The Book of Fate: Who is Khalid Ben-Hassin? – Part IV

The Book of Fate: Who is Khalid Ben-Hassin? – Part IV

Strange that of all the places I would be wandering around it would be Gotham, but it plays a central part in my history, our history.  It’s not something that can be ignored or denied, but it was something that my family thought I should do, even my grandfather which most would find surprising.  He said it was something that I needed to know.  Something that I should understand.  Start at the beginning.

Though it’s not the true beginning not for our House, but it was the start of something different and new for the world.  Everything that I needed to understand about our family I’ve been taught by my family.  I have gone to the beginning there and tried to understand why everyone made the choices that they did. From my mother to my grandfather to my great-grandfather.

My grandmother encouraged me to explore all facets of my family, because they all bring something different to who I am.  She said that that there were many things I could learn and understand by looking into the family history.

It’s one of the things that we did when I went to visit her in Egypt. Learning about the different branches of the family. There were things to understand about the Nelson side of the family that I could only learn through reading my grandfather’s journals and visiting that part of the family and one of the things that Grandmother and others wanted me to understand was that family did not always mean blood.

The people in the pictures were more than friends they were family. They shared a bond that few could understand, few that could try.  Despite the difficult relationship that my grandfather had with who the person his father was there was no denying this was a part of his life. While he may have not accepted the station so to speak, he did accept that this was a part of his legacy.

Complicated.  That is how it was described on more than one occasion.  He had a complicated relationship with his father and the work they were both involved in.  What Grandfather observed could not be unseen.  That which he knew could not be unlearned. In short, he could not ignore all that was happening around him.  He could not overlook situations that required someone to act, but he could do his way.  He would not be guided unknowingly or unwillingly. He would decide how and when he would get involved and he would not do it alone or by trying to play puppet master.

“That is the way that your grandfather wished to engage the world he was a member of. He wanted to decide the man he was to become. He wanted a better life for me and for your mother and anyone that came after. He also wanted everyone to have a choice. He made his choice and he wanted your mother to have a choice. He made his position quite clear, but in the end, he understood that it would be her choice and her choice alone.”

As it would be mine, though there was something about the way she looked at me when she said it that made me feel that there was something more. It was like she knew what my choice was or perhaps the choice was already made. I won’t lie sometimes I feel like the choice was already made that it was already decided not by me or by him, but by something greater than us both, by the force our house was named after.

Regardless, it will not prevent me from continuing the journey.  It just gives me more to think about. Turning the corner my eyes glance up along the building in front of me. Unlike the previous building this one was definitely different.  People lived here.  People trained here. For a period of time this was one of the most important buildings in Gotham, in the world, for a time.

I wonder if I closed my eyes if I could see it, if I could hear it.  If I can imagine it as it was before.  The building isn’t in bad shape. It’s actually in quite good shape.  It was a museum for a while, but it was shuddered years ago. It hasn’t been utilized as a base of operations since before the dark times. There was a time when people wanted to see this building razed to the ground.

Superheroes were in vogue one moment and out the next.  People saw them as dangerous. The government saw them as resources to be controlled. Despite his differences with his father Grandfather understood the need to protect what secrets he could. There were those that thought they knew better, but it usually led to situations that are graver than they should have been.  Even worse awakening or gaining the notice of those that they should hope to avoid.

There were some that the government or others could be entrusted with secrets and artifacts, to keep them safe.  Then there were those that believed they weren’t capable. It usually led to problems, conflicts and then you had those that were caught in the middle, those trying to do what they could to keep everyone safe and sometimes making the hard choices that others couldn’t even if it wasn’t someone’s desired outcome.  Happily, ever after wasn’t always the goal and right now this building reminded me that there were a lot of grim endings for the heroes. Grim endings that some want to avoid repeating…if they can.

“Such a bright up the Justice Society of America was, until it wasn’t.”

Postcards from Gotham – Personal Jesus

Postcards from Gotham – Personal Jesus

Synopsis:  Jason considers what his next steps are while looking over his current domicile. He considers the options before him. The rare opportunity that he has.  He can either turn away from or  towards the sun. Deciding that if he is going to take a stand that he needs to do more than talk to talk.  Either he’s in or out.  Another step is taken in the direction he wants to go on.

Maps.  Everywhere there were maps, all of Gotham.  There were physical maps, topographical maps, subway maps, maps of the water ways and the tunnels.  All maps of Gotham that I could get my hands on were gathered.  Some were spread across walls others were stored away in the various shelves.  When there weren’t map there were blueprints.  Blueprints of every building that was currently accessibly to the public. Many of them were the older ones, ones that people didn’t think too much about, but for someone like me, who liked knowing there were copies of them tucked away or hung up for one reason or another.  Anything that I could request I would get my hands on.

These were things that I collected to when I came to my father’s secret spot, the building that held no name. They once were stored in the room that I called my own, my very own clubhouse so to speak, but now that my father would not be returning it was all mine.  Mine to do as I wish until someone decided that they wanted to do something with the property, but I suspect that would not happen given the location.

For, now, it was mine and it served me well.  I gathered what I could here.  Knowing my way around the city came in handy more than once, really all the time.  Need to know more than a few ways to some places, especially if you were going to make a hasty exit.  Just because I had a place of my own so to speak did not mean that I would stop my other routines.  There were books to read, that never stopped. Not to mention libraries would remain my sanctuaries.  If I could make it back, I knew which libraries I could crash at.

Wouldn’t be the first time nor would it be the last. Sometimes I had to disappear, evade the wrath of my father if things did not go his way or if he wanted to include me on a job that I wanted to avoid. Sometimes it was necessary to prevent my mother from doing things she would later regret.  It was cheap, it was free, and I could keep myself entertained with the books. Learn things that I probably was missing out in school, not to mention become familiar with the things that that would help me stay valuable whether it was information or tips and tricks of a trade or two.

There were things to learn in school, lots to learn in school, but books, there was tons to learn there.  Things that people forgot about or didn’t consider.  Not everyone had the cash to have what they need done which meant that you needed to do yourself.  I wouldn’t say I was a genius, but books kept me occupied. Also given my current living situation DYI had become my middle name more than ever, and You Tube wasn’t readily available all the time.  Besides nothing wrong with broadening your horizons.

I mean there’s talent, but then there were things that you could only learn from a book.  Though sometimes you had to put yourself out there. Listen. Observe.  Figure out what it was what people wanted, more importantly what they needed and do what you could to make yourself invaluable as long as you could, but always had a back-up plan two and exit strategies.  Find your opportunity and when none presents itself create one. Lessons from my father and mother, sometimes for good means, sometimes not so good means.   It was the way things went where I lived.  Sometimes it was the difference between life and death.

Life and death.   That the line that you walk in Gotham.  One wrong choice. One wrong word and it can collapse in around you. Everything you wanted can be snatched away before you had a chance to even believe it was possible.  Gotham isn’t the place of dreams. It’s not even the place dreams go to die. It’s the place of nightmares and if you lucky every now and then you wake up and gain a chance to experience a bit of reprieve before you’re sucked back in. Escape is possible, but Gotham’s like a drug. It gets in your veins. You can’t shake it.  There’s something about it that makes you want to try.  I don’t know how to explain it.  I wish I could, but I can’t.

It’s pretty effed up if you ask me. I mean I should be on the on my way out of town.  The more distance I put between me and Gotham the better.   It should be a distant point in my memory so far away that the light from that memory would take a billion years to reach me.   That would be the smart bet.  Star over, but do you really start over.

Gotham never washes away. It doesn’t stain your skin it stains the soul. Everyone has their baggage.  Their drama.  Gotham was mine.  It took so much, and I should hate it and there is a part of me that does, but every now and then I remember what was possible, what is possible, the people that made life not so horrible.  It would be easy to say that Gotham was a sickness, and I had thoroughly become infected and it would soon eat away at me until there was nothing more, but a husk, a shell of a person that was now simply another part of the collective who would give in to the vile wants and needs of those that continued to poison the city until it could no longer dream.

The forgotten wasteland that drives you to desperation. They want you to give in until you’re the one holding the bat, gripping the crowbar or whatever you can get your hands into.  Until you’re claiming your right as a Gothamite exact your pound of flesh and drink your fill of blood until your have sated the need, but that’s the problem it doesn’t end there.  It never ends.

They say Gotham doesn’t get the heroes it wants; it gets the heroes it needs but sometimes it’s not enough.  There is a line, one I stand upon it watching it run through my lifetime and time again and sometimes it shifts, but how far does it shift. When do you tell yourself that you’re better than that, you the world you wish to see must be reflected in everything you do and say?  The reflection you cast is as wide and vast as you wish it to be, and it’s a constant fight to keep it clear, to prevent it from being clouded.

When you hold the line, it starts from within not from without.

It’s strange when you feel like you should be doing something, but you wonder how you should do it?  What you should do?  Sometimes you walk the streets and just watch and look you try to blend into the background.  Do your best not to get noticed when you don’t want to be and as you do things start to become clear.  The truth is there, and most of the time it’s an ugly truth.

I guess I have been doing that for a long time now.  I can’t say that I’m on the straight and narrow, because I still have to eat and that means that I may have to do things that I’ve done in the past to make ends meet, make sure that me and mom didn’t starve or get kicked out, but now that it’s just me what does it mean?

I know what the government will say, I know what they will do, but let’s face it my face, my name it all says bad news.  My mother died in an accident, and tragic can be attached to it, but the environment, the environment is toxic.   No one wants that in their lives, not anyone that I probably care to be around, because I know what they would want from me, more like from the government.  The check is what they would be waiting for, and though there are some good ones out there, but I know the baggage that I come with. It doesn’t go away, because I want it to, not to mention there’s things that I can do, things that I need to do.

My live has been out of my control for good part of my life.  What I portion I could claim for myself was hampered by the action of my parents.  Now, that life has dealt me my next hand I have to decide what my next play is.

Part of me knows, but the other part wonders if I’m ready.  If I should.  Nothing to it, but to do it they say, come good or bad.  I can do that much right?

Right now I can make my own rules for as long as I can. I know there are alternatives, but the alternatives are ones I rather not consider.  I rather avoid if possible. Of course, that meant that there were decisions that needed to be made.  Decisions that required to be supported by actions.  Actions that required a level of commitment that would see me through to that corner.  The one that had be turned so I can find my way to the next step.

Down from the top floor to the street.  Out of the room with maps and blueprints to the path that would take me where I needed to go.  Being quick was good, but sometimes you had to stand your ground and it couldn’t be luck that carried you through.  I knew some, but not enough. There was no one to turn to but myself, and people, some people decided that there needed to be lessons taught to whoever they felt was in need of one.

Which meant that I would be in need of lessons of my own. For me and for them.  Just like Mark Watney said.

 At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you… everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem… and you solve the next one… and then the next. And If you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”

Eff Mars.  Mars’s got nothing on Gotham.

Thing is in Gotham everything starts south.  Actually, it starts in hell. You’re born right into hell and after you accept that you can either stay where you are or climb your way out, one circle at a time, because let’s face it Dante got it wrong. There are ten circles of hell and Gotham’s right in the center it.  If you let it be. Once you break out of that mindset you only got nine circles to go.

Pushing the door open to the building I walked to I glanced around chewing on the inside of my cheek. Glancing over at the woman he was talking to who I perceived was the gym I watched as she approached even as the man leveled his gaze at me like he knew me.

“Welcome to The Pride of Gotham are you interested in joining?”

The Book of Fate: Who is Khalid Ben-Hassin? – Part IV

The Book of Fate: Who is Khalid Ben-Hassin? – Part III

Magic speaks to magic sometimes.  It calls out to one another.  My grandfather called out to my grandmother.  My mother called out my father.  It’s in his blood, deep in it, but it’s there my grandmother told me. So deep that sometimes it gets missed.  Her way of saying that it skips a generation or two, still it yearns. 

My parents met because of my grandfather.  My father was a colleague of my grandfather.  Someone he could consult from the world of academia.  My mother met him because of that association and it was his death that brought them closer together.

I’ve only heard part of the story.  My mother told me she would tell me the rest one day, but one day past, and she has gone on to the afterlife only to come when summoned.  I think she chose that instead because that is where my grandfather is, but also because their both waiting for their other halves to join them, so they will be complete.  

They are stronger together than apart.  I am more than my mother’s father’s family my grandmother told me.  I am made up her family and my grandfather’s family. My gift she told me would present itself when it was ready. 

I cannot read minds, naturally I cannot move objects with unseen forces.  Sure, I can accomplish those feats with a spell or use of an artifact or talisman, but not through sheer will.  A burst of wild talent perhaps, but that would cause more problems than anything.  Those are not my gifts. I wish I could have shared what my gifts are with my grandfather.

If there is one thing that I want from you, it is for you to be better to me.  To embrace what you are capable of.  Not to shy away from it.  Twice has the question been asked twice it has been denied.  Once by me and again by your mother.  I asked her too. Why did she answer as I had? Perhaps I terrified her?  The stories I shared.  The things I said.  The picture that I painted with the wild strokes of an angered fill brush. 

It may have not been fair, but she was my little girl.  Even now I can’t lie.  When asked the question I want you to deny him, but I’m afraid that I have no say in the matter, no matter how much I want to. Perhaps this is my role to play.  Perhaps this is my failing as a father and a grandfather.  I wish I could do more for you, but I’ve only been told that I can prepare you. 

Prepare me.  

She used those words, my grandmother.  

”I can only prepare you.  Prepare your mind. Your body is as strong as your mind.  Curse me if you wish, Khalid, but I rather you be cross with me, hate me even than you be unprepared for what’s to come.”

He asked her to prepare me.  

My parents instructed me in many things as I grew up, but it was my grandmother who gave me intense instruction in the ways of magic and the area of mental discipline.  She was the one that recognized my innate talents for what they were.  My mother only suspected.  Reaching up I touch the ankh I wear around my neck for a moment.  

So, what exactly am I trying to tell you?  I told your mother that I wasn’t good at this type of thing. I told your grandmother I was terrible, but she encouraged me to write what I know.  Write about the things that you might want to know.  

Things about the family. 

Our family.  

Where to start? I guess it starts with who we are.  Seekers of truth.  Though someone might debate that we were focused on fact more than truth. Truth depends on someone’s perspective. Truth can be shaped by facts, but facts are not always shaped by truth.  I guess that is how your great, great grandfather, got involved with Archaeology.  

I don’t know if he was looking for adventure, fact, or truth or simply knowledge. Knowledge of the deep and recent pasts.  It got into our blood and for a time it was in the blood of my father, your great, grandfather.   However, things changed when they found a hidden tomb. It changed the course of our family’s destiny for years to come.   

To the outsider it would appear to be the greatest of all adventures.  To my father it was his path.  To me it was the never-ending horror that stole everything that could or would be. It revealed to me the best and worst the world, no, the universe had to offer.  This is the world I grew to know.  To say that I had a difficult childhood would be an understatement. 

Now, don’t misunderstand, my father was a great man, a flawed man. one who tried to do the best that he could with the tools that he had been given.  It’s safe to say we have a complicated relationship. One with far too many individuals involved for my liking.

Far too many individuals involved?  More like one person that was involved that he didn’t want to have involved.  I had heard the story enough, and I had heard his  side more than once.

Unlike Kent Nelson, my great-grandfather, I would not walk into this being guided by the hand of someone that wanted to hold all the cards.  My mother would not allow it.  My father would not allow it.  My grandparents forbade it.  Step into the light with your eyes wide open.  Do not turn your heard.  Do no bow your head.  Stare into the sun. 

I know that is counter intuitive, but in this situation bowing your head, looking away was not an act of reverence, it was an act of contrition, that you would allow your will to be subjugated to the will of another.   My grandmother within me she sensed something that that no other possessed. Something that set me apart.  What it was, she could not say.  That was strange.  She couldn’t put her finger upon it.  However, it did not prevent my grandmother from being any less determined when it came to my training. 

She told me that any time we could stop, but that meant that I would have to make other choices, chose a different path than continue to have several paths open to me.  Otherwise I would do a disservice to myself, and I could find myself being more of a servant than I probably wanted to be, more than my grandfather would have every wanted me to be.  She said I could assume the role that my grandfather had, which would not be a bad thing in her eyes, but she did feel that I was capable of more.  I don’t know if it was an allure or not, but it was something that kept me moving forward.  I felt engaged.  

Still, when she felt that I had learned all that I could, all I could be.  Truth be told there were days where I resented my parents and my grandmother, even my father’s parents, because of the things I felt that I was missing out on, things that I wanted to do.  Things kids that weren’t born into my family did. 

Everyone has friction with their family, it’s a part of being a family, it’s not something that can be avoided, but there were days when I wanted to be not me.  I can’t say that my family was disappointed or upset. It was only natural to want to carve your own path, to figure out who you wanted to be. 

There was only so much that your family and mentors could show you and though my grandmother was my main instructor there were other people who came in and out of my life to help teach me the craft.  When we settled in Michigan most of the year was spent in Detroit, being instructed by my grandmother and parents. 

Summers me took all over the world even after my grandmother decided was time for her to return to Egypt.  Even after my mother past, it did not stop.  My father understood how important it was for me to continue my instruction.  I visit my grandmother.  I visit father’s parents.  I visit him, given that he has been avoiding Michigan since my mother’s death.  

He’s keeping busy and he’s working, it’s his way of working through her passing. Still, I know that I am at a crossroads, I can feel it I can sense it, it’s why I decided to carry my grandfather’s journals with me.  I know that choice will need to be made.  In many ways it’s already been made. Still it helps to have context.  Which means I should be moving in to my next destination.

Postcards from Gotham: American Woman

Postcards from Gotham: American Woman

Synopsis:  Faye Gunn, foster mother extraordinaire,  stops in Harper Row’s shop to have a old gaming console repaired.   Harper supplies her with a working gaming console and several more games that she had before.  Faye advises that she will come by with one of her folder children to drop of her television for Harper to repair.



People visiting Harper happened often given her reputation. Whether they got in to see her was another story. When the van pulled in front of her shop a few people took notice as it was definitely more than a few years old. It sounded like it was in needed of new muffler. It was one of the stops that the owner was going to be making today, but this was a more important stop given the information that had been shared with her since she set out in search of a young boy that seemed to be quite adept at hiding in plain sight it seemed.

Opening the door she stepped out looking around while drawing her coat together.  Clearing her throat she shut the door behind her before moving around to the opposite side of the passenger van.  Opening the door she lifted a box up.  She moved well, but it was a lot to maneuver.

“I got it ma’am.”  A young boy  wearing a boy scout uniform ran over to shut the door for her.

“Thank you, young man.”  She smiled over at him while she walked over towards the shop. He opened the door for her while she walked in with the box in her hands and her purse hanging off her arm.  She gave him a nod stepping into the shop looking around tipping her head to the side for a moment looking for the proprietor.

“Hello.”  She called out taking another step inside her eyes gazing along the shelves before setting the box down upon the counter.  The door was open so they had to be open.   Hopefully.  It was the Narrows.

Opening her purse she reached in to retrieve a piece of candy while she waited.



Harper Row sat at the larger of her two work stations in the hidden rear section of her shop. She had intended to begin working on one of her many pending projects, but then as they say the rhythm got her. So instead she found her hands moving in a faux rhythmic drum movement of the music blasting over old school book box that presently sat in the corner of the shop and all but ignoring the monitors for the front room. The goggles intended for use with a welding torch swung forward and back again as Harper moves her chest ever so slightly with the movement of the song she had found herself truly enthralled with.

“Twenty..twenty four hours to go….”

Harper continued to mime the minimal but no less potent drum portion of the song despite having not a single drumstick on hand, the long slender wrenches would have to suffice for now. Spinning one of the tools in her fingers she finds it slipping from her grasp and sailing into the air. A sound best described as the mournful cries of a heartbroken and possibly randy gibbon escapes her lips as she scrambles to catch up to the rogue wrench.

Her distress can only rise as the wrench strikes the boom box sending it teetering back and then over to fall to the floor the music it produced ending far to abruptly for her taste. Waking over to inspect the damage she stops as her eyes catch site of the monitors for the outer room. Taking a few short steps to the laptop the monitors were linked to Harper zooms in on the older woman in what some might call. A lobby, but only if they were being nice.

Tapping the microphone icon on the laptop Harper begins to speak.

“Can I help you?”



The woman continued to look around pausing when she heard the sound of the girls voice across the intercom. Taking a step back she scanned the lobby turning her attention to any cameras she might come upon.

“Hello there.” She waved.   “Perhaps. It all depends.”  She moved towards the box holding it up.  “I heard you’re a bit of a fixer and I have something called a Super Nintendo Entertaining System.” She shrugged.  “The fellow I bought it off of said it needs to be fixed. Most laughed when I set it down before them started talking about X Station and Playbox.”   She shook her head.

“Whatever those are.   All I know is that this was thirty dollars and if it’s salvageable then i would like to give it a shot for my kids.  I think they would like it. It would be a bit of a treat for them.  Could you take a look.  Let me know if it’s possible?”   Setting the box back down she stood there waiting.



“I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I couldn’t…”

Harper said in reply, then tapping the microphone icon again to mute her voice she moves to pick up a nearby broom. Snapping the dustpan free she takes a quick moment to sweep up the bits and pieces that her wicked wrench solo had caused to come loose from a clients boom box. She supposed that project had gone from competed to once more being on the pending list.

“Be right out.”

A moment passes and the door to the interior shop sides open following the sound of at least three locks disengaging. Stepping into the lobby Harper moves closer to Faye taking a moment to wipe her now gloveless hands against the grungy overalls she wore before offering one to her new client.

“Harper Row and you are?”



“Sounds like I’ve come to the right place then.”  A warm smile spread across her lips.  She did want to get this fixed up for the kids.  A bit of a reward for doing so well with their schoolwork and chores.  She seemed to be quite pleased with Harper’s responses.  Hopefully this won’t cost too much.  There was a budget that needed to be followed and she rather find a way to give the children something to enjoy without having to send them out to the arcade.  If they went to the arcade then they were limited in the number of games that they could play.

“Of course.”  She stepped through the lobby noting that it could use a good cleaning, but it is a workshop not a home, but a good cleaning could do wonders.

When the door opened and Harper came into view Faye offered a polite smile one that seemed familiar while she stepped towards the box.

“Well, look at you.”  She reached out to shake the young woman’s hand.  “Miss Gunn.  Most call me Ma Gunn.”  Releasing Harper’s hand she took a step back the other could take a look at what she had.

“So I take it you do well in your science and math classes.  STEM is what they’re calling it right?  Is that what you want to study when you go to school, engineering?”  She paused.

“Apologies for prying. I just find it refreshing to see young people so curious and interested in science and technology.  So many have no idea what they want to do or what even interests them.”



Harper moved to open the box the system sat in her movements careful and deliberate. Clearly she held the system in a high regard and knew just fragile an item she held. Taking the lid to the box and laying it on a nearby countertop , Harper places the Nintendo on the lid clearly to keep it from the grime of the actual counter.

“I wouldn’t know…”

She said in reply containing to work on accessing the inside of the system stopping just long enough to slide a pen light from a pouch on her chest. Clicking it on and aiming it inside inspecting the simple inner working a moment before looking back to Faye.

“Did you try blowing into it?”

Harper,s face remained impassive and without emotion for less then a second as a wide grin moved across her formerly serious features. Turning back to the system and again aiming the small but powerful light inside.

“I haven’t been in school for awhile Miss Gunn, life sort of demanded I pick it up on my own…”



Faye watched the young woman while she examined the item in question.  It was definitely second hand, but seemed to be clean enough.  It would power on, but it would not read the cartridges when one was placed inside.  “Yes.  The game box itself and the cartridge.  The person I purchased it from said that that might be required.   Something about older games being quite sensitive.” She shrugged.

“If I need to get my money back then I will have to undertake that task, but I think it still has some life left in it.  So I thought best to bring it into a repair shop.  I’ve heard that you had a bit of a magic touch. I was in the area, so I thought I would pop in and see what you would say.”  She moved towards Harper watching as she worked a bit.

“Well, that’s unfortunate.  I gather you’re a bright young lady.   Hopefully someone appreciates your talent, but I understand.  Life doesn’t always unfold the way we would like.  We can either let it have its way with us or we adapt.  Though I do hope that if the opportunity of school presents itself that you will take it.  Sometime tells me that you would do quite well there and perhaps teach the school a thing or two.”  Faye might be buttering her up a bit just to get a good deal on a the price of a repair or she could be quite honest or a bit of both.

“I want my children to finish school. If it is not for them there is nothing that I can do about that, but they have the opportunity.  I don’t want them to ever think that it was not possible.  After they’ve graduated then they can make the choice to continue or not continue.  It was the promise I made to them. It’s also one of the rules.”  She smiled a little.

“Their my foster children.  They’re dears and monsters.  Their children.”  She laughed.   “I love each and every one of them.  We make due with what we can, but they have to do their part and I have to do mine.  Good home.  Meals. Clean clothes most of all, all the love and support I can give them even if it feels like I’m being the monster, because I won’t let them do whatever they want.”  She made a bit of a sound.

“Sorry.  One of my free days and I’m boring you with the prattle of old woman. I usually meet with my friends to play a few hands of poker or bridge.  They’re used to it.  I’ll let you get back to examining the game box.”



Clicking the pen light off with her thumb and placing it back into its spot in her grease stained overalls as she turned around to face Faye again. Moving to lean on her palms as they were placed behind her against the counter the system sat on. Harper listened quietly as the older woman spoke nodding a few times until she again paused.

“Ill give you a free pass this once I suppose..”

Jerking a thumb over her shoulder at the system.

“This I can fix in the time it takes me to grab something from the back room. It you have the right part and an obsession with old tech its not hard to repair at all.”

Harper had known the moment she had looked inside the system that it was truly screwed, but she also knew she had at least three working Nintendo, and a box of games her father had left behind somewhere in her workshop. It wasn’t as if he would be coming back for either item anytime soon, little time for games during thug time…



She looked towards Harper with a smile.  “Thank you.  Once I get going sometimes I don’t how to stop.” She chuckled shaking her head, but smiled when Harper said she had what she needed to fix the game.

“That would be fantastic.  You are a life saver.  I knew when I came in that you were the right person to speak to.  Miracle worker you are.”  She smiled over at the young woman.  “Perhaps I can pop again with another item, that’s been giving me a bit of trouble.   Television set.  Might have to have one of the boys come with me to carry the thing, but it’s been a bit twitchy.   I should really buy a new one, but it hasn’t gone out on me completely.”  It’s something that needed to get repaired.

Still, it’s possible that Harper had other work that she needed to do.

“Only if it wouldn’t be too much of a bother.  It’s my own set.  Had it for years actually.  Probably due for a new one, but I have to focus on our expenses.  Enough for a repair, but not a new one yet unless the repair is going to be quite steep. I might need to consider my choices, but the only way I’ll know is if have someone look at it first.”

Have to start somewhere.



“I don’t see why not…”

Turning from Faye and walking to the keypad alongside the door into her actual working area, Harper presses her thumb against a well worn and greasy biometric scanner. A moment passes before a series of sounds can be heard from the other side of the door. The moment the sounds stop and the locks cease opening the door itself slides into the wall to let Harper enter.

From within the shop Harper again speaks out to Faye.

“Give me a minute…five tops…it’s in here I swear..”

The voice comes across muffled and difficult to fully understand as Harper moves further into the shops interior searching for the needed device. The strange series of sounds emanating from within the room that Faye can hear now with the door open likely only add to the break down in communication.


Shouts Harper emerging back into the light of the outer waiting room with a sizable beaten and faded cardboard box, its contents clearly held in place with due to the liberally applied duct tape and the odd dinosaur sticker.

Harper sets the box down in front of Faye and steps back to allow the woman to look inside for herself.



“Splendid!  I will pop by in a few days to drop it off.   Pick it up in a few days.”  There was a schedule to keep.  Today was a bit different she had a bit of time to spare, but most days there was work to be done.  Faye’s lips curved into a warm smile at the prospect of getting her television repaired.  Now if she could get this gaming system fixed then everything would be perfected.

Of course, she would have to devise a schedule and perhaps the children would now be more inclined to do complete their chores and school work in a more-timely fashion.  She knew it wasn’t the latest and greatest, but it was better than nothing.

“No worries, dear.  Take your time.”  Far be it for Faye to rush the young one.  She seemed to know here way around electronics.  She watched her go in to what she could only assume was her workshop.  Interesting the precautions she took. It made Faye wonder if there was something dangerous behind the door, expensive perhaps.  They were in the Narrows and one never could be too careful.

While she waited, Faye walked the length of the front room counting to herself silently while taking another pass with her eyes while running her finger along the counter glancing at it few times before turning back towards the direction that Harper went when she cried out that she had located what she was looking for.

“Have you…”  Faye blinked several times stepping toward the box.  “What is this?”  She took another step until she was close enough to look inside of the box to see what was inside.

“Oh my…”   She glanced towards Harper then back into the box.  “This is quite generous.”



Harper waves off the comment about her generosity in as nice a fashion as she can muster, she didn’t want to appear dismissive. Stepping up closer to the box and leaning over to reach inside her hand grasps one of the games inside and pulls it out holding it up toward the dim light overhead. Tilting it to better catch the light her eyes light up as the label gains new clarity with proper illumination.

“Ikari Warriors…a true classic.”

She holds the cartridge up for a moment longer and with a brief sigh places it back into the box, her hand now free moves to slide into one of the side pocket of her overalls. From within she removes a card which she holds for for Faye to take.

“Just call ahead and I can make sure I’m about to let your kids in with the television.”



Whether she was waving it off or not, Faye, didn’t care.  She meant what she said.  This was quite generous and unexpected.  To provide this to her for the children.  It made Faye’s face light up.  It was far more games than she originally brought it.

When the game was brought up into the light Faye looked it over.  “I’ll be sure to mention that. Perhaps the children can teach me to play.  I’m sure I can keep up if not I’m sure there’s something in there that’s more my speed.” If not there was always cards right?

Reaching for the card she looked it over before she moved in to give Harper a good-natured hug.  “Oh, I know probably too much, but I can’t help it.”  She stepped back looking into Harper’s eyes.  “The children are going to absolutely love this.”  Faye transferred some of the games she had from her original box into the larger box.  No sense in carrying two of them.

Slipping the card away she nodded. “I’ll make sure to send them in and you have my word they will be well behaved. If not they know that I will be quite disappointed with them and they will be reprimanded appropriated.”   She did hate the word punished.

Slipping her arms around the box she lifted it up.  “If you could help me with the door.  I need to get this in the van. I have a present to wrap up.” She sounded positively giddy.



Harper nearly falls over herself when she realizes how truly terrible a person she was being. Running the two steps it takes for her to catch up and pass Faye she sweeps the box into her hands as gingerly as she is able.

“I got it, no problem.”

With that she turns and opens the door using her foot and then moves to take the box to Faye car.



With a smile Faye walks towards the door but Harper’s already pushing it open with her foot.  Walking towards the van she opened the passenger door so Harper could load the box inside.

“Thank you, Harper, for everything.”  She came in to get a repair and got more than she anticipated.  “Now, don’t linger to long it’s a getting nippy out. Oh..”  Before she forgot.  She reached into in her purse to get what she needed and pressed it into Harper’s hand.

“I think that should cover it for everything that you’ve done.”  She hoped eighty dollars would cover it. She felt it was fair.  Perhaps there could have been some more, but she moved around to the other side of the van before Harper could say anything.  “If it’s not enough let my boys know when I come by with the television and I’ll add a little more.”  She slipped into the van starting it up.

With a wave and a smile she shifted the van into gear and began pulling off from the curb with a light double tap on the horn.

The Book of Fate: Who is Khalid Ben-Hassin? – Part IV

The Book of Fate: Who is Khalid Ben-Hassin? – Part II

What does that mean?  I really can’t tell you what it means to you.  You must decide what it means to you. Being a member of our family meant different things to all of us.  I can tell you that we love one another.  That we care about one another, but it was never easy being a member of this family and many times it had nothing to do with the enemies of our House and I say our House, because sometimes it’s better to think of that way. 

I think I had a good idea who he was referring to.  There was a force that had become intrinsically connected to our family that sought to be its guiding hand, good or bad.  I won’t go as far to say that it was a guiding star, because I know for a fact that my grandfather did not think of him that way.  In a lot of ways my grandfather saw him as the enemy, because of who and what he took from him.

Rather than stop I continue.  I read on letting my grandfather share with me what he wanted.   He took time to write it all down. It was information meant for me.  I know this is one of many journals, but it was the first one that I was meant to read.  The others could be read out of order, but this one, this one needed to come first.  In truth it was one of two.

The first one was just every day things that my grandfather wanted me to know.  Lessons that I needed to learn.  He said that our family had certain aptitudes.  One of them being archaeology.  It was our family’s trade whether people believe it or not, the first one that stretched back to my great-great grandfather Sven.

My great-grandfather, my mother’s grandfather began as an archaeologist, but he transitioned to medicine eventually becoming a physician.  My mother, as I had told Becky, studied archaeology.  She knew more about than most respected individuals in the field.  My mother didn’t limit herself to the study of relics of the past she was also curious about people and societies and how they interacted with one another.  She spread her thirst for knowledge to anthropology. I can’t say whether or not it was meant to be, but her educational pursuits brought her to the world of medicine.

Perhaps we’re drawn to it, perhaps its what w know. Perhaps it was just something that was destined to happen.   Hard to say, but despite her collective studies she decided to attend medical school. It was a story I knew well, one that I had been told many times, by father, by my grandmother and eventually my mother.  She wanted me to know that we could have pursuits that lie outside of the family business.   We could find a balance if we wanted to.

Her peers in her chosen fields of study said she was gifted.  She was unlike anyone that had ever met.  She had a way of blending the modern and the ancient, finding remedies to aid in the most complicated of cases.  Some new, some long forgotten.

When I asked my mother about she often told me that she learned from the best.  She learned from her grandfather.  Now this isn’t to say that my mother had an easy life.  It was hardly a case of her getting everything she wanted.  She worked hard for the life she forged for herself.

She gave up a lot and she lost a lot, but where my grandfather let it consume him, she found her own way, she was able to make choices that he was not.  Still, there was no denying that she was gifted.

I find that to be both amazing and frustrating all at once.  At least I did.  When she past to the next life I wondered for a good while, why me and not her. It took me a long time to understand, too remember what she had always told me, that she had chosen the life that she wished to live.  She did just enough, enough for her and enough for the world, no more no less.

She said part of her wanted to keep her promise to her father.  To be a better parent than he was to her. Her father was present, in her life, but not as much as he would have liked to be.  Work kept him busy. It was my grandfather’s one regret, that he was not able to spend as much time as he would’ve liked with my mother and my grandmother.

Shifting my eyes back to the written words on the page I couldn’t help, but wondered what the next passage would be bring, because I was always curious about this particular relationship.  When my grandmother spoke about my grandfather, there was no great deal of reverence in her voice.  Many times there was a hint of irritation, but irritation that comes from mutual respect. Also, a bit of annoyance that he wasn’t there for her to fuss at.

What was it that she told me once?  Death was a convenient way for him to escape my wrath…for now.  Grandmothers.  You gotta love them right?

Your grandmother.  What can I say about her? 

She was frustrating.   She could be quite diabolical when given the opportunity.  She was honest and free in a way I could never hope to be. 

She was an immovable force when she wanted to be.  A warm embrace when she needed to be.   A power to be reckoned with.  Your grandmother was far smarter than I, and far more patient with me than I probably deserved.  She was my wife and the love of my life.  She was everything that I needed in a partner and rival. It was our way. 

Your grandmother questioned everything I did, while supporting me in every endeavor.   She was far more skilled in magic.  She had a natural talent that I envied. I often wondered if I truly embraced all that I was. I won’t say that it came easy to her, but where she embraced it, I chose to erect a wall before me.  

Magic was in my blood.  It was in my life, but I did not want my father’s life.   I understood sacrifice, but there were some things that I could not live without.  She and your mother were people I could not live without.

They were my life and I would do everything I could to protect them. From the world.  From everything in it. From the shadows that lurked the halls of the government, the monsters that crept from above and below.  Most of all I would protect them from him…from both of them.

My grandmother.  When I think about her I smile. She told me once that my grandfather could have been the greatest sorcerer of his generation, but he chose family first. At least as much as he could there were some events that could not be avoided.   He made the choice that his father had never been given. She told me that I would have loved my grandfather.  Once she told me that if she did possess any regrets it was that my mother did not know more of him, but she was grateful for the time that they did share with one another no matter how brief it was.

I visit her when I can.  She stayed with us for a time after we had settled in Michigan.  When she felt I was old enough she returned home, she went back to Egypt.  She said it called to her.  It’s where she was needed.  However, she was only a phone call away, but it was better this way.  My mother was settling into the role she decided to take on and she had my father to support her, but things were changing, my grandmother could see it, she could feel it.

It was my grandmother that instructed me on how to control what I could do.  She taught me as she had taught my mother.  A well ordered and disciplined mind is required for the work that we do. There were lessons and drills every day as far back as I could remember.  I asked my mother once if she had been taught the same way.

She answered me, but there had been so many things she hadn’t said.  A great deal, I felt that she was holding something back.  Something that she wanted to share, but she told me that my grandmother teaches from a place of love, but also from a place of responsibility.  One must be accountable for their actions at all times.  Erratic thoughts could be dangerous when magic was involved and when it manifested itself.

An undisciplined mind could draw attention when none was wanted. It was both my mother’s answer and non-answer that told me all that I needed to know.  However, one night while I was practicing with my grandmother as she sought to know what talents I truly possessed she told me something.  Something that surprised me and now confirmed by my grandfather’s words.

She told me that I had to be better than my grandfather.   She told me that I had to accept that I could be more than one thing.  That it was possible.  That I could find the balance that had long been denied his father and he sought to find.  She said that my great-grandfather was many things, but he possessed innate talent for magic, one that had been passed onto my grandfather who passed it to my mother, who passed it on to me.

It takes different forms.   My mother could read minds.  She was quite skilled at it.  I won’t lie. I hated it.   My grandmother told me that my grandfather could move things like his father.  She told me that he was not as skilled with it as his father partly, because he did not want to be his father despite the love that he had for him.  He felt it would draw a specter to him. See him as a replacement.

Something my grandfather never aspired or desired to be.