A Place of Desolation

This short story was inspired by a dream I had in 2012 where I was immortal and lived through technological advances, new families, the advent of the space age and more. The dream caused me to think about what it would feel like to be truly immortal. Initially, it would be viewed as gift… but it would end up a curse when all you knew — not just who, but what — fell away from you. Losing your loved ones is difficult enough, but as time marches on, there would be no trace of the very fabric of who you are. This story was written in 2012, re-discovered in 2014 and lightly edited.

I.
Winding his way through the blackness of the night, he gazed out at the glittering stars that extended all around him, each star a representative of the miracle of life. Part of all matter, stars were made up of gases and metals that coagulated together to burn brightly, a beacon in the midst of a never-ending darkness that threatened every fiber of your body with its crushing stillness.

Looking out at the universe from the safety of home, one is easily awed by all the stars and planets out there, coupled with nebulas as wide as the eye can see, black holes spinning mass into nothing, comets zooming left and right… but for all its beauty, the universe is a place of desolation.

Blackness ruled the universe. Nowhere else was the feeling of solitude so acute. Drifting out aimlessly, no destination in mind and no whisper of a wind in sight.

The stars take on a menacing glare. A twinkle of sun and fire and dreams and life, taunting mercilessly. Out there as if a light at the end of the tunnel, a twinkle of what was and is, but forever unreachable, unattainable when all around you the air was still with blackness that threatened to crush all hope out of your body.

And among the stars laid life. Life was out there, crawling among the surface of planets. Minuscule organisms, multiplying and dividing by the billions, with no idea of their purpose in life, just repeating the same actions over and over as the engine of life. Others, prowling the landscape, at the whims of the baser needs to survive: food, water and shelter. Unaware of the greater mysteries of life. Incapable of love or understanding. A biological robot, but living nonetheless, among the splendor of the world around them.

And intelligent life. Ancient civilizations racing among the stars amongst the newborn, gasping as wood erupts into fire. Killing by the millions, procreating by the billions. Each life, independent and special, born to die with a unique history in between. Full of life, laughter, love, loss, loneliness. And every one of these lives a mote of dust in a speck of time in a scintilla of the void.

Loneliness. That was the world he knew, the world that had led him to this place. Turning and turning, no end in sight, the oppressive sound of silence crushing him. Years had gone by in a flash, years that by this point were a drop in the bucket.

Loneliness gripped him every second of his aimless adventure with no destination in sight. Just the blackness of the skies, the tantalizing twinkling of stars and the utter stillness. Loneliness is an abstract concept until you find yourself in the middle of it, staring at its uncompromising brutality in the face, helpless to even stir up the most mundane distraction. It would drive anyone insane — that is, unless loneliness had already eaten every part of his soul.

He had no one in his life. They were all gone, mere wisps in the desolate landscape of time and place. Everyone he had ever known, loved, laughed and sang with, were no more. There were no more dances in the kitchen, sunlight dappling the tile. The rustling of hair swaying to the cadence of a song, the laughter bursting forward from romance and the wide-eyed anticipation of life to come. The joy at holding your own creation in your hands, to shape and mold into a living, breathing representation of yourself. The wisdom and serenity that came with age, bringing about a quiet satisfaction.

The shared experiences and understandings that bound him to everyone were gone. Not just gone, but hopelessly gone, with the remnants of what he once knew also felled by the unquenching thirst of time. No amount of money, of travelling, of seeing the sights of worlds and wonders of nature, could replace that shared connection with someone else, as he know all too well. So eventually, he had tried to take matters into his own hands.

His 10th suicide attempt had led him to this day.

II.
His first time was a few years after losing his wife.

He had once been a little boy, like everyone else. The same hopes, the same desires, the same dreams. He could remember running through a grassy plain outside his home, dancing with the butterflies, the light blue sky above stretching to what looked like the end of space above. Endless possibilities. The shy smile of a girl in school, her brown hair softly, gracefully propelled by the turn of her milky-white face, turning as her smiling eyes flicked over, connecting with his —

But he wasn’t a boy anymore. He was a man, a very old man at that, one who defied all conventions of science. Up until that fateful day, he had been just like any other man. He had married a beautiful wife and had two young children running around that gave him unbridled joy to raise.

They had lived long, plentiful and happy years. From the first moment he spotted her running in the rain to class to her last panting breath in bed, he had loved her wholly. He had loved her more than he thought possible, a love that developed and deepened over time. For a while there, he had questioned not having the sort of love that drove a man mad and was popularized in culture, but had come to realize those kind of loves were fleeting, fueled by lust and animalistic desire. The kind of love that lasts is one with a strong foundation, with mutual respect and admiration, a love sowed and allowed to bloom.

It wasn’t until his fifth decade that it became apparent his youthful boyishness wasn’t dissipating. Unlike his peers, so many of whom were starting to combat failing eyesight, balding or graying hair (or for a few unfortunates, both), slower metabolism, or a creaky body, he had shown no signs of aging. At first, it had been attributed to diet, health, exercise, genes… until finally, it couldn’t be ignored any longer. He endured a blizzard of tests, all inconclusive. No one knew the cause or when it had started. Made all the more perplexing was that he still hurt with everyone else — cut himself and he bled along with the pain that was a constant reminder of one’s mortality. Starve himself, and his stomach would send out pangs.

No one knew. The doctors marveled at him as an unnatural specimen that could change the face of humanity. He spent many years feeling like a petri dish and even survived kidnapping attempts by people who didn’t let morals get in their way of the desperation to find out the secret of an immortal fountain of youth. But he had persevered, and despite the challenges of staying young while the one you loved grew older, it had never really been a challenge. She was the one.

Shortly before she died, she had urged him to keep loving. She had given him permission to move on and knew the implications therein. It wasn’t as if she was telling her counterpart at 100 years old that he could move on, knowing he would only have a few decades at most before he, too, would be felled by time.

No, her love was immortal, and not only was he immortal, he was perpetually ageless. A tear ran down her cheek, and he held on tightly to her hand, neither confirming nor denying the permission, instead too consumed with the hopelessness that comes with wondering who else could possibly fill a void that seemed all too expansive.

When she left, he walked around in a daze for months. He tried to move on, but the hole in his heart was too much. He may be youth on the outside, but inside, he was as old as his birthdate said he was. And in his mind, he had lived a full life. He had lived a life as his biology had told him to — to have a childhood, to emerge into an adult, to have a family. To be satisfied, both personally and professionally, to watch his children produce children of their own, to enjoy the beguiling calm of old age. But now his betrothed was gone, and what laid before him wasn’t his own canvas that was beginning to run out of room to add more brush strokes of life, but rather a new canvas — a fresh one, the old one ripped off and hung up in the annals of memory, with the paintbrush poised over the white sheet of rebirth, poised to make the first slash and tell a whole new story.

Except he didn’t want a new story told, he came to realize in a startling flash of comprehension. When you get that old, the youthful ideas of immortality, of days stretching on and on to no end, enjoying the new technological marvels, whiling the night away with friends… when you get that old, you realize that immortality beckons that of a curse, not a gift. Time had washed away many friends, due to distance, both real and figurative, or death. Making new friends, new connections, forging new strong bonds at that age is hard. Harder than anything, harder to the point you just don’t want to try. No, what he wanted now was to slip beside his love in their dreams, ashes wafting up into the skies — a final jump of joy.

But that wouldn’t come, and here he stood, in the pouring rain atop a skyscraper. Just standing, looking out at the chaos of the world around him. Building piled over building, criss-crossed ad nauseam with highways, a city that never slept, a city that had millions awake and millions asleep at any point. Standing higher than any human should ever have been allowed to stand, looking at the horizon, littered with lights of civilization.

The first breath of air was inhaled by thousands in this city every moment, every morning, suffusing the sunrise with exuberance; the last exhale by the side of loved ones grieving capping the night with a melancholy song. Marriages, broken hearts, promotions, addictions, failures, successes… life was being lived, but he was tired of life, so tired.

It had been years since his love was lost, and he had fashioned some sort of life out of the pieces she left behind, but it was only an illusion – a life that was meant to ferry one to the gates of the river Styx. Not a life that stretched forever beyond him, rife with possibilities that he cast aside.

So here he stood, contemplating all this, contemplating what he could do with his immortal life. Instead of being billowed with confidence, a twinkling eye set toward the future, all he could conjure up was a deep fear. Fear of moving on from his love, and not just moving on, but falling in love with someone else. But that love was doomed to fail too, doomed to put him where he was now. You can only live for so long before you lose all hope and despair pervades every ounce of your body, he thought. Why get to that place? He had a taste of it now, and he didn’t like it. He wanted to let go, and he was going to put his immortality to the test.

He stepped off the ledge, and began his dizzying descent down, hurtling to the pits of hell cackling like a mad man, insane with the prospect of relief. Gathering momentum as he went down, all around him disappeared into a blur, and a thought flashed through his mind: Fear. Not the fear of before; not the abject loneliness he was in, not the fear of loving and losing many millennia over. No, fear of death. Fear of his story, his song, coming to an end. And in that instant, he knew he wanted to live.

III.
He dozed, the constant whinging pain of his tortured stomach and starved brain long-ago reminders that he was still human, whatever else could be said. There wasn’t much else to do. Half-asleep, memories of his life kept flitting by him, torturing him with their memories. Even having rendered himself close to immune from emotions, the lingering vestiges of what was still managed to send a small shockwave through his heart every time a new image flashed up.

He had nothing else to think of to fill the space, to occupy the time and keep these reminders at bay. There was nothing out there for him to dream about. He had experienced what were just dreams for generations upon generations of his ancestors. He had seen the impossible, had experienced the impossible. His mind was a blank canvas, unable to stop the intrusion of his seminal memories.

There was one thing he could dream about. Death. Even coming now, it would be a sweet reprieve from the curse that gripped his body, that doomed him to despair. It didn’t matter whether he was in a teeming mass of people, preparing to witness a beautiful sight. It was no different to him than the position he found himself now, unable to go anywhere, to do anything. To him, he hadn’t been able to do anything for so long, he hardly minded the circumstances he found himself in now.

He dozed. Thought about waves crashing on the beach, the setting sun hanging low in the skies, spitting out purple, red, yellow and pinks that splashed along the sky, parrying with clouds that were constantly dancing among themselves, creating beautiful murals on a soft, velvet beach that stretched as far as the eye could see, pristine and untouched except by the normal ebb and flow of nature. And at the bottom of his eyeline, as much as he tried to avoid it, he knew what was there: a single, solitary foot. Petite, with graceful curves spreading out from the ankle and ending in five little petals of roses.

That foot was connected to the one to wake him up wholly for the first time since his first wife had passed. He had been betrothed to others in the intervening years, had fathered children whose bloodlines now extended itself to all parts of civilization. He had lived. Oh, he had lived, and he had many a day of despair, too. The despair invaded his life, growing to define him even as he struggled to throw off the yoke of expectations. Could have. Should have. Would have. But what use are these words when it all ends in what was?

It had taken this one perfect little foot, connected to this one perfect little leg. The hem of her patterned yellow dress swayed in the ocean breeze, the crackling smell of the ocean and fading sunlight lending a vibrancy to a dress that bespoke a time of innocence, of wonder, of delight. Her wide smile, the dimples framing her deep blue eyes that would one day beckon suitors to drown inside of.

He was alive, finally alive again. The sea gates that had surrounded his heart, protecting against the lapping and whitewater seas of emotion had opened. The parched sand hungrily drank its full as he stood on the rocks, arms splayed and chest wide out.

He was young again, ready to tackle the world with two little legs perched on his shoulders. Prior decades became yellowed bits of paper strewn about the floor, fluttering up once in a while to remind him they had happened. But she was always there, a fresh piece of paper, clean and stark white. Taped up on the wall, colorful scribbles a beacon of hope.

His first family hadn’t met the end these crumbling bits of paper memories did, either. They rested in a framed picture, his first wife dominating the picture with her smiling face and the love that had given him the confidence to stay alive after that first attempt. But it was also that love that had driven him to more. He had come to learn that her picture, with his sons, was best viewed through glass.

But that piece of paper that had colorful bits of crayon strewed about was unprotected.

Carousel music blared once again in summer. Frigid weekend mornings in the fall beckoned. Winter storms meant hot chocolate. Rainy springs were opportunities to dance.

That’s what his daughter had meant to him.

She should have experienced all that life had to offer. The silly, invincible years of teenagehood. Her first kiss, her first love. Her first paycheck, her first child. Her first grandchild.

Going gray once more was untenable. So for his 10th try, he decided to do something radical. He would go out to the sun and melt into it. A black void joined with the very definition of life would be the answer. Nothing could stand against the boiling fires of creation. That which was dead inside would be dead outside, fueling the engines of life.

But he had forgotten he was immortal. He had forgotten that the number 10 was the number of the cosmos. The model of creation.

IV.
His eyes snapped open. He looked around, but it was the same sight he always had. And yet, something was different. It was imperceptible, but it was there. It was almost as if it was a hint of something that had yet to arrive. Then, he felt it pass over him, a small rumbling that reverberated through a body that had been starved for feeling for far too long.

He scrambled. Hurriedly pushing and pawing for his wrist, searching for his transponder. It was there, his mind frantically assured him, as it had always been there any time he had checked for it, or merely felt it embedded in his skin. There was no way it could have spilled out of its secure container and gone spinning out into the nether regions. He felt the small orb gently protruding from his skin and caressed it for a moment. Then he activated it and saw it flash red. He sagged with relief.

Then the thought occurred to him. He was relieved. He had hurried to activate his transponder. And yet nothing had changed, or would change, for him in his life. And yet, here was this small burst of hope, a ray of sunshine breaking through dark and stormy clouds, that let him know he was still alive.

But what passes for alive? To him, alive simply meant functioning. His heart was pumping blood as normal, his brain was functioning logically, but he was merely biologically alive. That was his curse, as his life had long been drained from his mind.

Suddenly, a shock wave sent him spinning uncontrollably back, pushing him faster than he had traveled in the last several centuries. Bright lights slammed into his eyes, evaporating in a starburst as he screamed from the pain, all too accustomed to the darkness that had enveloped his soul.

His momentum was arrested, jerking him to a stop suddenly. He laid there, dangling, his arms splayed out in front of him, his head lolling back, twisting away from the harsh glare of the lights. He slowly slitted one eye open, gasping as even more white light invaded him. There it was, the outline of a large behemoth that was about to take him back. Back to civilization and all that he had tried to leave behind time and time again.

The gods were unmerciful once more. It would have been better to stay out here, spinning in the black nothingness, where the outside matched the inside.

But the stars continued to twinkle. This time, instead of taunting mercilessly, they offered a new beginning.

Mission: Cup

The below is a short story penned by Evan.

7:32 AM, The Police Precinct
All was well in Dusty City today. There had been no crimes called in for eleven whole hours. Police Sergeant Glaze Donnut sat at his desk, breathing in the sweet, sweet scent of his black coffee (stirred, not shaken). He drank the coffee slowly, enjoying the fact that there was no crime. And no crime meant no going out on the job. And no going out on the job meant sitting on your butt doing nothing while earning money. And sitting on your butt doing nothing while earning money is always a good thing.

But there was something missing. Something vital was missing from this picture. Glaze (as everyone called him) narrowed his eyes and set his sleuthing brain to work. The brain churned, trying to think of what was missing from this picture. Let’s see. He was sitting on his butt doing nothing while earning money. Check. He was at his desk, which had everything that he wanted inside it. Check. He had a steaming cup of coffee in his hand, slowly burning him, even though he didn’t realize it. What was – OW!

Glaze set down the coffee hurriedly. He knew what he had forgotten! A cup to put the coffee in! Glaze shook his head in frustration. Of course! He had forgotten to put the coffee in a cup and had just left it in his hand. Of course!

His eyes suddenly narrowed. So where exactly was his cup? He looked all over the place, growing desperate with every move. It was definitely not on his cherry wood desk. It was definitely not on his cherry wood chair. It was definitely not on his cherry wood cabinet. And it was most definitely not in his cherry wood cruiser.

There was only one thing to do, Glaze knew. He needed help – fast. And he knew just the person. He dialed the number that he knew by heart. This guy was better than any detective on the police force. He got what was needed without any trouble. He was the best of the best. If anything was missing, this person would find it – and fast. And what made it even better was that he was a nobody. And nobody is perfect. So the perfect person to find it is an person who is a nobody, because they clearly are going to be perfect. So the best person to find his cup would be someone that was trained to find his cup. After all, he was the best of the best.

The phone rang.

He picked up.

“Hello?”

Glaze’s heart skipped a beat. He was speaking to perfection.

“Hello, sir. This is Police Sergeant Glaze Donnut from the Dusty City Police Precinct, and I need —”

“I know who you are, you don’t need to tell me. You are Police Sergeant Glaze Donnut from the Dusty City Police Precinct, and you need…something.”

Glaze blinked. How had he knew that!? Well, of course! He was perfect. Glaze laughed inwardly. How nice it was to speak to someone that was perfect.

“Sir, my coffee cup is missing.”

“Your coffee cup is missing.”

“Yes, my coffee cup is missing.”

“Okay…just to clarify, this is a coffee cup we’re missing?”

“Yes.”

“A cup generally used to have coffee in.”

“That’s correct.”

“Black coffee?”

“Yeah. But sometimes I put sugar or tea in the coffee.”

“A cup that is generally used for black coffee but sometimes has sugar or tea in the coffee. I understand. Well, Mr. Donnut, this is no joking matter.”

“No sir, it is not.”

“I will find this cup that is generally used for black coffee but sometimes has sugar or tea in the coffee, or my name is not…”

Glaze held his breath.

“Mr. Agent Evan Steele Brunell!”

Glaze could see the brilliant smile flashed over the phone. Glaze grinned. Victory!

7:35 AM, Honest Abe’s Saloon Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 450 min

He snapped his cell phone back on his belt clip and sat there, pursing his lips. So. Some smart-aleck had decided to steal a coffee cup, eh. They would quickly find out that those kind of crimes would not be tolerated. Not while he was on the job. He had a job, and he was going to complete it. That job was finding a coffee cup. But first he was going to finish his shaken milk, by God!

7:49 AM, Somewhere on Rt. 723 Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 436 min

He drove along in his car, trying to figure out where to go, and what to do. Who had a vendetta against Glaze Donnut? And why did he or she or it have a vendetta? And where was this person located? Such hard questions.

Fortunately, he knew where to start. Fisherman Drew.

8:14 AM, Hemingway Docking Bay Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 411 min

He walked over to Fisherman Drew, who was dropping anchor at the harbor, just returning from catching some fresh minnows.

“Hello, Fisherman Drew!”

Fisherman Drew looked up. “Oh, hello. What’s happenin’ in this dream we call life?”

“Fisherman Drew, it will not be a dream if you do not help me. There is a cup missing.”

“A cup…a coffee cup?” Asked Fisherman Drew, tentatively.

“Yes, Fisherman Drew. A cup…belonging to the Sergeant of the Dusty City police!” Agent Brunell smiled triumphantly.

Fisherman Drew deliberately took a few seconds to get down the boat ramp. He walked over to Agent Brunell.

“Agent Brunell…you have come to me for advice many, many times. I have helped you many times. But this time, I fear I cannot help you anymore. I am not a psychic.”

Agent Brunell drew in a short breath. “Well then, Fisherman Drew…this is where we must part ways.”

Fisherman Drew nodded.

Agent Brunell nodded back.

Fisherman Drew nodded back.

Agent Brunell nodded back…just in case.

8:22 AM, 005 Agency Road Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 409 min
He dialed the number.

“Hello, this is Miss Klio, the world-renowned psychic. Please give me your credit card number.”

“Miss Klio…do you know anything about a missing coffee cup?”

“Did I or did I not say…credit card number, please.”

“This is a matter of national security, and you want my credit card?”

“Your death will be a matter of national security if you don’t give me your credit card right now!”

Agent Brunell sighed. “Alright, then. My credit card is —”

ATTENTION: THIS PORTION OF THE STORY HAS BEEN DELETED TO PROTECT THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF AGENT EVAN STEELE BRUNELL. AFTER ALL, WE DON’T WANT MANIACS LIKE YOU TO STEAL HIS CREDIT CARD AND USE IT FOR THINGS THAT YOU WOULDN’T WANT YOUR DEAR OLD MOTHER TO SEE.

“Very good…now, what do you need to know?”

“I need to know about a missing coffee cup.”

“A missing … uh … coffee … oh no!”

“What is it, Miss Klio?”

“I just got a message saying that … my kid has … fallen out of the ball pit. Yeah, fallen out of the ball pit. I have to go help her. Bye.”

“Wait–” Miss Klio hung up with a click. Agent Brunell smiled. The game t’was afoot.

9:31 AM, FunFun Alley! Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 338 min

He arrived at ‘FunFun Alley!’ He walked in and was immediately pelted with the noise of screaming kids and shouting parents.

“You come right back here this instant, Jeremy! I accidentally had decaf this morning! I wanna go home! I wanna go home!”

“I’m Superman! Look at me!”

“Don’t jump, Jeremy! No! You will hurt yourself! Oh dear god!”

Agent Brunell walked over to the ball pit, and surveyed it. It was a cage full of plastic balls with kids jumping and screaming in it, with parents trying to read the latest heroics of the Red Sox. Agent Brunell took off his shoes, mindful of the sign next to it saying “NO SHOES!” He got in the ball pit and was immediately pelted with balls left and right, with children jumping all over him. He felt himself being dragged into the playpen. He tried to fight, but the children were too strong. They pulled him into the massive playpen and pushed him down a completely enclosed tube slide. He slid for what seemed like an eternity, until he was unceremoniously deposited at the feet of six black shoes. He looked up, three kids with sunglasses looked back at him with no emotion. They grabbed him and walked him over to another kid sitting at a table playing cards. The kid motioned Agent Brunell to sit down. He took a puff of a candy cigarette, and motioned to another kid sitting opposite him.

“Go fish.”

He turned his attention to Agent Brunell.

“Hello. I am Don Sagiv.” He took a drag of his candy cigarette. “I run things around here.”

“Hello, Don Sagiv. I am Agent Brunell. Agent Evan Brunell. Agent Evan…Steele…Brunell.” He flashed his smile.

Don Sagiv was not impressed. He motioned to the kid playing cards with him.

“This is Vinny Punchalot. He does most of the grunt work, if you know what I mean. He knows how to dispose of things that…need disposing.”

“I am humbled, Don Sagiv.”

“And why are you, an adult, here in the land of Don Sagiv?”

“I am looking for a coffee cup.”

“A coffee cup, eh?” He smiled. “I can guarantee you that we are not involved in such petty things. We dream bigger.”

“Yes, Don Sagiv.”

“That being said,” he waved his cigarette around. “That being said, it is possible I have a nugget of information about a coffee cup. But the question is not ‘What is this nugget of information?’ but rather…’What can you do to help me?'”

Agent Brunell fished in his pocket and came out with a pack of candy cigarettes. Don Sagiv’s face brightened.

“Ahh…” He paused. “I do not know the whereabouts of the coffee cup. I do know, however, that the person that took the coffee cup…has a vendetta against the police officer. A vendetta,” his voice raised, “against the complete and utter persecution of the police force!”

“What is this persecution?”

“The sheer tyranny of it all! The persecution of little children! The police force has cracked down on the ice-cream truck travel time! Now it cannot travel from three in the afternoon to six at night, oh no, sir! It must follow a strictly enforced time of four in the afternoon to six at night! And you can bet the ice-cream man’s daughter does not take kindly to that!” He stopped. “I’ve said enough. Gentlemen, dispose of this man. Get the cigarettes from him!” He waved a hand, and the gentlemen moved forward. They led him down the playpen and dumped him back in the ball pit. Agent Brunell got up and walked back to his car to go home.

10:40 AM, 005 Agency Road Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 269 min

He called Glaze.

“Glaze! The ice-cream truck’s daughter has got your coffee cup!”

“I didn’t know ice-cream trucks could have kids…”

“No, no, no! The daughter of the ice-cream truck driver!”

“The daughter of Mr. Ben Jerry! That’s Breyer Jerry!”

“Give me her address!”

11:00 AM, 546 Moocow Avenue Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 249 min

He arrived at 546 Moocow Avenue. He rung the doorbell, and Mrs. Jerry opened the door. She smiled sweetly.

“Ice cream?” She offered some to Agent Brunell.

“No thanks, ma’am. Is Breyer here?”

“Why, yes. Breyer!” She called.

Breyer came forth, an eleven year old child with blond pigtails.

“Hello?”

“Breyer, do you have a coffee cup belonging to the police sergeant?”

“Yes. I am sorry I took it. Here.” She gave the cup back to Agent Brunell.

“Thank you, Breyer.” The woman smiled and closed the door. Agent Brunell got back into his car and started driving to the police station. He looked at the cup. There was something off about the cup. He looked at it harder, then picked it up. His eyes widened in astonishment. It was not the cup! It was a drawing of the cup! He hit the brakes and headed back to the house. He arrived at the house, but the ice-cream car was gone from the driveway! Agent Brunell peeled out of their driveway and headed to the place he knew they must be headed – where the children were.

12:29 PM, FunFun Alley! Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 160 min

He arrived at ‘FunFun Alley!’ He walked in and was immediately pelted with the noise of screaming kids and shouting parents.

“You come right back here this instant, Jeremy! I accidentally had decaf this morning! I wanna go home! I wanna go home!”

“I’m Superman! Look at me!”

“Don’t jump, Jeremy! No! You will hurt yourself! Oh dear god!”

Agent Brunell looked around wildly. He had seen the ice-cream truck outside. He knew there must be only one place where Breyer was. In the den of Don Sagiv. He ran into the ball pit, up the stairs, down the curve, past the swings, through the quicksand, past the Tunnel of Love, and arrived in Don Sagiv’s lair. He was waiting for him.

“Well, well, you are smarter than you seem.” Don Sagiv smiled.

“Where is she? The cup is in danger!”

“Not so fast, Agent Evan Steele Brunell. First, you must answer three questions for me. If you win, I will let you pass. ”

“What?”

12:35 PM, Don Sagiv’s Lair Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 154 min

“Johnny’s mother had three children. The first child was named April. The second child was named May. What was the third child’s name?”

Agent Brunell thought for what seemed like a long time. It probably was June, but there was something off here. He finally got it.

“Johnny.”

“Very good. The next question…”

12:55 PM, Don Sagiv’s Lair Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 134 min

“What does man love more than life, fear more than death or mortal strife…what the poor have, the rich require, and what contented men desire…what the miser spends and the spendthrift saves and all men carry to their graves?”

Agent Brunell thought for what seemed like a long time. It probably was June, but there was something off here. He finally got it.

“Nothing.”

“Very good. The next question…”

1:25 PM, Don Sagiv’s Lair Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 104 min

“Why do statues and paintings of George Washington always show him standing?”

Agent Brunell thought for what seemed like a long time. It probably was June, but there was something off here. He finally got it.

“He cannot lie.”

Don Sagiv looked surprised. “You have a very good mind. Unfortunately, you took too long on that riddle. You only have ten minutes before the cup is no more!”

2:59 PM, Don Sagiv’s Lair Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 10 min

Agent Brunell ran out of the Lair, and out of FunFun Alley! He saw the ice-cream truck go jangling past him. He started pursuing it on foot. Behind Agent Brunell, Glaze Donnut screeched by in his cruiser. Agent Brunell had been wearing a wire so Glaze could hear it. However, the ice-cream truck had been so souped up that the cruiser could not catch up to it. Agent Brunell decided to take a shortcut to try and beat the truck to Hemingway Docking Bay.

3:05 PM, Hemingway Docking Bay Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 4 min

Agent Brunell arrived, and laid in wait for the ice-cream truck. It shortly came barreling up the road, with Breyer leaning out of the door to throw the coffee cup into the water. Agent Brunell howled. The wolves howled back. He started running. Breyer noticed him. She shrieked. “No! I will persevere!” Glaze Donnut got out of his cruiser and starting running after the truck. “No!” He yelled. “No, dear god, no! Take me, not the cup!”

3:07 PM, Hemingway Docking Bay Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 2 min

Breyer hurled the cup in the air. It moved as if through slow motion. Agent Brunell could not catch up to it! He found the inner fire deep inside himself and achieved light speed.

3:08 PM, Hemingway Docking Bay Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 1 min

Agent Brunell jumped.

3:08 PM, Hemingway Docking Bay Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 30 sec

Agent Brunell jumped a little farther.

3:08 PM, The Air Time To the Cup’s Safety Being Compromised: 1 sec

Agent Brunell’s hand was just near the cup. He could make it…he could make it…

His hand closed around the cup and he braced for impact as the water was fast approaching him. A hand came out of nowhere and grabbed him. He looked back. It was Don Sagiv.

“You stiffed me! There were only five candy cigarettes! Give me the rest,” he bawled.

And with that, Mission: Cup was over.

Mission: Pen

The below is a short story penned by Evan.

2:04 PM, St. Garciaparra High School

Principal Opie Dore walked into his office, and sat down at his desk. He sighed deeply. It had been a long day. First, he had to deal with a mother who was angry over her daughter receiving a B+ on an AP United States History test. He had assured her he would talk to the teacher and investigate any possible wrongdoing. Then the cafeteria ran out of chicken nuggets, which they made everyday. A hasty substitution had to be made. After tremendous debate on the possibilities of having of filet mignon or brussel sprout soup, they settled on filet mignon.

Then, a fight had broken out during class. A boy had been talking to his Foods teacher while another girl was baking a soufflé. The boy took a step back after finishing his conversation with the teacher, and stepped on a bag. He stumbled, and reached out to put his hands on a desk. A pen on the desk went flying, and hit the girl, who exhaled on the soufflé in surprise. The soufflé caved. Five teachers had to pull her off the boy.

The day was over. Dore reached for the stack of papers that needed his signing. He then reached for his trusty, solid plastic “St. Garciaparra High School” pen. He grasped thin air. He moved his hand back, assuming he had missed the first time. He missed again.

Dore looked up, and gasped. The pen was not in his pen holder! It was gone! An empty space where the pen should have been! Nothing but air! Dore looked around his desk. Papers, computer, pictures of his family, a signed tennis ball by Tom Brady, and…no pen. He looked under his desk. Under his chair. In the file cabinet. Over the cabinet. In his pants. His pockets. His shirt. His hair. No, no, no! The pen was not there! Dore gasped in horror, and then his eyes narrowed in slits. Someone must have taken it…someone who wanted to hurt Dore. Well, Dore wouldn’t stand by and get hurt! He would get an agent to track down his pen.

He grabbed the phone book sitting on his file cabinet, and flipped to the “Secret Agents” section. He perused the section, and found just the right ad!

SECRET AGENTS FOR HIRE
1-800-YOUR-MOM
Ask to speak to Lisa. Ask to speak to anyone else if you don’t want to speak to Lisa.

He dialed the number. It rang once.

“Hello?”

Victory! Dore grinned.

“Hello…may I speak to Lisa?”

“One moment…She will be with you momentarily. Please hold.”

Dore held for two minutes, and got to listen to “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” Finally, Lisa picked up.

“Hello, this is Lisa. How may I help you today?”

“Hello, this is Principal Opie Dore at St. Garciaparra High School. This is a matter of national security. My pen has been stolen.”

“Your pen has been stolen? My goodness, Mr. Dore! How devastating that must have been for you!”

“I am in a trauma, Lisa! You must help me!”

“Of course, Mr. Dore. I will inform my best man of this horrible crime, and he will do some snooping. After he has found some information out, I will have him contact you. I can assure you, the pen‘s safety will not be compromised at any time during this mission.”

“Wonderful, Lisa. Thank you.” Dore hung up. The pen would be found. He was sure of it.”

| | |

2:48 PM, somewhere on Route 34 Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 314 min

He snapped his cell phone down. So. Some smart aleck decided to steal a principal’s pen. Well, they would soon find out that would not be tolerated. At all. Period.

He took a drive. Who would know about an all-plastic, high school pen of a principal that was used to sign important papers — papers of national security, no less! He thought. There was no one that would know. But he knew where to start. Honest Abe’s Saloon.

| | |

3:13 PM, Honest Abe’s Saloon Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 255 min

He walked into the saloon, and was immediately appalled by the alcoholic stink of the saloon. This was no place for a little child, that was clear. He surveyed the room. There was that tough biker playing pool with an ex-convict. On the right of the bar, there were two college boys sitting and trying to look cool. He looked down to the end of the bar. Ay, Maria! There stood a gorgeous woman, a woman of such perfection. He walked over to her.

“Hello. May I buy a drink?”

The woman blushed, and smiled. “Of course you may, sir. My name is Maria Alvarez Ramirez Ilena Anderson. And your name?”

He arched his eyebrow and smiled gregariously.

“Brunell. Evan Brunell. Agent Evan Brunell. Agent Evan S. Brunell. Agent…Evan…Steele…Brunell.” He smiled again. No woman could resist that.

Maria took a breath of surprise. There was something mysterious about this man. Something so mysterious, that she couldn’t resist.

“Please sit down, Mr. Agent Evan Steele Brunell.”

Agent Brunell sat down and smiled at her. The bartender came over.

“What can I get youse people?” He inquired.

“The lady will have some water, and I will have some milk…shaken, not stirred.”

“Will do.” The bartender moved away to get the order.

“Lovely choice, Mr. Agent Evan Steele Brunell,” Maria said. “I love water.”

“Somehow, I figured that, Maria.” Agent Brunell smiled. “Say, Maria…may I ask you a question? It is a question of national security.”

“Of course, Mr. Agent Evan Steele Brunell.”

“Maria…” Agent Brunell took her hands into his. “Have you seen a red, plastic St. Garciaparra High School pen lately?”

Maria gasped. She turned away from Agent Brunell and bit her lip. Agent Brunell peered curiously over her shoulder. She whirled around again, breathless.

“Mr. Agent Evan Steele Brunell, you shouldn’t come in here asking such questions! It’s liable to get you killed!”

Agent Brunell grabbed Maria by the arm. “Listen, Maria! It’s my job! I work for the Secret Agent Headquarters, and we’ve got a matter of national security here! We must find that pen, or the world will suffer! If you have any idea where that pen is, you need to tell me!”

Maria stared at Agent Brunell.

“Oh, Mr. Agent Evan Steele Brunell, if only you knew! If only you knew!” Maria dissolved into tears.

Agent Brunell looked away, angry. They had gotten to her first. Who were those people? And what would they do next?

| | |

4:53 PM, Hemingway Docking Bay Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 201 min

Agent Brunell drove up to the Hemingway Docking Bay, hopeful to get an answer from Fisherman Drew. Fisherman Drew knew all the happenings going on in Dusty City, and he would be sure to know about the pen. First, Agent Brunell wiped the dust from his eyes. They didn’t call it Dusty City for nothing.

He walked up to Fisherman Drew, who was ready to cast off in hopes of catching an eel.

“Fisherman Drew, may I have a word with you?”

Fisherman Drew looked up. “Of course, my good, jolly agent. What is it?”

“Fisherman Drew, do you know anything about a red, plastic pen from St. Garciaparra High School being stolen?”

Fisherman Drew looked up alarmingly. He embraced Agent Brunell in an hug, and then whispered to him in his ear.

“Don’t let on…they’re watching. They know you’re looking into this. Be very careful, understood?…Listen, if you go on the internet and into the chat room “Teenz Rulz!”, you might just figure out this mystery.”

He released Agent Brunell from his clutch, held a finger to his lips, and turned away, busying himself with busy work.

Agent Brunell flashed his smile. Finally, a lead!

| | |

5:00 PM, 005 Agency Road Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 194 min

Agent Brunell signed on his screen-name, “Agent Brunell”, and went chat surfing. He finally found the chat room “Teenz Rulz!”, and entered it.

Imateenandirule: lol, that’s so funny

StudRunner2006 has left the room.

Agent Brunell: hey sup whats funy

Gurlrox: who r u

Agent Brunell: i am a person wunderin wut so funny

Kelsley239723240 has entered the room.

Imateenandirule: agent, sum1 jus made a joke that’s all

Agent Brunell: oh

SGHSplayer2004: hey guyz wanna hear summin cool

Imateenandirule: ya

Gurlrox: ya

NSYNCyaaa232363: yaaaaa! hehe

AirESB has entered the room.

Agent Brunell: what is it

SGHSplayer2004: lol theres this pen lol its from my skool SGHS, SGHS RULZ!!!!!!!!! neways, sum1 at my skool stole it from our principle! lol!!!!

Imateenandirule: lol they got some guts doin that

NYSYNCyaaa232363: hehe ur funny SGHS were u live

Agent Brunell had found what he needed. Now he just needed to Instant Message this “SGHSplayer2004”. Hopefully they hadn’t gotten to him yet.

Agent Brunell: hey

SGHSplayer2004: umm who dis

Agent Brunell: i wuz in chat

SGHSplayer2004: ohh yaa sup

Agent Brunell: nm that pen thing was funny lol

SGHSplayer2004: ya lol rotfl

Agent Brunell: so who took it

SGHSplayer2004: ah jus a friend

Agent Brunell: wuts ur name

SGHSplayer2004: danny

Agent Brunell: hey danny

SGHSplayer2004: what

Agent Brunell: whyd ur friend take the pen

SGHSplayer2004: the principle is a loser. he gave us filet mignon instead of chicken nuggets. wut a loser.

Agent Brunell: o

SGHSplayer2004: g2g ttul

Finally, a motive behind the madness.

| | |

5:43 PM, St. Garciaparra High School Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 150 min

Agent Brunell drove up to the high-school, SGHS. A nice looking school, he thought. Who would have thought it was home to a raving lunatic?

He got out of his car and walked into the school. He located the principal’s office. He needed to have a talk with the principal, Opie Dore.

He walked in and found Opie Dore sitting in his chair, staring at the wall in front of him. He looked as if he hadn’t slept for, well…since 2:04 PM.

“Mr. Dore?”

Opie Dore looked up, and his face brightened. This must be the man that Lisa sent out to find his pen!

“Ah! Yes, I am Mr. Dore. And you are?”

Agent Brunell arched his eyebrow and smiled. “Brunell. Evan Brunell. Agent Evan Brunell. Agent Evan S. Brunell. Agent…Evan…Steele…Brunell.” He smiled again.

“Yes, yes, Agent Brunell. Please have a seat.”

Opie Door sat down from across him and leaned over his desk nervously. “Agent Brunell, do you have news?”

Agent Brunell sighed, and crossed his legs. “Yes, Mr. Dore. Your pen is in serious danger.”

Dore’s face fell. “You mean, you don’t have it?”

“No, Mr. Dore. That’s where you come in.”

“Me?”

“Yes, you, Mr. Dore. Mr. Dore, my sources have told me that someone upset with your lunch choice stole your pen.”

Opie Dore pounded his fist against the desk. “I knew we should have gone with the brussels sprout soup!”

Agent Brunell looked sharply at Dore. “Dore, this is no time for looking back in the past. All it does is make us look in the past. What I need to know from you…who was so angry that you gave them filet mignon that they voiced their displeasure?”

Mr. Dore thought for a moment. “Well, when they found out what was going to be served instead of chicken nuggets, there were some people happy, but some people were unhappy. Let’s see, there was…” He stopped.

“Mr. Dore?”

“Of course! It must be Kent. F. Chiggin’s son, Kris!”

“Why must it be Kris?”

“Because Kris buys chicken nuggets every day at lunch, and he’s the class president. In his campaign platform, he pledged to bring chicken nuggets to the lunch menu everyday!”

“Mr. Dore, you might just have saved your pen. Now we must find this Kris Chiggin.”

| | |

6:23 PM, Kent + Amy Chiggin’s Residence Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 110 min

Agent Brunell rapped on the door of the Chiggin’s. He needed to talk to his mother. Only his mother would know where Kris was.

His mother opened the door, and gasped.

“Mrs. Chiggin, I am…” He arched his eyebrow and smiled. “Brunell. Evan Brunell. Agent Evan Brunell. Agent Evan S. Brunell. Agent…Evan…Steele…Brunell.” He smiled again.

“Oh, Agent Brunell! It is such a pleasure to meet you! I’m making chicken nuggets for dinner, so I can’t be kept long…what do you need?”

“Mrs. Chiggin, do you have a son named Kris?”

“Why…yes, I do…”

“Where is this child?”

“Why? Is Kris in trouble? I promise you, Agent Brunell, that boy is a good boy, he wouldn’t hurt an elephant—”

“Mrs. Chiggin, this is a matter of national security. Where is your son?”

“He’s at the arcade, I think…”

Agent Brunell was off to save the day.

| | |

7:37 PM, Archie’s Arcade Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 36 min

Agent Brunell entered the arcade, and scanned the crowd. Well, it wasn’t a crowd. There were only three boys in the arcade.

“Kris Chiggin,” Agent Brunell called out. “Kris Chiggin!”

The boy in the middle of the pack, playing Pac-Man, whirled around, took one look at Agent Brunell, and bolted out the door, running.

| | |

7:46 PM, Back Alley of Archie’s Arcade Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 27 min

Agent Brunell pursued Kris Chiggin.

| | |

7:50 PM, Mannsburden Lane Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 23 min

Agent Brunell chased Kris Chiggin some more.

| | |

7:56 PM, Princess Diana Drive Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 21 min

Agent Brunell started to gain on Kris Chiggin.

| | |

8:13 PM, St. Garciaparra Road Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 10 min

Agent Brunell chased Kris Chiggin up the lane. The school loomed ahead.

| | |

8:15 PM, Front Steps of SGHS Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 8 min

Agent Brunell leaped, and grabbed Kris Chiggin’s foot. Kris Chiggin’s kicked Agent Brunell’s hand away, and ran into the school. He ran up the stairs to the second floor. Mr. Dore peeked out of his door, and saw Kris bolting up the stairs. He pursued Kris.

| | |

8:18 PM, Mrs. Nixon’s Room (Room 1918) Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 5 min

Agent Brunell ran into the room, and skidded to a stop. Mr. Dore was in the middle of the room, staring at Kris. Kris held the red, plastic St. Garciaparra High School pen out Mrs. Nixon’s window.

“Don’t move!” Kris screamed. “Don’t move! I’ll drop it, I swear!”

| | |

8:19 PM, Mrs. Nixon’s Room (Room 1918) Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 4 min

Agent Brunell had only one thought in his mind.

“Did I leave the oven on,” he wondered?

| | |

8:20 PM, Mrs. Nixon’s Window Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 3 min

Beads of sweat started forming on Kris’ hands. Mr. Dore started screaming.

“I beg of you, Kris, don’t do it! Don’t do it! Oh. Holy Mother of St. Garciaparra! Don’t do it! I’ll do anything! I’ll serve chicken nuggets everyday! Spare the pen! Take me instead!”

Agent Brunell started walking forward.

| | |

8:21 PM, Mrs. Nixon’s Window Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 2 min

“Don’t move!” Kris screamed.

Agent Brunell kept walking.

“I said, don’t move!’

| | |

8:22 PM, Mrs. Nixon’s Window Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 1 min

Mr. Dore snapped out of his screaming fit.

“Kris, hand that pen over, now!”

Kris let go of the pen.

| | |

8:22 PM, The Air Time to Pen’s Safety Being Compromised: 0 min 1 sec

Agent Brunell leapt.

He leapt past Mr. Dore.

He leapt past Mrs. Nixon’s desk.

He leapt past Kris’ terror-stricken face.

He leapt out of the window.

His hand outstretched, he grabbed the pen, and then grabbed the windowsill. Dangling out the window, he pulled himself up until he was safely back in. The police had already gotten there, and were carting Kris off. Mr. Dore ran over to get the pen.

“Mr. Dore, your pen.”

“Oh, Agent Brunell, thank you so much!” Mr. Dore ran off.

“Who are you, anyways!?” Kris Chiggin yelled as the police carted him off.

From the door came a voice. “Brunell. Evan Brunell. Agent Evan Brunell. Agent Evan S. Brunell. Agent…Evan…Steele…Brunell.”

Agent Brunell looked with surprise at the door.

“Maria!”

Maria walked forward with a smile on her face.

“You did good, Mr. Agent Evan Steele Brunell. You have saved the world.”

Agent Brunell flashed his smile. “I know.”

“I know a good place, Mr. Agent Evan Steele Brunell. We can get acquainted there.”

“And where, pray tell, is that, Maria?”

Maria smiled. “The grocery store. Come, you can tell me if Prego or Ragu is better.”

| | |

And with that, Mission: Pen was over.

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FINAL MISSION: STORY!