Chapters 10, 11, 12…

Hello, and welcome back to my novel! A rather belated addition to my book online and I thought for continuity sake I’d add a few chapters at at time to help move the story along. Thank you for your readership and patience.

A big shoutout to Jane Stansfeld, a regular reader of my blog and a fellow writer who gives me great insights and commentary on my story. Please do check out her latest work here.

Without further ado, here are the next three chapters. To access chapter one and two, please go to the Dark Veil page. Enjoy! And as always any and all comments are always welcome.

Chapter 10

Keane met Major Erik Von Osburg on the tarmac. He was well acquainted with him. He trained with him in Texas, when officers of Unicon were chosen. Keane knew he had to handle him with care.

Osburg, like him, also went through extensive training, with a mercenary outfit called The Outpost. Before that, Osburg trained with the elite Texas Rangers, as well as a brief stint with the Marines.

Keane had spent months—years—honing his survival and combat skills with a group called The Barrens, a well-disciplined, highly competent platoon of men from New England, men who sought justice from the horrors inflicted on the populace. Teddy Bowles was part of that platoon.

Osburg’s men in contrast relished the most hellish missions and were in deep within Unicon. Keane heard of their ruthlessness when dealing with any uprisings. But since the construction of DM West, the rebellions were sporadic. Not only did citizens have to deal with the eye in the sky, but they had to be careful not to engage the SPS. Or the bounty hunters.

The drones made sure of that. And the members of The Outpost, who nicknamed themselves The Dreaded Drifters, reveled in their notoriety. Major Osburg was the commander of this ruffian clan of marauders. One had to keep their wits about them.

“Major Beckett, welcome to Phoenix. Or what’s left of it,” Osburg chortled. He was still a handsome man, tall and slim and self-assured—cocky, more like it—with that shock of black hair that always fell over his forehead, now tinged with gray. He still had that boyish charm, but Keane knew those deep cobalt-blue eyes possessed a hellish soul. He wore a khaki short-sleeved shirt and matching pants, and a Glock 17 strapped to his waist. Despite the passage of years, Osburg hadn’t aged at all.

He led Keane to a waiting vehicle, a recently upgraded M1151 Humvee, retrofitted with the latest hardware. “As you know, we’ve had a few setbacks of late, but nothing to be worried about. I’ll fill you in on the details at The Barracks.”

Barreling along Interstate 10 out of Sky Harbor, Keane made out a few distant dots, campfires from the few citizens who bravely ventured out after nightfall. Sometimes, they never came back. Life here, like the rest of the country, was bleak. In these desolate reaches of the desert, scraps of food were hard to find. People were forced to scavenge, scour the wastelands, for even the simplest meal.

When the firestorms began, when terror descended from above, people who still had vehicles and guns holed themselves up as best they could. The Truzio administration, completely under the control of the Corporate Elite, implemented draconian measures across the country. Situations became dire. Thousands simply chose to end their lives. Bodies lay strewn across the country, their stinking remains festering, for others to see and fear. Early mornings brought buzzards and coyotes to the scene, both vying for bloodied scraps. This had become the norm.

All in less than a year.

Once the onslaught of Unicon was in full swing, the elite had devised ways for citizens to take their own lives, ridding themselves of the endless horror that was now the mainstay.

Unicon provided plenty of drugs to the masses. Those willing to work on The Farms, or turn in their fellow citizens, were welcome at the Happy Shacks, reinforced depots dotting the country, bunkers stocked with booze and drugs. The elite wanted people to remain in a stupor, heavily sedated against the misery that pervaded society. Intoxicated, they posed no threat to the State.

Most jobs were found in the fields, hard labor to sustain the elite. Other, less desirable jobs were left to the clean-up crews, mopping up the disgusting sites of human destruction, citizens crushed by the Deep State.

All of this, the misery, the sorrow, the fear perpetrated by a government gone insane. Keane Beckett thought this as he was jostled about in the Humvee, wondering how in hell he would kick-start the rebellion. It seemed impossible.

He thought more of what had transpired since Unicon took over North America. Everything seemed hopeless. Futile.

Nuclear meltdowns across the globe. California a wasteland, a dead zone, after the fallout from Fukushima, the once pristine coastline, uninhabitable. The effects of radiation took its toll on the west coast.

Food sources scarce. Attempts to infiltrate the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on the island of Spitsbergen were ruthlessly thwarted. All who tried were eliminated.

The weaponization of weather had gone completely awry. Scientists from AFAP had no idea of the long term effects of their experiment; massive hurricanes and immense tidal waves around the planet, severe droughts and raging firestorms, entire communities devastated, decreasing the crush of seven billion people on the globe, ice caps melting at an alarming rate. The elite smirked at the demise of such petty minions. Eugenics was in full swing.

Escape remained an illusion. Any collusion with others was fraught with fear. No one knew who to trust, who to talk to. It seemed the end of the earth was imminent. But people were resilient. There had to be a way. There must be a way.

As the Humvee sped along the uneven trails, in the gloom outside his window Keane occasionally glimpsed the shadowed remains of rotting corpses along the road. Feral dogs scavenged the dead, plucking at putrid flanks. The stench of decay crept inside and Keane thought he would hurl. He knew outside his window the possibility of fetid, air-borne plagues were real, carried along by flies buzzing over maggot-infested corpses.

Keane glanced over at Osburg, who seemed to be smiling; a smug, stupid, and ignorant smirk of misguided superiority. The horrors outside didn’t appear to affect Osburg in the least. Once the rebellion was in motion, Keane relished the thought of feeding this sadistic bastard to the snapping jaws of mongrels.

Osburg looked over at him. He would never know Keane’s grin was not because of the suffering outside in the odorous night air, but in anticipation of killing Osburg himself.

Keane could not wait for that moment.

Chapter 11

Jake’s little pep talk provided some comfort to the shaken people in the room. Now that their numbers were few, everyone had to watch each other’s back. No time for petty quarrels or differences. They had to work together.

Since their location was compromised, Jake said it was paramount to leave and find new accommodations, somewhere more remote, outside the proximity of Phoenix and Sky Harbor. Since DM West had been completed, more and more citizens who resisted the State were tossed into its hellish interior. The only hope was to travel north, to escape the detection of the SPS, whose numbers in Phoenix seemed to be multiplying at an alarming rate.

“Before coming here, I lived near Cottonwood,” Tia Pascal said. “I know a few places in the mountains where we could hide out. I’ll give you the details later on.”

Julie liked her. Tia was an athletic, pretty Hispanic who grew up in Arizona, who knew a lot of the territory. Julie also liked her spunk. She didn’t take any shit from anyone. It’s a good thing the patrols didn’t get a hold of her in the raid, or she would have ended up like the others: dead on the trails and carrion for buzzards.

“Ok, great. Thanks, Tia,” said Durand. “That sounds like an excellent idea. I’ll talk to you about it right after the meeting.” He turned his attention to the remaining few. “We cannot afford to stay here any longer so let’s see what we can pack up tonight. We’ll move out tomorrow morning at 0500 hours. Okay, that’s a wrap,” he said and stepped away from the podium. He paused and added, “Oh, one more thing. If Julie, Tia, and Zach can stick around for a few, I’d like to speak to you. The rest, pack up and get some shuteye. Our journey begins tomorrow.”

There was that military time again, thought Julie. She wondered if Durand had been in the service. During their flight from the Superstitions, she would ask him. That simple idea made her feel safe. The way she had felt with Keane.

After the brief meeting with Jake, Julie made her way to her quarters. As she turned the corner to her room, Shields stood in the shadows.

“What the fuck are you doing in my place?” she snapped at him.

“I…I just wanted to make sure you were ok. I was just making the rounds, checking up on everyone. Jake gave me that job duty, that’s all,” Shields said.

Julie eyed him suspiciously. She did not believe a goddamn word. “I’m fine, thanks. Now please leave. I have to pack for tomorrow.”

Shields paused before exiting, his licentious gaze even more pronounced. “Of course. I…I for one, am glad that you’re safe and sound, Jules. We would all be saddened if you were caught up in the raid.” He turned and left, appearing as though he had slithered out of the room.

She recoiled whenever he uttered her knick-name. ‘What a fucking creep’, she thought, entering her quarters, wondering what items Shield had touched. She would make damn sure she kept her distance from him when they left in the morning. She would stick close to Durand and Wilburn, two men she could trust to beat the living shit out of Shields if he tried anything on her.

It was well past midnight before she retired. Lying in bed, she surveyed the room. She had packed a small satchel with a few change of clothes, and a food supply of nuts, dried berries, and beef jerky. She also packed two camelbacks filled with water from the natural underground stream that ran through the mountain. She had also written two notes and tucked them into a small crevice, near the perch where she watched her friends get dragged away.

Poor Naomi. One note was for her, in case she managed to escape her captors. If she did, and ventured back to the cave, she would know where they were heading. And maybe she could somehow meet them in the rugged high terrain of Jerome. Jake mentioned that that was their planned destination. She felt special being one of the few with such privileged information.

The other note was for Keane in case, you know, some incredible fucking miracle happened, that he would somehow materialize here from the east coast. It would have to be one hell of a miracle.

Julie shifted on her makeshift cot and realized how incredibly exhausted she was, from the day’s events, and of getting ready for tomorrow’s long trek. Before nodding off, she sent a huge batch of white light to Naomi, a pure light for good luck and good health.

‘Good night, my friend,’ she whispered in the dark. ‘Be safe. I will see you again. I promise.’

Chapter 12

Keane arrived at The Barracks in the town of Buckeye, 40 miles west of Phoenix. Just seven miles south stood the newly constructed Disposition Matrix West, a sprawling, hideous blight of concrete that spoiled the magnificence of the Buckeye Hills Recreation Area.

What was once a pristine environment in the Sonoran Desert, now a network of buildings and fortified walls ringed with razor wire replaced the tranquil scene. Here, the worst offenders to Unicon were held in hellish conditions. Interrogations and torture were commonplace. In the vast landscape, human skeletons could be found, bleached white from the searing Arizona sun. Bones and desiccated corpses lay strewn, along with scattered skulls of animals that died during the famine that plagued the country.

Osburg led Keane into his spacious office, rooms laden with riches pillaged from the surrounding vacant ranches that dotted the Maricopa township. Priceless Native American pottery adorned luxuriant mahogany cabinets. A fortune in precious stones lay glittering upon crystal shelves. Plush wool Karastan carpeting covered the expanse of Osburg’s den of ill-gotten gains.

“Ah, the spoils of war, and all that,” Osburg chuckled. “Please, have a seat. Care for a glass of Bowmore Islay, ‘57?”

Yet another example of the rampant looting Osburg and his henchmen undertook, ravaging the state for riches. The bottle Osburg held was one of only twelve produced that year, a fine Scottish single malt whiskey. It was a collector’s dream, something to be coveted and displayed. But Osburg had no qualms opening this $240,000 bottle. The idea disgusted Beckett.

“No thanks. I’ll just have a beer. Make that two,” Beckett replied.

“Suit yourself, Major. But you have absolutely no idea what you’re missing.”

Osburg returned from his lavish bar with his extravagant drink and handed Keane two bottles of Hop Knot IPA’s, a beer brewed locally by Four Peaks.

The beer would calm Beckett’s nerves. He could not say the same thing for the conversation to follow.

They settled in oversized leather club chairs, more luxuries harvested from the frightened populace. It was evident that Osburg wallowed in his position, flaunting his opulent lifestyle.

Everything about the man Keane found repulsive. Beckett knew, from reading his dossier, that Osburg was a sycophant to the firm, eager to kiss ass to his despicable superiors. Sycophant and solipsist, through and through. Osburg’s ultimate goal was to become Supreme Commander of Quadrant West. Keane, though, had different ideas for him.

“We located a pocket of resistance today, a ragtag scrabble of people hiding in the Superstitions,” Osburg began. “There were a few unfortunate slobs that stupidly engaged the SPS. They were eliminated on the spot. The others were brought to the detention camps. We shall see if any of them end up here at DM.”

Keane listened intently to this idiot’s speech and was alarmed by the casualties. He wondered if Julie was among them. He instantly dismissed such a ghastly thought. After all, he had no clue where the hell she was.

“Any idea what they were up to?” he said. “Do you think they had plans to liberate the camps?” Keane wanted to appear disinterested, as though he couldn’t care less about a scrappy bunch of citizens who still dared to rebel against the Corporation.

Keane felt Osburg quietly looking at him and wondered if Osburg was somehow privy to his plans of rebellion. He yawned, feigning apathy to the plight of the captives.

“There was a most fetching brunette among the resisters, Beckett. She was quite feisty at first, but after a few well-placed slaps she settled down. Her name was Jardin. Naomi Jardin. What a lovely, musical name. Don’t you agree?” Osburg watched him carefully. Perhaps he was looking for a chink in his lackadaisical mood.

“Well, sooner or later they give up,” Keane offered. “They finally realize there’s no hope and no possibility of escape.” He drained his beer and reached for the other. Keane scanned the room, indifferent to the penetrating stare from Osburg. He thought his response would suffice, that it would deflect Osburg’s sudden keen interest in him.

“I’m sure there were others that managed to escape our raid. We’ll set out first thing in the morning, to make sure the region is secure,” Osburg said. “If we’re lucky, maybe we’ll find a smoking blonde.”

Beckett shot him a quick look. At that point he would have thoroughly enjoyed leaping over the coffee table, smashing his empty bottle across Osburg’s temple. Instead, he casually looked him in the eye and said, “Well, if we do happen to find one, she’s all mine.”

Osburg laughed. “If we do, I’ll make sure to send her to your quarters. As long as I get the brunette.”

Keane managed to emit a chuckle. “Of course. But right now I need some shut-eye. It was a long goddamn flight and I want to be ready. Thanks for the beer, Erik.”

“Suit yourself,” Osburg replied. “I’ll show you to your room. There’s plenty of food and drinks stocked in your private kitchen. Right this way.”

Keane followed him down the hallway and kept track of his bearings. He didn’t know if he would have to make a quick escape during the night. Osburg seemed a little too interested in his mannerisms tonight, and he needed to be ready for anything. He thought he had presented himself as the perfect loyal acolyte to the Firm. But with Osburg, one could never be too sure.

In the morning he would assess the variables and maybe, just maybe ascertain if Julie was free, one innocent soul who escaped the dragnet. That, and try to make a plausible excuse for the release of her friend Naomi. Anything to get her away from the deranged and debauched dreams of Osburg.

But right now sleep beckoned. Keane sprawled on the opulent, king-sized bed. He was exhausted. Pleasing thoughts of Ms. Damore coursed through his tired mind. It had been 16 months since he saw her last. Sixteen long and lonely months. He had to find her. If she was one of the holdouts still free in the mountains, he was certain she would have fled and left a clue. There were a lot of ifs.

With the pleasant vision of her beautiful visage in mind, Keane promptly tucked a pillow between his knees and fell into a fitful sleep.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2021 -All Rights Reserved.

Dark Veil – Chapter 9…

Chapter 9

“Do you think Major Beckett is up to the challenge?” Max Storment asked, the residing sycophant to the whims of Unicon, who controlled and maintained order in Quadrant North. Colonel Beckett detested this putrid specimen of a man.

“I believe he is quite capable, and that he will return with excellent news.” Beckett entertained the idea of pulling out his 9mm and plugging a hole in this execrable excuse for a human being. He wondered if Storment even possessed a pulse.

“As you are aware, there have been rumblings within the ranks that Major Beckett has been, shall we say, rather aloof, that he hasn’t been fully engaged of late.”

Beckett eyed his senior commander. He could not fathom how such a slug of a man had attained his position. But then Storment was recruited from Big Money; he had controlled the various machinations of market mayhem that fueled the rise and domination of Unicon. For his efforts, he was now Supreme Commander of Quadrant North.

But Beckett knew he possessed grander designs. He could see them in the folds of his ferret eyes. Beckett was Army through and through, and loathed taking orders from such a pissant civilian, a miscreant of a man. Another thought of piercing Storment’s carotid artery with the solid gold letter opener lying on the desk fleetingly played in his mind.

“Yes sir, I am aware of the various concerns. But I assure you my son….Major Beckett…is fully immersed in the designs of the company.” The opener lay within reach. But, as a good soldier, he refrained from acting upon this homicidal urge.

“That’s very good, Colonel Beckett. It is most reassuring to hear your words. However, despite your guarantees, I have placed my own private detail with your son. I mean, Major Beckett. That will be all.”

Colonel Beckett showed no outward sign of Storment’s jibe. Best to maintain the status quo, he thought. Best to just respond with a ‘Yes, sir’ or ‘No, sir’. Let Storment have his way. For now.

Beckett left the office and made his way to the stairwell. He thought about what Storment said about his only remaining son, wondered how all this shit occurred so suddenly, how goddamn foolish it was for the NSA to have engaged the full fury of Russia, China, and Iran. Idiots! Now here he was, working for a goddamn civilian, mopping up the mess Unicon had unleashed upon the country. Upon the world.

His son Jake had been a good and loyal soldier and he wished he was here, at his side. Together they would have planned and plotted to counteract the juggernaut of the firm. He could not imagine Jake would still be on board, after what had become of the armed forces.

But now he had to rely on Keane, his youngest son, a man who loathed everything military. He knew Keane had to engage in the battle as well. He knew Keane was prepared to combat the venomous world that had been created over the past two decades.

Colonel Beckett, despite his tough and demanding exterior, loved his son with all his heart. And, despite his allegiance to the army, he knew full well that Unicon was destined for failure. He would make sure of that. And one day Keane would know. Right now, though, he had a job to do.

Copyright, 2021, Paul Grignon – All Rights Reserved.

Dark Veil – Chapter 8…

Chapter 8

March 2019

Flying in a C-12 Huron, Keane thought long and hard about that evening, that one night with Julie. He so desired to seek her warm embrace. That night burned deep within him. He had to find her.

The past year of chaos proved impossible to get in touch with her. He just hoped she was safe, safe from the incessant sweep and constant eye of UniSky. He wanted to see her. He needed to see her face, her eyes, her lovely smile. To taste her inviting lips. Christ, he missed her. But there was, as Colonel Beckett had said, work ahead of him.

Banking low over Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix, Keane was momentarily disoriented. There were no shimmering lights of the city to greet his arrival. Phoenix lay in darkness. Only the glimmer of light from Quadrant West was visible.

Further along, beyond Scottsdale, the garish illumination of the DM West compound diffused the canopy of stars. A sliver of a waning moon at least, gave some grandeur to the forlorn scene below. He hoped that Julie wasn’t interred down there.

As the plane approached the airport, Keane saw the insidious presence of drones circling Sky Harbor. It didn’t seem possible, looking at these lethal unmanned craft, for anyone to circumvent the powerful entity of Unicon.

But there had to be a way. There had to. For the sake of this country, for the sake of the world, he would find a way.

There was no alternative.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2021, All rights Reserved.

Dark Veil _ Chapter 7…

Hello! Terribly sorry for not posting sooner. Technical glitches, and all that.

I had a great time modeling at Workshop13, and all who participated had a grand time! Perhaps next time I shall see you there!

Here then, is Chapter 7. As usual, please do comment as I do so enjoy any and all feedback.

Take care. Be well.

Paul

Chapter 7

“Hey, Beckett! Where the fuck ya bin? You got several phone calls. All from headquarters.”

“Thanks, Ted. I’ll get right on it.” Teddy Bowles was a longtime pal, and an integral part of his secret unit. Keane knew him from their college days at UMass Amherst. Good ol’ Steady Teddy. Those were an amazing four years. The high-jinxes they perpetrated were renowned. Both had leaned toward careers in art and journalism, two subjects far removed from the clutches of his father’s beloved military.

But then, he never thought he’d be in the position he was in now, a major in the SPS. Not only a major but a liaison, the go-to guy, for other SPS outposts and the two main Disposition Matrix strongholds; DM North in New Hampshire, and DM West, in Arizona.

Despite having no military background, he had proved his grit in drills and exercises, and by acing the officer training tests. And at the time, it didn’t hurt having your father in the offices of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Keane hung his coat in the foyer, stamped his boots, and walked down the dimly lit, stained linoleum hallway to his office and closed the door. He sat in a beat-up wooden office chair, something scavenged from the wreckage of a torched Office Depot. Rummaging through his satchel, he found the half-finished pint of Jack. He needed a long swig before picking up the phone. He knew who the calls were from.

Colonel Jeremy Beckett, his father, was no one to trifle with. He had fought in Vietnam, had served four tours of duty, got a Purple Heart, the Medal of Honor…the whole nine yards. And Keane’s grandfather, General Arnold ‘Ramrod’ Beckett, fought against the Germans, had landed in Normandy with all his sitting duck buddies. Somehow, he managed to survive that goddamn shooting gallery on Omaha Beach.

Old Man Beckett instilled the strict military discipline and code into his only son, and Jeremy did not disappoint his father. Try as he may, though, Jeremy could not get the same results with his younger son. Keane wanted nothing to do with the military. It was only after his older brother, Jake, drowned in a botched Navy Seal special forces operation, during the first foray into Iraq, that Keane decided to join something.

Jake died, or so government officials said. He was in a black ops unit, trying to infiltrate a group of jihadists off the coast of Iran, on the eastern shores of Qeshm Island. Keane could not believe that he was left alone, that his brother had simply drowned. The story, to him, did not add up.

He took another pull of Jack and peered at a black and white photo on the desk, of him and Jake at the beach, crewcut and sunburnt, squinting at the camera.

Staring at the photo he recalled a late October afternoon, when he and Jake took a chilly plunge in Wicker Pond. They had just finished helping their Dad clear brush in the yard, cutting deadwood from the fringe of the backyard. It was Jake’s crazy idea to cool off and go for a swim. The sun was low, and a cold northern wind blew in across the pond. Keane had erupted in goosebumps just walking there.

They plunged into the frigid lake, Jake as always in the lead. Keane remembered how effortlessly Jake had sliced through the water, how he ignored the raft and headed instead straight for the island. Keane had hoisted himself onto the raft, cold and shivering, and watched Jake stroke the water, cutting the choppy surface with clean mechanical precision.

No, there’s no goddamn way he just simply drowned.

Keane would never join the military. But he and Teddy did hook up with a survivalist outfit and, after years of grueling training in the Mt. Tom State Reservation, Keane found himself a capable and formidable fighter.

And yet here he was, years later, sitting in an office of the SPS. Jesus, how did things turn out so fucked up? He eyed the bottle of JD and immediately thought of another JD: Julie D’Amore. Where was she right now? Fingering a soiled cocktail napkin from Scottsdale, he reluctantly reached for the phone.

“Colonel Beckett.” That crisp, strong, confident voice answered, a voice Keane knew only too well.

“Major Beckett, sir,” said Keane. There were no greetings of son or dad. It was strictly by the code.

“Major, where the hell have you been all day? Christ, I’ve been looking for you for the past four hours.”

“I apologize, sir. I was checking the grounds, keeping an eye on the camps for escapees.”

“Jesus, is that all? We have patrols for that, you know. Listen, I need you to head west and meet with the liaison from DM West. They’ve come up with information about a few pockets of resistance, and I need you to coordinate the logistics. Check on the status of the camps as well. You fly out of Manchester tonight at 2200 hours. Your paperwork is waiting for you at Quad North. Get your act together, Major. There’s a lot of work ahead of us, and we need you focused.”

Colonel Beckett hung up. Keane held onto the phone and peered at it, like it was something entirely foreign. Not too long ago such an instrument was ubiquitous. No one thought twice about phones. Hell, everyone had one or two of the damn things; iPhones, iPods, tablets, you name it.

No more. The vast network of cell towers that seemed a natural aspect of the landscape lay in twisted ruins, much like the infrastructure of the country. Only Unicon had access to bandwidth. And only those on the inside, those who marched in unison with Unicon, possessed them.

Beckett replaced the phone and thought how nice it would be to call Julie. He looked at the crumpled napkin, reliving that moment, that spark. Where was she now? Perhaps she was one of the few who managed to escape the dragnet that swept across Quadrant West in November, after the Supreme Commander was assassinated, killed during an ambush along the Superstition highway.

Maybe she found refuge with the underground movement. And here was an opportunity to be within reach of her. After all, he would be heading to Quadrant West. He would be leaving in less than three hours.

He could not get her face out of his mind. And he could not forget that one evening with her in Tempe. Julie, the woman with the lovely, hypnotic chartreuse eyes.

Julie. Where are you?

He picked up the JD and took a long pull, as though recollecting the alluring taste of her lips on his own.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2021 – All Rights Reserved.

Dark Veil – Chapter 6…

Hello, and thank you for stopping by my site. After suffering through this pesky pandemic, venues such as Workshop13 are once again opening up, allowing fellow artists to ply their craft in a professional and comfortable atmosphere.

As such I will once again bound upon their stage to model for all the fine artists there. The date? Monday, May 10th, from 6-9 pm. I do hope to espy your countenance there!

Chapter 6

January 2020

That sensuous evening was on Julie’s mind as she put away the foods she had gathered. She became adept at searching the vast Sonoran landscape, easily locating edible plants. And, being a teacher, she was a natural leader. When the drones had passed, she would take a small group out from their caverns. They’d wander about the desert, combing among the scrub and cacti for food. It was a dangerous job, as UniSky and its fleet of drones controlled the heavens, terrorizing the scattered citizenry below. At least, what was left of them.

Sometimes during these foraging excursions the low, unmistakable mosquito hum of a drone would echo across the canyons. The drones scoured the desert for resisters against the State. If caught, they were whisked to the detention camps. And if that proved futile, there were the dreaded Disposition Matrix centers; dreary, terrifying concrete mega-structures that rose from the landscape, colossal drab buildings dotting the country, built for the most meddlesome of freedom fighters.

On one such outing, her group was spotted. She managed to escape, but a few of her comrades were rounded up, held frozen in fright by the drone’s searchlight until they were hauled away by the jackbooted and ruthless soldiers of the SPS.

The very next day the raid on their compound in the Superstition Mountains was swift and lethal. A drone had tracked their whereabouts and relayed the information to Unisky.

Julie’s quarters were tucked deep underground. She had chosen its location for its depth, and for its multiple avenues of escape. When the SPS officers stormed the hills, she managed to evade the marauders. But Naomi wasn’t so lucky. She and a few of the others were rounded up and forced into the waiting vehicles far below. Others, who had resisted on the spot, were gunned down where they stood, murdered right before her eyes. It was a glimpse of things all too common in the new world. From her hidden perch, Julie watched her friends herded down the treacherous slopes and whisked away to the detention camps.

When they first found these caverns, she pleaded with Naomi to bunk with her. But Naomi found the deep caverns too claustrophobic. She chose a cave that provided spectacular views of the valley and of the surrounding distant mountains. From this cave high in the hills, she could watch the drones fly by at night. Sometimes they seemed perilously close. And that proved to be her undoing.

After the jackboots fled with their captives, Julie thought long and hard what to do. She hurried through the maze of underground corridors, maneuvering through the labyrinthine passageways of the cave, hoping to see some of her comrades. Rounding a corner, she entered the atrium, an open area for meetings and a place to chill. She saw a few others who managed to evade the dragnet.

Althea Silsby, a frail, wraith of a woman, a new-comer to the group, cowered near an alcove of the room, her arms crossed protectively across her chest, with a bag that never seemed to leave her side. Julie wondered how in hell she had survived the initial onslaught of Unicon.

Marly Gaston, the resident clown, was there, too. That brought a sigh of relief. He always had a ready joke, a ready smile, and had always tried to ease the pain and fear that were ever present.

Unfortunately, Nelson Shields survived the raid. She despised this cretin of a man. She always felt his lascivious reptilian eyes staring at her, no matter where she was or what she was doing. She’d catch him looking at her, his ravenous eyes grazing over her body, like something coveted in a store window, or through a slot in a peep show. Even when she and Naomi were out in the desert, searching for barrel cacti or berries, she caught him ogling her from a fringe of mesquite. Goddamn it, why couldn’t he have been nabbed by the SPS thugs?

They congregated in the vast cathedral-like cavern, a place where anyone could hang out on mismatched furniture cobbled together from forays into surrounding ghost towns.

Jake Durand, who proved to be quite a capable man and natural leader, had built a makeshift podium, a pulpit where anyone could voice their concerns or complaints. Situated on a ledge above the main floor of the space, Durand milled about with Zach Wilburn, another fellow who proved his mettle during skirmishes with the SPS.

“Can I have your attention, please,” Jake said after everyone had assembled. Julie had chosen a couch on the far side of the podium, a spot where she could keep an eye on the entrance. And on Shields.

“Well, things as you all know are not good,” Durand started. “Not good at all. During the raid, three of our comrades were slaughtered, right outside on the trails. They were good people, and they should not have died in such a gruesome way. And here, the people in this room, are all we have left.

“I know I can speak for everyone that we already miss our surviving friends, and can only hope they’re ok, despite being locked inside the detention camps.” He paused and surveyed the room. “Since our numbers have dwindled, it remains ever more paramount we keep vigilant on the goings-on of Unicon, and their means of detection. We can only hope our friends retain their composure, and don’t end up in the DM.”

Julie thought Keane would like this guy. And where the hell was Keane right now? Christ, did she miss him. Keane had been mysterious, was distant about personal life, except for that bitch that left him high and dry. At least, that was Keane’s story. She knew better than to take any tale at face value. But somehow, something about Keane spoke the truth. She never met any man quite like him. She wished him near and wondered if he even thought of her still.

And now, given the turn of events here, how the SPS found their refuge, she wondered how long she would remain free. She wanted Keane to be here, with her, and tell her all would be well. But right now she turned her full attention to Mr. Durand.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2021 – All Rights Reserved.

Modeling Once Again!…

Hello, and thank you for stopping by my site. After suffering through this pesky pandemic, venues such as Workshop13 are once again opening up, allowing fellow artists to ply their craft in a professional and comfortable atmosphere.

As such I will once again bound upon their stage to model for all the fine artists there. The date? Monday, May 10th, from 6-9 pm. I do hope to espy your countenance there!

Modeling for private client.

If you are a fine artist, or just starting out, this is an excellent place to hone your craft. The fellow artists there are friendly, open, and the ambience is conducive to produce art at your own pace.

Until then, I bid all much success in all their artistic endeavors and I hope to see you there!

Take care. Be safe.

Paul

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2021, All Rights Reserved.

Dark Veil – Chapter 5…

Hello! I have decided to forgo the idea of adding chapters via my Dark Veil page and instead post them here. That way you can readily read the latest chapters here on my home page. If you have not not read my 1st and 2nd chapters yet, you can access them via my Dark Veil page. All subsequent chapters will be found here, thus allowing a semblance of continuity.

Thank you for stopping by to access not only my novel but my blog as well. Enjoy! As usual, I am always elated to hear any and all comments. Take care.

Note: The following depicts explicit scenes.

Chapter 5

“You look lovely.” Those three words greeted her as she opened the door.

He arrived in a scarlet Jeep Wrangler, with no doors and huge knobby tires, the perfect vehicle for desert terrain. Dried mud stains caked the quarter panels, from some adventure along the Salt River with his pals.

“I thought since I saw you in Scottsdale it would be the perfect spot to enjoy a pleasant repast,” Keane said, as he led her to his car.

“That’s perfect, Keane. Have you picked a place?”

“I’ve already made reservations at Bandera’s. I hope you don’t mind.”

Mind? She was in a four-wheeler with a handsome man at the helm. At this point a fish taco stand would have suited her.

“Good. They have a few choice Merlots there. And the grilled dishes are sublime.”

Sublime. Now that’s how she would feel if she was lying in his arms, stroking his taut frame beneath her searching fingers. But first there was dinner. Dessert could wait until later.

“You know what? I am in the mood for red wine,” she said. He looked at her and smiled, revealing charming dimples that proved enticing.

They drove along Rural Ave, their ride accompanied by a Pat Metheny CD. The quiet intro to ‘Are you going with me?’ played as they crossed the Salt River, traveling along North Scottsdale Road.

The sun was settling over the distant mountains, and the evening was deliciously warm. A sultry desert air blew through the open interior. Giant saguaros stood in silhouette against the slant of fading light, and tufts of sagebrush and cholla kept them company. Thin wisps of charcoal-colored clouds drifted amidst a burnt orange sky, a scene, Keane thought, culled from a Thomas Moran canvas.

Bandera’s was a popular restaurant in town, and the place was in full swing. They weaved through the crowd and ordered drinks at the bar. She stood and looked into the distance, at the soft grey countenance of Camelback Mountain. The September night air was perfect, and she was glad of her chosen ensemble.

“I’m sorry if I appeared a tad intrusive earlier,” he said over the din. “You and Naomi seemed to be having a grand time.”

‘Score one for remembering her name,’ Julie noted. “We were going to hang out, but she loves to read so I’m sure she’ll catch up on a few chapters tonight.” ‘Plus, I could not resist taking this chance to be with you.’

“I’m glad that we could get together this evening,” Keane said. “Unfortunately, I have to leave early tomorrow. But I wanted my last evening here to be memorable. It already is, just by being with you.”

It sounded like an incredibly corny pick-up line but still, a slow blush crept over her tanned features, and a curl of blonde hair dangled across one eye. The few glasses of chardonnay with Naomi had helped ease her jitters.

“I didn’t mean to embarrass you, Julie. It’s…it’s just that you look so radiant in the soft light of sunset.”

Julie shifted slightly in her bar stool, and felt the rush of warmth course through her body. No man had ever talked to her like that. No man had ever held her gaze as long as Keane did. Those deep, dark, searching hazel eyes.

“Thank you,” was all she could muster. She could not wait until dinner was over. The mojito was taking effect. She felt more relaxed, more comfortable in his presence. His eyes spoke of gentleness. “Oh, I believe our table is ready, Mr. Beckett,” she said, as a smiling woman approached with tucked menus.

During a sumptuous meal accompanied by two bottles of Switchback Ridge Merlot, she told Keane about being a transplant from Brookline, MA, of finding a teaching job here in the valley, and getting accustomed to the culture shock of desert life.

“Believe me, it was jarring at first. But the pace here, and the people, it all felt so inviting. Do you know what I mean?”

Keane looked at her, at the slight play of a smile, at her wide, inviting green eyes, a complement to the brilliant blue earrings, a pairing of hues that reminded him of the sea. “Yes, I know exactly how you feel. I’ve felt it every time I’ve ventured here.”

“So you travel here frequently then?” she asked.

“When duty calls,” he replied.

“Well, Mr. Beckett, I’m glad to have this chance dinner with you.” Yes, the wine was definitely taking effect.

Keane paid the bill and they left the restaurant. The desert air was still inviting, invigorating, fresh and cool, a relief from the crowded bistro. A low crescent moon grazed the darkled visage of Camelback.

“Hey,” Julie said. “I bought a nice bottle of Cabernet today. In case you still had a thirst. And, by the way, you still haven’t told me how you knew me from back east.”

“I think more wine is a splendid idea. I’m not quite quenched,” Keane replied. “And I will tell you when I first espied your visage.”

She smiled at his words and felt that same warm burn within.

“I’ll hold you to it, Mr. Beckett.”

On the way she told more about her life, of living in the condo on East Alameda Drive in Tempe, just a few blocks from the Broadmor Elementary school, where she taught. It was within sight of A Mountain, the hill near the ASU campus. Sometimes, before school, she’d grab a coffee from the Gold Bar Espresso and trek up the hill, to watch the sunrise. It never ceased to amaze her how she thought she was alone but after the first peek of sun rose over distant mountains, a huge applause erupted. She would turn and marvel at the hundreds of fellow sun seekers.

Keane parked next to her Honda Civic and they walked slowly to her door. There was no hurry. It was a sultry evening, with a welcoming westerly wind blowing in from the valley. The first hint of dusk hugged the surrounding mountains. Keane peered at the jagged crests blackening against a fading vermilion sun, reminding him of a Beirstadt landscape .

“It’s small, but cozy,” she said, as they entered the kitchen. The bottle of Cabernet sat waiting on the butcher-block kitchen counter.

“Do you, perchance, have a corkscrew?” Keane inquired.

“Yeah, I think I left it on the dining room table. I’ll be right back. I’m just going to the loo. Make yourself comfortable.” ‘Perchance; who the hell says that?’ she thought, as she walked down the hallway.

She kicked off her heels and went into the bathroom. Sitting there, she thought about the night so far, how wonderful it was going, and how humorous Keane was, despite the ever-present sadness in his beautiful eyes. She peered around her bathroom, wondering if anything was out of place, something that would repel her guest. No, nothing was going to make Keane flee in horror. But just to make sure she wiped the mirror and sink with a hand towel and tossed it into the hamper. She gave herself one last look before exiting.

Keane had already poured two glasses of wine and was sitting comfortably on the couch. “I hope you didn’t mind my rummaging through your cabinets.”

“Not at all. I’m glad you made yourself at home.” Keane had lit a few candles on the low wrought iron coffee table and had put on a Diana Krall CD. The ‘Look of Love’ played softly in the background.

“You have a very nice place, Julie. Spare, but inviting. Uncluttered, you might say. It’s perfect.”

Keane had never felt this way with a woman, someone he met only this afternoon. Now here he was, drinking wine with Julie in her place, after a perfect meal in the warmth and heat of the Arizona desert. He had listened to her talk about her job, of moving to Arizona from the east coast, and now he watched her mouth curl into a gorgeous smile. He loved the way she laughed. He felt…relaxed.

God, it had been a long time since he was with a woman. A long time. But it was his choice. He had enjoyed being alone. But sometimes, sometimes the crush of loneliness entombed him. Sometimes he missed the company of a woman. He remembered how many countless quiet and lonely nights had kept him company over the years.

He wanted nothing to do with women, after being spurned by a woman he had grown to love. She was beguiling to him, but he had misread her signals entirely.

“…and how ‘bout you? Why do you have to leave so suddenly tomorrow?” Julie asked. Keane awoke from his revelry. He gazed deeply at Julie but remained silent.

“Is…is everything all right?” Julie asked again, a little concerned.

“Yes. Yes, of course. I was…I was just thinking about someone. Some woman from my past. Someone vastly different than you. Yes, everything is just fine, Julie.”

There was a slight awkward silence. Julie finally said, “You can talk about it. It’s ok.”

The song ‘Maybe You’ll Be There’ began as Keane took a long sip of wine and pondered his next words. His eyes grazed over her bookshelves. They were filled with familiar titles and authors: ‘Affliction’ by Russell Banks came into view. Paul Theroux’s ‘Dark Star Safari’ nestled among the Nora Roberts and John McPhee tomes. ‘A romantic and science buff,’ he observed.

“I was once in love, Julie,” he started. “Or at least I thought I was. But the feelings weren’t mutual. Far from it. And once my true feelings were revealed, things unraveled rapidly.”

Keane paused a little; he wondered why he was telling this to Julie. ‘Who the hell wants to hear this rubbish?’ Maybe it was the Hendrick’s, or the two bottles at the restaurant, or the glass of wine sitting before him now. But he went on, despite his uneasiness. Julie’s presence calmed him, and she seemed willing to listen.

“I spent many years with this woman and her boy from a past marriage. And then suddenly I was out of the picture. I…I had misinterpreted her actions. And then they were gone. I never saw them again.” His eyes returned to the bookshelves. He noted a few Stephen King books in the lower corner, nestled in shadow, like a few of his monsters.

Julie put her glass down and curled her long slender legs beneath her. She couldn’t help but feel closer to this man, this perfect stranger, after such a story of sorrow. There was something about those magnificent eyes that held her spellbound.

“Please,” she said. “Go on. Only if you want to.”

Keane looked at her and smiled. He reached over, refilling their glasses.

His head throbbed from the wine, from the scent of the sandalwood candles, and of recalling such tender memories. He then told her how his nocturnal vigils became de rigueur, the dark hours spent painting or writing, or hours reading away in his apartment, until the first wan glimpse of dawn stole through his windows.

“I was alone,” Keane continued, “and wine was my constant companion. And music. I would write and listen to somber passages by Bach or Albinoni. Haunting, ethereal music filled my chambers, and dead soldiers were strewn about, a hollow testament to my Bacchanalian urge.”

Julie sat there, mesmerized by the strange words and cadence that poured out of Keane. She thought herself an avid reader, but who actually spoke this way? She ran her fingers through her long blonde curls. She yearned to ease the immense suffering that clearly plagued this handsome man.

“For years,” he continued, “thoughts of engaging in laughter and repartee with a woman were far removed. I remained cloistered, comfortable in my melancholy perch, my condition of sadness and solitude a deformed yet soothing balm to my soul.” Keane suddenly realized he was prattling on, spewing all his personal rubbish.

“Jesus, Julie, I apologize for rambling on so. Does any of this make sense to you?” Keane immediately wondered why he had let down his guard, divulging his past to this completely captivating stranger, a stunning woman who appeared to have listened intently to his tale of woe. He suddenly felt embarrassed by his ridiculous, incessant natter.

Julie looked across the couch at this well-spoken man, saw the depth of pain and sadness and softness that emanated from his kind eyes. She leaned over and clasped his hand, and squeezed. He looked at her. He raised her hand to his lips, slowly, and kissed it. Softly. Tenderly.

Keane edged closer, their faces inches apart. He peered deeply into her marvelous green eyes, enthralled by the beauty within. He traced a finger along one lovely cheekbone, ran it along her nape, and then gently squeezed her bare shoulder. A soft sigh escaped her mouth. No words were exchanged. No words were necessary. Keane bent and kissed her. Passionately.

Julie could not wait to shed his clothes, to stare at his muscled form. She reached for him, deftly unbuttoning his shirt as they kissed. Keane gently took her hand and kissed it once more. He became aroused by her loveliness, by her sultry and sensual body. She noticed the growing bulge in his jeans. She slid her hand down his chest, to his waist, down to his groin, and stroked him through the fabric. Keane sighed, and fell against the cushions, dazed by the wine and her delicious touch, by the diffused glow, the scents, and music.

Julie rose from the couch and stood before him. She reached up and allowed the straps of her shift to fall off her tanned shoulders. Her dress slipped slowly down her body, over her breasts, and fell below her thighs. With a slight shimmy, the garment dropped to the floor. She stepped out of it and stood before him. He sat and stared at her beauty, at her small firm high breasts, her pink hard nipples, and her smooth, slender stomach, her feminine curves that led invitingly to the cleft between her thighs. The soft glow of candlelight accentuated her loveliness.

She aroused him further, playing with her nipples, pinching them and placing one hand beneath her black silk panties. Keane’s dark hazel eyes dilated as he slowly unzipped his jeans. He tugged them off, tossing them on her dress. He did not wear skivvies. His cock stood wet and glistening, erect against the soft fabric of his white Oxford shirt.

Julie played with one breast, teasingly pinching and stroking a nipple. She pulled down her panties, revealing a mere wisp of golden hair, an inviting trail to her smooth and shaven pussy. Her eyes were locked on Keane, watching with excitement as he slowly stroked himself, watched as the slow sweet flow of fluid drizzled down along his length.

She stood there, rocking slowly back and forth as Keane slipped off his shirt, revealing his taut stomach and smooth chest. He was still against the couch, naked, exposed. Julie let her panties fall to her ankles. She stepped out of them and stood closer to Keane. He bent forward, and kissed her belly, kissed the curvature of her hips, and ran his warm tongue along the inside of her trembling thighs.

She parted her legs, revealing her sweet succulence to him, her plumped lips arched towards his searching mouth. He reached up and cupped her small firm buttocks, clasping each strong hand around her cheeks. Ever so gently, he ran his tongue along her mound. She moaned as he spread her lips and darted his tongue within her. She gasped, and heard him breathe in her essence. He tasted her, felt her sweet juices in his mouth, wanting her.

Standing, he held Julie in his arms, his hands still on her beautiful ass. She slipped her right hand around his swollen cock and squeezed. He let out a small gasp, and she squeezed again. She stroked, and caressed him, leaning over to taste his sweet wetness, wrapping her lips around his glistening glans, teasing his tumescence with her tongue. She arose and brought her mouth to his. He sucked eagerly at her lips, at her tongue, her being, mingling their juices in each other’s mouths.

Keane took her in his arms and gently placed her on the couch. He stood there, and marveled at her naked beauty, reveling in her lithe and lissome figure, knowing that he desired her beyond reason. Slowly, gently, he lowered himself. She deftly guided him inside.

Keane penetrated her lightly, and stayed in that position, locking eyes with hers. He rested on his elbows, arched above her, teasing her with only an inch of his seven inch cock. Slowly, and with eyes still on hers, he slid deeper inside. A rush of excitement and surprise gushed from her mouth, as she felt him softly plunge inside her, deep and long, a slow, lingering thrust that made her spasm with delight.

“Fuck me, Keane,” she whispered softly, as she bit the lobe of his ear. He obliged.

His hard body worked rhythmically with hers, their bodies arced in unison. Her hands grasped his tight ass and she begged him to fuck her deeper. Keane’s body was one tensed muscle as he entered her again and again. He kissed her nipples, took them into his mouth, sucking sweetly. Writhing with such intensity, she arched her back and came, her eyes wide open, and came again, shuddering, squeezing his swollen cock until he, too, shuddered and twitched with an explosive climax.

They lay together, exhausted, quietly sipping their wine. The opening lines to ‘I Remember You’ drifted in the air as Keane glanced at his watch. It was well past midnight.

“I should be going. Although I’d rather stay here and linger over your loveliness.”

Julie smiled at his words. “I had a feeling you had to leave. But Keane, you never did tell me what was so urgent.”

He looked at her, at her beautiful face, her lovely figure, her soft blonde curls, her hypnotic green eyes. The soft candlelight danced sensuously over her nakedness. Feeling a little self-conscious by his probing eyes, she draped a Navajo throw over herself.

“Remember the buffoons I was with today, before I ventured up to you?” he said.

“Yeah, I remember. They seemed a little uncouth.”

Keane laughed at that. “Yes, that they are. A little rough around the edges, you might say. But overall, they’re okay. We have to leave tomorrow at 0500, back to New England.” With that he stood up. She watched him dress, noticing his exquisite body, his muscles, his masculinity, his beautiful buttocks. She had noticed the military time he used as well, but didn’t press further.

“I’m glad you were so bold to come to my table, Mr. Beckett. And I’m glad you came this evening,” she said slyly.

Keane smiled and bent down. Bypassing her lips, he ever so gently lowered the blanket and kissed one still hard nipple, sucking lightly while gently cupping her breast. He then swept his face up to hers, and kissed her, softly, tenderly.

“I’m very happy to have been so bold. And now I have your number.” He smiled and cradled her face in one strong hand, softly rubbing her cheek with his thumb.

“I will call you. I promise. If you ever need to get in touch with me, you can reach me here. Not many people know this number,” he said cryptically. He placed a card on the table. With one last kiss, he walked to the door.

He turned, and smiled at her. “It was lovely to meet you, Ms. Damore,” he said, closing the door behind him.

Julie lay there, naked on the couch, nursing her wine and thinking of the evening. The CD had changed, and Sting’s ‘I Burn for You’ filled the air. The lyrics echoed her own heart.

Jesus, what was she doing? She never engaged in such intimacy on a first date. How was she to explain to Naomi her night? She would understand. After all, she was her best friend and they had been through a lot in their friendship. Christ, she loved being in Keane’s mysterious presence. She sat in her nakedness, glass in hand, and wondered.

What was he doing in New England that was so goddamn important?

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2021 – All Rights Reserved.

Dark Veil – Chapter 4…

Hello! I have decided to forgo the idea of adding chapters via my Dark Veil page and instead post them here. That way you can readily read the latest chapters here on my home page. If you have not not read my 1st and 2nd chapters yet, you can access them via my Dark Veil page. All subsequent chapters will be found here, thus allowing a semblance of continuity.

Thank you for stopping by to access not only my novel but my blog as well. Enjoy! As usual, I am always elated to hear any and all comments. Take care.

Chapter 4

Julie was alone in her bedroom. She wondered why she had agreed to a date with a complete stranger. She knew absolutely nothing about the roan-haired, athletic man. Yet there was something in his magnificently speckled and melancholy eyes that captivated her, a deep sadness etched in hazel eyes, a nice complement to his wavy dark hair with the trace of gray. His rugged handsomeness excited her; the chiseled cheeks…and his tight little ass.

She chose a simple black shift, something light and sexy, something that would show off her long slender legs and slim, muscular figure. She looked at herself in the mirror, and nodded with approval. The phone rang, startling her reflection.

“I’m on University Drive. I’ll be there in two minutes,” Keane said, and hung up. She panicked and thought, ‘Do I look good? Should I wear jewelry? Christ, where is that damn corkscrew?’ A bottle of Rodney Strong Cabernet sat on the counter, something to take away the jitters. She hurriedly put in silver sapphire earrings. The doorbell rang. With one last glimpse in the hall mirror, she opened the door to the man called Keane.

It was a night she would not soon forget.

Copyright, Paul Grignon, 2021 – All Rights Reserved

New Paintings!…

Hello, and thank you for stopping by. I have recently updated my ‘Paintings‘ page with new work from 2021. Please do stop by and peruse my offerings. Also, I have added the third chapter to my book on the Home Page as well. Chapters 1 & 2 can be found on my Dark Veil Page.

Thank you for being here and may you find some interest in any and all of my various Pages. Take care!

Dark Veil – Chapter 3…

Hello! I have decided to forgo the idea of adding chapters via my Dark Veil page and instead post them here. That way you can readily read the latest chapters here on my home page. If you have not not read my 1st and 2nd chapters yet, you can access them via my Dark Veil page. All subsequent chapters will be found here, thus allowing a semblance of continuity.

Thank you for stopping by to access not only my novel but my blog as well. Enjoy! As usual, I am always elated to hear any and all comments. Take care.

Chapter 3

October, 2019

The Beginning of the End

The world resembled nothing anyone had ever seen. Since the launch against Russia, Iran, and China, the entire world was thrown in turmoil. Upheavals had erupted all over the globe. Only through the insidious creep of the financial-military-industrial complex was some form of order restored in the United States.

But it was a form of law no one could have fathomed. The SPS–or Supreme Police State—under the auspices of Unicon, controlled everything. The crush of the deep state took over with alarming speed. All US citizens were now considered enemy combatants. Those who resisted were whisked away, dispatched to regions rampant with dread and despair.

For too long people were complacent, all too content to wallow in reality shows, shopping forays to Wal-Mart, or watching sports on oversized flat-screen TVs.

It couldn’t possibly happen here!’ they exclaimed. They felt secure, insulated from such horror in distant lands. After all, they lived in the most indispensable nation on earth.

But they were wrong.

The elite had other plans. Taking over Tehran was a mere stepping stone; they wanted the entire globe. It was only after the second Pearl Harbor incident of 9/11—manufactured by the Elite—that the New World Order slowly took shape.

And US citizens remained unaware, unconcerned. Apathy reigned. Memories of Manhattan faded, like the last tendrils of noxious fumes from the twin towers. Massive doses of bread and circus propaganda were fed to a populace happy to oblige the whims of a corrupt government. The wheels of war and greed were greased. There was no turning back.

Fifteen years after the towers crumbled, the country lay in ruin, a scorched, disease-laden land. Swaths of humanity had died after bio-bombs, tipped with EBF, or Ebola Bubonic Flu, screamed overhead in late October skies. And hell, why not give the populace a dose of reconstituted influenza? The new and improved Spanish Flu worked wonders, to the gleeful applause of the one percent.

Pockets of resistance sprung up. But all proved futile, quashed under the brutal wrath of Unicon. The company kept a malevolent eye upon all denizens. Up in the heavens, UniSky, a massive surveillance craft suspended in the atmosphere, witnessed and recorded practically everything below.

It was almost fully operational. Unicon was waiting for the last installment from Israel, a sophisticated camera array, the final piece that would render Unisky omniscient, a 10,000-eyed Argus in the sky.

Sister satellites were scattered in the stratosphere. And soon Unisky would dominate the heavens. The dreams of the neocons were near: full spectrum dominance of the entire planet. UniSky would, very soon, be able to spy on the entire world. The planet will be totally surveilled. And deep in the heavily fortified bunkers in Lebanon, Kansas, the national geospatial laboratory watched on countless monitors.

How could this have happened? How could the world have instantly vanished? How could the shock and dread and misery have been so suddenly realized? There was no more TV; there were no more forays into vast, overstocked genetically-modified superstores. There was no more of…anything.

Cities were decimated. California became a hot zone after the elite-engineered earthquake in Fukushima. Thousands of people, unable to cope with the carnage and chaos, committed suicide. Mobs of crazed citizens scrabbled for sustenance amongst the mayhem and madness. It was all so incredibly swift.

And then there were the detention camps.

Since the first Iraqi war in ‘91 the government had gone on a building spree, building massive camps all around the country. People remained oblivious. They simply could not care less. Huge penitentiaries, constructed by the National Emergency Management Administration, were constructed. And no one said a word.

Let me have my goddamn football and American Idol!’ people brayed, and fetched another 30-pack of Bud. ‘This is America!’ they bellowed, believing themselves superior, impervious to any such threats. American exceptionalism at its finest. Such amazing hubris.

But America, as it turned out, was nothing more than a mirage. And Unicon shattered that illusion. Like 9/11, no one believed their own government could pursue such nefarious and numbing levels of corruption. Eugenics was essential in their agenda. And why not start with the good ol’ US of A.

The elite needed a third Pearl Harbor incident. And with their Advanced Frequency Auroral Program, or AFAP, they unleashed Hurricane Sandy along the eastern shore, a storm that changed course so drastically. AFAP had worked to perfection. The massive array of antennae had turned weather modification into weather warfare.

All, of course, courtesy of Unicon.

AFAP rendered the weather patterns in the world obsolete. Destructive storms blanketed the country, coast to coast. Scientists had succeeded in creating a global monster. Through martial law and a brutal dictatorship, people were kept at bay.

A bleak picture had been cast by this malodorous enterprise, an organization comprised of the 1%, the far-reaching tentacles of the corporate and military state. For years they had been waiting in the wings. And now here they stood, crushing any rebellions underfoot with a cold savage fury.

Keane was sick of the whole goddamn affair. Quietly, over the decades of horror, he had assembled a cadre of trustworthy agents, people who, like him, were disgusted by the degree of terror and torment Unicon had unleashed on the world. He would, somehow, lead the rebellion. He would annihilate both Unicon and UniSky.

There was no other way out of this hell-hole.

Copyright, Paul Grignon – 2021.