Penumbra Dragon part two of four

“I got your text.” Julia said lamely. Cindy looked at her two drenched friends and saw Clark had an arm in a sling. 

“It happened that Julia and I were in the neighborhood. She believed, and I concurred, that it would be a profitable use of our time to respond to aforementioned message.” 

“We wanted to hang out.” Julia pushed Clark, who winced in pain. “Sorry Clark.” 

“My injuries are still bothersome.” He said stretching out a little.

“Cindy, can we come in? It’s kinda cold out.” Cindy waved her friends in. Julia and Clark had dark coats that stretched down near their knees and they hung them up. Julia pulled a DVD out of one of the deep pockets. It was some corny b-movie super hero flick. 

“Clark, ain’t’cha a bit old for super hero stuff?” Cindy remarked. 

“It is a guilty pleasure of mine.” He shrugged. Julia put on the movie and dropped on the coach. Clark slowly sat down by her. It was as if his every movement was a strain on his body. Cindy plopped down next to Julia. 

“Y’all didn’t hafta come.” She muttered throwing a glance at Julia and Clark who raised and lowered their shoulders. “I don’t like third wheelin’.” 

“We are not a couple, and this was not a romantic excursion.” Clark blurted out. Julia just shook her head and mouthed “not yet.” The girls laughed. Clark raised an eyebrow suspiciously before the movie started. A few minutes in and the lights flickered. Then darkness filled the room as the power exited. 

“Clark.” Julia said calmly. “My light is in my coat, can you grab it?” The sound of Clark rising was followed by him shuffling to the door way. The sound of a roar rattled Cindy. It wasn’t the howl of the wind but a sound like a lion. As soon as Cindy was sure she’d imagined the sound there was another blast. A flash of lightning showed Clark had returned. He passed Julia a silver device that looked like a pistol. Julia pressed her thumb to the back and then spun it on her forefinger. Six lights turned green in sequence from back to front. She gripped the weapon and pointed it outwards. Cindy looked up as the lightning illuminated a face in the window by the TV. It wasn’t a human face, it was the wrong shape and far too large. It was, quite unmistakably, the face of a monster.

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Penumbra: Dragon part 1 of 4

Perhaps it was the thunder and lightning that kept Cindy Sinclair’s eyes open. The incessant rain drummed upon the roof like an endless march. It was barely past nine, but fighting her brother into bed had been more than enough to tire her out. She glanced at her phone hoping that someone would invite her out. The black screen simply stared back, unresponsive. Cindy let out a groan, no one wanted to hang out with her anyways.

The sound of pacing feet above her head made Cindy tense. Cindy listened as her father’s steps went back and forth like a patrolling soldier. She could only imagine him walking back and forth above her. His measured steps seemed rehearsed. The rhythm sounded ingrained. Cindy had never seen him pace, but his pacing footsteps had become a constant sound in the night. 

Cindy reached for her phone again and unlocked it. She went through her contacts. One after another she decided not text anyone. She hesitated at Clark’s number then shook her head. She certainly wasn’t going to have anyone thinking she was easy. That and Julia probably wouldn’t speak to her again, at least. She kept scrolling until she reached Julia’s number and opened a text. The full crowd of letters and an empty row stared back at her. Her thumb hit the “H” and then the “E”. She tapped the “Y”. Hey. She stared at the single word and sighed. She didn’t want to bother, or worry her friend. Nothing was wrong. No, even while no one slept in the house, nothing was wrong. No, even with a silent plea for help sitting on the phone, nothing was wrong. 

The windows rattled as thunder split the atmosphere. A flash of lightning made Cindy flinch as the objects outside threw horrible shadows on her wall. Another blast of thunder rocked the house as Cindy chided herself for being startled by a storm. Perhaps it had been when the lightning had startled her. Perhaps it had been a simple slip of her finger.  Perhaps it had been her subconscious mind acting through her hand. Whatever the reason Cindy had let out a desperate cry for help. A single syllable sent swiftly to her best friend. 

Ding dong. 

Cindy was out of bed and through the door in a heartbeat. Any excuse, any reason, any thing, to get her out of that room was acceptable. Her heart hammered as her feet threw her down the hall like a rocket. She threw open the door and found Clark and Julia there in the rain. 

For my Grandmother

I wrote this to be read at my Grandmother’s funeral today. Since no one will hear these words there, I still felt they deserved an audience. I still felt that my Grandmother deserved a memorial from me. 
Morning. I don’t know if this will be read in the morning, but it’s habit for me to start like that. This is a hard thing for me to write. It may be a hard thing for people to hear. Solomon wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV). He goes on to list that there is: 

“a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,”

“a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,”(Ecclesiastes 3:2, 4-5 NIV). Though this is a time of weeping, it is also a time for us to gather together and not scatter. Though this is a time of mourning, it is also a time for us to embrace one another and draw near. This is a hard time in my life, and for those of you who were close to my grandmother, I am sure it is for you as well. In light of that, I wanted to share some words, stories, and memories to comfort and to challenge. The first challenge would be the one that Jesus always gave: let those with ears to hear, let them hear. 

So the first story is about a woman who just lost her brother. He had been struggling with a disease and well, he lost his fight. It is in this moment when her brother has been dead for four days, and all hope seems lost, that Jesus appears. Do you know what the first thing she says is? “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” I don’t know where everyone stands with God, I won’t even pretend I know. Maybe though, someone is right where this woman is, angry and upset with God. Maybe you don’t feel His presence or question His plan. Maybe you feel like He is against you. When Jesus says she will see her brother again, she says she knows that. She has resigned herself, however, that she will not to see him until she too dies. Here is Jesus’s answer to that in John 11:25. “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die;” (John 11:25 NIV). I could stop there. That is a tremendously comforting statement. Since Jesus is life, since Jesus is the resurrection, I get to live. Maybe because I’m a college student, and I’m used to reading for prerequisites, I see what the woman probably saw. You live, but you also gotta die. I feel so often, people stop at the promise of heaven. Yet Jesus doesn’t even stop his sentence with that promise. “and whoever lives by believing in me [Jesus] will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26 NIV). Jesus isn’t simply telling us to wait until we die to experience the Kingdom of Heaven. When Jesus spoke of His Kingdom it was always coming and already here. Jesus is not calling us to exist until we die, to survive until we die, or wait until we die. No Jesus is calling us to believe and to live. 

I learned many things in my grandmother’s house. Not to jump on the couch for one. I learned patience and problem solving working on puzzles. I learned from some string that some knots we tie last longer than others. More important than that I learned about love. I learned about self sacrificing love. The apostle Paul said, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV). In my grandmother’s house, I learned love. I learned the kind of love that cares for a grandchild who shows up at the crack of dawn. The kind of love that cared for a child too young to change his own clothing and covered in his own filth. The kind of love that makes room and space in their house any time a night needs to be spent there. The kind of love that gave without expecting in return, especially to a child too young and foolish to give the thanks deserved. The kind of love that leads a person to give hours that become days, days that become weeks, weeks that become months, and months that become years, of care, kindness, compassion, and joy. I learned many lessons in my grandmother’s house, but the greatest of these is love. 

My Grandmother Sandra Hamilton, or Grammy as we called her, lived. I can not tell you all the amazing memories that showed the life Grammy lived. When I was in her house, it was a time to laugh. Grammy had an amazing sense and capacity for joy. I will always cherish the many memories of her smile that could make a person feel good. Not only did Grammy live, but she was concerned with the lives of others. I remember how she always strive to make my family feel welcome in her house. I remember many phone calls and many questions about how my life was going. I remember that she would be able to talk with my dad for what felt like, and might have been hours, over their favorite basketball team, the Lakers. My grandmother lived. “and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26 NIV). Do you? Grammy lived. I know she would not want us to simply be waiting, trudging, existing, or surviving until we die. She would have wanted us to live. 

Are you ready for the crazy part? What if you showed up for a funeral and the person in the casket is not the deadest person there? Because Grammy believed, and she lived. Whoever lives by believing will never die. So I ask again, do you believe? The offer Jesus makes is as true today as it was two thousand years ago. The offer Jesus makes is as true today as it was when Grammy accepted it. The offer Jesus makes, still stands. Do you believe? Do you believe that Jesus and God are not thieves who come to steal away things and people from us? Do you believe that Christ came to give life? And not just life abundantly? A life like my grandmother lived, filled with Joy and love and the blessing of family? Do you believe that God wants a life like that for you? Do you believe he died to forgive you of your sins, not only so you can be with Him when you die, but so that you can Live? I ask all this, because I don’t want anyone to leave this funeral deader than the person in the casket. Which is a tall order because my grandmother lived an amazing life. So one last time, do you believe?

If I Was There With You

If I had been there you’d be downright furious with me. We would have talked until the sun shone through your window, or until the RA busted me for being out past curfew. You think it’s rough what we did last night? Imagine if I’d been there. You’d be downright furious with me for spending hours with my new best friend and robbing her of precious sleep. I’d be giddy that you let me talk with you for hours. No, you’d only be mad that I kept you from sleep before an 8 am class. What would it have been like, if I was there with you?

If I was there with you we wouldn’t have laughed at you sliding from the chair. We might still have found our way rug-ward though. If so, it would have been received rather raucously with laughter. Your chair isn’t big enough for us to have started the night in. Oh we could squeeze into it, I can fit my chopstick of a body nearly anywhere, but it would have been intimate. Too intimate for the start of our shaded shenanigans. No, if I was there with you, we would have been on your couch. Perhaps we would have been back to back, the feeling of your freshly washed hair on my shoulder. Back to back you can feel every breath, the steady rise and fall of your partner’s chest. I wouldn’t just delight in the sound of your laughter, but the feeling of it as it radiates from within you into me warming my insides setting off explosions of glee in my mind. Sorry, that sentence got away from me. Instead of back to back, maybe your head would have found its way to my lap. Your head in my lap and my fingers running through that beautiful hair. Your beautiful hazel eyes looking up into mine. I wonder if that would have been before or after you got the grapes. I wonder if in person I’d be more or less the putty in those beautiful hands. I wonder if I’d still be feeding you grapes off the vine with your head in my lap. Actually. If I had you in my lap the answer would almost certainly be yes. Then again I wouldn’t know unless I was there with you.

If I was there with you would it have been as loud? Would our voices have shattered the stillness of that wacky Waco night? Would our laughter have rudely roused roommates restful respites? Or would our voices have been hushed, hardly heard whispers of our private thoughts? Would we have kept voices low? Oh, pretending to be considerate to your roommates, as we would be drawing near to hear the other speak? Drawing near to hear sincere speech spoken softly from heart to lips to ears to heart. Perhaps, though knowing us I doubt it, we would have cut out the ears. Maybe we would have spoken lips to lips. I doubt it, but I won’t know until I’m there with you. 

If I was there with you would we have stayed in all night? Would we wander Waco with one another? Would we have danced in the fountains in the darkness without a care in the world? Would we have found some place to loiter until light lit the Brazos, scattering sun skyward? Or would our legs have had us pacing your living room? 

Would your Writing Romeo have stood,

You think to leave you ‘lone for good?

 Would my Guitar Fret Juliet,

Have been in nervous pacing set?

Would our parental worries have set our steps far apart, or would we have stepped into each other? Would our parents fears and preconceptions have repulsed us? Do you think I’m so easily disturbed? I guess we won’t know since I wasn’t there.

If I was there with you would you have still called me yours? When you called me your penguin, I melted. I wonder if you still would have said that if I was in the room. Oh V, you and I dance perilously with our friendship. We toy with the possibilities of what we might become op and where we might go without a care. You play with my heart like a toy. Yet when you do so, it is so unlike most girls. They play with hearts as a mere fancy whim, it is to them but another passing thing. Yet when you do this, It feels as though my heart is your most precious plaything. As though if you were to break it, you would be devastated. I imagine, and hope, you would be like a small child rushing straight to your father to have it fixed. I wonder if dolls forget they are dolls, believing themselves more than what they are. If my heart is your plaything, please be careful. I beg you not to drop me when your fingers find the rough spots. I beg you not to throw me away when you encounter the chips, pocks, and scars there. I beg you not to cast me aside when you find my broken pieces. Those are from careless lovers, players who dropped my heart. If I was there would you still have called me yours?

When I’m there, will we talk about our secret? Will we discuss the thing we pretend wasn’t said? The thing that we refuse to forget. The thing we shared in heavy silence. The thing I wonder if we both secretly desired to hear. That thing. That terrifying thing that took terrific courage to say. Will we talk about when we were before each other with open hearts and found something wonderful? I don’t know what to do with what I now know, but I know I will have to figure it out. I will do that, when I’m there with you. 

By TKH Hamilton

Her and Romance 

I asked her if she’d ever written something. Some piece of music perhaps it was. Because I always fall for those girls. I asked her if she’d ever written for someone. Someone she maybe loved. That was what I was wondering. I asked her if she’d ever written a hard thing. Some “thing” she didn’t think “they” would like. I wonder who that person was. I asked her if she’d written something. 
Right now I’m writing something. It seems so obvious. It seems so ominous. Right now I’m not sure I want her to read it. It seems so personal. It seems so private. Right now I’m putting my heart out to the world. It sounds so wise and lofty. It seems so foolish and lowdown. Right now I’m writing something.
So here’s my heart. Look if you want to. Look away if you don’t. So here’s my heart for her. Feels like she’s the best thing. Feels like she’s the most dangerous. So here’s my heart in all this. Tastes like the sweetest poison. Tastes like the bitterest medicine. So here’s my heart. 
You see, for me romance is a drug. She is my drug and my entanglement. The feeling she gives when you, I mean her, I mean she, reads my work is a high. The poetry and stories I breathe for you, no her, are my clouds of exhaling smoke. Her touch makes my mind melt. You speak and it monopolizes my mind. I am tied down by you. Held down by you. I am a junkie and you are my supplier. You see for me romance is a drug. 
You. I don’t want you to have that much power. I don’t want to be your genie in a lap. Bound down by the urge and entangled in the chains. You. I want to be what you see. Free and wrapped in Dad’s armor. You. I don’t think you mean it. It isn’t in you to destroy me so thoroughly. You. 
It never was your fault. This is way older than us. Way deeper than any part of me you’ve seen. Honestly deeper than anything they’ve seen. I don’t know what you’d find if you peeled away my layers. The layers of good and bad. Would you find a layer that is the source of corruption? Would you encounter a layer of slime on a heart of gold? The layer of gunk that distorts my ability to love. Or would you peel to my core and find it rotten. That it can’t be repaired. That for me, romance will always corrupt me. That for me, there is no real ability to have healthy relationships. Would you bother to look? Now that you know this. Now that you’ve seen this? Should I let you? 

By TKH Hamilton

Ten Things I Don’t Believe 

I don’t believe that there is Nothing with a capital N, that there is nothing beyond what we experience.
I don’t believe hate is better than love, but that love drives out fear.
I don’t believe an unbreakable heart is a good thing to have
I don’t believe that we are without purpose
I don’t believe that compassion is weakness
I don’t believe we were made to be alone
I don’t believe the new way is always better, or that popular is always right.
I don’t believe our past defines our future
I don’t believe anyone is beyond the reach of grace
I don’t believe that God doesn’t love you

By TKH Hamilton 

Penumbra: Trap (part one of two)

Cap was pissed. Orange knew better than to get involved in something like this. She looked at Clark lying on the infirmary bed and at Julia sitting next to him. She was wrapping his wounds on his arm.
“What purpose does that suit have?” Cap asked to the three of them.
“It could, theoretically, bring down a class five nightmare.” Clark groaned. 
“Class four is theoretical.” Cap waved her hand. She looked at the baffled Julia and smiled. “The dreadnought you fought, the whale with tentacles, was a class two nightmare. Those occur naturally when an entire household’s fears come together. A class four would be if all the fears of everyone in the state of California coalesced into a single nightmare beast. There are no natural bonding agents powerful enough for one of those to form.”
“Naturally? What about artificially?” Julia asked. 
“As I said a class four is theoretical. Some artificial bonding agent or some global event acting as a catalyst could create something unlike anything we have seen before.” Cap looked at Orange. “Why didn’t Ipsilon say anything? How did he pull it past him?” Orange only shook her head. 
“I’m the wrong person to ask Cap. If you asked me how strong or fast it was I could tell you.” Orange stood up straight and began to talk faster. “He was running at half, he seemed slow and bulky and he didn’t fight like he usually does.” Orange added excitedly, Clark groaned and she paused. Her speech slowed as she told the Captain: “I don’t think he meant to hurt Clark at all. But why he did it? I got nothin’ Cap. I still don’t know how Green got past me.” Cap just nodded. She tapped her foot impatiently. Her eyes closed and teeth clenched tight. A buzz came from her pocket and she pulled a cell phone out. She frowned at the message. 
“Agent Orange and Agent Shepherd report to the hangar for deployment. I’ve received a potential alert level three on the south end of town, I’m sending Σ and Ipsilon as well. I’ll deal with this mess later.”

By TKH Hamilton