Monday, April 9, 2018

Booty - Chapter 3



Booty - Chapter 3
by Joshua Coffman

Evergreen trees have a unique smell that invigorates. At least these ones did. Maybe it was their density and the oxygen they produced. His windows were rolled down. He could feel the air rushing in and his long sleeve crisp white shirt rustled against his torso trying to escape into the woods.

The compound was miles behind, but the trees continued to surround him like a sea of bluish green. The mid day was far gone, and the sun was dipping towards the tops of the trees on his left. Dusk wasn't far away.

His eyes glanced to the knob for the headlights. They were completely off and that's what he was checking to make sure of. These days, head lights on a car were the hoisted British Flag to the Barbary Pirates.

The sky was just beginning to turn a glorious pinkish color when the lonely gas station peeked out from the curtain of trees.

*whirr*

A single car was parked alongside the building, but Troy wanted to be sure his car was secure even so remotely. His windows fully closed, he pulled into the pump and cut the engine.

He reached to the passenger seat and grabbed a light brown baseball cap with a nondescript logo in the bottom portion of the front. He donned it and pulled it just low enough to obscure most of his eyebrows but not look conspicuous.

He went inside, grabbed a candy bar, and paid for a tank of gas. The cashier hardly took notice of him, her focus still far away in the text message conversation that she had just been jolted from.

"Thank you." He said it almost as an insult, but was careful to not make it sound that way. It wasn't like he was looking for attention anyways.

*bbbrring*

The door chimed as he opened it to leave, and he was already digging into his candy bar.

He had chosen this candy bar for a reason, not a very good one, but it was definitely on purpose. There was a brief moment as he walked back to his truck that he fell into a dark trance recalling the night he had met with Kelsy.

Kelsy was a friend.

Maybe a little more than that.

They had been spending more time together for a while. She had known him for years, almost as intimately as his wife. Somehow his preference for a particular candy bar came up in conversation. It was a simple conversation, but it was so vivid to him.

She chided him playfully. "Scaredy cats never try new things." His insistence on eating only one candy bar was broken. Her statement had smashed through his obstinance. It was lighthearted, but something about her comment stuck with him. He had opened himself up to her and she had taken advantage of his vulnerability. Now he was on a mission to prove her wrong, but just to himself.

He was going to purposefully try new candy bars until he ran out of new ones to try. So far it wasn't going too well, most of the ones he had tried weren't that great. But this one was alright.

It was almost as good as the one that he had insisted on all these years.

He snapped back to the present. His gas tank was full and he was sitting in the driver seat with the ignition running.

The sun had dipped below the trees, but there was still plenty of time before darkness raced across the sky. An hour passed as he continued driving south.

Highway mile signs seemed to blur together as he raced the sun. He turned on the radio to see if there was any stations broadcasting at this latitude. The scanner looked for several minutes before giving up.

He was trying to make it to a particular small town where he had a very close associate that was always ready to give him refuge. The dusk was almost impossible to drive through with his headlights off now.

But the long shadows from the trees surrounding the road allowed just enough light for him to see the large dark obstacle in the middle of the road with enough time to slow down.

It was a moose. A dead moose lay right in the middle of the lane that he was driving down. His better judgement told him to just drive around it. And he would have. He was only a few more miles away from the outskirts of the town he was destined for.

But this moose had somehow gotten hit just conveniently enough at a culvert that crossed beneath both sides of the highway. There was no way around, even if he wanted to just through the truck in four wheel drive, it was impossible at this particular part of the road to drive around this moose.

His hackles raised.

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Photo by Pineapple Supply Co. on Unsplash

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Tor - Chapter 2



Tor - Chapter 2
by Joshua Coffman

Outside the house a dog barked viciously. For a brief moment, terror struck Troy as he realized the importance of his success in the task ahead. He brushed it off and made his way back out of the crawlspace. This time he noticed the spider webs lurking in the darkness.

Intricate detail in each line, precision, and a commitment to the plan. Each web was a story of craft.

That was enough introspection. His hands grasped the wooden rungs of the ladder to climb out of the shadowy depths of the house. He scrambled onto the cold gray linoleum. The walls of the hallway were a soft white and somehow reminded him of his childhood.

They were incredibly clean. In fact, everything about this whole compound struck Troy as clean. Even the stacks of ammunition in the crawlspace had been neatly organized and their markings distinct.

*shtick*

The light in the crawlspace flicked off and Beard came up the ladder behind Troy. At this point it was too late to ask for a reminder of Beard's name. Troy had committed to not initiating conversation with this confidential man.

*thud*

Beard closed the trap door and led the way down the hallway. He pulled out a key and unlocked the deadbolt to the first room on the right. The door swung inward, and Beard stepped in, Troy close behind. The carpeting was thick and the room wide.

Bookshelves completely lined the walls. Thousands of books lined the beautiful shelves giving the room a distinct library smell. Above the bookshelves, white foam could be seen lining the walls between. In the center of the room there was a solitary lounge chair made out of fabric. Several blankets lay over the arms.

On the wall facing the door there was a stand up desk with a black laptop that was closed resting on top.

Beard walked over to the desk and pulled out a notebook from a small drawer underneath the desk space. He wrote a couple notes then set the notebook down, reached back in the drawer and pulled out a laptop battery.

Troy stood aloof as Beard put the battery into the laptop that looked just like any other laptop. There was no visible branding, but it made Troy think of the brand Lenovo for some reason. While the laptop was flipped over, Beard adjusted the hard drive to physically connect it to the laptop.

He flipped it over and started the boot process. He unencrypted the hard drive and started the operating system. Moments later, he connected the laptop to an ethernet cable that had been coiled around an arm of the desk, stretching the cable from the laptop to a port on the wall.

The bearded man took his time and seemingly followed each step of a memorized procedure. Neither of them immediately realized that one mistake had been made.

An alert message flashed on the screen and Beard reached into his jacket pocket to pull out his wallet. He pulled out a card and inserted it into a slot on the side of the laptop.

*chirp*

The computer flashed an "access" message. He pulled up a text messaging application. Several messages were exchanged between Beard and the invisible hands on the opposite side of the computer. Consensus. The pass off was almost complete.

Each step was retraced. No signs of problems. The battery was removed, the cables disattached, and the hard drive unconnected. Beard signed the time into the notebook and they retraced their steps out of the quiet room.

The flick of the deadbolt sounded loud now that they had adjusted to the quietness. Troy acknowledged that his work was done and made his way to the door, briefcase in hand.

Beard followed him outside, locked the door behind and they both climbed the stairs into the sunshine outside. Troy took the briefcase, threw it into the back seat of his car.

The gravel crunched under foot as Beard walked down the driveway and climbed into one of the tan SUVs. The engine roared to life, as he rolled down all of the windows to let out the stagnant hot air that had built up inside during the day.

Troy was climbing into his own truck when the sound of the banjo playing echoed out of Beard's SUV. Troy looked over at Beard, and for the first time he sensed any emotion from the man. A grin stretched across Beard's face as he reached for the volume knob in the SUV and turned the music down.

"That would be someone I would have a barbecue with." Troy thought to himself. A momentary daydream flashed across his mind of how life would play out were they not in these circumstances.

The key turned and he reversed the truck onto the driveway and out onto the asphalt. He rolled his window down and drove back toward the evergreens surrounding the compound.

Outside of the compound, Troy felt a sense of vulnerability. He wasn't sure that he was any less safe outside of the fencing, but it sure felt like it. Subconsciously, he shifted his weight to just make sure that his weapon was still holstered.

*click*

He sighed.

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Continue on to Chapter 3 - "Booty"









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Photo by Blake Connally on Unsplash

Friday, April 6, 2018

Rose Vinyl Siding - Chapter 1



Rose Vinyl Siding - Chapter 1
by Joshua Coffman

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He was riding through the neighborhood with his window down.

"What is up with their decision to put all these speed bumps?!" He thought to himself.

It was a nice enough neighborhood. The yards were large and well cared for and the houses were modest but tidy. In some of the yards children could be seen playing raucously. Not very many, but just enough to seem like the neighborhood was conspicuously filled with children.

It was only mildly annoying.

With the window down, he could hear the laughter and delight of the children. As he passed by some of the children waved with a smile. It was nice to be in this little compound.

The barriers and armed guards served as a reminder of the new reality. Fences with barbed wire could be seen in between the rows of tidy houses. Beyond the houses and iron curtain of fencing, an evergreen canopy rose up to obscure the horizon and give a sense of isolation to the protected within.

From one of the houses the sound of someone practicing on a musical instrument wafted to his car.

More questions than answers "Was that a clarinet or just someone playing the saxophone really badly?" Here he was though. The house blended into the rest, a simple but clean exterior. Shallow raised beds nestled against the side of the house. They complemented the single floor home nicely. Some flowers, but he could also see the beginnings of zucchini and even some tomatoes.

The light dusty rose vinyl siding showed little signs of wear and tear. This neighborhood wasn't new, but it definitely was built in the last 10 years. There was no substantial rain markings or dirt splash. No broken siding panels. All coloring seemed uniform.

White trim accented the dusty rose siding nicely. It didn't stand out from the similar hues along the road he had just approached from.

There were no children outside this home. Two larger SUVs painted in an inconspicuous tan parked neatly in the driveway. It wasn't paved; it was a rock driveway. The asphalt ran by each of the houses and their driveways extended in similar but unique orientations to the house.

He turned into the driveway and pulled up into the grass next to the house, briefly taking in the surroundings before jumping out of the car.

*click*

His face flushed.

"Not again." He slowly reached behind his back and adjusted his belt. This was the second time since buying his new holster that he had accidentally pulled the action. He needed to get a new holster.

"Or just stop wearing it in the truck like a dumb criminal." He chided himself.

It was something about his seat. Or his belt. Or his holster. He didn't really know. He just knew that it would be the adult thing to do to just take off his weapon when he was sitting in his truck.

He released the action and walked around to the back of the house. The cement stairs painted white led down to a basement entrance.

None of the windows in the house had indicated anybody inside but at the bottom of the stairs there was a distinct radio communications chatter.

He knocked on the blank door loudly. Nothing other than the radio chatter could be heard moving inside. A few moments later, the dead bolt shifted and he was welcomed inside by a wiry, bearded man.

His eyes adjusted to the new lighting. There was a lot of it. Bright florescents attached to the ceiling lit the rooms surrounding and the hallway he was standing in.

There was a shotgun and two Ruger Americans leaning against the wall. The bearded man had no weapon in his hand, but when he turned to lead down the hallway, a hip holster brandished a revolver.

The guest of the house, we'll call him "Troy," gently closed the door behind him and began to follow the bearded man.

"I've met him before... what is his name?" Troy thought to himself. As fate would have it, he would never get a chance to remember the bearded man's name. But we'll get back to that.

Across the house, about three doors down to the right, the hallway turned to the right and led into a trap door into the crawlspace. Each door they passed by, radio chatter droned into the hallway. There was probably people behind each door. And guns, there was probably guns inside each room. Knowing this compound, there were probably lots of guns.

The bearded man opened the trap door and shuffled down the little ladder the three rungs that it went down.

*shink*

A light flicked on. They hunched over and shuffled to the edge of the crawlspace. A stack of ammunition cases, plastic barrels, and three metal briefcases were stacked against the cement setting for the stairs that had led them down into the basement.

The job was to take one of the empty briefcases. The bearded man  was scheduled to take the other two on a "business trip."

But Troy didn't know that. All Troy knew was that things were probably going to go very bad, it was up to him to make sure that they went very good.

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Continue to Chapter 2 - Tor

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Photo by ALP STUDIO on Unsplash

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Needed, Men to Apply Themselves



Our city needs a pastor. Our flock scattered after a hasty vote to amend the church constitution initiated by a rogue, hurting pastor in 2015. Hear our call; we don't ask for perfection, neither do we request a "yes man" who is swayed easily by public opinion. We desire several qualifications.

A Man

A Man with One Wife

A Man with at least Two Children

A Man of the King James Bible

A Soulwinning Man

And a Man Who Believes that Divorce is a Sin

Our list of qualifications does not include several things that we will examine. We are starting an independent Baptist church as a light on the hill in Anchorage, Alaska. Our services will commence in the summer of 2018 and we are calling for a man of God with the qualifications to step up to pastor us. 

May God's grace be abundant and His justice be executed rightly.

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Photo by Ben Rosett on Unsplash