Friday, July 22, 2016

Young Mad Scientists In Love: "The New Team" - Part 1

Whew, that's a long title.  The first part is the series title, the next is this story title and then I've broken this story up into six parts.  I hope you enjoy.
Young Mad Scientists in Love
"The New Team"

Part 1:  Guard, Guard This

“Nic, I know you're new here so I want to show you some tricks I've picked up over the years," John Smith was a round bald man who's patchy mustache was his pride and joy. 

"Yes, John," Adrian Nicomedia had only been working for Consolidated Securities Inc. for a week, but Smith's script was already starting to replay sections.  They were part of the night shift and were walking their rounds at Acme High Tech Industries.

“When you’re patrolling the grounds you gotta be on your toes."

Nicomedia was internally saying, “Blah blah blah.”

Acme was a huge company with a wide campus of several buildings and their own network of roads.

"You gotta look in every nook and cranny.  Someone could break in and be hiding in every or any shadow.  I mean a burglar could be,” he shrugged and swept his flashlight over the sidewalk and over the curb into the shadow there, “hiding in the shadow of the curb right there.”  The flashlight shined on a young man lying in the shadow.  “Like that one!”

The man leaped to his feet, waved at someone in the shadow of a nearby building and ran off.  The man in the shadow was a huge hulking mountain of a man who could easily hide in the shadow of a multi-story office building, but not a curb.  He lumbered off in the same direction as the smaller man.

“Freeze!”  Smith shouted and let loose two shots after both men.  They seemed to have no effect.

"Get the big one," Smith said as they began the pursuit.

The smaller man kept looking back as he ran to check on the big man. 

“Yes sir.”

Suddenly the big man darted right.  The smaller man sensing they were going their separate ways slipped up a few gears and flew off straight up the street.

Nicomedia turned to follow her man, “Don’t lose yours,” she said.  Smith groaned at his choice and tried to pick up his pace.

The big man ran to a nearby building, Nicomedia followed.  Inside the first door was a second door with a key card scanner.  The man turned to face Nicomedia with his hands up to fight.

“Crap,” she breathed.  “Come with me quietly now, sir.”

In answer he gave a massive roundhouse.  She saw it coming and ducked under it.  Bent over she took the two steps the vestibule afforded and hit him in the gut with her full weight.  He staggered back until he was against the inner door and folded.

She took a step back and said, “Come quietly with me now, sir.”

He started to rise, fists held out in the ready.  She knew if he got up and was able to land a few good punches he could finish her in no time.  As he lifted his head she had to make a split second decision.

She slammed her right fist into the side of his face.  He groaned and his head fell.

“Will you come along quietly now, sir?”

Up he came again, hands and head rising.

She gave him another massive shot.  He flopped back down.  Her hand hurt.

“Come quietly now, sir.”

He grunted louder, more angry and started to rise.  She hit him with her left hand.

He flopped back down, this time to his knees.  She hit him again, “Stay down.  Put your hands behind your back and lay down.  Sir.”

He collapsed completely.  His arms flopped at his side and he grunted quietly in a high pitch.  Nicomedia was breathing heavily; she looked down and saw blood all over the back of the man’s shirt.  She bent down and pulled his shirt up.  There, just above the belt was a gunshot entry wound.

He whimpered on the floor.

“Did you get shot in the back?”

He nodded with snot and tears running down his face.  He moved his mouth but only noises came out.

“Sir, are you alright?”

He shook his head and tried to talk again.

“Can’t you talk?”

The man whimpered and slowly shook his head.

“Oh shit,” she grabbed her radio and called for help.  Eventually Smith and the ambulance showed up.

“What the hell happened?”  Smith asked bewildered.  Nicomedia was tall and broad.  She was older for a new hire because of prior military service.  Still Smith was surprised the thirty seven year old amazon could take the mountain of a man.

“Seems one of your shots hit home.  When I pushed him against the inner door the handle pushed the bullet against his spinal column.  Every time he tried to surrender he could only lift his hands a little and couldn’t rise above waist level.”

Smith guffawed, “So, you beat the crap out of a paralyzed man?”

“How was I supposed to know, wait, where’s your guy?”

“I’m calling the boss,” Smith pulled out his cell.

Later that day Nicomedia and Smith sat outside the guard commander’s office awaiting their fate.  The Duty Sergeant, Lieutenant and the commander had been talking for ten minutes before they called her in.

“Adrian Nicomedia,” the commander began, “Twenty year Army MP veteran, several tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, Purple Heart and Bronze Star.  You are a natural for this job.”  She closed the personnel file and opened a file containing a single sheet of paper, the beginning of the report of the night’s activities.

“Two men compromised the security of our facilities, stole highly sensitive data as well as several small but very valuable pieces of equipment.  You and your partner lost one of the men and you assaulted a badly wounded man, further wounding him,” she looked up at Nicomedia, “I had such high hopes for you.”


“Well.  Mr. Jones, the wounded man you beat senseless, has already begun proceedings to sue our company.”

“He’s suing us?”

“This is true.  Unfortunately you know what else is true?  John Smith is the nephew of Consolidated Securities CEO, Matilde Smith.  He’s also the grandson of the chairman of the board of Acme High Tech Industries Inc., you know, the company our company is guarding?”

“I know who they are.”

“Look, Adrian, I like you.  I think you should be working for a guard company somewhere, that’s why I’m sending in a recommendation to a headhunter that contacted us about you for a company they are working for, MSL Inc.”

“You want me to be working somewhere?”

“Someone has to go down for this, you do understand?  We need a goat.”


Friday, July 15, 2016

"The Case of Reverse Engineering" Part 1

This is the first of three parts of a story I wrote.  It is a horror homage to John Carpenter's The Thing, the movie The Thing from Another World and the John W. Campbell story "Who Goes There."

It is set in the Lovecraftian 1950s world of Richman and Kostka.

"The Case of Reverse Engineering"

I walked into the outer room of the upstairs offices of Richman and Kostka Investigations.  The desk and the whole room had everything in its place, except my partner, Periwinkle "Winkle" Kostka.  At ten on a Thursday morning this was something of a surprise.  I hadn't been by the office in a while, but I was sure she didn't have case at the moment.

I walked to the door leading to the inner office, nominally mine.  I swung it open with no warning.

"Hey Mister Moneybags, you can't just waltz in here like you own the joint," she glanced over her shoulder with a smile, but kept facing away.

"I do," I said, and I did.  Although mine was the name was on top on the door I was just the bankroll and the license, Winkle was the sleuth.  She had a mind like no other, and the determination of a bulldog.  She was beautiful, no lie.  She had brilliant violet eyes and her curly, butter-yellow hair had been wrangled into a ponytail.  She was about five seven with an athletic build.  I don't know where she hid them, but she certainly had muscles to spare for anyone who got on her wrong side.

"I was just changing," she opened a file cabinet that was really a wardrobe and pulled out a satin aqua top.  "Could I have a minute?"

"Sure," I backed out of the office.  "I just came by because I have a gala luncheon I have to attend and Elle is out of town."

"And you want me to sub for the Mrs. as your escort?"  She asked, looking over her shoulder.

"Technically, I would escort you, it's a society thing."

"Where is this gala?"

"My alma mater, Pattell."

Both her eyebrows shot up, "I seriously doubt anything at that pile of bricks could be called a, 'Gala.'"

"Well, it'd be a safe bet everyone there voted for General Eisenhower last November.  It's a fundraiser and Allah knows they could use the money."

"What time is this gala?"

"Eleven to two."

"You wearing that?"

I was wearing one of my better double breasted gray suits with a blue paisley tie, "Yes."

"I should just be able to get ready in time, if you shoo."

True to her word, in less than fifteen minutes she met me in the outer office.  Her hair was up in a wide brimmed hat.  She wore an aqua suit dress with cream satin shirt and a turquoise choker.

The lunch was catered from the University President's own staff at the Student Union main ball room.  The food was top notch and the room was bright and gay.  It was decked out in the school colors of scarlet and orange with yellow accents.  There were a dozen round tables of eight.  The centerpieces were some sort of penguin ice sculptures and Jacob's Ladder machines.  The theme was a complete mystery to me.  The head table was on a dais across from the entrance.  A jazz quintet was hopping in one corner and the bar was in another.  Most of the guests seemed to be in the bar quadrant and I made my way there.

I was wrong about the Ike supporters because there was a good representation from the academic staff too.  I spotted the University President and Chancellor, the Deans of the College of Science and the College of Medicine, the heads of the Physics, Engineering and Biology Departments; all heavy hitters in the school.

I also recognized the money, several of the other regular supporters and some others I knew by reputation and or the Stock Exchange.  All the brains, beauty and power were represented.  I was sure Winkle and I were bringing up the caboose of this money train.

"Captain Viktor Richman," thin hands clamped my shoulders.  "You shouldn't have come.  This is a very dangerous time," a woman's voice rasped in my ear.

I turned to face Doctor Judy Gottschalk, PhD Anthropology.  Bone thin in a black dress, she took a drag of her cigarette.  "I have a very bad feeling.  Why are you here?"

"We're not attending this soiree as detectives if that's what you're asking.  I'm a sustaining contributor to the school."  

"Hello Doctor Gottschalk," Winkle said, "What's the problem, Vik?"

I grunted and pointed at Gottschalk.  She looked back and forth at us while taking long drags.  When she exhaled she said, "Do you know why they threw this fundraiser?"

"The usual reasons?"

She sucked in a visible amount of her cigarette, held it and exhaled the smoke through her nostrils, "It's something specific and I'm not at all comfortable with it."

Just then the bell rang for us all to take our seats.

Gottschalk put out her cigarette as I helped her with her chair, "Have you heard anything about Antarctic Research Facility Number Four?"

Winkle and I shook our heads.

"Apparently they had some trouble last year, several men died and they were stranded for almost a month, by the time the Air Force got to them all but a handful were dead and half the base was a smoking ruin."

"Was it a disease; mental illness; natural disaster?"

"It was a disaster all right.  I don't know how natural it was.  The Air Force started an investigation and salvaged some documents and samples.  They think the expedition dug up, found something," she whispered.  "Only six out of the original staff of thirty seven survived and two of them were committed to a mental hospital when they got back.  Two of the physicists were from Pattell, Earnest Melitene and Claude Allouez.  They're at the head table."

"Physicists, Antarctica; how are you, an Anthropologist connected to this?"

"I was brought in to work on the language."

"Language?  What was it the expedition found?"

Gottschalk leaned in because some of the others at the table were starting to eye us, "Extraterrestrials."

"Extraterrestrials or evidence of them?"


"Ladies and gentlemen, your attention please," University President Ferrini said.  "We have so very much to talk about and I'm so very excited.  While they are getting the salad ready I just wanted to let you all know a few things.  Some of you already know what our lunch today is all about, but for most of you this has been a mystery.  I am excited and proud to tell you now exactly why we are meeting today."

Between Ferrini's speech, the clinking of the salad plates and the nearly silent execution I almost missed it.  The porters shut all the doors except those that led to the kitchens.  It was only the mistimed click of one lock that alerted me as they secured the room.  My head spun.  When I turned back I noticed Winkle had heard it too.  She gave me a look of heightened guard.

"We are here to celebrate and support our wildly successful Antarctic mission of last year, headed by Professor Melitene."

Melitene stood and waved at the crowd who applauded politely.  He was a small man with a very large moustache.  He was rather round with a round body, round head and round glasses.  He looked in no way capable of wintering in Chicago let alone Antarctica.

"Wildly successful," Gottschalk muttered.  She gulped her champagne and clandestinely reached for her neighbor's.

"Professor Melitene and his colleague Professor Allouez made the most remarkable discovery while studying magnetism.  I don't want to spoil their presentation but let me just say there are implications the discovery of two of this university's staff will no less than change our entire world and way of life.  We are here to learn about their discovery and how we at Pattell University can support the further developments of technology that will revolutionize transportation and energy, as well as open an entire universe of opportunities."

The room applauded as madly as those stuffed shirts ever got mad.  President Ferrini took a short bow before sitting down and letting us hit the feedbag before the main briefing.

"What was that?"  Winkle asked, "Alien technology?"

Gottschalk nodded and looked around the room, at the sealed doors and the floor to ceiling windows streaming in golden sunlight, melting the centerpieces.  "You're armed right; please tell me you're armed."

She only really mouthed the words, no sound came out.  Only Winkle and I were aware of what she was asking.  We both pat the locations of our pieces.

"Pft, for all the lot of good it will do," she forked her salad and shook her head.  Winkle and I shared a shrug and ate in silence for a while.

Judy Gottschalk and I met when she was a nurse in the Philippines during the war.  Not only was she a combat nurse, but she was working for the OSS, having taught herself just about all the languages in the Pacific.  She was one of their most valuable sources of information coming from patients; both enemy and civilian.  She had seen things out there.  If she was shaken by whatever we were talking about today, then it had to be well worth shaking.

I didn't know just what it was so I started making plans for gathering intelligence through the subterfuge, fighting, escaping; or maybe all three.

Winkle looked around the table at the other guests, two couples of elder school supporters and old Professor Joseph Douglas of Mathematics who kept falling asleep.  She leaned in to Gottschalk, "Was what you were translating alien?"

"They gave me a box of all sorts of things, most seemed like notes and schematics drawn by hand, although there were a very few pieces of metal with markings on them."

"Did you figure out what they said?"

"Mostly it wasn't a human language, but there was part of a diary I think by a scientist named Blair.  That seemed to be a mixed bag.  I got the furthest with that."

"What did it say?  What did they find?"

"Like I said, it mostly wasn't about their find, more like notebooks for machinery, and some math notes, I had to hand that part off to someone like old Joe here."  

"It was very interesting too," Professor Douglas chirped in.  He was to my left while Gottschalk was on my right.  I don't know how the old bird heard, because I was having a hard time following.

"What was it, Professor?"  Winkle asked.

"Engineering, almost entirely engineering calculations.  The notation was strange, different, but I recognized some of the basic universal calculations.  I saw no reason whatsoever to conclude aliens were involved," he ended the sentence snoring at his soup.

"Old codger doesn't know what he was looking at.  The language I saw was like no other on Earth."

"What were the schematics for?"

"I couldn't tell, but I think it was this Blair fellow who wrote them.  What concerns me most is that I think Blair was communicating with the alien."

"You mean there are aliens on Earth now?"

"I couldn't tell.  I do think they found alien bodies and alien tech.  I have no idea how Blair could have been communicating with them, but I'm sure he wasn't the source of the calculations or the schematics.  He must have just been transcribing them."


"He was a pathologist.  What really frightens me most is from the time the Air Force was alerted until the time they made it down to relieve the camp was when the bulk of the killing and damage was done.  At first there may have been accidents, but that second part, that was all anthropogenic."

I looked at Winkle.  She opened her mouth to talk, but Gottschalk explained, "Man-made."

They swapped out our salads for entrees.

"They killed each other over this alien and technology," I asked.

"Yes and it was our two boys," Gottschalk nodded her head toward the head table, "that came out on top."

"Those two?"

"Unbelievable, right?"

(to be continued)

Friday, July 01, 2016

On the Road Again, Again

Remember a week and a half ago I posted a picture of a school bus?  Now you will finally find out about that school bus.  

Weigh Over
It is yellow like a bus

When we were getting ready to leave Fort McCoy to fly to Afghanistan we had to get on a bus to go to the plane.  Most of us got on a school bus with our "carry-on" gear and were sent to the scale.  There was some worry that we would be over our weight limit, but our S4 kept reassuring everyone that we would run out of space before we went over weight.  He would say, "We'll cube-out before we weigh-out."

I have to mention that this S4 worked for the Illinois Army National Guard full time, was a Major and was eventually convicted of a felony involving embezzlement.

We packed everyone below the rank of LTC onto the bus each with a very full duffel bag, personal weapon, helmet, body armor, mask and LBE.  I was stuffed at the back, immobile under my bags and equipment.  I slide the window down to breathe,

On the scale we paused and several people were getting on and off, walking around.  The members of our unit that didn't have to do through the weigh-in were full timers, O5 and over, and Sergeants Major.

Some supply NCO got on the bus after a little while and said we had gone over our weight  limit.  He told everyone to pass their magazines up to be collected into a box.  I don't know how these loaded magazines were going to get to Afghanistan, if not on our plane, but I didn't question it.  We all helped them collect our ammo.

We waited again.

After another little while the Sergeant got on the bus again and said we were still over our limit,  Now their solution was for us all to empty our canteens out the windows.  This seemed ridiculous to me, so when I saw one of our LTCs walking bay I shouted out the window, "Sir, how far over the limit are we?"

He responded, "About seven thousand pounds."

More than three tons, we were over by more than three tons and someone thought we could make it by emptying our canteens?

I decided I was not going to bother to try to get to my canteen, unhook it and figure out a way to reach the window to hold the canteen out and empty it.  I told everyone on the bus of my intentional procrastination.  The NCO had already left the bus so I couldn't tell him.

Several minutes later someone got on the bus and said we were fine and were moving out.

I guess someone had a very large thumb on the scale.  Maybe.  I'll never know what happened, but it was probably somewhere between incompetence and corruption.

Do you hate school buses as much as I do?

Καλό Μήνα, Road! Nice to Meet You.

Well, here we are in July already, and a Friday no less.  Happy month (κάλο μήνα as the Greek's say)

What's my new weekly blogging schedule, you ask?  I'm ready to tell you.

It's a simple plan:
  1. Week 1:  Military post
  2. Week 2:  Stand-alone story
  3. Week 3:  Serial story
  4. Week 4:  Admin (aka blogging about blogging) or a rant
  5. Week 5 (if there is one):  Anything Goes (a joke, or comedy maybe)
I will post on Fridays.

That's the plan and I am poised to move forward with it.


My eldest and I were rear-ended yesterday evening.  See the lovely picture?  This didn't really affect this blog, however it does allow me a story that I will classify as an, "Anything Goes."

To the point, we all have plans to hit the road, but sometimes the road hits back.  July has five Fridays and I was prepared with a post for this Friday (today), but I was worried that because I only just posted Wednesday I'd be actually too speedy in this early going.  I mean two post in a week after half a year of nothing doesn't get you, the readers prepared and in place for the new schedule.

Did I mention that it is July already and it is also Friday?

I am going to shift the schedule for this month.  I don't want to keep it this way because there are very few months with five weeks.  I'm going to consider next week as the first week, and post my next military story then (it is written already).  I hope you will all be ready for it.

I know what you're thinking, what is bugging you, what has you curious beyond words, you need to know.

You are just going to have to wait until next week to find out about that bus.

Oh, you want to know about the accident yesterday?  As it happened we were stopped at a red light, not unlike this blog, and when it turned green we were struck by someone who just wasn't paying enough attention (not unlike this blog?).  Everyone is uninjured and my vehicle is drivable, but I can't raise the tailgate so anyone hoping for a visit from Ferris will just have to wait until, "Sunshine" is repaired.

Who is Ferris, and who is Sunshine?  Would you like to know?

Do you like my plan? Do you have any suggestions?