Green Cabin part 66

He nodded instead of speaking words he knew would at least sound inappropriate. All he could do then was watch and hope.

Hope is the only thing stronger than fear. He learned that when a boy living on the street, begging for food, taking shelter wherever he found it, which, one night, was inside a brick and mortar abandoned church. It smelled old, but not the way other old things did as if they were rotting from the inside. There were quotes written on the walls along the edges where they met the ceiling. I believe in God even when He is silent. I believe in love even when I’m alone. And Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.

There were others but to a boy of eight, those three where surprisingly needed. For the first time in weeks, he slept through the night. He resided in that old church for months. He cleaned it, claimed it as his, and even decorated places within with the bits and pieces of other peoples’ lives he found outside.

The Druid healers chatted as they worked on Margaret. Their language was unknown, but then he stood on a disk platform of earth mounted atop tree branches five hundred feet in the air.

He studied their movements, saw they used some kind of exotic looking tools, and applied potions to her wounds. Finally exhaustion crept over him and he sat with his back against a tree branch that joined the disk to the tree and nodded off.

An eerie lamentation jammed him awake. Stanton was on his feet without thinking about moving, ready to fight whatever new threat invaded. But he was alone with the warrior and the healers. They still worked on Margaret. He went to them and looked down at the person all called his woman. He color was normal, her chest moving normally. Her eyes were closed and he wondered why he heard the awful sound.

Then, when one of the healers lifted Margaret’s ruined leg, he saw why. Margaret was re-growing her leg. In the middle where the bone was shattered from the explosion, there was a stub of new bone with muscle, tendons, and flesh. As he stared he thought he was it moving, weaving and regenerating.

The sight actually turned his stomach, but he had know some of Margaret’s history so forced himself to remain calm and focus on the fact that his feelings for her remained strong and that she carried their child. And what will the baby look like? Margaret when she’d shape shifted or an ordinary human?He queried himself finally. He’d fought against the questions thinking it might be misconstrued as selfish and inappropriate. Now he was stunned by her ability and half hoped their child would have it too.

Shaking his head slightly, and not wishing to disturb the healers, he walked away and found the warrior tending their horses.

“How do the horses leave this place or do they live in the tree too?” he asked.

“We will move tree disks to eventually lower them to the ground below. We have facilities for the horses there.” She looked around as if expecting someone of something to appear, and then shook her head slowly. “The tree is accommodating.” She finally continued brushing the black mare. Since he saw no blood, Stanton assumed she also had a way to wash the horses.

After an hour, Stanton grew restless. The disk was not large enough to accommodate his needs. Margaret had not regained consciousness, and the healers had stopped working on her wounds. He believed that when they saw that Margaret had the ability to regrow a limb, the healers were stunned and perhaps some deep superstition had been awakened. They now seemed reluctant to touch her, even stand within ten feet of where she lay.

He walked to Margaret’s location, and squatted alongside her, placed a hand on her forehead, leaned down enough so he might hear her breathing. Then he placed his other hand on her abdomen and drew a long slow breath as he felt his child kick against his contact.

“You live, my little one,” he whispered feeling emotions he never previously imagined could exist. The felt deeply protective, and the need, no the demand to wrap his arms around Margaret and hold her close to his chest so she might, even though unconscious, feel the love that throbbed within him for her and the child.

Leaning so his lips might graze her ear as he spoke, he said, “I cannot lose you. We have much to do and we will travel once you are healed and ready.” He wanted to tell her that he loved her, but felt odd about expressing strong emotions to her while she was not aware.

A hand on his shoulder drew him back, away from the place within that he had explored, a place with hidden emotions he’d thought buried and gone after his assassin training was completed.

Green Cabin part 65

The warrior joined him, roughly shoved him aside and began working on Margaret. She managed to stop the bleeding, but needed to remove Margaret’s leg too.

His heart sank, felt torn into ribbons of grief. “I trusted them to not hurt her.” He sounded shocked and filled with dread.

“This is why it was important for you to leave at once.” The warrior said. “Margaret will live at least long enough for us to get to safety. Once there our doctors will do what is necessary to save both if possible.”

Losing both Margaret and their child was incomprehensible. He began to ask questions, but found she was moving away on foot. He followed and stopped alongside her. She stood at the edge of an abyss. He turned to look back. There was no sign a portal existed where a moment before they’d passed through one. Instead, he saw they were on a large round disk of earth, with the top sections of tree limbs overhanging one side. Walking its perimeter showed him they were at least five hundred feet above the thickly foliaged ground. Laying down so he could safely look over the edge, he saw that the disk they stood on was supported by large branches from a tree that leaned outwards as if the weight pulled it that way. On his back, he saw several more similar disks above. The highest one was a small speck. Each disk was supported by what looked like the same tree by huge tree limbs from a massive central trunk. There were even more disks around three sides of the huge dark tree.

Towering over all of the disks he saw three stone statues of what he believed was a goddess. She had a merciful face, and wore a hooded robe that hung to her feet.

The ring world just became stranger. The place the portal opened to was a world within a world. Slowly, wearily, Stanton stood and rejoined the warrior.

“What do you call your home?” He brushed the loose dirt from his clothing, and shook his head as he did. Still in uniform, Stanton.

She studied him a moment as if needing to evaluate the question for sincerity. “This is Ffaraon. We are Pheryllt Druids once metallurgists and Alchemists. This tree city is known as Ambrosial City.”

“How long have your people lived in this world?”

She frowned in a way that expressed a slice of anger along the edge of misunderstanding. “We have always lived here.”

The distant past was once the distant future, his mentor informed him while he trained in human history. He nodded as if understanding, which he supposed at the time in a way he did.

As he opened his mouth to continue, a loud noise interrupted. They both turned at the same time and watched the most amazing sight he’d ever seen. His companion didn’t seem surprised or even impressed at the sight. Three creatures eight feet tall that looked like a slender lions with a flowing manes, longhaired tails lengthier than their bodies and arms that ended in human hands with six long delicate fingers. Their faces made his heart jump and race. They were like snowy owls and above stood antlers that curved down and inward. Their bodies and tails were silver gold, their manes reddish gold and antlers black. Behind the antlers stood a pair of ears not unlike cat ears, but narrower and taller. They had gold brown slanted human eyes filled with the intensity of knowledge he found astounding. As they climbed off the tree limb that transported them they looked like large cats walking upright on hind legs.

“Good,” said the warrior. “They have arrived. If your woman can be saved they will save her.”

“And if not?” he spoke the thought he’d worried in the back of his mind.

“They will then save the child. She will be quite premature but for the guardians her age will not make a difference.”

Green Cabin part 64

At 7 he was out on patrol hoping the day would be normal and hoping too that he would not be spending time with the king. Now that he knew what the man planned for them, a building rage that boiled slowly waiting for an occasion for release, made him hesitant to be anywhere near the king.

They had lunch in the same dinner as the first day. Then the afternoon passed and he was home with Margaret. The expected storm had not yet begun. He was told it started later each day, which he imagined was due to the ring world’s rotation. The same storm might actually, moved across the entire surface followed by other storms so every inch of ground received proper moisture consistently.

Margaret was in the kitchen. “Hi,” she said and turned her head for a kiss. He obliged, and wrapped his arms around her from behind.

“How was everything here today?” He asked.

“Quiet thankfully. He heard people walking in the connecting hallway outside the front door, but no one stopped here.”

He breathed a quiet sigh of relief, kissed her again and went to shower and change. When he returned, she had arranged everything on the table for dinner. Which was when he realized he was quite famished.

“This stew is perfect,” He told her wiping his mouth with one of the cloth napkins they’d found in a pantry area. He pushed the chair back and stood. As he did there was a loud knocking at the front door.

Margaret’s eyes went wide with a look of surprised horror. “Who is that?” Her voice was low and nervous.

“I’ll find out. You might want to go into the bathroom just in case it’s trouble.” He waited until she had, and then went and flipped on the camera, which displayed the scene in the hallway. Stanton resisted the urge to take a step back when he spied a woman dressed in armor that covered her upper chest, and shoulders. She had armored sleeves from the wrists to the elbows. The upper body armor connected in back to more from the waist down to her knees. From there to her feet she was uncovered. The armor was layered metal leaves from small over her breasts, to large over her hips and around. There was a collar up behind her neck, and a quiver of arrows hung over her left shoulder. In her right hand she held a strung bow. And then he saw that three of her left fingers had flexible guards over them to protect her from the three arrows she held loosely, but would be easily notched and fired in a mere second or two.

What had made him want to take a step back was none of that as much as it was the horns that grew from just above both sides of her forehead, curving back and inward at the top where both had two points.

What the hell are you?He thought and recalled the hand he’d seen through the opening in the boulders beyond the smaller of the two arches in the portal he planned to use as an escape.

The woman had short golden hair and bright gold-brown eyes that stared at the door and viewing portal with a look of growing impatience.

After a slow deep breath, he opened the door wide. She entered as if she lived with them, and turned in the middle of the living room to face him again.

She spoke was an odd but attractive accent that made understanding her require concentrated effort. “You and your woman must come with me now. The man you know as William requested I assist and now is the only time I can do so for the gateway will seal when the storm lightning illuminates around it. William said to tell you the storm cycle accelerates as each night passes. So there is little time tonight and much less the nights after until in three nights the storm cycle ends.”

He thought about it for maybe thirty seconds, nodded and went for Margaret.

“Who is that?” she asked sounding frightened.

“A woman warrior sent here by William. She will guide us through the portal.”

“But I thought that was for tomorrow night?” She sat up, swung her legs over the side of the bed and stood. Her pregnancy was more visible than when she stood in full daylight.

“William claims that the storms are moving faster then I wes told so the window to escape tomorrow night will be only a hour or two. Tonight we have four to five hours.” He watched her dress and when she finished she pointed to the large carry pack filled with clothing.

“I’ll grab the food,” she said and left after donning boots.

Five minutes later, they were outside where he discovered three saddled horses. The warrior was on a silver one that had a white mane and tail. Stanton helped Margaret onto a black mare, and took a slightly larger stallion that had a reddish coat, mane, and tail.

He expected noise from the horses’ shoes, but they were silent. A quick glance at the warrior’s horse showed him that the hooves were covered in some type of boots.

As they cleared the central part of the town, the horses began galloping as if directed by the warrior’s horse. They moved like shadows past two watchtowers. No one seemed to notice or if they did they didn’t react.

Thirty minutes later they stopped at the bottom of the broken and dislodged steps. The warrior looked at me and said, “William told you how to activate the gate from this side?”

“He did.” He swung his leg over the horse and walked carefully up the steps recalling what William told him: At the top of the second tier of steps to the left at shoulder height is hand-sized opening. Reach into and when you feel a key shaped stone, pull it and turn it to the right twice and then the left once. Move quickly, and you will hear a rumble and grinding of stones. The boulders in the small archway will rolled to both sides. Escape then.

The stairs were wet and slippery. He fell to one knee, grunting with the pain, pulled up and found the opening. Carefully, he slipped his hand into it, felt the key shaped stone, pulled it and turned as instructed.

Immediately he heard a low rumbling and then grinding stones. He raced down the steps, turned and watched as all of the broken damaged stairway part reassembled into one well-crafted staircase made from what looked like grey granite.

After getting back on his horse, he followed the warrior and Margaret up the steps. As they reached the top, the two arches opened completely. They passed through. Behind, from below the elaborate stone staircase he heard a male voice shout, “Stop Stanton or we will kill your woman.”

He turned as he cleared the inner portal and waved. “Good knowing you.”

The warrior notched three arrows and fired them through the portal. He watched as each arrow landed in the chest of a different man.

After that he didn’t think anything else might happen, but then heard Margaret scream at the same time the portals closed.

He jumped off his horse in time to catch Margaret as she slid lifelessly to the ground. She wasn’t dead, but was bleeding again profusely. Whatever they’d done which he thought was plant some device under her flesh while she was imprisoned after he left her on the first day of captivity, had exploded and tore most of her left leg off just above the knee.

Green Cabin part 63

The following day was a repeat, except early morning Stanton accompanied the king as he made his rounds of a section of his land that seemed to be home to the wealthy. The houses were mansions, chateaus, small but strongly built castles. He pointed to each one naming the family that resided in building as if he believed Stanton needed to know. He was as encouraging as possible and he seemed pleased when they returned to his palace.

After he disembarked and Stanton escorted him inside, Stanton left him and went back out where his squad awaited him. Daylight seemed dimmer. He looked up as he reached his second in command. “Storm?” He asked.

“They are cyclic so we get a series of them for a week. Due to the moons phases however, this series of storms will be dangerous and powerful. Best not to be outside when they arrive.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. If you’ll alert me as to when the storm will strike, if we are still making rounds, I’ll make sure we all return at once.”

He seemed pleased by Stanton’s words and the remainder of the day was trouble free until the skies grew black with moving streaks of angry purple, lightning that crawled like snakes seeking haven between the billowing clouds.

“Now,” he said.

He gave the order and they nearly jogged back, reaching the living facilities as the first thick drops of rain thrashed the pavement. It was that moment when Stanton knew how they might escape. No one would be outside during the storm especially at night. And since the storm cycle would last several days and nights, Margaret and he could leave soon. All he needed to do was convince her. Since she seemed to be happy and relaxed, the idea might not please her. But he felt sure her safety and comfort would not last much longer. The last few days she’d done nothing but relax and recover. If the king, like he suspected, knew she was a twenty-first century shape shifter, he would place demands on her time and activities.

She was asleep when he entered their place. He ate the food she left him, cleaned up, undressed and slid in alongside her.

Somewhere around 3:00am thunder boomed loud enough to shake the building and vibrate through the window glass. If seemed the ring world created storms as it rotated and occasionally they were as powerful as he’d been told earlier.

The rain fell with a raging hiss, slamming fists against the roof, and windows. He hoped that whoever built the place had experience with ring world storms. He also wondered if using the storm, as a cover for escape was nothing more than a flash of insanity.

However, he felt strongly that it would work if for no other reason then the madness of the idea. Two nights hence, he decided and went back to sleep.

Margaret woke him during the night, and pulled herself against him He wrapped her in his arms and spoke softly.

“I’ve learned of a way to safely leave here.”

“Why would we want to do that? I feel safe and happy and when the baby is born I’ll have plenty help with it when you’re away.” She sounded sleepy but alert enough that he believed she detected his urgency.

“Do you recall a man named William who was waiting by the lake when you exited the portal from earth?”

“Umm, I think, oh yes I do. I wasn’t sure he’d allow me to stay, but after a few odd questions he let me. Why do you ask about him?”

“He was here night before this.”

She sat up as if he’d jolted her with a elbow to the ribs. “What? Why, oh no, he came to warn us of something bad didn’t he?”

“He did.” He told her everything William said and heard her sharp intake of breath twice.

“Why the hell can’t we find a place safe enough to stay in a long time?”

He shook his head then realizing she couldn’t see him and said, “I don’t know but from what William said if we get through the double arch portal, we will be quite far from this part of the planet.”

“And you believe it will be safer than this is?”

“I do. But honestly, what we’ve experienced these months since we left the lake and took the elevator, what part of any of that had been safe at all?”

She sighed, laid back and wrapped her arms around him. “None. Stanton, I’m going to deliver a baby in a few weeks. Please assure me you will find somewhere I can do that and not worry if the three of us will live afterwards.”

“I can honestly only assure you that I will continue to make every effort to do that.”

She was silent several minutes. At first he thought she’d fallen asleep, but she cleared her throat lightly and asked, “When do you want to leave? I’ll need at least a few hours to prepare, pack enough clothing and food to help us.”

“The guard who was assigned as my second in command told me the weather cycles here. The storms, like on the lake, come through regularly. The first night was last night and since the storms will continue nightly for a week, I figured we should leave the night after tomorrow night.”

“Good. I’ll be ready.”

“We’ll leave in the middle of the night. The rain and lightning with be heavy and dangerous, but I know the way now. We can reach the portal in about an hour and a half. So I’ll try to collect rain gear for us. And once we leave we cannot return here to this apartment. We will be wanted fugitives.”

“Well that’s nothing new now is it?” She actually giggled. “Sorry, I’m nervous, scared, and always exhausted.”

“Don’t be sorry. I want you where we can get beyond all of what’s happened and will happen if we stay here and I want you safe and happy too.”

He smelled her hair placed his left hand on her growing belly bump. At that moment the baby kicked. Stanton’s smile grew as he kissed Margaret’s cheek. “Let’s get some sleep we’ve a lot to do after tonight.”

Sleep came easily for her, but he didn’t get there again until 5am.

Green Cabin part 62

The projection clock displayed 2:57am when he awoke with a start. He forced himself to stay in bed, not stirring as he concentrated on sounds and possible movement. A nearly inaudible scuffing came from the outer room. First Stanton checked Margaret. She was sleeping soundly. He listened to her breathing for a moment then carefully left the bed.

He had slept in long tee shirt only, but wasn’t concerned about being seen. Whoever was in the apartment would not care. He rolled to the floor, crept to the doorway, and then saw a light dim but bright enough to illuminate areas of storage. Since, neither Margaret or he had anything they’d want to or need to hide, Stanton wondered what the intruder searched for.

He heard a sound like someone was frustrated, and as quietly as possible, moved into the same room. When he stood, he was directly behind the intruder. He shot a quick punch that connected with the base of the man’s skull driving him to his knees. Stanton’s follow-up kick knocked him out.

When he checked, he found Margaret still sleeping. Stanton pulled on his jeans and closed the bedroom door after he left. Then he frisked the intruder, found a laser pistol, a long hunting knife, and several coins with, he saw under the beam of light from his dropped flashlight, profiles of the king.

He placed the coins on the counter top, and kept the laser. Finally Stanton rolled him over and found that he was looking at William the first person he met after leaving the portal that brought him to the ring world. The confusion following his seeing William’ s face was enough that he backed away, donned the remainder of his clothing, and sat on a chair while he waited for William to wake up.

He recalled that William stood a good four, or five inches taller than him. His thick red hair was still tied in a long braid. His pale blue eyes now closed fluttered under their lids. He still needed a shave. His barrel chest of taut muscles, wide shoulders now wore the kingdom’s uniform and boots.

He could not imagine how and more importantly why William found him. Not to mention what he was searching for. He came to slowly, and shook his head as he pushed himself to a seated position.

“Why are you here, William?” He asked.

“She sent me.”

“She who?”


His thoughts stopped, blocking words from escaping. Then he asked, “How did she know where I am? Did she plant some type of tracking device on me?”

William only shrugged. “I am to pass on the message then I will return to where you first met me. I cannot leave those docks unsupervised. Too many of the wrong kind of people come through that way.”

“What is the message?” He leaned forward feeling anxious, discovering his feelings for her were still very strong.

“You cannot stay in this place. Use the portal with the double arches, which can be found at the opposite side of the village from the main gate tower. At the top of the second tier of steps to the left at shoulder height is hand-sized opening. Reach into and when you feel a key shaped stone, pull it and turn it to the right twice and then the left once. Move quickly, and you will hear a rumble and grinding of stones. The boulders in the small archway will rolled to both sides. Escape then.

“There is little time before you and your companion are permanently trapped. The king has control over mind-altering tech and will use it at the time he decides you are ready. This tech will alter your implant and you will become worse than a servant.

“I await your arrival here and bring the child with you.”

He frowned at the last, and started to question William. He held up both hands and shook his head. “I’ve no idea what child she speaks of. Just do as she tells you. I will send you a guide. Now I must leave. The guard whose clothing I borrowed will awaken soon.”

He stood, and left through the front door leaving Stanton with unanswerable questions. He knew what child she meant, but Margaret was not ready to birth it. And if I’m to bring the child does that mean leave Margaret behind? He couldn’t, wouldn’t leave her. And where was here? Perhaps the answers all waited for after they passed through the portal and exited somewhere else on the ring world.

Green Cabin part 61

Our prisoners remained silent during the ride back to the king’s building complex. When we landed, three guards waited outside and dragged them out of the aircar. Before Stanton disembarked, they were out of sight. He turned back to the king and watched him for a moment. As Stanton opened his mouth to speak, the king indicated with one hand he should not.

He followed the king inside the same way he left earlier and to his office.

“Shut the door behind you,” the king told him.

He did as he was told, and stood before the vast ancient hand carved dark wood desk. The legs were huge, and carved with fruits like grapes. The edge of the desktop was carved with what Stanton decided was cherubs with wings and harps. He could not imagine where the desk originated, but he struggled with the grin the idea of a king using such a desk for himself caused.

The king didn’t seem to notice or if he did really didn’t care how Stanton felt. When he pointed to the plain wooden chair next to where Stanton stood, he sat.

“Your performance today, I’ve been told was truly above and beyond. I was unaware that you had such skills. I knew of your history as a government assassin, but well let’s say I am quite pleased. Therefore I am assigning a squad of my best warriors to you. You are promoted to lieutenant, and will be in command. Go home now and come morning you will find your squad waiting outside here.”

“Thank you, sir,” He said as he stood, hiding his bafflement, he hoped. What he did during the day was as much about self-preservation, self-defense and anything else.

He saluted as he’d seen other officers do, and smiled when the king returned it.

The walk back to their apartment seemed shorter, and he felt calmer. When he opened the door, Stanton smelled food cooking and for a brief, fleeting second, thought, I could live like this for a long time.

Margaret was wearing a long red and blue striped dress that hung to just below her knees. Her feet were in blue slipper that looked very comfortable. He went over and kissed her cheek. She turned to him and wrapped her arms around his shoulders.

“This place is amazing,” she said sounding joyous. “When the women who live nearby learned we’d just moved in and that I was pregnant, they started bringing me gifts of food and clothing. A couple stayed for lunch, eating food one brought with her and Stanton, they know nothing about my twenty-first century history or that I’m…”

He kissed her silent and the whispered, “We don’t know if they have any devices planted to listen and see what we do. Let’s not discuss our earth pasts while we are indoors anywhere. Everything here so far seems to good to be true and that makes me wary.” He kissed her hard and long stopping when she pressed her hands against his chest.

“I don’t want dinner to burn. Wait till you see what we are having.” She took his hand and led him back into the kitchen. Two pots were on stove burners. She used a potholder to lift one and then the other. Mixed vegetables in one and mashed potatoes in the other. She then opened the oven door just enough so the light illuminated the contents, which was a small but delicious smelling roast beef.

Dinner was the best he’d had in months if not longer. After they cleaned up, exhaustion hit him hard and he showered then climbed into bed alongside Margaret.

And he believed he might just stay and live that way, but fate declares destination and Stanton’s was far from conclusion.

The following day, he received his orders. His men and women assembled as promised. Once he was able to speak with each, get to know their names and a bit about their personal histories, they set off. Stanton’s second in command was Thala Zabrowski. She stood about two inches shorter than him, weighed, he guessed, about 145 pounds of solid muscle. Her training was as complete as any member of the black ops teams he’d been assigned to on earth. In other words, she was nearly invincible. Have her don a suit of body armor and she and he together might defeat an army.

Nothing unusual occurred that morning. They had lunch at a small eatery named The Failed Eagle, amazing burgers and fries with glasses of cold coffee strong enough to straighten hair. They had long wood slab tables that sat a dozen each, with matching benches. Both were clearly quite old dark in places where people frequented, and smoothed by decades of use. The floor was flagstone and had its share of dips and cracks. The outside of the building was timber framed and leaned to the right.

Feeling comfortable with his new companions, as they seemed to with him, Stanton stopped when they reached the stone double arched portal he saw the previous day. He ordered everyone to take a break and then turned to Thala. He nodded in the direction of the portal and asked, “What can you tell me about that?”

“The gateway?” She frowned as if to express her uneasiness, but didn’t speak about her feelings.

He nodded and waited.

“We were taught that it was intentionally closed by order of the king. Apparently an armored soldier came through and demanded to know where he might find the assassin that arrived the day before. Well no assassin anyone knew of arrived ever. In fact the gateway, unlike many others was a transfer portal from elsewhere on this world. Most others, I’ve been told bring humans who need to escape from other worlds.

“So after he was told what we knew, he began killing people. At first he used a weapon he brought with him, an old looking projectile rifle, and when that was empty, he grabbed a laser rifle from a fallen guard and began killing again. The entire time he screamed that he’d only stop if we told him the truth. By the time several guards subdued him using a concentration of laser set to kill, the intruder had murdered 238 men women and children.

“They tied him with steel cable since that was all they had on hand. Turns out it was a good decision. When the intruder woke, he struggled to escape not caring how badly the cable tore into his flesh and muscles.

“Finally they electrocuted him. Smoke rose from his head along with sizzling and popping sounds. The intruder was mostly robotic um android the science team termed it.

“Mind you this is all second hand knowledge but I’ve not met anyone willing to dispute it. Of course, we aren’t supposed to discuss the entire thing by order of the king, but you just got here, so you should know.” She frowned slightly and then shrugged as if in response to some internal debate.

“I appreciate you telling me. I won’t say anything about any of it to anyone.” He turned to stare at the portal, wondering if the hand he’d seen the day before was still there. A guard on the other end?He wondered. And why today a totally different version than the one I was told yesterday? Were there two separate events? The first some kind of gruesome war ending with the portal being blocked and nearly destroyed? And if so how did the armored and armed intruder enter through the gateway looking for an assassin? Was that assassin me? Did the intruder use a different means of transportation so it only looked like he entered through the portal? If he was an android could he have access to tech we can only imagine? Transportation tech? And from when and where did he come?

He could think of nothing from his time under discussion or in the testing phases, but of course, he had limited access to such intel.

The reminder of the day was as uneventful as the early morning. He felt relieved and ready for a night of relaxation. But then there’s fate.

Green Cabin part 60

The ride was more comfortable then Stanton believed it would be at first. The king didn’t seem to notice. He was studying Stanton’s face and if what he saw troubled or amused him, he did not let on.

After a few minutes, the king leaned back and crossed his legs, left atop of right. “The section of town we’re to visit today has been ravaged by outsider raiders. They wait until the section gate opens at dawn, ride in steal what is easiest to locate, and are gone almost before anyone knows they were inside the walls. My hope is to bolster the moods of those stricken, and I will give them the aid they need to recover.” Now he looked directly into Stanton’s eyes. “You are to capture at least one raider, alive of course so he may be interrogated hopefully supplying us with names and places where we can fond their bases and end the raids permanently.”

“Yes, sir,” he said. “That should not be a problem as long as we get in place before the gates open.”

“We will be. I’ve ordered that the daily opening be delaying two hours and that people should be informed there is some maintenance necessary.” He glanced down and Stanton saw he too had a small screen banded to his forearm. “We will be there fifteen or twenty minutes before the gates rise.” He leaned back rolling down the sleeve of his rather ordinary looking denim shirt, which matched his pants. The difference between what he wore, and what he normally wore was that the king’s was shiny artificial denim, not cotton like Stanton’s.

They however, did not ride the carriage farther than a hanger like building. Inside was a line of aircars. The royal car was red white a gold, with the king’s crest on each door. The roof was clear, and Stanton hoped shatterproof. The fittings inside were seriously made for royalty. Gold, silver and what on earth was considered precious stones like diamonds, emeralds, rubies, and sapphires, added to create details of mythological creatures living in lands filled with life.

They switched vehicles and as soon as the doors were sealed they were in the air. Before reaching the destination where the king would begin negotiations with the guards who worked the last few weeks at stopping the raids, the aircar lowered to just above the ground. The door on my side opened and Stanton jumped out.

“Do what I need,” the king ordered.

“I won’t fail you, sir.” He waved a half salute and turned immediately confronting a group of local militia armed with crude but effect weapons like spears and swords, a couple maces. “Who is your leader,” he asked them and a small dark skinned woman stepped out, walked over and stopped five feet away from him.

“Who are you?” she asked without emotion.

“Name is Stanton. You?”

“Alsia, daughter of Herbert.”

“I’m here to assist,” he said.

“Why we heard it you are here to do whatever needed to stop the raiders. We have not done so, therefore, we will help you.”

Stanton nodded his gratitude. Often in the past when he went to a trouble spot he became the hostile once his mission was completed. Many times he had to fight his way to freedom.

“It would be good if you might show me where you’ve set up and where the raiders normally come through if the two are not the same.”

She pointed and two of her men walked into an alley surrounded by buildings impossibly high with lights in windows scatter across the façade. Stanton heard running water, and knew there was a river nearby. Alsia and he went in after her men assaulted by odors of cooking food, meats and various types of vegetables maybe fruit too.

That made his stomach growl, but it was more reaction than need. After walking for thirty plus minutes, he saw the river with house barges, and ships of all imaginable kinds plying the river. Apparently they didn’t have a way to block access to the village for river traffic.

A weakness, he thought. A wave of heat billowed from an open door. Stanton slowed and peered inside, saw it was a brothel with a gigantic hearth in the room’s center. Flames licked and sparked a pile of logs. Women and men dressed and not, and everything in between lounged wherever they found a comfortable place. Several were engaged in sex.

Internally, he squirmed. Not because he had trouble seeing couples sexual involvement, but because he’d learned early in his assassin career that the best and easiest way to conquer the unbeatable was by using sex. And whorehouses made it possible for him to be inside unseen acting as a waiter, or porter, make his kill and be gone before the party ended.

He shook his head slowly and continued walking until Alsia stopped. She raised an arm to signal the others, and then pointed out the gate they needed to guard.

“This is a good spot,” he said. “If we just want to watch and study them, but you’ve done all that so we need to be closer and well hidden.” He scanned the area and found what He wanted. “Come with me and tell me if this will work.” He moved off without waiting for a reply. Stanton knew what he planned would work efficiently.

When they were where he wanted them, she nodded. “This will work, but a place this close increases the risk of forewarning.”

“The raiders have people on the inside.” He stated the obvious.

She nodded.

“My goal this morning is to capture alive and uninjured if possible one raider which we will take back with us to interrogate. Then I will return tomorrow morning and we will put an end to their endeavors.”

“Then today we are to allow them to succeed in raiding this area?” She sounded angry.

“No, we will prevent that using surprise and superior weapons.” As soon as Stanton spoke he knew he was mistaken. They didn’t have true weapons. She was studying his face the way you do with a person you are sure in insane.

“Sorry, we will have the weapons tomorrow too. The man we capture will inform us of what weapons the raiders have and will we prepare better.”

“Okay,” she said. “But how do we stop them today?”

“Watch,” Stanton said and moved to the point closest to where the raiders entered. As he did, the gate began to rise. Three armed and uniformed men raced in. Stanton moved quickly using every martial arts skill he had. They went down hard and did not get up. The raiders behind them were blocked, could not enter. He squatted, grabbed the closest laser rifle he could get his hands on and began burning his enemies. One or two tried to return fire, but my reflexes were better. They were killed and then the remainder fled back the way they’d come to enter the village.

He passed the rifle to Alsia and grabbed the captive who seemed to be wearing the highest, ranking emblems. Stanton used the ties he brought to secure his prisoner’s arms, hands, and legs, dragged him aside and said, “Those two are yours.”

She grinned waved her companions over and we watched them deal with the unconscious raiders.

He was walking his prisoner down the brothel alley when he saw the king’s aircar parked at the end. The king was on top speaking to the crowd gathered to listen. When he saw Stanton, and what he had, the king pointed and said loudly, “This is the beginning of the end of the raids. Tomorrow we will return with the appropriate weapons for you, and clean this mess up once and for all.”

Cheering boomed around them as they climbed into the aircar and left.

Green Cabin pause number 2

Curiosity is often troubling. Writing “Green Cabin” in first person past tense did not feel right. It was limiting what I wanted to include from Stanton’s personal observations describing his surroundings and people he met and confronted. There’s no way anyone sees all the details of their surroundings or even of the people they must deal with. Third person allows me to do that for him.

I decided I would do a find and replace as a cheap and easy way to move to third person past tense. Hah.

First, Word for Apple has stuff like that hidden. I researched it, Googled it actually, and took notes. It seemed simple enough. I typed in I with a space before and after in Find and he with a space before and after in Replace. Now I was thinking I would only do one so I could judge the time and effort. In older versions of Word it was quick and easy. I clicked the button and all hell broke loose. Well not quite that bad. It converted every, I into HE not he. And left out the space after HE. My shoulders drooped.

I didn’t think I could reverse the damage without perhaps losing the entire manuscript. Instead, and don’t laugh, I am now going through the entire document, all 124 pages currently, and fixing the HE mess.

Once finished, I will be writing in third person past tense so what I post from now will be that way. Ugh.

Green Cabin part 59

Using the moment I felt was safe for me before my companion suspected, I used the zoom function in my eyes and took several photos that were immediately saved to memory. When I was alone during the night at the time sleep escaped, dragged away by the past, or complications of the present, I would examine their details and learn all I could about their content.

What I did know was no one would be exiting or entering through the archways without the ability to clear enormous stones out.

My companion tapped my shoulder. “Not a good idea.”

“What’s not?” I looked at him but he didn’t express anything.

“Standing around this place. I’ve been told since I was a boy that evil resides behind the wall and a great fight for survival caused the stairways to shatter and boulders were rolled into the center to block them from ever returning.”

That was more than he’d spoken since we started out. So I started walking, and memorized the location feeling quite sure that I had found a time portal, but to where and when I could only imagine. Perhaps it was, used by the ring world builders at some point during the beginning assembly of objects and people from earth. If that proved true then there must be many more like it throughout the ring.

Two hours later, I entered our apartment. Margaret was awake and cooking something that smelled terrific. I was famished and very happy to see her looking relaxed and as normal as she’d ever been since I met her.

Early morning I sat up carefully so Margaret didn’t wake and went into the living room. I sat lotus style on the floor where moonlight, or whatever substituted for it on a ring world, dropped a rectangular patch of silver-blue illumination.

When I was comfortable, I closed my eyes and began viewing the mental photos I’d shot with the macro nano chip in my eye. Using the tech the chip was configured with, I enlarged each, converted it to 3D, spun it and examined fine details. After I went though a dozen not seeing anything useful, the thirteenth showed a glimmer of light wedged between three boulders. That seemed to indicate the pile of stones jammed into the small arched door were perhaps not much more, if any more than what I could see.

Mentally zooming for a closer look, I jumped when I thought I saw a hand light by sunlight. Concentrating let me picture features. At once I knew the hand was feminine. The fingers were long, thinner than a male, and she wore flexible sheathed metallic finger guards around the first joint of her first finger, middle, and ring finger. Studying them, and wishing I’d shot photos of different angles, I suddenly recognized them as something an archer might wear, but why three fingers?

I will need to go back and hopefully collect a few more photos of the opening. If there is human activity behind the boulders can they, would they help Margaret and I escape this place?

Nothing else appeared in any shots to give me anything but a sensation of despair. Depending on an unknown, especially an unknown human might prove disastrous. Yet at the same time, she may be the key, and if the archway she stands behind is a portal, with her assistance Margaret and I might leave the section of the ring world we are stranded on. A place where petty human resentments, and greed, fear of the earth they left behind finding them here, drove them into islands controlled by the same type leaders that destroyed the livability of our home world.

I stood after doing several yoga stretches limber and ready for the day soon to be on us.

Back in bed, with Margaret’s body heat warming me, I dozed off.

It was the sun that drove me out of bed, padding into the kitchen where I located the necessities for breakfast. Watching pancakes while slab bacon sizzled in a pan of its own, I sipped black coffee from a wall dispenser.

I didn’t hear Margaret, and smiled as she wrapped her arms around me from behind. She leaned her head against my back, and greeted me.

“Morning to you,” I replied. “There’s plenty to eat here at least.” I collected plain white plates made from some alien ceramic, with knives and forks too, passed her one and watched as she mounded pancakes and bacon on hers.

Eating while sitting at a proper table with matching metal chairs cushioned with stuffed red cotton seats and backs, was nearly too much for me. So I studied Margaret while she ate fast as if she hesitated someone or thing would whisk the leftover away.

When she finished, she sat back and placed her hands on her stomach. “That should keep the two of us going until lunch.” She was looking down, and slowly her eyes lifted to see me. The way she looked gave me one of those gnawing feelings of attraction. I stood, went around to her, pulled her chair out, lifted her from it and carried her back into the bedroom.

Half an hour later, I showered, donned my uniform and kissed her lightly. “See you tonight.”

She smiled and nodded. “I hope no one bothers me today. I badly need rest and time to heal.”

“I’ll see they don’t,” I said not sure I could but would make the attempt.

When I was on the street, there was a carriage waiting. Hesitating, I walked slowly to its side and as I approached, the king leaned out.

“You will ride with my today. I must tend to the needs of people on the far side of my village.” He swung the door opened, and I climbed in, sat across from him and struggled to keep the grin from expressing my opinion of us riding in a horse drawn carriage. I knew of horses through history vids, but none survived into the twenty-third century due to failing food sources.

A pair of coachmen sat on an elevated seat in front of the carriage. One of them held a long whip and the other held the reins. As I got settled, the king reached out and slapped his hand on the door twice. After some calls to the horses, which I’d noticed before embarking, were both pure white, began trotting.

Green Cabin part 58

There we discovered a huge bed with a soft mattress and piles of pillows along with three blankets. Everything was in shades of blue including the walls, and the floor tiles.

Two dressers stood against the opposite wall. One held clothing for her and one for me. I guessed I shouldn’t have been surprised, but didn’t feel that way after learning everything was the correct size for us both.

When Margaret was wearing a long light blue sleeping gown, she climbed into bed, pulled the sheet and blanket up to her chin and passed out without saying a word more than thanks.

I cleaned up, found a uniform, donned it and left the apartment intending to explore my surroundings. Outside the door waited one guard who looked surprised to see me.

I looked at him carefully and said, “If I’m to succeed in the task I’ve been assigned, I feel I’m required to acquaint myself with the lay of this building and the property around it.”

“I will show you whatever you wish to see by order of the king.”

And then we began a tour that left me feeling deeply impressed and overwhelmed.

The village looked quite earth-like having shops and diners, housing, hotels, pubs, and several types of manufacturing plants. People from young children to elderly adults were occupied and seemed to be relaxed and busy. I heard children laughing, and adults too. Off in the distance I caught the sound of voices raised in a loud argument that everyone ignored. There were no motorized vehicles, but plenty of animals that resembled horses, but something about them was not as it should have been. I wondered from what earth time period the original horses lived, but was hesitant to ask.

It’s best not to draw to much attention to yourself by asking a lot of questions, my mentor taught.

The walls around the town had from the outside looked like they were scrap lumber hammered, together as did the tower I avoided. None of that would stop a true assault I’d thought when I first saw it. Now from the inside I knew the opposite was true. The outside of the wall was a facade some kind of camouflage to fool invaders into believing the victory they sought would be quick and easy. Behind the scrap wood was a stone and concrete wall twelve feet thick and twenty-five high. The gates in the watchtowers rose from deep in the ground and once up in place, added steel panels several feet thick and as high as the walls.

I could think of only one way in or out once everything was locked down and that would be flying. Which was when I realized I’d not seen any air vehicles other than the ones that were flying around the place where the woman stepped out of a statue’s alcove. If that proved true everywhere else, then the woman and her family were indeed extremely powerful in this section of the ring world.

And they’ll be looking for me, and Margaret soon if not already. I doubt the king and his court will care to attempt to stop her if she arrives here with an army. And she has aircars, along with weaponry that can be used to attack and maybe defeat them.

Then I felt certain that escape would, need be sooner than I’d thought earlier.

As we began to walk around the last section of the village before returning to quarters, I saw a stone archway with a smaller archway in its center like a doorway into whatever once lay beyond. The outer archway was, supported by two columns carved identically with geometric symbols and small columns that were strictly ornamental. At the top of the largest columns stood warriors holding battleaxes and spears aloft. Their faces were obscured by vines but I could see they wore helmets with visors. None of it looked familiar but again I knew little about human history regarding warring with hand held weapons like swords.

The steps leading up to the center were broken in large and small sections as if eons of earthquakes pushed and shoved them aside.

Surrounding both sides of the entire creation were walls built from large cut stones. I stopped a second to look closely and saw the small center archway set maybe twenty feet back from the larger outer archway, was blocked from behind by boulders making me wonder if there had been many earthquakes during and right after the ring world’s construction. Seemed quite logical, but I was guessing. However, it was impossible to assume the age of what I saw, but my mind told me it was ancient.