26 parts of a Speculative Fiction story by J Lenni Dorner
“Technically, she’s a widow. On her world, you and her four children all died. She practically jumped at the chance to be abducted. Phaeton isn’t a planet there. It’s an asteroid belt, not one more dot in the night sky. Granted, they lied to her about the life she’d have here. But she was so depressed when I met her that she didn’t have a mind to care.”
I hear Samuel’s words. They flow over me like a babbling brook. “She’s alive. I’ll see her again.”
Jenesis sits beside me and takes my hand. “She’s had children with your brother.”
Slowly, I turn toward her. “She cheated on me. Again.”
“You’re dead where’s she’s from,” Samuel says.
I bury my head on Jenesis’s shoulder. “How will I explain to my children that their mother is alive and with their uncle?”
“Really?” Samuel kicks the table. “I have to tell the mother of my children that her alternate Earth husband is alive and wants to take our family to his world. And, oh yeah, that you’re bringing another woman.”
I look up. “I’m not having an affair with Jenesis!”
“You’re not sleeping with your trophy?”
Samuel huffs as he crosses his arms. “Always have to one-up me. Look, we’ll figure the complicated stuff out later. We have to go before you have another fight. They don’t know enough about humans to pick proper opponents for our kind. But, eventually, you could meet one who is impossible to defeat.”
“You didn’t.” I cross my arms. I’ve had larger muscles than Sammy his whole life. It’s something that’s always bugged him.
He snarls as he uncrosses his arms. “I got lucky. This Ximena is a trauma surgeon instead of a financial adviser.”
I shrug. “Jenesis has healing worms.”
“Art, I’m not going to argue who has the better trophy. Just meet us at the room with Green Portal B in ten minutes.”
“I don’t know where that is, I’m not allowed to leave this room, and I have no way to measure time!”
Samuel presses the palm of his hand to his face. “How many times did Dad tell you to wear a watch? Not that it’s accurate for measuring time here, but you and I could agree on the quantity. It doesn’t matter. I’ll come back for you. Won’t look at all suspicious, walking around with a bunch of trophies and another fighter.” He mutters his sarcastic last line as he walks out.
“The room where Green Portal B is located is on the left after this tunnel,” Sammy says.
Our group moves in a line, him at the front and me in the back. Both women and the children have been blindfolded and tied with a glowing, blue rope. Sammy tells anyone who asks that he’s teaching a lesson. Then he cracks his knuckles and chuckles. Being a champion, no one has bothered to argue with him.
“Does Brydanz live down that way?” I ask.
“What? No. You weren’t serious about taking him with us, were you?” Sammy replies.
“He’s the best way to clear your name.”
“We’ll think of something else, Attie. This is dangerous enough.” He motions to the four people with us.
The Green Portal B room stinks like rotting fish steaming on a sewer grate. I hurl, much to everyone’s annoyance. It does not freshen the air.
“There’s a control panel over here, but I can’t read it,” Sammy says.
“May I try?” Jenesis asks.
I free her from the blindfold and restraints. She and Sammy work together. I stand behind Ximena, smelling her hair. She doesn’t have the same scent as my wife. I see her shiver, the way my wife always did when I stood behind her like this. She’d shiver, then I’d wrap my arms around her, and she’d lean into me. Mercedes was conceived after such an encounter.
This Ximena hasn’t seen me yet. She doesn’t know it’s me standing behind her. I shut my eyes. What will it be like to see her in my brother’s arms?
“Well, well, well… look who is planning an escape.” Brydanz’s voice slithers into my ear as he pulls my arms behind my back.
“Release him,” Samuel commands.
“He is not your trophy. Neither are those two. You are not in charge of what happens to them.” I can’t see his face, but I know Brydanz has that despicable grin growing across it.
Two yellow blobs slide into the room. “We have runners. Sound the alarm,” Brydanz orders.
Samuel’s fist connects with our abductor’s head. Brydanz releases me. He shoves Sammy into one of the red blobs. Jenesis screams as she rushes over, kicking Brydanz hard behind his knees. As soon as he’s on the ground, I pull out my costume and wrap it around his head. Muffled cries come from under the cloth. He tries to pull it off, but his fingers can’t hold it. The acid works.
“Everything is going to be okay,” I say to Ximena and the children. They’re crying; no doubt scared of what they can’t see.
“Attie? By the stars, I’m dead!”
Crap. “You’re not dead. Just calm down. I’ll explain soon.”
“I know my own husband’s voice. I’m dead. I couldn’t hear you if I weren’t.”
The children cry harder. “Ximena, stop saying you’re dead. It’s upsetting your offspring. Jenesis, finish activating the portal so we can get out of here. Sammy, stop playing with the red blob.”
Jenesis takes my hand. “He can’t.”
“What?” I look at her.
The yellow blobs slide toward the door, one with my brother trapped inside.
“He’s gone. Those are body disposers.”
“Sammy isn’t gone. He’s right there. I can see him.” His hands and feet are difficult to make out, but he’s still there. I reach out, but Jenesis stops me.
“It’s not something you can argue with, or something you can fight. They’re part of the planet. It’s why the arena is here. On your world, bodies are buried or burned. On Phaeton, remains are absorbed by those.”
“No.” I try to break her hold. “No!”
I watch as the yellow blobs leave the room. Sammy is just a torso, neck, and head. He looks angry, ready for a fight. The blobs slide to the fork in the tunnel. As they turn, my brother vanishes.
Cemetery, mausoleum, bio urn, cremation… what Earthly way do you prefer?
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