26 parts of a Speculative Fiction story by J Lenni Dorner
Jenesis and I finish the winner’s feast in silence before falling asleep together on the mat.
“Attie, wake up.” She rubs my shoulder.
“Why? Is there breakfast?”
“I don’t know what that is. You need to prepare.”
I laugh. “Just hand me a leftover bite of food.”
“There is no more food. They took the scraps while we slept. If you wish to have more, you must win it.”
My life cannot be endless battles. I roll over, away from her.
“Attie! Did you not hear the sound? You have another fight.”
“Hopefully it’s another lobster alien.”
Jenesis pulls off my clothing. I protest at first. But I know she’s doing what must be done, and putting on the fighting costume is what I must do. This is how we will survive until I can figure out a way off Phaeton.
“Stupid world. I miss my children. My family must be beside themselves. How long have I been here? How much time has passed since my abduction?”
She motions to the padded walls. “Only those who have been to surface worlds speak of time in such ways. Sleep, fight, recover, eat if you are lucky, and repeat. That is how you should measure time.”
I run my fingers through my hair, finding sweat and grime. “Any chance I can win a shower?”
“I don’t know what that is.” She moves my arm, helping me stretch.
“Of course not.” I run my tongue over my teeth. I’ve never gone so long without brushing. My mother was a stickler for oral hygiene. “My mother is probably heartbroken. She had thirteen children, and now she’s down to ten.”
“One died in infancy. I’ve been abducted by an alien, not that anyone would suspect that. Vanished. Just disappeared.”
“And the other?” She rubs my calf. The healing worms have done their job.
I shake my head. “Don’t know, don’t care.”
“You do not care what happened to your sibling?”
“Nope.” I swing my arms across my chest. “Hey, what you said before we went to sleep, about trophies rarely raising a child, and fighters never meeting their offspring?”
“Yes?” She stands as her fingers run along my outfit, sealing me in.
“Then how did your mother raise you?”
“She was a champion. Champions do what they want, eat when they want, go where they want.”
“Huh.” I scratch my chin. A red beard is growing on my normally shaved face. “So your father was a trophy?”
Jenesis huffs at me. “He was also a champion. When she died, he left.”
“Left? Champions can leave?”
She raises an eyebrow. “Who on this world do you think could stop them? Do you not understand what a champion is? The seven best fighters. Leaving is the road less traveled, for there is nowhere that would treat a champion better.”
“That qualifies as important information. I’m ready. Bring on the fight.”
This battle is nowhere as easy as the previous one. A creature closer to an abominable snowman is my opponent. His fists are hard and heavy, like two boulders. But his trophy, if he has one, doesn’t take the care in costume design that mine did. Jenesis keeps my “dangle bits,” as she calls them, wrapped against me. Not this guy. I drop to the ground and kick upward. The roar makes my ears ring. They keep ringing as I’m taken from the arena.
Brydanz waits for me in my quarters, again. “Another win for Attie the Earthling.”
I flip him off. “How’d you get your job? Abducting people against their will, forcing them to fight or starve, that’s gotta be an interesting application. Did you study for that?”
His evil grin unfurls. A mouth shouldn’t be able to do that. If he’d done it when we first met, I might have pegged him for an alien. Or a creature from a nightmare. Probably the nightmare thing, since we did meet after my nap in the graveyard.
“I’ve brought you another trophy. Younger than most, but he is fathered by a champion.”
“Lovely. I’ve already got one with two champion parents.”
“Indeed,” his grin gets wider, sicker, the way it did the night he took me. “This one is special though. See if you can guess why.”
A red-haired boy steps out from behind Brydanz.
“Danny?” My legs give out, landing me on my knees. The world shatters, time stops, my lungs fail. “My son? How?”
The boy digs the tip of his right big toe into the mushy floor. “Is that my new trophy name? Father called me Quinn.”
I wipe my eyes. The voice, the movements, it’s not my son. I look up at Brydanz.
“Will you keep this trophy, your nephew, or shall I dispose of him?”
Adrenaline burns as it courses through my veins. I’m on my feet in an instant. My hand wraps around Brydanz’s neck, lifting him off the ground and pinning him to the wall. His every rancid breath is mine to permit or deny. His thunderous alien heart misses three beats. My snarl replaces the sound.
“You. You abducted my brother. Was it before or after the cars collided? Did he kill my wife and son, or was that your doing?”
873 words, FCA
Click for the MASTER LIST
of all participants who signed up
for the #AtoZchallenge 2018!
Stories of #AtoZChallenge 2018
Bloghop list for stories.
Two stories (under 500 words) face off. You, the reader, decide which author is worthy of moving one step closer to a prize. Voting there is a good deed for the day! Please take the time to make a real difference. Please go to dlhammons.com to vote. Thank you.