Fiction

Tuesday Tales: Endless Doors Part 4

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

Endless Doors

by P. H. Solomon

Part 4

Light cracked the darkness open like a shell. Jake ceased floating.

The soothing voice beckoned. “Archangel Lassiter, it is time.”

The cracks flashed wider. Jake gasped. “How long?” He shivered. He squinted and darkness departed.

“Please exit your container when you are able. Welcome aboard The Afterlife.

His coffin tilted as the lid slid open. Cool air embraced Jake. He fumbled for a grip to exit his long entombment. “How many years?”

Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash

Silence fed him no answer.

He stumbled out of confinement. Jake sunk on weak legs to the floor and trembled in the light shining through the doorway.

Strength returned to his limbs. The light beckoned him from the cool, dark chamber and the stasis container. Jake stepped into the light and followed its guidance once more. He passed multiple bulkheads like door-frames until he halted at pearl-colored doors that wouldn’t open.

“They’re locked until the interview is completed.”

Jake jumped at the voice.

To his right was a recess where a much older man sat at a desk. “Welcome to The Afterlife. I’m Pete. And you are Jake if the stasis barge’s records are correct.”

Jake arched one eyebrow and glanced at the pearl doors. “Really? That’s your name?”

Pete chuckled. “I suppose someone assigned me here as a joke.” He motioned Jake to a chair.

“Why is everything based on such clichés?” Jake sat across from Pete.

“Well, when the EES came into being there was no more need for mortuaries. The industry logically transformed into the service and brought their sensibilities along. May I see your card?” Pete held out his hand.

Jake frowned. Card? He’d left everything behind.

“It’s just in your pocket.”

“Oh, yes.” He handed it over.

Pete fed the ID into a slot on the desk and information was projected before him. “An Archangel, I see. From previous service.”

Jake cleared his throat. “Yes. Is everyone so thirsty when they arrive?”

“Uh, what? Oh, yes. It’s from the vitrifaction. You’ve been re-hydrated but you’ll need more fluids. First the oath, and then your prepared quarters with proper refreshments and clothing.” His eyes flicked to hair that fell into Jake’s eyes. “And a haircut. We’ll send a stylist if you prefer that to the auto-cutter provided.

“Uh, the stylist.” Better than closed spaces. He’d been in one long enough. Jake shivered.

Pete tapped in the request. “Good, then. Are you ready for the oath? Any questions?”

Jake grunted. “I”m ready.”

“Please stand. Archangel, do you now swear to serve humanity in the Earth Exploration Service until the end of your days, leaving behind all former attachments, ranks, privileges, property and reputation?” Pete motioned to Jake’s hand.

“Oh, yes.” He raised his hand. “I so swear.” Like there was another choice or anywhere to go. “How long was I in stasis?”

Pete offered the ID back. “Thirty years. Been here ten, myself.” The attendant pointed over Jake’s shoulder. “Through those doors your ID begins working. It will indicate the way to your quarters. Good luck to you, Archangel.”

He nodded, stood and stepped over the thin line where the motorized, pearl-colored doors ran on tracks. Jake left behind all that went with his name and accepted what came with his new title.

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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Interviews With Tordug Part 3: The White Arrow

The following post is a fictitious news report based on events from The White Arrow, Book Three of The Bow of Hart Saga:

The Grendon Bugle/Free-Press
“The clear call of truth with the rising sun.”

Date-line: Auguron City
By Maroch Karkholm, roving reporter on assignment with the Grendonese mission to Auguron on behalf of Princess Limbreth.

Maroch Karkholm here, reporting on events as they unfold in Auguron City. This reporter has been on assignment with the royal emissary sent to find the missing Princess Limbreth. After many days of waiting and filing interest stories about the culture of Auguron and its citizenry, word arrived that an army of trolls marched west toward the city. After several weeks, the main force of Auguron’s eastern garrison arrived by fleet of river-boats.

Among this contingent of rangers were a Withling, a giant, two particular rangers, two dwarves and none other than Princess Limbreth. While this reporter has been unable to interview the princess, I have been able to sit down with one of the dwarves who traveled in her company these last months. What follows are the surprising details:

Maroch: I understand you’ve traveled with Princess Limbreth these last months. Can you tell us more your involvement and who you are?

Dwarf: I’m Tordug of Chokkra and I have been honored to travel and fight in the company of Princess Limbreth of Grendon, Ax-maid of the death-grip, the Silver Lady and Protector of Travelers.

Maroch: Excuse me, Tordug. Did you say you were from Chokkra?

Tordug: Yes, I did say that.

Maroch: Then you were named for the infamous former ruler of that fallen dwarven-realm? Or perhaps, you bare the same name?

Tordug: I am none other than the very same former ruler.

Maroch: My apologies for not recognizing you, sir. I have many questions if you have time to speak with me further. I do not wish to intrude.”

Tordug: I have some time before I must go meet with Captain Sarneth about the defense of the city.

Maroch: Then you must also have knowledge of the troll invasion in which we Grendonese intend to avoid being entangled?

Tordug: I do know much of the events and plans for the defense as a consultant to the captain. However, I’m not at liberty to speak of these details at this time so tread carefully with your questions.

Maroch: I see. And, pardon me for asking, but Captain Sarneth has no qualms about receiving your assistance considering your past history with the fall of your own realm?

Tordug: My past is exactly that, my past. However, who better to consult than someone who has known the tactics of the enemy from the past? I have no authority among these elves but they have accepted my offer of service and knowledge.

Maroch: When did you find out that the trolls were invading?

Tordug: Hmmm, I suppose that’s no secret. We encountered them while traveling through the Troll Heaths. We discovered their movements just after a snowstorm and the wandering star appeared in the eastern night sky. It was just after, well, other events. We hurried to inform the elven garrison so that the contingent might not be overwhelmed by the horde and yet warn travelers on the trade road.

Maroch: You say you and your party were in the Troll Heaths and discovered the invasion. That region is reputed to be rather dangerous. Were you aware that a member of your party was a member of the Grendonese royal family?

Tordug: Yes, but I found out only after we were well into our quest. As far as any of us knew, the princess was someone who chose the company of Withling Hastra.

Maroch: Ah, yes, some on Grendon have insinuated that the Withling abducted or bewitched the princess and-

Tordug: I can assure you that is not the case. Princess Limbreth accompanied Withling Hastra of her own choice. If you wish to know the reasons, you may ask her.

Maroch: I see. Well, there is rumor there was nearly an altercation with the Grendonese emissary, Count Dareth of Tinnewell, just after she arrived with the elven garrison. Do you confirm or deny such events?

Tordug: (He laughed, very hard and long). There was indeed a heated discussion between this Dareth and the princess in the street. They almost came to blows. I fear he would have soon found himself in danger from Princess Limbreth had not Captain Sarneth intervened.

Maroch: Wait, you say between the princess and the count? You do realize they are betrothed, don’t you?

Tordug: (He laughed long and hard again before he answered). If they are, it’s a rather one-sided affair, more on his hapless part, I should think. But what of it?

Maroch: You were there and Count Dareth was sent by King Hamgas to retrieve Princess Limbreth. Why didn’t you hand the princess over at that time?

Tordug: (Again, he laughed very hard before he answered). Princess Limbreth goes where she wants and with whomever she wants. And with I doubt it will ever be with this Count Dareth unless the one she does want doesn’t live through the coming attack.

Maroch: Wait, are you saying that the princes loves another man? Who is he?

Tordug: Oh, enough of these questions of idle gossip. If you want to know more, ask her yourself. All I will say is that she’s entitled to choose whomever she wishes. She is highly honored among my people as an Ax-maid of the death-grip and someone who has proven her bravery many times over in recent months. Good day to you.

This reporter has been unable to gather any other information about all these events or what happened on the adventure of Princess Limbreth’s. None of her companions, including Withling Hastra, have made themselves available even after formal messages were sent to them. However, it is clear that there is another man in her life of whom no one knows, mostly likely someone she met on her travels. That Princess Limbreth has won renown among the dwarves is of great surprise and will certainly please His Majesty. For now, all else remains a mystery to this reporter who leaves this very hour with the Grendonese contingent ahead of the invasion. One can only hope that the princess will see the wisdom of leaving with the well-trained cavalry sent to guard her return to Grendon.

From the endangered city of Auguron, this is Marock Karkholm, roving reporter and still on the trail of the mysteries surrounding Princess Limbreth.

Look for more of these fun reports about the series. If you are interested in The Bow of DestinyAn Arrow Against the Wind or the newly released, final edition, The White Arrow, please click the appropriate link for the book-page. Following is the link to find out more about The White Arrow where it can be downloaded for free via Kindle Unlimited:

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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.

From Myriams-Fotos via Pixabay.com

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