Justice 06: The Gift of Freedom

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: General Erotica  |  House: Booksiesilk Classic Group

Cheated and abused husband receives the best gift -- the gift of freedom.

Justice 06: The Gift of Freedom


by Saddletramp1956

Copyright© 2023 by Saddletramp1956, All rights reserved


James Eastland lay in his hospital bed watching the latest reruns on the television in the corner of the room. Unable to move, he had no choice but to absorb whatever drivel was playing on the channel the nurses selected for him.

It had been at least eight months since he was first brought to this... hospital... after a horrific auto accident. Dr. Skitz repaired the damage to his brain and placed him in a medically-induced coma. But that was only the beginning of James' problems.

After his surgery, Dr. Skitz informed him that he intended to have his way with Tina, James' wife of six years. And to make matters worse, the doctor told him there was nothing he could do about it.

"You see, Mr. Eastland, I control the level of your medications. Yes, I know you're capable of functioning as normal," he said with a wicked grin. "But I'm never going to let that happen. I intend to keep you here, in a catatonic state, for as long as I see fit. Why would I do that, you might ask. The answer is simple. I intend to not only fuck your wife, but I'm going to turn her against you. Completely."

James tried to move his arm but couldn't. He also tried to speak but was unable to say anything. The sadistic doctor smiled as he
watched the shadows of James' frantic inner struggle ripple across his slack features.

"Yes, Mr. Eastland. I can tell you're trying to respond. But you can't, can you? I control you now," the doctor said, laughing maniacally. "With a turn of this dial, I control every muscle in your body. In short, I can decide when, or if, you ever come out of the catatonic state you're in. As long as your insurance continues to pay, you will continue to breathe. Once the money dries up, let's just say we'll have to re-evaluate your usefulness to society.


You're probably wondering why I'm doing this to you, aren't you?” the doctor asked. “You see, not only is your wife hotter than Hell, with a supremely talented mouth, but with you essentially out of the way, she has control of a considerable amount of money. Yes, I know how much Tina stands to gain.”

"And soon, I'll control your wife – AND the money she'll inherit from you. So, be a good boy and just lay there like a wet dishrag, and I just might let the nurses feed you something now and again." The doctor walked out of the room, laughing.

For the next eight months, James lay in his bed, a prisoner in his own body, and watched as his wife, Tina, slowly became Dr. Skitz's personal slut. At first, she seemed reluctant, but as time wore on, she changed. Now, she had no qualms about fucking this quack right there in front of him, wantonly giving herself to him as they both laughed and mocked him.

James prayed for death, hoping it would all end. But it never came. He was forced to live in this hell and watch his wife humiliate him in the worst possible way. He hated them – Tina, the "doctor," the nurses who mocked him even as they "cared" for him. He hated them and swore that he would make them all pay if he ever got out of this.

Then it came to him one night as he listened to a rerun of a television program. It was late, and the network was airing a program called "Breaking Point." He had never seen the program before but was intrigued as it told the story of a man cruelly cuckolded by his wife during a vacation to Cabo San Lucas.

As he watched and listened to the interviews, it hit him. Justice. That's what he wanted most. First, get out of this hell, and then get justice on all those who did this to him. Tina, the "doctor," the nurses – everyone.


He hadn't prayed for years and it had been decades since he had been inside a church. But now, seeing no other option, he closed his eyes and begged silently for justice. A nurse must have seen him with his eyes closed and figured he was asleep, so she came into the room, turned off the television, and pulled the door shut.

James fell asleep for a while and was suddenly jolted awake. The temperature in the room had dropped considerably, and he could see his breath form a mist in the air. It was still night, but the room seemed darker than usual. Suddenly the shadows in the room seemed to change, moving around until they coalesced at the foot of his bed.

Standing at the foot of his bed was the figure of a man. He seemed to be wearing western-style clothing, the type he once saw in those old black-and-white movies. The man appeared to wear a battered hat on his head, and his eyes burned with fire.

James was frightened, and chills ran up and down his spine. The man walked to the side of his bed and looked down at the thin, emaciated figure covered with only a light blanket. James sensed the anger coming off the figure in waves. He thought that maybe this was the angel of death finally coming to free him from his miserable existence.

Then the being spoke.

"Don't you worry none, pardner," the strange shadow-man said. "Ah'll get yer situation under control. You jes' hang tight."

"Wh... who are you?" James thought. He tried to form words but was unable to. The man seemed to hear James' unspoken question.

"Name's Peace," the man said. "Justice O. Peace. Mah friends call me Eli. Ah'll be in touch." The figure disappeared, leaving James feeling hopeful for the first time since this nightmare began. A couple of minutes later, a nurse walked into the room.

"Oh, my goodness," she said, rubbing her arms. "How'd it get so cold in here?" James saw her look at the thermostat. She shook her head and tapped on the thing as if that would make the temperature go back up. Suddenly, the temperature in the room went back to normal. She looked around for a bit, confused, then left the room.

Memorial Day:

"Sure is nice to be able to make this trip with you this year, Amos," my wife, Danni, said from the passenger seat as I drove down the freeway. That's me, by the way – Amos Jones.

"Yes, it is," I said. Every year, I generally drove to Houston to visit my grandfather Greg's grave with my Dad, Ryan. This year was different, as Danni and the kids could join me for the first time, making it a family outing. I figured the kids were old enough, so I told them the story of my grandpa Greg on the way.

During World War II, Greg Jones served in the Army Air Corps as a radio operator on a B-17 Flying Fortress in the Pacific Theater. He was on one of those things the day Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. His aircraft was one of several on their way from California to the Philippines via Hawaii.

Laden with cans of gasoline, none of the aircraft had any guns mounted and were defenseless when they flew into the swarms of Japanese aircraft. Greg's plane made it to a remote landing field but was severely damaged before it set down.

Greg's station was destroyed, and his seat was riddled with bullets from Japanese fighters. But Greg somehow walked away from the aircraft without a scratch. That incident earned him the nickname "Lucky" Jones. His luck, however, seemed to run out in late 1943, and his aircraft was shot down. Along with the other survivors, he was taken captive by the Japanese and spent the rest of the war in a POW camp.

He was repatriated, promoted to Master Sergeant, and given a chest full of medals and his back pay. Then the Army gave him an honorable discharge and a hearty handshake. He went back to Indianapolis, but things there had changed considerably since he left in 1941.

My great-great-great-grandfather Jedediah and his brother Obadiah both died in 1943. They were well into their 80s. The family eventually sold the small chain of stores they had owned since the early 1830s to a growing national chain, dividing the proceeds among the family. The old house the family had owned since the 1850s was also sold to make room for "developments."

Greg took his share of the profits and moved to Texas, where he spent the next six years at the University of Texas. He earned a Master's Degree in Electronics Engineering, with a particular focus on radio communications. That's where he met the woman who would become my grandmother.

Greg worked for a rather large company for several years and eventually ended up at NASA, where he retired in 1985. He died a few years after retiring, and my grandmother followed him a couple years later.

I was very young when Greg died, so I didn't get the chance to know him very well. Dad said he rarely talked about the war and never spoke of his time in the POW camp. I did some research on that and shuddered at the accounts I read.

We finally arrived at the cemetery, so I parked the car and got out. I stretched my legs as Danni got the children out of the back seat. We walked, hand-in-hand, into the well-manicured cemetery and followed the concrete path to the grave site, where my father was already waiting for us.

"There ya are," Dad said with a smile as the children ran to greet him. He picked them up and gave them each a big hug and a kiss, then pulled out a caramel candy.

"You're spoiling them, Dad," I said as we hugged.

"Well, isn't that what granddads are for?" he asked. He gave Danni a big hug and a kiss on the cheek, which she returned.

"So, how's Mom doing?" I asked.

"She's doing alright, but her arthritis is acting up a bit and she's been pretty tired lately, so she stayed home to get some rest," Dad said. "She said to tell y'all she loves ya and she misses ya."

"Be sure to tell her we love her and miss her, too," I said.

"I will," Dad said. We planted flags and placed flowers on Grandpa's grave, then sat and listened to Dad tell us stories about growing up with his father.

"Will Grandpa Greg come visit us the way Grandpa Elijah does?" little Elizabeth asked.

"Oh, I reckon anything's possible," Dad said, giving me his famous "we need to talk" look. Danni noticed the look Dad gave me and intervened.

"Come on, kids, it's been a long day," she said, holding out her hands. The kids grabbed her hands and left for the visitor center to use the bathrooms. When they were out of earshot, Dad turned to me.

"Have they really seen your great grandfather?" he asked. I've never lied to Dad before, and I wasn't about to start now. I thought for a moment before answering.

"Yeah, Dad, they have. Several times. He comes by to visit with them, tell them stories," I said.

"But that's not all, is it?" Dad said. I shook my head.

"No, Dad, it's not," I said. Dad nodded his head as he thought.

"To tell you the truth, I'm not surprised," he said, pulling a small box from his pocket. "Dad gave me something the day I left for boot camp back in '78. 'Just in case,' he said. Then he told me something I never forgot. Claimed Grandpa Eli gave this to him the day he left Indianapolis for the war. Warned him he might face some hard times and promised him that justice was riding with him no matter what.

"Dad was convinced Grandpa Eli was watching over him, protecting him. He never told anyone about that. Grandpa Eli was your best man, wasn't he?"

"Yes, Dad, he was," I said. Dad chuckled as he nodded his head.

"I thought so," he said. "Your mother thought he looked awful familiar. Who was the woman with him?"

"That was Grandma Lizzy," I said. His eyes grew wide at that.

"Really? Who were those other fellows with him?"

"You'd never believe me, Dad," I said.

"I don't know. Try me," Dad said.

"Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, Bill Tilghman, Wild Bill Hickok, and Bill McDonald, one of the greatest Texas Ranger captains in history." I asked.

"Is that a fact?" Dad asked.

"Yes," I said. "In fact, Mom even danced with them." Dad laughed at that.

"Your mother actually danced with Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Doc Holliday and Wild Bill Hickok?" Dad asked.

"She sure did," I said. "Had a pretty good time, too, as I recall. You reckon I should tell her one of these days?"

"I think she'd get a kick out of that," Dad said. "But there's more to this story, isn't there?"

"Yes, Dad," I said. "A lot more. And before you ask, yes, Danni knows all about him. I'll tell you all about it one of these days."

"I look forward to that," he said. “Just do me a favor and don't wait too long,” Dad said, wincing just a bit. "You know, son, I was going to put this on your grandfather's headstone. But after what you just told me, I think you should have it." He handed the box to me, and I opened it to see a small crucifix. I held it in my hand and looked on the back, where I saw the initials "EJ." I put it back in the box and slipped it into my pocket.

"Thank you, Dad," I said. "I appreciate it. I'm sure Grandpa would understand."

"I'm sure he would. He thought the world of you," Dad said, looking at Greg's headstone. Just then, Danni and the children returned.

"Well? Is everything okay?" she asked.

"Yes, everything is fine, sweetheart," I said. "I just told Dad about Grandpa Eli."

"I'll bet you have some pretty interesting conversations around the dinner table," Dad told her. Danni chuckled at that.

"Yes, you could say that. In fact, there's hardly a dull day around our place," she said. We talked for a bit longer, then Dad looked at his watch.

"I'd better get going," he said. "I promised your mother I'd be home in time for dinner." We exchanged hugs, said our goodbyes, then left for home. The children, worn out from the day's events, fell asleep almost as soon as we hit the road out of Houston.

"Well, what do you think?" Adrestia asked after Max placed a new portrait on her gallery wall. It was a picture of a woman sitting in a rocking chair as slimy worms with small shark-like maws lined with sharp teeth crawled up her legs. Her eyes were wide, and her mouth was open in a silent, eternal scream.

"Reckon the right side needs ta come up jes' a titch," Eli said. Max looked at the portrait before adjusting it.

"You're right, Eli," Adrestia said. "But that's not what I was talking about. I was referring to Mr. Eastland. You saw him earlier. What's your assessment?"

"Boy's in a world of hurt," Eli said. "I'd like to get him outta there, take him someplace where he can get back on his feet. I'd take him to my refuge right now, but I honestly don't think he'd survive the transition," he added, his Texas accent all but gone. "He's nothing but skin and bone."

"You're right," Adrestia said. "So what do you suggest?"

"We need to get him outta there, legal and proper, then put some meat back on his bones," Eli said. Adrestia looked at him before responding.

"But to do that, you need to have something to show a judge," she said. "Something believable."

"Why don't I have Drake meet with him?" Max asked.

"You mean that apprentice of yers?" Eli asked.

"Yes," Max said. "He has some very interesting mental abilities."

"Really? Is he..."

"Immortal?" Adrestia asked, finishing Eli's question. "No, he hasn't progressed to that stage. At least not yet."

"So, what can he do?" Eli asked.

"For one thing, he can download Eastland's brain feed, and convert it to video. He can also pull enough info from that to legally nail the people abusing him," Max said.

"Brain feed?" Eli asked.

"Yes," Max told him. "Cameron Drake has the ability to download everything in a person's mind, then save it to computer. From there, he can search out all of Eastland's memories, provide video and even analyze the man's own thoughts."

"That sounds like it would take a while," Eli said. "I honestly don't think we have that much time."

"You're right," Adrestia said. "Dr. Skitz will keep Eastland alive as long as the insurance money comes in. But that is about to end pretty soon. The insurance company has just about paid the maximum on Eastland's policy for this year. When the money stops coming in, Skitz will end Eastland's daily regimen."

"So what do we do?" Eli asked.

"I'm in the middle of a couple cases right now, but I can make some time in the next day or so," Adrestia said. "I'm immortal, not omnipotent, after all. Max and I can get Cameron on board and we'll make a... wellness visit... to Mr. Eastland. I'll give him something that will hopefully help him survive the trip to your refuge and Mr. Drake will get his brain feed."

"Then what?" Eli asked.

"Talk to your grand-daughter-in-law," Adrestia said. "She still has close ties to Judge Stone. Let her know the situation. Maybe she can get the judge to issue an order releasing Eastland into your custody."

"And if she can't?" Eli asked.

"Then we'll free him without it," Adrestia said.

The children were still asleep when we pulled into our driveway. I helped Danni get them settled into bed after a helping of leftover lasagna, then checked on the horses. I filled up their water trough, made sure they had enough hay, and went back to the house when I heard a familiar neigh. Looking around, I saw Grandpa Eli riding up to me. He stopped, climbed off his horse, and tied it to the hitching post in front of the house.

"Everything alright, Grandpa?" I asked. "We just put the kids to bed. Had a long day going to Houston."

"Visit yer Grandpa Greg's headstone?" Grandpa asked.

"Yeah," I said.

"I understand you tol' yer pa about me," Grandpa said quietly.

"Yes," I said. "It kinda just came out." He smiled and nodded his head.

"Ah understand, son. Kids can say some of the darnedest things at times, can't they?"

"They sure can, Grandpa," I said, laughing. "Dad gave me something today," I said, reaching into my pocket. I pulled out the box with the crucifix and showed it to Grandpa. "Says you gave it to my Grandpa Greg right before World War II."

"Sure did, son," Grandpa said. "Yer grandpa went through hell in that war. Ah wanted ta make sure he got back home safe. I'm mighty glad yer pa gave that to ya. You hang onto it, y'hear me?"

"I will," I said. "So, what brings you by this evening?"

"I need to talk to you and Danni about a case I'm working on," Eli said. I noticed that his accent was gone and realized this was something serious.

"Of course. We'll do whatever we can to help," I said. "C'mon in." Grandpa followed me into the house and gave Danni a hug. "Care for a beer?" I asked.

"Of course, son," Grandpa said. I grabbed three beers from the refrigerator and motioned for Grandpa and Danni to follow me to the back porch. When we got there, I pulled out the small metal case Grandpa had given me and offered him a cigarette, which he readily accepted. I pulled one for myself and lit both our cigarettes.

"So, what's going on?" I asked.

"There's a fella being held in a hospital over in Arlington that really needs our he'p," Grandpa said. "He was in an accident nearly a year ago. Doc took care of the injury to his head, but he's holding the man prisoner while he rakes in the insurance money. It's worse than that, though.

"This 'doctor' has turned the man's wife against him. He's turned her into his personal slut while humiliating the poor fella."

"Why not just take him out of there the way you did with me in Mexico?" Danni asked.

"Under normal circumstances, I would," Grandpa said. "But this feller wouldn't survive the trip. He looks like one of them people you see in pictures of old death camps. Nothing but skin and bone."

"Why doesn't this man say or do something?" Danni asked.

"He can't," Grandpa said. "This doctor's done something to him. The poor feller can't do anything but lay there in his bed. Can't talk, can't move, nothing. It's like he's in some kinda trance or something."

"But he's conscious and knows what's going on around him?" Danni asked.

"Yes," Eli said.

"So, what do you need from us?" I asked.

"I'd like Danni to he'p me get him outta there, legal-like. Once I can get him out, I'll take him to my place, get some meat on his bones and keep him outta harm's way while I deal with the snake that done this to him," Eli said. "You still have ties to Judge Stone, right?" he asked Danni.

"Yes, I do," she said.

"I'll get you the evidence you need to show him what's going on," Eli said.

"Alright," Danni said. "Give me all the information you can on this man, the hospital he's in and the doctor. I'll take it from there."

"Thank you," Grandpa said. Grandpa spent the next half hour giving Danni all the information he had. Danni took copious notes as he talked and recorded the conversation on her phone to ensure she got everything right.

"This will take me a day or two to sort out," she said. "I'll need to do a bit of research and get the paperwork ready."

"Do what ya gotta do, Danni, but don't take too much time," Grandpa said. "I don't think Mr. Eastland

has much time left. And do me another favor, if you would please."

"What's that?" she asked.

"When you go see Judge Stone, I'd like ta join ye," Grandpa said, his accent returning.

"That's fine with me," Danni said with a slight smile.

"What do you need from me, Grandpa?" I asked.

"Make sure yer Winchester's in good shape, son. Ah have a feelin' this might jes' get a bit messy," Grandpa said with a solemn wink.

"Take us to see Mr. Eastland, please. Immediately," the man wearing a fedora and long trench coat said to the young woman behind the counter. The woman, whose name tag read, "Lisa," looked at the man and the two others with him, a petite blonde woman and another man, younger than the one who just spoke.

She usually checked with the administration office of the private facility before allowing anyone beyond the front office. Still, she felt... compelled... to do as the man ordered. She already knew what room James was in, so she motioned for them to follow her.

Lisa escorted them past the nurse's station and into James' room. When they got inside, the petite blonde turned to Lisa.

"I'd like a cup of hot water please," Adrestia said.

"Do as the lady asked, then close this door and do not let anyone know we are here," Max said firmly. Lisa nodded her head and left. She returned less than a minute later with Adrestia's hot water.

"Thank you," Adrestia said.

"Now, please leave and say nothing to no one about our presence. No one. Understand?" Max asked.

"Uh, yes, sir," Lisa said. She left the room, and Max locked the door as soon as it closed. They all turned to the emaciated man lying in bed. His skin was stretched over his bones, and he reminded Max of pictures he had seen of Holocaust victims. He fought the urge to kill someone and turned to Cameron.

"Why don't you see what you can get from him," Max said.

"Yeah, right," Cameron said, shocked at James' appearance. He took James' hand in his own and felt the tell-tale spark that indicated a brain feed download. "It's going to be alright, Mr. Eastland. We're here to help," he told James as Adrestia mixed two tea bags in the cup of hot water.

Cameron stepped away after the download was complete. Adrestia went to James' side and helped him take a few tentative sips of the hot liquid. James looked at her as she fed him like a baby. She saw the fear in his eyes and put one hand on his head.

"It's going to be alright, Mr. Eastland," she said quietly. Adrestia looked at Max.

"Sweetheart, could you please help him drink the rest of this while I take a look at his chart?" she asked.

"Sure," Max said, walking to the side of the bed. He took the cup from her and helped James drink. "We're friends, Mr. Eastland," he said. As he looked into James' eyes, he saw a tear fall down the man's cheek. Cameron, meanwhile, had pulled out his laptop and headset and was busy downloading the brain feed into his computer.

It took about 15 minutes for James to finish the tea. By then, Adrestia had seen enough in James' chart to know what Dr. Skitz was doing to him. She made notes, then adjusted the IV drip in James' arm.

"That should start counteracting what Skitz has done," she said. "But his status is worse than I originally thought. We need to get him out of here, immediately."

"Wh... wha..." James stuttered. They all looked at him.

"Mr. Eastland, please remain calm," Adrestia said. "Don't try to move or speak just yet. We're going to try to get you out of here."

"Better do it quick," Cameron said. "I just looked at his last few memories, and it appears Skitz is about to pull the plug on him. You wanna see?"

"Sure," Adrestia said. Cameron queued up a video from two days earlier. They saw Skitz and a woman in the video window, but the video itself was somewhat blurry.

"Why does it look like that?" Max asked.

"This is from James' perspective," Cameron said. "It plays back as he saw it. Probably due to the cocktail of drugs Skitz has him on." Cameron hit the play button, and the video began with Skitz sneering at James while the woman sneered at him from behind Skitz.

"I just heard that your insurance company is questioning my chosen treatment," Skitz said in the video. "Of course, I responded, but how dare they question me – a doctor. Not only are they challenging my treatment, but they're also threatening to not pay. This is unacceptable. But I'm not entirely unreasonable.

"I'll be taking your wife on a little trip for the next couple of days. Of course, I'm going to fuck her brains out, and I may have her fuck a few others. Just for fun. If the insurance company refuses to relent by the time we return, which will be about noon two days from now, then I see no real reason to keep you alive. In fact, you may be worth more dead," he said, laughing. "Come dear, let's go."

"I'd like to say I love you, James, but the fact is, I've fallen for Jack here. So, no, I don't love you anymore. Besides, your little wiener can't even compare to his nine-inch cock. So bye, James. Nice knowing you," Tina said with a smirk. "And don't worry, I'll take good care of your insurance money," she added, causing Skitz to laugh out loud.

"Noon. That's about 25 minutes from now, assuming he's punctual," Cameron said as he looked at his watch.

"Alright, change of plan," Adrestia said.

"Should I call for an ambulance?" Cameron asked.

"No," Adrestia said, shaking her head. "That would cause unwanted attention. And Skitz could already be on the premises. I'll take James with me back to the gallery."

"But you heard Eli. James may not survive the transport," Max said.

"Eli is correct. James would never survive the transition to Eli's safe place. But I'm not taking him out of this plane of existence," Adrestia said. "I'll let Eli know of the change. You take Cameron back to his place so he can get working on James' brain feed. I'll meet you back at the gallery."

"Alright," Max said. "We'd better get going before one of the nurses try to get in here."

"You're right," Adrestia said. "We've already been here too long." She turned to James. "Hold on, James. I'm taking you out of here right now. As Cameron and Max watched, Adrestia and James disappeared from sight, leaving an empty bed with tubes and sensors limply hanging from the post next to the bed.

"Hurry and pack up before those nurses realize he's not connected up," Max said.

"Already on it," Cameron said. They heard someone try opening the door, only to find it locked.

"Let's go. Now," Max commanded. Cameron grabbed his things and stood by Max. Max pressed the button on a ring, and they found themselves at Cameron's house.

"That was close," Cameron said.

"Yeah," Max said. "We don't have much time. I need you to get on his brain feed and give us whatever you can by tomorrow morning."

"No problem," Cameron said. "I'll get Bill and Ginger on it as well." Bill was an old childhood friend of Cameron's who now worked with him, and Ginger was Cameron's wife and the mother of their twin children.

"That would be great," Max said. "Call me in the morning."

"Will do," Cameron said before Max touched the ring on his finger. In an instant, he was gone.

"Why is this door locked?" the nurse asked as she tried to open the door to James' room. "Get me the master key." Another nurse handed her a keyring from behind the nurse's station. The nurse at the door, whose name tag read, "Allison," opened the door and got the shock of her life. No wonder Mr. Eastland's monitors indicated no signal – he was gone. But where did he go?

Shocked, she went into the room and looked around. The windows were still sealed, and nothing looked out of place. Of course, James' bed had no one in it. His IV lay on the bed, and the expensive liquid medication it dispensed oozed out by the machine it was attached to. There was no way James could've gotten up and walked out. So, where did he go?

Frantic, she went to the panel on the wall and punched a code. Blue lights instantly began flashing throughout the facility. A minute later, Allison heard a man's voice come through the panel, and she recognized the voice as belonging to Dr. Skitz.

"What's going on? Who is missing?" he asked.

"James Eastland, Dr. Skitz," Allison said.

"WHAT? How is he missing? What the hell happened?" he asked.

"I don't know, Doctor," Allison replied. "The door to his room was locked from the inside. I opened it with a master key and found him missing."

"I'll be right there," the doctor said, ending the call. He entered the room a couple minutes later, with Tina on his heels. He looked around, wondering where James had gone.

"There's no way he could've gotten out of here by himself," the doctor said. "Did anyone come to see him?"

"Well, Lisa from the front desk escorted three people here earlier," Allison said.

"She did?" Skitz asked. "Do you know who they were?"

"No, Doctor, I don't," Allison said.

"So there were four people in that room and they just... disappeared into thin air? Is that what you're telling me?" he asked, his face turning redder by the second.

"I... I don't know," Allison stammered.

"Where's the security footage? I want to see it, right fucking NOW," Skitz bellowed. One of the nurses came forward with a DVD. Skitz grabbed it and inserted it into a DVD player. They all watched as Lisa escorted two men and a woman into James' room. Lisa then walked out and returned with a cup before leaving. The door was shut after she left the second time and remained closed. Skitz looked at the nurses, then at Tina.

"FIND HIM! RIGHT THIS FUCKING SECOND," he screamed. The nurses scrambled around, but there was nothing they could realistically do. Skitz went to the front desk and confronted Lisa.

"Who were those people who came to see Mr. Eastland earlier today?" he asked.

"They showed me some credentials and said they were here to do a wellness inspection on him for the insurance

company," Lisa said. "I, uh, don't know anything more than that, Dr. Skitz," she added. The doctor's face looked as if it were about to explode.

"Did you see them leave?" he asked.

"No, Dr. Skitz, I didn't," Lisa said quietly.

"Lisa, it's a good thing you swallow," the doctor said. "Otherwise you'd be out on your ass right now."

"I'm sorry, Dr. Skitz," Lisa cried. "Is there anything I can do to make this up?"

"Yes, as a matter of fact, there is," the doctor said as he unbuckled his trousers. "On your knees. NOW."

When Max returned to the gallery he shared with Adrestia, he went to the guest suite to find James sitting up in bed. A woman wearing a plain floor-length dress and a bonnet was feeding him something from a bowl. He watched as she spoon-fed James, wiping his mouth after each small bite.

"How is he?" Max asked Adrestia, who stood in one corner of the room holding the chart she "confiscated" from James' hospital room.

"Not too well," Adrestia said quietly. "But he is a bit better. The tea I gave him kept him together long enough to transport him here, but..."

"But what?" Max asked.

"I don't know if he's going to make it," Adrestia said quietly.

"Who is that with him?" he asked.

"Oh, sorry, let me introduce you," Adrestia said. Max followed her to the bed.

"Clara, this is my husband, Max," Adrestia said. The woman turned and offered a hand to Max, who accepted it with a smile. "Max, this is Clara Barton."

"Clara... Barton? THE Clara Barton?" Max asked.

"Yes," Adrestia said. "She was given permission to come and look after James until we felt he was well enough to get out of bed on his own." Max saw the sad expression on Adrestia's face and pulled her into the next room.

"What's the matter, sweetheart?" he asked.

"I feel somewhat responsible for this," Adrestia said. "I know I've been extremely busy lately, but I can't help but think I should've caught this earlier. Maybe if I had acted sooner, he wouldn't be in this shape."

"Sweetheart, you said it yourself," Max said. "You're immortal, not omnipotent. You can't be everywhere all the time. Your own protocols prevent that. It's not your fault he waited so long to ask for help."

"I know," Adrestia said quietly. "Still..."

"But nothing," Max said. "Look, after this is over, why don't you and I take a little mini-vacation. A break from all of... this. Maybe zap over to the Mediterranean and take in the sights or something." Adrestia chuckled at that.

"That sounds like fun," she said. "I'm sure Eli would love to take some time off to be with Lizzy."

"There you go," Max said.

"Oh, speaking of Lizzy... She made me a new toga. Maybe I'll model it for you tonight," Adrestia said.

"Now that sounds like a plan," Max said.

"Thank you," Adrestia said.

"For what?" Max asked.

"For being there for me. I don't know what I'd do without you sometimes," Adrestia said, wrapping her arms around him. "I love you so much."

"And I love you too, my avenging goddess," he said as he hugged her back. "So, anything interesting in Eastland's chart?" he asked, looking at the thick folder in her hand.

"Yes," Adrestia said. "A very convoluted mix of medications, all designed to keep James in a persistent vegetative state. Kept him just conscious enough to know what was going on around him, but not conscious enough to do or say anything. Also, it seems Skitz kept James' caloric intake just above the minimum amount necessary to keep him alive."

"Eli will need that when he and that Jones woman go to see Judge Stone," Max said.

"Yes, he will," Adrestia said. "I'll make sure he gets it."

"Makes ya wonder how many others Skitz has done this to," Max said.

"Yes it does," Adrestia said, her eyes flashing.

"I'll check in with Cameron in the morning. Maybe between this chart and what Cameron finds, we'll have enough to present to the judge," Max said.

"I hope so," Adrestia said. "If that judge doesn't do something about this, I guarantee you I will."

Edwin Skitz, MD, Ph.D., POS, slammed his fist on the desk as he looked at his computer. Not only had the incompetent nurses in C Ward lost a patient, but they also lost the man's chart. Shit, Edwin thought to himself.

He looked at the surveillance video one more time. Still, he could not identify the three people who walked into James' room. Then he looked at the time on the monitoring stats. It appeared that Eastland had disappeared within 30 minutes of those three people entering his room.

They tore James' room apart but found nothing to indicate where the man had gone. Or how he had managed to suddenly disappear, along with three others. Tina, James' wife, sat across from his desk, looking at him with concern. Then he realized he had another problem.

There were five other men in that ward in the same situation as James. Edwin had turned their wives against them like he had done with Tina. They had become part of his personal "harem," but some of them were now doing other... work. In short, they were supplementing Edwin's already bloated income with their bodies, performing as high-end escorts or porn actresses.

Like James, the husbands of these women were in controlled catatonic states, with their insurance policies footing the bills for their "treatments." If James managed to get to the authorities, Edwin's goose would become well-done, and he knew it. In his twisted, warped mind, Edwin felt he only had one option if James couldn't be located quickly. He picked up his phone and dialed a number.

"Start warming up your ovens," Edwin said when a man answered at the other end. "I may have some work for you."

"Right away, Dr. S," the man at the other end said before ending the call. Edwin put the phone down and looked at Tina. He had seduced many women into his lifestyle over the years – all of them married – but Tina was his crowning jewel. She happily humiliated her husband and pledged herself in a way no other woman had ever done – by allowing him to brand her.

"So, what now?" Tina asked.

"It may be time for us to retire," he said. "If we can't find and retrieve your husband soon, I'll have no choice but to close up shop and tie up all the possible loose ends."

"And the other girls?" Tina asked.

"They've played their role. I'm sure I can unload them pretty quick. They're still in their prime and can fetch a pretty good price," Edwin said.

"What about your staff here?" Tina asked.

"I'll give them all a nice severance package and a recommendation," he said. "They'll get hired on somewhere else."

"Any idea who those three people are?" Tina asked.

"None," he said, looking at their images on his computer. "But I've got some people working on it."

"And when you find them?"

"They'll wish to God they never heard the name Edwin Skitz," he said with a cruel smile. Tina smiled back.

"There's several videos on that thumb drive," Cameron said as he handed a small USB drive to Max. "We're still evaluating Mr. Eastland's brain feed."

"What have you found so far?" Max asked.

"I ran it by Smith and Jones and they agree with my assessment. There was absolutely no medical need for Eastland to be kept hospitalized. The damage to his brain was corrected by surgery. He could've been released at any time," Cameron said. Max knew that Smith and Jones were the two alien beings whose experimental device was responsible for the changes in Cameron.

"So this was all done deliberately to keep Eastland in check?" Max asked.

"Yes," Cameron said. "In fact, Skitz admitted that to him. The video is on the drive I gave you, along with several others. This Skitz is certainly no Albert Schweitzer.”

"Anything else?" Max asked.

"We did a deep dive on Skitz and his private clinic," Ginger said. "Over the last 20 years, there were more than 50 men who died while in his care. All of them were married and all of them were cremated almost immediately after their deaths."

"And the wives?" Max asked.

"Most of them... disappeared," Ginger said.

"You suspect foul play?" Max asked.

"We do. In fact, I'd like to have a little talk with this character, maybe get his brain feed and see what I can find out," Cameron said. "I have a feeling there's a whole lot more to this that what meets the eye."

"I think we can arrange that," Max said. "Thanks for all your work on this. I'll be in touch."

"No problem," Cameron said.

Judge Alfred Stone sat in his chambers as Danni Jones and the strange Texas Ranger walked in. He remembered the Ranger from an incident that happened years ago when he was still married to Alice. Seeing the tall, square-jawed man again after all these years sent chills up his spine. He stood and greeted his guests.

"Danni, it's so good to see you," Alfred said. "How are the young 'uns?"

"They're doing great, Your Honor," she said. "Growing like weeds."

"I'm so glad to hear that," he said. "And please, call me Alfred. We've known each other far too long to be so formal."

"Thank you, Alfred," she said, smiling.

"And you, Ranger," Alfred said, turning to Eli. "It's been quite a while. You look the same as you did the last time I saw you. How are things with you?"

"Doing jes' fine, Your Honor," Eli said, shaking the judge's hand. "Thank you for asking."

"Please, have a seat. Tell me, what brings you to the big city?" Alfred asked.

"It's a rather... sensitive issue, Alfred," Danni said. "We have a client who has been held against his will in a private clinic owned and run by a Dr. Edwin Skitz."

"Skitz?" Alfred asked, interrupting Danni.

"Yes," she said. "Are you familiar with the man?"

"Actually, I am," Alfred said. "Excellent doctor, from what I've heard. Has the bedside manner of a Nazi stormtrooper, though. Pretty well-known in the country club circle. Lots of political contacts. You say he's holding someone in his private clinic against his will?"

"Yes," Danni said. Alfred turned to Eli.

"Can you shed some light on this, Ranger?" he asked.

"This Dr. Skitz feller was holding our client against his will," Eli said.

"Was?" Alfred asked. "Where is your client now? Is he at that old west town of yours?"

"No," Eli said. "He's somewhere else. But we have reason to believe he's holding others against their will."

"And we have reason to suspect that he's holding those men hostage so he can use their wives, sexually," Danni added.

"Those are some serious charges you're making, Danni," Alfred said. "Do you have any evidence to back this up?"

"Yes," Danni said, handing the judge a small thumb drive. "There are some videos on that drive." Alfred put the USB drive in his laptop and brought up the first video. He watched for a moment, then paused the playback.

"How did you get this?" Alfred asked, frowning. Danni and Eli looked at each other for a moment.

"That's where this gets a bit... dicey," she said. "I've been told those videos came directly from our client's memories."

"His memories?" Alfred asked, his eyebrows raised. "Danni, I've given you a lot of leeway over the years, but you know this will never fly in court."

"I know," Danni said. "That's why we wanted to show you this in person. So you would know this is real." Alfred looked from Danni to Eli.

"So, what is it you want from me? An order to get this man out of that facility?" Alfred asked.

"We've already gotten him outta there," Eli said. "But there are others in danger."

"I see," Alfred said, recalling his own encounter with Eli decades ago before he became a judge. "Where is he now? At that old west town of yours?"

"No, he's in no shape to travel right now," Eli said. "He's somewhere... safe. And he's being looked after. But as I said, others are in danger. I want that place shut down, and this Dr. Skitz behind bars. I'd rather do it proper-like."

"I understand, Ranger," Alfred said. "But that may not be as easy as you think. This Skitz character has a lot of powerful friends. Have you spoken to anyone in the state Medical Board yet?"

"No, we haven't," Danni said. "We both felt this is a time-sensitive issue. You know how long it can take for things to work through that process."

"Yes, I do," Alfred said.

"And a lot can happen in that time," Danni interjected. Alfred glanced at the video as he thought.

"Tell you what I'll do, Danni," he finally said. "I'll look through your... evidence, maybe make some discreet calls. You dig into this a bit deeper, get me something a bit more... useful in court."

"And if we can't?" Danni asked.

"Then I suspect the Ranger here will probably have to act independently," Alfred said, giving Eli a knowing smile. Eli nodded his head.

"I think I understand, Your Honor," Eli said with a sly smile. Alfred nodded his head.

"Good," Alfred said. "Do what you have to, Ranger. I'll give you all the cover I possibly can."

"Thank you, Your Honor," Eli said. He turned to Danni. "I think we've done all we can here, Danni."

"But... Can't you at least issue an injunction? A restraining order? Anything?" she asked Alfred.

"Based on what, exactly, Danni?" Alfred asked. "A video from someone's memories? We'd both be laughed out of the legal profession, and you know it. The Ranger here can handle this. I'll support you as much as I possibly can."

"It's alright, Danni," Eli said. "We can handle this on our own."

"Are you sure?" she asked.

"Absolutely," Eli said with a grim smile. Alfred stood, signaling the end of the meeting.

"Good luck and happy hunting," he said as he extended a hand. Eli took it and nodded his head as the two men shook hands. "Let me know what you find," he told Danni as they shook hands. Danni was a bit confused when they left Alfred's office.

"What just happened?" she asked.

"We'll take care of this ourselves," Eli said as they walked to Danni's car.

"You knew this would happen, didn't you?" she asked.

"I suspected it might," Eli said, all trace of his Texas accent gone.

"So what do we do now?" Danni asked.

"Adrestia tells me Max is sending this Cameron fella to speak with Skitz. According to her, he can get the good doctor's memories. That should be quite interesting," Eli said.

"Yes, it should," Danni said, confused.

"I'm here to see Dr. Skitz," Cameron said, giving the receptionist his business card. He remembered her from the last time he was at the clinic, and he watched her look at his card, then glance back at him.

"You were here the other day, weren't you?" she asked.

"Yes," Cameron said.

"One moment, please," she said before picking up her phone. She spoke into it for a few moments, and Cameron heard only her side of the conversation. He surmised she was talking to the doctor. A few moments later, she put the phone down and motioned for him to follow her.

She ushered him into a well-appointed office with wood paneling and the obligatory framed certificates on the wall. The man sitting at the desk stood and extended his hand. Cameron accepted it and felt the slight spark that indicated the brain feed download had commenced.

"Sorry, must be static," Cameron said with a slight smile.

"That's quite alright," Dr. Skitz said, rubbing his hand. "Please, have a seat." Cameron sat and looked at the man, taking note of the 3D anaglyph effect, indicating this was not a man to be trusted. He had seen this quite often since acquiring his abilities and had learned how to deal with the headaches it usually caused.

"So, what can I do for the, uh, Burnage Agency today, Mr. Drake?" the doctor finally asked, reading Cameron's business card.

"We're doing a followup regarding the treatment of one James Eastland, a patient of yours, Dr. Skitz," Cameron said. "We were hoping you could shed some light on his status. From what we gathered, he should have been discharged several months ago."

"Well, Mr. Drake, as you know, in order to answer that question, I would have to violate doctor-patient confidentiality. Privacy laws simply do not allow me to pass that information on," Edwin said.

"I see," Cameron said. "So, you're refusing to cooperate in our investigation. Is that right?"

"My hands are tied, Mr. Drake," Edwin said, shrugging his shoulders.

"Very well. I won't waste any more of your time," Cameron said, standing up. "Good day." He turned and left Edwin wondering what the hell had just happened.

"Wait a minute, Mr. Drake," Edwin said as Cameron reached the door. Cameron turned to look at Edwin.

"Yes?" Cameron asked.

"Weren't you here earlier with another man and a woman? According to our surveillance cameras, the three of you spoke with Mr. Eastland, didn't you?" Edwin asked.

"Yes, we did," Cameron said.

"Strange," Edwin said. "After you left, Mr. Eastland went missing."

"Missing? Did you report it to anyone?" Cameron asked.


No, we didn’t,” Edwin said.

“And why not?” Cameron asked.

“Police wouldn’t do anything for at least 24 to 48 hours,” Edwin said.

“You mean to tell me you let a patient who supposedly can’t even feed himself go missing and didn’t bother to report it to anyone? What kind of a shithole are you running here?” Cameron asked. He already knew the answer but wanted to see Edwin’s reaction – and he got it.

“Now see here,” Edwin began, his face red.

“Save it, Dr. Skitz,” Cameron said. “I’ll just add that to my report. Good day.” With that, Cameron left. Smiling to himself, he left the facility since he got what he came for anyway, namely, Dr. Skitz’s brain feed. Cameron briefly connected to Edwin’s mind to see what the doctor was doing. He wasn’t surprised to see Edwin talking to someone on the phone.

“The man’s name is Drake. Cameron Drake. He was one of the three who came here to see Eastland earlier. Follow him. Find out what you can about him. He may just lead you to Eastland. If he does, you know what to do,” Edwin said.

“Yeah, boss, we know,” a man at the other end said.

“Get to it. Report back to me as soon as possible,” Edwin said before ending the call. Cameron smiled to himself. He couldn’t wait to meet Skitz’s goons. Walking out of the clinic, Cameron saw two large men with shaved heads, goatees, and no discernible necks climb into a black SUV. He also noticed the bulge in their jackets that indicated they were well-armed.

As he sat in his SUV, Cameron considered his options regarding these goons. He could take them on a wild goose chase around town before confronting them, but he didn’t want to waste time on these clowns. Cameron finally decided on a more... direct... course of action. After looking at the layout of the place, he started his SUV and put it in gear.

He saw the two goons glaring at him and decided to have some fun. He pulled out, but instead of heading for the exit, he pulled right in front of the SUV containing the two gorillas and stopped, effectively blocking them. The goons were baffled as they watched Cameron get out of his SUV and walk to their driver’s side.

“What the fuck?” the goon in the driver’s seat asked.

“Yeah? What the fuck is your problem?” the other goon asked.

“You are my problem,” Cameron said calmly.

“The fuck you talking about, asshole?” the first goon asked, his face red.

“Yeah. What the fuck are you talking about? Fuck,” the second goon said.

“Trust me. You don’t want to follow me,” Cameron said, focusing his mental prowess on the first goon. After sizing them up, Cameron realized their combined IQs and vocabulary were just a bit lower than the average eggplant. The first goon looked at his companion.

“You know, I really don’t want to follow this fucking guy,” Goon Number One said.

“Yeah, me neither,” Goon Number Two echoed. “Fuck.”

“In fact, it’s too nice out to be cooped up inside,” Cameron said. “Maybe the two of you ought to go downtown and jack each other off in a busy intersection.”

“Yeah, let’s go jack off downtown,” Goon Number One said. His companion nodded his head in agreement.

“And don’t forget to wave your guns around while you do it,” Cameron said.

“We won’t, man,” the first goon said. “Thanks. Have a nice day now, you hear?”

“I will,” Cameron said. “You do the same.” He left the two goons and got back into his SUV. When he pulled onto the street, he saw the goons head in the other direction, toward downtown. He smiled to himself and drove home.

“How is our guest doing?” Max asked when he got home that afternoon.

“He’s doing a bit better,” Adrestia said. “He’s starting to come out of his persistent catatonic state. Actually spoke a couple of words without too much difficulty.”

“That’s good to hear,” Max said. “I got the preliminary report from Cam on Dr. Skitz’s brain feed this afternoon.”

“Oh?” Adrestia asked. “And?”

“He suggests we move quickly. It seems the good doctor is feeling a bit... pressured. And he’s preparing to eliminate the other men he’s holding,” Max said.

“That’s not good,” Adrestia said. “Eli is on his way over now. By the way, did you see the news earlier?”

“No, I was a bit busy,” Max said. “What happened?”

“Well, it seems a couple of Dr. Skitz’s hired guns were arrested for causing a public disturbance earlier today. I bookmarked the video report so you could see it,” Adrestia said, handing him a tablet. Max chuckled as he watched the report.

“Two men were arrested earlier today for causing a disturbance in a busy downtown intersection,” the female newsreader said. “According to a police spokesperson, the men allegedly stripped down and masturbated each other while waving handguns. The two men claimed they could not comply when officers ordered them to stop. Several people took video of the incident and forwarded them to Eyewitness News.”

The next thing Max saw was a video shot by a pedestrian with a cell phone. Two large bald men sporting goatees were naked from the waist down. They frantically masturbated each other with one hand while holding their pistols in the air with the other. Although their genitals were blurred out in the video, it was clear what they were doing.

Police quickly arrived and surrounded the two men, their handguns drawn. Max could hear the officers order the men to stop and lay down their weapons. He also listened to the two men’s responses.

“We can’t, dammit,” one man said.

“Put the guns down and stop what you’re doing,” an officer ordered.

“Dammit, we already told you we can’t stop,” the other goon said as he furiously stroked his partner’s dick. “Fuck!” Three officers pulled out their tasers and shot the two men, who instantly crumpled to the pavement, dropping their weapons. Officers rushed the two men and quickly handcuffed them before leading them away.

“The men have reportedly been charged with indecent exposure, creating a public disturbance, and illegal possession of firearms,” the newsreader said. “Authorities tell Eyewitness News the men are undergoing psychiatric evaluation. We reached out to the private clinic where the men are employed as security guards but received no comment.” Max laughed out loud.

“I take it that’s Cameron’s doing,” Adrestia said.

“Yeah, that sounds like his style,” Max said. “By the way, he said he’d be coming by tonight.”

“Good,” Adrestia said. “Eli is coming as well, and he’s bringing his grandson. We can discuss the case and plan our next move.”

“DAMN,” Edwin exclaimed as he watched the news report. Tina Eastland came into the office from an adjoining bathroom and walked up behind him.

“What’s the matter, dear?” she asked quietly.

“Those two stupid apes I sent after Drake got picked up by the cops,” he told her.

“For what?” Tina asked.

“Are you ready for this? They decided to go jack off in the middle of an intersection. Downtown. Talk about stupid,” Edwin said, slamming his fist on the desk.

“Why would they do something like that?” she asked.

“Beats the hell outta me,” Edwin said. “You know what I need right about now?” he asked, looking at Tina with lust.

“What’s that, dear?” she asked.

“I need a good blowjob right now. And a good fuck to help me relax. Why don’t you shimmy outta those clothes so we can do it?” he asked.

“Uh, well, my period just started,” Tina said. “And to be honest, it’s not as much fun without James here to humiliate.” The truth was that Tina’s period was late, and she had been feeling a bit queasy lately. But she didn’t want to tell him that out of fear he might do something horrible to her.

“What, are you developing a conscience or something?” Edwin asked.

“No,” she said. “You know how I get this time of the month.”

“Yeah, yeah. I know,” Edwin said with a heavy sigh. “Go on, get outta here. Go home or something. I’ll get someone else from my harem to fuck. Call me when you’re ready for some action.”

“Okay, Edwin, er, Master,” she said. He picked up the phone as she left the office. “Lisa? You wearing panties? Get them off and come to my office. I need to fuck. Yes, right now!”

Eli, Danni, and I entered the large house and were greeted by Max and Adrestia. Danni agreed to join us this evening and arranged for her parents to look after the kids. I knew all about Adrestia and met Max sometime back when he was in the hospital after his ex-wife’s lover beat him to a pulp. We shook hands, and I gave him the once-over. He seemed quite different from the last time I saw him.

“You’re looking pretty good,” I said.

“Thanks,” Max said. “Amazing what a good woman can do for you.”

“I agree wholeheartedly,” I told him, glancing at my wife, Danni, who smiled in return.

“Come on in, the whole gang’s here,” Max said. “Care for something to drink? Tea? Beer?”

“I understand we’re talking work tonight, so I’ll have some tea, please,” I said.

“Tea sounds wonderful, please,” Danni added.

“You got it,” Max said. We followed him into a relatively large room. Adrestia was there, along with another man I had never met, and she stood and introduced us.

“Amos, Danni, this is Cameron Drake,” she said. I shook his hand, feeling a bit out of sorts. I was always taught to look a man in the eyes when shaking hands, but the gold specks in his blue eyes made me feel a bit... uncomfortable.

“Amos Jones,” I said. “And this is my wife, Danni.”

“Eli’s great-great-great-great-grandson,” Cameron said with a smile. “And you must be the lawyer,” Cameron said as he shook Danni’s hand.

“Yes, I am,” Danni said.

“Excellent,” Cameron said. “Every family should have its own lawyer,” he jokingly added. “Seriously, Eli’s spoken about you two a lot. All of it good, by the way.”

“That’s good to hear,” I said. “So, what do you do?”

“I do a lot of work with Max and Adrestia,” he said. “Mostly information-gathering.”

“Yeah, that’s when he’s not sending goons to jack off in the middle of the street,” Max said with a smile as he handed me a cup of hot tea.

“Huh?” I asked, confused.

“It was all over the news,” Max said. “Those two guys jacking each other off in the street earlier today. Did you see the report?”

“Yeah, I heard something about that. You made that happen?” I asked. Cameron shrugged his shoulders.

“Yeah, I kinda planted the suggestion in their minds,” he said.

“Like a Jedi mind trick or something?” I asked.

“Something like that,” Cameron said.

“Sounds like you’ve got a regular Justice League thing going here, Grandpa,” I said. He looked at me funny, not understanding the context.

“Justice League?” Grandpa asked, confused.

“Yeah, you know. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Green Lantern. You’ve heard of them, haven’t you?” I asked.

“Can’t say that I have,” Grandpa said.

“Well, those were all cartoon characters,” Cameron said. “This is the real deal. Except you won’t see me running around in tights.” We all laughed at that, except for Grandpa, who didn’t seem to understand Cameron’s joke.

“Now that we’re all here, why don’t we get started,” Adrestia said. We all sat down and put our tea on the coffee table in the middle of the room. “Danni, I’m glad you could join us tonight. I understand you and Eli visited Judge Stone. What can you tell us?”

“I have a follow-up meeting set for tomorrow, online,” Danni said. “He’s gone through the videos you gave us, and he’s pretty disgusted with what he saw. Unfortunately, none of them are admissible in court, which we already knew. But, he thinks there may be enough there that, if presented properly, could be seen as probable cause.

“I also made some discreet inquiries with the medical board, to see if there was something we could do along those lines. Unfortunately, I was informed nothing could be done for at least 45 days. Possibly 60 days. It seems they have a backlog of cases they’re working through, and they just don’t have the manpower,” Danni added.

“And in 45 to 60 days, Edwin Skitz will be out of the country, his practice closed down,” Cameron said. “And his victims... disposed of.”

“Closed down?” Grandpa asked.

“Yes,” Cameron said. “Ginger, Bill and I went through his brain feed. I tell ya, if you looked up ‘Asshole’ in the dictionary, you’d probably see this guy’s face. A real piece of work. It seems that a number of insurance companies are starting to question his choice of treatments and medications. He’s been thinking about closing the place down and retiring with his harem for a while. He’s ramped things up a bit since we pulled James out of there.”

“Harem?” Danni asked.

“Yes, he has several women he keeps,” Cameron said. “Most of them married. He gets off on humiliating and cuckolding their husbands while they’re trapped in bed, unable to do anything. He especially enjoys urinating on the poor trapped husbands after he has sex with their wives.” Adrestia nodded her head at that bit of information.

“What do you mean, ‘keeps?’” Danni asked.

“He has what you could call a ‘stable’ of sorts,” Cameron said. “He keeps a few women for himself, like Eastland’s wife, Tina. Then he farms them out to some of his friends for a while. Most of them end up making porn movies for almost nothing, while the rest end up on the streets. Almost all of them end up sold. Skitz doesn’t really care what happens to them. He uses them, sells them and then moves on to the next batch of victims.”

“And no one does anything?” I asked.

“No,” Cameron says. “Skitz has a lot of friends in powerful places. And they cover for him. Mostly out of fear of what he might do to them. You might be interested to know, Danni, that some of them are on the state medical board.”

“Well, that explains the lengthy delay,” Danni said. “What about Judge Alfred Stone? Is he one of Dr. Skitz’s friends?”

“He’s donated to Skitz’s charitable foundation, but so has most of the country club class in this area,” Cameron said. “There’s nothing to indicate any deeper ties. Thing is, Skitz is a real asshole, but he’s a damn good doctor.”

“I see,” Danni said. “So, what does Skitz plan to do with his patients when he closes shop?”

“The actual patients – the legitimate ones – will get transferred to other facilities,” Cameron said. “He has other plans for the men he has trapped there.”

“Other plans?” Grandpa asked.

“He intends to kill them and cremate their bodies,” Cameron said.

“And his staff?” Adrestia asked.

“He plans to give the legitimate staffers a good severance package and a recommendation,” Cameron said. “The ones who work in his ‘special’ ward won’t be treated so well. It would appear they know too much about what he’s been doing.”

“I’m surprised none of them have spoken out before now,” I said.

“You have to understand that he has complete control over everything in that place,” Cameron said. “And everyone. His control is so complete that he can order them to suck him off and they’ll do it. On the spot. I’ve seen him do exactly that several times in his brain feed.”

“How does he intend to deal with those staffers?” Danni asked.

“He’s already started. From what I gathered in his brain feed, he’s been slowly poisoning them for the last few weeks,” Cameron said. “Putting compounds in their coffee and office water coolers. So far, none of them have caught on. Once he’s dealt with the ‘patients,’ he’ll finish the staffers off. Worse yet, they’ll happily drink his brand of kool-aid.”

“When does Skitz plan to do all this?” Max asked.

“I’d say a week. Perhaps sooner,” Cameron said.

“Then we need to move, and fast,” Adrestia said quietly. “Thank you, Cameron. You’ve done excellent work, as always.”

“You’re welcome,” Cameron said.

“Do you happen to know where Skitz spends his time when he’s not at the clinic?” Adrestia asked.

“Yes,” Cameron said. “Most of the time, he’s at his compound east of town. It’s in a remote location. That’s where he keeps his ‘harem’ and does most of his planning.”

“Security?” Eli asked.

“Fifteen guards at his compound. Four at his clinic,” Cameron said. “Two of those are out of commission now.”

“Yes, we saw the report earlier,” Max said with a smile.

“Here’s what we’ll do, then,” Adrestia said. “Normally, Eli and I would handle this ourselves, but as the saying goes, many hands make for light work. I’ll take care of the other patients. I can get in and out of that clinic without anyone knowing. I’ll just have to do it quick.”

“Will you be bringing them back here?” Max asked.

“Yes, temporarily,” Adrestia said. “Eli, I’d like you to take Skitz and Mrs. Eastland into custody. Bring them to my courtroom if you would, please.”

“Alright,” Eli said.

“Cameron and Amos, I’d like the two of you to create a distraction while Eli takes them into custody. Draw out Skitz’s security and take care of them, please,” Adrestia said. She pulled out two rings from her pocket and handed one to Cameron and the other to me. “Use those to transport yourself to Skitz’s compound. Just press the blue stone in the center.”

“Danni, if you don’t mind, I’d like you to stay here and work with James and the others when I bring them back. I’d like you to work up the mother of all class-action lawsuits against Skitz’s clinic and his estate,” Adrestia said.

“His estate?” Danni asked, confused.

“Yes,” Adrestia said. “Trust me, he won’t be able to appear in court himself.”

“I... see,” Danni said. “You know a class-action could take years to get resolved, if ever.”

“I don’t think that will be a problem,” Adrestia said, glancing at Cameron. “Do you, Cameron?”

“No, it won’t,” Cameron said, winking at Danni. I looked at Cameron, then at Danni, confused. Adrestia turned to her husband.

“Max, I’d like you to accompany me to the clinic. The security there will need to be dealt with and the remaining staffers will need to understand that it’s in their best interest to testify against Skitz,” Adrestia said. “And I would appreciate the backup.”

“Of course, dear,” Max said, smiling.

“When are we going to do this?” Eli asked.

“I see no reason to procrastinate. Let’s do it tonight. Is Skitz at his compound, Cameron?” she asked. Cameron’s expression changed for a moment, and his eyes flashed.

“Yes, he’s at his compound,” Cameron said. “In fact, he’s having a nice little orgy with his harem even as we speak.”

“Perfect,” Adrestia said.

“Speaking of which, what do we do with his harem?” Cameron asked.

“Put them to sleep,” Adrestia said. “Not permanently, though. We'll let the locals deal with them. You can handle that, can’t you?”

“Of course,” Cameron said.

“Good,” Adrestia said.

“Excuse me, but I’ll need to run home and grab my Winchester first,” I said. Adrestia nodded her head.

“That won’t be a problem,” she told me. “I’ll show you how to use the ring so you can do that and meet Cameron at Skitz’s estate.”

“Don’t ferget yer badge, pardner,” Eli said.

“I won’t, Grandpa,” I said. The badge he gave me had protected me before when we rescued Danni and our son from a rebel army in Mexico.

“When we’re finished, we’ll meet back here. Now, if there’s no questions, why don’t we go check up on our client,” Adrestia said. We all stood and followed Adrestia to the room where James was being cared for.

“That’s it. Suck it all down like a good little whore,” Edwin growled as he shot his seed into Tina’s willing mouth. He had just pulled his cock out of Lisa’s ass and unceremoniously crammed it into Tina’s mouth after grabbing her by the back of her head. “Too bad your wimp of a husband couldn’t be here to see you suck my dick after it’s been in Lisa’s ass. You love this, don’t you?”

“Mmm,” Tina moaned, unable to speak. She hated doing this at first and nearly got sick to her stomach the first few times he made her do it, but she managed to develop a taste for it after a few months. She especially liked doing it as her invalid husband watched from his hospital bed, unable to do anything about it.

Tina relished seeing the tears flow down James’ face as he watched her suck and fuck Edwin to completion. She would often finish the session by smearing Edwin’s ejaculate on her husband’s face, ensuring he got a nice big glob right in his mouth.

It wasn’t always like that, though. At first, she was horrified at the idea of cheating on her husband, but Edwin’s seduction was masterful – and complete. By now, she would do anything he asked her to do. And she had no regrets whatsoever.

After Edwin pulled his shit-covered dick out of Tina’s mouth, he smeared it on her face, and she wiped it off with her fingers before sucking them clean. The big guard who stood in the corner snickered as he watched the action in front of him.

Suddenly, the temperature in the room dropped. They looked around, confused, as their breath formed a frozen mist in the air.

“What the fuck is going on?” Edwin growled as he rubbed his arms, trying to stay warm.

“Dunno, boss,” the guard said as he shivered.

“Well don’t just stand there, you moron! Find out what happened to the heat,” Edwin barked. The guard headed for the thermostat, but the shadows in the room began to change and shift. As they stood, frozen, they saw a shadowy figure of a man form.

Chills ran up and down their spines as the figure coalesced. The square-jawed shadow man wore western-style clothing, with boots, spurs, and a beaten-up cowboy hat. They saw an old Texas Ranger badge on his shirt and a six-gun in a holster on his hip, and his eyes looked like orbs of fire.

“Who are you? What do you want?” Edwin asked.

“Name’s Peace. Justice O. Peace,” the man said. “And ah’m here ta take you in.” Edwin stepped back as the shadow man moved forward. The guard, who stood frozen in place as the man formed, found his backbone. He pulled his pistol out and stepped forward, ready to shoot the intruder. But the shadowy figure beat him to the punch – literally.

One hand quickly shot out and hit the guard across the face. The large man flew back and crashed against a rock wall before sliding to the floor unconscious, teeth and blood gushing from his mouth. The shadow man produced a long rope from somewhere and came for Edwin.

Before any of them could react, Justice wrapped Edwin and Tina in his rope and cinched it down tight, so neither of them could move. He picked them up with ease, slung them over his shoulder, then looked at Lisa, who was cowering in a corner, hoping the man wouldn’t see her.

“Ah got no beef with you, young lady,” Justice told her, his eyes flashing. “But if ah were you, I’d find another line of work. Good day,” he said, tipping his hat. With that, he vanished from the room, leaving Lisa to wonder what it was she had just witnessed.

I met up with Cameron just outside the large main house as bright lights suddenly turned on, revealing our location. I saw several large men taking positions as they pulled out their firearms. Some of them looked to be armed with AR-15s as well as pistols.

“About time you got here,” Cameron said. Just then, we heard gunfire, and I saw muzzle flashes. I saw several sparks in front of me and realized they were shooting at us, but my badge protected both of us. We quickly split up so as not to be open targets. I got into position and began cycling the action on my Winchester, aiming for the lights and the spots where I saw the muzzle flashes.

I saw a flash of light emanating from Cameron and heard shrieks of pain from the guards shooting at us. I continued cycling my Winchester, sending a hail of bullets toward the guards. There were more cries as my rounds hit their targets. Another flash from Cameron’s eyes caused even more howls of pain. I couldn’t help but wonder just who, or what, this Cameron Drake really was.

We moved closer to the front door, using whatever we could find for cover. When we realized no more shots were being fired, we carefully stepped out and looked around. I spin-cocked the Winchester, causing Cameron to look at me funny.

“What are you, the Rifleman or something?” he asked with a sly smile. I smiled back and shrugged my shoulders. We eased closer to the door and saw it open. We quickly ducked for cover, and that’s when I saw him – Grandpa Eli, with something slung over his shoulder. He stopped, put two fingers to his mouth and let loose with a loud bone-chilling whistle.

Suddenly, we saw a giant black horse appear out of nowhere. I had seen large horses before, but this was the most enormous creature I had ever seen. It had to be at least 30 hands tall -- roughly ten feet. I had never seen Grandpa ride this beast before.

As we watched, Grandpa tossed what he had over his shoulder onto the back of the horse before tying it down. Then he swung into the saddle with ease and looked at us with a grim smile.

“Damn, Grandpa,” I said. “I’ve heard of being tall in the saddle, but this takes the cake.”

“She’s somethin’ else, ain’t she? Yeah, ah like ta take her out for a run ever’ so often,” he said as his eyes flashed.

“Is this for real?” Cameron asked.

“Sure is, son,” Grandpa said. He pulled back on the reins, and the horse raised up on its hind legs. It gave a bloodcurdling neigh as it raised its head, its eyes flashing, its front hooves high in the air above our heads.

“Whoa,” Cameron exclaimed. Grandpa smiled at that.

“Ah’d better get these two varmints to Adrestia’s courtroom. See y’all back at the house,” Grandpa said. He whirled the horse around and nudged its sides. “HEYAHH,” he exclaimed. The horse took off and suddenly vanished from sight.

“Now, THAT’s a horse,” Cameron said. “Is he really your grandfather?”

“Yup,” I said. “My great-great-great-great-grandfather. Served in the Union Army during the Civil War, then in the Texas Rangers. Rode with Captain Bill McDonald.”

“That’s way cool,” Cameron said. “I met him once before but I never knew any of that. C’mon, let’s put some people to sleep.”

Adrestia looked around after she and Max materialized in the hospital room. She saw the gaunt man in his bed and struggled as she held back her emotions. This poor soul was in worse shape than James was when Adrestia liberated him from this hellhole. She looked at the IV in his arm and flipped through his chart.

She produced a ring from a pocket and slipped it on one of the man’s fingers before dematerializing. She and Max visited the four other men in the same condition as the first, collecting their charts before placing a ring on their hands. After she saw the fifth man, she looked at her husband.

“I’m going back to the gallery. Be careful, my love. The nurses will be alerted as soon as these men disappear,” she said as a tear fell down her face. Max took her in his arms.

“I know, sweetheart,” he said. “I’ve got a handle on it. I’ll be right behind you. It’ll be alright.” He looked her in the eyes and saw a mix of pain and anger. “Get justice for these men,” he said. She nodded her head.

“I will, my love. Count on it,” she said. They exchanged a quick kiss, and Max stepped back. Adrestia pressed the central stone on her ring and disappeared, along with the man in the bed. Max knew the others had disappeared as well. Then he heard the alarms as the loss of signal from all five rooms hit the nurse’s station simultaneously.

He stood quietly, pulled his fedora over his eyes, and waited for the door to open. He saw a somewhat large woman in a nurse’s uniform enter the room when it did. She saw the empty bed, then looked at Max, surprised.

“What are you doing in here? How did you get in here?” she asked.

“Go back to your station,” Max said in his “command voice.” The nurse obeyed quietly, feeling compelled to do as Max ordered. When Max went into the central part of the ward, he saw a security man step forward, putting a hand into his jacket to draw his pistol.

“FREEZE,” Max ordered. The security man stopped in mid-stride. “SIT DOWN!” Everyone, including the security man, immediately obeyed. “Pull your gun, slowly, remove the magazine and toss them on the floor,” Max told the guard, who instantly obeyed, not knowing why he felt the strange desire to do as he was told without question. Max turned his attention to the head nurse.

“Here’s what you’re going to do,” he told the nurse. “After I leave, you’re going to call 911. You are going to confess to what you have been doing here with these men – kidnapping, illegal detention, everything. You will leave nothing out. You will also direct police to bring a team from forensics. Your boss has been slowly poisoning all of you. He intended to kill you.” The nurse looked at him, shocked at what she was hearing.

“And most importantly,” Max added, “you will say nothing of my existence. I was never here. Understand?”

“Yes, sir,” the nurse said, nodding her head. Max pressed the central stone on his ring and disappeared. After he was gone, the nurse looked at her phone. She strangely felt the overwhelming urge to dial 911 and reached out with trembling hands.

“You made it,” Adrestia said when Max appeared in their parlor. She wrapped her arms around him and kissed his face. He hugged her back and returned her kisses.

“Of course I made it,” Max said with a smile. “Where are the others?”

“Cameron and Amos are in the other room with Danni and the six men,” she said. “Eli took Skitz and Tina to my courtroom. I’ll be leaving in a minute to deal with them.” They walked into the room and took in the six men lying in their hospital beds. Clara had just served them a bowl of chicken noodle soup and was busy checking their vitals.

“How are they?” Adrestia asked.

“Not good,” Clara said. “It’s a good thing you got them here when you did. Another day and they probably would’ve died.”

“How’s James?” Adrestia asked.

“He is responding well to treatment,” Clara said. “Mrs. Jones has been talking to him since you left.”

“Good,” Adrestia said. “I need to go for a bit, but I’ll be back soon.”

“Very well,” Clara said.

Edwin Skitz and Tina Eastland stood at one end of a long table. Several hooded figures sat on each side of the table, consulting their notes. The man who brought them to this place was seated at the table.

“ALL RISE!” a large man at the tall dais in front of them commanded. Tina and Edwin were already standing. The others stood on command and turned as two tall doors opened.

A woman wearing a long robe stepped through the doors and took her place behind a tall podium high above everyone else. She carried what looked like a double-edged sword in one hand. Tina and Edwin trembled as they watched the woman take her place behind the bench. A man stepped forward and took his place next to Tina and Edwin.

“BE SEATED,” the man commanded after the doors closed with a loud bang. Tina and Edwin looked around but saw no seats were available for them. “Court is in session, the Honorable Judge Adrestia Rhamnousia presiding.”

The man next to Tina and Edwin introduced himself as their defense attorney, John Hultner. Edwin started to ask him something, but John held up his hand.

“Quiet,” he said. “Do not speak unless the Judge addresses you. Do you understand?” Edwin nodded his head and kept quiet. “You two are facing very serious charges. Your eternal destiny is at stake here. How do you wish to plead?”

“Not guilty,” Edwin snarled quietly. John nodded his head.

“Very well,” he said.

The judge consulted a book for some time before addressing the defendants. They couldn’t help but be riveted by her petite form and eyes, burning like fire. Her voice, however, was like thunder.

“Tina Eastland and Edwin Skitz. You have been charged with multiple counts of murder, conspiracy to commit murder, fraud, kidnapping, illegal detention, and assault,” the judge said. “How do you plead?”

“John Hultner for the defense, Your Honor,” John said. “The defendants wish to plead not guilty.” John’s statement drew chuckles from the people around the table, except for the strange cowboy who apprehended them. He simply sat there, a grim expression on his face.

“So noted,” the judge said. “Then let your deeds be made known to one and all,” she added, motioning for everyone to face the wall on the defendants’ left. As they turned to look, the entire wall changed, and they saw Tina and Edwin in a hospital room in front of a bed where her husband lay.

“How...” Tina began, shocked to see her image on the giant screen.

“Quiet!” John commanded. They turned their attention to the giant video screen. They saw Tina on her knees before Edwin, his trousers around his ankles. She had just finished sucking Edwin’s cock to completion and held a considerable amount of his semen in her mouth.

“Now, go feed your husband, my dear,” Edwin said with an evil grin. They watched as she stood, walked to James, who followed her movements with his eyes, then held his nose, forcing him to open his mouth to breathe. She bent over, dumped Edwin’s semen directly into her husband’s mouth, and continued holding his nose until he swallowed.

James tried spitting the foul stuff out of his mouth but couldn’t, as Tina continued holding his nose. She closed his mouth and covered it with her hand as tears fell down James’ face.

“That’s it. Swallow all of it like a good little cuckold,” she cooed. “Maybe if you’re a good boy, I’ll feed you like this every day,” she added as Edwin laughed.
James mentally fought down the waves of nausea to keep from vomiting and possibly smothering in the bastard's slimy seed. But the humiliation wasn’t over. Edwin walked to the side of James’ bed and urinated on his face.

“Here’s something to help wash that down, James, old boy,” Edwin sneered. “Clean him up,” Edwin told Tina. The video stopped at that point, and Adrestia spoke to Edwin.

“You are supposed to be a doctor. A healer. Someone who alleviates pain,” Adrestia said.

“I performed surgery on his brain,” Edwin declared. “He would’ve died if I hadn’t worked on him.”

“SILENCE!” Adrestia commanded, her eyes flashing brightly. At that moment, Edwin found he couldn’t speak. He tried opening his mouth but could not, as his lips were sealed shut. His eyes grew wide as he tried to open his mouth.

“Yes, you performed surgery on him, but then you used your knowledge to keep him in a catatonic state to turn his wife against him,” Adrestia said. “Then you billed his insurance company so you could profit off of the pain YOU caused him.

“There’s more. Mr. Eastland was not your first victim. There have been many others over the years,” Adrestia added. Faces of numerous men flashed on the giant video screen. “Men you used and abused. And when they were no longer of any use to you, you disposed of them. You even denied them a decent burial.

“And let’s not forget the women whose lives you completely destroyed. First you drugged them, then you used them for your sick perversions. And once you were through with them, you either tossed them to the street to die, alone and miserable, or you sold them into slavery,” Adrestia added.

“And what about the people who work for you? The ones who dedicated themselves to you and supposedly looked after your victims? What did you plan for them? You planned to murder them using compounds you placed in their water or their coffee.” Adrestia leaned forward, her eyes burning even brighter.

“You, sir, are the embodiment of all that is evil. This court finds you guilty of all charges. Death would not be sufficient for your transgressions. Therefore, I sentence you to suffer. As you have done to others, so shall it be done to you. FOR ALL TIME,” Adrestia boomed.

“Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.” The words continued to echo off the chamber walls, and Edwin looked around, frightened. The hooded figures turned their faces toward him, and he saw a mixture of sadness and anger. Suddenly, the floor opened up under him, and he fell, screaming.

The figures turned back to the giant monitor on the wall. They saw Edwin tied down to a hard wooden plank as enormous beings with grotesque features and long jagged teeth urinated on him non-stop. Edwin’s mouth was still sealed shut, and his eyes were opened wide as the beings laughed at his misery. Tina shuddered to think she would be next.

“And you, Tina Eastland,” Adrestia said. She noticed John had raised his hand and turned her attention to him. “Yes, Mr. Hultner?”

“Your Honor, I have filed Form 9834510-stroke-17A, revision 5 in regard to the case against Mrs. Eastland,” John said.

“Yes, Mr. Hultner, I see that here. Thank you,” Adrestia said, picking up a piece of paper. She read it before turning to Tina. “Tina Eastland, this court finds you guilty of grievous acts against your husband, including your knowledge of Dr. Skitz’s plan to murder him.

“Under the circumstances, your crimes would carry an immediate death penalty. However, I am temporarily suspending your sentence. I do not believe in making the innocent suffer,” Adrestia added, causing Tina to look at her in confusion.

“Yes, you are currently with child. Dr. Skitz’s child, to be precise. While you are guilty of all charges against you, your child is not. Therefore, I am giving you a reprieve. How long that reprieve lasts is entirely up to you. I have no doubt your husband will seek a divorce, and local law enforcement may very well wish to have a few words with you regarding Dr. Skitz and his activities.

“But that does not mean you have escaped my justice,” Adrestia added sternly. “In fact, you may find that living with the consequences of your actions will be far more difficult than dealing with the fate I had originally planned for you.” Tina gulped when she heard that. Adrestia continued.


"Without wading into the great 'Nature vs. Nurture' debate, this court observes that your child potentially carries some very odious genes. It is up to you to raise him well so that he does not follow his biological father's dark path. Do I make myself clear?"


Yes, Your Honor,” Tina said quietly.

“Good. Know this, Tina Eastland. I will be watching you. Every action, every word that escapes your mouth, every thought that runs through your head. Never mistake my mercy for weakness. Trust me, you DO NOT want to appear in my courtroom again. Do you understand what I am telling you?”

“Y... Yes, Your Honor,” Tina stammered. Adrestia turned to Eli.

“Ranger, would you kindly escort the defendant back to the gallery, please?” she asked. Eli knew what Adrestia had in mind.

“Yes, Your Honor,” Eli said.

“Very well,” Adrestia said. “Court is adjourned.” She banged her gavel and left the bench as everyone stood. Eli turned to Tina.

“Let’s go, ma’am,” he said quietly. A subdued Tina followed him out of the courtroom.

“Who are all these people?” Tina asked as she looked at all the portraits on the wood-paneled walls. There were rows upon rows of portraits showing people from all walks of life, and they were all in distress, as though the final moments of their lives were captured for posterity.

One portrait showed a woman falling into the giant maw of a shark. Another showed a woman as she fell from a high balcony. One portrait showed three women chained to a rock overlooking a large body of water. One showed three people, one woman and two men, hanging by the neck over a sea of fire. There were many more.

“Cheaters,” Eli said. “Like you.” Tina looked at him, shocked.


How many...”


Thousands,” Eli said. “Thousands upon thousands,” he added, nodding at the seemingly endless rows of portraits that lined the gallery.

“Are they...”

“Dead?” Eli asked, finishing her question. “No. They will spend eternity here, in these portraits, forever living out the final moments of their lives. It would be better for them if they were dead. And you could end up here with ’em. Is that what you want?”

“No,” Tina stammered, tears falling from her eyes. “That judge... she did all this?”

“Yep,” Eli said. “Been at it since the beginning of human history. She’s seen and heard it all. Do you understand now that you’ve been given a second chance?” Tina nodded her head.

“Yes, I do,” she said. “And I swear I’ll do my best.”

“I hope so, miss. For your sake,” Eli said. “And the sake of the child you’re now carrying.”

“Please, can we get out of here? This place gives me the creeps,” she said. Eli understood that. He had seen this gallery many times and often felt the same way. Eli nodded his head and led her out of the gallery.

“How is he?” Eli asked when he and Tina walked into the large room transformed into a makeshift ward for the six men rescued from Skitz’s clinic.

“He’s getting better,” Danni said. “It’s a slow process, but at least he’s able to speak now. Who is this?” she asked, nodding at Tina.

“Eastland’s wife,” Eli said.

“You mean, soon-to-be ex-wife,” Danni said, her eyes flashing with anger.

“Yes,” Eli said. Angry, Danni walked up to Tina and slapped her hard across the face.

“What kind of a monster are you?” Danni shouted. Tina held her hand to her face, now red from Danni’s slap.

“I... I’m sorry,” Tina said. “You don’t know how powerful and persuasive Edwin could be. I just wanted to apologize to James. Please.”

“I’ll pass it on,” Danni said. “He doesn’t want to see you. Ever again.”

“I understand,” a contrite Tina said.

“He’ll be filing divorce papers against you as soon as possible,” Danni said. “If I were you, I wouldn’t fight it.”

“Please tell him I won’t,” Tina said. “I’ve hurt him enough.”

“I think you should leave now,” Danni said. Tina nodded her head. “I understand Skitz had some apartments for his’ harem.’ I think she should be taken to one of them,” Danni told Eli. “Mr. Eastland doesn’t want her in his house, and I’ve already contacted Judge Stone about a restraining order.”

“You know about those apartments?” Eli asked Tina, who nodded her head in response.

“Yes, I do,” she said. “I’ll stay in one of those for now.”

“Alright. Tell me where it is and I’ll take ya there,” Eli said. Tina pulled out a card with an address and gave it to Eli. He looked at it and nodded his head. “Let’s go,” he said.

Eli watched as Tina walked around the apartment a few moments later, making sure her stuff was still there. After Edwin began his seduction, she moved much of her clothing and toiletries.

“You gonna be alright here?” Eli asked.

“Yes,” Tina said quietly. “There’s another girl who lives here, so I won’t be alone.” She turned to look at Eli. “Tell me something, Ranger. That judge... Did she really mean everything she said?”

“Absolutely,” Eli told her. “If ah were you, ah’d stay on the straight and narrow. That is, if ya wanna stay alive
and want yer soul to have any chance o' peace," Eli said “Ya got another person ta think about now besides yerself.”

“I guess you’re right. Who are you? Really?” Tina asked.

“Name’s Peace. Justice O. Peace. Mah friends call me Eli,” he said.

“Do you think we could ever be friends?” she asked. Eli smiled.

“That remains ta be seen, miss,” Eli said. “It’s all up to you.” Tina nodded her head. “Reckon ah’d best be getting’ back,” Eli said. “You take care of yerself, and that young’un.”

“I will. I promise,” Tina said. Eli tipped his hat and disappeared, leaving Tina wondering what she had just witnessed.

Epilogue – Six weeks later:

The weeks following the apprehension of Edwin Skitz and Tina Eastland were busy ones. A nationwide manhunt was on for Skitz, who, news reports said, seemed to disappear into thin air without a trace.

Law enforcement authorities were stunned at the level of details voluntarily given to them by many staffers at Skitz’s private clinic. As a result, the clinic was shut down, and all the patients were moved to other facilities.

Tina and the others turned state’s evidence and managed to get plea deals to keep them out of prison. Tina accepted a suspended sentence for her activities as part of her deal.

James and the other five men were improving, but they had a long road ahead of them. Max and Adrestia somehow managed to get them placed into a rehabilitation facility once they were strong enough to be moved safely.

The men filed divorce papers citing adultery and cruelty. A good friend of Danni’s, Adrienne Hawkins, took the cases at a discounted rate. Tina received a strict restraining order when she was served. After Adrestia spoke with James and Adrienne, he agreed to give her a lump sum to help keep her nose above water and out
of the sex trades and other illegal and immoral ways of making ends meet.Tina signed the papers immediately and returned them, not wanting to evoke Adrestia’s ire.

I spent some time with Cameron and met his family. It was a bit odd seeing an entire family with those strange eyes. I asked Cameron about all that, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around everything he told me. All I can say is I’m glad he’s on our side...

All that ran through my head as I sat at the edge of the large pond, watching the kids fish with Danni and Grandma Lizzy. Danni and I rode over with the kids on our horses, and Grandpa rode in on his large steed, with Grandma Lizzy sitting on the horse behind him. Bill and Kate Williams – Danni’s parents – liked to keep the pond stocked with catfish. I looked and saw Grandpa staring wistfully over the pond.

“Penny for your thoughts,” I said. He blinked his eyes and looked at me.

“Sorry, was jes’ thinking about the day ah took yer great-uncle Obadiah out a-fishin’,” he said. “It was a day pretty much like this one. Had a real blast,” he added with a smile.

“Kids sure seem to be enjoying themselves,” I said. Grandpa looked over and nodded his head.

“Sure are,” he said. Just then, little Elizabeth held up a catfish.

“Look, Grandpa! I caught a fish,” she squealed with a smile.

“You sure did, pumpkin,” he said as we waved and smiled. “That’s a mighty big one, too.” He laughed and turned to me. “Relish this time with ’em while ya can, son. These are the kinda memories they’ll carry the rest of their lives. And longer.”

“They sure are,” I said, recalling something I read once
that said memories are the only things we take with us into the afterlife.

“By the way, you never did tell me about this Justice League stuff,” Grandpa said. I pulled out my phone and, seeing I had a pretty good signal, opened my browser and showed him a website about the cartoon characters. His brow furrowed as he looked at the pictures.

“Be a cold day in a hot place before ah’d wear somethin’ like that. You really read that when you was a kid?” he asked.

“Sure did,” I said. “Dad used to as well when he was younger.”

“Yer Grandpa Greg let him read that stuff?” Grandpa asked.

“Yep. In fact, the first Superman comic came out in 1939,” I said.

“Well, ah’m gonna have ta talk with that boy the next time ah see him,” Grandpa said with a smile.

“Speaking of Grandpa Greg,” I said, pulling a small box out of my jean pocket. “You knew what he was going to fly into when you gave him that crucifix, didn’t you?” I asked. Grandpa nodded his head briefly.

“Ah had a pretty good idea,” he said quietly.

“You didn’t warn him?” I asked.

“Ah gave him all the warning ah was allowed to, son,” he said. “There’s jes’ some things a feller’s not supposed to know in advance.”

“He had it pretty rough in that war, didn’t he?” I asked.

“Sure did, son,” Grandpa said. “But I’ll tell you like ah tol’ him. No matter where you go, no matter what yer facing, justice is always riding with ya. Never forget that, son.”

“I won’t, Grandpa,” I said. He smiled as he looked at me. Then we heard a man’s voice behind us.

“Well, here y’all are,” I heard Bill say. He and Kate rode up to the pond on their horses, stopped, and climbed off. I saw Kate pull a picnic basket off the back of her horse. “How’s the fishin’?” Bill asked.

“Pretty good so far,” I said, standing up. Grandpa stood with me and shook Bill’s hand. Bill had met Grandpa before, but he didn’t know the whole story.

“Good to see you again, Eli,” Bill said. “That’s a mighty big horse you got over there. How tall is that thing?”

“Ah reckon about 30 hands,” Grandpa said. Bill shook his head as he let out a whistle. “Gentle as a kitten, though. Ah like to take her out now and then.”

“Grandpa! Grandpa,” we heard little Elizabeth shout as she came running to us with a catfish on a stringer. “Look, Grandpa, I caught a fish!”

“Why you sure did,” Bill said, kneeling down before her. “And that’s a big one, too. You want me to show you how to clean it?” he asked. “If you don’t mind, that is, Amos,” he said, looking at me.

“Go for it,” I said.

“Yes, please,” Elizabeth squealed. Bill walked with her to the small campfire we made and showed Elizabeth how to clean the fish. We all gathered our fish and headed for the campfire. After we cleaned the fish, Danni and Grandma Lizzy cooked it over the fire. Kate opened the basket and pulled out a container of potato salad. We enjoyed a family meal right there next to the pond.

We spent some time eating and getting caught up. It was a beautiful day for a family outing, and I couldn’t help but feel like the luckiest man alive to have such a family. By the time we finished, I was stuffed and ready for a quiet evening at home.

“Listen, I know you two have been up to yer ass in alligators lately, so if you want, the kids can stay with us overnight while you two … reconnect,” Bill said, giving Kate a knowing glance.

“Well, only if it’s not too much trouble,” Danni said. “I know we could sure use a break.”

“Alright, then. Let’s break camp and head out,” Bill said. “You kids wanna spend the night with us? We got ice cream and cake, if you want.”

“Yes!” they both shouted.

“You’re spoiling them, you know that?” I asked Bill. He smiled back as he responded.

“Ain’t that what grandparents are for?” he asked, causing us all to laugh. We got everything cleaned up and packed on our horses and watched as Bill and Kate rode off with the kids, who waved at us as they left. After they were out of sight, Grandpa and Grandma turned to us and hugged us.

“This was a wonderful day,” Grandma said. “Thank you for letting us share it with you and the kids.”

“Any time, Grandma,” I said. “It sure was nice seeing you again.” We said our goodbyes and watched as Grandpa swung up onto his massive horse. Then he lifted Grandma up and placed her in front of him, side-saddle.

“Are you ready, my dear?” he asked.

“I’m always ready, my love,” she said. Grandpa pulled on the reins and nudged the horse with his boots.

“HEYAHH,” he shouted as he spurred the horse. The giant, muscular beast disappeared in a cloud of dust and smoke. A few moments later, we heard Grandma’s voice.

“Oh, Eli, you are so naughty,” she said.

“Heh, heh, heh,” we heard Grandpa laugh in response. I took Danni’s hand in mine.

“Just think, dear. That could be us in 160 years,” I said. Danni chuckled at that.

“I like the sound of that,” she said, kissing me on the lips while rubbing my crotch.

“Danni, you are so naughty,” I said.

“Only with you, cowboy,” she whispered as she laughed...



Fade to black...




There are ties to several stories here:


  1. The program “Breaking Point” is a reference to my story, “Breaking Point 01: Pilot.”

  2. Adrestia Rhamnousia is featured in several of my stories, including the “Cheater's Gallery” series. She also plays a central role in my e-book, “Justice Rides.”

  3. Max Burnage was first featured in “Max Burnage Ep. 01: Cheater's Beware.” Adrestia also plays a prominent role in that story. Eli and Amos appear as well.

  4. Cameron Drake first appeared in “Flash 01: Out of the Blue.” Both Max and Adrestia make an appearance in that series.

  5. Cameron, Adrestia and Eli also appear in “Carol's Christmas.”

  6. Greg's departure from Indianapolis in 1941, Eli's fishing trip with Obadiah, and his time with the Texas Rangers are featured in my e-book, “Justice Rides.”

  7. Adrestia is also a main character in my ebooks, “The Cursed Phallus of Baalak-Ra” and “Son of Baalak.”






Submitted: May 22, 2023

© Copyright 2023 Saddletramp1956. All rights reserved.

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