Black Petals Issue #80, Summer, 2017

Andrew's War
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Mars-News, Views and Commentary
Andrew's War-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Down at the Hardware Store-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Excision-Fiction by Paul Strickland
Rise-Fiction by Mike Mulvihill
Surviving Montezuma, Chapters 9 & 10-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
The Bugbear in the Darksome Chamber-Fiction by Charles C. Cole
The Critter in the Tin-Fiction By K. B. Updike Jr.
Bondegezu, Tree Kangaroo and 3 other poems by Richard Stevenson

Fiction by Roy Dorman

abandonedcity.jpg

Andrew’s War

By Roy Dorman

Bargaining with the unknown

 

 

 Most of The People of adult age were part of Andrew’s army. On a rotating basis, a few men and women tended to the day-to-day chores necessary to keep the group running smoothly. All of them were excited that their dream of reclaiming their land from the Takers of Life was becoming a reality.

 Andrew accompanied night scavengers into the city hoping to find out how much the Takers of Life knew about The People. The details surrounding Javid’s death at the hands of the hive-brain troubled him. How strong were the hive-brain’s mental capabilities? Dispatching the Takers of Life in their sleep wouldn’t be that difficult unless they received direction from a powerful and ever-vigilant being.

 “Our intelligence tells us that between thirty and forty Takers of Life are in the city at any given time,” said Garth to Andrew and a couple of lieutenants. “One night soon, we could send in twenty of our best and kill them all while they sleep. We could then begin surveillance vigils to see how many return from wherever they go off to, and strike again when enough have returned and have gone back to their nighttime schedule.”

 “The casual way they leave their own dead in the streets leads me to believe they have very little concern for each other,” said Andrew. “If we were to kill those in the city and just leave them in their beds, those returning may not even try to puzzle out what happened…unless directed to respond by the hive-brain.”

 “Hive-brain,” Fenster, one of the lieutenants, scoffed. “How do we know there really is a hive-brain?”

 “You know it because I saw it,” responded Andrew, assuming the visage of a horrible beast for a few seconds. “I’m willing to go with you into its headquarters if you’d like to see for yourself. But I think I would be the only one to return.”

 “Maybe we should consider killing the hive-brain before we kill its lackeys,” said Garth. “What do you think, Andrew? Could we do it?”

 Not for the first time, Andrew wished The People had the technology to manufacture explosives. The weapons they did have were mainly recovered from fallen Takers of Life. They did have beautifully crafted bows and arrows, but Andrew doubted those would be of much use against a being as powerful as the hive-brain, unless Andrew could supplement the arrows’ flight with his sorcerer’s skills. He decided to think about that before talking about it to Garth. Also, what he wasn’t prepared to tell Garth yet was that he intended to coerce the hive-brain into helping him to get home. Before he had a way home, he wasn’t sure killing the hive-brain was in his best interests.

 

 A few young hotheads hadn’t liked Andrew from the first. They resented his standing with Garth and felt now that it had been decided to attack the Takers of Life, it should be done. On one of the nights when no one was going into the city to scavenge, five of these men snuck out of the village. Fully armed, they went on a mission to kill the hive-brain—if it existed—and as many of the Takers of Life as they could.

 Andrew had told The People about the official looking building that housed the hive-brain. When he had entered the building with Javid, the doors had been open. It was possible they were always open if the hive-brain was confident that it had no enemies capable of doing it harm. 

 The five who were on the mission felt they could walk into the building, shoot the hive-brain with arrows, and walk back out. They were mistaken. Luckily for them, Andrew got wind of the plan and commandeered Lay-la, a young woman with considerable archery skills, to carry him into the city. He couldn’t risk making the trip alone; the elements could cause harm to his fragile essence.

 Even before Andrew and Lay-la arrived at the city gates, they could hear the sounds of turmoil. The hive-brain must have rallied its troops. Lay-la dispatched four of the Takers of Life before they even came within sight of the hive-brain’s headquarters. Five People had their backs to the open doorway and were firing arrows at the fifteen or twenty Takers of Life who stayed back out of range and were making threatening noises at them.

 Andrew puzzled over the sight of his people with their backs to the hive-brain’s lair. Why hadn’t it just killed them all? Was there a trap in the making? 

 “Quickly, Lay-la, run into that building,” said Andrew. “The Takers of Life seem to be preoccupied and have only swords and bludgeons. Dodge and weave, and we should make it.”

 Lay-la, with Andrew in her pocket, made it safely to the entrance of the hive-brain’s headquarters. “You five might as well make yourselves useful,” said Andrew. “Hold them back while I try and salvage something from this fiasco.”

 “We’re running short of arrows,” said one of the five. “What will we do then?”

 Most of their arrows had fallen harmlessly ten to twenty feet from the nearest Takers of Life. Andrew summoned up a spell to draw the metal tips back toward the entrance. The five People gasped as they saw forty or fifty arrows snaking their way across the courtyard to stop just inches from their feet.

 “Use them sparingly, and then only if they start to advance,” said Andrew. Lay-la turned from them at Andrew’s whispered instruction and walked up to the hive-brain’s glass enclosure.

 “Welcome, wizard,” said the hive-brain. “It’s good to have a worthy adversary for a change.”

 Lay-la bridled at this reference to The People’s abilities and took an arrow from her quiver.

 “Now, now, Lay-la,” said the hive-brain, purposely using her name. “No need to get yourself killed…yet.”

 Andrew knew that the hive-brain was sending him a message; it had mental powers that Andrew could not match. But Andrew’s powers lay in an area the hive-brain might not be familiar with—the occult. Andrew’s work with the occult had given him the ability to conjure up fire, wind, and rain, as well as hallucinatory images of awesome proportions. He could pull from the hive-brain’s mind that which frightened it most and project it right inside its glass enclosure.

 The hive-brain must have caught some of this from Andrew’s thoughts. “Did you come to bargain? If I were to give this planet to these natives, what would you give me?”

 Andrew knew he had to be careful; the hive-brain’s abilities were still an unknown. “I would give you safe leave from this world. Take or leave your minions; they are no doubt worthless without you.”

 “I have watched the progress you’ve made with these natives,” said the hive-brain. “I enjoy a good fight, but also desire new adventures. I’ll leave now. I see that you would like to return to your own time in your own world. After I’ve gone, stand in my place and think only of the time and place you wish to go to and you will be there. The travel is one way only; you will be unable to return. Those you call The People will probably benefit from this after they have learned its value to them.”

 The ceiling of the building opened above the hive-brain’s enclosure and it shot into the sky. Andrew decided to trust the hive-brain, and, after climbing over the enclosure’s glass wall, stepped into the middle of the area that had housed it. He envisioned his house, the town he lived in, and the life he’d had with Julia before he had become a spirit. While he was thinking about how much he missed all of that, the time travel process activated and he was…

    

 “There you are, Andrew! I figured you were probably up here experimenting again.”

 Andrew could hardly believe his good fortune. There stood Julia in his laboratory in front of him. And he was in his body! 

 “I worry about all of this dabbling in the occult,” said Julia. “One small misstep and you could… But who is this, Andrew? Do you now have an assistant? Why is she armed with that bow and arrow?”

 Andrew turned and stared at a very bewildered-looking Lay-la. She obviously had leaped over the glass enclosure after him.

 “Yes, Julia, this is Lay-la,” said Andrew. “She has come from a place far away and we both have wondrous tales of adventure to tell you. Lay-la, this is my wife, Julia, whom I love very much. I’m sure the three of us will have wonderful times together.”

 

The End of Andrew’s Adventures (?)

 

 

Roy Dorman, roydorman@yahoo.com, of Madison, WI, who wrote BP #80’s “Andrew’s War” & “Down at the Hardware Store” (+ 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.



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