Monday, May 29, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 23 - Boiler Room

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Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

Misty sprang around the corner, swinging the knife fiercely for where she calculated the unwanted guest's head would be.

She was right about the target, but before she could make contact an iron grasp clamped around her wrist and forced it out and away from its intended target.  With a sound as loud as a landslide in the stillness, the knife clattered to the concrete floor.

Misty berated herself.  Between the wall and the hot boiler like she was, she didn't have the same freedom of movement she was used to.  And that miscalculation had done her in.

To her surprise, however, instead of a counterattack or a cry of alarm, the only retaliation was a, "Sssh.  It's us."

The whisper carried the slight undertone of Jack Savage's voice.

"We wondered when you were going to show up." whispered an equally unseen Wendell.

Misty was annoyed by the insinuation that she was slow in escaping.  She defended herself by saying, "Easy for you to say.  There were two of you guys."

"Exactly!  That makes it even harder!", said Wendell.

"Does not!"

"Sssh!", said Jack again.

Misty turned it down a notch.  "I am glad to see you guys.  I was worried that you'd eaten that zombie doughnut thing."

"No danger of that." laughed Wendell.

Jack and Misty rolled their eyes at the statement and who was making it.

Misty added, "Too bad Howell and his team didn't get the hint though."  There was a a deep sense of regret in her voice that they all felt.

Jack said, "Yeah, well, we'll get to the bottom of that when we're out of here.  Till then, we have to lie low and wait for the hubbub to die down.

"So in the mean time...  Keep quiet, think through our options, and try to get whatever sleep you can... in a sauna... standing up."

"Plus, don't snore or you'll get shot." added Wendell.

"Yeah, right.  Pleasant dreams." said Misty ironically.


The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

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Monday, May 22, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 22 - Mice in the Attic

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

Misty carefully crept through the dusty ceiling like a spider.  Even with her small frame she had to make sure that her weight was fully supported by the flimsy metal cross-members as she went. 

Worse still, even as small as she was, she quickly learned that she had to settle her weight very slowly on each new support or it would creak and pop, potentially giving her position away.  Any noise, no matter how slight, was like a blaring car horn to her hyper-alert senses.

At the moment she didn't have any particular destination in mind.  She was only trying to put as much distance as possible between her and her last known whereabouts.

At length, her slow progress was checked by a concrete column.  Its size tipped her off that it must be an elevator shaft.  This was a good thing.  If she could find an access hatch, she'd have free reign of all the attics on all the floors.  Some might even have drop ceilings instead of solid ones that she could use to lower herself down through.

Misty quickly found the hatch she was hoping for and began unscrewing the cover with a butter knife she had palmed back at the barracks.  All the while she was trying to decide which direction to take.

If she went up, that would put her farther from her eventual escape route.  But on the other hand, that would also mean the guards would be less thorough in their search there.

She took a few deep breaths, trying to clear all of the competing thoughts and scenarios out of her head.  It wasn't that they were bad or wrong -- just loud.  She knew she had to focus.

By now she realized where her training had steered her wrong.  Dr Puttery's D&D wargames were too cut-and-dry.  Make the "right decision", and you'd find the exit.  Make the "wrong decision", and there'd be a monster behind the door and make a quick end of you.

In real life, there were many more kinds of decisions than that, and whether some, or all, or none of them would work out... that was dependent on a thousand other things that you couldn't possibly know or control.

Upon realizing this, the tendency is to freeze up and not do anything at all. 

No choice was pretty much always the worst choice though, so Misty shook herself from her mental stupor.

A good hideout was any place they weren't likely to search.  So up, then?

No, better still, down.  All the way down.  To the basement!

And so she went.

Going was fast and simple in that direction, and before long she found herself standing on solid ground among the elevator's emergency cushion springs.

The maintenance hatch here was even easier to use than the one above.  Instead of screws it had a half-turn metal bar on the outside connected to a tiny tab on this side.  She simply grabbed this between her thumb and forefinger and gave it a slow turn, pulling some slight pressure to prevent any metal-on-metal noise.

Peeping out from behind the hatch she surveyed the room.  She'd still need to take cover somewhere that would mask her infrared signature from any sweep teams and their FLIR goggles.

Then she saw it.  In one corner was a huge boiler tank.  The corner behind it would be tight but Misty figured it would be about the right size for one person.

Carefully she made her way across the darkened room and began to wedge herself around the scalding surface.  When she had just passed the halfway point, she heard something. 

It wasn't much.  In fact  nothing that she could even describe.  Still, it betrayed that she was not alone!

She withdrew the knife from her side pocket with her free arm.  She took several deep breaths.

"It'll have to be quick.", she thought to herself.  "One peep out of the person and the jig is up."

She gripped the knife tighter... and sprang.

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Update: on the road to recovery

Hey all,

Just giving you a little update since I haven't been throwing down a lot of posts lately and you're probably wondering what gopher hole I fell down.

Well, I caught a spring cold, but unlike those around me, it kept getting worse and worse.  My ear, jaw, ... basically the whole side of my head was swollen up like a pumpkin.  Couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, couldn't even swallow.

Of course this all happens in the middle of a class final project.

So eventually DW drags me into the Dr.  (which says a lot about how bad it was for me to go willingly).  Turns out I had a severe case of "peritonsillar abscess", which is a nasty little thing.  In fact, up until recently they thought this is what George Washington died of!

Anyway, they vandalized me personally pretty good and sent me home whimpering in pain, saying there was a 60% chance it didn't work and I'd need a CAT scan and throat surgery on Monday.  This was NOT my finest moment!

Got a lot of my tribe on prayer and, mercifully, it did turn around!  Praise the LORD!

I'm taking it easy now and letting the antibiotics do their thing.  (They somehow they changed the balance of things and gave me thrush, but compared to the pain before... I'm sure not complaining!)

Coming up for you guys I'll be back on track with the Juggernaught story this week, as well as some more midweek articles.  I hope to figure out some video resources to go with those so you can use them in your own Bible study groups if you want.

Then I've got the Moast Unusual sequel and another book coming out, as well as Queen of Atlantis in more formats, so plenty to do.

What else can I say, but it's good to be back!
 - E.L. Fletcher

Monday, April 17, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 21 - Mice in the Walls

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

Faking the routine roll-over of a sleeping girl, Misty went right off the end of the bed.  Instead of hitting the floor hard like an unwary sleeper falling out of bed, she absorbed the impact with her muscles and silently rolled beneath it.

To any observer nothing strange had happened.

She quickly slithered underneath the long row of barrack-style bunks until she reached the outside wall.

Misty knew that the lone window must be alarmed, so before opening it she took out a knife she had stolen off a guard.  She probed the wallboard around around the perimeter of the window with its point and then when she found the spot, punched the blade through.  A satisfying pressure, then sudden release was felt, letting her know that she had successfully severed the wire.

So far, so good.

She dropped to her stomach.  Careful not to arouse attention, she began sawing away at the wallboard underneath the iron radiator.

It was very slow going and she truly hoped her small size would make hers skinny enough to pull off this trick.

Once an access panel had been sawed, she stood quickly, grabbing a sheet off the bed as she did so.

She yanked the window aside, threw out the sheet, and then ducked back down.

Somebody on the ground would notice, but it would take a little time to call it in.  She used that time to wriggle inside her cutout until she was in a standing position inside the wall.

It was tight even for her, and the guards burst in quicker than expected.

One man ran to the window and looked out, while the other swept his light over every spot.

"We're missing one!"  he called out.

"She's a goner!" declared his companion, thinking that Misty had jumped.

Meanwhile, the person he was looking for stood chest-to-chest with him, separated only by a thin layer of drywall.  The seeker unaware of the situation and the hider, hyper-aware of it!

Misty could see his uniform through the stab hole where she'd cut the wire.  She could even smell the pungent odor of his breath and dared not move herself.

The guards below would no doubt be sweeping the premises for her body.  She knew this almost by reflex due to her training.  The sheet she had thrown out the window would only reinforce this assumption.  There could be no logical possibility of someone escaping that way, yet the fact that it was there, a window was open, and one of the dorm inmates was missing, would all override that logic. 

As if on cue, both guards returned slowly back to their post.

They'd be searching outside from now on, which was convenient, but presented her with another problem.  She was still trapped inside.

She'd have to find someplace to lie low long enough for the disturbance to die down.  To make matters worse, if the captors had FLIR technology (which was likely), they'd eventually do a sweep of the building and her heat signature would stand out like a neon sign, even inside this wall.

She'd need to take cover behind someplace colder, warmer, or thicker to be safe from that kind of detection.  That had to be her first order of business.

Looking up, she saw that the metal studs were open at the top.  It was nice to not have that in the way to cut through.  Bracing her knee against one stud and her shoulder against the other, she used an awkward rendition of a rock-climber's chimney climb to finagle her way to the top.

From there she'd be in whatever attic or crawl space was up there.   Which was an unknown, and therefore, frightening to her.  Still, with the way in closed to her, this was the only way out.

With an almost inaudible sigh (for surely somebody in the room was still awake after the disturbance) she grasped the edge with her finger and began to drag herself out.

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

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Monday, March 27, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 20 - Grandson

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Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

"Antonio?  Antonio, where are you, child?" spoke the lad's maternal uncle, and guardian.

"Aqui, Tio."  (Here, Uncle.) said the 10-year-old.

A cool blast of Andean wind tussled his dark hair as he turned to face his elder.

"Antonio", he said, bending low to meet the child's eyes, "your grandmother wishes to speak with you."  Still not close enough for the weight of what he had to say, Uncle knelt and leaned even nearer.  "There are those who say she has gone crazy and that she is not long for this world."

"And what do the others say, señor?" he asked, awed.

The man's back stiffened.  He considered his words carefully before responding.

"There are those who say... she is not long for this world and she has seen the stuff of Heaven!"

Antonio's eyes widened.  "What do you say?"

Uncle waved away the question.  "No, no, no.  Listen to me:  Hear what Niñera has to say, and respect her well because she is worthy of it.  Yet, whatever she says, test carefully before taking it to heart.  Understand?"

Antonio smiled and nodded.  Then, thinking about this more, frowned and shook his head.

"Si, si, this is a difficult thing to understand for one so young.  Just be careful.  Can you do that much?"

To this, Antonio gladly agreed and was ushered into the presence of Niñera.  She lie beneath a hand-knit cover on the simple pallet that formed her bed.  Even the most optimistic among the village had to tearfully admit that she spent more and more of her day there of late.

She gestured for Uncle to close the door and leave her alone with her grandchild.  This, the man did, reluctantly.

Antonio, as well, focused on his feet as he kicked at the hard dirt floor.

"Come closer, child." she said while waving her hand as if scooping him nearer.

He did as he was told until his knees were right against her bed.  Still, he did not meet her gaze.

"The village - they think I am crazy, yes?"

She must have caught the face Antonio made for she continued, "And wise, they are, to be cautious, for the things I am about to say are things that have not been spoken for an age.  Not since the Jacobite monks swept the land has the Lord worked so among our people!"

"Niñera?"  he gasped, looking up and finally meeting her gaze.

At once he wished he hadn't.  Young dark brown eyes were locked in chains of steel with the grey cloudy eyes of the old woman.  Try as he might, Antonio could not tear away from the wrinkled face.

"A dream, lad!  I have had a dream!" she said slowly.

"Respectfully, señora, we all have dreams.  What makes you believe that this one is special?"

"When you have a dream from God, nieto, it seems more..." she fumbled for words, before arriving at, "important.  Yes, it seems more important than a regular dream."

Antonio's eyebrows furrowed at this.

"Of course, one should be skeptical of such a claim.  Any dream or vision must be tested against the Word of God, the Spirit of God, and the people of God.  This final test is why you are here."

Antonio squirmed uncomfortably beneath his red poncho.

"Ah!  I see my answer already.  You know of what I speak, for the confirmation is that you have dreamed the very same thing:  A field of golden corn..."

"... and a raven." he finished.  "Surely Niñera, somebody told you of my strange dream this month.  Perhaps you heard it somewhere else, or... you have become confused from too much sun, or..."

"Of course I've heard of your dream.  That is why I sent for you.  But answer me this, did you tell anybody that the corn and the crow were both a girl?"

Antonio narrowed his eyes, but he did not answer.

She continued "Or did you say that they fought and made war across the whole Earth?  Or that out of the pit extreme sadness and loneliness, none other than King Solomon himself rose up and stood between the two?  And that he was the one who brought an end to the war and broke our family of its ancient curse?"

Antonio grew wide-eyed.  He hadn't mentioned the rest of this to anybody. "But what does it all mean Niñera?  Who are the women?  Who is this deliverer?  What is the purpose of this message?"

"The girls: I know not.  Solomon: that will be revealed to you in time.  The purpose:  this is the other reason I called you here today."

"W-what is the purpose?"

"This message must be delivered in person.  By me."  She reached out and placed a hand on his shoulder, "And by you."

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 19 - Bad Pastry

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

The monotonous drone of the truck engine all of a sudden took on a new, hollow quality.  Simultaneously, the rough crunch of dirt and gravel was replaced with the smooth feel of slick concrete.

No sooner were the adventurers thinking that this was their journey's end, the high-pitched shriek of brakes made it a fact.

Weight shifted and the air brakes let out a whoosh, just as the engine was cut and sputtered to a stop.

The canvas was thrown aside and an unknown voice barked orders in an unknown language.  Apparently this was their stop, as the team were hauled out and down like so much cargo.

A quick glance around the space revealed nothing but a huge parking garage, uninteresting in anything but size.  Throughout the vast space, nearly every stall was filled with a troop transport identical to the one they'd come in.

"Now, everybody remember where we parked." advised Wendell.

Nobody laughed.

Rather, he got the butt of a rifle in the kidneys for his trouble.  The group was pushed and prodded along to the nearest elevator station.

Once inside, one of their captors hit a number high enough to give them time to think.

"Where do you suppose we even are?" whispered Misty.

Everybody knew it was intended for Jack, who, as world travel had shaped up, seemed to have the best sense of navigation.  Even he wasn't entirely sure.

He hazarded a guess.  "From the direction and the amount of time we've been traveling, I guess somewhere around Southeastern Serbia or Northwestern Bulgaria.  Hard to say for sure since, judging by the road quality, we're in the middle of nowhere."

"No foolin'."  said Wendell, "My butt's still asleep."

Misty frowned.  "T.M.I., Wendell.  (Too Much Information)"  She turned to Jack, "If we're really that far out in the sticks, how does that explain this building?"

Jack didn't answer.  He couldn't.  That thought was bothering him as well.  He didn't know what it meant, but something about it made him uneasy.

The doors opened to reveal an enormous space every bit as large as the parking garage, but magnified by the fact that it was three or more stories high and lined on all sides with glass windows.

The three were shoved unceremoniously inside, the guards close behind.

The height above the surrounding terrain and unobstructed view in all directions gave a stomach-churning, almost euphoric feel.  One was left with the sensation of floating on a slow cloud over the uninhabited landscape.

They were far from alone on their ethereal journey, however, as the room was packed.  Most of those gathered were soldiers, staring with a common, glazed-over expression at a raised dais and black curtain at one end of the grand hall.  All wore the same plain camouflage uniform and all, men and women alike, had shaven heads.

Yet these were not the only people in the room.  Others, like them, seemed to be imported civilians, looking around nervously at one another and not knowing what to expect.

"Howell!"  shouted Wendell as he saw a familiar face in the crowd.  "Howell!  Over here!"

Jack followed his gaze and waved as well.

In the end he concluded, "It's no good.  He can't hear us."

There was no time to try anything else.  A lone figure appeared on the stage.  Whoever it was, had the full approved of the frantic crowd.  Simultaneously, a giant electronic screen was lowered on cables to give even those in the back a view of the event.

Now that they had a better picture, they could see that the man wore a conical black mask and robe reminiscent of Klu-Klux attire.  It was emblazoned with a large emblem of the sun made of Gold satin so that it shimmered and glittered in the light.  Lest anybody get the wrong idea, however, the center of this particular sun was a grinning black skull.

"Just a hunch, but... I don't think we like that guy." decided Misty.

The boys nodded, but dared not take their eyes off his foreboding image.

The man began some sort of strange ritual, waving his hands in complicated gestures and reciting an ongoing series of gibberish words.  It took ridiculously long, but the end of it was declared by a pair of his assistants ringing massive gongs.

"In the name of En the powerful..."  he cried.

"ALL HAIL EN" shouted the soldiers so suddenly that Misty and the rest jumped.

"... En provides food for people!"

Another strike of the gong.

They didn't notice where they had come from, but gold-colored, sun-shaped trays suddenly materialized in the audience.  These were loaded high with halved doughnuts, which each person present took and ate as they passed.

They arrived at Wendell first, who took one.  It was halfway to his mouth when Misty slapped it out of his hand.

"Don't be dumb." she scolded.

"Yeah, yeah", agreed Jack, "let's see where this goes first."

All of a sudden Misty's voice took on a nervous squeak to match her size,  "Jack, look!"

Jack follower her pointing finger and muttered, "oh no", just as Howell took a bite of one of the doughnuts.

Likewise, a fair number of the other guests were eating as well, though many were just as hesitant as Jack and Misty.

Another gong was sounded.

"In the name of En the powerful..."  he cried.

"ALL HAIL EN" shouted the soldiers once more.  Now they were also joined by a number of the new recruits, including Howell!

"Oh no."  muttered Wendell.

"... people provide food for En!"

The black curtains slid aside to reveal a pagan stone idol some twenty feet in height.  The top of it held a very familiar face.  It was even more familiar to Jack who had last seen it coming for him through the windshield of a Jeep.

The priest raised his hand in front of the statue several times for show, and then turned and pointed at a random spot in the audience.  There was quite a commotion, a strange fight of sorts, but by the time the camera of the giant screen adjusted, at the center of focus stood Howell, unmoving, impassive.

"En has chosen!" declared the priest.

The camera tracked as Howell made his way up to the stage, and then to the very base of the statue.

The curtain closed.

The priest waved his hand once more and a horrible, crooked knife appeared in his hand - like a parlor magician, with an unsettling twist.  The room cheered, but at the sight of the blade Misty, Jack, and Wendell were too busy storming the stage to bother to listen.

Strong hands grabbed at them from all directions as they plowed, ever more sluggishly through the crowd.

It all happened in some surreal slow motion.  Like in some nightmare Misty tried to advance with all her might, but could not.  She tried to cry Howell's name, but even that was unheard over the roar of the crowd.

The priest stepped in behind the curtain.  There was a long pause, and then a puddle of red liquid began to flow out from beneath.

Misty's body went limp as all her remaining energy went into generating tears.

Jack and Wendell stood there, pale as sheets.

Yet there was to be no respite.

The crowd flowed out in all directions, being filtered at various check points.  Trained soldiers knew the way to their barracks and took it.  New recruits, those who had eaten En's insidious pastry, were shuffled another direction, presumably to be given a shave and fitted for camo.

The rest were driven another direction entirely.  At first the team feared that they were goners for refusing to eat whatever horrible stuff that was controlling the others.  They were surprised, however, when they were directed to barracks of their own.  Instead of "obey En or die", it was to be "obey En or be in jail forever".  A preferable situation, made even more so to three teens who had just finished two full semesters of the finest escape training Michael Moast could afford.

The only downside was that Misty was split off at the last minute and sent to the girls' barracks whereas Wendell and Jack were sent their separate way.

Before they parted, Jack crouched down so he could look directly into her tear-stained eyes.

"Listen", he said, "I know how bad that thing with Howell looked, but I wouldn't write him off just yet.  He was a tough guy.  He wouldn't have gone down that easy.  No way.  Something about this place..."

"Show."  said Wendell.

When both looked up at him, he elaborated.  "Everything here is about show.  That's the only reason they wouldn't kill us."

Misty liked the general concept of that, but didn't know whether it was because it was reasonable or because it was comforting.  The boys had a point though.  All this happened behind that silly curtain, so... what did that mean?

Her best answer was that there was no way of knowing.  They knew just about as much about Howell's well-being as they did before they had spotted him.

That was all that could be said, however, as a soldier broke up the company drove them apart into opposite directions.


The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Juggernaught: Chapter 18 - Abduction

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study

Michael sat on the brand new couches in their living quarters in the California mansion, twirling a hand-turned pen between his fingers in a subconscious gesture to try to help him think.

"Okay.  Out with it.  What's the problem?"  demanded Melinda.

It took a split second longer than usual for him to realize that he was being spoken to.

"Huh?  Oh.  Am I that obvious?" he asked.

"I know you well enough to know when something is bothering you.  Do you really think I don't notice when you're awake all night?  We do share the same bed, after all."

He gave a wan smile and said,  "Sorry if I kept you up."

"Oh, don't worry about that."  she waved the concern away. 

She decided to hazard a guess as to the problem.  It didn't take a lot of guess work.  "So, to sum it all up: this person, (whoever it is) is secretly building a great big war machine."

He slowly nodded his agreement.

"Well, I don't really see much point in brooding over who it is or what they're planning if we don't have a way of stopping them.  I mean, there are only the two of us left now."

The statement was a loaded one and hung in the air a long time.

Micheal caved.  "Maybe we should recall Kurt's team in case something breaks."

"I think so.  It might be a little much for them to handle, but better to have them all ready to go if we decide we need them."

"What about Wendell's team, then?  More people could help make up for less experience."

Melinda made a slight face.  She'd never put much stock in their backup team.

"I don't think so.  They have a long way to go.  Best to keep them out of harm's way."

"Yeah, we wouldn't want them getting into trouble."  Michael admitted.

We're in trouble,  was the first thought Wendell's mind told him as he awoke.

He groaned.

His eyes fluttered open.

As awareness began t creep back in, he noticed that the floor seemed to be moving. 

He said so aloud.

"We're in a truck."  said a familiar voice.

His stiff neck scanned for the source.  Misty sat on a hard bench that ran the length of the bed.  Behind her rippled a dome of green canvas.  She waved as best she could with bound hands.

"Are you okay?"  she asked.

"Peachy."  he said. "You and Jack?"

"Don't worry.  You got the worst of it."  she said.

Jack disagreed from somewhere in the shadows.  "En busted my nose."

"I told you.  It's not broken."

He huffed.

"Okay, so who are these guys, what do they want, and where are they taking us?"

Jack replied, "We don't know, we don't know, and, oh let me see... we don't know."

"Don't mind him.  He's just cranky cuz of his busted nose."


Misty winked at Wendell and smiled.

They didn't know where they were or where they were going, but at least they were together.   And that, he suddenly realized, was the most important lesson they'd ever been taught.

The preceding has been a chapter from Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study
(Copyright 2016, Edmund Lloyd Fletcher.)

For more on this story, please visit its main page.

Also, don't forget to subscribe to the email list so you never miss a thing!