Tuesday Tales

Tuesday Tales: Endless Doors Part 2

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.

Endless Doors

by P. H. Solomon

Part 2

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The light guided Jake along the length of the hall. He passed several doors – all closed – until the guiding illumination stopped him at a door. The door parted from the center and air brushed his face. A projected screen and audio flickered from a darkened corner. “Jake was a good man. A man’s man with exemplary military service.”

“Come in, Mr. Lassitter. Please have a seat.” A young woman with dark hair pulled into a bun stood beside a simple desk of mahogany.

Jake walked into the room and sat.

“I’m Mrs. Walker.” She extended her hand.

“Can you end that.” He pointed to the projection where the speaker droned on about his life. Mona wept.

Mrs. Walker shrugged. “Most people like to view their end, but as you wish.” She tapped the projected interface on her desk and his service flicked into silence.

“Thanks.” He hated seeing Mona cry. He held back the hitch in his throat but his chin quivered. Watching was vain.

“Mr. Lassitter, I’m here to–.”

“Jake, call me Jake.”

Mrs. Walker cleared her throat and her lips pressed into a line. “Ah, these are hard enough without, uh, first names. I have a few instructions for you before your, uh, departure.” She placed a card on the desk. “This is your ID, keep it with you at all times.”

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Jake chuckled. “The toe-tag.”

The young woman paused and cleared her throat. “Yes, well. Please leave all your personal belongings with me. Through this door is the escalator to the shuttle to Shady Oaks.”

He chuckled again. “All this is so humorous.”

“Mr. Lassitter, ending your life is a serious matter. Now, if you are ready please proceed to the transport.” She pushed the card toward him.

Jake discarded all his belongings, glanced at his new ID, and read the label: Archangel Lassitter. He stood, took the ID and headed for the door.

“Goodbye, Mr. Lassitter. I hope your journey is peaceful.”

Sunlight blazed into the room as the door hissed open. Wind whooshed around Jake and he stepped outside. He swallowed the lump in his throat.

“Mr. Lassitter?” Ahead another woman beckoned him toward the escalator into the shuttle.

Jake shoved the ID in his pocket and trudged into the wind. They were all so politely aloof. He reached the other woman who looked like Mrs. Walker’s sister.

“You’re the last. Hurry, there’s a schedule.” She took him by the arm and herded him onto the escalator that carried him off the ground.

Jake’s shoe-sole scraped on the door-runner’s seal. Other people his age waited in the cabin. Some of his fellow passengers glanced at him. No one offered greeting and no one looked him in the eye. He sat in the first empty seat. He recognized no one, so which seat he chose mattered little.

Minutes later the shuttle lifted into the sky toward the sun. Jake left who he was.

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


Tuesday Tales: Endless Doors Part 1

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The Tuesday Tales feature continues with a new story this week. Last week Shadow of the Beast ended. 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.

Endless Doors

by P. H. Solomon

Part 1

The dark abstraction of mourners loomed on Jake’s left. The blurred faces with indistinct mouths opened in song and weeping, gray set against black matched the somber music in the room. He hated abstract art.

Jake thumped the carpeted floor with his heel. Why were they waiting? There were no more goodbyes left for him. Just get this over.

White hair dropped across his eyes and he brushed it back. He’d given up on haircuts after the government pulled him from active service. The living cared about haircuts. Let the EES cut it if they wanted. Even better since there were no decisions left to him. When had his hair turned white? Jake sighed, hating the color and its meaning for him.

Mona leaned close, slipped her arm under his and squeezed his hand. “It’s not fair for them to make you when it’s not my time yet. We’ve been together so long and now…” Her lips quivered as her words trailed into silence.

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Jake patted her hand. “It’s what’s required. We’ve had our time for all this.”

Along the line of chairs his family waited with him. Jake blinked at Marsha’s bulging belly. Her third and he wouldn’t see it. He’d just be a picture on the shelf. The story of a shadow. Marsha wiped tears away and leaned against her husband, Bob.

On his left, Jake’s son stared at his shoes. James’ worried faced sprouted a brave smile but he hesitated with a nod. The mourners hovered in pictorial silence that shrouded the waiting room.

The door hissed and light flared into the room. Jake jerked at the suddenness. His family sat agape.

“Jake Lassitter, please step into the light.” The mild voice ended in abrupt silence.

Jake pulled free of Mona’s grip. He stood as his family wept. He walked through the open door and paused in the light. Jake never waved nor spoke another word to them. He had given them his love over the last few months. The door whispered and shut his family’s lives away. Jake hesitated for a moment and then left them.

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

Tuesday Tales: Shadow of the Beast Part 2

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I’m now sharing some short stories on Tuesdays. Today, I continue with a story I may well include in a future anthology. This is part 2 of the story and I’ll share the next part next weeks. To read part 1, click here. This material is copyrighted so all rights are mine and this cannot be reproduced or used without permission (reblogs are welcome since it only uses a part of the content but if you want to reproduce the entire post you need to contact me for permission). With that bit of information, enjoy the story! Please forgive any errors…

Shadow of the Beast, Part 2

By P. H. Solomon

Sa-hatap waited while scouts confirmed where the search should go. All the while, the house stood silent as a guarded tomb and the lake of his meditational focus churned. Trackers stalked the akor-sunash for days into the Eshti Mountains. There, early snow settled and the beast stalked the forests and threatened villages.

The Court Governor ordered preparations. Enusat equipped Sa-hatap and his troop of guards with all his needs including his religious diet and horses. But Sergeant Gorcin carried a seeing-orb, allowing his superiors oversight of the mission.

Furled grieving banners waited at the city gates when Sa-hatap’s guards led him out of the capital. After five days, they traded horses for mountain ponies and climbed into the Eshti Mountains were snow shrouded on the ground and wolves howled under the waxing moon.

On the sixth day into the mountains they drew near the villages where reports of suffering from the monster’s ravages had arrived. Sa-hatap sat in his saddle focused in his prayers while the wind tore at his cloak and his meditations sloshed.

I sent Enusat to you. I sent you here.

Sa-hatap reined his horse to a skidding halt.

“You did what?” Sa-hatap’s words hung in the air with his misty breath.

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The guards stopped, quizzical expressions etched on their faces. Gorcin twitched his hand at the seeing-orb. Horses snorted at the unexpected pause and stamped hooves on the snowy road.


The guards cocked their heads.

Why did you first refuse?

Sa-hatap flinched and he rubbed his hot cheeks. He hunched in his saddle and ground his teeth. Seddessans hated him. Why help them at all? But revenge wasn’t his way.

The guards eyed Sa-hatap.

He ignored them. “So I must do their foul work, is it?”

Not at all

“Come along.” The sergeant’s eyes narrowed. “Or must I lead your horse with you tied over the saddle? We must not delay.”

“What would you have me do?” Sa-hatap scowled and turned his hooded head from side to side. He rode to his death–regardless of the outcome.

“Come now.” The soldier hefted the seeing-orb. “We’ll send word to begin the killing otherwise.” Menace tinged the sergeant’s tone. A slow smile spread on his face as he urged his horse toward Sa-hatap.

Play a celebration song for the empress instead of a dirge.

Sa-hatap sat straight. They all deserved a dirge. But not his people. “Very well.” Sa-hatap kicked his horse into motion. Tension from the soldiers cracked like ice under the horses hooves. Sa-hatap turned in his saddle. “Are you coming or not?”

The soldiers eyed each other with unspoken questions behind their eyes. They shrugged their indifference to his oddities and flashed hand signals across their foreheads as wards against evil spirits.

A howl bounced around the wooded ridges.

“That’s no wolf.” The sergeant slouched as he rode alongside Sa-hatap.

“It’s what we came for.” Sa-hatap focused on the road ahead and practiced his meditations but Lake Winsu’s surface boiled with his anger.

The sergeant cast his gaze around the surrounding heights and muttered prayers to his god.

“If you are afraid then go home. But I ride toward the fear.” Sa-hatap kicked his horse into a faster gait. “Come along or we’ll miss the fun.”

Grumbling soldiers urged their mounts after Sa-hatap. He faced forward and treated the men like his personal command. A song needed playing and he eschewed any delay. Sa-hatap led his guards through several mountain villages amid echoed howls in the heights.

The sergeant caught Sa-hatap when they passed through the second village of low houses where smoked curled from chimneys. “We’ll never catch the monster chasing echoes.”

“It must come to me.” The mage grasped his sword-hilt.

The sergeant gaped at Sa-hatap. “What? You plan to bring it down on us?”

“Me. Just me.” He raised his head and the afternoon sunlight flashed against white peaks.

“Where? Here?”

Sa-hatap caught the sergeant’s hopeful expression. He urged his horse into a trot. “Stay if you want. This is not the place.”

The sergeant rode alongside moments later. “I cannot let you ride off. You’ll just ride on and we’ll be punished with your people.”

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Sa-hatap hid a sly smile. He reined his horse to a sharp halt. He sat staring ahead at the snow-draped evergreens looming over the road. His horse snorted and stamped. His gruff tone escaped in a white cloud but he did not turn his head to the soldier. “I have given my word to see this done, magic or not, sergeant.” He turned his head. “But I must do this alone.”

“Tell me when. How can we make sure it is done?”

Sa-hatap heard distant desperation in the soldier’s question. “I will know when to stop and why. Then I must go on, but I will tell you where to watch. I will be in sight if you wish to brave the cold night–and the danger.” He urged his horse into another trot.

Behind him the sergeant swore but followed.

The next village lay blanketed by snow so thick only curling smoke from chimneys identified it. Sa-hatap halted.

“Here?” The sergeant wiped his mouth at the sight of the tavern door.

“Ale beckons all soldiers, no?” Sa-hatap avoided strong drink. But he didn’t blame the men’s desire after the cold day’s ride.

The wisp of a sound tickled his hearing.

He shushed the guards. Gusting winds fell on their ears but no other sound. The horses neighed and puffed mist. The guards grumbled and eyed the tavern door.

“What is it?” The sergeant’s cleared his throat and scanned snow shrouded buildings. “I’ve not heard the akor-sunash this last hour or more.”

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Sa-hatap cocked his head. A musical tendril teased his ears amid the soldier’s mutters, the horses champing and the staccato whistles of wind through the buildings. “We rest here.”

The sergeant exhaled and relaxed.

“For a while. Get yourselves and the horses warm.” He nodded at the tavern with his last words. “I’ve someone to speak with.”

The sergeant opened his mouth but the words died on his lips at Sa-hatap’s stare. The soldier patted the satchel containing the orb. “Dismount.” The sergeant grinned as he slung the bag over his shoulder. “Don’t make me come looking for you, mage.”

Sa-hatap pushed through snow among the maze of buildings, fences and out-buildings. Strands of flute music served as his guide, the song louder with each turn. He arrived at a humble cote with a sheep pen attached, the song muffled behind the rough door.

Sa-hatap knocked and arched an eyebrow. Thickly crafted door. Moments of silence bespoke caution. The door’s bar scraped and a man of indiscriminate age peered out, his features etched by the wind and covered with a wiry beard. Sheep bleated in the dimness beyond the herder who clutched his fur-lined cloak over his wool tunic.

“Excuse me, sir, but your music drew me.” Sa-hatap pushed his hood back. Heat from inside brushed his face.

“They play music at the tavern.” The shepherd eased the door closed.

“Wait.” Sa-hatap stuck his foot against the rough wood.

Sinewy hands tighten around a solid shepherd’s crook with understated strength. “The creature smells sheep for a ways on these winds.”

Sa-hatap embraced his prayerful peace like placid water that lay beneath a subset. He cocked his head. Odd that it came with visit with a stranger “I mean no harm but humbly beg your assistance in my journey. Has the akor-sunash troubled your herd?”

“None of my flock’s safe. And they’re not for sale.” He squinted and pushed against Sa-hatap’s hold.

“It’s not meat I need, but the use of your flute.”

The shepherd glanced over his shoulder and pulled the door wider as he did. Sa-hatap caught sight of the plain recorder lying atop a low stool. The shepherd turned back. “You play?”

“I’ve been known to whistle a tune in better times.”

The shepherd chuckled with a wry wink. “Most times are worth a ditty whether dirge or feast day-song.”

Sa-hatap’s eyebrow twitched. Unexpected words mirrored from the Spirit-sword. He was led though he seemingly wandered. The shepherd beckoned and he entered.

The bearded man held out the flute. “Give me a tune, traveler.”

Sa-hatap took the instrument and ran his fingers through trilling notes, then eased into a song of celebration among his people. His host tapped his foot in time with the tune. Sa-hatap ceased and the shepherd grinned, showing missing teeth.

“What ya need this for?” The shepherd tapped the flute with a gnarled finger.

“I’ve a task that need’s music.”

“A funeral by your long face.”

“Perhaps, but not one of my choosing.”

“Take it then. People need a proper end. I’ll give it for a decent cause.” The old man waved his hands as he spoke.

“I beg the use for a night. Won’t your flock miss it?”

The shepherd grinned. “Ah, they know my voice and like it just as well. At least they will until I make another.”

“Let me pay a price.” Sa-hatap shook his purse.

The other man cocked his head and squinted. “Name it yourself. You’re a fair man, I gather.”

Sa-hatap laughed. “A copper and a blessing.”

“Done–the empress’s money buys plenty but a blessing is good for the flock.”

Sa-hatap finished his business and found the guards in the tavern, singing and sloshing their swill. Local patrons sat silent at their cups. The guards escaped their fear of the cold night to come. He shivered. Strong drink couldn’t save them if he failed. Sa-hatap tapped the sergeant on the shoulder. “We leave now. My business is done.”

The sergeant’s faced sobered. “Now?”

“Yes, it must be done tonight.”

The sergeant’s eyes narrowed. “My men are half-drunk. Is this a trick?”

“I could have left. You let your men celebrate, not me. I have what I need and there’s no time for delay.” Sa-hatap turned for the door.

Thanks for reading today. As usual, I look forward to your responses in the comments section to which I will respond as soon as I can. For more information about my writing, see the page about The Bow of Hart Saga or the Welcome page.