Category Archives: Fantasy

The Adventures of Jorvyn McKale – Chunk 06

“Jorvyn? Jor honey?”

“Anika….” It felt like it took him forever to get her name out.

“Are you okay?” Her voice sounded echoy in his head.

“I am sitting on a cloud eating rainbow flavored pop-tarts.”

“Jorvyn, what happened?”

“I didn’t answer the three headed dog’s questions right and it chewed me up. I was shat out this morning.”

“FireSpring is beside himself.”

Jorvyn giggled. The thought of the spiky redhead with a twin was highly amusing.

When he woke next, the clock, and his pork medallion in wine sauce lunch on the table, said just after noon but his body felt like ten past hell. 

“Fantastic, now I know what it feels like to be thrown out of a perfectly good airplane without a parachute.” 

Alongside his lunch, to his great surprise, was a six pack of snickers, two bottles of Gatorade and a note. The note said, “I’ll be back at two. Dr. Riley.” Jorvyn glanced at the wall where his almost portal had been and sighed. 

Jorvyn’s lunch stayed down, as did one and a half snickers. He figured he’d earned the extra dose of sugar after his rough night. As best as he could tell all his body parts were still in working order. He was sore as hell, very sore in some places, but nothing had been broken or removed or rearranged. In fact, unless you knew where to look and what to look for, there was almost no evidence of last night’s shenanigans at all. 

Jorvyn curled up in the corner of his cot, one pillow behind to cushion his faintly throbbing head and the other in front. He didn’t remember much of the morning but he had a queasy feeling that he’d said something offensive. He knew, given his track record, that was a pretty safe bet. 

Two after two the door creaked open and Jorvyn hugged his pillow tight. 

“Mr. McKale?” 

“Doctor Riley.” Jorvyn nodded to the doctor as he came further into the room and sat in the chair. 

“How are you feeling?” 

“Better than this morning, but still not great.” 

Doctor Riley sighed.”About this morning….” 

“I’m sorry,” Jorvyn cut him off. “Whatever I said, or did, it was probably out of line and I’m sorry.” 

Doctor Riley studied him for a few moments before taking a deep breath. “It was not out of line. I’m furious at the situation but in no way am I upset with you. Concerned yes, upset … definitely not.” 

Jorvyn released the white knuckled grip on his pillow. “Cool.” 

Doctor Riley smiled faintly. “Cool.” The smile faded. “I owe you several apologies.” 

Jorvyn blinked at him in surprise. 

Doctor Riley frowned. “I should have been more discrete in removing Charlie from the rotation. And, I have not been able to fire Grady and Burell.” 

Jorvyn shrugged. “I’m not surprised. Cornholio is fond of them.” 


“It’s what we call Doctor Cobb. Get it, Corn cob, thus Cornholio from Beevis and Butthead?” 

Doctor Riley fought his smile and lost. “I will continue to try and have them removed.” 

“You’d have to catch them in the act and that’s not possible. They’re too sneaky.” 

Doctor Riley’s smile held an edge of malice. “Don’t dismiss my abilities to counter sneak someone.” 

Jorvyn chuckled. “By all means Doc., counter sneak away.” 

“Rest up. I’ll see you later on this evening.” 

“For what, Doc.?” 

“I have a plan.” 

Jorvyn groaned. “That worries me.” 

“You’re not the one that should be worried.” 

Jorvyn felt both relieved and anxious after Doctor Riley left. Relieved that whatever he did or said in the morning wasn’t going to be held against him, yet anxious at whatever the doctor had cooked up. “Anika?” 

“Jorvyn! Are you alright?” 

“Yeah, I’ve been better but I’ve been worse too.” 

“What are you today, Anika?” 

“I’m an octopus.” She sent a mental image of a giant octopus with a round female face complete with long luxurious lashes.

“Awesome, do you change colors when you talk.”

“No, but that’s a great idea. I’ll have to try that next time.”

“You’d said FireSpring needed to talk to me. Is he available?”

“Yes, but isn’t it in the middle of your day?”

“Yeah, but the way things have gone crazy around here I don’t know if I’ll ever get any peace and quiet during the night again.”

“Okay, give me a few to see if he’s free.”

“Thanks, Anika.” Jorvyn picked at the fringe of his pillow case while he waited. Luckily, Anika didn’t leave him hanging long.

“He’ll meet you at Cross Point.” 

“Thank you, Anika.” Jorvyn slid off the bed and stripped. He laid his clothes over the back of the chair and placed it near the section of the wall he preferred to use for the portal. He used to use the bathroom wall but figured if someone came looking for him in the bathroom it would be pretty damn obvious he’d just stepped out of a dimensional doorway. However, if he used the wall right outside the bathroom he could possibly give the illusion he’d been in the bathroom all along. It was weak but the best he could do given the crappy living conditions.

Jorvyn stepped through the gray into a purple and pink twilight. Wet grass prickled his feet and stuck to his ankles.He leaned back against the now solid rock he’d come from and took a few deep breaths to clear his head.

“You look terrible, Jor,” FireSpring said, his eerie orange gaze traveling up and down the length of Jorvyn’s naked body.

“What an amazing coincidence.” Jorvyn knew FireSpring was seeing him with more than just visual sight.

FireSpring was not amused.

Jorvyn pointed at the robe dangling slack in FireSpring’s hand. “Is that for me or are we doing this meeting in the buff?”

“Oh, sorry.” FireSpring handed over the thick brown cloth and Jorvyn wrapped it around himself with a grateful sigh.

“I don’t have much time. What’s so important you can’t send it through Anika?”

FireSpring grimaced. “Your father’s been spotted at Whisper Hollow.”


The Adventures of Jorvyn McKale – Chunk 05

Jorvyn bowed with a flourish. “What can I do for you fine gentlemen this evening?”

“Oh, lots of things. But tonight we’re just here to pass on a message.”

“Fantastic, like a singing telegram?”

Grady, the taller one closest to him, laughed. “No. Not quite.”

“A basket of fruit then?”

“You’re the fruit.” The second one, Burell, said.

“Burell, don’t you ever get tired of playing the nasty side kick for Grady here? You need to branch out some. Besides, you know the prison rules about gay for the stay, don’t you? I mean you were fired from the state penitentiary, right?”

Burell stepped further into Jorvyn’s room and only stopped when Grady put his hand on the other man’s chest. Jorvyn continued as if unperturbed. “I have an imaginary girlfriend out there somewhere crying copious imaginary tears every day. What do you have? An ex-wife, four kids, a rat infested apartment, and a job that hates you almost as much as you hate it. Somehow I think I’m the one better off.”

Grady held Burell back, barely. “Stop, he’s just trying to get you to do something stupid like break his nose or jaw or something we can’t cover up.”

“You know, Grady, there are people out in the world who would love your style of sadism. Why don’t you find a nice masochist to shack up with?”

Grady smiled a smile that made Jorvyn regret he’d ever opened his mouth. “Because willingness takes all the fun out of it.”

In the end, it turned out they’d just stopped by to say “Hi!” from Charlie. Apparently Charlie had a wide variety of ways to say hello – and all of them hurt.


“Mr. McKale? Mr. McKale? Jorvyn!” Jorvyn opened his eyes to gray and white and stench. The gray turned out to be the hard, cold floor he was laying on. The white came into better focus as the fringe of a lab coat. But the stench was all his own. 

What happened?” Doctor Riley asked, his hand hovering near Jorvyn’s shoulder but not touching.

“I tripped and fell.” Jorvyn rasped, hating the way his voice broke.

“Bullshit. Did this happen here or there?”

The truth leapt from his lips almost without his consent. “Here.” Jorvyn managed to get his gaze as far as the doctor’s face without moving too much. The coiled rage he found there startled a flinch from him. 

He felt the doctor’s hand close around his upper arm and tried to pull away. “I’m getting up, Doc. I’m getting up. I’m not trying to give you crap.” He knew he was babbling and couldn’t stop. “Just give me a minute, just another minute, please. I’m getting up.”

The hand went away only to return with its counterpart as they both slid up under his armpits and lifted. Jorvyn struggled out of reflex but he might as well have been fighting a bear made of steel.

“Stop.” The fury coming off the doctor was palpable, but his voice gentled. “Stop, Jorvyn.”

Jorvyn ceased flailing but he couldn’t stop the near convulsive shaking. He wasn’t certain where the doctor’s anger came from. Was he mad that this had happened to Jorvyn or was he mad that he hadn’t been there to watch? Or was he mad because he wasn’t the one to do the deed? Pride and dignity took a distant back seat where survival was concerned. If he didn’t survive then he couldn’t finish out the Plan and the Plan was the only thing worth living for anyway.

“I can make it worth your while,” Jorvyn whispered.”

“Worth my while to do what?” Doctor Riley asked.

“Worth your while not to beat the shit out of me.”

Doctor Riley went perfectly still. “Is that what you think is about to happen?”

“You’re pissed. Maybe that I’m still alive. Hell, maybe you set me up and Charlie didn’t have anything to do with it. Maybe you actually work for him.”

“Who? Who would I work for that would order this done to you?”

Jorvyn licked his cracked lips. “Forget it. It’s stupid. My head bounced a few too many times off the floor. I don’t know what I’m saying.”

Doctor Riley drew a breath like he wasn’t going to let it go but then exhaled slowly. “I am pissed, very pissed and it’s not at you.”

Jorvyn believed him, despite all his past experience warning him to the contrary, and relaxed. At least until doctor Riley shifted him in his grasp, hooked an arm under his legs and picked him up off the floor. “Whoa!”

“Easy, easy. I’m just carrying you into the bathroom so we can clean you up.”

The movement from horizontal to vertical to horizontal again made his stomach roll. “I’m going to be sick.”

“We’re almost there.”

Jorvyn made good on his threat but managed to wait until the doctor had gotten him over the toilet.

He heard Parker’s deep rumble but couldn’t make out the words. The sequence of events became jumbled after that. There was a wash cloth, cold enough to make him yelp, a robe of some kind, something soft and moist against his intimate areas, which set him to trembling again, then a grape flavored liquid that didn’t taste all that great but stayed down and soothed his stomach, and finally a brief sting in his upper arm. Throughout it all was Dr. Riley’s soothing voice telling he was safe and it would be okay.

The doctor didn’t mess around. After the sting everything became slow, fuzzy, and comfortable. “Good shit, Doc. Can I get a case… to go?” Jorvyn mumbled just before oblivions claimed him.

The Adventures of Jorvyn McKale – Chunk 04


“Peaches and a second cup of coffee got you the Cherooth, Sengazi story but that’s about it. You want more, I get more.” 

“What do you want?” Tough question. His list was long. The most important wish was far beyond Dr. Riley’s power to grant, so he stuck with the basics. 

“I want Charlie moved off the rotation as my orderly. I want a six pack of snickers bars every week. And, I want a TV of my own.” 

“What will that get me?” Doctor Riley asked. 

Jorvyn’s voice softened, “The truth about how it all started.” 

Doctor Riley nodded slowly. “Is there an orderly you prefer?” 

“Parker,” Jorvyn said without hesitation. 

“Parker?” Jorvyn nodded. He understood the doctor’s surprise. Parker was a six-six mountain of a man with rich brown skin that always made him crave chocolate when he saw him. He was no brawn head, though, and he didn’t tolerate disrespect, but, he was careful with his strength and size advantage. 

“I’ll see what I can do.” 

Much later the squeak of the food cart woke Jorvyn from his nap. “Chow time, Mr. McKale.” Jorvyn smiled as he sat up. “Mr. Parker, welcome back.” “Good to be back.” Parker flashed him a broad white grin.

The other reason he liked Parker was because the rest of the staff didn’t. They were forever concocting situations that got him in trouble or sent to do the shit jobs. Parker bore it all with a shrug and a smile but there were times when he’d respond a little slower to a dangerous situation if it involved a staff member who’d given him trouble.

“Looks like you won the Parker lottery.”
“Oh yeah, how so?”
“You got me morning, noon, and night when I’m on the floor.”
“Who do I have when you’re not here?” Jorvyn asked.
Interesting but not terrible choice. His first few interactions with Adella had been intensely unpleasant but once she got it through her tattooed head that he wasn’t going to give her crap just because she was a woman she revealed her decent side and they got along just fine.
“No Charlie?”
“Charlie’s not even on this floor anymore.”
Jorvyn thought about doing a fist pump of victory but figured that would raise too many questions.
“Your new Doc asked me,” Parker chuckled, “can you believe that, asked me who should be your orderly when I was off.” Before Jorvyn could respond Parker pulled two items off the cart that weren’t his dinner. “He also asked me to give you these.”
One was a snickers bar, king sized but still just one. The other was an e-reader.

“What the…?”
“He said he’s working on the TV but to try this in the mean time.” Jorvyn laughed, then sobered.

“That new doctor might actually be likable.”

“And that’s a bad thing?” Parker asked as he set out the tray with Jorvyn’s dinner on it.
Jorvyn broke the seal on his water bottle and glanced over at Parker. “Seriously, how long do you think Doc. Riley’s going to last in Cornholio’s staff?”
“Current odds are three to one that he’ll be gone before Valentine’s day, five to one Easter and ten to one Fourth of July.”
“Put me down for Easter. He’s too tough to quit inside of two months but smart enough to know a losing battle after three.”
“You got it.”
After dinner and half the snickers bar, the remaining half carefully hidden under his pillow, Jorvyn sat back and flipped the e-reader on. He nearly laughed himself sick. On the reader, along with the obligatory classics and other “safe” reads for the criminally insane was a folder of books and documents dealing with negotiations and mediation.
This doctor was definitely a pip.

The clanging began at far end of the hallway and worked its way towards Jorvyn’s cell. “Good night, monkeys! Sleep tight, monkeys!”

Jorvyn smiled. This guard tandem started early and skipped the midnight check. Across the way someone howled a response. Idiot. The guards whooped in glee. Jorvyn had learned early not to reply to the night guards. The new inmate would soon learn the painful lesson too.

He waited for the noise across the hall to die down. Eventually the sobs became too faint to hear.

Jorvyn laid still a few heartbeats after silence resumed before easing out of bed. He mounded the pillows and blanket in a rough approximation of a curled human shape. It wouldn’t fool even a half assed inspection but it was good enough for those who already didn’t care.

Halfway through the mumbled incantation that would turn his solid gray wall into a not so solid dimensional portal, his door creaked open.

Jorvyn blinked at the sudden light and the two shadows framed by it. His stomach clenched and he fought to keep fear from his features. The sizable self-preservation side screamed for him to jump through the wall, but the rational part knew better. He canceled the portal and turned to face the guards.

“Jorvy, looks like you’re dressed appropriately for the occasion.” Considering he was buck naked that didn’t bode well. 

The Adventures of Jorvyn McKale – Chunk 03

Jorvyn snorted. “Those are lovely little leftovers from the restraints used during shock therapy. The technicians like to keep you unsure if the pins and needles in your hands and feet are from the shocks or from lack of circulation. It’s a game they call ‘guess why you’re in agony’.”

“That will cease.” 

Jorvyn laughed. “You’re a real fucking boy scout.” 

“Eagle scout, actually,” Doctor Riley said with a faint smile. 

“Color me astounded, Doc.” 

Doctor Riley rose and once again offered Jorvyn a hand. Jorvyn ignored it while fixing his bootie and stood on his own. “I’ll be by later this afternoon to check on you.”

“Jesus, Doc, get a life.” 

“Excuse me?” 

Jorvyn waved a hand through the air in a vague motion indicating the paint flecked walls, scarred concrete floor, and everything in between. “It’s New Year’s Day and you’re here with me? Don’t you have a family or something? Some sweet little trophy wife or a half dozen wannabe nerds nipping at your ankles?” 

A smile twitched at Doctor Riley’s lips. “No, and no. Hospitals don’t take holidays.” 

Jorvyn smirked. “Doc. just a little head’s up for you, this isn’t a hospital. This is the institutional equivalent of the floor of a taxi cab after Mardi Gras. You never know what you’ll find but you do know it won’t be pretty.” 

An hour later Jorvyn got his second surprise of the morning when the orderly, Charlie, wheeled in a flat screen TV and another plate of breakfast, with peaches.
“You must’ve sucked the new Doc good, Jor.”

“Yeah, he was a regular horse, not like your crinkly straw.”
Charlie gave him a thin smile and sloshed coffee into his food. “We’ll see how straw like I am later when I’m pounding you like a tent stake.”
Jorvyn winced. “So not original… tent stake? Really?”

Charlie’s smile slid away and returned his angular features to sharp edges and hard lines.
“I wouldn’t, if I were you,” Jorvyn drawled. “The new Doc seems pretty territorial. He catches you poaching on his conquest you may end up with the Pica patients.”
Charlie grimaced. “Ew, God. Some of them eat their own shit.”
“Yeah.” Jorvyn smiled. “I know.” 
As soon as the heavy door clanged shut Jorvyn flopped back on his cot. “Alone at last, alone at last, thank God Almighty I’m alone at last.”
Colorful floats bedecked with brilliant flowers slowly motored across the screen. Jorvyn loved the Rose Parade. The only flowers he got to see on this world were the occasional weeds brazen enough to grow in the sandy square of grass called the “garden.” 
The marching bands impressed him the most. He had yet to encounter another culture that organized their instruments in such large numbers and then added aerobic exercise. Crazy or brilliant, or both, was a common complaint about humans out among the dimensions. 
He enjoyed the peaches too. 

“Hi sugar.”

“What’s on for this evening?”

“I moved the meeting with the Cherooth Underlings to tomorrow. They’re not happy but they didn’t want anyone but you as intermediary. FireSpring wants a face to face sometimes soon.” 

“God, now what? I’m up to date on all my sector reports.” 

“He’s didn’t say but he didn’t seem mad.”
“Okay, keep everything on a simmer for me, please. I don’t know how this new Doc’s going to play out.”

“Sure thing, sugar. Stay safe.”

Jorvyn laughed.“Safety abandoned me before I learned to crawl and sent her ugly twin sister ‘Misfortune’ to keep me company. You know, beyond the worts and bad breath she could be a real looker.” 

Anika’s chuckle faded away as the Governor’s Award float winner rounded the sharp corner and headed for home.
To Jorvyn’s annoyance, Dr. Riley made good on his promise to return in the afternoon. “How are you doing, Jorvyn.” 
“I had a good poop after breakfast, Doc.”
Dr. Riley smiled. “Did you enjoy the parade?”
“Yep. Some of my alien friends from the planet Beebaalbrax came and joined me. They thought the floats looked tasty but I told them they were poisonous.” 
“How good of you.” Dr. Riley sat in the only chair and motioned for Jorvyn to take a seat on his cot. “Now, as you’ve already determined, I have no life so it shouldn’t surprise you that I’ve spent the day reviewing your file.” 
Jorvyn made jazz hands while mouthing, “I’m shocked.”
Dr. Riley bit his lip on a chuckle and flipped through documents on his tablet before turning serious. “I’m going to decrease your medication and stop the electrotherapy treatments.”
Jorvyn froze for a heartbeat. The medication he could take or leave but the treatments were a different story.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea, Doc.” 
“Why not?”
“My dad gets pissy if I’m not shocked into incontinence two or three times a week.” 
“If that’s true then we have a great many more issues than what’s contained in your file.” 
Jorvyn laughed. “Oh Doc., you don’t know the half of it.” 
“So tell me.” 
Jorvyn leaned back on the cot and sized the doctor up. Finally, he nodded slowly. “Okay Doc. There’s this group called the Cherooths. They’re kind of like centaurs but have tusks like a boar. They live in a wooded mountainous region. Down below them, in the delta, are the Sengazis. They’re more humanoid but less humanlike. The last few years have been wet, which is real good for the Sengazis because it swells the rivers and increases the delta range. It is not good for the Cherooths ’cause a swollen river and increased delta cuts into their territory. Now this isn’t uncommon, happens every few decades or so and usually the two sides just deal with it without too much conflict. However, this particular season has seen the snow pack descend further down the mountains and spring refusing to sproing. There’s been poaching and conflict and even a little bloodshed, which despite how imposing the Cherooth are, is unusual.” 
Dr. Riley took notes on his tablet. “And how does this concern you?” 
“Just last week the Sengazis captured a few Cherooth spring bucks and are holding them as a safeguard against any more incidents. If the Cherooths continue to poach or otherwise press into the delta area the Sengazis will saw off the spring bucks’ tusks.” 
“And I take it this is a bad thing?” Dr. Riley asked. 
“Very bad. It’s near the equivalent of cutting off a person’s nuts. Not that they couldn’t physically mate with a female but they wouldn’t ever get the chance.” 
“I’m still not sure I see where you come in.” 

“The Cherooth asked for me to mediate the return of their spring bucks.” 
“Yeah, Doc., I’ve done business with the Cherooth before and since I’m clearly not a Sengazi, they figured I’d be a good intermediary. There aren’t any other sentients on that particular continent and nobody has a strong naval presence. Thank God. So it’s me or they go to war.” 
“I see,” Dr. Riley took some more notes. “And you speak both Cherooth and Sengazi?” 

“How did you learn them?” 
“FireSpring gave them to me.” 
“Like a present?”
“No, Doc. like a two by four being slammed into my head.”
“Who is FireSpring?”
“He’s my… boss kind of…. Maybe more like a mentor or coach.” 
“Did he recruit you?”
“No, I kind of fell into all this by accident as a kid.”
“Tell me about that.”
Jorvyn remained silent for a moment before breaking into a grin. “No.” 


The Adventures of Joryvn McKale – Chunk 02

     And, within two blinks found himself breathless and staring at the pockmarked ceiling.

     Dr. Riley straddled his stomach, each wrist secured in a tight grip with his arms pinned across his chest. Most of the doctor’s weight was on his own knees so Jorvyn could breathe if he remembered how, but he was as restrained as any straight jacket. Not that any other straight jacket had ever been this warm or smelled like men’s aftershave.

     “Where the hell did you go to Med school?” Jorvyn croaked.

     Dr. Riley’s lips twitched in a faint smile. “I spent several years in the Marines.”

     “Really? I didn’t think they let smart people become Jarheads?”

     Another almost smile by Dr. Riley. “Popular misconception.”

     Jorvyn grunted and shrugged as best he could given his physical limitations.

     “Now, do I have your attention?”

     Jorvyn forced himself to relax. “Sure Doc. You’re the butch and I’m the bitch. I get it.”

     Dr. Riley frowned and loosened the grip on Jorvyn’s wrists. “That’s not the way I want this relationship to work.”

     “What, being in charge, being able to knock me around doesn’t turn you on? C’mon admit it you love watching boys cringe for you.” Jorvyn felt Dr. Riley’s fingers tighten around his wrists again for the briefest second, felt the ripple of tension in the thighs around his sides.

     Dr. Riley held his gaze in a vice of steely blue. “All I ask is that you give me a chance to earn your trust. I only wish to help you.”

     “Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, you and every other crackpot with a pocket protector and a cell phone. I know how this works. You and me talk. We sit closer and closer each day. Then one day we have a breakthrough. I cry. You hug me. Then you get to pat yourself on the back and go home. I’ve seen ‘Good Will Hunting’ Doc. Only problem is… I’ll still be here.”


     “Trying to bullshit me is a bad way to start. I’m criminally insane, Doc. You know what that means? That means, you make me ‘well’ I’ll go to prison. So, I can either get beat and raped in here where the drugs are pretty good, plentiful, and free. Or I can get beat and raped in prison where the drugs aren’t.”

     Dr. Riley’s face flushed and Jorvyn couldn’t help but tense at the anger he saw in the doctor’s eyes. “If anyone lays a hand on you, I want to know.”

     “Why? So you can give them a cookie? Or is it the details you’re after?” The piercing gaze never left Jorvyn’s face as Dr. Riley released his wrists completely and rolled off.

     “No, I want to know so I can have them fired.”

     Jorvyn laughed and pillowed his head with laced fingers. “You’re priceless, Doc. I might actually be sad to see you railroaded out of here or become jaded beyond caring.”

     Dr. Riley frowned and began to pick up the remnants of the scattered meal.

     “Doc, as I said, I’m criminally insane with a long history of delusional behavior and hallucinations. Do you seriously think that they’re going to let you fire someone because I said they got too rough?”

     “There are cameras.”

     “Which the guards control.”

     “That can be worked around.”

     Jorvyn thought about that a moment and grimaced. So far no one had caught him on camera coming and going. If that changed all his hard work over the years would be ruined. “Do yourself a favor Doc, block some time on your calendar like we’ve had sessions, write up some reports, and then move on. You look like you might be a decent guy, but if you think I’m your career maker, you’re wrong.”

     Dr. Riley offered a hand to help Jorvyn up.

     “No, I’m good, thanks. One take down a morning is my quota.”

     The hand never wavered but when it became apparent Jorvyn did not intend to make use of the offer Dr. Riley sat cross legged next to him. “Let’s cut to the chase then, shall we. What can you tell me about your step mother?”

     Jorvyn sat up, drawing knees to chest. “Anika!”

     “I’m here sugar.”

     “This guy could be trouble. What intel do you have for me?”

     “He’s an ex-Marine.”

     “Yeah, my ass found that out the hard way.”
     “Combat medic. Injured in a mission six years ago in some tiny African country your government never was officially in.”

     Dr. Riley’s light touch on his arm jarred him back. “What was that?”

     Jorvyn blinked. “Peaches, I was wondering if they were having peaches later.”

     Dr. Riley studied him intently before accepting the change of topics and nodding with a grave expression. “We can find out.”

     “That’d be great. I like peaches. Hey are we done establishing the pecking order and measuring our dicks? I don’t want to miss the Rose Parade.”

     Dr. Riley grimaced. “May I see your feet?” “No.”

     “Then I’m afraid we’re not done.”

     “You’re going to be a hard ass about this, aren’t you Doc.?”

     “I am persistent, yes.”

     Jorvyn scowled hard and ran through his options. Not surprising they were thin at best. Finally he leaned back on his elbows and slowly extended a leg. “Foot. You get one foot. That’s all.”

     Dr. Riley nodded. “A fair enough compromise.”

     Jorvyn hated the way he flinched from the doctor’s light touch on his heel. Hated the feeling of his balls trying to crawl up into his body as the bootie was slowly peeled away. Hated the ripple of cool air on his exposed sole. But mostly hated the way his palms became salt water springs and how his whole body took on a fine tremble. Mercifully, when he was done Dr. Riley simply lowered the foot to the floor and handed the bootie to Jorvyn instead of trying to put it back on himself.

     “Thank you, Jorvyn. I’m sorry that was so unpleasant for you.”

     “Fuck off Doc.”
     “The rub marks and scars on your ankles, what are they from?”

     Jorvyn took a few deep breaths and mustered up a smirk. “You haven’t done work in an institution before, have you Doc.?”

     Dr. Riley shook his head. “No, I have not.” 

The Adventures of Jorvyn McKale – Chunk 01

      11:59 PM December 31st. New York frolicked on every channel, unaware that a thousand miles south of the dropping ball Jorvyn McKale was sliding between worlds.
     “Jor, you’re going to be late.” Anika’s voice bounced around inside his head.
     “Tell me about it, Anika.”
     “What happened?”
     “My shoes got eaten.”
     “By the one eyed Grastien salamander?”
     “No, by the Voog sludge the fucking salamander chased me into. Apparently one eyed doesn’t equate to tiny brained.” 
     “Well, it is a very large eye.” The concern in her voice was tinged with amusement.
     “Now you warn me. Tell FireSpring the package is in the usual spot at Cross Point. And I need new boots.”
     The featureless gray rippled before him and he stepped through into his room. There was a time, not too far removed, when he had regarded the room as a prison cell, called it a hell box, and fought the guards at every turn to avoid it. Tonight it was his refuge.
     The ruined socks melted away in the last bit of swirling gray. He winced when raw spots on heel and toes, thanks to the Voog, met the cold, concrete floor. The paper thin booties he slipped on as he hopped to the bathroom offered little protection.
     Jorvyn had just enough time to use the toilet and dive under the sheet of his narrow cot before a thin shaft of light made a curly haired silhouette on the wall. When the light went away and silence returned he relaxed.
     “Happy New Year, Anika.”
     “Happy New Year, Jorvyn.”

     Jorvyn was relishing the rare luxury of picking apart a fresh cinnamon roll, complete with real icing, and dipping the pieces into his half carton of skim milk when the grey metal door opened with a whining creak. He didn’t bother to look up.                        
     “Not done yet, lemme lone.”
     “Mr. McKale, if I could just have but a moment of your time.” Dr. Cobb, Cornhollio to staff and resident alike, was old and stuffy and clearly wished he’d been born British.
     It was as if the Hospital Board had searched the world wide to find the most stereotypical shrink and tap him to run their nut house; or Long Term Residential Care Facility, as they liked to print so fancily on the letterhead. Everyone, inside and out, knew the only truth to the title were the first two words.
     Jorvyn looked up and froze. Dr. Cobb was not alone.
     If Dr. Cobb was a typical shrink the man next to him was anything but. His broad shoulders strained the lab coat seams. High and tight crew cut perched atop a face that had probably made him an instant favorite of the female staff. He looked like he’d be more at home on a movie set or a rugby pitch.
     “Mr. McKale, this is Dr. Mason Riley. He’ll be taking over your treatment.”
     “I’m here sugar.”
     “We may have a problem.”    
     “What’s that?”
     “You might have to cancel my meeting with the Cherooth underlings. It seems I have a new doctor.”
     “Yeah, it’s that doc I’ve seen from a distance over the last few weeks. You know, the one I said was staring at me creepily. Now I finally have a name to put to those frosty eyes. Find out what you can, please, about one Doctor Mason Riley.”
     “Sure thing, sugar.”
     “Are you a black woman today?”
     “Yes, I am. A big, beautiful black lady with flame red hair and purple eyes. You like?” She sent him a mental image and he nearly snorted roll.
     “Disturbing, yet dashing. I am, sadly enough, still a skinny white boy with dirty blonde curls and dirty hazel eyes.”  
     “You’re handsome to me, sugar.”
     “Thank you dear. Oh crap, gotta go, their lips are moving.”
     “Be careful, Jor.”
     “Mr. McKale?”
     “Sorry doc, couldn’t hear you over the screams of the cinnamon roll.” He popped the last bit into his mouth and chewed as if crushing a rebellion.
     “Didn’t I tell you he was one of our more colorful residents.”
     Doctor Riley nodded but said nothing. The intensity of his blue gaze lifted the hair on the back of Jorvnyn’s neck.
     “Any dreams lately, Mr. McKale?” Cornholio asked.
     “Sure Doc. A one eyed salamander chased me into flesh eating sludge.”
     “How did that make you feel?”
     “Like I need to get better footwear.”
     “I see. What do you think you were running from?” Cornholio wasn’t even pretending to take notes.
     Jorvyn leaned back in his chair. “I dunno, Doc. Isn’t that why I’m here, to work on my delusional issues?”
     “Yes, and you’ve made some progress.”
     The new doctor finally spoke and Jorvyn wished he hadn’t. “May I see your feet, Mr. McKale?”
     “Oh hell no.” By the twitch in Dr. Riley’s eyebrows Jorvyn realized he’d said that out loud.
     Cornhollio’s cell went off and Jorvyn jumped. “Sorry, I’m needed in the cafeteria. Mr. McKale, I expect your full cooperation with Doctor Riley.”
     “Your optimism is charming Doc., misplaced but charming.” Dr. Cobb sighed and headed out the door with a look to Doctor Riley that could have been good luck or good riddance.
     “Why do you want to see my feet?”
     “I study psychosomatic and somatoform disorders. You occasionally show physical injuries that mimic your dreams and can not be explained by accident or intentional injury.”
     Jorvyn drained the last of his milk. “You’ve read my file.”
     “I have but I’d rather get the bulk of my information from you. So, may I see your feet?”
     “Mr. McKale, I will be gentle,” Doctor Riley said in a tone Jorvyn suspected was supposed to be soothing.
     Milk droplets sprayed out as the carton sailed towards the doctor’s head. The empty coffee mug followed soon afterwards. Both narrowly missed their target and fell to the ground, one with a splat and the other with the clatter of heavy duty plastic on concrete.
     Jorvyn waited for the guards to be called. Instead, Doctor Riley hooked the meal tray with a finger and pulled the remaining projectile weapons out of reach.
     “Let’s try this again. I’m Doctor Mason Riley and I’m going to be your doctor.”
     Jorvyn gave him a one finger salute. “Nice to meet you Doc. I’m Jorvyn McKale and I’m going to be your worst nightmare.”
     Doctor Riley smiled and Jorvyn felt ice sink into his bowels. Unfortunately, Jorvyn only knew one way to get rid of a new doctor. It would cost him the rest of New Year’s Day’s festivities but that couldn’t be helped.
     He lunged.