Dancing With Me Little Chickadee

Original Henry Wood Front CoverBlogging has been berry berry good to me, to borrow a phrase from Chico Escuela (Garrett Morris). Of course, he was talking about baseball, but it still works. Well, it works for me. Garrett Morris first uttered that catch phrase on November 11, 1978…I know, I Googled it.

In 1978, I wanted to play professional baseball for the Cincinnati Reds. At that time, Joe Morgan was the gold glover roaming the right side of the diamond. Now it is Brandon Phillips. Both of them, and all the others in between, were better than me at the game I loved. Heck, I never even played in high school. But I moved on, still dreaming.

That’s what I do. I give something a try and do the best I can and then move on. I got pretty good a chess. I’m a decent tennis player. I once crushed a 62 year old woman in badminton. I’m really proud of that last bit, as she was the number one player in the nation for her age group. None of the other people in the class could score more than a few points. I beat her 15-7, 15-0. (I don’t mind if you chuckled, though…that was the intent)

Now I write novels. Or more accurately, I blog in such a way that novels end up written. I’m not sure I could do it without the daily encouragement of the readers. Staring down the road at a goal of fifty, sixty or eighty thousand words is daunting. Having a few friends walk beside you makes the trip less daunting and downright enjoyable.

Giving  over 2,000 copies of Henry Wood Detective Agency away was fun. It was nice to think there were so many people willing to give it a chance. I enjoyed those three days…a bunch! Still, as I mentioned a few days ago, getting a paying customer, even if it is only for one cent short of a dollar, is more thrilling.

Sometime before four o’clock I had a sale of Time and Again, which sells for $4.99. That made me happy.

It was a little after four when I got the email from Ereader News Today, that they were posting Henry Wood Detective Agency on their FB page. They list free books and bargain books on their site and I had signed up for today and been accepted.

It is a fair deal. I agree to pay them 25% of my net from any sales their link generates and they tell the world about my book. The last two days my sales totals were zero, nada for my Spanish speaking friends, or zilch for my writer friends. Zilch is such a fun word…I digress.Chickens copy

The point is, I was willing to give away my book, why wouldn’t I share in the revenue if it meant sales. It is a complete win-win for the author. Of course, they don’t guarantee they will select one’s book, so the author just needs to submit and hope. It was an honor just to be chosen.

Around six o’clock I had to call Mom and Dad. After a couple of days without sales, suddenly seeing eight more was phone call worthy. We were all very excited.

I may have done some “chicken dance”, after all,  it is National Dance Like a Chicken day. Eight sales is so much more fun than one or two. You know what is even better? Eighty-four!

Yep, that’s right. I’ve had eighty-four sales as of the typing of this post. Henry Wood Detective Agency has climbed from #256,637 to #13,859 in the rankings, which, admittedly, isn’t high enough to be considered a pre-season favorite for a BCS Bowl, but it is still pretty good.

It is a one day thing. Tomorrow there will be new books up and other authors checking their dashboards to see how it is going. I’m sure they will be thrilled, too, but I bet they can’t chicken dance like me.

Pretty Darn Cool

Brian-Head-Shot-for-ExtremelyAvgA little while ago we passed the 2000 downloads of Henry Wood Detective Agency. I don’t know what percentage of the people who took me up on the offer of free will read it, but some have already said they’ve started.

I don’t know how many times I’ve said it, but we live in a great time to be an author. Before anyone had heard of Samuel L. Clemens or called him Mark Twain, he had to find readers. Now, I’m no Mark Twain, but I bet he never spent two days holed up in a town of 255 and found 2,000 readers for his books.

It has been a complete team effort, make no mistake. I haven’t figured out how many of the 19 Fifth in Crime copysites I submitted a notice to, picked up Henry Wood, but it wasn’t many. I did check the most popular and none of them posted it. That means that it was all US who got the word out.

We had a great day over at Geoff Livingston’s blog. There was even a meeting of Team Blog Jack (See the comments). It wasn’t just Geoff who stepped up. There were literally dozens of people tweeting and posting again today.

The most amazing part of this whole launch, though, is a little subset of the downloads. 95% of the folks who took advantage of the offer live in the U.S. So, what about those other 5%?

I’m not surprised that there were a few downloads from the U.K. as we have a couple of Brits who like to visit the old blahg on a regular basis. What was surprising was that 73 people from across the pond gave Henry a try.

We also had eleven from Canada, three from Italy, one from Japan, and this is the wild card…18 from Germany! I never saw that coming.

We have one more day and I suspect the numbers will continue to slow, but that is okay, as we’ve already done a great job. At its peak, Henry climbed to #5 Crime and #8 Mystery. He is still hanging around on the first page!

I’ve gathered a lot of data from this launch. In twenty-six days it will be time for another one. Yes, book 3, Henry Wood: Perception will be out on the 21st of May.

So, I’ve still got a lot of work to do. I guess I better get that last section ready to send off to Erin for editing.

This is how publishing works…and it is pretty darn cool.

Launch in 4, 3, 2 am…

Brian-Head-Shot-for-ExtremelyAvgAt a minute past midnight, Pacific time (2 am Central), the next six months of my life starts. Okay, that may have been a little overly dramatic. Still, I’m pretty excited.

 Many of you who read my blog have been following along as I’ve written my last couple of novels, but haven’t tried my mysteries. Well, I’ve written four of them about a guy named Henry Wood. He’s a detective who has gotten good at just getting by. He takes easy cases and doesn’t stick his neck out, until, now.

Original Henry Wood Front Cover

Click to go to Amazon

And by now, I mean book one, which, if you’re at all excited about it, you’ll be able to download for zero dollars and nada cents. I really wish you would. I’m pretty sure you’ll find it delightful. In fact, I think you’ll like it so much you’ll want to buy book two…at least, that is the plan.

The first book has been well received. As of the writing of this, it has 24 reviews with a 4.7 star rating. It is currently ranked #583,027 in the Paid Kindle Store. I mention it, only because I want a record of where we’re starting. I’ll post updates throughout the day on how we are doing.

I’m also excited to announce that Erin Feldman of Write Right put a fresh coat of editorial polish on Henry Wood Detective Agency. If you ever need an editor, well, you can’t have her…back off!!! She’s mine.

But wait…that’s not all. Not only am I re-launching the first book Henry Wood Detective Agency, I’m also debuting book II…Henry Wood: The Wrath of Kahn…no, wait, that wasn’t it. Oh  yes, Henry Wood: Time and Again. It is available for $4.99, which I’m sure you’ll find is a bargain, as I introduce a new character named Celine. She’s delightful.

Front Cover Time and Again Final copy

Click to go to Amazon

Many of you have raised your hand and said you’d be willing to help spread the word. Some have offered up their blogs for guest posts and I’m still writing a few of those. Over the next few hours and into tomorrow, I’ll be sending out emails to those for whom I have addresses, with a list of things that would be helpful in letting people know about the launch.

This is all for now, but tonight’s post will be an ever evolving story…come back for frequent updates.

 

  1. Update: HWDA is now live and available for free. <Just click.

Pre-Launch Jitters Have Begun

Original Henry Wood Front CoverEleven days until launch. I’m getting excited and a little nervous. There really isn’t time for jitters, though. I’ve guest blog posts to write, a give-a-way to plan, and cookies to bake.

Okay, I’m not really baking cookies…though that does sound yummy right about now.

The anticipation rivals that of the Christmas’ of my youth. I usually wanted to get more Lego blocks. They were such fun to play with and let the imagination run wild. A city, or fortress, or magical kingdom awaited and putting it together took me to a wonderful place.

That is what makes writing fun, the building. The novels have so many undiscovered secrets to explore and I get to see them first. There is one scene in Killing Hemingway that I spent a long time planning out. It is my favorite.

Sadly, I sort of blew past where I had planned on including it and decided not to. Today, while reading Hugh Howie’s, Wool, a moment of cuteness reminded me of that scene. I may just put it in after everything is said and done. It would be like the “Extras” on a DVD movie. For those that read along as I wrote it, a hidden jewel to discover.

Would that be cruel to the readers who stayed with me while the plot unfolded? I’m not sure. Would it be nicer to write the scene, go back and insert it where I’d planned, and then tell people “Oh, by the way, there is a fine little bit that I added, if you’d like to check it out”?

I’m not sure.

The one thing that is for sure. Writing Killing Hemingway is much tougher when my mind is on the launch. This may make it a struggle to get to the end in my normal fashion.

When the 25th fades and April 26th starts, I will be only twenty-five days from the next launch. Now, that is going to be scary.

I’m sure there will be much learned during those three days. I imagine I’ll be sitting in front of my computer screens clicking on Amazon and hoping for an update. Seeing Henry Wood Detective Agency jump higher on the “Free Download List” or noting a few new sales of Time and Again, will be thrilling. I will give updates on my blog and hopefully have comments to respond to on the blog tour blogs. It may be chaotic. I’m hoping it is.

Ultimately, the real excitement will be when I start to see some more readers. People who have downloaded the free Henry Wood Detective Agency and actually read it. I’m figuring, based on no real scientific evidence what-so-ever that only 10% of the people who download the book will read it.

If that holds and we can get 10,000 downloads, then there might be 1,000 new people who give Henry a chance. I would also guess that some percentage, maybe five, may choose to leave a review. That would be fifty more, some good, and no doubt some bad.

I’ll never know if my guesstimation was correct moving from downloads to reviews, but the son of a mathematician needs to have some numbers to feed daydreams.

The real test will come after the free spigot has been turned off. Will there be people who bought book one, read it, and then moved on to actually spending cold hard duckets for book two?Front Cover Time and Again Final copy

I love the idea of new readers, but what I really want is new customers. Starving artist only sounds cool in books, me, I’m too much of a snacker. Which reminds me, I’ve gone and forgotten about dinner. I guess that is all for tonight.

Thanks for stopping in.

Oh, I decided to go with the gold frame instead of the greyed out one.  I think it pops more, even though the one with the grey frame got more votes. In the end, I wanted the gold frame on the book I’d be putting on my shelf.

Cover Art for Henry Wood: Time and Again

Here is what I was thinking about for the cover art of Henry Wood: Time and Again. Below the new cover, I’ve included the cover from the first book in the series. I changed the font and it has more stuff, which I hope is an improvement.

You’ll notice there is still an iStockPhoto watermark on the photo in the frame. Both the photo and frame are from istockphoto and if I decide to go with this cover, I’ll buy the rights to use the images.

So, what do you think? Do you like the new font? Do you like the concept?

I was given some thoughts by a friend on Twitter, so I’ve made some changes and now there are two versions of the cover. Which do you prefer?Front Cover V

Front Cover VI

 

Front Cover III

Original Henry Wood Front Cover

 

Top 7 Subtle Reasons You Need to Buy This Book

The book in question, is mine, the Henry Wood Detective Agency.

I was pitching it, today, in my comments. and Carolyn Nicander Mohr seemed interested. Then I made a horrible blunder. I assumed she knew how to find it. She asked for a link. I was crushed. I could have simply attached the link, but I wrote the following, en lieu of a link.

These are the books I’ve written. I love them.

 

“Nods head to the right…and then up a little. Apparently, my ad for Henry Wood, prominently displayed on the side bar has not been doing a very good job.  See, it has a little picture of the cover and everything. I think it’s cute. Just click on it and you’ll be transported to either the Kindle Version or the Print, depending upon which one you click on.”


Since I’ve been on Triberr, I’ve met a lot of new people and gotten to know some old Twitter friends, better. I assumed that everyone knew, when I talked about my books, that there was an ad they could click on to check them out. I was wrong.
Top 7 Subtle Reasons to Buy a copy of the Henry Wood Detective Agency, by Brian D. Meeks…the guy who writes this blog…you know, the one in the hat…@ExtremelyAvg on Twitter…just to be clear.
  • 7) You already like my writing, so why not try my novel. It is the first book in the series, of which I’ve written four, and plan at least one more.
  • 6) It is only $2.99 for the Kindle version, which you can read on your computer, iPad, iPhone, or you could be like the folks who actually use their Kindle reader. Reading a book on any of these devices is considered a sign of extraordinary intelligence and tells people that you had really great parents growing up.
  • 5) NOT buying the Henry Wood Detective Agency, reflects poorly on your parents. Your mom, or at the very least, MY mom, would really like you to buy it. (Note: When I say “it” I mean Henry Wood Detective Agency…see the picture above.)
  • 4) All of the proceeds will be poured into the editing of the third book (as Henry Wood: Time and Again, is already finished), Henry Wood: Perception.
  • 3) 4 out of 5 dentists say it is the “Best Book EVER”, the fifth dentist thinks her colleagues have understated how good it is. Her name is Marey, she is an excellent dentist.
  • 2) The book was written as blog posts on this very blog and that is freaking cool.
  • 1) Bacon!

If you’ve read my book, then feel free to tell people how wonderful it was in the comments. You may also include examples of how it helped your love life, improved male pattern baldness, and raised your IQ to the point where theoretical physics now bores you.

They say that in sales, you must ask for the sale. I don’t do that nearly enough. In all seriousness, I’m very proud of my book. I’m even more proud of the second book and it would be cool if you were up to speed before it is published.

Appendix: Top 3 Letters Why You Should Buy My Book.

X) When I’ve reached super author stardom, I’ll be spending a good portion of my wealth building an evil lair, in which, I’ll be planning world domination.  You’re all invited to hang out, help plan, and eat from the giant snack and breakfast food buffet, located next to the secret jet boat entrance.

E) I’m willing to beg…obviously.

S) Sometimes I like to use subliminal messages to make people do my bidding, and as such, you feel like it will make you much more attractive to the plethora of cover models (male and female) who will be in the grotto of the lair.

Admittedly, I made all of those reasons up, except for 1,2, 4, 5, 6, 7, X, E, and S, which shows how creative I am. Okay, that is all I’ve got. Come on folks, let’s see if we can get 10 sales by this time tomorrow.

A Call to Readers

I got an update, today. Veronika is nearly done with the last section of edits. Henry Wood: Time and Again will be ready for the next step. It is a frightening path for book two to travel. It must wander down the trail called beta.

Yes, I speak of beta readers. They give Henry a read and note the horrific blunders we’ve yet to catch. That is the scary part. No matter how hard one tries, there will always be mistakes. I’m confident there are fewer than in the first Henry Wood. I had a dreadful understanding of the comma.

My theory on the pesky little punctuation was to include one whenever I felt like a pause was in order, or when stringing together items in a list (which is actually correct), or if I was feeling puckish. I often do, you know.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time learning the rules. Okay, that isn’t true, I’ve spent a fair amount of time getting really good at rule one, as they were laid out by Purdue University and their site, The Purdue Owl (Online Writing Lab). http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/607/02/

1. Use commas to separate independent clauses when they are joined by any of these seven coordinating conjunctions: and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet.

I’ve also become solid with rule 2. Use commas after introductory a) clauses, b) phrases, or c) words that come before the main clause.

Of course, there is rule 3, which I enjoy and mostly get right.  3. Use a pair of commas in the middle of a sentence to set off clauses, phrases, and words that are not essential to the meaning of the sentence. Use one comma before to indicate the beginning of the pause and one at the end to indicate the end of the pause.

There are other rules. If you go to the site you’ll find fifteen, to be exact.

I have learned them all to varying degrees.  Sometimes I remember, others I don’t, but with the first one I find it hard not to do it correctly, now. I would guess that in the first book I only followed rule one by accident. Even a blind squirrel places a comma correctly some of the time. Squirrels are prodigious writers.

So, now it is time to ask, would you like to be a beta reader? Leave a comment, send a tweet, or dispatch a carrier pigeon to Martelle and let me know.

Henry Wood: Edge of Understand Epilogue

It had taken three more days for the New York papers to lose interest in Henry, the Major, and how the whole thing played out. The coverage had mostly been negative. Henry had taken the time to explain the details to the widow Palmeroy and she was thankful. After that, he had mostly stayed home and slept. His shoulder wound was sore, but Luna was taking good care of him. She was adamant that Henry avoid stress and rest. She made him comply through the clever use of baked goods and her serious face.

Henry’s close friends were still standing by his side, because they knew the truth, and it made the press coverage bearable. The closet door was open and Henry sat on a wooden stool in front of it. It had been a tough year and now the recent battle with the Major had been the worst of it. What’s next? Henry asked himself holding the earrings and the pen. He’d told Luna they were just presents from the closet, but his gut wasn’t so sure. Maybe it was the pain pills or just a bad attitude, but Henry sensed trouble was coming.

Life was simple before 1955. It was a mostly solitary existence that Henry managed to muddle through with little fanfare. Henry was happier now, but happiness comes at a cost, and now, he finally understood. Life takes living.

The End

Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding Ch 93 pt 7

Henry jumped off the ladder as the bullets crashed into the platform behind him. Turning to Luna, “Any way out, from here?”

“We came through the maze.”

Henry pulled her behind him, “Get back in the corner, the platform will give us some cover.” Henry looked around, there were walls of crates all around, they were vulnerable from above and once the dogs made it into the maze, from the front, as well. Henry took the shovel off his belt and smashed into the side of the crate. The wood splintered and then splintered again as more shots poured down from above.  Henry jumped back and pulled his .45, “Here, hold this, but keep it pointed away from me,” he said handing the machine gun to Luna.

Henry yelled, “The Major is dead, what say we call it a draw?”

“Nobody said nothing about quitting if the Major died,” came the voice and then another blast of bullets.

The muzzle flash was enough and Henry darted out from cover and got off three quick rounds. Henry had to jump to avoid the falling body. If he hadn’t the shots coming from behind him might have ended the game for Henry then and there. Luna saw the flash from behind Henry, screamed and then brought the machine gun up and pulled the trigger. A flurry of bullets headed in the general direction of the latest assailant. The kick from the Tommy gun sent them all high, but it was enough distraction to let Henry dive back to the relative cover of the corner.

“Maybe we should trade,” Henry said.

“Are we going to die?” she asked, handing the gun to Henry and taking the .45

“It sure looks like it.”

Luna smiled, it was the perfect answer. Henry never lied to her, not even now, when she might have preferred it. “Then I’ll need another clip.”

Henry grabbed her and kissed her, ignoring the bullets raining down around them. They had about six square feet that seemed unassailable from above, and Henry didn’t know if he would get another chance. When he pulled back, she winked, and he stepped out and fired a long blast. Henry had emptied the Tommy gun, but heard a dull thud coming from the direction he had fired.

The sounds of hope and despair started at the same time. Sirens were blaring and getting louder, help was on the way, but it was being drowned out by a chorus of barking. The single crate hadn’t plugged up the maze much at all. Henry pulled the Tommy gun from the body by his feet and found an extra clip. Henry had no idea how many rounds were left in the new gun, so he pulled the clip and tossed it aside. He yanked the empty clip from his machine gun and dropped it on the ground. There was a hollow metallic clink when it hit the ground. The full clip in, Henry’s mind caught up with his hands. What had made that sound? Henry pounded his heel against the floor, and sure enough, they were standing on metal.

“Here,” He said, “Take the flashlight and find the handle, I think were standing on a door.”

“To where?”

“Hopefully someplace with less bitting.”

Luna flipped on the light, and it seemed to expose them to the world. The barking was getting louder and seemed to be nearly on top of them. “I found it!”

Henry spun around and reached for the handle, just as another shot rang out. He felt it bite into his shoulder. The door came up easily enough, and Luna scrambled down the steps. Henry raised his weapon and sent burst of fire down the maze. Six separate muzzle flashes lit up the dogs being released by their handlers. They were less than 50 feet away and closing fast. Henry scrambled into the darkness below and pulled the heavy metal door down. It didn’t have a latch, but Henry took the Tommy gun and was able to wedge it through the handle.

“That should hold them for a bit.”

“Are we going to die now?”

“Yes, but maybe not today.”

Henry took the flashlight and .45., “All we need to do is either find the way out or keep them from finding us until the cavalry arrives.”

The lights came on, and a familiar voice said, “Mr. Wood, you are correct, but sadly you’ve been found. Now, I’m going to need you to drop the gun.”

Henry turned around slowly to see Associate 2 and 3 with guns raised.

Luna stood behind Henry and wrapped her arms around his chest.

Henry laid the gun gently on the floor and then kicked it away. “You still bitter about me getting the drop on you the other day?”

Associate 2, “Now that you mention it, yes. It made me question whether I was losing my touch.”

Associate 3, “I think you just got lucky.”

Henry, “You’re probably right, if that delivery guy hadn’t been there, you’d probably have checked the closet.”

Associate 2, “That is kind of you to say.”

The polite conversation and how it was drawing out the inevitable was too much for Luna, she started to sob, but buried her face in Henry’s back.

Henry reached behind him and patted her on the leg, “Is there any reason why she needs to be involved?”

Associate 2 and 3 looked at each other, and 3 said, “She is a witness and we did kidnap her, which, I’m told, is frowned upon.”

2 said, “Though, I have to say, she was very well behaved. Miss, you think you could behave if we let you go.”

Luna looked up, “I’m not going anywhere without Henry.”

Henry shrugged, “I’d argue with her, but I’ve tried it before and the conversations can be lengthy affairs.”

3 nodded his head, “Broads.”

2 smiled.

Henry said, “Before you two finish this game, I gotta ask, how did the Enclave end up doing the Major’s bidding.”

2, “It’s a long story, but it seems there was a debt owed to his grandfather.”

Henry asked, “What sort of debt?”

2, “He provided a service, and the Enclave agreed to do the same whenever he needed it. After the Major made bail, he called in his grandfather’s marker.”

Henry, “And he asked you to kill me and Luna?”

2 thought for a second, “Actually, now that you mention it, no, we were to assist him by kidnapping Luna and then providing soldiers in his stupid battle. I have to admit, I didn’t imagine you’d make it this far.  How many of our guys did you get?”

“Henry, well the first guy is bleeding up front and knocked out. I know I got one more, who fell right above us and then there was another one that I heard fall… oh, and of course, Luna killed the Major.”

2, “Really? How?”

“He was focused on me, as I was untying her, and he didn’t see I’d given her the .45.”

Luna, popped her head up, “He was a jerk.”

2 and 3 laughed, “He really was.”

The sounds of men and dogs beating on the metal door made talking hard. 2 waved his gun, “I don’t care for dogs.”

Henry and Luna did as they were told and walked through the doorway and down a long brick hallway. The door at the other end led to the boiler room. They weren’t on, as it was summer, and the room was cool. Henry and Luna were directed to a couple of chairs at a card table.

2 whispered something to 3 and then walked through another door. 3 said, “He’s calling it in. We never discussed what to do if you won.”

Henry pulled a canteen from his belt and unscrewed the top. He handed it to Luna who took a long drink. Henry said after she handed it back, “You want any?”

“I’m good, thanks.”

Henry took a pull and then grabbed Luna’s hand. Somewhere deep in his mind there was a voice saying that this would be a good time to come up with a plan. Despite the voice, Henry knew that there weren’t any more plans. Their lives were in the hands of the Enclave, now.

2 returned and relayed the conversation to his partner. They seemed to be talking for a long time, considering it seemed to be a yes or no question. Henry noticed the slightest nod from 3.

“The Director has said we need to kill you.”

Luna squeezed Henry’s hand and looked at him.

“We’ve decided to retire.”

Henry stood up slowly, knowing the gravity of what they had just said. “I owe you for helping catch the Major and now this.”

2,”The life of international assassin can wear on you after a while.”

“I’m sure.”

“What’s going on,” Luna asked.

“They’re letting us go.”

Luna jumped to her feet and threw her arms around Henry. She turned to the two men, “I’ll never tell anybody about you. You’re secret is safe with me. Thanks.”

2 and 3 smiled, knowing that the police were the least of their worries.

Henry shook their hands and asked 2, “I assume that all the fears you had after the Palmeroy incident, will now be a reality.”

“Yes, but we’ll be fine.”

3 didn’t look so sure, but let 2 do all the talking.

Henry, “Will the Enclave send someone else?”

2, “I have no idea. I think the Director is mostly relieved that the marker has been paid. Still, I’d be cautious for a while.”

Luna said, “I don’t like the sound of that, but I guess it is better than the alternative.”

2 said, “I’ll show you the way out.”

Henry Wood: Edge of Understanding Ch 93 pt 6

It sounded like a half dozen German shepherds were being unleashed on the maze. The barking was loud and there was screaming above the barking. It sounded like the Major ordering more troops to the tops of the maze wall. The only upside is that in all the chaos, Henry was still hidden by the darkness and he no longer needed to worry about his footsteps giving away his position.

Henry hustled across the dividing point of the maze and back into the front half of the warehouse.  The three main paths were also created with stacks of goods, but their containers weren’t as uniform. Henry guessed that this stuff had mostly been here before the Major built his battle field. It was slower going, but Henry made it to the edge of path ‘Alpha’ and paused.

The chaos in the maze was still going full force and it seemed all attention was there, until, he heard some heavy breathing below him. Henry looked down and saw the glowing tip of a cigarette and the face of the man he had first shot.  He was wounded and holding something over his gut. Henry’s first thought was to climb down and knock the guy out, but then he saw the gun lying next to the man’s leg. It was too risky. What wasn’t risky was dropping a small, but very heavy box on the guys head.  Henry gave the box a light shake and whatever was inside seemed solidly packed.  It would make some noise, but not as much as a gunshot. Henry let it fly and heard a dull thud.  The cigarette rolled for a bit and then faded.

It took a couple of minutes to find a way down. Henry checked the wounded man, took his gun, and padded him down. Strapped to his right calve was a hunting knife. This should do nicely. Henry also took the man’s lighter. The supply table was a few feet away. Henry flicked the lighter and the soft glow fell upon a bevy of weapons and gear.  There were American, British, German, and Russian guns, belts of heavy rounds, all the necessary clips and even some grenades. Grenades? The Major certainly didn’t skimp. I guess he wanted a fair fight…aside from the numbers disparity. Henry grabbed a belt, put it on, attached his flashlight, the grenades, and added a few more clips. There were two canteens. Henry opened one and took a long pull. The water was still cold. He clipped them to his belt, picked up an M1 Tommy gun, and headed towards the back wall. He could retrace his steps and circle around to the dead end where he’d climbed up the pipe.

Half way there he got an idea. He turned and walked cautiously towards the ‘Bravo’ path until he could see the upturned model.  Henry took out the lighter and lit a few spots. The cardboard model burned easily. The light made it easy to find the far side of the warehouse and soon Henry was making his way down towards the pipe.

Just as Henry was making his way back up the pole he heard one voice and suddenly all the commotion was making its way out of the maze and towards the fire. Henry heard footsteps pass over him.  He waited a few seconds and then made his way back up on the crates. He was about to make a dash for Luna, when he had an idea.

The center dividing wall led to a gap that was the entry way into the maze. The light was dim, but Henry could see shapes all taking position on tops of the canyon walls and moving towards the flames.  Henry moved to the edge of the opening to the maze. He kneeled down and gave a shove to the top box. It was heavy, but he could move it.  Henry edge it forward almost to the point it would tip. He took the three grenades from his belt  and set them carefully down.  He listened and the sounds of excited dogs and yelling could be heard near the fire.  Henry pulled the pin from the first grenade and heaved it towards ‘alpha’, then did the same with ‘bravo’ and finally, ‘charlie’ path. The first landed on top of the outer wall of boxes and exploded with great fanfare. Henry pushed the box and it smashed to the floor just as the second grenade exploded. The third came a few seconds later and gunfire erupted at the front of the warehouse.

Henry stopped when he got to the edge of the warehouse, because he had a clean shot at the guy straight down ‘charlie’ path.  Henry was about to pull the trigger and stopped.  Right now, they were shooting at shadows and reducing their numbers by one, though tempting, was a bad move.  Henry ran along the crate wall and soon was beside Luna. He pulled the gag from her mouth and gave her a kiss, “Did you miss me?”

She whispered, “It seems you’re winning. I’m very proud. Now, about these ropes.”

Henry set the .45 in her lap and began cutting through the ropes.  It was thick and took some effort, but soon he had her right arm free. The chaos had died down and Henry figured they had realized he wasn’t up front. Henry took the Tommy Gun off and set it by his feet. The left arm went more quickly and now he just had her feet and the ropes that were around her waist. The feet were less secure and Henry had them free in a few seconds. He shifted around behind Luna and started to work on the last bit of rope, which was much thicker than the one used for her arms and legs.

The flashlight turned on and blinded Henry and the Major said, “Perhaps you did deserve those medals?”

Henry looked up and there he stood, five feet away with a gun in one hand and the flashlight in the other. The machine gun was between Henry and the Major.

“It looks like you almost…”

The shots rang out and the major disappeared off the platform.

Henry was stunned and Luna said, “Henry, they’re coming.”

Henry said, “Almost through…nice shot.”

“He was a jerk.”

When the rope fell away Henry asked, “How’d they get you up here?”

“There is a ladder over here,” Luna said, standing, her legs a bit wobbly, but she pointed towards the edge where the Major had just been.

A torrent of bullets pounded the walls behind them.  Henry pulled Luna to the ground, picked up the machine gun and said, “cover your ears.”