Monday, August 31, 2015

A Good Day of Fishing Beats a Bad Day of Fishing, BUT a Bad Day of Fishing Beats a Good Day at Work

Thanks to an understanding and terrific wife who had 3 days off, I went fishing the past two days while she sat and read one of her advance copy books various publishers keep sending her. The first day took care of the Bad Day of Fishing... well, it was bad for me, but good for the fish and the pelicans. They got all my bait. One guy there was catching Pampano one after the other on artificial lures, but they didn't like mine. But today... Whoa! Good Day... VERY GOOD DAY! Today I used squid... and the snapper snapped them up... two kinds of snapper, Red Snapper and Lane Snapper. I got a bonus as well... a Gaff Sail Catfish... and a booby prize... a Toadfish. Ugliest thing I've ever seen, but what a fighter! He wasn't that big, but man on my light rig he bent the pole double and took a good three minutes to land. Not bad for a fish that wasn't more than six inches long. Strong little buggers. Anyhoo... home is the fisher... home from the sea... it sucks to be working, but it's great to be me!

Red Snapper

 Lane Snapper



 Gaff Sail Catfish

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Trek Warrior - The Chronicles of Katlil - Part III

 © S. Bradley Stoner


Beguiler Beguiled - The Fall of the Wynan Gate

Katlil gathered his small kit, picked up his spear and took the first step into the unknown of the Wynan Passage. A rhyme coursed through his mind as he strode forward.

Beware the road to the gate,
only fools will meet their fate.
The guard, a witch so vile and cruel,
will summon up her ghastly ghouls,
or the innocent she will soon beguile,
toying with you as she would a child.
It is the secret of Wynan you seek
and it’s not prey for the timid or weak.
Steel your soul, control your dread,
lest you falter and end up dead.
Heed the eagle in the sky,
do not trust what strikes your eye,
for what you see are only lies
that will remain ‘til the old witch dies.
And when your hand the witch has slain
find the place where Beguiler’s lain
and when she plies you with her charms,
flowing hair and slender arms,
with strength of mind confuse her thralls,
and take her, then the gate will fall.

Katlil knew not where the rhyme came from. This was not the province of the Trek Warrior, but to ignore it was doom. It kept repeating as he made his way into the depths of the canyon, never quite at the surface, never impeding his perception, never obscuring the visions from the Sky Eagle, but always there.

At the old hag’s lair, the witch hissed, “Coming... he is coming.” She bent over the bones, studied them, and began her chant, raising the dead ancestors of the Wynan gate, but even she could feel their power ebbing. They could not long hold off the warrior. She dribbled the blood of a goat, mixed it with the blood of a Gardon in the dirt and called forth the demon of the gate. When the warrior drew near, she would set it upon him. Perhaps with the help of the ancestral ghouls, that would end him, or at least turn him aside.

All of this, the Beguiler watched, her training incomplete, but her power growing. In her was the brimming confidence of the young. The wind that marked the coming of the ghouls whipped her hairs and she stood tall and proud and beautiful. If the old witch did not conquer the warrior, she would. She felt the excitement course through her, hardening the nipples on her burgeoning breasts. If the old witch failed, she would keep the warrior from the gate. She could see events unfold in her mind... the dance that would entrance the warrior... the potion that would render him helpless... the dagger that would end the peril to Wynan.

The old witch glanced up at her as the demon awoke. “You dream of victory, child... but your pride clouds your vision. Clear your mind... this is no ordinary intruder.”

The Beguiler feigned obeisance, but in her mind she was certain the old witch’s time was done. She would learn the few remaining spells from the ancient scrolls... practice them until she had mastered them and then, if the intruder failed to end the witch’s reign, she would end it as the old witch had done to the one who came before her.

“Think as you will, child, I am still more powerful than you... you have much yet to learn. Do not contemplate destroying the knowledge only I can give you. Not everything is in the spell scrolls. You will know when you are strong enough, as will I. When that time comes, I will go quietly. Until then, mind your place and learn well.”

And then the old witch did something she would come to regret... she cast a limitation spell on the novitiate to protect herself from the ambition of the young one. Almost instantly, the Beguiler felt the surge of confidence leave her and was overcome with a sense of confusion. The old witch smiled. She would lift the spell and resume the training once she had dealt with the warrior.

Katlil stiffened slightly as he felt the chill that preceeded the coming of the ghouls. It gave him warning and he reached into the bag that hung from his gird, withdrew a small packet, and emptied its contents of herbs and dust into his hand. When the ghouls came into view, he opened his hand and blew the dust forcefully toward the apparitions. Their screams of rage diminished into wails of anguish as their ethereal forms dissapated and sank into the earth beneath. Katlil shifted the spear to his throwing arm and slipped the buckler from his back and secured it to his arm.It was small and light, but, made of ancient God metal, it was strong beyond belief. Through the Sky Eagle’s eyes, he saw the demon pacing yards from the witch’s lair... the venom dripping from its fangs, fire shooting from its nostrils. He would have but a single opportunity.

As he rounded the final tortuous bend in the chasm, he found himself face to face with the beast, its vermillion eyes boring deep into his soul. His mind clouded the piercing stare, his arm balanced the spear perfectly and, when the demon sprang, he unleashed the projectile with a powerful, fluid motion. The sharp metal blade found its mark... the soft spot under the right leg of the beast, and it bored mercilessly through the twin hearts, bursting them. The demon fell heavily and no sooner had it touched the ground than it began to convulse and shrivel, its body oozing away as quickly as life left it. Katlil retrieved the spear, sidestepped the stain where the demon had fallen and strode toward the lair.

The old witch rose from where she squatted, took a small poisoned dagger from within her shabby cloak, and rushed at the warrior, hoping to catch him off balance as she had others. She was remarkably fast, but Katlil was a Trek Warrior, and the best among his class. He easily turned the dagger with his buckler, spinning the old hag around, and silenced her forever with a single slashing stroke of his spear blade across her throat. The only sound that came to warn the Beguiler was a slight gurgle as life oozed from the old witch.

Now the rhyme grew in intensity until if fairly thundered in his brain. He plunged into the entrance of the cave... the witch’s lair... deeper and deeper until he came to the broad chamber of the Beguiler. For a brief moment, he was enchanted by the beauty of the virginal form that languished on the sleeping pillows, the gauzy fabric of her gown barely concealing the treasures that lay beneath. The rhyme rose again, blocking the spell... repeating in a crescendo,

with strength of mind confuse her thralls,
and take her, then the gate will fall.

with strength of mind confuse her thralls,
and take her, then the gate will fall.

Katlil’s ice blue eyes penetrated the fog she cast, boring into her, destroying her resolve. He was striding toward her and she was helpless to reisst. He did not wait... he stripped the gown from her and took her, leaving her breathless and begging for more. This was more powerful than any spell she had known before, and she was not even aware that the ancient ancestors left the gate unattended as the faded from the world. Wynan now lay unprotected, ripe for the picking.

To be continued... after another brief hiatus while I continue to work on a non-fiction book.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Square Peg - No Need To Be Scared - It's Just Boo

The Square Peg - No Need To Be Scared - It's Just Boo
© S. Bradley Stoner

You can always tell when fall is approaching around here. It's the time of year my old friend Buford Beauregard Brickhouse III shows up for his biennial visit. Buford, or Boo as his friends call him, hails from the Bitterroot Valley in Montana where I spent some of the best years of my life. That's where I met Boo. Boo is your quintessential cowboy... or as he likes to say, "cowboo." Don't ask me why, it's just Boo's bucolic way

Boo grew up on a horse... he was literally in the saddle before he could walk... and he is well schooled in the Montana three "Rs." For the uninitiated, those would be ridin', ropin' and 'ranglin. When we were both a lot younger, I discovered he was also well schooled in the three Montana "Ds." Dippin', dallyin', and drinkin', although you can only do two of those at a time without hog tying yourself to the saddle, which is definitely not a thing any self-respecting cowboy wants to do.

So Boo and I were standing out by his pickup... it was one of those big F-300 dually models, jet black with a big, gold B-B (that's B bar B for you eastern types who don't like westerns) emblazoned on the front driver and passenger doors. It's his personal ranch brand... registered since his great granddaddy, Buford Beauregard Brickhouse I, bought their ranch when he moved to the Bitterroot from Missouri. I once asked Boo how he could only be the "third" when his great granddaddy was the first. Boo explained that the old boy switched names on his son, naming him Beauregard Buford Brickhouse, so it skipped that generation. I digress.

Anyway, I'd noticed that Bingo Bob had been peering at us through a knothole in his cedar picket fence, but I didn't encourage him to come over. The problem is, old Bob doesn't need a whole lot of encouragement, and pretty soon I saw his backyard gate swing open and out he walked, raising a hand to wave at me. I waved back... I probably shouldn't have, but such discouraging things have no effect on Bob. Pretty soon he was right there beside us, checking out the Montana plates on the truck.

"You from Montana?" Bob asked.

Deadpan, Boo answered, "Nope. Stole the plates on my way here from Idaho."

Bob blinked, hesitated for about three seconds, and then laughed nervously. "A joke... ha ha, I get it."

"Who's jokin'?" Boo is like me, he likes to mess with people's heads just for the hell of it.

Bob swallowed hard. He could have just moved on, but he couldn't let go of it. Bob thinks he an investigator ever since he took that COP training... you know, sort of the neighborhood watchdog, which is code for just plain nosy in Bob's case. "You actually stole them? Why?"

Boo pushed his broad brimmed hat back on his head a little so he could get a better look at Bob. "On account of that rustler I plugged. Nobody would have cared about that, but his dog got a little contrary so I had to plug him too, and it seems the FBI has made that a federal offense. Didn't want to stick around and wait for them boys, so I took it on the lam."

"You sh... sh... shot a rustler?! Is he dead?" Bob stammered, a horrified look on his face.

"Well, I'm not too sure," Boo scratched his chin thoughtfully, "but I sure hope so. I wouldn't want that knobhead testifyin' against me." Boo turned to me, "Speakin' of dead, we oughtta get that cooler of meat into the freezer before it thaws."

I thought poor Bob was going to pass out. Instead he just staggered away, eyes glazing over. Boo's lips curved into a grin, "That feller ain't overly bright, is he?"

"Nope," I agreed, "the bulb in his porch light is a little dim sometimes. I think he spends too much time outside without a hat on. I'm pretty sure the sun is cooking his brain."

"You'd think a Texan would know better," Boo said.

"Aw heck, he isn't even an honorary Texan yet... it takes New Jerseyites three years to attain honorary status, and I'm not sure we ever let them become full fledged Texans. Anyway, he's not that bad a guy," Did I really say that? Out loud? What if somebody heard? The consequences could be dire.

The phone rang just as we got inside with the cooler. It was Duncan Donutz on the phone. "What's up Duncan?"

"You gotta quit yankin' Bob's chain," he growled. "Every time you do something like that he calls me and wastes a good fifteen minutes of my time."

"Yeah, yeah... hey, you going to go fishing with Boo and me down on the coast?"

"Only if Bob isn't coming... I'd have to keep assuring him Boo isn't going to drop him in the drink and I just can't concentrate on my rig when he gets that way."   

Behind me, Boo shouted, "Did you go and ask that flatfoot to come along?"

"Tell Boo to shut up," Duncan growled back. "That crap don't work on me."