Edward Owen – Author

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Ray Bradbury Challenge #44- Olivia’s Story

#44 Olivia’s Story



“It’s his birthday today,” she said. “He would have been fifty-three.”

Her dark brown hair, pulled back in its customary pony tail, flipped as though agitated while she scanned the room.

“You can relax here,” he said. “Give the swivel a break and have some wine.”

She let out a sigh and reached for the glass.

“Sorry, old habits.”

He chuckled. “Twenty-four years is hardly enough time to have ‘old’ habits, Liv.”

Olivia Jordan was ‘Liv’ to only a handful of people close to her. At the top of the list was Napoleon Owen, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy, Retired; her dinner companion and grandfather.

“Yeah? How many operatives do you know that started training when they were eight? He gave me a gun for my tenth birthday. Not a bike or a video game. A Beretta M-9. I was shooting a two inch cluster at thirty yards before I started puberty.”

Olivia jerked the glass off the table, drained its contents and slammed it down.

“He was trying to protect you. Can you blame him?”

“Every day. Her blood is on his hands and nothing will change that fact. I need a real drink.”

Napoleon waved to the server.

“A bottle of Jack Daniels and two shot glasses, please.”

He turned back to his granddaughter.

“No, you can’t undo the past, but you can do something about the future.”

“Nappy, please tell me this isn’t the ‘find a man and settle down’ speech. I think Aunt Jo’s already gone platinum with that one.”

His laughter boomed through the restaurant. “What a colossal waste of time and whiskey that would be. Josephine means well but she’s not the brightest bulb on the tree. Does she even know you own a gun? Never mind. Anyway, what I’m talking about is the future of the United States. Russell and I had an interesting discussion over poker last week. That’s why I asked you to dinner.”

The waiter arrived with their ordered whiskey and Olivia had two shots poured before the man left the table.

“By Russell you are referring to Russell Thomas, current resident of the White House? Something tells me I’m going to need more than one of these.”

Olivia tossed the drink back and refilled the glass. She slid the other across the tablecloth.

“You’re already behind one.”

Napoleon drained the brown liquid and placed the glass in front of him.

“Yes, President Thomas. Things aren’t going well for our side. 9/11 caught us with our pants down and now every two bit thug with a bomb thinks he can have his way with us. It’s getting harder to deal with all the threats against our country.”

“Yeah, well isn’t that the job of the Foster Grant crowd? NSA, FBI, CIA, Thomas has a whole alphabet soup of meat-heads who are supposed to keep us Americans safe in our beds at night.”

Olivia drained another drink and sat back with her arms crossed in front of her.

“You’re right. We’ve got the best intelligence agencies money can buy. The problem is, the world has become much too small and everyone is watching everything we do. On top of that, these kids come out of Langley and Quantico and you can practically smell the government on them. They’re categorized, registered in a database and on the government payroll with a three thousand page ops manual stuffed in their back pocket. Our enemies have changed the rules of engagement and we aren’t keeping pace.”

“I know I’m going to regret asking this, but what am I supposed to do about it?” Olivia said.

“We need eyes and ears our enemies don’t know about. And if things go south, boots on the ground that can do what needs to be done, regardless.”

Olivia had her next drink halfway to her mouth and set it back down on the table.

“You’re serious?”

“As a bullet to the brain. You put together the team. I have some suggestions but you have the final say so.”

Olivia retrieved her drink and stared at it for a moment before sending it to join its bottle-mates.

“I want double my current rate. I assume you have some shell company set up already?”

“On paper you’ll continue working in executive protection. You’ll even have clients when it’s necessary to establish a cover. Your carry permit and other details will attract less attention that way.”

“One more thing.” Olivia filled the shot glass and downed it.

“What’s that?”

“I want all women on the team. None of your testosterone-driven knuckle dragging SEALs strutting around and stinking up the place.”

Nappy let out a chuckle. “Point taken. I will ask you to make a small concession on that, however. I already have your military liaison chosen. Young hotshot lieutenant looking to make a name for himself.”

“Dammit, Nappy! That’s just what I’m talking about. First he’s a liaison…” Olivia put her fingers in the air to mimic quotation marks. “… and the next thing you know he’s trying to run things. No deal.”

She crossed her arms over her chest and turned away.

“It’s James.”

Olivia turned and glared across the table.

“No shit?”

“No shit. The whole team at the ready but only if you call them in. You still make the calls in the field.”

“In the field? What does that mean?”

Napoleon tipped the whiskey into his glass and swigged it down.

“It means that someone has to have your back on the outside. It means that a mission might get scrubbed and you won’t always get to make that decision. If it’s any consolation, you still get paid.”

Olivia stretched out her arms, laced her fingers and cracked her knuckles.

“You sure Mr. Gung-Ho SEAL boy is okay with all this?”

“Yeah, I’m sure,” said Nappy. “He’s the one that suggested you run the team.”

“Really? Then I guess I’m in.” Olivia tipped her glass against Nappy’s and downed her drink.

Ray Bradbury Challenge #43 – Raven’s Story

Raven’s Story



Delta-three-niner to command, I have a clear shot at target Bravo-Six,” she said into her mic.

Command, Delta-three-niner you are clear to go hot, repeat, go weapons hot,” the reply sounded in her headphones.

She flipped the safety out of the way and the targeting sights on her heads-up display blinked from red to green. With the softness of a lover’s caress she squeezed the trigger. Her chopper lurched and the missile streaked toward the horizon. The explosion lit up the early desert morning, causing Raven’s eye-shield to go dark against the glare. She dropped her Apache helicopter to less than a hundred feet and streaked over the sand taking the same course as the missile. The building was in smoking ruins. Another enemy installation taken down. Bodies littered the tarmac, some still smoking. One of them was holding something. She swung around for a closer look and her blood went cold –

Raven sat bolt upright in her bed, sweat soaking her clothes and bedding even with the cool fall temperature. The dream came every night despite the pills, booze and random sex partners; all the chemicals and guilt in the world were no match for her Creole libido.

It had been a sanctioned target with solid intel. Collateral damage was part of war. She was following orders.

None of the platitudes helped either. Something had gone horribly wrong and regardless of what anyone said, she pulled the trigger, the blood was on her hands.

Her cellphone blinked the time: 03:35. It was unlikely that sleep would come and she had no desire to suffer through the dream again at any rate. Spending the night alone meant no awkward explanations for her insomnia and no embarrassing walk of shame for whichever guy she had dragged home from the bar.

Win-win as far as I’m concerned, she thought as she tromped into the kitchen.

The half-empty bottle of rum sat on the counter as both accomplice and accuser. Cotton mouth and a dull throbbing in the back of her head steered her to the fridge and the cold water inside. She drained half a bottle and pulled a box of Aleve from the drawer. Four tablets went down with the rest of the water.

Aleve, recommended by murdering, alcoholic chopper jockeys the world over.

Witty, but unlikely to boost sales of the pain reliever. The box landed in the drawer and she slammed it shut. The rum beckoned but she ignored it and grabbed more water.

“Is this seat taken?” she muttered into the darkness before plopping down on the kitchen chair with its back turned against the table.

Does drinking alone count if you’re drinking water?

The thought didn’t even depress her. Depression implied that she felt something. In truth, she was devoid of any feelings at all. Her weekly sessions with the base shrink had been a waste of time. He kept asking her how she felt. Empty and dead inside were apparently not the right answers. The man was an idiot. Raven was pretty sure she could take him in a fight and he wouldn’t last five minutes in her bed. That placed him in the useless category as far as she was concerned.

The feeble glow from the streetlamp bathed her kitchen table in a soft, yellow light. A stack of unopened mail, two dirty coffee cups and a three day old pizza box crouched like nocturnal creatures caught far away from the safety of the shadows. Amid the clutter was a small, black box. Raven flipped open the top and stared at the medal inside.

For Bravery in Battle. The words were inscribed across the back. Her intention had been to throw it in the trash. Yesterday. And the day before that. And every day for the last three weeks since she had arrived Stateside. It should read For Murder Most Foul. Then they could call it the Hamlet instead of the Medal of Honor. That would be fitting and keeping it would make some twisted kind of sense. She snapped the lid shut and shoved the box across the table. It careened between the coffee cups and came to rest against the pizza box.

“Gooooooooaaaaaaaaaalllllllll!” she said making a halfhearted attempt to raise her arms above her shoulders. She drained the second water bottle and stared at the rum. Maybe it would make her sleep this time. Maybe the dream wouldn’t come. Maybe monkeys would fly out of her ass and clean the apartment. Equal chance as far as she was concerned.


… Delta-three-niner you are clear to go hot, repeat, go weapons hot – direct hit – building destroyed – body on the tarmac – holding something – the chopper swung around and she hit the spotlight. There were some odd fixtures – a swingset? And a body with small hands – one of them was holding a doll.

Raven jerked her head up from the table, a strangled cry forcing its way out of her throat.

An elementary school full of kids. The enemy had built a radar installation on top of the school. Their missiles had taken out a dozen of our fighters and three transports at the cost of almost sixty American lives. My missile took out the radar, the lives of twenty-seven children and three teachers. Not one military person had been in the building. The cowards had hid in an underground bunker, safe from the death that Lt. Raven Reneau rained down from on high. And the U.S. Marine Corps gave me a medal. It doesn’t get much more fucked up than that.


Raven shielded her eyes from the glare coming off the highway. A late model sports car pulled up beside her. She opened the passenger door.

“You sure about this?” said the driver.

“Yep,” she replied as she threw her duffel in the back seat and climbed in. The tires squealed as the driver pointed the car down the road. Raven didn’t even look back at the base fading in the distance.

Ray Bradbury Challenge #42- Kat’s Story Part 3

Kat’s Story Part 3


Kat “The Gat” McIntyre

She didn’t have to wait long. Denny rushed out of the theater, his dark features knotted up in a murderous scowl. His voice echoed from the restroom into the lobby.

“I’m gonna kill that fucking Irish bitch!”

Kat slipped from behind the video game and made a beeline for the men’s room. Two of the other boys came out of the theater as she reached the door.

“Denny! She’s out here,” one of them called.

Kat swung the bat as Denny strode out the door. He deflected the blow with his arm and pulled his knife from his back pocket.

“I’mna stuff that bat so far up yer twat it’ll knock yer teeth out,” he said.

“Pretty tough talk seein’ as yer mates have all turned tail on ya.”

Denny swiped with the blade and Kat blocked it with the bat. She caught him in the shin with the toe of her boot. He howled with pain and rage, lunging at her, arm extended. She brought the bat down and connected with his wrist, sending the knife clattering to the floor. Before he could recover she swung again, this time hitting him in the ribs. The thud of the bat against bone was punctuated by Denny’s screaming. He flailed with a wild swing, his fist catching her in the jaw. Kat stumbled backwards and Denny hit her with a shot that bloodied her nose.

“Fuck ye wanker,” Kat hissed as she wiped the blood from her face. She faked with the bat and launched a vicious kick that connected with his crotch. Denny dropped to his knees and vomited onto the carpet. Without hesitation, Kat swung full force, the bat slamming into the side of his skull with an ear splitting crack. Denny Martin went into a coma from blunt force trauma to the skull and never recovered.


The magistrate regarded her with a steely gaze that made her squirm.

“Ms. McIntyre, you have been charged with five counts of aggravated assault and two counts of attempted murder. The only two things in your favor at the moment are your age and the witnesses who corroborated the attack you suffered at the hands of these five young men.”

The court appointed barrister put his hand on her arm as a reminder that she keep her mouth shut.

“Therefore, I am remanding you to Her Majesty’s Army for a period of not less than four years. Realize that you are still a ward of this court and on probation for the next eighteen months. If your behavior is anything less than exemplary, I will see you in prison. Do you understand the terms of your sentence?”

The barrister nodded and Kat stood. “Yes, your honor.”


Kat trudged down the hall with the line of new recruits. Twenty three men and seven women made up the squad to which she had been assigned. The uniform itched and reeked of chemical cleaner. The squad filed into an open room with mats on the floor. The biggest man Kat had ever seen stood at the front of the room at parade rest.

“Nubes, listen up,” the man barked. “My name is Master Sargent Tomlinson. It is my job to teach you how to not die in combat. You will pair up with a partner. You will listen to me and follow my instructions.”

The squad leader marched down the line and matched each member with the person next to them. Kat’s partner was a young man with clipped blond hair, broad shoulders and a ruddy complexion. His name tag read “Donner” and he smirked as he sized her up.

“Your body is a weapon that you carry at all times,” said the Master Sargent. “Your ability to correctly use it as such will determine your chances of survival on the battlefield.”

Two men who had been in the back of the room came forward and demonstrated a basic throw as the Master Sargent explained the maneuver.

“This line, you will attack your partner as if you had a knife. This side will defend. Go!”

Kat rushed toward Donner. He dropped his shoulder and Kat flew over him and landed on her back, the breath knocked out of her. The Sargent called for them to trade places.

Donner came at her and she dropped her shoulder. He brought his knee up and caught her in the ribs, knocking her to the ground.

“Sorry, Princess,” Donner said under his breath. “Maybe you should be in the mess hall so you don’t get hurt.”

“McIntyre, get up and do the move again,” the Sargent said.

Kat squared off against Donner and he rushed at her. She dropped her shoulder and when he raised his knee she sidestepped and caught him in the groin with her elbow. He dropped toward her and she sent him to the mat on his back. He writhed in pain holding his hands between his legs. Kat knelt down and said “I’m not yer princess and don’t ya forget it, boy-o.” She started to walk away and turned back to the fallen man. “Yeah, you might want to try the mess hall so you don’t get hurt.”



Discharge Record

Name: Katherine Anne McIntyre

Service Number: A56-45Y9867

Disposition: Dishonorable Discharge

Charges: Conduct unbecoming Sect. 653.34

Drunk and disorderly Sect. 656.82

Assaulting an officer Sect. 492.13


Katherine Anne McIntyre is hereby stripped of all rank, honors and entitlements bestowed upon a member of Her Majesty’s Army. A sentence of ninety days incarceration to be served prior to discharge.