Thursday, November 24, 2022

The Janus Effect – A Repost blog post #575

 Photo courtesy of The Free Dictionary

 Hope you enjoyed the story of Tommy and the Mixterns. Another Repost this week, one from almost exactly four years ago: November 16, 2018. In case you’re wondering why I’m doing a series of reposts and guest blogs, it’s because at the present moment, I’m editing three novels and attempting to write a third. You might say, I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. At any rate, I hope you enjoy this little literary exercise.

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!





In Roman mythology, Janus was the god of gates and doorways who gazed simultaneously in two directions, signifying a look at the beginning and the end… or a view of opposites. This writing exercise attempts to do just that.

From Robert’s viewpoint:

I slurped the last of my strawberry milkshake as Samantha exploded through the door and steamed across the black and white checkered tile floor directly to my table, bringing with her storm clouds and the scent of gale-lashed roses.

“Hi, Sammy. Have a seat.” My voice sounded loud in the quiet atmosphere of the malt shop.

“Don’t start with me, Robert. You know I hate being called that. And just what do you think you’re doing?”

I could almost see flames from her flaring nostrils, although she looked nothing like a dragon. Not even a cute one. “That’s a dynamite hat. Looks great on you. You should wear it more often.”

That threw her for a loop. Her blue eyes widened momentarily before returning to mere slits. “Answer my question. Just what did you say to Hank?”

“Let me get you something. What would you like? No, wait. I know just the thing.” I got up and walked to the counter, feeling her eyes flay my back like a laser.

A couple of minutes later, I returned to the table with her favorite… an old-fashioned cherry phosphate. She couldn’t hide a momentary look of pleasure. Some of the color faded from her cheeks. Guess I knew how to cool her down.

After one dainty draw on her straw, Sammy stared directly into my eyes. “Answer my question? What did you say to Hank?”

“Did you know he was two-timing you?”

Aha, caught her off guard. Her eyes were ping pong balls for about a tenth of a second. And now, they weren’t so squinty.

“Don’t go spreading that nasty rumor,” she said, struggling to maintain her attitude, “And if you don’t answer my question right this minute, I’ll never speak to you again.”

Time to bring this to a close. I rose, gazed down on her, and dropped my voice. “I told him that if he hurt you, he’d have to deal with me.”

With that, I turned and walked away before I confessed something I ought not. Not right now, at any rate.



From Samantha’s viewpoint:

I stormed through the ice cream shop door and spotted him at a table across the checkered tile floor, slurping the dregs of a strawberry milkshake through a straw striped like a barber’s pole. His greeting did nothing to improve my mood.

“Hi, Sammy. Have a seat.”

I saw red as I dropped into the white painted, iron curlicue chair opposite him. He knew that nickname infuriated me. “Don’t start with me, Robert. You know I hate being called that. And just what do you think you’re doing?”

He regarded me through dark chocolate irises. “That’s a dynamite hat. Looks great on you. You should wear it more often.”

Oh, no. That wasn’t going to work, although I was momentarily pleased he’d noticed my black Dutch boy with a brown brim. “Answer my question. Just what did you say to Hank?”

The idiot ignored me. “Let me get you something. What would you like? No, wait. I know just the thing.”

He bailed out of his chair and fled to the counter, most likely to escape by my anger. I couldn’t help but notice how his broad shoulders tapered to a trim waist.

He was back a minute later with my favorite. A cherry phosphate. Damn, he would pick the one place in town that served the things. Well, he’s not going to coddle me out of my snit. Still, no sense wasting the drink. I took a deep tug on the straw, swallowed, and faced him again.

“Answer my question? What did you say to Hank?”

His face turned bland. Crap, he was good looking even while bland. “Did you know he was two-timing you?”

The dirty creep. That was a low blow. Play it cool, girl. “Don’t go spreading that nasty rumor. And if you don’t answer my question right this minute, I’ll never speak to you again.”

Something happened to his face. It closed up. He surprised me by standing and staring straight into my eyes. He smelled of the milkshake he’d just imbibed. “I told him that if he hurt you, he’d have me to deal with.” Then he walked away.

Audacious bastard! Who does he think he is? He’s not my knight in shining armor. I don’t need—

Still, it was sorta sweet of him.


Two different viewpoints of the same scene in this little exercise. Don’t know about you, but I found it interesting.

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, November 17, 2022

Mixterns-A Repost (Part Two of Two Parts) blog post #574

 Clip Art Courtesy of                                                                             



Last week, we left ten-year-old Tommy in the dark on a stormy night when his parents can’t get back to the farm because of a washout. Is he dreaming, or are there aliens in his father’s potato patch? Let’s find out.




I didn’t hear them, but Brute did. He hopped off the couch and ran to the front door barking his head off. And from outside the door, came, “Yip, yip, yip!” He scuttled back to the couch and wiggled his way underneath it.

Something brushed against the back door.

“Go ‘way! I shouted.”

“Go ‘way!” the thing echoed.

I heard others at the windows. The creatures had surrounded the house. I snatched up the tactical flashlight, ran to the closest window, and pressed the lens against the pane before switching the light to strobe. By the flickering light, I saw a monster outside, but he wasn’t flinching, and his head wasn’t deflating. He wasn’t doing anything but peering in the window, his eyes covered by something dark. Sunglasses! Well, not like any I’d ever seen, but they must have done the same thing. When he swung an arm at me, I dropped the curtain and scrambled backward on my behind. I heard it scrape the glass, but the window didn’t break.

I scrambled up and ran to my room. Without knowing why, I put on my Cut Scout uniform. Maybe my brains were scrambled from terror, but I felt more prepared. Until Brute started going crazy in the living room, that is. Then I heard a different kind of yelp.

Racing back to the front room with my weapon—it wasn’t just a flashlight anymore—I found one of the creatures holding a terrified Brute by the nape of his neck. I’d have thought my buddy was dead but for his eyes frantically searching the room for me.

“Leave him alone!” I yelled and rushed forward with the light strobing fiercely. I didn’t get far. Something snatched the flashlight from my hand and lifted me off my feet with what felt like a cable wrapped around my chest. It took a second to realize it was another creature holding me against him. Before I lost reason to terror, I remember thinking the thing wasn’t flesh and blood at all. It was a machine, like in that old movie the War of the Worlds. But it wasn’t metal imprisoning me. Not flesh, either. Not human flesh, anyway. It was something in between.

No matter how much I struggled, I couldn’t get free. Kicking the thing holding me didn’t seem to bother him. He marched out the back door, which they’d opened without kicking it in, and started for the potato field. Others fell in beside him, making me think of army guys marching in step. An occasional whine let me know the one carrying Brute was right behind me.

In the trek across the yard and the field, I forgot to be scared, especially as we neared the big ship sitting partially buried in the mud. Big and black and mysterious, it had a ramp in the side where we seemed to be headed. Lord, were they kidnapping us? I mumbled the first prayer I thought of, which was the one about laying me down to sleep, as fear took possession of me again.

Several of the creatures swarmed around holding what looked like tools, working at another hole in the side. One that seemed like a compartment of some sort. As scared as I was, a little common sense penetrated my brain. Something had happened to their ship. They’d crashed—it seemed more like a crash landing—and were trying to repair things. A thousand-million crickets seemed to be chirping like crazy as they chattered among themselves. A sudden bolt of lightning struck about a mile or so beyond old man Wilson’s farm across the road, and every one of the creatures ducked. The ones without the sunglasses—or whatever—held arms or tentacles to their heads. Then they went about their business again.

Light! They couldn’t stand white light. That’s why all the lights around us were blue.

We entered the ship and went straight to a big hall where one of the creatures sat in a big chair raised up like it was a throne or something. A few other creatures clustered around a nearby table studying something, maybe the operating manual for this big airship. The chirping noises stopped as they all turned to stare at us through huge uncovered eyes as we neared.

The one holding me threw me to the floor before the throne; the other one dropped Brute. As my fearless protector scrambled over to cower between my legs, the creature holding my flashlight bowed before the one on the throne and handed over my weapon. The one in the chair examined it briefly, accidentally turning it on. Everyone cowered before the flashing light, but the creature managed to get it turned off. Suddenly, he leveled a finger or claw or something in between at me and emitted a loud, scratchy sound My knees went weak, almost dumping me on top of Brute.

Another creature, bent and leaning on a stick of some kind, addressed the creature cricketing at me. The king or chief or ship’s captain or whatever he was stopped chirping and looked at me. He extended a long, cable-like arm and raised his chin—if he’d had one. I blurted the only thing I could think of.

“I’m T-Tommy.”

“I’m T-Tommy,” he parroted.

I shook my head and managed to keep from stuttering. “Tommy.”

He leaned back and pursed tiny lips. “Tommy.” He folded his long whip-like arm and touched his chest. “Akachetto.” He waved his arm toward the others and said something that sounded like “Mixterns,” so that’s what they became to me.

He chirped some more, and others came bearing what looked to be stretchers. They folded back metallic blankets to expose two of the creatures with withered heads. I caught my breath and exclaimed, “Dead?”

“Dead” he parroted, pointing first to me and then to the forms lying before him. “Tommy. Dead.”

My heart about jumped out of my chest before I figured out he was trying to ask a question. I nodded and said. “Accident. It was an accident!”

“Accident.” He chirped back and forth with the old one before nodding at Brute. One of the creatures snatched him up before I could protest.

“No!” I yelled as they handed my pet to the old one. He pulled out something that looked like a hypodermic, except it had no needle. He pressed it against Brute’s neck, and the thing made a hissing sound. Brute yelped and went limp. One of the others—guards, I guess—handed Brute to me.

The touch of his soft, fur, the half-closed lids on his once-bright eyes released me from my paralysis. “You killed him! You killed my dog!” Tears came flooding, making speech impossible.

“Bobby dead Mixterns,” the thing on the throne said. “Akachetto dead dog.”

At his bidding, the guards shoved me in a far corner of the big hall and stood by as the minutes and hours tolled. I sobbed over my dead friend until exhaustion brought me a troubled peace.


Loud, excited chirping roused me. Mixterns came flooding into the ship, jabbering at one another like crickets gone wild. At last, Akachetto took his place on the throne and one of the creatures bowed before cricketing at him rapid fire. Akachetto nodded and pointed in my direction. The guards came for me while the rest scurried about like they were on a mission. And I guess they were. The problem with the ship was probably fixed. Now we’d soar off into space, and I’d never see Mom or Dad again. I tuned up for a little crying before the two guards prodded me to my feet and herded me through the ship, me still holding my dead friend. Then I saw the ramp. Were they gonna let me go? Before they shoved me through the hatch, the old one with a cane appeared with his syringe in hand.

I jerked away. “You can’t kill him twice!” Leave him alone.” Oh, Lord! Was he gonna use it on me and leave our bodies in the potato field?

The old one ignored me and pressed the thing to Brute’s neck. It hissed again before I managed to tear away and run down the ramp. I didn’t stop until I got to the windbreak, then I turned, expecting to see the creatures coming for me.

But they weren’t. The ramp was folding in upon itself, and the hatch was closing. They were leaving. I felt movement in my arms. I glanced down through the still-dark night and saw Brute give a big yawn. Then he reached up and licked my face.

“Brute! You’re not dead!”

Joy flooded my whole being. My friend was back. They’d undeaded him.

I glanced up as a loud hum built. The earth shook as the craft pulled itself out of the mud with a big sucking sound. It hovered a moment a few feet off the ground before moving straight up in the air and then simply vanishing.

Putting Brute down, I skipped around to the back door, which still stood open. I examined the door and the frame but didn’t find any damage. How’d they get in?

All of a sudden I was so tired, I almost didn’t make it to the couch. I’d barely stretched out with Brute snuggled against my belly when I passed out.


I woke at the sound of my mom’s voice “Tommy! Tommy! Let us in.”

“He’s barred the door. Smart kid. I’ll go around back,” my dad said.

I still wasn’t completely awake when he came into the room and headed for the front door. “How you doing, sport?” he asked, as he let my mother in.

“Fine,” I mumbled. Then I came awake. The Mixterns. I needed to tell….

But my lips remained sealed. I’d probably dreamed it all. Bad dream. Nightmare. Except… it came out all right.

“Tommy,” my mother exclaimed. “Why are you in your scout uniform? And there’s mud all over your boots. Did you go outside?”

“Yes’m. For a minute.”

Despite that, I convinced myself last night had been a dream… until my dad looked out the window and exploded.

“What the hell happened to my potato patch?”       


I dunno if he was dreaming or not… but something happened in that fallow field.                                       

 Stay safe and stay strong.

 Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!

 A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:

 My personal links:



Twitter: @dontravis3

 See you next Thursday.



 New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

Thursday, November 10, 2022

Mixterns-A Repost (Part One of Two Parts) blog post #573

 Clip Art Courtesy of


I hope you enjoyed Hargis’ venture across the land to meet his two friends. At least now he knows which one he treasures most dearly.


Today, I went back to August of 2019 to find a little tory which caught my fancy enough so I’d like to repost it. Bear with me, please.




By Don Travis


I must have been pretty grown up for my folks to leave me alone at home after dark. Alone except for Brute my gray Schnauzer, that is. My parents had gone to a birthday party at Aunt Mitzi’s and Uncle Darrell’s house in town, but I’d begged off. Wouldn’t be any kids there, and the gifts would be grown-up things. The TV in our living room was more interesting than a bunch of people talking about things I didn’t care anything about.

The freak thunderstorm rattling the shutters took a little wind out of my sails until Brute plopped down on the couch beside me with his head in my lap. But just as Marshal Dillon was about to draw down on a sneaky bad guy, the television went black. I hadn’t even had time to recover from that before the lights went out too. My heart lurched as I sat in the dark, watching a dying spot of light on the TV set.

I didn’t panic—maybe scared a little but didn’t panic. Heck, I was ten-years-old and a Cub Scout to boot. In a couple of years, I’d be a Boy Scout, and they were always prepared. I groped my way in the darkness, listening to the rain thump on the roof and rattle against the glass panes, until I reached the kitchen cabinet where dad kept the big tactical flashlight he’d bought for emergencies like this. Long and heavy as a club, it cut a big swath through the darkness when I managed to get it on. I liked to make it strobe, so that’s the way I set it, but the flickering light made walking back to the living room too uncertain. I made it quit.

I no sooner sat down on the couch again than the telephone on the table in the hallway rang. I scooted over, wondering how come the phone worked when nothing else did. It was my mom.

“Are you all right, Tommy?”

“Yes, ma’am. Raining like blue blazes and the lights went off, but me’n Brute are okay.”

“You know where the flashlight—”

“Yes’m. I got it right here.”

“Your father wants to speak to you.”

After a moment he came on the line.

“You okay, sport?”


“There’s been a flash flood at the creek, so your mom and I won’t be able to get back home for quite a while. Maybe not until morning. You all right with that?”

“Y-yes, sir.”

Was that something moving in the corner? I swung the flashlight around. Nothing there.


A big crash followed by a bright light made me just about jump out of my skin. The phone went dead in my hands. Lightning. Close. I stood quietly as chill bumps puckered my skin. I swallowed hard and spoke into the dead phone. “Brute and me’ll be all right, Dad.”


After I crawled onto the couch again and got over that scare, things didn’t seem so bad, even though the old house made noises I’d never noticed before. The rain passed, but the wind that came after it kept my mom’s rose bushes scratching at the front window like they were trying to get in. My heart stopped racing when Brute lifted his head and gave a big yawn. He was asleep before his head hit my lap again. Nothing to worry about.

With nothing else to do, I fiddled with the flashlight, making it strobe, widening the lens so half the room was alight and then narrowing it down so I could pretend a laser was boring a hole in the wall. Eventually, it dawned on me that I’d better save the batteries. When I shut it off, everything was as black as I’d ever seen it before. Long before my usual bedtime, my batteries needed recharging, and I dozed. I must have, because I came awake with a start when the bang came. Bang… it was more of a crash. Or a crash bang. From outside somewhere.

When I turned on the tactical flash, Brute was standing on the couch, looking out the west window. “Yap!” he barked. Then he followed with some yips before hopping off the sofa and going to stand on his hind legs at the window. I was right on his heels, but the glass reflected back in my eyes, so I killed the flashlight. As soon as I recovered my night vision, I saw a bluish glow coming from the potato field my dad left fallow this season.

“What’s that?” I asked.

Brute answered with a bunch of yips and yaps.

Before long, curiosity won out over fright, and I pulled on a jacket against a night colder than it oughta be and took the flashlight outside on the front porch, Brute hard on my heels. The storm had passed but lightning still played in the distance. Peering through the moonless night, I made out something big and indistinct in the far field. The glow came from there. I couldn’t be sure, but there seemed to be shapes moving around in the blue light. Maybe someone needed help. But who? There ought not be anyone in our potato field. The only thing I could think of was an airplane crash.

With a glance at the boiling clouds overhead, I abandoned the porch and walked through a stiff headwind toward the distant glow. I hadn’t even reached the edge of the yard before I came to a dead stop. Something in the windbreak line of elms caught my eye. A shape. Like a man… sort of. My heart went crazy when he moved forward. Brute went down on his forelegs, his rear end in the air, and growled.

The hair on my neck prickled when the thing—it sure wasn’t a man—made a noise like a cricket, except a lot louder.

I managed to get my words out without stuttering. “Who’s there?”

“Who’s there?” came back at me.

“I-I’m Tommy Schmidt. I live here.”

“I-I’m Tommy Schmidt. I live here,” the thing said.

“No, you’re not! I’m Tommy.”

“No, you’re—”

“Stop that!” I yelled. Freaked, I switched on the flashlight, but in my excitement, I set it to strobing, surprising me as much as it did the man… the thing. The flickering light exposed a big head and huge eyes over two holes where a nose should have been. The next blink of light showed the thing’s head wrinkling, like it was collapsing. With a horrible shriek, the creature fell to the ground and lay still.

“Good Lord, Almighty, what happened?” I muttered aloud.

I about jumped out of my boots when another voice came back at me. “Good Lord, Almighty, what happened?”

Brute was halfway back to the house before I had time to swing the strobing light to another big-headed, pale man… creature… thing, who flung hands or claws to his face as his head seemed to collapse too.

Other shapes moved, but they seemed to be retreating. So did I, catching up with Brute on the front steps. We almost tripped one another getting through the door. I slammed it, latched it, and for good measure, lowered the bar that Dad had installed when we had a rash of robberies in the area a year back to hold it fast. Then I locked the back door—wishing it had a bar too—and latched all the windows, closing the curtains as I did so.

After that, I fell on the couch and held a terrified Schnauzer tight against my chest until my heart quit thumping and some of the panic ebbed.

“What were those things?” I asked aloud. Brute didn’t bother to answer, he just burrowed deeper into my armpit.

Fear shrank and curiosity grew. I got off the couch and went to the west window. Pulling the curtain aside enough to peek outside, I saw that blue glow in the distance. Then something blotted out the light, and I made out the faint shape of a creature’s head right outside the glass pane. Except I couldn’t see the big eyes. Something was covering them.

Giving a yelp that matched Brute’s yip, I dropped the curtain and ran back to the couch, curling into a ball and clutching a shivering dog close against me.


Ain’t that a fine kettleof fish… uh, aliens. Not sure how I’d have handled this as a ten-year-old. Let’s see how Tommy does in next week’s post.


Stay safe and stay strong.


Now my mantra: Keep on reading and keep on writing. You have something to say… so say it!


A link to The Cutie-Pie Murders:


My personal links:




Twitter: @dontravis3


See you next Thursday.




New Posts every Thursday morning at 6:00 a.m. US Mountain time.

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