26 parts of a Speculative Fiction story by J Lenni Dorner
“I’m not fighting my own brother to the death! Jenesis, clothing.” I bark the order. As soon as her shaking fingers peel my uniform from my torso, I apologize to her.
A small group of aliens walks in, hauling my victory table. They arrange the victory feast quickly, and leave moments later.
Samuel pulls a picture out from his pocket. “Look at them, Attie. You have to get back to there.”
I stare at the picture from our parents’ forty-fifth-anniversary party. Fake sapphires adorn all thirteen children they’ve had, the ten spouses their children married, and the twenty-two grandchildren they have.
“One for every year.” He says.
I glare at him. “Four less on Earth right now.”
“That’s why you have to do it. You could take Quinn, Teressa, Jenesis, and one of my bonus trophies. The five of you could get through the portal.”
I lift my legs, one at a time, as Jenesis finishes taking my costume off and putting my other clothing on me. “You could take us to the portal. Together, no one can stop us. Jenesis said that was how her father left. He just went, and no one could stop him.”
“Go back to Earth to be convicted of vehicular manslaughter?”
“We’ll blame Brydanz. He was the passenger, wasn’t he? That’s how you both vanished after it happened.”
Samuel grabs my shoulders. “How would we prove he exists? It’s going to be hard enough to explain who are trophies and my children are. Think, Attie, think!”
“We take him.”
“Abduct Brydanz? Do you not understand his powers?”
I grip my brother’s arms. “Sammy, I just ripped a giant flower apart. I kicked a bull-like creature in the gonads. And I’ve ripped a clawless lobster to pieces. I don’t understand anything that happens on Phaeton. But I know I’m not leaving you here to die. And I’m damn sure not killing you. So yes, we abduct the monster that abducted us. We’ll throw my acid-covered uniform over his stupid face, grab our people, and get the hell out of Dodge.”
“Because we’re not in Kansas anymore?” He smiles at me.
“Precisely. Come, let’s have something to eat.”
We sing terrible songs as we sit around the table enjoying the victory feast. It feels like old times. There’s no alcohol to drink, yet we sound like a couple of drunks. Dad would say that we’re living up to our Irish cliche.
“I need to get my daughter and the trophy I’m taking with us,” Samuel says as he rises and pats his stomach.
“Does the trophy have a name?” I smile.
“She does. Brydanz didn’t bring her here. She’s from another Earth.”
I nod. “Okay. But on that Earth, people have names, right?”
“Yeah. They abduct fighters from our Earth, they abduct trophies from the Earth in the next dimension. I’ve debated, since the moment I met her if I should try to take her to our world. It wasn’t until you arrived that I knew for sure.”
I raise my eyebrow. “What do I have to do with that decision?”
“When Brydanz and I left, I didn’t know the outcome of the crash. He told my sister-in-law and nephew were… you know.”
“Killed,” I supply as I cross my arms over my chest.
“Yes.” Sammy looks at the floor. Quinn slurps a blue noodle into his mouth and then belches. In unison, Samuel and I tell him to excuse himself.
“I had hope,” Samuel whispers. “Maybe they lived. The hospital wasn’t far. My car’s emergency service notice was going off as Brydanz dragged me out.”
“Still not hearing what this has to do with your decision to free a slave.”
“She’s a trophy, not a slave.”
I shake my head. “It’s a prettier word, but the meaning is the same.”
He rubs his hands over his face, stretching and mashing the skin. “I can’t call her a slave. I can’t bear for you to believe that I think of her that way. I’ve protected her since the day I won her. We’ve laughed together, cried together, and yes, I’m ashamed to admit to you, we fell in love. And the punishment for that was our two beautiful children who were marked for the trophy life as soon as they were born. I should have taken her from this world before she gave birth.”
“So why didn’t you?”
“Because I cannot go to her world. There’s already a Samuel Connolly there. And I didn’t know if she was on our world. But I do now. You told me as much.”
“What are you talking about?” I rise from the table.
“My wife?” My legs turn to gel. I fall back to where I was sitting.
Ximena was the first character I named when I wrote this story. I knew right away that her name would first be mentioned in the X post. How did you come up with your X post?
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