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Preview Chapters

The God Thought is a science fiction thriller told through transcripts, social media postings and traditional narrative chapters.

A massive explosion...







Buy the sci-fi thriller at Amazon and Barnes and Noble!


Preview Chapters

The God Thought is a science fiction thriller told through transcripts, social media postings and traditional narrative chapters.

A massive explosion...







Buy the sci-fi thriller at Amazon and Barnes and Noble!

The Burnsmall.jpg





To: Dr. Raven

From: Kat@whitetower_____.___

Subject: Proposal for The Most Dangerous Man


Dr. Raven,


Thank you for turning in the revised outline of the proposal for your book entitled The Most Dangerous Man so quickly. 


The edits aren’t enough. 


Your premise still feels too much of a stretch for our nonfiction line. Readers will simply ignore any evidence they find so contrary to what they’ve been told before—especially concerning the Bloomington Blast. You may remember in the ’80s, we took the “direct” approach on Our Secret History and it nearly bankrupted us.


Don’t misunderstand—we want to make this work. If done correctly, your book could really fly off the shelves.


Have you considered a dramatization? We could publish under our fiction line and put “inspired by actual events” on the cover. That would give us leeway in how we tell the story and not scare people off. It would also keep the more powerful players (and their lawyers) at bay.


Take some liberties. Get inside the heads of those you’ve researched, especially this Wells fellow. Mix chapters with actual documentation and transcripts. Make it a hybrid. Your docs are fascinating, even with the censoring. 


I know your feelings on censoring, but we don’t have the budget to fight it—a major reason no mainstream journalist other than Crowley ever chased this story down.


Let me know your thoughts. We can make this work! We’ll have to play with that title, though, not a fan.




(Copyright 2014. Dave Cravens.) 

Buy the sci-fi thriller at Amazon and Barnes and Noble!





The following are excerpts from the last known social media posts of Oliver Theodore Wells. Names have been changed and pictures removed to protect identities.


These appeared six days after the Bloomington Blast. 




March 13 / 9:00 p.m. PST


Oliver says

“From the bottom of my heart, a big thank you to everyone who came to the funeral today. As you can imagine, the past week has been a nightmare. I owe you all a great debt. I never would’ve made it through without your love and support. Audrey and Ava would’ve appreciated you all being there. For those who couldn’t make it, I know your prayers are with me and with them. Words cannot properly express my gratitude.”


155 likes, 37 comments


Tammy says

“We love you, Ollie! Our prayers are with you!”


Fred says     

“It was a beautiful service. The yellow roses arranged into a dove were a nice touch. Audrey always loved them. We miss them so much!!!“


Eve says

“Beautiful service, Ollie! Glad I could be a part of it!”


George says

“God, I still can’t believe they’re gone. They will always live on in our hearts. Let me know if you need anything, Ollie!”


Tonya says

“The video you played at the service brings me to tears just thinking about it. Is there any way I can get a copy? Ava is so cute in her pink dress. She wore that so proudly at her 8th birthday party! Miss her. Miss Audrey. Miss you too, Ollie! God bless!”


George says

“I can make copies of the DVD for whoever wants it. Contact me directly. Let’s not bother Ollie with it. Got your back, Ollie!” (15 likes)


Fred says

“Yes! I’d like one too, please!”


WHiSPER says

“They needed to die, Ollie. How else could you see the truth? You killed them. Accept it.”


Eve says

“Who is WHiSPER?”


Tonya says

“Definitely sign me up for the DVD, George.”


Fred says

“What the hell, WHiSPER? Whoever you are, this is not a time for pranks! These are the lives of real people with real pain! I suggest you remove your post and go straight to hell!”


WHiSPER says

“Pain is transformative.”


George says

“Who is this guy? Did someone hack Oliver’s page?”


Frieda says

“I’ve never heard of WHiSPER. What kind of name is that?”


Tammy says

“Go away, WHiSPER!”


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


Fred says

“Ollie, I don’t know if you’ve been reading these posts, but I want you to know that I reported WHiSPER to the authorities. He shouldn’t be bothering you or anyone again. I’m so sorry this jerk is trying to ruin our time of mourning. Probably some idiot troll. Disgusting! Your real friends are looking out for you. Anything you need, Ollie. Just name it.”


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


Tammy says

“Don’t let him get to you, Fred. Whoever this is, he just wants attention. The best thing to do is to ignore him!”


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


George says

“Why doesn’t he give it up? He’s not even making any sense! STOP!”


Fred says

“Ignore him.”


Layla says

“It’s gotta be a virus. He’s probably not even a real person, just some stupid bit of code that keeps hacking into the conversation. So annoying! So sorry, Ollie!”


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.





March 24 / 12:32 a.m. PST


Oliver says

“Thanks again, everyone, for all the kind words and support. I’ve decided to go away for a while. I will not have my cell phone with me and will not be checking Facebook. Thank you all for understanding.”


Tammy says

“We totally understand, Ollie. How long will you be gone?”


Fred says

“Have a safe journey, my friend!”


Zip says

“Do you need someone to feed the fish? We can take ’em for as long as you need.”


Zip says

“You have fish, right?”


Gretchen says

“Did I miss you already? Have you left? You didn’t show up for dinner. I tried calling and no one answered. I stopped by this morning and again no answer. I’m worried about you, Ollie. Call me when you get the chance.”


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


Fred says

“To anyone following this thread, I’m pretty sure Oliver has left town. I’ve tried calling him multiple times and have been over to his place. No one answers. Wherever he was going, he’s probably already there.”


George says

“I hope it’s Tahiti. That boy could use it.”


Fred says

“You said it.”


Taylor says

“Are you kidding? Finance guys live the most exciting lives EVER.”


George says

“He’s an accountant. And too soon, Taylor!”


Taylor says

“Whatever. It’s not like Oliver reads this shit anymore. It’s been weeks now. I feel bad for the guy, but he owes me. You’d think someone who deals with $$$ all the time would be better at handling it.”


George says

“Not the place, Taylor. Show some respect.”


Taylor has been removed from the conversation.


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


WHiSPER has been removed from the conversation.


Ava says

“Daddy? Are you there?”




(Copyright 2014. Dave Cravens.)

Buy the sci-fi thriller at Amazon and Barnes and Noble!





The following is an email from Sanford Grey, Director of Operations at Fairfield Medical Home to Beatrice Douglas at


Email was sent four days prior to the Bloomington Blast.




10:01 a.m.


SUBJECT: URGENT—Living Will of John Douglas


Dear Beatrice,


We have failed to reach you via your home phone and cell phone after multiple attempts. We are emailing to inform you that you have been identified as the sole remaining executor of Jonathan Wyatt Douglas’s living will, as John has no surviving children, wife, or siblings other than you. We are aware you have not communicated with him for some time now. Regardless, it is our duty to inform you that John fell into a coma early this morning after suffering a series of strokes the day before.


It is likely that John’s aged body is preparing for its final stage. Per our policy, we have oxygen tanks and meds available to make John comfortable, but it is only a matter of time before the inevitable claims him. Per John’s living will, it falls on you to decide whether to continue or cease his treatment. His insurance will expire in one month’s time and any debt incurred thereon will be yours. If you have any questions regarding financial obligations, contact our commissions department at ___-_______.


On a personal note, though I feel we’ve provided great comfort to John in his twilight, it pains me to know only the staff is here to see him through. All of his friends have passed away or are too ill to visit. No family exists, with the exception of you, his chosen sister. 


I never tired of hearing John’s story of how you met. How when leaving the orphanage, he took an ad out in the paper to “adopt a family” of his own—how touched he was to see the community’s response. In the end, he decided to adopt another orphan, you, as his own sister. The adventures the two of you must have had tending the farm over the years! The story warms my heart. 


It is not my business to know what happened between the two of you. But I would encourage you to visit your brother if possible. At the very least, if you were to write a letter or email, I will personally read it to him. 


I hope that in doing this, you both can make your peace with one another.


Let us know how you’d like to proceed, and God bless.



Sanford Grey




An email response from Beatrice Douglas came the next day on March 4, only three days prior to the Bloomington Blast.




Pull the plug. 




(Copyright 2014. Dave Cravens.)

Buy the sci-fi thriller at Amazon and Barnes and Noble!





The following is a stenographer’s report from Douglas vs. Fairfield Medical Home at the 2nd Appellate Court in Wichita, Kansas. The plaintiff, Beatrice Douglas, accused Fairfield Medical of gross negligence regarding the care of her brother, John Douglas.




District Attorney:     State your full name and occupation for the court, please.


Dana Ellensburg:     Dana Sophia Ellensburg. I am a nurse at Fairfield Medical Home.


DA:     How long have you worked there, Ms. Ellensburg?


DE:     Six months. Sanford hired me.


DA:     Where did you work before Fairfield?


DE:     If you’re referring to my schooling—


DA:     I’m not. Where did you work before Fairfield?


DE:     (pause) I waited tables at Lucy’s Diner to help pay for nursing school.


DA:     So Fairfield was your first actual nursing job?


DE:     (short pause) Yes.


DA:     Let’s revisit the night of March 5. Do you remember it?


DE:    Of course. It was just before that awful explosion in Bloomington.


DA:    It was also the same night Mr. Douglas’s body disappeared.


DE:     You mean Mr. Douglas.


DA:     I mean his body. You were working the graveyard shift, yes?


DE:     Yes.


DA:     Were you working alone?


DE:     No. Sherry tended the front desk. Bob was on security. We had a couple of interns, though I don’t recall their names.


DA:     Alison Quirion and Bret Somerset.


DE:     That sounds right.


DA:     It is. What was Mr. Douglas’s condition when you first checked on him that evening?


DE:     Nothing had changed since he’d fallen into the coma. His vitals were weak but steady. His breathing was shallow, which is what one would expect to find of any person in his condition.


DA:     His condition. You mean the coma or his advanced age?


DE:     Both, I guess.


DA:     Before John fell into the coma, he was confined to a wheel chair, was he not?


DE:     He’d been unable to walk since his previous stroke.


DA:     He had to have assistance feeding himself, dressing himself, cleaning himself, going to the bathroom, did he not?


DE:     He did.


DA:     In fact, John Wyatt Douglas could barely perform even the simplest of tasks. You or someone like you had to help him with everything, correct?


DE:     Yes.


DA:    I’m confused. You swore in your statement to the police that you saw John Wyatt Douglas walk out the side door in the hallway adjacent to his room the night of March 5. Walk out on his own two feet, under his own power. Is that right?


DE:     Y-yes . . .


DA:     What time was that again?


DE:     About midnight.


DA:     And the time of your previous check? 


DE:     10:00 p.m.


DA:     How do you explain the sudden turnaround? I mean, the man was in a coma, and before that, he was confined to a wheel chair. In fact, Fairfield had been ordered to take him off meds and let nature take its course. For all intents and purposes, John was knocking at death’s door. How do you explain that?


DE:     I—I can’t.


DA:     I can’t explain it either. No doctor I’ve consulted in the past seven weeks can explain it. It just never happens. An elderly man who had lost the use of his legs and couldn’t feed himself one minute doesn’t just wake up from a coma and walk away the next minute now, does he?


DE:     But it happened!


DA:     Are you sure it was John Douglas you saw? 


DE:     Yes!


DA:     How do you know it was John and not someone else?


DE:     He saw me. He smiled at me. We made eye contact. Then he was gone.


DA:     He smiled at you. Had he done that before?


DE:     Not like this.


DA:     Like what?


DE:     Normally when he smiled at me, it was as a thank you—a strained gesture to show his appreciation. After a meal, say, or when handing him something he had reached for. 


DA:     This was different how?


DE:     It felt like—


DA:     Go on.


DE:     It felt like he was . . . flirting. As if he was saying: “Catch you later,” or “Catch me if you can.” 


DA:     You chased after him?


DE:     It took me a moment, but yes, I rushed to follow him out the door.


DA:     Why a moment?


DE:     I was in shock! I’d never seen John like that before, let alone him walking!


DA:     What did you find when you went out the door?


DE:     An empty parking lot. There was no sign of John. No sign of anyone. 


DA:    So . . . he just vanished?


DE:    Yes!


DA:    Did anyone else see John walk out? Bob, Sherry, Alison?


DE:    N-no.


DA:    Oddly enough, the security cameras covering the parking lot didn’t see him either! Can you explain that?


DE:    No.


DA:    Bodies don’t just disappear, Ms. Ellensburg!


DE:    Stop saying “body!” John wasn’t dead!


DA:    Right, as you have testified, he walked out of the nursing home on his own two feet! Maybe he walked back to his farm and plowed his fields! Maybe he was hungry and hit up a Quickie Mart for some junk food! Hell, maybe if we wait long enough, he’ll walk through these doors, into this very courtroom, and enlighten us all as to where he’s been all this time!


(Commotion in the courtroom.)



(Copyright 2014.  Dave Cravens.)

Buy the sci-fi thriller at Amazon and Barnes and Noble!





The following is a transcript of The Zero Hour Radio Broadcast and Podcast originally aired on March 7, the evening following the Bloomington Blast.





Conspiracy Carl:

This is The Zero Hour and I am Conspiracy Carl. Tonight! Everybody is talking about it—the Big Bang in Bloomington, Kansas!


Co-host Mark Devin:

Oh man. 


Carl:     I know, right? Did you see the YouTube feed? The one from that cop’s dashboard? 


Devin:     Amazing. Just amazing.


Carl:     He pulled someone over for speeding, or drinking, or whatever, and then in the distance, there—


Devin:     BOOM.


Carl:     And they were what, ten miles away from the epicenter? 


Devin:     At least. At least ten. Highway Patrolman, I think. 


Carl:     And then, you know, you see this bright flash in the distance, and then that shockwave hits. Flattens some trees, throws the cop and the speeder right on their backs and the picture cuts out.


Devin:     Gives me goose bumps just thinking about it.


Carl:     Really? Gives me a boner. That video has gotten like a million hits already, and it’s not been a full day!


Devin:     And all from a fertilizer plant explosion? Really? 


Carl:     That’s the official report, which, you know, we never go by. But for those of you out there who don’t know what we’re talking about . . .


Devin:     Shame on you.


Carl:     You uninformed schmucks are what’s wrong with America! We’re talking about a major explosion that flattened Bloomington, Kansas. Killed a ton of people. I think the current number is three hundred now, probably more, with injuries reported in the thousands. That doesn’t include the airliner that got hit by debris and then crashed onto a cornfield. There were probably at least a hundred on board that thing. No survivors. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of damage. It’s a mess!


Devin:     What was the damage of the Oklahoma City bombing? It was big. I don’t think it was this big, but it was big.


Carl:     No, this is bigger. Everything within a five-mile radius was just flattened. Gone.


Devin:     There wasn’t much there to begin with. I mean, Bloomington’s a pretty small town.


Carl:     Yah, it’s plenty rural. Lots of farmland and cows and stuff. Still. Have you seen the satellite pics?


Devin:     Not yet.


Carl:     Check these out. These were taken about two hours after the blast. Listeners can see them on our website. Look! You have this crazy blast radius that goes on forever—-but look at the center.


Devin:     Weird! 


Carl:     No crater! The blast surface is so smooth. Now how do you explain that? A blast that big having no crater?


Devin:     Daisy cutter, like they used in Iraq. All they do is surface damage and scare the hell out of—


Carl:     I don’t think so. This is no daisy cutter. This is new. You listen to the “official” story, and the government loads you up with all this nonsense about a fertilizer plant with dangerous working conditions, like that time out in Texas.


Devin:     It’s happened.


Carl:     What? Like this?


Devin:     Then what? A bomb? Who would want to bomb Bloomington, Kansas?


Carl:     I’m just saying . . . you know where the epicenter is?


Devin:     It’s hard to tell.


Carl:     I cross-referenced this pic with Google maps, and according to that, it originated at a Quickie Mart.


Devin:     Where was the fertilizer plant?


Carl:     Ten blocks over! It wasn’t even a real plant so much as a waste treatment center.


Devin:     Maybe the fuel reserves got lit up at the Mart.


Carl:     Quickies only sell groceries. The one gas station they have is on the other side of town. WAS on the other side of town.


Devin:     I know you’ve got a theory.


Carl:     I always do!


Devin:     Spill it.


Carl:     I’ll tell you—right after the break! Stay tuned, folks. Zero Hour will be back in a flash!





(Copyright 2014. Dave Cravens.)

Buy the sci-fi thriller at Amazon and Barnes and Noble!



Chapter 1



San Diego, CA. 

May 4 – one year after the Bloomington Blast


Oliver Wells drew an exhausted breath as he stepped out of the deplane tunnel and into the airport lobby. His weary eyes scanned the blank faces of those who trolled about at the midnight hour. Though he knew it wasn’t possible, Oliver entertained the idea that the same oblivious souls who ignored his departure fifteen months prior were present to ignore his return. 

Nothing has changed.

The same dank smell of cleaning chemicals assaulted Oliver’s nose just as they did before. The same broken electronic kiosk remained under repair. Even the advertisements shouted the same message from a year ago in their gaudy backlit colors. It was as if the entire San Diego International Airport had been perfectly preserved in a protective bubble, completely untouched by the hands of time. 

Why did I come back?

“Holding up the line, Shaggy,” a man barked from behind. 

Oliver snapped to attention. Shaggy? He looked behind himself to realize he blocked the exit for a number of passengers who flashed him glares of disdain without so much a stutter in their own cell phone conversations. Oliver stepped to the side. Before he could apologize, the offended blew past to continue their business.

The sight of the cell phones reminded Oliver of his own. He fumbled inside his duffle bag to retrieve a phone wrapped in a filthy ziplock bag along with a house key and a wad of carefully folded paper money from various countries. The phone appeared alien to Oliver as he palmed it for the first time in several months. To his surprise, the dark display and blank reflective screen provided a crude mirror. Oliver recognized only the cold, blue eyes of the thirty-five year old that stared back at him—a scruffy brown beard and long, matted hair obscured the remainder of his face. 

Who was this guy?

Oliver turned his phone on. When the device finally booted up, it occurred to him—who would he call?

No wife or child awaited Oliver’s return. His cousin would be too eager to pick up and ask where the money he owed him is. Jeff? Michael? Gretchen? The phone’s depleted battery solved the dilemma.

Oliver casually tossed the phone into a garbage can as he exited the terminal. The weary traveler stepped out onto the sidewalk to find himself immediately accosted by a Prius taxi driver desperate to earn a fare.

“Where to?” the cabbie offered a kind Latino smile as he took Oliver’s duffle bag. The man’s silver hair and laugh lines hinted at a confidence Oliver longed for. 

“I used to live in Orange County,” managed Oliver. He wondered if his house was still standing and if the teenage neighbor he’d paid in advance to tend the lawn lived up to his promise. 

Used to? Is that where you want to go? Long drive. Should’ve flown into John Wayne.”

Ollie hunched his shoulders. “You want the fare or what?”

The cabbie looked Oliver up and down, his smile noticeably absent. “You have cash?”

Oliver lifted up a wad of twenty and fifty dollar bills. The cabbie’s smile returned as he opened the passenger door.

Traffic proved unusually sparse as the cab sped up the northbound five. Unable to sleep, Oliver stared blankly out the window, watching the lights flicker by in various rhythms. Thirty minutes into the drive, they coasted along the Pacific just north of Oceanside—one of the few stretches of freeways in Southern California not littered with homes or industry, illuminated only by the starry night sky and the headlamps of cars.

Oliver studied his driver through the rearview mirror, who hummed along to the mariachi songs that were emitted from the radio in low volume. That’s when Oliver noticed a familiar object resting on the cabbie’s dashboard. 

“That book. It’s yours?” Oliver asked.

The cabbie smiled. “This?” he responded, holding the paperback up. The faded cover proudly announced Our Secret History in bold bronzed letters that hovered ominously over a group of men in dark cloaks, their faces masked by shadows. Behind them, a tree of light branched up majestically toward the book’s title. “Who else’s would it be?”

“Right,” sighed Oliver. Published twenty or so years ago, Our Secret History was written by the eccentric billionaire Lord Montague Graves. It portrayed a controversial esoteric view of the entire world’s history from the dawn of man. Each chapter exposed classified documents, alternative theological texts, ancient alien theories, transcribed oral histories, and new age thinking. Such a cocktail of ideas invited ridicule from the general public. The work proved disastrous and led to near financial ruin for the publisher, White Tower Books. To find a physical, paperback copy that survived the retailers’ purge was nearly impossible, and here, this cabbie from San Diego had one on his dashboard. 

“It’s not that, it’s just—” Oliver reached into his duffle bag and produced his own worn out copy. “It’s a rare book. Not many people have read it, let alone owned it.”

“I see,” said the cabbie. “How did you come across it?”

“Read it as a kid—I was into anything that bent toward the unusual or fantastic back then. Lost track of it as I grew up. Then, when my wife—” Oliver choked on his tongue. Really? She’s been gone a year! Oliver swallowed. “The book turned up when I was selling off some old things. I thumbed through it again. It inspired me to travel, actually.” 

“Travel where?”

“Stonehenge, Jerusalem, Tibet—places I’ve just always wanted to go to since reading about them. There are a lot of silly ideas about history in this book, probably none of which are true, but the destinations are real.” Oliver hid his copy away. It all sounded so childish now.

“Most history is written through the lens of victory and power,” the cabbie mused. “That same lens will blur any details that surround its focus on ‘truth.’”

“I’m an accountant,” explained Oliver, surprised he still described himself by a job he hadn’t held for a year. “Things either add up or they don’t. Therein lies truth.”

“So—do things add up for you?”

Oliver grimaced. He had strictly followed the tried and true Wells Family Formula for Success during most of his life. He became an accountant like his father and his father’s father. He married a beautiful, prominent business woman at the age of twenty-five, bought a modest three-bedroom single-detached home, all of which were supposed to add up and equal “happy.” But he wasn’t happy. Happiness didn’t enter the equation until he met Audrey, the woman who would prove to be the love of his life. In a random moment of chance, she’d received his order by accident at a coffee shop. The instant their eyes met to exchange drinks, any and all math that had ruled Oliver’s world seemed to break down. A messy divorce led to a second wedding and the birth of a beautiful baby girl, Ava, followed by the eight most glorious years of Oliver’s personal life. Professionally he took a hit—his ex-wife saw to that. Even when investments went bad and money became tight, Oliver didn’t seem to care. All he needed was Audrey and Ava for the equation to balance and equal happiness.

Then in a flash he’d lost them both. A small piece of debris shot up from an explosion over Kansas, Kansas of all godforsaken places, and started a fire in the airliner’s engine. No one survived the crash. How the hell does that add up? 

“It doesn’t, does it?” The cabbie flashed his knowing smile again in the rear view mirror. “That’s why you found the book again. The ideas in it inspired you to search for another truth. Your own truth.”

Oliver leaned back in his seat, now regretting the conversation. “Maybe. I don’t know. Doesn’t everyone do that?”

“Many are satisfied with the truth provided to them.”

Oliver closed his eyes and drew a deep breath. Stop talking. Please, just stop.

“So did you find it? Did you find your truth?”

“I’d rather not go into it.” Why am I philosophizing with a cabbie?

“If you don’t know, then you didn’t find it, Oliver.”

The accountant’s eyes popped open. The hairs on the back of his neck stood at attention. “I don’t recall giving you my name.”

“You didn’t.” Wheels screeched as the cabbie abruptly turned the car off the freeway and exited onto a bumpy dirt road. Oliver had driven this stretch of freeway probably a hundred times, but never noticed such a road’s existence. If one hadn’t known exactly where the path lies, he or she would surely miss it.

“What the—what are you doing? Is something wrong with the car?” yelled a jostled Oliver. 

The cab skidded to a halt, kicking up a cloud of dust that glowed an eerie red from the brake lights. “Relax, Oliver. Nothing is wrong with the car.”

“Why did you pull over? How do you know my name?”

The cabbie turned around to face Oliver. His smile was absent again, but a great calm remained about him despite his passenger’s nervousness. “You’re at a crossroads,” he answered.

“What the hell are you talking about? The freeway is right over there! All you had to do was drive straight to remain on it!”

“You can return to the freeway if you want,” the cabbie hunched his shoulders. “But I’ve been sent to make you aware of another path.”

“What?” Oliver kicked open his door, threw his duffle bag onto the dirt, and frantically climbed out of the car. The cabbie followed. “Stay away from me!” Oliver stretched his arms out as if to hold the man at bay. “I said stay away!”

“Take the moment, Oliver. You’ll need a clear head to make your decision,” the cabbie replied with a nod.

Oliver surveyed his surroundings. It was probably three hundred meters to the empty freeway. There were no other cars in sight that he could flag down for help. To the opposite side was a desert brush that faded into the soft outlines of starlit foothills. For all intents and purposes, he was stranded alone with this mad cabbie. 

“I’m not here to hurt you,” the cabbie promised. “If that were my goal, there were opportunities I could have leveraged to do so.” 

Oliver calmed his breathing and eased his arms, if only a little. “Who are you?”

“Tonight, I’m only a guide, sent to show you a path. A path that may lead to what has eluded you for the past fifteen months, if not your entire life.”

Oliver winced. “How do you know what I’m looking for? I don’t even know what I’m looking for!” His yell echoed across the desert.

The cabbie hunched. “I know that a year ago you had a dream—a very powerful and lucid dream. A dream that followed a funeral, that revealed a forgotten book, and prompted a grand journey across the world that would ultimately lead you here, to this very moment, with me.” 

The cabbie put his hands casually behind his back and looked up at the full moon. “You are not the only one who had the dream, Oliver. There were others.”

Were others?” Oliver asked. He didn’t find the past tense very comforting.

“We had given up hope there were any of you left. One by one, they all disappeared. We assumed he had something to do with that.”


The cabbie’s eyes locked with Oliver’s. “The farmer. The farmer in your dream.”

A dream I’ve told no one aboutever. “This is crazy. You’re crazy. How on earth could I possibly trust what you’re saying?”

The cabbie lifted his copy of Our Secret History into view. “We read the same book.”

“That book is a fantasy!”

“Oliver, I’m not here to debate with you. I’ve been sent to show you two paths. There,” the cabbie pointed to the freeway, still vacant of car activity. “There is the freeway. You are free to return to it and the life you left over a year ago.”

Oliver sighed. He turned to the opposite direction, examining the rocky dirt road that faded into a small valley between the foothills. “What’s over there?”

“The road less traveled.” 

Oliver grimaced. “Right! Of course it is!”

“That road leads to what you have sought all along, Oliver.” The cabbie opened the driver’s door.

“And what is that?”

“Answers.” The cabbie started the car’s engine and closed his door.

Oliver’s eyes widened. “Wait, are you—? Are you leaving?” The cab’s engine revved. Oliver yanked on the passenger door handle only to find it locked. Despite Oliver’s protesting and pounding on the windows, the cab driver didn’t offer so much as a glance. “You can’t leave me here!”

The Prius spat up a fresh cloud of dirt as it peeled away and joined the freeway, heading north.

Ollie laced his fingers on top of his head as he watched the cab’s rear lights disappear around the bend on the horizon. “That son of a bitch.”

(Copyright 2014.  Dave Cravens.)

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Chapter 2


Stranded near the most remote stretch of freeway midpoint between Orange County and San Diego with only his duffle bag, Oliver was left with more questions than options. Who was that cab driver? Where did he come from? How did he know so much about Oliver? He looked back and forth between the freeway, still devoid of activity, and the simple dirt road that lead to an unknown wilderness. 

You’re an accountant. Take stock of the situation.

It was probably a half mile back to the freeway, and another mile or two to an emergency phone. Failing that, Oliver remembered the border checkpoint was approximately five miles north. Within a couple of hours, he could find some kind of assistance, report that a-hole of a cab driver and return to his home by late morning. It would be the wisest, most practical course of action with a clear and defined outcome worthy of the Well’s Family Formula. Then again, what was waiting for him there? No wife. No daughter. A pile of bills. A ton of debt. A boring, godforsaken job—assuming the firm even wanted him back. It all looked so pointless now, and Oliver was in no hurry to go back to it.

And what of the road less traveled? 

The very thought prompted a chuckle. Such a goddamn cliché. Answers, that’s what the crazy cab driver said he would find. And how would that happen? Oh right, I’d find the answers only if I traveled the road. Where does this road go? No way of knowing unless one travels it! Stupid cabbie. 

Oliver flirted with the prospect of walking the dirt road for just a short while. How far could it be before he discovered the big answer? Was there a car waiting for him out there? A drug cartel looking to kidnap him and use him as a mule? This farmer guy the cabbie spoke of? Maybe Oliver should walk it for a bit, and if he didn’t find anything within thirty minutes or so, he’d turn around and go back to the freeway. Why was he even thinking the dirt road was a viable option?

Because the cabbie knew things he shouldn’t have.

No, it’s a trick, Oliver reasoned. He got your credit card number somehow, looked up your records, scourged your social media accounts—everything. In this day and age, that is all too easy. 

But how did he know about the dream? That awful, terrible, glorious dream about a farmer you hadn’t dared tell anyone about? The dream that marked the day they both died! A dream he said others shared! How did he know these things?

One thing was for certain. In a matter of hours the sun would come up, and the brisk, cold evening air would be replaced with a biting summer heat.

It’s not worth it, thought Oliver. It’s not worth my life. 

Then again, what is my life worth?

Oliver had spent the last year traveling the world to find out. Here, he was told the answer lay at the end of a dirt road he could barely discern in the moonlight. 

What is my life worth? 

What is my life?

I’ll walk the path, he thought. If only for a little while. 

Oliver picked up his duffle bag, slung it over his shoulder, and headed down the dirt road.

(Copyright 2014. Dave Cravens.)

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Chapter 3


Oliver wasn’t sure how long he’d been walking, but he guessed it’s been around an hour and a half’s time. The dirt road had taken him over the foothills and through a shallow valley before it gradually blended into the desert floor. It was only then, after the strap of his duffle bag had carved into his aching shoulder, that Oliver realized the road less traveled, was so less traveled it had never been finished. The path literally disappeared and led to nowhere


All you had to do was get back to the freeway. 

Oliver dropped his duffle bag. All you had to do was follow the standard formula! 

The accountant reviewed his recent litany of life-altering mistakes.

A guy comes to you with an “investment opportunity” that sounds too good to be true. You take it. It is too good to be true. The woman you love tells you she’ll be with you always. You marry her. She dies. A book inspires you to travel the world to find yourself. You do it! You return more lost than ever. A goddamn cab driver, a cabbie, of all people, tells you all the answers to all the questions you ever had in life lay at the end of a fucking dirt road that leads to nowhere! You believe him! You walk the path!

“What the hell is wrong with me?” Oliver screamed at the night sky, now barren of stars and covered with dark, swirling clouds. A storm was moving in. The accountant dropped to his knees and sobbed. 

I don’t want to do this anymore.

I can’t do this anymore. 

As he sobbed, so did the sky. A thin bolt of lightning was answered by a distant rumbling, inviting a light rain. Oliver relented, collapsed onto his back, and stretched out his legs, letting the cold desert earth become his moistened bed. The rain picked up, pelting Oliver’s body as he closed his heavy eyes. The accountant felt his body sink into the ground, melding with the Earth from which it had once sprung. Dust to dust. Mud to mud. Oliver didn’t care. He was tired. He seeped into the muck. Sleep came to him instantly. 

There was only the void.

Oliver’s eyes shot open. 

He squinted from a bright sun that beat down on him from a clear blue sky. 

How long was I out? 

Oliver’s body radiated enormous heat. His skin felt tight and blistered by the sunburns on his exposed arms and face. His muscles and joints screamed with an unholy aching from the slightest twitch. 

You’re dehydrated. Find some shade, you idiot.

A shadow stepped in, blocking out the sun. Oliver strained to focus on the outline of a man wearing a cowboy hat towering over him. The man’s silhouette felt very familiar to Oliver. Why?

“So you’re the latest,” said the man, his wispy voice hinting at an advanced age. The shadow tilted his head as if to size the accountant up. “It’s always interesting to meet you folks face to face.”

Oliver lifted his head to look around. There was no car or truck or any transportation within sight, just miles of desert brush. “Wh-where—?” Oliver’s parched throat and chapped lips could hardly utter the words.

“Where did I come from?” the shadow politely finished. “That’s not really the point now, is it? You’d be better off asking where I’m going. And whether or not you’re coming with.”

Oliver struggled to sit upright and have a better look at the man. At first glance, he would’ve thought him a cowboy. But the overalls and plaid shirt didn’t really fit the motif. “W-who—?”

“Who am I?” the man finished again. “You should know. We’ve met before.”

You’re the farmer, thought Oliver. The farmer from my dream! That explained the attire, at least. Oliver coughed, trying to speak.

“Yah, you remember now, don’t you? The dream. I’m sorry about that, by the way. I didn’t mean for any of it to happen. Like so many things in life—it just did.”

Mean for what to happen? The dream? 

The farmer offered a hand and helped Oliver to his feet. Now, on equal footing, Oliver could properly examine the man before him. He guessed the farmer was in his seventies, though he stood as firm and as tall as any man half his age. His eyes were gentle, and he spoke with a half-smile that never faltered, as if the farmer savored and cherished every waking second of the moment in play.

“The others before you—I’m sorry about them too,” continued the farmer. “I just need to do what I need to do, Oliver. Then I’ll be out of everyone’s way. I’m hoping you’ll come to understand that.”

What happened to the others? What do you need to do? 

“Maybe you’ll even be able to help me. That’s my hope. What I’ve seen, what I’ve learned. It’s such a simple, fickle thing, but easily lost. Time will tell if the seed takes root.”

A tiny digital alarm chirp prompted the farmer to look at his watch. “Oh, there we have it,” said the farmer, clicking the alarm off. “Our time is up. We’ll see each other again, Oliver—I pray—as friends. They’ll try to turn you against me like they did the others. You just stick to your guns and do what you think is right. That’s all I can ever ask. Whatever happens after that, well—happens.”

The farmer grabbed Oliver by the shoulders in a fatherly, comforting way. “You ready?”

Oliver, all of a sudden, felt very weak. He steadied himself and nodded.

“All right then. Here we go.”

Both Oliver and the farmer disappeared in a flash of white light.

(Copyright 2014.  Dave Cravens.)

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The following is a text message transcript from the cell phone of Ms. Pamela Chance and her father Walter Everett Chance. The message thread started on June 22, four months after the Bloomington Blast.





You there? 

Hello? Pam?

I’ve tried calling five times!



In a meeting. Will call after.



Not after. NOW!




This meeting is a 911! Don’t screw this up for me!



I need your help!




You always need my help.



This is the last time!

 It is important!



Turning off my phone. Will call when meeting’s over.




Call me immediately!


(Thread resumes approximately two hours later.)



I tried calling. Why aren’t you picking up?


This is it, Dad. 

I mean it.

I’m not doing this anymore. You always contact me at the worst time, and then you bail.

I’m done.



You should have more respect for your father.



I knew it!

Dad, I don’t have time for your bullshit!



I was a father once. My daughter would never speak to me like that.



What are you talking about?



I am not your father.



Hilarious. Stop screwing with me and just tell me how much you owe!


(Picture transmitted.)


(Picture received.)



Do you believe me now?

Yes or no?






You will do exactly as I instruct, or the next picture I send will display a lot more blood.

Do you understand?






Good. I’ll keep this simple.



Do you?



Do I what?



Do you understand?



I’ll play. Understand what?



Do you understand what will happen if you don’t release my father right now?



Leave threats to the pros.



Your gun.






The one in the photo you sent.



The gun I’m about to shoot your father in the mouth with?



Ever have a misfire?



Never. I’ll shoot him in the kneecaps next.



Not once—ever?



Then I’ll shoot his dick clean off. For fun. 

Bloody mess.



Try it.



Daddy issues, huh?



You’d better be sure it’s not going to backfire.



Stall all you want.



Shoot him.



No cop is going to trace this line.



I don’t need cops.



When I’m done shooting holes in your dad, I’m going to find you.

I’m going to take my gun, beat you with it, and hold it to your head. 

You will cry and scream and beg me to stop as I violate you in every way.

You will give me everything. All the money you owe, your body, your dignity, your life. 

I will own you.



Fire the gun.


(Two minutes pass.)



I’m waiting . . .



(Copyright 2014. Dave Cravens.)

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Chapter 4


I played the odds.

Pamela Chance held her throbbing head in her hands as though it might fall to pieces. The young brunette had been waiting at her father’s bedside for hours at St. Mary’s critical care unit, listening to the droning beep of his heart monitor. She couldn’t help trying to calculate what the chances were if the next beat would be the last. If it were, could she change it?

I changed the odds.

Pamela lifted her bloodshot eyes, finally dry of tears, and looked at her father, who lay motionless on his bed save for an uneven pattern of breathing. Splotches of blood seeped through the bandages on his chest, as it heaved awkwardly up and down—every breath a struggle.

I made the odds, for God’s sake, and it still didn’t work.

It never works! 

The police said that the gunman’s pistol misfired. The resulting explosion blew the assailant’s hand clear off, and the shrapnel ripped open his stomach, causing him to bleed out in a terribly painful way. The apartment neighbors called 911, and by the time the police and paramedics arrived, the would-be murderer, a presumed enforcer for the mob, had already expired. His intended victim, one Walter Everett Chance, was found tied and gagged naked to a chair—his face beaten to a pulp, his left knee shattered by a sledgehammer. Worst of all was the shrapnel from the gun explosion that tore into Walter’s chest. 

The police believed Walter was kidnapped and beaten in an attempt to blackmail a loved one into paying off his gambling debts. The total amount of money owed would never be known, however, as the bets he made were not through Nevada-regulated games. The cell phone the enforcer had used was indeed Walter’s, but it had been damaged beyond repair in the blast. 

Pam lied when the police asked her if Walter had tried calling her. How was she to explain the text log with her father?

Shoot him. Fire the gun.

They would never understand she was trying to save his life.

Yes, your plan worked perfectly, Pamela. Your father would’ve been better off had you just aimed the gun at his chest and pulled the trigger yourself!

Pam’s thoughts were interrupted as the room’s door opened, and a handsome clean cut face poked its head in. The man’s hazel eyes found Pam’s. “Pamela Chance?” he asked with a British accent. “Are you Ms. Pamela Chance?”

Pamela wiped her eyes and stood up. “Yes,” she answered. “I’m sorry, are you a doctor? I only just got here twenty minutes ago. The nurse sent me right in.”

The man, dressed in an expensive, tailored Italian suit and tie, entered the room and gently closed the door behind him. He smiled. “I’m not a doctor,” he answered while offering his right hand. “My name is Mr. Trevor.” 

Pamela cautiously shook it. “I don’t understand. Are you with the hospital or not?”


“The police?”


Pamela became more anxious. “Why are you here?”

“I’m here to help you. In turn, I hope you’ll help me.”

Does he know? “Now isn’t really a good time, Mr. Trevor.” 

Trevor pulled out a manilla folder and quickly scanned the file within. “According to the police report, your father was brutalized because he owed money to the mob.” The man in the tailored suit sensed Pamela’s growing discomfort. “I’m not with the mob, Ms. Chance. You can relax.”

“How did you get that police report?” 

“I have access to many resources. In fact, the party I represent is willing to take care of your father’s gambling debts. It’s a matter of a phone call. If that doesn’t happen, we both know the mob will come after him again. They’ll come after you. How can you be so sure you’ll be lucky enough to evade them twice?”

“How do I know you’re not working for them?”

Mr. Trevor glared at the young beauty before him. “Because I told you so, and I am a man of my word.” 

“Right,” Pamela folded her arms. “And what, pray tell, would your ‘party’ want in return for showing such kindness?”

“We’ll start with an explanation,” Trevor flipped a page in the report. “Your father’s assailant died from wounds inflicted when his gun misfired and exploded in his hand.”


“How did you know that was going to happen?”

Pamela swallowed. “How on Earth would I know that was going to happen?”

Trevor selected a couple of pages from the manilla folder and dangled them in the air. “It certainly seems like you knew it would happen the way you kept taunting the gunman in these text messages.” Trevor waved the papers. 

Pamela snatched the transcript from Trevor’s hands. “How did you get these?” She examined the contents—her stomach turned. “Who gave these to you?”

“I told you. I am resourceful.” 

Her eyes flashed at Trevor. “If you know so much, Mr. Trevor, then you know I don’t take kindly to being blackmailed.”

Trevor smiled. “This isn’t blackmail, Ms. Chance. Weren’t you listening? I’m here to help you, in the hope that you’ll help me.” 

Pamela stood her ground, unconvinced.

Trevor pressed forward. “I’m not adverse to the unusual. There are things in this world that are not easily explained by conventional science or theory. I’ve suspected for some time that you fall into that category. My employer believes you have a very special talent, a talent we seek to employ to help us find someone very important.”

Pamela put on her best poker face. “If by ‘talent’ you mean a knack for attracting misery, you are positively clairvoyant.”

“The man who attacked your father was a trained killer,” informed Trevor. “The kind of operator who knew his weapon inside and out, yet somehow it misfired for probably the first time in his awful career. Tell me, what are the odds of that happening?”

Pamela innocently raised her eyebrows. “Probably not very good.”

“Put a number to it.”

“I couldn’t possibly.”

“I once met a mathematics professor who believed that for every event that could ever happen at any given time, there is a numeric value that can be ascribed to it. A percentage, however remote.” 

Pamela sighed. “I get the sense you like the sound of your own voice.”

“And let’s say, for the sake of argument, the chances of that gun misfiring were a million to one. A million to one! You’d have a better shot at winning the lottery. And yet it happened, the gun misfired and you knew it would.” Trevor waved the transcript again. “I think you made it happen.”

“I was nowhere near the gun, Mr. Trevor. There is no way I could have physically sabotaged the—”

“That’s not what I’m talking about.” Trevor spoke as if he was used to calling bluffs. “I can’t explain it, but somehow you bent the odds in your favor.”

The statement gave Pamela great pause. “You’re insane.”

“You changed the odds from a million to one, to a one hundred percent certainty.”

Pamela’s heart raced. Since she was a teenager, no one, not even her father, had ever understood her ability to influence the odds simply by thinking about them. Perhaps it was because people found Pam so unlucky to be around—whatever terrible things she worried about seemed to find a way to inexplicably happen. Even when Pam focused on changing the odds for the better, that evil genie of probability found a way to screw her over. Now, this stranger comes out of nowhere and thinks he’s figured it all out? “You pompous ass, it doesn’t work like that!” 

Mr. Trevor tried to hide a smile. “How does it work?” 

Pam frowned at her own sloppy admission. Was there a part of her that wanted Trevor to understand? She sighed. “There is never one hundred percent certainty of anything. That’s not how the universe works. Any quantum physicist will tell you that. There are only probabilities,” said Pam. “Since I turned sixteen, for some reason, if I concentrate—if I can clear my head—I can bend those probabilities toward a specific outcome.”

Mr. Trevor could no longer contain his smile.

“But it’s a terrible gamble,” Pam warned. “There are always unintended consequences.” She tilted her head toward her father. “You’d be better off not involving me, Mr. Trevor.”

The tailored man was positively beaming now. “Fascinating.” He looked into his manilla folder again. “You believe yourself to be your own worst enemy—that might explain why, despite all this ‘power,’ your finances are upside down or why you haven’t been able to hold a job.”

“Go to hell,” growled Pamela. “You came to me. And you haven’t offered a goddamn thing!”

Trevor closed the manilla folder and handed it to Pamela. Surprised by the offer, she cautiously took it from his hands before rifling through it. Her eyes scanned blurbs, reports, bank statements, and the occasional long-lensed photograph all providing a rich mosaic of her last ten years. It was a surreal experience reading a stranger’s interpretation of her own life. 

“The organization I work for has been following you for some time now,” explained Mr. Trevor. “Your father’s winning streak in Vegas attracted more than just the attention of the casinos. After he was exonerated of cheating, we first thought he might have the ‘gift.’ But Walter’s streak ended when you permanently left his side at the tables. Your father went into financial ruin and gambled everything away. You were making money hand over fist. Why did you leave?”

Pam frowned. “I thought I was making things better—but the money was never enough for my father. He kept upping the ante. The mob got involved—another unforeseen consequence. I wanted no part of it. So I left.”

“Why not gamble for your own profit?”

Pam sighed. She hated this next part. “I—can’t seem to change my own odds.” 

“Perhaps I can help you overcome that,” said Trevor. “The organization I work for discovers, sponsors, and trains people who have demonstrated rare and unusual ability. We are called the Collective. We are privately funded and operated, though many on our governing board have held senior positions in various governments. We work in secret, so as not to attract those who would exploit our knowledge.”

Pamela grimaced. “What keeps you from exploiting it?”

Trevor let out a short chuckle. “Only an oath to put humanity’s interests above our own. But as with any organization, there are those you trust, and those you keep a closer eye on. Which brings me to why I am here. If you’ll look at the photo on the last page I handed you . . .”

Pamela thumbed through the documents until she found a black and white photo depicting a vantage point from just above a grocery checkout counter. In the captured moment, the clerk could be seen handing change to an older woman buying an inordinate amount of cat food. Behind her, a teenage boy pretended to have a bored expression while sneaking a peek at the shapely woman’s cleavage behind him. Finally, at the end of a line was a tall man in overalls, a plaid shirt, and a cowboy hat. His head was turned to the side as if noticing something. The date on the photo indicated it was taken just months ago on March 7. Pamela pored over the picture again and again. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to be seeing,” she admitted.

“This was taken in a Quickie Mart before a massive explosion demolished it and the neighboring twenty blocks, tossing debris so high it damaged an airliner flying overhead.”

Pamela grimaced. “This was taken just before the Bloomington Blast?”


“So? It was a fertilizer explosion.”

“That’s the story the press was told,” Trevor tapped his finger on the man in the cowboy hat. “The only reason this picture exists is because we were tracking this man. Our team hacked the store’s surveillance system to get a remote feed.”

Pamela wasn’t sure which revelation made her more uncomfortable—the fact that the press had perpetuated a false story about the deaths of thousands of Americans, the fact that the seemingly innocent-looking old man in a cowboy hat might have had something to do with it, or the fact that Mr. Trevor’s resources were so vast that he seemed to be able to find out anything he wanted about anyone at any time. As much as Pam’s moral alarm was screaming at her, she felt it wise to play along. “Who is he?”

“A simple farmer,” answered Trevor. “And the most dangerous man this world has ever faced.”

(Copyright 2014. Dave Cravens.)

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Continuation of The Zero Hour Radio Broadcast and Podcast originally aired on March 7, the evening following the Bloomington Blast – Part 2.





Carl:     And we’re back! You’re listening to Zero Hour. I am your host, Conspiracy Carl, and on drums is the never-pleasant, Mark Devin.


Devin:     Yah, yah, everyone knows who we are. You left me hanging before the break. What do you know that I don’t know? What’s your theory on the Bloomington Blast?


Carl:     Oh, it’s big, I can assure you.


Devin:     Awwww, you got nothing!


Carl:     So little faith! But before I drop my truth bomb, we got a couple callers on the line who want to chime in on the explosion. Jonah, you are on Zero Hour!


Jonah:     Hello? Am I on?


Carl:     Turn off your radio, Jonah, there’s a seven-second delay.


Jonah:     Hello? Hello!


Carl:     Turn off your—screw it. Bye, Jonah! Callers, remember there’s a seven second delay. Turn off your radio and just talk to us on the phone. Next caller, BLOCKED, you’re on the air with Zero Hour. How are you?


BLOCKED:    Wish I could say I was better.


Carl:     You sound pretty shaken up, BLOCKED, you okay?


BLOCKED:    I didn’t know who else to call! I had the dream, you know? This morning, do you understand? It’s my fault! I had the dream, and I turn on the radio, and you guys are talking about . . .


Carl:     Hey, hey, we’re not shrinks! Prescreen said you had something to say about the Bloomington Blast, not air your sick fantasies on national radio.


BLOCKED:    I dreamed the explosion!


Carl:     You’ve got five seconds to start making sense.


BLOCKED:    I dreamed it! Then it happened, you know? There were others too! I know there were others, I felt them in my dream, in my head, but I can’t find them!


Devin:     Hang on, Carl, I want to hear this. 


BLOCKED:    I need a way to contact the others, so that we can, I don’t know, figure this whole thing out!


Carl:     What? Figure WHAT out?


BLOCKED:    How the dream killed all those people! So that we don’t dream it again!


Carl:     Wait, wait, wait—you’re saying your dream somehow caused the explosion in Bloomington this morning? 


BLOCKED:    Yes! All the dreamers did! We gotta find them!


Carl:     Wow. BLOCKED. I can stretch my imagination quite a bit. I can open my mind to a lot of farfetched stuff. But this? This just doesn’t make any sense! And you haven’t given me anything solid to go off! So I’m gonna move on and—


Devin:     Don’t hang up! 


Carl:     What? Nooooooo! Too late! Buh Bye, BLOCKED!


Devin:     Look at the switchboard, Carl! 


Carl:     Huh. Are you kidding me?


Devin:     Prescreen says they all had the dream too.


Carl:     We don’t even know what—? Okay, okay, you know what? Fine. Let’s play this out. That’s what we do, right, Devin? 


Devin:     Uhh. Yah.


Carl:     We’re not idiots. If these callers just want to say they had the dream and feed into this, we’re smarter than that. BLOCKED implied you all had the same dream, and the minute one of you describes it on the air, the rest of you can just say ‘yah, me too!’ Forget it. Devin just volunteered to speak with each of you individually off the air to see if you match up.


Devin:     Gladly.


Carl:     And BLOCKED, if you’re out there, call back. I promise I won’t hang up on you this time.


(Cue outro music.)


Carl:     What do you think, America? Are these dreams the result of some mass hysteria triggered by the morning’s tragedy? A hypnotic suggestion? And I haven’t even dropped my truth bomb yet! Stay tuned, and we’ll try to get to the bottom of it all on Zero Hour!





(Copyright 2014.  Dave Cravens.)

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Chapter 5


“What is his name?” asked Pamela, referring to the man in the security picture. “Who is this farmer?”

Mr. Trevor seemed taken aback by the question, as if the name of the threat didn’t really matter. “His name is John Wyatt Douglas. A few weeks prior to this, Mr. Douglas was paralyzed from the waist down and unable to feed or dress himself, let alone have a conversation. He fell into a deep coma that should have marked his exit from this world. Instead, he disappeared from his nursing home and two days later walked into this grocery store fifty miles away.”

“That’s quite a trick, but I don’t understand how that makes him responsible for the explosion.”

Trevor used two fingers to pry open a sliver in the window blinds. He examined the main floor of the ICU as if to calculate how much time he had before an interruption by the hospital staff. His eyes narrowed. Did he recognize someone?

“Mr. Trevor?”

Trevor slowly stepped back from the window and to the door. The lock snapped into place as he stood in front of it. “The farmer,” he started. “The farmer had a thought.”

Pamela nearly laughed. “A thought?”

The thought.” Trevor couldn’t be more serious. “The most beautiful and terrible thought any conscious being could ever hope to have. Legend refers to it as the ‘god thought’—a moment of clarity so pure and divine, it is believed to have mirrored what God thought to birth our universe. To possess such knowledge is to tap unlimited power. Bloomington was but a minuscule taste.”

“I see,” Pamela swallowed. Her throat suddenly felt very dry. “How many people have ever thought this . . . thought?”

“None since records have been kept. Until now, it’s been a story, an ideal that great luminaries of our world have strived to attain for centuries. It is what inspires scientists to seek the ‘God Particle’ or contemplate the geometric shapes of the universe or describe all of existence in a grand unified theory. It is why the Collective was founded. Answers, Ms. Chance. We believe John Douglas has somehow found the answer to the ultimate question and unwittingly tapped into a power that threatens us all.”

“Even if that were true, why would he want to threaten us?’” asked Pamela. 

Mr. Trevor took back the manilla folder. “It’s not a matter of wanting. I don’t believe the farmer wanted to kill anyone in Bloomington, but it happened—like a child toying with fireworks over an open fire. The very nature of the god thought is that anything is possible to its thinker. If Mr. Douglas is overwhelmed by his own discovery, or has a bad day, or a nightmare, or a lapse of concentration, or he sneezes the wrong way—I shudder to think what that means for the rest of us. We need to find John Douglas.”

“And then what?”

“It’s members only from here on, Ms. Chance.” Mr. Trevor secured the manilla folder under his arm and offered a polite smile. He unlocked the room’s door. “If you help us, your father will be taken care of and you’ll play a vital part in safeguarding the world. You may even learn something about yourself. But you need to commit to the cause.” 

Pam pursed her lips, a habit that surfaced anytime she had two thoughts that couldn’t agree. Despite Mr. Trevor’s abrasiveness, the offer remained a temptation. Yet there was something else that caused her to hesitate—what?

Sensing her indecision, Mr. Trevor moved back to the window and peeked through the blinds again. “May I show you something?”

Pam cautiously joined the man at the window, careful to remain in the shadows as they examined the busy hospital floor.

“You see that woman—talking to your father’s nurse?”

Pam examined the young red-haired lady in a black, sleeveless sheath dress as she appeared to argue with the nurse. “You know her?”

“I know her type,” corrected Trevor. “Her name is Tabatha Crowley. Freelance journalist. A real up-and-comer. Hungry for that one story that will make her career. A story like yours.”

“Or yours,” retorted Pam.

“It is your father’s plight that she is fixated on tonight. I paid the nurse to keep her and the other press at bay—you’re welcome.” 

“What is your point?”

Trevor’s nose tipped up. “That woman would sell her soul for a minute of my time. She would give anything to know what I know, to know what you will come to know if you join the Collective. And yet, if her wish were granted, that same knowledge would likely destroy her.”

“Is that going to be my fate, Mr. Trevor?”

Trevor smiled. “Of course not. The fact is that you’re one of us. You were a part of this world long before I walked through those doors.” Trevor pressed forward. “We are but slaves to destiny—we can only choose to embrace or reject it.”

Pam grimaced. “I’d prefer to write my own.”

“Wouldn’t we all. Well, Ms. Chance? What’s it going to be?”

Pamela stepped away from the window to look at her father, then back at Mr. Trevor. Whatever happened next would be a huge gamble for humanity, with the odds stacked decidedly against it. Maybe, just maybe, she could manage to change those odds for the better. 

(Copyright 2014.  Dave Cravens.)

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The following is a text message transcript from the phone of Tabatha Crowley, a freelance journalist, and an unknown number. The exchange took place the same evening as the shooting of Walter Everett Chance.





You were marked tonight by a senior member.



What? Where?



Hospital. Vegas.    



Unrelated. Had nothing to do with you. I was chasing a lead for another story.



I am your story.



You have yet to share anything I can print.



I am your story. 



I have bills to pay.






Then give me something! 





For now, lay low. 

They know who you are.


They’ll be watching.

They won’t mess around.



Neither will I.



(Copyright 2014.  Dave Cravens.)

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Chapter 6



San Clemente, California.


May 6 – one year after the Bloomington Blast


Oliver woke with a startle. It took a moment for his eyes to focus on the spinning ceiling fan above. A cool breeze, carrying the scent of freshly cut grass whispered in from an open window to his right, accompanied by the song of a morning sparrow. He turned his head and took in the window-framed view of a violet rosebush in the backyard. 

I’m home, he thought. WaitI’m home?

Oliver slowly sat up, realizing he’d been napping on his leather couch. His ears perked at the TV announcers calling the Padres’ game on the flat screen on the wall. A lazy Sunday afternoon.

How did I get home?

Oliver rubbed his smooth chin and found no trace of a beard. His hair was short, though untidy from his nap.

How long have I been here?

That’s when he noticed her in the corner of his eye.

Audrey stood in the entryway, illuminated by the sun rays that beamed through the open door. She wore the plum button-up dress he’d bought for her thirtieth birthday—a favorite. How it hugged her curves and matched her favorite shade of lipstick. Shortly after her trying it on for the first time, Oliver remembered gingerly unbuttoning the dress, opening it like a present. Nine months later, their daughter Ava was born. Today, Ava stood proudly next to her mother in a flower-print sundress that went down to her knees. How long, slender, and tall she was growing, on her way to becoming a proper young woman. Oliver smiled at them both. They forced a smile back, but their eyes betrayed a deep sadness. 

The girls glanced at the television, as if cueing Oliver to do the same. When he did so, he remembered. 

I’ve seen this game before. 

This is a memory. 

This is the day I got the call from the airline. 

This is the day they died in the crash.

Oliver looked back to the entryway, only to behold an entirely different scene. His wife and daughter were gone, replaced by a silence that chilled the vacant house. Just a hint of the morning sun peeked through the dusty window. The television was off. All the furniture, even the couch that Oliver sat on, was covered with a thick protective plastic. Oliver was home and it felt every bit the empty shell it had when he’d escaped it a year ago.

Oliver rubbed his chin, surprised to find the matted beard again. “I must have been dreaming,” he told himself. He looked down to find the duffle bag next to his feet—still packed. 

What happened to the farmer? What happened to the path less traveled? Was all of that just a dream too?

Oliver guessed he fell asleep in the cab, and the cabbie drove him home as planned. On autopilot, Oliver probably let himself into his house and collapsed from exhaustion onto the couch. End crazy dream. Cue morning light. 

I guess I took the road well traveled after all.

Oliver rose from the couch to flip on the light switch—nothing happened. He’d forgotten he’d stopped paying the electric bill. But he remembered he’d kept the water going for the sake of the lawn and the teenage neighbor he’d paid to tend it. Thus, Oliver indulged in the longest cold shower of his life in the upstairs bathroom. Most of the time, he just stood there, staring blankly at the wall, letting the water wash over his head and down his face and spine. He didn’t mind the briskness of it. He wondered if the icy water could wash away his pain and misery. It didn’t. 

Afterward Oliver hacked away at his beard and long hair, cutting chunks off with scissors, then erasing the remaining stubble with a fresh razor. This time, when he looked into the medicine cabinet mirror, he recognized the thirty-something face that stared back. 

“There you are,” Oliver greeted, allowing a small smile. He opened the cabinet to find some aftershave to splash on. When he closed it, he was startled to see the farmer standing behind him with a grin.

“Mornin’,” greeted the farmer.

Oliver spun around, grabbed the razor, and held it out in front of himself as if it were a dagger. “What the hell?!”

The farmer gave a chuckle. “Hey, I’m just playing with you, Oliver. I don’t mean you any harm.”

“You’re real,” Oliver gasped. “I thought I had dreamt it all, but you’re real!”

“Who’s to say dreams aren’t real?” asked the farmer. “It’s all in one’s head either way.”

Oliver winced as he studied the farmer—something had changed about him. His cowboy hat was missing. Was that all? “What do you want?” asked Oliver. “How did you get in here? What happened last night?”

“It’s Monday,” said the farmer. He casually raised an apple to his mouth and took a crunchy bite. “You’ve been asleep for a whole day. I brought you here to rest. To heal. To grow.” He grimaced as he swallowed. “Things are in motion, Oliver. There are powerful people looking for me, and they’ll want to use you to find me. One of them will be at your door in two minutes. This one, he’s a handful.”

Oliver shook his head and frantically waved his hands. “Wait, wait, why are they looking for you? Who is looking for you? Why am I involved in any of this?”

The farmer put a hand on Oliver’s shoulder as a father would a son. “Because in a moment of need, I reached out—and you reached back.” The farmer’s alarm watch went off again. He frowned. “Already? Listen, Oliver, I need you to understand something.”

“Yes, that would be nice!”

“No matter what happens, no matter how things go down, you must understand that I will never, ever lie to you. I need you to believe that.” 

Oliver rolled his eyes. Whatever. This is probably all another dream anyway. “Fine,” he relented. “Sure. I believe you.”

“Good,” the farmer lovingly slapped Oliver’s face. His demeanor shifted back to serious. “Now, be careful with this guy. He’ll get rough with you, and if you don’t keep your wits about, he will kill you.”

Oliver’s eyes widened. “What? Then stay! Turn yourself in! I don’t know what you’ve done but I need you to explain what—how?”

The doorbell rang, grabbing Oliver’s attention.

“You got this, Oliver,” assured the farmer.

“I’ve got what?” When Oliver turned back to the farmer, he was gone.

The doorbell rang again. Oliver closed his eyes.

It’s another dream. This must be another dream. Surely

Another ring. 

“Damn it!”

Seriously? The man at the front door may kill me? 

Don’t open the door. It’s that simple. No one knows you’re here. Just keep quiet, and whoever it is will go away. Simple!

The front door creaked open. 

Oliver winced. Had he left the front door unlocked?

“Hello?” a frail voice called into the house.

Oliver froze. The voice sounded familiar, and hardly like that of a man. 

“Hello?” the old woman’s voice crowed again.

Oliver searched his mind. “Mrs. Patterson?” he guessed, as he poked his head around the staircase. His petite neighbor of eighty-seven years hobbled into the entryway in her trademark floral muumuu. 

“Is anyone here?” asked Mrs. Patterson. Her trembling head moved with the precision of a bird as she scanned the interior.

Oliver breathed a sigh of relief. “Mrs. Patterson, what are you doing here?”

The old lady’s face lit up as she watched her neighbor make his way down the stairs. “Oh, it is you. I thought I heard voices, and I wasn’t sure if you’d returned. Wondered if your house had been broken into.”

Oliver smiled back. And what would she have done if she’d found a burglar? “Always checking up on me,” he thanked. “How did you get in?”

“The door was open,” she replied. “I was a little surprised to find that.” Her beady little eyes framed by horn-rimmed glasses examined the man before her. “Are you okay? You look pale.” 

Oliver laughed. “No, it’s nothing, it’s just . . .” I’m going insane, that’s all. “I thought you were someone else.” The farmer was wrong. 

“Well give me a hug, you big galoot. It’s good to see you.” The old lady opened her arms wide.

“It’s good to see you too.” Oliver wrapped his arms around the old lady and lovingly squeezed tight.

Oliver gulped as a searing pain shot into this abdomen. His eyes widened. Mrs. Patterson had stabbed him in the stomach with a kitchen knife.

(Copyright 2014. Dave Cravens.)

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