Protection

by J. Speer

Terrell had been working at the factory for fifteen years. He had seen a lot of people come and go through the years. He worked at the head table in assembly. Four weeks ago, the supervisor had clocked in another new hire as Terrell worked at his station on first shift. Terrell kept his head down and kept working but he noted the appearance of the new guy. Rough is probably how Terrell would describe him. He wore an old t-shirt and blue jeans with tears and holes in the knees. He was a white guy but had obviously been in the sun a lot. He looked weathered and old with tanned skin and noticeable wrinkles on his face. The guy wore a key chain from his belt. He looked like he hadn’t shaved in days or maybe a week or two.


Terrell kept working. The supervisor brought the new hire to his table and said the guy’s name was Mick. They started working across from each other at the table that morning. Mick was a fast learner, so it was easy to teach him the ropes. What Terrell liked about the guy was he seemed quiet and just did his work…..just like Terrell.


They had worked together for a few weeks now and barely spoke much to each other. There was an unspoken camaraderie though. Occasionally, when the background radio music lulled, they’d exchange small talk conversation. They didn’t talk about much but Terrell was pleased to learn Mick had an avid interest in sports. So they mostly talked about the Browns or different quarterbacks in the NFL. Mick seemed to like more sports than just football so they spent some time over the weeks discussing golf or basketball or even the Olympics. Terrell didn’t mind this much. It passed the time on the 10 hour daily shifts before he could go home to his family. He wasn’t there for a popularity contest. He was there to get paid and go home.


Terrell clocked out at 5 pm like usual and headed to the back alley door. He walked the 3 blocks from the factory district to the local subway station underground. He kept to himself mostly on the subway ride home. When an older woman entered from the platform, he got up quietly from his seat and offered it to her. She nodded thank you and he simply smiled briefly and looked down at his feet and then out of the subway train towards the tunnel walls of the subway system.


From station 26, he walked the rest of the way home to his apartment rental. He took the stairs up to the third floor, passing Ms. Davis on her way up with groceries. He helped her the rest of the way up the stairs to her apartment door with the bags. She smiled at him and said thanks. He smiled back and headed to his apartment door too.


The dogs greeted him at the door first. It wasn’t much of an apartment. The walls were not painted. The furniture was hand-me-downs from family or stuff bought off Craigslist. His wife was sitting at her laptop at the kitchen table. She smiled absentmindedly at him as he took off his jacket and headed to the cabinet for a glass of water. She went back to typing on her Nursing class project for school. She was in her second year at the local Community College preparing to be an RN.


“Dinner ready?” he asked.


“Yeah,” she said not looking up from behind her glasses. “It’s on the stove.”


She called the kids. They had three children ages 6, 8, and 9. Together, the family worked on setting the table. Terrell asked his kids how school was going. He kissed his wife briefly as she put away the laptop and notebooks. At the table, they all paused for prayer. The kids were in a pretty good mood that night. They had been playing Mario Kart on the Play station in the TV room.


After dinner, they cleaned up together. The kids went off to play. His wife sat back down to do homework and Terrell retreated to the bedroom. He took off his shoes, changed out of his work clothes, showered, put on some casual clothes, and then sat down to his small desk in the corner. He opened up his laptop too. By then, it was nearing 8 pm.


A few years ago, Terrell had started a YouTube channel. It wasn’t much. It wasn’t elaborate or fancy. It had grown a small following of steady subscribers over time. At first, he just wanted to share what he knew about Psalms and Proverbs and such from what he had read in his free time from the Bible. Over time, as the subscriber list grew, he would read the comments from his followers and found that some of them were in real need for guidance and help. So he prayed on this and he started writing out little prayers.


Each prayer was generally about 3 to 4 minutes long at most. He did prayers on marriage, on work, on job searching, on pets, on finding apartments, on whatever…you name it, he tried to write it….if the commenters said they needed it. Each night, he’d sit with pen and paper and come up with a good heartfelt prayer. Then he’d record himself saying the prayer and offering words of encouragement and inspiration for the folks that listened. He knew it wasn’t much but perhaps it could help here or there. He didn’t really see it as a ministry of sorts, just as words to help. He re-labeled the YouTube channel with the name, Protection Prayers.


Terrell opened up YouTube to his channel and saw the reaction to his latest video. It was a short piece on protection for one’s family. It already had 1,415 views and about 201 likes. Terrell frowned a little when he saw the few dislikes. He read through the usual comments. Towards the bottom of this video there was a bizarre comment. It was made by a viewer who went by the name Thanatos 669. The message was in another language Terrell didn’t understand.


Curiosity got the best of him and Terrell opened up an online translator. He cut and pasted the strange symbols into the translator and hit send. The words were in Greek. They read, “There was a pale green horse! Its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth.”


Terrell sat back in his lamp lit bedroom at his desk. He looked at the words from Revelations.


“Bizarre,”he said to himself and shaking his head.


Terrell spent the rest of the evening going over the videos and comments and working on his next video script. As he did so, he checked every so often on the kids in the other room and on his distracted wife. He helped get the kids to their showers and helped get them to bed that night. They snuggled deep under the covers as he closed the door to their room across the small hallway from his own room.


That night, Terrell and his wife went to bed about 11 am. He woke up with a start around 2 or at least he thought he did. Perhaps it was a dream. He could not tell for sure. Yes, he believed it was a dream. It had to be. A nightmare.


Terrell slept on the right side of the bed by the alarm clock and light. In the darkness, in his dream he became instantly aware of imminent and very near danger. He felt someone or something was in his room. In fact, it was directly beside him….standing next to his sleeping body. In his mind in the dream, he thought a stranger was in the apartment and next, he thought of his sleeping children and wife. The presence, the entity….it felt like death, not the devil.


Then something even stranger occurred in the dream. He was lifted from a sleeping position to a sitting position in the bed by an unknown force. His eyes were closed but his mouth opened and from his throat came a voice that was not his own. It was deep and authoritative. It simply said the same phrase 7 times rapidly in a row. The wording was foreign and strange to Terrell. It was not how he normally spoke. Not how anyone he knew normally spoke. The words were simply, “I compel you to leave this house through the blood of Jesus Christ.”


The words were repeated rapidly over and over again 7 times. Then Terrell felt the entity. He felt it’s reluctance and anger. It got directly physically behind Terrell. Then it passed through the bed frame and through the wall itself and was gone.


Terrell opened his eyes in the darkness of the little bedroom. He was sitting up in the bed. He was fearful for his family. He looked to the left to his sleeping wife. Then, he pulled back the covers and headed straight to the hallway and to his children’s room. He pushed open the door quietly and peered inside. Nothing was disturbed in the room. All three children were asleep in their bunk beds. Terrell watched them for a moment. Then he gently closed the door again to their room.


He turned around in the hallway and looked left to the apartment door. He walked over to it. He peered out the peephole expecting to see something. Outside the door, there was nothing but stairs. He checked the locks again and the chain.


He padded back barefoot across the wooden floor to the bedroom doors. There was a small butterfly night light near the children’s door and by the slight light, he could see something tiny and white on the floor. He stooped down to pick it up. He held it in his hand. It was a small white feather…..must have come from one of the kids’ pillows he reasoned. He put the feather in his pocket and returned to his bedroom. When he went back to bed, he rolled over and held his wife. She sighed in her sleep and snuggled closer to his warm body. Eventually, Terrell fell back asleep.


The next day and the days that followed one after the other at the factory, seemed to drag a bit for Terrell. He kept his strange dream to himself. No one would believe him anyways about such a weird occurrence.


Mick kept at it, working across from him at the workstation. Mick didn’t say much. They talked about the Chiefs game and the Packers a bit. When it was time for breaks, Mick would head out for a smoke and Terrell would head to the break room to check his phone and such. Terrell noticed Mick smoked a lot but that was Mick’s business he reasoned.


The nights went on as usual with dinner, the kids doing homework or playing games, and the wife at the table working on tests or assignments. He would kiss her on the forehead every now and then. He helped the kids off to showers and bedtime as usual but Terrell had sorta stopped writing the prayers and creating the YouTube content for a bit. He still checked his channel and the comments from his viewers. He noted that he had lost a few subscribers in the past few days.


On the fourth or fifth day at work, about right before quitting time, Mick stopped working across from him. He started grabbing his stuff and putting on his jacket across from Terrell to leave for the day, or so Terrell thought. Mick eyed him for a bit.


Then he said, “I think I’m gonna be moving on. This job, you know, I got other things I need to be doing and it’s not working out.” Terrell just nodded. Retention was notoriously low at the factory so he was used to people quitting.

“It was nice working with you, Mick,” Terrell said and nodded. “I wish you well.”


“Thanks,” said Mick and he slung his bag on his side. “You know, Terrell…..you shouldn’t give up writing them prayers…….they’re helping people more than you’ll ever realize.” With that, Mick turned and started walking towards the clock out station.


Terrell stared at Mick’s back. He had never told Mick anything about prayers or his YouTube channel or anything. As far as he knew, no one at the factory even knew he did that on the side.


Mick stood in line to clock out behind the others. Terrell grabbed his stuff and went to stand in line too but he was watching Mick curiously. Mick clocked out. He headed to the back door opening to the alley way.

Terrell thought for a moment………Mick, Mickey, Mike, Michael…..


Mick’s hand reached the door knob, he turned slightly and grinned briefly at Terrell as Terrell’s mind was on the name Michael.


“Be safe, Terrell, and watch out for that beautiful wife and three kids of yours. God bless.” As he said this, he reached into his pocket for his pack of cigarettes. He grabbed his lighter and something small and light and white fell out of his pocket. He stepped out into the alleyway. Mick looked up as he lit a cigarette and the back door slowly closed behind him.


Terrell clocked out. He headed for the door too. He looked down at the floor and found the item that had fallen. He picked it up and examined it. It was a small white feather…just the same as the one he had seen in the hallway outside his children’s room nights before.


He opened the door to the back alley and stepped out. He looked left. He looked right. He looked all around but Mick was gone.

Someone I Admire

She was my General Science teacher in High School. I remember her as sorta quirky and fun. She was brilliant in Science and really knew her stuff. She wore a long braid of hair and everyday she dressed comfortably but not too fashionably.

Her name is Suzanne Arruda.

I went on through High School and graduated. I went to college and continued life. Decades later, I found out she had started writing after teaching for years.

You can find her books on Amazon and sold in libraries and bookstores all over the world. She published with Penguin. She wrote a whole series of books about a female heroine who solves mysteries involving ancient artifacts and exotic animals in Africa. Her books are like an Indiana Jones action adventure series but with a female protagonist and involving a lot of Science.

I wanted to introduce you to her. Here is a link about her work:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzanne_Arruda

I think it’s great to write one book but it is a whole other level of amazing if you can continue into a long series involving the same character. It takes a whole other level of creativity and imagination to keep the original story going and going.

When I wrote a book, I reached out to her to see if she would go to the book launch. She said she’s retired from writing but she wished me the best of luck. She’s a pretty cool person like that.

These are the books:

https://www.amazon.com/Suzanne-Arruda/e/B001IOBL6O?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1631762632&sr=8-1

Return from Duty

by J. Speer

SSgt Miller took the overnight flight home.

It was a grueling flight much like the desert sands and blazing heat of the Middle East.

It had been a long year since he’d seen his children, now 14 and 8 years old.

The gym was a packed house.

He stood in the hallway in uniform near the school trophy cases.

Filled with deep emotion inside, he appeared calm and collected on the surface.

The school announced a special guest of honor over the intercom.

His daughter was on the Varsity team playing basketball.

She was a guard on the court.

The team was 7 and 2 this season.

It was something that together they discussed frequently over the long-distance phone calls at night.

He had taught her how to play ball.

Years ago in the driveway of their family home, they shot hoops together and played horse.

Countless hours.

He told her how to hold the ball just right for free throw shots and how to release it into the air.

When the school principal motioned him to enter the gym, his heart skipped a beat…

As did hers when she saw her father across the court.

She ran to him.

He held his arms out open wide.

His hat was in his left hand.

Her little brother and the soldier’s wife were already moving towards them from the stands.

Tears welled up in the faces of many nearby in the crowd as father and daughter embraced.

He kissed her forehead and smoothed her hair.

He held her tight.

She looked up at him smiling.

“I love you, Dad,” she said softly and shyly so only he could hear.

“I missed you.”

“I’m home,” he said with heartfelt gladness.

His son hugged them both.

The boy was grinning happily as he pressed his head against his father’s side.

His wife stood close by allowing her children this moment with their father.

She was crying tears of joy as well.

The crowd smiled and clapped loudly.

Home.

He was finally home.

The Locket

By J. Speer

Photo by Bruno Castelli on Pexels.com

(This story was written for a dystopian writing challenge. The short story had to be 600 to 2,000 words and involve a silver heart locket.)

Part One


It wasn’t supposed to happen like this…


That was the last thought entering Dawn’s mind as her shocked eyes pulled away from the rearview mirror. In the reflection, she could see the slow pool of blood flowing out from her sister’s abdomen. Liz was crumpled in an unmoving heap on the ground 15 yards behind her. That was as far as Liz had gotten before the robots fired lasers at her fleeing the vehicle.


LIz was dead for certain. Dawn knew this already in her shattered heart. The shadows of drones flew overhead targeting her renegade F390 truck.


Her eyes darted to the glove compartment briefly and then drew back to the gathering robot border patrol guards. Dawn thought of the only weapon she had, an ancient Colt 1911 that had belonged to her father before he was euthanized by the People’s Republic in 2064. This was 17 years prior to this moment….her Dad euthanized at 50 to fertilize soil for the republic crops……euthanized by state mandate like all the other 50 year olds that surrendered their bodies for the greater good. State survival…it was necessary.


The laser sights flickered briefly to show the robots were on to her movements, armed and deadly. Dawn swallowed harshly.


A brief text appeared before her.


“You know what to do.” scrolled the incoming message left to right above her briefly on the digital windshield.
There was another pause as she considered the weight of the silver heart locket on her heaving chest.


“You know what to do.” the message repeated only this time it was followed by a slight command strong enough to stop her beating heart.


“Remember your family back here in Teyhanna.”


A solitary tear fell down Dawn’s right cheek as she continued to stare at the border crossing now filled with reinforcing robotic sentries. No more messages appeared.


Dawn reached quickly for the heart-shaped locket with her left hand. The laser lights flickered again. Four robots forcefully came forward.


“Halt!” They ordered. “You are in violation of ordinance 517.”


She thumbed open the tiny clasp on the locket. Her eyes were glued to the robots coming forward now, fast approaching the vehicle.


She felt the small pill fall into her cupped hand. She remembered what the cartel man had told her. You can’t allow yourself to be captured. If you do fall into their hands, you will wish you were dead anyway. They’ll never let you go. Slavery…prison….fertilizer….worse. You know what to do.


The robots slammed their fists into the hood of her car. Dawn closed her eyes and brought the little pill to her mouth. Then, she swallowed it down. Cyanide. He had said it was cyanide. It will be quick he had said as he had handed her the lockets and walked away from her little brother’s graveside in Teyhanna, the brother that was executed by the same cartel. He had gotten in over his head with the wrong sort of people.


Minutes later, robots yanked open the locked driver side door of the truck. Dawn’s limp, lifeless body fell in a crumpled up heap onto the dry, parched desert ground. When her head hit the ground, her soulless eyes stared towards her sister. A sort-of bluish foam pooled out from Dawn’s breathless lips.

Part Two


One week prior, Dawn was heading out the hatch door of her apartment flat in Drose. She was going to be late for work if she didn’t hurry. She activated her truck from her watch and noticed an emergency alert intercept from her older sister, Liz. Liz – the wise and strategic one who had married into wealth and fortune despite her upbringing…..despite the days of their youth trudging illegally across the desert wasteland between Drose and Teyhanna to reach the promised land. Days without food and barely any water…..days they survived by each holding tight to the hands of their father who kept the little girls safe, alive, and kept them going.


Drose, or rather The People’s Republic of Drose established in 2036 after the nuclear wars and eventual climate change desertification of 3/4 of the Earth’s top soil, depletion of the fresh water sources, and final death, destruction, plague, and general famine of the Great Eradication of 2041 through 2043. It took 3 years for nearly 7 billion people to be wiped off the planet.


Gone.


Drose had survived and so had the badlands of Teyhanna, south of Drose through the searing hot desert. Anything goes in Teyhanna…so they say. It was the wild, wild west of drugs, prostitution, murder, mayhem, black market deals and so on. Teyhanna fueled the abundance of Drose. Drose, for its part, drove the decisions of the overlords of Teyhanna.


Drose, The People’s Republic of Drose, on the otherhand was a model of thinly veiled democracy underlined by totalitarian extremism. There were no families, so to speak, in Drose….not according to the state. Bioparents birthed children who were sent immediately to boarding schools of advanced technology, science, and medicine. Rules were strictly enforced. Slavery and debtor prisons were re-introduced. From the age of 10, all were expected to work together for the greater good of survival and all were expected to help the crop cultivation and soil/water conservation through all means necessary…ALL means necessary.


It was a harsh reality but one much better than life in Teyhanna. Dawn knew this, so she grew up to service the plant industry cultivating seeds in labwork. She was a hard worker…like her father. LIz, on the other hand, due to beauty and charm…caught the attention of one of the higher class. She was not completely like Dawn, a proletariat citizen.
Dawn checked the message. Liz seemed upset which was rarely her outright nature, given that she was quite guarded emotionally.


“John has……I’m sorry to say this, Dawn……John has passed away.” There was a pause on the line. “Mom…she wants us to come home, to come back to Teyhanna for the funeral and to see the family. The funeral is Wednesday.” Another pause on the line followed.


“He was executed by gunshot. Bullet to the head. I’ve decided to go….to go back. I know it’s dangerous. I know this already. I’m going anyways. It’s been years. We need to be there for Mom and the others.”
Liz sighed. “Dawn, I want you to come with me. I need you to come with me.”

Part Three


She could see them from the graveside, the men in black. Everyone was dressed in black at the funeral but they stood out from the rest, these men that had murdered her brother. They had pulled up their entourage of vehicles 100 yards away from the little service among the crowded tombstones of the clustered graveyard. The preacher gave a brief sermon. Others cried tears of hardship and loss feeling the injustice of a life taken violently and too soon.
But Dawn watched the men quietly.


They eventually approached. They offered their condolences to the grieving mother and family. Dawn and Liz looked cautiously at each other as the leader of the group motioned them to follow him to a more distant spot to converse. Knowing this was Teyhanna, knowing the way of life here…..they reluctantly followed. The others from the family were leaving group by group back to their little homes and little lives in the barren, crowded wasteland slums of Teyhanna.
“My condolences to you for the loss of your brother,” he offered in feigned respect. “We had concerns regarding this situation…your brother’s allegiance and fealty to our….operations.”


Dawn felt a rising anger inside herself that she knew not to expose. Without missing a step, the two women fell in line with the overlord’s assistant. He walked a ways in silence and then turned abruptly.


“Our needs have not been met yet,” he said deliberately, cocking his head to one side. “When you return to Drose, you will be required to carry something onward for us….a gift for the magistrate….a package. Do you understand?”
The women said nothing.


“Consider your brother’s debt to the organization cleared when and if you cross the border successfully,” he stated.
He continued to walk and they followed.


“This package will come to you,” he said in a low voice as he motioned to one of his bodyguards holding an assault rifle near the vehicles.


Then he smiled. “You will deliver. Your family here will be counting on you. Understood?”


“It’s simple really. Just deliver the item. If however, you face….opposition…,” his voice trailed. “We will need you to wear these.” He gave the women each a silver plated locket. “There will be no compromising of the course of action. Come, follow me further and we will discuss in more detail.” He motioned once again to his men.


Liz and Dawn continued to listen quite carefully as was to be expected in a violent, notoriously black market place like Teyhanna. A few days later, the package arrived at their mother’s house. Shortly afterwards, the two said their goodbyes and made their way with the package to the border of Drose. Both women had a deeply unsettling feeling of fear but they did exactly as they were told.


They just didn’t anticipate what would soon occur. The package was hidden carefully in the truck undercarriage. But it was not secret enough to avoid exposure to the vehicle imaging scans of those silent, deadly drones overhead.

The Little Turkey and The King Cobra

by J. Speer

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

There was a little barn, alive with activity, in southern India. In the shade of this delapidated, old, red barn, 10 or 12 little chicks gathered near their hen mothers. They were beautiful, little fluff balls of yellow and black and deep brown. They chirped constantly. The mother hens gathered them here and there around the free range barnyard throughout the day as they all pecked for food, drank cool water from the farmer’s bucket, and sat around gossiping about the other barnyard animals.


In the barn, the grey mule stood sullenly. He was an old miserly sort of fellow with a rather sharp tongue. He harrumphed loudly and cleared his throat. His name was Inesh.


In the stall beside him lay a few goats named Pranjal, Sanat, and Vedant. They were a gaggle of goofballs. Their antics were quite known around the barnyard and legendary.


Then there were the 2 horses with their new spring pony. The farmer’s daughter loved the black pony and called her Bhavna.


No other animal of note was really associated with the barnyard other than a few dogs and the rather ordinary and plain looking turkey. She was an odd old lady often left out of the usual hen gossip circle.


The turkey had managed to escape the farmer’s axe through the years but not the sharp tongues of the other barnyard occupants. As a result, she tended to keep quite to herself, mild-mannered and soft-spoken. Her presence caused very little real annoyance but she was different and different, as we all know, is not always tolerated.


The little brown turkey was named Binita. She had no partner and so had accepted her childless fate through the years. She doted on the little chicks instead, offering them kindness and smiles from time to time as she clucked and fretted alone around the barnyard generally mumbling to herself and doing the daily activities that a turkey will do.


It was a beautiful Spring day and so it came with much surprise, that a dangerous King Cobra was slithering quietly along the side of the old red barn towards the little baby chicks. The gossipy old hens had gathered in the northeast side of the yard and so, the king cobra noted with secret chagrin that he would have to cross the yard for a slight moment or two out in the open exposed to attack and kill the baby chicks.


His hunger for the taste of little chicks compelled him forward nevertheless. His shiny black charcoal reptile scales glistened in the sun as he paused momentarily to survey the barnyard scene. The dark scarlet tongue darted in and out rapidly from his mouth. He dared not rise up yet. Clearly, his path to his prey was blocked by the mother hens but also before that, by a rather, odd-looking and quite pathetic old turkey.


“No bother,” he thought to himself. He would quickly pass by the turkey, surmissing that she would run in fear as they all did. He checked the air once more with his tongue before rapidly crossing from the barn wall diagonally through the yard. He salivated considering his prey, the plump fluffball baby chicks.


Binita was pecking for a worm in the yard. She was distracted and not paying much attention until she nearly stepped right into the path of the violent and cruel King Cobra. Her leg froze in midair as she suddenly realized with great fear who the new intruder to the farm might be. She shrunk back instinctively, ruffling her brown feather wings rapidly and squaked to sound an alarm to the other barnyard animals.


The exposed King Cobra raised up high in the air and flared out his neck and face. He hissed sharply to frighten away the old bothersome turkey. Meanwhile the alarm had been sounded and suddenly the whole barnyard was shook with panic.


The gossipy mother hens ran for their lives abandoning their young in great fear of the giant, deadly snake. They huddled into the hay of the other barnyard corner trying to wedge themselves as close to the fence as possible. The old grey mule brayed and harrumphed loudly, stomping his feet to try to attract the attention of the farmer and his family. The goats leaped up from their usual munching and bahhed as well in unison. Nearby dogs barked. Even the horses paced back and forth, hiding their beautiful black pony behind them. They were all frightened and terrified for their lives…..all except the clueless and sweet little fluffball chicks chirping unprotected and unaware so innocent in the yard.


The King Cobra knew all that stood between him and a marvelous, tastey lunch was that old foolish hen Binita. And so, he flared his neck and face as much as possible and hissed moving and swaying dangerously before the shuddering turkey.


But Binita did exactly what he did not expect. Everyone, in fact, was surprised by what Binita did next. As the mother hens shrunk back crying in fear and terror, little Binita ran straight across the barnyard to the innocent chicks. She opened her wings as if to shelter them, and quickly gathered them all together into the farthest corner of the barnyard away from the King Cobra. Then, she turned to face him with her wings spread wide to keep the chicks behind her.


This drew the fierce anger of the hissing King Cobra. He lowered once more to slither within inches of the terrified turkey Binita. She stepped back in fear, looked behind her at the baby chicks, gulped, and then turned to face the King Cobra head on.


The other barnyard animals were certain Binita would be a goner.


The King Cobra drew up again to full height and flared his face and neck. He hissed his last warning and then moved to strike Binita with his fierce fangs in a rapid attack. But she flew back out of reach of his fangs. Not only did she parry him, but she flew in just as fast to peck him hard on the head.


He shook his head and drew back in shock. Now, he was getting really angry. Once again, he watched the hen and attacked. She flew back to parry and then countered again with one harsh peck against his neck. Again and again, he attacked. Again and again, she managed to escape the attack just out of reach and then flew in to peck him harshly. With great annoyance, he flared his neck and face wider. The more he attacked, the more she pecked him hard on the head.


The battle was fierce and very deadly but Binita refused to move out of his way. She would not let him advance on the little baby chicks no matter what. They huddled behind her in a pack now, sensing something. The othe barnyard animals watched in shock and awe.


For two or three full minutes the poisonous snake and odd little turkey faced off. Finally, she pecked the King Cobra extremely hard on the head. He was frustrated beyond belief but could not get past her for anything. Eventually, he gave up. Defeated, he lowered.


She stood now in front of the baby chicks with her wings spread wide to shelter them. The deadly King Cobra, in shame and embarrassment as well as angry hunger, slowly lowered further and slithered back across the yard. He slithered back past all the silent barnyard animals, even the hiding mother hens, and then out into the green pasture lands. Within moments, he was gone.


Binita stood sheltering the baby chicks and breathing hard from her chest. The little chicks, innocent and unaware of the danger, chirped happily behind her. They bounced here and there. The barnyard finally came slowly back to life.

The old stodgey mule Inish bowed deeply in gratitude to the little brown turkey Binita. The three goats smiled happily and high fived each other with their hooves. They went back to munching lovely lumps of hay happily. The horses all nodded their heads in great admiration to Binita and even the gossipy mother hens clustered around the once-neglected turkey Binita, to hug her and thank her tremendously. They even lifted her onto their shoulders chirping and squaking with tremendous cheer.


Binita, for her part, never felt alone in the barnyard again. From that day forward, she would always be part of the barnyard family, though odd and a little quirky. Her deeds from that day would also become quite legendary. And the cute, little baby chicks grew up to love her as their own.

New Little Book

A story from this blog called The Firefly’s Secret is now up on Amazon and doing well. It is #10 on Amazon in baby and toddler nursery rhyme books.

The little story is on kindle unlimited and selling on kindle for 1.99.

The Letter

by J. Speer

It was Mother’s Day. Layla sat down at the table to work on a letter to her daughter. She knew that usually mothers were the ones to receive gifts on this special day. However, this time was different. In 16 years of motherhood, Layla had received all kinds of gifts from flower bouquets to hugs and kisses to little hand imprints in clay. She had experienced the morning breakfasts and the nice time spent sleeping in. But this year, she was a bit melancholy. In a few weeks, her daughter would be going to live with relatives on the coast. It was what Layla wanted for her children but she was sad inside from time to time.

She wanted to write something fantastic and amazing. She searched her memories of family vacations or school activities or sports events….but 16 years had come and gone so fast that it all blended together and she really had to focus on specific moments. She remembered the first time she felt her daughter. She was maybe 23 at the time. Layla had been resting. She had started to get the morning sickness and that was the first clue. The pregnancy test came back positive. In the first trimester, she almost miscarried. The first time she felt her daughter was in that bed resting. Her hand was across her flat bare abdomen and she felt a tiny movement. She touched the spot gently. It was a hard bump near her right inner hip the size of a quarter. She touched it with the tips of her fingers and it moved slightly. That’s when she first felt what it was to be a mother.

The sonograms were inconclusive about the sex of the child. The black and white screen showed the baby bouncing playfully around in the womb. Three sonograms were performed and the doctor said he was 90% certain it would be a boy because the legs were crossed each time. Layla decorated the nursery with yellows and greens, neutral tones just in case. It surprised her husband when their beautiful baby girl arrived.

The delivery took almost all day. The labor was intense.

Her daughter grew and grew and grew through the years, through good days and sometimes bad days. No matter what happened, Layla and her children rarely parted. They stood together side by side and there was nothing Layla loved more than holding their little hands in hers. When the children got to be teenagers, that was what she missed the most of all.

As her daughter grew, Layla also learned to love all the exact same things her child loved. When her daughter liked art, Layla bought her all the drawing books and art supplies she could find. When her daughter liked soccer, Layla sat in the stands cheering and clapping. When her daughter moved on to books and anime and movies, Layla moved on too. To Layla, nothing her daughter chose was ever wrong. Her daughter could have liked rock throwing and Layla would be out there with her searching for the perfect rock to throw. As her daughter’s interests grew, so did Layla’s.

Her daughter started high school eventually. Layla helped her to the school entrance with all her school supplies and wished her well. Her daughter learned to drive a car. Layla tried to take her out test driving and prayed when her daughter finally headed off to school in her new vehicle paid for with small savings. It wasn’t a beauty of a car but it ran and Layla hoped it wouldn’t be too embarrassing to drive.

When her daughter said she wanted to visit family on the coast, Layla encouraged her. She wanted her child to explore and see the world. It was what Layla wanted for her child but the thought of separation made her blue sometimes.

16 years had come and gone. 16 wonderful years that didn’t seem enough to Layla. Not enough time to teach her daughter. There was so much Layla wanted to say but couldn’t say. She didn’t want to jade her daughter or trample her hope or her optimism for the future.

For 16 years, her children were her reason….

the reason she worked…..

the reason she saved any money…..

the reason she made choices like she did…..

Layla packed the bags for the coast. She bought new swimsuits and beach wear clothes. She gave her daughter her best stuff for the trip, put together a Spotify playlist, and bought Google photo albums of their past memories for a going away gift.

And now Layla was writing a letter. She wanted to say something profound but she had nothing really. To tell the truth, she was a bit afraid. If her daughter left, what would she do with herself? Who would be there at night after work? Who could she talk to? Who would she protect or feel a purpose providing for?

It was a new journey for her daughter but also for her……a transformation of sorts.

She wished her daughter the best and so she wrote it in the letter. She asked her daughter to be safe and wise. She hoped her daughter would find someone to love and be loved in return. And she told her daughter, she would always be in her heart even as they were apart.

She signed the little letter, put it in the envelope, and hid it in her top drawer of her dresser. She decided to give it to her daughter the day of the flight at the airport…..too much to say and yet, not enough to say.

The Chamber Magazine

It feels great to be published at the Chamber Magazine online! I love the artwork they attached to the story! The Chamber Magazine publishes dark fiction genre in the form of poetry, short stories, etc. I submitted a story named Stull based off the real abandoned church site near Lawrence, Kansas. According to urban legend, this place is considered to be a secret gateway to the underworld. The story was published on April 2nd. Another story related to this one will subsequently follow on April 9th and it is called The Cold Spot and features a haunting at the Strawberry Hill Mansion in Kansas City. Both places are believed to be hot spots for paranormal activity. The woman in the stories is a sensitive, or a person that has the ability to sense paranormal activity around her not through sight but through intuition. These two stories are works of fiction.

Check out the stories at their online site at https://thechambermagazine.com/. Disclaimer: The stories and poetry are for an adult audience. Also, if you love to write as well, consider submitting your own work to the magazine. They are seeking works from authors all over the world and have a global audience.

Thank you for reading and have a good night!

Janea

The Chamber Magazine

I am super excited today! I submitted 2 ghost stories about a young woman who is a sensitive, or someone capable of feeling the presence of paranormals. The first story called The Cold Spot will be published on April 2nd at 10:00 am. The second story will appear on April 9th in that next edition online. It is simply called Stull. Stull is the name of a paranormal mecca, a gateway to the underworld located outside Lawrence, Kansas. Both ghost stories are works of fiction but inspired by true locations in the Kansas City area.

Here is the link to The Chamber Magazine. They are seeking submissions like poetry or short stories that involve horror, dark subjects, gore, ghosts, monsters, etc. To learn more, check out their site:

New Stories, Poetry, Interviews, and Articles

Noel a Paris

They decided on the trip together. Usually they always spent Christmas with family but this year they wanted to try something different. Christmas was usually spent listening to Aunt Gabby’s cat stories or watching the family open presents one by one slowly. Mom usually made a big buffet and Dad usually always got a hunting gift. The grandkids would run around the house and someone would setup Christmas music on the TV. There would be hugs and family photos with ugly Christmas sweaters or Grinch pajamas sets. Generally, there would be some games…board games, card games, gingerbread house competitions and such. It was always great fun but also a little awkward at times with the big family reunion. There were lulls in conversation or points where one had to be tactful and polite, particularly in regards to political topics. And, hectic…it could be hectic too as the family packed up all the presents in the car. She’d fuss over everything especially the smashed bows on the presents or whether the tree lights should be left on while they were away. She’d always be the last to the car. The kids would be crowded together and arguing, nit-picking each other. He’d get frustrated and beep the horn.

Yeah.

Christmas with family…..

This year would be different. They talked about this months ago when she had received a great price deal on roundtrip tickets. She had stared at her monitor at her sales cubicle. She studied the advertisement photo of a beautiful lit-up Eiffel Tower on a starry night. Come spend Noel a Paris, the breath-taking City of Lights…that’s what the picture caption read. Usually she skipped these promo ads but this one for some reason had caught her eye.

It had taken some convincing for him. A couple of dinners together at night. She approached the subject each time after their kids had excused themselves from dinner. She talked to him while cleaning up dinner plates and putting food back in the fridge. Eventually, with some reluctance, he was on board too. It was probably the cheap airfare price that did it as he was an accountant by profession and nature, preferring to limit extravagant spending.

The day they left the kids at Grandma’s, it snowed a heck of a lot. The kids wished them a great trip. They hugged each one and told them to be good. He struggled to get the car through the growing snowdrifts and she watched the kids with her parents through her rear view side mirror on the passenger side until they were too far away in the distance.

The ride to the airport was blustery and cold. He had to keep the wipers and heat going on high mode. In comparison, the climate in Paris outside the terminal after their excruciatingly long flight was sunny and much less calamitous.

They managed to get to the hotel through the kindness of Parisian pedestrians and a taxi driver that pointed the way in English. Their understanding of the local language was beginner level at best but they did manage “merci” and “bonjour” from time to time.

They stayed at a four story hotel off the Champs Elysee and close to the St. Antoine de Exupery street where she’d read the couture shops were located. They ate French croissants for breakfast and wandered the streets of Paris for a day or two. They visited art museums and strolled past trendy boutiques for fashion. They went up the Eiffel Tower together and took many beautiful pictures of all of gorgeous Paris, the statues, the buildings, the homes, and the people.

It was super fantastic until Christmas eve around five o’clock. Suddenly the bustling streets and walkways of Paris were very quiet and empty. Everything had shut down…the shops, the restaurants, and all the other businesses. They walked together in the growing darkness on the still streets. They passed many brightly lit homes. There were people greeting each other happily on front steps with packages. Inside some cheery and warm homes, they could see people happily gathered in comraderie. They began to feel homesick and that feeling grew as they ate cheeseburgers at Planet Hollywood, the only place in Paris still open. They wandered back thoughtfully to their hotel room. They each got their small gift for one another. They sat on the bed and exchanged them. It was nice but the moment ended quickly and they looked around the room wandering what to do next. They ended up watching TV together and went to bed early. As they changed into pajamas, he looked at her and said, “ I kinda miss Aunt Gabby’s cat stories..”.

She smiled, relieved he felt the same way she did in that moment. She laughed, “Yeah, I miss them all too…especially the kids. I miss them so much tonight. Christmas isn’t the same without them….without family.”

They smiled and sat on the bed together. They called back home to Grandma’s and were happy when one of the cousin’s picked up the line. They spent a good while wishing the bustling and noisy household at Grandma’s a very Merry Christmas.

And that was the last time they skipped out on family time at Christmas.