Sam woke suddenly with his heart beating fast and a slight outbreak of sweat on his chest. Quickly, he looked around the room to assure himself that he was separated from the misery of his dream's reality. The autumn breeze blowing through the open window and the red numbers on his digital clock brought him comfort. He was okay, he was at home in his bed. He dropped his head into his hands.
Now that I look back on what we did out in the desert, it may have been a mistake.It was a test project.Nothing more.
Billy used to hang out on Main street by the L.A. Fitness.The first time I saw him he was talking to himself.There were a few like Billy in Alhambra.But he was the most visible.Always dressed in camouflage and carrying incoherent signs about war.He obviously didn’t know how to spell and didn’t know better than to wear a field-jacket in Southern California during summer.
Bill rose slowly from his chair. His heart-rate sped, and his brow perspired. He gasped for air and his hands shook. Bill hated speaking in public. But if he was to graduate, he had to pass his college Public-Speaking course. Fortunately, his speech only had to be one minute long.
Despite his fear, he somehow mustered the strength to step in front of the class with his manuscript in hand. Slender and wearing a suit, he looked more like a stiff mannequin than a human. Bill's palms were sweaty. The room was filled with the rustling of people in their seats and the shuffle of paper. But suddenly, as he looked over the classroom, all grew quiet. The smell of chicken hovered in from the dining hall downstairs.
Bill felt sweat run down his left sideburn and he hoped no one noticed. He began, his voice cracking, "Valuable lessons usually take a lifetime to learn, yet they're taught all along life's way. Our culture has many teachers, and I would now like to acknowledge a few of them and declare what they've taught me." He patted his foot.
"The Hedonist has tutored me quite nicely." Bill spoke in a monotone. "When I want something, I get it. Fletcher was right, 'If it feels good, do it.' That's my motto. So I left my wife and kids for a 15-year-old girl. I deserve the best. But don't worry, I had safe-sex, and that's all that matters, right?
"I also learned a few things from the Homosexual Movement—Be who you are. And when I'm around them, I try to be my real self." He took a deep breath, and continued, "Their lifestyle enrages me, and I hate to repress my feelings of anger because I don't want to damage my inner self, you know." He exhaled loudly, his nervousness making itself known more than any eloquence he wished to achieve. He proceeded, "So I physically assault homosexuals every chance I get. Don't be mad at me, that's just who I am. I was born that way."
He looked up long enough to notice a student sleeping in the back. Bill looked down again at his manuscript and pressed on, "The Evolutionist was also an excellent teacher. If I evolved from an animal, it only makes sense that I act like one. Who cares that I spat in the face of a homeless man last night. Don't be alarmed—it's just my animal-like instinct. What else do you expect from a man who came from a monkey? Only the strong survive."
Bill chewed his gum, and then remembered he'd forgotten to take it out before beginning his speech. He continued, "The New Age Movement has nurtured me to success. I am now my own god, so I purposely ran over a dog this morning on my way to class. Don't get upset, gods can do these sort of things.
"The Relativist has also served as a superb guide. Only three days ago, I burned my little brother's face with a clothes iron. Don't be appalled, there's no right and wrong.
"I'm so glad I've had these cultural instructors to help me realize my full potential. Otherwise, I might be a disaster, like a Christian or something."
Bill sat down as quickly as possible. He sighed with relief. He nervously rubbed his sleeve across his lips. The short speech seemed longer than a Canadian winter. But it was finally over. He felt calm, though adrenaline flowed steadily through his veins.
The class erupted in a rage. Hands popped up all around the room. Some students even stood, opposing his derogatory remarks. "You can't be serious," blared one student.
A mischievous grin ran across Bill's face.
THE PICTURE TAKER
Written by Kevin L. Howard
Tidmill stood taller than most men. His smile spoke of the pleasantries within his soul. His charming personality impressed most people. More than anything else, Tidmill loved one thing—photography. His mind never rested from this pursuit. Even when not taking pictures, he always searched for the perfect setting, angle, and object. He found no greater joy than when he examined a scene to capture on a still shot. To Tidmill, photography was not just a hobby, but a way of life, an all consuming desire.
Tidmill walked through the woods, or into the park, or down to the beach to find that unique expression of nature's beauty. He never delighted more than when he took pictures. He hardly ever made money from his pictures, no, he did it for the mere contentment.
Tidmill finally left his occupation as a Real Estate salesman and started attending photography school full time. After all, this is what he loved the most, why should he not make his living this way? He excelled in his degree and continued with graduate school soon after college. And within two years he was out of school with his master's. He even opened his own studio.
But along the way something strange had transpired in Tidmill. He found himself too busy in his studio to go out to the country and wait for the perfect picture. He told himself that one day, he'd get back to taking pictures like he used to. The simplest scenes used to make profound statements to Tidmill; now they said little to him.
No longer would that strange smile stretch across his face when he took pictures like it used to when he sat outside in the evening sun waiting for the right moment. His pictures were better now, but something was different. Although he understood the theory, the details, and the techniques behind the art, he had grown apathetic. Somehow Tidmill, in the pursuit of studying his passion, had lost it.
DRAKE’S DARKEST NIGHT (Fiction)
Written by Kevin L. Howard
Drake sat shivering in his bed.The north wind howled, screaming through the cracks in the old house.His room inhaled the crisp air.Winters in New Hampshire were rough, and this old farmhouse, with its slits and holes, couldn’t compete with the cold breath of winter.