In our quest to assist writers in becoming the best you can be and remain motivated, we would like to introduce you to John Chuback, M.D. A cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Chuback found his goals waylaid by his lack of motivation. In a series of interviews with Paul W. Reeves, host on Impact Radio USA, Dr. Chuback discusses “The 50 most powerful secrets for success in and out of the classroom.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41s7ttwxqyl.jpg

Please click on the link below to hear Episode #13 in the series, and start enhancing your journey toward success today.

DR. JOHN CHUBACK, a cardiovascular surgeon from New Jersey, joins us in this series to celebrate the release of his book, “The Straight A Handbook – The 50 Most Powerful Secrets For Ultimate Success In And Out Of The Classroom”.

Throughout this series, they will cover each of the 50 chapters in detail, each of which will guide you toward success in all that you do in life.

On this segment, Dr. Chuback and Paul discussed chapters 28 and 29.



Previous Episodes of “Success Philosophies With Dr. Chuback”


Dr. John Chuback


Dr. John Chuback was born and raised in Bergen County and graduated from the Dwight Englewood School. He earned his medical degree from New Jersey Medical School at UMDNJ, in Newark. Dr. Chuback then completed a five-year General Surgical Residency at Monmouth Medical Center (MMC). Dr. Chuback is the author of Make Your Own Damn CheeseKaboing, and The Straight A Handbook.

All books are available on Amazon. com. 


Impact Radio USA

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is impact-radio-usa-modern-large.jpg

Welcome to ​IMPACT RADIO USA, where we strive to  provide the best in news, talk, sports, and music 24 hours a day, 52 weeks per year. Our goal is to keep you as the most informed and entertained Internet Radio audience.

As we are continuing to add content on a daily basis, please feel free to click on the “LISTEN NOW” button at the top of the page to hear us 24 hours a day.While you are here, please check out all of our links to our shows, our podcast page, our blog, and learn how YOU can host your own show with us.  Thank you for listening to IMPACT RADIO USA!!!

Impact Radio USA ListenNow


Paul W. Reeves 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 11700698_10204467697476836_1401739541151934347_o.jpg

Paul W. Reeves is a longtime Detroit area author, radio talk show host, educator, composer/arranger, and professional musician!

Listen to “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Impact Radio USA and visit Paul’s website for more information on his books and CDs.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is book-cover.jpg

Calliope Njo: Found Memories

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms.  Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image by Ahmed Gomaa from Pixabay

Found Memories

Calliope Njo 

Mom wanted to clean and sort through the house before Dad returned from his business trip. I had the dressers while she did the closet. “Just get rid of everything that doesn’t seem right. Whatever we need but don’t have anything of, well, I’ll pick that up tomorrow.”

I laughed. That didn’t seem right, because it left things wide open. Got rid of the single socks that lingered in the drawers. I didn’t even go into the underwear drawer. That left the nightclothes to sort through.

Socks without a partner and the nightclothes that had seen better nights got thrown out. About to open another drawer, a strange key got my attention.

A wooden tag with the number eighteen on it in gold letters and a skeleton key attached lay on the bottom of the sock drawer. I thought I went through everything, but I guess I didn’t.

The key had rust spots on it, with no markings. Nothing on it to identify where it came from. “Mom, do you know anything about a key?”

“If it doesn’t have a purpose, throw it out. There’s enough stuff in here as it is. Fifty-five years of collecting various items does take up a lot of space.”

I went back to my purse and dropped it in. Find out where it came from later.

Five big thirty-three-gallon bags sat full in the garage. I looked at them. “Do you want to know what’s in them? Did you want to see the key?”

“No. I don’t.” She yawned and stretched. “Two hours of doing this and I’m starved. Order us some food somewhere. You know what I like.” After ordering us a sandwich meal, I went back and joined Mom. She turned on the TV, flipping channels.

A quiet meal later, I got up and left. Mom nodded as she went to bed.

It seemed a long time in getting there, but I made it home. I got out the key to examine it. No writing of any kind anywhere on it. I wiggled it and something made a noise.

The bottom slid open to reveal a scrolled-up piece of paper about the size of a stir straw. The itty bitty writing made me get out the only magnifying glass I had. Good thing I didn’t throw it out.

“Death is but an end to an existence filled with pain. Fate called me sooner rather than later, therefore, as you read this I have passed away.” Oh, gee. I had no idea. Nothing else on it other than Green Hills.

It had been a day and I was ready to go to bed. The rest would be deciphered in the morning. What if it opened a giant bank safe or a safe deposit box full of jewels? What if? What if? What if I went to bed and dreamed about all of this instead.

The internet didn’t turn up anything. I got key designs and references for the number eighteen; nothing seemed to be relevant information. The only other source of information that existed in town was Old Man Horace. He knew everything about this town and then some. Nothing that could be found in any library or newspaper, either. He belonged to a family that made it their mission to know all the secrets, old or new. It didn’t matter.

I found his house and showed him the key. He smiled. “I have seen no keys like that for about forty years. Come in and I’ll tell you all about it.”

Most of his story had to do with his childhood and how he got into trouble for smoking and being caught in the car with the daughter of the postal worker. Sorting through that story, I remembered him mentioning an old safe area.

Under Green Hills, tunnels were dug to provide for a safe place to stay while the bombs dropped and guns fired. It was an undeveloped area without any plans until the government stepped in. Green Hills then turned into the military zone.

There were secret, safe closets that anyone could use as long as they were staying in the tunnels. The problem was if you wanted it, you were responsible for it. Nobody would take care of it for you.

However, it had been over seventy-five years since the war finished and they had not used it since then. The integrity of the tunnels was questionable. In order to find out what I got, I had to take that chance.

I got to the tunnels, but the military prevented me from doing anything. While they didn’t use the tunnels, per se, they were in their territory. So, how do I get to find out where that key led to?

Between this permit, that permit, this paperwork, and that person in this office that had to get word for that person over there, it took a good six months before I even could stand in front of the tunnel. By that time, summer changed to winter and snow blanketed the entrance. No one could help me. I was on my own.

All of that headache to get into the tunnels would last until the end of winter, which was around April. I could wait. Yup, the date said I could wait. Meanwhile, got together with Mom and Dad to see what we were doing for the holidays.

Spring couldn’t come soon enough. The snow melted, and there was an unobstructed view into the tunnels at last. I could go in. I had to show all of that paperwork, but I could go in.

Old Man Horace mentioned that the safe rooms were straight ahead. Not to be fooled by the off tunnels. Stay on track and I would find them.

Once I got past the entrance, I was so… no words could explain. Bunk beds, chests, munitions, boxes, and some old skeletons that never made it home. It was like stepping through a time machine.

There were some signs still up. One I thought read Communications, but a few letters were missing, and the one next to it was the Commander’s Office. A few steps away and a door without a label. The door opened so I peeked inside. Body bags filled the room. All of those people still left behind. My personal mission didn’t seem so important anymore. If only there was a way. There had to be. Right?

I almost tripped over a rock. That brought my attention back to that key in my hand. I got to the end of the tunnel. S with Room after it. It had to be it.

All of that rust on the latch and it might fall apart if I touched it. A slight gust of wind blew behind me.

“What? Who’s there?” I looked around. “I promise. I’m only here to find out about my key.”

Almost as if some force came to life, the door opened and a light turned on. I swallowed past that giant ball in my throat to be able to squeak out an apology and a thank you. Number eighteen was against the right wall on the ground. A big chest, like the ones towards the front of the tunnels. Number three next to it sat there and it felt like it dared me to open it. Number fifty on the other side.

My hand shook so much it rattled the key chain. I switched hands to be able to unlock it. In the box, a key for number three and number fifty.

Number three held land deeds and financial information as well as a few bars of gold. Number fifty was the real treasure. All kinds of books filled the box.

I closed and locked each of them before I left so I could get help to get them out. Mom and Dad laughed when I told them what happened. They said I made it up. There were all kinds of stories like that. Most of them didn’t turn out to be anything.

Out of desperation, I went back to Old Man Horace and asked if he knew anyone. That’s when he smiled and patted me on the shoulder. A few minutes after that, three men came out with a wheelbarrow and portable wheels attached to a platform to make it easier to move.

We got everything out all right. Of course, the military needed to inspect what we removed so that we didn’t remove anything we couldn’t. Once that was cleared, everything was loaded up and brought to my house.

The woman’s name was Arabel Margaret Fitzpatrick, born in Scotland before moving to the US when she was still a baby in 1923. That was where her life began. I read all those books and tried to share them with Mom.

She pushed them away. “I hate any kind of history. That woman—just go put them where they belong. Poor family forgot they had any relatives in those godforsaken tunnels. They closed those down years ago. You must’ve bribed someone to be able to get those. Get away from me with those things. I’ve got more cleaning to do before your father gets home.” She looked at her watch. “I don’t have time now. It’ll have to wait. Just go do what you’ve been told.”

I had every intention of sharing these with her but based on that, I had no choice but to go home. The military didn’t want to have anything to do with them. If they did, they wouldn’t have been there.

I found a seat on my sofa and thought about everything. That woman was Mom’s grandmother. Mom always told me she didn’t have one because she died before she was even born. I tried to find a way to tell Mom, but unless she was willing, it wouldn’t do any good.

Dad came home and it was a Sunday. That meant Mom would be doing housework while Dad would be watching something on TV.

I got there about mid-morning. Lucky for me the garage door was open with her hovering over the washer and dryer. I looked at the piles of books in the backseat. There was always hope.

I had to try one last time. “Mom? I’d like to show you something.”

“Nope. Don’t need nothing,” she said, as she loaded the washer. “My house is spick and span. Your dad is home. Whatever it is, don’t want it. So unless you came here to tell me I won the lottery, I don’t want to hear it. That’s final. So stop this stupidity before I get angry and slap you.” She turned around and went back into the house. The door slammed after her.

I couldn’t say anything. I was dumbstruck by Mom’s hostility. All of those books had to mean something. It had to do with her because her name was in it. I turned around and went back to my car.

I took them to the only other person who might want them, and he was so happy to receive them. About to leave, he called me over.

I couldn’t help but look up to him. “Yeah?”

“Do you know who this woman was?” He smiled.

“Arabel Margaret Fitzpatrick.”

He nodded and smiled. Something had to be up and I was missing it. “That woman was in charge of the children during the war. She educated them and made sure they were healthy. She did a lot during the time they had to hunker down in the tunnels. I’m only sorry she had to leave her daughter behind.”

“What are you talking about?” Nothing like this was ever mentioned in the diaries.

“Her husband died. She had nothing. No money or a home. Her family died in an explosion. She left her daughter on the doorstep of a church in the hopes they would take care of her. It’s also said that her daughter tried to get in touch with her, but she was always turned away. Arabel died a lonely old woman. She was supposed to be rich, but how much she had or even where she got it nobody knew.”

Could that be why? Could that have been Mom trying to connect with her grandmother, but every move she made was rejected? Mom wouldn’t give me an answer and she made it clear she didn’t want to hear it.

I thanked Old Man Horace and made a mental note to get him a basket for Christmas. I knew he loved fine wine and good food.

I turned on the radio which allowed me to think. I’ve read those diaries so many times I knew them by heart. I couldn’t think of any passage that even mentioned anything about her own kids.

Time heals all wounds, and I could only hope that with time, Mom would go back to having a sense of humor that was a little off. Work, home, and the occasional outing with friends was how I spent my time while I hoped the phone would ring.

Maybe it never would but I couldn’t give up hope. I talked to Dad a lot. He told me he was working on it but he couldn’t promise anything.

I sought out the properties and they were gorgeous with green hills and big trees. Mother Nature at her best. I thought about getting rid of the gold bars but I didn’t know how. I made arrangements with my bank to help keep them safe.

The one thing I wanted but couldn’t get was for Mom to let go. I wouldn’t give up as long as she was alive.

One more time, I had to try. Mom was home and in the kitchen. I smelled onions and garlic which could mean she was getting ready to cook a pot roast. I stood there and watched, almost regretting what I wanted to do.

“Mom? We need to talk.”

She stirred something and turned a burner off. “All right. Out with it. As you saw, I’m busy so make it snappy.”

Here went everything. “I really think you should consider at least reading one of those diaries. They might—”

I never saw it coming. My cheek stung for what seemed like forever. The pulsing made it worse. “Why?”

“For being stupid. I told you I don’t want nothing to do with anything. That slap might help your pea brain to work, Missy. Now either shut up about it and get the table ready or get out. I’m sick of you trying to bring it up.”

I turned around and walked out. Rivers of tears flowed down my face. All I wanted to do was to show her what I found. It might have given her hope.

I remembered a line from one of them that read, “When all went dark and black, death could be felt all over. There was a difference between dark and black because one could happen without the other. It had to do with the presence of death. As long as he was there, it would always be black. Darkness only existed because there was no light.”

I pulled into my parking spot and turned off the engine. “Don’t worry, Mom. This was only a setback. I can lead you out.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-2.png

Please visit Calliope on her blog:

Kenneth Lawson: Key Eighteen

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms.  Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image by Ahmed Gomaa from Pixabay

Key Eighteen

Kenneth Lawson

The key for the door to vault eighteen had been missing for centuries. It was the last of the old vault rooms in the castle anyone had explored. The solid wood planks and steel reinforcements had made forcing the door impossible, and no one tried despite the legend that there was a fortune in treasure behind the door. A whispered legend of crown jewels his family had kept safe for the monarchy. 

A nobleman named Lord Jonathon Rice ordered the castle built upon his marriage to Lady Willmont sometime during the late sixteen hundreds. As the current Lord Rice, the Fifth Earl of Riceland, I inherited the castle decades ago. 

When I first inherited the estate, I eagerly explored the castle. A handyman had found a stash of keys buried behind debris and farm equipment in an old barn. After discovering some of the keys opened the vaults, I was confident I would find the long-lost treasure. As confident as I could be with no proof the treasure existed. 

Over the years, I had the vaults opened and explored, only to find wine or foodstuffs such as honey that were long past use. Among the finds were some valuable pieces of armor, but the vaults held nothing of real value for the most part. Although with only one vault left to explore, I gave up. The odds of that vault containing the legendary treasure were unlikely.

I concentrated on the repair and upkeep, which proved more expensive than I could afford. While the sheep herd and sale of raw wool helped some, lack of adequate funds forced me to put off much-needed repairs and cut staff. There was a real danger that I would have to sign the estate over to the government for back taxes or open the estate to the public for tours. 

Opening the estate to visitors wasn’t entirely a bad arrangement as doing so would provide the resources for restoration. Support from the government was available for upkeep and staff, at least concerning the public tours. However, it was an idea that I loathed. If I could, I wanted to keep Rice castle private as long as possible, but each year the prospects looked dimmer and dimmer.

So I fought back the debtors as best I could to try and find funds to keep the estate going. In my quest, I became obsessed with the possibility that perhaps the treasure the family legend spoke of was in vault eighteen, the only vault we couldn’t open. 

There were precisely three thousand seven hundred and fifty-seven books dating back to the seventeenth century in the library. A few were valuable enough that they were on loan to libraries and museums, but most were ordinary books from over the years. Each volume was removed from the shelves, cataloged, and inventoried in the search for the Vault Eighteen key but found no reference. 

I was aware that the likelihood of finding anything of value there was slim and none, but there was little to lose, so I created a plan to open the vault. After the door was open and if I found nothing, I would start the sale of the estate to the government. 


The night before we attempted to force the vault door, I went to the dark-paneled library and poured myself a drink from the small bar. As I wandered to my favorite leather chair next to the fireplace and began to sit, I noticed a small gap in a section of paneling that filled the space between the bookcases, one I had never noticed. I used the library as my office, and yet, as many hours as I had spent there, I never saw that crack. 

Tumbler in hand, I examined the crack in the paneling. The gap did not look fresh as if someone had recently tried to pry it open. The edges were aged as the other wood was from decades of exposure. 

Gently I placed a fingertip against the edge and pressed lightly. The panel seemed to move ever so slightly. What? Wiggling my finger into the crack, I pushed with a bit more effort. The panel slid open a bit more, and my skin prickled as I kept pressing, and a tall narrow opening revealed itself. I grabbed a torch from a cabinet and bent to examine the hole more closely. There were no tool marks to indicate someone cut the gap in the panel. It had to be original. 

There were several more of the panels in the frames of the shelves. I tested each, discovering they didn’t move. Only the one panel slid just enough to reveal a small hiding spot. 

I shined my flashlight into the hole and thought I saw a glint in the reflection that seemed to go back to the back wall of the shelves. Yes—there was something in there. A key? 

Poking around in my desk drawers, I found an old T-square ruler. I slid a chair next to the shelves and sat, where I would be at eye level with the gap. Light from the flashlight revealed there was something metallic in there. 

“Okay, here it goes.” I jiggled the ruler around and managed to get the crossed end over the object, and started gently easing it forward toward me. I dropped the torch as the object fell to the floor.

Key eighteen lay bathed in torchlight.

I sank back into the chair and stared at the floor, not moving. My eyes wandered from the key on the floor to the small compartment hidden in the bookcase. How no one had noticed the crack for all these years was a surprise.

I realized I wasn’t breathing and forced myself to inhale and exhale until my breathing and pulse returned to normal, and started to think again. I looked over the key in the light of my ancient desk lamp. Comparing it with the other keys, it was indeed one of the original keys from the collection. But this was the missing key.

It was late, but I couldn’t wait. Grabbing the torch, I hurried through the halls until I reached the door to the dungeon stairs. I paused, my heart pounding. All hinged on what was in that vault.

The catacombs were dank, and the narrow torch beam was swallowed in the darkness. I made my way to vault eighteen. The heavy wood and steel-clad door seemed more ominous than before. Holding my breath, I inserted the key. 

It wouldn’t budge. 

I tried and tried, but I couldn’t get the key to turn. After frustrating myself and fearful that I would break the key, I decided to wait for morning. I would call a locksmith to open the lock. I didn’t sleep well that night. 


At seven a.m. the following day, I called a locksmith from the nearest town, and he arrived by eight o’clock. He was angry at my insistence that he come immediately but happy for the extra money I paid him to get there. I was only hoping I wasn’t spending my dwindling funds on a lost cause.

He examined the lock and the key, cleaning out the door lock of dirt and debris from years of nonuse. He filed rough edges from the key and liberally oiled both. He handed me the key, and I inserted it in the lock. 

I wiggled the key, feeling the pressure in my fingertips. I held my breath as the resistance gave way and, with a metallic click, the door unlocked.

I thanked the locksmith and dismissed him. I was going to see what was in that chamber without other prying eyes.

Alone, it took all of my might to swing the door, with its rusted hinges, open. The smell of three-hundred-year-old stale air hit me, and I gagged. Stepping back to let the room air out, I swung the flashlight around the interior. 

I waited for a few minutes then stepped into the room. The smell of centuries-old stale air was oppressive, but I could breathe. The room was larger than the other vaults had been, and there were no windows in the room—the only light coming from my torch.

Centuries of family lore hinted at a treasure worth a fortune. Stories told of a valuable find by Lord Jonathon Rice during the seventeen hundreds. Now three hundred years later, I was standing in vault eighteen to discover if the legend was real.

There was only one thing in the chamber—a table in the center of the room with a wooden casket sitting on top.

It dawned on me to take pictures, so I pulled my mobile from my pocket and took a flash photo. The amount of dust settled on the casket obscured the top, and I brushed it away only to sneeze and gag for a few minutes until I could get my breath. Once the dust settled a bit, I took more photos. 

The box’s lid contained a burled wood inlay and a pattern in what shone like gold-embedded wood. I recognized that pattern as I had seen it many times before in the house. It was the family coat of arms. 

Running my fingers along the top, I realized there were no latches. I tried to raise the cover, but it was too tight. I searched my pocket for the small knife I always carried, and I slid it around the seam until the lid loosened. 

My heart pounded in my chest, my fingers trembling as I touched the lid. I was about to see if the stories of the family hiding a set of crown jewels were true. What if there was a second set? Was the original Lord Rice charged with keeping a reserve set of jewels, a way of keeping them safe from those who would overthrow a king? Or was the legend a fairy tale like Peter Pan or St. Nicholas?

I had my answer when I lifted the lid. The narrow beam of light from my torch shone on a large purple velvet bag, drawn shut with a gold cord—a wax seal with the royal crest securing the cord’s knot. 


I rushed upstairs carrying the casket and yelled for my wife. Lady Dinah came running into the library. 

“What is going on?”

“I found the key to vault eighteen. I couldn’t get the lock open last night, so I called a locksmith and,” he removed the cover, “look.”

She peered into the box, and the color drained from her face. “Oh my, that is the royal crest. You found that in the vault?”

“Yes.” My wife breathed quietly as I gently lifted it from the box. Someone slid the box out from under the bag as I lifted it.

“I think so, hon.” I could barely breathe as I set it down. 

“We shouldn’t open it. You should call James. He will know what to do.”

I agreed and placed the call to James Marsan, our attorney, who decided it was best to have someone from the government present. They arrived at three in the afternoon. 

My wife and I escorted our attorney and three representatives from the government and the Queen to the library, where the box sat on the stately family library table. 

As soon as the Queen’s representative saw the royal crest on the wax seal, he smiled. “We have known that in the seventeen hundreds, the then monarch commissioned a duplicate set of the crown jewels, St. Edward’s Crown and the Sovereign’s Orb, out of fear that if the monarchy were overthrown, the rightful heir would be king or queen by possessing these crown jewels. It may have been a foolish thought, but if that velvet bag contains those two items, it would be the greatest find in English history.”

After documenting the bag, the crown’s representative instructed me to cut through the cord, leaving the wax seal intact. Carefully, I pulled the bag away from the contents. 

Before us sat the duplicate crown and orb, the Crown Jewels. 

To say that our lives changed forever at that moment is an understatement. Due to public interest, the government placed the estate on the historical places registry and funded all renovations. As the true Crown Jewels were safe, safely tucked in the Tower of London, these jewels were on display for all to see—for a fee, of course. 

To my surprise, I found that I have enjoyed escorting strangers through the estate, especially to my favorite stops, the library and vault eighteen. However, I found my deepest satisfaction when the visitors entered the parlor where the jewels are displayed. As they viewed the crown and orb for the first time, their eyes widened in awe— just as mine did.

Thank goodness, I found that key. 

Please visit Kenneth on his website:

D. A. Ratliff: Mr. Price’s Dinner Table

Mr. Price’s Dinner Table

D. A. Ratliff

Image from

As those of you who have followed me know, I am a Southerner and quite proud of my roots. Growing up in South Carolina, I was fortunate to have parents who saw no color differences in their fellow man. People from all levels of society and cultures were visitors to our home.

My memories of my childhood remain clear today. The mimosa tree that I played under in our yard. Houses where all openings were trimmed in blue to ward off evil spirits. The dime bags of boiled peanuts sold on the street. The ‘air-conditioned tree’ at the Herlong Orchard peach stand where the temperature was twenty degrees cooler in the shade and the water stored in a metal canteen was ice cold. While there was a horrible undercurrent of fear and anger in this place I love so much, there was also a goodness of soul. Family, friends, food, and good times existed as well.

My father worked at the Savannah River Plant in Aiken, South Carolina, a manufacturer of hydrogen bombs. With workers from all over the world employed there, I met people from everywhere as a child. One of my father’s best friends was a bear of a man, a Navaho by the name of Jess Brown. His wife Athea, a small, plump woman who might have been a better cook than my grandmothers, was like an aunt to me. I am about one-sixteenth Cherokee and Jess, and Athea gave me a sense of what being Native American meant. Good, kind, hard-working, gentle people.

Yet, one friend of my parents impacted my life more than I realized. Mr. Price. Honestly, I am not certain what his first name was. My parents never called him anything but Mr. Price. He was older, a slight man but regal in bearing, with snow-white hair and a deep Southern accent that held a lilt of his mother’s heritage. She was a Cajun from southwest Louisiana. His reminisces about his mother’s upbringing fueled my love of the Cajun culture.

In those days in the South, people referred to Mr. Price,  an unmarried man of means and patron of the arts, as a ‘bachelor.’ Anyone who has read “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” by John Berendt will recognize who Mr. Price was. Polite society did not mention the word homosexual as that wouldn’t be gracious and respectful.

We often had Sunday dinner at Mr. Price’s home, a large two-story house near downtown Aiken. I remember the opulent crimson flocked wallpaper in the parlor, the deep green walls in the dining room. If the weather cooperated, we would often eat on the back terrace surrounded by a lush garden.

But dinner? Not what you might expect for a South Carolina gentleman. While on occasion we might have shrimp and grits or barbequed chicken, we often feasted on shrimp etouffee or jambalaya, dishes Mr. Price’s mother made when he was small. I had my first taste of chicory coffee at his dinner table when I was ten.

I sat mesmerized as he told us of his mother’s home in Lake Charles and his grandparents’ home in the country nearby. He would spin tales of fun in the bayou that hooked me for life. While I loved South Carolina, my heart drifted toward Cajun Louisiana. His memories stirred emotions in me that I have kept to this day.

When I began to write fiction again a few years ago, I knew I would set my stories in the South. While I have never sugarcoated the area’s problems, which are no different from any other part of the United States, there is an ambiance and tone about the South, the southern coast especially, that is alluring. Yet, when I began to write, it was in Louisiana, New Orleans, to be specific, where I set my first novel.

Having visited New Orleans a few times as an adult, I discovered that my writing muse was evidently a resident of the French Quarter. New Orleans, the bayou, the jazz, the beignets, the sultry weather, all characters in themselves and ones I find creeping into my writing.

On a recent Sunday, I watched one of Anthony Bourdain’s final “Parts Unknown” episodes. We lost a unique individual with Bourdain’s death. A notable essayist on life and culture and how food is intrinsic to our existence, not only for sustenance but for the soul. This show centered on Cajun Mardi Gras as celebrated in Southwest Louisiana.

We know of Mardi Gras as a glitzy party of drunken revelry, resplendent with cheap shiny beads, elaborate and gaudy costumes, and over-the-top parades, as well as – well –  fun. Bourdain showed us a Mardi Gras celebrated away from the French Quarter that few outsiders know occurs. Equally as gaudy and drunken but steeped in tradition and meaning.

Despite the commercial decadence of the more popular party in the French Quarter or the more traditional decadence of Cajun Mardi Gras, the spirit of the Cajun people, their passion for life, food, and even voodoo fuel the imagination and the soul.

I wrote a short story for a romance anthology. As I developed the story, I struggled with the setting until my muse dragged me into a jazz bar in the Quarter and reminded me that I was a mystery writer and knew where my story belonged. My story is now a romance between a TV reporter and a detective brought together by a murder. The location, you ask. The French Quarter.

There is something about the tenor and vibe of that city that touches me—a mysterious city in a mysterious state unlike any other part of our country. A place steeped in tradition and, like its chronicler, Anthony Bourdain, unique.

As I get closer to publishing my first novel, Crescent City Lies, a mystery set in New Orleans, I realize that the Cajun culture remains embedded within me, sparked so many years ago at Mr. Price’s dinner table.

Please visit Deborah on her new blog:

If you are traveling South, please stop by Aiken, South Carolina—a beautiful town with the best bar-b-que you will find anywhere!


In our quest to assist writers in becoming the best you can be and remain motivated, we would like to introduce you to John Chuback, M.D. A cardiovascular surgeon, Dr. Chuback found his goals waylaid by his lack of motivation. In a series of interviews with Paul W. Reeves, host on Impact Radio USA, Dr. Chuback discusses “The 50 most powerful secrets for success in and out of the classroom.”

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 41s7ttwxqyl.jpg

Please click on the link below to hear Episode #12 in the series, and start enhancing your journey toward success today.

DR. JOHN CHUBACK, a cardiovascular surgeon from New Jersey, joins us in this series to celebrate the release of his book, “The Straight A Handbook – The 50 Most Powerful Secrets For Ultimate Success In And Out Of The Classroom”.

Throughout this series, they will cover each of the 50 chapters in detail, each of which will guide you toward success in all that you do in life.

On this segment, Dr. Chuback and Paul discussed chapters 26 and 27.



Previous Episodes of “Success Philosophies With Dr. Chuback”


Dr. John Chuback


Dr. John Chuback was born and raised in Bergen County and graduated from the Dwight Englewood School. He earned his medical degree from New Jersey Medical School at UMDNJ, in Newark. Dr. Chuback then completed a five-year General Surgical Residency at Monmouth Medical Center (MMC). Dr. Chuback is the author of Make Your Own Damn CheeseKaboing, and The Straight A Handbook.

All books are available on Amazon. com. 


Impact Radio USA

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is impact-radio-usa-modern-large.jpg

Welcome to ​IMPACT RADIO USA, where we strive to  provide the best in news, talk, sports, and music 24 hours a day, 52 weeks per year. Our goal is to keep you as the most informed and entertained Internet Radio audience.

As we are continuing to add content on a daily basis, please feel free to click on the “LISTEN NOW” button at the top of the page to hear us 24 hours a day.While you are here, please check out all of our links to our shows, our podcast page, our blog, and learn how YOU can host your own show with us.  Thank you for listening to IMPACT RADIO USA!!!

Impact Radio USA ListenNow


Paul W. Reeves 

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 11700698_10204467697476836_1401739541151934347_o.jpg

Paul W. Reeves is a longtime Detroit area author, radio talk show host, music educator, composer/arranger, and professional musician!

Listen to “Dr. Paul’s Family Talk” on Impact Radio USA and visit Paul’s website for more information on his books and CDs.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is book-cover.jpg

D. A. Ratliff: To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms.  Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image by Ahmed Gomaa from Pixabay

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

D. A. Ratliff

“To sleep, perchance to dream,” Hamlet act 3, scene 1.
–William Shakespheare

Screams wafted through the darkened passageway deep within the catacombs. A man held a struggling young girl by the arms, dragging her toward a grimy wooden door crisscrossed with bands of iron.

“Let me go. I won’t tell.” She pulled against the man’s grasp but was not strong enough to break free.

The sharp sound of a slap echoed through the narrow hall. “Shut up.” The man jerked her toward the door where another person stood, a key chain dangling from an outstretched hand.

The girl resisted. “Please, don’t put me in there. I won’t tell, I won’t.”

As the key slipped into the lock, the person turned to her with a gaze of pure evil. “You should have thought about that before you decided to snoop.”

The man shoved her into a darkened chamber, and as the door clanged shut, her screams faded into silence.

Six Months Later

Bethany Monroe slid her ID into the gate access box next to the massive wrought-iron gates leading to Brentwood Manor. She passed through the gates and followed the curved treelined drive toward the staff residence hall, surprised at her rising trepidation. She served as Head Teacher at the British boarding school for the past five years, living in the residential quarters during the school year. Now, after an absence of eight months, she was returning.

Beth parked under the portico at the staff entrance and wondered if coming back had been the right thing to do. The air held the mossy scent of the Scottish Highlands and, for a moment, she felt like she was home. But home was a suburb of Chicago where her mother remained, recuperating.

As she opened the car trunk to remove her suitcases, a familiar voice rang out. She turned to see Angus, the head of maintenance for the school, coming out of the building.

“Dr. Monroe, so glad to have you back, lassie.” She had missed his thick Scottish brogue.

“Good to see you, Angus, and please call me Beth.”

“Would nae be right. Let me get your bags for you.”

Later in the afternoon, Beth was unpacking when a knock sounded on her door. She froze, no doubt in her mind who it was—the new headmistress of the school, Veronica Peyton. She walked to the door and took a deep breath before she opened it.

“Beth, how wonderful to have you back.”

“Veronica, it is good to be back. Come in.”

Her guest walked into Beth’s suite and took a seat on the couch. “How is your mother?”

“Doing very well. Quite the scare, but surgery was successful, brain tumor is gone, and she is now cancer free.”

“And rehabilitation went well?”

“Yes, she is, according to her physical therapist, about ninety percent, and still improving.”

“That’s wonderful.” Peyton paused, never taking her eyes off Beth. “I wanted to let you know about the changes that occurred since your leave of absence.”

“Congratulations on your promotion to headmistress.”

“Thank you. I would have preferred it under better circumstances. Dr. MacTavish’s death was a challenging time. The staff appreciated your kindness in sending notes and flowers. I know you wish you had been here.”

Beth listened to Veronica’s words, but the woman’s eyes lacked sincerity. “I am sure it was very difficult for everyone.”

“About the changes. Our relationship with the government is somewhat different than when you were here. The minister wanted us to be less selective in choosing orphans for admission to our program. While the girls with strong academic promise are still our priority, we have instituted a new program where these additional students come to stay with us for a basic education prior to adoption. Most will be from eight to sixteen years old. It’s a pilot program that we hope will assist in faster adoption for the girls. We instituted the program shortly after you left, and it has shown great success.”

“I look forward to seeing the curriculum offered in the program and getting to know the students.”

Veronica opened her mouth, hesitated, and then spoke. “Doctor Hugo Cordova is the director of the new project and hired his staff. He does not fall under your supervision. You have accomplished so much with our gifted students that we chose not to divert your focus.” She stood. “I must attend to some things. I will see you at seven in the dining hall.”


Dinner was both a wonderful experience and an unsettling one. While it was wonderful to see the teachers and staff she had missed, she sensed tension among them. Maybe it was her uneasiness, but something was wrong.

The following morning, she entered her office, opened the window, and gazed at the beautiful heather-strewn Scottish moor. The sweet fragrance of the lavender and rosy-pink blossoms was pleasant, and the soft buzz of bees collecting nectar and a slight breeze was soothing.

The students were on a two-day trip to a seaside resort before the autumn session began, and the school was too quiet for her taste. She loved the laughter emanating from the hallways as the girls changed classes. She had chosen to accept the headteacher position for this unique project because she believed that so many orphans did not receive the opportunities to succeed in life, especially those in their teens who had little chance of adoption.

She pried herself from the window and sat down to look over the student records, but the uneasiness she experienced earlier returned. Something was different about the school.

The students returned to Brentwood in time for their dinner at six p.m. Beth usually ate with them at least twice a week and always at breakfast on Saturdays. She wanted to let them know she was accessible without being too familiar. She held a soft spot for a few girls but tried not to show favorites. It wasn’t easy when it came to Cassie Cameron.

Cassie was born in Glasgow to a drug-addicted mother and a father she never knew. Her mother died of an overdose when she was five, and the local council agency sent her to an orphanage that did little but keep the children fed and clothed and barely warm.

As headteacher, Beth participated in the selection of students. They had tested the children at Cassie’s orphanage, and the lively then ten-year-old had charmed her even before they received the results of her evaluations. The cheerful redhead was bright but also street savvy and a formidable challenge. Cassie had become her best student and her greatest joy to teach.

Before she left after learning of her mother’s diagnosis, she told Cassie that because of the school’s policies of no outside communication, she would be out of touch but would think about her. As she entered the dining room, she scanned the students, anxious to see Cassie, but she wasn’t among them.

She hurried to the teacher’s table to ask about Cassie. One look at Marion Langford’s face as she approached the head math teacher told her everything.

“Where is she?”

“Beth, I…” Marion lowered her voice, “I wish we could have told you, but Peyton asked us not to say anything. According to Peyton, she was adopted, but we know nothing more.”

“Adopted? Why wouldn’t they tell you? Why didn’t they tell you?” Beth felt panic rising, and she fought to keep it back. Cassie would have let her know she was no longer at the school. Where was she?

Marion grabbed her hand. “I don’t know why but she’s been gone for six months now. And no one speaks about her.”

Before she could ask more questions, several of the students rushed to greet her. Her heart pounded with fear. She didn’t believe the story about Cassie’s adoption.

The girls returned to their dorms at curfew, and Beth returned to her suite in the staff residence. She opened her door and slipped as she stepped on an envelope. She sat on the couch and opened the note.

All is not what it seems. We do not believe Cassie was adopted. We contacted the police, and the detective spoke to Peyton, said there was documentation of her adoption, but we do not trust Peyton. She warned us not to speak of Cassie and not have contact with the girls in their new program. You weren’t here, and they probably think you don’t know anything about this and may not be concerned about you. You must stop them and save her. Talk to DI Colson. Strange things are going on during the night, but we are afraid to search. You are the only hope for them all. We will be in touch.

Tears welled in Beth’s eyes as she fought to maintain control. She had to keep in control, just as she did when her mother was so ill. Cassie and the other girls were in danger.


After a restless night, Beth stopped by the dining hall early, grabbing coffee and a scone. She had little appetite for food and less for seeing anyone while she prepared to attend the first faculty meeting of the Autumn term. Since reading the note left for her, her nerves were raw, but she needed to remain outwardly calm despite the rage that boiled within her.

She needed to think things through—find out Peyton’s story about Cassie first, then contact the detective. Fear gnawed at her. What was happening at the school?

She walked into the faculty meeting as Peyton started talking. The director glanced at her, and Beth scoffed. Peyton’s gaze was cold as if she were not happy to see her. That made two of them. If only Dr. MacTavish hadn’t died so unexpectedly. He wouldn’t have let this happen.

After the meeting, Beth approached Peyton. “Doctor, a question if you don’t mind.”


“I noticed Cassie Cameron is not here, and the girls told me that she was adopted. That’s wonderful. I would love to talk to her and see how she is doing. Could you get me her address?”

Peyton’s eyes dilated, and Beth’s blood ran cold. “I’m sorry. Since you were gone, we have instituted a policy that prohibits any contact by faculty and staff with former students. We feel these children need to get on with their new lives without reminders of their past.” The director once again smiled with cold eyes. “So glad to have you back, Dr. Monroe. I hope you find our new policies satisfactory.”

As Peyton walked away, Beth seethed. She had never trusted that woman, and she wasn’t about to do so now. She needed to talk to DI Colson.


The school was located five miles from Glasgow, and she had arranged to meet the detective at a pub on the outskirts of town along the River Clyde. She parked her white Mini Hatch in the car park and entered the pub. It was three in the afternoon, and only a few patrons were at the bar. The lone man at the corner table wearing a suit must be Coulson.


He looked up from his phone. “Yes, and you are Dr. Monroe?”

She nodded and sat down. “Detective, thank you for speaking with me. I realize I might sound delusional, but something is wrong at the school. I know you looked into Cassie’s disappearance.”

“You are American?”

“Yes, I was impressed by the program here, helping these young women with little support to obtain a better education, so I applied. I hope to start this program in the US at some point.”

“Commendable, Doctor. What I found was that all indications are she was adopted.”

“I don’t believe that.”

Coulson stared at her for a moment, then nodded. “Since you called me, I called in some favors.” He leaned forward. “I should have done this before. There are no records of an adoption taking place other than the documents Peyton showed me.”


“No, those documents were likely fake. I’m sorry, but I’m looking into this now.”

“There are some things you should know.” 

Beth told him about the new program for the less gifted orphaned girls and the note she received. Coulson promised to stay in touch and gave her his mobile number. As she drove back to the school, she decided it was time she did some investigation on her own.


Another note was under her door when she returned from dinner that evening. Her fingers shaking, she tore open the envelope.

Peyton was watching when you left this afternoon. She has eyes everywhere. Be careful. We noticed cars arriving at the service entrance around midnight but couldn’t get a good view to see what was happening. Students go missing, and more show up. These girls are in danger.

Beth’s hands continued to shake as she collapsed on a chair. She was right. It was time to do a bit of snooping.

Near midnight, she slipped a black knit cap on her head and momentarily panicked as she caught her image in the dresser mirror. What in heaven’s name was she thinking? Nothing brilliant about a teacher dressed in all black and about to go sneaking through the school. Some job description.

She made her way down the back stairs from the staff residence toward the kitchen and laundry wing, the eerie silence broken by the soft footfalls of her rubber-soled shoes. She slipped into the kitchen and hid behind a storage rack. Peering between the canisters of flour, sugar, and other staples, she watched the service entrance.

A door creaked, and she froze. Someone was coming. She ducked a bit lower, hoping no one would spot her, and chills shuddered through her body as the door to the walk-in pantry opened. One of the new teachers led four girls out of the pantry and through the service door. The faint hum of a car engine drifted into the kitchen, then the clunk of a car door. As she stretched to get a better look, a strong hand clamped across her mouth as an arm wrapped around her and dragged her into a storage closet.

“Shhhh. Be quiet.” The whispered brogue belonged to Angus, who pulled his hand from her mouth. “They will come into the kitchen to get a snack. They do it each night. Listen, but do not move.” A door closed and voices drifted toward them.

“Nice haul tonight. Those four will bring us a pretty penny. Want an ice cream sandwich. I love this place, free food, a nice place to sleep, and we get to play teachers and get ice cream when we want it.” The woman laughed. “Did I mention we are making a fortune?”

The other person laughed. “That we are.”

She knew that voice. She had just met him last night—Dr. Hugo Cordova. The woman with was one of the newly hired staff working on the project. Obviously, not a teacher.

The voices drifted away, and after a couple of minutes, Angus spoke. “I was repairing a light fixture in the wing where they are keeping the new lassies. I heard Cordova say the transport will be here at midnight and to take the kids to the service entrance. I’ve been here for two hours. I don’t know where those girls came from, but they didn’t come in through the kitchen.”

He opened the door a crack. “Looks clear. Get back to your room. Act like nothing’s wrong tomorrow. I’m gonna check to see if I can find where those girls came from.”

Emotionally exhausted, Beth stumbled as she entered her suite, knocking over a stack of books. She flipped on the light, and as she bent to pick up the books, her eyes fell on a copy of Hamlet. A copy she had loaned to Cassie, who had an affinity for the Bard. Flipping through the pages to find Cassie’s favorite passage. “To sleep, perchance to dream.”

They had discussed its meaning, and Cassie had thought a moment before she spoke. “Dr. Monroe, there was a time when I was very young that I thought dying would be better than living in an orphanage. But you gave me hope, and living is much better.”

Beth hugged the book to her chest. Cassie was going to live.


The next day found Beth nervous but pushing through the first day of class. Back in her office, she tackled the daily paperwork, but her mind was elsewhere.

At dinner, she sat with her fellow teachers trying not to stare at Cordova and his group. Turning down an invitation to watch a movie with the staff, she walked alone toward the staircase. As she passed a hallway jutting off the main corridor, Angus called her name. Startled, she turned toward him.

“Meet me at ten p.m. in the kitchen.” He spun and darted down the hall.


Beth could barely breathe as she made her way to the kitchen. She attempted to control her growing apprehension but had to bite her tongue when Angus and Marion Langford appeared through a doorway.

“Marion, you?”

“Yes, sorry, I wanted to tell you, but we were too afraid.”

Angus held up a key. “I searched the pantry. Found a hidden door behind the shelving and this key hanging on a hook just inside. There’s a stairwell leading down.”

Marion grabbed her arm. “I looked in the archives. There were dungeons below the school from when it was a manor house. Cassie might be there.”

“Ms. Langford, you stay here to keep an eye out for them. You want to come with me, Dr. Monroe?”

“Yes, I do. Marion, have your mobile?” She nodded. “This is DI Coulson’s phone number. If something happens, call him.”

Angus lit a flashlight, and they descended the worn stone stairs, the air becoming increasingly damp and musty. The light illuminated thick cobwebs and dust on the rough stone walls. At the base of the stairs, passageways extended in three directions.

“Where to, Angus?”

“We’re gonna have to guess.”

The first corridor they went down was a dead end, but there were heavy steel doors, all with padlocks. Shining the light on the locks, Angus gave a low whistle.

“Look, number seven is etched in the brass.” He held the key in the light. The heavy wood dumbbell-shaped key fob held the number eighteen etched into it.

It took several minutes before they found the door with eighteen scratched into it. Beth held her breath as Angus tried the key. He swung the heavy door open and shined the light through the opening. Cassie was lying on an old cot, noticeably thinner, clothes tattered and dirty, her face pale with dark circles under her eyes. Beth rushed to her.

“You’re alive. Thank goodness. Let’s get you out of here.”

A cry from Oscar and a thud spun Beth around. Doctor Peyton stood in the doorway, Cordova behind her. “Oh, you aren’t going anywhere.” The door clanged shut, leaving Cassie and Beth in the dark. Cassie fumbled for a camping lamp and turned it on.

Cassie sobbed. “I am so sorry. I overheard them. They are selling the girls to someone. I wasn’t careful, and they found me. They didn’t know what to do with me, so they threw me in here.”

“It’s okay. We’ll get out of this.” Beth held the trembling girl as they waited in the dark.


Cassie drifted to sleep, and Beth, her mind reeling, hoped Marion had gotten to Coulson. She forced her breathing to slow so that she would remain calm. Muffled noises from the hallway roused them both. Beth held Cassie behind her as the door opened.

She sagged with relief. It was DI Coulson.

“Are you alright?”

“Yes. We’re fine. Angus?”

“Has a lump on the head, but he’s all right.”

“The students. Were they trafficking them?”

“No, at least, not in the way you thought. Cordova and Peyton were selling illegal adoptions. Cordova is already spilling his guts, so we hope we can find all of the girls. Come on, you two, let’s get you upstairs out of this cold.”

As they walked up the stairs, Cassie stopped. “Dr. Monroe, do you remember that passage from Hamlet that I loved?”

Beth smiled. “I do.”

“I don’t want to sleep and dream forever. I want to live.”

Beth hugged her. “And live you will.”

Please visit D. A. Ratliff on her blog:

Lynn Miclea: Finding Safety

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms.  Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image by Ahmed Gomaa from Pixabay

Finding Safety

Lynn Miclea

Brad shook his head. How could he have let this happen? How could he have been so careless? So stupid? Being a detective, he should have known better. He knew to trust his instincts. And he should never have trusted James. That was his one mistake. But it was too late now.

He inspected the room he was in, his eyes roaming over the old, dirty, beige walls and the one small window covered with metal bars. How would he get out now? No matter what it took, he had to find a way to escape. And he had to find Abigail and Raymond. He would never forgive himself if they were hurt.

Where did they take Abigail? They had grabbed her only because of him. Sweet Abby didn’t deserve this. He had been assigned to protect her from her ex, and he had been so careful for months. Then he let his guard down and trusted the wrong man. And now she was in even more danger because of him. And the guys who grabbed her had nothing to do with her ex — they were just using her to get to him. Anger and helplessness burned in him. Those guys didn’t care who they hurt. If he could just …

His throat constricted as he pictured her, her long auburn hair flowing in waves down her back and her intense green eyes always filled with trust. His stomach churned as he realized that in addition to putting her in danger and letting her down, he was slowly falling in love with her. She had better be okay. If they had hurt her in any way…

He pictured her holding her son, Raymond. The boy was only three years old — the sweetest boy he ever knew. With a head full of curly red hair, he was a gentle, shy, innocent boy. He did not deserve any of this. His fists tensed with rage. He had to find them.

He stared at the door. He had tried the doorknob numerous times, but it was locked on his side. There had to be some way to get out. As he stared, his mind thinking over possible strategies, footsteps echoed in the hallway outside the room and then slowed and stopped outside his door.

He held his breath as he saw the doorknob turn.

The door slowly opened, creaking as it moved.

James stood there — the man who had betrayed him. The man who had brought him here.

“Here,” James stated, holding out a small tray. “I brought food. Lucky man, you get to eat today.”

Brad stared at him. “What do you want from me?”

James stood there in silence a few moments. “Eat first. We can talk later.”

“No. I want to know what you want.”

James’s face grew tense. “We need information.”

“What information?”

James paused. “Who do you work for?”

Brad inched closer to James. “I work for no one. Just myself.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Where is Abby?”

James hesitated. “She is safe. For now.”


James did not respond and started to put the tray on the floor.

“Where is Raymond? Is he safe? If you hurt them in any way …”

James held out the tray again. “Do you want the food or not?”

Brad reached forward and his fingers grasped the tray. Within seconds, he grabbed the tray and smashed it into James’s face. Stunned, James stepped backward but quickly recovered and thrust a powerful side kick at Brad. Brad swiftly dodged the kick and, before James could regroup, rushed forward and threw a slew of powerful punches into James’s face. James punched back, landing a solid blow in his side. Ignoring the pain and focused on his target, Brad threw an uppercut into James’s jaw, and James’s head snapped back. James’s legs slowly gave out, and he crumpled to the floor.

Brad quickly kneeled down and checked James’s pockets. One set of keys. To what? He wasn’t sure, but it might come in handy, and he put them in his pocket.

Brad eased to the door and cautiously peered out. The hallway was empty.

Remembering how he was brought in, he turned right and stealthily crept down the hallway, paused at another hallway, then turned right and quickly but silently walked to the end. A small entryway on the left showed an exit door. Would it open? Was it locked? Was it alarmed? He knew he would not get another chance.

He pushed on the bar, and it gave way. The door eased open, and he flew out and started running down the dirt road. Breathing hard, he raced down the road as it curved past an old tree and then went past a run-down motel.

Wait. Something clicked in his mind — the key. He took out the key that he had taken from James. The number 18 was written on it. Room 18? At the motel? It couldn’t hurt to try. It would be convenient for them to put Abby and Raymond there, so it was a possibility. And that would be a lucky break for him. He hoped that would be the case.

Scanning the room numbers, he saw that room 18 was toward the far end. He could not waste time. They would be on his tail any moment.

He hurried to the room and eased the key into the lock. It fit. His heart pounding in his chest, he unlocked the door to room 18 and opened it.

Shutting the door behind him, he squinted in the dim room. As his eyes adjusted, he saw a figure tied to a chair. Abby!

He raced to her side. “Abby, it’s me, you’re safe,” he murmured, as he removed her gag and blindfold. He untied the ropes and looked into her eyes. “Are you okay?”

He saw a mixture of fear and relief in her eyes as she nodded.

“Raymond — where’s Raymond?”

She stifled a sob. “In the bathroom.” Her voice was hoarse.

He rushed into the bathroom. Sweet little Raymond, tied with ropes, was lying in the bathtub, whimpering softly. Seeing Raymond’s small body trembling in the tub, Brad choked up. “You’re okay, Ray, you sweet boy, it’s okay, we’ll have you out of here soon.” He untied the ropes, picked up the child, and held him, kissing his pudgy, wet face.

Brad carried the whimpering boy into the main room and handed him to Abby. Tears streaming down her face, she grabbed and hugged her son, who clung to her and sniffled into her neck.

“Okay, I need to get both of you out of here before they come looking for us.” He looked around the room. “Do you need anything from here? Is anything here yours?”

Abby shook her head and kissed Raymond’s cheek.

“Good. Can you walk okay?” She nodded, and he continued. “Let me check the area first.” Brad ran to the window and looked out. Nothing.

He opened the front door a crack and peered out. It looked clear. He opened it further and quickly stepped back, waiting a moment in case of any threat. Then he moved to the doorway and scanned the area. Clear.

“Let’s go,” he said, his voice low and intense as he waved to Abby to follow him.

“Stay close to me,” he whispered as he left the motel room, hugging the wall. He grabbed her hand and held it tightly. He did not want to lose her again.

Tense and focused, he scanned the area and then rushed to the far end of the lot, pulling Abigail with him. He quickly ran across the parking lot to the street and stopped in the shade of a tree on the sidewalk. He peered across the parking lot, considering his next move. Still vulnerable and in danger, they desperately needed to get to a phone.

He glanced briefly at Abigail. Her face was pale and tense, and she held tightly to Raymond, whose head was buried in her neck, his curly red hair a soft halo around his head. Other than Abby’s heavy breathing, it was quiet. He knew they could not get too far, but they had to move.

“You okay?” he asked her.

Abby nodded, but her tension and fear were palpable.

Shouts suddenly sounded — loud voices carrying through the air.

“That’s them,” he whispered. “We need to get out of here now.”

Holding tightly to her hand, his heart thudding, he rushed down the sidewalk toward a few industrial buildings. Where could they find shelter? He scanned the area, then quickly led Abby behind an old warehouse into a wooded area in the back.

Crouching in the tall grass behind large, leafy bushes that shielded them from view, they peered through the leaves, as he steadied his breathing.

Three men rushed down the street. Brad watched as James stopped roughly sixty feet from where they hid. James’s eyes scanned the area and he called out, “Where are you, Brad? We know you’re here. You won’t get far.”

Another of the men answered, “Where did he go? He’s got Abby and the kid with him. He couldn’t have gone far. He has to be around here.”

James started toward the woods. “We’ll find them. It won’t be that hard.” He turned back toward his cohort as a black sedan pulled up next to them. “Wait, our ride is here. It will be easier to cover more distance that way. We’ll check out all possible places they could have gone.”

The three men climbed into the car and the doors slammed closed. The car sped off, tires squealing on the pavement.

Brad let out a long breath and looked at Abby. Her face was pale and strained, and she rocked Raymond, speaking softly to him.

Brad reached over and ran his fingers through her hair. “I’m sorry, Abby. This is my fault. You didn’t deserve any of this.”

“I just —”

“No, I was supposed to protect you from your ex, and I put you in even more danger.” He shook his head. “This guy had nothing to do with —”

“Brad, I know that guy.”

“Who? James? You know him?”

“Yes. I’ve seen him before. Talking to my ex.” She swallowed and looked at Brad, her eyes intense. “They are friends. He is part of this.”

Brad felt his stomach clench as he realized he had been set up more than he thought. That bastard had played him. Damn — he had trusted him.

He stood up. “Let’s get you safe.” He reached out his hand and helped Abigail stand. “First, let’s find a phone so we can call for help. I think I saw a gas station just past the next building.”

As they picked their way through the tall weeds and around behind the next commercial building, he cautiously led them toward the gas station. His stomach flipped as he thought how close he could have come to losing her. To losing both of them.

Voices reached him, and he stopped and listened. He could not risk their safety. The voices spoke again, but it was too far away to hear what they were saying. After another minute, the voices receded, car doors slammed, and a car took off. Could those be the same men looking for them? A gas station would be a good bet for where they could be expected to go for help. It could be a trap.

His skin prickled. Something did not feel right. It was too risky.

Brad signaled Abigail to stay back, and he stealthily and silently crept forward.

The snap of a twig reached him and his head whirled toward the sound. There — Brad spotted James standing behind a tree with his eyes glued to the gas station. That slimebag was waiting for him. They were being set up.

As silently as he could, Brad eased forward, crouching low, pausing behind trees. A dry leaf crunched under his foot, and he quickly slid behind a tree and held his breath. He watched James tense up, his body alert and focused.

James stepped forward, looked around, then scratched his head and went back to the tree, eyes riveted on the gas station. Good.

Brad slowly crept forward again, carefully choosing his steps to avoid making noise as much as possible. Finally within ten feet of James, Brad picked up a rock and threw it beyond and to the side of James. As it landed, James immediately turned toward the sound where the rock hit the ground.

As James focused in the opposite direction trying to see what made the noise, Brad rushed forward and sprung into the air, aiming a flying roundhouse kick straight at James’s head.

James heard the noise behind him too late and spun around, turning his head straight into Brad’s foot. James’s head snapped back and he instantly collapsed to the ground.

Brad cautiously moved forward, keeping his eyes on James, who now lay unmoving in a heap in the dirt. Gingerly approaching the motionless body, Brad nudged James with his foot. No response.

Carefully watching James’s face, alert for any movement, Brad quickly kneeled down and went through James’s pockets. A cell phone — just what they needed.

Backing up, staying focused on James’s inert body, Brad immediately called 911.

A few minutes later, sirens from police vehicles could be heard rushing toward them, and Brad breathed a sigh of relief.


One week later, Brad gazed at Abigail as she sipped her chocolate milkshake in the coffee shop, her long auburn hair flowing past her shoulders. She looked up at Brad and swallowed. “Thank you again, Brad. For everything — I mean it.”

He smiled, reached over, and squeezed her hand. “You’re welcome. I’m glad you’re safe and the case got resolved. That could have gone so wrong so many times.”

Abby held his gaze. “But it didn’t. You rescued us. You helped put my ex behind bars. I’m free now and don’t have to worry about him.”

Brad nodded. “And when James gets out of the hospital, he’ll be behind bars as well.” He gestured to her son who was happily spooning vanilla ice cream into his mouth, his red curls bouncing. “How’s Raymond doing?”

Abby’s lips curled up into a smile. “He’s good. He had some nightmares for a few days, but he’s doing better now.”

“Good.” He felt a tingle move up his body and wondered if he should say what he really wanted to tell her. He hesitated, and then decided to say it anyway. “Abby, I’ve really enjoyed spending time with you, and I wondered if, well, maybe …”

“Hey, I liked it too. Well, not the danger part, but I enjoyed the time with you.” Abby sat up and licked the milkshake off her lips. “You know what? Would you be willing to spend the night at my place? You know, to make sure we’re safe.” Her green eyes twinkled.

Brad chuckled. “To make sure you’re safe? Yeah, sure, I could do that.” He gazed into her eyes for a few moments. “Is that what you need? To feel safe?”

Abby’s face lit up and she laughed. “Yeah, I need to feel safe enough to do this,” she murmured, leaning forward and planting a kiss on his lips.

Brad moaned and kissed her back, the feel of her soft lips sending a rush of warmth through him.

After a few moments, Abby pulled back. “I hope you can work some overtime. I’m going to need a lot more of this.”

Brad laughed. “Absolutely. This is a special case that will need a lot of extra, in-depth research.”

“Good, I’m counting on it,” she murmured, pressing her lips to his again.


Copyright © 2021 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.


Please visit Lynn’s blog and follow her at –
Please also visit Lynn’s website for more information on her books –
And visit her Amazon author page at –

D. A. Ratliff: Passwords and the Two-Step

Images used are free use and require no attribution. Image by Werner Moser from Pixabay.

Passwords and the Two-Step

D. A. Ratliff

Learning lessons is a vital part of life. However, some of those hard lessons are everyday occurrences. Some, unfortunately, are of our own doing, as my latest lesson was my fault!

Like everyone these days, I have too many accounts, Google Gmail, streaming video services, social media sites, writing programs, financial, shopping—the list is endless, and managing those passwords can become cumbersome and frustrating.

Google has a password managing program, and there are others available, but I have had more experience with hackers than I care to say. Leaving my passwords on a site where a hacker can get a whole list of them doesn’t seem prudent. Like a good little writer, I keep a notebook with me that occasionally has writing-related notes but mostly holds the grocery lists and my list of passwords.

Now, my plan of keeping my passwords in one place, with me the majority of the time, seemed to be smart. All I had to do was keep up with any changes I made and copy the list when I got a new notebook. Easy, right? Nothing could go wrong with that plan, could it?

I can tell you are far ahead of me. Let’s say getting in a hurry and never bothering to grab the notebook when you can’t remember the password doesn’t work. I’ll remember the new password. I’ll write it down later. Uh, no.

However, forgetting passwords is not the most egregious thing I have done to myself in the password world. And this is where the password recovery process becomes a nightmare.

It is one thing to forget a password. It is another to have your email program crash and throw you out of every email you have. The personal, the author, and the group emails I had to log back into were not an issue for the most part. Then there was my writing blog.

As we all know, with increasing security necessary, most social media, email programs, etc., require a two-step authentication—a password and the ability to receive a text or email with a code. However, if one of those is not available, then trouble looms.

When I set up my author blog on WordPress, I used a landline number as the emergency contact and the email address associated with the blog. At the time, my cell phone service was spotty due to tower issues, and the cell signal was weak, so I was in the habit of leaving the landline when necessary. Then I forgot.

I remembered when I could not access the text or email that was associated with my blog account. Nor could I recover my email as I had the other ones because I used a landline number no longer in service. Without those elements to prove who I was, WordPress denied access to my blog. All the hard work I had done over the years to build blog followers for my writing, gone.

In my defense, I had changed my Google account phone number, and for some reason, all the emails associated with the account had the new number associated with them. The blog email did not.

Let me warn you. These social media sites do not answer inquiries about this situation. Due to security, if they cannot prove the account belongs to you, the account is unrecoverable. There is no recourse. I tried.

I want to impart some unfortunate words of wisdom. Sad for me but hopefully a reminder for you.

  • Keep your passwords secure. If you trust a password management program, use it. If not, keep them written down and in a safe place. Please do not share them with anyone (okay, that’s a given).
  • If you are writing them down, do that. It takes a few seconds. Never be in such a hurry that you think you will record a new password later. You likely won’t.
  • Keep your phone number used for texts updated. Use a secure email that you always have access to as your emergency email.
  • If you have a personal blog, add a person you can trust to an admin position, so if you lose access, you will have someone who can invite you back in.
  • Remember: You cannot prevent all hacks, but if possible, use a VPN service and keep your passwords to yourself.

Lesson learned as I am in the process of redoing my blog. After several years, it is a daunting task, but starting over can be a good thing too. If you followed me in the past, then I would love to see you again.

More than anything else, don’t forget your passwords or correct phone number. It’s madness.

Please visit Deborah on her (new) blog:

Lisa Criss Griffin: The Resistance

Welcome to Write the Story! Each month Writers Unite! will offer a writing prompt for writers to create a story from and share with everyone. WU! wants to help our members and followers to generate more traffic to their platforms.  Please check out the authors’ blogs, websites, Facebook pages and show them support. We would love to hear your thoughts about the stories and appreciate your support! 

Images are free use and require no attribution. Image by Ahmed Gomaa from Pixabay

The Resistance 

Lisa Criss Griffin

The occupant of #18 listened to the disembodied voices travel past his prison chamber and fade away down the long hallway. He wasn’t sure if he should be relieved or horrified. The possibility of those demons everyone referred to as “scientists” deciding to do more testing on him was very real. Evan knew they would eventually cull him to figure out what had gone wrong with the AI implant. 

So far, they had only managed to partially install a replacement implant, which he promptly removed when they threw him kicking and screaming into #18. It had been a painful, bloody affair which rendered him unable to speak…or scream afterwards. They left him alone after that, having a host of his former fellow military personnel to reprogram.

Evan was one of the few Enforcer Units who experienced a total AI implant failure during the freak lightning storm that hit the internment camp for those poor souls who took the experimental injections rolled out during the pandemic. He was now cognizant of the horrors being perpetrated upon the resultant hybrid human/lizard people, who were inmates of The Science Camp. 

The guttural screams of panic and pain from unfortunate hybrids screeched past his cell regularly. He covered his ears the best he could to drown out their sounds of suffering during the torture sessions instigated by the monstrous scientists. It was rumored the blood of tortured hybrids was highly valued by the controlling elite as an extreme intoxicant. It shocked Evan to his very core when he realized the rumor was absolutely true. 

It was also shocking how the initial AI implant removed his ability to feel any emotion whatsoever. He recalled being content to follow orders, regardless of what those orders entailed. All that mattered was that he did what he was told to do. There was no thinking it through, no awareness of the consequences to others…good or bad, while the implant was functional. Evan vowed he would die before he ever allowed himself to be dehumanized by an AI implant again. When they came for him…and he was sure they would come eventually, he would not acquiesce.

A narrow slot in the lower door flipped open. A hand shoved a tray containing his daily ration of food and water through the opening and onto the unforgiving cell floor. Evan could hear the rattle of the tray he slid out into the hallway the night before, as his keeper picked it up. He had learned quickly to return the tray to the hallway if he expected to be fed the next day.

The food was leftover and cold, but it sustained him. The water was wet, yet had a funky aftertaste. He assumed it was tap water, but anything was possible in this hell hole. He chose not to dwell on it. Evan Mullohan had decided to survive, in case he could either escape or at least cause a lot of destruction in the nefarious laboratory when the time came. He invented a daily exercise routine to keep his muscles functional. Not that he would let them know. Let them think he was languishing away in #18, alone and forgotten. Evan was a warrior, and this was his private war now. No matter how it ended for him personally, he would fight for his freedom and the freedom of his fellow prisoners from this abominable, globalist regime.

Evan slid his tray back out into the hallway and took his usual post over by the narrow, barred window in the thick, adobe wall. He watched as the Enforcer Units oversaw the chores the hybrids were required to do. The former Enforcer Unit was familiar with the schedules and even fancied he could recognize some of the individual hybrids now. Of course, he was well acquainted with most of the Enforcers. They were from his own military unit. They all had been fitted with the AI implant. There had not been a choice. He was sure if they had known what the implant would actually do, most of the military would have rebelled. But, of course, the treasonous frigging assholes in charge brazenly lied to them all. 

He shook his head in disbelief at the massive deception and evil perpetrated on billions of unsuspecting people all over the world. The elitists were absolutely demonic, and eventually they would reap what they had sown. If not in this lifetime, then in the afterlife. As angry and horrified as he was, thoughts of such depths of eternal punishment gave him little comfort.

An unusual sight caught his attention. He lifted his head away from the comfort of the cool adobe wall and pressed his face against the metal bars of the open window. Three unfamiliar scientists were being accompanied to the main building by a new Enforcer Unit. Evan blinked, then rubbed his eyes to be sure he wasn’t hallucinating. Heck, anything was possible given his current living conditions. 

He was almost sure the new Enforcer Unit was his best friend, Tom Gutierrez. Tom had gone missing after the freak electric storm. It was rumored he helped a couple of hybrids escape during the chaos that ensued. Tom’s AI implant had deactivated during the lightning storm, was reactivated a few hours away from The Science Camp, and then it went dead, permanently. No trace of his childhood friend was ever found. A shudder ran through his thin body. Nature had a way of cleaning up, and wild predators were always aware of potential meals. Evan had grieved the loss of his childhood friend deeply during his sentient imprisonment. 

The group slowly walked out of his sight. Evan slid down the smooth, clay wall, his head in his hands. His fingers grasped his shaggy hair, unconsciously yanking it in consternation. Had he finally gone crazy, cooped up in solitary with no one to talk with? Could he trust his eyes, or was he starting to see things? Had he just imagined it was Tom? He never had closure on his friend’s demise, and found himself looking for him, out of some small ray of hope he wasn’t actually dead. To see his missing friend walking by with an AI implant clearly visible, deeply wounded his soul. At least Tom had been free, if only for a little while. Death was better than losing one’s humanity to the damnable, soulless control of the AI implant.

Evan slowly crawled over to his bed on the hard floor and wrapped himself in his only blanket. Trembling, he turned towards the bare wall as hot tears flowed down his grizzled cheeks and soaked into his dirty shirt. Nobody heard the horrendously silent screaming from Cell #18.


The new Enforcer Unit #7701 designated for Science Camp 917, Tom Ferguson, carefully kept his eyes blank of emotion as he escorted the scientists and his AI specialist into the main office for their new assignment to the lab. His plastic surgery by the Guardian’s surgeon had been a raving success, and only those who knew him extremely well might recognize him. AI specialist Rory Dominic had successfully insisted on including him as an example of the success of her improved AI implant technology for the Enforcer Units. 

The Czar over World Region 1, Section 9 had ordered a massive increase in the production of the blood intoxicant known as ERE, produced by the inhuman torture of the hybrids. The two new scientists were hired to help meet that order. An AI specialist was also brought in with the new group to update the AI implants to prevent further dysfunction. Their credentials were impeccable, and they were given free range of The Science Camp after their interviews. The new Enforcer Unit with the updated AI implant was assigned to meet their needs as requested and would remain posted in the laboratory and by their quarters to make sure the scientists transitioned smoothly into their new assignments without any unexpected problems. Dr. Wesley Berringer, Dr. Rance Edwards, and AI specialist Rory Dominic insisted on a proper orientation of the equipment, procedures and subsequent production of the invaluable hybrid elixir. The new scientists were determined to be effective and efficient in the laboratory as soon as possible. 

The group was given unfettered access to the lab computers. Nobody noticed the new Enforcer Unit reading snippets of information over their shoulders as he stood quietly at attention, awaiting an order from his charges. One of the new scientists scanned a list of current inmates, scrolling slowly. Enforcer Unit #7701 quickly squelched his surprise upon seeing his childhood friend’s name on that list. 

Evan Mullohan…Main building cellblock…#18…failed AI implant…current status: dangerous.

“Heck yeah, Evan would be highly pissed off and very dangerous without a functional AI implant. Just like I was when my implant failed and I became aware of what was actually happening, not only here at this Science Camp, but everywhere else. Hang on, my friend. Help has arrived. I won’t leave you rotting away in #18. The Resistance is well underway throughout World Region 1 right now….”


The new Enforcer Unit’s eyes snapped to attention, focusing on the face of the tenured scientist who had spoken to him. The scientist turned to one of his new colleagues.

“Is there a glitch in the updated AI programming? Your new Enforcer Unit seemed to be worlds away. I had to speak to him twice before he acknowledged me!”

“No, it is not a glitch, Dr. Nutter. It is merely a snooze program to extend the life of the implant. You may have noticed the Enforcer Unit has not received a new order for over an hour. The programming automatically goes into a snooze state after an hour. This is a less recent update, and I didn’t realize you weren’t familiar with it. My apologies, Dr. Nutter. I imagine this is a sensitive subject for everyone here in Science Camp 917.”

“Well, yes it is, Ms. Dominic. You couldn’t imagine the chaos that ensued after the lightning storm. It was a freaking nightmare!”

“And that is exactly why I am here…to make sure it never happens again.”

“We are counting on it. Glad to have you here. All of you.”

Dr. Nutter dabbed the sweat from his wrinkled forehead with his handkerchief before he opened the door to leave the lab for the day. The door slowly closed behind him. The new team worked in silence for another thirty minutes before calling it a day. The Enforcer Unit accompanied his charges outside.

“That was quick thinking, Rory. A brilliant explanation, actually.”

“Thank you, Rance. But Tom, what were you thinking about, to be so distracted?”

“My best friend’s name is on the incarcerated list due to a complete AI failure. He is described as…dangerous. I was quite surprised, and was thinking of how we could help him. He will be a valuable asset when the time is right. I didn’t realize I was so caught up in my thoughts. God, it is so nice to have my own thoughts again! I sincerely apologize if I jeopardized our mission in any way.”

“Actually, it may have been a blessing in disguise. We need them to accept that the new AI programming has differences. Because as we all know, things are going to change.”

The group murmured their agreement as they entered the main building for some food and eventually their beds. It was concerning nobody had disclosed to them there was a fully human prisoner in the other wing during orientation. Tom accompanied the scientists to their rooms, waiting impatiently for them all to fall asleep. 

He waited until well after midnight before entering the darkened prison wing of the main building. Enforcer Unit #7701 walked stealthily, yet as if he had a purpose. His heart was racing. Every sense he had seemed intensified, and even soft sounds seemed to echo. If he was discovered…. He stopped before #18, his boot barely missing an empty tray lying in front of the door. He tapped lightly on the door, calling to his friend softly.

“Evan. Evan Mullohan from Burning Springs. It’s Tom Gutierrez…erm…Ferguson. Can you hear me?”

Sounds of shuffling approached the far side of the door. 

“Tap, tap, tap. Tap…tap…tap. Tap, tap, tap.”

“I understand, bud. We are here to help. Don’t give up. We will need your help when the time is right. I can’t stay. I just wanted you to know I was here, and sentient. When we come to get you for your fake upgraded AI implant installation, don’t fight us too much…just enough to be convincing. And don’t choose me for that nasty undercut punch you love to use. One of the old resident scientists would be more deserving. I recommend a Dr. Nutter if possible. I have to go. Tap once if you understand.”


Tom walked authoritatively down to the end of the hallway, and retraced his steps, scanning the layout before returning to his nocturnal station in the small living room connected to the rooms of his charges. He paced awhile, then reclined on the sofa. After some deep breathing exercises to reduce his receding anxiety, he finally fell asleep, secure in the knowledge that his team would wake him up when the new day arrived.


Within three weeks, the Guardian Team had successfully mixed The Camp’s backlog of hybrid ERE with a synthetic version of the intoxicating blood elixir. They had almost titrated the mix to solely the synthetic ERE. In fact, reports were coming in that the latest ERE was even more potent, and the General of District 9 was already praising the new team’s success at Science Camp 917 highly. The updated AI implants were working as expected, although each newly implanted Enforcer Unit was debriefed and quarantined for forty-eight hours for quality control purposes by Rory Dominic and her loyal Enforcer Unit #7701. 

So far, the upgrades were deemed a complete success by the original Science Camp management and staff. The clandestine hybridization reversal treatment was well underway, and the incarcerated hybrids were beginning to show signs of their successful transformation. The time had arrived to neutralize the original management personnel and scientists of Science Camp 917 to avoid the exposure of the Guardian Team’s hybrid rescue operation.

It was only a few hours before dawn when Tom made his way back into the prison wing of the main building. He located #18, almost falling in an effort to avoid clattering the empty tray lying haphazardly in front of his childhood friend’s cell door. He tapped gently, whispering to his friend.

“Evan. Hey…Mullohan. It’s Tom. Are you ready for some action, dude?”

He was met by silence.

“Evan! Answer me, man. Tap, or something.”


“Alright, I’m coming in. And none of your deadly undercut punches, dude!”

Tom tried the doorknob before he spent precious time returning to the main lobby to palm the key to #18. He was immensely surprised when he heard the latch release. He pushed the door open and stepped into the dimly lit cell. His eyes scanned the area, while every brain cell he had screamed something was terribly wrong. There was a lump huddled under a thin blanket in the corner. He approached it cautiously, fervently praying his buddy was just asleep…nothing worse.

Tom reached out and shook his friend’s shoulder. The man rolled over, his glazed eyes staring blindly at the ceiling. He was obviously dead. And he was obviously not Evan. Something was scrawled across the dead man’s forehead in blood. Completely horrified, Tom hesitated, then slowly leaned closer towards the pale head of the corpse so he could make out the letters in the dim light. He felt a surge of bile rising in his throat before he panicked.


Copyright 2021 Lisa Criss Griffin
All rights reserved

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is divider-2.png

Please visit Lisa on Facebook:

Writers Unite! Anthologies: Dimensions of Fantasy

Welcome to Writers Unite!’s next anthology publication. We invite all writers of fantasy, or any writers interested in the fantasy genre to submit a story to our Dimensions of Fantasy anthology.

When Writers Unite! decided to begin publishing anthologies, we chose fantasy as our first genre and published the Realm of Magic in  August 2018. Unfortunately, the publishing company we selected chose to discontinue support for the book on Amazon and we decided that the authors deserved the opportunity to have their work available for readers to enjoy. We are republishing the anthology as Dimensions of Fantasy.

All new submissions will undergo review by a selection committee for inclusion in the anthology.

If you are interested in submission, you must be a member of Writers Unite! on Facebook.
If you have questions, please email

Submission information:  

  • Submissions open on July 15, 2021 at Noon ET
  • Submissions close on September 01, 2021 at 11: 59 pm ET
  • Email stories to the Publisher at
  • Please type”Fantasy Submission” plus your name and the story title in the subject line. Each story submission must be in a separate email.

Link to Guidelines for the Dimensions of Fantasy: