Seven Threads

 


 

Our book contains seven short stories. Occasionally, spelling indicates which one of us wrote which section but that is a sometimes clue not to be relied on. The stories came to life as we attempted to write each other into corners. Editing resolved the truly awful transitions that this writing style produced in the original threads so that what appears in the book is smoother, a bit more  readable.

The book received just one review that we know of. Even so, we are quite proud of it: http://www.sfsite.com/09a/st183.htm.   

The stories are:

Last Bus - a troubleshooting angel and a fallen one find a way to work together to prevent an apocalypse.

"Are the boy and his mother the reason I am here this time? The boss was a bit cryptic. Then, Michael is not known for being long winded, but even he this time was non-communicative of the matter of why and who. Just said, “someone needs your special talents down there. Don’t ask too many questions. Just go in; do the job and get out. Leave them to sort the rest out.” As I said, not my job to reason why… but damn (again, pardon me) I cannot help it if I am curious."

 

The Forum - consider a very select group of friends chatting on the internet; mix in a pair of empaths, one, the site administrator; the other, an emotional parasite. 

Jay:      Karl, go to bed.

Karl:     Playing mother now? Thought that was Tess'  job.

Mike:    Man, leave it.

Karl:     No. Kate was killed. Murdered. God knows what else.

Jay:      Log off you drunken fool. Get your head down and get some sleep.

Karl:     Drunk am I? How do you know? I am not the career student here. Shouldn't you

             be in classes?

Jay:     None till 10.00 am, proper time, GMT.

Mike:   Man, this time stuff.

Mary:   Do all Aussies talk like surfer dudes?

Mike:    Not a surfer dude and saying "man" is not surf talk

Mary:   Isn't it? But Jay is right, Karl, get some rest. Things will look better in the morning.

             It's nearly 4.00 am in Florida. It's 1.00 am here in Oregon.

Karl:     Can't sleep.

 

Feathers -  a mercenary mage and a between-jobs linguist cross paths at an inn forcing them into a relationship neither desires.

It takes time for the pack train to approach but not for the outrider. I wave a general greeting which brings him closer, but still at a prudent distance. He spies Carter just turning around, getting a full glimpse at Carter's face. The outrider yanks hard and trots down the hill to his train.

"Made another friend, I see," I jest but Carter has no mood for jests.

"He saw what he saw," Carter says, resignation filling the cracks in his voice.

"I am what I am."

"How noble! How tragic! The poor all-powerful mage so misunderstood by mere mortals."  The sarcasm is a wicked blow that brings Carter to his full height, fury just one more word from release. The glare he maintains knocks me back without sound or breath or motion. Just the intensity of that glare moves me backward to shelter, away from him. My stomach knots. I feel fear, gut wrenching fear, fear that erupts from my mouth in a burst of vomit.

I sink to my knees wondering at my reaction, at his power, what kind of thing he is. Taking no notice of my discomfort, Carter stares down the hill and laughs. "They are going around me."

When finally I can stand I watch the last riders leave the trail heading up hill. They left the path to us.

"The horses need rest; I need rest. And you, Carter, whatever you are, need rest. Do you feel better now that you have made me vomit? Are you prideful of your power to reduce a woman to vomit? A good trick, that, useful in carnivals, I'm sure.  I'll tend my horse, thank you. I have some travel bread and some water. I'll be fine. Just leave me be, Carter. I cannot stand too much of your attentions."

 

The Hunt - bounty hunters duel on a tourist trap, Sightseer IX.

Need to get to my room, morph into a new identity, and go find the other guy. Only he would choose a pleasure world for this encounter, only he has the warped sense of humour required to wrap pleasure with his pain.

Of course, I'm the guy out to meet him, so what does that say about me? What it says is that I was broke enough, hungry enough to respond to a personal ad in the Bulletin d' Space, the frontier's worst news agency, generally referred to by one and all as the BS. Great ad for someone like me.

"Life or death sit: Gladiator needs to hone skills. Needs foe. All expenses paid. My fortune if you win; yours if I win."

 

Charlie's Story - An U.S. engineer enlists the help of an English psychic to determine why his father had a Distinguished Service Cross but the newspapers think he was hanged for murder.

The box had been buried in Bob's possessions. He was a packrat and this box was stuffed in the middle of a pile of shoeboxes and looked like all the rest. This one is heavily taped and, per the instructions on top inside are some of Dad's possessions from the war. There is an Army Air Force bible with his name and service number inscribed in his handwriting. There are some notes from his training in Louisiana, a loose-leaf tablet with a couple of pages where he started to compose a diary of his part of WWII but it only lasts through basic training.

And there is a headline and the lead paragraph torn from what seems to be a British newspaper. Dad was a good man..... or was he?

I need to take a trip across the pond. I discover I need to know if my Dad, my father, the one my mother loved to talk about, was a good man.

 

Choices - A pair of Riders attempt to influence the son  returned home after the funeral to sort his inheritance.

Out of the darkness, how much of me is the me that was? How much do I need to remember? Do I work alone? Is another here? Is this shoulder I now sit upon one I know?

The work begins. Record and observe; place each piece in place. I hear his thoughts; yes, he. Young. But then age means nothing; does it?

"Should not have left this so long," the young man mutters moving another box into the hall. The place smells of dust; he sneezes.

Bless you.

"Thank you," he replies, then frowns. He is unsure to whom he is speaking.

 

The Barge - In a time before history, with change in the air, the Goddess makes a trip down river.

Evening comes and with it a wind, soft at first blowing across the river, but it has the smell of spring rain on it. The thief child leans on the rail next to me; she picks her teeth and asks. "Is this wise, what you do?"

"Is it wise what you do?" I return the question.

"But I am not a..."

"Yes, you are; you are something else as well, something all in time face."

"Even you?"

"Even me..."

"Glad to hear you say that. I might let you live through the encounter," the child laughs.