This article is part of the Reading Time series.
H: Eventually, people took to running Simon out of town. For one thing, some of the other ghosts weren't quite so fancy-worded as General Wilks, and folks got suspicious when they saw "I forgive you Simon Smith for killing me" on their kins' graves. But Simon delivered a chilling warning to the mob what had gathered, predicting that someday soon the seed of the very people he'd taken away would rise up and serve him as an army. He sang it in that voice, so people swayed with rapture to the melody. Then they got sore when they thought about it, but he was long gone.
H: The folks who heard the warning started gasping for breath. They say Simon's very words were infused with smothering poison. But I reckon he detonated some sort of gas bomb. He was always good with chemicals.
H: People started coughing and choking, their eyes bugged out and spiraled like archery targets. They heard a lot of noise off in the distance, not like pots, however they sound, but like a stampede of mighty beasts. Someday cried "Get out of Nuggetville!", which was our polite-company way of saying "What the bullfeathers!"
H: One gentleman grabbed his binoculars, which pierced through the gassy fog, and was terrified to see that the figures approaching weren't soldiers, or animals, or anything like he'd ever seen or heard about in all his days.
H: Well, there they are, the answers you seek. Village cleared out soon after, all except me, I've been waiting in this fort for Simon's return. Can you stay with me, lad? I could use someone to tell me if they hear some rattling pots.
S: I will stay with you, Elderly. You make me feel safe and also tired. My friend Max will be looking for me, I will tell him to meet me at "Old Fort," and the generals will not know about it, and Head Instructor Smith will not know about it. Max will understand your story smartly. He will turn your weird words into True Lessons. Together we will end this.
After years of being misunderstood, I had hoped we finally had "our" story. I was wrong.
He had a yellow inflatable tube around his waist, the kind with a comical duck head. There was a tiny fish in one of his hands, and a trident in the other. In the background a squirrel wearing shades was water skiing.
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Raised and trained in a mysterious facility, piteous brute Stevie seeks answers.