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November 28, 2022

Anachronocity v6p7

By Josh Brown

Ends and Means - Part Seven

Horus tore through the ship in search of the guest that escaped confinement. Traveling through the air ducts proved to be a wise choice for the escapee since Horus was far too large to fit in there and follow the blood trail.

After ripping apart the engine room for more signs of a path, Horus bolted up the stairs, scanning the floors for blood, but not limiting himself to only find blood--there was a good chance the guest had managed to stop the bleeding, thus preventing that particular method of discovery.

He'd find the escapee and when he did, Sela's orders be damned. Death settled over the ship; Horus's hands would personally see that it left. Then he would deal with Sela's threats. Nobody threatened Horus--nobody.

***

"No," said Sela. "Under no condition is anyone besides the three of us to know what is going on." She gave Yerik a stern look, unwavering. "Understood?"

Inside their quarters, the lights dimmed, Sela's mind raced. After a short meeting with Anthony--his expertise at spinning long perfected--already she'd need him again. The deaths of Heather and Nicolas struck her hard, but her position and duties didn't allow her to feel the full scope of the pain and sorrow that begged for attention.

"Is ridiculous," Yerik shouted. "We find him faster if all look!"

Sela jerked her head in a few short shakes. "No. That's final." The last thing she needed was more people aware of the company kept hidden away on this ship. She trusted her people implicitly; she didn't trust outside forces and their powers of persuasion though. The fewer that knew, the more secure they were.

"I want Horus off this ship at first stop--which will be the pirate outpost on Nelson's Folly." Sela rubbed her temple with her thumb, slow, deep penetrating rubs. "When we dock for maintenance and resupply, get rid of him--however you want."

"You change mind?"

"No choice--he's a liability. We'll have to make do. Scout around while we're there, see if you can find anyone worthwhile to take his place but make no decisions and talk to no one without seeing me first. I'll want a full check on anyone you might consider. Security is most important right now. We can do this without him if we need to."

The gleam in Yerik's eye made Sela shake her head. He'd try to kill Horus--that much was obvious.

"For now," she said, "help him search. I'll be doing so as well, right after I talk to Mama."

***

Alex opened his eyes to the dark interior of a semi-foreign room. The comfortable bed underneath him turned out to be too comfortable after all those weeks sleeping on a cot. His back felt sore, aching as he sat up.

Then he realized he wasn't alone.

Next to him, peaceful snoozing the night away, was Katlyn. He blinked at the shadowy form, her chest rising and falling in slow steady breaths. The last time he was in bed with a girl--he couldn't remember how long ago that had been. He started to reach a hand out toward the prone body, hesitated.

Then he realized they weren't alone.

A shadow moved in the corner of the room, almost imperceptive--just enough movement to catch Alex's eye. His head shot in the direction of the motion; eyes scanned the wall, unable to make out any concrete shapes.

Bethany? Trouble if Bethany found him sleeping with Katlyn--even if they hadn't done anything but sleep.

Alex eased off the bed, familiar enough with the basic setup of the quarters on this vessel. Nevertheless, it appeared Katlyn did some rearranging, a few personal items and luxuries added. His foot smacked into a table leg causing pain to shoot up his ankle. Biting into his tongue, Alex swallowed the shout.

How could he defuse this potentially--then it struck him that it might not be Bethany after all. As the haze of sleep wore off, the terrifying discovery of the bodies of his neighbors flooded back. The hidden occupant of the room might very well be the killer.

Think, think--a fighter Alex was not. He'd be dead before he could so much as swing a pathetic fist at the murderer. That only left him with one option--if he couldn't fight, he'd have to defuse the situation with words. Doom filled his shortening life.

Alex opened his mouth to call out--

"You're different," a thick, strange voice said from the darkness.

"I have a gun," Alex lied. Not entirely a lie--he did have a gun, but that particular gun wouldn't be of much use. What was he going to do--drown the killer with his piss?

"You have no gun," the stranger said. "I can see you as if this room were filled with the glorious light of my ancestors."

Katlyn shifted on the bed, rolling to her side and tossing an arm over her face. While the voices spoken were not loud, they weren't exactly whispering either.

Alex looked around, trying to center his attention in the direction of the voice without luck. It unnerved him being unable to see whom he was talking to and unable to prepare for whatever weak defense he could put up if an attack happened.

"I can also see you're different. Your pattern is off. You don't belong."

A crazy killer--Alex expected nothing less. "What do you want?"

"Help me and I will help you."

"I don't need any help." Did he?

"I can put you back where your pattern belongs."

"My pattern is just fine. Go away." What the hell is a pattern? Alex glanced down at himself. The only thing he wore, his boxers, seemed normal enough--what little he could see in the dark. Was this some kind of fashion expert killer?

"Why do you fear me?"

A crazy bloodhound-fashion expert killer then, okay. "Just leave us alone. All right? Go do whatever you want on this ship, but leave us out of it. We aren't part of this."

"Ah. Now I see. Your pattern is out of time. You don't belong."

"Who are you? Did you kill Heather and her boy toy?"

"Unfortunate that. I had to stop them. The taking of life, human life, is not something we do readily."

Again Katlyn adjusted her position on the bed. Alex couldn't tell from his position, but the silhouette of her chest didn't seem to be moving in such a steady motion anymore.

"Yes," the stranger said. "Your friend is awake, yet she tries to deceive us into believing she isn't."

Discovered, Katlyn gave up the ruse. She rolled out of the bed on Alex's side, her head turning back and forth as she, too, attempted to locate the source of the voice.

Could Alex add psychic to the growing list of adjectives describing this weirdo? Maybe not just yet--if the killer truly could see him as clear as day, then he probably just saw Alex looking toward Katlyn.

"Now that we are all together," the voice said. "Tell me your decision. Will you help me?"

Alex started to say something. Then Katlyn's hand slipped into his and he lost all memory of whatever the words were supposed to be as that smooth, soft flesh brushed against his palm. For once, he was thankful it was dark.

"What do you mean--," Katlyn said, "--you can help us?"

Katlyn's thumb slowly traced against Alex's palm. The electrical sensation her touch brought him made it more difficult than ever to concentrate.

"Your pattern can be corrected."

"Maybe you can be a bit more specific here."

As silence lingered between spoken words, Katlyn's thumb continued its dance of ecstasy against Alex's palm. Every inch of him tingled with excitement despite the impending death this killer represented.

The voice finally spoke after a considering the question for several moments--years, it seemed, to Alex. "We are skilled in many things. Our vast knowledge will lend much to your attempts at returning your patterns to their proper place."

"I said more specific." Katlyn voice hinted at annoyance without dripping of it--yet. "Try again. What's with this we, anyway? We're dealing with you--not some group."

"I don't think your friend realizes you're trying to communicate with him. The unsightly budge in his shorts leads me to believe he thinks you're seducing him."

Katlyn's hand abruptly dropped away, taking with it the most fun Alex has had with his hand since this disaster began. He no longer doubted the killer hidden in the shadows of the dark room actually could see him, either. The unsightly bulge deflated instantly as Alex tried to capture the feel of Katlyn's thumb against his palm, both as a memory to be cherished and to decipher the signal she was attempting to send.

"This is not a difficult decision," the voice said. "You are not one of these people. You are not my enemy. Help me and I will help you. The only path you will find with the people on this ship is the path to whatever afterlife you believe in."

"We don't even know who are you," Katlyn said. "How do we--"

"I'm an Elder."


To be continued...
Article © Josh Brown. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-07-31
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