Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Juggernaught: Chapter 37 - Another Way

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study.  If you just tuned in, start reading here!

The team used the cover of the setting sun to slowly fade back into the woods.

It was a long and meloncholy walk to get to a safe distance from the encounter.  This, being made all the longer because this time Wendell insisted on better precautions for their camping arrangements. 

"If Misty is right and they have choppers, then the last thing we want is for them to spot us from the air!"

It took some extra time to find, but they soon discovered a narrow little valley which provided excellent cover for the light of their campfire.  Within it lie a small open patch with a pair of fallen logs that would make great seats.

The group began building a traditional fire ring, but Misty stopped them.  "You know..." she said hesitantly, "If you really want to go undetected, we should dig a Dakota fire hole."

Most of the group seemed bewildered by the phrase, but Jack nodded.  "I think I remember that.  The Dakota Sioux were masters of woodcraft and stealth.  They used to build a their fire in a deep pit, fed by an outside air tunnel."

He continued, "If I remember right, the ground insulates the fire and the fresh air feeds it so it burns hotter, causing almost no visible smoke to rise."

Wendell fell to his knees and began clawing at the ground.  "Neat idea!  Irm?  You want to help me out?"

She smiled but gave an apprehensive glance at Lola, who answered for her, saying, "No thank you.  We'll go gather some firewood.  That'll be hard enough on the manicure."

The two faded back into the forest as Misty dropped down next to Wendell and started digging.  " 'That'll be hard enough on the manicure.' "  she mocked in a high-pitched, nasally voice.  "Sheesh.  Sometimes I don't quite know about those two."

The girls wandered deep into the forest gathering logs.

When they were far enough from the campsite, Irmingard piped up.  "Okay, sis, what's the deal?"

"I'm worried.  We've played this cat-and-mouse game long enough.  Time that kitty be fed and be done with it."

"Nah.  You worry too much.  You saw what happened out there today.  These kids got nothing on Seebeck.  Why, they don't even know that Howell's alive, let alone that he's a Grand Master in the Cult of En."

"You think they suspect us?"

She gave the same winsome smile that, had the boys as putty in their hands.  "Not a chance, girl.  Not a chance."

By the time they returned to camp, the fire was already lit.  Meanwhile, night had descended in earnest and the beaten warriors were all too happy to have a respite from the day's efforts.

"Well, that was a complete waste of time."  Misty pointed out.

"Yes.  Completely, complete."  Agreed Wendell.  He tried to laugh, but winced.  A bullet had hit his shoulder with a glancing blow.  Though the bleeding was nothing worth worrying about, the wound was still starting to bother him. 

How do people in the movies do it?  he asked himself,  Stallone or somebody could be shot a dozen times and keep fighting.  Me?  I'm all done.

Irmingard eased his pride a little when she pointed out, "Well, we did go up against an invincible killing machine with nothing but hand weapons."

"And no plan."  added Jack bitterly.  The group was looking to him for leadership, but, "It was all my fault.  Sorry I let you down."

Lola placed a hand on his back, but he pushed it away.

She persisted.  "Nobody is blaming you!"

"Yeah.  Nobody's blaming."  said Wendell, slowly standing.  He nodded for the woods and excused himself, muttering something about a dry tree.

"I was trained for this sort of thing.  I should have known better." Jack replied to the group, "So yeah, I think I am the one to blame."

"Well, you're wrong then."  She gave him a playful shove.  Perhaps a little too playful.  He went over backwards off the log he was sitting on and smashed against the ground.  Golden stars sparkled in his vision.

The fall did not improve his melancholy mood.  "Figures."  he said, looking up at the first stars appearing through the treetops.

She smiled and patted him on the shin.  (The only part of him still within reach.) 

Then she noticed her sister stood with folded arms on the far side of the circle, lost deep in thought.  It could only mean one thing.  Her smile faded.

"What is it Irm'?" she barely dared ask.

"The plan failed.  Our enemies are still on the loose.  It's time to return back to Seebeck tower."  She stared across the circle at her sister, flickering fire illuminated her face from below, giving it an evil visage.

"No!" Lola mouthed silently, but the other girl's gaze was hot as the flames themselves.

She was right.  It was time.  Lola grew even sadder.

"Okay, so... why would we want to go back there?"  asked a confused Misty.

Lola did a double take at the new question.  "Oh, to use the phone and notify the authorities."  She came up with the lie and gave it without missing a beat.  She was proud of that.

They heard the snap of a twig off to the left.

"Uh oh." said Lola.  "There goes that plan."  Her meaning, totally different to the various listeners.

Jack pulled her and Misty to the ground next to him.  "Quiet!  We're surrounded!" he whispered emphatically. 

They all looked around.  The echoes of the rocky valley made it difficult to determine from which direction the sounds were coming from.

Suddenly, a thud and a crash were heard in the undergrowth.  Then a deafening volley of gunfire shattered the still night.

Jack and the girls peeped cautiously up over the log to see what had happened.  Across the way, Lola did the same.

A chilling thought struck Misty.  It flew out of her mouth at once.  "Wait a minute!  Where's Wendell!??"

"Over here."  said a grunting voice.

They turned to see him painfully dragging something in each hand.  In his right he was dragging a sub-machinegun by its strap, difficult because of the wound.  In his left was a human wrist, difficult because of the weight of the body dragging behind it.

The team all ran to his side.

"What happened?"  asked Misty.

"Well, I was out takin' a..."  He caught sight of the attractive young ladies and tweaked his story,  "I was out patrolling our perimeter, when I spotted a couple of Seebeck's goons sneaking up on us."

Irmingard smiled, compelling him to continue.  "Clubbed this guy, and let me tell you how bad that hurts when you're wounded."

He was finally getting some sympathy now and he liked it.  "Plus, let me tell you, firing one of these things,"  he tossed the gun in the dirt at his friends' feet, "with a bum shoulder is no picnic either."

Despite all the pain he claimed, Wendell did not immediately sit down, but started to rifle through the man's clothing.

Lola shot Irmingard a worried look. 

The latter rushed to his side and started fawning over him,  "You must be exhausted.  Come sit down by me and let my sister do that."

Wendell allowed himself to be led away, but also said, "Don't worry.  I already found what we needed."  He held up a satellite phone.

Lola bit her lip.

"Hey!  Way to go, Wendell!"  declared Misty cheerily.  "Now we won't have to go back to Seebeck tower after all!"

Lola's shoulders slumped.  So much for that plan.

There was nothing for it, though.  They'd go after the Juggernaught again.  She knew that much.  And if they started making headway against Seebeck's plans, well...

Either way, the real battle was about to begin!


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!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Juggernaught: Chapter 36 - Juggernaught

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study.  If you just tuned in, start reading here!


Morning brought no new answers.

"I don't like this." said Misty.  "Whatever could to that to a town..."

Jack nodded.  "Yeah. And dollars to doughnuts that Seebeck character must be involved.  I'm starting to really regret letting that weasal go."

"Yeah, but you said yourself, trying to take a kicking, screaming captive with us would only bog us down."

"Yeah, she's right." added Wendell.  "Now we've got a shot of catching up to this thin while the trail's still fresh."

All eyes turned to him, but no one spoke.  Only gawked.

"What?"  he whined impatiently.

"You really intend to follow that thing?"  Irmingard said.  She had been hanging sweetly onto his arm up until now.

"You know that's insane, right?"  asked Jack.

Wendell's eyes darted back and forth among his friends, still silently looking at him like a man from outer space.

"Well, in my defense..." he offered, "If it's insane, then it's the last thing they'll expect!"

Everybody gave some form of groan and/or face-palm.  All except Misty, who it struck as hilarious.

When she recovered herself enough to speak, "Okay, sorry.  But he's got a point, you know.  What are we gonna do?  Go home?  I don't think so."

"Come on, guys, this is exactly the kind of action we were Jealous over Kurt and his boys getting." She stabbed the air with two fingers in the direction of Lola and Irmingard.  "And since I met you girls, I've never seen you back down from a fight, either."

They smiled and nodded.  They seemed flattered at the allegation.

"Woa, woa, woa."  Jack waved his hands in the air.  "Am I really the only one that thinks that a handfull of teenagers going up against a village-destroying mechanical monster is a bad idea."

"Yeah!"  said everyone in the circle.

"Anyway, you're out-voted."  Lola waved him off.  "Let's get on the trail of this thing!"

Upon tracking and locating their target, the team decided to make way on their stomach the last few yards so as to maintain cover in the low foliage.

They barely had a chance to get a glimpse of the towering wall of metal and machinery, before they witnessed its many gun turrets swing in their direction.

"Run!"  cried Jack.

Nobody needed to be told.  They were all making for the cover of a boulder at the top of a nearby ridge.

They hit the dirt and returned fire, using the weapons pilfered from Seebeck's tower.  They now seemed woefully small and inadequate, and ammo was already low from their earlier escapades.

"Any ideas, folks, would be great." said Misty, not looking up as she popped off another round.

"Okay, we can beat this.  What've they got that we haven't got?"  asked Jack.

Wendell shrugged.  "Robotic cannons that can blast the hat off a housefly at 100 yards.  How can you beat a robot brain with lightning reflexes?"

"You really think they're robotic?" asked Misty.

Jack seemed to be considering something so she turned to Irmingard.

"He may be right.  No other way of explaining the perfect accuracy and synchronization."

Jack snapped his fingers.  "That's it!  'Robot brain'!"

"Yeah, it can out-think us.  So what?"

"Ever hear about Garry Kasparov vs Deep Blue?"

Misty recalled, "Yeah, yeah.  The Man vs. The Machine.  They made us watch it in school.  Never seemed to have any practical value.   (Besides scaring people, that is.)"

"Well, here's some practical value for you:  Some chalked Kasperov's victories up to his human ability to behave unpredictably at times - something a computer can't process."

Wendell was clueless.  " 'Behave unpredictably'?  What good does tha--  Hey. Why's everybody looking at me?"

It clicked.  "Oh no." he said, waving his hands.

"Get out there Wendell." said Misty with a jerk of her head in the direction.

"And do what!??"

"Scream, run around, tell lame knock-knock jokes... whatever you do.  You've got to confuse the computer with your random nonsense while we knock out that gun."

"Why do I have to... hey!  Hey!  Quit pushin'!"

"Think of it this way:" said Jack.  "You only just finished saying how 'insane' is the last thing they'd expect."

Everybody nodded.  "You said that.  You did."  Irmingard pointed out.

"And 'insane' is what you do best."

Wendell felt inclined to take that as an insult until Misty said, "Yeah.  It's kind of like... your superpower."

At that, Wendell stood and sucked in a lungfull of air.  He stuck out his chest like those superhero comics of which he was so fond.

"Great!" Jack quickly shoved Wendell from cover. 

The latter turned around and shouted, "And my knock-knock jokes ARE NOT lame!"

Misty shrugged.  She whispered aside to Jack, "I hope he doesn't get deaded out there.  Then I'll feel bad."

"Me too."

A row of geysers erupted in the dirt as a machine gun tracked toward him.  

"Eep!", he shouted and bolted in the opposite direction.

He took on a crazily winding, zig-zagging course through the deadly shooting gallery.  Despite the amount of lead flying, he seemed to be able to keep one step ahead of the artificial intelligence.

For all his antics, he wasn't able to approach.  However, the distraction did give the others a chance to size up their foe for the first time.

"What'dy think?" asked Jack to the others.

Misty said, "Looks like one of those huge tracked thingys that NASA uses to bring spaceships out to the launch pad."

"Yeah, but everything's high up on legs like a deep sea oil platform.  No way we'll be able to get up to the good stuff from the ground."

"We could disable the tracks."  Lola pointed out.

"Not with those guns.  Look."  Jack drew some imaginary lines in the air as he said, "They're machine controlled, so they can swivel a full 180 in their sockets.  They'd be able to shoot straight down on us."

"What's worse," Jack continued, "I'd venture to guess that whole platform is a couple of floors of barracks for those zombie soldiers.  No telling how many are in there, and how many back at the tower were reserves."

Misty added, "Up on top, where we can't see... probably the whole roof is covered with choppers to bring 'em places."

"So you think our being here is all a wash, then?" asked Irmingard.

" 'fraid so." replied Jack.

"Say.  How's he doing out there?" she added, gesturing beyond the rock with her head.

Misty and Jack popped their heads out of cover once again.

"Good job, Wendell!"  Jack called out, trying to encourage his friend to keep it up.

"Whadya mean?"  Wendell shouted back, "It didn't even like my cactus joke!"

He jumped like a startled hare at the next gunshot and ran off in some crazy direction.

Jack rolled his eyes and muttered, "The cactus joke."

"Surprised it didn't shoot him for that alone." said Misty.

After a silence, offering, "I could shoot him."

"Maybe later.  Might as well call him back though."  Jack sighed and reluctantly added. "Let's get outta here."

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!

Friday, March 2, 2018

Journal: Not Dead Yet (plus sneak peeks!)

Good evening everybody.

Since this blog has been badly neglected, I thought I owed you all an update on what's going on.

At the end of November I "temporarily" put off the Juggernaught story to finish up NaNoWriMo story.  Naturally, that "temporary" extended through the holidays.

And then in January I decided to push myself to do ANOTHER NaNoWriMo.  Yep, that's right, I completed an entire rough draft of another installment of the Moast Unusual series!

True to form, it has everything:  Ancient riddles, car chases, mayhem, lazers, and Wendell being... Wendellish.
 Almost as an afterthought, [Jack] added, "I hope it isn't a big deal all the traffic accidents we caused."

The Prime minister smiled warmly. "No, no, dear boy. Parliament will understand."

"Yeah, and that mailbox we exploded." Wendell added.

"M-mailbox?" asked the Prime Minister. A look of concern washed over her face.

Her eyes drifted to Jane.

Jane shrugged and shook her head, pointing at the bandage. The news came as just as surprising to her.

Jack whispered to Wendell, "I think they call them 'pillar boxes' over here."

"Oh. Right." he said back, and amended his statement to the Prime Minister, "Sorry we exploded one of your pillar boxes. It seemed like such a good idea at the time."

He hung his head in shame. "Now, in hindsight, it just seems violent and dumb."
The story came together so well that I decided to insert it in between Queen of Atlantis and the planned book 2 (which is long enough, but has plot holes big enough to drive, say, a Juggernaught through)

So, between those two, Beast Forever ready for edit, and Juggernaught nearing the end, that makes two more books nearly ready for release, and another two right on their heels.  Does that really mean I could get FOUR titles released this!??  I dunno.  But I'm, sure excited to find out!

Of course, there's a big "if" in all this.  Which will explain why I haven't accounted for February yet.  Remember last winter when I got that nasty tonsil infection?   Well this time spent the last month with severe respiratory problem in my left lung.  Every time I plan a DR's appointment, it clears up just enough that I think I'm winning.  "Well, maybe a little longer..." I say.  But then it hangs on... and on... and on...

Like I say, I've lost a whole month over this business, so unless there's a major improvement this weekend, I'm going in.  There.  I said it.  Now I have to go in to the chop-shop.  You're my accountability, okay? ;)

Well, that's a  pretty long update.  I'll close in my usual way and then add a cover idea sketch for the new book.  The elements are all part of the story and I think the imagery is a little interesting / curiosity-provoking.  Let me know what you think over on the socials.

Live Your Adventure,
-E.L. Fletcher

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Review: Transforming Grace

Author: Jerry Bridges
Publisher: NavPress
ISBN: 978-1-63146-864-3

Cover Synopsis:
Grace is amazing because it is God’s provision for when we fall short of His standards. Unfortunately, too many of us embrace grace for our salvation but then leave it behind in our everyday lives. We base our relationship with God on our performance rather than on His love for us, even when we intuitively know that our performance cannot earn us the love we so desperately crave.

Isn’t it time to stop trying to measure up and begin accepting the transforming power of God’s grace? The product of more than ten years of Bible study, Navigator author Jerry Bridges’s Transforming Grace is a fountainhead of inspiration and renewal that will show you just how inexhaustible and generous God’s grace really is.

As you know, I've done a lot of book reviews before.  This one is unique (with the possible exception of Ben-Hur) in that I kind of knew what to expect going into it.  I'd heard the late Jerry Bridges' expanded view of Grace before,  and when an opportunity came up to get a free copy of one of his books, I snapped that deal right up!

First off, I want to start by saying this is a difficult book to review.  It isn't that I disliked the subject, nor was it at all difficult to understand.  (Far from it, on both counts!)  The trouble comes when you read two chapters and go, "hmmm", and have to think about it for a day or two before continuing on.

In other words, this book leaves you a lot to think about along the way.  The word "Transforming" is much more than just a snappy title.

I think the first thing that has to be discussed is the underlying premise of the book.

The Christian life is often broken down into three high-fallutin' buzzwords, namely:
1) Justification - This is when you accept the gift of Christ's substitutionary sacrifice on your behalf and are declared "clean" as you exchange your sin for his righteousness.

2) Sanctification - That is, living life as a new creation.  You no longer live in ignorance and sin, but instead have the power to overcome it!  You are being transformed from a filthy, egotistical sinner into somebody who is holy and good.

3)  Glorification - Though we have a new drive to be holy, we still mess up constantly, and that gets frustrating fast.  In Heaven, where we are headed, there is no such aggravation because we'll given the ultimate extreme makeover.  We get a whole new body and everything!  More importantly, total immunity from sin.

Perhaps a simpler way of putting it:
1) Free from the consequences of sin.
2) Free from the power of sin.
3) Free from the presence of sin.
But you can get that much in any good, Bible-believing church.

This is where Jerry Bridges steps in and says, "hold on a minute..."  Justification comes from God's Grace and not of your doing.  Glorification is from God's Grace and not your doing.  So why is it, that Christians living the life in between act as if it IS their own doing?

"I've got to buckle down.  I've got to work harder and be a better... Husband... Father... Christian, in general." we say to ourselves.

One time a friend and I were walking through our local bookstore.  He pointed up to a sign and said "Irony".  I didn't get it for a minute.  There was a whole section labelled, "Christian Self-Help".  But then it hit me.  SELF... help!??  That says a lot about the boat we're in, doesn't it!

To counter that mentality, Jerry Bridges looks to Philippians 1:6 "He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ".  Who's job is this, again?  Mine?  I don't think so!

Couple that with the idea of freedom, Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery."  This idea of doing stuff... that gets called a "burden" and "slavery".

This is one of those special sorts of concepts that you hear, and then next time you go read your Bible find it all over the place... when you know to look for it, that is.

The premise, though simple, is really pretty revolutionary, and it leads to quite a number of different and startling ideas, which the rest of the book is devoted to pointing out. 

(P.S. I'm pretty sure some of these ideas will creep into my writing from here on out.  How could they not!??) 

For example, Bridges points out the revolutionary difference between "have to" / "ought to" and "want to" / "get to".  Most Christians are living under the "have to" mentality, which is oppressive.  I "have to" go to church, or I "have to" stop this sin or that.  That's burdensome, and certainly not the thinking of a transformed heart!

Like if you're walking along the beach with your wife and a pretty girl goes by.  Try telling her, "I'd really rather be with that person, but I made a promise when we got married so I have to go home with you instead." 
Yeah.  Thanks a lot.

That, verses, "She's okay, but I'm glad I get to go home with the best girl on the beach."  Both have the same net result, but which one has the right heart?

Bridges, quoting an old English preacher points out that for something to be truly good, it consists of three parts:  The right thing, done the right way, and achieving the right end.  We get all legalistic, looking only at the right end, but never even pause to consider the motives that led up to it.

In fact, he says that more often than not, we're usually motivated to do "good" soley because of what we get out of the deal!  Whether it means recognition from others, a check-mark on some imaginary score card, or simply personal feel-good, the motive is the same:  Selfishness.  Only when we recognize and admit that Grace is truly 100% un-earned do we gain freedom from acting under the wrong motivation.

But you're probably reading this, thinking, "That Bridges guy... he's teaching that people can just run amok and sin all they want!"  He is not into that at all, and discusses it at length.  Furthermore, he also quotes Dr Martin-Lloyd Jones (who also no slouch when it came to righteousness).  "[Dr. Lloyd-Jones] was saying that the presentation of salvation by grace alone [...] leaves us us to the possibility that people may charge us with saying, 'It does not matter what you do; sin as much as you like.'"  He even suggests that if we're not in danger of being misunderstood, then we're neglecting the message!
Now, at this point, either one of two things have happened:
1) I've done a bad job of writing this article and you're thoroughly confused.

- or -

2) You're holding your noggin' going, "wooooah" like some washed-up flower child.
I'm hoping for number 2. :)

The thing is, what I've said barely scratches the surface of what the book has to offer.  The it goes on and on like this - one "aha" moment after another.  I obviously recommend it, even to the level of importance of the classics such as "My Utmost for His Highest".  It's that important.

Quality-wise, the points are all fully supported by large blocks of scripture.  Likewise, he has a good command of the wise teachers of old, and though the topics tend to meander, Bridges does a great job of explaining mind-blowing topics in a way that is both simple and solid.

If you look for the exact ISBN rather than just the title, this new edition also comes with a discussion guide (approximately the last 1/4 of the book) and a "Help for Leaders" section in the back, which would be useful in covering the material in a group setting.

I can think of no better way to end this review than with Brides' own words:
I invite you and urge you to lay aside any remnant of self-goodness you may think you still have.  Admit your total spiritual bankruptcy, and drink deeply from the infinite grace of God.  And then in deep awareness of what you received, extend that same spirit of grace to others.
Amen, to that!

Live YOUR Adventure,
-E.L. Fletcher.

[DISCLAIMER: The preceding unbiased review was performed in exchange for the book.]

Monday, November 27, 2017

Chapter 35: Surprise Guests

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study.  If you just tuned in, start reading here!

The team camped out in the woods that night.  It was discussed whether they could find another town and secure lodging, but they were thoroughly enough lost that there was no guarantee of finding anything.   Worse still, the one thing they knew for sure was out there was whatever force had wasted an entire village -  presumably within seconds.  Not the type of thing you'd want to stumble into in the dark.

For that reason, they turned a direct ninety degrees from the road and the path of destruction, drove along an old logging road as far as the terrain would allow, and then hiked another five miles for good measure.

In later years, they'd be more likely to pursue the enemy all night rather than running and hiding.  Tonight, however, they were still very young... and very scared.

As an extra precaution they decided to set a watch.  Jack scooped up three dry pine needles from the forest floor.  Snapping them off to different lengths, he stuck them in a closed fist, tips lined up evenly.

After all had drawn, they held out their lot to compare in the flickering firelight.

Jack's was clearly the shortest.  "Blue watch." he declared, using the same Navy terminology that Ms McCready had used during training.  "Figures."

"I got white." said Wendell.

"Red!  Woohoo!" Misty cheered, having pulled the earliest watch.

She wasn't cheering long, however, when the boys retired and she found herself left alone with the strange sounds of the night.  These seemed all the more frightening, being in a foreign land and without even a sliver of moon to shed light on whatever made them.

"This European tour is turning out nothing like the brochure." she said aloud.

The sound of her voice startled some unseen something, which ran up a tree.  She decided not to speak again.

Despite jumping out of her skin every time an owl hoo'd, the time passed uneventfully.

Wendell, after much shaking and threats of personal torture, was roused at midnight and set to work.  Once the strange sounds of the night hit him, however, he was wide awake.  At first, he doubted that he could hear any approaching danger over the thud of his own heartbeat echoing in his ears.

As the night wore on, terror gradually gave way to boredom, and then boredom melted down into weariness. 

Despite Misty's unveiled threats that military watchmen who fall asleep on duty are executed, Wendell found himself drifting.

His head sagged.  His eyes drooped.  Rough bark rasped along his cheek.


Like lightning he was awake and on his feet, pistol drawn and pointed at the inky void from which the sound had come.

He squinted hard into the darkness for a long time.  It proved too thoroughly black for even night-adjusted eyes to pierce.  No second sound ever came.  The silence rang in his ears as he strained against it for some clue.

He even tried to 'use your nose' as Michael Moast had taught them all.  He inhaled deeply.  Well, maybe Michael could have gotten something out of this, but all Wendell could smell was enough tangy pine needles to make snorting an air freshener seem tame.

Not even Micheal could smell anything over that.  he thought.

Well... maybe Michael wouldn't have camped here.  his mind argued back.

And then his eyebrows shot up and mumbled. "Michael wouldn't have camped here!"

A chill ran up his spine.  He glanced around.

They were on top of a hill.  The fire could be seen for miles.  Stupid.

The fire was made with green wood, and not enough air.  It was very smoky.  Stupid!

They hadn't concealed their abandoned truck, nor their footprints.  Stupid, stupid!

Now that he had completely freaked himself out, Wendell was in no mood for sleeping.


He spun and fired long before he registered it as a word. 

Boom!  Jack and Misty's nervous systems flew out of bed, dragging the rest of their bodies with them.  When they landed, Jack had his weapon cocked and pointed in both hands in perfect police officer form, where Misty reflexively dropped to a solid fighting stance.

If mind, reflex, and emotion were separate individuals, then the first member of the group finally got its lazy bones out of bed.

"Say,  what's going on here?"  asked Jack, now taking a good look at the scene.

Wendell stood facing a woman.  She held a dainty china coffee cup in one hand, and Wendell's upraised wrist in the other.  The drink and the recently-fired pistol in his hand each let off a spiraling tendril of smoke that drifted long and high into the night air.

"Irmingard..."  the sound trickled from Wendell's throat.

It really was her! 

She really did have coffee!

After a moment of staring like an idiot, Wendell realized that he'd started a sentence and never finished it.  He didn't know what to say until he saw the smoking gun.  "I could've killed you!"

"No you couldn't." said another voice from the far side of the campfire.

All heads turned.

None could make out where the voice was coming from.

Jack noticed it first.  One of the surrounding bushes seemed to have inexplicably moved itself closer to the fire during the night.  Not only that, but among its branches was one that was far too perfectly straight to be a product of nature.  It was the barrel of a rifle!  And with camouflage skills like that, there could be only one person holding onto the other end of it.

"Lola."  concluded Jack.

Wendell almost asked, 'How did you find us?', but then remembered his earlier argument with himself over their poor woodcraft skills.  Instead, he asked, "What happened?  How did you get away from the compound?"

"We should talk about that over coffee.  Aren't you going to ask me to sit down?"

Wendell stepped aside, and gestured toward the fire in a gentlemanly way.

"Thank you." she said, and moved to take her seat.

Looking up, Irmingard addressed the bush,  "Lola, I'm sure we're all very impressed, but we've seen it now.  Let it go, okay."

The bush grunted.  With a rustle of leaves, the elder Rabishaw sister popped from the foliage and made her way to the rest of the group.  They had a lot to discuss.

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!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Chapter 34: Trailer Park

The the following is the next exciting next chapter of the ongoing eBook:
Juggernaught: A Moast Unusual Bible Study.  If you just tuned in, start reading here!

Row after row of trailers slid along, their reflection distorted against the sleek lines of the freshly-polished Mercedes SUV.  The woman inside wore darkly-tinted shades and a gauzey silk scarf.

She swung the wheel of the powerful machine around with an expert hand, and slid it into a narrow strip of driveway next to a gleaming red Ferrari.

The car was at strange odds with the faded teal trailer house next to it, but some people have their priorities straight in their own mind, whether they make sense to others or not.

Though a woman of a different social class, Melinda Moast didn't pass any judgment as her footsteps creaked up the wooden steps to the front door.  She reached out to press the doorbell, but her finger was snatched out of the air by a meaty paw.

"Don' wanna be touchin' that now, dearie."

Melinda looked down at the pudgy form of the old Bible Study (and Special Forces) veteran Ms McCready.  She must have heard the deck creaking.  In fact, it may even be the reason why she maintained a creaky deck.

"W-why not?"  Melinda asked, surprised in spite of her dealings with the strange Irishwoman.

"Just heard some ol' friends o' mine are in town.  Got 'er wired up to 110 volts in case they decide to try anythin'."

"Old friends?"  Melinda asked, her gaze fixed on the small silver button, imagining how bad it would have hurt to touch it.

"Guerrillas, mostly.  We helped put 'em in power, but they botched it and might blame us."  She hesitated.  Looking Melinda up and down she added, "Well, enough o' that.  No sense standin' out here on the porch, listnin' to an old woman go on about the good ole days.  Come on in.  I got a kettle on the stove and a scone with yer name on it."

Melinda took up the invitation and was soon seated on an old couch with a crocheted orange afghan, still trying to wrap her mind around how some kind of jungle warfare translated into 'the good ole days'.

She tried to bring up the reason for her visit, but her hostess wouldn't hear of it until tea and scones were served in proper fashion.

"Baked these mesself." she announced proudly as she offered a plate of raisin scones.  "T'aint as easy as field-strippin' an AK-47, but it's what old, retired people are s'posed to do."

Then she looked Melinda deep in the eye.  "I am still retired, right?"

Melinda tried to wave the insinuation away and gave a smile that didn't come off nearly as positive as she was trying for.  "Of course, of course."

Ms McCready raised an eyebrow.

In response, Melinda hastened to explain, "It's just that Michael is out of town and he needs help hunting down clues for this new kind of weapon somebody is building..."

The skeptical look remained.

"No, it's not what you think.  He wants me to join him in the project.  What we really need is somebody to check up on our new recruits while we're away.  They're in the middle of a cultural tour of Europe and, well, I got this message this morning..."

Melinda lifted the phone she already held.  A quick flick of her index finger started the recording, while her thumb held the [Vol +] until it reached a sufficient level.

"...should about do it."  came Jack's voice in the background.

"Hello?  Hello?" said Misty. "This is a message for Melinda Moast.  We tried Michael's phone first, but couldn't get through."

The trail end of the sentence was warped and disappeared in a burst of static.  It picked back up again a moment later.

"... to build his own private army, but we stopped him!  No we're in the middle of..."

More static.  Longer this time.

"... completely destroyed!  We're in way over our heads here.  Please send help."

An electrical sounding snap was heard and Jack shouted, but his cry of pain was cut off by the sound of a relay click and a dialtone.

"Well, go figure on that 'un..."  Ms McCready said.  She stood, and paced the floor, lost in thought.

As she passed a tacky full-length mirror she paused and looked at herself in it.  She shook her head at what she saw.

"You sure I'm still retired if'n I do this?" she asked.

Melinda nodded.  "Of course.  All it is is a little outing.  Fly out, see what they need, fly home.  You can be back to baking before Wednesday."

"Good.  I feel better about tha'." Ms McCready replied.

She reached up and pressed the corner of the mirror.  A magnetic catch released and the whole thing swung aside to reveal a small arsenal.

She snatched up one of her favorite semiautomatic rifles, squinted into the chamber with one eye, and then, satisfied, let it snap shut.

Now it was Melinda's turn to be apprehensive.

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, November 9, 2017

NaNoWriMo 2017 - Official announcement

Some of you may be already in on this, and thank you, but others might not have heard yet.

I decided last minute to participate in this year's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

If you are involved as well and want to be "buddies", here's a link to my account:

Since this wasn't accounted for the Moast Unusual series plans, I decided to go a completely different direction with the story I'm writing.

The idea I chose to go with was:
(And, yes, this is only a work-in-progress cover, so please don't judge my artwork too harshly.)

What if Beauty didn't make it in time, and he had to stay a beast FOREVER!??

If you think about it, the original fairytale is easy.  He just has to behave himself long enough to win Beauty's love.  How many marriages are like that, where a guy puts on a good front while dating, but then after the wedding he turns out to be somebody else?

Looking at it from another perspective, concerning the whole curse thing, the spell is broken and things are all fine again.  Poof!  Is that how a good marriage works?  What about having to stick it out and work through your problems?

Finally, in the standard tale, we miss out on a lot of deliciously deep emotional turmoil.  What about the Beast's self-image?  Does he struggle with feelings of inadequacy?  How does that manifest itself?  Does he push her away?  Build up emotional walls?  What about jealousy when she talks to somebody who isn't ugly like he is?  The list goes on and on.  

There are a lot of things to explore.

So, anyway, I thought that this twist made the retelling worth exploring.

As usual, let me know what you think over on the socials.

Live Your Adventure,
-E.L. Fletcher

======================= UPDATE =======================

Pardon my ASCII art there, but I thought you might like to know how it all worked out, so...


#NaNoWriMo #NaNoWinner2017

I really liked how it turned out.  I'll definitely have to edit it up all purdy and come up with a release plan.

Thanks for all the moral support, folks!