Guest Opinion: Bolingbrook United 2021 – United for a better future and a better community (Mixed)

On April 6, voters in Bolingbrook will select a new mayor, a new clerk, and three trustees.  We asked the three local parties, Bolingbrook Independent Voices, Bolingbrook United, and First Party for Bolingbrook, to submit guest opinions to published on the eve of early voting Only Bolingbrook United accepted our invitation.  

All views expressed in these guest opinions are those of the political parties and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Babbler editorial board.

Founded in 2016 on a quiet residential street by a group of residents who were tired of the status quo and seeing only those who were well connected or campaign donors having their concerns addressed, Bolingbrook United has been a grassroots movement from the beginning.  With the aim of providing a voice for all residents and addressing long-neglected concerns of the community, our village board candidates for 2021 have a diverse and experienced background from which they draw and can provide leadership within the community.

Jackie Traynere:  Candidate for Mayor

Jackie is a long-time resident of Bolingbrook, has served the community as a County Board member since 2008, and is the chair of the DuPage Township Democrats organization.  Jackie has been a small business owner and was employed for 22 years as a union organizer.  She volunteers in countless ways within the community and is a Rotarian.  You can read more about Jackie’s background at:

Elnalyn Costa:  Candidate for Village Clerk

“El”, as she’s better known to her friends, is a 14 year Filipino-American resident of Bolingbrook.  El is the Fund Administrator of the SEIU Healthcare Illinois Benefit Funds in Chicago where she leads a team that serves 20,000 frontline healthcare and child care workers.  El serves her community in many ways including as a DuPage Township Precinct Captain and as the treasurer for the Illinois Democratic Women of Will County.  Learn more about El at:

Melisa Quinones:  Candidate for Village Trustee

Melisa is a local attorney, parent of a special needs child, and grew up in Puerto Rico.  When Hurricane Maria devastated the island Melisa moved her family to Bolingbrook to be near her sister and start a new life.  Since becoming a resident Melisa has become very involved in the local community by serving on the Crime Stoppers board, becoming and serving as a certified mediator and Guardian ad Litem for the court system, and volunteering for the local “Lawyers in the Library” program.  View more about Melisa’s qualifications here:

Jose Quintero:  Candidate for Village Trustee

An active member of St. Dominic’s Church in Bolingbrook since 2004, Jose originally immigrated to the US from Durango, Mexico when he was five.  His background is in many ways indicative of the “American Dream” as he studied at College of DuPage and later graduated from Florida Atlantic University, now working as the VP of Operations and Business Development for the Windson Hospitality Group.  Jose is also a Rotarian and an active member of the Chamber of Commerce.  Learn more about Jose here:

Rondel Parker:  Candidate for Village Trustee

Rondel is a fiscally conservative, independent, and non-partisan candidate who is a graduate of Illinois State University and a public servant.  An avid health enthusiast, Rondel loves to run with the Bolingbrook Fun Run Club and help others stay fit in the gym.  The parent of 5 children, including 3 who are members of the US Airforce, Rondel learned early on the value of community from his grandparents as he volunteered to feed the needy.  Learn more about Rondel here:

Bolingbrook United 2021 Platform:

While it is impossible to address all concerns that the Village currently faces or will face over the next four years, the candidates have a clear focus on the following issues:


Bolingbrook United will work to make sure local government is open and accountable. It’s time to give power and information back to the people. We will put a stop to backroom deals that benefit only a few connected players, end no-bid contracts, and responsibly manage our village vendors and finances. It’s your money – you deserve a say in how it’s spent.

 Village meetings and engaging with residents on key issues

Everyone should have equal access to the work of their government. We will give residents a voice at Village Meetings with fewer restrictions, and open channels of communication for residents who can’t attend to make sure all can share their input. Before key financial decisions are made, like taking on more village debt or bidding on contracts, residents will have a real chance to weigh-in.

 End Conflicts of Interest

Bolingbrook officials have a long history of playing favorites and accepting campaign donations from those who do business with the village. We will enact new ethics restrictions and make sure our vendors are doing what is best for our residents, not politicians.

 Modernize Village Hall and how we interface with residents

We will work with Village staff to upgrade the use of technology and improve the ways residents get and share information, apply for permits, and put in requests.


Bolingbrook United will help us rebuild from COVID-19 even stronger than before. We will work to fill empty storefronts and strengthen our local economy. We will also root out corruption and find savings in our budget so that we can lower property taxes and fees while delivering better, more affordable village services like clean water and the option for garbage containers.

 Redevelop Bolingbrook Commons

The entryway to Bolingbrook from the Route 53/I-55 Corridor is an eyesore. We will work with the owners of the empty, deteriorating space where Century Tile was to redevelop a welcoming entry to our village that is an attractive, productive, and tax-producing area. This would include redeveloping the Corridor and Amazon development.

 Review the profitability of all Village-owned facilities and take action

Take a deep review of all Village-owned facilities to determine what changes are needed to make each property more accessible to the public, more profitable for the village, and less impactful on our long-term debt.

 Promote Economic Development & Business Opportunities

Establish a committee of local business leaders and Village staff to focus on economic development and repurposing of vacant commercial space. We will focus on working with local businesses to identify solutions for attracting new businesses and keeping businesses open and successful.

 Enhance Village services like Water & Garbage

The cost of clean water and garbage services remains a hardship for many Bolingbrook residents. We will review the current contracts and explore other avenues to deliver affordable services.


Bolingbrook United takes pride in the diversity of our community as we work towards changes that provide more inclusive voices at the table. We believe public services should represent all our residents. We will take a closer look at our police and fire departments and collaborate with our school systems and non-profit organizations to support equity and bring people together.

 Community Engagement

Develop Village forums and programming that listens and attends to the needs of all residents, working families, our children, our seniors, and our ethnic communities represented in Bolingbrook.

 Safety as a priority

Crime prevention in all corners of our community is critical for everyone’s safety. We support the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the way our police engage with our citizens.

 Education and Training

We will partner with our school systems and community organizations to encourage our youth to deepen their learning about social justice, and to provide job training and development programs to our adult residents to promote job security and economic justice.

DuPage Township candidates clash at Clow UFO Base (Fiction)

Bolingbrook Election 2021: A Bolingbrook Babbler Special ReportBy Reporter X

Bolingbrook’s Clow UFO Base survived the first debate between the Democratic and Republican slates for DuPage Township.  The debate, the first since Clow reopened, occurred in front of a standing-room-only audience of aliens and staff.

“No one inside Clow has COVID,” said Acting Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta, the administrator of Clow UFO Base.  “So I want a good clean debate.  No hidden weapons.  No making fun of your opponents’ pets, and no mentions of Trump.  Are you ready?  Are you ready?  Let’s get it on!  I’ve always wanted to say that.”

Current DuPage Township Trustee, and candidate for Township Supervisor, Alyssia Benford, delivered the Republican’s opening statement.  She talked about her years serving on the board, and her membership in the Illuminati:

“I am a CPA, a doctoral candidate, and, most importantly, an honored Knight of Chaos.  I am so dedicated to spreading chaos in DuPage Township that (Former Mayor Roger Claar) didn’t make a single donation to my campaign last quarter.  I will never stop fighting for a chaotic township.  I will never use the title Ph.D. A.B.D., and I will always be a CPA.”

Democratic Township Supervisor candidate Gary Marschke mentioned his membership in the New World Order and his volunteer work for Humanoid Corrective Learning. HCL is a charity that serves “at-risk” alien youth residing at Clow UFO Base.  His speech mostly focused on his slate’s platform:

“We want more services for seniors, regardless of party affiliation.  We will maintain the Township’s award-winning services for our interstellar visitors.  We’ll expand the food bank, and we promise not to run up the township’s legal bills over frivolous matters!  Oh, and I know how to properly file taxes! I look forward to properly managing the township’s tax revenue.”

Acting DuPage Township Supervisor Felix George ran onto the stage and demanded to be included.  The moderator told him that the debate was only open to candidates on the ballot, not write-in candidates.  

“The township is on the right track, thanks to me!” yelled George as he was dragged off stage.  

“No it’s not!” countered Benford.  “I know because I’m a CPA. If the township is on the right track, why are so many people running against you?”

“Wow,” said Marschke.  “I actually agree with my opponent for once.”

After the moderator asked the first question, members of the Watchdogs of Clow UFO Base stood up and tried to shout down the Democratic candidates:

“This slate is not approved by the Edgar County Watchdogs.  All of you must resign!”

“You know,” said Democratic Trustee candidate Terri Ransom, “Anyone in the universe can comment about this race, but it is the residents of DuPage Township that make the decision.  Right now you’re preventing the voters from hearing us!”

An alien held up a Torah ark and yelled: “May the light of the sacred Illinois Code burn you!”  He opened the door, revealing only a law book.  The alien was then escorted out of the debate.

Another group from the Clow chapter of Citizens for a Better Bolingbrook demanded that they be allowed to ask Benford a question.  Benford agreed.  

The member asked: “Since you were censored by the township board—”

“I was not censored!” replied Benford.  “I was censured!  Big difference.  You are not with Citizens for a Better Bolingbrook!”

“Yes we are,” the member replied.  “Your followers may have forced Bonnie to change the name to The Bolingbrook Reporter, but we retained the rights to inside Clow UFO Base!”

“Whatever.  As a CPA, I must still say that you’re wrong.  Besides, she is a resident of Florida, not Bolingbrook!  She’s so delusional that she can’t tell the difference!”

“Not true!  She is a resident of the Little Bolingbrook neighborhood. It’s an extension of the Village of Bolingbrook within the state of Florida.  Therefore, she is a resident of both!”

Benford dropped her jaw for a moment.  She replied: “We’ll see what the courts say after I finish suing the township for censuring me!  They obviously confused me with Adam Kinzinger.  As a CPA, I am not confused and I know there is nothing in the Township Code that allows a board to censure!”

Marschke countered: “There’s nothing in the code that forbids it either, and censure is mentioned in Robert’s Rules of Order!  You’re going to sue because the board voted to harshly criticize you?”

Republican Township Clerk candidate Deborah Williams said:  “Excuse me.  A constituent has an important comment to make.”  

She reached down and pulled up a ventriloquist figure.  Though the figure, she said:  “All democrats are corrupt liars who should be censored and shot on sight.”

Williams replied: “Lyn, will you stop being silly?  Just because Democrats are corrupt liars does not mean we should shoot them before they’re elected.  That’s why I’m a moderate and anyone who says otherwise is a liar!”

“Can you imagine four years of this?” asked Township Trustee Democratic candidate Debi Savage.

Republican Township Trustee candidate Antonio Timothee replied: “You can’t imagine how hard I’m going to flame you if you don’t stop trying to steal this election from us!”

After the debate, Alexander-Basta told members of the interstellar media that she was happy with how the debate went:  “Nobody rioted and the candidates didn’t try to kill each other.  Three visitors were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning.  Apparently, they played a drinking game that required them to drink every time Alyssia mentioned she was a CPA.  If this is the new normal at Clow UFO Base, my job is going to be easy!”

Also in the Babbler:

All three Bolingbrook parties invited to submit guest opinions

Aliens volunteer to dig out snow-covered fire hydrants in Palatine

Psychics say Jeanne Ives doesn’t rule out a 2024 Presidential run 

God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/25/21

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Stop! Darwintine (Non-fiction)

It’s the Darwintine Fundraiser to help Freethought Blogs pay off the legal bills from Richard Carrier’s S.L.A.P.P. case.  Someday it will be a fundraiser to maintain the network, but for now, it is a reminder that free speech isn’t free.

This time we’re featuring the following offerings:

If you are able to, please make a donation.  If you can’t, please consider spreading the word about this fundraiser.  Either way, I hope you enjoy our creations for this event.

‘Snow Command: Bolingbrook’ video series to debut on YouTube (Fiction)

According to anonymous sources in Village Hall, a dramatic series, based on Bolingbrook’s Snow Command, will debut on YouTube next month. 

The synopsis for “Snow Command: Bolingbrook” states: “Alexandra, a young brilliant leader, is assigned to Bolingbrook’s new Snow Command team. Her team of young and diverse snow fighters must work together to fight record snowfalls to keep the greatest village in Illinois operating.  But enemies from Cook County and within the team threaten to divide the team as merciless storms threaten to bury Bolingbrook under feet of snow.  Will Alexandra lead her team to victory or will the united efforts of their selfish foes bring down Bolingbrook?”

According to the sources, the series is being produced by “top California talent,” and funded by the Citizens for Bolingbrook political action committee, run by former Mayor Roger Claar.

A source within CFB confirmed the existence of the series and defended the decision to produce it:  “TV ads are limited in their ability to persuade voters.  A TV series is another matter.  Just research the CSI Effect!  If we can make Bolingbrook’s Snow Command popular, and if viewers confuse the main character with (Bolingbrook Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta), she’ll win the consolidated election!”

The Babbler obtained a trailer for the series. It features scenes of snowplows digging out residential homes, and rescuing stranded motorists.  Alexandra makes statements like: “I don’t care if you’re tired.  I don’t care if your family misses you.  If we don’t keep the streets clear, there won’t be a Bolingbrook.”  

In another scene, a woman who resembles Jackie Traynere, Will County Board member, and mayoral candidate, says: “My team uses Cook County salt, and it’s good enough for me.”  

Alexandra replies: “It’s not good enough for Bolingbrook!”

Another scene shows a man yelling at Alexandra about a snowplow destroying his mailbox and blocking his neighbor’s driveway.  She replies: “What’s one mailbox and one driveway compared to the accessibility of Boughton Road?”

In the final scene, an African-American member of the team is in a Zoom chat with a woman from Florida.

Woman:  When their GPS trackers go down, block off Village Hall!

Man:  But Alexandra said we have to keep Village Hall open.

Woman:  Are you going to do what she says, or are you going to be an independent man and do what I tell you to do?

Neither  The First Party for Bolingbrook nor  Bolingbrook United would return requests for comments. 

A person from the Bolingbrook Independent Voices said the party would respond once the series premiered:  

“We hope it honors the brave drivers who keep the streets of our diverse community accessible.”

In the background, Sheldon Watts walked up to covert social media operative Charline Spencer and said: “Charlene, did you create sock puppet trolls for Alyssia Benford’s slate?”

“Not now, Sheldon.  I’m auditioning a new campaign surrogate.  We need reinforcements if we’re going to overtake Jackie.”

“Is that Steve Schmidt?”

“Yep.  Thanks to the collapse of the Lincoln Project, we can get him at a steep discount.  Let me put him on speaker.”

On-screen, a man who looked like Schmidt said: “—of his condescending attitude towards Sheldon.  Roger thinks teenagers don’t require supervision.  If he really believes that then Roger has never raised a teenager.”

“Does he know?” asked Watts.

“Yep,” Spencer replied.

“That means—Oh my!  Sweet Jesus, forgive me for almost taking Your name in vain. Charlene, he can’t say that.  It’s not true.”

“No.  You can’t say that because it’s false.  He can say anything he wants if it helps us win.”

“That’s not right.”

“The man who sounded like Schmidt concluded:  “The party that should be the first to disavow his taint is, in reality, the party that is dependent on his tainted money.”

“Is he reading a script?” asked Watts.

“Let’s find out.   Hey, Steve.  There’s a burning question most Bolingbrook residents have:  Mora or Nancy’s Pizza?  What’s the correct answer?”

“The real burning question is which party is the party of Bolingbrook’s future.  The First Party acts like a ruling party, but it is ruled by a political wing of the insurrectionists, better known as the Republican Party. In Bolingbrook, it is controlled by the treasonous Roger Claar.  That leaves only two parties with serious visions for the future.  Both parties are running serious, quality candidates.  But if you want a party that will continue the centrist policies that made Bolingbrook great without chaining itself to the authoritarian party of Trump — and believes Bolingbrook’s diverse population should be empowered to make decisions, and not treated like props in a Roger Claar commercial—  then your only choice is Bolingbrook Independent Voices.”

“We’ll get back to you Steve,” said Spencer.

“I’ll be waiting,” Schmidt replied.  “Republican campaigns have disowned me, and Democratic—and I said the right word, ‘democratic.’  The Democratic campaigns don’t trust me.  But it was—”

Spencer disconnected.

Watts said: “Oh how the mighty have fallen.”

Also in the Babbler:

It’s not too late to donate to Freethought Blogs’ legal defense fund
Bolingbrook issues snow snake alert
Weredogs celebrate Bolingbrook’s moratorium on puppy sales
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/17/21

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

The Descent of Man: Anywhere is Better Than Here (Fiction)

This is part of “The Descent of Man”, FtB’s Darwintine Festival fiction anthology. If you enjoy being part of our community and appreciate the work we do here at FreethoughtBlogs, please consider making a donation to our legal defense fund.

Anywhere is Better Than Here is part of a work in progress tentatively titled Blood in the Fire.

Iowa City, Iowa 1994

Miriam sat on a wooden bench as the last drunk college students filtered out the Pedestrian Mall.   The soothing sound from the Pissing Sisters, the nickname for the tubular water spouts atop of the fountain in front, failed to comfort her.  Miriam knew it was only a matter of time before a police officer would chase her away, but her body felt too heavy to move. If she could move, she thought, where would she go?

“I didn’t expect to find you here,” said a man.

Startled, Miriam turned and saw Matthew, wearing a black blazer, black jeans, and a white t-shirt with an IndustrialnatioN logo on it.

Miriam turned her attention back to the Pissing Sisters.  “Where should I be?”

“Lots of places.  The House of Chaos–”

“Someone would post about it on ISCA.”

“Hanging out with Tommy Stinson’s new band?”

“Saw them back in 1992.  Gabe’s charged way too much to watch them rehearse, and Tommy didn’t play any Replacements songs.”

“Good point.  But, I still have to wonder–”  Matthew sat on Miriam’s bench and moved closer to her.  “Why here?”

Miriam shifted away from Matthew, keeping her eyes on the fountain.  

Matthew continued.  “After all the effort to slip away from Pete and his associates, you end up here.  Out in the open, with no escape.”

Miriam sighed.  Hours earlier, she’d escaped from Pete and his associates after a pointless argument. After running away to Iowa City years ago, Miriam eventually wound up in his circle.  She knew Matthew was one of his out-of-town partners, but beyond a few polite conversations, and some dances, she didn’t know much about him.

“There is no escaping Iowa City,” said Miriam.  She noticed herself touching her abdomen and quickly moved her hand away.  “So I might as well be in my favorite spot, watching the sisters pissing the night away.  So if you’re here to bring me back–”

“I took care of Pete.”

Miriam gasped and faced Matthew.   Matthew brushed back his medium-length blond hair.  

“Took care of him?” asked Miriam, unsure if that was good news.

“Not like that.  But you don’t have to worry about Pete anymore.”

Miriam didn’t know how to respond.  “Thanks, I guess.”  She looked down at herself.  Unless something changes, I’m always going to have to worry about him. The Emma Goldman Clinic isn’t a charity.”

“Family?” asked Matthew.

Miriam turned away and faked a laugh.  “That’s a joke.”  She felt a tear running down her face and brushed it off.  “They threw me away years ago.”

“Threw you away?”

“My dad got angry and tossed me out.  The rest of my family went along.”

“All of them?”

Miriam fought off her tears as she remembered her sister.

Matthew continued, “I can’t imagine–”

“Do you want something?”  snapped Miriam.  


“Yeah.  Do you want anything?  Because I’m not in the mood for small talk.  And I probably don’t have what you want.  So if you want to get high, find a seller.  I’m out of that.  If you’re hard up, there’s a massage parlor near the tracks.”

Matthew chuckled and gestured towards Miriam.

“That’s what I want.” 


“Think about it.  Here you are in the Ped Mall, acting like you’re about to be pushed off the edge of the world.”  Matthew jumped backward, performed an aerial summersault, and landed on the upper ledge of the fountain.  Miriam was surprised he didn’t stumble.  Matthew looked down.  “And oblivion is so tempting right now.  No more pain.  No more problems.  Just eternal peace.  All you have to do is stop resisting and jump.”  Matthew jumped up, performed another summersault, and landed inches from Miriam.  “But you won’t jump.  Why?  Because you’re a fighter.  Not one of those muscle-bound fools, but a real fighter.  You fight because you know.  You know death doesn’t offer you peace.  It offers you nothing.  It turns you into a decaying lump of matter.  It turns you into something as common as dirt.  Yeah, life can suck, but you have to know that you’re one of the lucky ones.  You’re alive, and you know that you’re alive, and not only do you know you’re alive, but you can also appreciate that you’re alive, and you can appreciate the world around you.  How many other collections of atoms can say that?  Hmm?  Not many, and on some level, you have to know that.  That’s why you fight.  You fight because this is your only chance to be sentient.  Every feeling is a gift.  Sadness, fear, pain, pride.  All things worth living for.  On some level, you have to know that.  That’s why you fight.  That’s why you’re fighting right now.  You’re standing on the edge, but you’re not going over without a fight.  That, Miriam- That is why I like you.”

“You’re weird,” Miriam replied.

“I have been called many things, my lady.”  Matthew stretched out his arms and bowed slightly.  “‘Weird’ is a title I accept with honor.”  He leaned back and lowered his arms.  “I am weird, and I also offer you an alternative to oblivion.” 

“What?” she asked, expecting something unworthy of his flowery performance.

“I run a family business.”

Miriam tensed up.  “What do you sell?”

“We sell sustenance, but our mission is to change the world, one sale at a time.”

Miriam gave him a skeptical look.

“For better, of course.”  

“Is it legal?”



“It’s legal in a court of law, but let’s just say we have powerful competitors.  The laws of men do not constrain them.  That’s where you come in.  We need a scout, and you’ve already demonstrated you’re qualifications.”

“By escaping Pete?”

“Much more than that, Miriam.  I’ve heard so much about you and seen much more than you know.  Joining the family would be perfect for you.”

“You still haven’t told me what your business does.”

Matthew looked around.  “We should discuss this in private.” 

“Let me guess, your place?”

Matthew shook his head then gestured towards the tallest building in Iowa City, a hotel.  “Have you ever been to the top?”

Miriam shook her head.

“Want to go?”


“Yes.  I can get us there.  Follow me.”

Matthew started towards the covered alley leading to Dubuque Street.  After a few steps, he looked back at Miriam.  “Unless you don’t want.”

Miriam looked at the fountains then at Matthew.  “No tricks.”

“Not like that.”

Miriam jogged to catch up to Matthew, who stepped into a dim portion of the alley.  She started to talk, but he motioned for her to stop.  

“You remember the last time we danced?” he whispered.

Miriam couldn’t forget their slow dance.  While the others were content with the prom hang, He held her at arm’s length and tried, unsuccessfully, to get her to spin.  She nodded.

“Remember our hug afterward?”

“Yeah,” she replied.  It wasn’t that memorable, but it didn’t seem creepy at the time.

“Let’s hug then.”

Miriam reached out to hug Matthew.  When they embraced, darkness materialized around them like a cloud.  In moments they were surrounded by total darkness.

“I got you,” whispered Matthew as he tightened his embrace.  She felt her feet rise from the ground and sensed that she was accelerating like she was on an elevator.

Miriam thrashed her legs but still couldn’t feel the ground.  “What are you–”.  The shadows dissipated, and Miriam saw that they were floating above the hotel roof.

“Oh my God!” she gasped.

“Not so loud.”

They gently floated down to the roof.  Matthew released his embrace.  Miriam stumbled back, almost tripping over her feet.

“How–How did you do that?”

“Magic,” said Matthew.  He opened his mouth as he protracted two fangs.

Miriam staggered back at first.  

Matthew retracted his fangs.  ‘Yes.”


“Yes, I am what you think I am.”  Matthew pointed.  “If this frightens you, the door is behind you. If you leave, know that you will never see me again.”

Matthew turned his back to Miriam and strolled to the edge of the roof.  Miriam watched him for a few moments as he looked out into the night sky.  Cautiously, she approached Matthew.  She noticed how his hair flowed in the occasional breeze and the almost perfect smoothness of his skin.

“What do you see?”

She stopped.  “See?”

Matthew motioned towards the edge of the roof.  “What do you see out there?  Oblivion?”

Miriam hesitantly moved closer as she felt her fear of heights grip her.  She felt chills as she neared the edge.

“You won’t fall.”  He offered his hand.  She grasped his hand, now noticing that her hand was slightly warmer than his.  Miriam took a deep breath and crept closer to the edge.  She looked down and instinctively tightened her grip.

“I’ve got you,” Matthew replied.  “You’re safe.”

Miriam caught her breath, but she still kept a tight grip on Matthew’s hand.  She looked out at the Iowa City skyline.  In the distance, Miriam saw the Old Capitol complex and the Van Allen Physics building.  She loosened her grip slightly.

“What do you see?”

She took in more of the view.  Her fear faded.  “I don’t see oblivion.  It’s beautiful.  You know, whenever I felt stuck, I’d look up at this hotel and imagine myself standing right here.  I thought that maybe I could see the way out.”

“And now that you are up here?”

She paused.  “I don’t see it.  I just see a small city in the middle of nowhere.”

“You just have to know where to look.  It’s not a physical path.  It’s the possibilities that you have to look at.”

Miriam turned her head towards Matthew.  “Possibilities?”

“Yes.  You see, centuries ago, the Mongol hordes were on the verge of conquering Europe.  Europe’s armies were no match for the Mongols’ superior horsemen and tactics.  Kingdoms that once seemed invincible crumbled before the invaders.  It seemed like nothing could stop them from obliterating Europe.  Think of it.  Everything about Europe– Art, culture, literature, knowledge– All gone, trampled by the hordes.

“But in the shadows, a small group met in secret.  They were determined to not only defend Europe but also to make sure that no nation, kingdom, or tribe could ever threaten it again.  On what seemed to be the eve of Europe’s destruction, they formed a pact and vowed to do anything, holy or infernal, to ensure Europe’s security.

“Their first efforts were small but successful.  They built on those successes and learned from their failures.  When the pact shattered, their successors continued the work.  Over time, European civilization grew larger and more powerful than the original conspirators dreamed possible.  Because of their efforts, we are now standing on top of a building and looking out at a city built in the middle of nowhere.  A city that came about because of decisions made centuries ago.”

Matthew faced Miriam.  “Join me, and I’ll offer you a new life.  Free yourself of your burdens. Free yourself of this place.  Accept my offer of rebirth and I will help you discover your possibilities.”

Miriam looked out at the Iowa City skyline again.  She smiled as she looked past the lights of Iowa City and into the darkness.  “Tell me more.”

Natural Selection Part 1 (Darwintine Story Chain)

This is part 1 of “Natural Selection”, FtB’s Darwintine Festival story chain. If you enjoy being part of our community and appreciate the work we do here at FreethoughtBlogs, please consider making a donation to our legal defense fund.

Dr. Patricia Gorman shivered as she looked out of the helicopter’s window, admiring her view of the Alaskan wilderness and mountains.

“First time?” asked Paul Jenkins, a security officer for Orange Corporation, who wore a white coat and KN95 mask with the Orange logo printed on it.

She nodded and adjusted her headset.  “Much nicer than Afghanistan.”  She looked at her escort.  “Lacks I.E.Ds, right?”

Paul nodded.  

Patricia added, “Though I wish Big Thinker would hire me to do fieldwork on his island.  I haven’t been snorkeling in ages.”

Paul chuckled.  “I’d take that assignment.  I hear no one bothers him, and each team member gets a private cottage.”

“Doesn’t surprise me,” Patricia replied.  She briefly scanned the sparse interior of the helicopter.  “This does.”


“This helicopter.  Brandon usually sends one of his luxury helicopters to transport contractors.”

“Rush job.  Big Thinker only had enough time to get put together a team.  No time to reposition the good copters.  It was the best we could do on short notice.”

“So who is on the team?” asked Patrica.

Paul looked up at a monitor.  The GPS maps showed they were several miles north of Eagle, Alaska.

“Do you mind if I remove my mask?” asked Paul.

“I do,” replied Patricia.  

But I’ve been tested–”

“Doesn’t matter,” replied Patricia as she remembered the unorthodox tests the Orange team performed.  “You can be infected and still test negative.”

Paul gave her a critical look.

“Trust me,” said Patricia.  “I’m a biologist.  I know about viruses.”

Paul shrugged.  “Fine.”  He grabbed an envelope and handed it to Patricia.  “BT said to give this to you once we got past Eagle.”

Patricia accepted the envelope and opened it.  Inside was a letter stating that she was assigned to the science team.  The envelope included a printout with names and pictures of each member.  All of the members were biologists she recognized, but two names especially stood out.  The first was Dr. Will Stokes, a cephalopod expert.  The second was the team leader, Dr. Emily Kimura.

“The team leader.”


“Is she on the University of Toronto faculty?

“Yes.  You know Dr. Kimura?”

Patricia chuckled.  “We’ve met a few times.”

The pilot’s voice chimed in over their headsets.  “Brandon just gave us permission to land.”

“Is he on-site?” asked Patricia.

“Of course not,” Paul replied.  “You know what Orange Internet’s slogan used to be?”

“Yes.  ‘The Internet can take you anywhere.’”

“That’s how he lives nowadays.”

Patricia looked out the window.  Near a forest, she could see two weathered cabins next to several automated weather stations.  Behind them, she saw dozens of armed personnel pitching camps and moving equipment around.  Before the helicopter landed, she noticed some of them building a barbed wired fence.

“Welcome to Beagle Station,” said the pilot as the copter landed.

Paul grabbed his duffle bag, and Patricia grabbed her backpack.  As they stepped out, Patricia saw other helicopters landing.  Most seemed to be carrying cargo, while others dropped off security operatives.  Paul pointed towards a woman waving at them.  Both of them walked over towards her as their helicopter lifted off.

The woman looked down at her clipboard.  “Dr. Gorman?”


“I need you to follow me.”  She looked over at Paul.  “You’re S1 Davishoff?”


She pointed at a large orange tent.  “Report to operations.”

“Right away.”

The woman started walking, and Patricia followed.  Several minutes later, they arrived at the edge of the camp.  By the arrays of solar panels and batteries, she saw what she assumed were her team members.  Each one was sitting in a chair with a space heater in front of them.  Each chair spaced at least 10 feet apart.  In the front was a large screen that displayed the Orange Corporation logo.  Emily stood alone next to the screen.  Her mask peeked out of a coat pocket.  Patricia remembered their last meeting.

“Doctor?” said the woman.

Patricia blinked then turned towards the woman.  

“Your assigned chair.”

“Oh.  Thank you.”

Patricia removed her backpack and sat down. She removed her mask.

Emily nodded in Patricia’s direction then turned away.  “Thank you for joining us, Dr. Stokes.”

Will, wearing a patched coat, dropped his suitcases near a chair.  “Sorry.  One of my flights was delayed when some woman refused to wear a mask.”

“I’m not surprised.” Emily faced the gathered scientists.  “Now that we’re all here, I want to thank everyone for coming out here on such short notice.  Brandon and I personally selected each of you for this…assignment.  Your participation will be rewarding, both financially and academically.”  She swiped and tapped her tablet.  “I will have Brandon explain why we are here.”

A few moments later, a tan man with short gray hair appeared on the screen.  He was sitting next to an empty outdoor swimming pool.  His mouth moved, but no sound came from the screen.  Emily tapped her tablet a few more times.”

“You hear me?”

The scientists replied that they could.

“Ah.  Well good day.  I trust that Dr. Kimura has performed all the pleasantries, so I will get to the point.  As most of you know, as part of my commitment to controlling climate change, I have personally funded several climate monitoring stations around the world.  The information from these stations is allowing climatologists to improve their models.  Beagle Station is one of these stations.  I wish to apologize for the lack of proper facilities.  These stations are normally unmanned most of the year.

“The reason why all of you are here is due to an incident that happened recently.  Dawson Station in Canada went offline.  A repair crew was sent out to investigate.  This is the last radio message we received.”

Brandon opened a window and double-clicked on the audio file:

“Help!  Help us!  We need a tactical team and medevac!  Change that.  Send the military.  Bomb everything! Now!”

In the background, a faint voice spoke something in French.

A woman replied over the radio:  “Maple Team, please clarify. I can’t send a request –”

The voice that earlier spoke in French spoke in English. “I’m so sorry–”

“Maple Team, do you copy?”

The screen switched back to Brandon.

“Naturally, we sent a tactical team to investigate.  There was no sign of the repair crew, and the station was destroyed.  However, we were able to detect a signal from one of our GPS devices moving away from the station.  I ordered the team to track the signal.”  Brandon seemed to ponder his words for a few moments.  “It will be easier to show the bodycam video.”

Brandon started the video.  It started with a man tumbling down a wooded hill.  When he stopped tumbling, he shouted obscenities.

A woman’s voice over the radio said: “It’s heading your way.  You should see it soon.  Confirm.”

The camera moved to the side, then stopped on a white blob with a rubbery surface.

The man pulled out a pistol and said “Shit” before firing at it several times.  When he stopped firing, the mound rose revealing its squid-like arms and tentacles.  It moved towards the man.

“No,” the man said as he pushed himself back.  “Shoo!  Shoo!  Go away!”

The creature opened its two eyes and rushed at the man.  It stopped inches from his feet.  It spoke something in French with a distinctly French-Canadian accent.  Then calmly said in English: “Please excuse me, but you are obviously not fit for snow season.  I cannot select you.”

It thrust a tentacle at the camera and the video ended.

The scientists sat in silence as the screen switched back to Brandon’s video stream.

“I know this must be a lot to take in.”

“You filmed a land cephalopod,” Will slowly said.  “You filmed a talking land cephalopod.  A talking land cephalopod doing a poor imitation of a Canadian.”

“Yes,” said Brandon.  “And at least one of them is heading towards you.”

Part 2 is at From the Ashes of Faith
Part 3 is at Death to Squirrels
Part 4 is at Impossible Me
Part 5 will be at Pharyngula
Part 6 will be at Pervert Justice

Chicagoland’s UFO bases reopen (Fiction)

By Reporter X

All three of Chicagoland’s UFO Bases officially reopened last week after 100% of their employees received the COVID-19 vaccine from Venus.

Clow UFO Base

Bolingbrook’s Clow UFO Base held a “Grand Reopening Rave” to celebrate.

Acting Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta welcomed the staff back to Clow by reading a letter cosigned by both her and Mayor Emeritus Roger Claar. It stated:  “Thanks to the ingenious leadership of my predecessor, Roger Claar, Clow is safely open for business and Bolingbrook is once again the most important village in the galaxy. This makes me the most important mayor in the galaxy. Fnord!”

“You’re actually the acting mayor,” interrupted Trustee Sheldon Watts, a member of the Bolingbrook Independent Voices party and candidate for Mayor.

“Only until I beat you in the April 6TH election,” said Alexander-Basta.

Alexander-Basta also thanked the “Doomsday Crew” who were sealed inside Clow for months before evacuating to the Moon last November. She said: “I want to thank everyone one of you for your sacrifices.  Crew members like Jill, who has been separated from her husband all this time.  So Jill, how did it go when you finally reunited with your husband?”

Jill replied:  “He served me with divorce papers after I told him I was pregnant and he did the math.  Hey, I was just doing my duty to repopulate Bolingbrook.”

Alexander-Basta replied: “I’m glad that you put Bolingbrook first, which just happens to be the philosophy of the First Party for Bolingbrook.”

After the speeches, DuPage Township Trustee Dennis Raga started playing dance music.  As the music played, Raga said:  “Some people say vaccines will save DuPage Township.  Vaccines are good, but we’re going to save it with booze, boobs, and EDM!  Say it with me.  Booze!  Boobs!  EDM!”

A woman who resembled DuPage Township Clerk candidate Deborah Williams replied: “Screw that.  Get with the times, Dennis.  Purge the Left!  Stop the Steal!  Troll them all!”

Alexander-Basta walked up to her and said: “Can you please not say that?  You’re supposed to be part of the We Care Team.”

The woman said: “Caring is for commies!  We’re officially known as the DuPage Township Freedom First Slate!  Now stop bugging me, or my friend Lyn will post about you!”

Peotone UFO Base

Peotone UFO Base held a short opening ceremony.  Will County Board member Jackie Traynere, who is also a candidate for Bolingbrook Mayor, addressed the staff:

“I’m proud that I was able to secure the Venus vaccine for all the UFO bases in Chicagoland.  I’m also proud to announce that a portion of revenue from Peotone will fund our CARES act grant program.  We may be divided by political party, municipalities, townships, and secret society memberships, but we are all united as Will County residents.  If I happen to be elected the Mayor of Bolingbrook, I will unite both of our great UFO bases!”

Rob Sherman UFO Base

Instead of a celebration, Rob Sherman UFO Base in Palatine offered each alien visitor on opening day a free human suit and coupons.

“We need each of you to shop in Palatine,” said Village Manager Reid Ottesen.  “Each purchase you make will help a local business, and make it easier for me to keep our mayor distracted!  Just promise to keep the sonic booms to a minimum when you fly away, okay?”

“Where are the dispensaries?” asked an alien.

“I’ll tell you, but only if you promise to buy your munchies in Palatine,” said Ottesen.

“Deal!” said the alien, “I can’t wait to consume lots of chips and dip.”

“Leave some for the residents.”

Also in the Babbler:

Some Kansas City Chief fans demand the NFL ‘fix’ Super Bowl LV
Snow Command blames Russians for blocking driveway with snow
Sources: Bolingbrook considering Iowa travel ban
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/10/21

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group. 

Freethought Blogs has a new published author! (Non-fiction)

Free to Roam book coverFrom the Ashes of Faith Megan Rahm has a new book of poetry out this week, called Free to Roam. (Available through Freethought House and Amazon.)  It’s her first collection inspired by her experiences growing up as an atheist in the rural Midwest, and as a mother.  As someone who grew up in Missouri and Oklahoma, I could relate to her work.  I highly recommend this book.

Welcome to the published writer’s club, Megan.

Sources: Village of Bolingbrook recorded mock ‘Insurrection Alert’ video (Fiction)

Bolingbrook Election 2021: A Bolingbrook Babbler Special ReportThe Village of Bolingbrook produced a “special edition of Community Matters” as part of their recent “insurrection drill.”

The video, provided by people with relatives connected Bolingbrook Community Television, simulated a live broadcast intended to warn residents of an impending “insurrection.”  Actors portrayed all the village offices on the program, including Acting Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta.

In the video, the actress portraying Alexander-Basta warned residents about an impending insurrection against Bolingbrook:

“I’m sorry to interrupt the rebroadcast of the 2016 Allied Forces concert, but this is more important than rocking out to Triumph covers.  I’ve received reliable intelligence that two militant factions are determined to seize Village Hall and install an unapproved mayor!  These irresponsible fanatics are threatening over thirty years of political stability.  I need the help of all real residents to defeat these dangerous foes and keep Bolingbrook first!”

An actor portraying Police Chief Michael Rompa provided more details:

“The insurrectionists are currently recruiting fighters.  We expect the first attacks against Mayor Mary and half the village trustees to begin on March 22nd.  These small attacks will just be warmups for the final attack on April 6.

Later in the video, the Alexander-Basta and Rompa actors stood near Boughton Road.  The actress portraying Alexander-Basta held a “First Party for Bolingbrook” sign. The two conversed:

Alexander-Basta actress: Every two years, we post signs like this on public right-of-ways to remind residents of the names of some of their legitimate leaders.This is what a real sign looks like.  I’ve received reliable intelligence that the insurrectionists will be posting fake signs like the ones our police chief is holding.

(Rompa actor holds up Bolingbrook United and Bolingbrook Independent Voices signs with the names blacked out.)

Alexander-Basta actress: Chief Rompa, what should residents do if they see one of these fake signs? Should they throw them out?

Rompa actor: Absolutely not.They could be booby trapped.  Instead, call the Public Works Department.They have a team that specializes in removing fake signs.

Alexander-Basta actress: And if a resident sees a sign on private property?

Rompa actor: Then that resident should dial (Number redacted).Our investigators will handle the situation.

The video concluded with the Alexander-Basta actress urging residents to stay at home, avoid social media, and await instructions from the village.

“Together, we will keep Bolingbrook first!”

A source close to Village Hall confirmed the authenticity of the video but insisted that it will never be broadcast:

“After the Department of Homeland Security released their domestic terrorism advisory, we wanted to make sure we could use BCTV to inform residents about any threats to the village. This video is proof that we can.  That’s all it is.”

A spokesperson for the real Alexander-Basta contacted the Babbler via Skype video call and stated:

“Do you really think The First Party for Bolingbrook would try to pass off the Consolidated Election as an insurrection?  We would never do that because we’re not afraid of the residents of Bolingbrook.  Just watch Mayor Mary talk to this constituent, and tell me she has to resort to Chicago-style trickery.”

The spokesperson then turned the camera towards Alexander-Basta, who was wearing a mask and a face shield.  She looked at a video doorbell.

“Sir, I’m on my way to Bolingbrook Snow Command, but I decided to stop by your house to hear any comments you might have for me, the Mayor of Bolingbrook.”

“What happened to Roger?” replied a male voice.                                                                                  

“He retired and choose me to be his successor.”

“Great!  So when are you going to repeal his garbage tax?”

“Sir, Bolingbrook doesn’t have a garbage tax.  That’s—”

“Then what the (expletive deleted) have I been paying all these months?”

“That’s the garbage fee.  Fees are not taxes.”

“The government still gets my money!  What’s the difference?”

“Taxes are terrible.  Fees are fine.  That’s the difference.”

Also in the Babbler:

Russians launch second snow attack against Illinois
Acting Mayor Mary skips mayoral debate to attend Bigfoot Zoom Conference
Clow UFO Base crew fully vaccinated against COVID
God to smite Bolingbrook on 2/3/21

Note:  This is a work of fiction. All opinions expressed are my own. They do not reflect the views of any organization I work for or of my employer.  Feel free to leave a comment here or in the Bolingbrook Babbler Readers Group.