Portals © 2011 Mike Calhoun (For Mitchell Calkins Hinman)
“I broke into, toddled into a Top Security Air Force Facility, based near a central Californian farming town.” Not quite elderly, but certainly an older man, with that ancient youthfulness I imagined Gandalf or Merlin had. Short but stocky, trim white beard and greying hair pulled back in lumpy knot, his gaunt weather-redden cheeks, he looked like a painting of “John Brown, the Emancipator” as he rode wildly through, freeing slaves.
“They caught me leaving.” Mitchell inhaled, exhaled sweet smoke, “I was four years old,” he smiled sadly, “So they put me under house arrest. As my Dad was Air Force Intelligence, they figured they owned me.”
I stared in disbelief, ignoring the passed pipe in my fingers.
“I was a happy kid.” He leaned back, staring into the past, “There’s an early black and white photo of me, a grinning toddler in enormous sunglasses, reading the Sunday funnies. You can see ‘Dagwood‘ if you turn the picture upside down.” He took the pipe from my fingers, relit. “Good for the glaucoma,” He inhaled.
“We lived just this side of the railroad tracks,” he shook his head, “With a little vegetable garden on the wrong side. I was sitting in the dirt, my Mom pulling weeds when I heard a train rumble like it did several times a week and she pointed up.”
“ ‘There’s your Dad. He’s in one of those planes.’ ”
I saw a train in the sky heading slowing up at an angle towards the distant hills.
“ ‘A train in the sky!, I laughed.”
“‘Airplanes, that fly,” she pulled weeds, ‘Your Dad will be back some day.’ “
“When I saw Dad again, he was different. Shorted, fat and nearly bald. We moved to a real house, with a backyard, a big yellow dog, a cat and my new little brother.” He paused, puffed, “One morning, my Mom was yelling at the cat, my Dad was yelling at my Mom and my little brother was howling his head off in the highchair AGAIN. When Clancy the dog started barking, I took an apple from the table bowl, quietly left that house and toddled away, nearly four years old, an apple in my pocket.”
“I walked straight up the street, then turned a corner and another, coming back to the same direction a street or so over. Another block and the neighborhood was denser, a square of streets with trees made me turn a corner back and then another to head on in the same direction. It was late afternoon, almost evening when I reached road that went either way, but in front of me, across that street was a low hedge, wide lawn, and a large, well built house. I could see cool dusk in the background as a large dark-haired woman in a long dress or coat came to the hedge.
“ “Are you lost? Do you want to call someone? Your parents?’ ”
I thought They will never find my parents HERE and I will have to talk to people in uniform like my Dad
“ ‘I’m ok,” I turned back across the smooth street, “I’m going home.’ ”
“When I got back, it was early warm afternoon, my Mom spanked me for running away and demanded I tell her where I had gone.”
I watched him do the staring into the past thing.
“I couldn’t find it though I went the same way, only this time that road ran along a dry yellow field with hills in the background.
“Why are you telling—?” I started; his blue eyes stopped me.
“That’s the Air Force story. I’ll tell you how they trained me, conditioned me, kept me on a virtual leash and several others...I’ll tell you about portals.”
“Other places.” Mitchell smiled and got up, “You know computers, those things, get this on site or whatever and I’ll keep you interested.”
“Other might want to know, or compare experiences.”
He left and I thought about it.
Maybe they would.
I was checking both defunct mowers when I noticed a key was in the shed lock. Meaning someone was in there. I had an idea who, opened the door to the heated, lighted storage shed where the previous tenant fixed a 4x4 motor—oil spots on a nice rug—where we kept the garden tools, an extra washing machine wrapped in a tarp and Mitchell, sitting on the only chair next to my work bench.
“Took you long enough.” He lit up and added, “Nice site-thingie. Well writ.”
“Blog.” I corrected, but he waved that away with a smokey hand.
“Whatever.” He looked around the small shed, “Not bad, but it needs something.”
“I’ll have the maid leave flowers next time.”
“I meant the blog-site-whatsit. Needs something to perk it up, catch the eye.”
“What!?” I had a mower to fix.
“Pictures.” He nodded sagely, “Something to stay in the viewer’s mind.”
He tossed down an old snapshot.
“Over on the right is where I got basic training, came out a ‘nom-com’—
‘They’ll call you SARGEANT!’— my instructor poked my gut on the last day. I was seven years old and had gone to a ‘weekend at daycamp’ which lasted two weeks. Go figure.”
“Seven!? SARGEANT—TWO WEEKS!? Didn’t your parents notice!?”
“Presumably,” Mitchell shrugged, “They were in on it.”
“Then, two weeks in the Sierras, learning to find anti-personnel mines, anti tank mines and body-traps on bodies and doors. I turned eight that summer.”
“Then formal boxing lessons—I learned defensive tumbling and Judo when I was six from a pro-football line backer, so I knew the...drill.”
“We had moved to the far south end of the Imperial Valley and I joined a kid gang, so my parents tried to put me in a school for smart kids, but when I visited, those kids there looked hungry, vicious, left outside too long. I rebelled and Mom and Dad taught me Chemistry, Rocketry, Biology and Electrical Engineering at home. Learned how to make a motor from a beer can and nails...and a rail gun.”
“Then came the field-trips to that famous airbase out in the desert. “ He stopped and shook like a large picture window while scenes I barely remember flashed in the rectangles—this was ‘to segment the retina into 81 individual nerve areas.’ ”
He smiled, “My mind’s eye sees a multitude of mini-screens with data, pictures and stuff, pulling any one to focus, like satellite weather views, or medical views of people in front of me or maps like GPS...a bunch of stuff.”
“Then,” He looked at me, but I nodded him on, “We moved up near Little Mountain where it rains all the time, and after Swim Team, I went Summer camp where I learned to cheat at blackjack games, build a 60‘ rope bridge and swim 30 yards under murky water at midnight, sneak out on the shore and kill a man with my swim trunks‘ string around his neck.”
“Uh...I need to fix my mower—”
“And I was all for it, a true believer! Until the following month, when our Leader asked my five man squad to join Advanced Underwater Demolition training and I balked. ‘Set off explosives under water—how far away would our escape sub be!? HAVE YOU GUYS EVER SEEN FISH DYNAMITED OUT OF A POND!?”
“Calm down, drink this and don’t be a chicken.” Our Leader gave me a little paper cup of what looked like thick soda pop as my squad muttered ‘Chicken! P-KUK!‘ “
I got home somehow, maybe they walked me between them, and a week later my Dad died. And sitting up in the far left corner of the church at the funeral were about 20 men in grey who looked hungry, vicious, left outside too long....”
“And then Dad woke me up one night, dressed in a military billed cap, tight jacket and khaki pants, like when we’d go fishing at dawn. ‘I’m not dead,‘ Dad said, and took out his whittling knife, carving a long groove in my desk, ‘This is so you know I was here. I’m what you’d call a spy and I have to go away. Forever. Remember that I love you.‘ “
Mitchell sat and puffed, rubbing his face for a moment.
“After that I went to hell up in the high desert with Military Intelligence Ops as my mentors, some 30 of them. I tell you about my Mentors next time.”
He eased out of my stunned silence and pulled the door shut, opening it again.
“But no names, I’m only turning myself in—” He waggled a finger, then locked me in (the latch was on my side) and yelled from outside, “And Boris and Fred!”
My son moved out and I have a workout room, a library and smoking chamber all in one. I came back from walking my wife to work and I could smell smoke coming from the back bedroom window. Going in, I opened the back room door and there was Mitchell, puffing on his eternal pipe.
“Did you know this THC is supposed to delay alzheimer’s disease—senility.”
“Mitchell.” I almost glared at him, “To what do I owe—?” “Another picture for your bloggings,” he tossed a photo on my chair, “Down over there in the left, up above the low tree-line but below the far timberline is the summer camp where I learned to kill a man with my swimming trucks string. At midnight.” “I remember.” I looked at the blurred picture, “That looks a little like—”
“Right.” Mitchell frowned, leaning back in the cushioned chair, “My Mentor there was our Leader, former military grunt turned cadet handler.”
I put the picture aside for later inclusion.
“My first mentors were of course, my Mom and Dad, teaching me to read, write and handle simple tools. At four. But my first military MENTOR was Jimmy, a Sarge, who took me all over the air base, let me look at everything, sit in vehicles, play with high altitude O2 gear. He wore a dark side-arm, probably a GI .45 in a khaki holster, very prominently. Answering my every kid-question, he was my constant companion from the week after I ‘ran away’ until we moved south. One time my Dad took me to the base, we met with a larger grey haired man with a silver pistol in a leather holster who let me sit in a B-17 while they talked about refitting it for Atomics. ‘Too risky.’ my Dad said and the older man agreed. We went home.”
I waited while Mitch did the staring bit.
“One day, when I was 5 1/2, my Dad returned from LA with a pro football linebacker, locked me in the hall lined with pillows, rolled up blankets and cushions, and this monster guy, as a game, taught me defensive tumbling, how to roll with a punch, how to ride a punch, Judo and Pressure Points from hand-to-hand combat. I had a BALL! From then on, I got to visit every kind of technical facility imaginable, train-repair yards—I got to drive a switching engine 25 feet—factories, old abandoned military sites, I got to sit in every kind of airplane, tank, and vehicle, with whoever (military) carefully explaining how it worked. I was only 7. I learned the rudiments of flight from the first pilot to fly over the ‘Hump’ (the Himalayas) in 1946, taking recon photos deep into unknown southern China. While my Dad worked on my Survival/Escape skills and I learned History, Rhine Institute Psychic communication techniques and writing from my Mom, we moved south and I entered true Basic training. Besides the guy who called me Sarge, I learned bomb-handling from a real Sarge who spent two weeks with my family camping in the mountains, teaching me how to sneak up on an enemy guard and tracking.”
He took a puff.
“And then I was taken to the ‘experimental’ desert airbase where my Mentors were humorless men in long white coats with flashing lights, needles, armbands and a headband they attached to me while I watched the flashing grid. We joined a private swimming club, where my Mentor was a gorgeous girl who used to swim in the Navy, she said, and I had daily lessons at 8.am. For speed. And endurance. And a lot of holding my breath under water while relaxing and looking at how cute this older girl was.”
Mitchell watched me but I was silent.
“We moved to the land of wet, where I learned ham radio from my Dad, and from our Leader, advanced first aid, advanced wilderness survival skills, how to build a rope bridge, fish for trout with simple gear, and kill a man with my swim-trunks string. At midnight. So far I had nine Mentors teaching me basic Shadow Ops skills and I was only 12 years old. But my MOST important and memorable Mentor was Karen, after my Dad died. More about her and horses another time.”
“When we moved to the Rockies and my Mom married a minister, I had two Air Force Intelligence Ops, two ONI (Naval Ops), two Army Intel guys and a guy just back from the ‘Peace Corps’, which we now know was CIA as my High School instructors...and helpful in other areas. Military/survival areas. Plus a gay State Department Psy-Ops handler who followed me to Theatre Spy school and then back over the mountains to the oil-patch. I had so many Mentors at Spy School (Tramway Tech) that I would pick one that wasn’t. Call him ‘Bob’ a scruffy, fringe-jacket wearing, red tennis shoes below dirty jeans theatre student, who popped out at me in the Gardens near Christmas time, dressed in—I shit you not—Commando jacket with padded arms, a nick scarf and thick wool pleated and pressed pants tucked into Paratroopers boots. I stared and he said he was actually a Operations’ pilot for Gates/Lear Jet, ‘The flight arm of the CIA.’ he informed and asked if I wanted to fly to South America, help kidnap some people who would be flown out, and then I would stay, working my way back up across the Panama Canal. ‘You can have gun, if you want.‘ I continued staring, then walked off.”
“I got home for Christmas break, told my parents and my Stepfather said, ‘We could send you to Vietnam, without a gun.’ He was in on it. When I got back to college, I was dead. No course, no registration, no dorm room. I was listed as dead. Erased.”
“I one time counted up the military Mentors I’ve had and got bored after 39 folk.” He smiled at me. “If you google ‘Mitchell Calkins Hinman, 522 64 3353, you’ll get a crashed computer and a visit from guys in cheap suits, no sense of humor and they’ll insist that you not speak to me. If you press them for information, they will tell I was erased in 1968. Which is true.”
He go up to leave, stopping at the bedroom door.
“Next time I’ll tell you about Solace. And Karen.” He left, but stuck his head in the doorway, “And the Horse Path.”
The key was in the shed lock when I passed to dump organics in the compost bin. I sighed as I unlocked.
Mitchell, of course. Wreathed in habitual smoke.
“I read where this stuff slows tumor production, and give the Aids victims a healing appetite.”
“Why are you here—why are you telling all this stuff!?” I put down the empty organics tub.
“So we can go public,” He nodded at the unfinished sound booth in the corner, “We can get this stuff on the radio.”
“What?” I wasn’t shifting mental gears fast enough, “What radio!?”
“You have a radio station, Not for Profit Educational Community Broadcast, right?”
“Wrong.” I grumped, “We have a Construction Permit, like near-license, but....”
“What?” He as honestly not interested.
“The DOC didn’t get their budget, so our start-up grant went bust and this community is over its head trying donation-support school sports and a bunch of other needy projects.”
“So, no money for a transmitter, tower, all that fiddly stuff that makes a radio station so functional!”
“No need to get grumpy.” Mitchell lit up again, filling the room with Cinderella 99 smoke, a fine local product, “So we’re stuck with the cyber-squawk.”
“Which nobody is ever going to see.” He sighed, a twin to mine when I realized it was story-time.
“In 1961 after I became a 12 year night killer, my Dad died, came back a spy, carved the desk so I would know, I moped around our brand-new house until Karen, my age, got me outside again and up on a chestnut gelding to ride with a rope halter, nothing else (She sneaked the horse out from the farm beyond our creek and woods). For the next year, school day afternoons and most of the Saturdays we rode until dark, not knowing we were doing Natural Horse-Manship.” He eyed me. “Do you know the term? Not breaking horses, like my grand-dad, but gentling them in a 6000 year old Asian method called ‘The Gentle (or Open) Hand Technique and adopted by Xenophon’s troops some 3000 years later. Today it is called Natural Horse-Man Ship®, thinking like a horse, rather than Normal Horsemanship, thinking like a predator-human.”
“And the Natural method requires quiet patience, love and enjoyment.” Mitchell smiled softly, “Perfect for tormented renegade pre-teen Special Ops, and Karen somehow knew this, gently calming me into just riding, running, jumping....”
I waited. Finally....
“Over the years I’ve always found solace, peace and affection with horses, horse ladies, most of the horse folk, the bulk of it in the Rockies. It requires a quite mind and gentle strong hands, but firm intent and joyous acceptance of the unexpected. Physically demanding but rewarding more than anything except making love. But I will never forget Karen....”
“What about magic doorways—Portals—you said you were going to tell—”
“Another time, when you’re ready. But here’s a picture of me and a horse. I’m the one in the hat.” He tossed me a picture and left, but as always, stuck his head in again, “Dedicated this to Karen, may she ride happily forever.”
MITCH AND A HORSE 1985 (Mitch is in the hat—the male guy in the hat )
Wolf, our dog, snorted at the front door, and even though it was dusk out, I opened the door and expected to see, sitting on our rustic porch bench....
“Mitch.” And he was smoking, the blackberry bush hiding us from the street.
“You know this stuff is suppose to supplement our natural THC, anamine. When you get dope-tested by the feds, you already have some in you...25-28%. So the bastards are setting the level of brain juice you need to come down off an adrenalin high. You get spooked, adrenalin kicks in, you fight or flee, and then calm down when the danger is past. The ‘calm down’, in part, is your natural level of THC;. Without this, you’d soon collapse from exhaustion and angst.”
“Is that it?” I started and he patted the other end of the bench, “I thought you’d tell me about magic doorways...‘portals to other places...’ “
“MItchell. Calkins. Hinman.” he looked at me, “The Himans came over in 1847. Being Antwerp diamond merchants, they bought their own boat in Rotterdam, landed in New Jersey and sold it to build a small community. By the time they reached the very scrotum of Iowa, they had a huge pile, and in the 1850’s John. M. Hinman, traveling undercover as an artist and ‘wet-plate’ photographer with his son, J. Will Hinman, took $50,000 in U.S. gold under the photo-donkey’s saddle-bags to a southern Indian tribe to pay off on a treaty. While in the western wilds, John M. fell in love with their Chief’s daughter, who gave him a curiously fashioned fringed bag in the shape of a dancing man playing a flute. John M. took this and unbeknownst to him, the tribe’s magical source of wealth—this was the Abundance Man Bag. Returning to Crumulkuk, Iowa, John M. decried the weight of the chemicals carried to treat the glass photographic plates moments before exposure. He told his rich brothers that there was a new way to pre-treat plates, the ‘Seed Dry-plate Method‘ and they bought the patent and sold the process of pre-treated negatives to a George Eastman—”
“—The founder of Eastman Kodak and cheap photography for $4,000,000 cash and $7,000,000 in shares. With inflation and all, we are talking a current value well over $6.6 Billion, but they added to it since then, so the Hinmans are richer than shit.”
“Portals?” I wanted to get back inside before the neighbors called the cops.
“‘The Calkins are good East Coast Scots, came over in 1796,. One of them was called ‘The Architect of the (Civil) War of Separation’ South side, while an offshoot was a Confederate officer ‘engaged in insurrection under Colonel Moseby and his Raiders’. Franklynn James Calkins then made the obvious career change, train-robbery. He was pardoned as a Confederate Officer, engaged in ‘Acts of War’, surrendered his pistols and sword to Federal Officer and retired to maligned by Hollywood and TV.”
Mitch puffed, Wolf snorted from inside and I waited, grumbling under my breath.
“My Grand Dad was the Deputy Federal Marshal who held New Mexico against Generalissimo Villa,; my Dad took part in ‘Operation Crossbow’ where he and several wings of the 8th Air Force thermal bombed a dam hiding the ‘heavy water project’, the Nazis’ A bomb facility (The only wing to return), and I was a High Altitude Trauma Specialist (Mountain Medic) who never lost a patient in over 10,000 runs, 100 of them incredible emergencies and 100 magical saves.”
“The point of all this?”
“The men on both sides of my family were incredibly lucky; what it takes to survive portal passage.” He eyed me, “And the Air Force new this the day I ‘ran away’. Next time, Missions.
Here’s a picture, 1850’s, of John M. Hinman, founder of the Kodak Wealth, in Indian Bucksins.”
I was finishing a late breakfast with my lovely wife on her day off, when the back gate latch clicked beyond the kitchen wall and Mitch stepped up to the back porch deck, tapping on the double glass doors.
“Not on my day off.” My wife muttered as I went to open the patio door.
“Not now.” I said firmly, “Later, after breakfast.”
Later, after breakfast, I went out to the shed, the key was in the lock and Mitch was sitting, puffing as usual.
“This is becoming an intrusion—”
“Sorry. I wouldn’t intrude, but things have gotten weird. Have you been in touch with Israeli Intelligence?”
“No.” I said honestly, “I wouldn’t know how contact them—are they in phonebook between CIA and NSA?”
“Funny.” He didn’t laugh, “I’ve been accosted by some idiots and I had to toss one of them through a—somewhere. Which brings me to my missions. The ones I barely remember. I am constantly reminded by associates of the ones I can’t or won’t remember.”
I didn’t say a word; maybe he would finish sooner and leave.
“After I refused to join AUWD, I was delivered into the hands of several Ops trainers in a west Slope oil town, where I roasted on oil-rigs in the summer, froze on them in the winter. I was 14, I had just learned to fly a Moony Mark 24 from Crumbkluk, the scotum of Iowa, to upstate New York and back by an elderly cousin, former biplane barnstormer and younger brother to an America WWI pilot in the French Escadrill, their 1915 air force. I was apprenticed to an Army Intelligence Officer/Local civil manager who taught me surveying, beginning drafting and how to hunt down, secure with bailing wire, interrogate in a gravel pit, and shoot through the back of the head, hidden Nazis. He sat behind his city desk, relating these and other ripping tales of WWII while toying with a very sharp buck knife or a slide rule, depending if he felt redneck or engineery that day. “Always kept your visitor off-balance, he grinned as he sharpened the buck knife, ‘I leave this out and smoke a cigar with educated people, talk cracker. But I fiddle with the slide rule and smoke my pipe when I’m dealing with a cracker.’ ”
“The next fall, when I went to Tramway Tech Spy School on the eastern slope—”
“Rockies.” He waggled a finger, “Try to keep up—and I refused to go to South America on a CIA bag-job. I got pneumonia the next month, flunked Spy School, big surprise!, and was sent back to the oil fields while three of my ‘theatre’ friends went on to become big Broadway, Hollywood or TV stars. You’ve heard of them, seen them and laughed at their quirky humor, had a tear over their fictional woes and gave those jerks the cover they needed, plausible ignore-ability. Makes you wonder how many stars are really covert ops. But I was roasted and frozen again, with a few strange dreams—which I have been assured by plausible ops, were no dreams.
“One, I remember running behind a line of armed large black men in ragged shirts and pants, but GI combat, boots down a narrow cobbled street between old weathered warehouses, all of us shooting full automatics at every white face or body that showed in the open warehouse doorways. I remember shooting the door frames ahead of the kill-squad, hoping spraying splinters would force the men and women back out of range, but most went down. I think this was in Haiti in 1969. I have another memory-dream of following a similar team, white men this time, through a thick grove or disused park, estate grounds...I remember big leafy trees with long trunks, and a hedged fence everyone jumped over ahead of me, but I stepped in some muck, got a piece of rotten board with a nail jammed through my boot-sole and the last man grabbed my arm, dragging me along before I could get that painful thing off—’Don’t pull the nail out in this swamp’ he told me, “It’ll let the bad water infect your foot before we get back.’ Back where?— I wondered. When I woke up in my oil field trailer, I had a small red hole in that foot that took a while to heal. Over the next few years, I had similar dreams, and woke up with unexplained scars. I remember crouching on a cheap apartment house’s balcony ledge with two other armed men and a dark-haired young woman, a rocket launcher on my shoulder as an attack helicopter bristling with rockets and large bore weapons so close the aviator-sun-glassed, dark mustached pilot could step out onto the balcony, but smirked at me as his right fist tightened on his steering yoke firing button, probably the large bores, but I shot the rotors off, engulfing us in flaming shrapnel...Too close...I thought when I woke up with scrapes all over my face, neck and hands...Way too close....”
He puffed for a space.
“And then the time I shot down a fighter jet with an AK47 somewhere in Egypt, there was some kind of tomb-thing in the background where I took cover in the doorway until the bits and pieces stopped raining down. I woke up with a pealing sunburn after that one. I figure the Ops handlers were drugging me to sleep in the oil town, taking me by fast planes or choppers to where ever and then waking me up enough to be an armed asshole, treating my wounds and mind-blanking me before dumping back in my trailer.”
“By the ass-end of the Viet Nam mess, I thought, what the hell, I’ll enlist in the Air Force, stay above of the turmoil, or at least on a secured base. But I was turned down. When I tried the same thing with the Army, I got reclassified 1H. A shadow ops Ranger friend saw my card, ‘Shit I had to go through hell in Central America to get a 1H! This means you’ve already served and can’t be drafted unless the bad guys are on the White House Lawn!’ So, somebody else in high places didn’t think I was dreaming...I turned down requests to go to Mexico for an extended stay, the South Pole, the North Pacific, Egypt again, Easter Island, a hidden ancient temple site off the south tip of Japan and finally interior China—Boris S. tried to recruit me for that one, promising me a cute Chinese bride and land if I would go to work for the Red Army. No. And Boris is dead. While Fred Nethery tried to get me to work for the Naval Observatory’s special ops section, but insisted I give up all psychic activity, for which I had been trained by Rhine Institute staff to mind-link with ops team members...and other projects.”
“I thought—” I cleared my throat, tried again, “I thought ‘no names.’ ”
“And those two are a pair of no-name losing sonabitches.” Mitch smiled at me, “Boris raced Grand Formula 1 at Watkins Glen in the 1960s for Lotus Ford, taking out ambulances every chance he got, was ‘Bobsled’ at the ’88 Olympics in a rigged sled, and produced “Mysteries of the Sphinx” for Network Television in the ’90’s. He wanted me to help script another series for Discovery Channel, but as I said, he was really trying to recruit me for whatever nefarious deals he had schemed to get his own ass out from under the Ops hammer. While Fred Nethery was assigned to me when I was 8 years old, and for the next three decades, lurked in my background, spooking my girlfriends, trashing me to my immediate circle of friends, going back on every agreement he ever made with me, and left me with an unfinished radio theater project, to disappear the week before 9/11. A pair of utter and complete shitheels, prime examples of the average ‘Shadow Op’. I prefer SEALS, Rangers or A-team over the best of the others, any day. And no cute picture this time. I could show Boris and Fred eating my food, wasting my time, but screw them.”
He left me in a daze. But stuck his head back in.
“Next time, the last chapter, Portals, and how I threw an idiot into another dimension, leaving him with only his clothes and a sharp knife.”
PORTALS My dog Wolf was snorting, almost barking at something outside; hoping I was wrong, I switched on the porch light, but saw no one.
“You got the story upside down!” Mitch complained from the dark driveway in front of my house; he stepped into the yellowed porch light, “You computer people always screw everything up. Now the reader has to go to the LAST posting at the bottom of this thing and work back up, thing by thing to get the story!”
“But that’s how blogs work, most recent posting, then last and so on.”
“Tell them they gotta go to the bottom one!” He shook his head, “WE’ll talk about the ending of this fiasco tomorrow.”
“Ok...” I was dubious.
The next day, after morning chores and a late lunch, my wife off to her fantasy job, I let my dog out on the back deck and he arrowed for the shed.
“Aw, Jeese...” I muttered, clearly irked as I approached the shed and the key was NOT in the door, but Wolf snorted at it, impatiently.
I found the key in its normal outside hiding spot and unlocked to find, as expected, Mitch, puffing.
“As it turns out, this stuff clarifies cerebral spinal fluid,the juice that bathes our nerve endings, making it more bioelectric receptive, while alcohol and the like seems to make CSF less conductive, so obviously THC is a sharpener, while—”
“How did you get in here!?” I stared at the close walls, “Locked door, no key!?”
“When I ‘ran away’ at 3 1/2 years old, next to the secured atomic air base in central California,” He ignored my question, “When I got to the nice neighborhood, and it was dusk, so I was in trouble for being out at dark, and then when I toddled back to find my angry Mom waiting to spank me in the middle of the afternoon, and then I couldn’t find the nice neighborhood again, and got another spanking, it should be clear to the lowest intelligence that I went through a ‘magic doorway’ or Portal to another, perhaps parallel dimension, reality, probability—”
“Is that how you got in here?” I whispered, a little spooked.
“Someone in the first reality saw me pop out, disappear, what-have-you and then show up again.” Mitch waited to see if I had anything to say, then, “That person told the Air Force base nearby, Intelligence took over and tracked me, trained me, tricked me and trapped me again, without ever getting my secret.”
I was dumbfounded.
“Thing is, military history is full of reports of lost troops, missing battalions, overdue ships and planes. In each case, documented, mind you, the returners reported different lands, people in ancient or later proved future battle-gear, and mythical beasts.” Mitch puffed, perhaps to give me commenting space, but I waved him on, “In the 1980’s a new jet liner was overdue at a Florida airport, the pilots called in and said they couldn’t find the airport, for all the jungle below, (should have been tract housing according to Air Traffic Control) and the co-pilot started gabbling about a large lizard or dinosaur poking it’s head above the dense jungle. When the plane returned, much later than it’s fuel supply would have allowed, passengers and crew supported those sightings.”
I raised my eyebrows in lieu of an intelligent reply.
“So, somebody must have waiting for me to return, told Air Force Intelligence AND THEY WANT THE SECRET.” Mitch stopped barking, puffed and smiled, “This stuff is a great rage treatment and angst banisher. I know the Air Force wants this secret, they’ve told me directly, adding that the matter transmission project started between MIT and Cornell in 1969 was dangerous, energy consuming, and inaccurate, a true techo-monster. Also, with Army, Navy, Marine and SEAL pilots flying every kind of aircraft, the Navy even taking over Space Flight, the Air Force needed a new gig, plausible budgetability. They had crotch-squattled all over UFO’s but even those turn out to have their own branch of the Service, so the Air Force concentrated on mechanical portals. You’ve seen that TV show out of Canada that has people popping through rings to shoot legendary enemies, monsters and evil aliens?”
“You mean St—?”
“Top-top secret.” I nodded vigorously.
“Copyright laws!” Mitch snapped, “If we’re going public with all this, we can’t have some Canadian producer fronting for the Flyboys, suing us! Registered Tradmark, that thingie with the ‘r’ inside the circle. I can take most mercs, a lot of the Shadow Ops people, even though they’re younger than me—NOBODY CAN TAKE LAWYERS!I”
I pondered this, slightly dazed, again.
“So counting that time near Castle Air Force base, I have been through natural protals, magic door ways, worm-holes, whatever more than five times, on purpose, with other people who would corroborate. There’s a known place on US Highway 40, in Colorado, east of Elk Springs at the top of a long incline, where, if you go 68 miles per hour, you will cut off nearly an hour travel time going east into desolate territory. If you catch the same moment coming back, west of the brick memorial cabin, you get the same effect, though only gain about a half hour. If you DON’T go 68 mph, you travel for a long time in the canyons of the damned, burnt out cabins—a girlfriend and I coming back from Denver, and west of Craig, didn’t get up to 68 mph in dark because of deer... we drove parallel to, a mile away, a long stretch of a doomed medieval village, with towers and ramparts, to the south, burning and collapsing into fiery embers... ‘Don’t stop!’ she whispered.”
“And...? I wondered when he seemed lost in memory.
“And the most reachable portal is right here, west of town up on Cattle Mountain, east of a DNR tract, designated ‘School house land’. Turn right at the council benches and stop as you emerge from the grove. You’ll see huge valleys and mountains of greenery, massive trees and misty reaches to the far east...where there should be Rosario Strait, Orcas Island and more open water beyond. Three, no four people I know of have been through there, three of us returned.”
“The fourth?” I was almost afraid to ask.
“He’s the Shadow Ops guy that followed me up there day before yesterday, and I threw him overhand through the magic doorway, minus his weapons, radio gear and such.” Mitch smiled, pulling out another blurred picture, “On top, on this side nearest, is a portal or magic doorway that leads to a grove and seven other portals, and you can count on where I’m headed next.”
He tossed the picture down and left by the shed door, but poked his head in.
“I came in the rear window, I fixed it up that way the first time I was in here.” And that was the last time I saw Mitchell Calkins Himan. [Portal location?]