Category Archives: Fiction

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #34

[begin blog post #34]

They eagerly listen and seek to incorporate many of the innovations I propose.   We turn to the design of the axe blade itself. 

“Too heavy for any woman, even I” I say.  “Try leaving just the outline of the blade and remove all the metal inside.  Think of it as a sword blade cut in three sections, the longest cutting edge curved, the other two used as braces.  Weld them here… and here.  See?  Then try a new design – one with two blades opposite each other.  That will cause excitement, guaranteed.  Look, if I roll the handle with a powerful wrist action the blade spins around its axis, thus, and anything it contacts is sheared off as if it had contacted a milling blade…”

“A milling blade?”  The look of intense interest is almost comical, like leading a class of first graders on a field trip.

“Don’t they teach engineering to men here?”  I ask, being deliberately provocative.  The smith’s face darkens momentarily and I know I’ve walked in dangerous waters.

“Begging your pardon sir, but how do you know about blending metals?  Is there teaching for this?”

“This of no matter to gora.  We not speak of teachings here.”  The subject is closed.  I keep my mouth shut and await developments. 

“Tell what you need to fight, we make.”  He raises his finger at me in a warning gesture.

I bow my head and lower my arms, then speak in a much lower, subservient  voice, “Please, light and deadly, always, when designing weapons for females.  Survive on skill and speed we do, not strength.  Longer we last, more money owners make.  They see results from good weapons, smiths get credit, as you say, yes?  Good arithmetic?”  The two I’m addressing look at me quizzically.  No ‘arithmetic’ for these guys. 

Then I show them my relatively larger feet than those of a typical T’Sing Tarleyn female.

“Where I from there be people train to use no weapon to kill – just body.  Feet be good killing weapon in hand to hand combat.  You hear I kill trainer by using sweeping side kick many years ago when first I here, yes?”  Some nod knowingly as I demonstrate by knocking down a bundle of what could have been potatoes, from a ceiling hook, raising my foot higher than the tallest of them.  I pick up the bundle and swing it back into place, hiding the fact it was almost beyond my strength.

There is one thing you learn in these kinds of worlds, not very different from Earth: that those who think themselves stronger are easily impressed to observe those they consider weaker do something they cannot do.  It’s up to the “weaker one” to immediately change the subject, let it go.  Never rub it in that you can out-do a man at anything.  If they see you beat them at something they will accept it, once or temporarily, but if you make it look that you are gloating in the least they will find some justification for nailing you when you do not expect it and they will never miss their chance. 

The only safe place to gloat over a man is in the arena when you know you have beaten him and he still does not realize he is a walking dead man.  If he is a particularly vicious type who has raped or tortured other females, now is the time to let him know that you are taking revenge for their pain and death.  Let him face and feel the terror he has been inflicting on others.  In any other situation, when under an authority that has power of life and death over you, remain subservient even when it is obvious you are superior.  You cannot reject them but they can reject you.  Here subservience is best expressed by always reverting to pidgin talk when addressing men.

“Please, I would like foot weapon is call ‘sandal’ that straps to foot and has blades mounted on it.  Make retractable if that be possible?”

I had to describe what a sandal is.  Except for the richest among them who do so strictly as an affectation, no one wears shoes, having no need of them.  But they catch on quickly especially the head smith after he decides to ease his now huge erection in me.  He takes me as casually as if he were taking a drink of water.  The others watch and smirk.  I have difficulty getting used to that, even after all the years I’ve experienced the casualness of it.  Perhaps it’s because they are also raping you when they do it, stealing your power if you let them by not being prepared for it.  Almost every act of fornication here is an attack upon the woman.  As an act of love it would be a violation of their laws on sex.  But breaking their law on casual sex seems much less of an offence, probably because it is rape, the socially acceptable humiliation of a female.  

“I see head trainer,” he belatedly answers after rubbing his dirty hands on my breasts and feeling my hardened nipples. “Maybe I convince.  He approve, yes, we make for you.  I credit young apprentice here,” – points to a young boy working with a hammer on a piece of what I take to be white-hot steel – “for new ideas.  He be about gora size so he be one to think of thing like that.” 

It was a definite insult, not just a slip of the tongue, a serious goading for whatever reason.  Maybe the head smith does not like the boy and would like to be rid of him.  The boy fires his master a look of pure hatred that could mean trouble down the road.  To be compared to a female is the lowest of insults.  To say to a man, “You’re a gora!” is to guarantee a fight, often to the death.  I suspect this boy has yet to pass his puberty rite and has not killed his first female.  His eyes sweep over me with utter contempt.  I know he’d attack me if he did not already know that would be the most foolhardy, and terminal, thing he could do.  He knows that if he did kill me he could claim I was the cause of the insult he had to avenge.  Probably he would only receive a mild reprimand and have to pay back some of my value by winning a fight in the arena sometime in the future.  Of course, that also depends on who it is owns me and my fighting skills and how much they are worth…  He’s not so stupid that he does not realize to attack me gains him two ways to die: at my hands instantly, or in the arena by and by.

But the white bearded, broad shouldered smith laughs loudly – the first hearty laugh I’ve heard on Malefactus.  And I start to wonder… the smith could be useful if I could somehow draw him into a conspiracy to get Deirdre out of this place, away from Hyrete and off Elbre.  I too have that female ectohormonal power men so dread here.  The power to seduce just by being what nature has endowed me with.  My “rebuilt” body is still very attractive despite its scars.  And he’s had a taste of it and what I chose to express with it.  How much more of it does he want?  He would know many traders I warrant, but how could I trust them not to sell her back into the same situation?  I shake my head to free myself of these mindless thoughts.  Always I comeback to worrying about ‘my’ Deirdre.

Dreams are one thing.  Reality too often plays out differently.  And in this place, reality has a way of hitting you on the side of the head.  Not literally this time, but in my heart. 

The days continue to slip into weeks, the weeks stretch into more months.  Since my healing and interview with the doctor – I still don’t know his name – I have heard nothing.  Deirdre has had many “interviews” with all the men in the compound but she seems not to mind, or care.  She had expected her life to have been as a provider of erotic pleasures and has been thoroughly trained for it.  It doesn’t make it any easier for me though, because I seem to worry about her every waking moment.

In all of that, I am a fighter.  I had anticipated that sooner or later I would be forced to use the axe in a fight and that day has come. 

[end blog post #34]

I’ll Forgive you, Eddie

(I do have a short story for the March Blog Battle “Dusk” but this isn’t it!  I was in a mood so I wrote this out tonight… go figure.)

Short Story – by Sha’Tara

I’ll forgive you Eddie, just as soon as you give me time to work this one out. I mean, the lying, the cheating, the way you’ve made me feel cheap in the eyes of our friends while boosting your bottomless pit of an ego and sucking the life out of me.

First, I have to go back over time and find that place, not in the photo album but in my memory, where I found myself truly “in love” with you; that place where I said “yes” when you asked me to marry you. But there is no such place, is there, Eddie. I said “yes” because I was pregnant and I’d call that duress, wouldn’t you?

How did you make me pregnant, Eddie? Do you remember your little trick at the Christmas party? Sammy told me how you put the date rape drug in my drink while I went to the ladies’ but years only later, Eddie. I remember the shock of discovering that bit of truth about you. Why did you stick around after that? Did you feel guilty, or was it the fear of being exposed by your own friends who knew what you’d done? Fear, wasn’t it. You felt obligated to marry me because it’s how we did things in those days.

Why did you stick around after our baby boy died of crib death Eddie? Was it because I brought in good money from my legal secretary job while also providing the house wife bit? So you had a comfortable place to live when your contruction jobs went soft? A safe base from which you could go out to bars, bowling alleys, race tracks and clubs to have fun, screw and gamble our money away? So you’d have someone to beat up when something pissed you off?

Hey, don’t make that face. Did you think I didn’t know about the affairs? You fucked my best friend Vivian and she finally admitted it because she felt guilty she said. But you Eddie, did you ever feel guilty? Does a rat ever feel guilt? No. It’s not in its nature, nor yours. You’re not just a rat Eddie, you’re a cockroach and I’ve been thinking that it’s time I did something serious about my pest problem. Time I returned the favour for that date rape drug thing, the beatings and my suspicion that little Alfred had help in his crib death.

You’re lying there on the floor beside the couch and wondering why you can hear what I’m saying to you but you can’t get up. It’s really quite simple: you’re having a heart attack. OK I’ll admit to having helped it along by playing with your prescriptions but you won’t be blabbing to anyone about that. That’s why I became a pharmacist after quitting the legal profession; this is so much more fun. There was no point seeking redress through legal channels, you’d eaten us out of house and home back when and even if you went to jail you’re the type that would just ooze through the bars to walk the streets again.

I’m sure you wondered why I invited you back into my life after all these years but you couldn’t resist a free B&B and you’d always considered me stupid, all evidence to the contrary. I have to thank you for accepting my invitation to come in out of the cold for old times sake. A softy, me, right? An easy mark, that’s me again. Oh you ignorant, vile, murderous imbecile, Eddie. I made it my life’s goal, after I got rid of you, to get even with you. No, not exactly even, just one step further. I felt I owed you that much.

What’s that you’re saying? You want me to call an ambulance? Oh but I will, I promise. That’s all part of the plan. I just want to watch you die in pain and agony first, is that too much to ask? What? I didn’t get that but I’ll assume you said that you understand completely. Thanks Eddie for agreeing to help me fulfill my lifelong ambition. I’m going to sit by the fireplace, have a glass of our favorite wine and watch you die.

Here’s to us, Eddie. I’ll forgive you when I see you in hell you bastard.

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #25

[perhaps I should have explained at the beginning that Chapter titles do not indicate endings for blog posts.  One chapter can contain several blog posts. For example this post begins with a chapter title that will make sense only in the next blog post…]

[begin blog post #25]

Chapter 12 – The Dark Sun; a Few Explanations

“We owe each other some serious explanations, I think,”  says the doctor.

“Yes sir.”  I return to my subservient mode as a precaution to this conversation.  I cannot forget how the last one ended and I have Deirdre to worry about now.

“Look, you don’t need to take that subservient tone with me now.”  He says as he feels my reluctance and fear of his changing moods.  “I know I must do more than apologize for striking you but see, I’ve been on this world so long I’ve taken on some of its patterns within myself.  I have great difficulty fighting back the terrible disease of this place.  On this world, women are ectohormonal all the time.  That creates sexual lust beyond any male’s power to assimilate.  Because of the social taboos on sex, the repression results in a deadly combination of fear, anger and violent hatred towards the females.  As an anthropologist, I came here in part to identify and isolate the source of it but I have had no success, rather the opposite.  This world is dragging me down with it.

“I hated myself for striking you, and for having sex with you without asking, yet another part of me said that to do less under the circumstances was to deny my manhood and my rights.  I could not allow a woman to flaunt her power, any kind of power, over me.  I reacted as any normal male would react here.  Basically, from the programming here, you were the one responsible for me striking you in anger and hate.  If you are asked a direct question, you must answer immediately and truthfully at all times.  Never try to shrug it off, that shows disrespect and truly enrages men.

“Love-hate, love-hate.  It bangs in our head, hearts and loins all the time.  It’s not so bad if we can avoid contact with females, but it rages the closer we get to one.  Utterly irrational feelings arise and boil over into emotional outbursts.  But at least I am able to demonstrate to you that I am still somehow different? 

“After I sent you out I came in this place and got totally, disgustingly drunk!  I remained in here for two days without food or washing until my Cydroid servants brought me out and restored me to some semblance of sanity.  I hate this place…”

“Doctor, why did you call your people “Cydroids” and not androids?”

“Ah that, well, I cannot explain now.  Why don’t I let the Cydroids themselves explain it all to you later?  Just think of them as androids if that makes it easier for you until it is explained properly.  Now, Antierra, I want you to speak to me freely, as an equal.  At the moment my mind is free and as long as the Cholradil is with us you are safe.  She seems to provide a dampening cushion to this world’s energies.”  And with a sudden change of tone, almost beseeching for forgiveness, he asks,   “Do you object I had sex with her?  Please answer me as a person to a person.”

What an unexpected question!  “There is no jealousy in me in that respect.  In fact I think it was a very good thing for her.  I think the Cholradil is equipped to do this with any number of men and women without arousing more than surface jealousy in others.  When she is with me, she is not with anyone else.  However she is not immune to jealousy in herself.  There are human feelings there also.”

“I found the same to be true.  When we made love she was entirely mine, even with you lying but a few meters away in the auto-medic.  She is a fascinating creature: there seem to be few contradictions in her mind.”

 

“Isn’t it strange, doctor, that we speak of her as if she wasn’t here, listening to us speak?” 

“Watch her.”  He makes me notice Deirdre in a new light.  “She isn’t really listening to our conversation.  Notice her expressions.  She is in full empath mode searching your body for any weakness the auto-medic may have missed.  She can hear us, of course, but our conversation is meaningless to her because it doesn’t concern her personally.  Cholradils do not care what others think of them as a general rule.  They exist on separate neural pathways of emotion-feeling.  She would make an interesting case study on my world.”

“On your world, doctor?  So I was right in thinking that you and your Cydroids are not from T’Sing Tarleyn but actually from another world; another planet?  You have just made the statement I was hoping to hear from you.  If you are not from here, then you must have the means to leave this place, a ship?  Could you maybe consider getting her to your world, or at least off this one and onto some safe place?  I don’t know if you are aware of her predicament: Cholradils cannot fight.  They cannot hurt others for when they do, they feel the full impact of it within their own minds and suffer even more than the other.  Consequently doctor, she cannot fight.  Her first arena combat is a sentence of violent torture and death for her.”

“I was aware of that, yes, but thank you for the reminder.  Antierra, I would like to help both of you.  The Cydroids take the trip to our home world fairly regularly and taking her on the ship would not be a great burden.  Travel there incurs only a little over six months of transit time debt.  The real problem is getting her admitted to our world.  She may be refused entry, in which case what can the Cydroids do with her?  They must land before they can return here.  If they land her illegally she will be put in cryogenic freeze unless I can somehow guarantee some sort of refugee status for her.  Our world does not, as yet, have any clear policy on granting such status to off-world aliens.  Our ability to travel space is relatively new and harboring refugees from other worlds has not been needed or considered to date. 

“Taking Deirdre there would be to put her at the mercy of pure goodwill unless it could be demonstrated that this Cholradil is a paragon of intellectual prowess.  If that were the case, no problem.  She would become an instant celebrity in our society.  Our fledgling World Court ( which I helped establish before I posted myself to this world) would accept her without question.

“There is another, most obvious and more pressing problem before us: getting her out of this compound alive and without endangering the lives of many others, mostly innocent bystanders if there is an escape.  You know how they react to their security being breached here.

“For me there is also a personal aspect to this venture.  If you want me to seriously consider taking such a risk for you and the Choradil I must insist on a fair exchange for my costs and troubles.  You will owe me something in return.  You will have to tell me exactly and truthfully who you are and what you are doing here, as well as how you got here – I want the real story.  Further to that you must agree to join with us whatever be the cost to you personally.  Can I hold you to that?”

[end blog post #25]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #25

[begin blog post #24]

When I come to, and I must admit I’m surprised they didn’t just kill me for the satisfaction of the crowd out there in the arena, I’m lying on a flat, hard surface and what I first see are the faces of the doctor and Deirdre staring at me.  At first I think I’m having a PDE (Post Death Encounter) of latent images.  Then I hear them talking and I pick up a whiff of disinfectant.  I’m truly still alive!

The room I’m in looks strange by any standard.  The ceiling is low, curved and full of recessed lights.  At my feet are pulsing blue-green lights around an opening that resembles an ancient short-range shuttle auto-medic.  I’m wrapped tightly in some kind of tensor bandage with only parts of my face showing.  I detect a familiar humming sound.  And I realize, almost ecstatically, that for the first time in months I feel no physical pain beyond a slight throbbing at the temples.  What a blessed relief!

“Do you recognize where you are?” the doctor asks me.  His voice comes from a great distance and moves in and out.  But I understand him.

“No sir.” I reply, my voice weak and throaty.  I realize my throat is parched and motion with my mouth.  Deirdre brings me a pink coloured drink in a clear crystal-like goblet with a folding tube from which I suck the liquid.  After she removes it, she applies a wet cloth to my lips, removes it and kisses me!  The witch!  Tears form in my eyes.  How good it is to be alive at this moment!  And loved.

And I continue answering the doctor, “But I should know.  Those lights and sound are those of an auto-medic unit as used on ancient short range crafts we called Jump Scouts, the kind used by the United Treaty Worlds.”

“I don’t know anything about United Treaty Worlds but you are correct, this is from an alien spacecraft, yes, we have ascertained that.  But we are not in space, just a few yards from my room.  This medical unit was obviously cannibalized from an abandoned or disabled alien space craft perhaps hundreds of years ago.  It was entombed here, we do not know by whom, nor why it is here but it has been used by my people as com center, first aid medic facility and safe house on many occasions since we have been studying this world. 

“That we know, no one else on this world besides the three of us here and the Cydroids you saw previously know of this facility.”

Cydroids?  Ah, he probably means the androids.  Of course!  A beep sounds and the lights by my feet at the opening into the auto-medic change from a pulsing blue to a steady red.  The doctor consults his watch-chrono.

“It’s time again.  I’m going to send you into the auto-medic for a deeper scan and some preliminary bone repair.  You will be returned in thirty-five minutes for my inspection.  Meanwhile I must decide what to do with your friend Deirdre.”

“Please don’t hurt her!”  I try to scream as the stretcher I am strapped upon retracts into the glowing tube.  The end seals itself shut just behind my head and white noise or white light or both, fill my brain.

In a moment of timeless eternity I awaken once more in the land of the living.  I’m no longer in bandages but still lying on the retractable “gurney”.  Deirdre helps me up and the doctor actually hands me a gown.  It’s been so long since I wore any clothing, I’m almost embarrassed to put it on, as if wearing clothes is committing an act of indecency.  Deirdre is also wearing a short black dress and sports a comical perplexed expression as she fingers the flimsy material as if she wanted to tear it off of herself.  She has never worn a dress, or any kind of clothing in her entire life!  It would seem strange, indeed.  To her it must seem as if she were attired as a male.

She does not seem hurt in any way and with my full senses returned I know she is not hurt.  In fact I sense some kind of new energy from her.  I know the doctor has made love to her – I can smell it on her – and I know that she has made a deep impression upon him with her sexual skills and empathic personality.  He likes her and I like the connection made thus, a connection that I plan to use in time, in whatever time I am given.

After I sit at the doctor’s small table Deirdre serves me some food concoction that tastes beyond delicious, whatever it is, on a real plate and with utensils!

Here I am, sitting at a table, eating with cutlery, not wolfing coarse food down with hands and fingers from a bowl.  I’m wearing clothes, my body clean and free of physical pain and putting my hand to my hair, I feel that it has been washed and cut into a pageboy style.  Deirdre again.  My sweet lover cuddles against me and the man whom I’d feared, sitting across from the small fibresteel table watching me, is now most certainly my life saver.  And a fleeting smile plays across his beautiful face. 

We used to say, ‘wonders never cease’ and indeed it’s true.  They never do.  We go through life after life, experiencing the flow of the All-Thing and we are forever renewed by being pushed into new experiences by choices made by others, or choose our paths through our own creative thinking.  The best is when all of it works in harmony, but that is a rare thing.   

The doctor looks at me and smiles.  “You are truly a beautiful woman when you take care of yourself now huh!?”  Question?  Statement?  A joke?  Yes, my doctor makes a joke and the smile returns.  This man is full of surprises.

Daringly I ask him, “How do you know the girl’s actual name, doctor?”

“She came to me feigning a knee injury while you were in the fight.  She told me everything you and she talked about.  She told me about the name-giving rite you performed with her and said you needed to speak to me, which suited me fine because I need to speak to you also.  And she was emphatic in claiming that you would need my full attention when the fight was over because you would be mortally wounded.  She knew!  When I asked her how she could know this she just shrugged and told me she couldn’t say.

“But then I figured it out, of course.  This creature is a throw-back, a Cholradil.  She possesses the mind-set of an ancient race that inhabited these parts around a hundred thousand years ago, according to old writings.  I got that impression when I touched her body looking for the knee injury.  It is said that their responses to touch is somewhat like contacting a static charge.”

I look him straight in the eyes and let mine convey the thoughts in my mind.  ‘I owe you for not punishing the girl and I owe you the debt of life also,’ I think as I stare into his broad face, now more beautiful than ever to me, ‘yet I have a terrible favour to ask of you and must risk your anger once more.’  There is a quizzical look on his face.  He knows I’m speaking to him but cannot understand.  He is not telepathic, or if he is, he uses a different thought patterning.  It’ll have to be openly verbal then.

The time has arrived for real questions and real answers.  Now I must know; this charade between us must end.  

[end blog post #24]

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #23

(Sorry, missed one scheduled posting day!)

begin blog post #23]

So now what?  Unless I make some terrible mistake in the arena, I am certain to outlive her.  She will never survive a first encounter.  How am I going to save her life? 

And at that moment the true purpose of my chosen experience on this world returned to me.  I did not incarnate on Malefactus to save her life.  Or any other individual’s life.  I came to uncover a particularly insidious deviation and discover the source of it.  I came to introduce the “anti-virus” that would break its hold on the male population by spreading the Teaching among the women. 

Tiegli, Deirdre, even the doctor; all those others I’ve met, known; those who help me and those I help are points of reference I create so I am reminded to distinguish between the various interplays of forces vying for the life of this world.  So I don’t get lost and become just another woman fighting to stay alive against impossible odds.  I must remember the difference between compassion and love… yes, and hate.  I must remember exactly why I am here and beware the feelings I’ve allowed to dominate my mind lately.

Compassion certainly carries heavy responsibility and often seemingly impossible choices.  I know the above to be true according to my lessons.  I also know it is impossible for me to not attempt to save Deirdre, not only because I love her in every possible sense, but because I know I can make that process fit in with my stated purpose.  Now I must find someone willing to help me but before I do that, I must have some kind of plan as to where she should go.  One thing is certain, she must leave Hyrete, perhaps Elbre, but to where?  Her branding will always bring her back unless she can completely disappear.  The only process available to a female to disappear on Malefactus is death.

Can I talk to the doctor about this?  Would I dare?  I must find a way that will bring us together again.  I know I failed to demonstrate the proper degree of subservience to him in our last encounter.  I know he is dangerous but I sense he is intrigued by me and wants more information from me.  The only way I know of to meet with him again is to be severely, possibly mortally, wounded in an arena fight.  The most difficult part of such an obviously dumb plan is to prevent Deirdre from intervening. 

My next fight is scheduled in two days.  This may be the most serious encounter I’ve ever had.  The opponent is a “drook” as the fighters call all mercenaries who fight for money.  I’ve fought some before but this one has an unbroken record of kills in over thirty fights, most of them against female gladiators in public matches, some involving several female attackers at the same time.  A mercenary, as the name implies, is paid by certain people to represent them in a fight.  A match between the Desert Beast and such a one would certainly give rise to unusual gambling fever.  This is going to be more than a spectacular fight – it’s going to be a high-end money maker.  One of us, of course, will die, must die.

Before I enter the fight I explain to Deirdre that I must see the doctor afterwards and if I’m badly wounded to let the trainers take me to him.  “Do not interfere or offer to help me.  Pretend to be angry at me, or to be sick, whatever it takes, but you must not interfere, understand?  I cannot tell you my reasons now so you must trust me.”

She displays an uncharacteristic flash of Malefactian female jealous anger, something I have never seen in her, controls it quickly and agrees.  I know it’s the slave to master controlling force that brings her to agree, not a personally motivated choice.  Nevertheless I have a commitment.  Then she extends her hand to me and in it is a small orange cube the size of a sugar cube.  I take the gel-like item and roll it in my fingers.  I hold it to my nose – there is no smell from it. 

“Take it and bite through it then swallow it slowly.”  So matter of fact, so cold; I shudder at the change in her.

“What is it Deirdre?”

“A stim cube, a completely synthetic hyper-stim sex-slaves often share with their partners, especially in orgies.  It will give you the energy the chakr normally gives without the side effects.  You will need this.”

How did she get that?  I won’t ask her, certainly not now.  I sincerely and warmly thank her and bite through the substance.  It tastes bland but as I swallow it in bits I can feel its effects almost immediately.  I feel a degree of confidence rising in me.  The world looks different, the day promising.

“Why don’t they give us this all the time, Deirdre?”  I ask, trying to sound light-hearted.

“It is not made here, she replies sullenly, meaning what, I wonder.  On Malefactus?  Or in the kingdom of Tassard?  She explains briefly, “It must be imported and costs a great deal of money.  They trade a female slave for a small box of those,” she points to the piece still in my hand with her long beautiful fingers that carry so much soothing power.  I want to reach out to her.

She has withdrawn within herself and looks at the ground as we part without kiss or hug.  Her sense of helplessness is palpable and my sadness as great as any I’ve yet known.  Not an auspicious way to enter a life and death struggle in the arena.  I clear my mind and begin the focusing breath as we walk through the now too familiar tunnel with its dampness and muted lighting.  One of the trainers fondles me as we walk.  I have to stop to let him do his thing then accommodate the other as well.  I put no energy at all in it and carry on as soon as they are done.  At least this much is good: they had no other expectations either.  They just wanted to be able to say they were the last to have the Desert Beast if I died in the arena, the chances of it being bandied at ten to one against me they gloat to my face, also telling me they put their money on the drook.  Are they trying to cheer me up?  These men, you gotta love ‘em.  Some of them are lower than dungut.

This time the arena is full to capacity and the noise from the crowd is deafening.  Sun and plasma tube lights contribute to the excitement in the atmosphere.  The usual garish display of dress is almost oppressive.  Flags of House Tassard are flying everywhere, flapping in a stiff breeze from some ocean I can sometimes smell but will never see.  Trumpets and drums blare and boom some harsh military type “music” that assaults the ears. 

All of that fanfare and ostentatious display just to watch two humans fight to the death.

High in the sky vultures circle.  Always the vultures are there.  So now I understand.  This is what they do with our female bodies, or what remains of them, when they truck them off from the compounds.  They toss them out into the open desert for the vultures to pick clean and the bones to crumble into the sand or be eroded by the sand-filled winds.  That is why the vultures circle over us.  Conditioning: a fight means they will eat at the end of the day.  They have learned that we are part of their food chain.

The fight is done with the rapier-dagger combination.  We wear only the short skirt armour and smooth light helmet held on with a chin strap.  We engage without words and without mercy.  Hours that seem like days go by.  We are allowed a few breaks to drink and throw water on ourselves to wash some of the blood off, then return to our center place to continue.  After several hours both of us are covered in clotted blood, dirt and sand but still no disabling cut has been received or given.  We hear each other’s panting breath, like animals that have been pursued by a predator too long.  We are tiring.

By now we know each-other’s every move.  We are as evenly matched a pair as could be found.   Only a mistake can give one or the other the advantage.  We look for them, or attempt to create them. I want this to end because I can feel that my energy will run out before his does.  I take a deadly gamble by pulling out my dagger and deliberately fumbling it.  A look of triumph comes on his face as he thrusts at me, pulling his own dagger out for the killing throw.  I take his sword thrust in my right side, absorbing the pain of a certain death blow while completing the full-force counter slash I had begun to execute, cutting off his dagger arm just below the shoulder and embedding my sword in his torso.  

We both collapse in the bloody sand and before I pass out I see a couple of trainers run on the field to drag my body away and medics in their typical white tunics carrying a stretcher to pick up the fallen drook who will no longer fight even if he survives this day.  For me it’s welcome blackness.

[end blog post #23]

Blog-battle Short Story

I’ve decided to participate in a “blog battle” at  https://blogbattlers.wordpress.com/2019/02/05/blogbattle-loss/   The subject for February is “Loss”, the story a 1000 words, give or take a few, and be posted by the end of the month.  The creator, Rachael Ritchie, will use this blog post link to join this story with others or so I understand.  I had to post the story (my story) so that is why you are seeing it here.  It’s short and my might enjoy it. It’s of my favorite short story theme: encounter, love, loss, redemption and fulfillment.


The Moon, Anali and Hope
 [short story by  ~Sha’Tara~ ]

She had made a decision, a choice.  She’d stopped watching the news one day, then she’d left the church.  She walked out of her parents’ home some time after that and took the bus to a smaller town up into the valley.  She rented a tiny apartment and found a job at the local library cleaning up and re-arranging the children’s section, and as general go-for. 

Anali asked herself, was it all just an impulse? No.  It was, she thought, her destiny, and destiny should be honored. 

Destiny, then, brought her to meet Charlie.  He swept the sidewalks and collected garbage for the town.  A charity job, perhaps, but one that needed doing.  Charlie was considered slow, and definitely abnormal as he thought everybody was a friend and never got angry or upset at anyone.  Anali liked Charlie.  They sat together on a bench by the library on warm sunny days, shaded by a rustling maple tree.  On other days they met at the McDonalds for a coffee and muffin. They didn’t talk much, there was no need for what was developing between them required no words. 

Anali wasn’t bright, and she knew it.  She wasn’t what you’d call pretty and she knew that too.  But she knew she was a human being, and that Charlie was a wonderful human being.  She wasn’t unkind, but Charlie taught her to be more so, more aware of the world around them, and the world’s needs.  Charlie stuttered, and his slowness of speech allowed Anali to keep up and understand him. 

“I feel sadness,” he said to her, “about lost things, and hungry things, and things that have no real home.  I guess I know what that feels like, and maybe that’s how it is, how you learn to feel things.  I can’t fix the world.  No one can do that, only God, and he’s angry at us so he’s not helping.  So, if I want to help I have to be nicer to everyone, and everything.  God will see that and he’ll think, that is a good thing.  And he’ll come down and help us.” 

Anali understood that perfectly. 

Was it just the moonlight?  It seemed to Anali that the moon had been shining every night of June forever, getting larger and larger in the night sky, then hanging out, pale and unwilling to leave the blue sky of morning.  It hung like a pale balloon above the tall, old, dark green cottonwood trees bending over the river, casting shade where fish jumped after low-flying bugs. 

That river was called Hope.  She had no idea why they had called it that, or what the native peoples who had fished its banks had called her, but she thought, Hope was a good name.  When I have my daughter, she thought, I am going to call her Hope, and I’m going to give birth to her on her banks, under the full moon.  Anali was a dreamer, like Charlie.

She’d been sitting silently in the tall grass on the bank of the Hope river when she heard footsteps in the grass of the park above her, then the swishing of a body pushing itself through the tall grasses she was pretending to be hiding in.  She rolled quietly on her back and looked into the blue sky, and the pale moon.  Waiting.  Waiting, and ready.

He cast his tall shadow over her prostrate form and looked down.  Not at her, but in her.  And she knew then that some things are written in the songs of the thrush; the call of the kingfisher; the whisper of the rising mid-day breeze in the willows, but mostly in the path of the moon.  She shielded her eyes and watched him bend down to her, kneeling on the soft earth beside her body.  He stretched himself beside her and she cradled him in her arms.  

Their clothes came off, easily and naturally, without haste or shame and without a word they came together and made love by the Hope river. Anali thought she had reached a place of near perfection.  It would take a while for it to complete itself, but Anali was very patient.

There was a bad accident in town.  Anali didn’t read the papers and she didn’t have a TV but she heard people talk.  She understood why Charlie wasn’t at the bench then, and why she never saw him again. Anali knew about loss, personal loss, and she thought, this too will be all right.

A year or so later, with glowing face and a child in her arms, Anali stood by the banks of the Hope river.  She walked to the edge and holding her own Hope over the waters, let her see her own reflection.  The baby went “oh, oh!”  Across the narrow channel a thrush called.  An otter slipped into the water followed by three playful young.  Two young raccoons stared at her from the top of an old fallen tree trunk, curious, not scared.  

From the pale moon high in the blue sky, Charlie looked down, tears of joy forming on his ghostly face, so Anali pictured it.  She looked up and knew he was there waiting for her and someday they’d be together again.  She smiled and cuddled their baby tighter – so he could feel its warmth through her.  She felt a deep, peaceful happiness.  She’d found her perfection and all was as it should be. 

Antierra Manifesto – blog post #19

[begin blog post #19]

The doctor is not seeing me anymore and when I receive a particularly large wound, she pinches it closed with her long skinny fingers or her mouth in turn, doing so for hours at a time, refusing to let me stir.  I’m sure she saves my life on a couple of occasions by stemming flowing blood from cut arteries.  She always has her braided straw ropes which she makes during the night and hides in the straw bedding, ready to use as tourniquets. 

She is a totally amazing creature, yet seemingly unaware of her special skills, talents and gifts.  She is human, I know, yet she is more, something intangible that motivates her, pushing her to be what she is.   

It is during those long, quiet times when I’m recovering and she sits by me that I tell her stories and build alternate and future lives in her mind.  I speak to her of other worlds where people are not like they are on T’Sing Tarleyn.  I try to explain space travel that allows one to jump instantly between worlds so far apart that it would take several lifetimes of one person to reach, even if he were travelling as fast as a beam of light.  I relate some aspects of my remembered past lives in order to broaden the field of her understanding for I have learned by attempts to interact with most of the people here that beyond their immediate concern for this life, awareness drops into a void.  For them there is nothing beyond death. 

She puzzles deeply over the confusing quality of the lives of the people of Túat Har, of the simplicity of life in the silence of Parnako where the people there communicate exclusively by telepathy; and the fullness of the joy experienced by those who spend time on my “home world” of Altaria.  She asks many questions for which there are no answers, simply because in the living of the questions, she, and only she, can find the answers.  Just as I have to find mine.  I also attempt to explain that aspect of life to her.

How incredibly receptive – and consequently dangerous to herself – she is!  She wants to believe everything I tell her and this frightens me so for I am helpless to protect her from the unknowns her new-found knowledge may bring upon her.  Yet there is no fear at all in her, although she has exposed so much of it in me! 

I fear her utter, totally unconditional love for me, following the dreadful emptiness of her previous life may have made her a bit mad.  And again, I’m probably as wrong as can be in that respect.  The quality of her is such that whenever I think I’ve got her pegged to a certain understanding, or pattern of thought, she moves beyond it, out of my mind’s grasp.

For a while as I got to know her I thought it was simple innocence that made her at the same time utterly one with me and inscrutably fluid to escape any template I made of her mind.  But there are no innocents on Malefactus.  These children raised in crèches know all that is to befall them when they are taken from their questionable childhood safety and sold “into the trade” as slaves.  They are told everything, often even elaborated upon deliberately to frighten them. 

Sometimes in the telling, their bleak future is made even worse than what I’ve described so far.  The viciousness and malice of this society possesses few bounds.  The weak, in whatever form found, have but one purpose: to be exploited and oppressed to the utmost; the very marrow of their lives sucked from them.  So far I have found no redeemable moral values here.  Everything is set up to be cut and dry.  Those who have power will do whatever it takes to keep it, or augment it.  Those who have none, even the little they may think they have will be ripped from their minds, their hearts, their bodies by the most shameless, heartless and cruel ways that can be devised by minds sold into the concept of evil.  Along with her strange nature my young friend shows many signs of having been thus mentally and physically abused.  There is a dark, despairing side to her I can feel in her unguarded moments. 

So I love her all the more.  Weeks somehow stretch into months, months become the dreadful year taking her closer to the arena. 

Basically there seem to be little discernable change of seasons in this part of T’Sing Tarleyn.  Yearly temperatures vary little, except by changes in the weather.  Because it is a dry and sandy world it loses much of its heat during the night and the mornings are always cold.  The days are hot and dry, evenings cool, if the sky is cloudless. 

If it is the rainy season, the mornings are not as cold – but the wet and humidity on our bare skins makes it more miserable to bear while we eat (always in the open, regardless of the weather), train or repair our weapons and armour.  The only times we are permitted indoors apart from our sleeping and holding cages is when we are being used for sex and occasionally when we are being treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries from the fights.  If the injury is life-threatening is it cheaper for our owners to buy a replacement fighter and let us die than attempt “repairs.”  More often than not a badly injured fighter, even if she has killed her opponent, is killed by her handlers in the arena, thus giving the crowd a moment of temporary satisfaction. 

During this strange and very emotional time I watch her grow.  She has a full growth of pubic hair now and her breasts are filling out.  I notice the men looking her over more and more.  I try to warn her about what they are about to do to her.  She smiles at me as if I’d lost my mind.  “I know that!” she whispers.  “Are you jealous?” 

“No sweet one, I’m not jealous – yes, I am jealous, damn you!”  She smiles mischievously, “Mostly I’m scared for you that you may do something unacceptable and be punished.  I want you to be everything they want you to be, to fit in, no matter what they say or do.  Whatever you and I are together, we are not when separated.  Keep those lives separate and never forget you are a fighter slave and not my child-lover.”

“Am I really your child-lover?”  Her tone is reproachful and I’m stung to the quick by it.  “You’ve never made love to me.  I watch the others and I’ve been waiting.  Is there something wrong with me?  Don’t you love me?”

Oh the pain those words carry!  Oh please, I don’t want to hear that!  Again I realize I’ve thoroughly messed up with another when I was so convinced I was being kind and understanding.  Is there no way to “do the right thing” on this stupid world?  Or am I such a fool?

“Sweet, I love you more than I can tell or show.  I just thought you should be the one to, you know, make the first move.  You give me so much all the time, I was afraid to take something from you, you may not have been ready or willing to share with me.”

She leans over to me, puts her head on my shoulder and whispers, “You crazy old woman!  If you love me and you’re the oldest, you take me.  That’s how it’s done.  I cannot do it first – that would be wrong and punishable.  When I was put in your cage, I became your bond slave for as long as either one of us lives or you reject me for another.  But you would have known that, wouldn’t you?”

Old woman she calls me.  Old?  I’m maybe seven years older than when I arrived here!  Thirty two classic (Old Earth) years?  Or is this world so twisted that even time moves in some terribly debilitating way, aging some and not others?  No, it’s not time, it’s the way we are treated.  We are all old women the moment we enter the arena.  When youth is forced to kill to defend or avenge; when it is forced to die, it is no longer youth.  It becomes a ghost that wears an aging death mask.

Professional gladiators are at the prime of their lives on their first fight, usually at around sixteen years of age.  From then on, they age quickly, if they live to age at all.  I’m well past my prime now…  Even the trainers are no longer that interested in taking me for sex in their barracks.  Younger ones have taken my place. 

“Make love to me!” she says, “before the men take me.  I want you first.  Here.”  She digs into the straw and pulls up an implement that could pass, in shape and size, for an erect penis.  “Break my skin, please.  I don’t want them to have it.  It’s what we do where I come from but they took me before it was done.  So I have been waiting for my lover; for you to do it.”

What can I say?  I’m beyond amazed at her candour and offer of herself to me.  then I have an idea.  “Sweet, if I be the one to break your skin, I want to take your blood, mix it with mine – I’ll open that fresh wound on my left arm here,” (she knows exactly which one it is and winces) “and I will mix our blood in my hands and baptize you as I promised I would.”

Her large eyes light up with a glow.  “Yes, do it!”

And so we mix our blood together and with the few drops that I can keep in my hand, I sprinkle her forehead as she holds her head reverently backward as I had instructed her to do – a ritual so she could have something to remember later.  I smear the rest of the blood in her hair and hold on to her tightly.  We both cry.

[end blog post #19]