Friday Funny—Top 10 Country Songs

Thanks to Hugh for these. Gonna have to look them up on youtube:D

10. I Hate Every Bone in Her Body,
But Mine
9. I Ain’t Never Gone To Bed with an Ugly Woman,
But I Woke Up With A Few
8. If The Phone Don’t Ring,
You’ll Know It’s Me
7. I’ve Missed You,
But My Aim’s Improvin’
6. Wouldn’t Take Her to A Dogfight,
Cause I’m Scared She’d Win
5. I’m So Miserable Without You,
It’s like You’re Still Here
4. My Wife Ran Off With My Best Friend,
and I Miss Him
3. She Took My Ring,
and Gave Me the Finger
2. She’s Lookin’ Better,
with Every Beer
And the Number One
Country & Western song is…
1. Hard To Kiss The Lips At Night,

That Chewed My Ass All Day.

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Someone’s Watching

Did you ever have one of those weeks? You know the kind where trying to get anything done is like swimming upstream in a flood? Yeah, that’s what the last few weeks have been like. 

As a result I’ve spent so much time focusing on getting things done, that I was almost attacked by a coyote.

Thankfully the dog barked and the coyote ran off, but then it followed me. Every time I turned, it heeled and waited. It never came close enough for me to use my bear spray, and it didn’t leave the darkness of the park when I’d had enough and walked thorugh the neighborhood. I’m thinking its unusual behavior was a result of someone raising it then releasing it into the wild.

Then, a day later, I picked up the pool vacuum and had a six inch scorpion charge me. I jumped out of the way and it disappeared into the bushes.

So a big thanks to whatever high power is watching over me durng my Homer Simpson moments. You can take a break soon. Maybe:D

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Hadean—Threshold of Extinction, Chapter 4

1B&NChapter 4

Rosa’s loafers slapped the linoleum. Each footfall echoed down the hallway, overriding the buzz of the fluorescent light near the emergency exit. A wedge of bright light strobed through the open door. Same pristine white walls, same closed doors, same shuttered rooms. Yet, the meaty stench overrode the laboratory smells of bleach, animal bedding, and microbial media.

Slowing, she approached the repurposed conference room. Their experimental animals couldn’t all be dead. She gave Jay the stink eye. “If this is one of your jokes…”

“It isn’t. I swear.” Jay shook his head. A lock of black hair flopped against his pale forehead.

Stopping behind her, Marcus set his hand on the small of her back. “Jay’s a douche, but he loves the animals just as much as you.”

“Thanks.” Jay wrinkled his nose. “I think.”

Rolling her shoulders, Rosa stepped across the threshold. Her stomach cramped. That meaty smell was blood. Lots of blood

Reddish-brown blossoms marked the plastic cages still resting on the stainless steel baker’s racks. More cages lay on the nubby carpet. Some of the inhabitants tumbled in mangled heaps in the corner, having escaped. Blood trails led to the stiff carcasses.

She sipped air into her protesting lungs. “Who would do this?”

“Animal rights activists?” Jay’s shoulders nudged hers as he froze beside her.

She shook her head. Her ponytail slapped her shoulders. “They free animals not kill them.”

In the corner, rats carcasses formed a stiffening pile by the door to the food warehouse. Something was off.

“The seed companies could have gotten wind of our experiments and destroyed the evidence.” Marcus eased into the room. Standing on tiptoes, he kept his sneakers out of the blood trails.

Rosa latched onto his forearm. “Careful. You could be destroying evidence.”

Marcus’s muscles bunched under her palm.

Jay snorted. “Do you really think the police are going to investigate this? In case you haven’t noticed, lots of folks have gone crazy.”

“And this could be a symptom of it.” Snippets of ideas flitted inside her head. Nothing fit together, but she could see the beginnings of a pattern. “What if someone knew we performed animal experiments and thought we were behind the craziness?”

“Like the water plant, you mean?” Jay stroked his freshly shaved chin.

“Then why this one lab?” Marcus patted her hand before lifting it off his forearm. “There are two others. They’re untouched.”

“Are they?” Rosa’s fingernails dug into her palms. The nursery had been untouched by human hands, but there another beyond it. “We didn’t check the other labs.”

And she didn’t want to. Her vision blurred and she blinked to clear it. The rats in the cages opposite her seemed to have had their necks broken. She couldn’t believe someone would be so cruel. And the time it would take… Just how had they gotten past the new high tech security system.

“I peeked inside. Everything looked alright.”

Jay sighed heavily. “I’ll check.”

Fear pounded extra beats from her heart. “What if they’re still here?”

The fluorescent bulb died. Silence cloaked the hallway.

Tugging the walkie off his belt, Marcus depressed the button on the side. “Hey, Brandon, can you check to see if there’s anyone in the building who shouldn’t be?”

“Sure. Sure.” The guard fumbled with the walkie. The thunk of it landing came through the speaker along with the newcasters’ commentaries on the riots on the freeways. He alternated cheering and groaning with each step in the analysis.

The hair on Rosa’s neck stood on end.

Bradley favored the rioters, liked the violence.

Marcus reached the first baker’s rack. Removing his flashlight, he thumbed it on and shone it inside the cages.

“No one’s here except those who are supposed to be.” The guard burped, a low vibration that shook the walkie. “The cleaning crew should be done in a few minutes.”

“Can he see into the labs?” Rosa glanced over her shoulder. Her breathing echoed inside her head. Could someone be beyond those doors? Could she save any of the rats if they were?

Marcus squatted in front of the bottom row of cages. “Can you see the labs?”

“Of course I can see the labs.” Bradley barked. “I’m at the damn desk, watching the monitors like I’m paid to do.”

Rosa wrapped her arms around her torso. The guard’s temper was on a short fuse. What would they do if he went nuts like so many others?

Jay’s attention darted from the emergency exit on the right to the elevators on the left. “Does he have a gun?”

She shivered. She hadn’t thought of a gun. Most rent a cops didn’t carry. They could just yell stop again and again with authority.

Marcus tugged a cage off the rack. “Who? Bradley? Of course, he does. He’s a vet with real training, and there’s a lot of equipment to protect.”

She sagged against the doorjamb to prop up her shaking legs. A vet could kill without a gun. His body was a weapon.

“Great.” Jay spun on his heel and flipped off the heavens. “Our buddy Bradley can also lock us into the labs and come by to pick us off one by one.”

“Leave the door open. He can’t lock an open door.” Marcus eased the plastic bin onto the stainless steel table in the center of the room.

“You’re so flipping brilliant.” Jay stormed down the hallway. “I’ll check the labs myself. I’d rather face animal activists than an armed Bradley gone bonkers.”

Rosa watched him leave. Should she go after him? He certainly shouldn’t go by himself. Yet, the lab didn’t have a Standard Operating Procedure for what to do in the event of a break-in. Her body twitched with confusion. Well, sugar! She couldn’t let him check by himself. Holding her breath, she pushed away from the door jamb.

“He’ll be fine.” Marcus’s voice echoed loudly, mingling with the slaughter.

She stumbled over her feet and fell toward the floor. Catching the handle, she steadied herself before she face-planted on the linoleum.

Turning toward her, Jay touched two fingers to his forehead in a mock salute then threw open the laboratory doors and rushed inside. “Drop those varmints, Varmint!”

“Well, hello there.” Marcus removed a brown rat from the cage on the table. Tumors grew in six centimeter lumps on the female’s hind legs, torso and abdomen. He cradled her against his belly and stroked her fur. “You’re alright, aren’t you, girl?”

“She’s alive.” Well, duh. Rosa tried not to smack herself for stating the obvious. Tiptoeing over the blood smears, she joined Marcus at the table.

He handed her the rat. “Hungry, too. I bet.”

A squeak sounded.

Soft fur coated the hard balls of cancer in her palm. Rosa scratched the rat between the ears. The creature’s heart beat faster than a hummingbird’s. “I think she’s scared.”

“I’d be scared, too. God only knows what she saw.” Marcus scanned the racks of cages, using his flashlight.

“You’re safe now.” She raised the rat until their eyes were level.

The rodent’s whiskers twitched and her hands grasped Rosa’s index finger.

Footsteps pounded in the hall.

Hugging the rat close, Rosa clawed open the utensil drawer under the table and removed a metal caliper. Holding the measuring jaws in her hand, she allowed the handle to protrude from her fingers. She’d use the weapon to punch the newcomer in the throat if he threatened her.

Jay’s arms windmilled as he stumbled past the door.

She raised her fist. Throat or eyes. She could do this.

A moment later, Jay staggered into the doorway. “The other labs are untouched. Guess, it wasn’t the activists or seed companies.”

Marcus inspected the corner rack. “Definitely not activists, but we can’t rule out the seed companies.”

“Why would they leave one alive?” Jay held out his cupped hands for the rat. “We can show the tumors on her and link them to her diet.”

The caliper clattered into the metal drawer. She’d really been prepared to stab someone in the throat. Maybe, the violence itself was infectious. Maybe there was no causative agent. So how could she protect herself and those she cared about? Shaking the feeling back into her hand, she carefully handed over the rat. Jay worked primarily in this room, after all.

“One isn’t a statistic.” Marcus paused at the middle row. “Their Scientific Mafia would shoot down the data, and the public will keep feeding their ignorance.”

Wiping her hand on her lab coat, she lifted the cover on the computer. The monitor powered on as it rose. “How do we know they didn’t erase the data and are using this… this carnage to cover their tracks. We have been experiencing network problems.”

Marcus grunted and removed another cage. A white rat scratched at the sides of his cage. A tumor formed a dome on the rodent’s head and his belly cancers furrowed his bedding when he moved. “The network issues are because the New York lab was moved, and the system keeps resetting to the old IP address.”

Yeah, yeah, computer, blah blah blah. She was a biologist-type nerd, not a IT geek. “Meaning?”

“Meaning, the data isn’t being backed up nightly, and when the main office tries to collate it and look for trends, it causes a cascade failure.” Marcus set the cage on the table.

The Windows icon flashed on the screen then blinked off. Nothing took its place. “Maybe the seed companies infected our systems with a virus.”

“Maybe. Or maybe, you’re not connected to the internet, just like yesterday, before this.” Marcus swept his hand in the direction of the cages.

Jay clucked at his rat, then fed her a piece of carrot from his pocket. “How would the seed companies even know about our research? We all had to sign confidentiality agreements before we started working.”

“The president was going to present a paper at the Life Sciences Symposium in Chicago.” Marcus knelt in front of the cage. His eyes narrowed when he peered inside. “There was also supposed to be a simultaneous broadcast with TED talks during their conference in Ireland. The news release went out to all interested environmental groups, health food communities, and various mailing lists yesterday.”

Jay’s swearing blistered the air.

Holy crap! With the fringe communities in the know, the news would be viral in a matter of minutes. Rosa swayed on her feet. “Why weren’t we warned?”

“Everyone should have received an email yesterday afternoon.” The cage shifted on the table.

“Yesterday? As in the day we lost our network?” She pounded her fist on the table. The calipers, steel probes, and rulers bounced in the open drawer.

The female rat squeaked. She scurried up Jay’s arm and ducked under his collar. Catching her before she dropped down his back, he shielded her from Rosa. “Hey, you’re upsetting her. She’s been through enough, don’t you think?”

“Sorry.” Rosa gulped air. She had to get a hold of herself. Jay was telling her to mind her manners, for pity’s sake.

The male rat pattered to the back of his cage. Baring his fangs, he ran as fast as he could across the bedding and rammed the side with his head. The plastic scooted a few inches across the table.

“I don’t think anyone broke in here and killed the rats.” Marcus winced as the rodent flung himself at the side of the cage again.

The white rat tried a third and a fourth time.

“What is wrong with you?” Had they gone mad, glorifying in the violence? The stupid animal didn’t know any better. She slammed her hand on the top of the cage. “You can’t just let him hurt himself.”

“Don’t!” Marcus reached for her wrist.

The rat collided for the fifth time. With her hand nailing the cage to the table, the tumor on his head absorbed the impact and exploded. The rodent twitched once, twice, then lay still.

She clapped her free hand over her mouth. Ohgodohgodohgod. She should have thought it through. With the cage sliding across the table, the rat wouldn’t have hurt itself too badly. “I killed it.”

“It killed itself.” Marcus shifted the cage so his body partially blocked the contents. “It committed suicide.”

Just like people were doing on the news. She rejected the idea. “No. These rats have been exposed to GMOs for generations. Humans have only been eating the crops for the last twenty years or so. We shouldn’t be seeing the effects yet.”

Per protocol, Marcus returned the cage to the nearest slot. “The modifications that were made to the plants, animals, and even the microbes that made corn syrup, were done using viruses and bacteria. All of which engage in sloppy bug sex, exchanging genetic material freely with anything organism. Since we have more microbes in our digestive tract than there are stars in the universe, that’s a lot of unsafe sex.”

She linked other bits of information they’d shared. “With the autopsies proving the GM corn produces holes in what remains of the small intestine, those bugs could have incorporated the information to the body’s cells. Changing the animals’ proteins.”

“Maybe more than proteins.” With the sole surviving rat perched on his shoulder, Jay crouched in front of the pile of dead animals in the corner. “I don’t think these rats came together for comfort. I think they killed each other.”

“Rats don’t fight to the death.” She shook her head. He implied that the changes made animals homicidal. But was that so different to the fear, anxiety, and antisocial behavior they’d already correlated to the genetically engineered food? The human implications were just too horrible to consider. Man had been eating the modified crops for decades. With most cells in the body replaced over a seven year period, the toxic changes could be on the third generation of mutation. “Only man, ants, and termites fight to kill and wage war. If the food could make rats kill on such a scale…”

What did it mean for humanity?

She wanted them to refute her conclusion, to deny the apocalyptic scenario. Wanted it so much, she could taste it over the stench of blood and death.

Neither said a word.

Jerks.

Swallowing hard, Jay turned away from the animals he’d taken care of for the last year. “I think we should tell Dr. Autopsy and Mr. Hadean that GMO now stands for Genocidal maniacs and other psychoses?”

“There’s no Mr. Hadean.” Marcus increased the pressure of his hand on her back. “Hadean Industries is a play on words. It means industry has brought hell to Earth.”

“God.” She hustled out of the room.

Jay pulled the door shut behind him. “We need to find Dr. Autopsy.”

The speakers of the public address system burped.

“Hey, guys.” Bradley’s hoarse whisper shivered through the building. “Since you aren’t working, let’s play tag.”

The tumblers on the locks turned on the doors lining the hallway.

“What the hell?” Jay jiggled the nearest handle.

Rosa jogged to the next door. Chrome chilled her hand but the knob didn’t budge. She slammed against the wood. Pain radiated from her shoulder and elbow, but the door remained shut. This is not good. So not good. The corridor was a shooting gallery, and she was one of the tin ducks. “We can’t play right now, Bradley. We’re running behind in our work.”

“Since I don’t think you smart-ass college kids have ever played tag, let me explain the rules.”

Marcus tried the food storage room then the autopsy room. Neither opened.

Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth as she slammed against the emergency exit at the end of the hall. The bar depressed but the door didn’t open. What the hell? It was supposed to open.

Marcus cupped her shoulder blade. “It has an electronic locks, too. I didn’t have time to change the system.”

“Then how are we supposed to get out?” Or call for help? They weren’t allowed to bring any electronic devices beyond the guard station, to prevent data theft. She needed her cell, but would settle for a phone. Office? She mouthed.

“Very good, Rosa. The office has more hiding spots.” Bradley chuckled. “And a surprise.”

Her skin prickled. Damn it, she’d forgotten about the cameras.

Marcus laced his fingers together and crouched under the black bubble housing the surveillance equipment.

Setting her loafer in one, she placed her other hand on his shoulder.

He rocketed to his feet.

She shoved her hand through the dropped ceiling tile. Dust and flakes of the sound absorbing finish rained down on her. Pipes, gas lines, T1 cables, and… three wires. Yes! Aside from a hell of a show watching Marcus install the upgraded surveillance, she also knew how it was wired. Red for audio. Blue for visuals. Green and yellow were back-ups.

“I’ve left six bullets in my gun. The first one tag will hurt. A lot.” Bradley’s voice deepened.

Reaching inside, she grabbed the nearest wire and yanked. The force threw her off balance. Her stomach fluttered inside as she fell. The wire snapped free of the camera.

A hand planted on her bottom. Another steadied her back.

“Damn, Rosa.” Jay chuckled in her ear. “I always knew I’d get to touch your ass, but I thought I’d have time to enjoy it.”

Growling, Marcus lowered her to the floor.

“One camera down, only six more to go. Can you do it before I get up there?” Bradley taunted.

Marcus fisted the front of her lab coat, removing her from Jay’s support. “Go block open the elevators. He’ll have to take the stairs, and we’ll hear him come into the office area.”

Guess they weren’t hiding in the office area. Rosa braced herself for the argument.

Lips clamped together, Jay nodded. “Don’t hide without me.”

“Don’t go genocidal maniac on us.” Marcus dragged her in the opposite direction toward the next camera. “This time, just grab the wires and jump down. Your weight and gravity should do the trick.”

She hoped he didn’t mean she was fat. Not that she wanted to lose weight by bleeding out from a gunshot wound. “It’ll go faster that way.”

Releasing her, he stopped under the next camera.

She had no sooner stepped into his clasped hands when he lifted.

Bradley cleared his throat. “Nice move on the elevators. Now, where was I? Oh, yeah, the second bullet won’t hurt so much. Unless you piss me off, then you’ll have time to convince me to reload and not use my knife.”

The elevator doors chimed open. Jay kicked off his shoes and wedged them into the cracks to stop the lift from moving.

She pulled the second cable and hit the ground running.

Marcus zigzagged ahead of her.

“To be sporting, I’ll give you a ten second head start, and I’ll leave the chamber empty.” Bradley cocked the gun. The sound so similar to all those cop movies.

Rosa hoped it wasn’t the last thing she ever heard.

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Friday Funny—Those Who’ve Mastered the Art of Snow

A little late because apparently this was supposed to go on the 17th of April, 2016.

Now that the weather is a little warmer, Enjoy!

8997_482402338581267_8896480565968276623_n 1013619_482402465247921_2379721019397852139_n 1380408_482402411914593_7011339364674130575_n 1510458_482402311914603_3715098078756790896_n 1525064_482402305247937_1808974264593909474_n 1908177_482402308581270_8923659387770880686_n 10155292_482402401914594_2134695418296742517_n 10382869_482402391914595_6087317763396793238_n 10382971_482402461914588_5527937049521602370_n 10417772_482402518581249_2250804158663300483_n 10441268_482402318581269_6010260208116963292_n 10562944_482402418581259_6722922118571128143_n 10917361_482402495247918_6501102506990651495_n 10929971_482402325247935_40752027827906303_n 10934080_482402331914601_4149439089112600307_n 10947237_482402431914591_8019885988733522888_n 10955784_482402328581268_3327316168804624544_n

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Free Historical Romance

20140311-091422.jpgLieutenant Lucien Duplan is wounded and trapped behind German lines. To reach the Dutch border and freedom, he needs Madeline Thevenet—a woman who eases his pain but is destined to become a nun.

 

Aiding the man responsible for her parents’ death is the last thing Madeline wants to do. But to get her young brother safely to Holland, she will do anything to avoid being caught by the Germans and tried for treason, including putting her heart on the line.

 

Madeline and Luc must stay one step ahead of the enemy. But the war around them is nothing compared with the battle raging inside. For honor and duty demand one action; and love requires another.

 

Love’s Great War: Belgium, 1914

kobo

amazon US

ibooks

Nook

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Hadean—Chapter 3 (Threshold of Extinction) Coming May 5th, 2015

1B&NChapter 3

Rosa Robelski leaned back in the bucket seat. Punching the start/stop button of her hybrid card, she inhaled deeply. Ahh, that new car smell. She hadn’t experienced it until yesterday. What a waste of twenty-four years. As the engine stilled, she ran her hands down the dove gray upholstery. Not a single cut, tear, or stain.

Minions began to sing as her iPhone went off. Right. She had to work to pay for her Honda. Slinging her purse over her shoulder, she removed the double caramel ice latte from the cupholder and held her hand underneath to catch any rogue drops. Opening the door, she stepped out.

Rain spat on the solar panels serving as cover for the parking lot. The area darkened as the scent of wet asphalt enveloped her. She buried her nose in her cup before sipping her latte. Caramel and cream chased away the bitterness of the coffee.

“Maybe the rain will cool tempers.” Marcus West swung his skinny leg over the bar of his ten speed bicycle. The tick-tick of the wheels slowed before he hit the ground at a run. Two red and green rubberbands circled his jeans over his right ankle and shin. Grease stains attested to his run in with his exposed chain.

Closing her door with her hip, Rosa joined him by the trunk of her car. “The rain will cause accidents. That will make people angrier.”

“I don’t think that’s possible.” Marcus guided his bicycle with one hand on the handlebars. “I finally got an email last night from the water company. They say they haven’t made any changes to their water disinfection processes.”

Rose nodded. “It was a good theory.”

Many radio and television personalities had made that assumption since the rash of murder/suicides had begun six months ago. Although the city had been quick to deny any fault, there had been two attacks on the nearby water treatment plant. Leaving residents without water during the recent heat wave hadn’t cooled tempers one bit.

Marcus raked his fingers through his dirty blond hair. With the buzz cut, his curls stood straight up. “Yeah, but do you think they’re telling the truth? I  mean, imagine the lawsuits they’d get if they added the wrong chemical to the water and made people crazy.”

Tires squealed behind them. A black corvette bumped over the curb and headed straight at them.

Rosa’s heart fluttered in her dry mouth. Son of a biscuit. Jay Martin planned to run them over!

“Speaking of crazy.” Marcus drew up short, placing himself and his bike between her and the oncoming vehicle.

“What are you doing?” Grabbing onto his free arm, she yanked him toward one of the steel supports holding up the solar panels. “Your bike isn’t a shield. It’ll be permanently attached to your side, if he hits us.”

Jay jerked on the steering wheel at the last minute. The vet swerved to the left and screeched to a halt in the spot next to hers. The passenger window zipped down. Peeking over the rims of his designer shades, he smirked at them. “Scared you, didn’t I?”

“Asshole.” Marcus showed him a flightless bird on its perch.

Jay’s upper lip curled back. “Don’t blame me if you have to change your shorts after a little fun.”

“Grow up, Jay.” Rosa had a pair to match Marcus’s but refrained. She was a professional. Once she ran the day’s autoclave load, no one would know she added laxative to his creamer. She headed for the building ahead.

Two bands of smokey glass striped the tan brick building. Moisture sweated on the discreet brass placard embedded in the modern building proclaimed it to be property of Hadean Industries. Cameras drooped from the eaves of the metal roof, in the fringe of black beads. Every room had the most advanced technology, and her job entailed playing with it.

Oozing out of the seat, Jay bounded toward them. The knife-sharp pleat of his charcoal trousers ended atop his polished shoes. A gold watch winked from the cuff of his blue dress shirt as he trotted.  “So you finally bought the baby car. Guess you couldn’t handle a real one.”

Marcus snorted. “Her car is real enough to run you over.”

Jay’s brown eyes narrowed. A muscle ticked in his clean shaven jaw. Swinging his keys around his index finger, he held open his arms. “You wanna start something, Martian?”

Marcus veered toward the other man. His knuckles showed white where he gripped the bicycle tightly.

“Knock it off, you two.” Her hip vibrated. Dagnabit! She’d missed her mother’s call. Balls of tissue and receipts scraped the back of her hand when she fished inside her purse. Her fingers slid across the pebbled cover before she pinched the cell between her fingers. Her relief exited in a huff. If she didn’t return the call in twelve seconds, her mother would no doubt call the police.

Marcus cocked a blond eyebrow. “See you inside?”

“Yeah.” Sucking on her bottom lip, she tapped in her passcode. A voicemail notification jiggled the cell. Please don’t let it be bad news. Please don’t let it be bad news.

Jay slowed. “Anything I can do?”

“Nah.” Holding her breath, she raised the phone to her ear. Jay wasn’t such a douche. Maybe she shouldn’t have spiked his creamer. “I’ll only be a minute.”

“Studies say that sex is a great way to deal with grief.” Jay waggled his ebony brows.

Then again, maybe she should have added twice the amount. She turned her back to him.

A huff echoed through the line. “Call me when you arrive at work.” Fear sharpened Mom’s words. “But don’t call me until you get there. It’s dangerous to talk and drive. Heavens, it’s dangerous to just drive nowadays.”

Dad’s baritone droned on in the background.

“What? I worry.” The phone disconnected.

Rosa exhaled slowly. Grandmother hadn’t worsened. A ray of sunshine broke through the clouds, yet raindrops pricked her scalp. Later, after the air cleared, she would turn her face to the rain and allow the cold drops to slide down her throat. For now, it was enough for the rain to baptize her. She tapped her thumb on the screen and redialed her mother.

One ring.

Two.

“Rosa? Rosa? Where are you?” Mom’s words rushed out on a ragged breath.

“I’m at work. Safe.” Water pooled in the gutter. She tapped the tip of her boot in it. Her toes curled, wanting to stand in it. Every native Phoenician felt the same. Rain revealed the pagan in all of them. “There were a couple of accidents on the way, but nobody shot anyone because of it.”

There had been lots of yelling and screaming in the first one. Fist waving in the second. At the third, the Department of Public Safety officers had handcuffed two disheveled women and were wrestling them into the back of their cruisers.

“Thank the good Lord.”

Rosa heard her mother crossing herself. “When do you leave for Grandmother’s?”

“As soon as Raine heads out, we’ll take the backroads and hook up with I-17 at New River.”

She nodded. They’d often taken the side roads when accidents bogged down the interstate. “Any word on Grandma?”

“She’s holding on. You know her birthday isn’t until tomorrow and she always swore she’d make ninety.” The leather of the kitchen banquette creaked. Mom sniffed. “The old buzzard had better keep her promise. There’s still things not settled, and I know your Aunt Middy is trying to steal Mama’s china.”

“I’ll be up this weekend.” Rosa pictured her mother sitting at the scarred kitchen table from her childhood, a list of things to do in front of her. She had another going for her mother’s funeral. The two of them had hashed out the details when Grandma’s kidney’s failed.

“Now, I’ve changed all the sheets in the house and hung new towels.”

Biting her lip, Rosa kept from smiling. She and her cousin would only sleep on them for two days before joining the vigil at Grandmother’s bedside.

“Dinner is in the fridge. 350 degrees for thirty minutes. Your dad’s stocked the freezer with those horrible things you kids like, and I made a lasagna. I know  you girls like it, so I don’t have to worry about you eating it. And don’t mind Raine. She’ll say she’s watching her weight, but there’s not much to watch so she’ll soon be hungry.” Mom smacked her lips as she thought. “Oh, and invite your sister, Ellen. That dippity dog ex-husband of hers has the kids this weekend, and I don’t want her alone. She sounded like she’d been crying last time we talked.”

Rosa rolled her eyes. “Mom, Ellen has a cold.”

“So she says, but she actually liked the dippity dog, and I know how much the break-up of her marriage hurt her.”

Rosa clamped her lips together. Alan’s infidelities had hurt her sister; the separation had been a relief. And there was that tingle between Ellen and her next door neighbor. But Andrew Whiteangel had an edge that made Rosa’s teeth hurt. Then again, she liked her men a little geeky. “Ellen didn’t want you over there so you wouldn’t carry the flu to Grandma.”

“Your grandmother is being taken off life support in two days. I don’t think it’s likely she’d care, if a damn cold took her out a few hours earlier.”

Removing the phone from her ear, Rosa stared at it. Had her mother really just sworn? The world really must have gone mad.

A buzzing noise came through the speaker. “I’ll leave a note if there’s anything I’ve forgotten. Just don’t let your little sister go to any parties.”

Rosa blinked. Mom must really be upset about Grandma, she hadn’t claimed to have a third daughter since Raine’s thirteenth birthday. Her cousin had pitched a fit, telling all the guests that her real mother and father were dead. “I’ll keep an eye on Raine.”

“Of course you will. And I know she’s a good girl, but there was that news program about good kids caught up in drug parties and gang rapes.” Mom’s shudder came down the line. “That girl is too trusting and wants to help everyone. Serial killers lure their victims by acting helpless, you know.”

“Uh-huh.” What kind of programs had her mother been watching?

A window on the second floor inched open.

Great, her boss Dr. Autopsy must be watching. And noting that Rosa was late.

She snarfed down the rest of her iced latte, tossed the ice onto the bushes, then pitched the plastic cup into the recycle bin.

“We’ll call when we arrive at Grandma’s.” Tapping punctuated each word. Mom’s habit with a pen. “If we run into traffic, then call us when you get home.”

“I will, Mom.” Rosa dried her badge on her damp pants before holding it to the card reader. Now, she’d officially clocked it. “I have to go now, or it’ll be that much later leaving.”

“Love you. And be careful.”

“Love you, too.” Disconnecting, she dropped her phone into her purse and tugged open the door. When she stepped into the lobby, the air conditioning sowed goosebumps across her damp skin.

“Oh.” The guard behind the hulking, bamboo desk pinched his bottom lip and pointed to the bank of screens before him. “Did you see that?”

“Oh, hell, yeah. He’s not getting up from that.” Jay rose out of the chrome and fabric seat he’d appropriated from the waiting area on the right.

“That’s because he’s dead.” Marcus’s head popped above the chest-high counter ringing the guard station. Tire tracks on the chocolate marble led to the closet where he’d stored his bike. “How can you watch that?”

“Watch what?” Instead of swerving for the elevators on the left, Rosa headed toward the trio. She tossed her purse into the locker then shut it inside.

Through the raindrops on the cameras, she spied swarms of people streaming between rows of stopped cars. Some headed for the off-ramps. Others ripped tires irons, wiperblades, and antennas from their cars and came out swinging. For every person that went down, two more joined the fury.

Her stomach turned. Oh, no. This couldn’t be real, could it?

“News footage.” The guard leaned forward in his chair. “Commuters are rioting along I-17.” The burly man bounced in his seat. His oversized gut jiggled. “Look. Look! They’re going for the bus. Snot nosed college students. I hope they beat the shit out of every single one of ’em.”

O—kay. Since she was a college graduate, maybe she should leave now.

A SWAT team deployed on the overpass. Men in black helmets aimed automatic weapons down into the crowd. A police helicopter warned the crowd to disperse. More images flickered on the two right screens. According to the ticker tape, the riots had spread to the 101 and 202. All was quiet on the 60 and 51.

She pushed away from the guard station. What was wrong with everyone? “I’m going upstairs now. Dr. Au—Arthur saw me in the parking lot.”

“Heard his chair squeaking earlier.”  Jay pumped his hips suggestively. “I think the new secretary was raising his spirits.”

“You’re such a pig.” Stalking away, she jabbed the elevator call button.

Marcus’s scuffed sneakers squeaked on the marble. Bracing his hand on the wall, he skidded to a stop next to her. “Any news on your grandmother?”

“No change.” Rosa stabbed the button again. “What kind of person chooses to die on their birthday?”

It just wasn’t right. There were forty people in her immediate family. Surely, one of them could have donated a kidney.

Marcus brushed her shoulder. “From what you’ve told me about your Gran, her choosing when she wants to die is like flipping Death a big up-yours.”

The door opened on a cloud of fresh bleach.

Eyes tearing from the stench, she breathed into the crook of her arm. The scent of her vanilla lotion couldn’t compete. “Can you talk to the cleaning crew to use less bleach?”

“Sure.” He stuck his hands in his jeans and hunched over, shortening his six foot height.

The damp elevator floor sucked at her loafers when she walked in.

He poked the second floor button, then the doors closed.

Jay slid through the doors before they shut then bounced off the back wall. “The SWAT team is firing into the crowd, but it’s not phasing the rioters.” His leg jiggled with impatience. “I’m gonna stop in the break room and see if the people have turned on the cops.”

“You sound like you’re enjoying it.” Her latte bubbled up her throat. How could people do that to each other?

Jay smiled. “What’s not to enjoy? It’s not happening here, to us.”

“But it could.” She shivered. No one knew what set it off. Or if they did, no one said anything. “The freeways are only a few miles from here.”

Jay dismissed her fears with a wave of his hand. “Stop worrying. I can protect you. I’ve got two rifles in my car.”

Jay with a gun. Why did she not find comfort in that thought? From the corner of her eye, she glanced at Marcus.

Color spotted his cheeks. “I think the best way to survive the crazy mob, is not to engage it.”

“That’s because you’re a coward.”

The elevator coasted to a stop. When the bell chimed, the doors slid open. A janitor’s cart stood outside the bathrooms across from them. A cleaning sign hung on the men’s door handle.

“Oh, man.” Jay strode to the ladies and leaned against the door. “Doody calls.”

“Put the seat down when you’re finished.” She was beginning to understand the need to riot.

“How many Jays does it take to tip mankind into the anger apocalypse?” Marcus fell into step beside her as they turned left toward the labs.

Their footsteps echoed on the white linoleum. A fluorescent bulb blinked Morse Code over the emergency exit. Blinds shuttered the dark autopsy room, food storage area, conference room, and their personal offices on the right. There was a meaty scent above the musty animal bedding, bacterial media, and disinfectant.

“Don’t worry. I’ll have the staff clean the bathroom once Jay’s finished.”

“Thanks.” She swiped her badge over the electronic lock to the animal room. The red light on the black pad flashed green. Tumblers clicked. Pushing the faux wood-grain door open, she hit the light switch.

Rats and mice scrambled in the cages filling the baker’s racks along the walls. Some dove under the bedding. Others piled on top of each other in the corners. Tumors distorted the furry bodies in hideous ways. The experiment was nearing the end of a decade. Cancers from eating Genetically-Modified foods had cut a quarter off the two-year lifespan of the rodents. Made them antisocial and afraid of her, even after months of handling them.

Grabbing her lab coat, she stuffed her arms into the sleeves. “Hello kiddies. Anyone hungry?”

On the stainless steel tables in the center of the room, she tapped the cages of the hairless newborns under the heat lamps. This generation was less than a third of its normal size. Many of the females were sterile. Half the mothers had stopped feeding the litters, leaving Rosa frantically trying to save them.

This just wasn’t right.

But was it the food?

It followed reports from farmers. But the science had to be checked and quadruple-checked. The last time a scientist reported links between cancer and GMOs, the powerful chemical corporations had sicced their bought-and-paid for Science Mafia on the evidence and those behind it. Even the world health watchdogs belittled those cultures who did not embrace GMOs, stopping just short of calling the naysayers superstitious and ignorant.

She shook the plastic cage again. None of the eight hairless bodies inside moved. Her stomach dropped to her knees. “No. Please let one be alive.”

These labs animals were allowed to live out their natural life span while eating GMOs, all to study the effects. Now, it seemed that life crashed to a halt at the sixth generation.

The very generation, she planned to feed organic foods to see if the process could be reversed.

Marcus set his hand on her shoulder. “I’ll get the morgue bucket for Dr. Autopsy before I check the computer wiring.”

She swiped at her damp cheeks. The only reason she’d taken this stupid job was because she wasn’t required to kill the animals. She hated killing them, even in the name of science.

Sliding the lid off the cage, she ran a finger down each body in turn. All were rigid under her touch.

Marcus crossed the room to the double doors, leading to the lab next door and peeked inside.

Jay skidded into the room. Toilet tissue stuck to one shiny loafer, and his eyes were wide in his chalky face. “You’re not going to believe this.”

She shifted the cage of dead rats to the sink then turned. “What is it?”

God help him if it was another riot on TV.

“The rats in the overflow room. Someone has killed them!”

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Friday Funny—Amazing Photos of Amazing Things

Amazing Photos of Amazing Things!

Adidas Shop in Amsterdam:

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Bali, Indonesia swim resort.

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A bridge made entirely of trampolines.

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At the University of Munich in Germany, this 4 story slide can take students from any floor down to ground level.

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This Village in Giethoorn, Netherlands has no roads and you take a boat to go to different places!

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Paris from the Eiffel Tower.

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Water slide at the Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island, Bahamas. 

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River in Japan filled with cherry blossom petals. 

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A fisherman in New Zealand discovered a translucent sea creature off Northland’s Karikari Peninsula.

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This pig took a risk and escaped from a truck all for the sake of its freedom.

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A wild long-tailed macaque monkey adopted an abandoned kitten at Ubud’s Monkey Forest in Bali. 

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Grüner See in Styria, Austria, is a dry park in the winter, and a 12m deep lake in the summer.

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In China teachers allow children to sleep in class for 20 minutes to learn better

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Frozen wave in Antarctica.

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In the gulf of Alaska, two oceans combine but do not mix.

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Origin of our numbers

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Lenticular clouds over Mount Fuji, Japan 

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Police dogs final test: self control 

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