Original Works by J.D. Cook

The Entity Outside Mr. Baker’s Window

The Entity Outside Mr. Baker’s Window

by: J.D. Cook     photo by: Jacob Albano

The team of investigators stood around Mr. Baker’s bed ready for anything. Each one had their own reasons for dedicating themselves to this line of work. Doug knew he had seen a demon in a blue cape with yellow skin whilst attending summer camp as a young man. Jayne swore without an ounce of doubt that she had been visited by her Mother days after she passed on. Then there was Tom, he rained on the group’s parade a bit. He wasn’t so quick to believe. He didn’t consider himself a skeptic though. In fact he knew in his heart that he had once lived in a remarkably haunted house. He had witnessed his dog bark at the same spot in their house on multiple occasions. He had documented numerous instances when things had gone missing throughout the house. On one fateful night he was even sure the entity had sat beside him while he attempted to fall asleep. Unfortunately for the rest of the group’s paranormal high he wasn’t so quick to believe other people’s ghost stories.

Tom didn’t even fully believe the stories of his fellow paranormal investigators. In fact he was quite sure Doug’s demon was a result of an early experience with marijuana and Jayne’s was a grief induced dream. The only thing that really kept him with the two was that they were the only people he knew volunteering to accompany him into generally freighting scenarios. In fact they were downright elated by the prospect. To Tom this was a duty that he had. He needed to help people come to terms with their fears, whether that involved disproving the fantasies that scared them or hiring a priest to give them a blessing. During his time living in his haunted house all he had wanted was someone to help him and he had dedicated himself to being that person for others. It was never really an obsession though. It was more like a weekend hobby.

A week before the group had been contacted by the enigmatic Mr. Baker. He was the closest thing America had to an aristocrat. He inherited a fortune from his father when he passed. Throughout Mr. Baker’s life he had done little of note with the money except enjoy it. He was one of lowest profile wealthy patrons of the massive Gothic city the group inhabited. When he contacted the group he was in a total panic. Tom almost hung up the group’s hotline on him because he was convinced the man was a lunatic. Something about the man’s desperation managed to stop Tom’s skeptical nature from ignoring him. As Mr. Baker calmed down and became more rational on the phone Tom knew this was not a man prone to madness but one who had been pushed to it.

The next day the group met with him in a fancy restaurant that called itself a lounge. It was a bit ritzy for Tom, Jayne and Doug. They all considered themselves lower middle class. Jayne worked at a fast food place a lot of the week, Doug sold herbal refreshments that weren’t tea and Tom spent his days building up his own plumbing business. He had worked for a local company in the city for many years that had an exclusive contract with the city’s biggest company owned by a billionaire playboy. Tom had made good money doing the job but he needed to get his freedom from overbearing bosses.

Doug remarked to the group that despite the Lounge’s high class exterior something seedy lurked within the air. They were all treated to a meal on Mr. Baker’s tab for meeting him . The old aristocrat had a grandfatherly nature about him as he explained his tale. According to him a month or so prior he had awoken late at night around three in the morning. At first he did not think anything was out of the ordinary and attempted to go back to bed. Then a tap came from his window. Without thinking he said he had turned on the light next to his bed and spotted a dark shape that lingered outside of his window for a moment.

After the initial shock wore off he convinced himself that it was his old brain playing tricks on him. That was until the next night. Mr. Baker said he had come back late from a meeting with friends and was just getting into his bedroom when he heard the wind blowing into his bedroom. He discovered his window wide open as his curtains blew in the wind. He called the police but no evidence was discovered that made them believe Mr. Baker was anything other than a senile old man. Then on the third night Mr. Baker said whatever was haunting him finally fully appeared.

As he lay in bed a dark shape stood watching his bed only to vanish when he turned on lights or attempted to investigate. The group took in his tale. After a few minutes of pensive thought they decided they were convinced by both his story and his huge check. They decided to set up their equipment in his bedroom and sat with him on the following Friday night to determine if the entity would appear when more people were present to witness it.

Now the group stood ready to document whatever might come their way. Tom had spent a good twenty minutes trying to re-create the dark shape using the environment within the bedroom and outside of it to no avail. Together they simply sat next to Mr. Baker in his bed awaiting the appearance of the mysterious being. The group had discussed what they might see this evening and Doug was handily committed to the notion that aliens had taken an interest in Mr. Baker. While Jayne dismissed the idea as ridiculous since she did not believe in aliens and professed her belief that it was a psychically spawned representation of Mr. Baker himself. Tom thought the two of them needed to put more stock in reality and less in movies.

Tom sat back in his chair impatiently. He was on the right side of Mr. Baker’s bed. The window the figure was said to appear in stood directly in front of the lavish queen sized bed. On the left side Jayne and Doug sat together near the door. The room had been left in darkness at the request of Jayne who stated that spirits were more likely to manifest in a darkened room because they feared light. Tom stretched and accidentally hit the painting that hung next to Mr. Baker’s bed. Mr. Baker gave Tom an annoyed glance from his position in his bed. It was the first time the old man had been anything more than pleasant around the gang. Suddenly his annoyed eyebrows were raised and his head turned away from Tom at lightning speed.

“It’s HERE,” shouted Mr. Baker in utter fear as he moved backwards against his bed trying to get away from what he saw in the window. Tom’s head darted to Jayne and Doug next as the two jumped out of their chairs in horror knocking them down. Finally Tom’s eyes found their way to the window and in it stood something from a nightmare he didn’t remember having. It was black with white eyes. It seemed to flow in different directions with the wind and might have had some kind of antennas sticking from its head.

“What..is it?” asked Doug.

“A demon!” shouted Mr. Baker. “It’s come to take me away for my sins!” Tom’s eyes didn’t leave the creature at the window but he found himself wondering what the old man was talking about. Then things went from scary to terrifying.

The window crashed open as the phantom presence entered the room in a burst. Doug went for the door but the creature sent something flying out of itself that hit Doug’s hand hard.

“You’re coming with me Mr. Baker,” it said in a voice that seemed to echo from a brimstone filled hell.

“They wanted me too! It was always consensual! I gave their parents checks for years afterwards! I swear!” In a matter of moments that seemed to last for years the dark figure charged Tom’s spot against the wall. He closed his eyes and peed himself at the same time while he was preparing to die horrifically. He always knew fraying too deep into the supernatural would be his undoing. Then he heard what sounded like paper ripping followed by the crash of something metal on the hardwood floor. Tom found the courage to pry his eyes open slightly. His courage was rewarded with an empty bedroom. A cold breeze streamed in from the window. Glass was strewn about the floor where the creature had entered.

“Where…where did he go?” asked Jayne from the corner she was huddling in with Doug. Tom’s immediate thought was that she meant the creature but then he noticed that Mr. Baker was missing from his bed. After this Tom found himself looking at the portrait that hung besides Mr. Baker’s bed. It was ripped open and inside there was a small space. Something hit Tom’s leg and he looked down to see an old Polaroid photo sticking to it. His eyes followed its trajectory and he saw a pile of them spread out on the floor under a metal box with a busted lock. In a moment of pure reflex Tom picked up the Polaroid to look at it and found himself puking seconds afterwards.

An hour later the cops had arrived on the scene. The pictures were taken as evidence. Tom didn’t tell the group what he had seen. He didn’t want those images shared with anyone unnecessarily. He was ashamed he had ever tried to help the disgusting Mr. Baker and found himself happy that he had met whatever fate the creature had conjured up for him. The three of them explained their story to the leading officer, Detective Bullock. Afterwards none of them were any closer to answers when they were told they could go.

“Detective what the hell happened here tonight?” asked Tom as he prepared to leave the premises.

“I think you met the God Damn Batman,” said Bullock with a half-smile forming and a cigar drooping from his mouth.

Comic Commentary

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Why I looked up to Cyclops

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

The First Issue of Magneto is Magnetic

The History of the Guardians of the Galaxy

Mass Effect Comics: A Rundown

The Top 4 Comic Stores in Eastern Pa

 

 

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Dies Iries

Dies Iries

by J.D. Cook

1

The water was calm, the sky was grayish white, and Paul was tired. Weather like this always made him groggy. He slouched down on the bench of the Staten Island Ferry with exhaustion. The benches were surprisingly comfortable, in spite of carrying what looked like a painful wood panel design in the middle of them. As Paul felt his head drop to sleep he noticed only one thing. He could no longer see anything out on the water. Other ships, the skyline, and even the water in the distance had been swallowed by the raining mist of the ugly day.

2

James arrived at the Staten Island Ferry quickly. He flashed his badge without a second thought and jumped aboard the boat. It had crashed in a horrible spectacle of catastrophe. Many people driving down the nearby road, or parked for the nearby Staten Island Yankees game, had been shocked when they heard the screech of metal on concrete. This was combined with the screams of people trying to flee as the boat ran ashore at high speed. Many waiting for taxis had been killed instantly, and still others injured. James was reminded instantly of 9-11, and couldn’t help but be led to think this was somehow tied to terrorism.

“What’s the situation, McKay?”

“We…don’t know,” replied Officer McKay with some hesitation.

“What do you mean? The first responders have been on the scene for nearly an hour! Have they done nothing the entire time?” James couldn’t keep the anger out of his voice.

“No sir, it’s not that at all. It’s just, well…”

“WELL WHAT?!”

“No bodies on board,” mumbled McKay.

“Say that again?”

“No body or bodies are aboard. It is a ghost ship.” James surveyed the boat’s main deck. All of the benches seemed clear at a glance, nobody littered the stairways, and no one was calling out in pain. James’ jacket blew in an eerie wind that seemed to appear out of nowhere, the drizzling rain turned into a downpour suddenly as the grey skies opened up their wrath upon mankind.

3

Paul awoke to the sound of his IPod blasting the funeral hymn, ‘Dies Irae’. He was a fan of classical orchestral music, and especially of Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique. Paul loved how the musical theme of love changed throughout the song. It went from sweet to twisted as the story became more bizarre and interesting. Berlioz had written the symphony for a girl, and even got her because of it, only to discover after they got married that they didn’t love each other at all. A sad end to a sad symphony. Berlioz had written Symphonie Fantastique as a program story of unrequited love, and a descent into a mad opium filled dream where the protagonist found himself being marched to the gallows to descend into the final musical movement, “The Dream of the Witches
Sabbath”. It was here that ‘Dies Irae’ played. It was an old Gregorian funeral hymn, but most people knew it as the opening music of the Stanley Kubrick film, The Shinning.

Paul pulled his head phones out of his ears expecting for the familiar voice over the loudspeakers to announce that they were preparing to dock. After waiting for a moment he decided to move to the front of the Ferry so as to get off quicker. Paul grabbed his small lap top bag, and threw it over his shoulder as he moved to the stairs and descended them. As he reached the last step he found a strange sight. The back of the ferry was shrouded in misty grey fog. It reached through the open doors and into the first couple of rows of seats. Outside the windows the grey clouds of the ugly day seemed to press upon the glass. Paul raised an eyebrow and put his hood up over his head thinking nothing of it. Then he heard something. A sound issued from within the grey mist. It shook him to his core. It was a woman’s scream. Paul moved to investigate without a second thought. His dad was a cop and courage came easy to him as a result of a good moral upbringing.

“WAIT!” shouted someone from behind him. “It’s a trap!” Paul stopped and wheeled around on his right foot. A typical Staten Island type of girl sat crouched behind a nearby bench. Her hair was overdone; she wore too much make-up and could fit right in with the cast of the atrocious and culturally depleting television show Jersey Shore.

“What do you mean?” asked Paul, ignoring his feelings on the typical Staten Island girl.

“Some other people were drawn in a few minutes ago. Then they screamed and then they didn’t return.” The girl was panicking and out of breath.

Paul turned back towards the scream. “I have to go in, I’ll be right back,” he declared, unaffected by the girl’s warning. He burst ahead without a second thought.

“That’s what they said!” was the last thing Paul heard as he entered the cloud of grey.

Once inside it seemed like sound was muffled, but he had no idea how this was possible. He could barely make out anything in front of him as he slowed his pace down and walked on. Then something appeared on the ground. It was a fleshy blur at first, but then he realized it was an arm. The rest of the body came into view as he got closer. It was an old Indian man.

He lay on the floor as if he had been crawling towards where Paul now stood. Paul crouched down and gently laid a hand on his shoulder. To Paul’s fright the man awoke with a sudden shock. He spoke in an Indian dialect frantically. Paul didn’t know the slightest bit of this language. His dad had learned a couple of languages for work, but Paul had never invested the time. The Indian man slowed his speech and closed his eyes to concentrate.

“We…” the man paused; English certainly wasn’t his first language. “..must go now!”
As he completed this sentence, the Indian man was pulled away violently. He grabbed onto Paul’s pant leg dragging him as well. The man screamed in terror and Paul tried to stop himself by gaining friction on the wet orange floor. He failed to even slow himself down but suddenly realized where he and the Indian man were being dragged to…off the ferry. Paul knew he had one shot to stop himself. He had to grab onto the doorway as they passed through it. His adrenaline kicked in with force as all of his thoughts now scrambled from his brain.

The doorway came into sight as thunder crashed somewhere in the distance. Paul put his arms out and grabbed the metal doorway with all his might. For a second it felt like he would be ripped in two and then the Indian man was gone, and he was left with the man’s last horrified expression as he was pulled up into the air instead of plummeting down into the Hudson.

Paul didn’t waste a moment wondering what that meant. He got to his feet and bolted back towards the Staten Island girl. The humorous image of kissing her passionately jammed its way into his mind. Levity was all his subconscious could manage to keep him from screaming at this moment apparently. He felt something following him, and he knew it was disappointed when he leapt out of the grey cloud over one of the wood paneled benches. He rested for a moment feeling pain in his back from the hard landing. From under the bench, he looked towards the grey mist he had just escaped and expected something to burst out after him, but nothing did.

4

James had just finished surveying the entire boat with a couple of the other officers. No one was on board, alive or dead, they had all vanished. The only trace of people that had been found were some bags and other merchandise that they had been carrying, but the people themselves were all missing. McKay walked up to James and handed him a coffee that gave off steam in the cold damp air.

“Any ideas yet?” asked McKay expecting the wily vet to sum up the crime in a Sherlock Holmes fashion.

“None…this is damn peculiar. Someone had to set the ship to ramming speed. Someone had to leave all of this stuff behind. Someone needed to be operating this Ferry!” McKay bent down and picked up a lap top bag from the ground. He lifted it without a second thought. “That’s evidence ki…” James mouth fell open.

“What is it, sir?”

“Let me see that!” James took the bag and quickly rifled through it. There were a large number of things Paul would never leave behind. His comic books, for instance. Paul always seemed to have them on hand since he got a job in a comic book store a few months ago. Then there was his lap top, and his college notebook, but his cell phone was missing. James quickly removed his smart phone from its case and speed dialed him. The sound of Paul’s ringtone surprised both officers. It came from directly behind them. It was issuing from inside the ferry’s internal elevator. James pressed the call button on the elevator, but it did not respond.
“Get me some firemen to wedge these doors open!” McKay was off in a flash, recognizing the ringtone as that of Jame’s son Paul.

5

Paul got to his feet and found the Staten Island girl still huddled a few rows back. He jogged to her, afraid to walk. “Where is everyone else? What is going on?” Paul shouted as his adrenaline wore off and fear overcame him.

“I don’t know, by the time I noticed anything was wrong, mostly everyone was gone,” replied the girl, much calmer than Paul.

“How did you not notice people VANISHING?” yelled Paul, almost accusing the girl of something.

“I had my headphones on. I wasn’t even paying attention until that Indian man shook me and asked me if I heard the screaming.”

Paul regained his composure a bit as he felt guilty for the tone he had taken with the girl. “We should move to the front of the boat, away from this misting fog,” she added.

“Agreed,” panted Paul standing up next to her. Clearly, her bleach blond hair and skimpy clothing betrayed an iron core within her. Paul would remember that the next time he met someone and judged them from their appearance. The two moved past the snack bar, glancing around quickly for anyone. The girl went into the ladies room but found not a single soul. Then they both received a shock. As they looked back towards where they had been huddled a minute ago, they found it engulfed by the grey cloud of mist.
“It’s moving and soon it will encompass the entire ferry!”

“What do we do?” asked the girl as her iron core melted a bit.

“Keep moving away from it and up the stairs to the other decks,” replied Paul.

“You two down there!” a voice echoed through the ship. It was a gruff male voice – a man most definitely not from New York originally. “Get in the elevator! I will cut the power from the bridge! I don’t know what’s happening, but it should be safe in there, but you need to move quickly because that thing is moving towards you! I can’t hear you, so don’t bother replying and just get a move on!”

The two people looked at each other and bolted for the elevator, but to their dismay the cloud had already taken it at this level. Neither was brave enough to dive into it and wait for the elevator. “Next level! Get to the next level!” called the voice over the loudspeaker.

The pair ran away from the mist towards the front of the ship and turned into the stairwell. Paul stopped for a moment and noticed that the silver sliding doors at the front of the ship where he usually waited for the docking ramp to descend were closed shut, but then, as if on cue, one of them began to slide open. Nothing was behind it, and the boat didn’t seem to be in rocky waters. It was being opened by some thing. The cloud seemed to seep in towards him, but he didn’t waste another second as he shot up the steps after the girl. She was stopped in front of more of the cloud on the second level. It again had beaten them to the elevator.
“The hurricane deck! The last highest level! It’s our only hope!”

“Are you crazy? It will be filled with this!” replied the girl as Paul wasted no time ascending to the next level. She followed, and to both of their surprise the cloud wasn’t present here. They jogged to the elevator and hit the call button. It responded, but it was obviously on another level of the ferry. Paul looked out into the grey white mist that surrounded the ferry, but it was a useless gesture as nothing could be seen.”LOOK!” shouted the girl. The door to the outside sitting area of the ship where the tourists loved to stand and snap pictures of the Statue of Liberty shot open hard. In flowed the white grey mist and the elevator had still not arrived. As if on cue, the other doors around the deck shot open. It would have them in seconds. The girl grabbed Paul instinctively and he squeezed her as if she had been his lover for some time. The two leaned against the elevator doors and closed their eyes. It was almost on them. It seemed to inch towards them as if it was alive. Paul opened his eyes and could swear he detected a mist like hand reaching for him out of the haze when the elevator doors opened and they both fell painfully inside.The girl jumped up and slammed on the ‘door close’ button multiple times. It seemed to wait stubbornly as if it wanted them to be enveloped. The mist-like hand seemed to be turning the corner into the elevator. It was just about to Paul’s face when the door closed and cut it off.

Both Paul and the girl breathed an immense sigh of relief. They cuddled as if they had just engaged in a marathon of romantic movies. The lights of the elevator went out, and both of them barely noticed. “Thank God for whoever was on the loudspeaker,” said the girl. They both let go of each other as if they suddenly realized they were both complete and utter strangers.

“I’m Paul.”

“Carissa,” replied the girl after Paul cut the oddness for both of them by introducing himself. Without thinking Paul leaned in for a kiss, but Carissa withdrew.

“I’m engaged,” she replied holding up a huge diamond ring. The awkward silence that followed was akin to a turtle on its back.”It’s not a big deal,” laughed Carissa.

“Sorry,” replied Paul with a chuckle. “Damn, I lost my bag!”

“I’m sorry, I think I broke the strap when we hugged each other.”

“It’s no problem; I’m sure my dad will find it and realize where we are. He’s a cop.”

6

James stood by the elevator doors as he continued to call his son. The phone continued to ring without an answer. His stomach turned around as if it was a washing machine on spin cycle. The firemen stuck crowbars and axes into the doors. With one giant heave, the doors would be open. James and McKay stood awaiting the worst. Jame’s imagination got the best of him as he imagined the badly mangled and mutilated body of his son, but he quickly pushed these thoughts away.

“Hey James, want to hear a joke?” asked McKay seeking to break the tension.
James needed to escape his own mind for a second. He knew it was impossible, but the only thing he could do was try.

“Go ahead.” McKay was a good kid, and he didn’t know how to handle the situation himself. Sometimes all you could do was try to laugh.

“This guy I know is in his front yard the other day, when this really hot blonde neighbor comes out and goes for the mail.” McKay stopped to remember the rest. “So she looks inside the mailbox and then slams it shut before going back inside her house.”
James had heard this before but he wouldn’t tell McKay and he couldn’t even focus on the joke anyway. “A little later the blonde does it again, this time she gets angrier before heading back inside. Finally a bit later the guy is outside again and sees the girl do this yet again, but this time he asks, ‘Waiting for a package?’ to which the blonde replies, ‘No, my computer keeps saying, you’ve got mail!'”

No one laughed as the firefighters gave their heave and threw the elevator doors wide open. Out of it burst a grayish white mist that covered the area for a second before it started to dissipate. Everyone waited in silence for the last traces of it to fade so that they could get a good view of the elevator. Except when it finally did everyone was surprised to find nothing within, nothing except Paul’s cell phone which displayed the ten missed calls from his father. James burst out with a scream of frustration tossing his own cell phone into the wall. He fell to his knees and pounded on the ground as McKay leaned into the elevator and surveyed the space. The firefighters left to help with those injured by the Ferry crash.

7

Paul and Carissa sat in the dark happily. They had been there for an indeterminable amount of time making what idle chit chat they could. Suddenly the elevator seemed to shake slightly. Then a little more so; Carissa and Paul drew close to each other again.

“Have we crashed?”

“I think it would have been more violent if we did,” replied Paul hoping the elevator cable held tight. He knew the possibility of it snapping was slim and that the fall three floors down would probably not be fatal, but he had a big imagination. From outside the elevator a sound came. At first it was indescribable. Then it took the shape of words as light began to issue through the crack of the elevator doors. Paul looked at Carissa’s eyes and found them a milky white. He slapped her face, lightly at first, but she didn’t respond.

Then all Paul could do was listen to the words that were now deafening, and he finally comprehended them as, “I am always watching you. The time has come for me to take you away with me.”

~

The Basement of Solitude

by J.D. Cook

No one knew how civilization collapsed. It happened suddenly and without much ceremony. The survivors were those who were able to transition back to a world that no longer had internet, cars or computers of any kind. As the centuries rolled, records of whole civilizations burned up in fires. Mankind went from being more connected than any other time in human history, to living in isolated pockets thousands of miles apart. Nature did not move in to reclaim the cities that were left behind like many thought it would. Instead, a great poison lay about much of the land keeping anything from living. People were forced to migrate north constantly to stay cool as sudden changes in heat could cook people in their shoes the farther south they went.

This was the world Doug was born into. His parents had survived in a small bunker and raised him there for the beginning of his life. They told him the bunker must have been built long before the great collapse for some long lost war. In those days they lived off canned food that wasn’t spoiled and the occasional animal that got too close to the yard the bunker was in. Sometimes they would spend whole days out of the bunker in the yard playing with the empty cans. His father had a small red rubber ball that they would take turns trying to roll into the can’s opening. Doug missed his parents; they had both died yesterday.

His mother never seemed happy and she was always worried about them being out of the shelter for any amount of time. His father had told him once while they were above ground Brother of the Apocolypse practicing how to skin animals, that she had encountered people called the Brothers of Apocalypse before he met her. When he asked what they were or what they did he would only explain that they were bad and they did bad things to her. He said if he ever met a man with a white skull painted on his face, he should get away from him as quickly as possible. His parents died coughing up blood. Doug couldn’t save them. They were struck with a fever, started bleeding later that day, and were dead the next morning. Doug listened to instruction’s his mother had given him  when he was younger and donned a small white mask and gloves as he removed them from the bunker and dug them two holes. When he asked why they needed to be put in the ground, she had simply said it was wrong to leave bodies to become carrion. His mother spoke in an interesting manner and Doug never understood everything she said, but she had done her best to teach him. She even taught him how to read a few words.

Now Doug stood outside the bunker, his two parents were buried in the dirt, and he had packed a bag with the few good remaining cans of food. He tied his father’s old bandanna around his forehead; the tail blew back in the wind. His jeans were oversized but they were held up with a belt that had a strange ‘S’ symbol for a belt buckle. Doug’s boots were tattered but still intact and his blue button up shirt was missing the sleeves. He hoped to find a jacket somewhere along his travels because the days had been becoming colder and colder. In his pocket resided a small knife which he used for carving and skinning game. Hidden in the bag with the cans was what his father called a gun. He had never fired it before because his parents had been afraid of drawing attention to them but he understood its workings extremely well in practice.

The wind picked up and howled through the trees as if it was reminding him to start his journey. He felt two tears roll down his cheeks as he thought of the world without his parents a world that was completely queer to him. Then he took his first steps into this brave new world he had never explored.

After walking all day down what had once been a concrete road in the middle of the woods, Doug stopped to scratch his sprouting blonde beard. He was horrified to find small bugs Spooky Road making their home there. He quickly rubbed at his chin as hard as he could, resulting in some blood. After feeling around for a few minutes, he was satisfied with the lack of bugs. He then continued to move onwards down the road. As he grew weary, and the sun moved closer to vanishing on the horizon, he made out a small house in the distance. Some ancient part of his instincts awakened and he felt the urge to sleep under the roof instead of in the open. He also had a growing despair and fear inside him. It was a voice on the edge of his conscience telling him there was something out in the woods waiting for him, something that wanted him, and he knew his parents were not going to be there to protect him anymore.

He ran towards the house and felt his blood pump through his veins with purpose. As he neared the front door of the home, he heard something at last. He didn’t dare look back, but he knew that there was something bearing down on him fast. Doug doubled his efforts and reached the front door. He was relieved to find it open, but as the door swung open a force grabbed his back pack. Terrified, he lunged into the house ripping the straps of the bag in the process. His higher cognitive functions were gone as he crawled into the house and kicked the door shut. Something screamed in pain. He kicked the door again and this time it shut. Without thinking he moved deeper into the house and found another door that led down some stairs. It was dark and the air smelled stale, but it reminded him of home so he moved into the darkness and curled up at the bottom of the stairs scared and alone.

Sunlight awoke him. Unlike his bunker, there were windows in this one. He looked around and found an extremely comfortable and long seat. There was some kind of enormous picture frame on the wall that had no picture in it, just a black vacant background. Most Action Comics 1 surprising of all though was the strange ‘S’ symbol on his belt buckle. A man dressed in blue with a red piece of fabric coming from his back wore it on his chest. There were likenesses of him everywhere and many frames containing images of him in various poses. In one he held a green car, in another he flew above some buildings. Lying on a table near the long comfy seat, Doug found a book; it was old and smelled bad. He could read a few of the words in it and paged through it. The pictures helped him put the story together, and a memory from his father, remarking that the belt buckle was Superman’s, suddenly gave Doug a moment of clarity. Apparently, Superman had been an alien sent to Earth to fight for truth, justice and the American way after both his parents died. Doug knew what truth was; it was anything his parents had said. Justice was something his mother talked about a lot; he thought it meant balance of a kind. The time he ate too much food in the bunker his mother had punished him by not allowing him to eat the next day to make up for the food he ate; she called it justice.

American was a word Doug knew extremely well. His father and mother had both spent a lot of time discussing it. They said it was letting people do what they wanted to do. They often told him he’d have to live the American way of life after they were gone.

Doug found courage in himself as he turned through the pages and saw Superman grow up. This was someone who had lost his parents but went onto greatness. Doug continued through the old book and found Superman in love, and then fighting people who threatened or oppressed the weak. After a few hours reading, Doug found himself inspired. He mounted the stairs and returned to the front door. After a moment, he opened it and found his backpack laying virtually undisturbed on the front step. There were various tracks around the front of the house; he recognized them as coyotes, animals he had seen his father kill many times. After collecting his pack, he returned to the house and searched it room by room looking for anything of use. In a lucky turn of fortune, he found an old pistol like the one in his bag. A box of shells remained mostly full next to it. After adding these to his pack, he returned to the basement and ate his one meal of the day. He then spent the rest of the day devouring everything he could find on Superman. He wondered what had happened to him and why he was drawn in books and not photographed.

The next day, Doug knew he had to keep moving. Superman never seemed afraid or willing to stop fighting for what he believed in. He knew out there, somewhere, there were people he could help like Superman, and there were probably people who had never heard about Superman who would be astonished to learn of him. So with all of this in mind, Doug repacked his supplies in a new bag he found and added to the collection the book on Superman he had found. He walked outside unafraid and filled with wonder for the first time in his life. As he continued down the road, he knew he had to fight for the American way just like his new found idol, and off he walked down the road towards the utterly unknown.

Authors Note: If I get any interest in this story I may turn it into a serial on the site. If not then it shall remain a short story of hope in a bleak world. Happy Travels Amigos!

Gods and Men, Ch. X

March 31, 2008
By J.D. Cook

Intro   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   X

X.   Empire State Building

The pair made their way from Hazleton into New York City in a week or so. They had avoided confrontations with Loki’s forces which consisted of brain washed, former U.S. citizens. Inside the city it was hard to avoid being spotted. Tanks patrolled the streets and soldiers conducted building searches. It was a small miracle that the pair made it to the Empire State Building unseen, and they hid in a dark corridor, once inside.

Jeremiah drew all the electricity in New York City into him through a wire that ran below him. This way, no one saw the electricity fly into him which would have exposed their position. There was so much power in Jeremiah that his eye’s glowed white and he began to glow.
“Ready?” asked Don as he loaded his M-16.
“Oh yeah.” said Jeremiah as he stood up and began to walk towards Loki’s suites. The ground began to shake and many of the men began to fall to the ground. Don’s M-16 sent bullets past Jeremiah’s ear into the enemy troops. Suddenly, lightning erupted from Jeremiah, and attacked all the enemys in sight. Don ran up behind him and followed him into the building.
“Well, you handled that!” Don said, amazed.

In Loki’s suite on the top of the building, the lights suddenly went out. He got up and tried the light switch, but nothing happened. He walked to the elevator, but that didn’t work either. A flash of light came from the room he had just left. Loki ran back and looked around, deciding the flash came from outside. He looked out the window and saw that all of his perimeter security had been destroyed by waht appeared to be a massive earthquake through the city. One of the many perks of being a god, was the ability to instantly summon real-time knowledge. Loki shivered with fear as he gained knowledge that someone was in pursuit of him who carried Thor’s hammer.

The walk to the elevators was easy considering the lightning had killed or injured almost all of the enemies.
“This is where I leave you.” said Don as they reached the elevators.
“You are not coming up to tackle Loki with me?”
“Sorry. I’m not much use off the ground, but I will make sure that no more troops get upstairs.” Don ran and took up a position behind a huge desk.

Jeremiah turned but the elevator didn’t work. After a moment he realized it needed power and he supplied it. Jeremiah knew that Loki was waiting for him on the top floor.

The doors opened to a long corridor and Jeremiah walked to the end of it where there stood a lone door. He opened it and inside sat a handsome young gentleman with dark hair and dark eyes.
“Welcome back.” I thought I finished you off. That pesky Odin has something to with this, doesn’t he?”
Jeremiah stood silent.
“I bet they filled your mind with all kinds of nasty things about how I’m so bad and need to be destroyed, didn’t they?” Loki continued.
“I didn’t do anything! Look, New York is fine.” he said, motioning towards his large windows.
Outside the window was a beautiful and pristine New York skyline that hadn’t been there a second ago. “No more games, Loki! I’m going to defeat you regardless of what you say!” said Jeremiah as he charged at Loki and held Thor’s hammer ready to swing. Loki jumped up and changed into the menacing, monster form that had defeated Jeremiah a decade ealier. The hammer blow, coupled with Jeremiah’s electricity, sent Loki out the window, but Jeremiah couldn’t stop himself from falling out along with him.
“Just like old times!” shouted Loki as his wings started to propel him up again.
Jeremiah threw Thor’s hammer as he fell passed Loki and at the same time he sent the full force of New York’s electricity at him. The hammer tore one of Loki’s wings clean off. As it fell back to earth, it managed to pound Loki in the back while the electricity put a huge hole in Loki’s chest.

Don was firing shots at and disturbing the ground beneath Loki’s onrushing military personnel when he heard a huge crash outside, followed by a second. Loki’s military immediately stopped, confused at what they were doing. Don raced passed them. Outside in the street lay three figures imbedded in the concrete; A bald man with a scarred face and black robes, a plastic sillouette of a man with orange hair and strange robes, and Jeremiah.

He was laying with his arms out and blood pooling around him. Thor’s hammer landed next to him. A whirl wind came from nowhere, and swept up the body of the plastic sillouette straight into the clouds. The wind moved to the hammer and took that as well. Then it moved towards the corpse Jeremiah.

Jeremiah looked up and saw the beautiful Pruor staring down at him through a long, cloudy funnel. In an instance, she winked and the tunnel vanished, replaced by the skyline of New York City.

“He died a hero!” yelled Don falling to his knees. “HE DIED A HERO!”

“I like to think I lived as a hero!” said Jeremiah softly, standing steadily beside Don.

Works Page

Gods and Men, Ch. 9

March 31, 2008
By J.D. Cook

Intro   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   X

9.   The Hammer of Thor

Jeremiah’s eyes opened and his vision was filled with sand. He was in a desert somewhere. “Had all he had just gone through been a dream?” he thought to himself as he stood up. It was hot but dry as the sun scorched him from above. He suddenly became very self concious to the fact that he was naked. Further, on his chin was a large beard and his hair had grown well past his shoulders. “How long was I gone?”

He looked around there was a small village nearby and in the sand, just inches away, were the gloves and belt from Thor. “Guess it wasn’t a dream.” he thought.
After convincing the only local man who spoke English to loan him some cloths, Jeremiah started his journey into the desert. He had no idea where to go – the gods had left that part out. Fortunately, however, he felt almost drawn in the direction he was traveling. He was thirsty and the last thing he needed was to die and show up in Asgard again, so he arched on. When the sun set, it got extremely cold and he wished he had something warm to wear. Off in the distance he spotted a bright light.”Perhaps it’s another village.” he thought to himself as he raced over towards it.

Soon he realized that it was no village, but a small temple partially buried in sand. A flame was lit on the top but it otherwise looked deserted. Jeremiah looked into the half-buried opening. It was too dark, but there were a few pieces of wood and Jeremaih was able to fashion a makeshift torch from one. Inside the temple there was a maze of tunnels. After a few moments, he began to hear a growl and then footsteps. He wasn’t alone in this tunnel! He quickly ran back to the exit but he couldn’t find it. He was lost and soon the growl turned into a roar. It was something large. Breathing could be heard just out of the torch light.

He raised the torch and on the outskirts of the light stood a ferocious wolf. It was covered in brown fur and was not of normal height, standing nearly as tall as Jeremiah himself. The wolf’s jaws could rip his head off in one foul swoop. It barred its teeth and dove forward toward him. Jeremiah summoned his electricity in the knick of time, knocking the wolf back. He then began to run away and had to find the exit quickly. Suddenly, he was falling through the floor and soon splashed into a pool liquid. He had a horrible felling that there was something in there with him.

In the distance a small island glowed and in the center stood a mighty hammer. Jeremiah began to swim for the island when something brushed his leg. Then something he couldn’t quite make out in the dark rose out of the water and lunged for him. He again used his powers, this time electrifying the water. A horrid screech came from whatever it was that swam with him. He crawled onto the shore and walked towards the hammer. It was surrounded by some kind if electricity which, of course, had no effect on Jeremiah, who was actually energized by it. He took the hammer and felt unlimited strength. “Now I have to figure out how to get out of here.”

It took him three weeks to get to out of the desert, which he later found to be the Sahara. Then he had to find a job to earn money for a plane ticket home and, last but not least, he had to figure out how to get a hammer on a plane. He decided to work for the local airport and, after about a week, he stowed aboard a flight to London.

Once he safely got to London he found out that he had been away for nearly a decade and all of the Northeastern United States was under Loki’s control. Loki managed to capture all of New York, New Jersey, and New England, half of Pennsylvania, and parts of several other states and Canada. Initial fighting stopped seven years after Loki’s first attack at Times Square, but some dedicated soldiers continued to fight Loki after the U.S. signed a peace treaty. Don was one of these men, who called themselves the “Sons of Liberty”. They were an organized group of former military that fought against Loki’s occupying forces without the U.S. government’s consent.

It took Jeremiah another week to get aboard a flight to Pittsburgh, the nearest “free” city to the east coast. Once he landed he made his way straight to Hazleton, which was under Loki’s control, partially by bus, but mainly by foot. He made remakable time by sticking close to the power lines.

Once in Hazleton, Jeremiah was shocked to find the town in ruins. It had been the sight of a major stand against Loki and now only a few buildings remained. He wondered who was still alive that he knew. Was his parents still here? What about the girl he used to like? Out of the rubble came a small group of people. They were not normal, however, as their eyes glowed and they stank of death. When they were in view, Jeremiah realized they were covered in blood that probably wasn’t their own. He quickly ran away to hide in a building, which had once been his high school but was now little more than a few crumbled wall. The death people were drawing closer when suddenly they were thrown into the air. Jeremiah watched as the earth itself went into upheaval and opened, up swallowing them down. In the distance stood a single man in soldier attire. Jeremiah was shocked when he realized it was someone he had not seen in ages.

“Don?” called Jeremiah to the man in the distance.
“Jeremiah?” he replied back.
They both started to move closer to each other and sure enough it was Don. “I thought you were dead!” exclaimed Jeremiah.
“Likewise.” said Don. “Your Battle of Times Square is now legendary!”
After a moment, the men hugged on impulse. “Let’s forget we ever did that.” said Jeremiah jokingly.

They spent the rest of the day talking, both explaining where they had been and what they had gone through after the meteor strike. Don, who carried an M-16 rifle on his back and dual pistols at his sides, fought for six years as an Army specialist, and another three with the Sons of Liberty, before much of that group were lured into a trap and killed by Loki’s forces at Middletown. Don managed to escape death, but wandered aimlessly for a week due to a head injury. Unknowingly, he ended up in his hometown of Hazleton, and now fights alone.

So why do you carry a hammer?” asked Don, curiously.
“It’s a long story.” started Jeremiah, before retelling his adventure to Valhalla to Don.
“Dude, what are you smoking?” Don said laughing at the story as if it were a joke. “If your hammer is so special, make it do a trick?”
Jeremiah looked at his hammer and sighed. “Don’t believe me then, but it’s true. I need to know where Loki is.”
“Loki is easy to find – New York City. He’s made the Empire State Building into his headquarter fortress.”
Jeremiah got up immediately. “Well, it’s been nice seeing you again, Don. I truly am glad that you are not dead. But I’ve got a god to kill!”
Don stood up after him. “Even if you are crazy, would I ever let you go alone? You’re stuck with me now.”

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Gods and Men, Ch. 8

March 31, 2008
By J.D. Cook

Intro   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   X

8.   Valhalla

In front of Jeremiah stood a beautiful woman with long blond hair and bright blue eyes. She was dressed in armor, carried a large shield, and a long sword hung at her side.
“I am Pruor, daughter of Thor, a Valkyrie or chooser of the dead, and I am here to bring you to Valhalla.” Jeremiah could not speak. He was sure he had died but now he lived.

Suddenly, Jeremiah’s surroundings changed from a white nothing to a large forest. In front of him stood a massive wooden building inlaid with gold and silver. It was a thing of beauty. Pruor opened the door for him and Jeremiah walked up the steps into the Hall of Valhalla. Inside there were thousands of tables and men were drinking with each other. There were men far as the eye could see. There were Knights, next to Samurai, next to soldiers from World War II. All the greatest warriors of all time were dinning in Valhalla.

“Welcome to Valhalla, Mr. Dylan”, said an old man dressed in shining silver armor with a long white beard and missing an eye. He gave Jeremiah a large bear hug.
“I am Odin. Some call me the “Sky Father”, others the “Father of All”, but I prefer just Odin.” Jeremiah was in a total state of shock he had no idea what was happening.
Odin turned to Pruor and whispered, “What’s wrong with him?” Jeremiah looked around and began to wander among the tables. He stopped abruptly in front of him sat General George. S. Patton and Saigo Takamori talking like old friends. Patton noticed Jeremiah staring and looked him over.
“You! New kid! You look a little young to be here?” Jeremiah opened his mouth to answer but no words came out.
“Where are my manners? Sixty years here and you forget things. I’m George S. Patton, general of the Third Army of the United States of America.” Patton put his hand out and Jeremiah shook it.
Still in shock, he collapsed into the seat behind him. “Are you ok kid? You don’t look so good. Hey Odin! Something’s wrong with this kid.” Odin made his way over with Pruor, who leaned over and helped Jeremiah up.
“This is going to be a little hard to swallow Jeremiah, but you have died on what you call Earth.” Jeremiah collapsed again.

It wasn’t until many hours later that Jeremiah was able to speak. “What am I here for?”
Pruor smiled with his first words. “You died in battle and proved yourself to be a brave warrior. All brave warriors come to Valhalla. Odin has a plan for you.”
“I’m not brave or a warrior! I failed the people in New York!” Jeremiah put his head down.
“Who is and is not deemed brave is for me to decide.” Pruor raised Jeremiah’s head. “There was no way you could contend with Loki. He is a god of Asgard.”
“What is Asgard?” asked Jeremiah, confused.
“It is home of the Aesir, that’s us. Asgard is our world.” Pruor helped Jeremiah to his feet again. “You are an interesting human. Perhaps when we have more time, we can talk in detail. But I’m afraid we have wasted too much time already. We must act quickly to stop Loki.”
Jeremiah’s head rose. “How can I do anything? I’m dead!”
“Odin has a plan to thwart Loki, but we need your help.”
“I’ll do what ever I can.” Jeremiah still had a depressed tone but he was slightly more enthusiastic.
“Good! Then lets go see him.” Pruor led Jeremiah to Odin, who sat on a throne at the head of all the tables, which stretched to the vanishing point.

“Snapped out of your slumber finally, have you?” Odin said in a warm voice.
“Yes sir, I have. Pruor said you had a plan to stop Loki. May I help?”
“Help? My boy we need you to fight Loki for us!”
“If I’m dead, how can I fight someone who is on Earth?” Jeremiah asked perplexly.
“Oh, that’s an easy fix for me. I’ll have you down there in no time! But first I’d like to introduce my son, Thor.” A large man with bright red hair and an even brighter red beard, stepped next to Odin’s throne.
“Hello, Mr. Dylan.” said Thor.
“Thor can tell you what you need to do to defeat Loki and he’ll bring you up to speed on the full extent of what Loki is doing.” said Odin.

Thor beckoned for Jeremiah to follow him and led him to one of the tables where two ales lay waiting. Jeremiah could barely raise his mug it was so big.
“Loki is a mischievous Aesir. He has caused us trouble in the past and now he seeks to destroy us. He has used a sorcerer on Earth as a gateway to your plane. The sorcerer was working in black magic and summoning spirits when Loki appeared to him. The two struck a bargain and were joined together through Loki and the Sorcerer’s magic. Loki seeks to convert the humans on earth to his troops to use against us at Ragnarok.” Thor spoke with a booming voice that filled the Hall of Valhalla.
“What’s Ragnarok?” Jeremiah asked, intrigued by what Thor was saying.
“Ragnarok is the final battle, The Battle of Evermore, where Loki will lead his army against ours.”
“So that’s what all theses soldiers are doing here? They are part of your army.”
“Yes. We recruit the bravest and most honorable soldiers to help us fight Ragnarok.” replied Thor
“So how do we beat Loki?”
Thor’s face grew angry. “Loki did not just wreak havoc in your land he stole my hammer; Mjolnir, before he left Asgard and hid it on earth. Without it I can not defeat him. That’s where you come in. We are going to send you back to earth. First you must find my hammer. Then, and only then can you conquer Loki and send him back to Asgard where we will deal with him.”

“Ok! Lets do it! Loki won’t know what hit him!”
Thor laughed at Jeremiah’s sudden agerness. “There’s one more thing. You will need these to wield my hammer.” Thor pulled off his large gloves and handed them to Jeremiah. At first he was sure that they wouldn’t fit, but they remarkably adjusted to fit him. Then Thor handed over his belt to Jeremiah, and again it fit perfectly. Thor then lead him back to Odin.

“Are you up to speed now?” asked Odin sipping a large ale.
“Yes, I’m ready to travel back to Earth!” replied Jeremiah
Odin smiled; “Pruor. Lead Mr. Dylan to the Bifrost Bridge. He is ready.” Pruor crept up behind Jeremiah and nodded in recognition.

It took only a short walk to reach the Bifrost Bridge.
“Thanks for all your help, Pruor.” said Jeremiah.
“It was an honor to serve a warrior like yourself. I shall await your return. Hopefully it won’t be too soon.”
He turned to face the bridge. “So I just walk over this and it brings me back to Earth?”
Jeremiah looked around but Pruor was gone. In front of him stretched a rainbow that arched towards the familiar Earth. He looked at the rainbow, uncertain if he should take the next step. “Well, I’ve already died.” he thought.

Jeremiah stepped onto the bridge and was swept away.

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Gods and Men, Ch. 7

March 31, 2008
By J.D. Cook

Intro   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   X

7.   War Child

Don awoke in a deserted field. He got up and looked around, but had no clue where he was. His body felt remarkably good even though he knew a meteor had propelled him into the air. He stretched out and started to walk in a random direction. Clothes barely clinging to him, Don emerged from a small wooded area and notice a diner lay across a street stretching past the trees. Inside it was empty but there was some water in a fridge in the back of the kitchen, which he drank down quickly. Outside a rumble was heard and Don raced to the doorway.

A convoy of tanks was rolling down the street, which came to a shuddering halt upon seeing Don. The top hatch of the closest tank opened and a man dressed in military camouflage wearing a large helmet stood out of it.
“Don’t you know this area’s been evacuated?” asked the military man.
“What? I…” Don had no clue what was going on.
“This area’s been evacuated! Do you have a way to get out of here?”
“No.” said Don, not understanding what was going on.
“Hop in. We’ll give you a ride to the nearest base.”
Don climbed up and hopped into the tank. On the ride to the base the men explained what was going on and Don realized that he had been unconscious for eight months. A mad man by the name of Loki was attacking the U.S. from New York City, which he had turned into his capital.

Once they got to the base Don thought about what he should do now that things had changed so drastically. He first attempted to contact his relatives but then he found out where they lived, in Binghamton NY, was under Loki’s control. Then he tried his best friend Jeremiah, but the number had been disconnected. Finally, he found out where the military base he was at was located. He currently stood in a base on the outskirts of Allentown, Pa. Without many other options, Don decided to join up with the military and fight back.

Due to the immediate urgent-ness of the situation, Don was admitted after a short training and he was sent straight to the front lines, fighting in the ruins of Philadelphia. It was there when he discovered an awesome new gift. He was able to feel the earth as if it were an extension of his body. In the heat of combat he didn’t have time to think about what this meant, he just acted. The ground shook and already decrepit, war-torn buildings began to collapse. The enemy was vanquished, but the U.S forces had lost too many troops to hold the city and retreated. Once back at a small base outside Philadelphia, Don practiced his new power and honed it. He would be a valuable soldier in the fight against Loki.

When the army found out about Don’s power, they immediately began using him to stop enemy troop movements. He would collapse vital bridges and tear up roads. His biggest mission came when he destroyed an entire enemy base. This drew the attention of Loki himself who came after Don during his next mission. He was supposed to stop enemy supplies from reaching their target, but when he arrived to stop them he was attacked by Loki. Don attempted to shoot him but the bullets had no effect and Don was forced to flee before he could complete his mission. As a result, the U.S. forces lost their next major battle at Hazleton. After the loss of Hazleton, Loki’s forces overwhelmed most of the other defenses set up against them.

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