The Adventures of the Human, Thomas Scott
My name is Thomas Dale Scott, chief petty officer third class, U.S. Navy, retired. Former Navy S.E.A.L. now soldier of fortune, minus the fortune. I was not retired by either choice or mandatory retirement. My career was over the minute they ended the hostilities first in Iraq then Afghanistan. Some pencil pushing politician in D.C. decided that me, Tom Scott, or anyone like me was no longer needed in the new Special Forces. I knew too much and I had seen things those in power never wanted to become public knowledge. I was a liability, turned out like the next day’s garbage. Now if I came forward with what I knew I would just be discredited, jailed under false pretenses like a common criminal.
You see I was with S.E.A.L. team 4 for two tours in Iraq then three tours in Afghanistan fighting the Islamic radicals. I have twenty-one confirmed enemy kills to my credit, all in hand to hand or small arms combat. I even have some of those unconfirmed, long distance non-combatant kills. The ones I won’t ever talk about and will try desperately to forget for the rest of my life.
I was very good at what I did. I have the scars to prove it too, having been shot twice, stabbed four times and hit with grenade shrapnel in my left shoulder. In addition to the scars no one could see. Now to the military brass I am just a broken down has been waiting for his shrinking government pittance at the end of each month, discarded and forgotten. In fact, if it weren’t for my meager disability pay I may not even exist at all.
So I decided to try my hand at a life of crime. I ran into a former comrade of mine a while back, who like me was out on his ear. He had been discharged by the US Army Rangers without even a thank you for killing in the name of God and country. The both of us the modern version of crusading Christian knights of old. He introduced me to some friends of his, all ex- Special Forces with no other skills except teamwork, breaking into places, killing and blowing shit up.
Trouble was we were fresh out of Johnny jihads here in the states. It would be a dishonorable thing to kill my fellow Americans for a living. Not after, I swore a sacred oath on my sacred honor, to protect them from all enemies, foreign and domestic. Even from each other if needed.
Or we could start a revolution, and teach those corrupt, greedy, self-serving politicians the true meaning of honor and patriotism. Try to bring back a government that defends the rights of the people, not dispense them to us as if we were unruly children, ignorant and unable to think for ourselves. That was however, not my idea of a good career choice. That limited our skill set to a kind of specialized teamwork, one not much in legal demand.
I figured I might as well put all that expensive training to good use now that Uncle Sam could care less about me, or my future. I mean I have no family; the sisters at the Good Shepard orphanage in Miami raised me.
Because I had bright red hair and a temper to match, I learned to fight bigger opponents early on. Much to the anger and dismay of the good Sisters, who ran the orphanage. To escape I went straight into the military on my eighteenth birthday rather than wait until I was 21 and no longer a ward of the state. It was join either the military, or a short life of crime followed by lots of jail time.
So why not a life of crime now that I have the skills, while I am still young enough to use them. It might be fun. Beats the hell out of being broke, homeless and despised like so many other of my older fellow veterans. I missed the sound of nightly gunfire and the camaraderie. I especially missed the helicopter rides in the dark, I thought. What I did not know is that tonight my whole life was about to take an abrupt turn into the holy shit I can’t believe this is happening to me direction.
My new-found associates were staging a raid on a high security warehouse, just outside the port of Miami security perimeter. To steal a shipment of recycled money being replaced by new. It was my job to stand guard over the team's secondary escape route, having drawn the short straw as its newest member. Never mind that I have more combat experience than any one of my new-found friends. However, I was the fng so I got the shit detail.
It all started, that night my life changed, when something moved into the corner of my eye, silent as a ghost from my imagination, snapping me to full alert. As I turned my head, scanning in reflex, I saw a black silhouette on the nearby street, silent, stopped, waiting. The incoming threat, if that is what it was, outlined faintly in the pallid flickering of the only working streetlight left in this deserted section of the wharf district. Probably some lost biker-getting directions from his GPS. No need to alert the others, not yet, they would just think I was a nervous rookie. They were so wrong because I was as far from a rookie as any living, breathing ex-S.E.A.L. can be.
I was in the outskirts of Miami, guarding a dock jutting out into Biscayne Bay, near the inlet and the intercostal waterway. It was hot, gusty and insufferably humid as only a south Florida night can be. My black fatigues damp with sweat, sticking to my back. It was pitch-black, not even the full moon shone through the thick, black clouds. It would rain again soon, lightning flashing in yet another oncoming thunderhead. Perfect conditions for a heist, no one would venture out voluntarily in this weather.
My team mates had already fanned out, moving into attack position, headed for the warehouse, close by, yet out of sight. We intended to escape with our loot by the speedboat I was guarding down the inter-coastal should the need arise, if an alarm were raised, or if our land route was blocked by the cops.
The silhouette suddenly vanished from the flickering light, just as silently as it had emerged from the darkness, despite the streetlights pitiful attempt at illuminating the sticky darkness. A brief glimpse of a helmeted figure on what looked like a motorcycle was all I had seen. Then whoever it was turned toward me, moving closer, raising my alert level to high. Was it a cop on a motorcycle? No, it was moving too fast, too quiet!
Instinctively I retreated deeper into the shadows, trying to melt into the darkness. I reached for the com-link to warn the others. My gut told me it was too late. Damn it! I am better than this. I had been spotted by whoever was riding that bike.
He must have night vision, ruling out the local cops. That meant a different kind of trouble. Closer the bike came, straight at me now, silently, deliberately, without slowing. Then breaking suddenly, stopping about one hundred feet directly in front of me, smashing all of my remaining hopes of escape.
With my back to the water, the only place to retreat was down the dock, a trap. Or into the shallow water around the dock to escape, abandoning the speedboat and my teammates. It meant a long swim in the dark. It wouldn’t be my first long, dark swim. That would be my emergency escape. I would make my stand here; there was only one of them. If it wasn’t the cops then who and why.
As I tensed for the bike riders’ move, my fighting knife drawn in my left hand, held low along my leg. It would have to be a quiet kill. Suddenly a flick of very bright light stunned my eyes, completely disorienting me for a couple of seconds. My warning unsent, forgotten in the changing of the situation.
Suddenly the bike was much closer than it had been. As my eyes struggled to regain focus, I heard a deep almost mechanical male voice hiss in perfect english, “Tom, I have been watching you for quite sssome time my boy and I must sssay I am very impressssed.” He knows who I am! That strange voice caused a cold chill to run down my spine. What the hell is going on here!
Slowly the stranger dismounted his bike, swinging his left leg up and back over the seat, leaving the bike between us. He removed his helmet once his feet were on the ground, tucking it under his left arm. He remained in the darker shadows of the two huge oak trees that guarded the entrance to the dock. He was right-handed. I crouched, tensing, preparing my attack, waiting for his, remembering my S.E.A.L. hand-to-hand and small arms combat training. But Who? And Why?
“You sssee”, he hissed softly as he began moving toward the front of the bike, getting closer, “I saw you get your asss kicked by ssShorty in the sssecond grade. And I sssaw you covering for that girl they caught sssmoking on the playground, after ssschool. What wasss her name? Jill? Jan? No matter," he hissed, "what isss important isss that you ssstood up for sssomeone weaker than you. I doubt you thought the whole thing thru at that age. But you ssstuck to your gunsss and never told what really happened, no matter how hard the nunsss punissshed you. They forced the church’s twissssted version of right and wrong on you for all those years. Thossse church run orphanagesss can be ssso dehumanizing if you are not a believer or at leassst pretend to be one. Then, high ssschool,” he continued, as I was still speechless, to say the least, “good at sssports but not good enough to go pro. Then a little trouble with the law and it wasss the military or jail. Followed by 2 toursss in Iraq, then 3 toursss in Afghanissstan with the ssS.E.A.L.s. You have become quite the bad-asss, my boy. You will, however, be very sssorry you fell in with this group of losssers sssoon enough. That bringsss usss to why I am here,” he hissed.
He knows all about me! How could he? No one knows me that well! Regaining my voice, I growled, “Who are you and what do you want? Tell me quickly, I no patience for this kind of game.”
By now, my eyes had completely regained their night vision. I could make out what could only be described as an alien, not the kind from Mexico, either. The shadowy voice had stepped in front of the cycle’s headlight, revealing the identity of the mysterious stranger who knew all about me.
It, or should I say, he, was well over six feet tall. Complete with small, slender tentacles surrounding a very large mouth full of long, needle-sharp teeth. His bulging, muscular arms had hands with claws on the end of the fingers. His equally muscular legs ended in bare, clawed feet. His skin was leather-like, a dark, dull green, almost reptilian.
He was wearing a plain, black, short-sleeved fabric tunic, much like the fighting gi used in Earth martial arts. Around his waist was some sort of equipment or weapons belt. He wore a small square metal device on his neck, at its function I could only guess. His voice seemed to emanate from it. Equally strange was his bike: it had no wheels, made no sound and it was suspended somehow in mid-air, seemingly floating.
As he moved even closer, I moved my right hand, reaching to bring the Beretta .40 cal. on my right thigh to bear on mister mysterious. He was getting too close. In a blur of motion, I was facing a similarly fashioned hand weapon. I had not even seen him begin his reach for his weapon. Frozen, poised to draw, I waited. I would have never drawn my weapon in time, I realized.
“Now, Tom, I am jussst here to talk, I have sssomething for you”, he hissed softly, carefully.
“What could you possibly have that I might want?” I growled, fully tensed, intending to strike, and just waiting for an opening, my hand right hand gripping the still holstered Beretta.
“My name is ssSnarth and I have a job offer for you”, he hissed ever so gently.
I am a navy brat thanks to my Dad's attachment to the US Pacific Fleet. My family is from Kentucky and both sides have lived there since just after the revolutionary war. I am a long time resident of St Lucie county, Florida. My wife of 19 years is a Florida native born in Stuart, Fl, a cracker and proud of it. We have 1 daughter, Corri, who is currently a full time college student. How I got into writing is an unusual chain of events culminating in my first book, Revenge from Mars. I was working for Bellsouth as an information operator and had been for 15 years when the office I was in was closed due to downsizing. As I had just enough seniority to receive severance pay equal to 1 year’s salary, I decided to go back to school.
I chose culinary, as I thought I could cook and I liked it. While I did graduate from Le Cordon Bleu with honors, I quickly came to realize that I was not cut out to work in a fast paced kitchen. You see, I have two speeds, slow and slower. And when I get stressed, I change gears rather than speeding up.
I was working in the kitchen of a breakfast and lunch country store when I met an author who was giving a presentation at the library just down the street. That seemed like a cool job. Later that evening, I remembered some advice given to me by the language professor at Le Cordon Blue. I had finished an in class essay much faster than anyone else in the class. The professor looked at my work and asked how many books I had written. I didn’t think anything of it at the time; after all, I was training to be a Chef, not an author.
So that night, I sat down at my computer and sketched out what was to be the opening scene in my first novel. That was easy, I remember thinking. Little did I realize I had embarked on a new career. One that gives me much more satisfaction than any job I have ever had and there have been many. I have just finished my second novel and I have been picked up by Solstice Publishing. All because of a comment made by a well-meaning professor. To whom I shall be forever grateful.