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Tuesday Tales: Endless Doors Part 7

The Tuesday Tales feature continues with a new story this week. The previous story was Shadow of the Beast  To read the story, click on each link: Shadow of the Beast Part 1Shadow of the Beast Part 2Shadow of the Beast Part 3

This story is a a departure from fantasy for me and into a bit of science fiction where the science is more setting and the fiction is nuanced with it. Click this link to read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6

Endless Doors

by P. H. Solomon

Part 7

Weeks of preparation followed. Jake moved aboard his ship, The Pilgrim’s Rest, and met his officers. He organized his command and explained his expectations. Anyone he deemed deficient in proper motivation–regardless of age–he requested be replaced. Unknown danger in the form of lost ships awaited his own expedition so he reserved no tolerance for hopelessness. Archangel-Commander Patterson approved every request.

Jake attended more meetings, especially smaller ones and dinners where George Patterson detailed the assignment and its dangers.

George drank his brandy as they sat after dinner the night before the launch. “Jake, with those lost ships exploring between The Afterlife and The Jesús, that quadrant remains unexplored. Many here don’t care, but we’re serving for life and that means we keep moving forward.” Patterson brushed his close-cropped tufts of white hair.

“I understand. That’s why I’ve asked for those most motivated. It’s an earth-year of travel to the other station.” Jake sipped from his own glass.

“And why I’ve given you what you need. Who knows what happened to the others but I’ve got to give you every chance to succeed.” Patterson stared at the darkness beyond the nearby porthole. “Who knows what happened. I think sickness of the mind is just as bad as that of the body. With all us geezers on-board it can be like a plague once it’s loose. Mistakes are made then.”

Jake nodded.

George held up his glass. “To discipline and success.”

Archangel Lassitter joined the small group with them in the toast.

Jake slept in his ship quarters and rose fresh and ready for the launch. He ate with a smile and checked through last minute well-wishes from officers he’d gotten to know in his short time aboard The Afterlife. He sat back as time drew near to embark. The ship floated in the bay like a babe in a womb waiting for birth. It was good to do something. All the waiting at home had sapped his morale. Purpose renewed him. He leaned back in his chair. His wife followed him in space by now. If only he knew her destination.

Bridge com lights flashed and he opened the channel. “Captain-Archangel, here.”

His older second, Baxter, appeared in the projections. “We’re near launch time, sir.”

“Just coming, old man, just coming.”

Jake didn’t need his ID to show him around his ship anymore. Projected console lights winked in the dimness of the bridge. The crew acknowledged him and he sat.

“Status report, please.” Lassitter plugged his ID into it slot in his chair. His controls projected in front of him.

Baxter stood near Jake. “Plasma screws are functional and providing optimal energy for all ship systems and engines, sir.”

Jake suppressed his grin. “Good, and guidance rockets?”

“Fueled and on-line.”

“Well done. Show screen of the bay door. I believe we’re ready. Baxter, request permission to open bay doors and embark.

Across the bridge, the screen displayed white bay doors with lights trained upon them.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

Baxter relayed the request to The Afterlife. “Request acknowledged and permission granted.”

Jake leaned forward as the bay doors parted to empty space. “Engage rockets.”

The navigator tapped his console. “Engaged.”

The Pilgrim’s Rest accelerated toward the bay. As the ship left the station, the bay lights filled the screen for a moment and then the ship cleared its host.

Jake stared at the ceiling. He drummed his fingers and sat back. If only they could reach their destination. If only his wife arrived there. Jake and his crew left all that was familiar in search of The Jesús in the boundless, cosmic void.

END

Thanks for reading today. For more information about my writing, please see the page about my epic fantasy series, The Bow of Hart Saga, which includes two award-winning books.

About the Author

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Fantasy Authors Unplugged Featuring Mae Clair & Cusp of Night

My guest today in the Fantasy Authors Unplugged feature is author Mae Clair with her new book, Cusp of Night, which I’m also reading this week. Take it away, Mae!

Ghosts, Monsters and Myth: Cusp of Night by Mae Clair

I’m jazzed to be here today, sharing my latest release, Cusp of Night. A story with a past and present timelines, Cusp blends the Spiritualist movement of the 19th Century with a modern day thread that touches on ghosts and urban legend.

 

Ghost in Haunted House,Mysterious Woman in White Dress Standing in Abandon Building,Horror Background For Halloween Concept and Book Cover Ideas

 

I’m a huge fan of creatures and things that go bump-in-the-night. In 2013 and 2014, I took two trips to research the Mothman, a cryptid that featured into my POINT PLEASANT SERIES. For my HODE’S HILL SERIES, I needed a new creature. Rather than use an existing monster from folklore, I decided to create my own. I’ve always been fascinated by Spring Heeled Jack and borrowed elements such as leaping fences and scrambling over rooftops to create “the Fiend.”

In the history of Hode’s Hill, the Fiend is responsible for several horrific murders in the late 1800s. The creature’s body was never found. Its legend has morphed into the stuff of urban myth. In the present, the town honors the past with an annual Fiend Fest in which contestants dress in costume, hoping to achieve the top prize.

My main character, Maya Sinclair, is on her way home from the Fiend Fest when she witnesses an assault on the patriarch of the town’s leading family. Is the assailant someone dressed in Fiend attire, or the creature returned from the shadows to wreak vengeance?

Cusp of Night is a blending of past and present, dual plotlines which converge in the legend of the Fiend—and restless ghosts the centuries have been unable to disperse.

Ghosts, monsters and myth. Here’s the blurb:

Forli, Emilia Romagna, Italy: narrow dark alley in the old town – ancient Italian street at night with lampposts and cobbled pavement

BLURB

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

PURCHASE HERE

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

 

Tuesday Tales: Endless Doors Part 6

The Tuesday Tales feature continues with a new story this week. The previous story was Shadow of the Beast  To read the story, click on each link: Shadow of the Beast Part 1Shadow of the Beast Part 2Shadow of the Beast Part 3

This story is a a departure from fantasy for me and into a bit of science fiction where the science is more setting and the fiction is nuanced with it. Click this link to read Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5

Endless Doors

by P. H. Solomon

Part 6

Clip Art Image Copyright by Microsoft. Clip Art Used by Permission of Microsoft

No one indicated interest in the assignment when Jake checked later. That was good – and not. Missing ships indicated danger. He tapped a finger on his desk. “These officers act like they expect to go home. But then, life shouldn’t be wasted either.”

“If you have lost an item please note it so–”

“Nothing is lost.” He sighed. Sometimes automation wasn’t useful. “Note, I volunteer for this duty assignment.”

“Noted in the agenda.”

“Lead me to food.”

“Guidance to the cafeteria will be indicated on your card.”

With several hours until the meeting, Jake planned his own preparations. He yawned away the dregs of his thirty years of stasis. His stomach rumbled so he followed it and the card to a meal. The meal suited Jake almost as much as the crisp uniform.

When he arrived at the meeting, a soft murmur greeted the new Archangel when the door whispered open. Jake stepped into the bustle of command officers and slipped into a seat. He maintained silence but squinted at those around him. There wasn’t any excitement from this wrinkled crowd. They displayed a mix of complacency and purpose. Jake shrugged. It was probably hard to maintain morale without the motivations of youth.

“You may be seated ladies and gentlemen.” The commander, his face festooned with age-spots entered.

Jake’s eyebrow twitched. Aside from the wheeze of age and the slow gait, his commander exuded purpose. Surprising, given his age and circumstance. The effectiveness of these command assignments probably varied with each new commander’s willingness and interest.

The senior officer leaned on his podium and rattled through the agenda. Jake waited for the inevitable. He fixed his eyes forward. But his mouth went dry–even after all these years.

“And then there’s the volunteer without even a ship. Lassitter!” The aged commander managed a whip-like tone through his wheeze.

Jake stirred and stood. “Sir.”

“Not taking the easy way out, are you?”

“Sir?” Jake suppressed a frown but it carried in his answer.

“Others have used dangerous duty to check out early.” The commander leaned over his podium like a vulture eying a dying animal.

“I, uh-” Achrangel Lassiter cleared his throat. “I just want something to do. Don’t want to let moss grow under my feet.”

“Ah, I see.” The old man tapped his podium. “Still motivated.” His gaze fanned over the room. “Unlike so many here.”

Someone nearby snickered. “That won’t last long.”

Jake resisted slouching but his mouth felt drier. So it was worse than he’d assumed.

The commander cleared his throat. “Well, I’ve a ship for you and this mission. It’ll be weeks before you’re ready though. During that time you’ll dine with me, I hope? Good! Now, let’s wrap this up.”

Jake sat after a sharp nod.

Another voice commented nearby in low tones, “Can’t hold his prunes.”

Few of those gathered spoke to Jake. Those that did patted his shoulder with a rueful shake of their head. He remained in his uniform and later arrived as requested to dine with his commander. The portal doors swished apart to laughter from elderly voices.

He stepped over the threshold and saluted his commander.

“Oh, none of that here, Lassitter.” He shook Jake’s hand. “George Patterson, always glad to have some military discipline show up around here.” He spread his arm wide. “Welcome to dinner.”

At the end of Commander Patterson’s arm was a glass of brandy. Beyond the alcohol, a long table covered with sumptuous food beckoned.

Jake grinned and stepped toward the table. “Don’t mind if I have a spot of that?”

Archangel Lassitter left behind his old friendships and embraced new ones over the feast.

Thanks for reading today. For more information about my writing, please see the page about my epic fantasy series, The Bow of Hart Saga, which includes two award-winning books.

About the Author