Sam I Am Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘2011

Joplin Tornado Aftermath Reconstruction Underway Photos

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Joplin Tornado Aftermath

Reconstruction Underway Photos

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Sunday, May 22, 20 11 – An EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, Missouri and left 154 people dead.and more than 900 injured. Some reports cite that the EF-5 tornado ranged from one half to three quarters of a mile in length as it moved through the city of 50,150 citizens and left a path of destruction that has been reported as 16 to 22 miles in length with one third of the city destroyed.

As of Friday, June 17, 2011, people in southwest Missouri are still talking about the devastating tornado that reportedly has, “at least two semi tractor trailer trucks leaving every minute through the day to simply haul away all the debris left by the tornado.” Friday afternoon, Christy, my wife and I had the opportunity to see the unimaginable destruction.

Reconstruction Underway - Joplin, Missouri - The May 22, 2011 tornado that stuck Joplin , Missouri is currently credited with killing 154 people and destorying at least one third of this major metropolitan southwest Missouri city. Friday, June 17, 2011, when this photograph was taken, Joplin citizens were still working to clear away the rubble and city crews could be seen working to clear away the massive mountains of debris. This American flag is only one of many that waves from within the barren landscape of destruction. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

Back Story

Friday, June 17, 2011 – Ken Sexton and my cousin, Donna, invited my wife, Christy, and I to go with them on an afternoon road trip. Donna had mentioned that we would drive through Joplin to show us the destruction from the Joplin Tornado.

Ken and Donna were two of the many people who had volunteered time on a couple of weekends to help the Joplin survivors to help clear away the construction rubble left by the deadly tornado.

I tossed the camera bag in the car. Ken drove. Donna explained the devastation that they had witnessed only a few days after the tornado. Christy and I listened. I took photographs of the devastation.

Photographic Procedure

We drove through Joplin. While Ken drove, I shot photos. The photos were shot by me using a Canon EOS 40D digital camera. Since the vehicle was moving there is obvious picture blur and camera shake in some of the photographs which were shot through the vehicle windows.

I sat on the left side of the vehicle and my wife, Christy, sat on the right side. I aimed the camera at virtually all the windows at some point to take a photograph. All of the photos were shot by me from inside the moving vehicle.

Since I alternated between shooting out the right and left side windows as well as some shots taken through the windshield, essentially these photos are a series of sequence shots.

Photographic Processing

Back home in Stone County, Missouri, I downloaded the photographs to my laptop to examine. I used the programs, Irfanview and Photoscape to edit the photos. I had shot 133 photos. Some were automatically deleted because of motion blur and camera shake. Since I approach every photography situation like a news photographer, I looked at the information in each photo. The actual shooting situation meant I had to make quick decisions of what to shoot and what to pass on. One deleted photo had a pickup passing through the photo as I clicked the shutter.

Editorial Considerations

As a military newspaper editor, I would always look at a photo for quality and to make sure it supported the story.

In this situation, as the writer, photographer and editor of my personal blog, I wanted photographs that showed not only the obvious destruction, but, also the cleanup underway in the aftermath of the Joplin Tornado to post to my blog.

While I don’t have the financial and human resources of the “Washington Post, “ “New York Times.” or “Time” magazine, I believe, Uncle Sam drove home those basic journalism ethics about the importance of news photos.

None of these photographs are set up, staged or posed. The photographs here are what was captured by the camera. Editing was done on a case by case basis to eliminate distracting elements from the photo or to lighten the photo to keep it from becoming a silhouette. Some photos were left “full frame” and not edited.

Radical Cropped Photos

Some of these photos, I had to “radically crop” to eliminate distracting elements like the outline of the vehicle window and save the basic photo. Since the later photos were shot as evening was approaching, I used Photoscape’s 100 percent Backlight function to add light to the foreground of the photo.

Example Photo - In this photo, my wife, Christy Warren points at some of the destruction from the Joplin Tornado of Sunday, May 22, 2011. Since all of my photos of the aftermath of the Joplin Tornado were shot from a moving vehicle, I had to edit out any elements that might be distracting to the overall photo like the natural framing of the automobile window. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr,

Some of the photos are essentially “full frame” because I did not see any distracting elements in the photo. While Backlight might of improved the visual quality of a couple of these photos, I chose not to use that function to pass on the actual condition of the afternoon sky.

One photo of a building with an American flag was almost a silhouette and contained an obvious solar lens flare at the edge of the photo. I did not crop out the lens flare because I had shot the photo through a car window. I did use Photoscape’s Contrast Enhancement and 100 percent Backlight function to keep the photo from becoming a silhouette.

I held back on the urge to edit photos. The majority of the editing was to crop out the natural framing of the subject by the moving automobile window.

Criticism, Critique, Comments Appreciated

I’m an old retired military newsman, who loves to write and shoot photos. If the photos that I have published in my blog serve to increase the awareness of students, teachers, civilian officials and people in the public about the real threat of tornadoes and that knowledge helps to save lives, then, these photos have succeeded in presenting the information.

People who wish to criticize, critique or comment on any of the photos are welcome to use the comment form on my blog. I’m one of those people who usually gets tons of email spam and advertisements from mindless Internet programming robots, so usually I just periodically delete emails without reading them.

I do read and usually respond to comments on my blog because I like to hear from readers, who take the time to read the articles and look at the photos on my blog. To my readers, I say Thank you for taking the time to read the articles and look at the photos.

Foto Fact File

Not everyone will be able to visit Joplin, Missouri and look at the destruction with their own two eyes. I would like to think the readers of my blog will have the opportunity to look at these pictures and get a sense of the destruction for themselves. Readers, I would hope will also notice that the citizens of Joplin, Missouri are rebuilding despite the immense level of destruction.

This building was one of the first signs of destruction by the Joplin Tornado of May 22, 2011 that we noticed as we entered into Joplin. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

These photos represent the first twenty of the more than 100 photographs of the Joplin Tornado damage seen on June 17, 2011.  Once I have all the photographs finished then I will post a gallery or a slideshow of the photographs of the damage.


Wikipedia 2011 Joplin Tornado

Wikipedia Joplin, Missouri,_Missouri




Sam I Am Blog Newsflash Update !!!  —

Thursday, June 23,2011—-

GALENA, MISSOURI — I now have more than one hundred photo of the cleanup and reconstruction underway in Joplin, Missouri after the May 22 EF-5 Tornado.

St. John's Mercy Hospital - Joplin, Missouri - The night that the tornado hit Joplin, Missouri, my wife, Christy and I were listening to the storm coverage on KTTS-FM, broadcasting out of Springfield, Missouri, in Greene County. In our home, in Stone County, near Galena, Missouri, Christy and I listened to the storm coverage while the winds grew outside our home. This hospital was one of the first reports of major damage to Joplin that was aired, while the tornado was still moving through the city. Initial broadcast reports stated that the staff had begun to move patients to other local hospitals before the tornado hit. Photo by Samuel E. Warren Jr. Joplin Tornado Hospital Damage Photo 2 of 14

There are 20 photos on my blog, but I now have an album on imgpur that readers can go to and see for themselves what it looks like to “Stand Inside The Center Ring Of Hell” and know there is a world beyond the Apocalpytic destruction.

Here is the link:



One American G.I. Stands Before The Four Horsemen

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 Fiction Short Story – May 21, 2011 – End Of The World Prophecy

 One American G.I.

Stands Before The Four Horsemen

by Samuel E. Warren Jr.

May 20, 2011 – U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Samantha Walker steps down off the Greyhound bus. There is comfort that the Springfield, Missouri Greyhound Bus Terminal hasn’t really changed that much since she left two and a half years ago.

Sheryl,her mother and two sisters, Sharon and Sheree, rush to embrace her. “How was your trip,” asks mom ? “What is it like in the Orient,” asks, Sheree, her teenage sister ? “Welcome home, sis.”

A weary Samantha smiles at her mom. “The trip was long, mom. I’ll never get use to 21 to 22 hours on an airplane,” she smiles. She looks at her teenage sister and forces a tired smile. “Life in Asia is a lot like in the good ole U.S., of A. But, some countries they don’t speak a lot of English.” Her teenage sister, Sheree grins, “What about the guys?”

Sharon, the older sister embraces Samantha. “Look at you. Aren’t we Miss Vogue ? The handbag is more than my monthly paycheck and I’m not even going to guess at the cost of the blouse and skirt.”

Sharon laughs and swirls. “Don’t kid yourself, sis, I’m a hard working paralegal. I earn my paycheck.”

Samantha reaches out and takes Sharon’s left hand, “No ring, sis ? You are going to have to get busy to give mom and dad those grand kids.”

Sharon lowers her large sunglasses down on her nose. “I’m holding out for the last of the rich guys. Besides mom and dad have you and Sheree to provide them with a crop of curtain climbers. I’m the career woman; I ain’t the mother type.”

“Pull in the claws and the catty remarks, girls,” orders mom. She nods at Sheree, “Check on Samantha’s luggage.”

“Mom,” protests Sheree. “Now,” scolds mom. A reluctant Sheree saunters off.

“It’s fun to be the general,” remarks Sheree, who turns to smile at Samantha. Mom looks at Sharon. “I know, my boy crazy little sister is on summer vacation loose in a city full of hot guys. She’s wondered out of sight and it’s up to big sister to find her,” teases Sharon.

“Mom, you are really getting the hang of telepathy between your daughters,” teases Samantha. Sheree laughs. “You become a mother; you’ll get it too. We, Walker women, just develop our Mom Mind Meld faster than most mothers.”

Sheree Walker is one of those cost conscious, stylish housewives that wears an air of sophistication and dignity, whether she wears an old worn T-shirt or a woman’s business suit. Today, she is decked out in fading denim jeans, an ivory, low cut V-neck blouse, with bell sleeves that belongs in the 1960s. Her blonde hair is shoulder length. She adjusts her sunglasses and starts to walk. Her hourglass hips and her mature bust cause older men to sneak a peek from the diShamusce and distracts young men to walk into restroom doors and tumble over seats in the waiting area. Samantha smiles – her mom, the fox, commands attention.

“This way to the car, sis,” proclaims mom leading the way.

“Dad,” asks Samantha ?

Sheryl grins, “He called to say he couldn’t get away from the paper, but he would meet us at home.”

“The Last Of The Two-Bit Hack Reporters,” remarks Samantha. “TV and the Internet are making newspapers obsolete. Doesn’t, dad, realize that. He’s spent enough years as a reporter and editor. Why doesn’t he write novels or, at least, become a professional blogger ? Let other people at the newspaper worry about the daily grind,” grumbles Samantha.

Sheryl laughs.. “Your dad is old school. Joe Reporter. Get the story, Get it right, Get it first, And, always just a phone call away. Every breaking news story is ‘the story.’” Sometimes I swear that man is just a little boy, who never grew up and can’t help, but chase stories.”

“Better stories than skirts, eh, mom,” teases Samantha. Sheryl glances at her daughter, who settles into the pickup and fastens her seat belt.

“Shamus Walker, the workaholic. Printer’s ink flows through his veins. His mistress is a collection of camera gear. He’s married to the newspaper – I’m his second wife,” jokes Sheryl.

The year old GMC farm pickup yawns to life. The duffel bag and suitcase in the pickup bed rest up against the back of the cab. Sharon and Sheree wave at the pickup as it eases out of the Springfield, Missouri Greyhound bus terminal.

Sharon, Shamusding in the parking lot, looks at Sheree. “You did make sure the suitcases wouldn’t fall out of the back on the highway?”

“Dah, I’m no dummy,” counters Sheree. “The tailgate is up. I shoved one of dad’s toolboxes up tight against the suitcase. She must have rocks in that duffel bag – it ain’t going nowhere.”

Sharon and Sheree slips into the red Ford sedan. “You can drop me at the mall,” announces Sheree.

“In your dreams, little sister,” remarks Sharon, starting the car. “We’ll do the mall, tomorrow.”

Sheree fastens her seat belt and slumps back in the seat. Sheree studies her drop dead gorgeous older sister. Guys never notice her legion of freckles because of her plump, full bust and pulsating red hair. Sheree looks down at her blossoming chest. Of all the busty Walker women, Sheree seems to be the one that is taking her time to bloom.

“Spill it,” demands Sharon, “why so quite all of a sudden ?”

“Guys gawk at mom when we go to the grocery store. You brush away guys like lint. Even when Samantha was at home, she drew guys like a magnet. What’s wrong with me ?”

“Teenage years,” snickers Sharon.

“Lighten up, sis. Your growing into a beautiful woman.” Sharon glances over at her sister. “It would help to settle on a hair color. Pink, red and purple highlights really aren’t you. And, quit messing with your hair style. Pick one and stick with it. Last summer, you had the cue ball look and almost sent dad into a coronary.” Sharon laughs. Sheree snickers. “Yeah, dad really noticed me. I thought he was going to ground me for the summer.”

“He was ready to. Mom came to your rescue. She gave him the old growing up and going through changes speech. Sis, learn to step back and wait. Quit pouncing at guys like some kind of hungry, rabid wolf.. Your natural dark hair makes you look sexy. In the face, you remind me of Marilyn Monroe.”

“Marilyn, who,” ask Sheree?

Sharon ignores the question and glances in the rear view mirror.

“Sis, looks good,” comments Sheree. “Bet guys notice her in that blue uniform. Maybe, that’s what I need a sharp uniform to get noticed. I’d look good in Army green or, hey, I think, I’d probably really be a knock out in one of those black uniforms that navy women wear.”

“Dream on, Cinderella. Dad had to help Samantha convince mom. Uncle Sam got one of the Walker girls, you’d better settle for another uniform . . .” Sharon grins and glances at her sister. “Like maybe a dishwasher uniform,” Sharon teases.

Sheree frowns, “Samantha really looks sharp in her blue uniform. I never realized, sis, had such big boobs.”

Sharon shakes her head, “Little sister, you need a hobby or definitely a summer job.”

The GMC farm pickup glides along the highway. Sheryl smiles over at her daughter sliding down in the seat. “You can’t take off your uniform until your dad sees you in it. He is so proud of you. He will probably want you to wear it to church on Sunday.”

Samantha looks up at her mom. “It’s just a blue uniform, mom. After 20 plus hours in it, the uniform is probably as rumpled as I am. Forgive me, if I doze off. Jet lag. Sunshine. Flying over the Pacific Ocean. International date line. Whatever it is; those long airplane flights can really wear you out.”

Sheryl watches the traffic. “When your dad found out that you tested below the zone and made senior airman, he was bursting with pride. It reminded me of the day you were born. I think he has bragged to everyone in southwest Missouri that he knows and he spent like two days emailing his old military buddies to tell them about his ‘super sarge’ daughter.” Sheryl glances over and smiles at her sleeping daughter.

Sheryl nudges her sleeping daughter, “Honey, where home?” Samantha puts her hand up to shield out the late afternoon sun. “I always remember the trip from Springfield as being longer.”

“The trip to the bus station or airport is always short when you go to leave.” replies her mom. Samantha nods. “Right. Let me crash out here a few more minutes in the truck and then I’ll come in,” replies Samantha.

“Nonsense,” orders her mother. “The girls and I will get the bags out of the truck. You can go inside and crash on the sofa.”

“Yes, ma’am,” mumbles Samantha, easing out of the pickup and heading up the steps to the front door.

The Discussion

“Surprise !”

Samantha bolts back and stares at a multitude of faces. Friends, family and neighbors crowd the living room. Her eyes scan the sea of smiling faces. The large “Welcome Home, Samantha !” banner hangs in the background of the living room. Several balloons and streamers commemorate the event.

Sheryl steps alongside her surprised daughter and whispers, “Dad. Two days. He even got your sisters to work together on a project. Of course, they aren’t speaking to dad, now, cause he’s had them working overtime to get everything ship shape.”

Samantha’s blush goes unnoticed because Shamus Walker, dear old dad comes up and embraces his daughter. “My baby is home.” He steps back and looks at her. “Sharp uniform – that’s my girl ! Mom, check out the ribbon. Air Force Good Conduct looks good with the rest of your ‘fruit salad.’ In a few years, I’ll bet you’ll have a whole chest full of medals.”

The twilight breeze stirs the leaves. The starry sky over southwest Missouri reveals the growing presence of massive dark gray clouds. A sprinkle of rain starts to fall.

The guests take turns speaking to Samantha. They mill about talking and sampling the food. Samantha unbuttons her uniform jacket and places it on the chair back. “Sis, do you really think the world is going to end tomorrow,” asks Sheree ?

Samantha smirks and looks at her little sister. “Not you too, Sheree. For the last week, it seems, all people have been talking about – May 21, 2011- and ‘The End Of The World. Even changing planes at the airports, I’d overhear people whining about . . .The End Of The World.”

“–You don’t think it is biblical prophecy,” interrupts Sharon ? She sits down with a plate of food on the sofa.

Samantha grins. “I’m not taking the bait, sis. You are trying to get me into a religious discussion. I’ll leave religion up to you, sis. I usually sleep in on Sunday mornings.”

Samantha looks at her teenage sister. “Look, sis, the world is full of nut jobs. Best case scenario, I’d say you got a preacher looking to make headlines, who has a calendar, too much time on his hands and probably has no clue how to use a calculator.”

“Worst case scenario,” quizzes Sharon ?

Samantha shrugs. “Some scum of the earth con artist, who likes to make old men worry, frighten old ladies and scare children. He or she plays up the paranoia to full blown fear, probably to snatch media coverage in hopes of landing a contract for a bogus money sucking ministry that will go on and on for years.

“You are not the least bit worried,” asks Sharon ?

“Firepower,sis,” teases Samantha. “Hey, your the one, who called me the family mercenary.”

Sharon counters,“That was our discussion on global terrorism.”

“There is a difference,” grins Samantha. “Terror is terror. You’ve got some nut job terrorists group in the world killing off people trying to bring about their utopia into existence and meanwhile, you’ve got some out to lunch domestic holy man trying to whip people into a chaotic and psychotic frenzy thinking the world is about to go boom,” smirks Samantha.

Sheree frowns. “Sis, you think it is all a scam?”

Samantha nods and smiles. “Leave the End Of The World movies to Hollywood. Curl up with some popcorn on the sofa and enjoy the movie.” Samantha winks. “Relax, little sister. The military is wide awake and on the job.”

Sharon shakes her head. “Right. You. My kid sister. You are going to single handedly hold back the end of the world. You are going to step into a phone booth or duck into an alley and run out in your super heroine costume leap into the air hold back the ocean, smack the asteroids and save the world?”

Samantha smiles. “I think people are just jumping the gun this time. I need more than the latest religious group shouting, ‘the end is here.’”

“Remember, grandpa,” replies Samantha, settling on to the sofa. “He did his best to tell us stories about his life growing up. His dad served in World War II. Then, grandpa served in Korea and Vietnam.

Sharon grumbles,” Yeah. Grandpa said some people thought the world was ending in World War II. Incidentally, he emailed me from Florida to tell you congratulations. He and his new girl friend can’t get a flight into Springfield until tomorrow. Anyway, those were World War II stories, sis, what’s your point?”

Samantha grins. “The world didn’t end.

Sheree chimes in, “I remember grandpa saying a lot of people were really paranoid about the A Bomb, Nuclear War and the Cold War. He said even he worried about global chaos and there was even talk of World War III in 1985 or 1988 – but, it never happened.”

Thunder explodes and pauses the conversation. Severe lightning flashes causes everyone to briefly look out the window. “The wind is really getting up,” remarks Sheree.

Sheryl swoops in between her daughters. “Time out, ladies. Mom walks up and leans on the sofa, “Let me put in my two cents, The Great Global Y2K Catastrophe didn’t drive mankind back to the Stone Age. A few computers died, but most of the world breathed a sigh of relief because all the doom and gloom experts of my day – calling for the end of civilization – were wrong.”

Dad carries a cold bottle of beer and walks up. “Not you guys too. All week long, we’ve been getting phone calls. One man called to tell me, “The World Ends at 3:33 am, May 21, 2011. A woman called to tell me,” the Telurian Universal Cosmic Alien Federation had appointed her to bring the message of how submitting to their rule would stop the world from ending.” Dad smiles.

“You have to watch out for so-called prophets like Jim Jones, David Koresh and cults like Heaven’s Gate because they use their doomsday prophecies to kill people. Meanwhile, in the real world, it always seems that the economy and rising prices are always a more serious threat that some phony prophet running off at the mouth.”

“ I remember there was some unrest for awhile in the early 1980s, because the closer it got to 1984,people remembered the book and started worrying that maybe the writer was really on to something. There were fears of an all knowing global dictatorship. Any concept of freedom was gone. The government made all the choices. People would be like ants. In that nightmare world, life was economic slavery. Only the people in power could live their lives – everyone else was a slave,” recounts dad.

“And, then, of course, there was the Big Millennium Scare. The 20th Century passed and the 21st Century arrived without humanity being exterminated,” grins Sheryl, who rises and motions for the girls to mingle with the guests.“ Come on, . . .girls, let’s party like it’s 1999.”

Technical Difficulties

“Missouri weather,” grumbles Sharon. “Everyone seemed to be having such a good time. I saw a couple of people that I went to high school with that I hadn’t seen in years. Then, the weather intrudes and everybody starts hitting the door to get home before the weather gets bad. Lousy Missouri weather,” moans Sharon.

She draws back the picture window curtain to watch the practice explosion of lighting bolts striking all around the landscape. The heavy rain falls like shards of glass crashing into the landscape. Rhythmic thunder pulsates like a heartbeat through the house.

“All hell is breaking loose,” observes dad, who glances out the window.

Sheryl puts her arm around her husband. “Quite a party” The lights flicker. “That’s it. We wait until in the morning to do clean up,” announces Sheryl. “Good night, girls.”

Samantha, Sharon and Sheree mumble, “Night Mom. Night Dad.”

Sharon turns to Sheree. “I’m not driving in that weather. It’s getting brutal out. Tell me you haven’t dragged all your junk in my room.”

Sheree executes a mock bow, “No, your royal highness.” She straightens up. “Are you kidding ? Mom and Dad keep that room off limits like some kind of holy shrine. I had to put clean sheets on YOUR bed just yesterday morning.”

Sharon smiles.

Sheree snickers. “Bet they figure you are going to blow it out on your own and will have to move back under their roof.”

“I’ve got it!” Samantha smiles and snatches up the remote from the sofa. “Sheree ! Don’t worry, sis.”

Samantha clicks on the TV. “Thailand, the Philippines, Japan – they are all across the International Date Line.”

Sheree shrugs, “So ?”

“They are a day ahead of us,” smirks Samantha. “It is already May 21, 2011 – End OF The World Day – in that part of the world. If those countries are still in one piece, then, the whole prophecy is just another one of those hit and miss games.”

The picture flickers off. “Great,” complains Samantha.

“There have been problems with the satellite dish all week. Even our Internet connection keeps getting knocked out time and again. I haven’t been able to get a cell phone signal at home all week,” whines Sheree.

Sirens of two of the Stone County Sheriff’s patrol cruisers sound passing the farm. The diShamust lights of a couple of ambulances and passing fire engines blast through the living room picture window and dances across the walls.

D Day 2011

The cotton ball fluffy clouds in the bright blue sky part. Four whirling dust devils descend and whip leaves, branches and rocks into the darkening gray sky.

Lightning crackles and stabs repeatedly into the soil of southwest Missouri. The earth rumbles beneath the rocks. The damp limestone ledges hide in the foliage of blackberry bushes, poke berries and against sycamore trees and walnut sprouts.

The whirling dust devils stop and become four horsemen. They have arrived.

The angry demonic steeds snort and paw their hooves into the ground and sparks fly from the flint rocks in the soil. The light gray sky spills into a coffin gray color. The anxious steeds chomp at the bits and drop their heads. Their long manes flick against the foreboding sky and small flames leap into the sky.

The four horsemen sit tall in their saddles.


Conquest wears facial tattoos to hide the scars of his numerous campaigns of plunder. His reddened biceps ripple underneath the animal skins he wears. Heavy eyebrows hide the lust for power in his eyes. His broken teeth grind at the prospect of seized property. He sits in the saddle and drools at the plunder to be taken in this campaign. His sheathed dagger rides high on his right hip. His quill of arrows rests next to the sharp, worn battle ax slung across his back He grips the white horse’s reins in his right hand to allow his left hand to grip his favorite lethal weapon – his longbow. The disappearing rays of sunlight flash across the assortment of jewels in his crown. He grins at the other horsemen.


War sits straight and tall in the saddle. He raises his sword to glisten in the last rays of sunlight. The sunlight dances on the steel blade and flows up the hilt into his hand and his bland robe becomes blood red combat fatigues. He know no fear because he brings Death; he does not experience it. He shifts in the saddle and leisurely holds the red horse’s reins. He leans forward in the saddle and the quarter horse becomes garbed in the gear of a Middle Ages knight. War’s warhorse is ready. He nods to the horsemen at the end of the file formation.


Famine, sits on her black horse ready to reek havoc on the mere mortals. She raises her scales and smiles at her reflection. Her long flowing midnight locks Shamusd out against the dark sky. Her eye shadow is immaculate. She is ready for her closeup, but, first she has her job to do. She frowns to consider that she might be a few pounds heavier than she would like. However, she is famine, so to put the world on a diet and spread global hunger will not require to much effort on her part. She places the scales on her saddle horn. She stretches. She adjusts her black plastic tank top over her small breasts. She tugs at the waist of the matching black plastic mini skirt. She stretches out her legs to examine her black fishnet hose and notices a runner in the left leg. She frowns, but smiles at the short, cheap plastic black boots, which are comfortable and stylish – to her. She slips her boots tightly into the stirrups. She purses her cherry red lips to blow a kiss to the horsemen next to her.


Death, the final horsemen, sits shrouded in a dark black cloak on the horse. The dark boots are barely visible beneath the black cloak. The black gauntlet gloves tightly grip the reins of the dapple gray horse. Death nods.

The Charge

Conquest spurs his steed and sparks fly as the horse’s hooves hit the rocks. War leans forward in the saddle and a hot wind flows off his steed and slices away at the brush and splinters bark on either side of the stampeding quarter horse.

Famine frowns and drives her spurs deep into the black horse. Leaves wilt and fall off trees as she passes. The grass turns brown beneath her horse’s hooves. The steed splashes into a creek bed and the water disappears and the ground dries up and cracks.

Death leans forward in the saddle and allow the steed to plod along. The face of Death is not visible beneath the hood of the black cloak. Death watches the three horsemen race like competitive children toward the horizon.

Two figures Shamusd in the diShamusce on the horizon. One Shamusds off to one side, almost hidden by the rural foliage The first silhouette Shamusds tall, front and center in the middle of the pasture.

The three horsemen rein in their stampeding steeds. Conquest scowls and points his bow at the figure in the light brown and black fatigue uniform. Death reins in the steed alongside the other three horsemen.


Conquest turns his steed and points his longbow into the foliage “You in the brush. Step forward.”

A nondescript man of average height and looks, wearing a western shirt, denim jeans and worn cowboy boots steps from the foliage carrying a compact video camera. Conquest chuckles, “What are you?”

“A witness,” answers the figure in the fatigues. “ I call him, Sol. Call him what you like storyteller, writer, cameraman, videographer or publicist, but, someone has to be on hand to document the day’s events. Bottom line, he is with me.

Conquest roars with laughter and wipes the tears of joy from his eyes. “Do you know who we are?”

The figure, a woman, nods. “I do. You are the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

She wears the two tone brown fatigues,helmet and flack vest. A M-280 grenade launcher is slung over her right shoulder. In her left hand, she holds a double barrel shotgun with a polished walnut pistol grip.

“Then, you know we can’t be stopped,” giggles Famine.

“I can try,” replies the woman.

Death watches. War smiles.

Conquest sits back in his saddle and laughs a boisterous laugh.

A frustrated Famine smirks, “Who are you.”

The woman in the chocolate chip fatigues lowers her head and removes the helmet. The long raven locks shake loose and dance in the wind. “One American G.I.”

“We are here to bring – The End Of The World,” proclaims Conquest !

“You and whose army,” challenges Samantha Walker.

Conquest stops laughing and glares at her. Famine smiles. “You are arrogant.”

“Committed,” replies Samantha Walker. “I’m committed to Shamusding up to you to let you know the world want go down without a fight.”

Conquest reaches back to take an arrow from his quill. War reaches out and touches his hand for him to wait.

War grins. “Why would you think you can stop us ?”

Samantha places her helmet on the ground and looks at War. “I believe if the world was going to end that there would be more real world indications like tsunamis, earthquakes, volcanoes. Basically, I would expect to see Mother Nature unleash a nightmare world of natural disasters around the world happening on a daily or hourly basis. Maybe, the threat of an asteroid or meteor headed for the earth. My guess, is you all might be a few days or even several millennium too soon. If it is NOT our time, then, I might be able to stop you.”

“A single warrior,” snickers Famine.

Samantha Walker shrugs. “Freedom ain’t free. In the history of the United States, it is our armed forces that answers the call to stop scumbag madmen like Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein and Shamusd up to lowlife terrorists like Osama bin Laden. We work with our allies to do what is right. As a nation, we make mistakes. But, our men and women in uniform know the job that needs to be done and they do it,” Samantha smiles, “one American G.I., at a time.”

Conquest laughs. “You need to Shamusd aside or die.”

Samantha raises her M-280 grenade launcher. “Conquest, you don’t look like Alexander the Great. Julius Caesar lead legions and had his own sense of style. You just look like another one of those fly by night dictators that grab headlines one day and try to find a country to give them exile the next. I figure your more braggart than barbarian, which means if you shed a little blood, then, you will be ready to negotiate some kind of surrender.”

Conquest frowns and stirs uneasy in his saddle. Famine rattles the scales in her hands. “The big bad warrior might have some weight or hunger issues.”

Samantha shakes her head. “Nice try, Famine. You’ve got the wrong girl. I’ve never had weight issues. My sisters, now, they buy into the diet of the week scenario and worry about their appearance. Me, I’m comfortable in my skin.

Samantha looks at War. “Conquest is smoke and mirrors, a windbag who believes his own press releases. Famine only has power when we give into selfishness and hunger. I figure I can take them. You, are War. I can’t defeat you because humanity has a long history of turning to you to settle disputes. The best I can do would be to delay you.”

War smiles and nods.

Death’s horse neighs. Samantha looks at Death. “Sooner or later, you come to everyone. My guess is you are here more as an observer, than a warrior – especially, if this is not the right time.” Death leans forward in the saddle and for a brief moment a woman’s face is visible beneath the heavy hood. The smiling lips quickly give way to the outline of a human skull beneath the hood.

“Enough talk,” grumbles Conquest. “Step aside or be trampled !”

Samantha cradles the M-280 grenade launcher on the sling across her chest. She raises the double barrel shotgun with the pistol grip.

Conquest throws aside his longbow and snatches his battle ax. He leans forward in the saddle and charges toward Samantha. He growls and swings the ax. Both barrels of the shotgun flash fire and the shells catch Conquest in the abdomen. Flames burst forth on the animal skins on his body. The force of the blast lifts him out of the saddle and throws him back against a sycamore tree. He crumples over and grabs his belly, sliding down the tree. His horse dashes up the hill and vanishes into the surroundings.

Sneak Attack

Famine swings her steed around behind Samantha and leaps at her back. Samantha falls toward the ground and pulls the trigger on the M-280. The grenade knocks the horse from under War. The shell explodes against the heavily armored warhorse. War is thrown upward from the saddle and rises above the clouds of smoke from the burst of the explosion.

The wounded warhorse rises dazed, then, it lowers it’s head and disappears. A groan comes from overhead. Leaves flutter, branches break and War crashes twisting and turning down through the tree branches. Thud !

Face down on the earth, he moans into the ground. Dazed, he creeps forward trying to get to his feet. Struggling, he rises and staggers around and bumps into the brush around the battle. He wanders first one way and then another until he stumbles into the rising mist. Lost in the Fog of War, he disappears into the foliage

Famine thrust out her hands to try and dig her fingernails into Samantha. Samantha fends off Famine’s blows. Samantha tries to roll over. Famine locks her legs around Samantha and tries to grab her hair. Samantha thrust her arms out and pushes Famine away. Famine flies through the air and lands on her back.

Famine rolls to her side and thrust out her legs to slam into Samantha’s legs to trip her. Samantha looses her balance and falls. She grabs for the ground and catches Famine by the arm. Both women are caught up in an embrace and roll down the hillside into the dry creek bed.

Famine swings a fist and Samantha’s shoulder takes the brunt of the blow. Samantha throws a punch and Famine’s face feels the blow. Famine throws out her hands to try and scratch Samantha’s face. One of Famine’s hands, snags the uniform and slices a gash in the fabric that cuts into Samantha’s arm.

Samantha manages to grab Famine’s right hand and shove it into the dry creek bed. Water quickly rises. Famine tries to hold Samantha down in the rising water. Samantha tries to break free of Famine’s grip. Famine sinks into the water and Samantha rolls under the waves. Both women struggle to free themselves of the other’s grip. Samantha thrusts out a leg that catches Famine in the stomach. Famine gulps water and disappears beneath the rising water. Samantha turns and swims for the shore.

Famine bobs to the surface. She brushes the drenched hair out of her face. Mad, she swims for the shore. The rising current catches her off guard and thrust her back.

Samantha crawls out of the water. She inches up the hillside. Samantha rolls over on her back to look down at the rising creek water. Famine struggles back into the current to try to swim toward Samantha. The water continues to rebuff Famine. Finally, Famine leans back to let the water carry her.

Death Shamusds beside Conquest, who lies moaning on the ground. Death touches Conquest and the moaning stops.

Famine washes up against a large rock at the creek bank. Famine lies in the water with her back against the rock. Death strolls along the creek bank. Famine puts out her hand. Death takes Famine by the hand. Famine’s eyes roll back in her head. Her lifeless body slips into the water. Momentarily Famine floats on the surface, then, she slips beneath the waves.

War rises and shakes his head. Dazed, but not dead. He shakes off his confusion and nods at Samantha. Then, he turns and walks up the holler. He disappears and a dust devil dances briefly on the landscape.

Death walks up to Samantha. She lowers her hood and reveals her long blonde hair. Sol, the witness rushes to Samantha. Death smiles and offers Samantha a hand. “Don’t take this personally, but, I think, I’m going to let him help me to my feet.” Death laughs. “Understood.”

Sol helps Samantha to her feet. “We dodged a bullet.” Death grins. “No. You learned a lesson. Conquest relies on power, greed, selfishness. Famine also relies on power, greed and selfishness because people rely on governments to share food rather than neighbors helping each other when food is scarce. No one on this planet should ever die of hunger.”

Death stops and removes the cloak. She kicks off the boots and throws away the gloves. Before Samantha Shamusds a woman in a short white satin skirt and a jeweled armor breastplate. She adjusts the sheathed sword at her side. She smiles and large wings rise from her back. “War will always be a reality as long as humanity feels the need for violence to solve complex issues.”

The man steps back. Samantha Shamusds before the Angel of Death. “My job is to accompany people from this reality.” Death smiles at Samantha, “Don’t worry, today is not your day. Today, I’m the messenger.” The Angel of Death’s wings point upward and she ascend up into the glistening sunlight. Samantha raises her hand to shield her eyes from the bright light.

Wake Up Call

“Rise and shine, sleepy head!” Sheree Walker’s cheerful voice explodes over the sound of window curtains being yanked back over the curtain rod. Samantha Walker grimaces against the bright sunlight slapping her in the face. She puts the pillow over her head.

Sheree Walker plops down hard on the edge of the bed. “Get up, sis !”

“Sheree !” Samantha peeks out from under the pillow. “Sis, what part of being ‘home on leave’ don’t you underShamusd ? All the sisters in the world and I get one that is an early riser.”

“Come on, sis. Get up ! It’s your first day home. I’m sure there are a lot of people you want to see and they want to see you?”

“I saw them all last night, thanks to dad and his welcome home party,” mumbles Samantha, pulling the pillow around her.

Come on, sis. Get up ! It’s a great day,” chimes Sheree.

“Say ‘Good Morning’ nod I’ll shove you off my bed and on to the floor,” warns Samantha.

“Good Morning,” beams Sharon breezing into Samantha’s room. Sheree snickers.

“Now, I know, why I joined the Air Force – to get away from home, so I could have some peace and quiet.”

“What’s on your schedule, today, sis,” asks Sharon ?

Samantha tosses the pillow off the bed and rolls over to stare up at the ceiling. “Silly me. I thought, first day home, I’d sleep in.”

“You came home to sleep,” teases Sharon.

Samantha turns her head to look at her two sisters sitting on her bed. “Did mom kick you guys out of the kitchen or do you have a reason for being in my bedroom?”

Sheree shakes her head and rises. Then, she plops back down on the bed. “Sis, you remember that cute guy I had the crush on?”

“The wannabee rock star,” asks Samantha. “No. No. The Perkins boy, who rebuilt that engine in shop,” she corrects. “The wannabee biker guy, who rebuilt his Harley,” asks Samantha ? “No. No. The Perkins boy that sis said was too old although he was only three years older, when I was a freshman.”

Samantha nods. “You’re babbling, Sheree. What about him ?”

Sheree looks at Sharon. “Swear you won’t tell mom.” Sharon nods. “He’s in the Marine Corps. I think, he’s in AfghaniShamus, maybe, Iraq. No. AfghaniShamus.”

“Sheree, you’re babbling. . .again,” interrupts Sharon.

“Right. Right. Guess, he didn’t have a watch. I didn’t look at the clock. He would be on the other side of that Date Line thingy too; wouldn’t he?”

“Sheree,” groans Sharon.

“He called me late last night to tell me about this weird dream,”states Sheree. Samantha looks at Sheree. Sharon looks at Sheree. ‘What,” asks Sheree ?

“The dream,” asks Sharon ?

Sheree shakes her head. “Too wild. I just thought it was cool that he called me.” Sharon shakes her head. “Sis, you are an airhead.”

“Here’s my girls,” beams dad Shamusding in the doorway. Sharon motions for dad to come in.

Samantha pulls the sheet up higher over her body.

Shamus sits in a chair by the bed. “Sam I’m surprised your awake.”

“So, am I dad,” Samantha replies.

“Mom wanted me to tell you guys that no one leaves the house without breakfast this morning. She’s scrambled eggs and is making pancakes,” remarks Shamus. “Did everyone get a good night’s sleep ?”

Sharon laughs. “I was really snoozing when my cell phone woke me up. You remember, that Sergeant First Class Hopkins that I went out with a couple of times a few months back.”

“The guy from Fort Leonard Wood, who got orders to Korea,” asks dad ?

“Bingo!” Sharon smiles. “Last night, he calls to talk. We talk and talk. Then, he asked me what I knew about dreams. He told me about a dream that sounded more light a nightmare. Guess, it was all this talk about the end of the world. Anyway, in the dream their were these four guys on horses threatening to bring about the end of the world. He said he was dressed like an Army cavalry officer mounted on horse back. He drew his saber and charged headlong into the horsemen.”

Dad nods. “Yesterday, Fred, a guy I served with in the Gulf stopped by and told me about this crazy dream, where he wakes up in a flying saucer and these four tall aliens are looking down at him telling him how they are going to enjoy destroying his world. Fred had always been a real big sci-fi fan. I figured there were things going on in his life and he was trying to tell me in some kind of strange story. I didn’t think too much of it at the time.”

Then, out of the blue, last night, an old Navy friend of mine called me late. I’ve known him since we were kids. He’s retired out in Oakland. Nice guy; no imagination. Very practical. Very down to earth kind of guy. It is like two or three am, and he wants to know if I’ve ever written or researched any paranormal subjects involving the military, especially dreams. Even wanted to know if I could recommend someone to go to for dreams analysis. Finally, he told me he had had this nightmare for several nights that he was the only one aboard the U.S. S. Enterprise afloat in the middle of the Pacific. Last night, he said the dream turned nightmare, when four horsemen appeared on the flight deck and came charging at him. He knew he was done for, Out of the corner of his eye, he notices a battleship. The one horse leaps and a battleship shell blows the horse and rider to bits. The second horse charges and a second shell across the ship takes out that horsemen. One shell explodes above the ship and knocks the horse over the side. The horseman falls on the deck and melts into the deck. The last horsemen reins in his mount, turns the horse and leaps over the side into the drink. The battleship comes alongside and turns away. He makes out the letters: U.S. S. Missouri.”

“Whoa,” mumbles Sheree. “Since we are sharing, Tony Perkins, told me these four crazy looking guys came riding like wild men out of a sandstorm. They were charging down this sand dune at him. In the nightmare, Blinding sand had separated him from the rest of his unit, so all he can do is grab at them and yank them off the horses. Then, he said, he fought two in hand to hand combat. The third horseman rode at him and the horse leaped into the blowing sand. He turned to go for the fourth horseman, who sat calmly in the saddle. The desert sun grew really bright and he couldn’t see for a moment.

Then, the horseman was gone. At first, he thought he imagined the fourth horseman or he had been mirage. He looked down and noticed the four horseshoe prints in the sand,” concludes Sheree.

Sharon smiles at her dad and put her head on his shoulder. “You have that I’m holding something back look, dad.’

He frown at Sharon. “Sometimes you girls are too much like your mom.” Sheree goes and sits on the chair arm by her dad. “Dad ?”

Dad admits. “The weird calls all week long. I had been going over some of my dad’s old military records. Plus, off and on, I had been digging up information on doomsday predictions for about the last week. Finally, I guess my buddy’s late night phone call must have tripped my own nightmare.”

I’ve told you kids, I served in the Army during the Gulf War. But, in my nightmare, I was deep in a Pacific jungle. What are the chances that four horses would come riding through that thick foliage? I’m deep in the jungle. Rain is falling in buckets. I’m drenched and cold. I hear other G. I.s talking in the diShamusce. They don’t hear me yelling. I hear a tiger. Suddenly,giant leaves flip and knock me back against this huge tree. I aim my M-16 and open up on one, who vanishes like smoke. My rifle jams. I swing it and the butt knocks the horseman off the horse and against a large tree. Poof ! He’s gone. The other two horsemen nod and their horses lope off into the vegetation. Dad shrugs and smiles. “What can I say, my Army training and growing up on John Wayne war movies paid off.”

Samantha asks, “What day is it ?”

“Saturday,” answers Sharon.

“What date,” asks Samantha ?

“May 21, 2011,” replies Sheree.

Dad looks at Samantha. Sharon looks at Samantha. Sheree looks at Samantha. Samantha looks at the sets of eyes staring at her. “What ?”

Sharon smirks. “Dad had his Army nightmare. My Army friend has his end of the world nightmare. Dad’s Navy buddy had a nightmare and Sheree’s Marine friend had a similar nightmare. Do you seen a pattern here ?”

“What ? People in the military suffer from insomnia, they need new beds to sleep in or they don’t get enough sleep to begin with,” smirks Samantha. Sharon grins at Samantha. “Dad, please tell me, Sharon isn’t taking psych classes again; is she ?”

“You didn’t have a nightmare,” asks Sheree. “Yeah,” answers Samantha. “Two of them, called sisters. They come in at the crack of dawn and interrupt my beauty sleep.”

Samantha tries to set up and notices how sore her muscles are. “Sis, you must have had some kind of nightmare,” suggest Sharon, who points at Samantha upper arm. “Your arm is black and blue. Wow. You sure you didn’t have one of these nightmares.”

Samantha looks at her upper arm and notices what looks like fingernail scratches on her upper arm. “Jet lag, sis. I was out like a light.”

Dad nods and smiles at Samantha, “my daughter, the American G.I.”

“One American G.I., dad,” Samantha winks and smiles.

Written by samwarren55

May 21, 2011 at 4:03 PM

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