Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 38)


Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 7.05.37 PM.pngThen the silence ended. Somewhere in the distance an ocean crashed against rocks; salt carried on the air filled my mouth and birds swooped and dived above me crying like children to each other. The rose was lying on the ground at my feet, its petals already fading.

Touch the rose and you will be there

I was surrounded by miles and miles of gold that glinted in the sun as far as the horizon; corn or something like it, gently swaying in the warm/cold breeze. I should have been afraid but I wasn’t. Instead, for the first time since Lila had been taken from me and the whole crazy parade of people who weren’t people at all, killing and being killed, had thrown my life into chaos, I was calm.

There was no sign of Sinistrus though I sensed him in everything. Suddenly a voice I recognised as his spoke to me. Not a sound. A knowing. Sinistrus was speaking to me without words.

“Welcome, Caleb,” the knowing said for the second time.

“Welcome to where? Where is this?”

“A place of safety – for a while.”

“But where?”

“Another world. Very different from your own.”

“Not so different. The sky is blue.”

“If you say so. The sky is whatever you wish it to be. That is the power you possess. The power of the nanites. Growing stronger within you.”

“No they aren’t inside me, not anymore.”


“Okay. A few. Most of them have been removed.”


“So what about the brain cancer? What about…”

He interrupted me. “Everything you’ve been told, all you have ever believed about yourself, is a lie. Your whole life as you understand it is a fantastic invention to keep you from discovering who you really are until the moment comes when you are needed. You asked for peace, Caleb. I brought you here. To this peaceful world.”


“To allow you to fulfil your destiny.”

“And what is my destiny?”

“To save your species.”

“Save it from what?”

“From itself.”

“I’m lost, Sinistrus.”

He – whatever he was – whispered inside me. “Close your eyes. Close your eyes and dream, Caleb.”

I did as I was told. Gradually the ocean, the sea birds, the voice inside my head all faded and I was a boy again, on a beach with my parents. My father was talking to me, telling me things beyond my understanding. My mother stood behind him, smiling. Tears were running down her face. My father lifted me and started to walk. I buried myself against him, feeling his warmth. Perhaps I slept, but I woke on a bed with both my parents leaning over me. My mother fussed with my hair. “It’s alright, darling,” she said. “Daddy won’t hurt you.”

The images drifted and became smoke. Sinistrus returned. “You asked where you were, remember? I told you another world.”

“Where I would be safe.”

He sighed. “Just one more lie I’m afraid. You can never be safe. They will come after you. They are already coming. I can hear them tearing at the veil.”

“The veil?”

“The invisible wall that separates this world from your own.”

Other worlds. Veils. Clones. It was too much. I said, “But what do they want from me? Why am I so important to them? I would’ve been happy to spend my life with Lila.”

Sinistrus shook his head. ‘Lila was one of them.”

I reacted. “No! No! We were in love. Lila put the nanites in me.”

“Wrong again, Caleb. She didn’t put them in.”

“But her kisses…”

“She was trying to suck them out of you.”

He turned his red eye on me. “Listen,” he said. “There isn’t time to explain. They have broken through. I will tell you only what you must know. Nothing more. Your father was a great scientist and an even greater human being. He was the one who created the nanites using your blood. And they killed him for it.”

“My mother?”

“Your mother too.”

Sinistrus gave me a second to take in the murder of my parents.

“Your father was wise as well as brilliant. He foresaw his own death. But before they got to him, he planted – maybe I should say replanted since they were born of you – the nanites deep inside his son. Inside you.”

I stared at him unable to comprehend the fantastical things he was revealing.

“Nanites are the single most important creation in the history of mankind. Used well they can do anything. Anything. Think for a moment what that could mean. No more hunger. No more poverty or illness. No scarcity of any sort.”

He paused.

“No need for conflict. World peace. Can you imagine? A perfect life made possible.”


He guessed my question. “Not everyone wishes for peace. Hatred is a drug and there are those who are addicted. Dark forces that prefer the world as it is. Those people cannot be allowed to control the nanites. What they would do with them is beyond evil.”

He held up a hand and turned his head. “Can you hear them? Can you hear them, Caleb? The pretence to being human has been abandoned. When you see them again you will see them as they really are. Savage souls without disguise.”

Sinistrus led me towards the distant sound of the sea. “Are you ready?’ he said.

“Ready to do what?”

“Own the power in you. Or destroy it. There is no other choice.”

“How? Tell me what to do.”

“Assume the terrible responsibility given to you by your father. Become who you really are.”

I was close to tears. It was too much. I was going insane. “You talk in riddles, Sinistrus. Just say it. Say it out loud.”

“Be. Be … Caleb.”

The tears came; I couldn’t stop them and I didn’t want to.

“Be who? BE WHO?”

“The Master of the Nanites. The most powerful man in this or any world.”



Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 37)

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 3.17.13 AM.png“I need to think. I need a rest. I need peace.” I sauntered through the people orchard barely taking notice of the eyes that watched from the keeper’s shed nearby. I felt uneasy and sick at my stomach. Blood oozed from my nostrils.

“You’re getting soft on top of irrelevant. Can’t take a little crazy. Useless,” Not-quite-Caleb hammered my brain.

As I tried to make my way to the road, I again became aware of an eerie set of red eyes jeering at me from the gate house just ahead. My head hurt so bad I wanted to slit my own throat and end this existence.

“Go ahead. Slit your throat. I knew you were a coward.” Not-quite-Caleb kept badgering me. “None of this is real, except the pain. Your best decision is to end it all. Go ahead. You have a knife in your pocket.”

“I have what you seek.” The red eyes of the bulky stranger standing in the garden gate pierced into my mind. “You seek peace.”

“I warn you, If you are here to bust me up, it’ll be fight like you’ve never had before.”

“Good, there is still a lot of vibrant life in you. You’ll do fine.”

The bulky stranger, at first only a silhouette against the street lights, pivoted and walked toward me. What next? I don’t know if I can deal with much more macabre.

“Let me introduce myself. I am Sinistrus.” He removed the rose from his lapel and offered it to me. “Go ahead, take it. This will bring you peace. Just take it.”

I knew I was having another delusion. If I can get to the “place of beginnings” I know I can sort this out and clean up the mess I’ve made. I wiped the blood from my upper lip. Strangely, my pounding headache had subsided. A rose appeared in my hands. Energy and vitality filled my whole being. This is not a delusion.

“Ready to talk?” Sinistrus asked. “You and I have a lot to talk about.”

“Do I know you?” I asked.

“No, but I know you…and the clone.”

“What? How? Why?” I once again found myself in the midst of fate and all its machinations. “ Sinistrus was a bulky red eyed being with a cloak of what appeared to be scales from an enormous creature of some kind. He carried a staff with a curious crescent medallion at its apex. His feet were not covered by any shoes, but by a leather wrap, worn like a sock without bindings. My apprehension was the least of my concerns. I knew I had to get to the “place of beginnings,” which for me was a place of answers.

“Caleb, I know you seek the “place of beginnings.” Just touch the rose and you will be there.

This is more than nuts. I have truly lost my ever-lovin’ mind.

“Yup, idiot. You finally got it. You’ve lost your mind.” Not-quite-Caleb shouted into my skull.

“Silence.” Sinistrus

My mind went totally numb. A feeling I once dreaded, but sought with every fiber of my being. Somehow Not-quite-Caleb was silent. “How did you do that?” I asked Sinistrus. “What, where did you go?” I looked around and the people orchard was gone. The street lights gone. My headache gone. I looked around me and could only see that I was not anywhere I had ever been. The trees were different. The smells were alien. The wind was curiously warm and cold.

“Welcome,” Sinistrus said.


Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 36)

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I hoped it didn’t … truly. If that broadcast were real, there’d be heat on me in double-time. I ran pathetically, under the amber influence, into the deepest darkness I could find. The cemetery was perfect, and I braced myself against a stone mausoleum to catch my breath and to think.

My head was swimming; my thoughts erratic. I couldn’t be sure my Not-quite-Caleb just sitting in front of me hadn’t been sent to scare me right back to the wretched chaos I escaped.

Escape. What was I thinking? There would be no such thing. Those moments walking to find a bar comprised the most ‘freedom’ I had known since I saw my Lila become lifeless before me. I wanted to turn back time. Back to when Lila and I began. I could vaguely remember how new love felt, and wondered if I had taken it all for granted. After my diagnosis I lived life in a down-ward spiral but this whole fiasco revealed that even that was a construct for my illusion. I wanted to puke. To think that I had been a pawn in her double-life was blowing my mind as I also rationalized the risk she had taken to save me.

There was no one to save me now. The irony of the cemetery was not lost on me. Nothing would have suited my life more than leaving it, but I would prefer to fair better than Lila when death comes for me. I clutched my head as my thoughts dizzied me. I couldn’t decide anymore whether I loved or hated Lila. Any ‘freedom’ in thought was a liberty I no longer had. Not-quite-Caleb appearing out of the blue had made that painfully clear. Beyond that, any future I may have entertained was quite likely to go up in smoke at the hands of a thug. And where were those fucking nanites when I needed them? I couldn’t make sense of the bartender being pissed, and Not-quite-Caleb so elusive. My hands slid down the cold stone.

“Fuckkkkk!” The burns were killing me.

“You’re becoming so simple,” jeered Not-quite-Caleb

“And you’re becoming IRRELEVANT,” I groaned as I lunged at him.

My face hit the dirt. There was no one there. No one and nothing but the laughter … mocking me, goading me. I struggled to clear my head. He didn’t want anything from me, so he had told me in the bar. One thing was certain. The others who DID want something from me would not stop.

“You don’t get it yet, do you?” he had said. I hadn’t gotten very damned much about recent days but it didn’t matter I decided. My life … no, WAIT … I couldn’t call it that … my ‘existence’ had been scaled down to one element, the way I was seeing things; survival – moment to moment. I told myself it didn’t matter whether the bar existed. Fuck Not-quite-Caleb and his psycho-babble!

In the distance, sirens broke the silence. I had to keep on the move … but to where?


Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 35)

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It took 15 minutes to find a bar, but I was grateful to walk that instead of run or be led at gun point. As side streets led to more public sidewalks, I was aware of how much of the night I wore. Grime from the elevator shaft on my shirt. Bruises from two car wrecks on my cheeks. Burns from a blow torch fight on my hands.

“What can I get you, friend?” the bartender asked in perfect English. It was a lucky break with perfect timing.

“I don’t care as long as it’s strong,” I said on my way past.

I had the place to myself and shuffled to a booth in the back, dropping heavy onto the wooden bench. With my forehead on the cool table, I closed my eyes. I might have slept if the bartender didn’t bring my drink.

“Rough night?” he asked and set a glass of amber liquid in front of me, scotch by the smell of it.

“You have no idea,” I shook my head and drained it. Surprise hit his face before a sharp laugh.

“I’ll get you another,” he patted my shoulder and turned to go back to the bar. When he was gone, I closed my eyes again, keeping my head up this time as I rubbed my eyes. There was so much to process, I didn’t know where to start. So much to unpack from my brain, I’d be in nightmares for months. The most normal thing that happened in hours was finding my girlfriend murdered. Every layer underneath it got stranger. Forget the nanites still inside me, now enjoying their nice scotch bath. There were four sets of clones wreaking havoc in Zurich, some wearing my face. Whatever it took to deal with that, I was too tired and overwhelmed to start then. But what choice did I have?

“I’ve seen worse problems,” a familiar voice said across the booth, “but not many.”

It was hard to imagine more intimate things than a voice inside your head, but this buried it six feet deep. I recognized the voice because it was mine. Opening my eyes, I stared into my own smiling face.

“You didn’t think this would end so easy, did you?” he said.

“Please leave me alone,” I begged.

He squinted as if considering it but shook his head. “I think I’ll stay right here.”

“What do you want?”

“Me? Not a damn thing, but there are a lot of people who do. You know too much to just walk away.”

“I don’t know anything.”

The bartender came back and set down another glass of scotch.

“You know about underground labs and government puppet masters. You know about me, and that’s not good.”

“I’ve never seen him before in my life,” I told the bartender. “Even if he does look like me.”

The bartender gave me a strange look and stepped backward, never glancing to the other side of the booth. As strange as that seemed, stranger still was the breaking news on the television behind him. The sound was muted, but the pictures told enough. Someone blew up a hotel and wrecked a car a few blocks away. More recently, they’d burned a couple of warehouse workers to death. According to the passport photo on the screen, that someone was me. Luckily, I had a scapegoat nearby.

“It was him,” I jabbed a finger at my clone, eyes switching from the screen to the bartender.

“Who?” he asked and looked more than a little scared.

“You don’t get it yet, do you?” my clone asked.

“Shut up,” I told him.

“Get out,” the bartender said.

“I bet you didn’t know Swiss until a few minutes ago.”

“I don’t,” I shook my head. “He’s speaking English.”

“I’m calling the police,” the bartender ran behind the bar.

“I think those stray nanites are tinkering with your brain,” the clone smiled wide.

“You don’t exist,” I muttered and covered my face with my hands.

“Maybe not,” he said. “But the real question is ‘does the bar?’.”


Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 34)

Screen Shot 2016-04-26 at 8.54.22 PM.png“You know they won’t let you leave Caleb, you know too much.” I looked down at the blow torch and the aerosol can and sighed softly. In what seemed like hours but really was only moments, my mind flashed back to my earliest memory. Me and my mom and dad sitting by the ocean making a sand castle. I was twelve maybe thirteen years old. It’s bloody amazing how life can change in so few years.

I went from dying to seeing the woman I love die; Being held at gunpoint to being blown up in an elevator to more guns, running from Senators and Doctors and clones. I was literally living in a bad sci-fi movie, without the happy ending.

“Give it up Caleb, we’ve won. You can’t leave, can’t stay, certainly can’t fight being a weakling such as you.” I stared at the two men and sat carefully on the lip of the trunk, my hands resting on either side as I slowly slid them behind my back, carefully and gently searching for the aerosol can and the blow torch I saw earlier.

“You know what kills me? My best memory is me dreaming about taking my girl to Tiffany’s to buy a ring. Next thing I know she’s dead and I’m in some creepy scary weird clone war. I’m dirty, I’m sweaty I haven’t had a proper meal all week and all I really truly want is a burger, some fries, and to mourn the girl I loved. Instead I get you two bozo’s. So what is it going to take for me to get some peace and quiet?”

“At this point?” The voice inside my head spoke softly. “A shotgun blast to the head probably, but chances are they’d just fill you with more bots and bring you back” I decided not to sigh and roll my eyes. “Not Funny. Not even a little” I said silently to myself.

As I directed them to my face, tilting my head to the left and right, and as I spoke my fingers worked at the blow torch. I felt the heat singe my fingers but I kept my face neutral as I grabbed for the can … as they came closer these two behemoth men, I stayed perfectly calm sitting on the lip of the trunk waiting until they were in arms length before lifting both my arms and simultaneously spraying the two in the face with flame and aerosol.

I didn’t let up.

It wasn’t until I could see as them turn away from the spray of flame that I saw the damage. Their arms burned trying to block my attack. I decided to have some fun with it and began to wave the can up and down trying to cover as much as their bodies as I could.

When they fell to the ground I moved quickly grabbing the hammer and began smashing into the gas task as hard as I could until the gas began to leak out. I stepped back and watched as it turned into a puddle and when I was a good ten feet away threw the torch into the puddle of gas, watching as the liquid lit up. The two gorilla’s were still on the ground crying out in pain trying hard to put out the flame only making it worse as their burned faces and arms rubbed against the gravel ground.

Then, I ran.

Hearing the car explode I didn’t look back to see if they were dead or if anyone was following, I couldn’t…there wasn’t time. (EDITORS NOTE: REAL MEN DON’T LOOK AT EXPLOSIONS)

I ran towards lights, the first lights I could see;  Each intake of air burning my lungs, more from exhaustion over the last week than lack of ability to run. I was tired dammit. I was tired and I was sore and I was sad and angry and I just wanted a break. Why wouldn’t, couldn’t the universe just give me a damn break?! Haven’t I earned that?

What were they thinking, clones!?! Hadn’t anyone ever seen the damn Matrix? Messing with computers never works out especially when you mix humans and computers. Idiots. I mentally swore if ever I got out of this I was going to live on a farm, far far away.

There would be no technology allowed. No phones, no t.v.’s. Not even a god damned microwave. Everything would be solar powered and not any of it would contain a single wire. I wouldn’t even have lights in my house. I’d use gas lamps. If I got sick I’d rough it out and if I died, at least I wouldn’t have to worry about having more robots eating away at my brain even if they did save my life.

And while I’m at it, no more women. Ever. Yeah that’s it. All these thoughts ran through my head as I ran, keeping to the shadows until I found myself on a road leading to a church. I sighed in relief, I mean it’s … no not going there.

Not even for one second going to think there isn’t something to worry about here. That would be too easy, too easy to think I’d be safe in a church, no one is ever safe in a church.

I went to the bar instead. That’s what I needed, a big stiff drink.


Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 33)

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 8.56.08 PM.pngI found myself walking past the voice of the unidentified female, and out the door.  “Oh you found the door, Good Caleb.”  Julie was back in my head somehow.  I had not felt her presence in some time, since we were electrocuted in fact. It made me intensely happy that she was back.

It wasn’t me smiling. It was the residual bio-nanites still in my system. Did they still have power? Once outside, I stood on the pavement, staring at the cold metal door. It did not open. No one followed me out. I had outlived my usefulness and they would be coming for me soon. Maybe.

Questions filled my mind, replacing the impotent rage that had propelled me outside.  Doctor Red said that our DNA, hers and mine, had been used to create the clones in their facility. She said killing them would be akin to killing our children. In the normal scheme of things, a child born naturally of two parents would be raised to adulthood over the course of 18 years, learning all both parents had to teach. How long did the clones have? Days? Weeks?

For the first time since Lila died, I felt free. The bio-nanites the Senator’s people wanted had been taken from me already, and I survived. Not-quite-Mercedes had taken me to this other underground lair where the clones were created, and I walked out, after learning a host of things that no rational human should know. I survived. Would they let me leave now? It was about time to find out.

There was a dark sedan just off to the side behind the facility. I walked over to the fenced in parking area and scaled the ten foot fence. Everything else I have been through this week has made scaling a fence facile in comparison. I jumped down once I got my left leg over the twisted links at the top, and bent my knees as I landed.

Giddy now, I chuckled, and looked up. The moon was full. Stifling an insane urge to howl, I reached over and grabbed the handle of the car on the driver’s side. It was unlocked. Of course it was, but that didn’t mean the keys would be there.

They weren’t. I used the lever on the driver’s side by the floor boards to open the trunk.  There were some tools in the trunk. A few hammers. Some screws. A blowtorch. Huh?  Before this weekend, the sight of the blowtorch would raise my eyebrows. Now, I didn’t think anything would shock me again. I was wrong.

“You thought you could just walk away from all this? Actually, yeah. I did walk away. I was still facing the trunk when I heard the voice, as well as the crunching of gravel on the ground.

People tend to make more noise when they’re trying to be quiet. There was an aerosol can of air in the trunk, next to the partially inflated spare in the center of the trunk.  That was going to do. Whipping around, I faced two of the same person.  The voice did not belong to either of them.


Exploits of a Midnight Traveler (Part 32)

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“We don’t know.” Doctor Red replied, “The bio-nanites have never been inside a host subject for so long.”

I gaped at her. Host subject? And how could they not know? With all the experimentation and cloning going on surely they were more equipped than this.

“Host Subject?” I said aloud to her, “Is that all I am to you? First you use my DNA without my permission to create these clones, then everyone wants to get these damn bio-nanites out of me instead of curing me as they’re intended to do because someone else out there is so god damned more important than I am. Even though it’s my DNA you all need to keep your operations running smoothly. Did I miss anything? And let’s not forget I’ve lost my girlfriend, met her twin in the form of a clone and have seen more people killed in the last 48 hours than I ever thought to see in my lifetime.”

The look on Doctor Red’s face said she wasn’t used to being talked to in such a manner, but I was tired of the game. Tired of being used, being left in the dark, and of being in a constant state of what-the-hell-is-happening-now sort of feeling. I just wanted to be done with all this shit I was being handed.

“It’s not like that. Everything is much more complicated than you realize Caleb.”

“Whatever.” I said, “Just get these bio-nanites out of me and I’ll see my way out of this mess.”

“Well that’s a lot harder said than done.” She said.

“What do you mean?” I questioned.

“Valenkov had resources at his disposal when he ‘reacquired’ the bio-nanites from you than we currently have at our fingertips. “

“You don’t know how to remove them do you?” I said. It was more a statement than a question to her.   So I’m stuck with them. I cradled my head in my hands. These people had no fucking idea what the hell they were doing. It appeared I was caught in the middle of some sort of clone war going on underground. Judging from my limited previous experience when all the bio-nanites were inside me, I suspect that my life was about to be permanently changed. As if it hasn’t been already, I thought. I can already feel the remaining nanites changing things. Making me stronger I suppose.

I got up from the slab I’d been laying on for the scans and made a decision. It was a bold one, but maybe it was because I had the nanites. Maybe it was because I just didn’t care anymore.

“I’m leaving.”

“Wait!” Doctor Red said.

I kept walking, ignoring the doctor’s pleas or the sound of her pressing a buzzer. It was probably some sort of alarm. I didn’t care which was kind of weird. Normally I’d be scared out of my skin. Maybe the events since Lila’s death had numbed me or was too much to take in. I really didn’t know. All I knew was that I was out the door, through the facility, past the sleeping clones. Past whatever the hell this entire experiment was. I wanted no part in it. I hadn’t asked for this to begin with.


I stopped. Lila? No it couldn’t be. Had to be another clone talking.