Short Stories

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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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

Characters from The Bow of Destiny: Spark

This is the second of several posts revealing more about characters from The Bow of Destiny. You can read about Athson here. If you like dogs, you’ll love today’s post!

SparkSpark was a rather interesting and late addition to The Bow of Destiny. You see, Spark is a dog but not just any dog. He’s a dog that only Athson sees while he’s not taking doses of his elven medicine, Soul-ease. You might wonder if Spark is real and so does Athson. However, Athson considers Spark an old friend who watches out for him.
The idea for this invisible dog came from my daughter who did some alpha reading on the book last year. She suggested adding a dog so Spark is what I came up with. In the book, Athson identifies this dog as a Mountain Hound but to you and me he’s a German Shepherd – or very much like one.
If you’ve read my bio you know we own two German Shepherds so you can guess the origin of this character. But there’s more to the characterization than just being like a common breed. Spark is actually based on both of my dogs, appearing more like our female, Chloe, while sometimes acting rather like our male, Sam.

GSDsChloe & Sam
While Chloe is all guard-dog and ready for action all the time, Sam is more of a friendly bloke with a nasty side when necessary. But the unique quality of Sam is his way of communicating with us – he wags his tail for “yes” and doesn’t for “no”. Don’t believe me? Here’s a sample of Sam (Spark)-talk which is through a series of yes and no questions (and of course you have to catch Sam at a good time since he’s usually easily distracted like most dogs by things like food):
Me: “Sam, is it cold outside?”
Sam wags his tail – and it is (or was when this happened).
Me: “Sam, do you like the cold?”
Sam wags his tail because he really doesn’t like the hot Alabama summer but thrives in what cold weather we have.
Me: “Sam, do you want to sleep outside?”
Sam doesn’t wag his tail because, while he likes cold weather, he prefers to stay near his people like most GSDs do. This question is one that’s meant to ensure he’s really answering rather than just wagging his tail in distraction.
Me: “Sam, do you like Chloe?”
No wag because Chloe can really pesters him and bites him often since she’s rather feisty.
Me: “Sam, did Chloe bite you today?”
Sam wags his tail. Funny thing about dogs is that, being like wolf puppies, the males often let females win. Sam is much larger but always lets Chloe win.
Me: “Sam, do you want Chloe to sleep outside in the cold?”
Sam wags his tail. Yep that’s right, Sam wants Chloe to sleep outside while he gets to sleep inside.
We often can ascertain if Sam feels sick (he gets colitis) or achy (he’s getting a little older now and is starting to get stiff joints). We even found out that Sam wants a pet cat though this is likely the fact that he actually misses the old cat, Becky, who was still alive when Sam came to live with us. The cat hated Sam but he loved her. But you get the idea – Sam talks in his own way. He’s rather intelligent that way and even plays tricks on Chloe to get her to do what he wants. Now don’t think that Chloe is dumb by any means. She recognizes aggression easily and can solve some puzzles that Sam just won’t bother with.
So guess who speaks Sam-talk? Spark! I have a number of instances where Spark reveals something to Athson about his surroundings that Athson just doesn’t get. But you, the reader, get to understand that Spark may just know more about what’s going on at times than Athson.

To find out more about The Bow of Destiny, click over to one of these online retailers:

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About the Author

P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.

Prequel short stories to The Bow of Hart Saga:

Trading KnivesKobo, iBooks & Barnes & NobleSmashwords & Amazon

What Is Needed Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, Smashwords & Amazon

   Trading Knives 1   What Is Needed 4