The world is my oyster! I can enjoy myself, play around or divide and conquer. What shall I plan next? Perhaps I shall climb up a tall mountain untethered? Take off all my clothes at the top? I will try not to hurt myself. Here I go! It seems the other travelers watching are worried! 

Halfway up, the ringtone on my cell phone distracts me. It’s my lawyer.

“What fresh hell are you up to now? Do you intentionally not want a  future!  Speak, what do you have to say for yourself?”

“Send a text next time. I’m busy!” Click.

The Passageway – Part 5

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Dr. Morton looked into their eyes with as much sincerity as he could muster. If they only knew how good his gaslighting skills were. Well, of course, they wouldn’t know that because they didn’t know him at all. Based on their reactions, he was convincing enough. The students must never know what had happened to them; otherwise, it would ruin all his precious plans. Well, that and the objectives of his planet.

“But Dr. Morton, all of us remember exactly what happened to us, and attending that lecture was a part of that day!” Deborah stared at him in disbelief. Oliver couldn’t believe what he was hearing, and John seemed in shock as well.

“I’m sorry, guys, here look at my schedule,” grabbing his spiral planner and handing it to them. “I did not have any lectures about NDEs on that day!”

They all went back and forth for quite a bit, but Deborah, Oliver, and John left feeling defeated, unsure, and stunned. Dr. Morton pretended to be as frustrated as he could. Finally, they all said their goodbyes and left.

“Maybe it was all a dream, and we all just reinforced each other?” said John. Deborah wasn’t ready to believe that, though.

“But John, come on, be realistic! That’s even more bizarre that we all had the same collective dream, but all had different experiences?” She was getting frustrated.

“What else could it be? Give me one good reason why Dr. Morton would lie, Deborah?”

“Well, I just don’t know anything anymore,” said Oliver. “Right now, I’d be willing to drop it because frankly, I have better things to worry about. Would either of you please drop me off at my apartment?” He was ready not to be dealing with this situation any further.

Dr. Morton watched them arguing in the courtyard after they left his office. It seemed to him they bought it. Good, now I can get started on the next class, he thought to himself. 

Since he managed to get Oliver’s eyes and a kidney each from John and Deborah to his people, he only needed a few more body parts to assist the breeders on his planet. When he retrieved the last organs, he would return through the passageway to his world. Dr. Morton was looking forward to his stint on Earth to be over. The human suit was not comfortable for him, nor did he like earthlings.

The inhabitants of Kritung, the planet he was from, were almost extinct because those responsible for the new lives were dying. Their only hope was finding donors to revitalize the breeders. After many years of searching the galaxy, they discovered Earth and realized the solution to their problem. And just in time. They needed to harvest some of the human’s organs and quickly. Dr. Morton would return a global hero!

He smiled at that thought and quickly got to work, selecting the next students. “My spousal unit will be so proud,” he spoke out loud with glee.


Thanks so much for your support of this series! See you next month!

The Passageway – Part 4


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Dr. Morton’s office at John Hopkins University later that day

John taps lightly on the door of Dr. Morton’s office. Immediately, they could hear a loud “Come in!” and proceeded to enter the office.

“Ah, hello, you three! I was wondering when we’d see each other again,” Dr. Morton said warmly. “I’m happy to see that you’ve all recovered from your injuries.”

Oliver coughed slightly, but Deborah cut him off before he could launch into his normal anger. “Hello, Dr. Morton, yes, we are all feeling physically better and more mobile. Oliver got hit the hardest as the accident left him blinded. But he is managing with it,” she said as she pinched his arm a bit. He remained silent, understanding what she was doing.

“Oh, no! I didn’t know that, Oliver. I’m so sorry to hear that!” Dr. Morton looked genuinely shocked and sympathetic about his situation. “I do hope that your college experience isn’t over because of it.”

“I don’t want it to be over, but yes, it’s one of the reasons I didn’t come back to school right away. I have to relearn how to exist before I can begin to tackle my education. Since we’re here, can you tell me if there are any tools you have available at school for me?” His demeanor relaxed a bit and seemed more hopeful as he waited for Dr. Morton to answer.

“Well, yes, there are many ways to help with your disability. If you’ve got some time, stop by the Student Services office for more information. I’m sure they would be happy to help you resume your education.”

“Thank you, Dr. Morton. And by the way, I appreciate you and the staff sending the flowers. They smelled amazing!” Oliver was much more upbeat. The prospect of coming back to school seemed to cheer him up.

John piped up as well, “Yes, the flowers I received were the same. The scents of that bouquet just filled the entire room!”

“Same here! It was a wonderful arrangement! Thank you!” said Deborah. As much as she wanted to keep the mood light, she felt they needed to talk about what they had experienced. Deborah looked at John with a questioning look. He nodded that she should go on.

“Dr. Morton, this isn’t just a social visit. We, well, John and I needed to talk to you about what happened that day of the accident,” looking very solemn as she spoke to him.

“Please go on, Deborah.”

“Well, you may not have known this, but we all flat-lined that day, twice for Oliver. Obviously, we’re still here but John and I had what we think was a near-death experience. His was a horrible, hell-like atmosphere, and mine was the wonderful, heaven-like one.” She stopped to gauge his reaction.

“Fascinating! Tell me more.”

“Well, since it happened right after your lecture on NDEs, we thought maybe that we planted those experiences because of what we heard. Or do you think we had a near-death experience?” Deborah hoped that Dr. Morton would have some answers.

“What you heard at the lecture? But I didn’t have any lectures on NDEs last month,” he uttered, looking incredibly confused.


Hello Readers – Normally I would ask that you cast your vote in the comments below for the type of ending you would like to see, but I’ve decided there is only one way to end this story this week. I do hope you like it. 🙂

The Passageway – Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

The newly remodeled Café Alkimia – One month after the accident

“Hi, John. Hi, Oliver!” Deborah squealed when she saw her two friends at their favorite spot. John was waving excitedly at her. She was still a bit shell-shocked coming back to the place where they’d all suffered so much, but in the end, all three decided it was best to face their fears and meet there. Seeing them again put her immediately at ease.

“It is so good to see you, Deborah,” said John with a big smile as he rose to hug her. “You look good, girl!”

“Yeah, and it’s at least nice to hear your voice since I can’t see you anymore,” Oliver said with a quirky smile, trying to fake humor. His attempt failed miserably. Both John and Deborah were filled with compassion for their friend but looked at each other with hopelessness. Each wondering if Oliver would be able to get past his bitterness.

Deborah swooped down and took Oliver in her arms, squeezing him until he finally said, “Enough, I can’t breathe!” She let go and promptly got comfortable in her chair. “Thanks for my coffee! I was looking forward to this. After being cooped up in the hospital for so long and then stuck in the house, an afternoon out is exactly what I needed. I appreciate you suggesting this.” Both men nodded in agreement.

The hours passed as they caught up about how their lives had changed since that fateful day. They’d all postponed college for the time being. Their parents felt they needed to heal fully before going back. For Deborah and John, with their physical states pretty much intact, it was more their emotional states preventing them from concentrating on anything other than healing. For Oliver, adjusting to his new reality of blindness was the hardest part.

John was the first to summon the courage to talk about his ER experience that day. Both Oliver and Deborah listened intently; fear, concern, and doubt flashed on their faces.

“I can’t believe that I had a Near-Death Experience, especially since we had just watched that lecture that day. It must be that I somehow planted it and become predisposed to having it happen. You know, like when you binge-watch something, and your dream is then all about the show?” John scanned both their faces hoping they’d agree. “It has to be that, or?” Oliver’s face was blank, but Deborah looked scared.

“You’re not going to believe this, but I think I had an NDE too!” Deborah said with some hesitation. “But it was the exact opposite. I wasn’t scared at all. It was quite beautiful, like being in Heaven.” John looked perplexed.

“Well, aren’t you the lucky ones!” Oliver piped in sarcastically. His self-pity was taking control. “I’m the only one who had something real, substantial, and devastating happen. Look at me; I can’t see! I’m blind because of that day! You guys had a frickin’ hallucination in the ER!”

Both Deborah and John insisted that what happened to them was real. While they agreed it might have been self-induced, it impacted them emotionally, and they wanted answers.

“I think we should go talk to Dr. Morton privately and tell him about our experiences. What do you think? I mean, he is an expert on this stuff supposedly,” said Deborah.

“Okay, fine,” said Oliver with more than just a little hostility.


The Passageway – Part 2

Part 1

John Hopkins HospitalThe day of the horrific accident

The scene was mass hysteria after the car rammed full-force into the coffee shop. People scattered as far from the destruction as possible, except Deborah, John, and Oliver. Their bloodied bodies lay lifeless at the scene. When the dust settled, people in the area started towards the shop to help where they could. The police and EMTs arrived shortly after, asking the growing crowd to stay back to let everyone do their jobs. It was like a war zone. Heard from the wounded were frantic yells and cries but also from those spared from the carnage. 

The EMTs immediately transported Deborah, John, and Oliver’s bruised and battered bodies to the hospital. The nurses and doctors in the ER bays were working frantically to address their injuries. All three had required resuscitation at the scene, and no one thought they would survive as their vitals were so weak. But there was hope when their hearts started beating, barely.

And then they all flat-lined again.

Deborah opened her eyes to see she was drifting up above her body. There was no pain, no discomfort, and no fear. The scene below her was intense as she could see the doctors and nurses working diligently on her body. They used paddles to start her heart but weren’t successful. She clutched her chest and realized there was no heartbeat, yet she was oddly at peace. Deborah noticed that the room was excruciatingly bright and turned to find the source of the light. She needed to know what it was and understand why she felt immense comfort and warmth. The surreal glow behind her didn’t make her squint; it was inviting her to get closer. She chose to investigate. Deborah felt like she was dancing on a white haze. Each step forward effortless. But she only got to experience a few minutes because then everything went black for her.

John was on edge and tense as he awoke into his nightmare. Flames were licking his body, the sound of gnashing teeth was intensely loud, and many screams pierced his eardrums. Hot and intense fires surrounded him; he felt only excruciating pain. The last thing he remembered was drinking coffee and laughing. 

OMG, I’m in hell! he thought, panic setting in as his pain level increased. He immediately began to pray. And scream. He was in agony for what seemed an eternity. Then the world around him just suddenly ceased to exist.

Oliver’s situation was dire. After his heart stopped for the second time, the doctors worked furiously to resuscitate him. Everything they tried – paddles, epinephrine, atropine, even cracking his chest to pump his heart manually. Nothing was working. The medical staff assumed that his injuries were just too severe, and as they approached the 15-minute mark of medical intervention, they knew they’d probably have to call time of death.

Then all of a sudden, a nurse screamed, “He’s got a sinus rhythm!” They kept going with their efforts to stop the bleeding and maintaining his heartbeat. Everyone in that ER bay was smiling and relieved. 

Oliver began to open his eyes, but everything was dark.


The Passageway – Part 1

Dr. Morton’s lecture at John Hopkins University

“Today, we are going to be delving into the proposition of Near-Death Experience or NDE. I’m sure many of you have heard about them but none have a first-hand account. And if you have, please do raise your hand.” He said it with a smile. With his head down, his eyes positioned above his glasses, Dr. Morton quickly scans the room anyway. No one has their hand up. “Good, so let’s begin.”

His lecture had run slightly longer than an hour when he dismissed them, cutting into their lunchtime. Dr. Morton apologized, most students not caring as they walked out the door.

Deborah, John, and Oliver decided to head to Café Alkimia for a bit of a break and indulge in some excellent coffee and nibbles. They didn’t have another class until later that afternoon.

“That was some pretty fascinating information, don’t you think?” said Deborah, removing her coat and getting situated in one of the three comfortable brown leather chairs off to the side. They’d decided on the quieter corner while getting their food and drink. “I’m looking forward to learning more, aren’t you guys?” she said with a huge smile.

John plopped down ungraciously, almost toppling his coffee, “Oh, yeah, totally,” he said. Oliver gave a big thumbs up in agreement. He’d just taken a big sip of his coffee, while trying to manage the things in his hands and positioning them on the table. He finally sat down.

“I’m looking forward to the case studies. That has to be better than just getting the statistics,” Oliver finally managed to say. Deborah shook her head slightly, in agreement.

John spoke up, “Yeah, while the stats gave me a better understanding of the phenomenon, the case studies will be much more interesting. The backgrounds of the individuals might contribute to them even having NDEs, don’t you think?” Deborah and Oliver agreed. “Oh, for sure,” they said in unison. They all looked at each other and cracked up with laughter.

“I’m so glad we all ended up in the same class, guys,” said Deborah, a big grin plastered on her face. “You two have made my college experience a blast so far. Us liking the same foods, the same music, having the same taste in people, and our love for reading. Oh, I could go on.” She looked at them both with gratitude.

“Please, do dear Deborah! You know how much I love praise!” said John, laughing heartily. “Numero Uno full of himself man seeks attention!”

“I feel the same, Deborah. This school year rocks because of you two!” Oliver uttered profusely. He was in 100% agreement.

All three continued talking about the class and rehashing the latest gossip on campus. They didn’t immediately notice the far off roaring of a car’s engine barreling its way towards the Café. When the students’ screams got louder, they all turned to see the front end of a red Camaro at the shop’s window. Just then the realization that they were right in the trajectory of the vehicle crossed their faces.


The Little Red Suitcase – Part 5

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Monday thru Friday flew by as it turned out to be an unusually stressful work week, clocking 57 hours the first four days. Ailsa was happy only to work 8 hours on Friday. She was ready for her getaway. Thankfully, the weather gods were on her side; the trip to Aisla Craig was a go! She’d transport over there after the last tour left shortly after 5 pm. Then the island would be all hers. With it being June, the sun wouldn’t set until around 11 pm, leaving her plenty of time to get the tent and campfire set up.

Shortly after she got home from work, she was ready and got into her little red suitcase. It was tight with all the camping gear and her food, but it all fit. She was careful only to bring what she needed for the night and the next day. With the latch closed behind her, she was gone.

Aisla arrived at the old lighthouse interior, not knowing what to expect. She was a bit eeked out because of the lack of maintenance on the property, dust everywhere, and all the remaining artifacts were either broken or in deplorable condition. Wow, so this is where they conceived me! She stood there in disbelief. Good thing I planned to sleep outside, was all she kept thinking.

With the tent set up and an intense fire going, she decided to hike around a bit. Thankfully, the spot she chose wasn’t very windy. As Aisla was walking, she recalled her research. The island, located 10 miles off Scotland’s west coast, was considered a volcanic plug. This remnant of a volcano known for its blue hone granite was quarried and used to make curling stones.

“Hello there! What are you doing here?” Aisla spun around to see a man standing a few feet away from her. He didn’t look dangerous, but who knew? What was he doing here at this time? She had made sure there wouldn’t be anyone on the island when she got there.

“Hello, I could ask you the same thing!”

“Well, my name is Daniel Craig, and I visit every so often.”

“Craig, as in Aisla Craig?”

“Yes. I was named after the island. It’s a long romantic story. My parents conceived me here.”

Aisla couldn’t contain her surprise or her laugh when she heard that. “You’re not going to believe this. I’m named Aisla Craig after the island too, and for the exact reason. My parents did the hanky-panky here about 30 years ago!”

“Well, I’ll be, that is fascinating! And the other thing is that we are also related if we carry the same last name! Can you tell me a little bit about your ancestry to figure out where our lines cross?”

They both walked back to the camp, sat by the fire for hours, and got to know each other better. It turned out that Daniel was her Third Cousin and his lineage came from the Great-Great-Grandparents, specifically the Great-Grand Uncle of that union. They were both stunned, learning they were long-lost cousins. More importantly, Ailsa found out that their suitcases were the only ones in the family! This was the first time either of them had ever spoken to another person about it but reckoned it had to be okay considering their history.

“Well, here’s to finally having a travel companion!!” Aisla said, both beaming with joy.”

“So, where are we going next?”


Thanks so much for your support of this series! See you next month!

The Little Red Suitcase – Part 4

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Ailsa’s Apartment – Saturday 3 PM

Without any sound or intrusive movements, Ailsa’s suitcase bubble immediately appeared on her bedroom floor. Once situated solidly, she unlatched the case and stepped out. Gathering her dirty clothes, she lofted them into her hamper. She pulled her black essentials bag out and checked the level of her lotions, perfume, and make-up to ensure there was enough for the next visit. She filled the bottles, dropped the little black bag in the suitcase and then proceeded to push it under her bed.

Ailsa’s head was definitely back in the US as her first thought was that it was time for PJs and a cup of coffee. If only she’d purchased some of the Parisian coffee while she was there. The rich brew was such a highlight during her stay. Oh well, she decided, she’d get some the next time she went to France. Maybe sooner rather than later since it would still be beautiful for the next few months. 

She moseyed towards the kitchen to brew the coffee, which would help combat the mid-afternoon blahs she felt coming on. Once her steaming cup was in front of her, a small snack as well, she pulled out her pencil and travel journal. She wanted to put down some thoughts and details about her visit, then plan the following week’s trip. Flipping to the Paris, France entry she’d created, she proceeded to write everything down. The front of her journal held the long bucket list of adventures, almost a year’s worth of trips planned. It grew every time she ran across information about another exciting place to visit. Her goal was to be able to see every one of those destinations before she died. Ailsa knew that traveling would become a daily event once she retired from her job. That was the only reason she busted her butt so much, sometimes working 60+ hours/week. She anticipated leaving the rat race at 50 years of age, leaving her still healthy and vibrant enough to travel extensively.

Next week’s adventure was a visit to Cape Town, South Africa, but having just talked about her place of conception with the attendant in Paris, she decided to visit the island of Aisla Craig instead. A while ago, she’d found out that it was owned by The Marquess of Ailsa and had become a bird sanctuary. The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds was leasing the island until 2050. The weather channel indicated that it should be pleasant, but she would continue to check throughout the week. This way if the weather got bad, she’d implement her backup plan. But the possibility of going thrilled her immensely. It would be so peaceful and scenic with it being closed down to the public. Ailsa thought back to the last time she’d camped out. It was fun “roughing it”, as she recalled. Hopefully, everything would fit in her suitcase.


Hello Readers – now it’s your turn! Please cast your vote in the comments below for the type of ending you would like to see. Try to have your choice noted by 5PM CST.
Here are your ending possibilities this week:


I look forward to writing how the story will end! Here’s hoping you enjoy it! 

The Little Red Suitcase – Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

Ailsa slowly woke up after a solid night’s sleep, her wide yawn shaking off the remnants of sweet dreams. With the bed being so comfortable, she debated for just a moment whether to snooze further or push through the usual fuzziness upon wakening. Her sense of adventure determined her next step as she threw her legs over the edge of the bed.

After a quick shower, she quickly packed all of her things in her suitcase and headed downstairs to check out. She asked the concierge to hold her suitcase as she would be sight-seeing this morning and into the afternoon. He gave her a claim stub for her bag, and off she went.

Ailsa had decided to forgo walking to both places because it would take away almost an hour and a half from her excursion. The Paris Metro would be perfect for getting to and from, and who didn’t love taking public transportation? Especially when it was so modern and inexpensive. She wasn’t willing to cut corners on other comforts as she’d dropped a pretty penny on the five-star hotel and their equally rated restaurant, but transportation, yes.

Her first stop this beautiful morning would be to take in the exquisite exhibits at the Louvre museum. She especially looked forward to seeing Leonardo Da Vinci’s – Mona Lisa – and Venus de Milo’s statue – Aphrodite. Ailsa was happy to check off two more bucket list places. But first, a Parisian coffee and a croissant before boarding the Metro.

She arrived at 9 AM on the dot, just as they opened the doors. Ailsa estimated she’d spend a couple of hours at the museum but ended up staying there for an hour longer. All the exhibits were fascinating, and she was happy to immerse herself more in-depth in the artwork and history. The time passed quickly, but she still had plenty of daylight to get to the Eiffel Tower.

Aisla looked forward to seeing the fantastic view of Paris from the tower. But just as excited to ingest a glorious lunch at the restaurant located 125 meters up from the ground. She decided to go straight there as it was right about Noon when she arrived. The Michelin-starred restaurant – Le Jules Verne – had three rooms offering a breathtaking view of the Champ-de-Mars, the Quai Branly, and the Trocadéro.

The waiter was happy to give her a window seat as requested. The view was so much more than she had expected! Oh, this trip sure was turning out to be one of the best she’d had to date, she thought to herself. The lunch, another exorbitant expenditure, was definitely worth it!

Ailsa took a deep breath as she looked out over Paris. A few thoughts crossed her mind about Monday, but she quickly pushed those back down into her subconscious, trying to focus only on the joy she was experiencing at that moment.

After lunch, she checked out the other attractions and exhibits, including more artwork and the tower’s history. Ailsa also perused the gift shop, where she spotted a limited edition rivet to add to her collection from her travels. Her trip was complete!

It was almost 3 PM, and she’d seen everything; it was time to go home. The Metro took her back to the hotel. She gave the concierge her claim ticket, promptly retrieving her bag. Aisla went into the lobby bathroom, opened a stall, and was careful not to lock the door. She quickly opened her little red suitcase, stepped into it, and said her goodbyes to Paris.


The Little Red Suitcase – Part 2

Part 1

Hôtel Plaza Athénée – Paris, France

Undetected, the translucent bubble carrying the little red suitcase arrived at the hotel. Aisla unlatched the suitcase and stepped out into the lobby. This ingenious device teleported easily and without any disturbance in the new surroundings what-so-ever. It always left her astounded as none of the people in the area seemed to notice she’d just suddenly appeared. It was as if she’d arrived like every other tourist checking in.

Closing the suitcase and smoothing down her shirt and pants, Ailsa walked towards the reception area and checked in with the front desk. She smiled at the attendant and put down her suitcase. “Bonjour, Monsieur, Parlez-vous Anglais?”

“Yes, Madame. I speak English,” the man behind the desk said, smiling and nodding. 

“Oh, wonderful! Thank you for making it easier for me. I’m still learning the language.”

“Are you checking in today?”

“Yes, please. Ailsa Craig.”

“Oh, like the island in Scotland?”

Ailsa flashed a broad but surprised smile. “Yes! Most people don’t know that! My parents decided to name me that as I was conceived on that island when they were on holiday.”

“Ah, that must have been before they closed it?”

Nodding in agreement, she said, “They’d heard it was going to be closed to visitors soon and wanted to visit the sights before it was too late. Mom and Dad packed a picnic lunch, brought some wine, hung out at the old castle, and good times transported them into each other’s arms!” Ailsa laughed, telling the story she’d heard so often before as sweetly as possible.

The attendant laughed with her and, with a wink, said, “Well, it sounds like they had an enchanting time and brought home a wonderful keepsake!”


“As per your instructions, we have a table reserved for you tonight in the restaurant at 6:30 this evening. Here is your key. You will be staying in Room 304. Is there anything else I can help you with?”

“Please, could you tell me what time the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower open to the public? Also, do you have a transit map for the Paris Metro?”

“Yes, of course. Here’s the map, and the sights are both open at 9 AM.”

“Wonderful! I thank you so much for the information! Au revoir”

“Enjoy your stay, Ms. Craig!”

Aisla turned and headed towards the elevator. The door opened just as she arrived to ring the bell for one. She pressed the third-floor button and looked forward to getting settled in the room. A big, deep breath and a long sigh out escaped her throat. She was beginning to relax now.

After a luxurious bubble bath, she showered off all the soap and wrapped herself in a plush white towel. Aisla fixed her make-up, blew dry her hair, and brushed it all into place. The cute black dress laid out on the bed, just waiting to be stepped into. After a small spritz of hairspray, then checking herself out in the mirror, she decided she liked what she saw. Her hunger beckoned, though; it was time to eat. 

Opening the door of her room, Aisla couldn’t help but say, “Hello, Paris! Are you ready for me?”