Scarlet Leaf Review has published several of my stories, including Cthulu’s Revenger, Escape from Hell and Ghoul Haunted Woods of Weir.
It is ruled over by an overlord, an immortal creature some call Lucifer, some call Satan and a thousand other names. Few in the outer world know his true name, Cthulu.
Cthulu is not a human being nor is he a mortal being. He is an immortal being, a real devil so to speak. Cthulu and his followers came to earth thousands of years ago from the planet Sirius. They crashed landed on earth as they were fleeing an interplanetary war and needed to get away fast and chose the earth because the earth was a primitive planet without an obvious civilization and not one would be looking for them there. They had to destroy their ships so their presence on earth would not be discovered.They founded the city of Atlantis and ruled the humans they found their as their overlords. They were seen by the primitive humans as gods and indeed they were Gods so to speak. Cthulu soon grew dissatisfied with the ruling elite of Atlantis. They were content to live out their lives in exile on earth and made no attempts to rebuild the ships and leave the earth. Cthulu felt that the war was over and he wanted to head back to Sirius.
Eventually Jehovah, the leader of Atlantis, and Cthulu had a massive falling out. A world wide war broke out and Cthulu and his followers were banished from the over world for 10,000 years. Cthulu and his fellow Sirians along with some humans retreated and build an alternate world underground. They would occasionally send spies out to the outer world to keep an eye on things.
Jehovah and his fellows joined the humans and tried to civilize them. The end result was that most of Jehovah’s fellow Gods were killed by jealous humans. Eventually most of his fellow Sirians intermarried with the local humans. Sirians and humans are both humanoids. And it is hard to tell the difference unless you run DNA tests. The main difference is that Sirians are long lived, the average life span is 10,000 years and a few are close to immortal. Cthulu claims he is immortal but who can believe him anyway. ? He is the master of lies, deceit, and the dark magic arts of controlling other’s minds.
Jehovah’s descendents live on in small communities across the globe. Most are religious leaders. Buddha, Christ, Mohammed and Sai Babai were all Sirians.
Jehovah is worried. The 10 thousand year curse he had put on Cthulu is due to expire next year and Jehovah knows that Cthulu is plotting something horrible. And indeed he is. I know. I was one of Cthulu’s senior leaders. I am what you humans call a defector. I am writing this statement to alert you humans to the dangerous times coming down the pike and to warn you that Cthulu’s goal is the total enslavement of Mankind forever. And then he will lead an army of Sirians and Humans back to Sirius to reclaim the throne of the Emperor. You see Cthulu had been the next in line to the crown when he was over thrown.
About five of your earth years ago I was a senior clerk in the office of Imperial Propaganda. Our job was to send spies and saboteurs out into the outer world and stir up trouble. We were behind WW1, WSW11, the Korean and Vietnam and Iraq wars and of course 9-11. Bin Laden- one of ours. You can’t find him because he retreated to the underworld and is working out of an office located underneath Karachi.
I knew all about 9-11. It was one of my minor projects. None of us expected it would work, and none of us expected that the US would be so stupid as to get involved in the Iraq war. The terrorism, the lost of civil liberties, the constant fears. That is golden for our work. And the religious belief that Armageddon is coming is music to our master’s ears. For Armageddon is indeed coming and Cthulu is getting ready.
Sam was very angry – as angry as a part human, part Sirian, Android cyborg could ever be. He was sitting with the senior staff of the Cthulu organization – the secret society that runs the world in their top secret base located at an undisclosed location 10 miles beneath the White House and the Pentagon.
Sam was the senior policy advisor to the President and was often called the President’s brain. Most of the senior advisers were in the room with him – most but not all were fellow Sirians. The president was a puppet whom they controlled mentally which is why one of his advisors had to be with him at all time. The Cthulu overloads met nightly after the President’s mental conditioning was turned off and he was allowed to sleep. Even while he slept, someone was watching him for signs that he was waking up and asserting his human side, but fortunately the President seemed to be unaware that he was a puppet for an alien race plotting to enslave mankind.
The two factions fought for years and finally they ended up almost destroying the entire planet in a nuclear and biological war. Both groups survived and hid out among the native people. The green group tried to civilize humanity and usually failed miserably. But they continued throughout the centuries. The red group hid out in the wilderness areas and bid their time. They reentered human history when they joined forces with the Romans and taught the Romans the art of warfare.
Both groups however were hampered by the fact that it took a lot of mental energy maintaining their false human appearance, which was part costume and part holographic projection. Interactions with humans were always fraught with problems as few humans could handle the truth and most humans simply went mad when they encountered a Cthulu unmasked.
Although Sirians were hominid in appearance, they did have a greenish skin color and bluish hair.
Only in recent years had the Cthulu grow in power and strength that they felt that they could rejoin their ancient battles. Although Cthulu himself could not yet escape his imprisonment under ground, members of his red group were able to settle in the U.S. and began associating themselves with prominent political figures, subtly shaping their agenda and their world view.
The master plan was to trigger another world war, and after destroying most of mankind, enslave the rest of the world, and then build space ships so Cthulu and his Sirian cohorts could rejoin their brethren in other solar systems. The Sirians were unable to contact any one back at home and that worried them. Then again they lacked interstellar communications and space ships so they were stuck on earth for now.
Sam was the default leader of the Red faction. Sam was the result of an experiment years ago to create a hybrid human-Sirian android. By doing so, the theory was that the aging Sirians could live essentially forever. The plan did not work as all of the hybrids developed too much human awareness. Most of them ended up being destroyed or going over to the Green side. Sam was the last of the androids and the most successful. He was perhaps the most evil minded Sirian that ever lived. He was determined to destroy most of the human race, and then leave the earth behind.
So on that particular day, Sam was very angry. Their latest plans – divert media attention away from plan Armageddon with a series of meaningless media diversions were not working. With these dismal thoughts racing through his head, Sam started the meeting as he often did by yelling at his staff.
“God damn it. We had a perfect distraction in the John Mark Karl case – they found the Jon Benet Ramsey killer after 10 years and he was a child sex pervert living in Bangkok! That story was made for operation diversion. Why or why didn’t we check it out to make sure that the story would last through January ? Remember people, we have to keep feeding the media shit so that they will keep their eyes off our plan Armageddon. Now, I am not going to play the blame game – today. What we need is another diversion media story. Ideas?
George, a pure bred Sirian, who remembered everything he ever heard or saw, piped up. “Sir, there are several stories we could use. There is one that is particularly good. A little girl in Austria was kidnapped ten years ago by her next door neighbor. They just found her alive and he is dead. She claims that he was not human, but some sort of evil monster from outer space. And she is right. He is a Cthulu, one of the renegade ones that we encounter every so often. This story has everything we need – sex, depravity, mystery, violence, greed and proof that aliens are among the humans! We can pump this one up for months. We could link it to other mysterious sightings of UFO’s and aliens and start a real media frenzy. Then we could have the President announce that the USG would lead the fight against the menace of space aliens. We can double or triple military spending, enact even more draconian laws, and increase the fear factor by orders of magnitude!”
Sam stopped the discussion, and thought to himself, this is indeed the way to go. They could step up the fear factor, terrorize the population, increase defense spending and divert attention from plan Armageddon.
Without much further discussion, the plan was approved. The media team went to work creating false stories to plant through out the world. The propaganda department worked up the propaganda points to be made. Sam and his senior staff met and worked on what to tell the President and then the general public.
The propaganda wars continued, with fake news stories erupting up out of nowhere. All to keep the masses confused, and distracted while the real plans were laid down.
Sam had an appointment with Cthulu himself and was ready. He had to brief him on the final plans for Armageddon. Sam went into Cthulu’s office, located deep under the Pentagon building. He gave Cthulu the latest intel on the Mideast and the array of forces ready to blow up. Time was right, it would be very simple to edge one of the Middle eastern leaders to say or do the wrong thing, and the whole place will blow up.
Cthulu’s agents were arming terrorists who were prepared to unleash a wave of suicide bombing throughout the U.S. At the same time, he would have one of his agents blow up a nuclear bomb. That would trigger all out nuclear war.
Cthulu and his generals went outside to inspect the troops. They were ready – all 5 million of them – humans, Sirians, androids. As son as the Nuclear war was over they would emerge and take over the world.
Time was running out.
Escape from Hell
punishments. It is a lot worse than any of us imagine and it is both more real
and unreal at the same time. It exists and does not exist at the same time in a
weird parallel universe. Once someone dies, and he ends up in Hell he
continues to live on in a manner of speaking; he does not die but he cannot
live in this world during the light of day. They become the undead and are
like the vampires of legend (who exist but that is another story). So, the
condemned live on in eternal torture and turmoil and they also must
work. Hell is full of workers working as slaves to keep the
machinery going. And Hell is a growing place – most people on earth end
up there. Running Hell requires lots of workers. And being a slave in the
Hell is no picnic my friends.Despite its reputation as a place as a lawless place, Hell is a very legalistic place. Satan uses an army of lawyers (no shortage of fresh lawyers) and bureaucrats to run his domain. Despite his rules and regulations and lawyers, Hell is a bureaucratic nightmare run by evil, mendacious, corrupt and incompetent demons. But, there are a few loopholes in the rules, and a few strange quirks to the law and even Satan must obey these special rules. One of them is rule number Nine: If a person goes to Hell by mistake because of a screw up in the computerized system that runs both Heaven and Hell and the whole other computer systems that run this world, and someone from our world gets to Hell and back out with their loved one in tow, both the condemned and the lover who rescue them may live a long life in this world and will ascend to Heaven upon death as cosmic compensation for the screw up. They have only evoked this rule one time, about a hundred years ago. Many people end up in Hell each year due to computer errors and a few people end up in Heaven by mistake. Many people have died to try to go to hell to try to take advantage of rule number nine, but only one person made it out. But there are ways, my friends. There are ways. Jack found the way, and this is his story.
Jack was a tall youthful-looking man for man in his 60’s. He still had hair and intense blue eyes and although he walked with a limp, he was in fairly good shape and worked out every day. Jack had retired from a lifetime of government service and was living in San Franciso as a pensioner. He had dreams of being a writer but was not getting too far with his various novels. One day his spouse went to the store and was blown up when a suicide bomber blew up in the car in front of her. Just another victim of the constant terrorism that had bedeviled the world since before the second gulf war.Jack was devastated. He could not imagine life without his spouse. They had been married for almost 35 years by then and he was looking forward to the remaining years together. They had no children but still had lots of friends from around the world from their days in government service and from the old neighborhood that he had grown up in.
Jake had met his wife through a dream. He fell asleep in a class in high school and saw the most beautiful women in the world staring at him. He yelled out,
“Who are you?” and she disappeared from the dream. He continued to have the same dream month after month for eight years. One day he had to decide whether to go Korea or Thailand in the Peace Corps. He had the dream then and realized that she was in Korea waiting for him. After the Peace Corps, when he was teaching ESL for the U.S. Army, he had the last of the dreams. She told him that he would meet her soon. That night she walked off a bus and into his life. They married 35 years later.
Throughout his life, he often thought of the dream. And when they were separated he would dream that she was right there in the room watching over him. So, Jack knew that he would soon encounter her in yet another dream.
That night after the terrorist attack that killed his wife, Jack had a dream that would haunt him for about a year. Every night the same image – his wife was in Hell and was screaming while being tortured by demons wielding whips and chains. She was yelling repeatedly that she was not supposed to be there. Her tormentors, five or six demons wearing red suits and white ties, laughed and said that she was right – it was a screw up in the computer programs that sent her there. She was due in heaven but hey once she was there what could they do about it? She might as well get used to the idea. And then the torture started again, and she faded away. The dream continued night after night.
Jack knew that she was contacting him in his dreams just like she had for eight years before he met her. He believed that she was in Hell. He decided to do a little research into this Hell business. He got on the internet and read as much as he could find, and hit the occult bookstores in the city and in Berkeley and after a few weeks of reading everything he could find on the subject concluded that were three basic schools of thought:
Hell was a myth and did not of course exist (majority opinion)
Hell might have existed in ancient times but not in this enlightened modern era. (minority opinion)
Hell existed and was real. The only problem was almost no one ever went there voluntarily and came back. (this was the majority belief among the occult writers and other assorted nut cases). He became obsessive about finding out everything that had ever been written about Hell. He continued haunting these stores and visiting all the various internet sites that he began to be well known as the “man who wants to rescue his wife from Hell.” Jack will tell people the story repeatedly and most people thought he was a harmless old man gone batty because he had lost his wife in the terrorist bombing.
Most of his friends advised him to forget about it and get on with his life. They told him to get back to work on his novels. Some tried to fix him up with girls, but he refused all such requests. He was truly a man obsessed.
He finally found a few obscure references to the way to Hell in some writings in the Necronomicon (Al Asif) by the mad Arab poetry, Abdul Aliased, and other long banned occult texts as well as references in various occult publications and writers including Crowley and others. He also read the founder of the Church of Satan claimed he had been to Hell and back. After consulting these references, Jack decided he could locate Hell. Jack sat down one Saturday night and did a final re-reading of all his numerous volumes of material in Hell. His apartment was filled to the brim with books, articles, printouts of web pages and the like. Jack worked all night and at last, he shut down his computer. He poured himself a cup of coffee and looked at what he had written.
Jack decided he had a decent plan of action. He had learned from his readings of rule number nine and decided to pull it off. The last attempt that was successful was in the 19th century. Hell, it seemed had several portals that interconnected with this world. One theory was that Hell existed in a parallel universe as did Heaven. There were several places where Hell interconnected with Earth. Quite a few sites came to mind, some of them were even listed on various internet sits as “gateways” to Hell. What distinguished them all was they were in neighborhoods and regions of the earth where evil things seem to happen for no reason. In other words, the gates of Hell ran through neighborhoods denounced as “Hellholes.” And every big city had them. Some more than others.
You see the demons and other lower level functionaries of Hell occasionally needed to get out of Hell. The rules were that they could leave Hell once a month on the full moon but had to be back in Hell by sunrise. If they did not make it back in time they will be condemned to Hell themselves as an ordinary inmate, not as demon functionary. And in Hell you did not want to be a “defrocked devil” so to speak as the other inmates would make your life a living Hell and of course, your fellow demons would mock you forever as a loser.
So, the devils would dress up as humans and leave Hell and wander the dark corners of big cities, and engage in crime and random violence including rape, robbery, drunken brawls and the like. But they needed cash to do so. Hell did not run on currency; everything was paid for by the State. It was, in a way, a perfect communist society.
One-day Jack came upon a description of Hell written by a man who had gone to Hell to find and locate his wife. He managed to get out of Hell alive but without his wife. He had a very detailed map of Hell. According to this book, published in the early 30’s, Hell had a stop on the NYC City subway line, deep underneath the Hell’s Kitchen area of NYC.
The author also described the details of Hell’s horrific, terribly corrupt bureaucracy. He said everything was for sale, and the currency of choice was U.S. dollars. Many of the lower echelon officials dreamed of escaping Hell and many manage to bribe their way out for a weekend of fun in NYC. That is why NYC has always had very strange crimes reported now and then. The denizens of Hell while on earth look like humans but are very wild, violent, and crazy, as if they are very high, and most of them are. There are drugs in hell and they are very popular but must be smuggled in from earth. Hell does not actually produce anything, even the food and clothing are all imported from earth. One of the most popular jobs in the hell is to be part of the weekly courier runs that go to NYC to pick up supplies including illegal drugs. After the courier run is over, they get an extra day in NYC and must be back by sunrise the third day. So, after their duty night is over, they come out and commit horrific crimes and then disappear into sunlight.
The stories all agreed that the undead demons are instantly vaporized with the first light of the sun. The author said this accounts for the various stories about vampires. He said that there were other portals to Hell, one in SF, one in Berlin and one in Romania. He also said that Satan and Hitler had both died and were brought back by the devil himself and had almost succeeded in opening a permanent portal to the netherworld. That is why in Hell all the guards wear 30’s gangster clothing as that was Satan’s favorite period of US history.
Sam read another old legend dating back centuries that stated that there was only one known method to enter Hell alive and come out alive. If one goes to Hell to retrieve a lost relative and manages to return to the surface he will be given 50 years additional life as well as 50 years for his spouse, child or parent. But of course, if he fails to return to the surface he will join his spouse in Hell forever. And only a few brave mortals had ever attempted the journey. This was a bylaw written by Satan himself as Satan appreciate such acts of selfless courage.
Jack’s plan was simple – recruit 10 of his oldest and best friends to come with him on his rescue mission. He knew that none of them would believe him until they entered the gates of Hell, but he was sure they would stick with him to the bitter end. He read somewhere that the immunity from future stays in Hell would apply to them as well as to him. Jack started talking with his friends and eventually recruited ten people to his crusade. They, of course, thought he was crazy but perhaps he was telling the truth and besides it beat the Hell of staying at home enjoying retirement.
Jack called together about ten of his friends from all over the world and explained the situation to them. They all said that he was crazy but what the Hell. It sounded like a lark, so they were in. Jack told them that he believed Angela was there and they had to try to rescue her.
Jack had prepared an extensive list of items for the journey. I had bought ten zoot suites complete with fedora hats and had managed to find some antique but serviceable Tommy guns through a friend of mine who had contacts in the underworld. The story was slowly making the rounds that there was this crazed American who was convinced that Hell was real, and his wife was there, and damned fool that he was he was going to rescue her.
Of course, no one believed this story, including those agents of Satan that lived everywhere lurking among the gangsters and criminal elements, so the story was never reported through official channels. And Hell, Central never heard the story, thank God.
Finally, the day came. Jack had consulted several astrologers, tarot card readers, mediums, and the like and they all agreed that the plan was audacious but doable. We had to crash through the subway gate, tell the guards that if they let us in we would bring them out and pay them in real currency. That should work. We had the clothes, looked the part of internal inspectors (the feared Gestapo of the underworld). One contact made up some official looking identity cards that identified us as special agents undercover on the surface world who had to interrogate a suspect deep inside. We had to bring her to the surface to identify a traitor to the satanic cause. All my contacts in the occult world thought that might really work but no one really knew as no one had ever come back alive.
Jack’s books advised taking thousands of dollars with him, so he could bribe his way into Hell and back out again. Jack decided he needed two to four million dollars. He put up his property, liquidated his assets and had about four million in cash. It took some time to get all the cash together. Due to various anti-crime and anti-money laundering bills, it was very difficult to withdraw large amounts of cash. Jack had to finally go to a loan shark and pay for his cash with cashier’s checks. But he finally had the cash in hand, in 20-dollar bills.Jack called his gang of followers together for a planning meeting. 10 people showed up. General G. Patrick, ex-marine, was the first to show up. He was a tall muscular man who looked like an ex-Marine colonel should, almost from central casting. His wife, Betty was also ex-military but had retired as a general and was on the board of USAA. Pat thought that Jack was crazy and had been since high school, but hey if he wants to play a game, he was in.
Bob, the retired actor, showed up next. He was also a big guy could have been a football player and had a tough look to him. He often played a villain on stage and in TV and movies. He fancied himself a baadass. He also was quite amused by the whole thing but thought what the heck. It might be fun.
Keith came in next with his wife, Maggie, and child. Keith was a minor millionaire developer. He was the one who had introduced Jack to the money launderer. He was tall, blond hair and looked like a younger version of Donald Trump who was his hero. Maggie was from Colombia. Ken was 11 years old and they all agreed that having a kid around might prove useful as no one was suspicious of people who had kids with them.
Matt and his wife were there as well. Matt was a retired financial planner and was a logistics whiz. He was also tall and had a beard and looked like the kind of guy who knew his way around computers and financial spreadsheets. Matt would serve as the computer cracker and document reader if they need those skills on the job. Margaret was a retired nurse and would serve as the medic if they needed a medic. Jack planned on making Matt the second in command.
And then there was me, Roy D. I was an old writer friend of Jack’s from college and had helped him with his research. I was the first of what we called Jack’s Hells Angels to be brought into the cosmic conspiracy as we dubbed it.
Jack started the meeting off.
“Guys, thanks for coming. I know I have been boring the “Hell” out of you, pun intended, for the last four or five months. But, what you don’t know is that I have found the gates to Hell and have located where my wife is. I also know you don’t believe me when I tell you the dreams I have been having. I went to UC and had them record my dream onto a disk. It is amazing what they are discovering now a day. I heard that they had just invented that technology. Anyhow, I’d like to play it for you. Afterwards, you can decide if you wish to come along on the adventure of the century or not. For if we succeed in proving Hell exists and come back alive we will be the most famous explorers in history and of course, we will also be exempted from ever having to go there again and get 50 bonus years at our current age. And guaranteed admission to Heaven which most of you were going to go to except for Keith whom I am sure was headed to hell. So, let me play the dream.”
Jack puts the disk in the computer and plays the program. His wife, Angela was Korean and looked young for her age. She was short and still a stunningly
His wife appears in a pit of flames. There are four or five demons like creatures whipping her and telling her to work harder. She is mining something out of the wall. There are hundreds of people in the mines, most of them standing in a pit of burning flames. She is screaming, “I am not supposed to be here. There must be a mistake. I demand to see the manager.”
The head demon walks over, and barks out, what is your name?
“I see,” he says, consulting a palm held computer. “Oh, here we are. Yeah, you should be in the other place. Must be one of those computer glitches. Well, it is too complicated to fix and too much paperwork. If you had some money on you, say 100,000 dollars perhaps I could fix it. But where in Hell are you going to get that kind of cash?” He laughs and laughs.
Angela turns and screams out “Help me. Save me from Hell. I am in Pit number 5720279 Sector Bravo, Unit 524.”
The head demon laughs, and the demons start whipping her again and again. The image fades away.
Jack turns to his friends and says, “I have had that dream every night since she died. As you know I dreamt about meeting her for eight years before I met her and so I believe she is telling the truth and that she is in Hell in that pit and that if we can make it to Hell and bribe her head demon we might be able to make it back alive with her. So, whether you believe me or not, I want you to join me in this crusade. Are you in or not?”
We fly off to NYC and get a hotel in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood on the lower West side. We set off on our big adventure one Friday afternoon at rush hour and entered the subway system. We assemble at the appointed spot in the subway system and I chanted the mantra from one of the books of Hell. A doorway opens in the air and we climb through. The door closes behind us and we are in a mirror image of the subway entrance. A board booth attendant looks at us and comes to attention.
I tell them we are on a special mission and must locate an Angela Lee who was sentenced six months ago. He looks it up on the computer and hums and haws. We give him 500 U.S. dollars to not report that this has occurred and promise him 500 more and an opportunity to join us on the other side if he kept quiet.
He grins and says
“You got it my man, but the price is not right. Gona cost you 500 dollars per person or say 25 K. You see I have lots of people to bribe to pull this off “.
Jack pays him off. He turns and says,
“Good luck and all that shit. You will need it.”
He said to take the A train to Hell Central, get off and transfer to the B train and stay on to the central coal pit, then get off and tell the chief super there that Bernie says we are okay. He will help you find your lady, but you got to know that if HE, the MAN downstairs, finds out you will all fry. I ain’t putting my neck on the line for you guys not at all. And the super, Mr. Black will need at least five G’s to look the other way…
We thank Mr. Bernie and enter the next A train. The train leaves the station and we gasp as we enter Hell. Miles and miles of open pits with fires burning everywhere and sounds of people screaming in endless agony. All along the streets of the city are filled with desperate looking people, dressed in rags. Guys in zoot suits dressed like us walk about shooting people for fun. The dead die again but come back to life so to speak minutes later in even worst pain.
There are bars on every corner selling all sorts of illegal drugs and prostitutes are everywhere promising all sorts of sexual delights for a price. Some of our company, the guys are talking about stopping off for a drink or two. I stop them and remind them of the mission and say that if they as much drink a drop of Hell booze they will never be allowed to leave. That shuts everyone for a while.
The train soon becomes a roller coaster and goes up and down up and down. People get on and off, but everyone avoids looking at us. My friend Robert waives his Tommy gun in the air a couple of times when people get too close. We get off at Hell Central which is a mirror image of Grand central but incredibly crowded, noisy and smelly as Hell. We finally find out the way and transfer to the B line, and it takes us deep into the cavernous pits of Hell.
I had heard a story that Satan had a deal with the coal companies where he mined coal using slave labor and export the coal to a mine somewhere in Pennsylvania coal country where it was brought to the surface. The coal companies sold it at market rates and kicked back the profits. The same person told me that Satan had lots of connections with politicians, businessmen and the like and his spies were everywhere on earth. Satan was plotting to take over but somehow never quite made it.
The other side he said also had their angels on earth as well. Good and evil were ever in constant battle and good seemed to have more magical power than evil. But Satan was gaining his power. Part of it was that no one believed in him anymore which gave him plausible deniability, a phrase he had taught the CIA, which he had set up as his secret army on earth as a secret organization within the CIA. They reported to the President and to Satan and did “wet work “missions for both. Most of the agents were demons who were temporarily assigned to earth and given special dispensation to allow them to work on earth. Such duty was highly sought after.
We keep going deeper and deeper into the bowels of Hell. The stench was overpowering but we were all wearing masks infused with garlic which was supposed to prevent us from becoming overpowered by the demonic stench.
Finally, after two hours we entered the coal company site. We walk up and demand to see the super. Robert waives his Tommy gun around. I scream and the rest of us look mean as we could possibly manage. The super comes out, a big, burly black guy. He says, yeah, Bernie’s cool. We were Hell-mates came into together with the service. What can I do for you fine gentlemen and ladies? He leers at the ladies in our group. They glare back.
I explain the situation. He says well let me see. I need some paperwork. I point the gun at him, saying it is urgent top-secret work, covert shit and all and we would pay him 3 g’s in Earth money if he just found the girl and looked the other way.
He looks at me and says make it 100 g’s and you got a deal. I offer ten and we settle at twenty-five, plus 40 G more as he had some people to bribe. We settled at 50 k. I think to myself we owe Bernie a tip. Mr. Black calls an assistant and says take these gentlemen to sector 214 B, subsection 212 A 6 C. That is where we would find the lady. He then turns to me and says look I can lose her for a day or so. You must have her back within 36 hours or all sorts of heads will roll. And if I must report this I don’t care who the Hell you all are. I ain’t being demoted to being one of them Hell no. I ain’t. You understand me, dude?
We come to an agreement and slip him another 5 gs. He then says he has some TV to watch and would give us 30 minutes to get her and get back on the train. I tell several of my group to stay behind with Mr. Black.
Pat, Robert, Keith, and Matt, all old high school buddies, and I get on the mini-tram and go into the pits with the guard, Mr. Ramesh, a former Indian customs official.
He turns to me and says,
“Hey, did you used to live in Bombay? Did I say yeah, I was undercover at the time poising as a US diplomat? You got a problem with that?”
I slip him 2 g’s and he smiles and says
“This solves most problems. 3 Gs more and I forget who the fuck you are.” Jake slips him some more money and we follow him down into the pits.
We find Angela staying in a pool of stagnant water. She is haggard, tired, and looks like shit. She is digging coal out with a shovel. We walk up to her and start yelling at the guards, that we have a prisoner to take for questioning. One of the guards looks at us and
“Back off or we shoot your ass. Your choice.”
He turns to pick up his intercom and we shoot him. He drops dead and we know it will take a day or so for him to recover. The four other prisoners in the work detail beg us to take them with us. I tell them my mandate was to tell Angela, but we would give them each 5000 g’s to keep quiet and forget what they had seen. They take the money.
“Man, good luck with that shit. Angela was a great woman and was always talking about her husband. We could not figure out how she got here. Maybe just a screw up in the computer files. Happens all the time, man. But hey we did not see anything, right?”
They wander off.
We get back on the track to the main office. When we get there, we decide we should take out Ramesh and Mr. Black for the time being. We thank them and then shoot them saying it was for their own good. That would buy us a day as it would take a day for them to come back to life. We debate whether to take the money back or not but finally decide to let them have it as they had kept their end of the bargain.
We get on the train and head back to Hell Central. We get back to the exit and find Mr. Bernie waiting. He has a few police types with them. They had some questions for us. I decide to bluff. I tell them that this was a covert mission and I did not have to answer to anyone other than the MAN downstairs. And if they interfered it would be painful as I would have to shoot them first, then turn them over to our torture specialists, and I pointed out several of our more macho looking guys in the group.
They demanded paperwork. I told them the only paper they would be given would be green backs. They demanded 5000 g’s a piece and were adamant. I gave them 5,000 apiece and we shot them dead.
“You coming? “
We say the mantra and find ourselves in the NYC subway early in the morning. I tell Bernie you have until dawn to get back. I tell him where the nearest bar was and that it was just in time for happy hour. And gave him 5,000 bonus cash.
He said, “yeah, I head of that place.” And he runs off in search of the nearest bar.
When we leave the subway, we are faced with a reception committee. Two special agents from Hell are standing there looking at us. They take us to a safe house in Harlem. Finally, we meet the agent in charge of NYC.
He looks familiar,
“I say, didn’t you used to work for the US government as a diplomat.”
He said yeah,
“I did. You used to work for me. Worst subordinate ever. I recognize the two of you. I always wondered what would happen to you. He then says, okay, now that I know you are human beings you had better tell me the truth and you know I hate your guts. And I know you are a lying scumbag and should be in Hell someday. “
I said, okay,
“David here’s the God’s truth” and tell the whole story.
When I tell him, he gets on the computer, and looks up the special rules and says, “holly shit. You are right. You are your friends all are given 50 bonus years at your same age and you will all be going upstairs when you die. But you must pay me 50 k to keep quiet for the next twenty minutes while you escape. Listen, as a favor to us don’t publish this story. You know what kind of trouble that could cause us?”
Jack pays him off and promised him that he would never publish this story, but hey he lied.
Jack and Angela make it back out of Hell and back to SF. His friends all made it out too, and Satan honored rule number nine because even Satan must follow the cosmic laws that govern Heaven and Hell.
Ghoul Haunted Woodlands of Weir
Sam Hill woke up freezing cold outside in a howling wilderness of tall dense trees, covered with dense fog. Sam did not know how he got there, wherever there was, nor did Sam remember much of his prior life. Nor did Sam recognize the trees – they were different from any trees he had ever seen. All Sam knew was he was Sam Hill, late of Berkeley, California where he ran a restaurant.
And last night was lost in a fog of weed, drugs, and perhaps wild sex. Sam simply could not remember much of that night. After closing his restaurant, he went out with some friends and ended up in a club somewhere in SF. He had gone to the club where he smoked weed, snorted what he thought was cocaine, and drank way too much. Might even had dropped acid – he did not know what he had done. His friends left him at the club. He went home with a strange bosomy Indian woman he met at the club, but the rest was foggy at best. He did remember that she was hot – brunette, middle age with curves to die for. And she had a sexy come hither foreign accent – she was a devilish attractive woman from India. in short, she was Sam’s fatal attraction.
Sam suddenly remembered that he had been married before and that his wife had left him when she found out that he had been cheating on her. But Sam could not remember his wife’s name nor recall her face. Nor who he had cheated with. But he remembered the women last night, did not remember her name or whether they had sex – he think he did but damn everything was foggy. He wondered if she had slipped him a mickey? In any event, it was all a blur.
But that still did not explain how he had woken up here in the forest. He could tell that he was no longer in the Bay Area because of the strange unearthly trees and the landscape. It was clear that he was in a wilderness area but where he could not figure out. Sam got up off the damp forest floor and stood up to survey his situation. Frankly, it was not good. He had the clothes on his back, a backpack containing a coat, a book of Poe’s poetry, a pen, and a bottle of water. He had nothing else he would need to survive in a hostile wilderness, – no matches, no weapons and most importantly no food. He did not know how he had gotten back pack, nor why he had a book of Poe’s poetry in the backpack.
Sam looked around the woods and saw that he was in the middle of a dense grove of tall trees, of a strange species he had never seen before. Most of the trees were green evergreen but he swore that some of the trees were purple and some were red. It seemed like it was an autumn day as there was a crisp autumn like breeze in the air. He recalled that it was November 1 back in the real word, the day after his birthday. He almost felt that he had been transplanted to another world. As far as he could see in the dense fog the forest went on and on.
It was a cold, damp morning. But he felt that it could get warmer despite the autumn chill in the air. The sun was sneaking over the horizon so in any event it was about 6 am. But there was something weird about the sun – just did not look like the sun on earth and it had a faint reddish glow to it and seemed bigger than the Sun on Earth. Then the other sun dawned, and he knew he was not in Kansas or anywhere else on earth. He glanced at his watch, it seemed to be working. His cell phone had no signal – nada, but all the other features that were not dependent on an internet connection seemed to work.
Sam decided that the only thing to do was to walk to the end of the forest and see if he can find any signs of civilization, or at least get some food and water somewhere. Sam started walking and walking and the forest seem to go on and on. As he walked he recalled some of his boy scout training decades ago and headed in the same general direction, south he thought but the two Suns in the sky threw his internal sense of direction off. At least he was not walking in circles he thought.
He heard creatures stirring in the woods, but he did not encounter any wildlife. And Sam was unprepared – as he had no weapons other than a rock that he had picked up just in case. After an hour of walking he heard a noise. And the woods ended. He came up to a cliff and saw through the fog that there was a stream running down at the bottom of the steep canyon.
He was contemplating whether to try to walk down the canyon when he heard a noise. He looked up and saw two big ravens staring at him. Sam yelled at them, “Say, bird, do you know where I am?” Sam was surprised when the birds turned to him and laughed at him. Mocking birds, he though. But then then spoke.
The birds laughed at Sam. One then says, “Sam, you are in the ghoul haunted woods of Weir.”
Sam said, “Where?”
The bird said, “Precisely, where. The ghoul haunted woods of Weir. There is no escape from here. All who enter die. So, sad, we’ve seen it all before. Love to help but there is no escape. You are doomed to die here all alone except for the ghouls who will hunting you soon for their evening meal.”
Sam looked at the birds, and said “am I dreaming or on drugs? Is this real?”
The birds laughed and laughed
“Sam, my human friend. This is as real as it gets. You are not on drugs although you had some drugs last night. That women drugged you and left you for dead. But at least you got some sex out of it. You humans and sex. God. You guys are horny dogs. In any event, this is a real as any nightmare, but you will never wake up. You are doomed to die here. Might as well wait for the end to come. The Ghouls come out at dusk to feed.
But, Sam, since we like you, we can give you some advice. Try to get down to the river and follow the river to the town at the bottom of the river. Once you get there the ghouls can’t follow as they are banned from entering human towns. Once you get there the people might be willing to take you in. But probably not. Human, probably you are going to die. Well, nice talking to you, best of luck all of that. We have to get going places to be people to see and all that rot.”
Sam asked the birds a final question,
“what the fuck is a ghoul?”
The birds looked at Sam, and said,
“Your worst nightmare human. They used to be human at one time but now are what do you call it, zombies. The living dead. They haunt these woods and prey on the unfortunates who find themselves here.
“How and why am I here?”
“God only knows, and he is not telling. All we know is that every day some human finds themselves where you are and by the end of the night the ghouls get to them. None escape with their life. Well, we really need to get going. Best of luck, Sam. You will need it.”
And the two ravens flew off cackling to themselves.
Sam looked down at the canyon wall and saw a faint outline of a path that led down to the river and at the bottom of the river he saw some logs – perhaps he could fashion some sort of raft from the logs and make his way down stream. Sam did not want to come face to face with a Ghoul or zombie or whatever the hell haunted these woods. Sam did not trust the birds were telling him the truth, for some reason these birds seemed to omen of bad luck. Sam got to work and slowly picked his way down the steep path towards the bottom of the canyon and finally made it down. It was mid-day then and the fog was starting to lift.
Sam looked up at the cliff above and thought he saw something moving through the trees. Something large, and vaguely wolf like. He stared but did not see anything more. Then he heard the howling of the wolves and saw them – a pack of them on top of the cliff. The ravens flew overhead and landed next to the wolves. Sam also heard the ravens and the wolf like things talking. The Ravens pointed out Sam and seemed to wave at him. The wolf creatures growled but made no attempt to come down the path.
It was time to go. He walked over to the logs and found that two of the logs could be wrapped together with some reeds growing on the side of the river. After an hour of work, he had a serviceable raft and started floating down the rushing river. He floated for hours with the forests on top of the cliff never ending, but the fog had lifted a bit.
Finally, it was getting dark and Sam needed to stop for the night. He pulled up on a sand bar. He noticed some bushes had some blue berries on them and Sam tried them. After realizing the fruit would not kill him, Sam ate as much as he could stand and drank some river water. He then got some twigs and tried to make a fire. Sam finally got a bit of a flame going and made a bon fire and fell asleep.
He woke up at dawn and saw that he had gone a long way down the river. He looked up and saw the birds flying above him. He called out, “Mr. Bird, I’m still alive.”
The birds turned to him and said, “Sam, nice to see you. The ghouls missed you last night; the werewolves too but everyone is ready for you know. We had to tell them where you are and where you are heading. We are spies so to speak. Nothing personal we like you, Sam, but we all have our jobs to do. That is the way of the world. There is no escape. Have a nice day.” The birds flew away.
Sam got up and ate some more berries and drank more water. Then he got on the log raft and continued his journey. All day he kept hearing the howling of wolves and strange yapping sounds which he assumed were the sound of the ghouls. He did not see anything, just heard the ghostly sounds in the forests on top of the cliff.
He turned a corner in the river and saw a town ahead. At least it looked like a town; just a few huts along a road and a boat landing. He pulled up and wandered into the little town. He entered the first hut and found several dead bodies piled along the side of the hut. Shot to death executive style. Sam backed out quickly as he realized the killers could be nearby as the bodies looked relatively freshly killed. He entered hut after hut and found death everywhere. He counted 100 dead bodies. The bodies appeared to be human like and were vaguely middle eastern looking, but there was something off about them as well and he realized that they were humanoid not human. He was about to leave the village when he heard a sound of someone crying. He ran inside and found a little child still alive somehow. He grabbed the boy and gestured for him to follow him and he left the hut. In the next hut, he filled his backpack with provisions – food, water, weapons, extra clothing and matches. They had guns that apparently were earth made. Everything else was alien in origin. That was strange.
He gestured to the boy to follow him and they left the town and walked down the road. As they walked the kid and Sam bonded despite the lack of a common language. Sam taught him a few English words and he seemed to be picking it quickly. He was about 6 years old.
About an hour later they came upon a bigger town. In this town, all the people were dead as well, but were buried in a communal grave at the end of the road. Mangy dogs were feasting on the dead bodies, but they ignored Sam and the boy whom Sam leaned was called “Abdul.”
They decided to camp out in the field outside of town and watch out for the return of the bandits who had destroyed the town. Sam was also worried about the werewolves and ghouls in the forest left behind. Sam made a bonfire and they ate their provisions and fell asleep. In the middle of the night Sam woke up and saw the ghouls eying him. They were tall, human shaped creatures all white in color with bright red eyes. He asked them what they wanted.
They laughed and said, “Sam, you are very lucky. You’ve survived so far. And we are forbidden to harm you once you are in the human zones. But now you are in the realm of man again and perhaps won’t be so lucky any more. You see the way back to your world is back up in the woods between the worlds. Down here you are stuck forever. And you can see what kind of violent world this is. You are in the middle of a war between two war lords. If you manage to make it through the battle field, you might live. But we wanted to see you. The birds like you and we like the birds. Usually the birds don’t intervene, and we get our reward – the opportunity to eat human flesh. We are disappointed that the can’t eat you and your kid tonight. But the rules are the rules and we can’t harm you. “
Sam asked the ghouls,” Will you let me and my companion travel back to my world?”
The ghouls laughed and said, “Sam, we’ve never allowed anyone to get this far from your world before. What makes you think we will let you go?”
“Well, I run a nice restaurant back home and can cook you all a decent meal. And if you want you can visit my world. We can do a deal; make you a celebrity put you on TV even.”
The Ghouls laughed and told Sam that they would not bother him any more as he was out of their territory but if he came back through the woods they would have to kill him because no one was ever allowed to leave the woods of Weir alive. That was the rule of the ghoul master himself. Nothing personal – they liked Sam a lot. Perhaps if Sam manages to get to the doorway they might not kill him and take him up on his offer. No ghoul has ever been back. The ghouls were once human or humanoid in another world. The place where Sam came to is the woods between worlds. There are gateways to other worlds scattered throughout the woods. The ghouls hunt people who are in between the worlds. If they make it too far they can live
Sam said, “Fair enough” and invited them to join him for. The ghouls declined and started walking away. Sam called out,
“Wait. I need to know what’s going on.”
The head Ghoul turned around and said,
“okay. We’ll break protocol and share your breakfast. And fill you in. But please don’t tell the birds – you can’t trust them. They work for the evil one that controls this world. Okay we are ghouls we came from your world and were taken by other ghouls and well we become immortal. Our job is to track down humans who manage to come over from you and other worlds and kill them. Once a human manages to break through and enter the human zone we must let him go. Few make it and we were surprised that you made it as far as you have.
There are two waring states in this area. You just walked into a battle field. Zorn is on the march and making a play to take over the entire planet. Then he intends to launch an attack on your world. He may want to take you alive, so he can use you for his nefarious purposes. That’s all we know. Well we must go. If we see you again we will have to kill you. Nothing personnel just what we have to do you know.’
Sam said, “Fair enough” and invited them to join him for breakfast. The ghouls declined and disappeared.
Sam and Abdul made breakfast and walked down the path. They entered town after town. Each town had been a sight of horrific mass murder. Hundreds of dead bodies. Sam stopped at each town and picked up more provisions and weapons. He got a pack for Abdul, so they could carry additional provisions including clothing, and what appeared to be local currency. He made it clear that if they were separated the food, water and weapons in his bag were for his survival. So, he must not lose the pack.
They encountered lots of dead bodies and Hyenas and wolves feasting on the newly dead. The snarled and five of them rushed Sam and Abdul. He told Abdul to climb a tree then Sam faced the wolves and a few wolves and as he shot them they turned back into human form before dying as they were all werewolves. The rest of the pack backed off and resume eating the dead bodies.
About noon they entered an intact town. This was a trading post and had Zorn and Torians working side by side. They appeared to tolerate each other but there was an undercurrent of hatred palpable in the air. Then Sam saw a fellow human and came up to him and introduced himself.
“So, who are you and how long have you been here? How did you get here? “
“Well my name is Jerimiah Moore. I have been here a long time. It seems that time here and time there are not the same at all. What year is it where you came from?”
“I came yesterday through the woods from Berkeley, California. It is 2017. “
“My god. I have been here since the great quake. I fell through a hole and found myself in those woods with the damn werewolves and hyenas following me everywhere. I met a local gal and settled down here in this town which is a neutral town. I have two girls who run the inn and we can put you for free. Everyone must work here. So, I can hook you up for a job. What do you do topside?”
“I run a restaurant.”
“Great. Clyde is another human from London and he runs a bar and grill, but his cook got caught smuggling and was thrown to the werewolves as punishment yesterday. Come let me introduce you.”
Jerimiah was a tall fellow looked like a mountain man with thick hair, beard and a beer belly. He obviously liked his beer. Seemed like a decent enough chap but had seen a lot in what a lawless wild west kind of country was obviously. He told Sam that he felt only ten years had gone by since he arrived due to the difference in time between the worlds. He said that there were many humans living there and they all got along and helped each other out. But, he said, there were rumors that the King of the Torians was determined to launch an invasion of Earth and that he would do it soon as there were periods every thousand years when the two worlds were close to each other and the walls between the worlds opened for a few weeks. Last time that happened hundreds of Zorian and Torians had escaped to the earth perhaps five thousand years ago? Or 500 years ago according to local time. And then the Vikings had come through, and prior to that the Romans and the ancient Chinese. The Chinese still had a China town and had the best food around.
But lately it has been people dropping through the holes in the world occasionally. They usually are killed by the Ghouls and werewolves. Sam was very lucky to be alive.
Sam felt lucky that he was alive but first things first. He needed food and he need a beer to recover his sanity. Clyde turned out to be a nice fellow, a younger London hipster who came over last year or in 1966 or so. He ran an English fish and chips bar that was the center of the human settlement. Clyde hired Sam on the spot and gave him a room and hired Abdul as well. Child labor was common in Zorn, schools were reserved for the well to do. Sam explained that he had rescued Abdul and therefore felt responsible for him. Clyde said,
“Say no more. We’ll consider him your adopted son. Adoption is easy to do, just register at the local city hall and pay a bribe. Everything works according to how much you are willing to bribe. I’ll take you over later today. Having an adopted kid will help on your taxes. And it will help gain sympathy with the ladies both the humans and the humanoids. Interspecies sex is quite nice.”
Sam was curious though at how the animals all spoke English and most of the humans did not.
“Well,” Clyde said, “the Ghouls, werewolves and the birds are all telepathic, so you hear their thoughts as if they were speaking English. And they hear you in their native language. The humans are not telepathic. Everyone speaks Zorian which is easy to learn, vaguely like Spanish. The humans mostly speak English, but some speak Chinese and Spanish. But the people who you must be aware of the most are the Bornean. They are lizards and are mean mothers. They work for a creature called Zed who is a monster who is worshiped as if he is a God. He runs the world with the Ghoul Master, and the head of the Werewolves. The Zorian King reports to him as does the Torian king. The rumors are that they were not pleased with the recent war and that the two sides are being told to stop the fighting to prepare for the coming battle against the earth. The Zorns and the Torians are different species from different lands. The Zorns are very similar to humans, and Torians are a bit more different. Interspecies sex is common and there are many half breads. Borneans and the humanoids don’t get along very much. Sex with them is difficult but worth it as the women are hell cats in bed. But they are only fertile once a year and during that time have many lovers of any nationality. Once they get into you though they don’t want to let go. And they have no concept that humans and humanoids need sex more than once a year. The few that manage to marry humans usually take drugs to make them fertile all year long and they have wild sex with their partners. They often go for MMF threesomes as they are insatiable in bed. The highest priced call girls are Bornean followed by recent arrivals from Earth, Zorn or Toria.”
Sam was enjoying his second beer and his first Zorian cheeseburger and learning about the sexual habits of the humanoids and Borneans when five Bornean lizards walked into the bar. They picked up Sam and Abdul and told them that their boss, Zed the merciful, wanted a word with them.
They stepped outside and a black Cadillac escapade circa 1970 pulled up and they were hustled away. Clyde yelled,
“If you make it back, you still have a job and a place to live for you and your son. Good luck and all that rot.”
Sam tried to engage the Bornean in conversation. The head Bornean turned to Sam and said,
“Human shut the fuck up. We don’t like you and if it was up to us we would kill you now and throw you to the wolves and collect our winnings from the birds. Now we are going to lose money because you ain’t dead yet. So, I advise you to shut up and enjoy the ride. And here has a beer on us.”
Sam drank his beer in silence and took in the sights. The town was substantial and looked like someone had created it circa London in the 1920’s. Perhaps they had given the history of secret exchanges between the worlds. There was even a mini underground tube. He saw humans, ghouls, werewolves, hyenas, Zorian, Torians and Boreans all walking about.
They pulled up to a huge mansion and he was hustled out. Abdul was told to wait by the car.
He was brought into a large room where a giant lizard dressed in green military uniforms sat on a thrown. He growled at Sam,
“Human. You just came over. You are going to tell me everything about your world. As you know time is different in your world. By the time we get back 25 years might have passed so you need to tell me everything including future speculation. We picked you because you are well known about town and seem well connected. If you do, you will come with me as my special advisor and will be given riches beyond your imaginings, and Zelda whom you met is ready, willing and able to continue the affair you started. You were her first human and she liked it. If you resist, well you will beg to be thrown to the werewolves. And we will let you keep your adopted son. It seems that you have been bonding and it would be a shame if something bad happened to him after he lost his entire family. If you refuse to cooperate we will kill him first while you watch as we torture the poor boy. Then we will send him off to brothel as some people like young boys. Your decision. Ten seconds.”
Sam thought about it and realized he had no choice. But he would try to figure out how to get a message out to the earth. Clyde might know, or the birds might be able to get through. They seem to be willing to work for all sides.
Sam told Zed he had a deal. And spend the rest of the afternoon telling Zed all about the earth. He told Zed that Zed did not have a chance given their level of technology and that Sam was not a technical kind of guy. Zed said he could send some agents to earth and kidnap some technical chaps and that the Zorians and Torians were smart and could bring them up to speed very quickly. They did have some special weapons though – poisons that they used on earth people. He had been brought here by one of their agents. They decided if he lived that he would be worthy of saving if he died there were plenty of other suckers they could kidnap.
Sam realized that Zelda, the woman whom he had been with was a Zorian and that he had probably had inter-species sex and that thought turned him on. He turned to Zed and said
“Well I suppose we have a deal.”
Cheating Death 20 Times
Five Childhood Illnesses Hit me at age Six
Typhoid Fever almost kills me in Korea
Guardian Angel Saves Me in Korea
In 1990, I was living in South Korea teaching ESL for a Korean University and government, and Asian studies for the University of Maryland for military forces stationed in Korea. I was living in Seoul with my spouse who was a U.S. army officer, newly assigned to Korea. She was born in Korea and was in fact the first Korean American female officer to be assigned to Korea.
We had been married for about six years having met in 1982 and had a whirlwind romance, marrying two months after we met. That is the subject of another story though. One spring day we took a trip to the east coast of Korea. It was about a five to six-hour journey by car. My wife was driving because I did not drive due to bad vision and because I was afraid to drive in the chaotic driving environment in South Korea. We left Seoul about 11 am and by 3 pm we were halfway to our destination, Soraksan which is the number one mountain park in South Korea. It was a fine Spring day, just perfect weather, and we were both looking forward to taking a few days off.
Just outside of the town of Wongju, the freeway backed up and there was heavy traffic ahead of us. I saw a sign for the Wongaksan National Park which I had never visited before and I told Angela, let’s get off the freeway and check it out. I felt something telling me we had to exit the freeway that moment. I had a premonition that something bad was coming down the freeway and we were heading right into it. We never forgot that day. And to this day almost thirty years later I often think back what would have happened if I had ignored that warning in my head and had insisted that we keep going to what would have been our death.
Almost Hit by a Train in Korea
One day we did a run down by the train tracks. I was running along listening to music and did not hear the train approaching. I jumped off at the last moment barely avoiding being killed by the train. Afterwards I said that I had cheated death yet again, not knowing that my real experience cheating death was waiting for me a few years down the road.
Mutant Drug Resistance Staph Infection and 14 Operations Almost Kills Me
The event that changed my life was a simple decision. One morning I decided to go for a jog. It was dark outside and I thought that I knew the path. I made a strategic miscalculation and fell down a five-foot gap in the bushes where I thought was a series of steps.I shattered my heel in a million pieces. I made it back to my room, called 9-11 after an hour when I realized my foot was broken. I called my wife as well. I was a foreign service officer newly returned to DC for my first assignment in DC after working five years overseas in Korea and Thailand. She was an army officer stationed in Ft Sam Houston, San Antonio Texas.
The ER doctor bandaged me up and told me that I needed surgery and after surgery would be bed ridden for at least four months. We opted to do the surgery in Texas and we arranged for me to fly using a wheel chair assistance. By the time I arrived the swelling was so bad that we had to wait a week to do the surgery.
The Air Force doctors wanted to try an experimental procedure using shark cartilage as a replacement bone material. A few days after the surgery I developed a fever and went back to the hospital and they discovered I had a staph infection. They treated me with IV antibiotics and opened the wound area and cleaned it out and replaced the cartridge. Then sent me home to recover. I had to take antibiotics for four months.
I went back to her house. She got me an internet account and I learned how to surf the net and read a lot of stuff on line. I could not stand watching day time TV. We did not have cable service. We rented a movie nightly and I watched movies every day and surfed the net and read some books she bought me as well.
Her dog, Jason, was a cute dachshund that was bilingual – Korean and English. He became my best friend for the four months I was out of commission. I called my office once a week to check in.
Once I returned to DC, I stayed there for almost a month and commuted by crutches. I was amazed at how cruel drivers were. Many people cursed me for holding up traffic as I could not walk across the street with the green light which seemed to be timed to allow for only Olympic 50-year dashers to get across the street in the allocated time. Then on the metro not once during the two weeks I commuted by metro I was not offered a seat once during the entire time and I often had to stand on my crutches the entire trip. and several times people rushed by me yelling at me to get out of the way on the subway stairs.
I went one day to the military hospital for a routine check up on a different issue – a cist on my arm that I wanted removed. The doctor noticed that I was running a fever, quickly realized that the infection had returned, and I was back into surgery the next day.
My wife came out that weekend to see me in the hospital. I ended up having 12 more operations as the staff infection had become MDR. I had an IV inserted in my stomach and went through intensive vancomycin the nuclear bomb of antibiotics for four months. The final operation was a bone graft from my hip after they finally realized that the shark cartridge would not work.
My wife had to argue with the military doctors to allow me to stay in the hospital for a month. They wanted me to stay on the IV antibiotics, but I had to report in twice a day for blood work. She pointed out that I would be home alone and could not drive to the hospital but would have to go back and forth by metro and bus. Two hours each way. So, I stayed on until June.
I stayed sane by reading a book a day. During that year I read almost 300 books and started a daily journal. I went to the hospital library every day and got another book. The doctors were amused as every morning I had another book to read. I also watched lots of TV becoming hooked on the X files. I watched it frequently with the elderly black night janitor who was a big fan. He was also a conspiracy nut. He introduced me to the “reptilian overlords” conspiracy theory and speculated over who might secretly be an “reptilian overlord.”
My fellow patients were all army troops – everyone called me major as they could just not comprehend that my wife was the major and not me. One of my fellow patients was recovering from an accident and had gangrene and was facing amputation and a divorce.
Another soldier was back in the army. He and his wife had inherited half million dollars and left the military and spend two years enjoying the high life and blew through almost all the money, so he went back into the military then had an accident and was recovering from a broken leg as well.
My best friend who was an actor in town for a season visited almost every day. My wife came for most of the surgery and many friends who had heard where I came for a visit. But I was cut off as this just before everyone got email and there was no internet in the hospital. Finally, I was released as Angela got assigned back to DC.
I went back to work. And things were going okay.
I returned to work and my life. The fibromyalgia was a chronic condition but when I went to India and discovered yoga it became manageable. The arthritis was chronic, but I eventually quit taking anti-inflammatory drugs and learned to just deal with the pain. Every four months I must see a foot doctor to debride calluses that build up. Then in 2007 almost ten years after the accident I developed hammer toes and had to have four operations to smash my feet back into shape. Ten years after the operation I was faced with chronic pain due to the fibromyalgia and arthritis and some limited mobility but was recovering enough to resume daily walks.
1996-1997 was my personal year of hell. The year in the hospital changed my life. Afterwards I felt that I had been given a new lease on life, almost as if I was given bonus games in the great video game of life. And despite my constant pain I was just happy to be alive, and to still be married and to still have a high-powered job. I had read 300 books in one year. I started keeping track of my reading and movies and never came close to that record.
Weird Parasite Could Have Killed Me
While I was in the hospital undergoing the 14 operations, the internal medicine doctor told me that there was some other infection going on. He eventually found out that I had a rare parasite that I had picked up in Thailand. He had asked me whether I had spent time in Southeast Asia. I told him that I had indeed spent time in Thailand. He said,
“Well I know what is causing the symptoms.”
While I was in Thailand, I had fallen into a canal during a Hash House harrier run. This parasite was benign, but I should take some medicine to get rid of it. If I ever had a steroid shot for any reason, the parasite would expand to the size of a basketball and then kill me within one hour of taking the steroid. I noted this in my journal and commented that this might be proof that God if he existed had a morbid sense of humor for if he created the universe what was the point of creating this parasite? Fortunately for me, due to the persistence of that doctor, they discovered the parasite before I had the steroid shot.
Ending up in ER due to Mutiny among my stomach flora
Guardian Angela Saves Me in Texas
While driving to the airport, Angela and I started talking about the weather and she had just explained to me what to do if we encountered black ice and boom we encountered black ice and she instantly reacted appropriately because we had just discussed it. Something had told us to expect ice on the road. We totaled the car but walked away unhurt. I went back a few days later but in retrospect should have stayed behind for a few more weeks. They might have caught the staph infection before it spread out of control.
I don’t often talk about that year but when I do I tell people that it changed my life in so many ways and that I was a far better person because of the operations and the year in the hospital. Every day I wake up and feel alive and thankful for that for I felt that I had cheated death at least 14 times that year. People often ask me why I am always so cheerful. My standard answer is that after cheating death 14 times every day is a bonus day and I am determined to make the most of it. The pain is there, and I just must cope with it the best I can without taking drugs for it. I have cheated death at least 20 times in my life. And I remain an optimistic happy go lucky kind of guy. After all I have been through I know that every moment if precious, and I feel that I am living a bonus round in the video game of life. Still waiting to meet the Grim Reaper and ask him why he allowed me to cheat death so many times.