All posts by MadOgre

2024 VW Jetta SE

Last Thursday I acquired a new Car. A 2024 Jetta SE. My 2007 Audi A4 Avant Quattro has become rather long in the tooth and needs a great deal of replacement parts and repairs… So much so that it’s going to have to be sidelined for awhile. And that saddens me, but I do look forward to the car’s final and ultimate form. In the mean time… this Jetta now my Daily Driver. I’ve always respected the Jetta, but never really personally liked them very much. But the new body style is just too good looking. I love the new grill and headlights. I had other options of course, and I test rode all of them. But none of them felt nearly as good as the Jetta. Just getting in and shutting the door told me that unlike the other cars, this was a real German Sedan. It’s almost as big as the discontinued Passat, and you’re not paying big Audi dollars… but it looks like you did.

It’s powered by a 1.5 Liter Turbo that I was anticipating to be woefully lacking in everything. But paired with the 8 speed Tiptronic transmission… With Gear ratios properly sorted out… the car is both smooth and fast. And since the engine is displacing less than a Harley V-Twin, the fuel consumption is Very Conservative. And by that I mean, I’ve never had a car before that sipped gasoline so delicately. 40 miles per gallon if I drive within the bounds of the law. Cruising at 70, with the Adaptive Cruise Control activated, I was still getting 38.5 MPG’s. And that’s a lot of MPG’s compared to what I’m used to. My A4’s consumption can not match at only about 22 MPG’s for the same trip, and while burning Premium.

Android Auto, Apple Car Play, Dual Zone Climate, Defrosting Mirrors with Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane holding assist… it has all the technology I could ever want. I’m not even used to all this. I love the blacked out wheels, dark platinum paint… It just looks fantastic.
Inside the car, there’s actually more space than the A4. And the trunk is pretty much just as big as the Avant’s Wagon rear cargo area, though not as tall. It’s very usable. You could camp in the trunk.
I do think I need to get this car’s Windows tinted, just to complete the look. If you are in the market for an affordable and economical car that’s not just an Eco-Shit Box… The new Jetta is well worth a test ride.


There’s been some interesting new releases that debuted at SHOT Show 2024, and within the last little while. I’ve not talked about the Industry in awhile so let me knock some rust off here.
Springfield Armory: They are doing great over there and are continuing to crank out rock solid 1911’s. They remain one of my top choices. Huge fan of their Operator, TRP, and Ronin series. They just released a new line called the Garrison, which to me seems just like the Loaded series, but without forward slide serrations. I’m not really a fan of their other 1911’s so much. I don’t need my 1911 to try to look like a ZEV Glock.
Their new Echelon pistol looks great and feels even better in the hand to me. As long as you don’t bother with the Extended Magazines, the guns are running great.
Remington: Following Mossberg now, they just released an 870 with a detachable box magazine. Which I think is a retarded idea that needs to go away.
Industry Wide there is a major flood of Double Stacked 1911’s. So many from all corners… but mostly from Turkey. We’ve never seen so many Double Stacked 1911s. Proof positive that the 1911 design is still as viable and popular as ever. They have a 9mm double stacked 1911 that runs Glock mags now. So, there’s that. Speaking of which…
Glock: They have FINALLY made a commercial version of what everyone has been doing all along, cutting down the frames to make shorter and more concealable grips. But really I found the Glock Model 45 to be just about perfect, once you upgrade the Sights.
Daniel Defense: They purchased the Hudson H9 pistol design and then spent the time, energy, and resources to actually make it work. This is a groovy thing, but the H9 is a pistol that just FEELS SO GOOD in the hand. I have wanted to like them… but now that DD is making them, maybe I can. Word has it that only 1 part is interchangeable between the two versions, so that’s a sign that a LOT of engineering had to be done. Makes me wonder why DD spent the money on Hudson design when they could have probably just done their own from the ground up.
Looks like Mossberg is still making their little pistol to everyone’s dismay. Has anyone actually seen one in a Gun Dealer’s Pistol Case? I haven’t. And I’ve been looking. Dealers response to inquiries have been a universal, “we can get one in if you want it.”
Buck knives released a new knife… the Buckmaster Diver Pro. Looks like a Kingon knife from Star Trek for $899. Which makes me think “WHAT THE FUQQ ARE THEY THINKING?”
Okay, the biggest shocker and smile maker of SHOT 2024 is S&W with their new 1854 Lever Action. I’m interested. Even if it looks exactly like a HENRY. And even if it is over 1200 bucks. Those I trust have reported great reliability and accuracy. Will I buy one? Maybe.

Doris seems nice

It’s been some time since I got a Hate Post on This one made me laugh. Shame people like this never use their real info when they do this. I’d really like to have a reasonable conversation. But I can just imagine the bright green, half-shaved hair and horn-rimmed glasses… so… Being able to be reasonable on any level is probably not something he can do. This is the only kind of discourse the Letists are only capable of these days.

Ruger SFAR a .308 AR-15?

Ruger SFAR .308, topped with the Primary Arms SLx 3x MicroPrism. It’s hard to really wrap your head around just what the SFAR is. It’s an AR-15… It’s the size of an AR-15, and it’s the weight of an AR-15. But it’s not really an AR-15, because it’s chambered in .308. And as everyone knows, that would make this an AR-10. But it’s not an AR-10. At all. It’s a solid two POUNDS lighter than an AR-10. It’s smaller than an AR-10… it’s NOT – at all – an AR-10. So what is this thing? It’s the SFAR. *shrug* it is what it is… A .308 AR-15.

How did Ruger do this? Most all the small parts are all AR-15 parts. The difference is that you have the longer Magwell to fit AR-10 Magazines… Slightly longer receiver. And the BCG is bigger… About halfway between a 15’s BCG and a 10’s… It’s the only real unique parts group.

Even fully loaded, you can feel that the rifle is much lighter, and balances much better than any AR-10. Now, that would normally mean you are going to suffer from ferocious recoil. But thankfully, shooting the SFAR is actually pleasant if you are at an outdoor range. This is thanks to the extremely effective Muzzle Brake. It looks like it’s right off a WWII Hellcat Tank Destroyer… And if you are standing to the side of one being fired – it’s going to feel like that. But to the shooter, it’s just fun.

Everything on the SFAR is selected and designed to be light. The highly skeletonized handguards up front, and the Magpul SL stock at the back. Everything on it feels good, and I feel no need to change anything. The MOE grip even feels great, though it’s not my first choice. I’d rather have the Ergo rubberized grip, but not enough to bother spending the bucks and swapping it out. Anything else would probably just add weight and not add any tangibly better results. To complement the Light Weight and Simple approach to things that this rifle offers, the Optic I selected was the Primary Arms SLx 3x Micro Prism optic. It’s a very solid, compact little scope with a modest 3 Power magnification, etched reticle, with battery power illumination when needed. When I looked through it for the first time, I was highly impressed with the quality that exceeds the price. Think of it like a Compact and Light Weight ACOG for a fraction of the price. I had initially been thinking of doing a LPVO, but to get a good one, the price would have been at least 3 times the price of this one. And it would have added bulk and weight without advantages enough to offset those liabilities.

Ruger SFAR, a 308 AR-15

Yeah, I’m the guy that wrote “Why I hate the AR-15” a long long long time ago. I was part of Crusader Weaponry. So I’ve been on both far ends of the spectrum when it comes to AR’s. I’ve been jaded as hell about AR’s since as long as I’ve been shooting them (Enlisted in ’87) and few have impressed me. Even fewer still have actually knocked my socks off.

Then earlier this year, Ruger launches the new SFAR. It’s in .308 but it’s NOT an AR-10. Don’t call it an AR-10. The size and weight is that of an AR-15. The rifle in 16″ form (also available in 20″) weighs in at only 6 pounds, 8 ounces. When I heard about it, I ran down to the Nichol’s Store in Rock Hill, South Carolina to take a look at one in person. They had one in stock and I asked to check it out… The guy handed it to me… and INSTANTLY I knew this was some next level stuff right here. It felt like an AR-15. It handled like an AR-15. But the bigger mag-well showed that, yeah, it really was a .308 rifle.
“Put a fuqqing Bow on it, because I’m taking it.”

It’s the only AR that has truly knocked my socks off. How Ruger made this is truly impressive. The metallurgy and design engineering is fantastic. I didn’t expect to get a rifle that day. I didn’t even know I wanted a rifle that day. Honestly, I think I’d rather have snagged an M1A Springfield… but the SFAR just blindsided me. It impressed me that much. Which hasn’t happened in a decade.

I’ll do a detailed review on the rifle once I get an Optic on it so I can speak to the accuracy. Right now, it’s topped with the Magpul MBUS3 flip-up sights. These are rather new, and have the features of the MBUS PRO’s but are made of plastic. They are a little bulky like the regular MBUSs we all know and love.

I’d rather have gone with the Pros but the LGS only had the Front and not the Rear in stock. They did have the Offset versions of the Pros but maybe I’ll update to those after I get the Optical Gun Sight situation sorted out.

I don’t have any “Good” ammo for it either, just 150gr SP Federal Blue Box stuff, which is fine for any purpose I could have for the rifle here in The South. Out West, I’d want to get some 168 Match type rounds. But even that might be rather ambitious for a 16″ Light Weight AR.

Scene from “silvershot”

When you can’t sleep… Write. Here is the scene from SILVERSHOT where our protagonist meets Mohtahe Okohke, aka Plague of Crows. She’s a Skinwalker, which according to Native American Lore in the Ute Tribe, is an evil shaman that haunts them, and causes sickness, death, and terror. Plague of Crows is all of that and more. Take a look:

Sleep must have taken me because I knew I had to be dreaming. I was once again standing in front of the mountain cabin. The snow on the cabin and around the area was completely gone and the ground was barren and muddy. I looked around with a distinct sense of both the familiar and a new strangeness. The once bright glass of the windows was coated in filth, broken, and some had rough boards hammered over the empty frames. Dim light seeped through where there should have been bright, warm light.

I walked up to the door with a couple rabbits that I had shot… good sized fat ones. Or at least they were in previous versions of this dream. I looked down at them they were no longer fat and juicy, but desiccated, with holes through the hide in patches that showed old rot, bones, and maggoty corruption. I dropped the rabbits.

When I pushed open the door, I expected to see the fun looking redhead from the strip. Instead, there was an Indian woman standing here. She was thin, with long, straight, black hair that had black crow feathers tied into some braids. She wore a tan buckskin dress with tribal decorations I’ve not seen around here before.

As she walked over to me, slowly, I realized that I was unable to move. Not even to flinch when she raised her hands and held my face. She had dark eyes and dark lips. She could have been beautiful… but something about her was off, and that made her unattractive. I felt a coldness in her hands. She pulled me down to her and gave me a kiss. Her lips were cold and dry and hard.

For just a moment, her presence felt familiar. Like I had seen her before. But I couldn’t place her. And then I remembered the church building in Dragon and seeing her up on the ridge after I came out of that perverse church building. Suddenly she bit my lip, too hard, too sharp, and the pain snapped me back to the moment and I pulled away from her.

One half of her face was young, almost beautiful but stark and angry. The other half of her face was bare skull, old and dead with no eye in the socket, The teeth on the skull side had a smear of blood that streaked down the bare bone of her chin.

She laughed at me and pushed me away, so hard I was sent half thrown, half stumbling across the room where I collided with the chair.

Darkness started swirling around her, like smoke. It pulled the light out of the single lit oil lamp left in the room and it grew dimmer and dimmer until the flame was barely a spark. The only other light was the orange glow coming from that empty eye socket. The swirling darkness started to fill the room, and I tried to back away from it, tumbling over the chair in front of the fireplace. But there was nowhere to go and the darkness reached me.

When it touched my hand, there was pain as if the fingers in my hand were broken. I looked at my hand and could see it and my arm shriveling and drying up. I could feel it in my boots, then up to my knees. I could feel my very life being pulled out of me, into that vortex of darkness. All I could see now was a pinpoint of orange light, coming from that eye socket, which was getting closer. I didn’t know if it was coming to me, or I was going to it. The very air in the cabin was a howling wind that carried my scream with it.

I was still screaming when I suddenly woke up with my chest aching, breathing hard, and my heart beat thumping like crazy.

Here they BE DRAGONS

“You need four things out here,” the grizzled old man said. He was old enough to be one of the fossils that littered the area. Covered in enough dust, he was the same color. “Fuel, water, ammunition, and a purpose. If you’re missing one of those things, you might as well just kill yourselves right now.” The old man laughed at his own humor, but it came out like a dry coughing fit.

Jane nodded to the old man with a smile and then turned away, dismissing the unsolicited advice and turning back to her cycle. She had listened to the locals long enough to know that they are either batshit insane, want something from you, or they are setting you up for something bad. But sometimes she needed them, and that pissed her off.

Marshall was already sitting on his cycle, letting the engine come up to temp. He had packed up quickly as soon as the sky got light enough to see and was ready to go.

Aaron was pushing his cycle out of the garage. The fresh tread on his new tires made Jane envious. But she grinned as she thought of all the miles it would take before those nobbies smoothed out enough that it didn’t vibrate his nuts until they were numb. Still, he had new treads and she didn’t. She’d have to get some as soon as possible. The terrain in this region was not easy on tires.

Jane opened a small pouch on her tank bag and pulled out three coins. “Here you go, Mister. Three duckets for a night’s rest and use of some tools as agreed. We appreciate it.”

As she turned around with the coins in her hand, she turned into the muzzle of a hacked-off gauge. The old man was grinning ear to crooked ear. “Damn.” She muttered.

“Maybe I’ll just take all of it and kill you three right now. Could sell those machines and have enough to move to the coast.”

Jane slowly raised her hands. “You don’t want to go down this road, mister.” The old man’s grin twisted and one eye started to close as he sighted down the barrel of his hacked gauge.
Suddenly the man’s head erupted in a chunky gore fountain and the echo of a gunshot bounced off the building and canyon walls.

“Damn it, Marshall!” Jane yelled as she wiped old man’s brain chunks off her jacket. One chunk was hard and she picked it off. It was a gold tooth. She put that in a pocket and pulled out a rag to clean up the blood splatter. “You could have waited a second till I backed up a step.”

Marshal just grunted as he holstered the long barreled magnum he kept under his jacket in a shoulder rig. “I hated that guy since I first saw him… he was sketchy. Didn’t trust him.” Marshal’s voice sounded like it was as dry and full of dust as his cycle’s air filter. This also explained why he kept his jacket open since they pulled up, even though it was cold at night. “Didn’t like the way he looked at you.”

Jane put the coins back in her bag and turned to the crumpled body. The shotgun pistol was still clutched in the old man’s chilling hand. It was rusted, cracked, and useless. Jane kicked it away from the body in case rigor made the trigger finger contracted enough to fire the gun. She went through the pockets and found a lighter and a packet of instant coffee. She took both and stood up.

“Can we get out of here?” Aaron asked as he pulled his goggles down over his helmet. He wore an old fashioned motocross helmet because he liked the vintage style. His goggles were new tech though. Full data streams and eye tracking. A strange meld of the ancient and new that worked well with Aaron’s style. He did a lot of things the old fashioned way. Like his coffee. He actually used a burner to heat the water and not a flash induction coil. Jane didn’t understand why he preferred to take a couple of minutes to wait for hot coffee when he could have it in seven seconds. He claimed there was a better flavor, but she didn’t buy it.

She threw her leg over the seat of her cycle, kicked the stand up, and hit the starter. There was a high pitched whine as the turbine spooled up. With a low thump the ignition kicked in and fired the fuel-air mixture. A moment later the engine RPMs were up to speed and she was ready to go.

Aaron started his cycle. The big bore Twin-V-Twins burbled to life after a couple of coughing starts. The engines were older than the bike’s frame, but Aaron loved them. They were ancient and Earth-Made. But they were efficient and reliable. Aaron could keep up with the other bikes, so they had to have enough power output. He patted his tank like a cowboy would pat the neck of his horse. Sometimes, he even talked to it. Not to the engine management system or the nav-comp, but to the bike itself, like it could listen and understand him. Strange.

Jane pulled down her lid and cinched the chin strap. Her HUD lit up and showed her machine’s telemetry data. The warning lights from yesterday were gone thanks to the night’s opportunity to wrench and wire without worrying about feral packs or ROUSs. When all the system checks were completed, she looked over at Aaron and Marshal. “Come on. Let’s roll.”
She didn’t wait for a response. She opened the throttle and feathered out the clutch, and her cycle surged forward like it was shot out of a cannon.

The three Riders tracked Spinward in a wedge formation, Jane on point. Three plumes of dust rooster tailing behind them.

After a high-speed burn across the open desert that was called “The Great Capacious Ocean”, Jane eased off the throttle. They had been riding all day, stopping only for a few minutes to drink and drain. This last stretch had been a sprint to the finish. Two of the bikes slowed and stopped in a small clearing off the main track. They were close to the Grand Banks that she had been warned about approaching. If you wanted to get out of the Ocean, you had to get up on top of the Grand Banks. To do that, you had to get up the Ramp and through the Gates.

Jane looked around. The Great Capacious was once one of the largest and deepest bodies of water in known space. Once. They had been riding for two weeks just to cross this dust bowl and the sight of the edge made her excited. She pulled off her helmet and looked around. Dust and trash. A hundred years ago, there was supposed to have been good fishing here. Before the Cataclysm. There were a few skeletons of old boats around. Usable materials were scavenged a long time ago, all that was left were keels and main bulkheads too heavy to make off with.

Marshal shook out his dreadlocks and pulled off his armored jacket. Sweat and salt-stained, his black shirt looked grey and old. Almost as old looking as his bike, which was brand new only a couple months ago.

Jane’s machine was looking no better. Dust and grit combined with high speeds had stripped much of the paint off all the leading edges. The machine started its familiar cool-down ticking even before the turbine stopped spinning.

Aaron was coming in. He had been lagging behind a little, keeping an eye on their six to make sure no one was following them. No one was.

Jane didn’t have to look. The rumble of those big pistons announced his position down to the centimeter. She held out a water bottle, knowing he would be there in a second to take it. She grinned as the bottle was plucked from her hand. He had caught more dust than her or Marshal had, being behind them, so he was full-on monochrome. Aaron emptied the water and carefully tucked the bottle away so they could refill it later.

“How are we doing on fuel?” Aaron asked after he wiped off his lips. He was getting low, and knew the other cycles were even more thirsty than his.

“I’ve got another thirty miles,” Jane answered.

“Twenty,” Marshal noted.

Aaron got off his bike and unstrapped a small fuel can. He poured some into his tank, more into Marshal’s, and the last of it into Jane’s. “This should be enough to get us up top to the Station.”

“Hopefully they have fuel.”

“They always have fuel.”

“Hopefully they have fuel that they can sell,” Jane said as she stretched, glad to be off the bike again.

Marshal glassed the upper edge of the Grand Bank and noted the positions of the cannons there. Ancient rifled cannons lined the edge where the sky and ground met. Huge barrels aimed out into the Ocean as a warning to those that might have bad intentions. The guns were old, but the cybernetic targeting computers were state of the art and that made for a brutally effective combination. What High Order Explosive Shells didn’t take care of, the Las-cannons did. One blast could cut an APC in half.

“We’ll stay the night here and go up in the morning,” Marshal said. Jane was fine with this.

Aaron looked around. “No Ferals?”

“Didn’t see any for the last hour,” Marshal said.

“They mostly come out at night. Mostly.”

Jane snorted. “Don’t worry, Aaron. You’ll be fine.”

Aaron had been nervous about the dogs and rats ever since one bit his foot while he was asleep. He almost lost the toe to the bite, and the foot to the infection.

They had just set up camp when the Night passed over them. Day and night cycled at the Earth normal 24-hour mark. This annoyed Jane as it felt like the days were too short. Athens had a civilized day night cycle of 30 hours, which meant her wristwatch was useless here. She had clasped the watch band around her handlebars so she wouldn’t lose it. Keeping it on meant looking at it out of habit, and that threw her day off.

Marshall took the time to strip and clean. Once he had washed down with moist Baby-Wipes, he let himself air dry by stretching out on his bedroll. His feet hung off the edge. Marshall was tall, dark-skinned, and considered handsome by most folks. The dreads were getting long, not because it was a fashion or style thing, but because they’ve been out a long time running.

Aaron tinkered with his bike for a bit before he decided to turn in. He was always doing that, even if the bike didn’t need it. “Gotta keep the old girl happy” he’d say.

Jane understood it though. They depended on their machines like the Cavalry of old depended on their horses. Before the Cavalry took care of themselves, they took care of the horses first. Priorities. That and Aaron’s bike had problems with intake filtration that Marshall’s and her bike didn’t have. Turbines sucked in everything and blew it out hot.

Before she laid down for the night she pulled out a small black sphere. The Sentry-Bot. She tapped it three times on the top and the little bot started to hum. Small blue lights under the surface flashed and little induction pods unfolded, glowed, and the bot lifted off her gloved hand. It hovered for a moment and then climbed up into the dark. She caught a glimpse of a couple more blips of blue light before it went stealth and hung in the air silent and invisible.

The Sentry-Bot was a small robot designed for campers. It would scare away animals that could hurt anyone sleeping by flashing harmless laser lights at them. If that didn’t work, the Bot would set off audible alarms in various tones inaudible to humans and if that didn’t work, it would go audible to humans. It could stay up for as long as fourteen hours if needed. Usually available at any sporting goods store for about 30 duckets. Jane’s had a customized hers to add a couple more features. One of which was to allow remote access to a small multi-spectrum camera array.

After verifying the Sentry-Bot was operating in the right modes, Jane pulled out her notebook. An old fashioned paper notebook bound with a simple spiraled coil of wire. It was thick with inserted scraps, data sheets, flexible PDAs, and anything else thin and light. The cover was torn in a couple of places that strips of adhesive tape held it together. Elastic bands held the rest of the stuff inside the notebook. The total collection of a decade’s worth of research. It was as adhoc and confusing as a method of collection, but to Jane it all made sense. She was able to flick through the leaves of paper and scraps and retrieve any bit of data she wanted faster than she could type in a request into any type of computer, or vocalize a request into a PDA.

She quickly flicked to a section highlighted in faded blue along the edge and opened the pages wide. A scrap almost fell out, but a thumb had caught it. The scrap had a small sketch on it. This scrap she picked up from ruined school on the planet Hector 3.

Hector 3 had been abandoned by a race of aliens, similar to the classic humanoid shape, but with an extra set of eyes and nostrils. The planet had been abandoned long before human contact. The ruins on Hector 3 were ancient and little evidence of sentient life remained on the surface. Underground though, things were preserved quite well. Including scrolls and books. Deciphering the history of the Hectarians wasn’t what interested Jane. It was this sketch. She looked at it once again… for the hundredth time if it was the first time.

It was a small simple sketch of a dragon. What made this sketch interesting was the isolation of the race of aliens that drew it. They wouldn’t have had contact with other species of Sentients. And yet here was a dragon. Humans from Earth arrogantly thought that dragons had been the invention of their own creativity. Turns out they were wrong.

Jane had found fables and legends of dragons in almost every culture, in almost every sentient race, across nine galaxies. All from pre-contact eras. Everyone had stories of dragons. And all of them had similarities enough in their descriptions that there had to be something more than coincidences. If the planet had a Nitro/O2 Atmo, there be dragons.

Most scientists dismissed this as a coincidence. Shared storytelling from early space travelers and wanderers. Jane had a different theory. It was the dragons that were the early travelers. Unfortunately finding any actual physical evidence had been elusive. Until last year. Her hunt had brought her to a Bizarre on one of the oldest planets in known space, Eridani.

Jane had been searching for projectiles for an Eridani firearm she had already purchased when she found a clear crystal sarcophagus that contained what looked like a preserved baby dragon. The only thing that the proprietor of the shop would give her was the name of an Earth-Human university professor Thull Chafe who was said to be the one who discovered the sarcophagus. This started the hunt for Thull Chafe which took three world jumps to track down.

The night was uneventful for Jane. She slept well enough. She woke up slowly, opening one eye first. Then the other. She listened, then looked around. Marshall was rolling up his gear as Aaron was making coffee and rehydrating a nutrient mash that was supposed to be like scrambled eggs.

“About time,” Aaron said. “Here you go. Breakfast in bed.” He handed her a small plate and a cup of steaming hot coffee.

“Thanks, Aaron.” She said. He only grunted in acknowledgment, as he sat down to his own food. Marshall finished up packing his gear and sat down close by and helped himself to the rest.

“I could kill someone for some salt and sugar,” Marshall grumbled but downed the breakfast nonetheless. Once done he leaned back against what was once a huge ship’s keel. He looked around, “So how was this an ocean? What happened? What was this cataclysm?”

As Jane got dressed, Aaron explained. “This world didn’t use to be a Ring. Eighty years ago it was a Dyson Sphere. The biggest one ever. Then something punched it. The impact shattered one side and blew out the other. All that mass added to the sun made it hotter. Surface water vaped off over the years. The underground water won’t last.”

“So why is the world called ‘Deirdre’?” Marshal asked.

“Because it was once beautiful and has a tragic end. It’s a Lore thing. A beautiful woman that ends up with her head smashed open.” Aaron said.

“There’s more to the story, Aaron.” Jane said as she shook out her armored jacket.

They Walk The Earth

My name is Micha Orlov, and I’m a photographer. Or at least, I used to be. Until I found what I call the Method. You see, my Grand Father was a priest back in Russia. Our family lived in Moscow until Napoleon burned it… The whole city. Including my grandfather’s church. I wasn’t there, but I remember the stories. The stories made it seem real to me like it was for them.

How my grandfather came running out of the church, robes, and hat on fire, carrying the bible under one arm and the box under the other. The Bible was fine, but the box was burned. That’s probably why it’s special.

It’s made of wood, mostly. Gopher Wood, my grandfather had claimed. Wood from the Ark of Noah, he said. The wood was blackened and charred on the outside, but still intact. Around the edges and corners was intricate silver inlay shaped like tiny silver leafy vines. The vines wrapped up over the Lid too, and in the back formed the hinge, and in the front, the latch. It’s beautiful, which is why we kept it in the family. The charred wood was a striking contrast to the bright silver vines.

In the church, it was on the alter and my grandfather’s prayer scrolls were kept in it… but it was said that the scrolls were just ash when he opened the lid.

I remember my grandfather’s hands. They were scared. As wrinkly as his skin was, the skin on his hands was tight, stretched, and mottled from the burns. In places, it was as if his flesh had melted. This had given me nightmares as a child.

They immigrated to America a few years later. My grandfather and his new wife, my Grandmother, was pregnant at the time with my dad.
When my Dad was still a teenager, my Grandmother, died of illness. Her ashes were kept in the box for years until my Grandfather’s Ashes were added.

It was when we moved west that we lost the ashes. The wagon wheel broke crossing a river and things went sideways. I saved the box from being swept down river… but my grandparents were gone. After that, the box was just used for keepsakes. Little special odds and ends that my father thought were too precious to just sit on a shelf. Like this pocketwatch that he never would even let me touch. It’s mine now, so I just wear it every day. It keeps perfect time, so it’s too good not to use, right?

I learned photography in school and found I had a knack for it. I even made my own camera. I couldn’t afford to buy one, so I used parts from the school’s broken cameras. lenses from one, shutter mechanism from another. I made the camera body and tripod myself.
The chemicals for development weren’t too expensive so I was able to make my own darkroom at home. What was expensive though, was the film.

I worked jobs around town to buy film. I worked as a cowboy and a ranch hand. Helped make deliveries for folk. But all the while, when I had time, I took pictures and practiced my hobby. I took photos of the town and the people for free at first, And when people saw the results, I started getting commissions and selling them to the newspaper. After that, I didn’t have to work so many jobs. Things were good.

When Mom and Dad passed on I used the box for my special lenses. And then later I put some film in there. Good high-quality stuff I wanted to use for special occasions.

That’s when I found the method.
That’s why I can take photos of them. The others.

The lenses I had put in the box, made the difference. You see, with just the film, film that I put in the box, I’d get these smudges during development. At first, I thought I screwed something up but I could see the smudges on the negatives too. Thought maybe it was something on the lenses, or in the camera. But I know my camera in and out. Then I found everything was fine until I used the film I had put in the box. The smudges were always different too. So I knew it wasn’t an artifact from something in the process. It was the box.

Then one day, I used one of the lenses I had kept in the box with the film. And the result was perfect clarity.

There is something about the box. I can only guess that the holiness of what had been the box was tainted by Napoleon’s burning of the church, and the box. My grandfather’s prayer scrolls, through the acts of hatred and evil. And that corrupts the purity of the silver that’s in the film. I guess. I don’t know. This isn’t really my area of expertise. I’m just a photographer, not an alchemist. I know how to use it, but I don’t know what makes it work.

Since I found the Method, I’ve been able to take pictures of the others. That’s what the smudges were… what I call the others. The others are… Well, most are people… people that died. But they’re still here. Look at these photos here. The crowds. Almost all of them in this picture… weren’t there went I took the picture. But the film caught them. See how the trailing edges are just slightly blurred? Those are the others… the ghosts. You can call them ghosts if you like. Or spirits.

See this picture? The bright person there? That’s an Angel. He’s following that girl. Look close at the faces. They look related huh? You know what I think? I think that angel is going to become her son. I’ve been doing this for thirty years. I’ve seen folks grow up, grow old, pass on, and I’ve seen their ghosts. And I’ve seen these angels in the flesh years later.

You’re going to ask about the other ones. The dark ones. That’s why you’re here, isn’t it?

Yeah, I got pictures of them too. You don’t want to see them. Because you can’t take that back. You can’t unsee them. You can’t forget what you see. And you won’t be able to sleep right for a long time. It’s like finding out that all of your nightmares are true. I keep those pictures in a special book locked in my safe. Don’t want anyone to accidentally find it and look at them.

I showed the pictures to a priest that had come out from Denver. Good long-time Catholic priest like my Grandfather was. That was a mistake. I shouldn’t have done that to him. Heard that he isn’t a priest anymore… but I don’t know if that’s true or not. I would think it would strengthen your faith, not wreck it. And you don’t look like you have any faith either way. So I don’t know what it’s going to do to you.

Okay, If you insist. I’ll get the book. But first… Let me just get you ready for this. Demons are real. They walk the earth. They were never human, never going to be human… not like Angels. Angels are people that just ain’t been people yet. Demons… they’re corrupted. Chaos and hate made into form. Everything rotten and wrong with the world all condensed into these… beings of pure evil.

Okay, you ready to see?