I had a scary dream. It was extremely vivid & intense. I felt as though I were fighting for my very survival! I awoke in a drenched t-shirt & bed sheets, gasping for air. And once I regained my composure, something became unquestionably clear to me.
The dream occurred in a high-rise building that felt like St. Mary’s hospital (the biggest hospital in my small hometown) & the elementary school lobby area that often appears in my dreams combined into a single structure. In practice, the hospital was a lot larger than either & resembled the size & layout of Meadowview in TN (the hospital that my small town would send you to for serious emergencies). You could easily get lost inside.
There was some crisis. Me and a companion were hurriedly making our way down the hallway. There was a stir of anxious activity everywhere as everyone was making an attempt to respond to the crisis, which at first was not paranormal in nature. My companion in tow was a female romantic interest of mine. Of course, she was similar in height & build to the (censored for privacy) girls, perhaps just a tad shorter & less athletic though. She was concerned & obviously deferent to my ability to handle the current danger. Like a scene out of the first Resident Evil movie (2002), an agitated patient accosted us. Unable to talk him down, we engaged in a brief struggle. I rather easily gained control & shoved the patient to the ground. But triumph quickly evaporated into shock as the patient instantly got back up to pursue further aggression. This time, I struggled to keep the patient’s face, which now featured a fierce scowl & sharp teeth, inches from my own with the palm of my right hand while my left arm fought to push his torso backwards . Instead of just trying to wrestle me, as he had done before, this idiot was trying to bite a big chunk out of my neck! A shoved the fiend down again & took a couple of steps backwards, pulling out my pepper spray canister. I fired a few bursts into the creature’s face. It paused & then laughed as it realized the liquid had little effect. Recognizing the creature to be diabolic in nature, the tenor of the dream shifted into a scene straight out of Constantine. Instinctively, I pulled out a flask of holy water & splashed it onto the creature’s face. Steam rose from the fiend’s burning flesh as it shrieked under the pain from the divine power. I splashed more holy water onto the creature, including it’s torso this time. Simultaneously, I forced it to the ground with my own muscular physique. While I stood over the creature writhing around in a puddle of melting acid with various undissolved limbs still moving around in the cesspool, I stomped onto its limbs to guarantee its total demise. The creature’s jaws were still a threat, even as its body had devolved into an immobile steaming puddle. I remembered a scene I saw from another movie starring Matthew McConaughey. A young woman working as a live-in nanny in a haunted mansion used salt at the threshold of her bedroom door to prevent an evil spirit from entering. Suddenly armed with two full sized canisters for Morton salt–the kind in the blue package with the sketch of the woman holding an umbrella–I showered what was left of the enemy in two waterfalls of salt until there was nothing left but a puddle of dark liquid. My love interest screamed as several other patients in a similar frenzied state now began surrounding us. Having been so absorbed in my solo combat, I had failed to notice the gathering of similar zombie-like creatures. I knew that just up the hallway I could take a quick right down another hallway. About three doors down on the right there would a chapel, a la that chapel in the lobby of St. Mary’s hospital. I belted out my plan to my beautiful female companion in a single word: “Chapel!” Then, “Follow me!”
I grabbed her hand after shoving one zombie down & grabbing another by the neck & then thrashing it into the wall. Taking her hand in mine, we ran, dodging zombies as though I were a kick returner in football breaking loose for a big return. We navigated the maze of antagonists until we crossed the threshold of the small chapel. There were a few other survivors huddled inside. The creatures seemed to linger in the hallway, hesitant to enter the sanctuary even when the door was opened. Still, I wanted to fortify this stronghold as a last stand if need be. I didn’t think there was another way out, which meant that I could have just backed myself & girlfriend into a corner! I sprinkled the threshold with salt & the nearest beast shrieked with fear, taking two steps backwards. “Now I’ve got you,” I thought as I took a handful of salt & slung it into the creature’s face. It cried out & pain, its head thrashing skyward as it fell to its knees. Then, just like a scene from a movie, I suddenly saw myself lining the entire rectangular perimeter of our sanctuary with salt. As it I did this, the chapel became my parent’s three story great house in the valley. My vision panned back as though I were watching the whole scene unfold for afar, revealing my parents house on the hill protected by an outline of salt while surrounded my swarms of zombies. It was a scene reminiscent of the last scene of Season 2: “Walking Dead” after Rick gave his “Ricktatorship” speech. Cue the theme music.
When I awoke, a clear message had sunk in.
I watch waaaaaaay too many scary movies & TV shows!
Do you remember Masters of the Universe from the 1980’s? Do you remember how Castle Grey Skull was supposed to house the universe’s greatest secrets which, conveniently, were never spelled out for us? I’ve finally cracked the code–the secrets were revealed to me in a dream. If you’re willing to keep reading, I’m willing to share my discovery.
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If you are unfamiliar with the toy line that launched a franchise complete with two cartoon series, numerous comics, & one live action movie–I’d like to summarize the premise of Masters of the Universe. The toy line emerged on the heels of the massive success of Kenner’s Star Wars line with board games like Dungeons & Dragons appearing not too far in the background. In an attempt to combine adventure with a simple construct of rules to go by, Mattel pitted the great hero He-Man & his allies against Skeletor & his dark minions. Using a formula similar to the childhood game of “Capture the Flag,” He-Man’s goal was to prevent Skeletor for conquering the mysterious Castle Grey Skull–a fortress that allegedly housed the secrets of the universe. The person who conquered Grey Skull could claim themselves to be “Master of the Universe.”
The Secret Revealed
Skeletor finally conquers Grey Skull. He gloats over his triumph only to discover that his “reward” is damnation to Hell. His time on Eternia as Ruler of the Dark Hemisphere was actually his last sentence in Purgatory. God, in His mercy, had given Skeletor two prior opportunities to purge himself of his sins. Each time, Skeletor squandered his opportunity in the exact same manner. Hellbent on conquest at the expense of everything & everyone, Skeletor had doomed himself bit by bit to his current fate. The previous incarnation of Skeletor as Keldor was actually his 2nd opportunity in Purgatory. His transformation from Keldor into Skeletor was actually a death & rebirth. Since this was his last go-around, God dispatched Eternia’s greatest hero–He-man–to dissuade Skeletor from this path. All along, He-Man was an agent of God in Purgatory. What Skeletor perceived as He-Man’s interference was actually an attempt to save him.
But now that Skeletor had finally vanquished He-Man & breached the inner-sanctuary of Grey Skull, the truth became clear–all the memories came flooding back & the Skull Face that made Skeletor notorious once again became flesh as pieces of all his past lives came together once more. His face of flesh proved more terrifying than his face of bone & emptiness! For, in order to be either damned or saved, a soul would have to be made whole again. Because both Damnation & Salvation are absolute conditions; there’s no coming back from either. And because it’s all or nothing, the soul must be made whole before admittance to either.
For the entirety of his three lives as an immortal soul, Skeletor had sought to uncover the secrets of Grey Skull. And now, the day of his triumph became the day of his greatest failure. The Greatest Secret of Grey Skull is this: God loves us so much that he gives us the freedom to choose. Skeletor chose his own damnation–not once, not twice, not even three times. The soul that we know as Skeletor had chosen an obsessive path of merciless conquest four consecutive times: the first was in his mortal life on earth and the last occurred in Eternia. Eternia is Purgatory. It’s called Eternia because, one way or another, any lifeform on that planet chooses the place it will spend forever in. Those who ascend graduate to Heaven while those who repeat past mistakes devolve into Hell. And some souls choose to stay where they are–on the planet that they call Eternia, not realizing their home was meant to be only a waystation for souls but never a permanent home. But God loves every soul so much that He gives them choice; and some souls choose to dwell there.
As Skeletor’s eternal soul evaporates into the cold darkness of Hell, be bellows out a ghastly shriek. To his credit, he doesn’t make excuses–he doesn’t blame He-man; he doesn’t curse God. He curses himself as a single tear slowly drips down his left cheek.
On the outside, the imposing fortress known as Castle Grey Skull temporarily features the face of a stunningly handsome man. It is the face of God; and, as with Skeletor, a single tear slowly makes it’s way down His cheek. As great as He is, God cries every time a soul chooses the eternal death. He loves Skeletor as He loves all of His creation. He loved Skeletor so much, he gave him three more lives in Purgatory to recognize the sin he committed during his initial mortal life on Earth.
Warning: This content is legally protected creative property. Do not share, quote, or re-use any portion of this content for commercial use without expressed, written permission from the author.
These are the Secrets of Grey Skull.
- There is but one “Master of the Universe” & that is God.
- Souls, especially those on Eternia, frequently consider themselves to be “masters of the universe” because they are ascended life forms, meaning they have lived a previous life in the flesh on earth or another fallen existenceunder God’s domain. God has crested life on more planets than earth & in more realities than just our own. Moreover, they are “masters”because God has given them the freedom to choose their eternal paths.
- And finally–the greatest secret of Grey Skull is this: Since we are all born with an element of God & an element of the Devil inside us, we all have the choice to decide where we will spend eternity. And that is the greatest power any flesh & blood being can hope for.
This upcoming weekend features Easter Sunday–a celebration of salvation & resurrection. Remember that God gives us each a choice just as Skeletor had a choice.
Please choose carefully.
Although it’s been three years since Loy passed away, he’s appeared in numerous dreams. Sometimes the dreams are of us when we were young & feature my childhood home as the setting; more often, the dreams occur in current times & feature the house in the valley. In the dreams, I am usually surprised to see him because in the back of my mind, I know he’s supposed to be somewhere else. However, it’s one of those social situations when it’s best not to say what you’re thinking. Normally, he is aware that I know he shouldn’t be there yet plays along as though everything is normal. Sometimes he even has a scar that bears witness to the place he had been before; like Loy was sent away to a special school or camp with harsh conditions & now that he’s back, no one wants to mention it.
I also dream frequently of the house in the valley. Almost invariably, the dreams involve the wee hours of the morning before the sun rises, when the sky is still as dark as midnight but the clock indicates that sunrise is on the way. These dreams normally feature a pervading dread as I am loathe to depart from my bed to prepare for school or work. Just as frequently, I dream of an even more imminent threat like a home invasion or the presence of a dangerous predator outside. Last night, I had a dream featuring both archetypes combined into one. It was a disturbing dream; & when I awoke from it, I had about an hour to lay in bed before I was had to get up for work. I ending up calling out sick & went back to sleep. The next conversation I had was with a nurse from my doctor’s office who explained that my latest labs showed an extreme increase in my triglycerides. My bloodwork has come back consistently clean since 2016 & nothing has changed in my medication. My cholesterol was good, but tri’s & sugars were high. I was stunned as I fumbled around to answer the nurse’s question: What have I done differently over the last 6 months? Now, I was at elevated risk of diabetes, pancreatitis, & perhaps another heart event.
Over the last nine months I’ve made a great deal more money; but lost my gym access in the process. In addition, over the last 6 months, the time since my last lab, I’ve endured a great deal of additional stress & enormous ownership at my current workplace. In addition, I’ve made a concerted effort to save money & acquire quick calories. I’ve kept sodas around the house b/c they were on sale at the grocery just to keep them around & but have often found myself drinking them daily, which I hadn’t done over the last five years. In addition, I bought cheap store brand coffee which doesn’t taste good black, the way I used to drink my coffee–so I’ve used creamer. And then, work has been so strenuous that when I come home, I eat dinner. Then I partially clean up & lay down “just for a few minutes” only to remain on the couch until it’s time to get up for work again. I’ve become progressively more tired after each week so recently, I stopped using my stationary bike as often. And this is how my health goes downhill so quickly It’s the same formula that doomed me initially; I just didn’t realize it in time. I’ve always struggled holding down a high-responsibility job while maintaining healthy habits too. I did it back at Crutchfield, but I was younger back then. But over the last twenty years since Crutchfield, I’ve picked up an additional health problem here & there. Gout at 30. Severe depressive episode at 37–heart attack at 40. There’s always another burden placed upon me so it’s gotten harder rather than easier in a lot of ways.
Anyway, back to the dream. Dad had thrown a huge wild party & the drive way was full of cars. I was trying to manage traffic. There were a ton of roughnecks who really weren’t close to the family & it was a struggle to maintain order. Anyway, one of the drunkards lost control of his vehicle & it went careening down the hill towards the Gupalan house where it exploded & caused a fire. The crowd just sat & stared in amazement as if they were watching a fireworks show instead of rushing to help. The chaos resulted in the police arriving in masse. They admonished us for not helping & demanded to speak to the person in charge which was me. They threatened me with legal action for hosting an irresponsible party to which I told them my Dad had thrown it & I was only helping people locate their vehicles. Dad was on the porch. I told him to explain. He told me that it was my fault & that I should take the blame for it. He had too much to lose regarding his reputation & etc—and I needed to take the fall.
Patsy was with me & someone else–Walter, Loy, somebody. They were discouraged by Dad’s response & were trying to coach me up on how to handle the interrogation. At that point, I big white ball of light appeared low in the sky halfway down the driveway hill. Patsy started following it, as if hypnotized. I followed her & Loy followed me, trying to coach me up all the while. When I saw the sphere hovering over the driveway against the dark blue pre-sunrisen sky, I became mesmerized. It seemed to emit a strange humming noise & beckoned me to come closer. My mind went blank & all I could think about was getting closer to that white ball. Lou became frantic, telling me not to walk down the road–yelling that it was a trap but I barely noticed him. Further down the hill, I began to fear the sphere of light, sensing something evil about it. And yet, I couldn’t stop myself from walking towards it! It felt like that time I fell while skiing down the advanced slope & began skidd uncontrollably towards the support beam to the ski lift. A cataclysmic collision seemed inevitable!
Just then, Loy tackled me from my right side & knocked me into the grassy slope along the drive way road. He explained to me that the sphere of light would lie & manipulate me the same way the police would do when they interrogated me. He told me not to walk down that path.
After that, I woke up with a severe sense of dread, hoping to garner the willpower to go to work although i dreaded it. I had gone to church the day before. I hadn’t just lounged around the house on my Sunday off, having done laundry, folded some clothes, & gone to the grocery. I had prayed to God to slow down time while I gathered the strength to face another weak of customer complaints, flight changes, & answering questions about material I barely knew about. Oftentimes, God mercifully obliges at time slows down while I fire up my willpower just in time to make it out the door for work. But today, almost sinisterly, the clocked ticked away rapidly. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I wouldn’t be going in on this day. When it wasn’t too early to be inappropriate, I called my boss to report. The next conversation was with my nurse as she delivered the shocking & disturbing news.
Once it was over & I processed the implications, I thought of the dream. I thought of my inexplicable reluctance to go to work that morning. I hadn’t been checking my voicemails, which the nurse had admonished me for. I had forgotten my password to MyChart, which the nurse admonished me for since my doctor had made attempts to contact me that way. Had I gone to work, I would not have answered the phone call. It was as if God had incapacitated me in order to receive this warning.
And then the dream about Loy. He was trying to prevent me from walking down this path, numb to the consequences. I don’t think that it was Lou’s spirit trying to speak to me directly; but rather, God using my knowledge of how tragically Lou died when it had been completely avoidable. God wanted to give me a chance not to continue down the same path. I would have to make changes or suffer for failing to do so.
Bravo Team of the J.U. (Justified Union) patrols the outskirts of the green zone, which is still a contested area. In order to bolster confidence in its allies to renew the trade agreement, the J.U. has amped up it’s presence on the outskirts, especially along the primary trade routes. Ordinarily, a routine patrol is a task beneath Bravo Team’s talents; but things have been quiet lately. Bravo Team has grown hungry for live action & command recognizes that training against simulations only won’t keep the team sharp over the long term.
Bravo Team calls it “walking the dog.” They slowly patrol a pre-determined route along the main trade route equipped with an FAV (Fast Attack Vehicle). The vehicle is there mostly to carry extra gear & communication equipment. It’s not even big enough to carry all members of the patrol. Two members walk alongside each flank. The small patrol barely averages 3 mph; but it’s a short segment & the slow pace gives the operators a chance to examine the area more carefully.
Their goal is two-fold: to establish a visible presence & to scout the area for potential hazards once hostilities recommence. Where are the bottle necks? What areas are vulnerable to ambush? Where would a potential enemy hide? What would I do if the roles were reversed? After all—there are two sides of every coin. On top today; someone else tomorrow.
Contact is unlikely, based on intel. But, unbeknownst to the intelligence section, a simple but determined danger lies in wait.
As the patrol arrives to less than 50 meters from the next chokepoint, this determined enemy aims his Dragunov sniper rifle at them. The Dragunov is a large caliber sniper rifle that could have been deployed accurately well before Bravo Team approached the chokepoint. The sniper, from his elevated position, still believing to have the advantage, squeezes the trigger.
“Zhhhhhhoooooommmmm!” The high velocity round whips just feet above its mark. The proximity of the shot makes it easier for Bravo Team to pinpoint the point of origin. In a fight, there is always an advantage in throwing the first punch–assuming you land it solidly, of course.
The flipside to throwing that first punch, however, is leaving yourself opened for the counter-punch. The element of surprise works once–then it’s a fair fight after that. If you’re going up against someone who is faster, bigger, or punches harder than you do—you may not want to throw that first punch. In theory, you have a 50% chance for success & failure—a coin flip. But that’s all academic. In the real world, there are other factors that play a role in determining the outcome.
“Contact, left side: one tango, sniper rifle! Returning fire!” Maddox is the newest member of Bravo Team. It’s possible he’s auditioning as the permanent replacement for the rock star Bowman, who currently serves as driver while he tries to recover from a recent injury.
Maddox’s MP-5 submachine gun variant fires light recoiling shots in semi-automatic fashion. While it’s not the ideal weapon for this situation, the relative proximity of the sniper & the light-recoiling 9mm round in semi-auto mode allows him to return effective fire almost immediately.
While Bowman holds down the right flank, a hidden danger emerges from the left. A second insurgent breaks cover, armed with a 12 gauge shotgun.
While robust & versatile, the shotgun is not the ideal weapon for this situation. However, the fighter has misdirection & the element of surprise on his side. Moreover, his shotgun is loaded with rifled slugs today for greater effectiveness at range. He knows he doesn’t have the firepower to win the fight; but he has enough to leave a mark. The 8 large slugs are enough to make one or two of these men suffer for their pride & arrogance. The 12 gauge is large enough to test the resolve of the J.U.’s alleged military might.
The 2nd insurgent’s first slug strays slightly to the left, impacting just above the driver’s side wheel-well. He racks the action to load another slug while the Bravo operator tries to locate the origin of fire.
It doesn’t take long for the experienced operator, Master Chief Compton, to locate the new shooter. Compton takes aim just as the insurgent cycles the next slug. It probably only took a split second in real time, but for a moment, it was as though time stood still. In that instant, the highly trained veteran & the angry but novice insurgent were locked in a stare down. It was like a scene from one of those old Western flicks. And then . . . two triggers drew backwards.
(Insurgent 2) Arrrrhhhh! Three shot bursts! I wasn’t expecting that!
The insurgent’s second slug impacts a little higher, entering the driver’s side hood where it’s stopped by the engine block. Unlike Maddox on the other side, who’s MP5 sub machinegun is configured for semi-auto mode, Compton’s weapon is set for 3 shot bursts. The rapid succession of projectiles catches the insurgent off guard as he dives for cover.
Just as it appears Bravo Team will make quick work of the amateurish ambush, a 3rd insurgent emerges from cover from an elevated position. While he is only armed with a pistol, the small FAV is close enough to be at risk. At last, it becomes apparent why the 1st insurgent waited so long to take the first shot despite having the long range weapon: he had intended to draw Bravo Team into a kill box! Suddenly, the amateurish ambush seems a lot more sophisticated.
A 3rd insurgent opens fire on Bravo Team. Intel determined that contact would be unlikely. So much for probability. That was all academic now. For the 3rd time today, a shooter takes an uncontested first shot at the J.U.’s elite force. For the 3rd time today, the J.U.’s elite force is caught off-guard. However, training & experience has allowed the team to react quickly & effectively. But even cats only have 9 lives! Will the 3rd time finally be the charm for the opposition force? Will the earth’s only military Super Power absorb a shocking defeat?
JOIN me NEXT SUNDAY for the conclusion of Two Sides of the Coin: Bravo Team’s routine Patrol!
He-Man meets Faker
We all want to believe that we’re special; that there’s no one else on earth like us. You know how disappointed you feel when you realize how common you really are? Well imagine how much more disappointing that must feel for the most powerful man in the universe!
Skeletor taunts He-Man as, through a magic, Fakers dons a human head that closely resembles He-Man’s! As the two gladiators skirmish, Skeletor reveals that Faker began as one of Man-in-Arms’ proudest accomplishment–a robotic training dummy imbued with the strength & speed of a true warrior. Skeletor’s minions ambushed a band of heroic warriors during a simulated patrol. Tri-clops made some modifications & then Skeletor put the finishing touches on the simulated life-form by channeling a portion of his own power into the robot. Surely, a warrior that was equal part machine, equal part conjured beast–could combine all the necessary qualities to equal & even surpass the fighting prowess of the most powerful man in the universe! Right?
After a brief struggle that, at times, demonstrated strength & speed from the robot that seemed to equal that of his twin human: He-man proves that things aren’t always as they appear.
In the end, looks are only skin deep. He-man’s true strength comes from his humanity–more specifically, the righteousness of his humane qualities. He-man knows how special he is without needing to be reminded all the time. He-man knows that what powers his strength in combat is the compassion of his heart. He-man is strong because he only chose to rely on that strength when absolutely necessary. And because his motivation is pure, the power of Greyskull coursed effortlessly through him, it’s truly deserving champion. When the machine in Faker begins to fail, the power of Greyskull does not. He man perseveres because his strength comes from a higher place outside of himself.
By the end of the brief conflict, it isn’t even close. He-man sends Skeletor scampering for safety atop this giant panther with his defeated robot servant in close pursuit. He-man had won; but Skeletor realized that he had uncovered a true weapon in the war for power. Skeletor had discovered the art of deception over brute force. He would perfect that weapon & deploy it again when the time was right. But for now, He-man had saved the day once again.