The Painting, Part 2

Missed Part 1? Read it here!


“What’s going on?” I clapped my hands over my ears, trying to drown out the sound. I looked for the waiter we had been talking to, but he’d disappeared.

Guests were rushing past us, towards the exits, I assumed, since I couldn’t actually see the doors.

“Come on,” ordered George, his mouth tight with worry. He grabbed my elbow and directed me along with the others, not towards the lobby where I’d seen the painting, but towards the back of the restaurant.

Outside the restaurant were several vans. The maître-d’ was directing people into straight lines, waiting for the vans to pull up at the bottom of the stairs.

“What’s going on?” I repeated my question to him when he reached us.

“Fire in the kitchens,” he replied, glancing at my husband. “We’re evacuating you to another location to keep you safe.”

George wrapped a protective arm around my waist. “Thank you,” he said, and the maître-d’ rushed off to the next couple.

“I wonder what happened to the others,” I mused. “I hope they got out alright.”

“I’m sure they did, sweetie,” replied George. He rubbed his hand gently over my belly. “But I don’t really care about them. As long as you’re both safe.”

I smiled. “I was safe the whole time, because I was with you!” My eyes filled with tears again.

“Your hormones are acting up again,” teased George.

“Next group, hop in!” shouted a driver.

George helped me into the van, and settled in beside me. The van wobbled as others got in after us, and then the engine started up.

“George,” I whispered. “I don’t feel so well.” The van lurched forwards, and I clapped a hand to my mouth. “Stop!” I cried. “Stop, I need to get out!”

The driver looked back at me. “What seems to be the problem, Madame?”

“I’m going to throw up all over the back of your seat if you don’t let me out right now,” I said, and my stomach heaved again.

“It’s not much farther…” he began.

“Now!” I screamed.

The van screeched to a halt, and I opened the door on my side of the car. I fell to my knees on the grass beside the road, dry heaving.

The van drove away–good riddance–as I felt hands pulling my hair back from my face. George’s voice filtered through the blood pounding in my ears. Eventually, as my stomach calmed, I was able to make sense of his words. “We don’t have to go to the other restaurant, we can go home and stay in, just the two of us, Sophie and George.”

I froze, my blood turning to ice in my veins, though I didn’t understand why. “And the baby,” I said cautiously. Something was niggling in the back of my brain, trying to make itself known.

George nodded at me, a half smile on his face. “Sophie, George, and the baby.”

I sat down, my legs too weak to hold me on my knees. I looked at George, my thoughts whirling quickly as the thought thrust itself into the forefront of my brain: my husband was French-Canadian; he always pronounced his name with a French accent, Georges. This impersonator Anglicized the name. I, however, never used his French name. On top of that, what was with all the nicknames? That was unlike him. What on earth was going on? He looked like my husband, but wasn’t him. Which brought me to my next question; if he wasn’t my husband, then where was George?

“I think a bit of a walk will help me,” I said calmly. “Help me up?”

George reached for my hand and pulled me to my feet. “Which way would you like to go?” he asked.

“Away from the restaurant!” I laughed, trying to show an outward calm, although my insides were screaming at me to run. “How about towards the forest?” I pointed in a direction that veered away from the road. “We don’t have to go in,” I continued, interpreting the look of apprehension on fake-George’s face, which I took to mean that this was a good direction to go.

We started walking slowly, as I was still a little shaky from the nausea. What had been with that vehicle? I sometimes got motion-sick, but rarely that quickly. I shrugged; the oddest things affected my body now that I was pregnant.

About halfway between our starting point and the forest, a short metal fence blocked our path. It barely reached my knees, so I went to step over it but fake-George yanked me back by the arm.

“We shouldn’t go that way!” he exclaimed, eyeing the fence anxiously.

“There’s no sign saying to keep out,” I tried to reason with him. “What’s wrong with you? We’ve gone places we shouldn’t before!” I attempted to pry my arm from his grip. “Let me go, you’re hurting me!” I could feel a prickly burning sensation on the inside of my wrist.

“No! We shouldn’t cross the barrier!” he pressed. “You can’t cross it.” He didn’t release my hand.

“Why can’t I cross it?” I asked, exasperated. I stopped struggling. It was only making things worse.

“You…you just can’t,” he retorted.

I took a deep breath and stepped closer to him. “Watch me,” I said, and kneed him in the groin. He dropped to the ground, letting me go.

I ran the two steps back to the fence and stepped over it. I kept going a few more paces before looking back at him, writhing on the ground.

I took one glance at the sickly blue-purple tinged creature that had been masquerading as my husband and had to turn away. Seeing him in his natural form brought my memories back in a rush, and my head started to ache. I was in Ireland, but I was alone. George had died a month ago in an accident. My eyes filled with tears, and I started gasping for breath. No wonder I had been so willing to accept that monster as my husband in the restaurant. I missed him.

“How did you cross the fence?” the creature wheezed. “You shouldn’t have been able to cross the iron barrier!”

I glared at the creature. “You should be incredibly grateful that I could cross, liar! You…you kidnapper!”

He staggered to his feet, and I backed up a couple steps. He was slightly taller than I was, with shiny scales covering his body. They were a sickening, swirling purple and blue colour that had no discernable pattern. He had a tail that curled down to the ground, sharp teeth in a mouth too wide for his face, and four eyes; two on the sides of his hairless head, and two at the front.

“What are you?” I gasped.

“A liar,” he smirked. “A kidnapper.”

I growled at him. “I knew that already. Tell me something I don’t know.”

“I don’t have to tell you anything,” he retorted.

“Even though I bested you?” I mocked. “Taken out by a human? A pregnant one, at that!”

His two forward facing eyes flicked down to my belly, and a green tongue came out to lick his lips. I shuddered.

“I can tell you whatever you want in exchange for one thing,” he offered.

“You’ll get nothing from me,” I spat at him. “You owe me for kidnapping me.”

The creature scowled. “Under what pretense? I didn’t kidnap you. You walked into our cavern. I was first in line to take care of the next human who came to us.”

A trickle of memory started to come back to me. I had been exploring the caves north of Belfast with my tour group after lunch. The tour was supposed to help get me out of my cycle of depression. “What did the painting have to do with anything?” I asked. “The Van Gogh. You were deliberately avoiding talking to me about it.”

“We are bound by law to give every human a chance to leave,” he sighed. “If you say the name of the painting, it activates an alarm. That gets you out of the restaurant, and you have the chance to get away. The Van Gogh is not seen by many.”

I narrowed my eyes. “Exactly how many humans have managed to escape?”

“Very few.” The creature grinned cruelly. “Most humans don’t even realize that they’ve been trapped, or they eat something and that keeps them from crossing the barriers.”

I was suddenly very grateful that I had not had any water. “So Van Gogh is a good painter?” I wanted to have the record set straight on that point.

“Van Gogh’s original paintings are so powerful that they have their own magical capabilities. A human that sees one will not be able to get it out of their mind. It will call to them.” He glared. “You shouldn’t have seen it. We get so few pregnant humans in our world.”

I glared right back at him. “And whose idea was it for you to impersonate my recently departed husband?”

“When humans step through our gateway, we can briefly see into their minds and hearts. Your husband featured prominently in your thoughts, so we knew he would be the one most likely to set your mind at ease.” He shuffled his feet. “How did you realize I was not him?”

“Oh ho!” I cried. “It seems you don’t know everything. You’re going to have to die not knowing the answer to that.”

“I will die shortly for allowing you to escape, for the colony must eat,” he said.

“Do you really think I care?” I replied in disgust. “Wait, you were going to eat us? No,” I raised my hand to stop him from answering, and my stomach roiled at the thought. “I don’t want to know.”

I turned and squinted at the sun, deciding which direction I should walk. I placed it behind me and started across the meadow, away from the creature.

“You and your child are marked. Death would have been a kinder fate.” On my wrist where he’d grabbed me was a crescent moon mark that could have been a tattoo.

“Screw you, monster,” I snapped at him over my shoulder. “I hope I never see you again.”

“You won’t,” he said, his voice a mixture of anger and sadness. Moments later I heard his screams and a noise like angry dogs ripping apart an animal.

I didn’t look back; I didn’t dare. The savage sounds faded behind me as I continued on my way back to human civilization. It wasn’t over, the mark on my wrist was proof of that, but for now I’d won. Everything else I could worry about later.


I hope you enjoyed that!

The Painting, Part 1

This is a republish of the short story I wrote in 2016 and won an award with. We realized I had never posted it on our own website, so here it is.


I blinked, trying to see in the dimmer light inside the – where was I? Oh yes, the restaurant. A multi-faceted crystal chandelier hung from the ceiling, drawing my eye. I turned around, looking at the décor, and caught a glimpse of a server drawing a curtain over a painting.

“Oh wow,” I murmured under my breath. I could recognize the swirls in the painting anywhere. “Hey!” I raised my voice slightly. “Is that another painting in Van Gogh’s Starry Night series?” I squinted, trying to see through the dim foyer, while moving towards the painting.

He hurriedly finished drawing the curtain, blocking my view.

Disappointed, I stepped back. Something about the painting was not quite right. Before I could concentrate on what, I heard my name.

“Sophie! You finally made it!”

I spun, stepping into my husband’s arms. “George!” My eyes unexpectedly filled with tears. “Sorry I’m late.”

“Nothing to cry about, darling.” He brushed his fingers under my eyes to wipe away the tears. “We’ve only just been called to our table.”

I smiled shakily up at him. The light refracted through my tears, making his blond hair glow.

We followed the maître-d’ into the dining room. The various aromas tickled my nose, the combination making my stomach churn a bit. The tables were teardrop shaped, tucked into rounded booths that provided privacy to the diners. There was a surprising amount of room inside each section. On the walls were exquisite paintings; Monet, Rembrandt, Picasso, and Da Vinci.

I tugged on George’s arm as we navigated our way through the maze of tables. “Can we look at the art after dinner? You know how much I like Van Gogh.”

“Of course, sweetheart,” he replied.

The maître-d’ stopped at a table with two other couples and pulled out a chair. “Madame?” He gestured for me to sit, and placed George at my side.

“This is different,” I said, smiling at the other guests after sitting in my chair. “Sophie,” I introduced myself. “And my husband George.”

“Daphne and John,” replied the redheaded woman to my right. “We just got married three days ago!”

“Congratulations!” I exclaimed.

“Andrea and Felix,” said the blonde across from me. She had thin, angular features. “How far along are you?”

Startled at the question, I looked down at my slightly protruding belly and gave it a tiny rub. “Just past twelve weeks,” I said. “I’m not used to people noticing. It depends on what shirt I wear.”

“Humans have such an interesting gestation period,” said John.

“I’d rather the nine months than the elephant’s two years!” I said, and we all laughed.

“Do you know the gender?” asked Daphne.

“Oh, no, not yet,” I smiled ruefully. “I don’t get to find that out until sometime around week twenty.”

A waiter appeared between George and Felix. “Something to drink, Madame?” he asked me.

“Just water, please,” I replied. A painting on the wall across from us caught my eye, and I pointed it out to George. “Look at that Monet! It looks so vivid, I could almost jump into the river.”

George laughed. “Such an imagination!” He kissed my hand.

The waiter brought me a glass, and I left it in front of me without taking a sip.

“Not thirsty?” asked Andrea.

“No, not really.” I paused. “Actually, I feel rather full at the moment.” I frowned, confused. “Did I eat before coming here?” I didn’t think I had, but I couldn’t remember.

“You probably just need to visit the ladies room,” interjected George. He ran a soft hand over my belly. “You are pregnant, after all.”

My thoughts cleared. “You’re probably right. Where is the washroom?”

Fortunately, it was within sight of the table, so I would be able to find my way back on my own, as the paths between the booths were as twisted as a maze.

As I sat on the toilet, I examined the painting on the back of the door and considered the other art in the restaurant. “Van Gogh,” I murmured. “I haven’t seen any other Van Gogh here. That’s weird. And the one in the front lobby was one I’ve never seen before.” I thought about the part of the painting that I caught a quick glimpse of. “There was a large full moon, over a meadow.” I shook my head and got up to wash my hands. “I wonder what the name might be.”

I headed back to the table, but didn’t sit down. When George stood up to let me by, I said, “I’m really not hungry yet. Can we look at the paintings now?”

George gave a sigh and smirked at our tablemates. “Whatever you want, darling.” He took me by the hand and we started walking from painting to painting, admiring how realistic the paintings looked.

“These look so perfect!” I exclaimed, astonished. “Surely they can’t all be originals?”

A waiter passing behind us overheard me, and interjected, “Oh yes, Madame. All the art pieces in our restaurant are originals. The ones in the Hu-“

George coughed sharply.

“Museums are just copies,” smoothly continued the waiter.

“Wow!” I stared around, wide-eyed. There were at least fifty paintings within my sight, and I knew there were more beyond that. “Those are some impeccable forgeries in the museums, but I can definitely see how these paintings are more…” I searched for the right word. “Full. Three-dimensional, almost. Are there any other paintings by Van Gogh?”

“Other?” asked the waiter, swallowing hard. “We don’t have any paintings by Van Gogh. The quality of his work wasn’t enough to stand with the masters.”

I stared. “Are we talking about the same painter? The genius who died not knowing the brilliance of his work? I definitely saw a painting by him at the entrance.”

“You must have been mistaken, dear,” laughed George, his hand tightening on mine. “If the waiter says there are no Van Gogh paintings here, he would know.”

“I know what I saw.” My chin jutted out stubbornly, and I tried to let go of my husband’s hand. “I’ve never seen that particular painting, but the style was obviously by Van Gogh. It was of the same feel as his Starry Night series, except in this particular painting, the moon dominated the scene, over a meadow. Don’t you remember, George? You were there too.” When George shook his head, I sighed impatiently. “It was beautiful! I wonder what he named that painting. Moonlight over Meadows, perhaps? Or Moonlight over the Moor? Or ooh!” I wiggled in excitement. “We’re in Ireland! Maybe it’s Moonlight over Faerie!”

A piercing alarm went off.


Read Part 2 here!

Throwback Tuesday – The Last Horcrux (2014-02-05)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

I’m frightfully busy at the moment and so you get to revisit one of my favourite short stories. Also some of the only Fan Fiction I’ve written. I don’t like writing Fan Fiction because I worry that I don’t get the voice of the characters or the feel of the world.

This story based off a comic. Here we go.

Click to read the rest of this hilarious comic

In the last days before the battle of Hogwarts, Voldemort decided that he must survive. To this end he created a last Horcrux, one that no one could ever find. Unlike his others, he used and ordinary grain of sand.

This last Horcrux was tossed into the deepest ocean. On its way into the deepest parts of the ocean, a deep water fish mistook it for food and chased it down. It swallowed the grain of sand and proceeded to swim into a magical tear between worlds.

The tear led into a lake. Being a deep water fish, the poor fish was completely blinded by the light in this little lake. It was quickly caught by a fisherman, who gutted it and brought it home. The fish’s guts however were left on the beach to decompose.

There the grain stayed for a few years until a jewellers apprentice came looking for sand to temper jewellery. The sand on this beach was perfect. He collected a large sack of sand including the grain which was a Horcrux.

READ THE REST OF THE STORY


Thanks for reading!

Éric

Gladiators in SPACE! – Part 6 (Conclusion)

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

I ran with the crowd of gladiators towards the weapons cache in the middle of the arena. A quick flash of the future hit me and I started running faster.

When I was almost at the weapons I yelled out, “Bomb!” as loud as I could. My voice echoed as all the combatants stopped and looked at me. “There’s a bomb in the centre of the weapons.” I could see the damage the liquid fire contained in the bomb would do to the combatants. It was a perfect surprise for them. Thankfully I ruined it.

“How do we know he’s telling the truth?” a large man asked.

I answered by running towards the bomb. The gladiators had known me for a month or more now and those who knew something was going to happen ran the other way.

Tripping the bomb released a wave of fire that went far enough to burn eyebrows but no one was seriously hurt. It once again left me naked but fire didn’t hurt me, thank Sol.

Standing on the pile of melted weapons, surrounded by flames and completely naked, I launched into my prepared speech, “Friends, Romans, Spectators;” it’s a classic for a reason, “I am not a false prophet and I’ve had enough of these games. It’s time for them to end.”

The crowd laughed uncomfortably but I continued, “In the name of Sol, I declare this ship an independent colony.” I was using my angry voice and the crowd didn’t make a sound, “Those who wish to remain on my ship place your hands on the back of your heads. The rest of you will be leaving.”

“This is preposterous!” yelled my owner. Turning to him I gave him an angry look and he took a step back before gesturing and yelling, “KILL HIM!” Two snipers were supposed to shoot at me but only one got off a shot, he was part of my army and shot the other sniper.

I gestured at Aly and the two Samanthas, the cybernetic one and the human one. When they were close, I said, “Samantha um…” I pointed at the cybernetic one, “Would you like to become a ship?” She smiled and nodded eagerly. I took the sticky I’d used to talk with Hey Sunny and placed it on her forehead. “When I tell you, reboot the anti-teleportation devices.”

My owner was getting redder and redder as he tried to fight his way down to the arena despite his guards’ protests. He kept yelling that he’d kill me.

“Last chance,” I projected, knowing the whole ship was listening. “Hands behind head if you wish to stay.”

I put my hands behind my head as an example and counted down from ten. At one I winked towards cybernetic Samantha, I lied about never winking again I look too good doing it, she reset the anti-teleportation devices. The reset triggered the new software and it scanned for all life that did not have its arms behind its head and teleported it.

“Where they’d go?” asked Aly from beside me.

“They were teleported to the nearest Jupiter Protectorate ship.” I paused before adding, “Along with the wolves and other animals.”

“Samantha can you take over the ship?” I asked.

There was no answer from the metal body. I thought maybe it had been too much for her but the ship replied in her voice, “Yes Hal, we have complete control of the ship.”

“Put me ship wide please,” there was a beep and I knew I was speaking to the entire ship, “This is Hal. I may no longer be the Sun-Speaker but I still serve Sol and he believes that life should be preserved when possible. We have taken the ship. If you wish to leave you can take an escape pod or one of the private ships in the doc. We will be heading to Venus to pick up refugees with a stop at Mars and Earth to drop off those of you who wish to go home.”

A cheer rose up all around me. I turned to the human Samantha and said, “Both of you need to be better than you were or I’ll come back.” She nodded.

We brought Aly back to Mars and they will start talks with her people to try and unite Mars.

At Earth we dropped off Henrick. He would meet up with the future emperor of Mars who was freshly out of diapers.

The ship was well armed enough and large enough to defend and house the refugees. They’d have to  elect a government and sign a treaty with the big governments to be accepted as an independent colony but I knew the Samantha’s were up to the task.

There was something scary coming and my dreams were getting worse. My last day on the Mederei, I woke to the horrifying realization that whatever was coming didn’t just scare me, it scared Sol himself.


If you liked this story, why not read the rest of the stories in the Sun Speaker Universe ?

Gladiators in SPACE! – Part 5

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4

The meeting didn’t go unnoticed by my owner. He visited me in my cell that night. He looked around and said, “You know your problem Hal? You’re not appreciative. I’ve given you a place in this galaxy, one where you could be great, remembered for more than just being a false prophet. You give away your sponsors presents and arrange for secret meetings with other fighters. Just ungrateful.” He made a tisking noise and continued, “You could be on some distant Trans-Neptunian mining asteroid, but I took pity and bought your crime from the Venusians. You weren’t cheap you know.”

“Sorry?” I asked.

“You’re damn right you should be sorry.”

I let him ramble about my ungratefulness and tried not to laugh. He might think he was doing me a great favour but I was here on a mission. I was caught on purpose but he would never believe me.

“You’re so smug. I can’t wait to watch you get destroyed in the arena. Actually let’s make it easier on your next opponent.” He snapped his fingers, walked away, and two burly guards stepped into my tiny room. As he left he said, “Make sure he knows what we think of false prophets here on the Mederei!”

The two large guards walked into my cell. One had a large scar across his face and the other was scowling in order to look as tough as the first one.

Scowl-face grabbed me by my shirt and lifted me off my feet. “Don’t struggle,” he grumbled, his voice like two rocks grinding together. He held me up for the scar-face, who poked me with his index finger.

They both chuckled as scowl-face put me down. “We don’t like false prophets.”

Scar-face tried to smile. It was terrifying. He said, “If you see any let us know.” The two just turned around and walked away. I was still trying to process what had happened as they turned the corner and Scowl-face winked at me.

“Ok. I’m never winking again.” It seemed Aly was right and I had friends in both the gladiators and the guards.

A full out revolt would mean a lot of dead people. I didn’t want people dying for me. I had to find another way. I was thinking of different ideas when a messenger brought me a package. It was a bar of Earth Chocolate.

I opened the package and was dismayed to find a piece of plastic and small sticky patch. I put the patch behind my ear and the micro-vibrations permeated into my skull as sound.

“Hal. Can you hear me?” I recognized the voice of my engineer and friend Adric.

“Hey Sunny! How’s the black?”

He chuckled, “You never get tired of that joke do you?” I had named my ship “Hey Sunny” for cheap laughs.

“Nope. Great timing by the way. I need to learn how to hack the anti-teleport devices on here.”

“You see the second sticky? Place that on a computer terminal and I’ll do the rest.”

“I thought you said you couldn’t hack the computers on the Mederei?”

“You wound me Hal. I said I couldn’t hack them remotely.”

“Sorry for doubting you Adric. I need you to hack them and install some new software. It’s in our main memory banks under, ‘I have no idea what this is but I’m sure it’ll be useful someday’.”

“You have a gift with names Hal,” he replied sarcastically before asking, “You ok?”

“Aren’t I always ok?”

“No.”

“I’m fine. I’m dealing with it. What’s the news on the Venusians?” I had tried to save the royal family during the revolution but they had disappeared.

“No word on the royals but the church has taken control of the military and the parliament. The new Sun-Speaker is now as good as a King.”

“What aren’t you telling me?”

“They’re shooting down anyone who’s trying to leave Venus or the Empire.”

“We need to help them. Run the hack and go do what you can. I’ll join you in a few days. Good luck my friend.”

“Don’t die!” was the last thing he said before cutting the com.

With my new found business contacts and mini-army it was easy to get someone to slap the sticky on a computer terminal. I had a plan and it would take everything falling exactly into place. Thank Sol I could see the future.

I decided to make my move at the grand melee. It was just me and ninety-nine other combatants. The idea was that a hundred fighters went in and only one came out. Everyone rushed into the arena at the sound of the bell. I sauntered in, trying to project confidence and mischief. I suppose it was a normal entrance for me.

The floor rumbled as the hundred combatants ran towards the large weapons cache in the middle of the arena.

Read Next


If you like this story, why not read the rest of the stories in the Sun Speaker Universe ?

Gladiators in SPACE! – Part 4

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

I was sleeping off my fight with the wolves when a woman who had more cybernetic implants than I had thought possible came to see me.

She looked vaguely familiar but I couldn’t place her. She looked at me with a combination of anger and embarrassment. “I’m dying,” she said and she was right. As I probed her mind I could see that it was failing, as were all her cybernetics.

“I’ll do what I can.”

“Despite what I’ve done?” That’s when I recognised her. She was Samantha, the assassin trainer from the Maidens of the Antichthon. I thought she’d been killed by Suzie when they’d escaped the Maiden’s mother ship.

“I’ll do what I can.” She lay on the ground and I placed my hands on her. I could feel her body dying and rejecting the cybernetics that kept her alive at the same time. I have pretty powerful healing powers but what happened next was a shock to me.

I concentrated on healing and felt the warmth of Sol wash over me. That’s the part where I burst into flames and need new clothes. This was different than normal, more intense, like I was healing more than one person.

As I healed her I felt everything that had happened to her. They’d brought her back to life and punished her for failing to stop us. They’d taken her apart piece by piece, including parts of her mind. The made sure to dig out the pieces of her mind that had any information on the Maidens. She’d been a horrible person but no one deserved what they did to her.

When the healing was over I was shocked to see two bodies. One was Samantha, put back together and the other was her cybernetics. They had become self-conscious and were accidentaly killing her by trying to become indipendant. There was an allegory in there that I’d have to remember for later.

Both looked up at me and smiled. The cybernetic one cocked her head to the side and said, “I’m a robot. Fascinating.”

***

It took another month for the fighters to open up to me. Each owner owned a couple hundred fighters and there were hundreds of owners. Some of the owners were based on the Mederei, others went from ship to ship. Owners never let their fighters fight each other, which meant I had a hard time getting in contact with my Barsoonian friend.

The more I fought the more people seemed to like me and I started getting gifts. They were indulgences from silk sheets to alcohol and everything in between. I gave it all away except for any chocolate or coffee; I have my vices. The more I fought, the more I had things to trade or give away.

The alcohol was particularly useful for trading. As a mild telepath and strong precognitive, it’s a terrible idea to drink. Alcohol breaks down walls as well as inhibitions. When I studied at the Psionic Clan Academy, I’d gotten drunk and spent the next two days in the hospital seeing one person’s possible lifetimes over and over again. They had to put me into a medically induced coma to save my life. The Psionic Clans may be no better than common thugs with super powers, but they take care of their own. Thankfully they didn’t know I wasn’t one of them.

The alcohol got me a special training session with my friend.

“You again. What do you want?”

“Do you know who I am? I’m here to save you and bring you back to your people.”

They looked around at the guards and locked doors, cocked an eyebrow and said, “Right, what’s your plan? Going to just teleport me out?”

“So you do know who I am. Teleport is out of the question. They have blockers all over the ship.”

“Of course I know who you are, Hal Sun-Speaker. I’m Aly. Why do you want to save me?”

“I’m not the Sun-Speaker. I’m just Hal. I’m here to save you because it’s what Sol wants and it’s what Mars needs.”

“Why in the nine hells would Mars need me?”

“Something is coming and Mars needs to be united. The future Emperor will need you to advise him.” I waved away any questions and asked one of my own, “How many Martians are on this ship?”

“Maybe a couple of thousand…” They looked confused.

“It’s not enough. We need more people.” I started wondering if the other people would help Martians or if humanities natural, and idiotic, racism would get in the way.

Aly laughed a deep rumbling laugh as if I’d said something hilarious, “It’s true what they say about you. The seer who doesn’t see himself.”

“What?” I hate being confused or surprised, it’s just not right and hurt my fragile ego.

“Just because the church disowned you doesn’t mean those who believe in Sol have.” Seeing my puzzled face they added, “Many believe you’re the true word of Sol and would follow you. On this ship, those who’ve seen both your power and your humanity would follow you out an airlock. You say you don’t have enough people but you have an army.”

“An army of gladiators might be useful…” The idea that I had an army made my skin crawl. I don’t like blind obedience, which is why I filled my crew with people way smarter than me, and almost as stubborn. I didn’t want an army but I could use one.

“It’s not just the gladiators.”

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If you like this story, why not read the rest of the stories in the Sun Speaker Universe ?

Gladiators in SPACE! – Part 3

Part 1 | Part 2

I knew the wolves were bioengineered since wolves don’t normally have horns on either side of their heads and these ere two metres tall.

They didn’t look happy; on the contrary they looked hungry. I did the only sane thing and ran towards them. It worked and the wolves scattered. It must have been a funny scene because the crowd started laughing.

Sol gives me a lot of guidance and a lot of information but he’s pretty skimpy when it comes to solutions. I knew I needed to survive and save my new Martian friends. They would be important to Sol’s plan, I think.

Lifting my hands above my head I projected my voice, “Friends, Romans, Spectators; tell me what you want! Should I kill these mindless and innocent beasts?” The crowd roared, my heart palpitated at the sound of that many people cheering. When they quieted down I asked, “Or would you rather watch me be devoured?” There was a pause. The crowd wasn’t sure how to react. The wolves, however, howled.

Turning to the wolves, I shook my head dramatically and shushed them saying, “We know what you want.” Again the crowd laughed. I had them right where I wanted them. “My friends. I am not a fighter. I am a prophet abandoned by his church. But the church isn’t the God and I don’t like killing.” I put special emphasis on the “I”. These games were being recorded and could be watched as vids across the system. If I could piss off the church a little I’d be more than happy.

Wolves are not patient animals and the leader of their pack, or the least patient one, what do I know, charged at me. As his great bulk and sharp teeth came towards me, I could only admire the quality of its teeth. Its friends started moving cautiously towards me.

“Stop!” I commanded mentally. When Sol choses a Sun-Speaker, he always chooses someone with telepathic talent, it’s the only way that he can communicate with them. Humanity has limited telepathic abilities and they’ve only been appearing for a few thousand years. I’m convinced that’s why the first Sun-Speaker was chosen two thousand years ago and not earlier.

The wolves all stopped at my order, except for the one charging at me. I needed to stop him quickly to prove to the others that I was the one they should follow. I concentrated in the same way as I had with the Barsoonian, only this time I didn’t go easy. I fully powered my fusion blast and looked at the crowd, “You want death? Fine, have death!” I made sure it was a short blast, no use blowing a hole in the ship, and it disintegrated the wolf, leaving a pile of ash.

The crowd took a collective gasp, the wolves bent their heads and whimpered, and I fought back tears. The poor animal was just doing what it had been bred to do. Telepathically talking to the wolves I said, “Its ok. Food is coming.”

One of the wolves moved towards me; I waited and let it sniff my hand. It licked my hand and nuzzled me. Not an easy feat with its horns. The crowd went wild.

A loud siren told to crowd to be quiet and my new owner, who was apparently the governor of the ship, said, “You are a nuisance but I expected something like this. Send in the pirates.”

Three men walked out of the gladiator gates. They were the space pirate brothers Adam, Aaron, and Alvin. I’d infiltrated their crew once to save a friend. It hadn’t ended will for the brothers. I guess it still wasn’t going well.

They looked pissed and smug, “We meet again Hal. Now you’ll finally get what you deserve.” They weren’t the brightest pirates in the solar system. I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the fight, it wasn’t pretty. Let’s just say the crowd got its violence and the wolves got their meal.

The showing off had taken a lot out of me. I managed to fake being ok until I got back to my cell. Once alone I threw up and passed out, thankfully in that order.

The fights continued along the same vein with me showing off and trying to kill as little as possible. The real work was getting Henrick and the other gladiators to trust me. The ludum wasn’t like jail, you don’t fight anyone unless you have too and no one expects you to be tough outside the arena. It’s a sort of unwritten rule that we’re all going to die in there either way.

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If you like this story, why not read the rest of the stories in the Sun Speaker Universe ?

Gladiators in SPACE! – Part 2

Part 1

Not too long ago I went to my own funeral. I didn’t die but I was supposed to. My death was supposed to instigate a solar system wide revolution. Venus would fall and come back stronger as a democratic planet. The first United-Sol council would be formed and the solar system would be united and ready for what was coming.

My friends didn’t let me die and that made the Venusian Revolution burn too hot and too fast. What was going to happen wasn’t pretty but at least I was alive to try and fix it.

Since I died, every time I fall asleep I see the horrors coming for us. It’s not very restful but it makes wakening up a lot easier. I woke up in the hospital, more like medical bay, with a confused doctor and angry owner.

“What the hells’ your game Hal? How did you survive that?” My new owner was a fat Jupiterese man, whose old fashioned suit was bright orange with a green dress shirt and bright pink tie. Even in an angry whisper he was louder than his clothes.

“One of the gifts bestowed on me by Sol was the ability to heal,” I lied. The ability was given to me by my ship’s doctor who swore she’d used the last of the miracle formula on me. In a normal person it gave the eternal appearance of being eighteen. In me it let me heal faster and counteracted the slow painful death of channeling Sol’s power.

“Bullshit. We all know the Church disowned you.”

“The Church did but Sol didn’t.” Disowned was an understatement, they’d faked a funeral to get to me Venus and put me on trial for treason before trying kill me. The Church didn’t have all the blame; the major government authorities had helped.

“What do I do with a Gladiator who can’t fight and looked like he died?” He asked himself or maybe he was trying to speak to Alpha Century, hard to tell with his volume. “I know. I’ll spin it as a curse.”  He turned to me and said, “This won’t work twice. Every gladiator will know to finish the job from now on.”

“I have one question; can I get something to eat?”

They took me back to my cell. It was an eight by eight cube with metal bars. There weren’t any pillows or beds, just the cell. They brought me food that was surprisingly good. It was better than I normally ate. As I enjoyed the dessert of fresh watermelon in cubes I felt a mild ache in my head and knew a vision was coming.

Visions aren’t fun. They hurt, they’re vague, and they always give me too much information. This one was no different and before I could pass out or meditate to process the information, a guard came to get me.

“You’re headed to the training yards, false prophet.” I didn’t want to argue with the guard but he wasn’t wrong. I had never believed that Sol was a God but his powers and ability to see the future let me help people. I have always respected Sol but I don’t think he created the universe. I think of him like a wise old man trying to help his grandkids.

The guard brought me straight to a muscled dark skinned man, most likely Mercurian or Venusian, and then left me and him in the large grassy area. The man was in his late sixties, but was well built and was obviously strong.

“So you’re Hal?”

“That’s me and you are?”

“Henrick,” he smiled and held out his hand. He said something as we grasped hands but my brain decided it was time to give me as much information as possible on Henrick. I teetered, tottered, and almost tumbled for good measure, but he kept me from falling.

“Henrick Al-Mer of the house of Mers. Royal instructor to the kings and queens of Mars. You’re supposed to be dead.”

He laughed and shook his head as he said, “Look who’s talking. That was who I was once but there are no more kings and queens of Mars.”

“About that… Do you need a job?” He wasn’t my mission but I had helped smuggle the infant king of Mars away from the Venusian royalty and he could use an instructor on Mars and its customs.

“You’re a strange one, my friend. Here there’s nothing but the arena and death. If we survive a hundred fights or twenty years we are set free, but few fighters survive that long. I don’t expect to see anything but this ship for the rest of my life. I’m here to instruct you, not encourage your wild imagination.”

Shrugging I said, “Ok. Let’s get this part over with. What are you supposed to teach me?”

“Do you have any experience in hand to hand combat?” He asked and I spent the next week grappling, punching, and everything in between.

My next fight came much too quickly and as I waited outside the arena in my waiting area I turned to Henrick and asked, “Why are you the only person I ever see? There are tens of thousands of fighters but I never interact with them. ”

“The owners believe you’re more trouble then you’re worth and have told everyone to kill you.” He paused took a deep breath and said sadly, “and the fighters think you’re cursed. No one wants to talk with you or fight you.”

They must have raised quite the fuss cause when I walked into the arena I was faced by a jeering crowd and six bioengineered wolves.

Read Next


If you like this story, why not read the rest of the stories in the Sun Speaker Universe ?

Gladiators in SPACE! – Part 1

Hello My Imaginary Friends!

I’m writing to you from the past. (Spooky!)

Baby Dragon was due on the 9th and Can-Con (Which I’m sure will be awesome) was the 9, 10, and 11.

That means today I’m either cuddling the little Dragon or at work compulsively checking my phone. Either way I’m in no state to write a post.

Since I’m busy, I’ve written you a story. It’s Heavily influenced by a book I just beta-read by S.M. Carrière. Thanks for the inspiration!

This is the fourth story in the Sun Speaker Universe but it’s written so that you could read it without having read the others. If you are interested in reading the rest check out my Stories Page.

Enjoy!

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Can-Con (No Dragon Sightings)

Hello My Imaginary Friends,

Dragon is taking her time so I’m back at work this week (until I get the call, text, etc.) That means the super awesome story I have planned for you will have to wait for Thursday. It will hopefully not be postponed again.

This past weekend, despite being Dragon’s due date, we decided to get a table at Can-Con. It’s our favourite convention and is totally awesome.

Can-Con

One of the highlights of my weekend was selling coffee to authors I respect. It makes me feel all fan-boyish. The other was seeing old friends and meeting new ones. Can-Con people rock.

Not wanting to be too far away from Dragon, or the table, I only got to see one panel and give my first reading.

The panel I went to was about antagonists, it was incredibly interesting. The panelists were great (as usual).

Next year I plan on being on more panels. (I was asked but didn’t want to risk the chance of a Dragon hatching pulling me away).

THANK YOU!

To all the organizers, panelists, volunteers, vendors, and visitors to Can-Con; thank you so much for making it another great convention. I look forward to doing it again next year!

We’d both like to thank everyone who made sure Jen was ok and checked in on her throughout the weekend. You made her and I feel extremely loved and cared for!

My Reading

Taken by Madona Skaff
Taken by Madona Skaff

The reading was a lot of fun. Cait Gordon is a spectacular performer, Madona Skaff was fantastic, and Caroline Fréchette gave an impressive reading despite having bronchitis.

I learnt an important lesson about reading. Double check the passage before you read it. I just chose a random one and went for it, but didn’t account for how much extra set-up I needed. Seriously, I think I chose the part with the most characters in the entire book. I was sweaty, mumbling, and awkward, but people said I did okay. Next time I’ll prepare a little more.

Speaking of next time…

Mega-Multi-Author Launch!

This October 29th, Jen, I, and 6 other fantastic authors will be launching books and a game. It’ll be amazing. There are prizes, readings, food, and costumes!

There will probably be a baby Dragon there, in an adorable costume. (She’ll hatch by then right?)

This is the best place to get my book and some of my favourite reads from the past few years.

That’s it for now.

 

I’ll either be writing a new post on Thursday or you’ll get a story as I cuddle a Dragon.

Later Days!

Éric