Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Amish

Throughout his life Benjamin Yoder has been called many things. First, he was called Benjamin after his grandfather. His parents called him son, or boy when he misbehaved, and a man when he was old enough. The neighbor girl, Mary, called him brat. then friend, and finally husband. After some years, Elisha and Hannah, would call him father.

When he started his own farm his neighbors would call him friend. When admiring his fields they called him industrious. When he began speaking at church they called him charismatic. When he accepted the role of leader, they called him Shepherd.

The traditions of his people were simple so they referred to themselves as the Plain Folk. They had set up their community outside the reaches of the nearby town, but still they dealt with the local populace. When they went to Dodge City, the people there called them Amish.

When James Riley, a local rancher, wished to extend his reach, he needed water and land to do it, he called them obstacles. When Benjamin refused to sell the land his family and friends had worked; Riley called him a fool.

A week later when a group of hard men rode into the community. Their leader a scarred man, named Dixon, told them to leave. He had said it was their “last chance.”

Benjamin walked forward and said, We will not leave.”

Dixon and his men laughed, “You have a choice; you can leave or you can die.“

Benjamin looked him in the eyes, “we’re not leaving and we won’t fight you, so you may as well just go now.”

As Dixon’s men laughed behind him, “you mean to tell me, you wont fight me, even to protect all these women and children here?”

“The Lord protects us,” Benjamin said placing his hand over the Bible he kept in his jacket pocket. “We will not fight you.”

Dixon scratched the straggly beginnings of the facial hair dirtying his chin, “Mr. I can’t tell if your wise man or a coward.” Dixon’s hand moved fast and with four loud cracks, Benjamin fell backwards into the dirt. “Well, I guess he was a coward.”

They laughed has they drug his badly wounded still breathing body to the church and locked him inside. When they set it on fire, they called him a dead man. Benjamin’s last conscious memory was watching the iron church bell crash through the roof towards him.

*  *  *

He woke a week later, in Doc Millers office. The folks from Dodge had found him under the church bell. The falling bell had engulfed him in it’s open mouth, protecting him from the flames. He had three holes in his gut, two of the bullets had passed through and the third had been easy to find and remove. The fourth shot had pierced the bible he kept in his breast pocket, stopping the bullet that would have pierced his heart. Doc Miller called him lucky.

The people of Dodge had always been friendly to him. Patty from the general store brought him food, three meals every day. He was thankful though he wasn‘t very hungry. The widow Jones had brought him clothes, her husband had been a large man as well. The clothes fit, after a fashion, and being a banker, Mr. Jones tended to favor the colors that Benjamin’s order preferred.

Reverend Clemens came bearing dark tidings, it had taken nearly a week but he and several parishioners had gathered the bodies and buried the dead. Dixon and his men had murdered everyone. Each man, woman, and child now “sat with god,” he had said. It was a small comfort to Benjamin. Dixon’s men, no, Riley’s men had burned the town, trampled the crops, and run the livestock off.

There was a vigil held and most of Dodge turned out, even Riley. He expressed his disbelief at how such a tragedy could occur. He blamed Indians, not knowing that Benjamin had survived. Miss Janet, the school teacher, lit a candle for Benjamin‘s family, since he wasn’t well enough to go. Now people were calling Benjamin a survivor, widower, and tragic.  Benjamin called himself alone.

Tom, the sheriff, came by the next day to apologize. Since the Ordnung was outside of town it wasn‘t in his jurisdiction. There was nothing he could do officially, he would see if he could get a Marshal to look into it. But they only came through once every few months, and no one was sure when they‘d be back.

*  *  *

When he was well enough Benjamin moved into the small, rarely used store room in the back of the church. Dusty and cobwebbed but with a little light from a window placed high up on the wall.

He spent most of his days sleeping in the back room of the church. With no farm to tend or a family to love he had lost his sense of purpose. Like molasses in a coffee cup, doubt filled his mind. He became thin and weak, but still hunger escaped him. Even though it was one of the symbols of his marriage, he had stopped keeping his beard neat and trimmed. He had even considered cutting it off, asking for the scissors and razor that sat on the otherwise empty nightstand.

The worst of it was his lack of Faith. He was no longer sure he believed in God. He sat in the chapel one night watching as each of the candle flames winked out of existence. After the last one went away he continued to sit there. He so wanted to join his family, to see them again, hear his sons laughter, his daughters singing, to feel the gentle caress of his wife’s fingers through his hair. He prayed for answers, for proof, for an explanation. Finally, he prayed to die.

He rose and stumbling through the darkness he found and lit one of the lanterns. Shortly after returning to his room in the back of the church, Doc Miller had shown up. Doc had found the bible Benjamin had abandoned on the nightstand at Doc’s place. “Pure chance, I happened to be passin by,” Doc had said in a neighborly manner, “I was on my way back to my home after deliverin Mrs. Levins boy. A good healthy child, eight pounds, strong lungs. I tell ya that child screamed loud enough to wake the…” Doc let the sentence fade to nothing. “Any how she wondered, if I thought it would be all right for her to name the boy Elisha, after your son. I told her, I’d ask, if’n I saw you. I just happened to notice the light in the window and figured I’d run your bible to you. Kill two birds with…” He let that sentence go as well.

Benjamin took his wounded bible, a gaping hole torn in the aged and cracked leather, and placed it on the nightstand in his room. “Thank you Doc, and if you see Mrs. Levine please tell her I’d be honored.”

*  *  *

He woke the next morning hearing Reverend Clemens giving his Sunday sermon. He was telling a long story about an old man and a flood, even though Benjamin had told it before he listened as if hearing it for the first time.

“An old man sits on the front porch of his house, built in a river valley. And a messenger comes to tell him there’s a flood coming.” Jack Riley had told him he‘d regret his decision. “The old man refuses to leave, knowing the Lord will protect him.”  Benjamin refused, knowing the land was theirs and the Lord would help them. “A family comes by with a wagon and offers to take the old man to safety.” The Sheriff had offered to try and reach the Marshals to deal with the situation. “The old man refuses.”  Benjamin said no. “The flood comes and the water rises to the roof of the man’s house, two men in a row boat come and offer him aid.” A gunslinger needing his horse shoed learned about their problem and offered to stay and help. “Again the old man waits for God to help him.” Benjamin knew that they would be fine. “The old man drowns and asks God why?”  Benjamin’s people are murdered and their hard work destroyed.

“God tells them both, I sent you a messenger, a family in a wagon, and a row boat, what more was I to do?”

Benjamin sat there in his room for hours just staring at the small window leading into the chapel. “Was it was my fault?” he thought. He lifted the bible off the nightstand, and let his finger touch the bullet hole. He began to turn pages looking for where the bullet stopped. Finally he came to psalms and read 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd;  I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures: he leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul: He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the shadow of the valley of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff comfort and protect me.

The word protect is where the bullet stopped. A small pip in the page right in the middle of the word. Benjamin touched the pip with his hand, not sure if it’s really there.  After staring at it for a long time, he rose and walked into the now vacant church. Even though it’s empty, for the first time he didn’t feel alone.

Holding the wounded Bible in his hand he approached the crucifix. “I was their Shepherd, and I didn’t protect them. I am sorry for that. I think I know what you want me to do now, but I’m not certain. I won’t ask you for a sign, you’ve given me plenty. However, If I am wrong I will gladly accept your judgment when my time comes. Until then, please help me. Guide my hand and my heart. Help me protect those who can not or will not protect themselves. Give me the strength to do what needs to be done.” The next day Benjamin went to see Tom and told him what he needed and asked him for his help.

Benjamin Yoder has been called many things. The Plain folk call him shunned and outcast. Riding across the west in black clothes, on a Clydesdale named Johan most folks call him, Father or Reverend. His speed, his aim, and skill with twin onyx handled Colt’s got many to call him gunfighter. Mostly, because of the men he’s killed and the lives he saved, they just call him The Amish.


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Friday, October 25, 2013

The continuing adventures of J P Nussbaum 10

Keith and I returned to Beavercreek with more questions than answers: What exactly happened in Wold Newton, who were the people working in the house, who is redirecting the mail to me, how did they know Mark would be staying in my house, and how do I let J.P. know his mother has died. I’m unsure of what to do next. I have no experience with anything like this. I’m a writer, a gamer, and a geek, I only pretend to deal with earth shattering problems. I’m lost. Hopefully my friends and I can come up with something before too long.

In the meantime…

Dearest Mother,

It took five days, a train, two steam ships, and a twin engine Cessna skimming the treetops in the middle of the night but we finally arrived at our destination. Cairo is beautiful, there is a certain air of mystery that seems to cling to the landscape here. I’m thrilled to have arrived, and can’t wait to tell you about my journey in more detail, but we are short on time.

Jones, Beth, Christina, and I arrived early this morning as the sun was beginning to inch above the horizon. We’d left most of our gear and weapons behind due to the weight limitations of the plane we took two days prior. It seems we will need to find more equipment. Christina informs me there is an old family friend in the area and we may be able to get an appointment with him.

We spent most of our first day looking for a safe house, and once Jones procured us a small apartment we were able to settle in. We spent the next few hours cleaning from the trip and resting up. It was good to feel a shower again.

The trip has been hard, my back hasn’t felt this bad since my teen years. A condition, I fear, that will only get worse as the prescription medication I’m taking is about to run out. Jones thinks there might be a place to get more of the pills, some sort of traveling black market, but it’s a long shot we’ll even be able to find it.

We found Schuler’s home today; it’s a fortress. There are maybe twenty guards patrolling the grounds, a dozen security cameras at various locations along the walls, and a self contained generator for the entire complex. We haven’t seen Schuler yet, but if we do, we shall have to strike quickly for fear of him moving again.

We will keep the home under surveillance until further notice.

As always, my love.
Your youngest son
J. P. Nussbaum

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Saturday, October 19, 2013

The continuing adventures of J P Nussbaum 9

I feel the need to apologize for a minor deception I made. Last week I wrote that I would eventually be heading to England in order to look into the town of Wold Newton. This was a lie. I’m writing from Wold Newton right now. Keith and I left for great Brittan last week on Saturday, boarding the first flight we could catch. It was feared that someone was monitoring my blog and might decide to interfere with our ability to leave for Great Brittan. Thus, I lied about what we were doing and when we might head for Wold Newton.
As for my trip, well that’s where this gets really weird. We arrived in Wold Newton and now I’m even more confused than I was when this started. It turns out the ancestral home of the Nussbaum family was in this town until roughly six weeks ago.

First, everyone in town has nothing but good things to say about the Nussbaum family. When asked specifically about J.P. we were asked to be more specific. Apparently all of the children, boys and girls, have the initials J.P. When we inquired we were told the family always said it was for security. A claim no one in the town took seriously. Until six weeks ago when several vans of armed men forced their way into the home.

While no one could say exactly what occurred the stories were incredible to hear. It turns out that several members of the staff were retired military, including the butler a former member of something called E Company. It seems that the house hold staff were able to do quite a bit of damage to the attackers.

Even the matron of the house who was apparently in her seventies, killed several men. Reports vary as to whether she armed or performed the actions with her bare hands, but wither way she was able to stop at least six men single handedly. Eventually the men assaulting the house would prevail. The Mother was killed as were several other members of the staff. Only a handful of people survived the aftermath of the attack.

Those that did quickly went through the house, and loaded several cases into three cars. The vehicles then pulled out of the town and left in different directions. After this the butler, Jeeves, rode a motorcycle to the end of the driveway, typed a code into the intercom system, and watched as the manor house imploded.

I honestly have no idea what to make of these events. Added to the fact that I took photos of the crater in Wold Newton and e-mailed them home only to learn the email never arrived and all of the pictures I took have since been erased from my camera. I have asked a friend to stay at my home so he could sign for the registered letters that have been arriving from J.P. Nussbaum for when one shows up at my house.

Mark will be posting that letter plus any other information that might come up as a part of it’s arrival.

Hello, this is Mark. I have only the following to report because it’s freaking me out a little bit. The letter from J.P. Nussbaum has arrived today, and was addressed to me, not Steve. I’m posting it as Steve requested. I hope this helps what ever is going on.

Dearest Mother,

We’ve begun raiding Schuler’s clubs locally in order to find information on whether he is in country or not. It’s been an interesting week, the group of us have raided fifteen of his underground clubs, casinos, and fight rings. We’ve seized nearly three hundred thousand Euros’ in cash, several weapons, a bevy of computer files that we have barely begun to scour for information.

Each attack is the same Christina and I go in while Franco waits outside with the car. We’ve set a time limit for ourselves of no more than five minuets inside any business. The early part of the week was fairly easy but as the week has gone on Schuler has increased his security to a point of near impregnable. To counter this we have hired a few more people.

Christina has relied on some of her contacts to obtain us two more team members. We’ve added Jones, an American trained in demolitions and safe cracking. Christina refuses to confirm my suspicions but I suspect Jones is a criminal. I believe she may have met those eight months she disappeared during college and a cat burglar named the Lynx began appearing around the States.

The second person we’ve added is a woman named Beth who is skilled as a second story man. She is an expert at cat burglary and alarm systems. She’s also an expert at picking both locks and pockets. I am absolutely convinced that she is a thief. However, whenever I broach the subject she merely pats me on the cheek and tells me I’m adorable. I’m not entirely certain how to deal with this.

Tonight we had a stroke of good luck and managed to confirm that Schuler has in fact left the country for Egypt. He is apparently dealing with someone higher up in the organization. They are apparently dealing with the fall out from some sort of strike gone horribly wrong. While I’m not certain where the strike took place, it seems like good news for us. If there organization took a sizeable enough hit we may be able to capitalize on this. It may also give us a potential ally in the fight against them.

We will continue to attempt to learn who they attacked and exactly how badly it went for them. By this time next week we hope to be in Egypt. It may prove difficult as we are still wanted and will have to find alternate routes to our final destination.

Wish us luck.

As always, my love.
Your youngest son
J. P. Nussbaum

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Friday, October 11, 2013

The continuing adventures of J P Nussbaum 8

The Nussbaum histories have yielded another interesting piece of information. Keith feels he has discovered the location of the Nussbaum family home. Apparently, there is a town in the English countryside named Wold Newton. The town is somewhat famous for having a meteorite strike during the 1700s. Keith’s research shows that this may be the location of the Nussbaum family lands.

We wanted to make sure we were right so we had Mike help us go online for more information. Mike went to Google maps and discovered an irregularity in the image. He didn’t catch it at first, but there is a ten acre section of the picture that exactly copies a ten acre section from a mile away. Mike only noticed it because there is half a falcon flying over the border between the sections.

With this knowledge the three of us are wondering what we should do. We have decided to mail a letter to the house that would be at the address hidden by the map error. Maybe this will work and maybe it won’t, but we feel we have to try.

I’ve also learned something else. A classmate of mine has started reading the letters, and last week told me they were beginning to look forward to seeing the new one go up every Friday. The problem is, I post everything in Thursday. I went and checked after last week, and all of my posts are dated on Friday’s. For some reason, all of my posts about the Nussbaum family are being delayed by twenty-four hours. I don’t know exactly what this means, but Mike and Keith feel we may need to advance with caution from this point forward.

Aside from that, I have another letter for you all to read.

Dearest Mother,

My rage has reached a new level. Christina’s contact has retrieved the information from the lap top, and we have discovered someone code named Little Bird has been feeding Schuler and his employer information about us. There is a traitor in our midst’s. There were the remnants of communications that gave itinerates, names, and what appears to be a list of known associates. This mean that everything that has happened from the beginning has been broadcast to our quarry. Antonio’s death, Lucia’s capture, the disappearance of Giorgio and his team, and the murder of Rosa, were all the result of a base coward.
I believe I will kill them.

We were also given some information on Schuler’s properties around Italy. Additionally there was a flight plan for a small private plane that flew to Egypt. We are trying to decide how best to proceed, since we can’t be sure if Schuler left Italy, or if he sent someone else away. We’d like to start raiding his clubs and business but it’s uncertain if he would learn about our actions. We don’t want him to know we’ve managed to unhack one of his laptops.

I’m sorry Mother, I know this letter isn’t particularly clear, but I don't know what we will do next. I will inform you as soon as we know.

As always, my love.
Your youngest son
J. P. Nussbaum

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Friday, October 4, 2013

The continuing adventures of J P Nussbaum 7

Well, it’s been one of those weeks. My friend Keith got back to me on the Nussbaum family and if it weren’t for all the problems we’ve had with copying and mailing the letters I’d think he was nuts.

Keith went about using a series of online services and research libraries to find what he could on the Nussbaum’s. He even but his interns on the project after initial searches were proving fruitless. At one point he called in some favors from both the Guttenberg Library and the Library of Congress. I may not have emphasized how good a researcher Keith is and the types of people who have come to him for help in the past. Sufficed to say, Keith is probably one of the best people in the field at what he does, check a reference book and your likely to find him in the acknowledgements.

That aside, Keith found practically nothing on the Nussbaum family until he came across a reference in an old British history book. A small footnote mentioned the Nussbaum name in conjunction with a British historian who has been discredited. The family name has been discounted by modern historians as a figment of fiction. While no one can seem to agree on when the historian lived, most agree this nameless man was a member of the Royal Historians Guild. The RHG is a group of men used by the crown heads of Great Britain to record the important events of history. At some point in his tenure as a Royal Historian our nameless historian began inserting the name Nussbaum into the legends of Great Britain; all of these additions are called the Nussbaum Histories.

The Nussbaum Histories are a collection of stories that are a mixture of historic events and legends. It took some doing but Keith was able to locate several tales featuring the Nussbaum’s. In each of the stories included in the collection is a reference to a member of the Nussbaum family, or the  participation of a single person named Nussbaum.

It was a difficult series to find because after the RHG discovered the addition of Nussbaum the historian was removed from his position in disgrace. Historians then went about fixing the stories and removing the offending Nussbaum’s and replacing them with someone more appropriate or simply adjusting the name of the person. An example of this practice is Robin Hoods merry man Little John. In the version we all know and love Little John has no family name in the Nussbaum Histories he is Jonathan Nussbaum. Something similar happens in the legends of King Arthur’s court where Sir Percival is listed as a Nussbaum.

This wasn’t just limited to British history and folklore. In the Nussbaum Histories Saint Patrick of Ireland is listed as a Nussbaum. In the United States, Johnny Appleseed was a Nussbaum first and became an Appleseed as the legend grew. This continues through out history: in the French Revolution, during the Spanish invasion of the British Isles, and even in the Crusades. The Nussbaum is never the leader, they are an aid or agent, some supporting personality. There are even mentions of a Nussbaum as a traveling companion for Baron Munchausen, the Monkey King, and some doctor that Keith has been unable to find a name for.

Two months ago I wouldn’t have believed any of it, but after the events of the past few weeks I‘m no longer certain. With everything that has gone on, with all the events that have happened, with every problem I’ve had copying this letter these stories may be true.

Keith still has a little research left to do. He keeps seeing references to the ancestral family lands gifted to them by Charlemagne, “until no Nussbaum still draws breath.“ He wants to see if he can figure out where they are and thinks maybe that could give us a clue to the origin of the stories.

Until then, I post this weeks letter in hopes that…I honestly don’t know anymore.

Dearest Mother,

I write with a heavy heart, some of my team has died. As I said last week, we were to meet this week at a designated central location. Christina and I waited for several hours before we were joined by Franco, he was the only one to show. If you will recall Franco and Antonio were sent off as a team, we learned from Franco that Antonio is dead. In the first day they were set upon. To ensure accuracy I am handing the duty of reporting the event to Franco so you will get the report of his experience first hand.


Antonio and I were sent to the southern part of Maria’s travel plans. I had chosen a nice Maserati Quattroporte from my garage to take us to our destination. Good mileage, spectacular handling, and I had one of my guys work it over for better shocks and speed. I realize this may seem trivial now, but it does become important later.

We visited our town and found very little on the first day. It wasn’t until day two that a problem arose. We were leaving the town headed North in an effort to arrive at our next location. That was when four black Panamera Turbos came roaring up the road behind us. Not wanting to draw attention I pulled over slightly to let them pass. I wasn’t positive something strange was going on since Italian drivers tend towards speed, a crime I myself am often guilty of. Had they been a little bit more patient, we would probably both be dead. One of the Turbo’s pulled up along side of us and a man in the back seat started firing on us.

As a standard feature on all my teams cars they are armored which is usually enough. Whatever these men were firing must have been a heavy caliber as it was cracking the windows. I floored it to get out ahead of them and try and put some distance between us. This might have worked except the road we were on was heading towards a mountainous region and the twists and turns were going to make it difficult to maintain a top speed.

They had some pretty decent engines in their cars and while not able to match us in the straights we weren’t pulling away as quickly as I wanted. We hit the first turn pretty quick and it was a monster, on the outside of the curve was a seaside cliff with very little hangover. I managed to drift through it though even still, I could still feel the rear wheels clip the lip of the cliff. The first two Turbos made the turn as well, the third one would have made it but the rear car misjudged the turn and clipped it sending it over the side.

From this point forward we were up in the mountains and the twists and turns had us constantly doubling back in such a way that is was easy for the rear two cars to keep firing on us as we passed. Occasionally one of them would get close enough to tap us or try and force us off the road. This went on for a while until we came to a short gully with a bridge over it, the driver of the lead car was spending so much time focusing on me that he missed the oncoming single car width bridge. We made the bridge and they sailed off into the gully.

We got rid of the second car on a decent straight away, when he managed to get even with us and tried and put us in the ditch. I let him get a bit upfront of us and when he tried to clip over I braked, up shifted, and nudged the wheel pushing us into his rear quarter panel. This spun their car and let me put my grill into the door between his tires. As we were moving, I shimmied the car and watched as they pushed forward into the ditch and rolled their car. It helped that the last driver rear-ended us giving us enough bump to jiggle the other car loose.

We were able to lose the last driver as we rounded a curve into a much more even spot of road. As we approached however, the fire from their guns finally broke through the rear window on the car. When I got my chance I hit it and we shot forward down a nice two mile straight. He tried to keep up, and would have done fine except he wasn’t able to maintain speed on the loose gravel and old blacktop. He spun the wheels, lost control and ate the ditch.

It wasn’t for a few more miles that I realized Antonio had taken a hit, probably when the window blew. By the time I noticed he was already gone. I’ve dropped him and his ID at a near by hospital and went out on my own. I stayed close to the timeline we were supposed to follow but I used alternate routes and went in a different order.

Mother, it’s me again. After the meeting, Franco told us he almost didn’t show up at the meeting, he was afraid that if everyone had been betrayed the final meeting might be a trap. We hope this is why Giorgio never showed. If he was ambushed like Franco, then…

Other than that I have nothing new to report. We have delivered the laptop to Christina’s contact and now must wait his call and hope for good news.

As always, my love.
Your youngest son
J. P. Nussbaum

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