Friday, October 9, 2015

How About Some More Mighty Pinata Art?

This is from Page Two.

This tease is inked and lettered. The book will be fully colored when it is complete.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Wanna See What I'm Working On?

Okay, so here's Page One, inked, of the Mighty Pinata, the comic I'm writing with Harold C. Jennett III.

Learnin' Stuff

You learn something new everyday, right?

Well, here's something I learned today.

On October 14, 1912, Teddy Roosevelt, our 26th President of the United States, was shot, in the chest, just moments before giving a campaign speech, and elected (pun clearly intended) to just go on ahead with the speech before seeking any medical help.

First off . . . wow.

There's more, but before I continue, let me give you a source for this story in case you, like me, are learning of this fact for the first time and want a chance to read up on it.


I'd actually run across this little info nugget on the way to work this morning while listening to Nick Offerman's latest book, Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America's Gutsiest Troublemakers, which has been, for me, such a great listen.

What I loved most about this story of Roosevelt is, after determining for himself that the gunshot wound was not so life threatening as to require emergency medical assistance (the slug passed through his glasses case as well as his fifty page speech before entering his flesh), he approached the podium and said:

“Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot. It takes more than that to kill a bull moose.”

He then continues:

“Fortunately I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet—there is where the bullet went through—and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.”

He managed to cut his speech to about ninety minutes.

Thank you, Nick Offerman, for this bit of history.

As for you, The Reader of This Blog, I urge you to read the entire story linked in the source. There's more good stuff in there.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

The Walrus of Death - Chapter 9: The Fool on the Hill

You can read this chapter below, or at the following places online:

I DON’T MUCH LIKE running from a fight. It burns in my craw something fierce. But though I would never be mistaken for a learned man, I ain’t stupid. I know that I would be no match against the Walrus using just my fists and wits. It’s why I grabbed the rifle. Yet, once I had the rifle and ammunition, I still ran. I ran like the wind – well, like the wind if it had been healing from a broken spine. I ain’t no coward, but if you’re gonna fight someone, make sure you pick where you do that fighting. I read that somewhere. Might’a been a Spider-Man comic. I ain’t too sure.

My home is an earth berm home built into the side of a hill. This meant that the entire back half of the single level house was underground with a modest-sized hill looming up behind it. Once I was out of the window and onto the front lawn, I hobbled around to the back of the house, running as quickly as I could across the back yard, up the hill, and into the dense clump of woods that stretched back for a few miles out behind the house. Under the cover of the trees I fell to the ground, lying on my back and breathing heavily as I loaded the Winchester.

I slid the last cartridge into the rifle when I heard the unmistakable sound of a walrus crashing through a bedroom window — my bedroom window. So far, everything had gone according to plan, but success hinged on the hope that the Walrus would follow me. The plan was to hide here among the trees on the hill and wait for the Walrus to peek his ugly face around the back of the house. Then I’d shoot him. Not actually in the face, mind you. I wasn’t out to kill him — I wanted to — but I figured it’d be best to let the law handle this one. If he forced the issue, then I’d have no other choice. Otherwise I figured on winging him a bit. Maybe I’d go for the knee and put him down long enough to get the boys in khaki out here to lock the thing up — for good this time.

It all depended on the Walrus doing what I wanted him to do, which was follow me west behind the house.

As I’ve said, I live in the country a few miles north of town. Based on what was around the house, geographically speaking, the plan put a lot of dependence on the landscape itself guiding the Walrus in my direction.

I mean, when you think about it, I could have jumped out the window and continued east across the front yard and away from the house, but my front yard looked out toward a few hundred acres of cornfield, which at the moment sat unplanted, empty, and flat. Had I gone that way I’d have stood out among the nothingness like a lone figure streaking through an open field fleeing from a walrus a in a suit, so east was out.

To the south was the Kansas River, and beyond that, Eudora. I wouldn’t get too far fleeing in that direction before I was up to my neck in brown water. There was a bridge, but I’d need to walk ten miles to the east to get there so it should be obvious that south wasn’t the best option either.

The north was also out. Like the east, there was nothing for miles but more unplanted pastureland and no adequate cover.

That left west, a half a dozen miles of trees broken only by the occasional gravel road. The Walrus wasn’t stupid, he’d see that west was the best option and so I only had to wait.

The itching along my spine decreased, meaning that the healing was near to complete. So I rolled over onto my stomach, rose, and knelt at the edge of the woods, the Winchester ready at my shoulder. I took a few deep breaths and waited for the Walrus to show himself. I moved the barrel left, then right, scanning the back of the house for any sign of an angry walrus.

Soon enough he came into view, running as quick as a walrus around the exact corner of the house I had hoped he would. I could see that he was so full of rage that he plodded on without any notion that crippling pain was only a rifle-shot away. I smiled, brought his left kneecap into my sights, breathed out, and slowly squeezed the trigger of the old Winchester.

At that exact moment, the clouds parted and the sun shown down upon me with such ferocity that I found myself blinded and it caused me to flinch as I fired the rifle.

The shot rang out its cracking roar that echoed off the hill and trees.

“You missed!” the Walrus called.

I never miss. I cursed and I’d later swear that the sun had actually giggled at my dilemma.

I squeezed off another shot but I was shooting blind. I couldn’t see crap anymore as the sun continued to blaze.

“Oklahoma!” the Walrus roared with such vehemence that the casual observer would be forced to seriously rethink musical theater.

I cursed and squeezed off another shot as the Walrus sprinted toward me. I couldn’t see much but white light, but I could hear the creature’s grunting and the thunderous plod of his mighty feet drawing closer and closer.

He continued screaming my name in such frenzy that any birds brave enough to still be hanging out following the gunshots were now winging their way to a safer location – like Alaska. I fired a fourth time, and then a fifth, shooting erratically now in hopes that one of the bullets would find its target.

They didn’t.

I stopped shooting and tried to calm myself, which wasn’t easy as the Walrus pounded up the hill. I still couldn’t see a thing but sunlight so I closed my eyes. I took three big breaths.

In through the nose.

Out through the mouth.

In and out.

In and out.

I cleared my head and took myself out of the world. Nothing mattered anymore. The wind, the sunlight, the music of nature – it didn’t exist. There was just me and the unseen presence of a walrus running through the Kansas grassland.

I raised the Winchester. The wheeze and puff of the Walrus’s labored breath, the ponderous thud of his massive feet, and the groan of agony coming from the earth were getting louder by the second. He was right on top of me.

I smiled.

I fired.

The rifle cracked followed almost at once by a slight “Ooof!” from the Walrus, and the sound of his considerable body hitting the ground and sliding through the fallen leaves toward me.

A cloud passed over the Sun and I looked down to find the Walrus just inches from where I knelt. He writhed around in the dead leaves, clutching his left knee with both hands. Blood bubbled through his fingers.

He looked up at me.

“You shot me!” he cried.

“What’d you expect?” I said, pointing the rifle at him.

The Walrus lumbered to his feet, well – foot. He hopped about for a moment, almost like a cartoon, still clutching his left knee.

“I’m going to kill you!” He screamed, and hopped toward me.

I sighed and squeezed the trigger for the last time and blew out his other knee. He passed out on his short journey to the ground. He lay still, almost peaceful, as the shot echoed off into the distance, followed by the silence of a cool autumn day.

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Thursday, July 2, 2015

My Super Midlife Crisis - Chapter Fifteen

You can read this chapter below, or at the following places online:

ELYSE WOULD BE LYING to herself if she said she wasn’t at all nervous over the prospect of Oliver becoming a Mighty. Of course, if he had to be a Mighty who better than Captain Might. But still, the idea of her husband changing into someone else . . . She tried not to think of it.

“Before we get into the specifics of transforming, dear boy,” Farnsworth said. “I would first like to suggest you put on Captain Might’s suit. The clothes you have on right now would never survive the process.”

Elyse gulped. Survive the process?

Oliver didn’t look at all afraid. If anything, he looked more than a little sour.

“Really?” he said. “I have to put that thing on again? I look ridiculous in it.”

“Yes, but as Captain Might, you will look magnificent,” Farnsworth said.

“Will he still be Oliver?” Elyse asked.

“Of course he will,” Farnsworth said.

“Well, I mean . . . will he still look, like himself.”

“I’ll be a lot bigger,” Oliver said. “I didn’t get to look at myself in a mirror last night, but I could see that much.”

“Oliver will switch bodies with a genetic construct which has been specifically designed for his genetic code alone,” Farnsworth said.

“Wait a moment,” Oliver said. “You’re gonna have to explain that to me in a little more detail”.

Farnsworth sighed which blew out his mustache like the mud-flaps on the back of a truck. Elyse tried not to smile.

“The moment you slid that ring on your finger,” Farnsworth said, “it began to take measurements of your genetic makeup. From there it constructed . . . well, let’s call it an avatar that can only be used by you. When you transform, your body, and the body of the avatar, switch places.”

“Switch places?” Elyse said. “That sounds safe.” She thought her sarcasm quite apparent.

“Where does my body go?” Oliver said. “Where is this avatar now? How can the ring construct an entire body like that? I only had the ring on for an hour at the most.”

The old man sighed again. “As I’m sure Peter explained, the rings were constructed by combining magic and science. Yes?”


“Okay, well as soon as you placed the ring on your finger, a pocket universe snapped into being, a universe out of time.”

“An entire universe?” Oliver asked. “Just like that?” He snapped his fingers.

She had a hard time wrapping her brain around the idea and could see by the way Oliver cocked his head—just like Joe, her old dog, used to do—that he was just as confused.

“Well, yes,” Farnsworth said. “But it is very, very small. And in that pocket universe, which, as I said, exists out of time, microscopic robots called nanobots have constructed your avatar. There the avatar waits until you wish to become Captain Might. Once that happens, your consciousness will leave your body and come to live within the avatar. The avatar will then replace your body in this world and your body will replace the avatar in the pocket universe. This will all happen, in a manner of speaking, rather instantaneously.”

“I’m not all that hip to the idea of my body being out there just floating around in this other universe.” Oliver said.

“Well, as I explained, the pocket universe exists out of time. You could be in your avatar for years here in this universe, then transform back, and as far as your body would be concerned, no time would have passed. Trust me; your physical self is very well protected.”

“Okay, so why do I need to change into the suit before I can transform? Will I need to wear that thing under my clothes?”

“Not at all,” Farnsworth said. “Look, it’s going to be easier for me to explain once you’re ready to give it a try. Please, go put the suit on.”

“Fine,” Oliver said, and Elyse watched as he made his way up the staircase.

Elyse sat quietly with the old man, studying him. The way his mustache drooped down over his mouth and chin gave him a permanent sour expression.

“Why are you doing this?” she asked.

“Would you believe, madam, that I am doing this only out of the goodness of my own heart?” Farnsworth smiled.

“Not really, no.” Elyse didn’t trust his smile. It felt fake, like the old man had cut the smile from a model in a magazine and pasted it to his face.

“No, I didn’t think you would.” Farnsworth sighed once again, and again it blew his mustache out. “Let’s just say that I have a vested interest in seeing Captain Might back in Garrison City.”

“What is it? What is your interest?”

“Because Captain Might alone can do more for the war on crime than I, or any other Mighty in Garrison combined, could ever do, and it’s a war worth fighting. And frankly, it’s a war we’re going to lose if something isn’t done about it.”

Before she could respond, Oliver tromped back down the stairs in his Captain Might suit, looking every bit as silly as he had earlier when the two were alone in the bedroom. If anything, the slight pout that had affixed itself to his face made him look even more ridiculous, like a child wearing a pink bunny outfit their aunt made them for Christmas.

Oliver stalked over to the couch and fell into it.

“Shall we continue?” Farnsworth asked.

“I suppose,” Oliver said.

“Then stand up, dear boy. Stand up.”

Oliver stood.

“Now, the process is actually quite simple. You first need to think of the ring, and then you think of yourself going into the ring and then coming back out again as Captain Might.”

“That’s it?”

“That’s it.”

“Okay,” Oliver said. “I think I can handle that.”

Elyse watched as Oliver closed his eyes, stood silent for a full twenty seconds, and did nothing. He continued to do nothing until moments later when the nothing turned quickly into something. Oliver was bathed in an almost blinding yellow light that faded into orange at its core. It came from within Oliver and it surrounded him like a bubble of energy that pulsed and sizzled. She glanced at the floor and was relieved to see nothing was burnt. His form disappeared into the light, leaving nothing more than a dark orange silhouette within the bubble of yellow, like he had become one with the energy. The silhouette transformed, becoming bigger, taller, more muscular.

Then the energy dissipated and standing there where Oliver had been just moments ago was Captain Might. But not the same Captain she remembered from childhood. This Captain Might did look a bit like her husband, and yet, at the same time, not so much. But through it all, she could see Oliver in this man, this sculpted Greek God, who stood before her.

“Oh my,” she caught herself saying out loud.

“You like?” Oliver said.

But again, like the body, the voice wasn’t Oliver’s either . . . and, yet again, it was. There were differences and there were similarities. It was all very odd.

“Oh,” she said once again, followed immediately after with, “my.”

“Yes,” Farnsworth said in that deadpan way the British invented. “He’s very impressive.”

The old man’s jacket vibrated.

“Excuse me,” he said, standing and pulling a phone from within the jacket. He looked at the screen and his brow furrowed. “I need to take this.”

Elyse stepped over to Oliver as Farnsworth left the room with the phone to his ear.

“So that’s really you in there?” she asked, looking up at him.

“Feels like it,” Oliver said.

She poked him in the chest and felt the muscle and sinew resist her poke like a brick wall. She fought back the urge to run her hand along his abs.

“You like?” he said, smiling.

“Well,” she said. “It’s different. How does it feel?”

“I don’t know. It’s hard to describe. It feels natural, like this is how I was always supposed to be. And I’m,” he paused and she could see him searching for the right word. “Aware,” he said after a moment, “of, well, everything. I mean, I can hear what’s going on all around me, like for miles and miles in every direction.”

“Sounds chaotic. That would drive me nuts.”

“But it’s not; it’s not chaotic at all. It’s like,” he paused to think.

This new face of his that was so similar to Oliver’s true face made the same expression the old one did when thinking of how to proceed with what he wanted to say. It was so much Oliver, and yet alien at the same time. It would take some getting used to, like seeing your father after finally shaving off the beard he’d had for the first twenty years of your life.

“Think about it like this,” he said. “You’re in a crowded restaurant. There’s conversation everywhere. But to you, it’s all just a dull murmur. You can focus in on the person sitting across from you, can hear everything they say. But you can also shift your focus to what’s being said at the table next to you, or behind, or wherever. That’s what this is like, just on a much, much larger scale.”

“Cool,” Elyse said.


“Switch on your television,” Farnsworth said as he entered the room.

“Why?” Elyse said.

“Please,” Farnsworth said. “Indulge an old man.”

“What channel?” she said, taking up the remote and pointing it at the flat-screen on the wall.”

“Any of the major networks will do, thank you,” Farnsworth said.

The set was on Channel Twelve as it popped on, and they found themselves watching live coverage of midtown Garrison.

“. . . V battles for her very life!” the reporter on the television said.

“You know who that is, yes?” Farnsworth said, aiming his walking stick at the screen.

“That’s Lady V,” Oliver said.

“Is that a robot?” Elyse said.

“It appears to be just that,” Farnsworth said. “And she’s not having an easy time of it. She needs your help, Oliver.”

“My help?” Oliver said. “Now hold on.”

“Look at the damage that thing has caused so far,” Farnsworth said, once again motioning to the screen.

The area around the two combatants was nothing more than ruble and debris. Elyse could see the First National Bank of Garrison in the background, but the rest looked like the city had been at war for years.

“I can’t just go leaping into a fight like that,” Oliver said. “I’m not prepared.”

“Innocents have already been hurt, Oliver. Lady V can’t do this one alone. How many more people need to be harmed before you make your decision, son? Must someone die first?”

“Back off,” Elyse said, stepping between the two men. “You can’t just expect him to go flying off whenever—”

“No, Hon,” Oliver said, putting a hand on her shoulder. “He’s right. If I can help, then it’s my responsibility to do so.”

“That’s the spirit, my boy,” Farnsworth smiled for the second time.

Elyse believed the smile this time, but it didn’t make her feel any better about the old man. She trusted Oliver, knew that he would do what was best, what was right, and her heart filled with pride at the thought of her husband out there saving lives. But Farnsworth made her uncomfortable, no matter who he used to be.

“But first you need to change back into Oliver,” Farnsworth said. “It wouldn’t do to have your neighbors see you leaving the house like this.”

Oliver nodded and closed his eyes. Once again the yellow and orange glow surrounded him.

“You make sure he comes back to me in one piece,” she said, leaning in so that only Farnsworth would hear. “I’m sure you’ve gone up against some world class baddies in your day, but all of their power, all of their rage, all of their combined bat crap craziness will pale next to what I will throw at you if he’s hurt. Am I clear?”

The old man met her eyes and she saw him flinch. It was almost imperceptible, but she caught it and smiled.

“Good,” she said, “I’m glad we have an understanding.”

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Walrus of Death - Chapter Eight: I Feel Fine

You can read this chapter below, or at the following places online:

HAS ANYONE EVER THROWN you out a window? It ain’t the street fair one might imagine.

There’s pain involved; lots of it and from almost everywhere at once. There are more sensations of pain from just this one act then there are flavors of ice cream at a rich man’s sundae bar.

Let me try to describe it to you.

First, you feel a crushing blow and your body impacts in upon itself, your bones bruising and grinding together as you come into contact with the window. This lasts but nary a moment as the glass gives way and shatters around you. Then comes the biting shards that tear at your clothes and slice up your skin as you soar through the window and out into the open air.

You ever see them cartoons where the coyote is chasing the road runner and the road runner takes a quick left turn, but the coyote can’t turn as fast and winds up running right off the edge of a cliff? But being that it’s a cartoon, the coyote doesn’t notice right away that there ain’t no ground beneath him and so he hangs there in midair for a time.

You feel almost that exact sensation when you’re thrown out a window.

You hang there for a split second though it feels like eternity. Then you fall, leaving your stomach behind. The ground rushes up to meet you, and it ain’t as forgiving as the glass, it doesn’t yield beneath you. Sure, if you ain’t too high and if you’re dropping into a field of lush grass it may not be that bad when you and the ground reunite. But I was two stories up and had nothing beneath me but concrete.

Once you’re down, the fun ain’t over. You have a shower of glass to look forward to. More razor sharp shards to rip at your skin and make you bleed.

If you’re lucky, you survive, and unless you’ve fallen into a busy street, you have nothing left to worry about. Just lie still and wait for the good folks in the ambulance to come along and scoop you up.

Me? I wasn’t so lucky.

I hit the sidewalk face first and felt bones snap and teeth crack as glass fell on me, slicing through my clothing and biting into my skin. I heard the screech of tires as cars skidded to a stop at the sight of a man falling from a second story window. I tried to rise, but my body wouldn’t cooperate. I knew that I’d heal soon enough and would eventually be able to get up and walk away, but I couldn’t count on the Walrus waiting around and allowing that to happen.

Sure enough, I felt the impact of three hundred and fifty pounds of mutated muscle land near me on the sidewalk. He must have forgone the stairs and decided instead to jump. How efficient of him.

I felt an intense itch course through me, which meant that the healing had begun. But it was too little too late. The Walrus grabbed me by the hair on the back of my head and pulled my face from the cement. Blood ran from my nose and mouth like a faucet and I could see pieces of my teeth lying there among the dark crimson pools.

“I know all about you, Norman,” the thing whispered into my ear. “I’ve researched you, studied you. I’ve learned all I could.”

“Stop it,” I said as best I could with a mouth full of blood and broken teeth. “You’re embarrassing me.”

“Don’t feel special. It’s something I do for all of my targets. It’s much easier to kill someone when you know their strengths and weaknesses. For example,” he said as he slammed my face into the concrete. “I know all about your healing ability.”

I wanted to say something clever, something quick and witty, but my mind was a bit busy dealing with the pain.

“The one thing I don’t know about you, Norman, is just how powerful this healing ability of yours is. I mean, it’s obvious that you can break, bleed, and feel pain.”

He emphasized this by slamming my face into the sidewalk once again. I didn’t scream though. I mean, I wanted to, but it ain’t an easy thing to do with your face full of concrete.

“Can you die, Norman Oklahoma? Can you be shuffled off this mortal coil? I must know.”

He stepped on my back and pulled my head toward him until I both heard and felt my spine snapping.

That time I did scream.

The Walrus just laughed and flung me back against the wall of my building. I heard more bones snap, but I couldn’t feel much of anything anymore.

As I lay there, bleeding, I could see the Walrus take in the faces of the gathering crowd. The surrounding area filled with onlookers and gawkers who’d come out to see the show. He smiled and scratched at his chin. It appeared he was thinking things over.

“Don’t hurt yourself,” I tried to say. I can’t be certain what actually came out of my mouth, but I know it wasn’t intelligible.

“Look, Norman,” the Walrus said. “Everyone has come to watch.”

He smiled and bent over me to whisper into my ear.

“As much as I enjoy the eyes of all your friends and neighbors watching me break you, I think it might be best if we take this somewhere a little more . . . private. What do you say?”

With that he lifted me into the air and threw me over a shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

“How about it, Norman? Your place or mine?”

The Walrus carried me up and around the block. A few of the bystanders justified my never-ending hope in humanity’s inherent selflessness by attempting to intercede on my behalf, but they were no match for the monster. He pushed them aside like stalks of corn and loaded me into the trunk of a large black sedan as the rest of the onlookers ran.

“How about your place?” he said and smiled once more before slamming the lid closed, leaving me in darkness.

The ride out to my home in the country was fairly uneventful. It did however; give me time to do two things. Think, and heal.

The healing itch burrowed into me and I felt fear for the first time in a long time. I didn’t want to die, never really thought it was possible, but now . . . well, all bets were off.

As I said before, I ain’t up there with the great thinkers of the world, but I needed a plan or I would learn if Death had made a place for me at his dinner table. Luckily, though I may not be a great thinker, I’m a fast one and a plan formulated in my mind. It wasn’t gonna be pretty, but it was sure gonna be simple. I was good at simple. Heck, I was the Einstein of simple.

Most of the plan depended on a couple of variables.

First, I had to pretend to be passed out, and I really had to sell it. Regardless of what the Walrus might do once we arrived at my home, I couldn’t cry out, I couldn’t open my eyes, I had to remain as still as the dead.

Next, I had to gamble on a gut feeling that the Walrus would want to take his time with me. I figured that he might want to torture me a bit before he helped me, as he put it, shuffle off this mortal coil. I also had to count on the hope that he wouldn’t enjoy torturing me if I wasn’t awake to suffer through it. My hope was that as long as I was passed out, or as long as he thought I was passed out, he would wait to start in on me.

Maybe he’d want to tie me up some and get everything ready for his big number while I remained void to the world. I had a lot to pin my hopes on, but I didn’t have much of a choice either way.

So yeah, that was my plan. I needed to buy enough time to heal so that I could run and fight another day.

Again, it wasn’t up there with some of history’s all-time great plans, but it didn’t need to be perfect. It just needed to work.

The sound of the tires changed from pavement to gravel and I knew we were close, so I got my mind right. I closed my eyes and concentrated on breathing . . . in through the nose, out through the mouth. Steady, calming breaths. I did my best to relax. It wasn’t easy.

The vehicle slowed and then stopped. The engine died and the lid to the trunk popped open slightly. I had begun to gain some feeling back in my legs. I heard the steps of the Walrus as he made his way to the back of the vehicle and soon felt the cool autumn air on my face as he lifted the lid to the trunk.

“We’re here, Norman,” he said. “Ah, are you sleeping? How nice.”

He slapped me. Hard.

By that point I’d gone to my happy place. I imagined my bed; the memory foam mattress and the thick comforter. Furthermore, I imagined myself in that bed, the comforter pulled up to my nose, snuggled deep within the folds of cotton and down, a look of bliss on my face. Then I added that final puzzle piece that made it possible for me to lie still as the Walrus slapped me around – I imagined a sky outside my bedroom window, a sky so filled with clouds that the sun could find no way through and pull me from my slumber. As matter of fact, I’d done such a good job creating my happy place that the one thing I had to struggle with was to keep from smiling.

“Wake up, Norman. We’ve arrived at the end of your life.” He slapped me again, but harder than before.

My teeth clacked together and my head rocked to the side by the force of the slap, but I had remained in my trance.

For a moment or two nothing happened. I could only imagine that the Walrus was standing there at the open trunk, looking in at me in thought. I figured he was thinking it all through. Then I felt some pressure on my right trigger finger. The Walrus held it gingerly in his hands.

It would happen quickly. I had to be ready.

With a sharp stab of pain, the Walrus snapped my finger like a chicken bone. I didn’t move, didn’t cry out, didn’t even flutter an eyelash. It took every ounce of strength I had, but I did it.

Again, nothing happened for a time. I could hear the sound of the Walrus breathing mixing with the birdsong and the wind. He was thinking long and hard on this one. He wanted me awake, wanted me lucid while he rained pain down on me. But on the other hand, he knew that I was healing. Yet, if he held on to me long enough to heal, he could break me all over again. I kinda figured he would like that thought once it reached his brain.

Soon enough he scooped me up and carried me into the house where he dropped me to the floor. I kept my eyes closed but I could hear him rummaging around in the kitchen, opening drawers and going through their contents. I assumed he was looking for something to secure me, like duct tape or rope. Well, the joke was on him, I was all out of duct tape.

But let him look. The more he looked, the less likely he was to pay me any mind. Folks tend to dismiss someone who’s passed out. See, if he knew I was awake, he may take a moment to break my legs and keep me immobile while he searched. But asleep as I was – or as I was pretending to be – his subconscious self would continue to tell him that I was harmless. In the meantime, the itch of healing continued like a few dozen ant colonies crawling all over my face, spine, and now my finger.

I wanted to try my legs again, give them a stretch, maybe even wiggle my toes a bit, but I didn’t dare with the Walrus in the room. I couldn’t risk him seeing. So I remained as I was, face down on the carpet of my living room.

Face down was ideal at this point. Once the Walrus could see my face had all healed up, he might feel more inclined to spend a bit more time with me instead of looking for tape.

The Walrus gave up his search with a grunt of frustration. The sound of his heavy footsteps moved toward me. I tried not to tense as I waited for the pain that was surely to come. But the Walrus just stepped over me and did the one thing I honestly did not figure he would do.

He left the house.

The moment the door closed behind him, I tried my legs. They bent, but it took some effort. I figured that the Walrus must have had some rope or tape or something in his car and that was why he had left. That meant he’d be back soon. I’d never have an opportunity like this again.

So I put everything I had into it and eventually pulled myself into what would normally be for me a sleeping position. But I didn’t stop. I continued to struggle against myself. It was slow going, but it was going.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a reoccurring dream in which I’m fighting something dark and shadowy with nothing but my bare hands. But every punch I give is slow, like trying to force my hand through air made of jelly. I can move about as normal in this dream, but when I try to fight, I go all slow-mo. That’s how I felt now and it made me want to cry.

I heard from outside the sound of a car door slamming shut and knew that I had just seconds to make something happen. I pulled myself to my feet by sheer force of will. The Walrus had dropped me just inside the front door, so the deadbolt was within reach. I engaged the bolt with a quick flick and staggered toward the hallway. The lock wouldn’t stop the Walrus, I knew that, but it may slow him down for a moment or two. I imagined that it would take at least twenty to thirty seconds for that brain of his to process the confusion that would slide over him when he found the door locked.

I moved haltingly down the hallway with a lot of starts and stops, like a zombie two years into the apocalypse. But with each step, I moved a little faster. I had to assume that my Peacemakers were still sitting on my desk back at the office, but they weren’t the only shooters I owned. My rifle was still in my room, resting comfortably in the trunk at the foot of my bed. I’d neared the end of the hall when I heard my front door being ripped from its hinges.

“Oklahoma!” the Walrus roared from the front room.

But he was too late. I’d made it. I could feel, more than hear, the Walrus thundering down the hall to me, but by the time he got to my room, I’d snatched up my rifle, a belt of cartridges, and had slid out my bedroom window.

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