Get Some Shelter
By Roy Dorman
Andrew’s essence evolves.
Andrew was hidden within one of
the many pockets in the poncho-like garment of the scavenger, Mar-ta. Not mere clothing,
it was a perfect storage place for her treasures. He snuggled down between some metal rings
and what appeared to be hard bread. Being a spirit, Andrew required neither food
nor treasure, but was curious about what Mar-ta would and would not take. To Andrew, it
seemed she was willing to take anything small enough to carry, regardless of its value.
When she finished relieving
Javid of his possessions, he lay naked in the street. It would probably be his final resting
place. Andrew thought Javid’s kind (called Takers
of Life by Mar-ta) must have no curiosity at all to ignore their dead comrades
scattered about the city completely stripped of their belongings.
Ready to go now, Mar-ta started through the streets,
stealthily flitting from doorway to alley to doorway in a random pattern. To Andrew, it
seemed like the city shut down completely at dark, but Mar-ta must have a reason for her
caution. If the idea was to loot without being observed, she did well.
She stopped a number of
times to pick up a loose item, and then finally took off at a dead run. Andrew peered out
of the pocket and saw they had left the open gates and were headed toward the mountains
he had seen on his way into the city with Javid.
She’s good, but that was too easy, Andrew thought. Once again, he needed
The darkness was complete, save for the stars and two distant moons.
After a bit, Mar-ta slowed to a walk and said, “That went well; we should be to our
settlement well before daylight.”
“Do you come into the city to gather every night?”
“I would come
every night,” said Mar-ta, “but Garth, our leader, says we must avoid being
predictable or risk discovery. We go every other night for a bit, then skip a few nights,
and then go every third night for a while. Most think this unnecessary. Those animals don’t
even know we exist. At night, they are like the grindles in the streams, falling asleep
when it gets dark. Many of our young people dream of the night we’ll go in and slaughter
them all, taking back our land.”
“I have two pieces of information Garth
and your people may be interested in,” said Andrew. “The beast you stripped
was Javid, a boastful creature. Though I was with him for only a day, I learned a few things
from him about this land. Javid said there were rumors of survivors of the purge of your
people, and some of his kind also claimed your people came into the city. Javid reported
in to a monstrosity more terrible than himself. This hive-brain, as it was called, controls
the Takers of Life. It killed Javid immediately after their visit because it suspected
Javid had not been completely honest in his report. And it somehow knew of my existence
before Javid had a chance to tell it. I was hidden in Javid’s mind, so this hive-brain
must be able to do a deep search.”
“Let us keep this between you and me for
the time being,” said Mar-ta. “Garth would use this information to have us
be even more cautious, which would delay the strike on our enemy.”
“I will await your
permission to release this information to whomever you choose,” said Andrew. He felt
he would very soon be once again picking sides.
“So, Mar-ta, what
have you brought back today,” asked Garth, “the usual fare, or something of
“She probably didn’t even get as far as the city,” said a
male voice from behind Mar-ta, “probably just hid out for a while along the road
and then came in with nothing but excuses.”
“Once again, I’ve brought back more than you usually do,
Derrick,” said Mar-ta, emptying her many pockets and sleeves onto the ground in front
of Garth. “And, here is a surprise for you, my leader.” Mar-ta carefully took
Andrew from a pocket and let him hover over the palm of her outstretched hand.
asked Garth. “What have you brought in among us—a small wraith?”
Andrew jumped from Mar-ta’s
hand to the ground and swelled to full human size. It was the first time he felt safe enough
to do so since he had left his New England home.
“I am Andrew, a spirit from
another place and time. I’m an adventurer seeking new experiences. My unique knowledge
may be of use to you in defeating the Takers of Life and I’ll willingly share it
Andrew looked to Mar-ta to see if it was time to tell Garth
and those gathered here about the hive brain. Mar-ta stared straight ahead and refused
to meet his eyes. Andrew took that as a “no.”
“Mar-ta,” said Garth, “how are we to know
this spirit is not a spy? You risk us all with your desire to prove your competence.”
Garth unsheathed his long sword, and it appeared to Andrew that yet
another leader was going to kill one of their subjects because of him. He reduced his size
and entered Garth’s mind, freezing his right arm in mid-swing.
screamed a tall man behind Mar-ta. He struck her a savage blow with a heavy club and she
crumpled to the ground.
Andrew, being a lover of witchcraft, as well as
a bit fond of Mar-ta, was furious, and, without thinking about it, raised Garth’s
sword and decapitated Mar-ta’s murderer. He then conjured up hundreds of red, yellow,
and black spiders and sent them to attack the remaining villagers. That their hands simply
passed through rather than crushed the spiders didn’t stop the panic the spiders
caused, and the village square was soon empty except for Andrew and Garth.
Garth looked around in
bewilderment. “What have you done? What do you want with us?” he asked.
“As I was trying
to explain before you stupidly drew your sword, I’m an adventurer. Javid, one of
the Takers of Life, was in my home world—New England—searching for evil in
an abandoned abode near mine and my wife’s. He offered to bring me here and I accepted.
He was killed and I met Mar-ta, who recognized my value to your people and brought me to
you. And you got her killed.”
That was quite a long
soliloquy for the usually introverted Andrew, but, upset about his part in Mar-ta’s
death, he felt a need to vent.
“What will you do now, oh spirit?” asked Garth, seemingly
chastised. “Have your spiders killed all of my people?”
“Call me Andrew. Those were just imaginary spiders I
planted in their heads. They’ll be all right once they stop running. Mar-ta and I
planned to use the information I was to give to you to overthrow the Takers of Life. Now
I don’t know if either of you are worth backing. Are there any other beings on this
planet who are a little more intelligent?”
Garth saw some of his people cautiously returning to the
square and felt the need to assume some of his leadership style to save face. “You
will not disparage me or my people, or I’ll…”
“Or you’ll break out in painful, pus-running
boils over your entire body?” asked Andrew.
Garth sighed. “Please, I
apologize. Let us work together,” he said, keeping his voice low so as not to be
overheard by those returning.
“We’ll see,” said Andrew. “We’ll
Weeks passed, and Andrew learned a lot about the history of this land.
The natives, who called themselves simply “The People,” were from the same
genetic line as the people on Earth. They’d had a rich culture before the coming
of the Takers of Life that had included both oral and written history.
The Takers of Life had
disrupted the climate, probably in their effort to purge the native population, and what
was once a fertile, productive world was now mainly desert. Andrew experimented with making
positive ecological changes to the area around the mountain stronghold, which was
appreciated by the natives. A few were jealous of his revered standing in the group, but
most considered his presence a boon.
When Garth told Andrew there was a dream of one day
overthrowing the Takers of Life, Andrew knew it was time to reveal what he knew about the
hive-brain. With Andrew’s help, the timeline for taking back their planet had been
moved up. Though helping The People was important to Andrew, he also needed to figure out
how to enlist the hive-brain’s help in getting back home. He’d had enough
of this place and missed Julia terribly.
More to Come
Roy Dorman, email@example.com,
of Madison, WI, who wrote BP #79’s “Cellmates” & “Get Some Shelter” (+ 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,
Cheapjack Pulp, 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.