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The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher

By JA All Rights Reserved ©

Scifi / Adventure

Chapter 1

Five Years Ago

“We are live in five…four…three…two…and we’re live,” said Bruce Mognee, the production manager for Kinkorx Ultra-Modern Radio. Each week Bruce tries to find a quality guest star for Derrix Weyd’s radio show. This week the powerhouse guest is the new owner of the Kinkorx Horned Hares Mesnuk Team, Jeqrix Grexenn.

Derrix leans into the microphone, in the small, dingy, radio studio in the old district of downtown Kinkorx, as Jeqrix Grexenn relaxes in the guest chair while facing his own microphone. “I’m Derrix Weyd, the host of this weekly radio show on Kinkorx Ultra-Modern Radio. I’m also the Sports Anchor for Kinkorx TV and the official voice of the Kinkorx Horned Hares. This evening we are excited to have as our very special guest the new owner of the Kinkorx Horned Hares, Mr. Jeqrix Grexenn. He is the founder and owner of Grexenn Furniture Stores. He is also the founder of the Grexenn Card and the very popular sales promotion, Buy new furniture for your lovely home from the Grexenn Furniture Store and let your Grexenn Card do the rest. It’s good to have you on our show this evening, Jeqrix.”

Jeqrix Grexenn smiled as he leaned into the outdated, dingy, microphone. “It’s good to be here. Thanks for having me.”

“For our viewers who are not completely familiar with you, let’s give them a little background. Can you tell us a little about yourself?”

Jeqrix leaned into the microphone. “I’ll be happy to. When I was a child, my family lived in Soxtuss, the small town in Xcuymir Territory. I attended Soxtuss City Schools. My parents both worked in Soxtuss. They owned a small food store on Main Street. It was called Soxtuss Foods. There wasn’t much to the downtown area—just a few stores. Soxtuss Foods was one of those stores.

I spent my youth working in our family store rather than participating in school activities. Inwardly, I enjoyed the business part, but selling food in our tiny town really didn’t interest me. I was slowly developing other ambitions.

As I grew up, I began to show more and more interest in the business end of my parent’s store. My parents felt that I had a good head for business. Of course, my parents were delighted with my interest in their food store.

After graduating from Soxtuss High School, I threw myself into their business. This made them even happier. I committed myself to running Soxtuss Foods for several years. I learned the business of owning and running a small retail food store. My parents were truly pleased with my natural born business skills.

As time went on, I began to think about a different type of retail. I started talking with my parents about my dreams. As I revealed my inward desires, they quickly become concerned. They could see their dreams of their son taking over the family business, fading. One morning we had a family discussion in our living room before work. We were discussing my growing dissatisfaction with the store. I remember the conversation so vividly.

My mom said, “We thought you liked Soxtuss Foods.”

I explained that I really like the business. I don’t like selling food. All of the work to ensure freshness and sanitation drives me crazy. My dad reminded me for the thousandth time. “Son, that’s all part of the business.”

“I know that Dad, that’s just not what I’m interested in doing,” I said.

My father exhaled loudly with disappointment and frustration. “Just, what are you interested in doing?”

“Dad,” I said, “I want to start my own business.”

My dad was so irritated. He asked me loudly, “Ok…just what type of business are you interested in starting?”

I said, “I want to start my own furniture store.” Both of my parents rolled their eyes. They were in shock. My dad asked me sarcastically. “Where are you thinking about starting your furniture business?” My mom just stared at the floor.

“In that empty space, on the corner,” I said proudly.

My dad exploded. “Here in Soxtuss! In that empty room?”

I told him, “In that opening. It’s been empty for a while. Ever since the drug store closed, nothing has reopened there. I want to open a furniture store in that empty business area.”

My mom walked out of the room. My dad said, “Son, be reasonable, it’s difficult enough to be successful selling something that everyone needs every day. But, to be successful at selling something like furniture that folks can put off buying for a long time. Well, it’s nearly impossible.”

That’s all I needed to hear. My father telling me to be safe. That it’s impossible. Those words echoed in my brain. They burned into my total existence. That instantly became my life’s ambition – “To do what dad called impossible.”

I opened my first Grexenn Furniture Store in Soxtuss. Business was slow at first. It seemed that folks from Soxtuss either didn’t want more furniture or couldn’t afford new furniture. Soon I began to advertise. Even with advertising in the local newspapers and the occasional TV ad, my business still struggled.

One day, I came up with an idea. My idea was that I was absolutely certain coteries wanted my furniture they simply needed an easy way to purchase it. I invented the Grexenn Card. It’s a revolutionary idea. My card allows everyone to purchase my furniture and pay as they agree to pay. This proved to be one of my most successful ideas. Because of the Grexenn Card and the payment system that it entailed, my business became an overnight success. I began advertising in the regions newspapers as well as local TV stations. “Buy new furniture for your lovely home from the Grexenn Furniture Store in Soxtuss and let your Grexenn Card do the rest.”

This proved to be a very successful marketing strategy. I was selling furniture faster than I could stock it. Soon, I needed more space. I wanted my next store to be large and centrally located to everyone who wants new furniture for their homes. It had to be on main roads and in downtown Kinkorx. That was a must. Before long, I found the perfect location for my second store.

My second and much larger furniture store is on Vzxcout Drive in downtown Kinkorx. Just down the road from Kruxxblers Grocery Store and close to The Mesnuk Stadium Downtown. That’s the perfect location for my second and much larger Grexenn Furniture Store.”

“That’s a good location. There’s a lot of traffic in that area. So, how many stores do you currently have?” asked Derrix.

“As I already said, my first store is in Soxtuss. My second and main store is in downtown Kinkorx. My third store is in Bedsult. My fourth is in Jxobslyn. These are all in Xcuymir Territory. My fifth is in Wyluxx City, in Zeeton Territory. So far I have five stores in the chain of Grexenn Furniture Stores.”

“It all started in Soxtuss,” said Derrix.

Jeqrix smiled. “That’s right.”

“Do you have plans for more stores?”

“At this time, I’m holding with five. That seems to be a manageable number – five furniture stores plus a large warehouse—also in downtown Kinkorx.”

“It seems you’re interested in a different type of business as well,” said Derrix as Jeqrix Grexenn smiled, “I’m referring to the Kinkorx Horned Hares. For anyone who doesn’t already know, Mr. Grexenn recently purchased the troubled team.”

Jeqrix leaned into the microphone again. “That’s correct.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, what are your plans for the…problematic, winless mesnuk team?”

He chuckled. “I plan to rebuild the horned hares just like I built my furniture franchise. I believe the horned hares have some good talent. I also plan to recruit more talented players. Hopefully in time, the horned hares will be a championship team.”

“A championship team you say – like the Guytic City Fighting Tobacco Farmers? Mr. Xuro Qashlet, the billionaire business owner of the Tobaccos spends a massive amount of money on the payroll for his championship team. I doubt you can afford his players,” Derrix stated.

Jeqrix replied, “The Guytic City Fighting Tobacco Farmers are a top notch mesnuk team. There’s no doubt about that. And you’re right, I can’t afford the payroll that Mr. Qashlet pays out. He has many Myluxs due to his very successful business affairs – billions of Myluxs from what I hear. Only a billionaire could afford the Tobaccos payroll. The horned hares will be champions by hard work and desire. I will attempt to instill my work ethic into our team. If we can produce a championship mesnuk team, like the tobaccos, it will be due to hard work and determination, not with excessive payroll.”

“What do you think your chances are of producing a Sesla Championship Team without the huge payroll like the Tobaccos?” asked Derrix.

Jeqrix smiled as he answered, “Are you telling me I can’t do it? That it’s impossible? That’s what my dad told me – five stores and a mesnuk team ago.”

Derrix laughed. “Your point is well taken. No one would ever doubt your determination, drive, or persistence. Your business skills are also very strong – judging from your success in the furniture business. We’re all looking forward to seeing how quickly you can turn this very dysfunctional, losing mesnuk team into a championship team. If anyone can do that, you can. We have time for a call before we close this segment. Caller are you there? What is your question for Mr. Grexenn, the new owner of the Kinkorx Horned Hares?”

The caller began. “Mr. Grexenn. It’s an honor to speak to you. I love your furniture and your stores. I carry a Grexenn Card in my purse. My husband and I respect what you’ve accomplished in your franchise.”

“Thank you.”

Derrix asked, “What’s your question for Mr. Grexenn? And we are short on time, so please be brief.”

The caller continued. “I would like to ask Mr. Grexenn how he plans to recruit new talent if he can’t offer huge salaries like Mr. Qashlet – the owner of the Guytic City Fighting Tobacco Farmers? Also would you consider allowing walk-ons to try out for the team?”

Jeqrix Grexenn answered, “Thank you for the kind words. I’m glad my Grexenn Card helps you. I’m glad you like my furniture. Thank you and your husband for your business. To answer your question, I believe there’s a lot of talent in this area that perhaps never received a proper or fair tryout by the previous management. I would like to announce a new policy by the Kinkorx Horned Hares. The practice sessions are always open to walk-ons. Any walk-ons will be invited to try-out for the team. This will be the policy as long as I’m the owner.”

Derrix remarked. “Thank you caller. That’s an interesting policy, Mr. Grexenn. I hope it works. We’re out of time. Tonight, my guest has been Mr. Jeqrix Grexenn. He’s the new owner of the Kinkorx Horned Hares. This is Derrix Weyd. I am the official voice of the Kinkorx Horned Hares. You’ve been listening to my weekly broadcast on Kinkorx Ultra-Modern Radio in beautiful downtown Kinkorx. Good night everyone.”

“And cut,” said Bruce Mognee, production manager.

Meanwhile

In His Decrepit Rented Room In Old Downtown Kinkorx

Zith Fleen turned off his garage sale radio that he kept sitting on his milk crate nightstand beside his decrepit single bed. The very short, ex-college mesnuk player lay on the small, dilapidated, bed, in his dingy, rented studio apartment. He said, “So…the Kinkorx Horned Hares new owner is allowing walk-on tryouts. Maybe I’ll think about trying out for the team. I was a good mesnuk player in college. Too bad I’m so short. All Pirtt-Coteries are short Sesleans. I’m a short Pirtt – real short.”

He wiggled and settled in the middle of the small sagging bed. He mumbled, “I better get some sleep. The first shift at the gravel pit starts too early. I can’t be late for work again. Mr. Mounter gets very angry when I’m late. I can’t believe he talks about firing me for being a few minutes late for work. He’s on a real power trip.”

“Ouch!” Zith said painfully as another broken wire in the mattress poked his leg. “Another broken spring. I hate this pitiful mattress. I hate this dingy, old apartment. I hate my life.”

He fell asleep quickly.

As he fitfully slept, he dreamt of his glory years as a star high school and college mesnuk player at Kinkorx High and the University of Kinkorx. He tossed and turned as he sank in the middle of the saggy bed as he dreamt of the many championships that he was a major factor in winning.

On the high school and college mesnuk fields, being a Pirtt-Coterie wasn’t an issue. Running fast, hitting hard, and accurate throws was king – not genetic prominence—in his case, the lowest status. Professional mesnuk was vastly different—as he soon, very painfully, discovered.

Being a Pirtt-Coterie and a very short Pirtt at that, prevented him from entering the professional ranks after college as a mesnuk player or anything else professionally. Pirtts are not respected as citizens of Sesla and they are despised even more in the professional ranks.

Even though he was a star mesnuk player, his Pirtt-Coterie heritage robbed him of any professional job after graduation. Since college, he has worked and lost a series of random jobs. Several months ago, he was very lucky to acquire his current job at the Kinkorx Gravel Company where he drives a first shift excavator.

While sleeping fitfully, he was awakened by the low-hum of his cheap alarm clock beside his bed. He grunted and moaned as he wiggled out of the center of the sagging bed. “That was an awful night. I dreamt of my college mesnuk days – all of those championships. Those were the best years of my life. Why did I have to ruin it by dreaming about the gravel pit? I hate my job. I hate my life.”

As he stared at the low-buzzing clock he said, “My garage sale clock didn’t work right. I set it for the loud alarm. I’m late again! I’m in big trouble. Mr. Mounter can’t fire me. I’m a good excavator driver.”

He jumped out of bed and quickly dressed. He hurried out of the small, run-down, rented apartment in the old downtown district of Kinkorx. He jumped into his car and speeded away.

Zith hurriedly drove his small, rusty car along the old streets through the abandoned warehouse district toward the Kinkorx Gravel Company. “I’m in major trouble. I’m late for work – again. The last time I was late, Mr. Mounter said I couldn’t be late again or he’d fire me,” Zith said while in a panic as he drove.

As he frantically drove the brief distance through the old downtown district, he said, “I’m going to get fired again. I know I am. Mr. Mounter’s going to fire me—just like the other bosses. He’s on a power trip. All my old bosses have been on power trips.”

In minutes, he speedily drove into the sandy, pothole filled, gravel pit parking lot in the old downtown district. He parked with a jolt and said while panicking, “Mr. Mounter’s crazy. I know he’s going to fire me! I just know it!”

He frantically exited his small car with a thousand rust holes and slammed the door. He hurried across the small parking lot to the small office. The building was at the entrance to the Kinkorx Gravel Company. The hourly time clock hung on the wall next to Mr. Mounter’s old, small, messy desk.

As he frantically entered the creepy, spider infested, cobweb covered office, much to his horror, Mr. Mounter was sitting at his desk. With fear, he stepped to the time clock and frantically searched for his time card.

As he searched, while in a panic, he briefly glanced at his boss. The dagger glare he received from Mr. Mounter cut through his trembling body like a double-edged sword.

“You’re late again, Mr. Fleen,” Mr. Mounter said evilly. “Don’t give me that broken alarm clock excuse. Come up with a better reason for your lack of respect for our rules.”

Zith trembled as sweat ran down his forehead and face. He frantically searched for his time card. “You won’t find your time card. I have it in my desk,” said Mounter with evil glee, “I thought I made it clear the last time you were late – which was only last week. The next time you were late—I’d fire you.”

He shook from panic as he helplessly stood before his towering boss. Panic sweat ran down his forehead and face. Even in his chair, Mr. Mounter was taller than he was. “Please Mr. Mounter,” he groveled as he perspired, “I know I have a problem getting to work on time. I still get my work done. I’ll work through my lunch to make up the time—like I always do,” he pleaded while nervous sweat rolled down his forehead and face.

Edd Mounter hurled a deadly, killer scowl as he proclaimed, “If I let one employee get away with excessive tardiness, before long all the employees are running over me. Unfortunately for you, I must set an example of how this company deals with employees who break the rules –”

Zith frantically pleaded as he trembled and perspired, “Mr. Mounter. I’m only twelve minutes late. All of the late punches on my time cards have been less than fifteen minutes. I always work through my lunch to make up the time.” He began to grovel even more. “It wasn’t easy to find this job. It took months. I don’t know if I can find another job in Kinkorx or the desert for that matter. No one likes to hire a Pirtt.”

Inwardly Edd was enjoying the groveling immensely. Forcing the employees to constantly beg for their jobs gave him a sense of superiority that he got from nowhere else. It made him feel like a God. “If I let you get away with tardiness, everyone will be tardy.” He hurled a vicious scowl that cut through Zith’s being. “There’s no need to continue this conversation. I must set an example for the other employees. This is how we deal with insubordinate employees. Your –”

“Please Mr. Mounter,” he interrupted and begged, “Please don’t fire me. I’m hardly an insubordinate employee –”

Mr. Mounter interrupted sharply, “I already have. Remove any personal belongings. Your paycheck will be ready on the normal payday. That will be all.”

“Please Mr. Mounter,” he pleaded and begged, “I’ll do anything. I need this job. Please don’t fire me.”

“That will be all!” exclaimed Edd sharply, “Don’t forget your belongings – if you have any.”

He lowered his head in disgrace. He slowly exited the small, spider-web infested building and walked toward his embarrassing car. “What am I going to do? It was hard to find this job. Nobody wants to hire a Pirtt. I don’t have any money.”

Disgracefully, he entered his small, rusty car. “I can’t pay the rent. I’m going to lose my apartment. I’ll be living in my car again – soon. I hate living in my car.” He slowly drove out of the sandy, pothole-filled parking lot.

As he pondered his latest firing, he slowly drove along the old, downtown roads. “No one wants to hire a Pirtt. I don’t know where I’m going to get another job. That job took a long time to find. I’ll be living in my car soon.”

After several minutes, he drove in front of his old, adobe brick, rented apartment and depressingly parked. He slowly exited his car and trudged to his old, decrepit front door.

His head was still lowered in disgrace as he entered his small, rented apartment. “I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. It’s hard to find a job. No one likes to hire a Pirtt. My job record is bad. A few small mistakes and I always get fired. What am I going to do?” he mumbled. He depressingly flopped into the small bed and immediately sank into the middle.

As he lay depressingly in the decrepit bed, he turned on the radio. Seqre Tarser, the roaming news reporter for Kinkorx Ultra-Modern Radio was reporting live from the Kinkorx Horned Hares locker room. “…Mr. Grexenn. You admit that you’re organization doesn’t have the payroll to pay for the top athletes like some of the other owners,” said Seqre.

“You mean like Xuro Qashlet, the billionaire owner of the Guytic City Fighting Tobacco Farmers, the defending Sesla Champions?” asked Jeqrix Grexenn, owner of the Kinkorx Horned Hares and Grexenn Furniture Stores.

“Yes, that would be one example. There are others.”

Jeqrix replied, “I built my furniture company with hard work, sacrifice, and a commitment to providing good furniture at affordable prices. I didn’t start with a big payroll and I don’t have a big payroll now. I don’t believe I’ll need a team filled with high salary players to win. I need players that will not accept losing.”

“So…you want players with low salaries that won’t accept losing. Where may I ask, do you think you’re going to get these players?” asked Seqre.

Jeqrix Grexenn replied, “Everyone grew up playing mesnuk in their yards. Many of the high school and college players were very talented. For numerous reasons, very good players that have the desire and talent to play are not playing professionally. I believe there are talented players that given the opportunity, would play. I am opening the Kinkorx Horned Hares practices to anyone who would like to try-out for the team. All walk-ons will be given an opportunity to prove themselves. This open policy starts with today’s practice.”

“That’s very interesting, Mr. Grexenn. You don’t really believe there are championship players standing on the street corners just waiting for this opportunity – do you?” he asked sarcastically.

Jeqrix smiled. “I wouldn’t put it like that. However, I do believe there are quality players that will respond to this invitation. To anyone who is listening to this broadcast, if you know you can play mesnuk professionally, come to the practice field today or any day. I would like to see what you can do.”

Seqre smiled and shook his head in bewilderment. “Thank you Mr. Grexenn.”

He walked away and continued, “The new owner of the Kinkorx Horned Hares, Mr. Jeqrix Grexenn, has begun a new policy. From today forward, their practices are open to the public for walk-ons to try-out for the team. We hope this proves to be a successful policy. This is Seqre Tarser, the roaming news reporter for Kinkorx Ultra-Modern Radio, reporting live from the Kinkorx Horned Hares locker room.”

As Zith lay on his bed, he began to reminisce about his high school and college mesnuk years. “Those were the best years of my life. I was a good mesnuk player. Too bad I’m so short – and a Pirtt.” As he reminisced, he drifted into a dream-filled sleep. The hours passed as he slept and dreamt about his glory years as a high school and college mesnuk star.

Later That Same Day
While Zith sprawled on his small, very well worn couch with his legs hanging over the side, he watched TV. He tried to make sense of his latest plight. He mumbled as he watched TV and thought, “I don’t understand why Mr. Mounter had to fire me. I was never more than a few minutes late. I always worked through my lunch to make up the time. I operated the excavator properly. He never liked me. I was surprised when he hired me. I knew he didn’t like me. I always thought it was because I am a Pirtt – although I don’t know.”

He continued to mumble while trying to make since of his latest crisis as the TV set played. He recalled what the new owner of the Kinkorx Horned Hares, Mr. Grexenn had said, “To anyone who is listening to this broadcast, if you know you can play mesnuk professionally, come to the practice field today or any day. I would like to see what you can do.”

Zith mumbled, “Maybe I’ll drive to the practice field tomorrow morning. I hope Mr. Grexenn lets Pirtts tryout. I know I can play mesnuk professionally. I just need a fair chance.”

He continued to watch TV and think about his dilemma as the evening passed. He also imagined what a tryout for the Horned Hares would be like.

The Following Morning
Zith woke from his dream-filled, fitful sleep, he realized that he didn’t have a job to go to. “What am I going to do?” he wondered depressingly as he lay in his decrepit bed. “It’ll take weeks to find another job—if I can find a job at all. I’ll be living in my car again – and soon.”
As he lay depressed, he remembered the owner of the Kinkorx Horned Hares. He said, “I was a star mesnuk player in high school and college. After college, no mesnuk team would talk to me. They all said I was too short. The horned hares are accepting walk-on tryouts. I’ve got to start searching for a job today. Maybe I’ll start at the horned hares practice field. What can it hurt?” With overwhelming doubt, he rolled out of the sagging bed and quickly dressed. “I better skip breakfast. If I do get a tryout, I’ll need to run fast.”

With a lack of confidence in his endeavor, he exited the small, rundown apartment and walked to his rusty car. He was attempting to physic himself up as he jumped in.

As he drove away, he began talking to himself. “If I get a fair tryout, I can make the team. I’m still fast and strong. If the owner doesn’t care about how short I am, I can play mesnuk – I know I can.”

Zith’s focus was on the tryout as he drove while continuing to build his confidence – verbally. “I can play mesnuk professionally. I just need a fair chance. I know I can.”

After several minutes, his heart began to pound when he saw The Mesnuk Stadium Downtown. As his anxieties were racing, he imagined playing mesnuk in the ginormous, futuristic, enclosed, dome stadium as a Kinkorx Horned Hare.

With sweaty hands, he drove past the magnificent, beautifully landscaped building with its statues of the former Chief Generals of Xcuymir Territory.

He continued along the downtown Kinkorx Street to the Horned Hares practice field. He nervously drove into the nicely paved parking lot and parked next to the field. “Here it is. I’m here. I hope this works,” he said with a slight panic.

He nervously watched the Kinkorx Horned Hares practice. He said, “Look at the size of those players – they’re huge. I’m so small. Who am I kidding? I’ll never make the team…I have to try.”

With sweaty hands and a pounding heart, he exited his car. He looked at the players and said nervously, “Here goes.” His heart pounded as he walked onto the practice field.

As he approached the players, one of the coaches said to him, “I’m Jeqrix Grexenn, I’m the owner. I’ve never seen you before. Are you here for a tryout?”

“Yes!” Zith said with enthusiasm while concealing his host of anxieties.

Jeqrix asked, “What’s your name?”

“Zith Fleen.”

“Do you want to change or are you ready?” Jeqrix asked.

“I’m ready!” Zith said excitedly as his anxiety level quickly abated.

“Join the other players. We’ll evaluate you as the day progresses,” Jeqrix instructed.

Zith asked with surprise, “You’re going to let me practice with the Kinkorx Horned Hares?”

Jeqrix laughed. Then he replied, “Is there a reason why I shouldn’t?”

“No Sir!” Zith exclaimed loudly.

Jeqrix said, “Those players are a lot bigger and stronger than you,” he smiled, “I’ll bet you’re faster. As I’m sure you already know, speed is very important in mesnuk. I’ll give you the rest of the day to prove yourself… Start practicing.”

“Yes Sir! Thank you Sir!” Zith said excitedly. His heart pounded in his chest as he ran as fast as he could onto the playing field.

The players watched as he ran speedily onto the field. “Wow! You can really fly. You’re kind of small… Good luck!” said Ti Gurmis, one of the Horned Hares players.

“This is Zith Fleen,” said Jeqrix Grexenn loudly, “He’ll be practicing with us today. Good luck Zith!” Many of the players and Head Coach Jo Mydos said, “Good luck Zith.”

“Zith. You’re on the blue team. Back to work! Everyone circle the glymog,” yelled Coach Mydos.

The blue and the red teams circled the 42 inch diameter, circular glymog, in the center of the mesnuk field. Coach Mydos posed as the enforcer. He tossed the sludder into the air.

The two teams immediately battled for the 18 ¼ pounds, rounded edged, rubber coated, acute triangle shaped, sludder. The blue team recovered the sludder.

Zith and his team ran toward their kloxyn. A horned hare threw the sludder to Zith. He caught it and charged toward the 48 inch high, 36 inch diameter, ½ inch thick walled, opened at the top and bottom metal cylinder, that was fastened to the ground, at their end of the 460 feet long and 380 feet wide mesnuk field.

As Zith attempted to throw the sludder into their kloxyn, a gigantic member from the red team collided with him. The force of the collision resembled being run over by a fully loaded semi-truck and trailer. Zith and the sludder went flying through the air.

A member of the red team caught the sludder as Zith hit the ground hard. The red team speeded toward their kloxyn, at their end of the 460 feet long mesnuk field as the blue team pursued.

Zith recovered quickly from the massive crash at the hands of the red team and speedily pursued. As the red team member threw the sludder into the air toward their kloxyn, in what appeared to be a score, Zith leaped high into the air and caught the sludder. He tumbled to the ground while maintaining possession of the sludder.

He quickly stood and began running as fast as his short legs would pump toward their kloxyn as both teams pursued. Due to his impressive speed, he was the first to reach the kloxyn. He dropped the sludder into their kloxyn, scoring two points.

The blue team cheered. Head Coach Jo Mydos looked at owner, Jeqrix Grexenn and said, “Zith is small but he’s tough—and fast.”

Jeqrix bobbed his head as he replied, “His speed and toughness are impressive.”

“Let’s see if he can take the pounding,” said Coach Mydos loudly. He tossed the sludder to the red team. A player caught it and ran.

The red team ran speedily toward their kloxyn. They passed the sludder. Zith leaped into the air and tried to catch it. A red team player plowed into him as he flew through the air. The force was so strong that it sent Zith flying through the air and crashing to the ground.

He immediately got up and ran like a rocket. Zith leaped and flew into the red team player that carried the sludder. He crashed into the huge player sending the player flying through the air in one direction and the sludder in another.

After catching the flying sludder, Zith ran as fast as his Pirtt legs would go. He left the other players behind as he ran to the blue team’s kloxyn. He dropped the sludder into their kloxyn – scoring two pints again. The blue team cheered – again.

Coach Mydos looked at owner, Jeqrix Grexenn again and bobbed his head. “Impressive!” said Jeqrix. Coach Mydos threw the sludder to the red team again to keep the game going.

As the practice went on throughout the afternoon and into the evening, Zith continued to show his speed, aggressiveness, and toughness. With each massive hit, he became more battered and bruised but he never slowed.

By the end of the practice, Zith was tired and beaten up. He was also the top point’s scorer of the day. He had out scored all of the other Horned Hares players. “Zith stop by my office after your shower,” said Coach Mydos.

“Yes Sir!” said the battered Zith.

“Hit the showers!” yelled Coach Mydos.

The players ran to the locker room – including Zith. “It’s good to see you again, Zith,” said Cottir Greem, a former University of Kinkorx mesnuk teammate.

“Thanks. I never thought I’d be here. The new owner’s making some positive changes,” Zith replied as he prepared to shower with the Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk team.

“Great job out there today Zith. Your speed and toughness are impressive – for a little guy,” said Team Captain, Guiss Korter as he laughed.

“Thanks,” said Zith as he laughed politely at the humor. He spent the next several minutes quickly washing with the team. After borrowing a sweat suit from his former U of K college mesnuk teammate, Cottir Greem, he hurried down the hall to Coach Mydos’ office.

As he entered Coach Mydos’ office, he said, “You wanted to see me Coach.”

“Yes Zith. How are you feeling? You took quite a few big hits out there today?” asked the coach.

He smiled. “I feel great. Nothing bothered me. It was awesome to be playing mesnuk again,” Zith replied with enthusiasm.

“Where did you play mesnuk before?” asked Coach Mydos.

“I played high school mesnuk at Kinkorx High and college mesnuk at U of K. I loved it,” Zith replied.

Coach bobbed his head in approval. “Any pro offers?” he asked.

Zith shook my head. “No Sir,” he replied. “Every team thought I was too small.”

“You are small, but tough and fast. Even with the pounding, you were the high scorer. Do you think you can keep that up?”

“Yes Sir Coach!” he said excitedly as my heart began to race.

“Mr. Grexenn and I talked. We liked what we saw today. You need time to get used to being hit. You won’t see any playing time in a game any time soon, but we would like to offer you a job. The salary will be low – especially at first. As you prove yourself and score game points, your wages will improve. Do you need time to consider the offer?”

“No Sir Coach!” Zith said excitedly. “I want to play mesnuk.”

Coach Mydos chuckled as he said, “All right then. We’ll see you tomorrow morning. Practices start at 8:00. Make sure you keep scoring points.”

“Thanks Coach! I won’t let you down.” Zith hurried out of the office.

Chapter Two

Eighteen Months Ago

“This is Kinkorx TV News roaming reporter Pymur Muxx. I’m in The Mesnuk Stadium Downtown, in the locker room of the Kinkorx Horned Hares. I’m speaking with the Head Coach of the Horned Hares, Coach Jo Mydos. Coach Mydos, you have to be happy with the performance of your team this season.”

“We’re having a good season—so far. Tonight was a big win for our team. The Tos-Xiron Doxers are a talented mesnuk team,” said Coach Mydos.

“You have to be especially pleased with the walk-on star from three and a half years ago, Zith Fleen. Again, during this game, he was the top scorer for your team. If I’m not mistaken, he’s the fastest player on your roster,” said Pymur.

Coach Mydos replied, “The horned hares organization is very pleased with Zith’s performance both on and off the field.”

“Which leads me to my next question,” Pymur said as he continued, “There are growing rumors of the unrest within the Horned Hares organization. We are hearing rumors that many of the players are constantly in conflict with Zith Fleen. Are the rumors true? Do your players not like or get along with Zith?”

Coach Mydos smiled as he responded, “Some of the players seem to take issue with his unique opinions and assertive personality. However, the Horned Hares organization encourages different and unique visions. After all, our owner, Mr. Grexenn is known for his imaginative ideas.”

Pymur pursued, “There are rumors that, due to his extreme views and boisterous behavior, Zith Fleen has alienating himself from the other players. This has lead the players to leave him vulnerable on the playing field. Due to the lack of teamwork, he seems to be receiving many very brutal, severe hits while on the playing field. His teammates appear to be abandoning him. This forsaking was apparent in tonight’s game.”

Coach Mydos smiled. “What you’re suggesting, a conspiracy on the field is nothing more than examples of Zith’s aggressiveness, speed, and desire to win. When he plays, often times he leaves his teammates far behind. He simply has a strong desire to win. He’s a champion. I wish more of our players were like Zith Fleen. We consider it a lucky day, when he walked onto the practice field.”

Pymur asked, “Do you think there will be more of this type of behavior in your next game in “It’s the Rallies” which is against the Wyluxx City Generals? That game is here in The Mesnuk Stadium Downtown in a few days.”

Coach Mydos said with irritation, “The Generals are a very good mesnuk team. They will be difficult to beat. Yes. I believe Zith Fleen will play to win against the Generals. He will give this team his best. I wish all of our players did. Now if you will excuse me?”

Coach Mydos walked away as Pymur summarized briefly and ended the live report. “There you have it. Coach Mydos is effectively denying all of the rumors that have been emanating from the Kinkorx Horned Hares players in recent months. He denies there is a growing desire among the team members to leave Zith Fleen unprotected. Thus making him vulnerable to severe injury during the games. This is Pymur Muxx, roaming reporter for Kinkorx TV Sports. Reporting live from the locker room of the Kinkorx Horned Hares in The Mesnuk Stadium Downtown.”

Several Days Later

“MESNUK”

“It’s The Rallies”

“We are going live in 5…4…3…2…1…and we are live,” said Kinkorx TV program director Stin Gismurr.

“Good evening, and welcome to this, “It’s the Rallies” sports broadcast of the Sesla Mesnuk Championship Finals. I am Derrix Weyd, Kinkorx TV Sports Anchor, and the official voice of the Kinkorx Horned Hares. We are broadcasting live from our Kinkorx TV booth inside The Mesnuk Stadium Downtown.

This evening, I’m delighted to have as my co-announcer, my friend and esteemed colleague, novelist, writer, sports writer, and commentator, J.A. Ireland. It’s nice to be working with you again, J.A.”

“Thank you Derrix,” J.A. Ireland replied. “It’s nice to be here again.”

“This Sesla Championship Finals Game should be another game to remember,” Derrix stated.

J.A. agreed with emphasis, “If this re-match is anything like the “It’s the Rallies” game a few weeks ago – it will be thrilling.”

“No one is more thrilled than the owner of the Horned Hares, Mr. Jeqrix Grexenn that the horned hares are playing at this level,” said Derrix.

J.A. said, “The Wyluxx City Generals want to prove tonight that the last game was a fluke and they deserve to be in “It’s the Rallies.”

“Many fans, especially in Wyluxx City seem to think that game was a fluke and the Generals should have won,” Derrix stated.

J.A. said, “It looks like this is another sold-out game.”

“Every time these two teams meet, this stadium is packed. There seems to be quite a rivalry between these two desert teams,” Derrix said excitedly.

“Mr. Grexenn has to be happy with these fans,” J.A. said. “The ticket sales are always very high. The sales of official Horned Hares merchandise are strong as well.”

Derrix replied, “I see you’re wearing your Red Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk cap.”

J.A. boasted, “I was lucky. I grabbed the last one the night the horned hares won the Sesla Championship against the Tobaccos.”

“When I look out at this excited crowd, I see a lot of Horned Hares mesnuk caps like yours. I also see Mr. Grexenn. He’s attending this game tonight. He’s wearing a red cap like yours,” Derrix stated.

“It looks like Mr. Grexenn is standing and waving to the happy crowd. He must be watching this broadcast in his booth. You’re right. He does have a cap like mine. They like their owner,” said J.A.

Derrix replied, “Just listen to those cheers. He is well-liked in the desert.”

“He is also a well-liked furniture store owner. He sells good furniture at reasonable prices, we have some of his furniture in our home,” J.A. added.

Derrix replied, “We have some of his furniture in our home as well.”

“Changing the subject to the players, have you seen any evidence of the strong rumors that are emanating from the Horned Hares players?” J.A. asked.

“You’re referring to the rumors about the star player, Zith Fleen. That the players are abandoning him off the field and forsaking him on the field,” said Derrix.

J.A. replied, “Those rumors are getting louder and more numerous every week.”

“He is the fastest player on the team. Due to his speed he often times seems to play a one-player game. He gets hit a lot. Many of the hits are severe. Some are massive,” Derrix stated.

“There are rumors that the players don’t like his extreme views and boisterous nature. He may have alienated himself from the other players,” said J.A.

Derrix added, “There are also rumors about a conspiracy by the players to abandon him on the field. Thus allowing him to become injured during the games in an attempt to get him off the team.”

“Coach Mydos has publically denounced these rumors. Let’s see if we agree with the rumors…The crowd noise is picking up,” said J.A.

Derrix added, “I see why. Here comes, the Kinkorx Horned Hares.”

The stadium announcer said, “Please welcome your one time Sesla Mesnuk Champion Kinkorx Horned Hares.”

“This home crowd loves their Champion Horned Hares. Just listen to the noise,” J.A. remarked.

“The Kinkorx Horned Hares are running onto the field. They are forming their half of the circle around the glymog,” Derrix said.

The announcer said, “Please welcome the Wyluxx City Generals.”

“The visiting crowd is going wild as their Wyluxx City Generals are running onto the field. This has become quite a rivalry. Both sides are screaming. Just listen to that crowd noise,” J.A. said.

“The Generals are forming their half of the circle around the glymog,” Derrix stated.

“I hear a lot of loud booing from the home side. I see some snacks being thrown at the Generals,” said J.A.

Many on the home side, including Tonnus and Estra Kin, Dr. Leqtus Kin-the genetic engineer’s father and sister, are booing the Generals and throwing some snacks at them.

“The two teams are forming a complete circle around the glymog,” Derrix said.

J.A. added, “They’re facing the Sesla United Flag. The stadium orchestra is ready to play the Sesla Anthem.”

“Please rise for the playing of the Sesla Anthem,” the stadium announcer requested.

Everyone in the stadium stood and faced the Sesla United Flag.

The orchestra began…

As the orchestra finished, the fans cheered.

The fans sat back down.

“The Sesla Championship Finals Game is about to begin,” said Derrix.

J.A. replied, “While the enforcer goes over the rules to the players, you should explain the game to anyone who isn’t fully aware of how mesnuk is played. You do such a nice job explaining it.”

Derrix bobbed his head in agreement. “Good idea,” he said. “Each team has eight players. All sixteen players form a circle in the center of the field around the glymog for the start of each session. The glymog is a 42 inch in diameter circle at the center of the field.

There are two kloxyns, one at each end of the field, in this stadium, one is red, and one is blue.

Each team has their own kloxyn. They switch kloxyns at the beginning of each session.

The kloxyn is 48 inches tall, 36 inches in diameter. It is a round metal tube with one half inch thick walls and it is open at the top and bottom. It stands on three legs that fasten to the arena floor. The bottom is open to make it easy to remove the sludder. The kloxyns are easily replaceable in the event of damage during a game from the sludder.

The sludder is an 18 and 1/4 pound triangular disc with rounded edges. It is in the shape of an acute triangle. It has one side that is 16 inches long, one side that is 14 inches long, and the shortest side is 12 inches long. The sludder is 1 inch thick on the rounded edges and 2 inches thick in the middle. It is made of metal and coated with hard rubber to help prevent injuries.

The field is 460 feet long and 380 feet wide. It is 200 feet between the glymog and the kloxyns.

The enforcers control the game. There are six enforcers, three for each side of the field.

The enforcers decide if a player has been kluuded. They call kluuding if they feel that a player used excessive force. To call kluuding, they blow their whistle and make a chop sign across their chest. Since, the game is by nature very brutal, the enforcer calls kluuding penalties on only the most savage plays.

If a player is kluuded, the kluuded player gets an unopposed throw, at his team’s kloxyn, from the glymog.

When an enforcer calls kluuding, the timekeeper stops the clock. He restarts it when the penalty throw leaves the kluuded players hand and is in the air.

The object of the game is to put the sludder into your team’s kloxyn. Two points are given for placing the sludder into the kloxyn. Throwing the sludder into the kloxyn counts one point.

The game is divided into three epochs – each epoch has two sessions. Each epoch is seventy-five minutes. So each session is one-half of seventy-five minutes or thirty- seven and one half minutes. Each session, the players change sides of the field and circle the glymog again.

The lead enforcer begins each session by throwing the sludder into the air as the players are circling the glymog. He throws the sludder into the middle of the circle of players.

After a score, an opposing player must throw the sludder in from out of bounds to restart the game.

There is a five minute break at the end of the first and second epochs,” he smiled to J.A. and said, “I’ve said that same explanation so many times, I have it memorized.”

J.A. smiled. “It looks like the lead enforcer is ready to throw the sludder into the air to start this “It’s the Rallies,” Finals—game,” he said.

“The crowd is really into this game, the fans on both sides are already screaming. Here we go. The “It’s the Rallies”— Finals Game is underway,” said Derrix.

“The lead enforcer blew his whistle and threw the sludder into the air. The Horned Hares caught the sludder and they’re running towards their blue kloxyn,” said J.A.

Derrix said, “A General pounded the Horned Hare. The sludder went flying.”

“That looked like it hurt,” J.A. added.

“The Generals have the sludder. They are racing towards their red kloxyn,” said Derrix.

J.A. reported, “Oh!...That had to hurt. The Horned Hares hit that General hard. The sludder went flying into another of the Generals hands.”

“The Generals are charging toward his kloxyn. He is close. Wow! What a hit,” said Derrix.

“The enforcer blew his whistle. He made the chop sign across his chest,” J.A. stated.

Derrix added, “I’d say that was too much contact.”

“We have our first kluuding call,” J.A. stated.

“That hit was devastating. That General is having trouble walking. He’s slowly making his way to the glymog,” Derrix stated.

J.A. said, “If the sludder goes into the kloxyn, it’s one point.”

“The enforcer handed him the sludder. He’s trying to keep his balance. He’s leaning back. He throws. He scores!” said Derrix.

J.A. added, “The Generals score first in this “It’s the Rallies” game. That’s a two hundred foot throw. Imagine how strong these athletes are to throw the sludder that far and that accurately.”

“The Horned Hares have the sludder. Zith Fleen is racing toward the kloxyn. Wow! What a hit. The sludder is off the field,” Derrix said.

“That was a brutal hit. I will admit he was all alone. I hope he isn’t injured,” J.A. added.

Derrix said, “A different enforcer called kluuding.”

“Zith Fleen is slowly making his way to the glymog,” said J.A.

“He’s limping badly,” Derrix remarked.

J.A. said, “The enforcer handed him the sludder. He’s struggling to stand. He throws. It’s in the air. He scores! The Horned Hares have tied the score thanks to Zith Fleen.”

“The Generals have it. They’re charging toward their kloxyn. Oh!...Two Hares hit the General hard. The sludder is skipping across the ground,” said Derrix.

“The Generals picked it up. They’re charging toward their kloxyn. They’re charging. Oh!...What a hit,” J.A. stated.

Derrix stated, “One of the enforcers blew his whistle. He’s making the chop sign across his chest.”

“The General is still on the artificial turf. He may be injured severely,” J.A. said with concern.

“He’s getting up slowly. He’s hobbling toward the glymog,” Derrix reported.

J.A. said, “The enforcer handed him the sludder. He’s leaning back. He throws. It missed the kloxyn completely.”

“He appears hurt. That hit was vicious. He was in too much pain to make an accurate throw,” said Derrix.

“With the first session coming to a close, the Generals have the sludder again. They’re charging toward their kloxyn. Seconds left. He throws. It bounces off the side of the kloxyn,” J.A. stated.

Derrix stated, “That’s the end of the first session. The score is Generals one and the Horned Hares one.”

“The two teams are switching kloxyns. For the second session, the Generals have the blue kloxyn and the Hares have the red,” said J.A.

“There is no break in between sessions,” said Derrix.

J.A. said, “That’s why this game is so well liked, the action is non-stop.”

“That’s why most of the fans purchase their snacks at the numerous concession stands before the game or they bring their own. There is no time to buy snacks during the game,” said Derrix.

“The teams are forming a circle around the glymog. The lead enforcer is preparing to throw the sludder. He throws it into the air. The Generals have it,” said J.A.

Derrix said, “The second session has begun.”

“The Generals are racing toward the blue kloxyn. They are getting closer. Oh!...What a hit. That poor General was demolished by three Horned Hares,” J.A. reported.

“I’m surprised the enforcer didn’t call kluuding,” Derrix questioned.

J.A. reported, “That was another brutal hit without a kluuding call.”

“The Generals have the sludder again. They’re racing toward their kloxyn. Here they come. Wow, did you see that?” asked Derrix.

“Zith Fleen flew through the air into the General that was carrying the sludder,” J.A. explained.

Derrix added, “That is one of the most selfless plays I’ve seen in a while. Wow, Zith is really fast.”

“The Horned Hares are proving that they deserve to be in these finals – championship games as well,” said J.A.

“I think the fans agree with you. Just listen to the cheers,” Derrix added.

J.A. said excitedly, “The Generals have the sludder. They’re charging. The General leaped into the air. He scores! He put the sludder into the kloxyn. What a play.”

Derrix added, “That’s good for two points.”

“Zith Fleen has the sludder. He’s charging the kloxyn. Oh!...What a hit,” said J.A.

“That’s another brutal hit without a kluuding call,” Derrix said.

J.A. said, “The Hares have the sludder again. They’re racing toward the kloxyn. Another vicious hit.”

Derrix said, “Again, no kluuding call. The Generals have the sludder. They’re charging.”

“The Generals are racing toward the kloxyn. He throws the sludder. He scores!” J.A. said with excitement. “That’s three points this session.”

“Zith Fleen has the sludder. He’s racing down the field. What a hit,” Derrix reported.

J.A. added, “Another vicious hit and no kluuding call by the enforcer.”

Derrix said, “The Generals recovered the sludder. They’re racing toward their kloxyn as the second session is coming to a close.”

“The final seconds, the clock is almost gone. The General throws with three…two…one…it is off the rim,” J.A. reported.

“That’s the end of the first epoch – the score; the Generals four and the Hares one,” Derrix stated.

J.A. said, “Both teams are taking their five minute break.”

“The Generals are pulling ahead in this re-match game,” Derrix said.

“The Horned Hares are being over-powered by the Generals speed and aggressiveness,” J.A. added.

Derrix said, “The home side of this stadium seems quieter than we’re used to. The Horned Hares fans may be losing confidence in their team.”

Kinkorx TV program director Stin Gismurr said, “Derrix, do a station identification before the second epoch begins.”

Derrix nodded. “You are watching the Sesla Championship Finals Game live on Kinkorx TV Sports from The Mesnuk Stadium Downtown. We are broadcasting live from our booth. I am Derrix Weyd, Kinkorx TV Sports Anchor and the official voice of the Kinkorx Horned Hares.

My esteemed colleague and friend—and co-announcer is novelists, writer, sports broadcaster and sports writer, J.A. Ireland,” said Derrix.

Stin Gismurr replied as he smiled and nodded, “Good job.”

“The second epoch is about to begin. Both teams are circling the glymog,” Derrix reported.

J.A. added, “The teams switched kloxyns again.”

“The enforcer threw the sludder into the air. The Generals have it. The second epoch has begun,” Derrix said.

“The Generals are racing toward the kloxyn,” J.A. said.

Derrix said, “They’re charging. He throws the sludder. He scores!”

J.A. added, “The Generals are pulling ahead. If this continues, the Horned Hares will fall too far behind to catch up.”

“Zith Fleen has the sludder. He’s racing toward the kloxyn,” Derrix said.

“He throws. He scores! The Horned Hares add another score,” said J.A.

Derrix added, “Just listen to that crowd noise, they’re happy now. They like Zith Fleen.”

“The Generals have the sludder. They’re charging,” J.A. said.

“Oh!...What a hit. Zith Fleen flew through the air and broke up the play,” Derrix said.

J.A. reported, “The Generals have the sludder again. They’re racing to their kloxyn.”

Derrix said, “They’re charging. They’re close. The General throws. He scores! The Generals are pulling ahead.”

“The fans on the Generals side of this stadium are going wild. The fans on the home side are quiet,” J.A. stated.

“Zith Fleen has the sludder. Oh!...He is hit hard. Again no kluuding call,” Derrix reported.

J.A. confirmed, “This game is getting out of hand. Without kluuding calls, these two teams are beaten each other up. Zith Fleen has taken some massive hits. He does seem to be a one player team.”

Derrix said with concern, “I can’t believe those enforcers aren’t calling kluuding on these brutal hits. If this continues, Zith Fleen could become severely injured.”

“The Generals are charging their kloxyn. He throws. He misses,” said J.A.

“The third session is coming to a close. The Generals have the sludder again. He passes. He throws. He misses as time runs out,” Derrix stated.

“That’s the end of the third session—with the score; the Generals six and the Hares two,” J.A. stated.

“The teams are circling the glymog. The sludder is in the air. The Horned Hares have the sludder as we begin the fourth session,” said Derrix.

“Zith Fleen is charging. He’s going for two. He’s all alone. Wow!...What a hit. Wow, that was brutal,” J.A., insisted.

Derrix said, “The enforcer is making the chop sign across his chest. He’s calling kluuding.”

“We aren’t seeing a lot of kluuding calls in this game. Zith Fleen is receiving some massive hits. The players do seem to be abandoning him,” J.A. reported.

“The enforcers seem to be letting these two teams battle mostly without penalties,” Derrix added. “I agree, Zith’s teammates seem to be lagging back thus letting him take a lot of unnecessary, violent hits.”

J.A. said, “Zith is limping to the glymog. He is clearly injured. The enforcer handed him the sludder.”

“He’s leaning back. His legs are wobbly. He throws. He scores!” Derrix said excitedly.

“Zith Fleen is attempting a one player comeback. The other horned hares are seemingly forsaking him. Just listen to those happy Horned Hare fans. They love Zith Fleen,” J.A. reported.

Derrix said, “The Generals have the sludder. They’re charging. What a vicious hit by the Horned Hare.”

J.A. added, “Again, no kluuding call.”

“The Generals have it again. They’re charging. He throws. It’s off the rim,” Derrix reported.

J.A. said, “The Hares have it. They’re passing. They’re racing toward their kloxyn. He throws. He missed the kloxyn completely.”

“That was a wild throw,” Derrix added.

J.A. stated, “The Hares have the sludder again. They’re charging. He’s hit hard.”

“The fourth session is almost over as the Generals are trying to score,” said Derrix.

“With time running out, the Generals are passing. He throws as the time ends. He scores!” J.A. said excitedly.

“That is the end of the second epoch. The score is the Generals seven and the Hares three,” said Derrix. “The players are running to the sidelines for their five minute break.”

“The Generals are pulling ahead. For the Horned Hares to stand a chance, they need to stage a comeback this session. They need a super effort from more players than just Zith Fleen if they’re going to win,” J.A. insisted.

Derrix added, “It will take quite an effort to slow these Generals. They are out to prove the previous game was a fluke.”

“With only one epoch to go, it seems the Horned Hares may be running out of time and strength. Zith Fleen is becoming really beaten up. How much more can he take?” J.A. asked.

“The players are circling the glymog. The lead enforcer has the sludder,” said Derrix.

J.A. said, “He threw it in the air. The Generals have the sludder first as we start the final epoch.”

Derrix replied, “The Generals are racing toward the kloxyn. They’re passing. He’s racing toward his kloxyn. He throws the sludder. It misses.”

“The Generals have the sludder again. They’re charging toward their kloxyn. Wow!... Was he ever hit hard by Zith Fleen,” J.A. reported.

Derrix added, “That was another vicious hit and no kluuding call.”

“The Hares have it. He’s charging toward the kloxyn. He’s racing. He throws the sludder. Oh!...It’s off the rim,” J.A. said.

“Zith Fleen has it again,” Derrix stated. “He’s racing down the field. He’s all alone. Oh!...What a brutal hit. That was definitely kluuding but again, no kluuding call by the enforcers.”

J.A. said, “The Generals have the sludder. They’re racing to their kloxyn. He passes. The General throws. It misses.”

“The Generals have it again. He throws quickly. His throw is way off the mark,” Derrix said.

“Zith has it. He’s racing down the field. Again, he’s all alone. He’s charging their kloxyn. He’s hit hard,” J.A. reported.

Derrix stated, “The Generals recovered the sludder. They’re passing. He’s racing toward the kloxyn. He’s hit hard by Zither Fleen.”

“Zith recovers it. He’s racing toward their kloxyn. He throws quickly. He scores!” J.A. said excitedly.

“The Generals have the kloxyn. They’re racing down the field. They’re passing the sludder. He throws. It misses,” said Derrix.

J.A. said, “The Generals have it again. They are racing. He passes. He throws. It misses.”

Derrix reported, “We are nearing the end of the fifth session as Zith Fleen is making another run at their kloxyn. He’s going for two. He’s running for the kloxyn. He’s closing in on their kloxyn. He scores! Zith scores two points as the session ends.”

“That’s the end of the fifth session. The players circle the glymog. The enforcer throws. The Generals have it as we begin the final session with the score the Generals seven and the Horned Hares six,” J.A. stated.

“This is a high scoring re-match game. Zith Fleen is indeed a one-player team. He’s also receiving some massive hits. He does seem to be mostly abandoned by his teammates. It’s anyone’s guess who will win this brutal game,” said Derrix.

J.A. said, “From the looks of this stadium, both sides want their team to win. There are snacks flying everywhere. I feel sorry for the cleanup crew.”

“The Horned Hares have staged a big comeback. Can they out last the Generals and keep it going?” Derrix asked.

“The Generals are charging toward their kloxyn. They’re racing toward it. He’s going for two. He’s hit hard by Zith Fleen. What a hit by Zith,” said J.A.

Derrix said, “The Generals want to win this re-match game. They want to prove the last game was a fluke.”

“Zith Fleen has it. He’s all alone and charging their kloxyn. His teammates are no-where near. With his great speed, he’s closing in on the kloxyn. He’s going for two. Wow! What a vicious hit. Right at the kloxyn,” J.A. reported.

“Zith seems to be hurt badly. He’s lying on the field next to the kloxyn. He looks unconscious,” Derrix reported with concern.

J.A. said with greater concern, “After the hit by the Generals player, his head looked like it slammed into the kloxyn. It was difficult to see clearly from here. I’m beginning to see blood on the turf next to his head.”

“You’re right J.A.—It’s difficult to tell from here. It looks like blood,” Derrix agreed.

“He’s still lying there, seemingly unconscious. The medical team is running out to him,” J.A. reported.

Derrix said, “There looks to be a lot of blood coming from his head. It does appear he hit his head on the kloxyn when he landed.”

“The medical team is putting him on the stretcher. He seems to be severely injured,” J.A. reported.

“We don’t want to speculate. Judging from the blood, his head wound looks severe,” Derrix said.

J.A. said, “Zith Fleen is on the stretcher. The medical team is running off the field. They’re headed straight for the locker room.”

Derrix reported, “We can see a lot of blood. His head injury looks very serious—perhaps life threatening.”

“From what we saw tonight, there might be some truth to the rumors that have been circulating from the horned hares players,” J. A. stated sadly.

“Now that the medical team is off the field, the enforcer is restarting the game,” said Derrix.

J.A. said, “We hope Zith Fleen makes a speedy recovery. We wish him the best.”

“The Generals have the sludder. They’re charging in their wedge. The wedge is going for two. The wedge is close to the kloxyn. They score two points,” Derrix reported.

J.A. added, “What a play. The Generals in their wedge ran over several Horned Hares.”

Derrix said excitedly, “The Generals fans are screaming. They’re standing on their seats and throwing their snacks into the air.”

“I don’t know if the Horned Hares have time to come back from a three point deficit— especially now that they’ve lost their star player,” J.A. questioned.

“There isn’t very much time left and the Generals are showing no signs of slowing,” said Derrix.

“The Generals are charging. Wow!...What a brutal hit and no kluuding call,” J.A. said.

Derrix reported, “The Generals have it back. He’s charging the kloxyn. He’s going for two. He’s charging the kloxyn. Oh!...He’s hit viciously.”

“The enforcer is finally calling kluuding,” said J.A.

“The fans on the Generals side are screaming and throwing their snacks into the air. They can taste a victory in this Finals Re-match Game,” Derrix said.

J.A. reported, “The General is slow to get up. He’s hobbling to the glymog.”

“Time is running out in this final session of this re-match game,” Derrix stated.

J.A. said, “He’s wobbling inside the glymog.”

“The enforcer handed him the sludder,” Derrix added.

“He’s leaning back. He throws. He scores! He puts the Generals even farther ahead,” J.A. reported excitedly.

Derrix said, “The visiting crowd is screaming.”

“The Horned Hares have the sludder as time is running out in this Re-match game,” J.A. said. “They are charging. They are going for two. They score! How they’re playing like a team. They score two points in the closing seconds of this contest.”

“The Generals have the sludder. The Horned Hares are all fighting for it. If the Horned Hares can take control of the sludder and quickly score two points, they can tie the game,” Derrix stated.

J.A. reported, “As the seconds on the clock count down, the fans on both sides of the stadium are standing on their seats. They’re throwing their snacks into the air and onto the playing field.”

“The battle for the sludder continues on the Generals side of the playing field as the final seconds tick off of the clock,” said Derrix.

“The Generals fans are yelling, six…five…four…three…two…one…,” J.A. said.

Derrix reported excitedly, “The re-match game is over. The Generals fans are screaming, Generals … Generals... Generals … Generals … They’re throwing their remaining snacks into the air.”

“The Horned Hares fans are upset. I can hear boos coming from the home side of the stadium,” J.A. reported.

Tonnus and Estra Kin are standing on their seats. They are throwing their snacks into the air while yelling, “Boo,” as loudly as they can.

“These Horned Hares fans may feel that their team did not play at their highest level. I’m sure their also worried about their star player,” said Derrix.

J.A. said, “The Horned Hare fans are not happy. I can see a lot of them leaving.”

“The Generals fans are still standing on their seats,” Derrix reported, “They’re chanting Generals … Generals… Generals… They’re throwing their snacks into the air. They have redemption. The Generals are expressing their thanks to the loyal fans. They’re waving to the crowd as walk off the field.”

“I don’t see Mr. Grexenn anywhere. He has to be disappointed and worried. Zith Fleen is a very valuable member of this team. Wyluxx City TV Sports and Wyluxx City Times will be reporting that the last game was a fluke and the Generals deserve to be in “It’s the Rallies,” J.A. said.

Derrix replied, “I can picture the ginormous controversy that this game will generate – both in the locker room and in the community. I just thought the rivalry was heated between these two teams before.”

“The enmity between these two teams and their fans is sure to grow. I will continue to wear my red Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk cap proudly even though it may cause controversy,” said J.A.

Derrix summarized, “To recap, in this high scoring, “It’s the Rallies” game, the Wyluxx City Generals have defeated the Kinkorx Horned Hares by the score of ten to eight. Zith Fleen, the star player for the Horned Hares was severely injured with some type of head injury, perhaps life threatening, at the close of this game. Everyone at Kinkorx TV Studios wishes him a speedy and full recovery.”

“I am Derrix Weyd, Kinkorx TV Sports Anchor and the official voice of the Kinkorx Horned Hares. My co-announcer has been J.A. Ireland. This has been an, “It’s the Rallies” championship sports broadcast of Kinkorx TV Sports.”

“And cut,” said Stin Gismurr Kinkorx TV program director.

“It’s been fun working with you again, J.A.,” said Derrix.

J.A. replied, “It has been fun. I hope Zith Fleen is all right. I get to write my column and wait for the response. A lot of fans will be upset when they get the news.”

Meanwhile
Tonnus and Estra Kin were walking toward their car. Estra was expressing her dissatisfaction with the Horned Hares and her concern for Zith Fleen as they disappointedly walked. “…The Generals were ahead the entire game. I can’t believe the Horned Hares didn’t play harder. If Zith Fleen is badly injured, the hares won’t go much farther in “It’s the Rallies.” We can forget about another championship…,” Estra continued to complain as they entered Tonnus’ car and drove home. “I hope Zith Fleen is ok…,” she said as they drove while she continued to talk.

At Kinkorx Mirchester Hospital in Downtown Kinkorx

Zith Fleen was being rushed to the Emergency Room via ambulance with the gushing head wound. The paramedics speeded under the long ER canopy. “There comes the ambulance!” Nurse Bennick said loudly to her ER Team as they waited and watched behind the glass entrance door.

The ambulance driver quickly slowed the medical van and stopped at the entrance as the ER Team rushed out. “Open the door!” yelled Nurse Bennick as she pounded on the rear door of the ambulance only seconds after it stopped.

As the medic driver quickly exited the medical van, the rear door flew open.

“Move!” Nurse Bennick ordered loudly as she and her team jumped into the rear. The attending paramedic stepped back to allow the emergency team to work. When she saw the blood oozing through the blood soaked bandages on Zith Fleen’s head, she yelled. “ BP!”

“35 over 20. He’s still breathing. I put a pint of blood in him. I was preparing another. I can’t stop the hemorrhaging,” the frantic paramedic reported with blood covered hands and shirt.

Nurse Bennick shouted to her team, “Get him in ER—Move!”

Her team frantically pulled the gurney out of the ambulance. They dropped the legs. “Move!” she ordered loudly.

The ER Team ran toward the entrance while pushing Zith Fleen. He continued to hemorrhage severely from the head wound as they ran. They rushed into the hospital.

As the team hurried past admittance, Nurse Bennick yelled. “Page Dr. Altir. Get her into surgery STAT!”

The team continued to run down the corridor as they tried frantically to control the bleeding. They stopped at the elevator. One of the nurses pushed the down button. “Come on! Come on!” said another nurse with irritation as they waited while continuing the first aid.

In only seconds, the doors opened. There were several passengers inside. “Out! Move!” yelled Nurse Bennick.

As the visitors and staff rushed out of the elevator, they saw the patient as his head continued to hemorrhage. Blood covered his upper body. The gurney had puddles of blood on it. Nurse Bennick and her team rushed into the open elevator with the dying—Zith Fleen. “Down!” Bennick ordered.

The doors closed. The elevator began to drop to the bottom floor – “SURGERY”

The doors opened. “Move!” ordered Bennick.

The team rushed out of the elevator and along the cold, sterile hallway toward Brain Surgery. They entered the disinfected, deadly serious operating room. Dr. Altir and her staff of brain surgeons use this operating room for their most life threatening surgeries.

As the ER Team began to prep their dying patient, the brain surgery team rushed into the room. “We’ll take it from here,” said Nurse Lacci Greene, Dr. Mi Altir’s Head Surgery Nurse.

Nurse Greene and her team frantically and speedily began to prepare the blood covered, dying patient for emergency brain surgery. “BP?” Nurse Greene asked.

“20 over 11! We’re losing him!” the nurse replied with panic.

“Get more blood pumping—STAT!” Greene ordered.

The nurse quickly prepared a bag of blood whole the other nurses frantically connected the series of wires and tubes to the almost dead patient.

Dr. Altir rushed into the room. “Vitals!” she demanded.

“His BP’s dropping. 10 over 7. He stopped breathing. He’s CODE BLUE!”

“I’m having more blood pumping,” said Nurse Greene.

“Pump it fast! I’m not losing my patient!” Dr. Altir ordered sharply.

“He’s still Code Blue!” said the nurse as she monitored.

“How long?” asked Dr. Altir loudly.

“Sixty seconds!” the monitoring nurse replied.

“Get that blood pumped—fast! Get the ventilator started,” Dr. Altir ordered.

The nurses frantically worked to insert the vent tube down Zith Fleen’s throat as he lie on the operating table. Blood continued to hemorrhage from his head wound while not breathing. His pulse was non-existent.

“How long?” asked Dr. Altir as she prepared to operate on the gushing head wound.

“Three minutes!” said the monitoring nurse as the blood hemorrhaged onto the sterile steel table and flood.

“Keep the blood pumping! He’s hemorrhaging everywhere!” said Dr. Altir, “Prepare for surgery!”

The team continued to frantically prep the Code Blue patient as he continued to bleed from the huge gash in his head. His upper body and the operating table was covered in blood. Blood was running onto the floor as new blood was being bumped into him.

“How long?” Dr. Altir asked as she frantically prepared to operate.

“Six minutes thirty seconds!” the monitoring nurse reported as the team continued to frantically prepare Zith Fleen for surgery.

Zith Fleen continues to hemorrhage onto his clothing and table as they frantically worked.

Dr. Altir hurriedly prepared for the emergency surgery. “How long?” she asked.

“Ten minutes!” said the monitoring nurse, loudly.

As the gushing blood continued, Dr. Altir completed the final preparations. She said, “I’m ready. Let’s begin.” Dr. Altir began the brain surgery on Zith Fleen, the star Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player.

As she began to repair the deep, gushing wound, she asked, “How long did the patient’s brain go without oxygen?”

“Just over twelve minutes,” said the nurse.

“Log in the patients records, twelve minutes without breathing. Probable brain damage,” ordered Dr. Mi Altir.

Dr. Altir and her highly skilled surgery nurses began the process of repairing Zith Fleen’s large, deep head wound. This surgery would take Dr. Altir and her nurses many hours to complete.

As the surgery continued, reporters and their camera crews from Kinkorx TV News and Wyluxx City TV News camped in the hospital. The reporters wanted the exclusive story on Zith Fleen, the star Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player and the surgery—the minute it was over.

Twenty-Three Hours Later
Dr. Mi Altir was exhausted as she exited the operating room and walked toward the lounge. As she slowly walked, she muttered, “I need coffee.”

The exhausted surgical team nurses carefully rolled Zith Fleen out of the surgery room. They moved him to critical care where he would be monitored very closely every second.

As Dr. Altir approached the doctor’s lounge, the reporters and camera technicians that were lying on the hospital corridor floor, jumped up. The group immediately blocked Dr. Altir’s path.

Pymur Muxx, roaming reporter for Kinkorx TV News asked, “Dr. Altir, what can you tell us about Zith Fleen’s condition?”

The cameras flashed her photo as the reporters shoved their microphones into her attractive face.

“I am Dr. Mi Altir—Chief of Brain Surgery,” she began, “My team and I performed a twenty-two hour emergency brain surgery on Zith Fleen. He is in critical condition. His brain went twelve minutes without oxygen. He lost a lot of blood before we were able to get his vitals stabilized. His head and brain damage are extensive and severe. He has permanent damage to his anterior rostral prefrontal cortex and temporal poles as well as other severe damages. I also had to rebuild parts of his cranium.”

Wyluxx City TV News roaming reporter Qyis Moyy asked, “Dr. Altir, doesn’t damage to that part of the brain often times result in antisocial personality and psychopathy disorder?”

All Mi Altir could think about was coffee as she replied, “That’s correct. Only time will tell what the effects of the injuries will be on Zith. We’ll have to wait and see as he recovers.”

Pymur followed, “Do you think he will return to the Kinkorx Horned Hares?”

Mi Altir replied as she was fading, “Let’s take it one step at a time. Zith Fleen is in for a long recovery. For now, he’s in critical condition. He’ll be here for at least a month—maybe longer. Now if you’ll excuse me, I Really need a cup of coffee.”

“Of course,” said Pymur as Dr. Altir walked past them toward the lounge.

Both reporters began their summations as the camera techs recorded.

Pymur Muxx said, “That’s the latest on Zith Fleen, the star mesnuk player for the Kinkorx Horned Hares. He is out of emergency brain surgery – a surgery that took twenty-two hours to complete. He’ll be here for at least a month. After that, we’ll have to wait and see. At this point, it’s safe to report that his return to the horned hares is extremely doubtful. I’m Pymur Muxx, reporting live from Kinkorx Mirchester Hospital.”

Chapter Three

Fourteen Months Ago

Zith Fleen was sitting next to the campfire in his friends cave in the open Sesla desert. He was released from the hospital over two months ago. His head injuries were still healing. His headaches were still severe. He was now, very uncomfortable around anyone—except his friend.

He had found this cave at night when he was hunting for food two months ago. He was lucky. The caves only inhabitant—besides scorpions; a large, female, grey wolf that wasn’t hungry the night he wandered into her den. It was only due to her already full stomach that he wasn’t eaten.

Over time, she grew to except him as a dweller in her den. Maybe her mother’s instincts began. Zith didn’t know or care. He was happy to have a friend and shelter.

As Zith remained in the cave while continuing to heal, she caught rabbits and other prairie animals and brought them to him. He cooked in the cave while dwelling there as he continued to recover.

Zith and the wolf quickly became friends. He named her Neechehe.

“Good girl,” he said as he rubbed her fur, “You’re the only one that I can trust. You’re the only friend I have.”

He was cooking a rabbit over the flames from the campfire that his friend Neechehe, the large, female, grey wolf, had caught for him. “It’s almost ready. Would you like to share my dinner with me, Neechehe?”

He ripped off a piece of meat and handed it to her. Neechehe sniffed the cooked meat and turned away. “I know you like the taste of raw meat and blood. You’ve probably already eaten your fill. There’s no shortage of rabbits in the desert. Thank you for bringing me this one. Without you, I would not survive. I’m still not able to hunt. My head hurts too badly,” Zith said.

He began to rip off pieces of cooked desert hare and eat them as he rubbed Neechehe’s soft fur. “You know Neechehe, he said, “I believe you think of me as one of your wolf pups. I can tell by your belly that you’ve had a litter. You’ve never said what happened to your pups or how many you’ve had. Maybe someday, I’ll meet one of them. That would be nice.” He continued to eat his rabbit and talk. He rubbed to his friend’s fur as the night continued.

“Did you know I was a star mesnuk player for the Kinkorx Horned Hares? It’s true. I bet you’d have never guessed. I am short—that’s for sure. I won many games all by myself. I could out run all the players on my team.”

He continued to rub Neechehe’s fur and tell her about his glory years as a mesnuk player in high school, college, and professional, as he enjoyed the cooked rabbit. “I played mesnuk in high school. I bet you didn’t know that. I was good. I wasn’t as short then. I was fast. I could outrun everyone.”

Neechehe lay on the cave floor contently as he rubbed her soft fur and ate while talking. “When I was in college, my height started to become an issue. I was still fast. I scored many points. Some of the players were so big. I was fast and tough.”

He continued to rub Neechehe’s fur after he had finished eating his rabbit. “You can understand a lot of what I’m telling you. I can tell by the look in your eyes that you understand. When I was nearing the end of college, not only my height but also my family heritage was going against me. You see Neechehe, I’m a Pirtt. Folks don’t much like Pirtts. We’re the low-life coteries of the desert. Well, I guess we’re the low-life of Sesla – actually.”

Neechehe seemed to have a confused look on her face. “You look confused Neechehe. It would be kind of like a small, ugly wolf in a pack of big, beautiful wolves like you. Some wolves would naturally not like the other wolf because it was different. That’s kind of what it’s like for me. Because I’m a short Pirtt, coteries naturally don’t like me. I had no chance of playing professional mesnuk after college because of that. That is until Mr. Grexenn bought the horned hares. I got my shot because of him.”

Neechehe seemed to look happy again as he rubbed her fur. “Just because Mr. Grexenn and Coach Mydos liked me, didn’t mean the other players liked me. First, they began to avoid me off the field. I tried to talk to them. They shunned me. Before long, they abandoned me on the field as well. I was scoring most of the points during the games before my head injury. I was playing really hard. My teammates seemed to forsake me.”

Neechehe looked sad again as he continued to rub her fur while telling the story about his career ending head wound. His head began to hurt again as he remembered. “The last game I played was against the Wyluxx City Generals. I was the only member of my team that was trying to win. My teammates were leaving me all alone to be beaten up by the Generals. I was taking one big hit after another. I was covered in bruises. The game was almost over. I was all alone again and going for two when one of the Generals hit me so hard, I went flying. The next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital. I had this horrible head injury.” He moved the flowing hair on his head and showed Neechehe the scar.

“The way my team left me alone on the field, I’m lucky I wasn’t severely injured sooner. I never got any back up or protection. It was like they wanted me to get hurt to get me off the team,” he insisted. Neechehe looked sad again as he spoke.

Zith said while holding his head, “My head is hurting really bad again, Neechehe. I’m going to sleep now. That’s the only thing that helps.”

Thirteen Months Ago

At the Kinkorx Horned Hares Practice Field in Downtown Kinkorx

“Today was another dismal practice,” Coach Mydos said angrily and loud. “I better start seeing more speed and more scoring or some of you are going to be looking for another job –and soon! Not one of you is giving me your best! The way many of you are playing, we don’t stand a chance in “It’s the Rallies.” When you come to practice tomorrow, you had better be ready to play. I want to see some speed and scoring. Hit the showers.”

Coach Jo Mydos was angry as he shook his head while walking to his office. He said as he angrily walked, “We need a leader on this team. No one has stepped up since we lost Zith Fleen. Do I ever miss him? He gave his best every day.”

The tired and sweaty horned hares ran into the locker room. “Coach Mydos was in a bad mood again today. We’re all giving our best,” said Nead Beeing, the horned hare player as he prepared for the shower.

The players hurried into the group showers. “We all better start working harder. No one wants to lose their job,” said Team Captain, Guiss Korter.

“Guiss is right. If we lose our mesnuk jobs, no other teams will hire us. The pay for jobs out there is lousy. We better start working harder,” said Cottir Greem, Zith Fleen’s former University of Kinkorx mesnuk teammate.

The players knew to quickly shower and exit the locker room. Coach Mydos had a reputation of making loitering players run laps when he was in a bad mood. The players quickly finished their cleanup and dressing. They evacuated the facility.

As he always did, Nead Beeing began walking home. He lived in the old, downtown district – not far from where Zith Fleen lived before his career ending head injury.

Nead was a Horned Hare before Zith Fleen walked onto the field to try-out for the team – several years ago. He and Zith seemed to have conflicts almost from the start. Zith was faster than Nead and he always scored more points. Almost from the day Zith was hired as a Kinkorx Horned Hare, Nead seemed to have issues with him and avoided him.

Over time, the other players began to have problems with Zith as well. Some of the players merely sided with their friend, Nead. Without any real reason other than that, the group that avoided Zith Fleen became larger.

As the rumors of the team’s internal conflicts began to emanate from the Horned Hares players into the public, the coaches defended Zith Fleen. He was usually their top scorer and defensive player. That always earned him the coach’s favor.

Over time, the conflicts between Zith Fleen and Nead Beeing grew. Nead secretly conceived a plan to abandon and forsake Zith on the playing field. It was Nead’s plan to cause a severe injury to Zith –thus getting him off the team. That same plan ultimately caused his head injury – thus ending his mesnuk career.

Nead Beeing’s secret plan to hurt Zith Fleen wasn’t as big of a secret as he thought. Several of Zith’s closest teammates had privately warned him of the plan and its orchestrator— Nead Beeing. They had secretly warned Zith to watch his back.

As Nead Beeing was walking home through old, downtown Kinkorx, he was worried about the threats that Coach Mydos was making – lately. He knew his performance on the practice and playing fields were less than remarkable. He was in jeopardy of losing his job and he knows it.

He walked along the old, spooky section of downtown Kinkorx, with the old, creepy, abandoned warehouses and scary alleyways. As he walked, he caught a glimpse of a shadowy silhouette that seemed to be following him. “Who goes there? Who are you?” he asked as fear gripped him.

His fit heart began to race in his muscular chest as he walked along the old, creepy streets of old downtown Kinkorx. He soon saw two shadows silhouettes following him. One looked like a coterie. One looked like a large animal. “Who are you? What do you want?” he asked loudly as he hurriedly walked along the creepy, twilight streets.

As he hurried along the spooky, shadowy streets at twilight, while seeing the two silhouettes shadows following him, he ask loudly, “Who…Who are you? What do you want?” His heart was pounding in his chest as he began to run toward his small, rented apartment.

As he ran, the two shadowy silhouettes started getting closer. “Who are you?” he screamed frantically and loudly as he ran.

As he turned and ran down the darkening alley toward his apartment, the two twilight shadows closed in. The large animal used its powerful jaws and grabbed his legs from behind. The animal pulled him to the ground. The shadowy, hooded Seslean grabbed his head. The large animal viciously ripped huge gashes in his legs as it bit and twisted. The coterie mercilessly attacked his head and face with a crowbar. Blood was splattering on the pavement as the Kinkorx Horned Hare was being beaten and ripped apart.

Before long, as the vicious attack continued, Nead Beeing’s legs were ripped off. Blood was splattering onto the pavement. The large animal began attacking his arms and torso. The hooded Seslean continued with the all-out assault on the mesnuk players head and face. Blood was splattering everywhere as the animal ripped one arm off the torso – then the other.

After crushing the mesnuk player’s cranium and face, he began to rip the head from the torso. With a lot of help from his friend, he quickly succeeded at his mission. With blood everywhere, including on them, the body of Nead Beeing was beaten, slashed, and dismembered. The hooded coterie put the body parts in a large bag. He – with his animal friend at his side, hurried away with the body parts.

The hooded Seslean was completely unaware that a local resident observed the gruesome murder. The resident silently watched as he and his animal friend murder, slashed, and dismembered the Kinkorx Horned Hares player, Nead Beeing.

Together, the two horrific murderers carried the body parts to a major road. Zith dumped the bloody segments next to a section of road that was well driven – thus assuring the dismembered body would be found quickly.

Meanwhile
Detective Jynn Reedier and Lieutenant Aqe Neuyh, of the Kinkorx Police Department were called to Joddi Smythe’s apartment in the old district of downtown Kinkorx. The eighty-five year young widow and retired grocery store worker reported a murder.

As the two detectives questioned Mrs. Smythe, a team from the police lab was combing the crime scene for evidence.

“Mrs. Smythe, tell us exactly what you saw out of your kitchen window. Take your time,” said Detective Reedier.

As Mrs. Smythe sat on her small, living room couch she began, “It was getting dark. But I could still see. This person was wearing a sweat suit. He was running. He looked scared. He looked to be in good shape. He turned the corner in front of my kitchen window. He was right out there.” She pointed. “A big wolf attacked him from behind. The wolf grabbed his legs. It was very large. It started tearing the poor man to pieces. Then a person wearing ahead started beating the man with a crowbar. I couldn’t see his face. He kept hitting the poor, helpless, man in the head with the crowbar. The big wolf kept ripping the man apart. It was an awful sight. There was blood everywhere. It looked like a horror movie. They ripped the man to pieces. The hooded figure put the pieces into a big bag. Whoever it was ran away with the bag and the wolf followed.”

“Are you sure you couldn’t see the killer’s face?” asked Lieutenant Aqe Neuyh.

She replied, “The person was wearing a hood…Oh—I just remembered, whoever it was, they were really short – if that helps. The wolf was big and grey. That’s all I can tell you. My husband liked horror movies. It looked like something he would watch on TV.”

“If you think of anything else, Mrs. Smythe, you can contact us at the police department. He’s my card and thank you,” said Detective Reedier as he handed her his business card.

“We’re really sorry about the loss of your husband,” Lieutenant Aqe Neuyh said as they began exiting her apartment. After they stepped through the old door into the night, she closed and locked the door.

“The killer is short. That’s not much to go on,” said Lieutenant Neuyh as they walked toward their police car in the darkness.

“When’s the last time you saw a large grey wolf in downtown Kinkorx?” asked Detective Reedier as they walked.

Lieutenant Neuyh looked bewildered. “I’ve never heard of a grey wolf anywhere in Kinkorx – definitely not in the downtown district. Wolves stay in the desert—away from coteries.

“Do you believe the woman’s story?” asked Reedier as they walked closer to the car.

Neuyh replied, “I believe the story she told us is what she thinks she saw.”

“Let’s get back to the precinct and file the reports,” said Detective Reedier as they climbed into the police car.

Lieutenant Neuyh started the motor and pulled away into the night. He replied as he drove, “Maybe the lab will find more to go on.”

The two detectives drove back to the police station.

In the darkness of night, the lab team continued to investigate the crime scene while collecting blood samples and other evidence.

The Next Day

Kinkorx Police Headquarters

The police lab team had completed their investigation of the crime scene in downtown Kinkorx. Their findings were consistent with the eyewitness’ report. The animal that helped to dismember the Kinkorx Horned Hares player, Nead Beeing was a very large grey wolf. There was desert sand present at the crime scene that helped to narrow the search. The Kinkorx Police Department was now searching for someone in the desert between Kinkorx and Wyluxx City – not far from the Wyluxx Highway. The sand was from that area of the desert.

Early the next morning, the Kinkorx Police Department, led by Police Chief Aazon Pomur drove away from the Kinkorx Police Station and began their search. The group of Kinkorx Police Cars, equipped with police dogs, drove toward Wyluxx City.

As they reached the outer-limits of Kinkorx, they continued on the Wyluxx Highway toward Wyluxx City. They would begin their hunt along this highway in the open desert.

Thirty minutes into the desert, Police Chief Pomur said over his police radio, “The sand sample was from this area of the desert. Let’s start here – pull over.”

The squadron of police stopped on the side of the sandy highway. They exited their police cars. They loaded their firearms and readied the tracking dogs. Chief Pomur addressed his officers, “This killer is extremely dangerous. He uses a wolf to help with the kills. I want the coterie alive. Kill the wolf!” said Chief Pomur, “Let’s go! Let’s find our killer!”

As Sesla’s sun was rising in the early morning sky, the police, led by the tracking dogs, began their search. They trudged into the colorful, majestic desert. The ancient stone formations and flowering plants were breathtaking to view as they hurried into the desert. They were leaving a wide trial of footprints and paw prints on the multi-colored sand as they ventured. The officers were too enthralled in their search to enjoy the aromatic fragrances from the multitude of full bloom desert flowers and plants.

They hurried along the rolling, multi-colored sand hills and around the magnificent stone formations, while being led by the tracking dogs. “Check in there!” Chief Pomur ordered as he pointed to a cave in the rock formation.

“I’m on it Chief,” Detective Jynn Reedier said loudly as he directed his tracking dog toward the opening in the stone formations. As the Seslean tracking dog pulled the Detective closer to the opening, the others waited.

With his heart pounding from anxiety, Reedier and his dog entered the dark, creepy cave. They looked around as they continued further into the dark, scorpion infested, cave. As Reedier approached the back of the cave, he said, “Nothing’s living in this cave except scorpions. Let’s go.” He and his dog hurried back to the entrance. As they walked out of the cave and into the open air, he said loudly, “All clear Chief!”

“That way,” Chief Pomur ordered. He pointed to a distant stone formation.

While being pulled by their tracking dogs, the team of police officers trudged through the deep, multi-colored sand toward the next stone formation. “The dogs aren’t picking up any scent,” said Aqe Neuyh, Police Lieutenant.

“Check in there!” Chief Pomur instructed as he pointed.

“Got it chief!” Lieutenant Neuyh responded. He and his tracking dog entered the small cave. Neuyh looked around the small, one room, short ceiling cave. “There’s not much room in here. It’s empty. Let’s go,” he said as they exited.

Neuyh said loudly, “All clear Chief!”

“Come on! The killer’s probably deeper into the desert. Keep moving!” said Chief Pomur. The group marched deeper into the multi-colored desert as the tracking dogs led.

“Over that next bluff. There’s another cave,” Detective Reedier stated.

Chief Pomur replied loudly, “Check it out!”

“Right Chief!” said Reedier. He and his tracker dog hurried toward the next cave. As they approached, his dog started barking. “He’s got a scent!” yelled Reedier.

Reedier and his dog approached the cave as the dog barked loudly. “He’s got something!” yelled Reedier. Reedier’s heart pounded with fear as he entered the cave behind the dog. His dog continued to bark violently.

As he and his tracker dog searched through the dark cave for what the scent was, a large horned hare raced out of the cave. The other dogs went crazy as the large rabbit ran away as fast as its long legs would take it. Reedier and his dog exited the cave. “It has just a rabbit!” he said loudly with relief as his fear abated.

“Did you see those horns?” asked Neuyh.

Reedier replied, “Yes – They’re huge!”

Chief Pomur ordered loudly, “Keep going! I know our killer is somewhere around here!”

“Chief, we’ve been out here for two hours and found nothing. Maybe the sand at the crime scene came from somewhere else,” Detective Jynn Reedier whined loudly as his out of shape legs cramped.

“Keep moving!” Pomur yelled angrily.

The posse of police officers and tracking dogs continued to trudge along the hills and valleys over the multi-colored sand. They walked around countless flowering plants as they searched through the sandy desert. Their tracking dogs were leading them deeper into the open, vast, Seslean desert. As they passed several ancient stone formations, they checked for caves. They found none.

As Detective Reedier’s legs continued to cramp, he began to complain again. “This hunt is fruitless. Before we get too deep in the desert, we should go back. Maybe the sand came from somewhere else,” he said as he paused to catch his breath and rest his cramping legs.

“That’s the problem with detectives – you’re all lazy. Keep moving!” shouted Chief Pomur. The group continue their search across a desert. The officers were still too engulfed in their mission to enjoy the sweet, aromatic fragrances from the multitude of flowering plants and bushes that flourished in the Seslean desert. They were viewing the many ancient, majestic, stone formations as nothing more than a place for a killer to hide.

“Around those rocks!” Chief Pomur shouted.

The exhausted team of out of shape police officers followed their boss’ orders. As the dogs pulled them across the multi-colored sand, they hurried around the very large stone formation. “Over that bluff!” yelled the persistent Chief.

The officers trudged around the large stones – toward the distant bluff. “My legs are killing me,” muttered Reedier.

“Keep it down. You don’t want to make the Chief any madder. None of us are in very good shape,” said his friend, Aqe Neuyh.

“When the chief thinks he’s onto something, he doesn’t stop. He’s killing us,” said Reedier as he struggled along the sand with his tracking dog pulling him while barking.

“That’s why he’s the chief – I guess,” Neuyh added as he was being pulled by his tracking dog. “My legs are cramping too. I don’t know how much more of this I can take – either.”

Reedier replied as he panted for breath, “I think we’re on a crazy hunt. I’ll bet the killer is nowhere near here.”

“I don’t believe a word about the pet wolf – do you?” asked Neuyh as he limped slightly while following.

“It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever heard. A pet wolf that helped this killer maul his victim,” said Reedier as he paused for a moment to catch his breath and ease the cramps.

“A wolf that goes into downtown Kinkorx—into the slumps,” said Neuyh as he stops to breathe, “and works as a partner to dismember a victim.”

“Even though the lab confirmed Mrs. Smythe’s story, I still think it’s craziest,” said Reedier as he stood while catching his breath. His dog continued to tug at him and bark as he stood still breathing hard.

Chief Pomur looked back angrily at his two slacking officers. “You two having a party back there? We have a killer to catch. Keep moving!” he ordered loudly. He was becoming more and more angry at the laziness of his officers.

They continued to trudge along the sand while persisting in their search. They searched over hills and into small valleys. They searched inside numerous caves while looking for the killer.

After a lengthy time of hunting, the officers began to slow and complain again. “We’re getting tired, Chief,” Reedier protested as he walked.

The chief’s patience with his team was beginning to wear thin. Before long he exploded. “You’re all a bunch of out of shape cops! Stop your whining! I can’t believe how out of shape you all are!” he said angrily as he continued.

“I told you we were going to make the chief mad,” said Aqe Neuyh as he followed.

“We better keep up with the group. Detectives who get on the wrong side of the Chief don’t last long,” Reedier warned as he picked up his pace as his dog pulled.

“I don’t want to move to the wet lands for a job. I want to stay away from the Gang of Five and the Joqzonions as long as possible,” said Neuyh as he hurried while being pulled by his tracking dog. “Let’s pick up our pace before the Chief gets really mad and fires us.” Their dogs pulled them and barked loudly as they increased their speed while pursuing the rest of the team.

The team continued to struggle along the multi-colored sand for hours. Their legs were cramping badly. While searching for an unknown killer and being pulled by their tracking dogs, they continued to search one rock formation after another.

Their search was now into the fifth hour. Sesla’s sun was shining proudly in the afternoon sky. They were journeying deeper into the colorful, magical desert.

“Over that next bluff!” the chief ordered loudly.

With frustration, the exhausted team followed the chief’s orders. They struggled to the next sand formation. As they fought their cramps and walked around the long formation, they approached a small, varmint hole in the sand. The dogs began to act wildly and bark loudly as they approached the small opening in the multi-colored sand.

Reedier said exhaustedly, “Chief. I think we found something.”

“Look inside!” Pomur ordered loudly.

The tired detective asked with alarm, “You mean, stick my head in that hole?”

“Do have a problem with that?” Pomur responded with anger.

Reedier replied with great concern for his face, “No Chief.”

As the dogs continued to act crazy and bark, the tired detective bent down. He cautiously looked inside the small hole in the wall of the colorful sand. When he saw nothing but an empty, very small hollow in the sand, he breathed a sigh of relief. “It’s very small and empty – Chief.”

As Reedier stood, he opened his canteen and began to drink.

“Go easy on that water. We might be out here for a while,” said Chief Pomur loudly.

With frustration, Reedier closed his police water flask. “I was only having a quick sip,” he grumbled.

“Chief! Over here!” said Neuyh as he pointed.

Chief Pomur looked in the direction Neuyh was pointing. “What is it!” he asked angrily. “I don’t see anything.”

“Wolf tracks! Big…wolf tracks!” Neuyh reported.

The team rushed toward Lieutenant Neuyh who was a short distance away. Their dogs were going crazy as they pulled the officers across the sand toward the tracks.

“Let the dogs get a good whiff of those tracks,” said Chief Pomur, “I knew the killer was around here.” He glared angrily at his officers as they stood exhausted and weary while catching their breathe.

The dogs were acting crazy and barking fiercely as they sniffed the scent of the large wolf that made the recent tracks in the colorful sand. “There’re ready. Follow the dogs!” yelled the Chief excitedly.

Their search was into the seventh hour. Sesla’s sun was dropping in the late afternoon sky. They began the search for the large wolf that made the tracks. The officer’s legs were cramping and their thirst was becoming overpowering as they hurriedly trudged.

As the tracking dogs barked loudly, they pulled the officers along the multi-colored sand. They passed by one stone formation after another. The dogs pulled them along the sand and barked loudly as they pulled. The officer’s legs cramped as they continued to follow the dogs as they tracked the large wolf.

The hours past as the dogs barked, howled, and tracked. The team followed the large wolf tracks. Sesla’s sun was drifting toward the evening horizon. “It’ll be dark before long chief. We’re deep in the desert. Shouldn’t we abandon the search for today and start again tomorrow?” asked Reedier.

Chief Pomur yelled, “We’ll stop when we have our killer! Not a minute sooner!” The team continued to track the large wolf tracks into the evening. They tracked the large wolf prints across numerous hills and valleys in the open desert.

“The wolf’s leading us deeper into the desert!” yelled Reedier.

Pomur responded, “It’s leading us to the den. Keep following the dogs!” he yelled.

The dogs continued to bark and howl as they pursued the wolf. Farther and farther into the desert they trudged. Sesla’s sun had slipped past the evening horizon. The night sky was becoming visible as they stayed on the wolf’s trail.

The officer’s legs were aching—their mouths were dry. Their stomachs were empty as they followed their dogs. “How do we know the wolf isn’t leading us into the desert just to kill and eat us?” asked Aqe Neuyh loudly as he hurriedly walked.

Chief Pomur shouted angrily, “We don’t! Keep on the trail!”

It was now dark. The officers were hurrying along the sand while tracking by flashlight. The dogs continued to bark, howl, and yelp, as they tracked the large wolf prints in the night desert. “That wolf could be circling around for a surprise attack,” said Reedier.

The Chief said loudly as they pursued, “Anyone sees the wolf – shoot it on sight!”

As the night desert sky became more brilliant, they could see the billions of stars. They could also see the blue, yellow, and red gaseous clouds that illuminated the night sky. “The night sky in the desert sure is pretty,” said Aqe Neuyh as his tracking dog was pulling him.

The team continued to follow the tracks over hills and valleys and around gigantic stone formations as the dogs barked and howled excitedly. Their legs were aching and they were becoming weak from hunger and thirst. Their exhaustion was beginning to overtake them again.

The night was now fully dark as they pursued the tracks. “It’s getting close to midnight, Chief. How long are we going to follow these tracks?” asked Detective Reedier angrily and exhaustedly as the group trudged farther into the dark desert.

Pomur angrily replied, “We’ll continue until we find our killer. Forget the time! Keep moving!”

As the group followed the wolf tracks by flashlight, one of the dogs began to track away from the group. “Chief! This dog’s onto another scent,” said Reedier.

“Follow it. You two – go with Reedier,” Pomur ordered while pointing.

The three followed the new trail. They tracked in a different direction. They followed the trail toward a large group of stones that were sticking up from the desert floor.

As the first group pursued the original tracks, suddenly the tracks and scent ended. The dogs circled and sniffed without a direction. “The wolf scent disappeared. What happened? ” asked Aqe Neuyh, Police Lieutenant.

“That’s one smart wolf. It backtracked on us. Let’s catch up with Reedier,” said Chief Pomur. The first team pulled the dogs and turned them around. They hurried toward Reedier and his team as their dogs began to bark and howl again.

Reedier and his team were pursuing a track that was leading them into the large stone formations –ahead. It was after midnight. The night sky was magical as the team followed the second tracks toward the large stones.

The first group soon caught up with Reedier and his team. They reunited and all followed the second scent and tracks. They were tracking by flashlight as they hurried along the hilly sand, as the tracking dogs barked and howled.

As the police team trudged closer to the stones, under the moonlight, they could see a cave. Pomur said, “The tracks are leading straight to that cave. Quiet down the dogs. Our killer’s probably hiding in there. Hopefully sleeping. Let’s surprise whoever it is.”

With the dogs now quiet, the team silently approached the cave.

They quietly crept to the entrance. Detective Reedier peaked inside. He turned back to the group and reported, “There’s a small fire. Somebody’s definitely living in the cave.”

“Draw your weapons,” Chief Pomur ordered while whispering. “On the count of three, we rush the cave.” The entire team silently pulled their firearms from their holsters. They quietly removed the safeties.

Pomur whispered, “One…Two…Three.” The entire team, including the tracking dogs, entered the large cave. They had their firearms pointed and their flashlights shining as they rushed in.

The large wolf that they had been tracking growled ferociously as it lunged at them. The wolf grabbed one of the dog’s necks in its powerful jaws. The other police dogs ferociously attacked the large wolf as it continued the death grip on the yelping dog.

The battle between the wolf and police dogs was immense. The vicious sounds of growling and barking could be heard for miles. The dogs and wolf bit and gnawed each other as the officers tried to get a clear shot at the wolf. Fur flew into the air as the ferocious battle raged.

“Boom!” sounded Lieutenant Aqe Neuyh’s Police rifle.

The wolf yelped and released its death grip on the police dog’s throat. It leaped over the dogs. In a flash, it darted out the entrance of the cave and into the darkness.

“I think I wounded it!” Lieutenant Neuyh shouted with excitement.

Detective Reedier added with excitement, “Good shot Neuyh! I think you got it. That grey wolf was huge.”

“I’ve never seen a grey wolf anywhere near that big. Is everyone ok? Are the dogs ok?” asked Chief Pomur.

Neuyh said, “The dogs got chewed a bit. They’ll need to see the Vet when we get back— Rabies.” He nodded to emphasize.

Pomur ordered, “Check the rest of the cave! Our killer’s hiding somewhere in those tunnels.”

The team kept the dogs quiet as they began their search of the cave. The cave was large and deep, with several caverns that tunneled in different directions. “Split up! We need to cover every inch of this cave—and Fast!” Pomur ordered loudly.

He said to one of the officers. “Stay by the entrance. Make sure the killer doesn’t escape. I want them alive!” he shouted as he pointed.

The officers split-up as there were several tunnels to search. They no longer felt the exhaustion or hunger. They were feeding on their desire to catch the killer. Their adrenaline was flowing throughout their bodies. Their hearts were pounding in their chests and their hands were sweaty as they gripped their firearms and flashlights.

Each officer slowly searched a section of the dark, creepy cave. The search continued into the depth of night. Each officer slowly and quietly walked along the dark, stone tunnels. They constantly stepped on desert scorpions that were crawling in the cavern as they slowly walked.

As Lieutenant Neuyh turned a corner, while shining his flashlight and directing his dog, suddenly someone grabbed him from behind. “Ha!” said Neuyh loudly. He dropped his flashlight as he struggled with the attacker.

His tracking dog immediately attacked the stranger. With the help of his dog, he quickly subdued the small attacker. The battle only took seconds.

“Over here!” he yelled, “I’ve got the killer!” Neuyh frantically wrestled with the restrained attacker. Surprisingly to the Lieutenant, the attacker wasn’t putting up much of a fight. He was easily overpowering his small attacker in the dark with the help of his dog. “For a killer—you’re not very big or strong,” Neuyh said as he remained on top of the killer while overpowering him.

The flashlights came closer—Fast as the other officers and their dogs rushed to Neuyh’s aid. Everyone shined their flashlights on the small Seslean man as Neuyh retained his controlling grip. The dogs no longer remained quiet. The growled and barked at the stranger.

As Neuyh continued to conquer, Pomur shined his light on the short coteries face. The killer attempted to hide his face in the shadowy silhouettes of the dark cave. “Cuff him,” ordered Chief Pomur with authority.

Detective Reedier removed his handcuffs from his belt. He quickly secured the killer’s hands. “Now—Let’s see who you are,” Reedier said.

“Don’t you recognize him?” asked the Chief, “That’s Zith Fleen – the mesnuk player who was injured in the game against the Generals. If he’s our killer, I’d say his motive is revenge.”

“Let’s see if he’s our killer,” said Reedier. He removed his small, portable, fingerprint kit from his detective’s belt. As the officers shone their flashlights on him and their prisoner, he carefully made a thumbprint from the captive’s thumb. Using his electronic detective tools, he compared it to the thumbprints that were recovered from the brutal dismemberment of the Kinkorx Horned Hares player in downtown Kinkorx. “Chief,” he said. “We have a match. The lab will make the final call. From what I can see, we have our killer.”

Pour ordered, “Read him his rights!”

Detective Reedier turned to Zith. “You are under arrest for the murder of Nead Beeing. You have the right to remain silent. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, an attorney will be issued to you…

After Detective Reedier issued Zith Fleen his legal rights, the group began to walk toward the entrance of the cave. Two officers pulled their prisoner as the others shined their flashlights onto the cave walls and floor.

As they walked, while stepping on numerous scorpions and squishing them, they were surprised at the lack of resistance the killer was offering. He was seemingly walking almost freely. “You’re not fighting very much—for a killer,” said Neuyh as they walked.

It was after 3:00am when the police team left the cave. “Follow our tracks,” ordered Chief Pomur. The exhausted, hungry, and thirsty team walked, with their prisoner, along the dark sand as they trudged up one sandy hill and down another. They walked around one stone formation after another – under the picturesque desert night sky.

As they walked, they exhaustingly viewed the brilliant stars, as well as the yellow, red, and blue gaseous clouds that added to the night skies splendor and beauty. Some of them began to smell the fragrant flowers. “I didn’t notice how wonderful the flowers smell in the desert. The aromas are sweet,” said Neuyh exhaustingly as they walked while holding onto Zith Fleen.

“It’s a real flower garden out here,” Pomur said with irritation and sarcasm as he walked, due to his tiredness and hunger. He looked at Zith while shinning the flashlight in his face and said, “For a killer—you’re awfully quiet. This is when killers like you try to convince me you didn’t kill anyone.”

Zith remained speechless as they trudged under the spectacular desert night sky across the dark sand. The team of police walked for several hours with their prisoner while following their previous tracks, as the late night slowly turned to early morning. Due to exhaustion and hunger, the dogs remained quiet as they led the group across the desert sand.

Sesla’s morning sun was rising brilliantly in the sky when the team of officers finally arrived back at their cars. “Get the prisoner loaded and locked in. I don’t want him escaping,” Chief Pomur ordered with cramps and fatigue.

The very sleepy and hungry police officers put Zith Fleen in the Chief’s squad car. They locked him in. They loaded their hungry, tired police dogs. “Let’s go. I want to get him locked into a jail cell as fast as possible,” said the very exhausted and irritable Chief.

The police officers entire bodies ached as they slowly entered their cars. With complete exhaustion, they waited for the chief to start. Chief Pomur turned on his red and blue flashing lights and siren. “Wee…ooo, Wee…ooo, Whoop, Whoop, Whoop, Wee…ooo, Wee…ooo…,” screamed the chief’s siren. He began to pull ahead with his prisoner in the back seat.

The other police followed suit. They turned on their flashing lights and sirens. “Wee…ooo, Wee…ooo, Whoop, Whoop, Whoop, Wee…ooo, Wee…ooo….,” the screaming sound of police sirens was deafening as the caravan of police cars followed the chief as he speeded back to the Kinkorx Police Station.

As they drove at a high speed, Chief Pomur radioed ahead to Police Officer Jitta ReFrex, “We caught the killer. We’re bring him in – ETA thirty minutes.”

Thirty-Seven Minutes Later
The squadron of police cars with their screaming sirens, “Wee…ooo, Wee…ooo, Whoop, Whoop, Whoop, Wee…ooo, Wee…ooo….,” and flashing red and blue spinning lights arrived at the Kinkorx Police Station.

Kinkorx TV News roaming reporter Pymur Muxx and Seqre Tarser roaming news reporter for Kinkorx Ultra -Modern Radio had just arrived on the scene. Both news reporters were ready while in the police parking lot. They were going to get the exclusive first story thanks to their inside informer. It was Police Officer Jitta ReFrex’s responsibility to contact the Kinkorx TV and radio stations whenever Chief Pomur called in an ETA with a prisoner.

Chief Pomur and the other officers discontinued their sirens and flashing lights—then exited their police cars. Chief Pomur and Detective Reedier opened the rear door and grabbed Zith Fleen. He was doubled over with head pain as they pulled him out of the rear seat.

The two Executive Officers, while escorting their alleged murderer, approached the reporters and camera crew that were standing in front of the station door.

As they approached the media, Pymur Muxx and Seqre Tarser began their introductions of the exclusive, live reports. “I am Pymur Muxx. I’m reporting live from the Kinkorx Police Station. Only moments ago, Police Chief Pomur and his team of top police officers arrived at the police station. Chief Pomur, what can you tell us about your prisoner?”

The cameras flashed photo after photo of Chief Pomur, Detective Reedier, and their prisoner— Zith Fleen. The live video techs recorded with their video cameras. Zith winced from the continued head pain as it was exacerbated by the flashing lights.

Chief Pomur began his live statement. “After collecting strong evidence from the crime scene. The police lab informed me of where they thought the killer was hiding. Yesterday morning my team set out on a hunt to find and apprehend the killer. I am happy to report that after a twenty-six hour hunt through the desert, with tracking dogs, we caught the killer—”

Seqre Tarser interrupted and quickly asked, “Chief Pomur, isn’t that Zith Fleen—the former Kinkorx Horned Hare that received the career ending head injury during the game against the Generals?”

Pomur replied with anger and exhaustion, “That’s correct. When the police lab confirms Detective Reedier’s findings. We will have irrefutable proof that Zith Fleen is the killer. When I charge him with the brutal murder of Nead Beeing, the Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player, I will record revenge as the motive. For now, I’m keeping him locked in my jail where he can’t Slash and dismember any more of the Kinkorx Horned Hares players.”

The camera technicians began snapping photos again of Zith Fleen as fast as their cameras would go. They knew their best photos would be on the news wire within the hour. Zith Fleen’s picture would be on the cover of every news story and newspaper on Sesla. Their names would be on the pictures.

Chief Pomur was irritable and lethargic as he said, “We need to place our prisoner in a cell where he can’t escape and kill anyone else. Then we all need to get some sleep.” The photos continued to flash as the chief, his detective, and prisoner entered the police station.

The two reporters closed their live reports.

Pymur Muxx said, “Early yesterday morning, Chief Pomur and his officers began a twenty-six hour hunt that lead them deep into the desert off Wyluxx Highway…

Seqre Tarser began, “During a twenty-six hour hunt with police tracking dogs, Police Chief Pomur and his officers searched deep into the desert. Chief Pomur and his team apprehended and arrested Zith Fleen for the brutal murder, dismemberment, and slashing of Nead Beeing, the Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player.

We all remember the severe head injury Zith Fleen suffered at the end of a mesnuk game between the Horned Hares and the Generals several seasons ago. That injury ended his fairy-tale professional mesnuk career. During that same time, there were a number of strong rumors that were emanating from the Horned Hares locker room. Those rumors concerned Zith Fleen. Zith Fleen is now safely locked in Chief Pomur’s jail. If Zith Fleen is found guilty of this brutal murder, Chief Pomur has stated that he will record revenge as the motive. This is Seqre Tarser, reporting live from the Kinkorx Police Department on Kinkorx Ultra-Modern Radio.

Both reporters and their teams finished their exclusive, live reports. They scurried to load their equipment into their vans so they could rush back to their TV and radio stations. They wanted to broadcast their exclusive story over the news wire as fast as possible.

Meanwhile At The Home of Detective Maxx Zeqster
Maxx was sitting in his plush, recliner in his welcoming living room. He was enjoying a cup of tea after his long morning stroll through his neighborhood streets in Bedsult. He was watching the Kinkorx TV Breaking News Report as he rested from his early walk.

He thought as he watched the report while the broadcast switched back to the Kinkorx TV News Studio, “According to Chief Pomur, the next step is to carryout police testing on Zith Fleen to confirm that he is indeed the killer.”

Meez Broplen at Kinkorx TV News Studios continued: “When we learn more about this shocking murder case we will immediately inform you. This has been a Breaking News story live from the Kinkorx Police Station. I am Meez Broplen, anchor for Kinkorx TV News, now back to our regular programming.”

After watching Pymur Muxx’s live report, Maxx said, “If Zith Fleen did murder Nead Beeing, he’s the most gruesome murderer we’ve ever had in this area. He bashed in Nead Beeing’s head. He slashed and dismembered the body. Then he dumped it on the side of a busy road. According to Chief Pomur, it was an act of revenge. I wonder how many other Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk players he wants to slash, kill, and dismember as an act of revenge?”

Within An Hour
Due to the news wire, Zith Fleen’s photo was being pasted on the front page of every newspaper in the desert and the wet lands. Zith Fleen was the top story on every news channel on Sesla as well. A typical headline read:

Zith Fleen – The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher is Captured

Chapter Four

Twelve Months and Two Weeks Ago

At the Kinkorx Police Station

Zith Fleen had spent almost a week in the small jail cell while being restrained with hand and ankle cuffs. He spent his time quietly lying or quietly sitting on the hard bed while planning his escape. His continual headache had eased—for the moment.

Officer Yirre walked down the jail corridor toward Zith’s cell. As he approached, he said loudly, “Today’s your lucky day, Zith. You’re being transferred.”

Police Officer, Figua Yirre mockingly banged on Zith Fleen’s cell. “How does that make your head feel? I bet I’m giving you another headache. You’re being transferred to Judge Lykun’s courtroom. Are you going to miss me? I’m sure going to miss you.” He banged on the cell bars again as he started to leave. “I’ll bet that cell was starting to feel like your new home,” he said as he walked down the corridor.

Only minutes later, Chief Pomur and Detective Reedier approached Zith’s cell. As the chief opened the cell door, he asked, “How’s your head?”

Zith was holding his head as he said, “It was better before your officer banged on the bars. How it’s splitting again.”

“Does it ever go away?” asked Detective Reedier.

“Not for very long. I’ve had a constant headache since I woke up in the hospital after that mesnuk game. Some days it’s minor – other days it pounds,” said Zith as he held his throbbing head.

“It’s bad now, isn’t it?” asked the chief.

Zith replied as he held his head, “It’s really pounding.”

“Can you walk?” asked Chief Pomur.

“I think so,” he said. He slowly stood while keeping his hands on his throbbing head.

“I’ll need to keep the cuffs on while we transport you,” said Pomur.

“Just doing your job. Nothing personal,” said Zith as he winced from the extreme throbbing in his head.

“Are the cuffs loose enough for circulation?” Pomur asked as he checked them both.

Zith replied, “They’re the same as they’ve been for a week.”

Pomur said, “We can walk slowly. Let’s go. It’s a long drive to Jxobslyn.”

Chief Pomur and Detective Reedier escorted Zith Fleen out of the police station while other officers followed for security and drama. The Kinkorx TV News along with other TV and radio news cameras with reporters were covering the transfer live. The mass of reporters along with camera and video crew were waiting outside.

The live Breaking News Story was being broadcast via the news wire over every TV station and radio station on Sesla.

Kinkorx TV News roaming reporter, Pymur Muxx reported as his camera crew recorded. “The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher is being transferred to Judge Yymi Lykun’s courtroom in Jxobslyn. There he will receive a fair trial for the brutal slashing, killing, and dismembering of Nead Beeing, the Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player…”

The police team escorted Zith Fleen toward their police vehicles. The numerous reporters made their live reports. The news video cameras recorded, and the photographers snapped picture after picture. The group slowly walked to the waiting armored police van.

Zith was helped inside by Detective Reedier. He was seated in the prisoner’s chair. Reedier jumped inside the armored van as well. He kept the doors open long enough for the cameras and reporters to see him apply the locking straps to Zith’s arms, legs, neck, and wrists. Once he had strapped Zith in the seat, he closed the doors. Police Lieutenant, Aqe Neuyh, locked the doors from the outside.

“Ready,” said Reedier to the driver by radio.

As the cameras flashed, the video cameras recorded, and the reporters detailed the event, the armored van driver drove out of the police station parking lot. A group of police led and followed in their cars.

As Sesla’s sun was rising in the morning sky, the impressive team of police began the drive from the Kinkorx Police Station in downtown Kinkorx to the small desert town— Jxobslyn—in Xcuymir Territory. In Jxobslyn, Zith Fleen would get his day in court before Judge Yymi Lykun.

Two Hours Later
The convoy of police personnel drove in front of the Xcuymir Territory Sheriff Department and Court House in Jxobslyn and parked. The caravan of police vehicles occupied an entire block of legal and illegal parking spaces in front of the courthouse.

A large group of reporters and camera crews were waiting on the courthouse lawn. They hurried toward the armored van. The officers quickly exited their vehicles. They walked toward the armored van as the reporters swarmed.

Chief Pomur and the other officers kept the crowd back as Police Lieutenant, Aqe Neuyh walked to the rear doors of the armored van. He unlocked the doors and opened them. “Everything ok in there?” he asked.

Reedier replied, “Fine. Stay there while I unstrap the prisoner. Keep those reporters back.”

The camera crews flashed photo after photo while reporters began their live videos. Tymos Zindo, reporter for the Nivcozz Gazette, a daily newspaper in Zeeton Territory, began his live report, “The Kinkorx Horned Slasher is being unstrapped and taken inside to Judge Lykun’s courtroom…

Zith sat quietly as Detective Reedier removed the straps. “How’s your headache?” asked Lieutenant Neuyh as he watched.

Zith replied, “It’s better now.”

“He slept the entire way,” said Reedier.

While being bound by the wrist and ankle cuffs, Zith slowly stood up. He began to stagger and wobble.

“Careful,” said Reedier as he offered support.

Zith slowly struggled the few short steps to the back of the armored van. With Lieutenant Neuyh’s help, Zith unsteadily stepped down the steps to the street.

The large group of reporters and camera operators continued to swarm the armored van and Zith Fleen. The camera crews continued taking one photo after another – as fast as their cameras would flash. The reporters continued with their live Breaking News reports.

The flashes of light were igniting Zith’s headache again as he struggled to walk, while being surrounded by Chief Pomur and the host of police officers. The large collection of officers escorted Zith Fleen toward the courthouse as he struggled to walk with ankle and wrist cuffs.

The reporters were broadcasting their live reports from the lawn. Kisli Deeme, reporter for the Horxant Register, a daily newspaper in Zeeton Territory, reported into her recorder, “The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher is being taken inside to Judge Lykun’s courtroom for trial…

As the reporters remained outside, Zith was escorted inside the courthouse and into Judge Lykun’s courtroom.

Several Hours Later
It was early afternoon and the reporters and camera crews were still sitting on the courthouse lawn. They were waiting as Chief Pomur and his officers exit the courthouse. The group of media jumped up and hurried to the Chief as they began their live broadcasts again.

“I am reporting live outside the courthouse in Jxobslyn. Chief Pomur, what happened inside Judge Lykun’s courtroom?” asked Wyluxx City TV News roaming reporter Qyis Moyy.

Chief Pomur spoke into the host of microphones, “Today justice was served. After hearing the overwhelming evidence, Judge Lykun found Zith Fleen guilty of the brutal murder and dismemberment of Nead Beeing, the Kinkorx Horned Hares player.”

Kisli Deeme, reporter for the Horxant Register asked, “What type of evidence was presented?”

Pomur replied, “There was considerable evidence that was found at the crime scene by our lab that matched the suspect.”

“What was Judge Lykun’s decision on sentencing,” asked Nivcozz Gazette reporter, Tymos Zindo.

“Judge Lykun sentenced Zith Fleen to life in prison at the Xcuymir Territory Correctional Facility. Now if you will excuse me, we have a long drive back to our station. After that, we have a lot more work to do,” said Pomur.

Wyluxx City Times, daily newspaper reporter, Wrux Frezew asked, “Where is Zith Fleen now?”

With irritation and a “There’s always one idiot in a crowd” look, he shook his head. “At this moment Zith Fleen is being transported to the Xcuymir Territory Correctional Facility in Jxobslyn. Excuse me!”

Chief Pomur and his staff began walking to their cars and vans.

The reporters began closing their live broadcasts.

One Hour Later
Sesla’s sun was moving across the afternoon sky as Pymur Muxx began his live broadcast. “I am Kinkorx TV News roaming reporter Pymur Muxx. I’m reporting live from the Xcuymir Territory Correctional Facility in Jxobslyn. In a courtroom full of shocking testimony earlier today, Judge Yymi Lykun of Xcuymir Territory sentenced Zith Fleen, the former Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player to a life sentence in the psychiatric wing of this facility.

My sources have informed me that during the closed to the media trial, Police Chief Aazon Pomur, of the Kinkorx Police Department, testified against Zith Fleen. He presented evidence gathered from the crime scene by the Kinkorx Police lab. The lab was sent to investigate the murder scene of the Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player, Nead Beeing. He was murdered in downtown Kinkorx. The body was found later, dumped on the side of a main road. His body was beaten, slashed, and dismembered.

Chief Pomur also presented strong evidence gathered from their desert hunt that linked Zith Fleen to the murder scene and to the murdered body of Nead Beeing.

There was also an eyewitness at the murder scene that helped to identify Zith Fleen as the killer.

Also during the alarming trial, in a very unwise and unheard of event, against his council’s advice, Zith Fleen asked Judge Lykun if he could take the witness stand. My sources have indicated to me that Zith Fleen explained his side of the stories that many of us heard. The rumors of how the Kinkorx Horned Hares abandoned him both on and off the playing field. Due to them forsaking him and leaving him unprotected on the playing field, he received many, unnecessary hits by opposing players. One hit ended his career. When he spoke, he vowed to make them all pay for their actions.

The shocking evidence and Zith Fleen’s statement of revenge lead Judge Lykun to hand down his very harsh, lifetime prison sentence.

As we all know, he received the career ending head injury after a devastating hit at the end of the game against the Generals. Apparently he directly blames his teammates for that career-ending hit—that tragic day.

I’m told that, as I am reporting this live broadcast, Zith Fleen is being assigned his lifetime cell inside this correctional facility—in the psychiatric wing. In this particular wing, he will be evaluated by staff psychiatrists daily in an effort to assess his condition. The doctors will also design treatment plans to help him. Due to the severity of his previous head injury, it is unclear if any options are available that will actually help…

Meanwhile

Inside The Correctional Facility

The Correctional Facility in Jxobslyn, in Xcuymir Territory, is an old, run-down, adobe brick facility. Its outer appearance is creepy. It looks like an asylum. A large weedy yard surrounds the spider web infested, vine covered, spooky prison with mental institution. A once well-used and maintained mesnuk field is now a field of sagebrush, weeds, and Xosyer Bushes.

A high chain link fence with barbed wire top encloses the yard and building. The giant, merciless fence has only one gate. All trucks and cars must pass through the guarded, locked gate. The guards are always equipped with high-powered firearms.

Surprisingly, there are a lot of windows on the outside of the very old institution. Due to a lack of maintenance, the windowpanes are dust covered to the point that they are impossible to see through. Then, through the decades, vines have covered the creepy, asylum looking building. All of the windows are dust and vine covered and impossible to see through.

The inside of the prison and psychiatric asylum has a dungeon-like appearance. There is a small, spooky entrance area. This is where visitors of family members are greeted. This area is also the least scary part of the entire institution. Once someone leaves the greeting area and ventures deeper into the dungeon-like prison and mental institution, bad things can happen.

The hallways are old and dark with cracked walls—some have dirt floors. The ancient lighting that runs along the crumbling ceiling provides a small amount of the light that is needed for the long, creepy corridors. The spooky passageways have a noticeable smell of vomit and feces. The strong stenches are a result of inmates and mental patients that lost control of their circumstances and presented the institution with a sample of their inner-turmoil. Even though the inmates that are on janitor duty quickly clean up the deposits, the foul odors linger.

The host of small cells in the dungeon-like establishment are very similar. They boast of the same lighting as the corridors. There is a single bed with an extremely well-worn mattress. Some of the good behavior patients and prisoners have a very small table and single chair in their rooms. Due to the very limited plumbing in the facility, the rooms are generously equipped with a pot and lid for vomiting and waste evacuations.

The prison is divided into several wings. There are male and female wings. There is a wing for the least offenders. These prisoners require the least amount of guarding. The wings go all the way to the worst criminals. These criminals are usually serving life sentences for murder and other serous, violent crimes.

Some violent prisoners earn a cell in maximum security. These tiny rooms have a dirt floor and no mattress or pillow—or pot.

There is also the psychiatric wings. These wings are for the insane patients and inmates who require the services of the staff psychiatrists. They are also categorized by how dangerous the patient is. Max-security is also available in these wings.

Some patients and prisoners are allowed to decorate their walls with limited personal belongings. This is a privilege awarded to the well behaved and the less severe criminals. Criminals like Zith Fleen are rarely ever awarded even the least of privileges.

Meanwhile
Zith Fleen was sitting in a small chair, in his creepy cell, in the psychiatric wing. His eyes were blue and puffy – one was swollen shut. He was bleeding from his face, mouth, and nose. His own blood was matted in his hair from his bleeding head. His blood was dripping onto the cell floor. His blood was splattered on the wall from the many fists to his head. He sustained two cracked ribs as well from the welcoming committee guard.

“I understand you get a lot of headaches,” said the guard. He belted Zith in the mouth with his fist—Again. Zith’s blood flew onto the cracked wall of his decrepit cell— Again.

As the guard looked at the blood splats on the wall he asked sarcastically, “How is your headache now? Oh and by the way. One of your first duties will be to clean the blood off your floor and walls. We have standards to maintain—you know.” He belted the nearly unconscious prisoner again – in the mouth – and again.

Zith Fleen’s bloody head drooped as he lost consciousness while sitting in the tiny, temporary chair. “How disappointing. I was expecting more from The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher,” said the welcoming guard.

“So was I,” said the witness guard. “It’s hard to imagine this guy slashing anyone— especially a Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player. Those guys are huge – and strong!”

It was the job of the witness guard to report any wrong treatment of the prisoner that he witnessed. It was his job to insure that the new prisoner was treated fairly and courteously while being placed in their permanent, life-long cell. After the introduction, he would file a report with Warden Stelth stating that Zith Fleen was treated with kindness and respect – that the prisoner understood the rules of the institution.

“I hear he has a pet wolf that helped him slash and rip apart that mesnuk player,” said the disappointed guard as he glanced at his bloody knuckles.

The witness guard laughed as Zith Fleen sat unconscious and bleeding in the chair with his head drooping. The blood was coagulating on his face and hair while forming a puddle on the floor. He said as he laughed, “His pet wolf isn’t helping him now!”

“He doesn’t look like much of a Slasher without his wolf friend,” said the welcome committee guard as he laughed. “Let’s get him out of this chair and into bed. He doesn’t get a chair. These chairs are a privilege.” The two guards forcefully lifted the unconscious murderer from the chair. They drug him three feet to the decrepit bed.

“Ready! Toss!” They threw the very short, thin prisoner onto the worn out bed.

“Keep him face up. We don’t want his blood staining the mattress. After all, your report to the warden will show a very nice, clean delivery of the patient to his cell,” he laughed, “as always. We don’t want anyone to see a bloody mattress,” said the welcome guard.

“I don’t see any blood. If there’s blood, he did that himself,” said the witness guard as he laughed.

The welcome guard laughed as he said, “That’s what I like about you. You never see anything… Let’s get out of here.” The two guards exited the room. They paused to lock the door.

Ten Months Ago
The male inmates that earned yard privileges were enjoying the sunny, warm afternoon. Sesla’s sun was shining brightly on them as some played a mini game of mesnuk. Others stood while still others sat on the weedy ground.

As Zith Fleen was sitting next to a short Xosyer Bush, he was enjoying a rare day without a headache. The bruises on his face and head were healed. The swelling around his eyes had gone away. The red blotches on his eyes from the guard’s knuckles were gone. His two cracked ribs were finally healed.

As he quietly sat on the weedy ground, while enjoying the sunshine, a fellow prisoner bumped into him. “You’re in my way!” the prisoner said angrily.

Zither quietly moved.

The fellow inmate bumped into him again. “You’re still in my way!”

Without saying anything, Zith slowly stood. He walked away from the large inmate.

The inmate grabbed him. “I’m taking to you!”

“What do you want?” asked Zith without raising his arms.

“I don’t like you!” said the fellow prisoner—angrily. He hit Zith in the face.

“Rrrruuu…Rrrruuu…Rrrruuu,” sounded the prison sirens. The guards raised their high-powered rifles and aimed at Zith’s head. A guard shouted into the loud speaker, “Zith Fleen! Lie face down on the ground! Now!”

Zith’s head was exploding from the punch, the loud siren, and the guard’s horn. He winced from the pain as he silently obeyed the guard and quickly laid face down in the weeds.

The guards rushed toward him. Their firearms aimed at his head. “Don’t move! Cuff him!” said the chief guard.

The other guards put Zith’s hands behind his back. One guard put cuffs on his wrists. “Come on. You need to see the warden. He doesn’t tolerate fighting in the yard. I thought you knew that?”

The guards lifted him. While being restrained, he was escorted into the prison. They marched along the dungeon-like corridors to the warden’s office.

The guards knocked on Warden Ien Stelth’s door. “Warden Stelth. There was a fight in the yard. Zith Fleen was the instigator,” the guard stated. They shoved Zith into his office.

The warden grinned. “I heard the sirens. Another incident.” He shook his in disappointment as he smiled slightly and said, “The bruises from your first misstep were finally healed. You know what I think? I think you’ve been a troublemaker your entire life. Now of course, you’re a troublemaker and a murder…Oh, pardon me, a Slasher! ”

He shook his head again. “Zith, I’ll go easy on you this time. I was informed today – the kitchen is in need of another laborer. Your punishment for causing a disturbance in the yard will be to work double shifts in the kitchen until further notice. Take him to the kitchen,” said Warden Stelth.

“I didn’t do anything—” Zith pleaded as he was interrupted.

Stelth grinned as he cut off Zith in the middle of his sentence, “You have a way of antagonizing the other prisoners. Maybe some extended kitchen duty will teach you to be more courteous and stop bothering others. Take him to the kitchen!”

“Yes Warden Stelth!” said the guard. “Let’s go Slasher! You have potatoes to peel.” The guards shoved Zith as they walked out of the warden’s office. They continued to push and shove as they escorted him along the creepy, dimly lit, dungeon-like corridors.

In only minutes, the guards shoved Zith through the large steel door of the spooky kitchen. The kitchen was built during the original construction of the facility several hundred years ago. The large, very outdated kitchen had numerous small rooms. These rooms were equipped with very old cooking machines. Like the rest of the spooky prison and psychiatric institution, the walls and ceiling were cracking. The lighting was poor. There were numerous spider webs visible on the ceilings and walls. Unlike the rest of the creepy penitentiary, the kitchen smelled of moldy food, rotten potatoes, rotten potato peels, and poor sanitation. The poor sanitation provided a nice home for numerous insects, mice, and rats.

As they entered the ancient, creepy kitchen, Dila Mutnur, the inmate in charge of the kitchen, also a lifetime prisoner for murder was angrily preparing potatoes. As she worked at the moldy table, while in an angry dither, she looked up. The guards shoved their prisoner toward her. She asked angrily, “What took you so long?”

The guards shoved Zith toward the old, wooden table. One said, “I’m sure you know how to peel potatoes. Stand here and start working.” Dila pointed to the stacks of large potato boxes sitting on the floor next to the wall. “All of those need to be washed and peeled – today. Get busy!” she ordered angrily.

The guards smirked and laughed. “That’ll teach you to cause trouble in the yard,” one said. As they continued to laugh, they walked out of the spooky, smelly kitchen.

Dila Mutnur ordered angrily, “Keep working! Don’t stop until all of those potatoes are peeled. Then, I want you right back here in the morning!”

With a pounding headache, Zith stood at the old, moldy, wooden table and began to clean and peel the potatoes. Dila exited the kitchen.

The other inmates that were working in various parts of the kitchen stayed in their small spaces for fear of trouble. They continued to work quietly in an effort to stay hidden and concealed.

It Was Nearly Midnight
The other kitchen laborers had left for the evening. Due to the quiet, Zith’s headache had passed. He was exhausted as he stood at the table and peeled potatoes. He was struggling to keep his eyes open as he stood and worked—he repeatedly yawned.

As he worked and yawned, his mind began playing tricks on him. He thought he was hearing strange and creepy sounds. He batted his eyes to wake himself up. He began to hear heavy footsteps coming down the corridor toward the kitchen. “That’s the night guard checking on me. I better work faster,” he said.

The footsteps stopped several feet away from the kitchen door. He couldn’t see who it was. He heard more footsteps walking heavily down the corridor toward the kitchen. Those stopped just beyond his eyesight in the corridor as well.

His heart began to pound in his chest, as he feared danger. He began to tremble. As he looked for a quick place to hide, the group of guards entered the kitchen. The guard said, “We were told by the warden to check on you. He said you’d be slacking. Looks like he was right. You see, Zith, when you’re given a chance to prove yourself, you blow it – just like earlier today in the yard. We gave you a chance to prove you wouldn’t cause trouble. Look what happened. You started a fight. It looks like we need to explain the rules to you again,” said the guard that welcomed him to the institution on his first day.

Zith began to tremble as he stood before the prison guards. “I haven’t done anything!” he shouted as he shook.

The witness guard said, “I’m here to make sure you’re treated courteously and with fairness as these guards explain the prison rules to you— Again. My report to the warden already reflects how well you were treated by these guards.”

Zith bolted. He ran deeper into the dark kitchen.

“Block the door! Don’t let him out!” said the main guard loudly to another. “Let’s find him!” The group minus the one guard at the doorway hurried into the dark, spooky kitchen.

“Do you see him?” asked a guard.

Another guard replied, “I can’t see anything in here. It’s dark!”

“Keep searching! Don’t let him get away!” the welcoming guard ordered.

As the guards slowly searched from room to room in the dark, spooky kitchen, Zith bolted toward the door. As he ran to the entrance to the kitchen, the guard standing at the door yelled, “He’s running for the door!”

The guard blocked his way. As Zith struggled with the large guard, the others hurried toward them. “We’ve got you now. He gets to put in his report that you tried to escape,” said the guard as he punched Zith hard in the kidney.

“Oh!...” Zith moaned as he dropped to his knees.

The guards began to punch and kick Zith without ceasing. As he dropped to the floor, the guards dropped down to him. They continued with their lesson. With every punch, his face was becoming bloodier. With each fist, his eyes were swelling more. Soon, as the powerful punches continued, blood was spraying out of his mouth. Blood was running out of both nostrils of his broken nose. His ribs were cracked again. The beating was brutal. The guards continued to hit and kick.

The pain was excruciating as the beating continued. Zith was drifting in and out of consciousness. His head and face were badly swollen. His eyes were swollen shut. Blood was running from his mouth and broken nose. He was doubled over due to the pain of his re-cracked ribs.

As the powerful guards continued to hit his bloody face, he drifted into unconsciousness. “That’s enough. The wimp’s unconscious,” the welcoming guard ordered. The guards stood and gazed at the unconscious, bloody prisoner. “We’ve got blood all over us. Let’s get cleaned up.”

The guards quickly cleaned in the water Zith was using to clean potatoes. Zith lay unconscious and bleeding on the dingy floor.

“Let’s get him to the nurse,” said the leader guard. They bent down and grabbed the bloody prisoner. “Oohhh…,” Zith moaned as they lifted him. They carried him out of the kitchen and down the creepy corridor toward the prison doctor.

In only minutes, the guards entered the doctor’s office. At this time of night, there was only the night shift nurse on duty. Nurse Miki ReDox, the night nurse was sitting at the desk working on paperwork. She looked up as the guards brought in the beaten inmate. In shock, she said, “Put him on the bed!” as she jumped up from the desk.

The guards obeyed and laid Zith on the old, metal, doctor’s bed. As Nurse ReDox began to examine the bloody, unconscious patient, she looked at the guards hands. Their red knuckles told her everything she needed to know. She simply asked, “Where did it happen?”

The welcome guard replied, “We found him like this in the kitchen. The warden assigned him double duty. He was working alone. It appears he was jumped. It’s lucky for him, we came along when we did.”

“Real lucky…What’s his name?” she asked as she looked at his bleeding face, swollen eyes, broken nose, and badly bruised and cracked ribs.

“Zith Fleen,” the guard replied.

“I’ll take it from here,” said Nurse ReDox.

The guards quickly exited the room. She began to examine and apply medical treatment to her patient. “So this is Zith Fleen— The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher. He’s a lot smaller than I imagined,” she thought in amazement as she worked.

Six Months Ago
Zith Fleen was standing at the moldy, wooden table in the kitchen. He was working the final hour of his double shift for the day. He was working on the last box of potatoes. His cracked ribs and broken nose were healed. His face was somewhat deformed from the previous two beatings at the hands of the guards. The swelling in his eyes, face, jaw, and nose remained. His face now looked frightening. His headaches were finally becoming less often and less severe.

As he worked and thought, he recalled the two beatings from the guards. “I’m glad they hit me in the face. I like my new face. It’s scary.”

At was almost midnight as he worked quietly at the wooden table. The other laborers had gone back to their cells hours ago. He was alone in the creepy, dingy kitchen. He heard footsteps from the corridor. There were many of them. His heart began to race as he stopped working and listened. The group was walking toward the kitchen. His heart was pounding in his chest. He sensed danger.

As he stared fearfully at the kitchen door, a group of guards walked toward the kitchen. They quickly entered. As they stared coldly at Zith, one guard said, “The warden sent us to check on you—”

Zith bolted into the darkness of the rear of the kitchen.

“Stay here! Guard the door!” ordered the lead guard to one of his team. “The rest of you, let’s get him!” The remaining team ran into the rear of the kitchen. The darkness consumed them. They crept slowly through the creepy, dark, spooky rooms. “You can’t get away. We’ll find you. When we do, the beating we gave you last time will seem like nothing,” said the guard loudly.

Zith bolted toward the lone guard that was standing at the door. Suddenly he was on the mesnuk field again. He had the sludder in his hand. He was charging toward his team’s kloxyn. His opponent was trying to prevent him from scoring.

He ran as fast as his short legs would go through the kitchen. With tremendous speed, he leaped into the guard that was blocking the door. The vicious hit sent the unsuspecting guard flying through the air and slamming into the wall. Zith quickly rolled and stood. He was still on the mesnuk field. With tremendous speed, he ran out of the kitchen and down the corridor.

The guards in the rear of the kitchen heard the collision. They ran through the darkness into the front part of the kitchen where their comrade was still lying on the floor. “Where is he?” demanded the angry guard.

“He escaped,” said the bruised guard as he lay stunned on the floor.

The lead guard said loudly, “We have an escaping prisoner! After him!”

After helping their fellow guard to his feet, the group ran out of the kitchen and down the corridor. The injured guard quickly fell behind due to his limping and disorientation. As the guards ran, the lead guard removed his pager from his belt. He said into the device, “Prison Break! Zith Fleen has escaped!”

In seconds, the sirens screamed. “Rrrruuu….Rrrruuu…Rrrruuu.” The sound was deafening. The powerful spotlights in the yard were turned on.

The guards on the tower searched the dark grounds with their massive spotlights. Other guards readied their high-powered, scoped, rifles. A tower guard picked up his horn and said into it, “Zith Fleen. There’s nowhere to run. You can’t escape. Walk into the clear with your hands raised!”

The guards continued to search the nighttime grounds with their large, powerful lights. The other guards held steady with their scoped rifles. The tower guard spoke into his horn again, “Zith Fleen. This is your last warning. Give yourself up. The warden said, If you delay longer, the consequences will be severe. He advises you to step into the clear now. You won’t get shot.”

Zith was trembling as he lay next to some tall weeds and sagebrush in the dark. He slowly stood up. He slowly put his hands into the air.

A guard saw the movement and shinned his spotlight on Zith. The guards aimed their high-powered rifles at his head. The tower guard said into his horn, “Zith Fleen. Walk slowly back to the door. You won’t be shot.”

Zith walked to the guards that were standing at the door as the spotlights shinned on him. The high-powered rifles were pointed at his head. Upon reaching the same guards that he had previously over-powered to flee into the dark prison yard, he was immediately hand cuffed. The angry, bruised guards opened the doors. “You’re going to see the warden,” one guard said as they walked back inside.

Warden Ien Stelth was sitting in his bed while sipping a glass of whiskey. He finished the conversation with his tower guards. He smiled. “It was Zith Fleen, The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher that tried to escape. My guards apprehended him quickly. I’m going to report this prison break to the Kinkorx TV News. We need some good publicity. This story will be good for us. I’m going to call Kinkorx TV News Anchor Meez Broplen.” He smiled. “Maybe he’ll send me more whiskey.”

He picked up the phone. He dialed Meez Broplen’s home number.

Meanwhile
Meez Broplen was sleeping when his home phone began to ring. His wife nudged him. “The phone’s ringing. It’s for you.”

He leaned over and grabbed the ringing phone. “Meez Broplen,” he said sleepily.

“Meez, sorry to wake you. This Warden Stelth at Xcuymir Correctional.”

Meez turned on the light and sat up in his bed fully alert and awake. “Yes Ien. What happened?”

“We had a prison break thirty minutes ago. Zith Fleen escaped temporarily. My guards apprehended him in the yard. As friends, I thought you’d like the exclusive story,” Ien Stelth said as he smiled with whiskey in his hand.

Meez smiled at the ginormous headlines and the exclusive. “Thanks Ien. I’ll send you a case of whiskey. I’ll send Pymur Muxx right over. What do you want Pymur to report in the live story?”

Warden Stelth smiled. “This is what I want your reporter to say…

Several Hours Later

On The Early Broadcast

“I am Kinkorx TV News roaming reporter Pymur Muxx. I’m reporting live from the Xcuymir Territory Correctional Facility in Jxobslyn. Our sources inside this correctional facility are telling us that last night after midnight, Zith Fleen, The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher, and former Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player escaped briefly. The facility doctor diagnosed psychopath, staged a breakout. Sometime in the middle of the night, Zith Fleen somehow unlocked his cell and walked down the corridor. He unlocked the front door of this correctional facility and escaped to the yard.

Due to the tight security, especially in the psychiatric wing, his empty cell was noticed within minutes. A quick search of the inside of the building did not reveal the escaped Slasher. A thorough search of the grounds began. The chain link fencing that surrounds the correctional facility is always locked. Therefore, Zith Fleen was at every moment, confined to the grounds. Within minutes of noticing the empty cell, Zith was apprehended outside. It is believed by the prison officials that Zith Fleen’s escape only lasted minutes. At this time, there is an investigation-taking place within the prison. Warden Stelth is attempting to discover how Zith Fleen unlocked his cell door and the exit door.

Zith Fleen is serving a life sentence for the brutal slashing, killing, and dismembering of a Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player approximately six months ago. Judge Yymi Lykun of Xcuymir Territory sentenced Zith Fleen, the former Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player, to a life sentence in the psychiatric wing of this facility. During the brief trial, Zith blamed his teammates for abandoning him on the field—thus causing his injury. During the shocking court day, he vowed to carry out his revenge on the players for his head injury.

We all remember the brutal hit he sustained against the Generals at the end of the game—several years ago. He was sent flying head first into the kloxyn. He sustained a career ending head injury. After brain surgery, he was left with permanent brain damage. Here at this facility, he has been diagnosed by correctional facility doctors as having antisocial personality and psychopathy disorder. It is believed by the medical staff here that his disorders are a result of the tragic head injury he sustained against the Generals.

I am Kinkorx TV News roaming reporter Pymur Muxx. I’m reporting live with this Exclusive Breaking News Story from the Xcuymir Territory Correctional Facility in Jxobslyn. Now back to you Meez.”

“I am Meez Broplen, Kinkorx TV News Anchor. In other news stories on the early show…

One Month Ago
Zith was working the second part of his double shift in the creepy kitchen. Warden Stelth permanently assigned him to working double shifts in the dingy, spooky, outdated kitchen after his unsuccessful prison break attempt several months ago. At that time, he was avoiding another Warden ordered, brutal beating, at the hands of the guards. Escaping was his best option. He will be forever punished for his escape attempt, by Warden Stelth—and he knows it.

The prison received a large amount of good press from Kinkorx TV News after catching Zith Fleen so quickly, after his breakout. The warden received a raise and a promotion from Xcuymir Territory. Warden Stelth is now considered one of the top prison wardens on Sesla. Nothing would make Stelth happier than if Zith attempted another prison break. That is, as long as his officers apprehended him quickly—which he assumed they would.

As Zith quietly worked in the spooky kitchen, he planned his escape. He thought, “It has to be tonight. There isn’t a moon. It’ll be very dark. The guards won’t expect anything. The dumpster is full. It’ll be emptied in the morning. My plan will work. I’ve been rehearsing it for weeks.”

It was well after midnight. His second shift in the kitchen was ending. He did what he’d been doing for weeks in preparation for tonight. He cleaned up the enormous pile of nasty, disgusting potato peels. He put the rancid smelling, rotten peels into the very large potato boxes. He filled and stacked several boxes onto the carrier. He thought, “That’ll do for now. Now to get back to my cell and disguise my bed.”

He turned out the lights. He left the kitchen door slightly opened as he exited.

He quietly hurried along the dimly lit, dungeon-like corridor to his open cell. He rushed inside. Weeks ago, he had asked for an extra pillow. He placed his two pillows on his bed carefully to look like he was curled up. Next, he carefully covered the pillows. “That will work,” he thought. “When the guard shines his light in my cell, it’ll look like I’m sleeping. This has to work.”

As his heart raced, he exited the cell and quietly closed the iron bars door. His heart raced and his anxieties exploded as he looked back and forth down the creepy, poorly lit corridor. “No guards—Good! The night guards will make their rounds soon. I need to hurry!” he thought. He quietly hurried along the spooky, smelly halls toward the kitchen.

He breathed a sigh of relief when he pushed on the kitchen door. He thought, “It opened. No one checked it. No one knows I’m here. The guards will think I’m in my cell sleeping.” Without turning on a light, he quietly walked into the very dark, spooky kitchen. He closed and locked the door. He carefully walked to the potato boxes on the carrier. In the blackness, he lifted the lid and crawled into the top potato box. He covered himself with smelly, rotten potato peels. “The more rotten and slimy the better,” he mumbled in the completely dark kitchen as he covered himself well. He carefully closed the lid. “It’s a good thing I’m so small. I’d never fit in here if I was a normal sized coterie,” he whispered.

In the darkness, he lay curled up in the very large potato box while being surrounded and covered by disgusting, moldy, rotten potato peels. The smell inside the closed box was putrid. His stomach was nauseous from the disgusting smell. He fought the urge to vomit. His box was one of four large boxes that were filled with the rotten, moldy, potato peels. The four boxes were stacked on the trash carrier. His was on top.

Only Minutes Later

The night shift guard was checking the cells to make sure every prisoner was in his bed sleeping. He slowly moseyed along the creepy corridor while pausing to shine his flashlight into each cell. One by one, he slowly checked the beds.

The next cell was Zith Fleen’s. He crept to it. He shined his flashlight into the cell and looked around. He shined the light onto the bed. He said softly, “Looks like Zith is back from the kitchen. He’s sleeping. He hasn’t caused any trouble in a while – surprising. Maybe he learned something from the last lesson. Since that last education, his face is scary to look at. He looks deformed.” The guard was satisfied and moseyed to the next cell.

The night guards spent their entire shifts sauntering along the dark, spooky, dungeon-like corridors. They shine their flashlights into each cell, once every hour, insuring the prisoners remain in their cells.

By the time the early shift kitchen workers were reporting for duty, the guards had checked Zith Fleen’s cell several times. Each time they thought they were seeing an exhausted prisoner sleeping.

It Was Very Early Morning
The first shift inmates were standing at the locked kitchen door while yawning. They were reporting for their shift. Dila Mutnur, the inmate kitchen manager, slowly walked along the scary corridor toward the kitchen. She was holding her head while slowly trudging and moaning. She was enduring her usual morning hangover. Being the manager of the kitchen had many perks. One of the many nice things she enjoyed was access to liquor.

She walked toward the timid inmates. As they stared at the revolting sight, she said angrily while holding her splitting head, “What are you looking at?”

The easily intimidated prisoners immediately looked at the dingy floor as she painfully walked closer. She fumbled with her keys at the door. As she tried to insert the key into the lock, while holding her throbbing head, she dropped them. She angrily stared at an inmate and ordered loudly, “Pick it up!”

The timid prisoner quickly bent down and picked up the keys. He inserted the key into the lock for her. “I’ve got it!” she scolded loudly and angrily.

She grabbed and turned the key while unlocking the kitchen. As she opened the door, the putrid, rotten smell of rancid potato skins came rushing out. The disgusting smell attacked her nostrils as she entered and turned on the inadequate lights. The inmates followed her inside while enduring the putrid, disgusting smell.

“That trash stinks! Get it out of here!” she ordered loudly while holding her head. She walked to the side door—only feet away. “Oh!...My aching head,” she grumbled as she fumbled and unlocked the door.

The kitchen laborers remained quiet as they hurried to the trash carrier that was loaded with potato boxes. They quickly and silently pulled the carrier of boxed, rotten potato peels out the side door.

In the non-moon darkness of night, they hurried to the dark, smelly dumpster.

They each felt for the handles at the end of the large boxes. As the two prisoners grabbed the handles on the top box, one said, “It’s heavy. One…Two…Three!” In the darkness, they lifted the heavy potato box and tossed it into the already full dumpster. “Let’s get the next one. Ready! One…Two…Three!” They tossed the next smelly potato box into the dumpster. Then they tossed the next and the next into the overflowing dumpster. “Let’s get back inside before she yells for us.”

The two kitchen guards pulled the carrier and hurried back inside. Dila Mutnur closed and locked the door. “Get to work!” she ordered as she rubbed her temple in an effort to ease the pain. Her head continued to throb as the early shift began their kitchen duties. Zith had several hours before he was to report for his double shift.

One Hour Later
It was still dark as the trash truck drove up to the locked chain-link fence gate at Xcuymir Prison. The driver stopped at the guardhouse. He pulled out his identification and handed it to the guard. The guard looked at the picture – briefly. He handed the Id back to the driver. “All clear!” the guard said. Another guard unlocked the padlock and removed the thick chain that was wrapped around the two gateposts to keep them connected.

When the gates were opened, the driver drove through. The large trash truck cleared the gates. The guard closed and locked them again. The driver of the trash truck drove up the long driveway to the side of the asylum looking prison.

With his skillful driving, he drove the two forks on the front of his truck through the side handles on the large dumpster that sat next to the building. Using the hydraulic lift, he lifted the very full dumpster over the cab of his truck and over the bed. With the controls, he maneuvered the overfilled dumpster and dumped the trash into the almost empty truck bed. The numerous full potatoes boxed and other garbage tumbled to the hard truck bed. The smell of the large collection of decaying rubbish was vomitus.

With skillful hands, the driver reversed the lift. He slowly placed the empty, dripping, horrific smelling, dumpster back into the proper position. He backed away from the side of the prison building and headed back toward the locked gate.

The ritual was repeated. The driver had performed the same daunting ritual weekly for many years as a trash truck driver. As the guard verified his Id and opened the gates wide, he drove through.

As the gates were closed and locked, the driver continued along his route. The prison was one of the first stops on this route. It would be early evening when the driver finally emptied the over-flowing rubbish into the landfill.

Three Hours Later
The prison guard opened Zith Fleen’s cell door. He walked inside and said, “Zith, it’s time for your double shift in the kitchen.” When he didn’t see movement, he nudged Zith. “What!” he said when he still saw no movement. He threw back the blanket onto the floor. In a rage, he grabbed his pager. “Prison Break! Zith Fleen has escaped,” he said angrily and loudly.

In only seconds, “Rrrruuu….Rrrruuu…Rrrruuu,” sounded the prison sirens. Guards rushed to the tower while carrying their high-powered rifles. “Rrrruuu….Rrrruuu…Rrrruuu,” the sirens continued.

It was light enough for the guards to see the grounds clearly. Using their scoped rifles, they searched every inch of the locked yard. “Rrrruuu….Rrrruuu…Rrrruuu,” the prison sirens continued.

The tower guard used the loud speaker-horn to communicate with the escaped prisoner, “Zith Fleen. We know you’re hiding in the yard. Give yourself up. You won’t get shot.” They all waited and searched with their rifles pointing.

After another minute, the guard said over the loud speaker again, “Zith Fleen—This is your last warning. Surrender and you will not be shot.”

The other guards continued to search the yard for the escaped prisoner. “Anyone see anything?” the tower guard asked while holding the horn.

The guards all turned to him and shook their heads. He dialed the warden’s office. When the warden answered, he reported, “Warden. We’ve searched the grounds. He’s not outside.”

Warden Stelth ordered, “Keep three guards with rifles on the tower. Have everyone else search inside. He’s probably hiding within the prison somewhere. Find him!”

“Right away Warden,” said the guard. “You three keep watching. If you see him—radio immediately.” He spoke into his loudspeaker. “The warden thinks he’s hiding inside. Search every inch of this prison. If you see anything, radio first. Remember, Zith Fleen’s a killer.”

The guards hurried inside. They began their search. As the prisoners continued with their daily jobs, the guards searched room after room. Cell after cell. The warden called in the night shift to help with the search.

The full team of guards continued the search through the day.

By late afternoon, the guards were becoming tired of hunting inside the large prison for the small prisoner. The guards were complaining. The lead guard called the warden. “He’s so small he could be hiding anywhere. He’s probably changing hiding places as the day continues,” he said to the angry warden.

“Don’t stop searching until you find him. He’s somewhere inside this prison!” Warden Stelth ordered. He slammed down the phone and downed another glass of whiskey.

He slurred his words as he said, “Zith Fleen’s not making me look like a fool. My guards will catch him. When they do, I have a special punishment for him.” He laughed as he anticipated the good publicity he would receive from Kinkorx TV News when he reported another unsuccessful prison break by Zith Fleen. He also anticipated the enjoyment he would receive from watching Zith Fleen suffer.

It Was Almost Midnight
Warden Stelth was in a drunken rage. The guards had been searching inside the prison and the outside grounds all day. The guards were all resting as the head guard walked to the warden’s office. He knocked on the door. “Come in,” the warden said depressingly as he sat slumped in his chair with a glass of whiskey in his hand. “Any sign of him?”

“We don’t think he’s still in the prison—”

The drunken warden interrupted as he slouched in his chair. His shirttails were out. His tie was only half on. “How did he get out?”

While feeling defeated and exhausted, the lead guard replied, “According to Dila Mutnur, there was a trash truck early this morning before daylight. Somehow he may have escaped on the truck. We don’t know how he would have accomplished it. Dila says the doors were all locked properly.”

“Of course she does!” he said angrily as he downed another drink, “She’s not going to take the blame for this! If he did escape with the trash truck, he’s long by know. He could be anywhere. Tell your guards to keep searching for a few more hours. There’s still a chance he’s inside this prison,” he ordered.

The lead guard replied, “A lot of them are napping.”

“Wake them up!” Stelth shouted with slurred words.

“Yes Sir Warden! We’ll keep the search going for a few more hours,” said the guard. He exited Warden Stelth’s office.

Stelth said as he poured another glass of whiskey, “If my guards don’t find Zith Fleen soon, I’m going to have to call the authorities. I’m also going to have to call Meez Broplen or the Kinkorx TV News. Those are three phone calls I don’t want to make.”

Early The Next Morning
The warden had managed to sober up as he anticipated calling the authorities and Kinkorx TV News to report Zith Fleen’s escape. He was exhausted as he waited in his office for the grim report from his lead guard. As he lay on his couch, he tried to imagine how Zith escaped from his maximum-security prison. “How did he escape on a trash truck? I know Dila Mutnur. The kitchen manager keeps top security. I don’t believe he escaped that way. We’re missing something. He got out another way. But how?”

As he lay depressingly on his couch, his chief guard walked in. “Warden, we’ve searched inside and out—numerous times. We don’t believe Zith Fleen is still in the prison. My guards are exhausted,” he said lethargically.

Warden Stelth sighed deeply with exasperation. “Tell your guards to go home.”

Without saying anything, he nodded and exited the warden’s office.

As Stelth lay wearily on the couch, he said exhaustingly, “Now I get to call the authorities. This is not going to be fun.”

He slowly stood and trudged to his desk. He plopped in his cushioned chair.

He signed deeply and exhaustingly as he reached for the phone numbers. He mumbled, “I need to call in order of authority. First, I need to call Sheriff Mairytin of Xcuymir Territory. Then I need to call Chief Pomur of the Kinkorx Police. Then I need to call Kinkorx TV News. At least I can them the entire same story…What is my story? What do I tell them?”

He sat slouched at his desk and prepared a story that was believable and that would insure he kept his job…

When he had conceived an believable report, he looked at his phone number index. He dialed the Xcuymir Territory Sheriff Department.

Meanwhile
General Sheriff Kein Mairytin was sitting at his desk at the Sheriff’s Department in Jxobslyn. He had arrived early as he often did. He found the early morning to be an excellent time to catch up on daunting paperwork. As he quietly worked, his phone began to ring. With irritation he answered, “Sheriff Mairytin.”

“This is Warden Stelth. There’s been an incident at my prison. Sometime last night, Zith Fleen disappeared. My guards have searched the entire prison for him. I could use some more officers to help with the search,” he reported.

Sheriff Mairytin was immediately in raged. “I’ll send some of my troopers! You can fill them in when they arrive. Keep me posted!”

“Will do. Thanks,” Stelth said. He hung up the phone. He smiled. “That was easier than I thought. Now for Chief Pomur.” He looked at his phone number index again. He called Police Chief Pomur.

Meanwhile

At the Kinkorx Police Department

Aqe Neuyh, Police Lieutenant, was sitting at his desk for the early shift. When he heard his phone ring he asked with irritation, “What’s wrong now?” He answered, “Kinkorx Police Department—Lieutenant Neuyh.”

“This is Warden Stelth of the Xcuymir Territory Correctional Facility. Is Chief Pomur at his desk?”

Neuyh replied, “He doesn’t arrive for another hour. Can I help you?”

“There’s been an incident at my prison. Sometime during the night, Zith Fleen disappeared. My guards are searching for him. I could use more officers,” Stelth said.

Lieutenant Neuyh said, “I’ll notify the chief. We’ll send some officers. They’ll be there as soon as possible.”

“Thank you for your help,” said Warden Stelth. He hung up the phone and smiled. “Now it’s time to call Meez Broplen at Kinkorx TV News. He dialed the phone number at Meez Broplen’s desk.

Meanwhile

At Kinkorx TV Station

Meez had just finished the early news broadcast. He was preparing for the morning news. He was reading numerous stories on the news wire as he looked for a top story on this slow news morning. When his phone began to ring, he was hopeful. He picked it up, “Meez Broplen.”

“Meez, this is Warden Stelth. I wanted to give you the exclusive story on an incident at my prison. Sometime during the night, Zith Fleen disappeared. My guards are searching for him. Sheriff Mairytin and Chief Pomur are sending extra officers to help in the search.”

Meez said strongly, “I’ll send Pymur Muxx. He’ll be there as soon as possible. Thanks again.” He hung up the phone. “Pymur! Get in here!” he yelled across the busy newsroom.

Pymur Muxx was sitting at his reporter’s desk. He jumped up and hurried across the newsroom to his bosses desk. “What’s up Boss?”

Meez replied, “I just received a call from Warden Stelth at Xcuymir Correctional. Zith Fleen disappeared during the night. Sheriff Mairytin and Chief Pomur are sending officers. We’ve got the Exclusive. Get over there! Fast!”

Pymur grinned as he replied loudly, “Yes Sir Boss!” He rushed across the crazy newsroom to his desk. He quickly grabbed his equipment. He bolted toward the door.

Two Hours Later

At the Home of Detective Maxx Zeqster in Bedsult

Sesla’s sun was rising in the beautiful morning sky as Detective Maxx Zeqster sauntered along Lypont Drive toward his home, in Bedsult, in suburbia Kinkorx. He was finishing a delightful morning stroll. “It’s such a lovely morning. After my walk, I’m going to work on my painting in the back yard.”

He strolled up the walkway and onto his small porch. As he opened his custom, extravagant front door, he said, “That was a delightful stroll.” He entered his home and closed the door.

Maxx sauntered to his deluxe kitchen. As he opened his fridge, he thought, “I think I’ll check the news before I start painting.” He grabbed a bottle of contained water. He opened the cap and took a big drink. “Delicious!” he said. He took another. “Aahhh! Delightful!” he announced.

As he held his bottled water, he walked to his luxurious living room. He smiled as he glanced at this friend, the Melá-Jutis swamp stick that he placed in the corner, as he entered his welcoming living room. Images of the magical city, Melá-Jutis, in the wet lands, flew through his mind.

He sat in his over-stuffed leather recliner. Using the remote, turned on the TV. He took another drink from his bottled water as he watched Kinkorx TV News.

As he watched the morning news program, Anchor Meez Broplen said, “We’re taking you to the Xcuymir Territory Correctional Facility in Jxobslyn for a live report.”

The TV Switched to the Xcuymir Penitentiary

“I am Pymur Muxx. I’m reporting live at the Xcuymir Territory Correctional Facility in Jxobslyn. It has been reported that Zith Fleen, the Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher went missing sometime late last night.

As I’m making this live broadcast, there’s a massive hunt for the convicted killer and prison doctor diagnosed psychopath at this facility. The Kinkorx Police and the Xcuymir Territory Troopers are aiding the prison guards in their search. The law enforcement personnel are searching the entire building and the grounds.

Warden Stelth has assured me that Zith Fleen is locked in. That it is simply a matter of time before he is apprehended. As you can see, the gate is chained and locked with a large padlock. It would seem that lock is unbreakable.

As we, all remember Zith Fleen received a severe head wound during a hit in a mesnuk game against the Generals. My sources have told me that he has continually threatened revenge against the Kinkorx Horned Hares players. He still claims they are responsible for his career ending head injury. It was partially due to the threats of revenge that Judge Lykun issued the live sentence in this prison.

Again, Warden Stelth has indicated that they are confident Zith Fleen is still inside. If it is determined that he has escaped the prison and psychiatric institution, the hunt will continue into the surrounding countryside.

We will stay with this Breaking News Story. We will break in live when there is more information on the disappearance of Zith Fleen, The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher. I’m Pymur Muxx, roaming news reporter for Kinkorx TV News. Now back to you Meez.”

The TV Switched Back to Kinkorx TV Studio Newsroom

“Thank you for that live report. I’m Meez Broplen. When there are further developments, we will break in. In other news stories this morning…

Maxx Zeqster remained seated in his leather recliner. He was shocked at the news. “I hope the authorities catch Zith Fleen quickly. He’s an extremely dangerous murder and a psychopath. None of the Horned Hares are safe as long as he’s on the loose.”

He turned off the TV. He thought, “It’s time to work on my painting.” He stood and walked toward the back yard while carrying his bottled water.

Maxx exited out the back door and walked to his work in progress, landscape painting under his Red Ploss Tree. He sat his bottled water down and began to paint.

Chapter Five

Ten Days Ago

Zith Fleen was sitting on the sandy cave floor deep in the desert. He was roasting scorpions over a small fire that he started using dead sticks near the cave. As he cooked the scorpions in the large cave, he reminisced about his old cave and the months he spent in the asylum-like prison. “This cave is more remote and safer. It’s nowhere near a town or road. There’s no way anyone will find me here. Even I don’t know where I am. I walked through the desert for days before I found this cave. I hope nothing else lives here,” he mumbled. “I’ve been here for a while now—no animals have claimed it. Hopefully I’m safe.”

As he cooked scorpions and ate them, he continued to remember his time in the prison. “I tried my best to keep to myself. I tried to stay away from trouble. No matter what I did, someone always pushed or hit me. Even when I didn’t fight back, I was punished for fighting,” he mumbled.

He quietly ate the next scorpion that was ready. He chewed the crusty shell. “It’s not very tasty – better than starving to death,” he thought as he chewed. He tore off the stinger and tossed it. He bit down hard on the tail and continued to chew the insect shell. “I hated working in that creepy kitchen. Dila Mutnur yelled at everyone. All she did was yell and drink the liquor. I don’t think I ever saw her sober,” he thought as he chewed.

Another scorpion crawled toward his leg. When it was only inches away from his foot, the aggressive insect readied its stinger. As it prepared to strike, he drove a sharp stick through its back. “Thanks for volunteering,” he said. Zith positioned the scorpion over the fire.

Then he began to consume another. “This one has a little more meat on the tail. It’s still not very tasty,” he thought as he chewed.

As he ate, he could hear a wolf howling at the full moon in the distance. Instantly he remembered his wolf friend. He said, “I miss Neechehe. She was a good friend. I hope someday I find her—more like she finds me.” He heard the wolf howl at the full moon again.

As he continued to roast and eat scorpions, his mind drifted to the prison. He reminisced about the two severe beatings he sustained at the hands of the guards. He mumbled, “The warden ordered them to teach me the rules of the prison. He ordered a third attack – but I got away.” He smiled. “I was too fast for them…I do like my new face. Now, when anyone looks at me, they get scared. I admit – I look crazy and scary now. It’s nice.”

As he continued to cook, eat scorpions, and reminisce, the howling wolf sounded like it was near his cave. The wolf howled again. This time it was just outside. His heart began to race. “I hope this isn’t that wolf’s cave,” he said as he began to tremble.

In fear, he stood and began walking toward the back of the deep, dark, cavernous cave. As he slowly walked toward the silhouettes, a large grey female wolf walked into the cave. It had a large rabbit in its powerful jaws. He looked cautiously and fearfully at the wolf. “Is that you Neechehe?” he asked hopefully as he trembled with fear.

The large grey wolf continued to slowly walk toward him. When he saw the wolf’s eyes, he knew. He said happily, “It’s you Neechehe. That was you I heard howling at the full moon outside. You brought me a rabbit.” He walked to his friend and began rubbing her ears. “I missed you so much. I have many stories to tell you. First I want to clean this rabbit and get it cooking.”

He took the large hare out of Neechehe’s mouth. He quickly cleaned it and put a stick through it. He placed the rabbit over the fire. “I was really tired of eating scorpions,” he said happily. “Thanks Neechehe.”

He sat on the cave floor next to his fire. Neechehe lay next to him. He began rubbing her fur. “I’ve missed you,” he said. He noticed a deep, wide, bullet scar on the top of her snout.

He said with sympathy, “The police grazed you when they shot at you in the other cave – didn’t they? I can’t imagine had much that hurt.” He gently rubbed her snout. “I’m so sorry. I’m glad he didn’t hit you any worse with his bullet. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

He sat on the cave floor and turned his rabbit. “This rabbit is cooking nicely. Thank you for catching it for me.” He rubbed Neechehe’s fur. “After you were shot and had to run, those police took me to jail. It was awful. I had to go before a judge. He gave me to a lifetime sentence in prison. The warder had his guards beat me twice. He ordered a third beating but I escaped temporarily. My face looks scary because of the guards hitting me.”

Neechehe lay on the cave floor contently as he rubbed her fur and talked. She was beginning to close her eyes. “You’re sleepy aren’t you? Go ahead and sleep. I’m not going anywhere.”

Neechehe closed her eyes. She drifted into a content sleep. He rubbed her fur and cooked his rabbit. As he cooked the hare, he continued to reminisce silently about his time in the psychiatric prison.

As she slept and he drifted into his thoughts, a male grey wolf growled and snarled as it walked into the cave. With horror, Zith looked up. He saw the angry, menacing wolf as it bared its fierce teeth and growled. As he froze with fear, Neechehe awoke. In a flash, she sprang from her lying position and flew into the threatening wolf.

The instant battle was fierce. The male wolf leaped on top of Neechehe. It bit the back of her neck and hung on. Neechehe struggled to get free from the male wolf’s powerful grip. Neechehe’s fur was flying in the air within the cave. She was struggling to break free.

Instantly, Zith was in the prison kitchen, again. Neechehe was being attacked by the prison guards, as ordered by the warden. He would defend his friend.

In a mighty fury, with tremendous speed, Zith leaped onto the male wolf’s back, as it held its grip on the back of Neechehe’s heck. With the speed and power of a professional mesnuk player, he began punching the wolf in the head. Right punch…left punch…right punch…left punch…

The wolf yelped loudly from the juggernaut that was on its back. The relentless Right…Left…Right…Left…was more pain than the wolf was expecting. It released the grip from Neechehe’s neck and fell to the ground dazed.

Zith quickly rolled off the male wolf. As the wolf was quickly regaining its senses, Neechehe went for its throat. She clamped her powerful jaws into the wolf’s windpipe.

The strong male wolf kicked and clawed as it tried to break Neechehe’s death grip. The wolf’s blood was spraying as it twisted and flipped Neechehe onto her back. She lost her grip as she landed.

The male wolf growled and snarled, showing its menacing teeth, as it circled. Zith’s fists were clinched. He growled as he circled. Neechehe was growling and snarling as she circled.

Suddenly the male wolf bolted toward the entrance. It ran out and into the night desert. The wolf howled loudly at the full moon as it ran farther from the cave.

“Are you ok, Neechehe?” asked Zith.

She shook herself briskly. Then she licked him.

“You’re ok!” he said gladly, “I was afraid that wolf hurt your neck. He’s gone now. Let’s sit down.” He sat down next to the fire. Neechehe sat next to him.

He checked his rabbit. “The rabbit’s burned on one side.” He rolled it over. “It’ll be fine. A crispy hare’s still better that any scorpion.” He smiled at Neechehe. “All I’ve eaten for days are scorpions.”

He continued to cook the desert hare and talk to his friend. “You know Neechehe, this cave was probably that wolf’s cave. I’m sure that’s why he attacked us...It’s ours now.”

He began to rub her fur again. She lay down next to him. She began to close her eyes. “You look tired. Go to sleep, Neechehe. After I eat this rabbit, I’m going to sleep—to.”

Eight Days Ago
The Kinkorx Horned Hares had been practicing all day at their practice field in downtown Kinkorx. As the practice session ended, Head Coach Jo Mydos said loudly while using his horn, “Everyone gather round. Take a knee.”

The tired mesnuk players ran toward their coach. They squatted on one knee. Coach Mydos said, “We have an important game against the Kvyutt Travelers tomorrow. The Travelers are a good mesnuk team. We need the confidence from a win to carry us into our stretch of road games. Get a good night’s sleep. I want everyone at the mesnuk stadium early and warming up. Hit the showers.”

The players cheered and ran into the locker room. “We can take the Travelers,” said Team Captain, Guiss Korter as he undressed quickly.

“Coach is right. A win tomorrow will build our confidence for our road games,” said Cottir Greem as he headed for the shower.

Cillo Fistor and the rest of the horned hares hurried into the shower. “We need to win tomorrow. Coach’s right. I want to play at my best. I’m going to bed early tonight,” said Cillo.

The players quickly showered and dressed. “See everyone at the stadium. Get there early. We need a good warm-up,” said Team Captain, Guiss Korter as he exited the locker room. The other players quickly exited as well.

Cillo Fistor and Cottir Greem hurried out of the locker room with the last of the players. “See you tomorrow. Get some rest,” said Cottir.

Cillo exited the building. He began the long walk to his downtown apartment. “We need to win tomorrow. Coach is right. A win will give us confidence,” he said as he walked. Cillo continued to physic himself as he walked along the old streets of downtown Kinkorx.

He walked and talked out loud. His focus was on the mesnuk game tomorrow. “The Travelers are a good mesnuk team. If we play our “A” game, we can win.”

As he walked along the creepy downtown streets at twilight, he saw a shadow moving between two buildings. He ignored the shadow and kept walking and talking. “We’ve got to slow them down. The Travelers are a fast team. If we slow the game down, we can win.”

He saw the shadow moving out of the corner of his eye. He turned his head. He saw someone ducking behind a dumpster. He paused to watch. “Kids,” he said with a frown.

He continued to walk and talk as the evening became darker. “If we can get ahead of the Travelers from the start and slow the game down, we can win.” He heard feet running. As his heart raced, he turned and tried to see who was running. “Just kids.”

As his anxieties began to erupt, he continued to walk. A trashcan was knocked over. The noise was loud is it banged and rolled. His heart was pounding. He was becoming fearful as he said, “Zith Fleen escaped from the prison several weeks ago. That can’t be him.” He asked loudly with fear, “Who’s there?”

He heard another trash can as it was kicked over. His heart was pounding in his fit chest. “That can’t be Zith Fleen,” he said as he began to run. As he ran, a shadow of a large animal began to pursue him. “I didn’t do anything. Leave me alone!” he shouted as he ran.

The silhouette shadow of the animal quickly closed in.

He ran as fast as he could. “I didn’t do anything!” he said loudly. He turned and saw a huge grey wolf closing fast. “No!” he screamed.

The wolf growled as it grabbed his leg in its powerful jaws. The vicious wolf sunk its large teeth into his flesh. It pulled him to the ground and began to rip and twist his flesh. Blood sprayed as the wolf continued to savagely maul Cillo Fistor’s leg. It growled loudly at the attack continued.

Zith Fleen ran fast and attacked from the side. As Cillo fought him, he began to hit Cillo’s face with a club. Neechehe continued to maul his legs. His blood was squirting and splatting everywhere.

Cillo’s face and head was swelling fast as Zith continued to beat him mercilessly with the club. His nose and mouth were bleeding. Cillo was screaming as Neechehe ripped off a leg. Blood was spraying everywhere. Blood was running onto the pavement.

Neechehe continued to rip and tear. Cillo’s other leg was almost torn off. He was screaming. Zith was hitting his face with the club. His blood was streaming out of his nose and mouth. Suddenly, as Zith pounded with his club, Cillo’s skull broke. His face was covered in blood as he lost consciousness.

Neechehe ripped off the other leg. She began viciously chewing his arms as Zith continued to pound his broken cranium with his club. Cillo died as the vicious attack continued.

Zith pounded his head until it was broken, bloody, and looked like raw meat. Neechehe ripped off one arm. She immediately attacked the other. In only seconds, with her sharp teeth, she ripped off the second arm. She viciously bit the torso and ripped her teeth through it numerous times. Then she attacked his neck. She bit and twisted. Soon his head severed from the torso.

Zith and his pet wolf were covered in blood. He smiled at his friend and said, “Nice job Neechehe.” She looked at her victim. She seemed to smile.

The darkness was increasing as Zith pulled a trash bag from his pocket. As Neechehe cleaned the blood off her fur, he picked up the bloody body pieces. He stuffed them into the bag. When he had all the pieces of Cillo Fistor’s body in the bag, he threw it over his shoulder. He paused and looked at the ground. “Neechehe, there’s a lot of blood,” he said as he smiled. “Let’s get the body to a busy street.”

Zith began to run, while carrying Cillo’s slashed and dismembered body in a trash bag over his shoulder. Neechehe ran next to him. They ran to a nearby busy street.

“This will do,” he said. Zith and Neechehe stopped running. In the darkness of night, Zith dumped the slashed, dismembered body parts next to the side of the busy road. “Someone will find Cillo Fistor’s body early tomorrow morning.”

Zith and Neechehe started walking away from the road. Zith said, “I know you’re tired from the long run to get here from the cave. We should run back. We’ll get there faster,” he said. He and his friend began to run. It would take them many hours at running speed to reach their desert home.

The Next Morning
Detective Arthor Nekuma was working at his database in his large office, in his spacious home in suburbia Wyluxx City. He was working on their Sirrz Debmyuo, stolen Signature Collection Firearms, and Knives case. He was researching for where the traceable, priceless collection of guns and knives could be sold.

Art thought as he flipped through screen after screen, “Each gun and knife that was stolen from Sirrz Debmyuo’s home safe had similar markings. They were all marked comparably like:

A Sirrz Debmyuo Signature Collection Knife

SD-3 Series Knife

First One Made In The Series

Sirrz Debmyuo

I think the best place for someone to sell Sirrz’s collectables is at Wixqezzer Auctions in rural Kvyutt, in the wet lands.

As he worked, his office TV was tuned to Kinkorx TV. Suddenly there was a Breaking News Bulletin. “I am Kinkorx TV News Anchor Meez Broplen; we are taking you live to the Kinkorx Police Station.”

The TV Switched to the Kinkorx Police Station

“I’m Pymur Muxx. I am reporting live from the Kinkorx Police Station. Kinkorx Police Chief Aazon Pomur has agreed to answer a few questions.”

He turned to Police Chief Pomur. “Chief Pomur. Can you describe for our viewers what you found this morning?”

Chief Pomur replied, “A motorists on their way to work saw what appeared to be body parts on the side of Jesattin Road just after daylight. The motorists called us. Upon responding to the sight, my officers found the slashed, dismembered body of Cillo Fistor.”

Pymur Muxx asked, “Cillo Fistor—the Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player?”

Chief Pomur responded, “That’s correct.”

Pymur asked, “Do you think Zith Fleen the escaped murder, that has been named The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher by the media and the public is responsible for this brutal murder?”

Chief Pomur was instantly angered by the question. “After an investigation at the scene, we have determined that this murder was not the work of Zith Fleen,” he stated angrily.

“Do you have another suspect?” asked Pymur.

He sighed deeply with irritation. He said, “We just started that investigation this morning. We are running down several leads as fast as possible. That’s all I can tell you at this point. Now if you will excuse me?” With an angry face, Chief Pomur walked back to his office.

Pymur Muxx concluded his live report, “In a surprising decision, Chief Pomur doesn’t think Zith Fleen, The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher was responsible for the slashing and dismemberment of Cillo Fistor. The Kinkorx Police are looking for another suspect. Cillo Fistor was also a Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player – like Zith Fleen. Chief Pomur and his department are attempting to find a lead in the gruesome murder case as we speak. This is Pymur Muxx reporting live from the Kinkorx Police Station.”

The TV Switched Back to the Kinkorx TV Newsroom

Meez Broplen, the Kinkorx TV News Anchor said, “We will keep you informed as Chief Pomur and the Kinkorx Police Department attempt to find a suspect in this horrific, slashing and dismemberment murder case. Now back to our regular programming.”

As Art Nekuma watched the Breaking News Story, he thought, “That sounds like the work of Zith Fleen to me. I wonder what Chief Pomur and the Kinkorx Police Department are thinking. Maybe they don’t want to track him down again. It took quite a search to catch him the first time.”

Art went back to his research.

Four Days Ago
The Kinkorx Horned Hares were in Wyluxx City. They had just finished playing the Generals at Wyluxx Stadium. Even though they played without the murdered, Cillo Fistor, they still defeated the Generals.

Ti Gurmis, the Horned Hares mesnuk player was very tired as he drove home after the exhausting game in the darkness. He was driving on the Wyluxx Highway toward Kinkorx.

As Ti Gurmis Drove

His Home in Suburbia Kinkorx Was Being Invaded

In the darkness, Zith Fleen was breaking the glass in the back door of Ti’s suburban Kinkorx home as Neechehe watched. Using his club, he continued to break the glass. The pieces fell on the floor inside the upper-class home. He turned to Neechehe. “See Neechehe—it’s easy,” he said as he smiled in the dark.

He reached through the opening and unlocked the door. As the door opened, he said, “That was too easy. It was almost as if Ti was inviting us in. Come on,” he said as he motioned to his friend, the wolf.

Zith walked into Ti’s upscale, two story home as Neechehe followed. “Be careful. Don’t step on the glass. You don’t want to cut your paws.”

Neechehe stepped carefully as she followed Zith inside. He crept around in the darkness as Neechehe followed. His eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness. He looked at and felt the expensive furnishings. “Big house,” he whispered.

He walked to the large, modern, well-equipped kitchen. “Let’s see what he has to eat.” Zith opened the fridge. As the interior light illuminated, he paused to admire the large collection of refrigerator magnets. “It looks like he’s traveled a lot. He buys a souvenir magnet wherever he goes. Oh look. He even has a few Kinkorx Horned Hares magnets. I think I’ll take two magnets. He won’t miss them.” He laughed. “He’ll be dead.” He grabbed two of the souvenir magnets and put them in his pocket. “They’ll remind me of this night.”

As he held the door open and the open door alarm pinged, he said, “It looks like he was going to cook this meat when he gets back from Wyluxx City. He won’t need it. He’ll be dead.” Zith removed the bloody meat from the shelve.

“Here Neechehe.” He tossed it onto the fine wood designer floor. Neechehe grabbed the bloody meat in her mouth. She lay on the parquet wooden floor and began quickly eating.

Zith grabbed a quick meal as well. He closed the door and sat on the decorative floor next to his friend and ate—in the dark. He said to his friend, “Ti is going to be surprised when he sees us. I haven’t seen him since that mesnuk game against the Generals. You know Neechehe; he left me all alone in that game. He wasn’t even trying to help. Those Generals were attacking me from all directions. He didn’t help me at all. Tonight we’re going to remind him of that game.”

Zith stood and walked around the first floor of the two-story house. “How are we going to greet him?” He continued to pace and plan with his fully adjusted night eyes.

He looked at the silhouette of a large wrought iron clock on Ti’s wall. He said, “I can’t read the clock in the darkness but I know he’ll be here soon. We want to surprise him. I’m sure he’ll be happy to see us. Neechehe, we better hide.”

He began searching for a place where they could hide until it was time to spring their surprise. He opened the hall closet. “This looks like a good place for us to hide. Come on Neechehe—in here.” He and his friend wolf walked into the large, roomy, hall closet. “I’ll keep the door open just a bit until Ti arrives. He’ll be here any minute.”

Zith and Neechehe hid in the dark closet. Zith peeked out the cracked door as they waited. “He’ll be here any minute,” he said to his friend. Zith and Neechehe waited quietly in the dark closet.

Ti Gurmis Drove Into His Driveway
He was tired as he exited his deluxe, fully loaded sports car. He was one of the players that benefited from Zith Fleen’s departure from the team seasons ago. His extravagant lifestyle reflected his good fortune.

He walked the brief distance in the dark to his large front porch. After climbing the short steps and walking across his porch, he put his house key into the front door lock. He turned it and opened his extravagant door.

He entered his home and closed the front door—then he locked it.

Zith closed the slightly opened hall door when he saw Ti Gurmis enter the home.

The exhausted star mesnuk player felt for his custom designed Red Ploss Wood switch cover for his entrance light. Upon finding it, he turned on a small hall light. He tossed his keys onto his luxurious, Red Ploss Wood, entranceway dry sink. He hung his fashionable sports hat on his very expensive, matching, Red Ploss Wood, entrance coat and hat rack.

“I need another shower. I want my Jams before I have dinner,” he mumbled. Ti nonchalantly walked up the stairs and into his bedroom. He removed his clothing and walked into his deluxe, master bath. He stepped into his extravagant, imported, wet lands tiled shower. Ti turned on the hot water and began his lengthy, relaxing, steamy shower.

Meanwhile Downstairs
When Zith heard the shower running, he quietly opened the closet door. “Follow me, Neechehe.” The two slowly walked out of the closet. While carrying his club, Zith walked to the entrance furniture. He grabbed Ti’s hat and keys. He carried them to his luxurious, laminated wood coffee table. He quietly placed them nicely on the expensive coffee table. Then he walked back to the light and turned it off. “Let’s hide in the kitchen,” he whispered.

In the darkness, they slowly walked into Ti’s extravagant, well-equipped kitchen. He looked for a place to hide where they could see the stairs. “Let’s wait here.” He squatted while Neechehe sat on the floor, in the dark.

As they waited in the dark kitchen, the shower turned off. “He’ll be down soon. He’s going to be surprised to see us,” Zith said quietly as they waited with his club in hand.

Ti dressed quickly in his shorts and PJ’s. He walked out of the bedroom and headed toward the stairs. As he walked down the stairs toward the first floor, he saw the darkness. He paused. “I thought I left the hall light on…maybe not.” He continued down the stairs and toward the light.

After turning it on, he turned toward the kitchen. He saw his hat and keys on the coffee table. His anxieties instantly erupted and terror swept through his fit body. The fear and horror was crippling, as he stood while trembling uncontrollably. “Zith Fleen!” he said loudly as he trembled with horror. “Is that you?”

Zith and Neechehe remained quiet in their hiding place. They could see Ti, as he stood petrified with horror in his entrance seating room.

Ti could smell the stench of a wild animal as he trembled. “I know what you think. I wasn’t part of that plan. I had nothing to do with your injury,” he said loudly as he looked toward his dark kitchen and trembled with horror.

Zith whispered to Neechehe, “It’s time. Let’s have a party.”

As Ti remained petrified with fear, Zith and Neechehe slowly walked toward him. As the two walked into the light, Ti was engulfed with horror. “It is you! That’s the wolf!” he yelled with overpowering fear. He bolted toward the front door.

Neechehe growled while showing her deadly teeth and charged after him. Before he reached the door, she bit deep into his leg and pulled him to the floor. “Ahhh!...” he screamed as his blood sprayed onto his expensive furniture and floor.

Zith grabbed his hair and began hitting him mercilessly in the face with his club. Neechehe continued to growl, bit, and rip his legs. She twisted and ripped. Blood was spraying on the expensively decorated furnishings and walls.

Ti fought his attackers. His face was covered in blood from Zith’s club. Blood sprayed from the large gashes in his legs from Neechehe’s large, vicious teeth. He struggled free and rolled toward the stairs.

As Zith blocked the door, Ti struggled to stand and hobbled up the stairs. As he stumbled upward, his flowing blood from the deep gashes in his legs left red, coagulating blood trails on the steps of the finely carpeted stairway.

Neechehe quickly pursued the injured star mesnuk player. She flew up the stairs as Zith followed while carrying his blood-covered club.

Ti hurried into his bedroom. He closed and locked the door. Blood flowed from his deep leg wounds onto his fine bedroom carpet. While in a horrifying panic, he frantically turned on the lights and grabbed the phone beside his bed. As he began to dial, Zith flew through the air like a mesnuk player defending his kloxyn and hit the bedroom door. The lock instantly broke and the door flew open violently.

“No!” yelled Ti in horror.

Neechehe growled as she flew through the open door and jumped at Ti. She knocked him onto his large bed. As he bled from his face and legs, he fought her with his fists. She growled as she bit his arms while ripping and twisting. “Ahhh!” he screamed as he tried to defend himself as he bled all over his plush bed.

Zith jumped on the bed and continued to club him in the face and head. As Zith clubbed, Neechehe bit and ripped his arms. When she tore off his arm, blood flew onto the walls and ceiling. He screamed from the pain and horror as his blood splattered everywhere.

Neechehe dropped his bloody, dismembered arm onto his blood soaked bed. As he struggled and screamed, she bit deep into the other arm. She twisted and ripped as Zith continued to hit Ti’s face and head.

His head and face were covered with his blood. Blood ran from his fractured nose. Blood oozed from his bloody mouth. Zith continued to hit him with the club.

His blood was splattered on the walls, ceiling, and floor. Ti’s extravagant bedroom furniture and large, plush bed were covered with his blood.

As Neechehe continued to rip and tear his other arm, it separated from Ti’s bloody body. As Ti continued to scream, he began to lose consciousness. As Zith continued with the merciless attack on Ti’s face and head, Neechehe leaped to his legs. She began to bit, rip, and tear his legs.

Ti became unconscious from the loss of blood and the pain as the attack continued.

Neechehe ripped off one leg. Blood was splattering everywhere. She sunk her deadly teeth into the last appendage. She began to rip, tear, and twists. Zith continued his assault on the now dead mesnuk player. Blood continued to fly everywhere.

Neechehe ripped off the final limb. She released her grip and allowed the severed leg to lie motionless on the blood-covered bed. She sunk her deadly teeth into the torso and ripped numerous gashes into the bloody flesh.

Next, she went for his throat. As she tore and ripped his throat, Zith backed away shortly. With her powerful jaws and sharp teeth, she quickly ripped his bloody head from the torso.

Zith looked at their work. Ti’s head was pulverized, blood covered, and severed. His arms and legs were ripped off the torso and bloody. He had numerous deep gashes in his torso. Zith and Neechehe were covered in Ti’s blood. The large, extravagant bed was blood soaked. The walls of the large, expensively decorated bedroom were covered in splattered blood. There were numerous blood splats on the fine carpet.

He nodded his head. “I’d say we explained the rules to him very well–don’t you think Neechehe?” She was licking the blood off her fur. He removed a trash bag from his pocket. He began to stuff Ti’s severed, bloody pieces into the bag. When he had all the body parts safely inside the trash bag, he threw it over his shoulder. He looked around the room. “There’s a lot of blood. I think he understands the rules—now. Let’s go Neechehe,” he said.

While carrying the bag of body parts, Zith turned off the lights as they exited the bedroom. They followed the blood trail and walked down the steps into the entranceway.

“There’s a lot of blood down here. I need to get the lights,” Zith said. He turned off the last lights. As Zith carried Ti Gurmis in the trash bag over his shoulder, they walked through the dark house to the rear door.

They exited the upper-income home through the same door they used to originally invade. Zith paused to lock the rear door with the broken glass.

Zith and Neechehe ran into the dark night while carrying Ti Gurmis in a trash bag. They continued to run through fields and back yards. The darkness concealed them as they ran to the place where Zith planned to dump the body.

Soon, they reached the main road that he was looking for. “Right over there, Neechehe. That’s where we’re dumping Ti,” Zith said. They ran toward the drainage ditch.

When they reached the drainage work, Zith said, “This is the spot.” He dropped the bag. He began removing the bloody body parts and scattering them over several feet. When he dumped the slashed torso, he said, “That’s real nice. Someone will see Ti early in the morning.” He smiled at their work. “I think Ti understands the rules now. Let’s go Neechehe. It’s a long run back to our cave.” They ran into the fields and trees on their way back to their desert home. It would take them until the afternoon at running speed to get home.

Chapter Six

Three Days Ago

In The Morning

Detective Maxx Zeqster had previously rescued Art from the clutches of the Gang of Five and the Joqzonions. They had been holding him captive in a scorpion- infested cave in the desert. He was suffering from numerous scorpion stings while being bound and gagged in the scorpion-infested cave. Detective Zeqster brought him to the Emergence Room at Kinkorx Mirchester Hospital.

Art and Detective Zeqster were watching Kinkorx TV in Art’s hospital room while talking about their previous case—the Sirrz Debmyuo’s stolen Signature Collection case and Wixqezzer Auctions in Kvyutt.

They paused as a special news report came on the TV. “I am Kinkorx TV News Anchor, Meez Broplen. This morning, the Chief of Police of Kinkorx Police Department, Chief Aazon Pomur is reporting another gruesome murder of a Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player.

According to Chief Pomur, Ti Gurmis, the star player for the Kinkorx Horned Hares, was found brutally murdered and dismembered early this morning. He was found by passing motorists on their way to work.

The body of Ti Gurmis was mutilated and dumped in a drainage ditch next to a road where it was sure to be found quickly. This is the second Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player that has been found brutally murdered recently.

We are now taking you to a live report from roaming reporter, Pymur Muxx. He is reporting live from the Xcuymir Territory Correctional Facility in Jxobslyn.”

“Thank you Meez. I’m reporting live at the Xcuymir Territory Correctional Facility in Jxobslyn. According to our unnamed sources here, Zith Fleen, the mentally insane, ex-Kinkorx Horned Hare, that has repeatedly threatened to take revenge on the entire Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk team for his head injury, escaped from this facility nearly one month ago.

As we all remember, he was hit brutally during a mesnuk game. The head collision left him with brain damage. After being convicted of one brutal murder of a Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player, he was sentenced to life in this correctional facility, in the psychiatric wing.

Today, Zith Fleen is being blamed for the two recent brutal murders of Kinkorx Horned Hares players. This is Pymur Muxx. I’m reporting live from the Xcuymir Territory Correctional Facility in Jxobslyn. Now back to you Meez.”

“I’m Meez Broplen, your Kinkorx TV News Anchor. Our other top story that we would like to bring you on this special news bulletin is a report from the news wire from the wet lands. According to Guytic City TV News Anchor Jimner Veqsen, the Gang of Five seem to be taking some time off from their looting, killing, and burning in the wet lands. Their last known attack was in Bloqxess, in Meslerr Territory. Since that attack, the gang hasn’t been seen.

In other news from the wet lands, it’s being reported by numerous eyewitnesses that more Joqzonion space ships are landing in the wet lands almost daily.

Are the Joqzonions attempting to form an army in which to take over Sesla? Only time will tell. For now, we are all grateful that the attacks by the murdering outlaw group, the Gang of Five, have slowed at least temperately. This is Meez Broplen, your Kinkorx TV News Anchor. We are returning you back to our regular programming.”

“It looks like my attack had an effect on them,” Maxx said.

Art replied, “Yes it does. That’s good. I’m also concerned about these killings of the Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk players. I hope the police catch Zith Fleen before he kills any more players.”

Three Days Ago

In The Afternoon

As Art Nekuma lay in his hospital bed, while watching Kinkorx TV and eating, there was a Breaking News Bulletin. “I am Kinkorx TV News Anchor Meez Broplen. Pymur Muxx is standing by with a special report.”

“I’m Kinkorx TV News roaming reporter, Pymur Muxx. I am reporting live from the suburban Kinkorx home of Ti Gurmis. As you know, Ti’s slashed and dismembered body was found early this morning beside a drainage ditch.

While conducting their investigation, the Kinkorx Police went to his home. What they discovered was horrifying. Police Chief Pomur is preparing to make a statement. I have been told his report will begin any moment…Here he comes now. Police Chief Pomur.”

Chief Pomur began, “After Ti Gurmis’ butchered body was found early this morning, and my department began an immediate investigation. We are attempting to gather clues that will lead us to the killer. One of the places we wanted to search was his home. After receiving a search warrant from Judge Lykun, we forcefully entered this home. We discovered the murder scene. There is a considerable amount of blood both downstairs and upstairs. The bulk of the blood is in the bedroom. We think the actual murder took place on his bed. There is blood everywhere in his bedroom.”

Pymur Muxx asked, “Chief Pomur. Do you believe this is the work of Zith Fleen, The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher?”

Chief Pomur sighed with anger as he answered, “We do not think Zith Fleen committed this heinous murder!” he said angrily and strongly. “The attack was completely different.”

Kinkorx Desert News roaming reporter Vigtor Zertus said, “Zith Fleen slashed and dismember a Kinkorx Horned Hares player and place him next to a busy road. That seems to be the same pattern to me.”

Chief Pomur replied angrily. “Since you didn’t ask a question, I’ll not respond to your statement. I will only say that we are even more convinced now that Zith Fleen isn’t the killer. We are conducting an investigation to learn the identity of this new murderer. Now if you will excuse me. I have a lot of work to do.”

“Chief Pomur—” said The Bedsult Daily News roaming reporter Girma Resior as Chief Pomur cut her off.

“No further questions!” he said. Chief Pomur walked back into Ti Gurmis’ house.

The reporters closed their reports. Pymur Muxx said, “Chief Pomur and the Kinkorx Police Department are convinced Zith Fleen, The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher is not responsible for the two recent murders of the Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk players. They feel this killer has a completely different style. Chief Pomur and the Kinkorx Police are conducting an investigation to discover who the new killer is. They will continue to work inside Ti Gurmis’ home. They are searching for clues as to who slashed and dismembered his body before dumping it near a drainage ditch sometime late last night. This is Pymur Muxx reporting live for Kinkorx TV News.”

“I’m Kinkorx TV News Anchor Meez Broplen. We will break in live when we have more to report. We now return you to our regular programming.”

As Art watched the special breaking news bulletin, he thought, “The pattern for Ti Gurmis’ murder is exactly the same as the others. I know Zith Fleen, The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher, murdered Cillo Fistor and Ti Gurmis. How can Chief Pomur say it was a different killer? I’m going to do some investigating myself on this Slasher case.”

Yesterday
Detective Art Nekuma was released two days ago from the hospital due to scorpion stings. He was looking into the case he had heard about while recovering in the hospital. As he worked on The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher case, he began reading the Wyluxx City Times.

He read a front-page article in the Times from the Kinkorx Desert News, via the news wire, by reporter Vigtor Zertus. The front-page headline read:

Will the Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher Kill Again?

Wyluxx City Times: Chief Pomur stated earlier today at the Kinkorx Police Department, “We do not believe Zith Fleen, the escaped mental patient is responsible for the recent slayings. At this time, we have no evidence to link him to those crimes.

In addition to our murder investigation, we are aiding the Xcuymir Territory Sheriff Department with their continuing search for Zith Fleen. We expect to capture and return him to the correctional facility in Jxobslyn, where he escaped from—Soon.”

Chief Pomur refused to answer reporter’s questions after the brief statement.

The last Kinkorx Horned Hares player to be found brutally murdered, slashed, and dismembered was the star player, Ti Gurmis. He was found by passing motorists in a drainage ditch close to the road several days ago. It is believed, due to the placement of the body parts, the Slasher wanted the dismembered body of his victim to be found quickly. This is the second Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player’s mutilated body that has been found recently in a public place. Both players were brutally murdered, slashed, and dismembered.

It is widely believed that Zith Fleen, the mentally insane, ex-Kinkorx Horned Hare, is responsible for these two recent murders.

He was imprisoned a year ago in Xcuymir Territory Correctional Facility in Jxobslyn after brutally murdering a Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk player, in the same manner. Before his escape one month ago, he was serving a life sentence in the psychiatric wing for that murder.

As we all remember, Zith Fleen suffered a tragic head injury during a brutal hit in a mesnuk game against the Wyluxx City Generals, a year and a half ago.

After emergency brain surgery, he was left with permanent brain damage to his anterior rostral prefrontal cortex and temporal poles. The correctional facility doctors believe his brain damage is what has led to his antisocial personality and psychopathy disorder.

It has been reported by numerous members of the staff at the correctional facility that, Zith Fleen repeatedly threatened to take revenge. He is threatening deadly retaliation on the entire Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk team for his head injury.

He insists his mesnuk collision was a conspiracy by his teammates to get him off the team. He insists the players didn’t understand his unique visions. As we all remember, the members of the Kinkorx Horned Hares denied the allegations, at that time...

As Art Nekuma sat at his database, in his home office, in suburbia Wyluxx City, he thought, “It looks like the reporters agree with me. They all think Zith Fleen killed Cillo Fistor and Ti Gurmis and so do I. Until we get another case, I’m going to working on The Slasher Case. It seems Chief Pomur and the Kinkorx Police could use some help.”

Chapter Seven

Present Day

It was a rare cloudy morning as Maxx Zeqster and Art Nekuma were standing in Maxx’s back yard at his welcoming home in Bedsult, in suburbia Kinkorx. They were standing under his ornamental Red Ploss Tree while looking at Maxx’s latest landscape painting that he was working on—while in the shade.

Maxx stated, “That’s how the cave that you were being held captive in looked. If you don’t think about what happened inside, the cave and surrounding desert are quite spectacular – wouldn’t you agree?” he asked. “The multi-colored sand and the blooming flowers complement each other very well. Even the stone formation seems to match the surroundings.”

Art studied the half-finished painting. He thought, “All I can remember is being tied to a chair and getting stung by a scorpion.” He said as he smiled, “It looks great!”

Maxx added, “I’m also going to paint several red scorpions in the sand. That’ll be later.” He felt several raindrops. “It looks like we’re in for some rain. I had better get this painting and easel inside. Do you mind carrying my tools?”

Art replied, “No problem.” He grabbed the painting tools as Maxx grabbed the painting and tri-stand. As the rain began to cascade, they walked inside while carrying the painting and supplies.

“We can put them in the dining room,” said Maxx. They walked into the dining room and set the painting and equipment close to the Melá-Jutis swamp stick.

“Does the Melá-Jutis stick still talk to you?” Art asked.

“Occasionally,” Maxx replied. “Have a seat in the living room. We’ll talk and see what’s on the news.”

Art walked to Maxx’s plush, leather sectional sofa and sat. Using the remote, he turned on the TV. He watched Kinkorx TV while he waited for his friend.

Maxx had walked into the kitchen and grabbed two bottles of water from his fridge. He walked to the living room. He handed one to Art. He sat in his luxurious recliner and opened his. They both took a big drink as Kinkorx TV aired.

Maxx asked casually, “How are your parents? Are they still arguing a lot?”

“Lately them seem to be getting along better,” Art replied. “They talk about you all the time. They talk about the Dunjyn Asylum and how you rescued them from near death inside that horrific place.”

Maxx smiled and said, “I’m glad I could help.”

“You did more than help,” Art added. “There were days when I went into that creepy asylum – I couldn’t stop puking. The smell was so bad. There was vomit and defecation everywhere. The doxer fever patients were grabbing me and spitting on me. It was awful – worse than that. The doxer fever mutants moaned and groaned. They lay in the corridors. Their mutated dorsal fins and mutated arms and legs were disgusting. I’m not sure whether they were more disgusting or more frightening. One thinks I do know – that asylum was vile. I puked so many times. I’m so glad you rescued them from that awful place. Dr. Vuyyu Neafyndrer, the head psychiatrist at Dunjyn Asylum never heard of the doxer fever-reversing drug. He said he was hesitant to use it at first, but my parents were dying. There wasn’t a reason not give the medicine a chance. After the injections, they started recovering almost immediately. Dr. Neafyndrer said he never saw anything like it.” As Art finished the brief summation, he was looking a little sick.

Maxx changed the painful and disgusting subject. “Do they still spend a lot of time in the back yard?” he asked.

Art looked a little nauseous as he replied, “They really like the patio set I bought for them. They spend most of the day lounging in the shade. For a long time, they lounged, drank beverages, and argued.”

Maxx asked, “What about now?”

Art replied, “They still spend most of the day lounging and drinking beverages. They don’t seem to argue as much. Maybe they’re finally tired of fighting.”

“Have their mutations come back?” he asked.

Art answered, “No. They look completely normal. Their dorsal fins are gone. Their arms and legs look normal again. They don’t look like anything was ever wrong with them. If someone didn’t know their history, that coterie would never know they were once doxer fever mutants – and close to death. That’s all thanks to you.” He smiled.

Maxx replied, “Do they still like the house?”

Art said happily, “They love the house – and so do I. I especially love my office. It’s great. My dad likes the kitchen and the back yard mostly. My mom likes it that they have separate bedrooms. She really likes her bedroom. Thanks again for buying it for us.”

He smiled. “It was my pleasure. You need a nice home for your family. You also need a big office to do most of the work in our detective agency,” Maxx said.

Art smiled as he said, “I never thought my dreams were going to come true. All those years I worked as a janitor at Wyluxx City High School. Mostly I cleaned the mesnuk stadium – what a mess. I hated that job. I was so happy when Mr. Pluxxer fired me and that job was out of my life. That same night, I worked undercover at The Mesnuk Stadium Downtown. That’s how we closed the sand trafficking case.”

Maxx smiled as he replied, “That was the beginning of our partnership. That was also the time when our lives turned around.”

“There’s no question about that – at least from my point of view,” said Art.

Maxx smiled. “From my perspective as well.” He changed the subject again—to something lighter. “Were you surprised when you saw Wixqezzer Auctions?”

Art replied, “I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t expect the building to be so far out in the swamplands of Kvyutt. I also didn’t expect the building to be so rundown. The walkways and boardwalks over the swampland were surprising. The worst surprise was being grabbed from behind by the Gang of Five and taken to that cave.”

Maxx added, “I know that was a horrible experience. It was almost closing time when I began to search for you. I looked at the front entrance – as we planned. Then I checked the car. When you weren’t there, I sent you two ziq com messages on your DunyII. When the messages didn’t go through, I knew your Duny was turned off. You never turn off your phone. I knew you were in trouble. I searched inside again. I searched until closing time. After that, I had to leave.”

Art replied, “The Gang of Five and the Joqzonions are scary to look at—and evil. They tied me to a chair in that cave. They planned how they were going to kill us. I thought they were going to kill me in the cave.”

“It’s a good thing they didn’t take your Duny II,” said Maxx. “Without your ziq com, I would never have found you. You would have died from those scorpion stings on your leg.”

“When I sent that ziq com, I pushed the buttons on my DunyII through my pants,” said Art. “I didn’t know if my ziq com was even understandable. As I sent it, I got stung several times on the leg.”

Maxx replied, “I figured out quickly were you were by the red scorpions. Then I searched for a cave. I drove The Phoenix into the trail of red scorpions. I kept driving and searching. When I was outside that cave, I felt your vibrations. I knew you were inside.”

“It really hurt when that scorpion stung me in the leg. Then I passed out,” Art said.

“When I found you, I was terrified. Your breathing was slow. You were so pale. I thought you would be ok—but I didn’t know. I drove as fast as I could to get you to the hospital. We almost lost you. I still remember that moment at the hospital when you flat lined. I started to lose it when I thought you were dead,” said Maxx.

Art replied, “You got me there in time. I owe my life to you—Again.”

Maxx changed the subject. He laughed. “I remember that creepy warehouse in Guytic City? I couldn’t believe how many spiders there were in that spooky building. You were surrounded by a wall of spiders,” he said.

“The Phoenix came in handy that night,” Art replied.

“I drove The Phoenix into the spiders. They were everywhere. At least we recovered the stolen collectables,” Maxx said.

“Sirrz Debmyuo was right about where his collectables would be stored. He didn’t mention the spiders. When we delivered them to Sirrz, they still had spiders on them,” said Art.

“I sent Sirrz Debmyuo a bill for both cases,” Maxx stated. “It seems we’re without a case—at least momentarily.”

Art said, “I’ve been looking into The Slasher case. Since Zith Fleen escaped from prison a month ago, it looks like he’s killed two players from the Kinkorx Horned Hares team. Chief Pomur denies that it’s Zith Fleen who’s doing the killing. The Kinkorx Police are looking for a different killer. I’m looking into it. To me there’s no question – Zith Fleen’s the killer.”

“Since we don’t have another case right now, let’s spend some time on that one. I’ll do some research myself. What have you discovered so far?” asked Maxx.

Art replied, “I’m working from the assumption that Zith Fleen’s the killer. That he’s killed three players so for. One player, over a year ago, and two players in the last few weeks. That makes him a serial killer. To me that’s what the evidence indicates. For some reason Chief Pomur interprets the evidence differently.”

Maxx replied, “After Zith Fleen’s brain surgery, he was left with permanent brain damage to his anterior rostral prefrontal cortex and temporal poles. When those areas of the brain are damaged, often times psychopathic behavior results. The correctional facility doctors diagnosed him with antisocial personality and psychopathy disorder. Those injuries plus the prison psychiatrists’ diagnoses suggests your theory—that he’s a serial killer, may be correct.”

As they talked, a Breaking News Story came on Kinkorx TV. “I am Kinkorx TV News Anchor Meez Broplen. I’m switching you to Pymur Muxx. He he’s standing by with a live report.”

The TV Switched to the Horned Hares Practice Field

“Thank you Meez. I’m Pymur Muxx. I am reporting live from the Kinkorx Horned Hares practice field in downtown Kinkorx. Mr. Grexenn has agreed to answer a few questions for Kinkorx TV News.”

He turned toward Jeqrix Grexenn. “Mr. Grexenn, you’ve recently lost two star players due to heinous murders. What are your plans?”

Jeqrix Grexenn replied. “First off. I would like to express my sincere condolences to the families of Cillo Fistor and Ti Gurmis. I know their families are grieving for their loved ones. To answer your question, we plan to continue playing our best mesnuk on the field and conducting ourselves professionally both on and off the field.”

Pymur said, “Police Chief Pomur does not feel Zith Fleen in responsible for these recent murders. They’re looking for another killer. This is a viewpoint that the public does not seem to agree with. As you know, Zith Fleen is widely called The Kinkorx Horned Hares Slasher – and for good reason.”

Jeqrix Grexenn replied angrily, “I am aware of Chief Pomur’s decision to pursue another suspect.”

Pymur Muxx added, “A suspect that the Kinkorx Police still have not identified…Has Chief Pomur offered you any protection for your players?” he asked.

Jeqrix replied, “We spoke once, briefly, on the phone. Chief Pomur does not feel that Zith Fleen is responsible for these two murders. He also does not think the Kinkorx Horned Hares mesnuk team is being targeted by the killer. The Kinkorx Police Department believes these are random murders. Therefore the Kinkorx Police is not offering any protection to my players or their families,” he said angrily.

Pymur responded. “How do you feel about Chief Pomur’s decisions?”

The normally reserved Jeqrix Grexenn had a red, angry face and angry eyes. He signed deeply. “Today I will be hiring a security guard for each of the players and their immediate families. If Chief Pomur is right, this action should detour the killer.”

Pymur asked, “What if Chief Pomur is wrong? Do you feel the security guards will be enough to stop a psychopath on a revenge driven killing spree? Zith Fleen has a wolf that helps him with the brutal killing. I’m sure you’re aware of that.”

The calmer Jeqrix Grexenn replied, “Those rumors you’re referring to were never proven. However, due to the evil, heinous nature of these murders, and Chief Pomur’s direction in the case, I will be taking my own action. Today I will also hire a professional detective agency to aid the police in catching this killer.”

“That may be a good idea. I’m sure you want this killer caught as fast as possible,” said Pymur.

Jeqrix added, “The pain this killer is causing the families is horrible. I want the killer found as fast as possible and put in jail.”

“Thank you for talking with us,” said Pymur.

“My pleasure,” said Jeqrix Grexenn. He walked toward his office.

Pymur Muxx began his closing. “Jeqrix Grexenn, the owner of the Kinkorx Horned Hares will be hiring security guards for protection for his players. He’s also hiring a private detective agency to aid the police. We will continue to follow this story. We hope these actions by Mr. Grexenn prevent more killings and succor the Kinkorx Police in catching this heinous killer. I am Pymur Muxx. Reporting live from the Kinkorx Horned Hares practice field in downtown Kinkorx.”

The TV Switched to the Kinkorx TV News Room

“Thank you Pymur for that live report. We will follow this story as it develops. I am Meez Broplen your Kinkorx TV News Anchor. There is another story that just came over the news wire from GCTV that we want to bring to you. We are now switching you to Guytic City TV News.”

The TV Switched to Guytic City TV News—In The Wet Lands

“I am Jimner Veqsen, the Guytic City TV News Anchor. After several weeks of silence, the Gang of Five and their Joqzonion followers, robbed another bank just minutes ago. We are taking you live to the Ellingtyn Bank in Guytic City. GCTV roaming news reporter Wilqy Dymzet is standing by.”

The TV Switched to The Ellingtyn Bank

“I am Wilqy Dymzet. I’m standing outside the Ellingtyn Bank in outer Guytic City. Less than an hour ago, the Gang of Five and a group of Joqzonions entered this rural bank. They shot and killed the only costumer and the lone security guard before robbing the bank. The bank manager has informed me that at gunpoint, he opened the vault. According to the manager, late yesterday afternoon, a costumer deposited a large sum of cash. That costumer’s money was in the vault this morning. Bank officials believe the robbers somehow hacked into the banks computers overnight and learned about the large cash deposit.

I have an eyewitness that saw the gang of robbers as they exited the bank. This witness does not wish to have their face or name known for their own safety,” Wilqy Dymzet said. He moved the microphone to the eyewitness as the cameras followed. “Can you tell us what you saw?”

As the witness’ face was blurred, he began. “I saw who I think was the leader of the group exit the bank first.”

Wilqy Dymzetreplied, “The leader of the Gang of Five calls himself Mustler.”

The eyewitness continued. “Yes. I think so. I saw Mustler. He came out of the bank. He was carrying some type of automatic weapon. Only seconds later, his gang exited the bank behind him. They were all carrying weapons and they had bags over their shoulders. I think they were carrying money.”

Wilqy Dymzetasked. “Where did the robbers go?”

“They went behind the bank and into the marshland. They must have had a vehicle hiding back there. I didn’t see then drive away. They must have escaped into the swamp.”

Wilqy Dymzet replied. “Where were you when you saw them?”

The witness replied, “I was going into the bank. When I heard the gunfire, I hid behind those bushes.” He pointed. “I stayed there until the robbers left. Right after that, the police drove up. They told me to stay for a while in case anyone had questions.”

Wilqy Dymzet asked, “Did you get a good look at Mustler and his gang?”

“Yes. Mustler and his gang look like mutants. They’re scary. The mutates have enlarged heads with only a few strands of hair. Their faces are large and deformed. Their eyes are large and uneven. They don’t have ears. They had a row of sharp bone in their mouth that protruded sharply. Their legs were crooked and stick-like. Large bumps protruded from both. The many leg veins were large and distorted just under their leathery-like skin. He had large, mutated, wiggly veins. Their feet were small and chunk-like.

Then I saw several Joqzonions. They had elongated heads and big eyes. Their arms and legs were really long and like sticks.”

Wilqy Dymzet replied, “I’ve interviewed several eyewitnesses to the Gang of Five’s robberies. Your description of Mustler and his gang is typical. They must be a frightening sight.”

The eyewitness said, “The mutant gang is goulash and frightening. They all had evil, heinous looks on their faces.”

Wilqy replied, “We’re glad you weren’t hurt as you hid in the bushes. Thank you for talking with us.”

“No problem. Glad to help,” said the unnamed and unidentified eyewitness.

“I’m Wilqy Dymzet reporting live from the Ellingtyn Bank in outer Guytic City.”

The TV Switched Back to Kinkorx TV News
I am Meez Broplen your Kinkorx TV News Anchor. We will follow this story as it develops. There is another story that just came over the news wire from Kvyutt TV News, also in the wet lands, that we want to show you. We are taking you to news anchor, Centon Green.”
The TV Switched to Kvyutt TV News
“I am Centon Green. I’m the news anchor for Kvyutt TV News. At this moment, the Gang of Five and Joqzonion followers are looting and burning businesses in outer Kvyutt. This terror, only an hour after the evil, mutant gang robbed the Ellingtyn Bank in outer Guytic City. Kvyutt TV roaming news reporter Wes Biim is there with a live report.”

“I’m in a rural village of Kvyutt. I’m standing across the street from several businesses as they’re burning. You can see the fires. The Kvyutt Police and Fire Departments are here as you can also see. There are several bloody, murdered business owners lying on the ground outside their shops. I was told by the police that the Gang of Five and their Joqzonion followers killed the storeowners. Then they robbed these stores of their firearms and money. After the killings and looting, the evil mutant gang set the businesses on fire.

I spoke to several eyewitnesses. The witnesses were reluctant to speak on camera—as they were concerned for their safety. They did however positively identify Mustler and his Gang of Five members. They also reported seeing several Joqzonions that were assisting them.

I asked them if they had recently scene flying saucers from Joqzon landing in the wet lands. Each of them reported seeing numerous flying saucers landing in the desert and marshlands—day and night. They are fearful of the Gang of Five, with a Joqzonion army, taking over Sesla—as if the Joqzonions tried to do several decades ago. As we all remember, the Joqs intended to take over Sesla and strip mine her bountiful natural researches.

I will stay here and bring you live updates as we learn more. I’m Kvyutt TV roaming news reporter Wes Biim. Now, back to you Centon.”

“I’m Kvyutt TV News Anchor Centon Green. We will bring you the live reports as we learn more. We return you to our regular programming.”

The TV Switched Back to Kinkorx TV News
“This is Meez Broplen, news anchor. We will break in live when we know more from Guytic City or Kvyutt. We now return you back to our regular programming.”

Maxx and Art were shocked as they watched Kinkorx TV in Maxx’s comfortable living room. “It looks like the Gang of Five is starting again,” Maxx said.

Art added, “That gang will continue to murder, steal, and burn businesses unless you stop them. Mustler and the Joqs want to take over Sesla. The Joqs want to steal the minerals and other researches. I’m not sure what Mustler wants.”

“I get the impression Mustler wants to be a global dictator,” Maxx replied.

As they talked, the phone began to ring. Maxx jumped up from his recliner and hurried to his office. He sat at his database and grabbed the ringing phone. “Detective Maxx Zeqster.”

“This is Jeqrix Grexenn. I’m the owner of the Kinkorx Horned Hares.”

Maxx smiled as he thought, “We have a new case.” He asked, “How can I help you Mr. Grexenn?”

Jeqrix replied, “As I’m sure you’re aware, my mesnuk team has suffered two tragic losses recently.”

“We are aware. You have our sincere condolences,” Maxx replied.

“Thank you. I’ve hired a security company to protect my players and their families,” Jeqrix stated.

Maxx replied, “A wise idea – under the circumstances.”

Jeqrix said, “I feel that Chief Pomur needs help. I believe he and the Kinkorx Police are on the wrong track with this case.”

Maxx responded, “From the headlines in the newspapers, it seems the media would agree with you.”

“What is your opinion?” he asked.

“We’ve spent a limited amount of time on your case. We agree – Chief Pomur’s decisions concerning the recent murders are…Surprising,” Maxx stated.

“So…You’ve looked into the murders?” he asked cautiously.

Maxx replied, “We’ve spent limited time on the case—yes.”

Jeqrix Grexenn paused. “As I said, I believe the police are looking for the wrong killer. I think Zith Fleen is very sick. I think he killed them.”

Maxx added, “A lot of coteries seem to feel that way.”

“How well do you work with the local police?” asked Jeqrix?

Maxx chuckled lightly. “Police usually don’t like private investigators. Unfortunately my detective agency is no different,” he stated.

Jeqrix paused again. “If I hire your agency, will you work with the local authorities?” he asked.

Maxx replied, “First things first. What would you… hire us to do?”

“Catch the killer – of course!” Jeqrix said strongly.

“As you’ve previously stated, the police think the killer is someone completely different. The public and the media believe it was Zith Fleen. That he’s on a revenge driven killing spree,” said Maxx. “The police won’t be happy with our interference.”

Jeqrix paused again. “You must have an opinion from your work. Who do you feel is accurate?” he asked.

Maxx replied, “From our research, we agree with you and the media. We feel Chief Pomur is looking for the wrong killer.”

“If I hire your agency to catch Zith Fleen before he kills anyone else, will you work with the police?” Jeqrix asked again—this time louder with impatience.

Maxx smiled. “As I’ve already indicated, the local authorities will not like our interference in their case,” he repeated.

“Chief Pomur is looking for another killer. He isn’t looking for Zith Fleen. He’s looking in the wrong direction!” Jeqrix said with increased volume and anger.

Maxx replied, “That’s correct…If you chose to retain our services, be aware the local authorities will not support your decision. Chief Pomur will not be happy that you hired us. He will oppose us if he can – just like the previous Police Chief, Zog Morxoc.” He chuckled. “I’m sure you heard how that sand trafficking case turned out. Morxoc and his accomplices are still in the correctional facility.”

Jeqrix replied, “I remember. That case was a slap in the face for the local authorities. The work you and Detective Nekuma did made you celebrities. Your detective agency was the top headline news story on every news station and on the front page of every newspaper on Sesla.”

Maxx further explained, “The police don’t like it when we solve cases that they’ve been working on unsuccessfully for years—especially when the authorities are the criminals.”

Jeqrix added, “I’m sure they don’t. You and Art seem to do that a lot.” He paused and pondered briefly. He said, “This is probably going to be another case like that. I’m hiring you and Detective Nekuma. Work with Chief Pomur as much as possible. Catch Zith Fleen before him and his wolf can kill anyone else.”

Maxx smiled. “We’ll start the case immediately. We’ll do our best to work with Chief Pomur. There is something I would like you to do for us,” he asked.

With concern, Jeqrix Grexenn asked, “What do you need?”

“There were a lot of rumors from the players and Zith Fleen the season he was injured. I want Art to study the films of the games that season. He might be able to understand Zith Fleen better. Understanding him will be the key to catching him. Send the films to Art’s home in Wyluxx City. If anyone can find a pattern from the game films, Art can,” said Maxx.

Jeqrix was shocked. “I’ve only just hired you. You’re already out thinking and out working Chief Pomur. He never offered to study anything. Art will have the copies by tomorrow. Keep me informed as to your progress,” said Jeqrix Grexenn. He hung of the phone in his office at the Horned Hares practice field.

Maxx walked back to his living room. Art had turned off the TV so he could listen to the call. “That was Jeqrix Grexenn,” Maxx said. “He hired us to catch Zith Fleen before he kills anyone else.”

He sat in his leather recliner. “I asked Mr. Grexenn for the game tapes of the season Zith Fleen was injured. He’s sending them to your home. You’ll have them tomorrow.”

“What are we looking for?” Art asked.

Maxx replied, “It was widely rumored the season he was injured that there was a conspiracy within the horned hare’s organization. The players were abandoning him on the field in an attempt to cause a serious injury. The players were hoping he would become injured and be removed from the team. Study the films. See if there’s a pattern between the players on the field and the players that he killed.” He smiled. “If anyone can find a pattern – you can.”

Art beamed at his partner’s praise. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Maxx continued. “You’ve already formed the opinion he’s a serial killer. I’m hoping there’s a pattern to his killing. Maybe you can discover that pattern by watching the games. “While you’re doing that, I’ll make a quick trip to the wet lands. I need to stop the Gang of Five and the Joqzonions. I’m also going to burn more of their space ships.”

“When are you leaving?” Art asked.

“Within the hour,” he replied. “I plan to attack Mustler and his gang before they’re expecting me.”

Art asked, “How will you know where to find them?”

Maxx replied, “I’m expecting them to raid another business very soon; that’s the way Mustler operates. While I’m driving, I’ll keep my radio tuned to Radio Wet Lands. I’ll listen for breaking news bulletins. I’ll try to catch them before they’re gone. I’ve had good success with that plan in the past.”

“Do you need help hooking The Phoenix to your car?” asked Art.

“Thank you – No,” Maxx replied. “I need to pack a few things. I’ll connect the trailer when I leave.”

Art said, “You have a lot to do. I should go. I’ll study the game films while you’re gone. I’ll do my best to discern a pattern to Zith Fleen’s killing.” He stood and walked toward the door.

Maxx also stood. He said, “I’ll be back in a couple of days. I’ll call you when I’ve had some rest.”

“I’ll keep a close eye on the news. It’s kind of fun to watch live reports knowing it was The Melá-Jutis that started the fires,” Art said as he opened the door. “Awesome! The rain stopped.”

Maxx replied, “Glad to hear it. Tell your dad and mom I said hi.”

“Will do,” said Art as he closed the door. He walked across the porch and down the steps. As he walked along the wet walkway toward his blue convertible, he looked at The Phoenix. He said, “Detective Zeqster’s camo, all-terrain jeep comes in handy on his quick trips to the wet lands. He can drive that little, turbo-charged jeep anywhere.”

“I’m glad I put the top up.” He looked at the overcast sky as he said, “It looks like it might rain again.” He entered his blue, midsized convertible. He began the drove back to his home in Wyluxx City.

Meanwhile: Inside
Maxx was busy planning for his quick trip to the wet lands. He put several items into a duffel bag. He thought, “That’s all I need.” He grabbed his bag and keys and headed toward the door. He stopped. “I almost forgot.”

He walked to his living room and stood in front of his friend—the Melá-Jutis stick. He said, “I’m driving to the wet lands to fight Mustler and his gang. I hope Sesla knows what I’m doing. I’ll need her magic.”

He stood briefly and stared at the swamp stick. “Sesla knows,” the girls voice said, “Her enchantments will be with you. There are many Joqzonion ships in the desert and the marshlands. Destroy as many as you can. They are attempting to form an army to take over Sesla. Mustler wants to control Sesla while the Joqzonions strip the natural researches of this beautiful planet. You are the only one who has the magical powers to stop them. You must hurry – before it is too late. They are growing in numbers every day.”

Maxx was angry. “I’ll find their saucers and burn them all!” he declared strongly to the Melá-Jutis stick. He hurried toward the door. “There’s no time to waste,” he said with authority. While carrying his bag and keys he opened his custom door and exited his home.

After quickly locking the front door, he hurried across his porch and down the steps. While thinking about the Joqzonion flying saucers, he rushed to his convertible and tossed his bag into the passenger seat.

He grabbed the arm of the trailer and lifted it. He easily pulled the trailer with Phoenix several feet to the hitch on his red convertible. As he imagined more Joqzonions flying saucers landing, he closed and locked the connection.

“I need my gas can,” he said. Maxx hurried into his small garage and grabbed the can. He shook it. “It’s not very full. I had better take a syphon hose. I can draw gas out of my car if necessary.”

He exited his small, garage while carrying the gas can and hose. He hurried to his trunk. After unlocking it, he placed the can and hose inside. “Now I’m ready,” he said as he closed the trunk.

He hurried to the driver’s door. He opening it and jumped inside. “I’m glad I put the top up. That rain would have damaged my leather seats,” he thought.

He started the motor. He declared, “I am The Melá-Jutis. I’m going to stop Mustler and his gang.” While pulling The Phoenix, he drove out of his driveway. He turned onto Lypont Drive.

“Mustler and his gang are in for a big surprise. Wait until they see their ships burning. I’ll bet they’re going to be mad,” he said. He laughed as he drove through his Bedsult neighborhood.

Chapter Eight
“It’s time to listen to the radio,” Maxx thought as he drove the Kinkorx streets. “There might be a breaking news story from the wet lands.” He turned on his convertible radio.

Instantly the rock music blared. He bobbed his head and tapped his hand on the side of his red convertible to the beat of the Rock music. He said as he drove and Jammed, “Kinkorx Rocks Radio is awesome!” He continued to drive along the streets of Kinkorx as he listened to the Rock music while pulling the Phoenix on its trailer.

His flowing blond hair blew in the warm, humid desert wind through the open window. “This overcast sky is depressing. The air is damp. It looks like it might rain—soon. I would rather have sunshine.”

As he continued to drive through Kinkorx with the top up he said, “There’s the desert highway.” He began to slow. He merged onto the desert highway toward Guytic City.

He drove into the outer limits of Kinkorx on the desert highway as it began to rain again. “It looks like another rain storm. I’ll be glad when I drive away from these thick clouds. I want to put the top down,” he said over the music. He turned on his wipers as the rain intensified.

As he continued along the desert highway out of Kinkorx, the rain continued to cascade down. As it rained, the aromatic smells of the blooming desert flowers grew stronger. As he drove, the picturesque desert began to appear. He said, “There’s nothing like the beauty of the Seslean desert during a rain storm.” He took several deep breaths. “The fresh desert rain smells delightful. As soon as I finish the painting of the cave where Art was held captive, I’m going to start another desert landscape painting. I’ll paint the scenery I see on this trip. I’ll add the rain to the painting.”

He drove into the open desert toward Guytic City as the rain began to subside. Sesla’s sun began to shine down. He smiled as he said, “How nice; Sesla’s sun is finally shining. I knew I would drive out of those rain clouds before long.”

As Maxx drove farther into the desert, Sesla’s brilliant sun began to warm his convertible. “It looks like the rain is over. I should stop and put the top down,” he said as the music continued.

He slowed and pulled over to the side of the sandy highway. Using his automatic lift, he lowered the top. “That’s better!” he said happily. He speeded and entered the lane as he continued to listen to the Rock music.

The hours past as he drove along the desert highway. As he drove, be was enthralled in the beauty of Sesla’s vast desert. The multi-colored sand and the multitude of blooming flowers and bushes were spectacular to view. He was engulfed by the majesty and splendor of the ancient stone formations. The variety of minerals in the stones made them colorful and beautiful. The colored layers were spectacular. The aromatic smells of the hosts of desert flowers was intoxicating as he drove.

By late afternoon, he approached the border of Xcuymir Territory and Inglot Territory. His eyes grew large when he saw red scorpions on the highway – Again. “This is where the red scorpions were before. The cave where Art was held captive is just ahead. The scorpions live in that cave. I may be in luck. Mustler and his gang might be hiding there again,” he thought.

As his heart raced in his fit chest with eager anticipation, he slowed and pulled over on the desert highway. He opened his convertible door and looked down at the road. “Red scorpions!” he said. Maxx looked into the desert. “More scorpions! They could be coming from that cave – or somewhere else in that direction. Way, either the fleeing scorpions could be a sign the Gang of Five or Joqzonions, or both, are hiding in the desert somewhere close by. It’s time to uncover the Phoenix.”

He quickly exited his car and began to untie and uncover his turbo-charged, camo, jeep. “I might need my gas can and a lighter,” he said. Maxx opened the trunk and grabbed the gas can—then closed it. He walked and grabbed his lighter out of his duffel bag in the passenger’s seat. He put them in the Phoenix.

He said, “It’s time for my suit.” He started removing his casual, oversized clothing. He tossed his shirt in the back seat of his red convertible. He said loudly, “Melá-Jutis!” Instantly his magical Melá-Jutis suit appeared under his clothing. His green and dark grey, waterproof, super-hero suit with attached green cape and white gloved was stuffed under his remaining clothing. He quickly removed the final clothing and tossed them into the back seat of his convertible.

With blazing speed, he jumped into the Phoenix. He started the super-charged motor. “Rrrrmmm…Rrrrmmm…Rrrmmm.” He drove the small, powerful, 4X4, camouflaged jeep off the camouflaged trailer. When the rear tires hit the sand, he gunned the motor. Sand flew as he turned the steering wheel toward the desert.

The Phoenix spun sand as he drove away from the highway toward the first stone formation. Red scorpions and colorful sand were being thrown in the air beside and behind the Phoenix as he drove at a high speed into the scorpion flow.

He began to slow as he approached the first ancient stones. He paused to feel for vibrations. “I don’t feel anything except these scorpions. Wait! I feel something else,” he thought. Maxx looked in the direction of the vibrations. There was a desert hawk flapping its wings in the breeze. “The vibrations I’m felling are coming from that hawk.”

“There’s no one hiding in there,” he said. “Rrrrmmm!...Rrmmm…Rrrmmm.” He gunned the large turbo-charged motor and spun multi-colored sand and red scorpions as he drove away from the large, ancient stones.

“The scorpions are coming from over that bluff,” Maxx thought. He turned the wheels toward the long, high area and hit the gas. “Rrrr…” The motor hummed as he threw sand and drove toward the scorpions and the distant hill.

He drove across the colorful sand. The hawk was circling in the distance. Maxx thought, “That hawk reminds me of Russell Talon, the enchanted hawk from Melá-Jutis. I never found out what happened to him. It was too easy to outsmart that egotistical, enchanted hawk.”

He drove closer to the large sand hill. “The scorpions are coming from beyond that hill.” He drove into a mass of scorpions. The insects flew as they were caught in the tires.

As Maxx drove over the sand hill, he gunned the motor. He went airborne. He flew several feet into the air before the bouncy landing. Sand and scorpions flew into the air as he spun the tires and drove farther into the desert. “I’ll keep following the stream of scorpions. Something’s causing them to leave their home,” he said.

As his green cape fluttered in the warm desert wind, he gunned the motor. Sand flew into the air. He continued to drive deeper into the desert. “There’s another group of stones,” he said. Maxx drove toward the stones as the herd of scorpions continued to crawl toward him. Sand and scorpions flew as he speeded toward the next group of large rocks.

As he drove closer to the giant stones, he paused to feel for vibrations. He was confused at what he felt. He thought, “I feel vibrations. The pulsations are too big to be inside the cave. There must be something very large beyond those stones.” He raced the motor and drove around the large, ancient stones. As he drove past, he looked back to see if there were tracks around the entrance of the small cave. “No tracks. My senses are right on,” he bragged.

He continued driving along the colorful sand into the stream of scorpions. “There’s another large bluff,” Maxx said. He listened for vibrations. “I feel something very big ahead.” He raced the motor and drove over the sand hill. He went airborne as the sand and scorpions flew into the air. He landed with a bounce. “That was fun!” he said loudly as he saw a very large group of big stones. He slowed to a stop. He felt for vibrations. He said, “There’s someone in that cave. I feel something very big on the other side. Scorpions are coming out. It must be huge.”

He drove slow and quiet toward the large cave. He whispered, “This is close enough. I’ll check it out on foot.” He turned off the Phoenix and jumped out. He began walking around the large, mineral colored rocks. “There are a lot of scorpions coming out of the entrance,” Maxx thought. He stepped on numerous red scorpions as he quickly hurried toward the opening.

When he walked around to the front side of the ancient, colored stones, he was shocked at what he saw. “Joqzonion space ships – six of them,” he whispered. “My Melá-Jutis stick said the Joqs were in the desert as well as the wet lands. She was right. There must be Joqs inside.”

He quietly walked to the entrance of the colorful cave and peeked inside. “Joqs – lots of them,” he whispered. “I can see four. I can hear more. I can feel vibrations coming from deep within the cave. It’s time to eliminate this group. Then, I’ll burn their ships.”

With blazing speed, Maxx Zeqster flew into the cave. “It’s The Melá-Jutis! Kill him!” yelled a Joqzonion. The gang of invaders attacked Maxx from all sides. The long armed aliens jumped at him. They hit him with their long, stick-like arms and kicked with their stick legs. As the Joqzonions attacked Maxx, with super-speed, he grabbed an attacker and threw them against the wall. “Aahhh!” screamed a Joqzonion as they hit the stonewalls. Their brittle bones cracked from impact.

With super-speed, Maxx hit and kicked on all sides. “Uhhh!” The Joqzonions groaned from pain as Maxx delivered deadly punches with his powerful fists. He punched another. The Joqs jaw broke from the incredible force of his fist. Blood flew from its mouth. Another grabbed Maxx. Maxx broke his shoulder as he threw him into the wall. “Uuhhh!” moaned the Joq.

As the fight continued, Joqzonion blood splattered on the walls of the cave. Dead Joqs lay on the cave floor. More Joqs came running from deeper in the cave. As they attacked, Maxx delivered crushing, deathblows with his powerful fists and feet.

Several Joqs lay on the cave floor with dismembered, bloody arms due to Maxx ripping them off when he threw them against the cave walls. Several had cracked and bloody skulls from the impact. Others had numerous broken bones with bones extruding from their stick-like appendages. Joq blood was everywhere as Maxx continued with the battle. “Aahh!” screamed a Joq as Maxx delivered another deathblow to the head. “Uhhh!” yelled another as Maxx threw then against the cave wall with such force, their bones shattered on impact. “Crack!”

As the last Joq fell dead on the cave floor, Maxx readied himself for another attack. His cape fluttered as he spun around while looking for more Joqs. “Is that all?” he asked loudly. “Anyone else?”

After several seconds, “That was it!” he said with surprise. He looked around the scorpion-infested cave. There were dead, bloody Joqs everywhere. Several of them were blood covered with severed arms. Others were blood covered with crushed skulls. Still others had massive fractures with internal bleeding. Scorpions were beginning to crawl on the bloody, stick-like bodies.

Maxx said boldly, “These Joqs won’t take over Sesla!” He paused briefly. “I should look farther into this cave. I need to make sure there are no more Joqs.” He walked deeper into the dark, scorpion-infested cave.

He investigated cavern after cavern. “This is a big cave,” he said as he walked in the darkness—while guided by vibrations.

He continued to search through the many dark, scorpion-infested tunnels.

Finally he thought, “There’s no more Joqs – just scorpions.” While being guided by vibrations, Maxx hurried toward the entrance. As he hurriedly walked, he stepped on several scorpions. As he approached the entrance, he saw bright sun light.

He paused to look at the bloody, dead Joqs. He said as he gazed at the gruesome sight, “This group of aliens definitely won’t take over Sesla. They’re going to be scorpion food.” He squished several scorpions as he hurried out the front. “I need to burn those space ships,” he thought.

He hurried toward the Phoenix. As he walked along the multi-colored sand, he noticed the scorpions were crawling back to the cave. He thought, “It looks like they’re going home. They didn’t like their home being invaded by Joqs. Maybe they’ll like Joqs better as food.”

He grabbed the gas can and lighter out of the Phoenix. “It’s time to burn some ships,” he said. He hurried across the sand toward the Joqzonion ships.

When he reached th