“Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Week #2. Image Prompt: Join in, have fun, and let loose your creative muse.#FictionInAFlash @pursoot @IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity.

Flash Fiction best header

Hello everyone and welcome to week #2 of my  “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction piece inspired by that image in a genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Please put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at My email address. by 4pm on Thursday, June 4th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be much appreciated.

I’ll be sharing all entries received, and, my own contribution here on Thursday, June 11th.

I do hope you join in! Have fun, let the creative muse loose!

And now …The image for week #2.

Flash Fiction park bench in the fall

 

I hope the image inspires you and I hope to see you stop by.

Contact me at …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

By Email.

“Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Entries for week #1.@gmplano @pursoot #IARTG #WritingCommunity.

 

Hello everyone and a warm welcome to the entries for : “Fiction in A Flash Challenge” Week #1.

Flash Fiction best header

Last week I set the following Challenge:

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction piece inspired by that image in a genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Please put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at My email address. by 4pm on May 28th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be much appreciated.

I’ll be sharing all entries received, and, my own contribution here on May 29th.

AND Here’s the prompt image …For #Week 1.

Flash Fiction MEERKATS FOR 1st post

This entry comes from Gwen Plano.

“A Visit to The Zoo. By Gwen Plano.

George … George! Come out here.

Why would I want to do that! I’m trying to rest.

Ya gotta see this.

Whatever it is, I’m not interested.

Come on, George. There are strange creatures out here, and they are all staring at me.

Can we eat them?

No, they’re pretty big. They might eat us, though.

Good grief! And, you’re still out there?

I think they’re in a cage. I don’t think they can reach us.

Alright, alright. I’m coming. This better be good.

Look … over there. What do you see?

I don’t know for sure. They have eyes, and they have hands and feet.

Watch … watch. When I move, their heads turn to follow me. Did you notice that?

Yeah, weird for sure.

Hey, look what happens when I just stretch out and show them beautiful me.

Wow, that got a reaction!

Why don’t you try something?

Okay. Let’s see what they do if I stand on my hind feet.

Hey, I think they like you more than me.

Do you think they can talk? They’ve gotta have a mouth, don’t they?

I don’t know. I don’t even see a nose, so maybe they don’t breathe.

They gotta breathe, they gotta eat. Unless …

Unless what?

Maybe they’re some kind of alien. What do you think?

Aliens? Why would aliens be interested in us? What do we have that they need?

Well, for starts a mouth and a nose.

Come on, George. Seriously, what do we have that they don’t?

Beats me.

George, look at the little alien. He’s tugging on his face, but the big one stops him.

Woe … I think I know what they want from us.

You do? What is it, George?

They want to be free like you and me.

~~~

Take a look at Gwen’s blog.

Reflections on Life … Blog.

Author Page: Gwen Plano on Amazon

On Twitter.

Gwen Plano on Facebook.

***

And here is my take on the image.

“Chillax”. By Suzanne Burke.

Flash Fiction MEERKATS FOR 1st post

“Merkle? Merkle! Man, what are you doin’? Aren’t you meant to be on watch?”

“Whoa. Chillax, Max! I got this.”

“You’ve got this my ass. I mean look at yourself. All laid back like you don’t have a care in the world. Where has all that frenetic energy and perpetual state of angst disappeared to, my friend? Just so you know, bro, some of the elders have been asking.”

“Sit yourself down alongside me and take a load off those tiny feet.”

Max checked frantically around several times then hurried over and sat perched anxiously on a rock nearby. “Just for a moment.” He glanced at his friend. “You’ve changed since you came back from that 3-month retreat. It’s like you’re on a whole other continent, or something. Did something happen while you were there? You can tell me. I won’t say anything. My lips are sealed.”

Merkle chuckled and poked his friend in the arm, “Max you’re the gossip master of the entire waterhole! Even Harriet Hyena can’t keep up with you.” He spluttered and laughed again. “You’re in serious need of a relaxing intervention, buddy. I can help you with that.”

“Please explain intervention?

“It’s simple. You just need someone to sit you down and ask you what the hell you are doing with your life, and where do you think your life is headed?”

“Why would they ask that? Has someone said something? Who was it? Was it Margaret?”

“See now, that’s precisely what I’m talking about! Your paranoia is off the charts, my friend.” He hunched forward and rested his elbows on his knees. “I’m parched. You want to join me in a drink?”

“Of water?”

“Not exactly.” He held it out to his companion. “Try it. You’ll love it.”

Max took a nervous sip and then another, “This tastes weird, but I like it.” He gulped down the last mouthful.

“Give it a minute, you’ll like it even more. I guarantee it makes that acid-reflux and nervous dyspepsia disappear. ” Merkle smiled and waited.

“So, what’s it made of?”

“Mostly mushrooms, and a little cactus juice.”

Twenty-minutes passed in silence, broken by Max as he reached out his hand and grabbed at the air, “Those sunbeams are singing.”

“Uh-huh. So, what are they singing?”

“A song.”

“Cool.” Merkle nodded sagely. Then busied himself preparing the next phase of the intervention.

Max sat and happily hummed along to the sounds only he could hear.

Merkle finished his preparation, lit it and inhaled it deep into his lungs, held it in, then expelled it with a sigh of satisfaction.

He handed it to his friend.

“I don’t smoke tobacco.”

“It’s not tobacco.”

“And it’s 100% organic too?”

“Doesn’t matter, man. We’re omnivorous.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Hours passed with the two friends interspersing the silence with deep and meaningful gasps of insight and wisdom.

They roared laughing at anything and everything.

The riotous colors of sunset made them cry at its perfection.

***

Max lay back in the darkness gazing up at the sparkling ceiling above them. “This intervention stuff is amazing. You learned all about this at the retreat?”

“Uh-huh.”

“So, I’ve been to both of them over the years, but, man, we never learned anything like this! Which one was it, Botswana, or southern Namibia?”

“Nope. They put me up on the wrong flight. We flew over the biggest waterhole I’ve ever seen. And the place was filled to the rafters with humans. I really got to like a few of them.”

“Could you get there again, I mean maybe I could take a look at it, just out of curiosity.”

“I’m not sure exactly how we would get there.”

“But you do know the name of the place, don’t you?”

“Yeah … it’s a place called Amsterdam.”

“So, how did you get back here?”

“I boarded some plane they call Astral! And zap! Here I am. What do you think about that?” … Max?”

He listened carefully to the sounds of the night, then smiled in the darkness as he heard Max hurrying back to the den with a cry of alarm. “Everyone wake up! You’ll never believe what Merkle just told me!”

Merkle rolled another joint and laughed delightedly. “Man they’re gonna think I’m having a breakdown. Then I’ll get sent on another 3 month retreat. This day couldn’t have gone any better. Bless your predictability, Max.”

#

Thanks so much for stopping by. I look forward to your comments.

The next “Fiction in A Flash” image prompt will be posted on Friday, May 29th. I hope you’ll join in the fun.

Contact me at …

My author page on AMAZON.

On Twitter.

On Facebook

On Goodreads.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: “In Search of McDoogal” by Mae Clair @maeclair1 @storyempire #IARTG #WritingCommunity

Hello and welcome to my book review of “In Search of McDoogal” By Mae Clair.

book cover in search of mcdoogal

Meet Mae Clair.

bio pic mae clair

A member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers, Mae Clair is also a founding member and contributor to the award-winning writing blog, Story Empire. She has achieved bestseller status on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, with several of her novels chosen as book club selections.

Mae writes primarily in the mystery/suspense genre, flavoring her plots with elements of urban legend and folklore. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail, and cats.

Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at MaeClair.com

~~~~~

book cover in search of mcdoogal

BOOK BLURB:

In search of something ugly…

All Brady Conrad wants to do is earn a few merit points with his artist girlfriend, so he volunteers to cover her gallery when she leaves town. What should be an easy day of sales goes belly up when he mistakenly sells a cherished painting.

With the clock ticking toward Vanessa’s return, Brady has less than a day to track McDoogal down. He coerces his friend Declan to tag along for moral support. How difficult can it be for an investigator and the director of a renowned institute to find a single painting in a town the size of a postage stamp?

Neither Brady nor Declan counted on a suspicious sheriff, rival baseball teams with a longstanding grudge, or a clueless kid trying to win his girlfriend with all the wrong gifts.

McDoogal is smack in the middle. But Brady’s biggest dilemma isn’t the disastrous hunt. It’s confessing to Vanessa her painting is the ugliest thing he’s ever seen.

My Review: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐A wonderful addition to this talented author’s repertoire.

I’ve been a fan of author Mae Clair since I first read the Hodes Hill series.

This genre is new to her and she has nailed it. Comedic writing is difficult at best, and this author has the talent to make it look easy. Her comedic timing is perfect.

The wonderful characterizations of the focused duo of Brady and Declan make them clearly visible. Their snappy banter and camaraderie born of comfort in each other’s presence make them both intensely likable.

I enjoyed the fast pacing as Brady and Declan set out to retrieve a painting and avoid the consequences of Brady needing to fess up to his new girlfriend that he messed up badly when left in charge of her gallery, The journey these two close friends set out on had me laughing out loud. A case of anything that can go wrong … did.

Mae Clair had gifted us with a marvelous cast of characters, and a read that left me smiling long after I finished reading.

Top-notch all the way.  A wonderful addition to this talented author’s repertoire.

 

 

Contact Mae Clair:

Twitter:

Amazon Author Page:

Mystery, Suspense & Urban Legends | BookBub | Newsletter Sign-Up

Website & Blog | Goodreads

Thanks so much for joining me today! I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

NEW: “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Join in, have fun, and let loose your creative muse.#FictionInAFlash @pursoot @IARTG #ASMSG #WritingCommunity.

Flash Fiction best header

Hello everyone and welcome to my new “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week I’ll be featuring an image and inviting you to write a Flash Fiction piece inspired by that image in a genre of your choosing.  Maximum word count: 750 words.

Please put it (or a link to it) in a comment or email it to me at My email address. by 4pm on May 28th. Subject: Fiction in a Flash Challenge. If you post it on your own blog or site, a link to this page would be much appreciated.

I’ll be sharing all entries received, and, my own contribution here on May 29th.

I do hope you join in! Have fun, let the creative muse loose!

And now …The photo.

Flash Fiction MEERKATS FOR 1st post

I look forward to seeing you!

Now have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

What do you bring to a pity-party? Aka “Uh-oh, she’s back.” #RRBC #RWISA

 

This is your official invitation to the pity-party I’m having, right here and right now!

I’m home again after another sixteen day stay in hospital. That makes four long stays in Hospital this year. I’m pleased to be home again.  I’ve been scrambling around my head trying to find a way to ease myself back into my online world. I’ve been absent (Again) for a few weeks, and yesterday I discovered myself settling into self-pity mode.  That’s never a good look. So I decided to just throw a pity-party and get myself the hell over it. Groan. So let’s get this party started.

Cue intro music,  “Another one Bites The Dust,” by Queen and drape the party-scene in colors of purple and blue.

Menu; Serve Cold. Smörgåsbord

Pity Pork Pie.

The Coldest Cuts possible.

Helpless Hash Browns.

Morose Meringue

Sides available.

A We all know what realy happened to ‘Caesar’ Salad and a platter of Overwhelmed Artichokes.

Depressed Dijon Mustard.

Bar service: Help yourself to your favorite poison, if you’ll pardon the expression.

Party-games.  You already know this isn’t gonna be pretty.

Russian Roulette The old fashioned way.  (I warned you)

Method:

Blend all the above, and place 911 on auto-redial.

I’m working on my way out of a downward mood spiral, my friends, but it may take a little while longer this time around. Meanwhile I’ll start searching for things I can laugh at, and maybe laughing at myself is a good place to start.

In the interim please send a virtual kick in the butt in my direction.

Thank you all for making the time to stop by.

I’ll be catching up with you all over the next few days.

“Dying on Stage.” A comedy of tragic proportions. I kid you not!” #RRBC @pursoot #IARTG

 

Violin for short story horror contestA recent tag on Twitter by my friend Vashti asked me to reveal something personal about myself. I shared the fact that I had once taken acting classes. That memory caused me to shudder and laugh simultaneously. Are you gonna ask me why?

(Whew … for a minute there I didn’t think you were gonna cooperate.)

So … the acting classes led to a few forgettable amateur performances with a group of like-minded but otherwise normal people.

Laurence Olivier

Trust me Laurence Olivier’s reputation wasn’t in any danger of being outshone.

But, hell … we were a dedicated bunch. In a group like that you soon learn to put your hand up for anything remotely connected to a production, which meant we all worked scenery, props, backstage and front of house when we weren’t actually selected to be up on that stage ourselves. Like I said dedicated. Or maybe certifiable.

Anyways … I was chosen for a part in the next production. It was a great part. I got to be shot and die on stage as the final curtain came down and everything! Seriously! I mean let’s face it that was probably the greatest challenge ever handed an aspiring actor.  I rehearsed the hell out of that final scene. I perfected pitching forward as I’m shot from behind and landing face down on the floorboards, but with a side view so the audience could get a clear view of my dead face as my shocked lover comes forward and kneels over me in an agony of loss. My assassin still stands with his gun in his hand and a shocked look on his face.

AUDIENCE

Are you with me so far?

That was the pivotal curtain moment.

Meanwhile back on the floorboards I lay, unmoving. I held it, I had that sucker under perfect control, until my dead nose came in contact with a pile of dust that one of us hadn’t quite swept off stage before the curtain came up.

I felt the dust reaction hit my senses and I began willing that damned curtain down. But my mourning lover was milking the hell out of his big scene and I knew I was in trouble.

I thought my head was about to explode.

At last my lover moaned out his last effort and the silence just before the curtain drops permeated the theatre  … and I let loose the sneeze from hell.

I was mortified. Especially when I heard that first snicker, you know that embarrassed snicker you make just before you double up laughing? Yeah … that’s the one. Multiply that by about thirty folks still sitting in our audience. Uh-huh. Yep.  And then I heard it … A voice in the crowd that carried well called out ‘Bless You’ and the whole place erupted. To make matters worse my lover collapsed in gales of hysteria over my no longer dead body which had his boyfriend off stage wishing me dead all over again.

My assassin barely managed to put the gun prop down before she cracked up completely.

Need I say that the only stage I was ever welcomed back on was the first one outta town.

True story. Seriously it is … even I couldn’t come up with this one.

Thanks for stopping by, I hope that my sharing a memorable moment has helped you to smile.

Have you ever had an oddly pivotal moment like that?

I’d love you to share it.

 

 

 

#BlackFriday #ShortStory “Just Lucky … I Guess.” #RRBC #IARTG

BLACK FRIDAY BANNER JUST LUCKY I GUESS

I do hope you enjoy my contribution to your Black Friday reading enjoyment.

 

Black Friday short story.

“Just Lucky, I Guess.”

Gabriel Christopher had always been considered lucky, both by his many friends and even those not disposed to like him at all. A few folks had commented and even gasped in amazement each time he pulled yet another rabbit from the bottom of his seemingly bottomless hat.

It had been that way since he was born

His devoted mother unhesitant in telling anyone within listening distance that the odds against her son Gabriel surviving his traumatic early arrival on earth were astronomical.

Another child too ill to play the lead in the school play? Too bad. Guess who was the understudy? Yup … that was Gabriel.

His friends clung to him at every social occasion, for it was always Gabriel that found a cab on those nights after a game or a concert when no cabs were to be had. Rain or shine, if they were with good old Gabriel, they knew they would always find a way to get home.

His looks alone would have drawn the women to him. His ability to provide them with Sir Galahad style safety was just another fringe benefit.

It was always Gabriel who somehow managed to get the great seats when the venues for major sporting events or a farewell performance for a world famous entertainer were meant to be sold-out.

Want a seat in a restaurant that’s booked solid for months in advance? Gabriel was your go to guy.

Gabriel had never acknowledged the ‘damn but you’re lucky’ thing, at least not publicly.

He preferred to think of himself as merely observant of everything important to him. Those observations prompted all of his actions.

He’d never needed to strive to be the best he could be, for that lucky star people said he’d been born under kept right on shining down on him throughout his life. Why work yourself to death for something, when not making any effort at all garnered you the same results?

He’d stopped thinking about it much at all in the past couple of years. Life had settled itself into a comfortable pattern. He was content.

Therein lay the heart of his problem. That craved for contentment had nudged him into a world both predictable and unrelentingly boring.

It was April now. Spring had arrived and reawakened what little spirit he still possessed.

He needed a change.

He mulled it over for a few days, weighing his options. Gabriel decided that quitting his job would be stupid, and he was far from stupid … not by his reckoning. He checked in with his boss, and as luck would have it, he had ample leave time accrued to take a long overdue vacation.

He rarely found anything that he wanted or needed enough to warrant him spending his savings. It had been years since he’d purchased his home. He had only his mother to be concerned about while he was traveling, and she was newly remarried and no longer appeared to be in such need of his undivided attention.

Gabriel knew he could easily afford another overseas trip. He’d traveled throughout Europe and even to Australia in those years when spring breaks really meant something.

***

He opened the laptop and began looking for a close location that wouldn’t need days of traveling to reach the destination.

He smiled with anticipation as he made his choice.

A short road trip would take him to Orlando Florida, where he could easily make the direct flight to San Juan in Puerto Rico. He used his phone app and found some great deals on both flights and accommodation. He wasn’t surprised.

Gabriel had traveled widely. But not usually this close to home. Now was the time.

The direct flight to San Juan would take only two and a half hours.

He confirmed his flight times and departure details; handed in his leave application at work, which was immediately approved, and counted down the days.

It was now Monday, and his excitement was building. He would fly out on Friday.

He made the road trip the day before, and spent the night of April 12th, in the Orlando Holliday Inn.

He happily drank the contents of the mini-bar and rang through to room service, ordering a bottle of his favorite scotch, and a meal of Lobster and salad.

He deemed the expense worthwhile and fell into bed late, both well sated and alcohol saturated.

***

Gabriel awoke the next morning and took long minutes to remember where he was and what he was doing there.

“Oh, shit!” He glanced at his phone. “Shit, shit, shit!” He’d been too drunk to set his alarm.

He scrambled from the bed and crossed to the window. The rain came in blinding sheets and the palm trees outside were blown about wildly in the ferocity of the wind.

His flight was due to leave in a less than an hour, and he knew security would be a nightmare to get through. “Damn it!” He haphazardly threw on some clothes, not giving a damn about fashion. He tried to book a cab. The response to his call when he’d finally been connected was that in this storm the cabs were all taken, with bookings piling up ahead of him.

He checked in with the airline, the weather was abating and the flight paths were clearing. The flight had been delayed but only for an estimated thirty minutes.

“Damn it to hell.” Gabriel grabbed his backpack and headed downstairs. He may just be lucky enough to flag down a cab. Anything was better than sitting around.

It had taken him twenty minutes, until in frustration he had walked out in the middle of the busy road and stopped the first cab he spotted.

The driver had the off-duty sign flipped up. He was clearly unavailable and unimpressed by the drenched guy with the backpack now standing in front of his cab and blocking his path.  Until Gabriel Christopher pulled out the Benjamin Franklin. “It’s yours. Just get me to the airport.” That hundred bucks sure changed the attitude.

“Anything you say, buddy.” said the driver, smiling at the man now sitting restlessly and drenching his back seat.

“You need to hurry!”

“No sweat, buddy. It’s only six miles. I’ll have you there in no time.”

“Yeah, well, no time is about all I have left. Step on it would you.”

The driver smiled again. “Sure thing.”

The cab made it to around a mile out from the Airport, before the traffic snarl forced it to come to an infinitely slow-moving crawl. The crawl finally ended in a traffic jam that stopped them and everyone else cold.

“I’ll get out here!” Gabriel exited the cab and was almost run down by a motorbike weaving its way through the traffic.

“Jesus!” The cab driver called out from the window. “Be careful, man. You almost wore that bike!”

“Yeah! But I didn’t.”

Gabriel started running. If the flight had been delayed by just a few minutes he could still make it.

He ran into the terminal. He had eight minutes to get through security and hand in his boarding pass.

Security was working at full speed, trying to clear the backlog of people without jeopardizing safety.

Gabriel was cleared quickly, he could see the departure gate not far ahead. His focus was fixed totally on that point.

He didn’t see the toddler stagger across his path sturdily pushing some wheeled toy … until he tripped over the small body and came crashing down in a heap on the floor.

Gabriel’s head bounced with a sickening smack on the tiles, and the parents of the little boy were frantically checking on their son’s wellbeing. The stranger lay at their feet, out cold and unmoving.

Other passengers came hurrying over to assist.

Gabriel came around and looked up into the face of the paramedic that gazed down with concern into his pale face.

“Take it easy.  You gave your head a damned good crack. Can you tell me your name?”

Gabriel was a little groggy, and he could feel the beginning of a headache making its presence felt.

“Uh … yes, Yes … my name is Gabriel Christopher.”

“How’s your vision, buddy?” The light was shone into Gabriel’s protesting eyes.

“It’s … okay. Yeah, yeah … I’m okay. Thanks.”

“We’re gonna need to take you to the hospital. You were out cold for a couple of minutes. An x-ray will show if you have any damage that needs treating.”

“What time is it?”

The paramedic checked his watch. “It’s gone three.”

“Fuck! I missed my flight.”

The paramedic was more concerned about assisting his patient onto a gurney. “Can’t help back luck, buddy.”

Gabriel Christopher was stunned at this crazy turn that his luck had taken. This type of thing just didn’t happen to him.

***

He was finally released from the hospital hours later once the test results had come back satisfactorily. He had a mild concussion and would have a headache for a day or two. He listened to the instructions and gave his word that he’d return immediately if any other symptoms should arise.

He managed to get another room back at the Holiday Inn.

Too weary now to be bothered with making fresh plans, he poured himself a stiff drink, threw on some boxer shorts and lay back on the king sized bed to watch the large screen television.

He flicked through the channels until the ‘breaking news’ headline came up.

He sat uncomprehending the significance of the news flash for a brief moment.

The attractive newsreader looked appropriately sad “Flight 1313 from Orlando to San Juan had disappeared from radar over the area known as ‘The Bermuda Triangle’ Air and sea searches are underway. No wreckage has yet been sighted.”

Gabriel Christopher’s phone began buzzing.

He took the call from his mother. She was hysterical with relief as she registered the sound of his voice. “Oh my God, my Gabriel. It’s Friday the thirteenth! Are you safe? I’m so glad you decided to take another flight, son.”

The enormity of the situation hit him hard as he listened to the sound of worry in her voice begin to diminish.

“Momma! I was meant to be on that plane. I missed it.”

“Of course you did, Gabriel. You have been blessed since birth.”

“Blessed, Momma? Maybe so … maybe so … Or I could be just lucky, I guess.”

He spent a further ten minutes reassuring her that he would stay indoors until after midnight.

He lay back and attempted to close his eyes, but dark thoughts of what the folks on that plane must have felt when it went down made his efforts at sleeping futile.

He thought about the strange incidents that had combined forces and caused him to miss that flight. He shivered.

The space around him felt wrong, it was suddenly crowded with the sounds of screaming helpless people.

He scrambled from the bed, hurriedly dressed,and headed downstairs and outside. Sucking in deep breaths of the spring air to help calm him. Gabriel began walking without checking direction … his usual keen sense of observation and acute awareness of his surroundings now gone, his feet moved with a purpose of their own that he appeared to have no control over.

He flicked a look at his watch. It was eleven forty-five pm. He shuddered as he acknowledged that this dreadful day was not yet over.

A building in the next block drew his eyes to the radiant glow of light emanating from within it.

He walked towards it without knowing why he did so.

He climbed the stairs and made his way into the warmth of the interior.

The light welcomed and encompassed him.

He moved slowly towards the statue of Christ.

A voice deep and rich permeated his senses. He was vibrating to the sound and the sensations as they echoed through his brain and pierced his soul.

“It is time, Gabriel. Welcome home.”

The church bells rang out the hour of midnight.

*