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Glory Thieves

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Hooded figures stood in a circle, their voices unified in ancient song. But for a ring of candles burning on the floor before a high altar, the room was black as night. Darkness hung like fog, profound as the words they sung, pressing in upon the hooded figures as they made their incantation.

Their leader held a book in his hands, bound in leather with leather straps and a silver buckle, the pages yellowed and cracked with age. As he read, the illuminations came to life in answer to his call. Centaurs and satyrs galloped across the page. Ivy reached out with curling tendrils, leaves quickening in the wind.

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The Walls Around Us

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It was the first day of summer and the last day of innocence. The last day of my teetering between manhood and adolescence, indulging in the splendor of stupid youth; the last day of spring, 1973 when the lights of bliss and security were turned out in my world.  There was something mystical about the walk to the mailbox that morning; something peculiar about the way the wind cascaded over me, a fresh boy of 18, as I crept down the s-shaped driveway. The mists were clearing as Blue Jays darted through the moist air, announcing the breaking of day.

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Laurel

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It was summertime,1947, and a warm breeze swirled through the neighborhoods caressing old brick homes with white painted porches and radios blasting out tunes by the Harmonicats. Those were the days when milk was still brought to your door in cold sweating glass bottles which the doorman delivered clinking to your doorstep and sleek black cars cruised by on white wall tires blaring horns that really let you have what for.

My father had come back from the war three years before, gaunt and etched, a ghost of the man he’d been -- returned back to us from across some raging ocean surrounded by killing fields, entire countries become crypts.

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The Opening

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Overpopulation can be a terrible burden for the living.  Crowded living conditions usually mean trouble.  Higher crime rates.  Increased agitation.  Such a difficult situation can often lead to violence.

Maybe even murder.

Vernon checked his watch.  Half past six o’clock on a Thursday evening.  If only it were Friday.  Friday at this time he would be home.  And he would see no people all weekend.  This was the way he preferred it.  His job as manager of the department store only spelled interactions with people.  People and people and more people.  Rude people and stupid people and people with little to no hygiene.  Disgusting people. 

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Fires of Gehenna

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I.

A SR-19 is a fully stealth, long-distance, air superiority aircraft. Specifically designed as a patrolling, engagement, and neutralization apparatus for the entrenched border zone, it’s virtually silent under cruising speed, and ballistic in battle. At Mach 2, generated from dual RE-24 core-reactor engines, it delivers back-up to any skirmish, where its pin-point thrust-vectoring will out-maneuver nimbler vehicles, allowing it to reposition on both surface or air attackers. With a munitions payload including twin 20-caliber Gatling canons, 4 long-range Spurcer rockets, and 4 “Pucks” missile bays, paired with onboard aeronautics, including visual recognition software, used for complicated, tightly-timed flight maneuvers, the SR-19 can single-handily annihilate enemy encampments, provide cover fire for ground ops, and, if you believe the top brass, be the sole armament necessary to win the war.

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Reflections in Suburbia

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Eight-year-old Josh stares in the mirror. He wears Transformer pajamas, the water is running, and his toothbrush is untouched. He pushes his nose up and puffs his cheeks out. Giggles erupt. Josh likes to make goofy faces at his reflection; he does this every time his mother, Jean, says to brush his teeth. She used to yell about it, but he’s grown devious. Now he doesn’t leave the water running too long, he remembers to wet his toothbrush, and he squishes the toothpaste tube in a different spot so it looks as if he’s actually put some on his toothbrush.

 

After Josh leaves the bathroom, Tricia comes in and closes the door. She’ll be thirteen next month, but she’s already hit her ugly duckling stage. At least that’s what Jean calls it. She says it’s a natural thing all girls go through. Tricia knows that’s a lie; her older sister, Kelli, has never looked ugly or awkward or disgusting - ever. Tricia stands before the mirror now, staring at her sullen face. She opens her mouth and exposes shiny metal braces.

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Lunchtime Interlude

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Ashley strolled by the maître de’s lectern as though she was in a garden instead of the Manhattan restaurant that had just earned its third Michelin star.  Carlo, the waiter assigned to their table, arched his eyebrows at the teenager, sighed over his some private thoughts and bit his lip until she passed.

“Darling,” her mother said, standing up.  “How was the flight?  Tell me all about Geneva.  You’re forty minutes late.  Did the car service delay you?”

“Mama.”  Ashley tossed her black messenger bag on a chair, air-kissed her mother and flopped into the adjoining seat.  “Tiresome, tiresome and Customs is so tedious.”

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The Last King of the Werewolves

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Ironically, it was in Vulpecula, the constellation of the little fox, where the persecuted werewolves finally found safety—on a nameless planet orbiting a distant, faint, nameless star.  Whether the location was reached by chance or design is both unknown and unimportant.  What mattered were the six moons, one always full, which waxed and waned asymmetrically in the blue-back sky, permanently keeping the lycanthropes in their altered, feral state.

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The Empty House

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Matthew could chuckle that his house was in foreclosure before foreclosure was cool -- years before.

He could chuckle, but it was too painful to laugh; and then he could only chuckle when telling the story to strangers. It had to be with strangers, because when he discussed what happened with family and close friends he usually cried.

He shared the details as jokingly as he could.

He called himself a renaissance man who had been at the vanguard of the economic meltdown … the first breath into a housing bubble destined to burst … a country boy who had gotten ahead of the Wall Street slicksters and gorged himself on a buffet of economic difficulties before others had even been seated.

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The Giant of Hampton Bays

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A hook kick to the side of the head slowed his advance, so I did it again.  It connected like the first, and he stalled.  In a frantic effort to keep the colossus from harming me, I decided to go to the water hole for a third time.  That was a sizable blunder.  He seized my body, hoisted it in the air and smacked me down on the hardwood floor.  Everything was knocked loose inside my chest.  This is how I met my best friend Mitch, in a martial arts class. 

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