All Is as It Should
By Roy Dorman
In an alien
The essence of
Andrew, previously the resident of an ornate blue bottle in the possession of
his wife, Mrs. Taylor, was now residing in the dusty caverns of the mind of
Javid, a hostile being from another dimension. Whereas yesterday Andrew had
been in New England, circa 1870, he was now address unknown, circa unknown.
Having walked cross-country
for the distance of a sunrise to a sunset, Javid, Andrew’s host, now strode up
to the walls of the largest city on the planet.
Using the eyes of
Javid, Andrew saw that the massive doors to the city were open and hung askew
as if they hadn’t been closed in some time. From what he had observed so far,
and from the little Javid had told him, Javid’s kind had little to fear from
outside enemies. They were probably their own worst enemies, so whether the
city’s doors were opened or closed was of no great concern to them.
No one hailed Javid
from the ramparts, asked him to identify himself, or insisted on knowing his
business in the city. Rather, beings looking almost identical to Javid
sauntered along the streets, ignoring each other while silently allowing as
much personal space as possible.
The city was
remarkably clean given that Javid’s people had no worker caste, and Andrew was
about to voice this question when he remembered Javid’s admonishment that he
was to be silent to avoid giving away his presence to Javid’s fellow beings. He
was just about to ask if he could use a guarded telepathy when Javid roughly
stopped one of his peers in its tracks.
“Is all as it should
be?” he asked.
“As it should be,”
replied the other.
Javid’s thanks for
this for this bit of information was to run his short sword up under the chin
and into the brain of his comrade.
“As it should be,”
he said, sheathing his sword and continuing on.
As Javid continued
his walk into the city, Andrew’s interest was once again drawn to the lack of
garbage and trash. There were the occasional dead bodies, but no litter. He
noted even the older bodies showed no sign of being chewed on by scavengers,
and appeared to be in various states of mummification rather than decay. Also,
there were no flies on the bodies or any other insects to be seen anywhere. Who or
what is keeping the trash to a minimum,
but allowing the dead to lie where they fell?
Javid started up the
steps to the entry of an official looking building. Andrew’s mind worked
on the puzzles being presented to him. Is
Javid going to “check in” with his superiors? Does he even have superiors?
So far, Javid had
hinted at a society of individuals who existed until one of their fellows cut
them down. Thinking this would be a chaotic way for a functioning society to
exist, Andrew felt he needed more information if he was to continue his lodging
in Javid’s mind.
“Javid, I have more
questions, and I need answers if I am to stay with you. If you persist with
this stupid ‘shut up or else’ attitude, I will jump ship at the first available
planned to leave Javid once he saw a safer, more intelligent host, but Javid
didn’t need to know that. If he could gather some information first, Andrew
would be more likely to make a correct choice.
Using the same
silent guarded mode of communication, Javid replied. “I must verify that all is
as it should be, and then you and I can talk. Even this direct mind-to-mind
communication could be discovered. I must check with the hive brain for
recent activity. If all is well, we can then plan your future.”
Andrew went back to
visually analyzing his surroundings. He noticed something new: The dead
bodies of Javid’s kind had been stripped of most of their clothing and weapons.
Did the spoils go to the victors? Javid had slain two of his fellows and hadn’t
bothered taking any of their belongings. If there wasn’t a cleanup crew, who
was stripping the fallen?
Andrew thought maybe
the gossip regarding some of the native people surviving the purge and even
coming into the city might be true, even if Javid had scoffed at the idea. He
also speculated that a cottage industry of sorts could be functioning right
under the noses of the monsters of The Land of Shattered Dreams and Broken
entryway to what appeared to be a headquarters, Javid passed through, then
strode up to glass enclosure. The rectangular enclosure was approximately six
by six by three feet and contained a grotesque mass of tissue almost completely
covered with tiny eyes, ears, and mouths. The glass casing was quite thick and
Andrew could see no way in or out of it. He assumed beings who could move
between dimensions in time and space would probably have ways of living he
Though a few minutes
ago he had been delivering ultimatums to Javid, he now was thinking how fragile
his existence was. He had chosen to come to a place sight-unseen with Javid,
and this hideous blob in the glass case reminded him just how far from home he
Javid stood before
the being he had named the hive brain as if waiting for permission to speak.
Andrew was surprised to observe that Javid’s mind showed he was uncomfortable
with the situation. For the first time Andrew sensed fear coming from Javid.
“All is as it should
be in the hive, Javid. What have you to report?”
“I have been to a
planet far away in distance and also far into the future,” said Javid. “It should
be a suitable home for the hive if we choose to leave this place.”
“Well done, Javid.
And when were you going to tell me of the parasite I see lodged in your mind?”
“I captured it on
the faraway planet. Rather than kill it, I brought it here to determine if
knowledge it possesses could be of value to the hive.”
“I have often
admired your wisdom, Javid, but also have often questioned your loyalty. Report
back to me on your activities at each sunset while you are here. If this sounds
as though you are on probation, you are.”
“All will be as you
command,” said Javid.
“You are dismissed.”
Javid turned to
leave and Andrew noticed he was moving a lot more quickly in his departure than
he had in his arrival. Javid was keeping his mind guarded while doing
everything he could to hide the fact that he was. Andrew knew that the
interview had not gone well. He might be leaving Javid sooner than either of
Javid was down the
stairs and a few steps into the commons area when he was shot in the back with
a bolt from a crossbow. The arrow had come from inside the building they had
just left, so there was no doubt that the hive brain had ordered it.
Andrew moved from Javid’s mind to one of the pockets in his vest. Since the
hive brain knew of his existence in Javid’s mind, it might send out a minion to
No one came out of
the building for Javid’s body or to search for Andrew. Still early evening, it
would be a while before darkness fell. Andrew decided to wait where he was.
Javid’s fellows were walking around his body as if he had the plague, so Andrew
felt safe for the time being.
darkness had descended upon the city, Andrew withdrew from Javid’s pocket and
took up a position in his hair. He could see that the city seemed to have
completely shut down. The members of the
hive must be diurnal. Since they feel
they have no enemies, they probably didn’t even post night guards. I must
be very close to finding out who keeps
the streets clean.
Before he had time
to think about this further, he saw movement out of the corner of his eye.
Somebody or something was moving quickly and silently, back and forth, from
building to building, always moving closer to Javid. Finally, a small, slight humanoid
made a final run across the commons area and threw itself on the cobblestones
next to Javid. It made a slight breathing sound from its exertions, but
otherwise remained still. After reassuring itself that it hadn’t been seen, it
knelt and began to strip Javid of his belongings.
Andrew toyed with
the idea of going directly into this scavenger’s mind, but didn’t want to
frighten it. He knew he also risked frightening it by speaking to it, but felt
that unless these beings were telepathic, physical voice would be less
After a quick scan
of the being’s memory for previous conversations, Andrew felt he had a
rudimentary grasp of its language. “Please don’t be alarmed. I mean you no
harm. Just continue on with your work so as not to attract any unwanted
At the sound of
Andrew’s voice, the being had stiffened as if to flee, but had then thought
better of it. It continued to remove Javid’s belongings from his corpse, moving
more slowly now, occasionally giving a casual look around, trying to identify
the source of the voice it had heard.
“I’m a spirit,
the essence of my former physical self, and have taken refuge in this dead
beast’s hair. No, no, don’t try and look for me; I’ll come out.”
Andrew now made
soothing sounds in the native being’s mind and positioned himself on the back
of Javid’s closed fist. He was prepared to enter either Javid’s or the being’s
mind at the first sign of aggression.
“I am Andrew, an
essence from afar. I came to your dimension, your world, by way of this now
dead beast who was called Javid. I lived a long physical life, and now, as a
fragile essence, seek adventure and new things. I try to temper my enthusiasm
with a strong sense of survival. I ask that you take me with you so that I may
see if I could dwell with your kind for a while.”
The native being
seemed to mull that over for a bit before saying, “How do I know that you are
no danger to me or that you are not some sort of spy for the Takers of Life?”
“You have only my
word that I am neither. You come from the relative safety of your own kind and
risk discovery and death to rob the dead and scavenge the city for goods. We
have something in common; you and I are both risk takers. Let us be allies
against the Takers of Life.”
Again, the being
considered Andrew’s words. Finally, after almost a minute, it shrugged and
said, “I am Mar-ta, and for my own reasons I will take you back with me. I can
flaunt you as a prize in front of the males of my clan. For helping me with
this, I promise to keep you safe.”
laughing Andrew. “You’ll use me and I’ll use you.”
The hive brain
listened to all of this with interest. It knew of the night scavengers and
their stronghold in the mountains, and had sensed Andrew the moment he came
into this dimension. Being practically immortal, with the possibility of breaking
the latest long period of boredom, it was pleased that life was about to get
More to Come
Roy Dorman, firstname.lastname@example.org, of Madison,
Wisconsin, who wrote BP #78’s “All Is as It Should Be” (+ BP #77’s “Essence of
Andrew,” BP #76’s “Flirting with the Alley,” BP #75’s “The Enemy of My Enemy,”
BP #74’s “Doesn’t Play Well with Others,” BP #73’s “A Journey Starts with a
Flower,” BP #72’s “The Beach House,” BP #71’s “The Big Apple Bites,” BP #70’s
“Borrowing Some Love,” and BP #69’s “Back in Town” and “Finding Good Help…”),
is retired from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Benefits Office and has
been a voracious reader for 60 years. At the prompting of an old high
school friend, himself a retired English teacher, Roy is now a voracious
writer. He has had poetry and flash fiction published in Apocrypha and Abstractions, Birds Piled
Loosely, Burningword Literary Journal, Cease Cows,
Crack The Spine, Drunk Monkeys, Every Day Fiction,
Flash Fiction Magazine,
Flash Fiction Press, Gap-Toothed
Madness, Gravel, Lake City Lights,
Near To The Knuckle, Shotgun
Honey, The Creativity Webzine, Theme
of Absence, The Screech Owl, The Story
Shack, & Yellow Mama.