By Appointment Only

Morna Barrier Travel Services

Ms. Barrier provides travel services


The Experienced and Seasoned Explorer and Adventurer

By Appointment Only

Photo: A.M. Moscoso

There was no phone number on the card on the back was a handwritten address to a building hiding in the middle of the Warehouse District in Seattle. The building was old and the windows were barred. If you asked the people who caught the bus at the stop not even a dozen steps from the front door, they’d say they were sure it was empty.

There was always a light shining from a brass lamp on in the corner window where Ms.  Barrier planned trips for many clients.

 Morna didn’t advertise on the internet or on Social Media. That didn’t hurt Miss Barrier’s business though, the type of person looking to travel to the places Morna always seemed to find her. Had they not been able to do that, they wouldn’t have been the type of person who would be going to the places Morna sent them too.

One of those  people who found their way to Morna’s office  just before April was Leandro Tullio.

Leandro pushed Morna’s door open just before nightfall.

When a fine mist of dust drifted down from the ornate ledge  above the door,  he stepped back out and pulled the card from his front pocket and checked the address printed on a small steel plate to his left.

He put the card back into his pocket and went through the door, not noticing that the card had fallen out of his pocket.

It drifted for a moment in midair and then it was caught up in a draft and it sailed quietly to the curb where it joined dozens of others just like it in various degrees of decay-  all of them with them waiting to be finished off by the elements with address side up.

Morna’s office was painted pale green and the furnishings were decorated and ornately carved  with lions and sphinxes and birds- all posed in watchful positions.

 There were no travel posters on the walls, no brochures with smiling couples in bikinis and swimming trunks on the end tables, but there were books and had you looked, you’d have seen none of them were in English.

Morna was standing  by the window.” Mr. Tullio.  Thank you for stopping by.”

Leandro smiled a wide toothy smile- ” My friends call me Lenny. You can call me Leandro.”

A joke.

Morna smiled and extended her hand- ” Leandro.”

” I’m just kidding there Ms. Morna. Call me Lenny. Thank you for seeing me on such short notice. Cal said I should just stop on by. He said he was sure you’d be in. Good thing too. “

Morna  showed Leandro- Lenny to his friends- a seat in front of her desk and she sat down. ” I’m going to guess you had a free week spring up? “

” More like drop on my head. I was supposed to go on a hunting trip but the trip was scuttled because the Guides were buste- I mean they got called away on a family emergency. You know how it is.”

Morna pulled a desk drawer open and pulled her laptop out of it. ” I hate individuals who don’t keep their word. They should have made other plans for you. I certainly would have. Not that I have ever had a client’s adventure spoiled by a family emergency.”

” I sort of had my heart set on a little big game hunting, but I’m sort of over it right now, you know?  I was ready to take down and elephant or maybe a lion. Probably would have gone for both. I was in the mood, you know?”

Morna tapped a manicured nail against her eye tooth.

” So wherever I go, I don’t want it to be a resort. I want it to be-“

Morna stopped tapping. ” Dangerous? Forbidden. Strictly. Off. Limits.”

” Right. You got me Miss Morna.”

”  You know Leandro I think I do.”

Photo: A.M. Moscoso

Morna opened her laptop and started to tap on the keyboard. She looked up at Lenny and winked. ” I’ve got it, here.”


” It’s a cave.”

” Mr. Tullio. This isn’t just a cave. It’s the entrance to one of the most important archeological discoveries of our lifetime. Priceless artifacts,the rarest of creatures waiting to be won,  all of it waiting for an intrepid explorer to brave the risks and claim the prizes there for his own.”

” You’d think the Government or Military -”

” I can assure you, they’d rather pump this cave’s entrance full of concrete and call it a day. I won’t sugar coat it. It’s extremely dangerous. The question is. Are you willing to risk it where this entrance will take you?”

” Well. I mean, if I -”

” Discover ” Morna said.

” My discoveries are mine to keep. ”

Morna looked slightly offended. ” Of course they are. That’s the entire point of the service I provide. But you realize of course when I see there are all manner of creatures waiting to be tracked and won, I mean all creatures.”

Leandro leaned back and Morna leaned forward, with disgust fighting for a place on her face with amusement.  She put her hand on the top of her laptop and was about to shut it when Leandro ” my friends call me Lenny” put his hand on top of her’s.

She stopped smiling and Lenny sat up straight. ” I’m in. I’m that seasoned Adventurer you cater to Ms. Greer. I’ve taken down the biggest game and the rarest game you have ever laid eyes on. My women wear jewels buried with god damned royalty from places that haven’t existed for thousands of years. I have art hanging in my bathroom that those big deal galleries would sell me there Mothers for. So you sign me up Miss.”

Leandro reached into his jacket and pulled out his wallet. He pulled a credit card and slid it across the desk.

Morna looked at it.  She hit a key on her still opened lap top and a printer started to work behind her. She winked and reached for the paperwork and set it in a neat stack in front of Leandro.

” Your itinerary.” she slid the top pages to one side.

” And this must be the bill-” Leandro said, pretending not to look at it.

There were no numbers on the sheet of paper. Just a line for him to sign.

” And what are the fees for this adventure?” he asked.

Morna handed him a pen. ” You, Mr. Tullio are going to set the price. What would you give me to send you on an adventure to a place where are  accountable to nothing, to nobody  but your own desires. What will you give me?”

Leandro took the pen and signed. Then he said, ” You drive a Hell of a deal Morna.”

And she said, ” I sure as Hell do Lenny.”



Writers Write January Prompt: At The Bar

Prelude To An All Hallow’s Eve


Daily Prompt

Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.




” Where were you on the last Black Moon ? ” I asked my Grandmother as she stood at her kitchen counter carving the first of the many Halloween Pumpkins that would line our walkways and decorate the stairs that led to our front door.

She looked up and shrugged. ” Oh. Here and there. ”

She sounded vague.


I was worried.

I watched her place the tip of the carving knife against the pumpkin’s dark orange flesh. ” Oh wait, ” her shoulder dropped just a little, there was a smooth quick flick of her wrist and the smell pumpkin innards wafted up into the air. ” I remember where I was. Silly me. ”

She turned around with the knife in her hand. ” You must think I’m getting soft Valentina, I do remember where I was at.”

” I thought you might. ” I said firmly, trying to mask the sound of relief that was in my voice.

She tapped the business end of the knife against the side of her head. ” But I’m not getting soft Valentina, Not even a little bit.”

I nodded. ” So if you remember where you were- ” I began

” Yes,  yes Valentina. Not to worry. I remember where I was and what I was doing. ”

Grandmother reached down into the cupboard near her knees and popped it open.

Inside was her elegant black dress, her veil and her shoes. ” And when it’s time to send you back we won’t have any problems. Now run along dear and …” she reached down and then stood up.

She handed me her knife and her veil.

” Go and raise a little Hell. ”


Sunny Longyear Goes To Mars

Simply the Best

NASA is building a new Voyager spacecraft that will carry the best of modern human culture. What belongs onboard?


Captain Longyear came from a long line of pilots.

Her Grandmother was a pilot, her  Aunt was a pilot her cousin Lane was a pilot, and Sunny had flown the same path- but in her case, this time she was flying to Mars.

Sunny’s last trip had been to Callisto.

Callisto was supposed to be a lifeless  hunk of rock but it wasn’t and when Sunny came back her entire crew had been infected by Callisto and within a days they were dead.

Callisto just spun around and as it did it reached into their heads and shut their neurons down one at a time.

It’s what Callisto did and it was lesson learned and nobody ever went back there again, but they did continue  fly to Mars, to Venus and Pluto and landed something on every single asteroid that was dumb enough to get to close to Earth.

Humanity couldn’t stop once they got out there into the System. They were all over the place- planting flags, mining, and on some of the Moons they were even farming in domes and sending submarines to explore Oceans on moons that weren’t  technically alive and could shut your brain down for the hell of it.


This trip to Mars was supposed an easy one. It  was one of those feel good missions- use the budget or lose it so someone came up with the great idea of collecting the best of human culture, stuffing it into a box and burying  it on a radioactive world.

She guessed it was in case anything happened one day and all that was left of humanity was going to be safe and buried on Mars.

Only Sunny figured if there was no Earth the chances there would be a Mars to was slim to none but what the Hell.

There were four passengers on this flight. Sunny’s crew of 2 and a robot cat and a robot dog because about 100 years ago it was the only way to get people to agree to 10 year missions – they could take a pet.



They had been on Mars for a week and Sunny watched with infinite patience as the  four passengers and two of her crew carefully packed the best of human culture in airless glass boxes- in the random collection were pictures, musical instruments, wine, books.

Sunny was stunned

It looked like a garage sale down in the cargo hold.


One day Sunny grabbed a survival pack, a shovel the dog  and a cruiser and began to disappear for about three hours a day.

She came back in just before sunset and upon each return she was always in a better mood then the day before.

” What are you doing out there?” Daisy Farmer one of the Humanity Reps asked her as she was getting read for her daily trip out.

” Oh, communing with nature.”

” Mars has nature?

Sunny tapped the side of her nose, whistled for the dog and this time she took the cat too.


It was Daisy who followed Sunny out on the eve their last day on Mars.

Sunny was leaning against a rock and the dog and cat were doing what all robot animals do when Daisy found them.

” I’m just curious Captain, what you do when you come out here.”

” Do you know what I learned on Callisto?” Sunny asked

Daisy shook her head.

” I learned that when you did and drill and force things into shapes and to look like something they are not, sometimes Daisy they say ouch. And then they kick your ass all over the Solar system. Not very humane of us is it? Torturing some poor planet and then cutting it open and shoving our crap into its carcass.”

” I suppose not” not Daisy said while wondering if Captain Longyear was sane or not.

” Well, I’m just trying to balance things out, come one I’ll show you.”

Daisy followed Sunny over a ridge and down a hill and the cat and dog ran ahead and then Della looked to where Sunny was pointing and she saw the six empty graves.

And then the Martian sky seemed to turn black and Daisy Farmer fell into eternity, a true representative of human culture