Category Archives: Fantasy

Aliens, Billy Jingo and a free space story from Dell Sweet

Posted by Dell 04-20-2017

so, what about a story about a one legged alien who goes in search of a late night meal, say… Chinese, but, the kicker, when he says Chinese he really means Chinese… so he goes to the bus stop near his home… he lives with a little old lady and her thirty seven cats… too bad he didn’t have a taste for cat, but that’s another story…

so… anyway, he hits the bus stop because, well, because he’s found quick meals there before. And low and behold, there is a young Asian person there but upon striking up a conversation he finds they are Korean… So the alien has to ask himself, does he feel like changing his selection to Korean? Well, does he?

Hey, good morning! Happy Thursday, one day closer to the end of the week. This morning I will give you a look at Star Dancer, a short story selection from Billy Jingo. I hope you enjoy it. This short story has been turned into a novel over the last few months because it just pulled at me that much. I finished up the actual writing a few days back and am debating where to go next. It is an interesting book. I hope you enjoy the short story version of it and please check out the link for Billy Jingo at the end…


Billy Jingo

Collected Short Stories

Billy Jingo: Collected Short Stories is Copyright © 2014 Dell Sweet

Copyright © 2014 by Dell Sweet All rights reserved

Cover Art © Copyright 2015 Wendell Sweet

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your bookseller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

LEGAL

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

This novel is Copyright © 2014 Wendell Sweet and his assignees. The Name Dell Sweet is a publishing construct used by Wendell Sweet. Portions of this text are copyright 2010, and 2011, all rights reserved by Wendell Sweet and his assignees. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s or assignees permission.

Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.


This Material IS Copyright Protected

This Material is NOT edited for content



STAR DANCER

PROLOGUE

Universal Planet Time was part of the Space Travel Treaty signed into planetary law back in 2050 when regular cargo trips had begun between the moon bases and the first private colonies on Mars. Of course now there are dozens of colonies on Mars, Venus and Jupiter’s moons: Plus six major colony cities on the moon, and new colonies are being proposed daily to the space council.

Universal time meant that space ran on a different non-changing schedule from the Earth. Space time ran twenty-four hours, and business was always conducted seven days a week. There was no down time, only changing crews, flight coordinators, colony station personnel. Space was the biggest cash venture on Earth. It was what had pulled the global economy from the slump and severe depression at the beginning of the century, and it was still growing.

The technology had been ready for a very long time, there had simply been no economic stimulus to begin the push. Men and women with the money and the fortitude to put that push on and get the entire global community involved and interested: After that initial global push the speculators had poured onto the scene. Then the serious investors, then the corporations, and the industry had been born. And as the saying goes, nobody has looked back since.

ONE

Earth Date: 2096 – 08 -25 – 16:21:43

Moon Base 14: United Planet Technologies

Intra Flight Systems: Star Dancer

Michael Watson

I purchased Star Dancer right after college, and I’ve never looked back. I can remember my great-grandfather, gone now for more than forty years, talking about what he had, had for opportunities right out of high school. That would be laughable now. My parents had, had my life mapped out from the age of two. Life Mapping was a serious thing, I don’t know any that don’t have their lives mapped out now from birth.

School was not complete without college. You could not be licensed to work the counters of Planet Burger unless you had two years of college. My own career had taken four years of specialty college and geared trade school from the first grade on. When other first graders were learning about monetary systems and world level banking, I was learning about Star Drives and ION Propulsion units.

The grades, one through twelve, start at age three and last on average seven years. Some fall behind, some spring ahead, but by ten years of age most are ready and I was no exception. I began my specialized training, four years, four more years of global military service after that with an option for six more, which I declined, and I am pretty sure made my instructors very happy by doing so, and so at the old age of eighteen I signed a twenty year funding commitment for Star Dancer. At the time I was sure I would never dig myself out of thirty million credits of debt, but for the last two years I have been watching credits build in my accounts.

Today I was docking at UPT on Fourteen to pick up a four year re-supply for a prison colony at Mars-Twenty-Seven: Some kind of Tech drop for Colony One, and two panel pre-fab labs for IO’s base six.

Moon Base Fourteen is United Planet Technologies own base. There is not much else here; a small cafeteria, some lounges for through travelers, each progressively worse than the last: The best being Vic’s, and Vic’s was the only official bar, the other two were simply overlooked. That could happen at a base that was not really a base at all, but a company town.

I had, had the tour before, and short of taking on a small crew, and maybe a new navigator to replace the one I had been without for the last seventeen months, I would be here only long enough to fuel, be unloaded and then loaded and once I was re-supplied I’d be off: So there would be no downtime in the next twenty-four.

The crew was a transport crew. In other words, a company crew that would accompany me to all three of the offloads, do all the offloading and on loading. I would be coming back to Fourteen with a full load of finished products bound for Earth. They would pack it all, all I had to do was bring it back.

On my last stop, IO, I’d lose the crew. That would leave me alone for the return trip, unless of course I signed a navigator today. So far out of twenty possibles I had, had only five show up, and out of the five three turned me down. I turned the other two down. So if I was a betting man, and I am usually, I’d say the odds were that I would be riding this trip alone.

I eased my ship into dock. Some go with the auto-nav, but I have heard too many horror stories about out of phase computers, last second power surges and more to trust my ship to the machines. I do it myself. I have known how to do it since third grade in the flight sims. Microsoft had the best federally approved space flight sims, and my parents had made sure I got the best.

I gave my reverse thrusters a quick slap with my palm at three hundred feet out and watched my lock coupler drift home with nothing more than a small frame vibration when I went green on lock-in. I keyed my overhead.

“Central, I’m locked on 6B… Standing by for loading, over…”

“Green on my board, Dancer… Unlocking for loads… You have company standing by, Dancer.”

“Oh yeah?” That was a surprise.

“Uh… Lounge seven… Navigator?”

“Oh, okay, right… Send him right up, and thank you.”

“Uh, her.”

“Her?”

“Oh yeah… Pretty sure, unless I’m blind.” He chuckled.

“Huh… Supposed to be…” I punched the name up on my scheduling screen. “Pete Stanovich.”

“Uh huh… Short for Petra, no doubt… Petra Stanovich… See, you must have heard the Pete part and not the tra part.” He chuckled again.

“Someone screwed up… It’s entered as Pete in the com. Okay send her up then, and thanks.”

“Coming at you… Base out.”

I clicked off and sighed. This meant number twenty-one was most likely a wash too. Most women who interviewed for the job were not interested once they realized it was an intra-galaxy, or system cruiser, and one that was considered a dinosaur of a ship. About all I did have to offer was transferable credits for Federal space-work. I had what was called time for time credit. A perk because I had done my four in the service and never deactivated my six. That meant technically the feds could still pick me up for that six any time they wanted to. In exchange, it meant that I could offer my employees who were fresh out of military service time for time credit. A young navigator would have to be fresh out of military service, or within their benefit time window, thus making them eligible for the time. The time would count directly as military experience in advanced navigation. A big plus, but maybe not worth the two year minimum hitch on my ship.

Even so it was a good perk, and the past three navigators I had hired were immediately picked up for star ship service at the end of their contracts. It was both my ace in the hole and my queen of spades.

I unbuckled, thought about it, and then keyed my Com-Link

“Unlocked, central, and could you delay my visitor by twenty?”

“Be at least that… Problem?”

“No… That’ll work… Out.”

He keyed his Com-Link as an answer. I flicked the unlock switches for the cargo holds, electronically signed my security certificate to allow off loading and loading and headed for the showers and fresh clothes. I may as well make the best impression that I can, I reasoned.

Earth Date: 2096 – 08 – 25 16:27:14

Moon Base Fourteen: Visitor Lounge seven

United Planet Technologies:

Petra Stanovich

I could see the bar through the glass wall, I suppose that was the idea, but the last thing I needed before the interview was a drink.

This would be my fourth interview: Each interview had started good and then spiraled downward. I supposed my job broker was doing the best he could though. I had no experience. My parents had used all of their remaining influence to get me into the military after two years training school. I had worked out of field for the last two years, a bad mistake. You became obsolete fast as a navigator. I had been considering using my six on the back and going back into the military side of the feds. There would be plenty of navigators and pilot positions there. The out of field work had really put me in a bad position, and if I went to the Military side of the feds I could forget ever having a civilian career.

The only good thing about this particular position was that it was a time for time position. It would count as military time; restart my clock and qualify me for something better down the line.

Time for time did not take away from my on the back time, it added to my military experience instead: So my two years became four years, and two more became six. In that sense it was a good opportunity, but nothing else about this position looked good at all.

I had watched the Star Dancer dock: A twenty-eight year old Intra-Cruiser. Straight cargo. She was shaped like a giant box with rounded corners. The propulsion units, ION drives and living quarters sat atop the box, rounded, slightly flattened spheres looking as though they had been added as an afterthought. I had thought, ‘How many of these were left in service?’ … ‘Two?’ … ‘Three?’ … A quick check of my wrist pad showed me just how wrong I was. There were over ten thousand Intra-Class cruisers of this configuration in service right now. That was mind boggling. I had assumed that the heavy Star-Cruisers were what dominated the heavens, but I was wrong. The same link gave me the data for that configuration: Only slightly more than four thousand, and out of that number only one hundred twenty-eight were licensed as Star Cruisers, the rest were Galaxy-Cruisers, short run re-supply craft, and drone craft for quantum travel. The antiquated Intra-Cruisers far outnumbered the Galaxy-Cruisers of the official Federal fleets. Maybe the whole thing could be a plus, I thought.

I watched the huge, plastic outer wall. I saw loading was already taking place on the cruiser. Two hatches were open, and company workers in full radiation suits could be seen inside the cargo bays.

Rows of lights lit the space. It yawned open like a cavern, far into the interior of the ship; so far that I could not see the end of the space. All the approaching shuttles and even the workers all seemed to be moving in slow motion. Space did that. It seemed to take forever for something to actually happen: A shuttle to close the pace to a dock facility; a worker to push off and then maneuver with suit thrusters to their next work station.

On the other hand, I had stopped watching twice, chasing thoughts in my head, and when I had turned back so much had happened that I was surprised. More support shuttles towing cargo barges had shown up: Teams of workers riding on the open barges for their short trip to their work stations. The whole ship was crawling with workers: Inspectors, mechanics and repair persons. Seen from this perspective it made the Intra-Cruiser appear to be a very important ship after all. I shook my head. It was still thirty year old technology. If I was offered the job, and I hoped I was, I would stay no more than the required two years to get my career back on track… Nothing more, if I did stay longer the technology curve would pass me by. That was the last thing I needed. I would have absolutely nothing left to fall back on, and that was bad. That was how the prison colonies were populated.

The prison colonies had started with the undesirables: Murderers, rapists, predators that were deemed unfit for society: As the colonies grew they moved on down the criminal line to fill them. Multiple offenders, thieves, and other criminals. Finally, the prisons on Earth were emptied and all prisoners were re-located off Earth.

The real estate on Earth was suddenly deemed too expensive to use for housing them. Yes, correctional services was still a cash cow, but it was simply moved off planet. Earth’s citizens did not want their criminals living among them. The colonies on Mars, IO and Venus were perfect for penal colonies. All the first off Moon colonies had been founded by, and built by prisoners.

It had worked perfectly, and long before the massive death tolls and horrid conditions came to light, the Feds had perfected living condition requirements and buildings that could withstand life in those places. What was past, was past, those that write history shape history they say, and it had been that way, I knew.

The changes and colonies had come at the expense of some ninety-two thousand inmates and political prisoners. Earth’s citizens turned away their blind eyes, happy that those prisoners were not a blight upon the Earth itself, walking among them in some cases. Glad to risk lives that were not their own for progress.

It left a bad taste in my mouth, but my own position was not much better. Last year both of my parents were killed in a random terrorist attack on their building. It happened about twice a month somewhere in the world. There were so many factions opposed to the unified Federal Global Government.

Truth be told, I didn’t like it myself. It scared me in its impersonal approach to life and death, human rights. Two years before it had become a world class felony to be found homeless. Picked up and convicted, the offenders were deported off-world to one of the penal colonies. An unspecified sentence which was a black mark forever, and then usually an offer of half pay to work at some back water colony base, or new base construction project, with little or no law.

The new law affected me because I was not yet a viable worker, and the government had seized all of my parents property and assets for unpaid Life Taxes: Poor planning on their parts. I was, essentially, homeless, living on my two year service benefit. That benefit entitled me to free government housing, education and job placement: Meals, as well as a small monthly credit allowance, but it was not indefinite. It would continue for three years, four if I applied for the extension. Time was running out.

Of course, worse come to worse, I would re-enlist before I would allow myself to slip into an illegal existence and be shipped off to some penal colony. It was still far from a happy existence for me. Better if I got this job. I needed to get this job.

I turned my attention back to the infra-cruiser and saw that the first two shuttles had arrived in the first cargo hold and were off loading. If I were on that ship it would be my job to monitor that off-loading and re-loading as it occurred. I would be doing my pre-flight checks as I did it. I would probably be thinking about my first off-planet trip. I had never seen Mars, Venus or IO except in video clips.

My concentration was broken when I heard my name announced over the loud speaker system in the lounge; I got up, gathered my case and headed for converse four as instructed. It was easy enough to find. Ten minutes later I was strapped into a battered dock shuttle on my way to the Star Dancer.

Earth Date 2096-08-25 16:52:58

Star Dancer

Michael

I got a good look at Petra as I flagged her through the air-locks: All fresh air; your basic space bug, Earth bug delouser unit. People had, at one time, believed that space was sterile. A few serious contaminations early in the century had stopped that. Of course the process rendered you sterile. It was the same, male or female. The price you paid, so you banked your eggs or your sperm and didn’t give it any more thought. Space travel, constant radioactive exposure, caused all sorts of birth defects. It only made sense.

She was tall, blue-black hair, high cheekbones. Russian. The hair had to be died, but it suited her face, which was hard edged and a little angular. Something past pretty, but less than beautiful… Maybe, I decided.

I had read her information over twice as I had waited for transport. I had picked up the lounge seven video feed, so I knew who I was looking at, matching the details with what I read.

She was on thin ice. About a year left on her military benefits and she would be declared homeless, and probably insolvent shortly after that. Her only choices were military services or a foot in the door somewhere. I had no doubt she would use that as a stepping stone, but it would set up my operations with Star Dancer for the next two years, and I needed the stability back.

Top ten percent of her classes. Short on military experience, only a two year plan. Fluent in twelve languages, double the average. She had no political advantages, so she had no opportunities in the corporate world. She needed me, it seemed, as much as I needed her.

I buzzed her through the last lock. Flushed the air, and then keyed my Com-Link.

“I’ve sent the El for you. It’s a slow go traveling three hundred decks, but it’s programmed to bring you to the bridge. I’ll see you in about twenty minutes, Miss Stanovich.”

She turned her dark eyes to the camera. “Thank you.”

Star Dancer Bridge

17:13:22

Michael

“Full gravity?” Petra asked as she stepped from the El. I had met her at the elevator door and we were walking the curved and window ported outer hallway that ringed the central area.

“It’s magnetic, and yes it’s full-time… Doe it feel like Earth?”

“Very much so… I didn’t…” She colored.

I laughed. “Don’t worry about it. You won’t hurt my feelings. I know, fresh out of service you must have seen technology that makes this old bucket look its age.”

She smiled, but her face was still flushed.

“Really… I do understand, and don’t worry. The field is a perk. The feds installed it. They ship some gravity sensitive stuff, there’s a small cargo space directly above us, and really sensitive ‘Destroy if captured’ stuff in security safes on the main deck. So… We get gravity full time.” I smiled at her again and she smiled back. “It’s not perfect though. The mag field takes a little getting used to. It’s never bothered me though,” I finished abruptly, realizing I had just run on longer than I needed or intended.

“What does it do?” She asked.

“Space sickness… Upset stomach. Two of my navigators and one of the crew who came up here to exercise… It lasted a few days and then they got their space legs. “I laughed.

“Exercise equipment?”

“Another perk. I carry full crews out bound every trip, and I almost always come back with a dead head crew too. They’re supposed to use it, but they rarely do. They tend to socialize together on their own deck, two below this one. There’s a small inner-deck El that connects us. The exercise deck is up here: Treadmills, elliptical, stationary bikes… It’s nice.”

“But, shouldn’t they check in with you?” She seemed surprised.

I shook my head and shrugged. “Technically, I am their captain, in actuality they couldn’t care less. They’re company men and women. They take their orders from the company. As long as they don’t interfere with the running of my ship we operate independently. You’re accustomed to the chain of command…”

She nodded.

“Nothing like that here. We’re like neighboring countries, my own crew stays here, they stay there. I can’t recall a time when I have met more than two or three of a crew at any given time. Usually one or less.” I shrugged once again. “That’s the reality of intra cruising.”

She nodded and followed me onto the bridge.

The bridge on an Intra-Cruiser is a very small area. It is at the front of the pod with two huge viewing ports and one even larger viewing screen in between them. Contrary to popular belief, even my own until the fourth grade, there isn’t anything of great interest to see in space at any given time.

Most of the rooms wall space is taken up with smaller flat panel displays hooked into ship systems. There are three console units with chairs directly facing the view ports.

“You would be here with me most of the time.” I waved my hand to include the entire room. “Take your pick of seating, any can be configured the way you want it to be. Sit down, give a shot. It’s pretty straight forward.”

She sat, pulled the overhead monitor down and had the navigation screens up in just a few moments. She studied them for a few seconds. “Looks easy enough.”

“It is… Believe me, you’ll be bored most of the time.”

“When would I have to decide?”

I looked at one of the wall monitors and the time stamp that ran along the bottom. “You have about four hours from now. That will give me time to re-configure rations, get your licensing in order, passport, extra fuel supplies… Or, you could think it over this trip and I’ll be back in thirteen months, give or take… That’s my average return trip.”

“So… So, you’re offering me the job?” she asked. She was a little wide eyed.

“Absolutely… You’re qualified… Listen, let’s face it, you’re overqualified. I’d be damn lucky to get you. The only thing I’d ask of you is the standard two year contract.” She started to speak, but I held up my hands.

“You can’t hurt my feelings. Two years, as we both know, is the maximum benefit time for you, and it will give you the time to look around. It is an incredible world out there. You won’t believe all the contacts and people you’ll meet. It will give you some real time to breath… Think about what you really want to do. I’ve got some good contacts I could point you at.”

“You’d do that for me?”

“Absolutely… You do right by me and I’ll be happy to do right by you.”

“Okay.” She looked around the room. “My stuff is in a locker off Lounge 7.”

It took me a second. “Oh, you meant okay as in you’ll take it… The job?”

“She smiled. “Sorry. Guess I forgot to add yes I’ll take the job.”

“No, no, I’m a little slow.” I turned back to my monitor and pulled up the re-stocking charts. “Any particular wants or needs? We eat pretty well. The Fed contracts load us up with all kinds of stuff. Perks again, but they are well stocked here at Fourteen… Real coffee… Media… Whatever.” I continued through the screens and began to recalculate the fuel requirements.

Earth Date 2096-08-25 00:03:51

Moon Base fourteen

United Planet Technologies

Intra-Cruiser: Star Dancer

I ran down the lists as Petra pulled them up on her screens and checked them off. Flawless.

“It looks good, Michael.”

“It is good, Petra… Take it out.” I picked up my mug of coffee, the first real coffee I had, had in a while. It sure beat synthetics. I felt the vibration as she threw the dock lock switches and expertly palmed the thrusters. We did a slow, nearly perfect half turn, then she did a longer burn to put us into our ten mile safety limit before she could engage the ION engines.

I watched Moon Base Fourteen fall slowly behind us on the main monitor, and then continued watching as Petra went through the pre ION drive check lists. I had done it so long by myself that I felt almost guilty sitting back and letting her take care of it. Nevertheless, it felt good, and I was looking forward to the company.

“Ten plus zero zero one,” Petra said.

“Kick ’em,” I told her.

She grinned at me and then reached forward and engaged the ION drives.

I sat back and watched the red mileage numerals begin to move fast, then I turned my attention to my own checks. Cargo, decks, company crews. A few minutes later I was done and I sat back and watched as Petra finished her calculations and sent them to my screen to check and approve. She began to program her side navigation console.

Moon Base Fourteen was gone. The moon itself was a distant smear of dull gray next to the big blue ball. Sometimes there were things to look at in space.

I sat back and relaxed into my chair and thumbed by Log-Link.

“Intra-Cruiser Star Dancer, forty-five minutes and twenty-eight seconds out of Moon Base Fourteen. Present, Michael Watson, chief operating officer, Petra Stanovich, navigation officer. We have at present, twenty-eight UPT crew members, see contract FQHPX2879 for a crew manifest… Mars Prison Colony Twenty-Seven will be our first stop, a re-supply, see manifest 97715. Mars One tech drop, see Fed contract 771926f, our second stop. IO six, last drop, pre-fab building shipment under science contract 279916bx… Watson out.”

I picked up my mug and sipped at my coffee while Petra did her own log. I had a navigator for the next two years, after that maybe I would bite the bullet and spring for an Intra-Galaxy Cruiser. I thought about it. I just might do it. Maybe it was time for a change. Maybe I could even run it by Petra, see how it sounded to another set of ears. Maybe it would even interest her.

It made me feel good. I guess I had fallen into a rut over the past seventeen months. I was surprised how good the bridge felt with someone else on it. I sipped at my coffee and watched the Earth grow smaller as we picked up speed.


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Monday morning blog and a free story for you

Posted by Dell 03-27-2017

Good morning. It is rainy here in New York and cold. Not quite the freezing rain and sleet mess that was predicted but close to it. I spent a disconnected weekend catching up on work items and weighing the future and direction of my writing. The question is whether to write or not. I have dozens of ideas in my head that I want to pursue, write out, but the thing that the people who write to me want to hear is that I will begin writing new Earth’s Survivors books.

Because I am grateful to be able to write and have an audience when so many don’t have one I am going to do just that. It means the focus of what I do daily is going to change completely and that will not happen overnight. But I believe that by as soon as next week I can be working on a new Earth’s Survivors book. I hope that for those who write to me to ask about the series, that this is good news; or at least the news you wanted to hear. It means that other projects I had going will be set aside probably permanently. However that doesn’t mean there will be no other writing. It simply means what I said when I started this out, the focus will change. The important part will be a new Earth’s Survivors book.

I will commit to four new books. That is two per year for the next two years. Then I will reevaluate the situation and refocus in whatever direction I need to, but certainly if the books are well received by the readers I will continue after that.

That is my Monday news. I know Geo hinted at it a few weeks back, but you have heard it from me now and that makes it official.

What else on this rainy Monday? I just went through the series LOST start to finish again. It’s just a good series that I wish I had not missed initially. Actors writing all of it. The final episode kept me up past 3:00 AM this morning and is probably one of the reasons I decided to write more books too. Someone was here visiting yesterday and helped with that decision too. You can catch the LOST episodes on NETFLIX. No, I don’t get paid to plug things. I operate the old fashioned way and plug the things I like.

So that is me. I will go back to my rainy day and you can get back to your day. I love hearing from readers, whether that is on my Facebook page or Twitter or Google Plus. Drop by and comment on what I and my writer friends are up to. You can find my books at iTunes AmazonNOOKKOBOSmashwords and many other booksellers.

I will leave you with an excerpt from Dreamers. That book is distributed by Smashwords and available at iTunes NOOK KOBO and the Smashwords site as well…


Dreamers is copyright protected

This material has not been edited for content


DREAMERS

Dreamers is Copyright © 2016 by Dell Sweet. All rights reserved foreign and domestic.

Cover Art © Copyright 2016 Wendell Sweet

This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to your bookseller and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

LEGAL

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places or incidents depicted are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual living persons places, situations or events is purely coincidental.

Parts of this novel are Copyright © 2010, 2015 Wendell Sweet and his assignees. No part of this book may be reproduced by any means, electronic, print, scanner or any other means and, or distributed without the author’s permission.

Permission is granted to use short sections of text in reviews or critiques in standard or electronic print.


This Present Day:

In The Land Of Shadows

Benjamin Bear Killer

The mountain climbed another two thousand feet from where I was at. It made no difference. For my purpose, I was up high enough.

The cave was exactly where I remembered it being. It had been many years, in a life that belonged to someone else, since I had seen it. But when I had seen it I had known that it had an important part to play in my own life. Here I was to see whether I was correct, or if you think like I do, what part it intended for me to play. What my purpose was.

I ducked low under the overhang and slipped inside. It felt safe. A stone womb where nothing could touch me. I realize for some of my brothers that it is impossible to find such a place.

The remains of the fire were long dead. There was no animal smell in the cave. That told me it had been a very long time since it had been inhabited by anyone or anything. I pushed in the rest of the way and set about finding some answers.

The City Of The Dead:

Most Honored Among The Dead

Sparrow Spirit

Her prison was what she allowed it to be, and she had never allowed it to be what the Thief of Souls had intended it to be. In every purpose there was a twist. Sometimes the knife did turn: When it had to turn she tried to make it turn on him. In the many thousands of years she had not submitted and she could not envision a time when she would.

He owned her soul, but she did not submit. The advantage he had always hoped to gain did not exist. The knife cut whenever she could make it cut and as deep as she could make it cut.

She was as free in her mind as she could allow herself. In reality he kept her soul imprisoned in a small stone that was set inside an iron cage, which in turn was surrounded by wrought iron fencing tipped with spikes.

A moat filled with demons from the underworld surrounded the fence. Even so, in all the land of the dead, it was the most honored place. Honored by the inhabitants of the City of The Dead.

There were only a few who knew who it was that was held there. Very few. But within her small stone prison she had built her own world. She could not leave and stay gone from her soul for long periods of time. She was too weak. Too many thousands of years hidden away from the sunlight. Without freedom. Without a touch that wasn’t meant to subjugate. It had worn away her strength. Still, he could not kill her completely. She had her helpers. Helpers that even the threat of everlasting death could not scare away.

The birds that were her namesake were also her greatest allies. They allowed her to live briefly within their souls. And they could not be kept away by steel bars, spikes and moats. Demons were meaningless to them. They came to her and sat close to the stone so she could feel their heat. She joined with them and traveled to the dreamers worlds to listen to the dreamers that spoke. Left the city of the dead. At least in the dream state.

Deep within the stone she had made a world of her own. Valleys green with grasses. Plains, mountains, oceans and rivers all existed: As real as anyplace she had ever seen in the real world. She was not the dreamer. Four Feathers had been the dreamer. But she had learned over the years to create: To build from nothing. All that she lacked were physical companions. The sparrows her totem spirit sent to her were always near. Sometimes she would dream them into her world.

She walked now with one of them. The sparrows tiny clawed feet wrapped around one finger as she climbed the rocky path to her cave. The sparrow spoke to her in bird song, and Sparrow Spirit responded with her own song.

Her long black hair shone blue in the sunlight of her world. Her pale white skin made to look even whiter where her hair rested against it. Bone beads, buffalo horn beads and bits of feathers were woven into her hair. A pattern of small squares, three by three were tattooed on one cheek. They had been on her physical body as a child. They identified her clan and her place in it. Her high cheekbones were smooth and marked with two yellow chevrons on each.

Today she wore a leather tunic and skirt. Soft smoke cured leather that lay close against her skin and kept her warmth inside. The thing that always invaded, even here, was the cold. The cold of death. The cold she had lived with for thousands of years.

She had decorated the tunic herself. Spirals, circles, more square patterns that matched the squares on her face. Hand prints, chevrons. The power symbols of her ancient people. The symbols that still lent power to her lonely existence.

She sang back and forth to the small sparrow as she climbed. Shutting her real circumstances out, pushing them away. The sparrow told her the news of the fight against the Thief of Souls. The sparrow related news from all the other sparrows. All the sparrow brothers and sisters in all the dream worlds. Passed along the prayers of the dreamers who sent them to her. She knew Bear Killer and was glad to know that he was back from the world of the dead. He had less power that she had, but he had decided to use it as well as he could. The Red Path was not the same for all, and it was never easy, but it was the only way to walk. She was glad to know that the Bear Killer walked it again.

The sparrow told her about Joe, the dreamer who was at least the equal of Four Feathers. Maybe, Sparrow Spirit thought, the time of the end of the Thief of Souls was here at last. It was why she remained to fight instead of surrendering her soul to him. A purpose. There was someone whose purpose it was to free her. Someone, and she believed they would come soon.

She continued to sing back and forth to her sister sparrow as she climbed the path to her cave.


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The Legend of Sparrow from Wendell G Sweet & Geo Dell

The Legend of Sparrow

Wendell G Sweet & Geo Dell

“Benjamin told me the legends first…….”
“In the beginning the Creator made a way to the peoples that will always be open. First Woman, The Clan Totems, the Star People, were all able to communicate, and they are still able now, up to this day and beyond, until your days cease you will have a pathway to that knowledge. A way to reach all that is possible. You hold the keys to all that is within yourself. We all do…”
“This is how the Creator came to make that way open for us, Benjamin told me.”
Laura nodded, curled her feet under herself and settled in to listen.
“We were in a sweat lodge at the time. One Benjamin had built with the help of my Uncles and Cousins. So many used it though that we had to check first to see if it could be used.”
“The Owl Woman’s Society uses it,” he told me. “That meant nothing to me. At least nothing concrete. I had known my mother belonged to the Owl Woman’s Society. I didn’t know what they did: Where they met. What they decided. How important they were to each other, to us, to the well being of our people.”
“We settled into the sweat lodge and Benjamin began to tell me the legend of the Dreamer’s Way… What came to be known as the legend of the Sparrow…”


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THE LEGEND OF SPARROW

The Legend of Sparrow Copyright © 2017 by Wendell G Sweet all rights reserved foreign and domestic.

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The Red Way:

Joe

The suns were sinking lower into the earth by the time I came down off the mountain and wandered into the village. I was tired, as if I had a physical body. My eyes were heavy lidded.  My strength nearly gone. One moment I was alone the next I was flanked by warriors who had fallen in beside me. Ghosting from the trees and walking beside me, matching my stride. They were bare chested, war paint adorned their bodies. Red, black, and bone bead work was woven into their hair. I followed them into the village.

It was a large busy village. Small children ran here and there.  Happy, carefree. Wolf-dogs chased after them, protected them, and watched out for them, including keeping an eye on me, the stranger, as I walked past them deeper into the village.

The wolf dogs reminded me of Bear and made me wonder where Laura was. Whether Bear was physically with her, or only in spirit, walking some other path himself.

A clearing opened up and I found myself before a large teepee at the center of the village.

The tepee was off by itself, it was also clear that it approximated the center of the village. The heart. But it was a place of importance. An ancient old man sat close to a fire, nearby a young woman held a rabbit up to the sky in one hand. In the other she held a forged steel blade. The blade glinted in the moonlight. She closed her eyes, praying the rabbit’s soul back to the creator, and then lowered her hands.  A few short minutes later the rabbit was spitted over the fire across from the old man.

I studied her face as she spitted the rabbit. Tattoos of small blue-black squares on one cheek. Exquisitely made clothing. Leather tunic, leather dress. Moccasins with high built in leggings. She was young, graceful, her eyes sparkled with amusement as she caught mine looking at her. I felt the need to apologize, but she was gone long before I could say anything. The old man beckoned me to sit. He had apparently been waiting on me. I felt like apologizing again. He spoke slowly.

“You could apologize your entire life. But your actions say those words for you. If you truly walk the Red Path there is no need to apologize it is known that you feel remorse. And if you do not, you do not walk the Red Path at all.” He picked up an iron Tomahawk from the ground beside him. “We will eat shortly. For now I ask that you honor the Creator with me,” he said as he packed the tomahawk’s pipe bowl full of tobacco.

I didn’t understand what he said on one level. I didn’t know the language. On another level I heard him perfectly and understood the things he didn’t say. That he had expected me. That I was welcome. That he knew I would honor the Creator.

He lit the bowl, puffed, blew smoke in the four directions, and then passed the pipe to me. I acknowledged the directions myself, smoked and then passed the tomahawk back to him. We repeated the passing of the pipe two more times without acknowledgment of the directions, and then he set the pipe down. He reached forward and turned the rabbit on its spit where it sizzled and browned, and then looked up to my eyes.

“You still live,” he said.

I nodded.

He nodded back. “It will be harder if you live. Hard to walk among the dead with a body to live for… You should let it go.” He finished.

I digested his words slowly. “Is it required?” I thought to add something else but couldn’t think of a single thing to say.  Across from me a young woman arrived with a skin and poured liquid into small wooden bowls. The old man gave me a bowl.

“It is not,” he said. “But I thought you loved the woman. Wanted her to succeed.” He nodded for me to drink and then drank himself.

I took a deep drink. I hadn’t realized how thirsty I had become walking down off the mountain. Heavy, fermented, sweet, it burned my throat on the way down. My eyes teared up. He smiled at me. “I want her to succeed,” I answered honestly. “I had hoped to dream her to life.”

“You cannot dream another to life,” he said simply and sipped at his bowl.

“I meant,” I started.

“I know what you meant. But, death. Life. These are not your choices. These are choices the Creator makes long before we are born into these worlds. We can only accept them… She has died… None return from the dead… The legend of Sparrow Spirit should tell you that.” He said, holding my eyes with his own.

I sipped and nodded my head. “I should die,” I asked at last?

“I cannot say… I can only say I’m surprised you have chosen to walk alive. It is difficult dead… Alive…” He shrugged and sat his bowl aside.

Two young women appeared with a platter of steamed vegetables, and taking the rabbit from the spit, prepared a platter of food for each of us. The platters, I noticed when I took mine, were shoulder bones from Elk or Moose. I lost myself in eating. Surprised at my appetite. The old man ate with me, both of us silent. The two young women moved off a short distance and talked quietly between themselves. One had spirals on one cheek; the other wore a leather outfit with hand prints and spirals. The same nine square pattern was tattooed on her cheek. The opposite cheek the young woman with the spiral had chosen.

“It is her name… Power… All she can be,” the old man said. It explained everything and told me nothing. “You could die a good death and be more help to her. What will you do alive?  How will you, a mortal, help her with the things of the dead?”

I met his eyes. I had no answer. “Is it required,” I asked again.

“Isn’t your purpose to win?” He countered.

“I don’t know,” I answered honestly.

He nodded. “Then you must leave it to the creator. Death. Life. It is his gift to give to you. For now he has purposed you to travel in the land of the dead, yet live. If he decides you must die, you will die. If he allows you to live he will use you in that state.” He picked up the bowl and sipped from it.

I picked up my own bowl, found it empty, and one of the young women rose and came to me with a skin and refilled my bowl. She went to the old man and filled his next. I sipped at my bowl and thought about what the old man had said.  But it made sense. Perfect sense. I had wondered, and more than wondered, even asked the Creator to allow Laura to have her life back once more, against my own beliefs. My beliefs said the Creator has given us all that we need. There is no need to ask for anything, only to give thanks. Sometimes hard to understand. A hard path to walk. But it was part of the path I had always walked, and I knew I would always walk.

“You will walk,” he said. “Starting tonight, after the Moon is heavy in the sky. But you will not walk for lengths in the moonlight. If you do you will surely die and your death will be for nothing. You’ll walk until you can no longer see the glow of the village. You will stop and make your camp. When the brothers rise, you will rise quickly with them and be underway. You will see things that are not a dream. Things that can kill you. And some things that will try to take you away from your walk. You must walk, when the brothers set you will rest through the darkness. However, tempted, do not venture into the darkness…” He sipped at his bowl. “Will you live? Will you help her? I cannot say.” He sipped again and then nodded. “If you die, Brother, die well.” His hands rose, motioning me up and I understood it was time to leave.

The village was not as busy as it had been when I walked into it. The Moon was rising. The light bled from the sky. Four warriors walked beside me.

I passed Elders gathered around fires. They watched as I passed. A baby suckled at his mother’s breast. His dark eyes following me as I passed.

We left the village at a run and a few minutes later I was on my own. I built a fire and it burned brightly to keep the night away. The voices came to me shortly after that. Thousands it seemed, calling to me from the trees that started only a few hundred feet from me. Screams. Voices calling for me to help them. As the Moon continued to rise the voices came less often. I sat and waited for the sunrise.


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