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Mackenzie Mackenzie

“I couldn’t understand what was going on. Her husband? What happened to no knowledge of customer or motive? Cindy practically had to push me out of the car but grabbed onto Dora as I left. Cindy said “You won’t need that here and it’s dangerous to keep on hand.” He eyed me suspiciously like he didn’t trust me and continued softer “You got that dead stare in your eyes. Don’t kill her too. I’ll get a new car and come back for you in an hour or so”. It was Christmas morning and light was starting to shine again in a greyish kind of way. I didn’t know what was happening but, doing as I was told, I went up to the house and rang the doorbell. The door opened immediately. It was like she was just waiting there for me. That was when I saw ‘the happy widow’ (that’s what I’ll call her). She was tall, maybe 5’10” and slender a bit older maybe early forties, but hard to tell. She was very pretty with a tapered face that didn’t seem to have aged much despite the tell-tale grey in her hair. She was pretty enough to make me jealous that at her age she gets to be that good looking. She was also clearly expecting someone else. She had on nothing but a silk robe tied loosely about her waist and I could clearly see from the revealingly low neckline created that she had no bra on and potentially nothing else as well. She had shoulder-length brown hair with hints of peppering grey in it as well and, compared to the harsh cold of the outside, the warmth emanating from her house felt wonderful. Here bravery escaped me. I just emptied an entire clip at a room full of gangsters a few hours ago before swan diving off a fire escape and now I am afraid of a middle aged woman. I look down and notice a small drop of blood trailing down my finger. I guess I didn’t do as good of a cleanup as I thought.

She spoke quickly and started looking up and down the street suspiciously as she talked “Who are you? Why are you here?” she said. She looked at me briefly. Words couldn’t come to my mouth. Harshly she said “if you’re here to sell girl-scout cookies or something go away. I’m expecting someone important.” I stammered at first and finally said slowly and awkwardly “I killed your husband”.

I do as I’m told.

Ok, this part was weird. Spitting out those words to a woman for no apparent reason at all. She looked at me harshly and whispered hoarsely “I don’t believe you”. Her eyes narrowed to slits and she suddenly looked almost serpentine with her slender body backing slowly and reaching around at the door handle ready to slam it shut.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, the logical portion that doesn’t die when all else goes blank, I remembered I still had his wallet so I handed it to her. She opened it and quickly looked up and down the empty snow-covered street then grabbed my hand and suddenly dragged me inside with amazing force and slammed of the door.

Once inside, she looked at the wallet and back at me again. It felt like an eternity under her gaze as her eyes passed from me to the wallet and back again. Finally, she said “Ok, how did you get this?” I explained everything about what I had done last night. I figured, what the hell. She knows I killed her husband already, why not dive all the way down the rabbit’s hole and explain everything. As I explained her expression went from distrust and anger to softening to nearly tears by the time I finished. When I had finished, she clutched me close and whispered in my ear “Thank you, oh God, thank you.” It was then as the silk robe slipped down a little from her shoulder that I saw the bruise that was there and the pieces started to fall into place for me. She held me back away from her a little bit and looked at me again. Dried her tears with one hand while she held on to me with the other. “My dear child, what is your name? Why were you sent to do this?” I spoke “My name is Angel. I work for Blakguard. It’s my job.” Nothing but flat, honest, truth with just enough lie to protect me. She starts chuckling from her tears “So child-labor to add to their list of crimes. Oh well, he’s gone that’s what matters. I’ll admit you are not at all what I expected. I was expecting a bold, young, handsome, man to come in and tell me I was free of that bastard forever. Not a little girl who smells a little bit like garbage and blood, but that’s what I get for being too romantic in my expectations, I guess.” Yeah, that makes sense. She was expecting someone like Tom. A normal looking assassin…”

Maggie Elizabeth Harrington Maggie Elizabeth Harrington

My father drowns my kittens. It is like a ritual. Every summer Princess has a litter of kittens; and every summer my father drowns them. It makes me dread the summer, which is sad, because I love the sun. I like to see the flowers reaching up to the sky, as if they were trying to touch the sun. There is a large field behind my house where I watch the lupines, daisies, sweet peas and lazy Susan’s as they sway back and forth in the wind. Lazy Susan’s are my favorite, because like them, I am kind of lazy. I am also a dreamer. I have lived in my dream world for as long as I can remember, and I think I will always live there. I like to daydream, because in dreams I can have things the way I want them to be, not the way they are. Not the way my father says they are. Not the way the Reverend White says they are. Not even the way my friend Annie Stetter says they are. They are exactly the way I want them. So I will always live in two worlds, in the real world where I have to be, and in my dream world where I prefer to be.

I hear my father clanging around out by the shed. He has brought a steel gray washtub out of the basement and put it down on the grass. In one half of the shed he keeps his shovels and rakes for the garden. The other half of the shed is a chicken coop. It is June, it is late Saturday afternoon, and my father has just come home from the copper mine where he works. Most of the chickens are outside the coop walking around clucking and pecking in their fenced yard. I watch them. They are such stupid animals, walking around on their bony feet looking primitive. They look like little stick people, without arms, wearing silly hats on top of their heads. They make me laugh a little, even on this day, which I know is going to be very sad.

I know why my father has brought out the washtub, to drown the kittens. I am holding Princess on my lap. I have to hold her to keep her from running over to them. I looked in on the kittens this morning and their eyes were not open yet. I am glad for that. I am glad they cannot see where they will be going, and I didn’t have to see their little kitten eyes, look into their tiny faces, all the while knowing that my father would be coming for them soon. Until they have eyes, they don’t really have faces. They cannot see and love me, and I cannot look into their tiny eyes and love them either. So it is less personal.

I cannot kill anything. It is not in my power to kill things like my father does. I could not kill a chicken like he does every Sunday. That is something that only my father can do. And he seems to do it with an ease that is hard for me to understand. I would like to ask him about that, I would like to know how he can so matter-of-fact remove a life from this world. Chickens and kittens are not like carrots and beans that you plant in your garden. You grow carrots and beans from a dry seed. Then you pull them from the earth and eat them, and then plant more seeds. But kittens do not come from dry seeds, they come from other kittens, just like people come from other people. Why it is alright to kill a chicken, or a kitten, but you are not supposed to kill a person. That doesn’t seem to make any sense. We all come into this world from the same place.

I can forgive my father for the chickens; we have them for dinner. I eat them, even though I hate to think about killing them. I like our Sunday dinner of roast chicken, mashed potatoes, and bread stuffing that my grandmother makes. I like to cook, and I like to eat chicken. I know that I have to eat, and I believe that it is all right that we have to kill a chicken for our dinner. But we don’t eat kittens, so it is not the same as it is with the chickens. There is no reason for killing the kittens.

My father goes back into the house and he comes out with a box. I hold princess very tight on my shoulder, with her head away from the shed. I watch my father walk over to the steel gray washtub he has filled with water and dump the contents of the box into the tub. It takes my breath away when I see Brownie, Tiger, Sugar, Edward, Ginger, and Jackie tumble into the water. It makes my heart pound and I cannot breathe.

I remember the day they came into the world; the day they slid all gooey and sticky out of Princess. I remember how she spent the whole day licking and cleaning them as they clutched at her nipples. How they would squirm and push at each other as they struggled to get to her milk. It was so funny to watch them. They were so cute as they hung from her like furry young pears hanging from a tree, clinging to the nipples that give them life. I found the birthing of the kittens so amazing. One minute they are not here, and the next minute they have crawled mysteriously out of a dark, wet, and slippery world that exists inside Princess. Now they are in this world, crawling around and looking for a nipple to hang onto so they can be fed and grow. I find it amazing. But my father does not see it as very amazing. I think he must see them as just kind of useless. I don’t think he cares much about anything except filling his stomach with chicken and other things that he kills. I have asked him why he kills the kittens. He tells me he is killing them because he does not wish to feed them. Because they have to be fed something that he could put in his stomach. “I can’t be feeding every kitten that cat of yours is going to have. I would be feeding an army of them if I didn’t drown them every summer. You are going to have to learn, Maggie Elizabeth, the world doesn’t feed you for nothing. You have to earn your keep. You don’t work; you don’t eat. And anything that can’t work isn’t of any use. Those kittens aren’t of any use. We can’t even eat them.”

Why can’t he eat them? They are not so different than chickens other than the way they look. They are much prettier than chickens, but they have meat, and they have to be fed just like chickens, and they will grow up to be cats. Why couldn’t he just raise them and eat them. At least he wouldn’t have to drown them. Maybe if he let them grow they might just run off one day and have kittens of their own. I simply don’t understand why he has to drown them? He keeps Princess because she keeps the mice out of the house. Our basement, where we store food and wash our clothes, is very damp. It is full of little moles and mice. Princess catches them all the time. I could leave the door cracked open so there would be more mice. The kittens could catch mice just like Princess does when they get a little older. Then he wouldn’t have to feed them at all. But he won’t listen. He will drown them instead. I think he just doesn’t want to bother with them. Maybe he simply doesn’t like them. I don’t think my father likes very much. I don’t think he likes very many people. My mother died when I was born. Maybe that’s why he doesn’t seem to like me very much, either.

I can hear the kittens in the water. I hear them scratching at the sides of the tub. But I cannot see them unless I was to walk over by the shed and look down into the tub, which I would never do. I stay seated on the back porch steps with Princess. She is uncomfortable on my shoulder, squirming and wiggling. I take her with both of my hands and hold her out in front of me, and look at her face. I look at her eyes and I see fear. She can hear her kittens and she wants to go to them. She loves them. I don’t understand how a dumb cat can love something and not want it to die, and my father doesn’t love anything. I don’t understand this. Princess is trying to get away from me to save her kittens, and he is just standing there letting them drown. Not feeling anything other than he must feed them, and because they cannot work they are useless. I wonder if their eyes are open as they struggle in the water. I wonder if they have tried to get at least one peek of the world they are leaving. The world they did not ask to come into. I hope they haven’t opened their eyes. There is not that much worth seeing. There is very little on this earth that makes you really happy. My father has taught me that.

I walk up the steps and put Princess back in the house. I am worried she will get away from me and run to her kittens. I do not want her to see what is happening to the kittens she loves, but my father doesn’t. So I put her inside the door and walk back down the steps. I can feel the bright sun on my face and I shield my eyes. I like the summer and the sun. They are feeding the flowers, feeding our garden full of beans, potatoes, peas and carrots. All we have to do is put the seeds in the ground and let the sun feed them. So my father is wrong. The world will feed us by itself if we let it. He is very wrong and he does not have to drown my kittens. I hate him right now. I know that I shouldn’t, he is my father. But right now, right this minute, as my kittens struggle for their lives and he does nothing, I hate him.

After several minutes the scratching against the side of the tub stops. My father pokes in the tub with his finger. Making sure they are dead. It gives me goose bumps to see him poking at my dead kittens. But he wants to make sure that none of them are alive. I hate him as I think about this. He pulls his hand out of the tub and shakes the water off. Yes, they are all dead. They have all drowned. They are filled with water instead of milk, and returned to wherever they came from, a place where no one has ever been, where no one survives. He takes the spade he had gotten from the shed, goes out to the garden on the other side of our yard, and digs a hole among the potatoes and carrots. Then he gets the washtub and carries it out to the garden, past the clucking funny looking chickens that are all right to eat, and dumps the dead kittens into the hole.

I watch where the spot is. Later I will make a little marker out of some sticks and twine. I will make a cross so that my kittens can go to heaven. This idea makes me feel a little better. The helpless feeling as I watched my father drowning them is starting to ease. I hate that feeling, knowing that something is happening that I don’t want to happen, and I am powerless to stop it. I am not going to live like that when I grow up. When I am older I am going to stop those things before they happen; and never feel that way again. But right now I am thirteen years old, and I can’t stop anything. I am thirteen years old, and I have chosen to live in a dream world because I cannot stop the things in the real world I do not like. Someday that will change. But even then I think I will hate my father. I think I will always hate him because of what he does to my kittens, and because I don’t think he likes me that much either. He just doesn’t drown me.

He fills the hole in with earth and stands there for a moment. It looks like he is saying a prayer for them. Why would you say a prayer for something you just killed? Why would you pray for something you removed on purpose from the world? That doesn’t seem to make any sense. But that is what I think he is doing. Then he puts the spade in the tub and walks back to the shed. He looks at the chickens as he walks by. He is picking out our Sunday dinner. I wonder if they know why he is looking at them. He puts the spade back in the shed and walks towards me carrying the washtub. As he walks past me, down into the basement, he says to me. “You can’t just sit there all day, Maggie Elizabeth. You have chores to do. That soil out there needs to be loosened. The wash has got to be done. We need clean clothes for church tomorrow. This is Saturday and we have to catch up the chores before church tomorrow,” he says, and then he disappears down into the basement.

I don’t know why we go to church? Why we go and pray every Sunday to be forgiven for all the things we did wrong all week. It seems to me that it would be easier to simply not do all those things we did all week, and then sleep in on Sunday. But my father is a hard man, and I learned a long time ago not to think about those things and just do what he says. He is not a cruel man, in spite of what he did to my kittens. He is not cruel; he is just a hard man. I am sure it is because my mother died. Maybe all the love that God had given him went to heaven with her. Maybe he is bitter because I am here and my mother is not. I have asked him about my mother, but he doesn’t like to talk about her. It makes him sad and he just shakes his head and says, “Never mind, Maggie Elizabeth. We can’t live in the past. What is done is done. It won’t do any good to be dragging it all up again. It won’t change a thing. It won’t make things different.” I think this why he is so bitter. He just doesn’t believe things can get any better. I don’t feel that way. But I know how he is, so, when he says, “It’s time to get up and do your chores,” I know it is time I got up and did my chores. I am a little frightened, though, to go down into the basement today. I do not want to go down there and put my clothes in the steel gray tub that my kittens were drowned in and wash them. I do not want to put my hands into the tub. I am afraid I might touch their little spirits, which must be very sad and angry right now, and are still clinging to the sides of the washtub. But I do not want to make my father angry, either. He is a hard man, my father. He is not cruel, but his life has made him hard.

Mango and Kiwi Mango & Kiwi

Mango is a Sun Conure or Sun Parakeet, and Kiwi is a Double Yellow-Headed Amazon Parrot. Their owner Trina lives in Oklahoma, and she bought both of them at a Bird Fair in Tulsa. Trina saw so many lovely birds at the Bird Fair that it was very hard to decide which birds she wanted to take home. She finally picked a Sun Conure and a Double Yellow-Headed Amazon Parrot. She fell in love with all the colorful feathers that they have. Trina took both birds home and became very attached to them in no time at all. Trina thought they were both sweet and beautiful.

She put their cages close to a window so they could see outside. Her birds were able to enjoy all the wild birds and animals that came around Trina's house. Her house has a fantastic view of Keystone Lake. It is in the country surrounded by thick woods.

The next day she gave Mango and Kiwi a bath. She put both of them in the shower on a shower perch. They enjoyed their shower and then she blow-dried both of them until they were all nice and fluffy. Mango and Kiwi looked so pretty.

Mango loves to eat popcorn. He also likes to eat large noodles. He uses his feet like hands to help him eat. Trina took pictures of Mango eating popcorn and large noodles.

Trina has a large guard dog named Smoke. Smoke is a black Chow. He sleeps right next to Trina's bed each night. Smoke makes Trina feel very safe.

Trina enjoys the visitors that come to her house each day. She never knows what will show up outside on her back porch. She looked out one day and saw two turkeys stepping up on her back porch! Then the two turkeys jumped up on her back patio table and started eating the birdseed that she had put out for the wild birds. She thought that was pretty wild and loved watching the turkeys. One of the turkeys walked right up to her back glass door. Then the turkey spread its tail feathers all the way out. It was amazing to watch up close. Turkeys have beautiful feathers.

Trina has a large pine tree just outside her living room window in the front of her house. She planted the pine tree from a little seedling. There is a beautiful Mourning Dove who lives in the pine tree! Everyone loves to watch the dove from the front window. She named the dove Lonesome. She feeds him birdseed every day. There are also two stray chickens that showed up and now live in the thick bushes in the front of her house. She puts a pile of birdseed out for the chickens too. She named the chickens Butter Rump and Butternut.

It was very late in the evening and Trina was in bed sleeping when Smoke woke her up barking. He took off running to the back door barking even louder and growling. Trina jumped up and ran to see why Smoke was barking. Mango and Kiwi started screaming. She looked over at the back door and saw a coyote in her house! Smoke attacked the coyote, and the coyote ran back out the doggie door. After that scary night, she closed the doggie door so they would all be safe from wild animals coming into the house. She thought the coyote looked sick, so Trina took Smoke to the animal hospital. The coyote had bitten Smoke on his back leg. Smoke had to have several stitches put in his leg and they gave him a shot so he wouldn't get sick. Smoke was a hero! He had saved Trina from the coyote.

A couple of days later, Mango and Kiwi both started screaming. Trina ran over to look out the window to see what was scaring her birds. Her mouth dropped open. There was a large Black Panther on her back porch! She knew there were Black Panthers in Oklahoma, but she had never seen one. She thought it was gorgeous. You can live in Oklahoma your whole life and never see one. Suddenly, she saw another Black Panther! This one was smaller and came up right behind the large Black Panther. Both of the Black Panthers sniffed all around the back porch until the large Black Panther saw Trina. As soon as it saw Trina, it got spooked and took off running.

Lavonna Moore - Marissas Nightmare Marissa's Nightmare

Marissa Romano slowly started waking up, and she was very confused. She didn't know what had happened to her. All she knew was that she was sitting in her car; she was in terrible pain and bleeding all over. She looked up and saw that the front windshield was shattered, and there was glass all over the car seats and floorboard. She realized her head must have hit the front windshield. She looked into the rearview mirror and was horrified by what she saw. Large shards of broken glass were embedded in her face and head! Blood was dripping down from her eyes! She must have covered her face with her hands when she had the wreck because there were huge splinters of glass in her hands too. Her hands were also bleeding from all of the cuts on them. The last thing she remembered was getting into her car after stopping to get gas along a deserted country road in the woods. She had missed her exit on the highway and ended up on a country road in the middle of nowhere. She had looked down and noticed that she was low on fuel. After driving for miles and miles, she had finally stopped when she saw a gas station ahead. She remembered she was on her way to meet some of her friends for the weekend at Lake Sardis in the mountains of southeastern Oklahoma. Everything after that was still a complete blank. She didn't even know her name or who she was!

Mars Making Contact Mars: Making Contact

The Red Planet holds an enduring fascination. Filled with extraordinary detail and documents, this book offers a visually stunning insider's look at how Mars has been explored and the challenges facing future missions. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has been the principal explorer, launching the Mariner spacecraft that sped past Mars and snapped 22 grainy photographs in 1965. After many flybys and orbital missions, NASA finally landed the twin Viking probes on Mars in 1976. From 1996 through to the present day, a series of rovers have been sent to Mars, each more sophisticated. Today two rovers are operating on the red sands Curiosity and Opportunity. They have enabled us to make incredible discoveries, each more compelling than the last. Ancient rivers, lakes, ocean beds, and valleys have been charted, suggesting a landscape that could once have supported life. Preparations are already underway for a manned mission to Mars, and the book discusses the many challenges faced, from the design of the spacecraft to the impact on the human body, both physically and psychologically of such a journey as well as surviving on the planet's inhospitable surface.

Melkorka Melkorka

Branimir is a slave to the mighty Highborn. Unwittingly, his masters forge a copper dagger capable of destroying the Ash Tree. Drawn along on the quest to remedy the mistake of his masters, Branimir becomes the most unlikely of heroes in an inimical world of magic and mayhem.

Memories of a Prisoner Memories of a Prisoner

Prison, a time in my life that I want to forget. So why am here now after all of these years? Even though the prison has long since gone…..

I remember the fear when I’d been caught, used as a scape goat while the others got away. I thought I was hard, hanging out with the older boys, doing the dirty work for them just so I could be part of the gang. Then when they got away with all of that money, with me as the look out, I didn’t even know they’d left me. There I was caught red handed with that family tied up in the bedroom terrified, and the kids screaming blue murder. I felt so guilty I wanted to cry, but that would have looked weak so I put on a stony face and let the police lead me away.

They never found the rest of them so it was all taken out on me. I didn’t deserve such a harsh sentence but they obviously decided they needed to blame somebody so I would do. I was a wreck, even thought about ending it at one point, probably would have in fact if it hadn’t been for my family. They visited me as often as they could and the fear and sadness I saw in mum’s eyes, the unconditional love that poured out of her even though I was now classed as criminal, saved me. I couldn’t have done that to her she’d have been destroyed so I forced myself to keep going, look to the future when I would eventually walk out of those gates a free man.

I look around now at this peaceful garden and remember when the innocent looking fences were topped with barbed wire, when the gate was fitted with a huge padlock…..and I didn’t have a key. When the dogs on the other side of the fence weren’t pets but angry vicious enemy’s trained to attack at the slightest sign of an attempted escape.

The alarm sensors that picked up the tiniest steps outside of the perimeter fence, screaming shrilly, alerting all. The times I was awakened in the night, with my heart pounding in my chest as I heard guards shouting…..gunfire popping, cries of anguish, then silence.

As I stand here the memories assaulting me, I notice the left over evidence of times gone by. Bullet holes in the fence. The bare soil where no grass grew, because of the constant trailing backwards and forwards of the guard dogs and their handlers.

Looking at this sad and quiet place a memory of the past that haunts me, I can see us now, myself and the other inmates huddled in a group in a corner of the prison yard sharing a sneaky cigarette. Always on the alert in case a warden came along.

I remember the patch of grass where the sun always shone, everyone battling to get to it first so they could soak it up and feel the warmth on their skin before being returned to the cold cells, shut in, locked away.

When I was eventually released and free of the confines of this place I swore I’d never go anywhere near again. I even left the county for a while. But then I heard it had been closed down. Rumour had it the guards were as dodgy as the prisoners and there weren’t enough honest ones to keep it open, how ironic is that?

However I knew the only way that I could believe it no longer existed was to see for myself. Now I have, the fear and weight that has always been on my shoulders is already lifting. I can finally push the memories aside sure in the knowledge that I’ll never have to go through that again. I’ve been on the straight and narrow ever since and I intend to stay that way.

With a sigh of pure relief, I turn my back on this outdoor space, now a place of tranquillity but once hiding so much sadness, and walk away. I’ve laid my demons to rest.

Memories Of My Future Memories Of My Future

The first time Veeresh saw her, he learned what a true heartbeat was. It was more than two years before he would find himself in a prison. The son of the city’s wealthiest man was getting married to a girl from a highly respected family and nearly every townsperson was in attendance. Dressed in their finest garments, men wore bright-colored sherwanis. The heavy fabrics had the presence of a lining and were a cross between the British frock coat and Indian kameez. Alongside their male companions, women were covered in vibrant shalwar kameezes or saris. Their garments came in many colors and sizes. Some were heavy while others were light.

The groom’s family owned a large three-story complex where the entire family from the great-grandfather to the great-grandchildren lived. It was the largest home within a hundred mile radius of Bhagwanpur. The red-bricked building could be seen for miles around and its architecture was something to be marveled at. It reminded many of the palaces of old.

The festivities were being held in an open field next to the complex. Red, green, and gold tents and canopies had been set up throughout the grounds, protecting the wedding’s guests from the evening sun. The largest canopy, a red and gold patterned one, was set up in the center of the fields. The last marriage ceremony, the Saptapadi, had been performed under it only hours ago. The fire that the groom and bride had circled seven times still burned and its thin line of smoke continued to rise into the air.

A professional band played joyous music in the field, using a variety of instruments ranging from stringed instruments to aerophones to drums. But the two most prominent were the drum-like dholka and tabla. The musicians expertly beat upon them and their sounds could be heard in every corner of the field.

Children could be seen running around the tents and dodging the adults as they chased one another. To them, this was the highlight of the wedding. Their laughter filled the air as they played their games. Their jubilant voices were so loud that they rivaled the music.

Women wore the decorative henna on their hands and the younger ladies took every opportunity to compare their temporary body art with one another. After all, whomever had the better design would have bragging rights until the next occasion. Older woman all spoke of the new couple and surmised what their thoughts were. They guessed whether the first child would be a son or a daughter. And as they did at every wedding, they tried to predict which eligible singles would be next in line for marriage.

Men spoke with one another of politics. Tensions had been escalating between the Company and the people of India. Some spoke of revolution, but most did not believe it would come to that. At least not in their lifetimes.

Over the last century, blissful occasions like this had become rarer and rarer. People could not afford lavish ceremonies such as this and the ones that could were not willing to do so. After all, it had not been long ago that countless Biharis were forced to migrate to the West Indian islands as indentured servants. And at the root of all the chaos was the misrule of the Company and Crown.

But today, that was on nobody’s mind.

Veeresh was well-groomed for the function. His cheeks and chin was cleanly shaven. The only facial hair he wore was the traditional Brahmin mustache. He wore a light brown outfit with loose, white trousers that covered him to his ankles. After witnessing the ceremony, he chose to go to the complex like many of the men. He was not one who enjoyed being in the middle of a celebration. Instead, he preferred to be outside-looking-in. With his hands behind his back, the handsome and well-spoken man walked along the balcony of the third floor as he looked down at the function below. He could see the entire thing in one glance from his high vantage point. Although he was a man of eloquence, he was not one to start a conversation. He was an observer. Many described him as a man of quiet strength.

As he passed by numerous people, they all spoke their greetings to him and he returned them with respect. Every person in the town recognized Veeresh, but it was not just because he was one of the strongest and tallest men in the city. Instead, it was because he was a man who many youth aspired to be and a person who many elders even looked at with reverence.

His eyes came back onto the scene on the ground floor. It seemed that there was more excitement as the day went on. Men mingled with men and women mingled with women. Outside of the children, there was not traditionally much interaction between the people of opposite genders.

And it was here, at this point, that he saw her beautiful face.

When he first laid eyes on her, she was smiling and laughing. Dressed in a vibrant, yellow outfit that covered her slender figure, each lock of her long black hair seemed to fall perfectly into place. Her face was fairer and lighter than any other person’s just as his was. She appeared to be a few years younger than he. She was surrounded by other girls her age and younger. Their laughter filled the air and drowned out the music at times. However, he could make out her pretty laughter above the rest. Its sweet sound filled every inch of his heart and he felt his heart rate start to accelerate.

But the thing he saw most was her eyes.

They were the eyes of beauty and innocence. Almond shaped, the brown eyes had a hint of yellow in them. It was seeing them that Veeresh knew what perfection really was.

His gaze remained on her as she moved her hands through the air in excitement and spoke to her peers. As she turned her head to look from one companion to the next, her hair moved flawlessly. Her eyes held so much excitement and happiness. Veeresh was not sure how long he spent looking down and marveling at her beauty and perfection. It may have been minutes. A slight smile formed at the corners of his lips without his knowing. He became lost in her. Lost in her movements. Lost in her voice. Lost in the sight of her.

Another girl began to speak and they all looked at her, including the girl. But her eyes did not stay there for long. Feeling his gaze, she slowly looked up and saw him high above her.

And for the first time, their eyes met.

Men With a Mission Men With a Mission

The aid workers fed the children and were attending to the needs of the mothers when Frank noticed a group of small boys kicking a football. He commented to John, “No matter how grim things may be, kids will always find a way to play.” One of the mothers told him that they had found the ball in one of the deserted, burnt out villages they passed through.
During a break, Emile was able to share a coffee with some of the aid workers. He was told that the North Vietnamese had set up overnight camps close to the Ho Chi Minh trail, right through the border region. They were usually under heavy vegetation cover and usually near fresh water. This particular camp was not used as it didn't have enough cover. However, it was used a few times. It was common practice for their camp to be surrounded by several land mine fields. The fields are usually well defined with signs in Vietnamese, along with “skull and cross bone” signs. They were made because they figured that any enemy would attack under the protection of darkness, and if this happened, they would not see the signs.
While Emile talked to the aid workers, Frank and John looked around the camp.
A group of small boys was kicking the ball when suddenly a gust of wind blew the ball into the land mine area. One small boy ran after it. He grabbed the ball and turned to the other boys. The huge grin on his face showed how proud he was. He then heard the other boys shouting at “Stand Still!” He looked bewildered until he saw the skull and crossbones sign. His grin turned into a look of horror as he realised where he was standing.
John was the first who heard the commotion and ran to see what was going on. Frank followed him. When they saw the boy in the mine field, John shouted to the boy. “Vẫn bình tĩnh, và chúng tôi sẽ đưa bạn trở lại đây một cách an toàn, nhưng bạn phải ở lại vẫn rất yên tĩnh.” which meant “Stay still, and we will get you back here safely, but you must stay very still.”
The boy nodded. John ran back to the Land Rover and grabbed a long piece of rope. When he returned, he tied one end around a large tree and the other end around his waist. He then said to Frank, “Feed the rope out as I go towards the boy, but make sure you keep it taunt.” He then shouted to the boy in Vietnamese that he was coming for him.
John carefully and slowly edged towards the boy, at the same time he was looking for any signs of the boy’s footprints. There were very few as the ground was fairly well compacted over time. Finally, he reached the boy who at this time was clearly frightened and a stream of urine running down his leg was obvious.
In one movement he picked the boy up and turned around and faced Frank. By now the entire camp had gathered at the site, including Emile.
John then shouted to Frank to pull the rope tight and tighten it around the tree. No sooner had Frank tied it around the tree, he walked out to John and the boy, using the rope as his guide. When he reached John, he took the boy in one arm and the rope in the other and slowly edged back out of the mine field. As he reached the edge, the whole camp roared into applause. He handed the boy to Emile and turned back to John.
John called to him to untie the rope from the tree and to place it on the ground. John then undid the rope around his waist and placed it the ground. He then took a step towards Frank and then another. Everyone was quiet until he took the third step and the sound of a “click.” John froze, and everyone else gasped. John had stepped on a Jumping Jack land mine.
John had a little knowledge of how it worked. He remembered his father telling him years ago that when someone stepped on it, the fuse was dislodged. Then, as the target person stepped off it, the main fuse ignited the first charge and propelled the unit about 2 metres into the air, where it then exploded. This way one mine could injure everyone within range.
He also remembered his father once telling him that, if you lie flat on the ground and a grenade was set off next to you, you would be unlikely to be hurt. This was because of the angle of the explosion. Provided that both you and the grenade were on the ground.
With this in mind, he shouted to Emile, “move everyone away for at least fifty metres, no, make it a hundred metres.”
“I am going to jump down and lie flat on the ground, If I am lucky, the explosion will go above me, and I should be alright. You both move back a bit!”
As soon as they moved back, John jumped forward, but before he reached the ground, the device exploded in the air.
John was killed instantly!
Frank and Emile were also struck! Emile had several shrapnel wounds on his arm, chest and leg. Frank had his left leg severed. Several of the aid workers gave first aid while their leader had called over the radio for help!

Mended Mended

She was aware of how close he stood to her in her small kitchen, and she was tempted to reach out and touch him. Her heart skipped a beat whenever his arm lightly brushed hers as he reached for the rinsed dish in her hand. The air between them pulsed with life and seemed to pull her toward him. Did he feel this too or was she losing her mind? She snuck a glance at him and he appeared relaxed and casual as usual. It was just her, then. As he leaned in to grab the next dish from her hand, he exhaled a warm breath that caressed the skin on her neck, causing her to break out in goose bumps.

Missing Dead or Alive Missing - Dead or Alive

When Tim, Maria and Bob’s fourteen year old apparently model son goes missing, they are baffled and distraught. A police investigation reveals Tim wasn’t quite the son they thought he was. Frantic attempts to find him fail, and when their quest becomes an obsession this causes problems between them. But they never give up, and are determined to find him DEAD OR ALIVE, even though it may cost them dear.

Missions to the Moon Missions to the Moon

Missions to the Moon traces our quest to explore this final frontier, starting with the deadly development of German V1s and V2s in the Second World War, through the pioneering adventures of the Apollo moon-landing program, and culminating in the future of lunar exploration with the recent missions by China, Japan, and Europe.


Through 150 stunning photographs and 20 beautifully recreated rare facsimile documents that almost make you feel like part of the crew, we witness the lethal Apollo 1 fire; celebrate the success of Apollo 8, the first manned spacecraft to orbit a celestial body; marvel at Apollo 11 and the first man to land on the moon; and share the dangers endured by the astronauts aboard the ill-fated Apollo 13.

These are events the whole word watched in rapt attention. Now everyone can relive the experience or enjoy it for the first time.


The historic facsimile documents include:

• Werner von Braun’s 1964 design for a space station

• A 1969 issue of the USSR newspaper Pravda, celebrating the success of Soyuz 4 and 5

• The official NASA photograph of the Apollo 7 flight crew

• The mission report from Apollo 11, as well as the descent map

• The Apollo 13 flight log

• A memo outlining future plans for Apollos 18, 19, and 20 before they were cancelled

• And more!