you at a time. Because, you see, there is only me.”

“In this place? It’s so large.”

“You have no idea. But think about it. In the Welcome and Processing center where you and your brother were staying, it is only the two of you yet, it could hold hundreds easily . . . So why should it be any different here? Yes, this place was designed to hold thousands, but it doesn’t, and never did.”

* * *

Finally Ed makes verbal contact with Elsa, and here he learns the relationship between Jay and Elsa. And with this contact Ed learns more of the gulf that separates him from the youngsters. Elsa meanwhile makes demands  of her own. And between the two of them, Elsa and Ed, they are trying to come to an understanding. And it is here we also learn of the inner strength of Elsa as she makes those demands even though she isn’t in control of the situation. Next week we conclude Changes with part 9. Will the outcome be right for all three, or will it all fall apart? Have a great week and see you here next Saturday for the conclusion. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Changes, Part 7

After the chaos in last week’s part of the story, things have briefly become quiet. Still this quiet cannot last. Ed, trying to monitor the two young people, finds the job almost impossible to do. Meanwhile after her discoveries, Elsa is just about to make new discoveries, and come to an important conclusion. Jay, does the only thing he can think to do, and hopes the outcome will be positive.

For the sister and brother this world is becoming stranger as time moves on, and for the one who is familiar with this underground world, the world being presented by the two youngsters is strange. If any of us were to think about similar situations (obviously not the world these characters live) in our lives, how would we see it? We know, if we’ve moved into a new area for example, that initially we have to get past the strangeness, the unfamiliarity, and after a period of time and exploration, it all goes away and becomes common. For the three it is not so yet. (And if this is the first time here Changes begins in the sidebar under June 2015, and continues into July 2015 or under Short Stories.) And for your reading pleasure is part 7:

Ed had been concentrating so much on the female and what she was doing he hadn’t been following the male. When he looked back at the monitor showing the main room of the Welcome center he didn’t see him there at all. Curious as to where he had gone Ed quickly brought up the other monitors in the bank and had them piggyback the cameras the security room in the Welcome center used. He picked up the male by the natural tank. It was obvious he was heading back outside. Darn! Paying too much attention to what the girl, ah, Elsa is doing instead of trying to follow both of them. Now he’s out of voice and communication range.

He began to follow the young male but knew that shortly he would be out of visual view. From the history and archives he knew that at one time the cameras covered all the approaches to Helms Deep. Still even this area suffered damage from the bombardment from space and approximately half the monitoring devices were destroyed. In that destruction the original entrance to the facility had been destroyed, buried, and a team had tried to provide an alternate entrance. Since most of the original inhabitants were from the construction trades it was something they were familiar with. The underground garage area avoided the damage so this provided an alternate entrance while the problem was being worked out.

Eventually a small tunnel was constructed coming in from a side direction through the sandstone that was part of the mountain that Helms Deep lay under. They used part of what had been a natural cave system to speed up the process, and had, once that hole had been discovered, marked and roped it off. They suspected it simply had gone down to a lower level of the cave complex. And it was because of this cave system this site had originally been chosen. It had reduced the time necessary for the construction, but even with these shortcuts it was too little too late.

Ed also knew, again from the archives, once the new entrance had been constructed the team working the job decided to keep the natural tank they had found and to pipe water to it so any who would be out could simply come here for water and not have to head all the way back inside. Still once all of this had been accomplished nobody used it since no one from the outside ever showed up. Any time excursions to the desert took place they were always through the hidden underground garage and supply area. In many ways he thought the effort his ancestors had put forth was a waste. But maybe it wasn’t so. While no one had arrived during the original meteor strikes, now after all this time someone had. And when they had it had been through that modified entrance and changed his world forever.

* * *

She wasn’t here. Jay was worried, scared really. Where did she go? He had no answers and no ideas. From what little he could figure out she must have been sleeping when whatever happened, had happened. Otherwise the sleep sack would have been picked up, aired out, and be out of their way. While she hadn’t been outside of this place since he had brought her inside he had explained what she faced if she decided or needed to leave. So with nothing here he decided to at least do a quick search out in the desert to see if there was anything out there he could attribute to her.

Filling his water bottles with fresh water he immediately headed out the doors through the tunnel, past the small tank of water, and headed towards the entrance into this place. Once close he stopped. Right here and to his right was that large hole. He wondered, and hoped he was wrong, if she could have fallen into there. He had stayed away from it, because he knew exactly where it was, but she didn’t. Yes he had described it to her, but descriptions versus reality are definitely two different things. Carefully he approached the edge and tried to peer down into the pit, but could see nothing. He got down on his hands and knees and tried again with the same results. He really had no idea how deep this was.

Sliding back from the edge he found some small pebbles to toss in. He had first thought of finding a good-sized rock, but changed his mind. If she had fallen in then he could inadvertently hit her, and possibly injure her more, and if she had survived the fall – all conjecture of course. The surface in this area of the tunnel was solid rock so there would be no tracks, nothing to state someone had passed this way. He approached once again with great caution and on his knees tossed one of the pebbles into the darkness and listened. After what seemed too long he thought he heard it hit. Oh my, I hope not. He immediately sent a second followed by a third into the hole and listened. All three sounded as if they had landed in water.

If she had fallen into this and had been injured or knocked unconscious she would probably have drowned. Meaning she was dead. This thought floored him. He sat down and pulled himself away from the hole leaned back on his arms and stared out at nothing. Sis, after all you’ve been through, with all the pain, fear, and agony, if you fell to your death here . . . He could not bear to consider the futility of it all if indeed this was her fate. No, I won’t accept this. You would be more careful than this, and you were warned. With those thoughts he stood back up and headed on out into the desert. He would do a careful and thorough search outside before returning. Who knows, maybe she simply went outside into the desert to be back in the sunlight and he would find her shortly.

* * *

Ed realized he had been working the security office since early in the day. He needed to take a break. And from what he could see the two he was watching were either beyond his view or taking a break themselves. Pushing himself back from the desk that ran the full length of the monitor bank he sighed, got up and first visited the restroom before heading to one of the kitchens. Maybe the walk away from all of this would do him good and give him a chance to think it through. When he had first seen the two of them he obviously was in shock, but as a little more time passed he felt the need to bring them all the way inside and thusly what he was attempting now.

The present problem, among many, was this was becoming much more complicated than he first thought. After all, turning off the lights, opening the entrance with its soft lighting, drawing the young lass down through the tunnels should have been simple. And with the young male out and about he wouldn’t be a factor, initially making this first contact easy. Well, it hadn’t been and even though she was down in the lower levels nothing had led to him meeting her. He found he had reached the kitchen and hadn’t even realized he had traveled between that brief stop at the restroom to here.

He grabbed some juice and made a sandwich, went out to the seating area and sat down still deep in thought. He reached for the glass only to realize it was now empty. He hadn’t even realized he had been drinking it let alone emptying the glass. It was then he realized his sandwich was gone also. Boy, I must really be thinking hard. I just ate my lunch and don’t even remember putting the food in my mouth at all. He looked up at the clock on the wall and realized that 45 minutes had passed by also. Guess I’d better head back. Somehow this meeting needs to happen today. With the young male, I still didn’t catch his name, here and searching I’ve got to get her confidence and between the two of us bring him down.

* * *

With the basket of food she wasn’t sure if what was here before her was safe or not. She began to wonder where it came from. Things like this didn’t just magically appear. That meant there had to be someone here – another person. She wondered why this hadn’t occurred to her before. It was the only explanation that made any real sense. So, why haven’t I seen anybody? What she was learning was this place her brother had found was much larger than either of them thought. They had been spending their time in that other place and had explored it completely. And while overall it was larger than the largest building they had it still was just a bunch of rooms. Yeah, a bunch of rooms with magical stuff – and who’d have thought a wall that moves.

She began to wonder if someone was manipulating her. From what little evidence that she had at her disposal it was beginning to seem like it was the case. But how? She wondered. The only real proof she had was this basket of food. Food she hadn’t touched, but eventually her hunger overcame her reluctance and she looked closer seeing what appeared to be fruit of some kind. What it looked like was a fruit she had only heard about and never seen or tasted personally. This fruit was known as grapes, and even though how she imagined them was different, now that she saw them for the first time she could tell the description had been accurate. It had been her interpretation that was wrong. Tentatively she plucked one and put in her mouth almost afraid to bite down. Carefully she did and was rewarded was a crunchy, juicy sweetness that surprised her. Wow, they taste wonderful. They sure beat those emergency food packs they had been eating.

She put the grapes aside and pulled out what appeared to be a sandwich, but the bread seemed so much finer and definitely softer than any she had ever dealt with in her life. Carefully she unwrapped the sandwich. Whatever the material was it was wrapped in seemed to self-seal and it made it a little difficult to remove. She put the sandwich down and tried to open this clear stuff up and ended up, after much difficulty, with a square of whatever it was. She found that it wanted to cling to her. Eventually and frustrated by the stuff sticking to her she put it down with much difficulty and took a small bite of the sandwich. It seemed to have some type of spread, different from butter, and much thicker, plus some type of preserves. Again this was something she never had, but found she immediately loved it. And the bread, how did it become so soft and flavorful?

While holding the sandwich in one hand and nibbling on it, and with her curiosity fully aroused, she began digging into the basket with her free hand to find out what else was here, and was rewarded by a round container that had some type of liquid inside. And somehow it felt cool to the touch. How could that be? The container seemed to be made of glass and had a different shape as it narrowed at the top forming a small circle or mouth that had some type of lid or cap. Now if she could figure out how to remove the lid. It didn’t look like a cork the type that was simply pushed in for a seal. And she couldn’t see any threads so it didn’t appear to twist off. She tried pulling it and that didn’t work, so she moved on and tried twisting. At first it resisted then it gave away and did twist off. She was rewarded with a sound like pressure being released and she saw the dark liquid bubble and fizz. What is this stuff? She had never seen anything like it. She looked closely at the container, and it had words imprinted in the glass. Reading the letters it spelled C O L A, whatever cola was. She had to admit one more time she didn’t know.

Here she was eating a simple mid-day meal and so far everything was new and unknown, and a whole new world was being opened to her. She wondered what would be next, and who was the one providing these wonders?

* * *

For all three change is in the air but only Ed is truly aware of the situation here in “The Deeps”. Elsa has finally come to the conclusion that there has to be another player in the mix even though her conclusion is based on a small amount of evidence. Meanwhile Jay is still facing the loss of Elsa. He is doing the only thing he can think of to locate her. And one of his possible conclusions is too terrible to consider. Still he rejects it and continues his search. As this story continues to unfold, be back for part 8, of Changes. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Changes, Part 6

Last week we left all three at a loss of their immediate future and if it will come to fruition as each hope. Jay, once again, knows the least about the situation. Since he has been away trying to resupply, none of what has transpired here at “The Deeps” is known to him. Knowing her condition when he left and what Elsa had told him he really doesn’t know what to think. Even though he knows it will not answer any of the unknowns he does the only thing he can think of and hopes for the best.

Ed, through the monitoring system, watched as Elsa entered into the park and immediately headed for the public restrooms. She has at least entered into the park. He is in the situation where he’s trying to monitor both young people, and finding the task to be difficult. Still he finds that his impatience is pushing him, and it’s something he must keep under control.

Meanwhile Elsa, having taken care of that nature call is using the time inside the privy to think through the previous incident, and at the same time her body is reminding her she needs to eat. For now she tells herself to ignore this need, and begins to wonder about the area she just entered, and especially those double doors. And with this introduction is part 6 (And if this is the first time here, parts 1-3 are in the right side bar under June 2015, parts 4 and 5 being under July 2015):

Jay was at a complete loss. While his journey had an unknown outcome, since neither of them knew if anything was left when he returned to the ruins, and there was some doubt of him returning safe and sound, the last thing he expected was to come back and find their refuge empty. He sat down once again in one of the chairs that ran in rows and tried to think it through. Was there a struggle? No, no sign of that at all. And the two doors he needed to come through were closed. Although, if he wanted to admit it, he suspected that the drafts would have closed at least one of them if they had been left open. But he doubted the draft could close both of them. So that meant she would have closed them.

He suspected if she had gone over the edge that this would be one of the last things she would have done. If one was eager to leave then closing doors would be the last thing on one’s list, unless . . . Unless what? If someone had been chasing her, she could have slammed the door in their face to slow them down. But, once again, he had seen nothing to indicate such a thing. He was running out of ideas, and running out of time. Every moment that passed meant his chances of finding her lessened.

Even though he knew it was useless he did another complete search and once again came up with nothing – nothing to indicate what happened while he had been away. Since he had moved around and was presently in the room with the windows he stared at each one individually to see if there might be something showing up in one of them that might help. Yet once they cycled he found or saw nothing. Sis, where are you? Are you in trouble, in danger? Why are you not here? He received no answers from the windows, and only heard the silence that surrounded him. None of this made any sense. Elsa was safe here, and all she had to do was give it a few days . . . yes a few days and he would come back to her, which he had.

* * *

At least the female had finally entered the park, and from the way she was moving Ed suspected it had to do with nature. At least she was this far. Now whether she remained would be another question. He could probably drop the pins on those doors and keep her in the park, but figured if he did that she might panic. Still she had brought the basket with her, and in truth she was better off in the park anyway. Everything, other than the young male, she needed was here. While he was waiting for her to exit the restroom he watched the male. What did she call him? He was trying to remember. During those few moments after he had arrived, it had been chaotic on his end, and he felt lucky to have gotten her name, if that was what it was. Still, it was a common enough to be her name.

On a third monitor he played back those few chaotic moments and stopped it and replayed it a couple of times. He was still having difficulty with their accent, and speech. The girl had yet to reemerge and the male was sitting down with a worried expression. Ed saw him get up and search the Welcome center once again ending up in the security office and the bank of monitors that was located there. He watched as the male studied each of them. It was obvious he was trying to locate the girl. Maybe he should contact him over the public address system, but immediately thought better of it. He’d only do that if it appeared the male was heading back out in the desert. Looking over once again at the monitor of the park he saw the female had yet to reappear. What’s taking her so long?

He realized that once again his impatience was pushing him. He truthfully knew that all of this would have to happen on its own schedule and he couldn’t influence or push it at all. The female would return to the park when she was ready, the double doors should remain open, and if the young male – again what’s his name – started to return to the desert he’d have to make voice contact at that time, and other than this he’d have to wait. And after the brief period of excitement when it looked like it all would come apart, now everything was quiet and static.

* * *

Elsa was finishing up in the privy when her stomach growled complaining about being hungry. Oh hush, she thought. It was distracting. What was hitting her at this moment, as she stared into the reflecting glass, were those doors she ran through to find the privy or at least a place to get rid of the liquid in her bladder. If she remembered right they didn’t have any handles – kind of like the doors into the privy. Although on the privy doors the inside part did have a handle so one could leave. She needed to go back and check them out because at the moment she had gone through them she had other things on her mind.

Secondly she was trying to determine if she really had heard her brother or whether it was her overactive imagination. She could have sworn it was him, but there was no way for him to be here with her. And when she had returned to the wall she could tell that however it was done nobody could be heard from the other side. She leaned on the basin; got the water running, taking a handful she splashed her face, followed by washing off the tear tracks that were there. This last moon cycle had been rough, and she knew nothing would ever be the same again for her or her brother. And what the future held, well, that was a complete unknown.

* * *

Ed took a few cleansing breaths, shifted in the chair as he continued to monitor the situation. Even though nothing was happening at the moment he could almost guarantee this wouldn’t last and it would become ever more complicated and chaotic as the day moved on. In a sense he was still unhappy that the male had returned when he did, but had to admit such things were unpredictable, and just maybe he should have factored this possibility in when he had drawn the female into the lower levels. Yeah, right! As if I could make those kinds of predictions.

His eyes were drawn to the monitor where the camera was viewing the young male – now if I can only remember his name, I’m sure she said it – who stood up and began to pace the area in front of the bank of monitors. Ed could tell he was agitated.  I guess I would be if things had gone the way it appears to him. He came back from wherever he went expecting the young female to be here and as far as he can see she’s gone. And there’s nothing here to let him know anything. Yes, I’d be at a loss and wondering what to do. In a way his heart went out to him. He figured he had to be thinking the worst. Ed figured he personally would have. Then when one adds into this mix the hostile environment that surrounds the Welcome center the conclusion would be bad. None of it true, of course, but he doesn’t know that. He doesn’t know she’s safe and actually quite close by, Ed thought.

It was this moment he noticed Elsa leaving the public restrooms and heading back to the double doors. Is she going to go back inside the tunnels? I hope not, she just got here in the park. At this moment the young male headed back out of the security office and into the main area. Now what? With both of them on the move it made it a little more difficult to follow, and which one to concentrate more on.

* * *

With nature off her mind and her curiosity building she left the privy and with a purposeful stride headed along the pathway, but stopped a moment and looked down at what she was walking on. She realized it was rock solid, but it wasn’t rock. What is this stuff? She crouched down and touched it. It had both a rough and a smooth surface and seemed somewhat cold. It was almost like someone had taken stone and somehow had melted it down, spread it out, let it cool, and produced these pathways. She knew from experience that the major paths and trails in and around the town had crushed rock and pebbles on them to make the surfaces better, but nothing like this.

Again she found herself in awe of the creators of this place. Not that the impossibility of all of this greenery deep underground didn’t bring out the same feelings because it did. Absolutely everything she was discovering shouldn’t exist here but did. Distracted for a moment she remembered what she wanted to investigate, stood up, and headed back to those doors. She noticed on the bottom section of both doors there appeared to be a large flexible metal strip, and behind this a flat piece of the same type of shiny metal. If she remembered right she pushed through the doors to come out here. Like the privies she expected handles so she could pull them open but found none. “What’s this?” She asked herself. “So how is one supposed to go back?” A slight wave of panic hit her as she thought. Maybe you’re not supposed to go back through. Maybe it’s only one way.

She stood staring trying to solve the riddle that lay before her, and reached out tentatively pushing on one of the doors. She could feel resistance but at the same time it seemed to give with the pressure. She pushed harder and could feel it move but it took some effort. Now she leaned into the door and it moved inward a little farther. She let it go and it closed but at the same time moved a little past the other door. It seemed to be able to move in both directions. Still she wasn’t sure and tried again and was rewarded with a little more movement inward. Again when she let it go it swung past center before settling into the center position. Weird, really weird. Why would a door or doors swing both ways? What purpose would such doors have?

It made no sense to her. It would mean that two people coming from opposite directions trying to go through the doors at the same time could smack each other. She stared down at the pathway by the doors and on both sides near the edges there were holes. Now what could these be for? Again it was something that made no sense to her. She then looked under the flexible metal sheet on the door and saw something attached there. It appeared to be a cylinder like tube with something inside of it. She crouched down and studied this new thing and found the thing that ran through the cylinder had a pin in it allowing the shaft to turn. And when she turned it the pin dropped into a slot lowering the shaft down until it touched the pathway. It suddenly dawned on her that this system would allow the door to remain open. Wow, so simple, why didn’t any of us think of this? She reset the pin in its up position.

Standing back up she pushed harder and was rewarded with enough movement that she could enter back into the tunnels. But before going back inside she grabbed the basket of food. She’d explore this new area later. Right now she needed to eat and be somewhere she had been before.

* * *

With the worlds of the three individuals coming closer together can it be possible that the final outcome will be positive? Still all of this at this point in the story is speculation. Elsa remains close to what she already knows, and once again is trying to understand this new world and all the impossibilities it is presenting to her. Ed is more in a situation where he must continue to monitor all that is going on, and is still trying to identify the young male. And Jay is attempting to put together the last time Elsa was here and what must have happened to cause her to abandon their shelter. With these thoughts we leave you until next week with part 7. Have a great week. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Changes, Part 5

With all three of our characters nothing has gone as anticipated. Chaos reigns supreme, and all three are attempting to come to the terms with the reality they face. Jay, once he arrives, looks for his sister. After all she has to be here, because, in truth, he returned within the time frame both of them considered reasonable. And Ed is at a loss how to regain what he may have lost. He felt that the young woman was about to come through those double doors only to have it change in an instant. Elsa, the one in the middle, is miserable, and full of trepidation. Her brother is just out of reach – just beyond that wall – but she is blocked. Emotionally she is drained. Eventually she realizes, once again, there is no returning and she finally begins her journey down those tunnels once again and to whatever future this entails. (If this is the first time here parts 1 thru 3 are in the sidebar under June 2015, with part 4 under July 2015.) And for your reading pleasure is Part 5:

Once Jay had come through the door it seemed that nothing had changed. The light was still on, and he figured Elsa had to be in that other room watching those windows that saw into the distance. He went over to the chairs and placed everything he had brought back with him there and quickly entered the other room, vaulted the counter and went around to see his sister, only to find she wasn’t there. This stopped him for a moment. Where are you sis? It was obvious this place was empty, and he knew there was no way to know the last time someone had been in here. Puzzled, he slowly headed back out to the main room.

Once there he noticed that the sleep sack was still on the floor and open. This increased his puzzlement. We always pick this up so we don’t trip over it. Why is it here? Looking around at the too empty room his eyes saw the doors into the privies and thought, bet she’s in there. It seemed to be the only logical place she could be. So he sat down and waited what he figured was a reasonable amount of time. Yet, she never emerged from the privy. Reluctant, he went over to the door for the female side and pushed it open to call her name, but the place was dark telling him no one was in there. She wouldn’t have gone to the male side would she? He didn’t figure she would but opened the door anyway and was rewarded with the same darkness.

Fear was beginning to build inside of him. Did she break and run outside and away? She said she had been close to it. Oh my, I hope not. Now he was at a loss. If she went outside, and with most of the area covered in sand – it was a desert after all – there would be no way for him to track her. She could have run out in any direction and he wouldn’t have a clue. Plus he had no idea how long she would have been gone, if she had started running. He headed back to those chairs and sat down once again. He really needed to think this through. Oh Elsa, I hope you didn’t panic and run away. Please let it not be.

His anticipated happy return had turned to doubt and fear. Fear for his sister who was nowhere to be found. Maybe she left a note or something – yes, a good thought! Getting up he began searching all the areas and found nothing. Another thought entered his mind and he went to where they had stored the food once he had emptied the pack so he could take it with him. And from what he could determine she had been here until recently. It appeared from what was left that she was here up to at least 2 days ago. Still that was a long time to be gone and too much to be able to track her if she had left. Now what? Yes, now what indeed! After this time back together after the tragedy to have lost her now, and as far as he could tell that’s what happened, would tear him apart.

Elsa, where are you? Did my leaving you alone finally allow those demons you are carrying inside of you win? By me not being here have I allowed you to lose and run off screaming in the desert? Can I not get you back? Help me please, sister. I need you as much as you need me. Again, at loss as to what to do, he stood back up and looked around completely unsure.

* * *

There had to be a way to entice the girl back, but he had to admit he really didn’t know how. And with her leaning against that wall he didn’t know how long she would stay before she would give up and head in the only direction she could go. Ed thought once again. Why now? Why when she was so close to coming into the park? If he had only waited another few hours before he showed up then she would be slowly overcoming her fears and finding what I placed out there for her. He found his pacing wasn’t helping other than keeping him from striking the wall in frustration, which would have hurt him more than the wall. So he went back inside the security office and watched both monitors to see how this was going to play out. To be truthful he didn’t know.

Now the worry was that the male would go running off into the desert to try and find the young female not knowing she was only a short distance from him. Ed’s goal was to simply get the girl to talk to him, and begin to build some kind of trust, followed by enticing the young male to join them. I forgot all about that speaker and the connection between the Welcome center and the final counter into the facility. Not a surprise really since nobody had considered any part of this area in generations. Now by not remembering it had come back to haunt him. He found he couldn’t sit, so he stood and leaned on the table that ran the length of the monitoring station. He had to come up with a solution or this would get more out of hand, but what to do, what to do?

His heart went out for the young female who obviously was in distress, but if she would only come into the park then maybe some of it would go away. It was obvious she was going to remain against that wall for a while. How long he really didn’t know, but a thought began to form in his mind. Maybe . . . He headed out and made a trip to the closest kitchen grabbed some wrapped food and drink, and quickly headed out towards the park. He hoped what he would be trying would work. And he wanted to get this part accomplished before she gave up and headed back down the tunnels. He didn’t want to be seen yet. Maybe he still could get what he had planned accomplished.

* * *

She had cried herself out and felt exhausted, with no energy to move. Her brother was there only a short distance away. So close, yet so far, and there was nothing she could do to see him, to reach out to him, to talk to him. She had no idea how she had heard his voice but there was no doubt it was him. Still could it have been her imagination or had something happened to him? That scared her. Did something happen to him and he was in the beyond? In the beyond and somehow talking with her letting her know it was all right? No, she thought. He said he was back. But did that mean he was back here, or did it mean he was back from the beyond? No, she had to believe he was back from his journey to their destroyed home.

She suddenly woke up and realized she had fallen asleep. Well, no surprise there. She definitely had been on an emotional ride and she knew personally such rides usually exhausted one. Now she had another problem. It had been a while since her last trip to the privy, and if she didn’t find another soon she’d have to figure out where she could take care of nature. She was sure it was the ache that had awakened her. She pushed herself up and slowly retraced her steps back down towards the lower counter looking to see if there was a place to deal with this, but it was simply walls and floor and nothing else. Again as she came around that last turn the light, which had gone out, came back on just like the first time, once again blinding her briefly.

Once her eyes adjusted she continued onward towards the counter. It was then she noticed a change. If I remember right there was nothing on the counter. Yet there appeared to be something there now. How? She stood there staring, but the distance was too great to be able to determine what this new thing was. Carefully she continued down and to her surprise it looked like a basket – although she had never seen one like this. Basket weaving was something all of them were taught, but this was rectangular, and all of the ones they made were round. How was it done? Plus, on closer inspection it had what looked like 2 lids facing opposite of each other allowing it to be sealed. With a handle in the middle it completed the basket. First off not knowing where it came from she cautiously cracked open one of the lids which simply pivoted. Inside there appeared to be sandwiches wrapped in some type of clear material.

Food was something she needed but now she was crossing her legs as the other need built. It was then she remembered that area beyond the double doors. If she couldn’t find a privy or something similar then it would be better to relieve herself there under one of the trees. So grabbing the basket and with no choice pushed through those double doors on the right and immediately to her right she saw a sign with the symbol that was on the privy doors above pointing to the right. Setting down the basket she whispered, “Thank you”, and literally ran, found, and entered the privy.

* * *

Many times what we want to do is thwarted by other demands, or unexpected outcomes. And many times these things cannot be ignored. Ed has come up with something he hopes will lure the young woman into the park, and Jay is still trying to find Elsa. Elsa, what can we say? So once again nobody really has a handle on their personal future, and the outcome for each is completely unknown. Of the three Jay is the one who knows the least, but his missing sister weighs heavily on him – he must find her. Next week we continue to follow all three as they try to solve their unexpected problems. Have a great week and see you here for part 6. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Changes, Part 4

All of us are guilty of the anticipation of some future event or of our personal plans – normally happy ones. Even though, and usually with some nervousness, we also anticipate those others, such as that up and coming interview for a possible promotion, that trip to the doctor or dentist, or maybe traffic court because we got a ticket. In the former we may be anticipating a great time on a vacation, or that wonderful date you have planned for the weekend, or even a trip to one of the many theme parks that exist. Yet in any of these future events if the results are not what our expectations were, then we can be disappointed, or in some cases because of the severity of the results it can lead to fear and panic. In other words we can run the full gambit of emotions. With Jay, he is presently anticipating his reunion with Elsa, his sister, and the joy that reunion will bring. Will it be as he imagines?

Meanwhile Elsa would love nothing more than to be able to return to where she and Jay have been spending their time. Yet, at this moment it is impossible. And now other issues are beginning to arise to bring this reality to her, not that she doesn’t already know. Still, her situation is beyond her control. And while those double doors appear to lead to another aspect of this hidden world she still isn’t sure if she’s ready to venture into what lies beyond.

And Ed, from the security office inside “The Deeps”, wonders why she is doing absolutely nothing, and why she has remained by the counter. He feels his frustration rising, and realizes he can’t let this and other emotions control him. With this possible meeting in the near future he must be so careful. (And if this is your first time here, parts 1 thru 3 are in the sidebar under June 2015.) And for you reading pleasure is part 4:

Jay was almost back. He had almost missed his markers as he had swung further into the desert than he thought. But now he was on familiar ground and was heading over and around the ravine to head through that large crack. He had come close to running out of water, and had thought he had been followed a couple of times, but in the end it had been his imagination. He hoped that Elsa was watching those windows so she would know he was back. If she wasn’t then his arrival would be a surprise, and he wasn’t sure which he would prefer. Any way he looked at it the trip had been worth it. What he was bringing back should last them a long time giving them the necessary time to figure out what they would do.

With care he pushed through the crack – it was a bit more difficult with all he had this time – avoided the drop-off, and worked his way up to the pool of water. He continued to notice something different, but couldn’t figure it out. But whatever it was wasn’t important at this moment. It seemed the last time he had come to the tank he had sensed a change. Still, he was almost back and he couldn’t wait to see his sister and show her what he found.

* * *

Elsa could hear her tummy rumble. She realized she hadn’t eaten in a while and had no way to return to get anything really. She remained sitting in the one of those chairs that rolled and continued to look through that narrow window. What she saw seemed to be so inviting. She wondered how such a place could exist underground like this. At least she thought she was still underground. After all, when she had come through that open portal the pathway continued in a downward direction, and had only gotten steeper near the end where she was now. Still it could be a canyon or something. Unfortunately from here she couldn’t see in the direction of the sky. This would require going through those doors.

Yeah, those doors. It was the first time she’d ever seen two doors mounted this way. Back in the town if a larger space was needed then a single large door that slid to the side was constructed and used. And to mount glass in the door was a real surprise. Again glass existed but not in the quantity she found here. And the quality seemed to be better also. She could feel the nervousness within herself and it kept her firmly planted right here in this chair. Even with the scene beyond those doors, beyond this narrow window appearing to be nice and inviting, she really had no way of knowing if it was or not. Still, she knew eventually she would have no choice. There was no going back, there was only forward. At least before coming through that opening she had used the privy so this part wasn’t a problem yet – and yet was the key word.

* * *

Ed continued to monitor the girl. Why is she just sitting there? He didn’t understand it at all. Yet all it appeared that she was doing was swinging back and forth in that chair staring out through that narrow window. Nothing else, and no attempt to push through those doors. How long is she going to sit there? He was becoming impatient with this whole thing. Disgusted, he whispered, “There’s nowhere she can go, other than into that park, so why isn’t she moving?” He found he had pushed up out of the chair he had been sitting in, was out of the security office, and found he was heading in the direction of that park, realized what he was doing, stopped and went back inside, returning to the monitors.

He knew it would have been stupid, and could have wrecked any chance of a good encounter. He wasn’t trying to capture her or make her his property, or do anything against her person, but from her perspective it could appear that was the way of it. Let her make the first move, Ed. You’ve waited 68 years to find out you weren’t alone. A little longer and some patience on your part might just make this go smoothly and work out. I really need to get her to trust me, and while I’ve got a rough handle on their language I’ve got to get her to speak slowly so I can understand. Then, and if this goes well, and once I understand what’s really going on, I can probably add the male, with her help of course.

He turned back to the monitors and continued to watch the girl, and every once in a while he would look at the one that gave him views of the Welcome center. He wanted to gain her trust before the male returned. He really had no idea where he had gone, or even why he had left, but Ed was sure he would be returning. And it would be so much easier if he could have the help of this female, and to have an understanding of why they were even here. Then there were the questions of where had all of the people been since no one from The Deeps, or Helms Deep, had ever seen any sign of anything living, let alone others like him.

He saw her suddenly look up towards the ceiling grabbing his attention. What?! He quickly looked back to the Welcome and Processing center and saw the door from the employee entrance opening. He had the volume turned down but as he continued to watch he saw the male entering and saying something. From the body language it was obvious he was excited. Ed went over and turned up the volume and heard the male yell, “Elsa, Elsa, I’m back.” And at the same time he watched the female and she was standing and looking up. “Damn”, Ed exclaimed, “there’s a speaker in there so the lower administration can keep in contact with the Welcome center.” He watched both monitors as Elsa – that had to be her name – got up and headed rapidly back up the tunnel towards the point where she entered.

“Now what?” Ed asked. Not that there was anyone who could answer him. At least the entrance down to the lower level where she had come through was soundproof and she wouldn’t be able to let the young male know where she was – although this complicated things a lot. He had hoped that there would be time before the young male returned to get things worked out, but nooo, Murphy wasn’t going to allow that. He could see the hope in her eyes as she retreated back towards the wall, and looking at the male he, at this point, wasn’t aware she was no longer there. Well, she was here, but not where he could find her. Frustrating – he was sure the young girl, Elsa if he had it right, was close to coming into the park, finding the foods, the water, and restrooms that were there. Now he didn’t know what would happen, or how long it would be before she did give up and come into the park.

And he knew from what he had observed before that once the male realized she wasn’t there he would panic and try and find her. Now he wondered, should he let him in also? But not at this moment since the young female was almost back to the wall, which meant if he did open it she would rush out, and then neither of them would venture inside where he wanted them to go. Shaking his head he got up and headed out into the hallway and began to pace back and forth. It was getting really complicated.

* * *

When she heard Jay’s voice she first thought he had to be with her. But the voice seemed to be coming from above her and there was no place for anybody to be above. Still she was sure it was Jay. If it was then maybe he could figure out how to open the wall and she could get back to him. Decision made she got out of the chair went around the counter and headed back up the tunnel towards the point where she had first entered these new tunnels. The light that had come on over her head when she reached this last section had remained active leaving the area bright. As she moved out of this section she had to stop and let her eyes adjust to the dimmer sections. It was frustrating. She wanted to be back with her brother, and it needed to be now.

Finally after what seemed too long she could see well enough to continue. She almost ran wanting to get there. But once back nothing had changed, the wall was still a wall. And once here she could no longer hear Jay. Back home with the walls between rooms it was easy to hear someone in another room and she expected it to be the same here. Unfortunately it wasn’t so. She tried hard, even put her ear up against the wall – nothing! Then she began to pound on the wall hoping he could hear her pounding and banging the wall, but whatever it was made of absorbed the sounds she was making and she could barely hear the pounding herself. “Jay, I’m here!” She screamed. She could feel that she was beginning to panic, and she could feel her emotions beginning to overwhelm her once again. She slid down the wall to her knees and continued to beat on the wall and yell to no avail. It was at this point she realized he would never hear her or know where she was. Once again she began to cry – sobbing great body wrenching sobs that shook her. She turned once again and sat on the floor of the tunnel with her back to the wall whispering through the tears, “Jay, I’m here . . . Jay I’m . . .”

* * *

Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it, but not in the way you expected. And for Ed after all his planning, after all the work in bringing this girl down to the lower levels, it appears it’s for naught. The male has returned unexpectedly, and something Ed hadn’t considered has upset his plans. Meanwhile Jay finds the place empty and is shocked, since he was expecting a happy reunion. After all he had been successful in his quest. But now it means nothing and worry is his predominant thought. And unknown to him Elsa heard his return and all that past trauma, hurt, and separation from her brother has been reinforced, and she tries to let him know, but is defeated by a simple wall. With all three dealing with unexpected situations come back next week to see how this story continues to play out. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Changes, Part 3

After following Jay and Elsa for a while we open this part with Ed. Through the security system he follows the progress of the young woman, and still wonders what led to the fear that is obvious in what he is witnessing. It is this “fear” that prompted his actions, bringing the girl down to the lower levels of “The Deeps”. Language is still the issue, as body language can only go so far before understanding breaks down. And so we follow Elsa’s progress through the eyes of Ed.

Meanwhile Jay is facing issues of his own. He has tentatively located the second cache, buried under the debris of a burned out building. He has no way of knowing whether there’s anything salvageable or not – let alone whether it has been raided. And every second he delays puts him in danger. Yet, for the two of them he cannot afford to fail. So the pressure is on. (And if this is the first time here parts 1 and 2 are in the right side bar under June 2015) And for your reading pleasure is part 3:

Ed watched through the monitors at the progress of the female as she tentatively worked her way through the tunnels. He could see in her body language that she had a lot of fear and seemed almost afraid of her own shadow. What had happened to her? From watching her explorations he knew there was a great chance that soon she would come through those double doors into the pre-area of The Deeps. Yeah, he thought, the shortened common name for what was originally named Helms Deep. This park like area that was just beyond where she was presently was the final assembly area before one entered into The Deeps properly. This area provided a brief respite for those on their way to their permanent residence here, but, of course it never happened. Still the area had been designed to be relaxing and to ease the fears of those who were leaving everything behind.

He figured that she would probably remain in this area for a while since there were restrooms, and he had resupplied the food carts anticipating her arrival. With the drinking fountains, food, and restrooms it would provide most of what she needed since being locked out of the “Welcome and Processing center”. Going back to the recording of the conversations between the male and female he was still working on trying to understand their language. He was close and it was like he could almost understand. Once he did he figured it would make the initial contact between him and this young one easier. Anyway he looked at it he found he was nervous. And if he was, how would it be for someone like her who had never seen anything like this place? From the reactions he had seen, it was the only conclusion he could make.

He found he had been making some progress in recognizing a word or two here and there. It appeared they spoke the same language he did, although it had changed somewhat, had been bastardized over time. It seemed to have words that probably had come from other languages. Here he laughed because in school it had been pointed out that English, the language he spoke, was loaded with words from other languages. So it should be of no surprise that others had been added over time. For example he found both the word “casa”, Spanish for house, and home being used. He didn’t know if it referred to different aspects or whether the words were interchangeable.

It seemed they slurred their words a lot and spoke in a fast tempo that almost blended the words together. It could be that it was only the situation the two had found themselves in that had caused this, but he had no others to compare to. With this one close he had to put as much time in as he could to understand, and he hoped that once they saw each other there would be no confrontations that could lead to violence. He wanted nothing to happen. This person, and he suspected later, if the other one returned, between the two he should be able to find out what had been going on above with all these passing centuries, and possibly why none of the teams that had gone to the surface looking for survivors had ever found any, when it was obvious that somewhere there had been.

So he continued to study and become accustomed to their speech as he continued to monitor the girl’s progress. She sure seems curious. Here he laughed as his thoughts continued. Well stupid don’t you think you’d be curious if this was the first time you had ever been in such a place? Of course you’d be. She seemed to be staring through those small windows as she sat at one of the desks. Yet, at the moment it seemed she had no interest in going through those double doors that sat at both ends of the counter. Still her needs would eventually push her on. There was no way back, and there was only going forward into this new world. Eventually hunger, thirst, or a nature call would force her on through those doors.

Again how long she’d remain in this next area he wasn’t sure, but the additional time one way or the other wouldn’t matter. In a sense he needed it. Until the two of them met everything here inside would have to wait. This was critical, this up and coming meeting, possibly the most important thing, other than the passing of his parents that had happened to him in his life. Why couldn’t this have happened oh twenty to thirty years ago? If he had learned any lessons about life it was the fact that life rarely accommodated one exactly when it would have been convenient, and here was a prime example.

Look, she’s at the double doors! He watched fascinated, but it was obvious to him that all she was doing was looking. Again her body language said she wasn’t ready. And as he continued to monitor the situation he saw her retreat back to the counter and lean on it obviously thinking. Soon, little one, you’ll come through those doors and sometime in the near future we will see each other in person for the first time. Yes, soon.

* * *

Jay looked at the burned debris that had been the storage and supply building and wasn’t sure he wanted to tackle the job that was before him. Maybe he could find a shovel or something similar to make the job easier. When he realized the job that was ahead of him he had made a quick trip back to the other location to be sure it had been completely stripped. He hoped it hadn’t been and there would be enough left that he wouldn’t need to dig out this other to find out if all the work he would be doing would be for naught. After all the raiders could have found it, emptied it, and then torched the building. There was no way to know. But when he had gone into the other hidden cellar, he confirmed it had been stripped bare.

Taking a deep slow breath he shook his head, the one thing he didn’t want to do was spend a lot of time here. Every extra second meant a greater possibility of being discovered, to possibly have the raiders come back again, or just the scavengers that always seemed to know when something like this happened, and would show up to finish picking over the bones. And if they found anybody alive would make sure when they left that there would be no witnesses. Any and all of these could be here or back to finish what they had started. And one thing for sure he had no desire to become another victim of either.

As he made his way across the deserted and destroyed village it seemed to be much hotter than he remembered. But then again what he remembered was a living town, with all the homes and shops, the neighbors and friends, and the feel of life. Now it was all gone, leaving only the dust, burned and destroyed homes, shops, and a deep silence that spoke of the death that had been here. Eventually he reached the minor gate out through the wall and headed to the one building that seemed to be still standing. But even this was an illusion since it had been constructed of rock, the walls remained but the interior was gutted and roof collapsed in. Everything smelled of smoke.

He went by the building knowing he would find nothing of use there and headed up towards the mines hoping to locate a shovel there, but once again failed to find anything. One thing for sure he didn’t want to use his hands. Too many things could easily be hidden in all that debris leading to injury. With his sister depending on him, he couldn’t afford to weaken himself or return empty-handed. It was then he remembered the dump area. There was a good chance he could at least find a broken but usable tool there. He quickly but carefully worked his way down to the dump area and found it was the one area the raiders hadn’t stripped. Not that there was anything of real value here anyway. But as thorough as they had been it wouldn’t have surprised him if they had.

It took a while but eventually he located an almost whole shovel. The handle had broken in such a way that for the work it was generally used for, it had become worthless, and thusly tossed. It would serve his needs, and maybe if the cache was undisturbed he could cover it and come back in the future if he needed. And at this moment, even though their present location was well hidden, there was nothing but water, so the likelihood of him returning for additional food was pretty good.

* * *

He was filthy, covered in ash and charcoal, but the cache had still been there. And somehow, and he was quite happy about this, the door into the cache hadn’t burned. He didn’t understand it since it was constructed of wood, but he praised whatever providence had kept it hidden and safe. He was now loaded down with as much as he could carry. He had two full packs, wearing one on his back and had the other mounted awkwardly on his front. It was uncomfortable as hell, and it made it difficult to move, but every one of these things he had was important, critical to their survival. He had found clothing for Elsa, and a couple of sleep sacks that he had rolled together as one. Now he needed to get back to her as quickly as he could, and do it without being seen. He felt good, now he only have that little section of desert to cross, avoid the dangers it presented, find his markers, and not be seen by any of the baddies out here. Simple – right?

* * *

After all the hard work, the worry, Jay is successful in uncovering the hidden cache and looks forward to his return to that underground building where he and his sister now will have more time to decide what they will do. And in his mind it also gives Elsa more time to heal after her ordeal. Still unknown to him, and at this moment, is the fact his sister isn’t where he expects her. And Ed hopes to see a successful outcome in the near future, but even this is just that, a future event. Will any of what the expectations are, come to fruition? Come back in two weeks for part 4, as the story continues to unfold. Next Saturday is the celebration of the birth of this nation, the 4th of July. So next week I will have an appropriate post. Have a great week and God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

Changes, Part 2

Before I begin this week’s post, this week’s episode, I’d like to comment as to where this blog is, where it was, and what may be transpiring in the future. First off back in 2011 when I began Words in the Wind, I really had no desire to put my thoughts and such out here on the internet. But with the choice of becoming a writer, or novelist, I found it a requirement. To be honest I didn’t read blogs – had no personal interest in them. So by not following any or browsing any number of them, I truly had no idea what it should look like or what the content should be. And to know what tags  or categories were or how to use them, well, to be honest, not a clue. With this post, which is the 250th post, the subjects have overall been eclectic.

I suspect that it might remain this way as this site continues to evolve in whatever direction it will go. There’s a lot of personal opinion, thoughts about many subjects, many short stories, lessons on writing from my point of view, and even though I tried to stay away from it, some political opinions now and then. Presently, I’ve been trying an experiment of writing a book through the blog. (In truth the draft is finished, and presently in the hands of a publisher. No, even at this stage in the process, there are no guarantees that it will be accepted for publication. Yet, to get this far is encouraging.) And once I’ve run through the complete manuscript here, I need to come up with ideas as to what will follow.

I give it to those writers who must meet a daily deadline. It is tough enough to come up with something fresh for a weekly blog such as this. So far I’ve been lucky or feel I have. Although I suspect if I went back over all 250 posts I would find that I have repeated myself. And to be honest that would be no surprise. For any of us our knowledge and experience is finite. And those experiences, learnings, contemplations, and personal views of the world has a tendency to settle in in such a way that it makes us the unique individuals we are.

How much longer “Words in the Wind” will be around, I cannot honestly say. I hit the ripe old age of 66 this year, and as Ed in this story my years left to me is much shorter than the ones that trail deeply into my past. As long as my creativity is there, this, as well as new works, will still be here. Yet, sometime in the unknown future the well will go dry. It is part of life as much as birth and death. And all things die. All things exist for a short time, and it is only memories that will bring any back, even if those memories are inaccurate. So with this, the 250th post, with hope for a continuation for many years in the future, I return you to this week’s subject, this week’s post. God Bless!

* * *

Since Jay has never been to the second hidden cache he must first locate it to determine whether it’s been raided like the other. Yet he worries. Since doing any of this is wasting time, making him stay in the ruins, leaving him with the feeling he should be gone. There’s always a chance either the scavengers or the raiders will return to work over the ruins, and if they do he has no desire to be here. And every day he’s away from Elsa means there’s a chance, without him there, she will break and run off only to die in the desert.

Elsa, once she gets her emotions in control, realizes she cannot go back. So there is only forward. So with a lot of trepidation she explores this new place. With that fear always riding in the background she is careful with everything she does. Is she alone? Why did the wall first open, and then close? Were there others besides herself here? All questions for which she has no answers. Yet, this new world has mysteries of its own, leaving her with other questions. (And if this is the first time here part 1 is in the sidebar under June 2015.) And for your reading pleasure is part 2:

Jay worked his way down the wall on the north side towards the single small entrance that led out to the fields – small that they were, and the trails that led up to the hidden mines where they mined the semi-precious stones they sold in the markets and trading centers. Outside of this gate was a storage shed where the tools of the trade were stored, as well as the carts they used to haul the raw materials down from the mines to be worked. He knew the finished stones were stored inside the walls of their village, but were worked outside by the storage shed. Now if he could only remember what he had been told. Standing by this small gate he looked in both directions along the walls and couldn’t see anything that would identify the hidden cache. Maybe this was a good sign. If he who knew it was here and couldn’t immediately locate it, maybe the raiders hadn’t either.

“Okay, so is it here inside the wall, or is it close to the storage shed and work area?” He had to admit he didn’t know. So with care he worked his way up and down the walls on the inside and came away with nothing. This was followed by another search outside of the walls, in and around the storage area, followed by the work area. All, leaving him with nothing for all his effort, and still not a clue as to the location of the hidden cache located somewhere on this side of the village. Frustrated, he leaned against the wall, time was getting away from him and he wanted to be away and heading back into the desert by nightfall. If he didn’t locate it soon he might be spending another night in the area and this was the last thing he wanted to do.

Could this one be up by the mines? He thought. No, what’s up there is emergency gear if something was to happen in the mines. Not the emergency cache for the town. It had to be here and he had to be close. It was then he remembered that there was another building just inside the gate, a place where leather goods and such were stored – stuff used for the animals. And it was here in one of the corners lay the entrance to the hidden cellar. He came back inside of the wall and saw the building, and like all of the others, it was destroyed with most of what had been the building collapsed and filling the center. He’d have to dig it out to find out if the cache was untouched. But from what he could see it appeared that all the debris from the building was untouched. So the chances were good it was still there.

Now if what is there wasn’t destroyed because of the heat from the fire when the building burned down, then maybe I can get out of here soon, and have what we need for now. One could only hope.

* * *

Elsa stood staring not sure if she wanted to continue on or not. But what choice did she have? Her way back to what she knew was blocked and all she could do was continue forward. After her eyes had adjusted to the bright lights that now lit the tunnel she judged the downhill slope of the tunnel had increased. In fact she was only guessing at what she was seeing. It appeared to be a counter similar to the one above. All she could see of it was the top and a little way down from her location. So far she had been it. No one had put in an appearance. She realized she could hear herself breathing and it was still a bit rapid – speaking to her that she was still quite nervous over the whole thing. And why not? She thought. Anybody in this same situation should be.

Where are you bro? Where are you when I need you here? In her heart she knew the answer, but that didn’t ease the situation she found herself in. Finally after all this indecision she slowly went forward and down the tunnel towards what she suspected was a counter. It appeared to be crossway in the tunnel disappearing from sight to both sides speaking of the tunnel “T”ing at this point. “Why would it do that?” She asked herself quietly. As she approached the counter, which was farther away than she thought, she was able to finally see the base. And it was exactly like the other, except much longer. She noticed that where the counter ended on both ends, behind and on the wall that ran behind the counter, were double doors. At least that’s what they appeared to be.

Leaning on the counter she saw that again like the one above there appeared to be desks behind and at eye level, if one was sitting, it appeared to have narrow slit like windows in the wall allowing the ones working at these desks to look beyond. Beyond to what she truly didn’t know. And speaking of not knowing it appeared that the counter curved at both ends sealing off the workers from whoever was standing at the counter. At least she knew, from jumping over the one counter that was in the space that led to the windows that saw in the distance, that this wouldn’t pose any problem for her either. Then she thought. Why not? She looked both ways and back up the tunnel from where she had just come from, turned around, and with the help of her arms boosted herself on top of the counter, swung around, and dropped to the floor on the other side of the counter.

She worked her way down in both directions and realized once she got to the end where it curved around that there was a portion that swung up with a release that allowed the ones who were on this side of the counter a way in and out. It was a simple arrangement, but one she would never have considered if she hadn’t seen it herself. She swung up the countertop released the latch and opened the bottom portion. And as she did she felt a little resistance, and as she let go it began to swing back. Wow, what have they done to it to allow it to return like this? Thinking about it she thought it would be something nice to have. Still she knew that the doors into the privies had something similar. But there one could see what was responsible. Here there was nothing. Like her brother she kept asking, who were the ones responsible for this place? So many things existed here that in her wildest imagination she’d never thought about and yet so many seemed simple.

Simple maybe, but at the same time she had to admit she didn’t have a clue to how or what made them work. She had gotten pretty much the same answer from Jay. Even though both of them had gotten used to what was around them, both of them admitted they knew absolutely nothing. She carefully let the swinging portion return and re-latch itself. She noticed with the top portion out of the way it would be easy if one was outside to reach in and release the latch and enter. Turning around she now studied the desks for which there were at least twelve of them. All of them seemed to have those swinging, rolling chairs that were in the room with the windows, making it easy for whoever was working to move from the desk to the counter.

As she turned back to the counter, when sitting in one of the chairs, she realized that the counter had a number of shelves which had nothing on them at this time. She wondered what might have been stored there, but like so much of what both of them had seen, she didn’t even venture a guess. Then, as she turned around back to the desks (she was pushing herself around in one of those chairs) she noticed sitting between some of the desks what seemed to be sealed containers, but again unlike anything she had ever seen. Most of the containers she had ever been around had been constructed of wood. These looked far different. She reached out and touched one of them feeling the texture. It was cool to the touch and smooth – nothing like the ones made of wood. It felt, well she wasn’t sure if it was accurate, but it felt sort of like heavy paper.

Paper, yeah right. Paper was expensive, and was a rare commodity in their town. Only the rich had it. So immediately she discounted her conclusion. But if it wasn’t paper what was it? She looked closer and it appeared that these containers, where they closed, had some sort of shiny strips of something that kept them from opening. What could those strips be? Whatever they were, when she tried to open one to see what might be on the inside it wouldn’t release. It was then she looked up and for the first time looked through the small window that was in front of her. It caused her to immediately stop and stare. How can this be? No, this can’t be real, there’s no way, she thought. But it seemed to be real. She slid down the open space between the desks and counter remaining on the chair and looking out the other small windows, and other than perspective what she saw remained.  What she saw made her want to go through those doors and confirm it, but did she dare?

* * *

Time is weighing heavily on Jay as he continues his search for that elusive cache and the fear when he finally does open it that it will be empty as the other one had been. While Elsa is making discoveries of her own, finding common items, which are uncommon in her world. And for both of them they are still unaware that there is a third player in the mix. One who is trying to come to terms with his own problems, and the shock of finding he isn’t the last of his kind. Have a great week, and return next week for part 3. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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