Tuesday Tales

Tuesday Tales: Endless Doors Part 5

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

Endless Doors

by P. H. Solomon

Part 5

The lights in the corridor synced with Jake’s ID and led him through the station’s maze. He passed people his age and older, some bustling and others with halting gaits but all on some duty. The uniforms varied in design and color that left him bewildered as to their functions. Each time Jake passed an intersection, he consulted his ID for directions as it blinked in the direction of his quarters. When he arrived, Jake pressed his card and hand over the sensor and the doors swished apart. He stepped over the runner into the room where dim lights glowed over a neatly made bed.

An automated voice spoke in soothing tones. “Greetings, Archangel. Request what you need and it shall be provided.”

Jake cleared his throat. “Ah, turn on the lights.”

The lights brightened at a gradual pace.

He moved to the closet and found several uniforms pressed and hung. Jake touched them in turn. He nodded at the sharpness of each set. “Good enough.” His old one was not present. Probably lost or discarded when the transport was unloaded.

“Please repeat the request.”

“Nothing.”

“Standing by.”

Jake inspected his quarters further but found nothing beyond his basic necessities. He sat on the bed and slapped his thighs with a sigh. “What to do now.”

“You have a message waiting.” A chime sounded. “Your requested stylist has arrived.”

Jake let a shuffling woman into his room. She motioned him to a chair in front of his mirror without introduction. “How do you want it?”

“Military style.”

The stylist’s wrinkles distorted with a smirk. “Didn’t take you for one of them with that mop. But you move like one. You new? Well, I’m Dot.”

“Please to meet you, Dot.”

She shrugged and set to work. Dot proceeded to monologue through the few minutes it took her to crop his hair. “I’ve got two years ’til I’m eligible for mods. I want new knees first but most of the other stylists think small–their hands.”

“Mods?”

“Yeah they give those out for good service awards. You got to be here five home-years to get one, then it’s something every year. They call it incentives. It’s really bribery against just acting retired.” She shrugged. “What do I care? They start fixing things and I feel better. It’s better than staring out the window and moping.” Dot continued by telling him gossip about people he didn’t know and probably wouldn’t meet.

Jake listened but his eyes drooped by the end of the haircut.

“There, done.” Dot snorted. “Bored you to sleep, did I?”

“No, really, it’s the trip.” And her–but no sense in being impolite.

She crossed her arms, cocked her head and pulled a half-smirk of disbelief. “Not just new but fresh off the ship?” At his nod, she leaned close. “Well, hon, just take your time. It’s not retirement but there’s no hurry here in forever-ville.”

Jake showed her out. “Thanks for the advice.”

Dot shrugged and hauled her equipment away in the corridor.

“Now, where was I?”

His automated friend answered, “You have a message waiting.”

He shrugged. “Show me the message.” Jake stood at the projection console.

A man’s face, lined with age but chiseled with an air of command, projected over the desk and spoke. “Officer’s meeting agenda-”

“Silence and scroll for reading.” The words scrolled in the projection in silence. New assignments rolled past. There was a welcome for Jake. He arched an eyebrow. They already knew he was there. Someone possessed military efficiency. An assignment rolled past. “What’s this?”

“You are viewing the officer’s meeting agenda. Assignment 221984 has just-”

“Go back to that assignment and hold.” Jake leaned forward. He squinted with his mouth open.

“Do you require a larger font?”

“Uh, no.” He swallowed. Three ships lost in an unexplored quadrant and another needed to fill the mission. A long-range sweep to rendezvous with The Jesús. “Mark this assignment for follow-up.”

The marker appeared in the projection.

Archangel Jake stood and paced the floor, his hands clasped behind his back. He tucked his chin as he walked. Something interesting already. Surely others would take it or claim seniority over him.

“Do you wish to exercise? There is a gym–”

“Dim the lights.” There was plenty of time before the meeting. He undressed and lay on the bed. Jake stared at the projection as it hung over the desk. He’d check the status when he woke.

Jake closed his eyes and shifted into a comfortable position. It was a good bed and adequate quarters. A memory hovered behind his closed eyelids of a trip taken during his months of preparation to leave home forever. He’d stood beneath a natural arch of rock and stared at the night sky, what was to become his new home and here he was. The stars flickered endlessly then, like fireflies, as he’d wondered what his future held. Jake remembered those moments, the unfamiliar uncertainty mingled with the approaching finality. He inhaled, then exhaled, and released memories of his old home now thirty years past and slept in new his new one.

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 3

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

Endless Doors

by P. H. Solomon

Part 3

The shuttle arrived at Shady Oaks with a soft landing. The engines hummed during cool-down like a choir ended a song. Passengers exited whenever their cards signaled for them.

Archangel Lassitter’s card flashed in his hand and he disembarked. He almost searched for bags. He cleared his throat and shrugged at the lack of his possessions. Nothing to carry. He inhaled and released his breath, feeling like it was his first taste of fresh air in years. The lack of belongings left him invigorated.

More light led him to an attendant who stretched her arm toward an entryway. “Welcome to Shady Oaks. Your resting place is this way, Archangel.”

Jake wet his lips. He hesitated at the black tile line marking the room boundary. “It’s what I requested isn’t it? The, er, coffin?”

The attendant pecked her projected data interface. She smiled. “As you requested. It’s just inside. A military design.”

Jake swallowed the lump in his throat. It would be over soon. He entered the room where soft light illuminated the container mounted on a platform tilted for his ease. An old man’s ease. He allowed himself a grimace. “Such a small room. I expected a large one for all of us at once.”

“We’ve found everyone needs privacy in these moments.” The attendant handed him a smock. “Change into this and place your ID in the pocket. When you’re ready…” She motioned toward his coffin.

“I wore my best uniform for this.”

“The smocks are best but we’ll make sure it’s handled appropriately.”

Jake changed into the smock behind a screen. He laid the uniform out neatly and patted the garment. He frowned. It was his last comfort.

“Archangel? It’s time.” She took the ID from his hand and slipped it into the pocket at his chest.

Jake shuffled on bare feet to the container. He climbed in and leaned back.

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The transparent lid slid over him. A recording initiated. “Archangel Lassitter, welcome. You are about to be sent to The Afterlife. Do you confirm these instructions?”

“Yes, The Afterlife.” Jake’s heart lurched and his breathing accelerated.

The coffin tilted toward horizontal. “When the light changes to green, close your eyes and breathe deeply.”

He nodded to the instructions. Jake resisted pounding on the lid or screaming but he trembled. He hated closed spaces.

The light changed to green after extended moments. He inhaled fast and squeezed his eyes shut. His breathing calmed. His thoughts staggered into nothingness. Archangel Lassitter left his world.

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 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

Photo by Stefan Kunze on Unsplash

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