Sunday, August 30, 2009

Crazy Weather

Annie shook her head at Ryan as he stared out the window, waiting for the delivery truck to arrive. He had received a letter from the Romoskovian government informing him that they were sending him a special gift as a thank you for saving their country from General Evil and his robot army.

"Is that a delivery truck?" asked Ryan

"No, that's a moving van." said Annie "Why don't you just go for a walk with Sawyer or something. You've been staring out this window for days."

"It's not everyday that a foreign government sends you a gift." said Ryan as he continued to watch for the delivery truck.

"There! That's it right there!" exclaimed Ryan as he ran outside while Annie followed. The two drivers of the semi-truck pulled up next to their house and began unloading a huge wooden crate.

"Where do you want it?" asked the driver

"Wow, it's huge!" exclaimed Ryan "Um, go ahead and put it in the driveway I guess. What is it?"

"I have no idea, but it weighs a ton" said the driver as he lowered the crate and moved it onto Ryan's driveway with a hydraulic hand cart.

Sawyer peaked his head around the corner of the house to investigate the noise.

"Just sign here and initial here and here." said the other driver

Ryan signed the paperwork and thanked the drivers as they drove away.

"I'm going to Starbucks." said Annie "Have fun with your box."

Ryan got a crowbar from the garage and started to break open the box. Inside, they found a 1969 Chevy Malibu in dire need of restoration.

"Cool!" said Ryan and Sawyer as they high-fived each other.

Ryan and Sawyer pushed the car into the garage and closed the door. They wanted to start fixing it up right away, so they jumped in their truck and headed to the store to buy parts and tools. Ryan had to stop at a bank first to get some cash, so Sawyer waited in the truck while Ryan went inside. Sawyer watched as Ryan went inside, then he looked around to make sure no one was watching. Once he was sure there were no witnesses, he put a CD into the stereo, closed his eyes and sat back in his chair with a smile while he sang along out-loud. 'Oh, see that girl! Watch that scene! Diggin' the dancing queen!' Just then, Ryan opened the truck door, startling Sawyer.

"What are you doing!?" demanded Sawyer

"I forgot my wallet. What are YOU doing?" asked Ryan

"I... I was... Just take your wallet and get out of here!" said Sawyer with a growl

Ryan grabbed his wallet and gave Sawyer a look, then went back into the bank. Once inside, he got in line behind a woman wearing a thick coat and a knit hat. It seemed unusual since it wasn't really that cold out.

"Anticipating a blizzard?" asked Ryan

"Something like that." said the woman

Once it was her turn, the woman in the coat walked up to the teller and handed her a piece of paper. The teller read the note, then looked up in shock and surprise. The woman in the coat said nothing. She just stood there waiting for the teller to do whatever was on the note. In a rush of panic, the teller hit an alarm and dropped to the floor. In an instant, the woman in the coat pulled two very strange looking weapons from her coat and pointed them into the air. She pulled the triggers on both, but nothing happened. Suddenly, the temperature in the room began to drop and small clouds covered the ceiling of the bank. Snow began to fall and winds blew from nowhere. It was as if she had created a blizzard in the bank. Everyone started to shiver and shake uncontrollably. A security guard tried to get his gun and fire it, but the woman pointed one of the weapons at him and pulled the trigger, causing a bolt of lighting from the cloud to strike him. He slumped over and didn't move.

"As long as there are no more heroes amongst you, there will be no more harm." said the woman "My name is Terra Steel, but you will refer to me as Elementis!"

"That is the dumbest name I have ever heard in my life." Ryan thought to himself

The bank tellers worked as fast as they could in the freezing conditions. They filled a duffel bag with money, then handed it back to Elementis. She made her way to the door, then stopped. The police had surrounded the building already.

"Looks like you're all hostages now." said Elementis "Get the police on the phone." she commanded one of the tellers

Ryan looked around and saw that everyone was freezing just as bad as he was. He preferred cold weather, but this was a bit much considering he was dressed for summer.

"Excuse me, Weather Lady?" said Ryan

"Elementis!" she shouted back, pointing one of the weapons at Ryan.

"Right, Elementis... do you mind turning the AC down a bit? It's pretty chilly in here. Unless you want all of your hostages to freeze to death before you can negotiate." said Ryan

Elementis thought for a moment, then agreed. "Very well." she said as she flipped a switch on the weapon and pulled the trigger. The snow stopped, but the cloud stayed. Then it started to rain.

"There." she said "Now you won't freeze to death."

"Wow, thanks." Ryan thought "This is way better."

"Uh... Elementis?" said a bank teller.

"What is it now?" Elementis snapped.

"The police are on the phone. They want to know your demands." said the bank teller

Elementis took the phone and started negotiating with the police.

"I want all of the police to back up about 200 yards." said Elementis "I'm willing to release a few hostages in exchange."

She listened to the officers reply for a moment then shot back:

"All of them? No. No chance. I will give you all but one, but if you don't back away within 10 minutes of the last hostage being released, I'll kill him." she said.

Elementis listened to the officer for a minute, then said:

"I already know who's staying behind." she stared at Ryan then turned her back to him.

"Aw, crap..." thought Ryan

Elementis handed Ryan the phone. "They want to talk to you." she said

"Hello?" said Ryan

"Hello, this is Officer Culver. I understand that the woman holding you hostage chose you to stay behind. What's your name?"

"Well, Officer Culver, since the crazy chick who took us hostage is standing right next to me and she can control lightning, I think I'll remain Anonymous. Just call me 'Leo'." said Ryan

"Okay, Leo, here's the deal. She says she'll release everyone if you agree to stay behind. This could be very dangerous for you since she has also stated that she will kill you if we don't back away."

"Yeah, I caught that part." said Ryan

"Now, I can't promise that we'll be able to back away like she asked because that's against procedure." explained Officer Culver

"So..." said Ryan

"So we're hoping she's bluffing." said the officer

Ryan put his face in his palm and thought for a minute, then talked to the officer again.

"Fine. I'll do it. But I have a demand of my own." he said as he looked at Elementis "When the hostages leave, I want my dog in here. He's in my truck in the parking lot."

Elementis grabbed the phone from Ryan.

"No! No dogs!" she exclaimed

"He's just a Lab. A nice dog who would never attack anyone. I just want some company before you do something crazy." said Ryan

Elementis thought about her options for a moment, then agreed.

"Send in the dog." she said

* * * * *

After all the hostages were cleared from the bank, Sawyer was let inside. He glanced around the room, found Ryan and trotted over to him.

"Good to see you, bud." said Ryan as he gave Sawyer a pat on the back.

"You say this lady can control the weather with her weapons?" Sawyer whispered

"Yeah, so be careful." said Ryan

Elementis walked over and checked her watch. "9 minutes left and the police have yet to move. Time to make our way to the roof." she said

"Why the roof? There's still time." said Ryan

"Whether they leave or not does not matter. I'll be escaping from the roof." said Elementis

Elementis led them up the stairs to the roof of the building. She had ordered Ryan to bring a chair which she sat down on and waited, occasionally checking her watch.

"So, you're the type of girl who would prefer to talk about the weather?" asked Ryan

"Shut up." said Elementis

"No. I have less than 10 minutes to live and I have questions I want answered." said Ryan as Sawyer stood and started walking to the edge of the building.

"Where is he going?" demanded Elementis

"He just has to take a leak." said Ryan "Now, how do those weapons work? Can you make any storm you want?"

"Yes." said Elementis "Extreme heat or cold. Snow, hail, rain or anything else."

Ryan had her full attention now as Sawyer circled around behind their captor.

"Hurricanes? Tornadoes?" asked Ryan

"Not with these little ones, but I have more powerful ones elsewhere." said Elementis "Sadly, I cannot let you go with this much knowledge. Goodbye, Leo."

Elementis pointed a weapon at Ryan, flipped a switch and pulled the trigger. A dark cloud formed over the bank as thunder rumbled around them. The thunder was loud enough that Elementis did not hear Sawyer charging her until the last minute. Sawyer bit her arm just as she commanded a lightning bolt to strike! The bolt hit the building, but missed it's target. Ryan ran to help Sawyer who was struggling to make Elementis drop the weapon. She kicked Sawyer, causing him to lose his grip of her arm. She pointed the weapon at Sawyer, but Ryan ran into her knocking it free from her hand. Elementis quickly regained herself and ran towards the dropped weapon as she took off her coat, revealing a parachute. In one quick motion, she picked up the weapon, flipped a switch and pulled the trigger, causing a powerful gust of wind to pick her up. The police could see her in the air from across the street and tried to take action.

"That's the suspect!" said Officer Culver "Take the shot if you have it." he said over his radio.

Elementis pointed both weapons towards Ryan and Sawyer, but was surprised when a bullet whistled past her. She saw the police firing shots at her and aimed a weapon in their direction, flipped a switch and fired it. A thick fog settled around the bank.

"Hold your fire!" yelled Officer Culver "You might hit a hostage."

Elementis lowered herself to the roof top and grabbed the duffel bag of money. She lifted herself back into the sky and pointed a weapon at Ryan and Sawyer.

"Let's get out of here!" yelled Sawyer over the howling winds and thunder.

"The door! Use the door!" said Ryan as they ran for the door they came out of.

"It's locked!" said Sawyer as he frantically struggled to open the door.

"We gotta jump! Come on!" yelled Ryan as they ran for the edge of the building.

Bolts of lightning slammed into the ground behind them, destroying antennas and satellite dishes as they sprinted to safety. They jumped off of the two story building without hesitation and landed on the ground, rolling into a heap. Elementis started to follow them, but the sounds of a helicopter in the distance made her reconsider. A gust of wind carried her off into the distance.

* * * * *

Officer Culver found Ryan and Sawyer after the fog cleared. Other than a few scrapes and bruises, they were uninjured by their fall.

"She got away with the money." said Ryan

"Don't worry about that." said Officer Culver

"I'm not, I just think she has something else planned. Something a lot bigger than a bank robbery." said Ryan

"Why do you think that?" asked Culver

"She said she had more of those weapons. Stronger ones." said Ryan

After Ryan had finished talking to the police, he and Sawyer went home without any car parts. When they returned home, they found Annie waiting for them inside.

"I heard what happened while I was at Starbucks. Are you guys OK?" asked Annie

"Yeah, but I think I caught a cold." said Ryan

"Do you think that Terra Steel will be back?" asked Annie

"I don't know." said Ryan "I guess that will be a story for another time."

Friday, August 21, 2009

Boiling Hatred

Ryan sat on the couch nervously biting his thumbnail. The news was reporting that it had been 2 weeks since Dr. Apocalypse had escaped from his maximum security mental institution. Surely he would come after Ryan and Sawyer. After all, if not for them, Apocalypse would have succeeded in his plot to take over the world. Not only that, but he also knew about Sawyer. If he was willing to kill for Ryan's hockey stick, what would he do to acquire a dog as special as Sawyer. Ryan looked at his pet who was also watching the report.

"What do you think?" asked Ryan

"I think we need to find him before he finds us." said Sawyer

"Find him? Why?" said Ryan "Whatever he's doing, that's up to the police to handle. Let them find him."

"And if they don't? What if he's scheming to take over the world again? What if he's planning to get revenge on us?" asked Sawyer

Ryan thought for a minute then answered:

"OK, so where would we even start to look for him?" asked Ryan "Surely he wouldn't go back to his abandoned warehouse and the police have checked all the other abandoned buildings and found nothing."

"Exactly." said Sawyer "He isn't hiding in the shadows, he's hiding in plain sight."

"As in..." Ryan's voice trailed off.

"As in, he's probably underground or in an unused space in the mall. He has to be right in front of us. We just need to check those places first." explained Sawyer

Ryan and Sawyer went to work on the internet searching for the floor plans of different buildings in the area. After a few hours of searching, they got a lead.

"Here's something." said Sawyer "The mall has an elevator that goes into the basement, but only if you enter a special code."

"So he hacked it?" asked Ryan

"No, I don't think it can be hacked. It's kind of old looking." said Sawyer

"Well, who has the code?" asked Ryan

"It looks like only mall security has access to the code." said Sawyer

"Try to find out if the mall hired any new security guards since the good doctor escaped." said Ryan

Sawyer typed and clicked for a few minutes then found what they were looking for.

"There!" said Sawyer as he pointed his paw at the screen. "Recognize that guy?"

"Yup. That's one of Dr. Apocalypse's henchmen. The one who tried to clean up after you. Looks like we found our hideout." said Ryan

Ryan and Sawyer got into their truck and drove to the mall. Ryan had made a few improvements to his shotgun, so he was now able to hide it under his hooded sweatshirt. Sawyer hid his AK-47 that he had gotten after their encounter with Alex and Tressa in his back pack. The two walked to the mall entrance but were confronted by a security guard.

"Be cool." Ryan whispered to Sawyer

"Hold it." said the mall security guard "You can't bring that dog in here."

"We're here to get our picture taken. The photo store said they'd do it. We called ahead." said Ryan

The guard looked down at Sawyer and frowned. "Fine, but keep him on a leash and if he makes a mess, you'll be fined for littering." said the guard

Sawyer wanted to bite the guards leg off, but just wagged his tale and pretended to be ignorant. Ryan put a leash on Sawyer and led him inside.

"This is so humiliating." said Sawyer under his breath.

"Just be cool. It was your idea to come here in the first place." said Ryan "Now keep your eyes peeled. We need to find a way downstairs."

The two walked in the direction of the photo store while trying to find a way downstairs.

"Hey, there's our ticket." said Ryan as he motioned towards a security guard standing alone by the food court. He was eating a doughnut and didn't seem very interested in guarding anything.

"That's the guy on the computer. Dr. Apocalypse's guy." said Sawyer

Ryan walked up behind him and pressed the muzzle of his shotgun up against his back.

"Hey, chump. Remember me?" said Ryan as he startled the guard. "Now, don't make me make a mess of you in front of all these nice shoppers. Just bring us downstairs and we can have a nice talk."

"I don't know what you're talking about." said the guard

Ryan clicked the safety off of his shotgun and pressed it into the guards back a little harder.

"Take us to the elevator." said Ryan

The guard looked down at Sawyer, who was baring his teeth at him.

"If you insist." said the guard as he started off towards the elevator

They entered the elevator and descended into the basement of the mall. Once out of sight, Ryan and Sawyer took their weapons out.

"He isn't going to be happy to see you." said the guard. "I suggest y--"

Sawyer knocked the guard out with the butt of his weapon and began securing him with a roll of duct tape. The basement was dimly lit and dusty. It was obvious that very few people knew about this place and even fewer ever came down here. The room they were in was about half the size of the mall itself and was full of boxes and shelves.

"He must be down here somewhere." said Ryan "Let's check it out."

They walked together along the wall of the basement, checking down the many aisles of shelves and stacked boxes. Sawyer stopped and put his nose to the air.

"It smells like something is burning." said Sawyer "Not a fire, but like a boiling liquid."

Just then, the lights turned on and out stepped Dr. Apocalypse. He was wearing a pair of tinted goggles with a few small green lights that blinked on and off.

"I'm so glad you two could make it!" said Apocalypse "I've been waiting here forever, wondering if you two were brave enough to face me again."

"Yes, we are." said Ryan as he raised his shotgun. "And now it's time to put an end to whatever your scheme is."

"Scheme? I'm shocked that you would think I would plot against the world a second time." said Apocalypse "No, I am turning over a new leaf. No longer will I dedicate my incredible brain power to taking over the world. Until further notice, I have only one goal in mind."

"And what's that?" said Ryan

"Revenge, of course." said Dr. Apocalypse

Just then, Ryan felt a gun pointed against the back of his head. It was another of Apocalypse's guards. He had also freed the other guard who did not seem to happy about the bruise he had gotten from Sawyer.

"I suggest you drop your weapons and do as we say." said Dr. Apocalypse

Ryan and Sawyer placed their weapons on the ground and put their hands and paws into the air. Ryan was tied up and hung upside down by a pulley on the ceiling of the basement. Sawyer was handcuffed and placed in a chair next to Dr. Apocalypse.

"Turn that frown upside down." mocked Dr. Apocalypse "Do you know why I wear these goggles?" he asked

"Save it." said Ryan

Dr. Apocalypse ignored him and began to explain the purpose of the goggles.

"After you foiled my plans last time, I was left in a coma for two months. Once I awoke, I found that I was blind. Later, it was revealed that I was not exactly blind, but my eyes were actually gathering every last bit of light in the room, causing me to only see white. Once all light is removed from the room, I see pitch black. So, I constructed these goggles. They adjust to the light in the room and allow me to see no matter how dark or light it is." explained Dr. Apocalypse

"You know, they've been making glasses like that for years and they don't look as retarded as yours." said Ryan

"Shut up, fool!" said Apocalypse "I have grown weary of your remarks. It is time to say goodbye to this world. Your beast will watch you die, then he will follow your fate."

The pulley that held Ryan upside down began to move towards a huge box in the middle of the room. The guards hurried over to remove the box, revealing a cauldron of boiling acid. The pulley stopped Ryan just above the acid and slowly began to lower him down. Panicking, Ryan began to swing from side to side.

"There's no hope, fool. Just give in." laughed Dr. Apocalypse

Sawyer frantically looked for a way to help his friend. His gun was just a few feet away, but unless he could free himself from his cuffs, he couldn't use it. Ryan was halfway to the acid when Sawyer strained to pull one of his paws free. With a howl of pain, he ripped his right paw free, losing fur and skin in the process. Dr. Apocalypse was stunned by the howl, but quickly recovered to try to tackle the animal. Sawyer was too fast though and grabbed the machine gun, racked a round into the chamber and pointed it at the doctor's head. Sawyer yelled to the guards to stop lowering Ryan into the acid, but all they heard was an angry bark.

"Drop him now!" cried Dr. Apocalypse

The guard controlling the pulley hit the release button. Ryan swung the pulley as hard as he could. Sawyer turned towards him and fired a burst at Ryan's rope, causing the guards to dive for cover. One of the bullets hit Ryan's rope, breaking it. Ryan fell, hitting the rim of the cauldron and landing in a thud on the floor. Ryan crawled for cover as Sawyer took the doctor hostage. Once he was behind the boxes, Ryan shook himself free of his ropes. Sawyer threw him his shotgun and took the doctor towards Ryan. The guards peaked their heads over their cover. Ryan fired a warning shot, but instead of ducking back down, the guards opened fire.

"Sawyer, try to cover me!" said Ryan as he crouched down and started moving to the sides of the guards. Sawyer fired his machine gun towards the guards. They ducked this time so Ryan made his move. He got behind the first guard and knocked him out with the butt of his shotgun. "I can't believe that works every time." said Ryan under his breath as he moved on to the next guard. He snuck up behind him and pressed the gun against his head. The guard froze and dropped his weapon. Ryan ordered him to carry the other guard to where Sawyer was waiting with Dr. Apocalypse.

"You lose again, Doc." said Ryan with a smirk

Dr. Apocalypse snarled back and cried out in anger.

"Not again!" he yelled as he grabbed Sawyer's machine gun and ran for the elevator. He turned to fire it, but the stock and grip had been modified for Sawyer's paws. Unable to fire it, he threw it down and ran.

"Hold it!" yelled Ryan

Dr. Apocalypse ignored him and kept running. Ryan blasted two rounds into the side of the cauldron, causing the acid to leak out, blocking Dr. Apocalypse's escape. Apocalypse hesitated for a moment, then tried to run through the puddle that had formed. Seeing that the puddle would not slow him enough, Ryan aimed his shotgun at Dr. Apocalypse's legs and pulled the trigger. The evil scientist fell face first into the puddle. He immediately jumped back up, screaming in pain as he dove for dry ground.

* * * * *

By the time the police and ambulance arrived, Dr. Apocalypse had been burned very badly. Ryan explained what had happened to the police who thanked him for finding the escaped mental patient. They took the two guards into custody and escorted Ryan and Sawyer back to the main floor of the mall.

When they got back home, Ryan found a note on the table.

Gone to Starbucks. Be back later. -Annie

"Dr. Apocalypse survived his burns." said Sawyer

"Yeah. He's probably really ticked off at us now." said Ryan

"Do you think we've heard the last of him?" asked Sawyer

"I don't know." said Ryan "I guess that will be a story for another time."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Cats and Dogs

Ryan stopped to take a breath. He and Sawyer were in the mountains again, but this time it was the Cascades of Washington and the thin air was slowing him down. They were headed to a small lake in the mountains that they had been told was full of trout.

"According to the map, we're just a quarter mile away." said Sawyer. "Let's keep going. We want to catch a few for dinner before the sun goes down."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." said Ryan as he started walking. "Not everyone has four legs you know..."

They made it to the lake a short time later and sure enough, it was loaded with hungry trout. Sawyer dropped his pack and pulled out his fishing pole as Ryan started putting their tent up.

"Hey Ryan! First cast!" exclaimed Sawyer as he reeled in a beautiful rainbow trout.

"Nice." said Ryan. "Oh and don't worry about the tent. I'll just do it myself." he added with a hint of sarcasm.

Sawyer just smiled and cast his lure back into the lake. By the time Ryan finished with the tent and started a fire, Sawyer had caught plenty of fish for the evening. The sun was setting behind the trees while they finished their dinner and climbed into their sleeping bags. Despite the exhausting hike, the two friends were wide awake with anticipation for the next days fishing.

"There's so many fish in that lake!" said Sawyer. "I can't believe there aren't more people here fishing."

"I know." said Ryan. "The hike was rough, but so worth it. I assumed there would be competition."

"It's almost as if we're not supposed to be here." said Sawyer

"Maybe they're all afraid of Sasquatch." said Ryan

"That's not real." said Sawyer as he rolled his eyes.

"Neither are dogs that can stand up and talk." said Ryan

After an hour or so of chatting, Ryan and Sawyer fell asleep to the sounds of the mountain night.

When they awoke, they immediately started casting their lures in search of breakfast. Then Ryan spotted something across the lake.

"Sawyer, check that out." said Ryan as he pointed across the lake. "Is that a mountain lion?"

"Yeah, it is." said Sawyer. "I wonder if it saw us."

The mountain lion waded into the lake, swatted at the water, then pulled out a trout and made it's way back into the forest.

"Maybe it has cubs." said Ryan

"It's back again, be still." said Sawyer as the two ducked behind some brush. Too late. The mountain lion saw them move and darted back into the forest.

"I sure hope it doesn't come back this way." said Ryan

"Well, it seemed pretty scared..." said Sawyer. "Let's just get back to fishing."

The two friends started fishing again, but not until Ryan got his shotgun from his pack. Just in case. Suddenly, a shot rang out from across the lake and the pan Ryan had been using to cook breakfast was hit by a bullet!

"Whoa! What the heck? Someones shooting at us!" yelled Ryan as he and Sawyer dove for cover. Ryan tried to yell across the lake.

"Hey! What the heck is the matter with you? We're fishing!" Ryan yelled. Then, a burst from a machine gun rang out as five bullets struck the log Ryan and Sawyer were hiding behind.

"That sounded familiar. AK-47." said Ryan

"How can you tell?" asked Sawyer.

"It has a 'ratta-tat-tat' sound to it." he replied.

Sawyer tried to peak over the log when another burst hit their cover. Ryan was able to see where the shots were coming from.

"That's it! Sawyer, get ready to make a break for the trees behind us." Ryan said as he loaded a handful of slugs into his shotgun. "On '3'. 1, 2..." Sawyer tensed his muscles and prepared to make a dash for the trees. "3!" Ryan jumped up and started blasting his shotgun where the shooting had come from. Sawyer sprinted towards the trees as Ryan fired and ran with him. Ryan emptied the shotgun, then turned to run for the trees just as another burst of fire rang out behind him. The shots impacted the ground behind them as they ran.

"Go! Go! Go!" yelled Ryan. They both dove into the trees and crawled on their bellies as more bullets passed over them.

"What is that guys problem!?" exclaimed Sawyer after the machine gun finally went silent.

"I don't know." said Ryan "But I'm beginning to understand why we're the only ones here."

Ryan and Sawyer stayed in the woods and watched their camp. After a few minutes, a man with an AK-47 cautiously made his way into view. He walked into their camp and started destroying it. He pulled out a knife and made a huge gash in the side of their tent. Then, he pulled out their sleeping bags and threw them into the camp fire.

"What a jerk!" whispered Sawyer. "We need to stop him!"

"It's not worth the risk, Sawyer." said Ryan. "Let's just wait it out and-" Ryan stopped short when he saw the man pick up his favorite fishing pole. The stranger put the rod up against a tree and stomped on it, breaking it in half.

"He's mine!" said Ryan as he reloaded his shotgun. Then, without any warning, a gun clicked behind them.

"Don't move." said a female voice.

"Whoa, look lady..." said Sawyer. "That guy is trashing our camp. He shot at us."

Ryan and Sawyer both turned to look at their captor and their eyes opened wide. Standing there with a pistol pointed at them was the mountain lion they had seen earlier.

"Don't look so surprised." said the mountain lion as she glared at Sawyer. "Did you think that you were the only animal on earth that was special?"

Sawyer shrugged.

"Start walking." The mountain lion led them back to their camp where the stranger was waiting for them.

"Here are the intruders." said the mountain lion as she handed her gun to the stranger.

"Well done, Tressa." said the man as he put the gun away. He took his AK-47 and pointed it at Ryan. "You and your dog are not welcome here. This is my home and you are trespassers."

"Look man, I had no idea this lake belonged to anyone. I saw it on the map and thought it would be fun to fish here. I was told that it's stocked every year." explained Ryan.

"Well you chose the wrong lake to fish in." said the man as he aimed his weapon.

"Whoa! Hold on!" yelled Ryan.

"Alex..." said Tressa. "It would be better if they walked on their own rather than us drag them."

"You're right." said Alex with a laugh. "Alright you two, get moving."

"Where are you taking us?" asked Sawyer

"I said get moving!" snapped Alex

Ryan and Sawyer were led away from their camp. Ryan studied Alex as they walked. He was an older man, probably 50-60 years old. He knew his way around the woods, but his aim with his weapon was lacking. Ryan was sure he could handle him easily if he had the chance. His pet, Tressa, was a different story. He'd have to try to separate them and take her by surprise. Their captors had marched them through the forest for almost an hour when they approached a shack. It was extremely old and in need of repair.

"Cozy." said Ryan. "Are you the master craftsman behind this?"

"Shut it." snapped Alex.

He led them inside and directed them to sit at his table.

"Before I kill you two trespassers, I figured I'd tell you a bit about myself and why I feel the need to kill you." said Alex.

"How kind." said Sawyer, sarcastically.

"My name is Alex Johnson and I've lived in these woods since I was 18 years old. I have lived alone for the most part, but 5 years ago, I met Tressa. She was wounded by a poacher so I took her in until she was healthy. During this time, I noticed that she and I were able to understand each other. Much like you and your dog. I like my way of life and will do anything to protect it. Poachers, hunters and hippies all threaten my way of life to one degree or another. I don't like hurting animals, but people, I have no problem." said Alex.

"If you don't like hurting animals, let Sawyer go." said Ryan

"Well, I don't like hurting animals, but Tressa over there isn't a fan of dogs." said Alex with a laugh.

Tressa snarled at Sawyer. Sawyer growled back. The two animals were pretty even in size, but Tressa had claws. Ryan wasn't sure how Sawyer would do in a struggle against Tressa, but he knew he wouldn't back down. Alex stood and motioned for Ryan and Sawyer to step outside.

"This isn't necessary." said Ryan. "Just let us go."

"Yes it is. You shouldn't have come here." said Alex as he pointed his weapon at Ryan. He was just about to pull the trigger when another animal roared less than 20 yards away from them! It was a grizzly bear and it was running towards them!

"Tressa!" yelled Alex in fear. Tressa roared back at the bear as she stood her ground. Alex swung his weapon towards the bear and pulled the trigger. The gun clicked, but didn't fire. The old mountain man had forgotten to reload since earlier that morning. Ryan took advantage of the opportunity and punched Alex in the jaw as he frantically searched for his pistol.

"You owe me a fishing pole." said Ryan

Alex fell to the ground in a heap. Sawyer ran inside the shack and grabbed Ryan's shotgun as Ryan picked up Alex's rifle and pistol. The two friends turned to run away while Tressa fought the bear.

"Help!" cried Tressa. The bear had swatted her and broken her ribs. She was helpless and would certainly be killed, along with Alex. Sawyer pointed the shotgun in the air and fired, startling the bear and causing it to run off into the woods. Sawyer pointed the gun at Tressa, but didn't shoot.

"We could have left you to die." said Sawyer. "Don't cross us again." he warned

* * * * *

Ryan and Sawyer made it back to their truck just before the sun went down. Ryan informed the Forest Ranger of the man who shot at them and destroyed their camp. The next morning, Ryan and Sawyer led the Forest Ranger to the shack. Alex and Tressa were gone and the shack was empty.

Ryan called Annie to let her know what had happened and that he and Sawyer would be home early.

"Yeah, we'll be on the next flight out of here." said Ryan

"Alright. Well, I'm just on my way to Starbucks so I should get going." said Annie "Oh, by the way. What do you think happened to that Alex guy?"

"I don't know." said Ryan "I guess that will be a story for another time."

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Ryan and Sawyer were hiking back to their cabin. They were deep inside the Fagaras Mountains in Romoskovia. Annie had taken the day to visit relatives and Ryan had no interest in joining her. Instead, he chose to take a hike with his pet. Ryan liked the outdoors adventures the country had to offer, but was not a fan of the city. If he wanted to walk around a town where he was surrounded by people who didn’t speak English, he’d just go to Houston. The two friends were about half way home when Sawyer noticed smoke rising from behind a hill to his left.

“Hey Ryan, look.” said Sawyer as he pointed towards the smoke. “We had better check that out.” Ryan agreed and the two made their way over to the hill. They were surprised when they found a pile of rocks surrounding a small smoke stack. Whoever put that smoke stack there was trying their best to keep it unnoticed.

“This is strange.” said Ryan “We had better get back to the cabin and notify the police.”

Ryan called the Romoskovian authorities as soon as they got back. Annie wasn’t home yet so Ryan had to make the call.

“Here goes nothing.” said Ryan as he dialed the number. “Hello? English? Anyone there speak English?” The officer on the other end of the line rang off a bunch of words that Ryan couldn’t understand. “Sawyer, how do you say ‘There’s a smoke stack in the mountains that I think you should check out.’?” asked Ryan as he covered the phone with his hand. Sawyer gave Ryan a dumbfounded look and shrugged his shoulders. Ryan hung up the phone.

“OK, we’ll just check it out ourselves. I’m sure it’s nothing.” said Ryan

There wasn’t much time left before dark, but they were sure they could make it to the smoke stack, investigate it, and get back to the cabin before the sun went down. When they made it to the smoke stack, they saw that it was no longer billowing smoke. Ryan took out his flashlight and shined it down the hole.

“Looks like it goes down quite a ways.” said Ryan as he and Sawyer stared down the hole.

"Well, other than being below ground, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with this smoke stack. We might as well go.” said Sawyer

Just then, they heard the sound of a large metal door open and what they thought was marching. It was coming from the other side of the hill. They made their way to the top and watched as about a dozen robots made their way through the door and inside the hill. The door slammed behind the squad of robots as Ryan and Sawyer turned to look at each other in disbelief.

“Why do you and Annie keep taking vacations here?” asked Sawyer.

Suddenly, they heard steps approaching them from behind. They spun and looked up in horror as one of the robots stood over them and pointed its weapon at them.

“Stand and follow.” said the robot.

Ryan and Sawyer quickly obeyed their captor and followed as it led them inside the hill. Once the door closed behind them, they stepped into an elevator that seemed to take them down a long ways before finally stopping. The elevator stopped and the door opened. Ryan and Sawyer were shocked at the size of the room and the contents. There were thousands of these robots lined up side by side in the room. They were in squads of twelve, two rows of six robots. Some of the squads were dark green, others were tan, gray and a few were white. Each squad of robots had another slightly larger robot in front of them. Other than the slight size difference, they also had two stripes around their arms and legs. Almost as if they were a different rank. They stood motionless, resting… or waiting.

Their robot escort approached one of the larger robots. The larger robot activated once their escort was within a few feet away.

“Prisoners.” said the robot captor.

“Affirmative.” said the larger robot.

The smaller robot stood next to the others in his squad and deactivated himself.

“Follow me. You will meet the General and he will decide your fate.” said the larger robot. It seemed to have a higher vocabulary. Perhaps they were programmed to be more intelligent than the others. Ryan looked up as they walked and noticed a room with tinted windows. It overlooked the entire room and Ryan assumed that they would meet the general there.

They were led into another elevator which took them up a short distance. Once it opened, they stepped into the room with tinted windows. There, they saw a man in a strange uniform overlooking a map of Romoskovia.

“General, we have prisoners. They were outside the compound.” said the robot.

“Thank you, sergeant. Leave them here. That is all.” said the general without even looking up from the map. “Sit there.” said the general, pointing towards a chair in the middle of the room. “The dog stays on the floor.” Sawyer was insulted, but he kept his cool.

“I am General Evil.” said the general as he turned his attention to his prisoners.

“Why are we prisoners?” asked Ryan. “We are no threat to you and your… toys.”

The general laughed. “Of course you’re not. But you would no doubt tell the authorities and my campaign would lose the element of surprise.”

“What campaign?” asked Ryan.

General Evil sighed. “I am currently employed by a rival to this country. My job is to conquer it in their name. Once I do this, I will be paid and I will leave.”

“Who hired you?” demanded Ryan.

“I will not say.” said the general.

“What will happen to the civilians during your campaign.” asked Ryan.

“Many will die, no doubt. Too bad their government did not bid higher.” said the general with a laugh.

Ryan was outraged. He had to stop this maniac. Annie was out there and could get hurt if the war started when she was there. Ryan needed to know more about these robots. Maybe there was a weakness or a trick to defeating them. Ryan stood from his chair and looked out the tinted window.

“What are those?” asked Ryan, pointing at the robots.

“Those are my Annihilators, my massive robot army.” said General Evil. “It’s the perfect army, in fact. Those smaller robots are soldiers. They know only destruction and obedience. The larger of the robots are my sergeants. They only answer to me. I tell them what to do and they use the soldiers to get it done. No complaints, no objections, just results. The perfect army.”

“And the robots themselves?” asked Ryan.

“Each Annihilator, soldier and sergeant alike, has its own arsenal. Its right arm is a machinegun and it’s left arm a rocket launcher. Once it begins combat, spikes around their ankles latch into the ground, anchoring the robot and preventing it from being knocked over.” explained the general.

“They don’t seem to be invincible.” said Ryan

“They are not.” admitted General Evil. “But they do not require sleep and they do not eat. Basically, they fight without stopping until the battle is won.”

Sawyer tried to put his paws on a nearby chair so he could see out the window. General Evil kicked the chair out from under him and spat.

“Get your filthy paws off of my furniture, dog!” said Evil.

Ryan used the distraction to pounce on the general. Ryan wrapped his arms around Evil’s neck and lifted him up, trying to choke him out. The general elbowed Ryan in the ribs, causing him to lose his grip. The general turned to face Ryan and hit him with a right hook. Ryan fell to his knees as General Evil tried to kick him in the face. Ryan dodged it and stood back up. Ryan lunged for Evil’s uniform collar as the general grabbed hold of Ryan’s neck. Just then, a shot rang out beside them. Surprised, Ryan and Evil looked in the direction of the blast. Ryan smiled while Evil’s jaw dropped. There was Sawyer, standing on his hind legs, holding General Evil’s .45. General Evil let go of Ryan’s neck and slowly backed away.

“I think he wants you to sit.” said Ryan.

General Evil began to sit on a nearby chair. Sawyer growled and cocked the gun’s hammer back.

“On the floor…” said Ryan.

Sawyer grinned as General Evil sat on the floor.

“What is the meaning of this? How is this dog…” the general stuttered as Ryan hit him in the head, knocking him out.

“Good job, Sawyer.” said Ryan

“What a jerk.” said Sawyer. “Wouldn’t let me on the furniture.”

“Let’s figure out a way to stop this invasion, then get out of here.” said Ryan.

Ryan and Sawyer turned their focus to a computer by the window overlooking the Annihilators.

“Maybe we can reprogram them.” said Sawyer.

“Yeah, that would do it.” said Ryan as he began typing.

He opened a program that revealed a list of commands. Each command had a description of what would happen when the command was given. Ryan selected the ‘Begin Campaign’ option and changed the description. Then he selected the option to ‘Cease Fire’ and changed the description.

“That should just about do it.” said Ryan.

“OK, let’s get out of here!” said Sawyer.

The two made their way down the elevator and snuck past the inactive Annihilators. They made it to the main elevator and within a few minutes, were back outside. The sun was just coming up when Ryan and Sawyer could see their cabin in the distance.

Back underground, General Evil was waking up. He was furious to see that Ryan and Sawyer had escaped. He decided to start the invasion right away rather than risk being ratted out by his escapees. He sat in front of his computer and selected the option ‘Begin Campaign’. Suddenly, every Annihilator in the underground hideout deployed their combat spikes.

“Target’s acquired. Destroy.” said the sergeant Annihilators.

“Destroying.” said the soldiers.

All of the tan and white Annihilators turned on all the gray and green Annihilators and opened fire. The gray and green Annihilators defended themselves and the entire room erupted in fire and lead.

“No! Stop!” said General Evil.

He frantically searched for the ‘Cease Fire’ option and selected it. All at once, every Annihilator stopped shooting, turned towards General Evil, redeployed their combat spikes and waited for orders.

“Target acquired. Terminate.” said the sergeant Annihilators.

“Terminating.” said the soldiers.

“What the…” said General Evil.

The remaining Annihilators opened fire with every weapon they had. General Evil dove for cover. He crawled towards another computer and stood slightly amidst a shower of sparks and glass. This computer controlled the bases self destruct option. It was intended to be used when the campaign ended, but as far as he was concerned, it was over now. He started the 2 minute countdown and made a break for his escape pod. The Annihilators were still firing as General Evil was launched out of the mountain and flew to safety.

Ryan was telling Annie what had happened when they heard an explosion in the distance. The ground shook as a large plume of smoke rose in the direction of the underground base.

* * * * *

“Hey, they have a Starbucks here!” said Annie.

Ryan pulled over and let her go inside to get some coffee. They were finished with this trip and were on their way to the airport.

“That was really close today.” said Sawyer.

“Yeah, I didn’t think we had a chance.” said Ryan. “Luckily, the mountain seems to have collapsed on the Annihilators.”

“And General Evil?” asked Sawyer.

“I don’t know.” said Ryan. “I guess that’s a story for another time.”

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dream State

Sawyer ran across the frozen lake. He wasn’t retrieving a duck or looking for Ryan amongst the many ice fishermen huddled over holes in the ice. Today, Sawyer was chasing stray pucks. Ryan was shooting pucks at a barrel by the edge of the lake as Sawyer hustled out after the ones that missed their target. It was a good day. Sawyer was making his way back to their makeshift rink when Ryan’s phone rang.

“Hello?” said Ryan. “Who is this? I need more information than that…”

Sawyer’s ears perked up.

“Why do you need that?” asked Ryan “I don’t understand. Hello? Hello?”

“Who was that?” asked Sawyer.

“You remember when Pat wanted my old hockey stick?” said Ryan

“Yes…” said Sawyer. “And Pat’s in jail now. Who was that?”

“I think it was his accomplice. I can’t be sure, but…” Ryan’s voice trailed off.

“But what?” asked Sawyer.

“Whoever that was… He has Annie and he wants the stick.”

Ryan and Sawyer got into their truck and headed towards a set of coordinates the man on the phone had given them.

“Looks like he has us going to a warehouse in Grand Rapids.” said Sawyer.

Ryan looked behind him. There was the stick he was supposed to bring to the man on the phone. It was special, no doubt, but this was the second time that Annie had been kidnapped in order to get it. If they made it out of there, Ryan would destroy the stick.

They drove for an hour and then neared the building. Ryan didn’t bring his shotgun this time. With Pat it was easy to fool him into thinking he was unarmed, but this new enemy was different. He was very cunning. They pulled into the parking lot of the old warehouse. Ryan got the stick from the back of the truck then walked with Sawyer towards the building. Two men met them halfway to the door. They didn’t appear to be armed, but Ryan didn’t take any chances.

“Where is she?” demanded Ryan.

“The stick. Give us the stick and you will have the girl.” said one of the guards as he reached for the stick.

Sawyer growled at the guard and he jerked back, reaching inside his coat pocket.

“So you are packing heat.” said Ryan. “You wanna shoot us? Go ahead.” He challenged the guard. “But don’t forget the witnesses.” He said as he motioned at the cars driving by on the road behind them. The guard took his hand back out of his jacket.

“Come with us.” Said the other guard.

Ryan and Sawyer were led into the warehouse. They followed the guards into a large bay area where Sawyer could see Annie tied to a chair.

“There.” He whispered to Ryan.

Ryan looked in the direction Sawyer had motioned and saw Annie. Then the guards stopped in the middle of the room.

“Wait here.” Said one.

One of the guards peaked his head into a door, talked to someone, then returned to the middle of the room. Soon, a man came out of the room and approached Ryan.

“Hello Ryan. I am Dr. Apocalypse.” said the man.

“Dr. Apocalypse?” Ryan laughed. “Let me guess. You were voted ‘Most likely to destroy all of humanity.’ In high school.”

“Fool!” snapped Dr. Apocalypse. “Shut up and give me the stick. I will show you its true power.”

“First let Annie go. Then I’ll give you the stick. I’ve cooperated to this point.” Said Ryan.

“Very well.” Said Dr. Apocalypse. “Release her. There’s nothing they can do now anyways.”

One of the guards untied Annie and escorted her to the door. She looked back at Ryan with a bit of worry in her eyes. Ryan smiled and nodded at her as if to say he had the situation under control. Dr. Apocalypse took the stick and escorted Ryan and Sawyer to a large machine behind a series of cages. One large cage contained a chair, a computer screen and the majority of the machinery, while two other cages just had chairs and computer screens. Dr. Apocalypse took the stick and wrapped it in coils, then strapped it to a metal pole that connected it to the machine.

“That stick is special, but you know that, don’t you?” said Dr. Apocalypse. Ryan just stared back at him. “But do you know how special?”

“Special enough to make Romoskovians into great hockey players.” Said Ryan.

“Bah! Hockey. Pat was so simple minded to only think of hockey when he could have the whole world. He was just a pawn in the greater scheme of things.” Explained Dr. Apocalypse. “The world would be mine even as we speak if he had succeeded in his simple task of securing the stick. No matter! I have it now and soon, the entire world!” Dr. Apocalypse let out a maniacal laugh.

“How?” Ryan demanded.

“This stick made you great at hockey?” asked Dr. Apocalypse. Ryan nodded. “But it is not the stick itself.” Explained Dr. Apocalypse. “Combined with your dream of being a great hockey player, the stick made you just that. Whatever your dream is, the stick can give you. If you want to be great at any other sport or great at any job, simply holding a section of the stick in your possession makes that dream a reality!”

“So why do you want it?” asked Ryan.

“I want the world. I will use it to obtain psychic powers and turn nations against each other. They will fight each other until they are reduced to nothing, then their leaders will give me their power and I, Dr. Apocalypse, shall rule the world! AAAAH HA HA HA HA HA! Chain them to the wall!” Dr. Apocalypse commanded his guards.

Ryan and Sawyer sat helpless as Dr. Apocalypse positioned himself in the chair of the main cage. He ordered his men to lock the door and stand guard. Meanwhile, Sawyer was working on picking the lock that held his chains together.

“Ryan, I almost got my lock open.” Said Sawyer

“How?” asked Ryan

“My claws. They’re perfect for this.” He replied.

Sawyer managed to free himself then started to work on Ryan. The guards didn’t seem to notice, because Sawyer barely moved a muscle as he skillfully unlocked Ryan’s chains.

“OK, now we just wait for one of them to leave.” Said Ryan

After about 15 minutes, one of the guards stood and left the bay area.

“Now.” Whispered Ryan

Sawyer lifted his leg and urinated on the floor.

“Guard! Could you please clean this up? My dog just made a mess on the floor.” Explained Ryan.

Disgusted, the guard walked towards them. He bent over with a towel to mop up after Sawyer when Ryan pounced. He slammed the guard’s head against the wall and knocked him out. Ryan grabbed his gun and headed towards the door that the other guard had gone through as Sawyer chained up the guard they had just knocked out.

“What’s all the commotion about?” the other guard demanded as he stepped into the bay. Just as he noticed Sawyer and the unconscious guard and he reached for his gun, Ryan clubbed him once in the back of the head with his weapon. The guard was out. Ryan dragged him over to the chains and helped Sawyer secure him.

“OK, now for Dr. Apocalypse.” said Sawyer.

They made their way to the cage and saw the horror of his work in progress. The computer screen showed the news and it was reporting that China had declared war on Russia while England was beginning to move it’s Navy towards the shores of North America.

“We have to act now!” said Ryan. It was too late to simply shoot Dr. Apocalypse. They needed to get into his dream state and defeat him there, then convince the world leaders to stop fighting each other. Ryan sat in one of the chairs, while Sawyer took the other. There were helmets attached to the chairs. They each placed the helmets onto their heads and instantly found themselves in another dimension.

“Let’s find Dr. Apocalypse and get this over with.” said Ryan

“This is a dream state, right?” asked Sawyer.

“I think so. I’m no mad scientist, though.” He replied. Sawyer closed his eyes then suddenly his front right paw became a machine gun.

“Yes! It worked!” exclaimed Sawyer. “All you need to do is imagine something and it comes true!” he said as he stood on his hind legs.

“Let me try…” said Ryan as a riot shotgun appeared in his hands. “Nice! Dr. Apocalypse doesn’t have a chance now! Hey, how about some music while we search for him?” said Ryan.

Sawyer closed his eyes and the first song he thought of started to play all around them.

“Dancing Queen!?” said Ryan, appalled.

“It was the first thing I thought of! I don’t know why!” Sawyer said trying to defend himself.

“You’re fired. We’ll go without music, I guess.” Said Ryan.

Just then, they heard Dr. Apocalypse yell.

“Who is that!? Where is that music coming from? I am not to have assistance yet!” he yelled.

“We’re not here to help you, we’re here to destroy you, Dr. Apocalypse.” Said Ryan.

“Fools! You cannot defeat me in this dream state! I am too powerful!” said Dr. Apocalypse. He appeared before Ryan and Sawyer and changed his arms into lasers. He aimed one at Ryan and the other at Sawyer and fired. Ryan quickly thought of a laser deflecting shield and placed it in front of him and his pet.

“Blast! You will not spoil my plans again!” yelled Dr. Apocalypse.

“Try this on for size!” said Ryan as he thought of a powerful force field to cover Dr. Apocalypse in. He started to shrink it around the evil scientist as Dr. Apocalypse tried to expand it and free himself.

“I am too strong here, you fools! Give up now and I may spare your lives!” said Dr. Apocalypse.

“Never!” said Ryan as he strained to out-will Dr. Apocalypse. Then he had a plan.

“Sawyer! Get ready to bite!” he said. Sawyer opened his mouth. Ryan tried to shrink the bubble as tight as he could, then quickly imagined Sawyer inside the bubble with the mad scientist! Sawyer bit down as hard as he could… right into the crotch of Dr. Apocalypse. Dr. Apocalypse screamed in pain and lost his focus. Ryan imagined Sawyer back outside the bubble then quickly smashed Dr. Apocalypse into oblivion.

“Quick! The world leaders!” said Sawyer.

The two heroes focused their energy into the world leader’s minds. Within a few hours, peace was restored.

Annie was waiting outside with the police when Ryan and Sawyer emerged from the building. After Ryan explained what he could to the police, they left in their truck.

“Can we get some Starbucks?” asked Annie.

The police found Dr. Apocalypse in a coma. His eyes were closed but he constantly muttered about a dog and a bubble. He was admitted to a maximum security mental hospital.

Later that day, Ryan sat on the couch watching the fire smolder in his fireplace. Among the ashes was his stick. Annie turned on the news.

“The president has declared that today will be known as ‘Hockey Day’ and there will be free pizza, wings and dog biscuits for all.” said the reporter. “When asked what gave him the idea, the president replied, ‘I’m not sure. It just popped into my mind.’” Ryan gave a thumbs up to Sawyer who smiled back.

“That’s weird.” said Annie. “I bet you two will enjoy that.”

“Sounds like my kind of holiday.” said Ryan.

“Hey, what do you think will become of Dr. Apocalypse?” asked Annie.

“I don’t know.” said Ryan. “I guess that’s a story for another time.”