ASHES ON THE SNOW by L. Milton Hankins

ASHES ON THE SNOW by L. Milton Hankins

Order a copy today.  Copies of Milt’s book can be purchased in the following ways:  Order from Amazon.com.  Search under BOOKS for Ashes on the Snow by L. Milton Hankins, then select from whom you wish to buy the book.  If you would like an autographed copy, be sure to order from amsmilt.  That’s me!MiltPV (3)

You can also order a copy directly from me by sending a check in the amount of $15.00 to:  Milt Hankins, P. O Box 913, Ashland, Kentucky 41101.  I will autograph these copies, as well.

Thanks so much!

ASHES ON THE SNOW BY L. MILTON HANKINS

ASHES ON THE SNOW BY L. MILTON HANKINS

 

TALES FROM THE LOVELY DEATH CENTER by James Merritt

TALES FROM THE LOVELY DEATH CENTER by James Merritt

HEAVEN

HEAVEN

THE LOVELY DEATH CENTER

In a land of pure bliss and perfection, where bigots do not exist, death is a decision–just like marriage–very few miss. Those who choose join the collective, a hive-mind without physical form, where very few exalted ones live forever in an abyss etched in crystal laser cut with precision to a point our civilization does not have. A place where, some would consider heaven, although life and death still resonate, those with life are free to choose their end. Life is so unaffected by grief many choose to stay until age and restriction binds them to the earth. Then, they make an appointment at The Lovely Death Center to end their life however they choose. Surrounded by family, or completely alone, in a jungle provided by their place, is a holograph. They end violently, peacefully, noisily, or softly with their families or aloft in outer space.

LASER CUT, PRECISION CRYSTAL

LASER CUT, PRECISION CRYSTAL

The room helps their functions to cease, with or without pain, with or without making their peace. The Lovely Death Center is the one place where all dreams and sins can take place–murder, theft or any sort of disgrace. Upon entering, no one can change course. The Lovely Death Center allows for all religious ideologies, all atheistic non-belief, all deities worshiped and all deities cursed–a place for the best and a place for the worst. Any age may enter, but no age may be released; for after the blessing, the center burns the deceased, shipping the ashes according to the deceased’s wishes.

For 3,000 years, while everything on the planet has changed, The Lovely Death Center has remained the same.

 

TED WAS A BAD MAN

A failure in school, in college, in church–a failure to all, leaving helpers in the lurch. He was in and out of jail more times than he could spit. He knew he was a failure at thirty-five and no longer wanted to live.

TED WAS A BAD MAN

TED WAS A BAD MAN

He heard of a place where dreams could come true, where no one would judge him for being who he was. He had robbed a bank. It was he who had raped and killed. It was he who had hacked and slashed. Often he dreamed of killing and skinning the flesh. He dreamed of eating the living and dead.

After one of his dreams, the very next day a young man came and listened as he spoke, offering no judgment, condemnation or questions concerning either his crimes or his dreams.  The lurid hidden desires of the man many would have considered obscene. On April 2nd, at a quarter past ten, the two men walked together to The Lovely Death Center. As Ted walked in he was able to fulfill all of his dreams and find the peace he sought in blood and in screams. He programmed all of his transgressions into The Lovely Death Center machine. He slaughtered and raped to his delight. Just as he was finished his life took flight. His body then burst into flames high in the air.

A BURST OF FLAME

A BURST OF FLAME

His energy returned to light and dark lairs. Amongst his victims, never again to hear the sounds of anguish, his ashes may be found.

THE PASTOR

The pastor pained and prayed through more than should be needed. How much pain does God think he needed? How much purification to find his bliss, to find heaven and feel death’s kiss?church-1214312_1280

His children found other religions. His wife slowly lost her mind. For himself, he never truly accepted, his own life neglected. All for others he led his life–full of turmoil, full of strife–he could handle no more…

…when a young man came to his door. He poured out his heart and dreams, somehow knowing his life would soon pass.

He planned to throw the remainder of his life away on Good Friday; to find his dream and eternal bliss at The Lovely Death Center. He shared his secret heart’s desire to light his church and home on fire, to burn in heat and eternal bliss with a most desirable, sexy man. So, on the eve of Good Friday, when his Savior so far away in the past was crucified, he would soon as well die.way-of-the-cross-1173284_1280

His climax with the perfect man would be the end of God’s true plan for this saintly man. This man who lived and died in his perfect plan.

The flames shot high into the sky, and, at his church on that Sunday the young man was called to pray. In his prayer, so well sent to gods, goddesses, and to them their pastor’s ashes were spread –on the congregants the young man left without regrets. For the “Padrè” who once was theirs, they would pass along to dirt and kerchiefs.

James Merritt is a young, talented spinner of futuristic, science fiction vignettes. His vivid images are sometimes blood-curdling, but always intriguing. He makes his home in Maryland, where he is a bit of a recluse. These three vignettes are part of a series he calls The Lovely Death Center.
ARCHAEOLOGIST’S CHOICE by James Merritt

ARCHAEOLOGIST’S CHOICE by James Merritt

ARCHAEOLOGIST'S DIG

ARCHAEOLOGIST’S DIG

He dug for the truth of the past, and on the surface found fun pieces of shattered pottery and great statues of heroes’ torsos and heads, but as he aged he dug deeper into his dig sites from every culture around the world and from every dig he found the same thing. The heroes were not the creatures of the dig sites he thought. For below the heroes were demons, monsters with their spears sticking through the heroes, killing them for eternity in marble statue form.

From Mexico, China and Greece…all three dig sites were the same. Only one small difference. The statue in Greece, after closer examination, the hero had horn nubs pushing forth from his skull and cloven hooves as he was a demon creature as well. A demon pierced through by another creature of the same make.

RUINS

RUINS

The further down he dug below he found temples and pyramids full of statues and images of the monsters frozen forever in time. The more he dug the more the creatures came to the light of day. The more the media discovered and spread their ugliness around the world.

He had a dilemma. Should he bury the creatures, the temples and all of his findings to preserve the world from finding them for a few more years? Should he destroy the findings, turning his back on all he believed in, should he leave his findings as they were so the world can see them in horror? Or, should he dig even deeper, exposing all of the secret horrors the earth had hidden away for thousands of years.

He could no longer sit idly by and pretend his findings did not exist. He had seen the Medusa

MEDUSA

MEDUSA

and had not turned to stone. He would dig up all of the horrors and let the sun and acid rain eat them away.  The earth had hidden the ugliness for millennia, but only exposing the darkness to the light could ever truly destroy it completely.  By digging anything out of the ground you give it an eventual death for better or worse.  May we all make the decision to bury, hide, ignore, destroy, or let nature destroy our past monsters?


sculpture-1371361_1280

 

James Merritt employs different genres...science fiction, horror, futuristic...to write pieces with considerable symbolism and hidden meanings. He has traveled widely throughout the United States and makes his home in Maryland. He is currently working as a substitute teacher and a nanny.
THE BATHING by Ralph Gonzales

THE BATHING by Ralph Gonzales

middle-ages-1226408_1280We stood upon the Banks of the Brandywine River watching the women bath naked in the warm summer water.  Even after all that they had gone through, they seemed so carefree and fill with the pleasures of their youth. My battle-weary men and I almost forgot our tiredness and nagging injuries. The wounded were being tended by the healers, and the dead were being given their last rites and burials.

I stood there watching my love, the Lady Eleanor, splash with her Ladies in Waiting. She looked up at me and smile. My tiredness of the fight melted away. She turned toward me and started to walk out of the water. She stopped and that impish look that I loved so well crossed her countenance.

“My love, come and join me and wash the filth of battle from your weary body and let me relieve your tortured mind. Come let me hold you in this moment of time.”

I smiled at her and her eyes lit up. She felt like she was winning the war between her and my sense of responsibility as a soldier. “Please come to me. You know we haven’t embraced for a long time. We have all seen too much carnage and death,” I said with a smile of gratitude, “You know that that can never be. Even though my heart is with you and I will hate myself for not rushing into your arms, but I have my duty to protect you and other ladies who frolic in the river.”

She brazenly started walking out of the water, revealing more of her feminine charms. “Must I come all the way out of the water to grab you unto me?”

“Nay, say I! I am the Captain of this detachment and my duty is clear. I will stand guard with my men until you and women are safely out of the water. Then and only then will half my men be allowed to bath. I will enter the river with other half when the first contingent is on dry land. If you wish, you can join me then!” She and other ladies chided me for my sense of honor which bound me to always be a warrior. Eleanor said, “You are way too serious! Surely your men can protect us without your directing them. There are no better warriors in the realm and they are feared by their enemies. Come…join me. I will kiss upon you like a devouring lover.”bath-465577_1280

“I have my duty. There cannot be any other way.”

Voices rose to chide me again for my unbending sense of devotion and the seriousness of my position. Catcalls from my men assured me that they were up to the task of protecting all without me standing beside them on the river bank like a mother hen.

The ladies once gain splashed water in my direction and told me to stop being so difficult. Laughter filled this summer’s day. It was music to our ears.

fish-317238_1280I saw a giant fish on the other bank leap out of the water as if something bigger was after it. I turned back to my love and we smiled deeply once again. She kept coming with outstretched arms, and it was getting more and more difficult to ignore her and all that she willingly offered. I suddenly turned to my men and shouted, “At the ready! Man your weapons and prepare for battle!”

Everyone looked at me as if I had gone insane. I should have been more aware…the fleeing big fish was the clue. Why was I such a damn fool? Suddenly and without warning a huge Indigo Dragon with violent eyes rose from the depths of the water. It was Craven, the snatcher of many maidens and married women.

We were mortal enemies. His midsection started pumping and he ignited his fiery breath. Flames appeared between its fifteen-inch serrated teeth. It licked its tongue along its mouth and sparks flew around its lips and it bellowed an ear-shattering roar. Flame left its mouth and consumed some of the screaming women. It grabbed another and dug its talons into her flesh. Her life blood exploded and coated the water. Women were running everywhere, but my Eleanor stood as still as a fawn facing approaching death. Craven grabbed her and picked his prize out of the water and brought her to his eyes to look at his pleasure. He laughed a most cruel, uncaring cackle. Eleanor shook with fear and her lips trembled.

My love was in a dire situation and there was little I could do about it. My soldiers engaged Craven in battle. Arrows bounced off his armor-plated skin, while men carrying razor sharp spears rushed into the shallows to attack him and pierce his softer underbelly. I put arrow to sinew and moved into position. He turned to face an attack from his flank, a move we practiced often. I released my arrow and it flew true and hit its mark dead center. It drove deep and through Craven’s stare. He screamed in rage and turned his blind eye to where I had been and released a hellfire of unimaginable proportions.dragon-1014565_1280

I had run as fast as I could and dove into some brush and stickers to hide. Satisfied that I must be dead it turned its rage on my men, consuming many. I lay on the cold earth gathering my thoughts. I returned to my quiver and took out my most precious arrow, Ouezling. I had fired it many times and somehow it was always returned to me.

I moved stealthily along the bank, when the dragon rose into the air, causing a deluge of water to fall earthward from its massive form. Craven released a billowing ball of flame that hit a group of spear carriers that were close to him. Their screams were deafening as their bodies burst into flame and exploded.

Eleanor was screaming, calling my name and begging the gods to save her. My heart grew heavy with pain as she called my name over and over again. Suddenly she spied me on the bank and her eyes drove deep into my soul. Hope within her had sprung once more, hope that somehow I could save her from her inevitable fate. She would be carried to its lair and toyed with as a cat with a mouse and die a slow, terribly painful death…a demise that would be eventually embraced by her with joy.

Her eyes pleaded with me to save her. Craven rose and began to gain some distance. I had to act without hesitation to save her from her fate. I took long, steady, careful aim and released Quezling. It flew true to its mark.archer-1153570_1280 Eleanor looked surprised! She stared at me and slowly a smile crossed her lips. She blew me a kiss. I saw understanding cross her eyes. She forced another smile. It had been beyond me to stop her soon departure and only one option that could be taken by a warrior in this battle.

The dragon rose higher and started to fly to its lair, when suddenly it released Eleanor from its grasp, like some unmentionable filth. Her lifeless body fell and hit the earth. I had saved my love, my soul mate, from a fate worse than death.  As I watched, Craven, the cursing one-eyed dragon flew rapidly out of sight. 

Ralph Gonzales is one of our favorite contributors. He lives on a farm in northeastern West Virginia. He is experiencing some health challenges right now, but he continues to let his creative writing juices flow, and we appreciate him!
ENLIGHTENMENT by James Merritt

ENLIGHTENMENT by James Merritt

silhouette-1304143_1280

The old man had alienated everyone in his life. He lived alone, ate alone and worked alone. His only conversations during the week were with the grocery store cashier and the librarian.

He was obsessed with evolving to a higher plain of existence and did not care about any of the corporeal beings in this plain. Being a mathematician he was certain that there was an algorithm to detect the vibration of universal energy coinciding with our physical plain. For every state of matter there is a different state of energy of equal portent. He was determined to prove this theory no matter the cost.

So, he lost his friends, family, and even his maid who had come once a week to clean his disheveled house. He had worked on the proof for forty-two years.experience-332249_1280Struggling with what seemed to be the infinity of walls and universes that collided with his hypothesis. His Eureka moment occurred when he downed his third homemade eggnog and rum of the night. It was September so homemade was the only kind he could get. When he looked down at the egg-swirls in his cup it suddenly came to him. The energy was not stuck in a single state as the matter was but was in a constant state of flux from heat, light, radiation, and other forms we cannot yet understand in our locked state of matter.

Sadly, even with the mathematical proof finished and the algorithm in place there was no one left with whom to share his discovery. No one from his peer group would listen to a crazy old man. No friends or family to pass the discovery onto. So, he did the only thing that made sense to him. He drove to a gas station, filled up a 10-gallon container of gasoline, took it home, and burned down the house around himself.

Knowing when his life energy was released…at least for a brief micro-moment…he would be energy and for the briefest part of a micro-second he would experience energy in its truest form.

glow-1177383_1280

James Merritt is a young, imaginative writer of short material. He focuses on the futuristic, fatalistic and philosophy. He lives in Maryland.