Book Review: “Free Your Mind – A Guide to Freedom from Depression, anxiety, Panic Attacks and Intrusive thoughts” By Jamie Stevens

Rating: 91 out of 100

Buy Book Here.

Just like the title says, this book addresses things like depression, anxiety and panic attacks. One of the things I like about this book as opposed to other books on the same topic was that this book was quick and right to the point.

The reading was easy to read with very little technical jargon. The book starts off explaining what anxiety is and how the brain function works that causes anxiety. Next it goes into detail on how to reduce panic attacks. The advice is sound and lines up with what has been discovered by science.

Much of the book is suggestions on changing the way you think about things and how you view yourself. One chapter is dedicated to dealing with agoraphobia which can be hard to overcome.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with general anxiety disorder and or panic attacks with or without agoraphobia. There seems to be a much heavier focus on anxiety that depression. However, this might help people who have depression because of anxiety.

If you are looking for a quick read that still takes an in depth look at anxiety, this book is for you.

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Book Review: “How to Market A Book” by Joanna Penn

This book is a must have for writers, especially self-published and indie author. It is especially helpful for those who are just starting off. Experienced writers should have gained some of this knowledge through experience, but this book still can be helpful even for the experienced.  Joanna is a good example of someone making it as an indie author, as she has done well for herself. She has a lot of knowledge of the marketing world and knows what she is doing.

I don’t think it was stressed enough for how hard it is for a writer to make it these days. I have come across a lot of indie authors who have written several books and haven’t made it very far. However, perhaps they aren’t following some of the key points in this book. I started to follow more of the key points in this book and it does seem to be helping. I just started so I am still a long shot from making big bucks through writing.

The book is organized into five sections. The first section has to do with getting the right mindset and preparing yourself to market your book. The second section is about getting your book seen on the internet by the use of keywords and other methods. Part three is short term marketing which is where she talks mostly about paid advertising. The fourth part is about long-term marketing using such things as E-mail and social media. Finally, she discusses coming up with a marketing strategy for yourself.

I love her concept of social karma, and it does work well. I always find it a good idea to promote other people’s books through social media. In my experience, others seem to be drawn to people who are promoting other people.

Joanna does specifically stress some of the more important techniques in the book and even has a list toward the end of the essentials that need to be done. There is also a list of questions that you can ask yourself if you feel like the marketing isn’t working in your favor.

The book is well organized and easy to understand. I would say it is one of the best books out there when it comes to marketing your book. I have been following her main points and am starting to meet some success.

Buy the Book here.

The Experiment: Chapter 10 – Mistletoe

Dr. Loran stood in his office looking out the window as the kids left the school. He had much work to be done, and things were moving quicker than he thought they would. Three student deaths already and more would be on the way.

He found it very interesting that David had brought up the subject of UFOs. The kid was a smart one, and Dr. Loran wondered what more he was going to find out if he kept searching. He sometimes wished Sarah would choose to come see him, but he knew that she hated him. He didn’t blame her; especially knowing that David went back and told her everything that went on in their sessions.

He looked over at a piece of mistletoe, as he always did. It seemed so innocent and harmless and yet his purpose was to use it for a deathblow. Ironic how such a small object was going to be the start of absolute chaos.

The Experiment: Chapter 9 – Unfair

David rested on Sunday from the stress of the situation and was back in school Monday. He was happy to see Jason was back. He had to go meet with Mr. Loran.

As a counselor, David felt he could ask him questions that he couldn’t ask other adults since he wasn’t able to tell others without David’s permission unless there was a threat of harm to another person or self. He felt a little uncertain though because Dr Loran could be rather overwhelming with his opinions, and sometimes David regretted telling him things. As he walked into the office, Dr. Loran gave his usual warm friendly smile, and David took a seat. “What’s your take on UFOs?” He asked soon into the conversation.

Peter briefly thought about it and then stated, “Well, that’s a hard one. I believe that most UFO sightings are simply hoaxes, then some are from people that are delusional, and some are things such as the military setting off flares. I remember when I was younger, I lived near a military base, and one day they were shooting off flare guns into the sky and from a distance it appeared to be big orange lights. Some interpreted it as UFOs. Fortunately, the next day’s newspaper gave the story before some people went into hysteria,” Peter chuckled.

“That makes sense, but what is your take on those who have been abducted and even under hypnosis and lie detectors they told the same story and sometimes in more vivid detail?”

“Wow, it looks like you have been looking into UFOlogy, a very intense but uncertain field of study.”

“I find it intriguing, but I have never really believed in it.”

“Me either, it’s interesting though if you think about it. First, some people struggling with psychological disorders may have delusions that may convince them that UFOs truly abducted them. Another interesting point is, most reported abductions occurred within the last several decades. There has been a substantial increase in the amount of use for drugs that cause hallucinations.”

Mr. Loran continued, “Now imagine that someone had taken these drugs and had a hallucination of a UFO abducting them. Normally hallucinations can be enhanced by strong emotions that a person feels when they are not on the drugs. Think of yourself as having a fear of spiders. If you were to do the drug, you may have a hallucination of a giant spider chasing you. To you it would be real and you may be able to pass a lie detector test if it wasn’t common sense that spiders don’t get that big. Do you understand where I’m coming from?”

“Yes, I do, it makes sense to me.”

“Anyways, I have this strange vibe that you or one of your friends is starting to believe that the student murders are somehow connected to UFO activity.”

David was stunned at Dr. Loran being able to pick this up. Then again, Dr. Loran spent years in studying the mind and how to read people.

“Well, I guess you could say that the thought was put on the table but to be honest, I really didn’t buy it. I just wanted to see what you thought.”

“David, in reality you did buy into it, at least a small amount, otherwise you wouldn’t have even bothered to ask me. You may not know it, but your subconscious can be quite revealing.”

The bell rang and David was relieved to get going. It seemed like Dr. Loran was an expert at pinning people in a corner.

He walked his way through the hallway. He could tell that students seemed to be more paranoid and afraid than usual. The feeling of being unsafe in the normally safe village increased with the brutal murder of two police officers. Students figured that if the police couldn’t protect them, no one could. Even David was feeling a bit insecure as he struggled to trust in God.

He found Sarah in the hall. She seemed more secure than anyone else in the school, even though she was attacked and threatened. David admired her strength, however, he knew that sometimes she didn’t care whether she lived or not. She was not suicidal, but also wasn’t always a happy girl. David had never known her to date anyone, even though she was very pretty. It seemed that most guys liked girls who were more superficial, yet Sarah was real. She never was one to hide behind a mask; she was not one who would win an award on knowing how to win friends.

Before David got a chance to speak to Sarah, Luke Dilton and his buddies approached Sarah saying; “You need to quit your witchcraft, you are bringing the evil to this town.”

“Me? If you actually read your Bible, it was the hypocrites that gave Jesus problems! If anything, people like you have brought this on us!”

“Shut up you stupid witch!”

“You shut up!” David said, as he stepped in.

“What? You should know better than anyone that witches bring evil!”

“Well, if you weren’t such a hypocrite maybe God would protect you!”

“Now it is your turn to shut up Kurtland, or maybe you’ll need to learn to turn the other cheek.”

“Then you need to leave her alone.”

“Screw you!” With that Luke shoved David into the lockers. David pushed him back and Luke delivered two punches. David ducked the first one and blocked the second one.

By that time a couple teachers intervened and stood in between them, and they both were instructed to go to the principle’s office.

Upon arriving Mr. Wood, the principle, sat them both down and had both David and Luke explain their side of the story. Mr. Wood was a balding middle age man with woodchuck teeth surrounded by a fake air of pleasantness. He was known to have favorites from what David had heard. This was his first time being sent to the office, so he was hoping that he wouldn’t be in too much trouble.

David noticed that Mr. Wood was attempting to hold back a chuckle when Luke quoted what he said to Sarah. David was annoyed at the prejudice that even the members of the school’s faculty held against her.

After they were done giving their sides of the story, Mr. Wood said. “It looks like I’m going to have to give you both two days of In School Suspension. I hope you can both learn from this.”

“I don’t think that’s fair.” David retorted. “I was just defending myself. I didn’t even hit back or anything.”

“I think I’m being reasonable; you both are getting the same punishment and that’s that.”

David held his cool, but he could feel the rage build inside.  Mr. Wood was never fair and understanding from what he had heard. He hoped this would give him sometime to figure out more about the investigation, and he also needed to work on Lauren’s essay. In a way, he was glad he wouldn’t be in classes for a little while. He was afraid she would ask about the homework, which he hadn’t started yet. In fact, he forgot about it up until now while thinking about what he was going to do while stuck in I.S.S. His anger was soothed, even though he felt he was dealt an unfair deck.

Mr. Wood then asked David to leave and Luke to stay. He felt that was rather strange, but decided that there was probably nothing to it.

Upon leaving David found Sarah. “Thank you for standing up for me,” was the first thing she said. David updated her on what Mr. Wood had given them for punishment.

“Geez David, that’s unfair. Mr. Wood is a real jerk. Then again so aren’t almost all the teachers in this school. If you don’t fit in with the students, even the teachers and Mr. Wood treat you like an outcast.”

“I know, I know! It’s a good thing we are seniors. I can’t wait until this year is over.” David knew that even though he had been treated unfairly, Sarah had it ten times worse.

“Me either.”

Just then Jevon located the both of them and seemed quite excited. “I found out a little more on those reptilian things.”

“Really?” Sarah asked. “Tell us.”

“OK, first of all, they tend to thrive on our stress. In other words, somehow our stresses give off some kind of negative energy which they feed off.”

“So, you are saying that the more negative energy we have, the more they grow stronger?” Sarah asked making sure she understood correctly.

“Exactly!”

“Where did you get this piece of info?”

“From the Internet, of course.”

“That’s what I thought, I wish I could trust the Internet a little more. There are so many point of views on there, and then many of them contradict each other.”

David was listening but became distracted when he saw Lauren come out of the building. He tried to stand behind Sarah and Jevon, but that did not work. As soon as Lauren saw him she walked over to them. David knew she would ask about her homework.

“Hi David.”

“Hi, what’s up?”

“Oh, not much, just came by to say ‘hi,’” she said batting her eyes at him. “Oh, did you get a chance to look at that essay?” She said trying to appear nonchalant.

“Not yet, but I will have plenty of time tomorrow in I.S.S.”

With that Lauren walked off to catch the bus.

Sarah was looking at David questioningly, and even Jevon looked a little baffled. It was Sarah who spoke. “What was that all about?”

David felt quite awkward admitting to his friends, especially Sarah, that he was doing Lauren’s homework. “Oh, nothing.”

“I know that look; you were never good at hiding things.”

David knew he would be unsuccessful hiding anything from Sarah. “OK OK, I’ve been talking to Lauren a little.”

“I see that… an essay?”

“Well…yeah, she wanted me to give her a hand with her essay.”

“Sounds to me like you are doing it for her.” David braced himself for a lecture. “You know that she is using you.” David did not want to hear this, but he wasn’t going to stop her either. “She knows you like her, and she is going to use that to take advantage of you.”

David became defensive. “How do you know? You don’t even know her?”

“Isn’t it obvious? Stop being blinded by love, and open your eyes. All I saw her care about was how you are coming along on her essay. She didn’t even ask why you have I.S.S. A girl who cares would have asked.”

“She had to get on the bus.”

“The buses are still here, she had plenty of time and you know that.”

David was at a loss of words. Deep down he knew she told the truth and was doing it because she cared for him. Yet, he did not want the truth. He had to believe that Lauren could like him back. He needed hope and security.

“I’m sorry David, I just don’t want you to get hurt. You are a great guy and deserve better.”

David thought to himself, there is no better, but he didn’t speak that out loud. Lauren already had flirted with him a couple of times, so he knew there was something there. Or was there? Maybe she was doing it so he would go through with the essay.

Just then Luke walked by and said, “Hey Davey, I hope you have fun in I.S.S. Mr. Wood let me off the hook.” With that Luke walked off, as Sarah, Jevon, and David stood there stunned.

The Experiment: Chapter 8 – Jason

David and Sarah waited for the ambulance to arrive. A few police cars came and gave Sarah a ride home. David was quite shaken up by this, as he arrived at home. His mother hadn’t even noticed him leave, thankfully. She would be frantic had she known what was going on.

He could not have imagined what the officer had seen.  Perhaps the officer was delusional. David tried to rationalize that the officer was in a lot of pain, and might not have been seeing things clearly. Yet, there were other things that continued to trouble him. What exactly did Jason see that freaked him out? Even though he didn’t want to believe it, he was thinking that Sarah might be on to something with her research.

David didn’t sleep well and woke up the next morning tired. He walked over to Sarah’s, and they walked to the store together to grab some candy bars and soda. David could tell that Sarah didn’t sleep very well, and neither of them were concerned about eating a healthy breakfast. The day was overcast, yet dry. It almost seemed as if it had been gloomier out since the day of the first murder, with an exception of a day here and there.

They arrived at the hospital a little before noon and went to see Jason. David hated entering the hospital. It always seemed to have a depressing atmosphere. Perhaps he felt this way after watching his sister pass away in the hospital. The hospital seemed rather quiet when they entered, with a visitor here and there. Their footsteps echoed throughout the hallway, as they moved toward the elevator. Being that Carthage was a relatively small town, the hospital was also small. For more serious issues, people were often sent out of town.

Jason appeared to be in better condition, and was glad to see them. Even though Jason wasn’t a close friend, they always got along with him. With his calm blue eyes and neatly combed sandy blonde hair, it was hard to imagine him being the same kid that had just ran down the hall yelling. He was a long and lanky kid with his head always leaned forward, which David thought was from having to duck under things all the time.

His brother Jevon was also present. Unlike Jason, Jevon didn’t receive the height gene, yet still had the same eye and hair traits. He wore thick glasses giving him the appearance of someone who is dedicated to gaining knowledge. David had heard he was good with computers and continually received straight “As” in all his classes except for gym.

“Hey guys, you are the first fellow students to visit me, not that I expected anyone.” Jason said with a hint of self-pity. Sarah understood why he felt that way, as he probably felt embarrassed from the incident and expected people to avoid him.

“Hey Jason,” David said as he entered. “How long do they have you in here?”

“I hope for only the weekend, this place stinks. I’m sorry for that display in the hallway.”

“Don’t apologize,” Sarah said. “There has been some strange activity going on in this town lately.” She then told him about the incident the night before and what the police officer said.

Jason took interest and responded, “Yes, that’s why I freaked out like I did. I saw one too, right in the school hallway.” He seemed relieved yet troubled that others had now seen something similar, so he figured he could tell his story.

David and Sarah looked at each other and sat down. Sarah was extremely interested and said, “Tell us about it.”

Jason looked around as to make sure no one was listening except for the two of them and his brother Jevon. Sarah and David leaned closer to listen. “I was walking down the hall in school; the hall was empty. I was looking up as I was walking, and then I looked to the side of me to look in a classroom. No more than two seconds later, I looked in front of me again and there was a man standing in front of me.” Both David and Sarah could sense the fear in Jason’s voice.

He continued: “I didn’t recognize him, but he called me by name.  I swear that he suddenly just appeared. There is no way that he could have run up that quickly. At first, he appeared to be a businessman in a black suit with slicked back black hair. His dark eyes sent shivers through me; I’ll never forget it.”

“What did he say to you?” Sarah asked.

“Here is what he said,” and he deepened his voice to mimic the man he had met, “‘Jason, you know much and are knowledgeable, I want you to come with us.’”

“I, of course asked him who he was. Then he said, ‘You know us, for you and your brother have read about us.’”

“At that time I said, ‘I don’t want to go with you.’ He became angry and right before my eyes he transformed; growing scales on his neck…kind of half-human/half-lizard. He became taller. Just then the bell rang and he looked around, whispered something and then vanished.” Jason looked up hoping to meet believing eyes.

David and Sarah were stunned. They could tell that Jason was telling the truth, or what he interpreted as the truth. “So, what do you make of it?” Sarah asked.

“I’m not exactly sure, my brother and I have done a lot of research into UFOlogy, ancient mysteries, and alternative history, and things like that. It could be a number of things. Some believe there is a race of reptilians that control our planet. If anything, this creature had a description of that which is similar to which I have read. They appear to be inter-dimensional in which they can disappear and reappear.”

“I don’t see how that is possible, they can’t just disappear.” David chimed in.

It was then that Jevon entered the conversation. “They have the power to switch dimensions. Think of dimensions in terms of frequencies. You can tune into a radio station, any that are in the frequency range, but you can only tune to one at a time, but the others are still there. These beings seem to be inter-dimensional.”

“How would we defeat something like this?” Sarah asked with a hint of nervousness.

“Good question. There must be a way. There must be some that either are not so malevolent, or a different type of inter-dimensional being on our side. There is definitely evidence of good and evil powers in this world, so I believe there is hope.” Jason stated.

“What about God?” David put in.

“You mean the all-powerful God of the Bible?” Jevon asked with a sneer.

“Yes.”

Jevon chuckled, “You sound like every other person in this area. Well, I don’t believe that God can be all-powerful and all good. If that were the case, there wouldn’t be three-year-olds starving to death in Africa would there be?”

“This world is plagued with sin which brings death. In Africa, they practice the worship of other gods.”

“How do you know that? Have you been to Africa? Christianity is everywhere. I have even talked to Christians online from that area, and they too have trouble feeding other believers. Starvation is a fact of life that an all-powerful God can do something about.”

Sarah then spoke, “besides, I pray to Pagan Gods and Goddesses, and I’m not starving. Of course, I don’t blame divine beings for the starvation in the world. I blame human greed. There are enough resources on this planet to feed everyone, but greed prevents that from happening.”

“I’m sorry, I guess I was out of line saying that, anyhow, we need to figure out what is really going on around here. A police officer saw it, Jason saw it, and I would really like to talk to that police officer,” David replied.

Just then, something caught Jevon’s attention on a nearby TV, and he turned it up so he could hear.

A local news reporter was on. “Today, a police officer by the name of Chuck Richardson has been pronounced dead after being viciously assaulted and injured. The attacker has not yet been identified. Due to Chuck’s serious injuries, he was not able to give a description of his attacker. Many believe this is connected with the brutal murder of police officer Ryan O’Connor that took place at 8:45 PM last night. It has been a dreadful spring in our usually peaceful town of Carthage.”

“As of now, there appears to be no connection between the student murders and the attacks on the officers last night. Before the incident Officer Richardson and O’Connor where searching for a stolen car. The stolen car was found parked in front of the officers’ vehicle where they found Richardson in critical condition. We now go to Rosie live who is with Sheriff Gerald Knox. What does the Sheriff have to say about the situation Rosie?”

“Well folks,” Rosie appeared on the screen as she started talking. “I have Sheriff Knox with me to share some thoughts with us. It’s been a sad day Sheriff.”

“Indeed it has,” the Sheriff responded; his voice grim. “A very sad day it is when two exceptionally wonderful men are savagely murdered.” The anger in his tone was obvious, along with the grief that filled his dark eyes. His dark brown hair appeared to be uncombed, and stress lines crisscrossed his forehead.

Rosie continued the discussion. “Are there any suspects?”

“Not as of yet. We are running into dead ends. In my thirty years with the force, I have seen more evil in the last few months than the rest of my entire career combined.” While he was attempting to appear strong, Sarah could detect a high sense of worry that was troubling him.

“I’m sure many out there would agree with you. Do you have any advice and recommendations for the community?” Rosie asked, as she struggled to get the words out.

“I certainly do. Don’t be walking around at night, these people are extremely dangerous. Keep your doors locked, and do not allow strangers into your house. In fact, as strange as it sounds beware of letting anyone, even those you know, into your house after dark. That is when all the murders have taken place so far. And heck, get a license and purchase a gun for the protection of you and your family.”

“There you have it folks. I suggest you take his advice and be safe. Now back to you Charlie.”

Other news came on so Jevon turned the TV back down. The four of them sat together silent for many moments. Finally. Sarah spoke up, “I think we should go to the police.”

Jevon wasn’t so certain. “Why? So you two can be stuck here with Jason? I do not believe that’s a good idea.”

“Maybe they will listen now that two cops were murdered.” Sarah retorted, there wasn’t as much hope in her voice as she intended. She wished Cocky Cook wasn’t the one on the case. Jevon was right, with him running things she would likely wind up in the same boat as Jason.

“Nonsense, they only listen to what they see as logical.”

“Well, I have to go down and make up a report sometime today, they are expecting me anyways.” She suddenly was not looking forward to this. She would probably be at the station for a while facing a couple of police officers that would ask her about every angle they could think of. Would she have to tell them how they were threatening her and David for snooping around? The police would not like that, especially if Cocky Cook was one of them. They would probably point out how irresponsible she was for walking around alone at night with everything that had been going on. Now that she thought about it, she was almost trying to justify not going. When the ambulance came to pick up Officer Richardson, they didn’t really ask her many questions, and didn’t even say anything about her having to make a report.

“I would still not mention anything about shape-shifters.” Jevon stated not realizing that Sarah’s thoughts had shifted.

“Well, I don’t know if I’m going to even go down since I don’t know if I want to face them; however, if I do have to go, I’ll just report what the dying cop said in a factual manner.” Sarah stated.

“OK, maybe that would be fine, but nothing more, especially about me. I was wondering though, do you two want any help trying to get to the bottom of this?” Jevon asked with a hopeful expression on his face.

“Sure, but we pretty much have to keep to ourselves,” David answered, glad that someone with brains was willing to help. Plus, three minds would be better than two.

“Oh, I’ll agree with that one.” Jevon said with a wry smirk.

With that, Sarah and David left the hospital wondering what their next move was going to be.

The Experiment: Chapter 7 – Brotherhood of the Snake

The student was Jason Wilson. David didn’t know him very well, but knew his brother Jevon who was a quiet student. Jason was a junior and was a thin kid with sandy brown hair. David thought he appeared rather awkward running through the hall yelling. At first, he thought Jason was joking around, but something in his eyes told David otherwise.

It wasn’t too long before some of the faculty came in to restrain him before he caused any harm to anyone or embarrassed himself further. He was quickly taken to the principal’s office. As David looked around, he noticed many of the other students were snickering over the whole incident. He felt bad for Jason. When Jason would return back to classes, he would surely be made fun of for the incident. However, David wasn’t as interested in Jason’s behavior, as much as he was interested in who the Brotherhood of the Snake were. He didn’t think this would be something Jason came up with out of thin air, but it did sound like something his brother Jevon would know about.

Perhaps Jevon had told Jason something that caused him to freak out. David found the connection with the murders interesting, although it seemed reminiscent of Sarah’s conspiracy theories. Perhaps, she wasn’t being so far fetched. David tried to dismiss that idea from his mind, but it was beginning to stick. Jason’s fear could be seen on his face, almost as if he saw a ghost or something.

David went to turn around to talk to Lauren, but she was already gone. He sought out Sarah and quickly found her. No one could miss her black gothic style of dress.

“Wow, what did you think of that?” He blurted out, as he approached her.

“Interesting. Jason wasn’t himself, and felt an urgency to warn the students, even at the risk of embarrassing himself. In other words, there is something significant here. I need to find out more about this Brotherhood of the Snake.”

“Do you know anything about them now?”

“Not really, I only recall reading something once. I was researching out a secret organization called the Illuminati, and I read something about the Brotherhood of the Snake…or was it Dragon? I can’t remember. Anyways, supposedly they were the original secret society.”

“Really? How long ago are you talking?” David couldn’t believe he was asking her about this; especially with interest.

“Ancient times, in fact, from what I recall, some believe that it began with the serpent in the garden himself.”

“You mean Satan?”

“If you want to call him that. I’ll look up more.”

“Speaking of looking things up, did you find out anything more on the number 13.” David asked changing the subject slightly.

“Actually, I did look a little up on it. I’m surprised I didn’t realize this before, but the 13th Tarot card in the deck is “Death.”

“Hmmm, I wonder if that is significant…it certainly is interesting. Some psychopath murderers leave their mark, so perhaps that is what the people behind the killings are doing.”

“Could be. That would mean that whoever is behind this is into numerology to a certain extent. I’m going to have to brush up on my numerology and see if I can figure anything out.”

David looked at her questioningly, “You mean you have studied numerology?”

“Of course, many Wiccans look into numerology. Some believe that the number our names add up to have special meaning. Some people even take Wiccan names based on numerology.”

“Oh, ok, you’ll have to show me how to do that sometime.” David said, but he had to head out and couldn’t talk any longer.

*          *          *

Sarah came home and was glad to find that she had the house to herself. There were two reasons she was glad her dad had a truck-driving job. First, it meant that he wasn’t home a lot, and she could avoid his abusive behavior. Secondly, he did bring home a decent income, which allowed her to live in a house that didn’t look too shabby. It was a white house on the outskirts of town, which was at least thirty feet away from the houses on either side. The inside of the house had shiny wooden floors all throughout the downstairs. Had it not been for her father, she probably would find her home a place of comfort.

She hung up her hoodie and backpack on the rack by the doorway and went into the dining room, which branched off from the living room and consisted of the family computer. The computer was already on, so she pulled up the Internet and typed “Brotherhood of the Snake” into a search engine, and many web pages appeared. One title, which read, “Brotherhood of the Snake, the Origin of Secret Societies,” caught her attention, so she clicked on it and began to read.

At first the article began discussing some group of beings called the Anunnuki, who came to Earth thousands of years ago. They needed gold for their planet, so they searched for it on Earth. There were about fifty of them who first came, but more followed.  This is a weird start, Sarah thought to herself. She had read some bizarre conspiracy theories before, but this one was really far out…yet interesting, as she was sucked into reading further.

The article became more interesting. The leader of the Anunnuki was named Anu who had two sons, Enlil and his half brother Enki, also known as Ea. It went on to say that the Anunnuki were getting tired of doing the labor, and came up with an idea to create a slave race. A few of the names rang a bell. She remembered reading about some of these names in her mythology books and thought they might have been references to gods. She couldn’t recall if the names were Sumerian or Babylonian.

Enki apparently was the scientist to conduct the project. There were failed attempts, in which some believe the Neanderthal Man and Homo Erectus came from. However, Enki was eventually able to put together a race, which were the same as humans today.

The humans became a slave race for the Anunnuki and after some time, Enki began to pity the humans. The article said the entire Garden of Eden story was an allegory that explained all this. The word used for “God” in the Old Testament was the Hebrew word “Elohim,” which was actually a plural word meaning “gods.” The gods in the Garden of Eden and the Anunnuki were apparently the same, according to the article. Adam represented mankind, and the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil represented the hidden knowledge, which humans needed in order to gain spiritual freedom.

Enki, in the form of a snake, betrayed the other Anunnuki and informed mankind of the truth. Adam and Eve became ashamed of their nudity because it represented their slavery. They were banished from Eden, and were unable to obtain immortality.  Enki had become rejected and given names such as “devil” and ‘Satan.” Sarah thought about the Bible’s story. What was being said in this article certainly twisted around everything she knew about the Garden of Eden. She continued reading.

Enki was not finished yet, and began a mystery school called The Brotherhood of the Snake, with the intention of enlightening mankind of their true spiritual selves.

However, the rest of the Anunnuki were not happy, and decided to infiltrate the Brotherhood using it as a vehicle to manipulate and control mankind. According to the article, all secret societies are derived from the corrupted version of the Brotherhood of the Snake.

Interestingly, even though the article held a very negative view of the God or gods of the Old Testament, it held a less negative view of Jesus in the New Testament. It went on to claim that Jesus rebelled against the oppression of the Anunnuki. He taught that the Kingdom of God was within. If people realized this, they could tap the divine within. However, after Jesus died on the cross, the Anunnuki changed his teachings to suit their needs, and continued in their manipulation. Rather than teaching love and acceptance of others, a religion was formed that taught division against other religions, and anyone who opposed it were punished, sometimes with execution.

Sarah did some more research on the Brotherhood of the Snake, and different webpages that said different things. Some even claimed that the Anunnuki, or at least their children, could shape shift into reptile looking beings. Some claimed that both the reptilians and the Anunnuki exist, but are two totally different extraterrestrial races. There were so many different theories that it became confusing, but to Sarah, the first article she read seemed to make the most sense.

She thought over how this could be connected with the murders. After several minutes, she became discouraged because she couldn’t figure out the connection. It seemed quite doubtful that ancient extraterrestrial races would be operating in her relatively small hometown.

She decided to head over to David’s, hoping she could sneak in without his mother noticing. She was glad that her father was gone. He would never let her leave the house after eight, and probably would have given her a good slap across the face for even suggesting it. She hoped she would return before he came home.

She stepped out on the street. David’s house was a couple of blocks away, more within the town. The air was fairly humid with a light mist. There was not anyone in the streets. A year ago, the little town would see many people out and about, but not anymore. Ever since the murders began, people would stay in their homes. Sarah found it kind of strange since it seemed like all the murders so far took place in a home.

Every now and then a car would drive past, but that was the only sound besides the occasional dog barking or a loud TV coming from someone’s house.

She turned the corner on the block where David lived. As she did, a car also turned the corner and parked beside her. She did not recognize the car and quickened her pace.

She heard two car doors slam behind her and decided to steal a quick glimpse. Two figures dressed in black with ski masks were hot on her trail! She decided to make a run for David’s house, however, she was no match for the men in the ski masks, as they grabbed each arm and threw her against a nearby tree. The wind was knocked out of her, as the men seemed quite powerful.

“What do you and David know?” One of them asked in a gurgled low pitch voice.

“Nothing, really!” Sarah said; trembling from fear.

“Come on, we know you two have been putting your nose where it doesn’t belong!”

“You really think we’d know more than the cops?” Sarah retorted.

“Yes, the cops don’t know a thing.” The man speaking pulled out a switchblade, “Tell us now. or kiss your life goodbye.”

Sarah didn’t know what to say. There wasn’t really much that David and she had figured out. A few things regarding numbers, and a little interesting history that seemed unconnected, but not much more. She felt like screaming for help, but knew these men meant business and would probably kill her for crying out.

Just then another car turned the corner. Sarah was able to catch a look out of the corner of her eye and saw it was a police car, slowly driving as if they were looking for something.

As soon as the men in ski masks saw it, they dashed in the opposite direction, away from both the police and their own car.

They weren’t quick enough though. The police pulled onto the side of the road and hopped out of the car in pursuit.

The men in ski masks ran through people’s backyards to get away. Sarah watched as the police gave chase, and they were soon out of sight.

After ten minutes of waiting, she decided to walk to David’s instead of waiting around any longer. She could give her report some other time. When she got to David’s, she found a tennis ball that some kid had forgotten in the yard. She threw it at David’s window, hoping he was in his room. However, his mother was the one to look out, and Sarah quickly hid behind a tree.

After a minute, she risked a peek, and no one was at the window. As she was about to give up and leave, David was at the window opening it. He signaled to her to wait a minute and soon appeared at the front door. He saw the police car down the street and asked what had happened. Sarah filled him in on the two guys who assaulted her and took off when the police gave chase.

“Geez, are you all right?” Was the first thing out of David’s mouth after she finished.

“Yeah, for now, I’m a little shaken but that’s it. I just came by to talk.”

“Want to go on a walk?”

“I don’t know about that, still nervous.”

“Oh yeah, sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I wish my mother would relent a little and just let you come in.”

“Yeah, really, she is a hindrance to us solving this mystery and saving the world.” Sarah said, with a sarcastic grin.

They both chuckled, and decided to sit by the tree, while making sure Sarah was out of sight from any of the windows that David’s nosy mom might look out.

They discussed their research online, and what they had found out.

“So,” David said, “did these so called Anunnuki mate with human women to produce offspring?”

“Yes, according to the article. Some believe that the children of the Anunnuki and the sons of God are one of the same.”

“Interesting, but like you said, I don’t understand what this has to do with the case.”

“You know, I found out something else that was interesting in the article.” Sarah said with enthusiasm.

“And?”

“You remember the black plague?”

“Nope. I wasn’t born yet.”

Sarah rolled her eyes and continued on, “Well, it appears that there were eye witnesses of UFO activity going on at the time.”

“Hold it right there. First, you are talking about a strange ancient race, then you are bringing up UFOs. The ancient race is interesting, but UFOs? That is all a bunch of crap!”

Sarah became frustrated, “Why can’t you just listen? You are so skeptical and close-minded. You can’t believe that anything exists out of your own little bubble!”

“I believe in God, something that you seem to deny!”

“I believe in a God…and a Goddess just not in the same way most people around here believe in God. Plus, I don’t like how Christianity claims to be the only true religion.”

“What do you mean by that?”

“Just what I said. I can’t be friends with most people at school because I don’t profess their faith, and also their parents don’t want me around. I’m not accepted at church because I don’t pay money, I don’t speak in tongues, I dress differently, or whatever other excuse they come up with. Then look at the tens of millions that were slaughtered in the name of Christianity with the crusades, inquisitions, and the list goes on.”

“So, you are basically blaming God for the actions of men?”

“You don’t get it do you? I’m not blaming God for anything, it’s the religion…never mind. I just wish people would agree to disagree when it comes to religious beliefs.”

“I understand…” David decided to change the subject to avoid an argument.” I think some of the ideas seem legit with this whole Anunnuki and Sons of God connection.”

“Yet, you have trouble with UFOs?”

“Exactly!”

“It appears that they are also connected!”

“What do you mean?”

“According to what I have been reading, the Anunnuki are known by some to use flying machines. The ancients apparently referred to them as gods because of these incredible technologies. If you read some of the ancient mythologies, you’d see that their gods would use flying chariots. A few interesting things I read talked about a tribe in Africa called the Dogon people. Apparently, they were visited by beings not from this Earth called the Nommos, who taught them various things.”

David still looked skeptical. “Yes, but anyone can make up something like that.”

“True, but one thing I found interesting about this story was that the Dogon priests knew of a star that is known today as Sirius B that the Nommos apparently taught them about. This star cannot be seen with the naked eye, but only by higher-powered telescopes; something the Dogon people didn’t have in order to view this star. It almost seemed like they did gather this knowledge from elsewhere; perhaps extraterrestrials or the Anunnuki.

“Now that is weird. So, you think that this so-called Anunnuki is still flying around today?”

“Possibly, considering the evidence that supports the idea of extraterrestrial life existing. However, exactly what these beings are is sketchy. There is a lot of conflicting information out there, so I can’t come to any solid conclusions.”

“OK, you have a few good points, but don’t you think that UFOs could be demonic spirits?”

“That’s what most Christians say, then again, Christians attribute everything to demons whether it is Adolph Hitler, or simply some rock band.”

“Not all of us are that bad.”

“Maybe not, but some are, I get called possessed all the time. I’ve even had people offer to do an exorcism on me.”

“That’s awful!”

“Now see why I avoid church?”

“I understand, I don’t agree with you, but still, I understand.”

“Thank you…anyways, about the Black Death Plague: There were many sightings of what could be considered UFOs today, during that period of time. On top of that, many times the day before the plague would break out, there would be a mysterious mist that would cover the area.”

“What are you trying to get at?”

“Well, there were figures seen during the night, along with strange lights in the sky when the mists broke out. Most people didn’t see them because they came out at night and, unlike today, just about everyone was sleeping. Those that saw them claimed that they were holding sickle like objects. This may be where you get the whole idea of the Grim Reaper. Some believe that these objects sprayed something that caused the mists, which led to the disease.”

“Is there documentation of this?”

“There is eye witness testimony which was recorded.”

“Again, why is this important to us?”

“It was what I found when researching the Brotherhood of the Snake. I don’t know myself what the connection is, but why would Jason yell it out if it was nonsense. That kid obviously saw something that frightened him enough to do what he did. Did you see the look on his face?”

“Yeah.”

“It was full of fear. Not an everyday fear of heights or something like that, but he was extremely terrified like he saw a ghost.”

“What do you think he saw?”

“I don’t know. I really want to talk to him, but I believe they took him to mental health. Tomorrow, I plan to visit him. Wanna come along? We can go around noon. My dad won’t be home most of the day. Thankfully, his job has had him working on Saturdays.”

“Sure. I’ll go.”

Just then, they saw one of the officers hobbling to the police car. The other one was nowhere in sight. Sarah and David jogged down to see what had happened.

As they arrived, the sight they saw took them by surprise. The officer’s clothes were torn up, and there appeared to be deep claw marks ripped into his skin. His face also showed some scratches, as it was covered with blood. Sarah thought he looked like he had been run over by a lawn mower. Both fear and pain covered his face.

“Are you all right, sir?” Sarah asked, upon approaching the officer.

“Get back to your house, and lock the doors!” He said in pain, yet with urgency. “I called an ambulance.”

“What happened to those two men in ski masks?”

“Men? No, those weren’t men. They were not even human.  I…I…saw…they…they…their faces!”

The Experiment: Chapter 6 – Lauren

The mysterious driver pulled away from David’s house.  He had found David quite amusing. Then there were the police sending him a warning to try to scare him. The driver had to laugh at this one. Neither David nor the entire police squad were a match for him. He drove back to the police station, as he was on duty for the overnight.

*          *          *

David could barely pull himself out of bed in the morning. He wasn’t used to operating on five hours of sleep. He skipped breakfast because he didn’t feel hungry and walked to school. Once again, the weather was gloomy, emphasizing the despair hovering over the town.

As he arrived, his friend Kory approached him, “So, did you hear the news?” Kory was not a close friend of David, but he was always up to date on the latest gossip. David found him somewhat annoying since he always butted into other people’s affairs. Sometimes, it seemed like he would talk so fast that David’s mind couldn’t keep up. He was a short kid with mischievous blue eyes and over gelled fiery red hair. He often hung out with the gamers; however, David knew that even the other gamers got tired of his constant gossip.

“No.” David responded, too exhausted to care.

“Lauren broke up with her boyfriend!”

Now if you were to splash ice on a tired person, you would not have seen a difference from that and David’s reaction.  “Really?” He replied, not able to successfully hide his excitement.

“Yes, I guess one of her friends caught the asshole kissing another girl. She’s free now; you should ask her out as soon as you get a chance.” David hated how the whole school knew about his attraction to Lauren.  He knew it was his fault for making it obvious. If he could just be like normal people and be more discrete.

“Me?  Ask her?  You know how I am with girls, Kory. I can’t just go up and ask her out.” David recalled a situation a few years back. He had been going to high school dances for over a year, but was always too afraid to ask anyone to dance with him. Eventually, a dance came around in which David had made the decision to go up and ask for a dance. The first girl he asked said “no.” He was discouraged, but he continued on. Within a half hour, he had asked five different girls to dance with him, and they all said “no.” After that, he went outside the dance and started to cry. Thoughts of suicide and worthlessness bombarded his brain. He had lost all courage. 

After he had sat down for five minutes, he began to approach the nearby Black River. There was a bridge, and he had made up his mind that he was going to jump to his death. He had felt depressed before, but this was the first time he truly felt like dying. 

As he arrived at the bridge, he began to crawl over the railing. He could still clearly recall the crashing water below him, calling him to his death. Thoughts raced through his mind, some were pushing him closer to jumping, while others were holding him back and telling him things would get better. Suddenly he felt a hand grab him and yank him back down.

“I had a feeling something bad was going on.” David had turned to see who had spoken and there stood Sarah, a look of concern in her penetrating blue eyes. David was surprised to see her since she was not at the dance. 

He explained to her what had happened. 

“Those girls are bitches!  They are definitely not worth taking your life over.” He knew she was right. They walked to the other side of the bridge where there was a gazebo. Sarah led him up to the gazebo. “It’s those girls’ loss, but I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to dance with you.”

Without music,3w2 they held each other in the gazebo under the moonlit sky and slow danced for several minutes.

David found Sarah very attractive, and if they had not been long time best friends, he would probably have asked her out at some point. Yet, he did not want to lose her friendship or make things awkward.

Kory’s voice brought him back to reality, “Come on bro, do you want to miss out? Many other guys are going to be pursuing this one; don’t hesitate.”

“We’ll see! It’s going to take me some time to build up the courage and figure out the right words to say.”

David thought all day about a good way to approach Lauren. The day slowly dragged by. David didn’t have much to eat because of his anxiety. This had been the first time since the murders began that he had not thought about the investigation.  Going to classes seemed almost pointless, as he could not focus on the teachers’ words. The classes he had with Lauren, such as physics and social studies, were even more difficult. He could feel his body shake from nervousness, and wanted nothing more than to get up and walk around, as sitting still was becoming torture.

He didn’t discuss it with Sarah because he knew her disdain for Lauren. In fact, he was trying to avoid Sarah, so she didn’t pick up on his nervousness since she would certainly ask questions. Lauren seemed more withdrawn than usual; perhaps saddened by the break up. This added to David’s nervousness because he thought that she would turn him down on the basis that she needed to get over her last relationship. Then again, maybe she was looking for another relationship.

The time finally came when he decided that he was going to approach Lauren. He figured he had nothing to lose, so why back down?

Eighth period was over, and he knew she would be at her locker. As he saw her standing there, his heart raced. He could feel the adrenaline, as it pumped through his blood. He slowly walked up to her, having second thoughts with every step. Nothing else was real too him, as his surroundings became a blur. He mustered up the courage to speak.

“Hi Lauren!” He could feel the nervousness rage through his body. How was she going to react? He thought that maybe she would look at him like he was an idiot. Heck, he felt like an idiot to even think she would consider dating him.

“Hey Dave,” she replied; her tone was friendly, and David relaxed a little bit. Maybe this was a good idea after all.

“How are you?” He asked.

“Oh, stupid English class, wants me to do an essay that I have no time for.” She said in frustration.

“That sucks, teachers tend to like to give more work than we can bare.” That’s it! That’s the best I can do? He thought to himself. My lack of smoothness and confidence is going to mess this up. 

“Yeah, really, then on top of it, I suck at essays. You know what I’m sayin’?” At least she was willing to talk to him, rather than have one-word answers and walk off.

“Yeah, although I am pretty good at essays, I am horrible at Social Studies.” David was becoming more at ease talking to her. The nervousness was still there, but it wasn’t like a wall was in his way.

Just then she turned to face him, her deep blue eyes made him feel almost hypnotized. “You know, since you are good with essays, maybe you could help me out.”

David was more than happy to have this opportunity. “sure, when would be a good time to get together?”

“Um, well…the thing is, I have gotten myself involved in too many after school activities, and then my other classes give so much homework that I can’t get to it all. I trust you with it, and I know you can do a better job than me.”

David was as little disappointed since he hoped to spend some time with her, but he would do anything to help Lauren out. “Sure, I’ll do the best I can on it.”

“Thanks sweet heart.” Lauren said batting her eyes at him.

David felt a sensation of joy when she called him “sweetheart.”

Just then the scene was interrupted by another student running down the hall yelling: “Beware, the Brotherhood of the Snake has returned, they are behind the murders, BEWARE!!!”

The Experiment: Chapter 5 – Fallen Angels

David stared at the letter for several minutes. He did not recognize the handwriting. He hoped the letter came from the police department for the sake of trying to scare him out of the investigation. He figured that it probably did since hardly anyone knew. David was too determined to allow the letter to convince him to stop investigating. He sat in his bed looking across at his light blue wall containing a large Ghost Rider poster he bought the year before at the theater in Old Forge, NY; one of his favorite movies.

A little bit of fear was put into him when he thought that the ones instigating the murders were behind it. How would they have found out? David didn’t view it as much of a possibility. He thought in his mind that maybe Officer Cook was somehow connected. Maybe he was so tough on David because David was on the right track. It also seemed strange to David that Cook was heading up the investigation, yet they were not getting anywhere.  Typically, Cook did a better job than this from what David had heard. He stopped staring at the letter when his mom called him down for dinner.

The night went by slow. He called Sarah and told her what had happened. They didn’t talk long, as Sarah was attempting to research something on the Internet. She told him to not worry and that it was probably cocky Cook, but he couldn’t suppress his concern. He got online and tried to find some new people to meet. He really wasn’t up for researching and concentrating. At 11pm he went to bed for the night, but his nerves would not allow him to sleep.

After midnight, he turned his bedroom light on because he couldn’t sleep, and decided to open the window because his room was feeling a bit stuffy. As he looked out, he saw a light blue mustang parked on the side of the road. As he tried to get a better look, he thought he saw someone sitting in the front seat. He tried to recall if he had seen this car in the area before, but could not recall. It did seem strange that someone would be sitting out in his car at this time of night. Perhaps he was feeling edgy from the letter and was looking too much into it.

He closed his curtains and tried to focus on the investigation, but his mind became muddled. He felt like he needed more info, but he didn’t have access to it at the moment.

However, something else was troubling his mind…his discussion with Dr. Loran about God. They were good questions that needed some answers. He turned on his computer, and while waiting for it to turn on, he peered out his window and saw the mustang still there.

He searched Google using different combinations of words until he saw an article titled: “The real reason why God led the Israelites to slaughter other nations.”

He clicked on the article and was not prepared for the information he was about to view:

“Many well meaning believers teach that the reason God sent the Israelites to slaughter other nations was because he was a God of justice, and sin needed to be punished. While this may be true, there may have been deeper reasons, especially where the slaughter of infants is concerned. One reason could have been because sexually transmitted diseases were probably not uncommon, since there likely were sexual rituals performed by other nations. I do not believe there is sufficient evidence to prove this argument. However, after putting years of study into this, I have come to the conclusion that there was another reason, more troublesome than that of disease. This had to do with the fact that some of those nations had among them, offspring of fallen angels.”

David held his breath at this. He had never heard of such a thing and read on to see if there was more evidence given.

David skimmed a little and continued reading:

“Genesis 6 points out that the sons of God came down and mated with human women, creating offspring who were heroes of renown. Some believe that the early church suppressed certain writings. One of these writings was the Book of Enoch, which goes into greater detail about these fallen angels, or Sons of God, also known as the Watchers. Fortunately, this book has become very accessible over the Internet, and if one views chapter six and the chapters after that in the book of Enoch, one will see in greater detail what was meant by Genesis 6. We see that the flood came and wiped away all but eight people. However, it is obvious that these “sons of God” did not stop after the flood. We see that when the twelve Israelites were sent out to spy on the land that God wanted them to conquer, they felt like grasshoppers compared to the men they spied out. Then you have the famous Goliath and David story.”

David started to make sense of it all. It appeared that God wanted to suppress the offspring of the fallen angels. If what he had read up until now didn’t shock him, what he was about to read definitely would.

“It is believed by myself and many other researchers that these activities have not ceased. At the time of Jesus, God’s people were no longer supposed to use violence as a method of conquering. That does not mean that fallen angels ceased to do their evil. At this time, the fallen angels and their offspring became more secretive. They went underground, but they were no less effective. Evidence suggests that these fallen angels and their offspring did all they could to corrupt the Christian church. They ended up becoming successful as the church became a major killing machine during the medieval period instead of a church of love as originally formed by Christ.

“Another great misunderstanding, is that the Bible is the absolute truth.” David didn’t like hearing this but continued on nevertheless. “We don’t have the original writings with us here today. In fact, some scholars believe the first five books of the Old Testament, often referred to as the “Torah” or “Books of Moses,” actually came from four or more different sources. These sources were written at a much later time than most people are led to believe. The four sources are generally referred to as the J, P, E, and D sources. Then there is the Redactor, or a few redactors, one of which many people believe was Ezra. It has been shown that one of those sources has a much more unmerciful version of god than the others. This was the P source, or Priestly source. This source seems to illustrate a more brutal god than the other sources. This source was probably written around 500 B.C., a much later date than the alleged period of Moses’ life. This may be why the Old Testament God seems contradictory at times.”

“Even so, this does not negate the idea that angelic beings possibly mated with human women, and an entirely new race was made. If these beings do walk the Earth, we may be in more trouble than we expected.”

David stopped reading but took all of this in. It was a little far fetched compared to what he was used to, but the passages were given, and he always believed what the Bible said even though the writer seemed to believe the Bible had errors. He had never heard of these four sources. What was this priestly source? He was too tired to focus on it any longer at this time. He made a mental note to look more up again at a later time.

He turned the computer off and peaked outside his window again. The blue mustang was still sitting there, so David made sure all his lights were off. He waited about five minutes and took another peak out the window.

The blue mustang was gone. Deep down, David knew that whoever was in the mustang was watching him, and waiting for him to go to bed. Probably someone spying to make sure he wasn’t going to involve himself any further.

The Experiment: Chapter 4 – The Note

David didn’t know for sure if this meant anything. He could not recall any of the other birthdays, but if they were at the beginning of the year, that likely could be more than a coincidence. He had to figure out the others’ birthdays.

He again had to meet with Dr. Loran. At first, he liked the psychologist, but he was beginning to get annoyed with him. He seemed to be a little bit of a know-it-all; almost like officer Cook without the cockiness.

It had already gotten back to Dr. Loran that David had talked to the police about the investigation. “I do suggest that you leave the investigation to the authorities. You know that if someone finds out there is a kid running around trying to meddle in their business, they might not be so merciful to you.”

“Yeah, but they will come after anybody involved in the investigation.” After saying this, David realized his defense was weak.

“True, but professionals know how to handle it, and you’re not a trained professional.”

“Well, I do believe in God, and I’m sure I will be ok. David said with earnest sincerity.

“Let’s talk logical. Many people I have talked to believe God would protect them. One example, would be soldiers who go off to battle. I would later find out that the same soldiers who thought God would protect them would be found dead.” Dr. Loran stated. “Even though sad, they died an honorable death serving our country, as they were well trained to do what they do. You, on the other hand, might just end up getting yourself killed if you’re not careful.”

“You mean, you don’t believe in God?”

Dr. Loran threw up his arms in protest, “I didn’t say I don’t believe in God. I’m just saying that if he exists, he doesn’t automatically rescue everyone who put their life in a risky situation.”

“Then what do you believe?”

“Well, I don’t know if it is my place as a counselor to bring up my personal thoughts regarding religious beliefs.” Dr. Loran said, seeming like he would gladly share his thoughts, but didn’t want to cross professional boundaries.

David wanted to know more. “Aw, come on, I won’t tell anyone.”

“Well, if I answer your questions, please don’t be offended. They are my personal beliefs, and I don’t want them to have a negative impact on the counselor/student relationship.”

“Ok, I won’t get offended,” David said, uncertain as to whether or not he would actually be offended.

“Well, first, I’m not sure if the Biblical interpretation of God is accurate.”

“How so?”

“Well, the Bible says that God is perfect, all powerful, all knowing as in he knows what is going to happen, and ever-present right?”

“Correct.”

“That would mean that in the beginning, when there was just God, everything had to have been perfect. Correct?”

David didn’t answer. He didn’t know where Dr. Loran was going with this and didn’t want to fall into a trap.

Mr. Loran continued on, “However, there came a time when God created angels. He created one that everyone knows called Satan. Now a perfect, all-knowing God who hates sin, will not create anything less than perfect, right?”

“Well, I don’t know about that. God gives everyone a choice.”

“Possibly, but to give everyone a choice, he would have to create that choice which goes against what he stands for. He therefore, had to create sin so angels and humans could choose to not follow him.”

David was stuck without an answer, and Peter continued to put the nail in the coffin. “God then had to create a place of eternal torment for those who do not follow him. After the angels, he made humans, which he knew would fall. He would end up having to send a vast majority to hell to suffer for eternity. After seeing this side of God, Hitler doesn’t seem like such a bad guy, according to my standards.”

David felt offended even though he promised not to be; especially by the last statement. Yet, he didn’t have any good answers. Dr. Loran pinned him in a corner rather quickly. He believed that Dr. Loran was wrong, but he wasn’t sure how to respond to this. He’d have to pray and hope that God would open his heart. David finally mustered up something to say, “So, what exactly do you believe?”

“Well, I believe that the definition of what is good and evil is sketchy. I do believe in some of the moral teachings of the Bible such as treating others with love. But then the Bible becomes extreme when someone must be stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath, or God telling his people to go slaughter nations including infants.”

“Where does the Bible mention that God ordered his people to slaughter infants?”

Dr. Loran was prepared with an answer; “I believe it is 1 Samuel 15 when Saul was instructed by Samuel to wipe out an entire nation, including the infants. I’d have to say that even America is more merciful than that since when we go to war, we try not to harm civilians.”

“Anyways, I need to ask you to stay out of the investigation,” Dr. Loran said suddenly changing the subject.

“I guess I’ll stay out of it.” David stated, caught off guard.

“You don’t sound like that is what you really intend on doing.” Peter shot back, reading David’s every move.

“What do you expect me to say? If I say I want to involve myself, you will tell me to stay out of it. If I say I will stay out of it, you don’t believe me.”

“I’m just trying to look after your safety. I support you wanting to be a detective and hope that is what you eventually go into if that continues to be your desire. However, you need to be trained to do that kind of work. Soldiers are trained before they actually go into battle. Police officers are trained before they do their job.”

David needed to manipulate his way out of this conversation. “I see what you are saying. I will consider it.”

“That’s what I’m looking for,” and with that the session ended.

David was glad it ended. He felt very frustrated. He wasn’t about to give up his quest to solve the murder mystery. He knew there were patterns, but he couldn’t piece it together. He was hoping to piece enough together to be able to stop the next murder, which might be in eight days.

*          *          *

Peter Loran kicked back in his chair and smiled to himself. He thoroughly enjoyed discussing religion with people, especially when it came to confusing them. Messing with people’s heads was a specialty of his. People like David even made it more fun; especially with how intense they believed. He knew David too well, and knew he wasn’t going to give up his faith over a simple argument.

If it were not for having to remain professional, he would probably not suggest that David avoid investigating the murders. In fact, Peter was hoping David wouldn’t listen to him. The police had virtually no chance of figuring things out, as they were overly rational. One would need a very open mind to even consider what was going on. Sarah might also be of use, as she seemed to be much more open minded that most people in the area. He knew that the more he tried pushing Sarah and David apart, the more David would cling to the friendship.

*          *          *

That night David went home from school exhausted and tired, for it had been a long day. He looked up at his light blue house, and memories came to him about the not-so-distant past before the murders began. He didn’t realize how peaceful things had been. Any kind of indifference seemed petty as compared to now. People in his church would argue over whether or not to put a cross on the wall up front. Some people believed it would offend people, while other more rigid believers would say that “the offense of the cross was needed, and if they were offended, they didn’t belong in the church.” With the murders, the petty arguments decreased. It just showed how human nature was. No matter what, people would find something to argue over. As he entered the door, he heard his mother say, “there is an envelope on the table for you, someone left it on the doorstep.”

David thought this was rather strange. Maybe it was a friend or someone he knew giving him a message. He secretly hoped it would be a letter from Lauren, telling him of her attraction to him. He knew that it wouldn’t be, but he could always hope.

He walked up to his room since he didn’t want to open it in front of his nosy mother. In fact, there were certain things that he hid in his room. He will never forget the day he came up to his room and found his mom reading his journal. He never heard the end of it. When he was angry with his mother one day, he wrote in his journal a few nasty things about her. Of course, she just happened to be reading that part when David walked in. David felt ashamed, but angry at the same time. It happened over a year ago, yet still put a damper on his relationship with his mom.

He shut his door and tore open the envelope; surprised that his mother didn’t have a look at it already. As he read it, he felt chills go down his spine. Unsigned in big bold letters, it read: “Keep your nose where it belongs, and stay out of the investigation, or else…”

The Experiment – Chapter 3 – Imaginations from the Other Side

The school bell rang, and David knew where he had to go; to the police station. It had been nine days since the last murder which left four days until the next one if his theory was correct.

He hoped to find Sarah, so he didn’t feel so awkward about going; however, she was nowhere to be found. Probably still fuming over him for whatever reason…women are a strange species. The police station was a bit of a walk from the school. The May rain felt nice with the light mist in the air.

As he arrived, he asked the clerk if he could speak to an officer, and she asked him to have a seat. At that point, he wished he had brought a book or something to do because he hated waiting with nothing to do. To keep his mind occupied, he counted the tiles on the chess-like floor. After close to a half hour, Police Officer Cook strolled out and quickly beckoned David into his office with an annoyed look on his face.

Officer Cook was a young officer who thought he knew everything. David was immediately disappointed to have to talk to him out of all the officers in the place. He was known to be especially demeaning toward high school students. His stone brown eyes caused others to feel as if they had a gun pointed at them, and on top of that, he was known for being one of the most physically fit officers on the police force. “So, what brings you here?”

“I just thought maybe…”

“First your name kid.” Cook interrupted. David could hear the demeaning tone in his voice.

“Sorry…David.”

“So, what brings you here David? My secretary said you think you might have a lead on the student murder case.” Cook did not attempt to hide his sarcasm. David was not certain if he wanted to tell Cook knowing he would be ridiculed, but he was here already and there was no point in holding back. “Well, I noticed that all the murders took place thirteen days apart.”

“And…?” Cook responded with his eyes drilling holes into David’s brain.

“Well, that’s it, you don’t think that means anything?” David suddenly felt foolish even bringing this up. Perhaps there was nothing to it; however, David believed that all angles should be considered no matter how insignificant they seemed.

“Look kid, I’m not here to waste my time on some teenager’s stupidstitious beliefs. I’m here to find criminals and put them in jail using hard evidence. Now, unless you have a real lead, don’t bother me again.” With that Cook mentally shoved him out of his office.

David was discouraged and angry, and the outside mist no longer felt good as it heightened his despair. He didn’t understand why Cook wouldn’t listen to him, and then be a jerk on top of it. He always thought it was better to hear someone out rather than dismiss something that could be important. Then again, Sarah often accused him of not listening when she wanted to discuss her conspiracy theories. It wasn’t easy having a difference in opinions from his best friend, but things were as they were.

*          *          *

When Sarah went home, she went to her bedroom and broke down in tears. How could my best friend not defend me against the school’s biggest jerk? She felt a strong mixture of anger and sadness. It would have been better if he hadn’t stepped in at all, but no, he had to make it seem like I was the one going too far! 

Her bedroom was her place of refuge. When she was home, she often stayed there to avoid her dad’s drunken tantrums when he arrived home on the weekends and evenings. She decorated her walls with posters of fairies and owls. She had an altar at the east side of the room with candles placed in certain places throughout. A single bed was at the other side of the room with a dresser between the bed and altar.

From childhood, she had a fascinating gift. It was one that she told no one in real life about. She could perform meditation, and enter into an altered state of consciousness where she would enter another world. She wasn’t sure if it was like a parallel world, but it was a place where she found peace. She decided to do this now and put in a CD with a Shamanistic drumbeat. The sound of the beat helped induce her into a relaxed state of mind, which helped her enter this other world.

Within ten minutes, she entered the other world. The beauty always put her at ease. She normally found herself in a wooded area with tall pine trees and bright green grass. The sun shone bright in the evening sky. Unlike the real world, animals were not afraid of her here. A squirrel walked up to her, as she bent over to pet it. After a few minutes, she began walking, and a little owl flew down to greet her. Its yellow eyes pierced Sarah to the soul. Then it turned its nine-inch brown and white speckled body and flew off. It flapped its wings a few times and pulled its wings in briefly for a time and repeated this process of bounding flight. This was nothing unusual for her. She had done some studying on Shamanism, and it was common for a Shaman to have an animal spirit guide while doing a spiritual journey.

Sarah followed the owl until she reached the edge of the forest. She came upon a familiar grove, which she sometimes visited while being in this world. When she came to this place, she often learned valuable information. In fact, a year ago, it was told to her that if she walked her usual path to the school, which led through the woods, she would be attacked by a rapist. Sure enough, a strange man had been discovered out in that part of the woods stalking younger females, and it was revealed in his records that he formerly spent five years in prison for sexual assault on a minor. Fortunately, no one was attacked that day since most of the females did not walk that path alone. Sarah, who always walked alone, would have been a more likely target.

She trusted the information given to her in the grove. The path in the forest led directly to the center of it. The grove was surrounded by olive trees. Their twisted appearance gave them an ancient feel. Sarah guessed that they were not much more than thirty feet in height. The green leafs gave off a silver glare; an unusual appearance compared to the trees Sarah was familiar with in the real world.

The little owl bound into the grove before Sarah and temporarily flew out of sight. When Sarah entered the grove, she no longer saw the owl, but instead a woman.

She stood close to six feet tall. Although young in appearance, her eyes shone with eternal wisdom. Around her body she wore a white toga, giving her a mystical authoritative quality along with her blue tunic. Her breasts were covered with steel along with her forearms and biceps. A golden battle helmet covered her head with a red plume in the center.

Sarah bent down on one knee to honor the Goddess Minerva. Minerva came over and put her hand on Sarah’s shoulder. Within her mind, Sarah could hear the voice of the Goddess. “My dear child; an evil plot is unfolding which might bring the world into a state of chaos and darkness. There has been great turmoil within the spiritual world, which may soon shift into the physical.”

Sarah then spoke back using her mind. “Is there anything I can do, my Lady?”

“Yes. Know that the happenings in your area are just the beginning of this great turmoil entering your realm. Keep your friendship with David strong, as that may be necessary in the future. There are forces operating to break apart that friendship. As strange as it may seem, your friendship may prevent things from going too far. Go now, show the world your light and love, and be an example. You may not see me, but I will be at your side giving you guidance and wisdom.”

With that, the Goddess disappeared, and Sarah was left alone. It was always an honor to speak with Minerva. In Roman mythology, she was known as the Goddess of wisdom, defensive war, and weaving among other things. She was also the Goddess that Sarah felt closest to. She was known as the equivalent of the Greek Athena.

Sarah walked back out of the grove and into the forest. As she walked, something grabbed her attention. She noticed a clump of grass, and within that clump, there were a few brown pieces of grass. In normal everyday life, this would not have grabbed her attention. However, she had never noticed decay of any sort within this realm. She knew what Minerva had spoken to her was true, but seeing this decay struck her heart sharply.

It wasn’t long after this that the Shamanistic drum beat came to an end, and she was able to bring herself back to the present. Sarah sat up in her bed and thought long moments about what she had just heard. The words, “your friendship may prevent things from going too far,” echoed in her mind. She could feel her pulse beating while she thought that in some ways, the deities depended on her to do the right thing. Yeah, she was angry with David but that would pass. However, she was concerned Minerva could see the bigger picture, and that a great challenge lay ahead for her and David’s friendship.

There was no way she could go to David about this. She could not even tell him about her spiritual journeys, as he would say that she was dreaming. Maybe one day he would be more open minded and she could explain it to him, but until then she would remain silent. She stared at the phone in the bedroom, hoping David would call and things would be fine.

*          *          *

After David went home and ate some dinner, he contemplated on whether to call Sarah or not. He knew she was angry, and he didn’t want an argument. Finally, he gave in and called her.  She seemed glad that he had called, but David apologized anyway “for earlier,” even though he didn’t know exactly what he was apologizing for. It seemed to work, and Sarah remained pleasant.

He told her about how the murders happened thirteen days apart, and that the cops would not listen to him.

“Of course the cops wouldn’t listen to an eighteen-year-old boy, especially if you talked to Cocky Cook. He’s got his head so far up his you-know-what that his stomach acids constantly burn away at brain cells of humbleness.” Sarah replied with sarcasm.

“Yeah, that’s for sure.” David said with a chuckle. “He shouldn’t even be a cop with his attitude.”

“Heck, with his attitude, he should be in a Nazi concentration camp. Maybe that would knock him off his horse of arrogance.”

“Doesn’t your father know him?” David recalled seeing her father and Officer Cook talking over coffee at a local restaurant.

At this Sarah was silent for a moment. David sensed that she was troubled. When she spoke again, she changed the subject. “Hmm, it is interesting that the murders were thirteen days apart.”

“Yeah. Do you think it means something?”

“Not sure, but thirteen is an interesting number.”

“Why? Because the number symbolizes bad luck?”

“No. It has deeper meaning than that.”

“How so?”

“I don’t know everything behind it. Many researchers recognize it as the day that the Knight Templars were rounded up and arrested. Some take it back further and relate it to the Last Supper.”

“The Last Supper…as in Jesus and his apostles?”

“No. The last supper we had together. We had thirteen candles lit, remember?”

“Huh?” David was confused.

“Of course I’m referring to Jesus and his apostles silly.  There were thirteen people there. Some believe that Judas was the last to arrive; therefore, the number thirteen is symbolic for rebellion. I also think that thirteen is a number used by secret societies, but I’d have to go back and figure that out.”

David didn’t say anything to that. He knew Sarah was genuine with what she believed, but it still irritated him. He could not fathom the idea that secret societies pulled the strings of government and were working their way to control the population.

Sarah interrupted his thoughts, “I will look into this more and see what I can come up with. It’s hard to go by since there have been only three murders. I will also see if there is any significance to the dates of the murders.”

“Sounds good to me.” David said; a little skeptical of the idea that the dates would have any significance. “I will continue to see what I can find out myself.” At that, they got off the phone.

David had many questions running through his head. Why would ordinary students be interested in the number thirteen?  What other bizarre things would he find out? Part of him was wondering if the dates did play a role.

That’s when it occurred to him – at least three out of six of the students involved had their birthdays early in the year. It seemed like they took place in January.