The Highwaymen

Now that spring has arrived, the road construction crews will be out in full force. Winter caused many potholes and other road deteriorations which necessitate such endeavors. But how can you be sure that the construction is from the appropriate highway department?

Why would anyone pretend to be a highway crew making repairs? The answer may surprise and shock you. You may not believe it. But at the very least, be warned and be aware.

A large drug cartel south of the border has broken off into other business ventures. One of them is human trafficking – the sale of abducted people into slavery. It is an insidious and reprehensible practice, but one that is very much alive today.

To meet the demand, the cartel had to become inventive. They simply couldn’t take one or two people at a time. They had to up the supply.

The answer was the road construction crews. Posing as a crew in remote locations, the cartel could easily obtain their trafficking victims. They would simply drive right up to them.

If you are in an isolated mountainous pass, or perhaps a long stretch of highway in the middle of nowhere, or even a deserted rural area, be very careful when you come upon a crew that has shut off part of a road. This is the beginning of their tactic. The cartel has singled out an area like a spider weaves a web.

They pick locations that are low or without cellular service. Then, they will stop a vehicle. From there, it is easy pickings. The group will pull the people out of the car and throw them in a large semi truck. If they have had a good day, the truck will already be full of people.

Then, they will either haul the vehicles away to chop shops where they are disassembled and sold as parts or they will often times bury the entire vehicle in the ground with the very construction equipment they used as part of their ruse.

In any case, it is quite an undertaking. But, since human trafficking is lucrative, the investment seems to be paying off for them. They may just keep doing it.

©2016, Brian James Lane



Dog God

Since Marsha had left, it had just been Dominic and Lando. Lando was a fifty pound black Labrador. Dominic adored the dog. And Lando loved Dominic.

Theirs had been a love triangle where Marsha had been on the outs. It was no wonder she left them. Sometimes, Dominic even missed her.

Dominic and Lando went everywhere together. If there was a place that didn’t accept dogs, then Dominic didn’t want to go there either. It just wasn’t worth it to him.

Dominic would shower affection on the animal. He would dote on him and the dog would smile. Then, Dominic would usually add the saying, “When the great dog gods of the universe return to enslave the people of the earth, just remember I did that.”

Dominic was excited about the approach of spring. It meant the weather was getting nice enough to do things outdoors. Camping, hiking, fishing, and more. All of those activities awaited for him and his best friend to do.

And barbecues. Even though it was only supposed to be cloudy and in the fifties this afternoon, Dominic vowed to light up the grill and share some juicy steaks with Lando. They both loved to barbecue.

After a dull, drudging day at the office, Dominic returned to his usual enthusiastic greeting. He got down on the ground and wrestled with Lando, rubbing his stomach. The dog growled with delight.

“Now Lando,” Dominic said, “just remember me when the great dog gods of the universe return to enslave the people of the earth.”

The dog grinned, wagging its long thick tail. Dominic patted him.

Dominic grabbed the tray of barbecue materials and headed out. He lit the grill. Then, he found an old Tennis ball and played catch until the fire was ready to cook.

A lot of the meat never made it to the dining room. Dominic cut off a little sample and gave it to Lando. Dominic added, “When the great dog gods of the universe return to enslave the people of the earth, just remember that.”

To his astonishment, Lando replied. “I will take it under advisement. However, it is the great feline gods you should be worried about.”

©2016, Brian James Lane


The Banshee Wails

Gilbert and Grady walked the familiar path. It was a meandering groove in the ground that cut through the thick carpet of grassy hill to expose the dark brown dirt beneath. Their shoes were caked in it.

The fog was thick. Once the sun rose, it would burn off that mist. It lent to an otherworldly, dreamlike quality.

They both lived in the same village, a long walk away from where they worked on the docks. A walk that required their rising long before dawn to be able to show up on time and also meant they were not home until well after dark. The sunlight hours were spent working. And working hard.

But, Gilbert considered, at least they were outside. Others worked at the cannery. They had similar walks but had to work indoors. Those poor, wretched souls, Gilbert mused.

The two men rarely spoke. Long ago, they had lost the words for each other. Their travel was more routine than anything else.

They crested Murphy’s Hill and towards the river. They were at the half way point. Gilbert blew into his gloved fingers to warm them up.

Routines die hard. The men continued their trek in silence. But that soon was broken.

A piercing wail shook them. It was abrupt, enough to halt their progress. They looked at each other.

“Sure if it can’t be true,” Grady said.

“What is that?” Gilbert asked.

Before Grady could answer, they both saw it.

The old hag rose from the fog itself to float in the air less than six meters above them. She wore a tattered shroud and was barefoot. Her long, white hair flowed behind her. Her eyes were pure black.

Her high pitch screamed made both men cover their ears. “It can’t be,” Gilbert replied.

“It is amazing, all right,” Grady said, “I wasn’t sure I could do it. I know about you and Katie. But, now that I’ve seen the Banshee, I know your fate. But since we’ve both seen her, I know mine, as well.”

Grady launched himself at Gilbert. The two fought, but slipped on the dewy grass. Both toppled down to the waiting river below. The Banshee stopped wailing.

©2016, Brian James Lane



The Tides of March

Arturo and Clark braved the blustery coastline. The gear they carried was heavy. They were intent, however, on bringing home a few Dungeness.

Remington Bay was deserted this time in March. The skies were gray, the winds were biting, and the waves were tumultuous. There were no boats leaving or coming to the pier. That was what they liked about crabbing.

Spring was fast approaching. The bay would be a mass of activity with better weather. The competition for crab would be too much. They would be lucky to get a few keepers.

They saw the weather, however inhospitable, as their ally. It kept others away, leaving the best crabbing for themselves. Despite their eyes watering from the stinging, cold winds, both men had smiles on their faces.

Another of their closely guarded crabbing secrets was that once you got down into the pier, the jetty and the surrounding trees and coast shielded most of the direct wind. They got into the hollow and could take off their mufflers. They could even hear each other talk.

As if he thought Clark could read his mind, Arturo said, “I suppose the harbor seals figured out of secret.”

Clark looked around. The seals made up for the lack of boats in the harbor. They were everywhere. “Strange.”

“Yeah, weird. Good thing we bought chicken as bait, huh? Seals would steal it if we used fish,” Arturo commented.

Arturo strung a length of twine through the chicken cavity and tied it to the bottom of the ring. He threw it in as the rope inside uncoiled. He held on to the other end tightly.

Clark repeated the procedure. Then, he shivered. Clark looked up and noticed that every seal in the harbor was staring at them.

The men stared back. Before their eyes, the seals began to take off their skins. Underneath, they transformed into beautiful unclothed women.

One woman said, “You’ve taken all the fish. All the crab.”

“I’m sorry,” Arturo replied.

Clark added, “What do you want with us?”

She said, “We must eat.”

The flock of beautiful women descended on the two hapless crabbers. With the wind blowing so fiercely, nobody could hear them screaming.

©2016, Brian James Lane



By No Means

Phil knew he wasn’t going to make it home when his wife wanted. Once again, he had gotten wrapped up in work and lost track of time. Yolanda was never going to be furious.

Yolanda would most likely have died a spinster. Her father’s corporation, his employer, was an excellent dowry, however. It had been a great selling point in getting betrothed.

It was so easy to get lost in work when there was nothing calling you home. Nothing but a nagging, insensitive, harpy of a wife who was as ugly on the outside as she was on the inside. It was so easy to forget all that from the spectacular view of a twelfth story window office.

Sometimes, Phil could even imagine he had earned his position legitimately. When everyone at work had left for the day and he immersed himself in work. There were none of those condemnatory stares or condescending tones. Even the mass firings at the office and at home with some servants couldn’t stop all the judgement. But when it was just him and his work, Phil was happy.

Such was the case tonight. He just felt like he had escaped it all. But it had only been a temporary reprieve. Now, he was going to have to face his verbally, sometimes even physically, abusive wife.

Phil wondered if the price for his position was too high. Something he contemplated often. Phil drove home, worrying.

He steadied himself on taking whatever Yolanda was in the mood for dishing out as he walked up the cobblestone driveway to the mansion. When he got there, Jenkins opened the door for him with a white-gloved hand. Phil looked around. All the servants were in the foyer. They all stared at him. What was going on?

“Please, hold this, sir,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins handed Phil a baseball bat. His autographed Barry Bonds bat. It was caked in blood. Phil looked at the butler, confused.

Jenkins nodded. “Nobody is going to believe you, sir.”

Phil already knew what he was going to find upstairs. He also knew that Jenkins was right. He had all the motive and no alibi. Nobody was going to believe him.

©2016, Brian James Lane


Spring Forward

TerraOrg prohibited time travel. This company was more powerful than any government and ran most of them anyway. The punishment to avoid paradox was banishment from the planet.

A time paradoxes was the most destructive force known to man. Far worse than any atomic weapons and all wars combined. In fact, the last transgression resulted in a combined effort of 193 people and 82 separate time jumps just to restore the original dimensional path.

Paradoxes could result in what was known as the cascade fault effect. This is where one paradox creates another and that impacts others in a geometric progression that will ultimately envelop and destroy the known universe.

Kent Haynes knew all this. He knew the danger and he knew the ramifications of getting caught. TerraOrg had equipment in place around the planet that could detect time jumps as well as their geographic and temporal origin.

He also knew that with great risk comes great reward. There were opposing factions to TerraOrg which paid handsomely for Dimensionauts. Those time travelers performed certain tasks for hire.

He also knew that there were limitations to TerraOrgs detection methods. Specifically, this was in regions where Daylight Savings were used. There was a microsecond of offline time when the clocks were realigned. This was enough to jump through time undetected and return practically instantaneously.

In order to return to normal time and space, Dimensionauts had to be tethered by a microscopic variable wormhole. This was anchored in the present by a device that connected to a similar technology worn on the belt of the Dimensionaut. Thus, they could be pulled back at will.

The technology could also be run by the Dimensionaut without assistance from another, thus furthering the connection between whomever was paying for the highly illegal service. This is what Kent used.

He jumped forward just in the nanosecond it took for the times to spring forward and hour and thus be undetectable. He was ready.

Kent jumped into the room where he saw his target. An old man turned around, scratching his beard. Kent approached him, wielding a knife. He carried out his job as assassin just as the tether pulled him back suddenly.

©2016, Brian James Lane


Memory Reimagined

He was grateful to have a job, especially doing something he enjoyed. Bennie knew he should be happy. But he wasn’t. And he knew why.

Guilt, plain and simple. Bennie loved writing and he got to do it for a career. It shouldn’t bother him about why he was writing, should it?

In his group were Jamie, Glenn, and Margaret. He was the head writer, which was somewhat ironic given the nature of their creative works.

Bennie and his writing group were employed by SynapTech. It was a huge corporation that took contract work for government agencies. Often times, opposing governments. The contracts had one purpose. Create fake memories.

Bennie’s group was one of many meant to fabricate entire lifetime memories to replace ones that had been erased for whatever reason. Bennie didn’t ask questions. He just wrote backstories that never happened.

Each of the four had their specific areas of expertise. Bennie’s was characterization. He wrote realistic people into the lives of the subjects. He loved making up different personalities.

Jamie wrote what happened to the subject through their lives. Her expertise was plot. Often times, Bennie and Jamie had to work closely together as motivations for plot were determined by interactions with characters. It was engaging, difficult work.

Glenn took charge of setting, writing colorful locations for the lives of the subjects. He was a master, Bennie knew, creating intricate descriptions

Then, there was Margaret. She didn’t work directly with any of the group, but instead wove her artistry throughout. Her writing would necessitate rewrites of the other three due to the nature of her work.

Margaret wrote conflict. Bennie appreciated the need for such memories in a subject, but he often found they were uncomfortable for him to incorporate. Many time, for example, his characterizations would change due to the conflicts they had with the subject.

She particularly enjoyed writing family drama. Bennie considered the fact that he didn’t like her style because of his past history. His father severely beat him growing up. It impacted his interaction with people throughout his life.

“Thinking about your father again?” Margaret asked, smiling.

Bennie shuddered. He had never mentioned his past to anyone before.

©2016, Brian James Lane



The night was cool, but not as much as it should have been for this time of year. There might be a storm or two left in old man winter, but the goddess of spring was definitely fighting to rise. Akecheta breathed in the night air deeply to calm his nerves.

The reservation was in the wastelands of Arizona, between Page and Flagstaff and little else in between. Sometimes, when times were tough, they made a trek into a small Native American town called Cameron. Mostly, they were off the beaten path and on their own. A tribe within a tribe. Separated by more than geography.

Even so, none of their remaining thirteen members were willing to leave the tribe. They all had a blood oath to see the battle through. They were being hunted and had to band together to survive.

Once, they had been a small tribe in the fifties. Over the years, that had dwindled to the teens.

“Soon, it will come. The winds tell me,” Said Cha’kwaina.

The old woman’s blind eyes looked out past Akecheta. She was the secret weapon. She knew when a shapeshifter was on the hunt. And tonight, the hunter would become the hunted.

The old woman had only been used for defense before. But now, Akecheta brought Ogaleesha and Wakiza with him tonight in the hopes of killing the shapeshifter. They brought their sacred daggers. It was to be an ambush.

The four of them sat on the rocks outside of the main road near the gas station. Though the lands were flat and the shapeshifters could attack from anywhere, Cha’kwaina had told them the shifter would come that way. So, they waited.

It didn’t take long. Soon, a man rode in on a motorcycle. He parked next to the pumps and went into the small store.

“What if he is only a man?” Ogaleesha asked.

“Then it would be murder,” Wakiza replied.

The three warriors drew their knives and went after the man inside the small store. Cha’kwaina cocked her head listening. She never saw the motorcycle transform into a woman who stalked her quietly. A woman with very long fingernails and sharp, protruding teeth.

©2016, Brian James Lane


The Last Flight Out

Rhett had time to kill. His flight didn’t leave for two hours. The thought about spending that time in the airport didn’t appeal to him. He decided to wander outside instead.

The city was like a thousand others he had seen. Business led him to travel so much that the novelty had long since worn off. Rhett was bored.

At a newsstand, he grabbed a copy of the National News. He could find a place to sit down and read for a while. Overhead, the loud roar of a jet reminded him that he wasn’t too far away from his area of departure. He didn’t want to miss the last flight out.

After some more wandering, Rhett settled on a quaint little coffee house on a street corner. He was also grateful that the place was empty. He had the place to himself, save for a single barista.

Her name was Kyung-Mi, according to her name tag. She was amicable and, Rhett soon found out, talkative. In addition to taking his order, she wanted to chat.

“It gets cold here. Colder than you might think for this time of year,” Kyung-Mi said.

Rhett nodded politely, turning his head towards the paper in a somewhat less than polite gesture of dismissal. It didn’t work. She continued, “Even in March, the ice can set up on the wings of those birds.”

As if on cue, another plane flew by overhead. Rhett nodded again, but did not look at the young woman. He hoped for some solitude and wished she would just get his coffee.

“Ice on the wings can bring a plane down,” She said cryptically.

The barista left and returned shortly.

As she set the coffee down on the small table, she said, “That is what happened. Plane crashed here.”

Rhett took his coffee and sipped it. “Thank you,” He said.

Finishing it quickly, he left the shop. Overhead, yet another plane flew by. He turned back to watch it fly away and was shocked.

Instead of the quaint little shop, there was an empty lot filled with rubble. It was surrounded by yellow emergency tape. Rhett could still taste the coffee flavor on his tongue.

©2016, Brian James Lane


Take Heed of the Gray Man

Ghosts remind us of our impending death. Some ghosts are still trapped between this world and the next in a purgatory of circumstances which led to their death. Others are malevolent spirits, jealous of life and equally as inclined to steal what they don’t have out of envy.

But not all ghosts are malevolent. Some try to warn others away from their tragic fate. These benevolent spirits may even prove to be lifesavers. That is, if you pay attention to their warning.

Such is the case along the North Carolina coast, an area prone to hurricanes. This is where the San Ciriaco Hurricane tragically took the life away from Hiram Gray, leaving his cold, sodden body to wash upon the shore. He drowned in the waters just off shore from Hatteras Island where he served aboard the USS Wilmington. But that was not the last folks would see of Hiram Gray.

Since his death, the enigmatic Mr. Gray has been known as The Gray Man. Not just because of his surname. His entire appearance is cast in a strange gray hue. Gray as the storm clouds that foretell of bad weather. Gray as mist. Gray as, well, the ghost that he is.

The Gray Man warns of impending hurricanes to those in danger. Many claim to have seen a gray man waving his arms in warning. This is just before he dissipates into the salt spray of the waves. Or sometimes he is said to dissolve into shadow. Many eyewitness tales can corroborate the ghostly tale.

The spirit could be attributed to saving quite a few lives that might otherwise have fallen victim to storms. The Gray Man was seen prior to the Great Atlantic Hurricane, Hurricane Hazel, Hurricane Gloria, Hurricane Emily, and Hurricane Floyd.

People who have visited the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse claim you can see the Gray Man without having to risk life and limb from an approaching hurricane. All you have to do is look through the glass at night. If the light sweeps by a certain place on the beach, it will illuminate something that isn’t entirely all there. Something transparent and gray, dressed in sailor’s garb.

The Gray Man beckons.

©2016, Brian James Lane