My Random Writings of Life

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1a53722Welcome

Thank you for visiting my personal blog. This is my online portfolio of work I have produced as a journalist, photographer, graphic design artist, and advertising/PR specialist.

I began my career quite by accident. I was a fan of the local professional indoor soccer team in Wichita, Kansas. I decided to skip school one day to attend the team’s practice. I was an artist and wanted to spend my afternoon sketching the players. So much more fun than algebra or government. I sat for hours drawing sketch after sketch, completely oblivious to everything else around me.

When practice was over, I was packing up my things and a man leaned forward to speak to me. I hadn’t even noticed him sitting behind me but apparently he had been watching me draw.

“How would you like to work for the team? We just lost our staff artist and could use someone like you.” I will never forget those words or the man who spoke them. He was Steve Shaad, general manager of the Wichita Wings.

So it began. I was 17-years-old, still a junior in high school, and I was working for a professional sports team. The league had a magazine. The magazine was divided into a national section and a local. I worked for years as the staff artist for the local section in Wichita.

As time went on I began to contribute photography and advertising work for the team as well. I designed and wrote promotional material and even designed and produced window displays for the Wings at the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

My job with the Wichita Wings was the springboard to my career. From there I went on to work for Wichita State University in various departments which eventually led me to doing publicity work for the Miss USA Pageant when it was hosted in Wichita, Kansas in 1993.

I had moved to Sonderborg, Denmark in 2014 and am currently living in Dusseldorf, Germany where I am working as a freelance journalist and trying to build a new career as an author. I am seeking work in writing, editing, public relations, advertising and design. You will find samples of some of my best work on this site. All the photos you see on this site are my work.

If you have any questions or wish to inquire about hiring me for a project, feel free to contact me at dianne.burckhardt@gmail.com

 

A Work in Progress

I haven’t posted anything new here for a while. I have been busy trying to get my career as an author going for about ten months now. It all started while we were living in Denmark in 2014.

I wasn’t having much luck finding work there so I decided to fall back on my journalism degree and started working online as a ghostwriter. I wrote two small books through a freelance service. The first book was about essential oils, how to choose them and how to use them. It even had several recipes.

The second book was a western. I have always wanted to write novels but I had never, even once, thought about writing westerns. I was so shocked at how much I loved it. So much so, I chose to make my first book project a western series.

When I was researching westerns as a genre, I found western books written by  men tended to be better received than those written by women. Because of this, I decided to start out writing  my series as a man.

I have such a crazy long name since I got married, I just picked my maiden last name and my married last name and came up with my pen name. My father, who I look like the female version of, was kind enough to let me use photos I had taken of him when he was my age as my image for my western author.

I have ideas for a sci-fi series, a romance series, and I want to write a biography detailing the rare health condition I have and what it’s like to have gone through the six brain surgeries I had and how I nearly died of a MRSA staff infection in my brain. It was not fun, to say the least.

First, I need to finish my western series which has three more novellas that need to come out in the next few months. Then I want to write the autobiography. After that who knows what I will write next. I hope I have a long life ahead of me because I’m going to need the time to get all of these stories out.

Missing

(a working title for a story in progress)

ONE

Ashley burst through the screen door at a dead run, barely slowing down to open the door. It flew back slamming into the porch rail as she lept down the stairs and took off running again as soon as her feel hit the ground.

“Don’t slam the …” her mother stopped yelling as the screen door slammed back into place. “… door.” She said quietly to herself. She just smiled and shook her head as she went back to washing the lunch dishes.

Ashley hadn’t heard a word her mother had said. She was on a mission. The ice cream truck was pulling away and she was not about miss it. Her mother rarely let her get ice cream and she was going to make sure she got hers today.

Ashley ran just ahead of the truck and waved at the driver. The man behind the wheel smiled and waved and pulled back to the curb. He went to the back, opened the service window and leaned out on the ledge.

“Looks like I just about missed you. What can I get for you?” The man smiled and waited while Ashley caught her breath.

Taking a few deep breaths Ashley didn’t even look at the menu on the side of his truck, she already knew what she wanted.

“I need a bomb pop, please.” Ashley smiled and help up her dollar.

The man laughed. “Need, huh? That sounds desperate.”

“Huh?” Ashley wasn’t sure what he meant. The man just smiled, took her dollar and handed her a bomb pop.

“Never mind, I was just teasing anyway. How old are you?” The man smiled as he watched Ashley unwrap her bomp pop.

“I’m going to be 6 this summer. Mom says I get to go to real school this year. I’m all done with preschool.” Ashley smiled at the man then started eating her popsicle. She looked at her hand that held the wrapper then looked around trying to decide what to do with it.

“Here, I can toss the wrapper for you.” The man reached down and took the wrapper from her. “Can I get you anything else?”

Ashley quit eating her popsicle for a moment to just say, “nope.” Then she went back to eating it as she waved at the man and walked away.

Ashley walked slowly towards her house but instead of going back inside she walked past her house and went two lots over. Her neighborhood had a small playground there the size of one house lot. It was so nice out today Ashley just wanted to lay on the little hill by the swing sets and look at the sky while she ate her popsicle.

The grass and earth felt warm under the summer sun. Ashley kicked off her shoes and wiggled her toes in the grass. If her mom would let her, she’d run around barefoot all the time.

Ashley closed her eyes and felt the warmth of the sun warm her as she sucked on the cold icy popsicle. She started humming to herself when a shadow blocked out the sun’s light. Ashley opened her eyes and saw who was standing over her. She knew the man. He lived on their block and was friends with her parents but she couldn’t think of his name. He smiled at her.

“That looks good.” He said pointing to her bomb pop.

“They are good. They are my favorite.” Ashley finished her popsicle and held the stick looking around for some place to throw it away.

The man realized what she was doing and reached out for the stick, “Here let me show you what to do with those.” The man took the stick from her and pushed it straight into the ground then stepped on it to make sure it was all the way in.

“It’s wood so you can bury them like this and they will eventually just fall apart and become part of the ground.”

Ashley looked at the spot where the stick was then back up at the man and smiled. “Cool.”

The man smiled back. “Where is your mom?”

“She’s at home. She says Saturday’s are her chores days.”

The man looked toward Ashley’s house. “I was hoping she wouldn’t mind letting me borrow you for a while. I just bought some clothes for my niece who is your age and I was hoping you would tell me if you think she would like them or not. I have no idea what a girl your age would want to wear. Think you could help me?” He smiled at Ashley.

“I guess so,” Ashley said.

The man stood up. “Come on. Let’s go ask your Mom. We’ll see if she wants to come along. She can tell me what she thinks too.” The man reached down and picked up Ashley’s shoes and held a hand out for her.

Ashley took his hand and let him help her up then they started walking toward her home.

Back in the house, Ashley’s mom, Lauren, was just finishing up the dishes. Walking through the house she picked up a few toys off the floor and put them on the coffee table then headed to the laundry room to switch the loads. Once she got the machines going again and the previous load folded and put away she made herself a cup of tea and sat down with her current book.

Lauren was reading the latest Mercy book by Patricia Briggs. She loved that series and couldn’t wait to get back to it. She set the alarm on her cell phone to let her know when it would be time to switch the laundry again. She knew if she didn’t she would get so lost in her book and would read for hours and never finish the laundry today.

The alarm on Lauren’s phone began to chime. She put down her book and stretched and reached for her phone. It was 2 PM. She had been reading for an hour straight. She stretched again and went to finish the laundry. As she went from room to room putting away all of clean clothes she realized she was still alone in the house.

“Ashley?” she called out in the house. When there was no answer she went to the front porch.

Stepping out into the warm air Lauren took a deep breath. She could smell the hyacinths she had planted by the porch last year. She loved that smell.

Lauren looked up and down the street trying to spot Ashley. She saw a few of the neighbor kids playing in different yards but she didn’t see Ashely with any of them.

Lauren stepped off the porch and headed to the park. She expected to find Ashley asleep on the hill in the park. It wouldn’t be the first time. When Lauren reached the park it was empty.

Lauren started to get a little nervous. Looking around she surveyed the neighborhood again. She didn’t see her daughter anywhere. She could feel the panic starting to fill her chest.Lauren ran to the nearest group of children and asked them if they had seen Ashley.

Peter, who lives across the street from them, said he had seen her going into the park before 1 PM but he hadn’t seen her since then. No one else had seen her. Lauren thanked him and told all the kids that if they see her to tell her to come straight home. They all agreed.

Lauren went around to the other children she saw who were outside playing but no one else had seen Ashley. Lauren went back to her house and called out for Ashley again in case she had come home while Lauren was out looking for her, silence.

Lauren pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and called 911. She knew she was over reacting and was sure the police would tell her so but she didn’t know what else to do.

The operator picked up almost immediately. “911 dispatch. What’s your emergency?”

Lauren took a deep breath, “It’s my daughter, I’m sure it’s nothing but …she’s missing.”

* * * * * *

Rachel Ferris tried to manage the 6 soccer balls she was carrying. Walking down the hall to the locker room was proving to be a real challenge. She was doing her best to weave between various spectators who were milling around the tunnel that leads from the field to the locker rooms. She was just about to the gate that leads to the locker room when someone bumped into her sending one of the balls bouncing away.

Officer Krantz, who guards the gate, stepped out and stopped the balls progress with his foot then picked it up. Many off duty police served as security at the arena for events and she knew them all.

“You almost made it,” Officer Krantz laughed as he opened the gate for Rachel.

“I would have too if I hadn’t been sabotaged.” Rachel walked through the gate trying to keep from losing another ball.

“What are all the balls for?” Officer Krantz asked.

“The coach is going to a fan club dinner tomorrow and wants some signed balls to give away and for a silent auction.”

Officer Krantz leaned in close and whispered, “Are you going to be doing the signing again or are you going to make the players do it themselves this time?”

Rachel jumped a little at hearing his comment. She was shocked and her expression showed every bit of it. Officer Krantz let out a burst of laughter.

When Rachel recovered a bit she leaned in and whispered, “How did you know?”

Officer Krantz smiled and said, “You hear a lot of things working security. After a while the players just walk past us talking to each other and don’t even notice us.” Officer Krantz laughed again and said, “Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me, as long as you are only signing the balls that are being given away.”

“I’ve only done it once and they were given away.” Rachel shifted trying to keep the balls in her arms in balance. “I’d cross my heart but that might be a bit hard right now.”

Officer Krantz held out the ball he had retrieved for her.

Rachel looked from the ball to the locker room. She still had quite a distance to walk with all the balls in her arms. “Um … would you mind holding onto that while I go drop these in the locker room and I’ll come back and get it? Rachel asked.

Officer Krantz laughed, “Sure thing.” Just then Officer Krantz got a phone call. He turned his attention to his phone as Rachel headed off to the locker room.

Luckily the door was propped open. All the doors in this part of the building had key pad locks. It would have been a challenge to get through and not drop more balls.

Rachel went into the side team room where the table was and sat the balls on the table. She pulled several permanent markers out of her back pocket and laid them on the table as well. Rachel headed back to retrieve the last ball from Officer Krantz.

When she got to the gate Officer Krantz was gone and Officer O’Neil was in his place.

“Where’s Officer Krantz?” Rachel asked.

“He got a call and had to leave. But he left that for you,” Officer O’Neil pointed to the soccer ball propped on a chair in the corner.

Rachel picked up the ball and went back to Officer O’Neil. “I hope everything is okay.”

Officer O’Neil gave her a blank expression. “Duty calls,” he said then turned back to the gate to check an ID before letting someone through the gate.

Rachel felt her heart sink. Officer Krantz and a handful of the other police working security worked in the Missing and Exploited Children’s Unit. If he was called to work that could only mean one thing, a child was in danger and they had to act fast.

As Rachel was walking back into the locker room she felt her cell phone vibrate in her pocket. Pulling it out she noticed it was an Amber Alert on her phone. She had signed up for the service months ago. Tapping on the screen brought up the photo of a smiling little girl in a Pink shirt with a purple flower on the front. Above the photo was the word missing in big block letters. Rachel had a feeling she knew what had pulled Officer Krantz back into work.

TWO

Rachel looked at the clock on the library wall. It was only 5 minutes after the last time she had looked. Sometimes having study hall the last hour of her school day was a blessing and sometimes, like today, it was complete hell.

Health Beat: Sickle Cell Anemia

Awareness necessary for extended life

In keeping with Black History Month, Student Health Services is promoting sickle cell anemia awareness.

Sickle cell anemia is a hereditary blood disease that is most common in African Americans.

“One in 10 will have a trait and one in 400 will have the disease,” said Trudy Baker, nurse practitioner at Student Health Services.

Persons who inherit one sickle cell gene from one parent will have the “sickle cell trait.” Individuals with the sickle cell trait are also known as carriers. For carriers, the condition is benign and never develops into sickle cell anemia.

“With the sickle cell trait, sometimes, there are no symptoms at all,” said Baker.
It is the children of carriers who are at risk. Persons who inherit one sickle gene from each parent will develop full-blown sickle cell anemia.

What they inherit is a gene for a type of hemoglobin that forms long chains when it gives up oxygen. It is these chains of hemoglobin that change the typically round red blood cells into abnormal “sickle” shaped cells.

The abnormal shape of the sickled cells makes it difficult for them to pass through the blood vessels. The sickled cells can get clogged in the vessels and block normal blood flow. This can cause a loss of oxygen to the vital organs and tissues. It is the lack of oxygen that causes some of the symptoms experienced by those with sickle cell anemia.

It is estimated that about 2 million people in the United States are carriers for sickle cell while another 72,000 have sickle cell anemia.

“Persons who have the disease may have swelling of the joints, may have some body aches,” said Baker. “They have more difficulty recovering from infections and they get more colds.”

Other symptoms of this disease include fatigue, shortness of breath, jaundice (a yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes), delayed puberty, eye problems (including blindness) and stroke.

Currently there is no cure for sickle cell anemia and the life expectancy for people with the disease is reduced, but there is hope.

The life expectancy used to be short but now the life span is increasing because researchers are finding more things to control the symptoms, said Baker. They are learning more things about the disease.

Due to the development of increasingly effective treatments, those with sickle cell anemia can live well into their 40s. It is possible for people with the disease to lead normal lives that include holding down a job and raising a family. The key is early detection and treatment.

Student Health Services provides sickle cell anemia tests at no charge to Wichita State students.

“The reason why we can get it at no charge is that we send it to Wesley,” said Baker. “They do them for the whole general area. So the turnaround time (for results) is about two weeks.”

Appointments are not necessary. Stop by Student Health Services in Room 209 of Ahlberg Hall or call 978-3620.

Remy (a paranormal/horror sample)

The minute Remy began to regain consciousness; he knew something was not right. He was cold and damp and could smell too many earthy smells. The fact that he was naked was troubling too. He could feel things scratching and poking against his bare skin. Unsure of why he was naked and what he would find when he opened his eyes, he kept still and listened.

Nothing seemed to be moving nearby. The wind was blowing gently through trees and somewhere not too far away a rusty hinge was crying out in desperate need of oil. Remy suspected that, wherever he was, he was alone. Slowly, he opened his eyes.

The wooded area he saw was a picture postcard example of fall; trees ablaze with the colors of the autumn palate and the forest floor carpeted with leaves of the same colors. It was beautiful.

As Remy sat up he closed his eyes and stretched. Involuntarily, he yawned. He must have slept deep, he felt sluggish and everything ached, probably from sleeping on the cold damp ground. He stretched again and took a deep breath, that is when he smelled it: blood. Remy froze and opened his eyes. He tried to push his senses to search everything in his surroundings.

The only sounds were still the wind in the trees and the whine of the hinge. He smelled the earth, the rotting leaves, and blood. He still felt alone. Slowly he began to turn his head to take in the full view of the forest around him. The sight behind him was macabre.

His mind tried to make sense of the devastation he was seeing. His first thought was it looked like a grotesque Jackson Pollock interpretation of slaughter. His mind didn’t seem to want to understand what he was looking at. There was much too much to take in.

About 50 feet away, at the far edge of the clearing, was an outcropping of rocks. One boulder sat in the middle of the grouping. It was large and flat on top and looked like table with an odd collection of stone seats around it. In the center of the table was a heap of meat and bones. It looked like Thanksgiving dinner for werewolves.

Splatters dotted the scene as unidentified chunks oozed and dripped from the edges of things. A faint haze seemed to distort the air above the chaotic pile of flesh. It looked like a dark cloud floating and curing like a storm cloud before all hell broke loose. Flies had found the kill.

Remy swallowed the bile that rose as he continued to stare at the pile trying to make sense of the mess. His eyes finally focused on a something near the bottom of the heap. He kept staring, trying to get his brain to make sense of what he was seeing. Suddenly his mind deciphered the image. He was looking at a face, a human face. His eyes locked on to the clear blue eye and empty eye socket that was staring back at him.

As his mind decoded the scene, Remy lost control of his stomach. Turning away from, what he assumed could only be a murder victim or victims, Remy got on all fours, closed his eyes, and wretched and heaved until he felt he didn’t have the strength to vomit anymore, even if there had been anything left to expel.

Remy took a few slow breaths to try to calm down. Sitting back on his heels, Remy kept his back to the slaughter. What the hell had happened here and did he have anything to do with this? Remy took another calming breath and opened his eyes. On the forest floor in front of him was the contents of his stomach. Sitting in the middle, staring up at him, was the remnants of one clear blue eye.

The realization of what he was looking at hit Remy like a hammer to the chest. Panic overtook him and he started crab-walking backward trying to distance himself from the evidence of his crime. His hand hit in a wet spot and slid causing him to land, splayed out on his back. Lifting his hand he saw it was coated in blood and mud and bits of forest debris. Remy started to hyperventilate as he realized he had backed up right into hell’s dining room.

Overhead a raven squawked its displeasure at Remy’s movements. Remy looked up just as the raven took flight. It had apparently been dinning on, what appeared to be, part of the intestines. As the bird took flight the limb it had been sitting on bounced, sending its dinner bouncing along with it. Splatters of dark blood and other matter found in intestines showered down over his face and upper body. That was when he lost all control.

Remy jumped to his feet and ran. He didn’t know where he was or where he was going but he knew he had to put as much distance between himself and that scene as he could. He knew he was hyperventilating and most likely going into shock but he didn’t care. He had to keep running.

Remy pushed himself until he could barely take a breath. He was getting dizzy and finally tripped sending him crashing to the ground where an unfortunately placed rock connected with his more tender bits and took even more of his breath away. He lay in the dirt in the fetal position panting.

Remy had no idea how long he lay there. He thought he might have even lost consciousness at one point. When he finally rolled onto his back and looked at the sky he knew it had to be late afternoon but he wasn’t sure what day it was.

Remy tried not to think about the clearing and thought he should focus on finding out where he was and how to get home. Given that he was naked, finding clothes might be a good start. As he lay looking at the sky, he noticed the sound of the creaking hinge was much louder. He had run toward the only sign of civilization he had.

Rolling over, Remy stayed flat on the ground and looked around. There was an old wire fence not far from him. Letting his eyes follow the line it led straight to what looked like an old barn. Looking around Remy didn’t see a house close by. Slowly he stood up as he continued to check the surroundings. When Remy was finally standing up he could see the farmhouse several acres away. Slowly he started toward the barn. He was trying to keep watch on his surroundings with all of his sense.

When he reached the gate that had been his beacon, he saw that it was actually chained so that he couldn’t open it enough to walk through. The top was further protected with strands of barbed wire, as was the top of the fence surrounding the area. Nothing was going to be easy or pleasant today.

Considering his state of undress, Remy decided that trying to climb either the gate or the fence was not a good idea. He decided the best bet was to try to squeeze through opening. Pushing as hard as he could, Remy forced the gate to yield as much as the chain would let him. He was just beginning to push through, the wires sticking out from the fence already adding more nicks and cuts to his body, when he looked at the hinges.

The hinges on the gate were old hooked pin style hinges. Remy smiled and silently thanked God for this one small favor. He reached over and grabbed the pin and with a little work was able to get the pins to pull out. Once on the other side he replaced the pins and headed toward the barn.

Remy slowly entered the barn, ready to run again if he ran into anyone. His second gift from God that day was the barn was empty except for an old horse trying to get the last few bits of feed out of a trough. A breeze came through the barn from behind Remy and carried his scent toward the horse. As soon as it reached him, the horse reared and whinnied and bolted from the barn putting distance between him and the predator he smelled. Horses had never liked Remy.

Looking around the barn it was old but obviously well kempt. One side was a large open area with one end open to a pasture. There were a few small rooms that were obviously meant to house animals in the more harsh weather, and the far side was a small dairy room set up for milking a few cows.

In the dairy room was a small bathroom that looked like a newer addition. No doubt the people who worked this farm had gotten tired of either doing their business out in the field or trekking all the way back to the house when the need arose and had this room added in. On one wall were two hooks. Each had an apron hanging on it. It wasn’t the clothing option he could hope for it was better than walking around nude.

Remy went to clean up in the sink. Hooked to the wall above the sink was an old metal medicine cabinet with a mirror on the door. The image he saw in that mirror was another shock he hadn’t expected today. His hair was a wild riot of twigs, leaves, and what he assumed was a mixture of blood, gore, and dirt. His face looked like he had at some point bobbed for apples in a vat of blood. His entire body was a riddled with nicks and cuts and what looked like a few claw marks.

Remy tried not to think and just began cleaning himself up. He was not surprised to find out there was no hot water. It took a good long time to get even a semblance of being clean given the layers he was trying to scrub off in the small basin. It was made harder by the fact that he was trying to not leave a mess behind to alert the owners to what had been cleaned up in their bathroom. It was bad enough he was going to have to take their aprons.

When he was satisfied that he was as clean as he was going to be able to get he looked in the medicine cabinet. Inside were a few things you might expect in a barn bathroom: a big jar of bag balm, a tin of Band-Aids, a glass bottle of Mercurochrome, and a few rolls of gauze and first-aid tape. It was obvious they hadn’t had to restock their supplies in a good long time and they didn’t seem to worry about expiration dates. Remy wondered if you could even still buy Mercurochrome.

Remy did a quick doctoring of his worst wounds. He was lucky that he healed faster than most but the deep wounds would still take a while. Keeping them as clean as possible was still a good idea. When he was patched up, Remy reached for the aprons. They were slightly soiled but not too bad. The worst part was they had a faint smell of sour milk. He assumed their owners wore them while milking and tending to the few dairy cows the family kept.

Remy took the first apron and folded over the bib and moved it around behind him to literally cover his ass. Wrapping the strings around his waist he tied them off then reached for the second apron. Slipping the neck string over his head he adjusted the apron to cover his front and wrapped the strings around his waist and tied them off behind his back. This outfit wouldn’t win him any fashion awards but at least he wasn’t walking around buck ass naked anymore.

Remy suddenly realized he was starving. He took a few good drinks of water from the facet. At least is tasted like it was fit for drinking even if it did taste like it was heavy on minerals. Remy decided to look around the barn and see if he could find anything of use.

There was a tack room and near that a set of stair leading up to a hay loft. In the tack room, Remy found the usual saddles, bridals, and horse blankets. On one wall hung a few tools including a few knives that could come in handy. There were also barrels with different kinds of feed for the horses and cattle. Remy was starving. There was no doubt that he had eaten something, or someone, recently but he had left that meal on the ground in the clearing. His stomach was really starting to protest the lack of food.

Remy decided to give the barrel with what looked like oats of some kind a try. He reached in and took a handful. He hesitated long enough for his stomach to growl its objection to the delay then shoved the oats into his mouth. It was so dry it made it hard to swallow. He decided it might be better to see if he could find something to put them in and try adding a little water to them. Poor man’s oatmeal didn’t sound so bad. He was sure people had survived on worse at some point in history.

Looking around there was a cabinet on the wall at the back of the room. It looked like it was a quick afternoon project made from a few pieces of plywood quickly slapped together. In the cabinet were a few old coffee cans filled with odds and ends. Remy picked out the least rusted one to use as a makeshift bowl. On the bottom shelf was a burlap sack. For some reason Remy took it out and was thrilled to find it was filled with carrots. This had to be a treat bag for the horse. He hoped the horse would forgive him for the theft but right now Remy needed them worse than the horse did.

Searching through a few more containers Remy found some sugar cubes and decided to take them too. He had no idea how long it was going to take him to get home and he might need them for energy if he couldn’t find more palatable food. Plain sugar was better than starvation even if only slightly.

Remy went back to the barrel and filled his can with oats. He grabbed one of the knives and a pair of wire cutters and dropped them in the burlap sack with the carrots and sugar. Remy grabbed one of the horse blankets as he headed to the bathroom again for some water. After his meal was prepared he retired to the hayloft. If he could get a little sleep maybe he could figure things out.

At each end of the loft was a big square door that Remy knew was used to load and unload hay bales. Beams stuck out above the doors with a pulley and rope attached for raising the bales. There were also a few trap doors that opened into the different animal stalls in the lower level so fresh hay could be dumped in the rooms. One side of the loft was stacked from floor to ceiling with bales while on the other side near the trap door were a few piles where bales had been broken open to push through the doors.

Remy walked to the end of the loft and looked out the open door. He could see a small farm house several acres away. Like the barn, it looked older but not unkempt. There was a truck, a car and motorcycle out front. Behind the house he could see a clothes line that was unfortunately bare of any clothes he could steal. He could tell people were home.

Remy sat back away from the doorway and ate his oatmeal and watched the house. Lights came on and went off as he watched and a slow steady stream of smoke signaled from the fireplace. What he wouldn’t give for a warm bed and hot meal in that home right now.

A yawn forced its way out and his eyes seemed to be getting harder to keep open. Remy carried his food to the wall of hay bales and started to climb. He laughed as the thought he probably looked like a psycho Santa climbing the stack with his pack hanging over his shoulder.

When he reached the top he crawled to the wall. Setting his supplies to the side, Remy maneuvered two bales out of their places to make a small pit. Using the wire cutter he had found in the tack room he broke open the two bales and dumped one in the bottom of the pit to make a bed. The other he spread around the tops of the other bales to hide the fact that is was out of place just in case anyone should come in while he was sleeping they wouldn’t notice an odd bale out of place and come investigate. Remy suspected that he was begin overly cautious but considering the day he had had that didn’t seem like a bad idea.

Remy climbed down into his makeshift bed and sandwiched himself in the blanket then piled hay on top. He hoped it would serve two purposes, to keep him warm and camouflage him should anyone happen to find him while he slept.

Laying there Remy stared at the beams and listened to the sounds of the farm around him. He wanted to sleep and forget everything he had seen since he woke up naked in the forest. Where was he? How did he get here? Who was that on the table and did he kill them? How could he not know the answers to any of this?

As Remy’s thoughts drifted back to that eyeball staring at him from the forest floor he was startled by a phone ringing. Jumping up, he crawled over to the edge of the tower of hay bales. The sound was coming from down stairs. Quickly he moved toward the sound wanting to find the phone before it quit ringing. Near the main door where Remy had come in the barn was a small wooden box on the wall. It looked like it was made with the same material and care that the cabinet in the tack room had been made. The ringing was coming from inside.

Just as Remy opened the box the phone stopped ringing. He smiled when he saw it. It fit with these surroundings. The phone was an old dark green rotary dial phone. Assuming that the phone was on the same line as the phone in the farm house, Remy carefully picked up the handset while holding down the receiver arm. Slowly he let the arm up, trying to be as quiet as possible.

The Beast (an erotic sample)

Rachel Crowe pulled into her driveway and hit the garage door opener. She cursed the thing as she frantically pushed the button several times. She was late and she knew he would be angry.

As soon as the door cleared the roof of the car, Rachel sped into the garage. She had to slam on the breaks to keep from hitting a tool box. She quickly turned off the engine and ripped the keys out of the ignition and began to frantically gather up her belongings. She lost her grip on her purse and watched as it fell upside down in the floor of the passenger side of the car, spilling everything that had been inside.

“No! No! No!” Rachel screamed as she threw her keys on top of the pile. She wanted to cry but instead she just gripped the steering wheel tight and took a deep breath. When she let it out she checked the time. She still had 2 minutes by her dash clock but she knew it was his clock that mattered, not hers. If she was late again he would punish her.

Rachel leaned over to grab her keys but stopped when she caught her reflection in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes looked wild and it surprised her. She stared at herself for a moment. She looked desperate. Rachel wondered when her life had turned so bad. No, bad was the wrong word . . . complicated. She couldn’t remember any one defining moment but then life rarely changes in a flash, it’s more subtle. Things happen in small stages, things you don’t even think about until it’s too late.

Rachel stared at herself and wondered if it was too later for her. Her eyes slid to the clock. One minute left. She felt her heart race knowing what was in store for her tonight. Her heart pounded but not from fear. There was a little fear but that was not what made her heart pound in her ears, she was excited. She felt her breath quickening as she thought about what was to come and she was ashamed by her reaction.

If she hurried she might escape punishment tonight, but did she really want to? Rachel realized that she didn’t and that scared her worse than the idea of being punished, that she actually liked it, liked the pain, the humiliation.

Rachel leaned over the passenger seat and began to slowly pick up all her belongings and put them back in her purse. She calmly gathered the rest of her things from the back seat and got out of the car. She started to smile as walked she toward the door to her home but it was not a happy smile. She knew without seeing her reflection that she had wicked look on her face and she didn’t care.

Rachel was thinking about him and what he was going to do to her tonight. She knew it would hurt, probably even leave a few marks. He had done that before but he was always careful to make sure they were where her clothes would cover them up. This part of her life was secret and he had always honored that.

When she opened the door, her house was quiet. It had been hard coming home to an empty house after the divorce but Rachel had gotten used to it. She stepped into the kitchen and placed all her things on the island and pulled out her laptop. After her computer came up, she signed on to her account at the chat site. Her screen name was la Bestia. La Bestia was Spanish for the beast. A lot of men in the chat rooms made comments asking if that was how she was in bed, but it had nothing to do with that.

Rachel had always loved the story, Beauty and the Beast. But while most girls identified with Beauty, Rachel always identified with the beast. A creature who shied away from relationships, destined to be alone and lonely for the rest of his life. The only problem Rachel had with the fairy tales was that love always seemed to win out in the end. What a load!

In the story, Beauty sees past the appearance of the beast to see the real person inside and falls in love with him in spite of his looks. Rachel didn’t believe that would work if Beauty had been a man. She had seen beautiful women with average to unattractive men all the time. Women fall in love with the person then they become attracted to the body. With men they are attracted to the body then they fall in love with the person. Rachel knew that if Beauty had been a man, there would have been no happy ending. Hell, he probably would have led the march on the castle himself. Life never works as well as fiction.

Rachel was pulled from her thoughts as she heard the voice of Hannibal Lecter saying Hello Clarice then telling her she had mail. Rachel had replaced the regular voice greeting to the celebrity voice clip as soon as it was available. Hearing Hannibal Lecter everyday was very creepy and it amused her.

Rachel did not even have time to check her mail before an instant message window popped up on her screen.

     You’re late. I warned you about that.

Rachel felt her pulse quicken and her hands shook a little as she started to type her reply.

     I know. I’m sorry. I had to stay late at work. I hope you can forgive me, sir.

Rachel waited for a reply but it didn’t come. She sat there staring at the screen, afraid of what he was going to say next and terrified that he may not say anything at all. Just when Rachel was moving to type to ask if he was still there, his reply popped up on the screen.

     I am trying to be patient with you since you are new to all of this but you have to learn how this works. If you can’t live by the rules you need to find someone else to be with.

Rachel’s heart sank. She quickly typed in her thoughts hoping to change his mind.

     Please sir, I’m begging you. I am so sorry I was late. I will do whatever it takes to make this up to you. Please just don’t leave me like this. I want to learn, sir. I need you to teach me. It took me so long to find someone I trust, to find you.

Rachel held her breath as she waited for his reply. The screen stayed blank and unmoving for what seemed a very long time. Finally, his reply came through.

     You have to learn to do as you are told. When you get things right, you will be rewarded When you get things wrong, you will be punished.

     I understand that, sir.

     You kept me waiting for 17 minutes today. That is unacceptable

     Yes, sir. I understand.

     You will accept punishment then?

Rachel paused for a moment wondering what he had in mind. She wanted to ask but knew that was not a good idea. She meant what she had said, she trusted him. They had spent weeks talking and going over boundaries and rules. He had made sure she knew the extremes of what could be done with her and to her. They had agreed on a set of boundaries and he had never crossed those lines, so far.

     Yes, I will sir.

Rachel felt herself getting wet as she thought about what was going to happen to her tonight.

     Good girl. Now, go put on the black dress I like and all the accessories. Meet me at the corner of Pawnee and Meridian. Park your car in the flea market parking lot and stand on the corner and wait to be picked up.

Rachel started to type her reply when another message popped up.

     One more thing Rachel . . . bring the bag.

Rachel looked at the screen unable to move. She wasn’t sure how long she had just sat there but it was obviously too long.

     I’ll take your lack of response as a refusal. Goodbye Rachel.

Rachel jumped as she read the words on the screen. She couldn’t imagine not being with him anymore. She had a desperate need to fix this.

     No wait! Please, sir. I’m sorry, truly, deeply sorry. I will bring the bag if you want but, could I make this up to you another way? Please, sir! I’ll do anything!

     Anything, Rachel? Are you sure?

     Yes, sir. Anything you want.

     I want you to bring the bag.

Rachel let out a breath that was close to a sob. Her hands trembled as she typed her reply.

     Yes, sir.

     Good girl. Go get changed and come to me, now!

With that he signed off.

Rachel copied the text from their chat and pasted into a word document and saved it to her hard drive. She did that with all her chats. She had such a bad memory she often went back over chats to refresh her memory later. Rachel logged off and hurried to her bedroom to get changed.

Thirty minutes later Rachel was standing on the street corner in one of the lower income areas of town. It was not an area that was frequented by hookers but she knew that was what she looked like standing there watching the cars, waiting for her Master to come and pick her up.

She had a feeling that he was close by watching her, wanting someone to stop and make her an offer for the night. The dress he had her put on was a long black Asian style dress. The material was soft and silky and looked embroidered. She nervously ran her hands down her sides smoothing out the material. She was not a small woman by any measure, never had been, she had curves and the dress showed them off.

She turned sideways a bit and the wind caught the material where the dress was slit up the side, lifting the skirt. Anyone passing by could see that she was wearing lace top stockings and a matching garter belt.

Rachel quickly grabbed the skirt and pushed it back down covering herself. She was feeling very self-conscious and getting a little cold. A car of teenage boys passed by and a couple of boys hung out of the windows yelling obscene come-ons to her. Rachel blew them a kiss and followed it by flipping them off.

The boys responded by laughing and making a few more comments as they drove off. While Rachel was watching them drive away, headlights came on behind her. She turned to face the car but couldn’t see with the lights in her eyes. A man got out of the passenger side of the car and came toward her.

Instinctively, Rachel took a few steps back as she tried to get a look at the man approaching her. When he was about 4 feet from her he stepped in front of the headlights and she could see his face. She didn’t know him. Rachel was starting to get scared and began backing up again.

“Stop.” The man’s voice was deep and rumbling as he spoke but it was not harsh. “I’m supposed to ask you for the bag.”

Rachel stopped backing up, she realized that he must know her Master. She wondered if this was part of her punishment. She looked over at the driver’s side of the car trying to see if her Master was there but the lights were too bright to see into the car.

The man quickly stepped forward and took a hold of her arm pulling her close to him, blocking her view of the car. “You really don’t want him to upset him anymore than he already is.” He lifted her chin so that she was looking him in the eyes. He spoke to her, softly this time, “Do you?”

Rachel thought she saw concern in his eyes and she wondered what she had gotten herself into. Without saying a word, she handed him the bag. He took it without looking away from her eyes. He stood there holding her close for just a moment then let her go. If there had been concern for her in his eyes it was gone now. He seemed emotionless as he opened the bag and pulled out a wide collar.

He gripped her shoulder hard and turned her around making her stumble on her high heels. Without a word he fastened the collar tightly around her neck. She could hear him pulling something else out of the bag and heard the clasp click as he fastened the restraining bar to the back of the collar. The bar hooked to the collar and ran down the center of her back to just above her waist. At the end of the bar were two leather cuffs to secure her wrists, making her virtually helpless.

As the man fastened her wrists securely behind her, Rachel looked across the street. There was a convenience store with gas pumps straight across from where they stood. With the headlights behind them she knew everyone across the street, as well as anyone driving past, had a poor view of what was going on. From the front, they looked like silhouettes of two people standing close together but her mind kept telling her they could all see what was really going on. The voice in her head kept telling her they were all going to watch as he used her. The idea excited her more than she would have imagined. Her breath quickened as she felt herself get wet.

Rachel felt ashamed by how wanton she was being and would have dropped her head to try to hide her face but the collar was high and forced her to keep her head up.

The man left her facing the street as he leaned in close to her. Reaching around to hook a leash onto the loop in the front of the collar, he pressed his face next to her. She could feel the stubble where he hadn’t shaved for a few days and felt his lips brush her ear as he breathed in her scent.

The man slid his hand down the front of her body and slid his hand through the slit in the dress, reaching between her legs. He gripped her mound and pulled her back against him, hard. Rachel could feel his erection pressing against her hands. He started moving his hips against her, pulling her back tighter against his body.

The man pressed his lips to her ear and whispered, “Don’t move.” His other hand came up to squeeze her breast. His fingers slide inside the teardrop opening on the front of her dress that was meant to give a glimpse of cleavage. Suddenly, the man shoved his hand in the opening, Rachel could hear the material ripping as he ran his hand over the lace of her bra. Squeezing her breast roughly and pinching the nipple. Rachel could tell that he was having a hard time containing himself but she knew he could only do what her Master, possibly his Master too, would let him.

The man roughly teased her left breast as he moved his hand between her legs. He worked her mound, stroking the lace that covered her. She could feel him trying to stroke her clit through the rough lace material of her panties. Rachel moaned as the man teased her body.

Rachel had quit worrying about their spectators and began to enjoy the sensations. The louder she moaned the rougher he got. The man grabbed her panties and tore them. He pushed his hand through the hole, shoved three fingers deep inside her, nearly lifting her off the ground as he pulled her back against his hips.

He grunted as he ground his erection into her restrained hands. He began trusting faster and she knew he was close to cumming. Just then, something moved across the headlights, drawing their attention. The driver had gotten out of the car without them hearing and was walking toward them.

Rachel and the man stood motionless as they watched the driver step up beside them, it was her Master. He looked at the man, who still had his fingers buried deep inside Rachel. With a tilt of his head, he motioned toward the car. The man grunted his protest and gave Rachel one last hard thrust with his fingers. Rachel gasped as he suddenly withdrew his hands and stepped away. She had to struggle to keep from falling.

He glared at her Master as he raised his hand and began sucking her juices off his fingers  and walked back toward the car. She didn’t turn to watch him but could hear when he slammed the door.

Rachel stood in front of her Master. He reached out and took a hold of the leash and pulled her close.

He spoke calmly, as he usually did. “Look at your clothes.”

Rachel looked down as best she could with the high collar on. She was not able to see much, but from cool breeze that was blowing steadily, she knew the front of her dress was torn in several places. The top of her dress was ripped open. At some point the man had pushed her bra cups down exposing her chest. The dress which had been slit to her thigh was now torn, exposing her side up to her stomach. She was certain you could see a glimpse of her torn panties.

Her Master stepped to the side so that Rachel could see across the street. “Now look over there.” He pointed to a few men who had stopped pumping gas to watch the show that she and the man had been putting on. She knew they had only seen silhouettes but she still felt immediately embarrassed and ashamed, mostly because she hadn’t wanted it to stop. At the moment, she desperately wanted to get out of the light and cover herself but he had a firm grip on her leash and with her hands bound behind her she could not get away.

Her Master stepped behind her and spoke into her ear, “look at those men. They know what a slut you are. They saw how much you were enjoying being used. They’ve seen how you crave to be used for sex. Those men over there, watching you, will dream of fucking you tonight. They will go home and grip their hard dicks and think of you, here, tonight. Imagining it was them shoving their fingers deep in your pussy making you moan like the whore you are.” Rachel could feel his breath on her neck as he spoke to her. She wanted him to touch her. She had been close to climax when he interrupted them and she wanted him to finish her off. She started to lean back against him but he moved to stay just out of her reach.

“Do you even realize how much power that gives you over men? I bet any one of them would beg to fuck you. Maybe I should call one of them over. Would you like that?”

“I wouldn’t like it at all,” Rachel said quietly, “I don’t know them, Master.”

“You don’t know my boy either, and yet, you let him use you.” Her Master leaned in and whispered in her ear, “You knew the minute he asked you for the bag, he was going to use you.”

Rachel dropped her eyes and spoke in a quiet voice, “Since he knew about the bag I knew he was connected with you somehow, and I trust you to make sure that he would follow the rules.” Rachel rubbed her temple against her Masters cheek. “And I trust you to keep me safe, always.” Though it was barely audible, she added, “even from myself.”

“That’s a good girl.” He punctuated his remark by slapping Rachel hard on the ass. He then turned her around to face him. He reached out and pulled her bra back into place covering her chest. He reached down and picked up the bag Rachel had brought.

Without saying another word he led Rachel to the car by the leash. He opened the back door and tossed the bag on the seat. He put his hand on the top of her head, the way you see them do on cop shows, to keep her from hitting her head as she got in the car.

The man, whose name she still did not know, was sulking in the front seat. He had unfastened his pants and was slowly stroking his huge erection. You could tell he wasn’t trying to get off but merely keeping himself hard.

When her Master got into the car he didn’t even look at the man. The man spoke first.

“I didn’t get to finish.” He said gruffly.

Her Master let out a sigh and looked at his watch. “Fine. Finish, but make it quick.”

Without hesitation the man climbed over the seat and pushed Rachel face down on the car seat. He closed her bound hands around his dick and began trusting himself against her, humping her hard as he grabbed her hair, pulling her head back to an almost painful angle. It didn’t take long for him to cum, releasing his load into her hand.

The man fell on top of her pressing her to the seat. As the last tremors went through his body, Rachel felt his hands going underneath her, pinching her nipple with one hand while probing her mound once more with the other.

Rachel moaned as began to tease her clit. She wanted him to make her cum. She was just about to beg him for relief when her Master spoke.

“Stop. I told you to finish. I did not give you permission to let her finish. She must wait.”

As her Master started the car, the man got up off of her and climbed back into the front seat. Lying there Rachel wanted to protest but she knew it would do her no good to beg, at least not yet. She would have the rest of the night for that. She lay there on the seat feeling the man’s cum running through her fingers and wondered what else was going to happen tonight.

The Deep Dark Hole

There is a room inside my heart
that is hot and dark and barren
It’s where I take my emotions
when they get too strong for me to bare

In the center of the room
there is a thick metal hatch
It covers the deep dark hole
from which emotion never come back

I push my feelings into a tiny box
and wrap it all in chains
I drop them down the deep, dark hole
never to be felt again

I latch the hatch and leave the room
and not once do I turn back
The hollow empty feeling left
always comforts me

It’s easier to live with nothing
than to live with so much pain
But it’s not just bad feelings
That get tossed into the dark

Happiness and love get boxed
and are tossed down there as well
For even good things can feel bad
when they have nowhere to go

So instead of hanging on to them
I toss them down the deep, dark hole
Now please don’t think me sad
I really don’t mind one way or the other

I’d rather trash my feelings
than trust them to another
For the destination would be the same
whether by my hand or some other

So when I start to feel again
I’ll go back to that hot, dark, barren room
I’ll lift the hatch and look inside
I only hope that there’s still space

My greatest fear is this
Where do you go when the hole is full
Where do you go when there’s nowhere left
to hide what’s left of your soul