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Lifestyles 1
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The International Writers Magazine
: THE GREAT BEYOND - A Dreamscapes Exclusive
If you haven't read the previous chapters start at Chapter One here

The Great Beyond
Chapter X
Brodie Parker
-in the afterlife seeking revenge

The scene of the crime was crowded. My sword display was completed without the slightest change in my original design. I couldn't have finished it better myself. It took weeks of subtle manipulation and cajoling to put the project into motion. I retained full creative license of every aspect of it, and as a consequence wound up doing almost all of the work.

I had to track every weapon down and personally see to its delivery. I had to build the display and arrange everything on it in the limited time allotted to me in the room I managed to have reserved. By default it was my masterpiece. It did my heart good to see it appreciated. It didn't make any difference if the site of my death was a gruesome novelty to our community's limited cross-section of art lovers. I put some of my life and plenty of my blood into the project. I wanted it appreciated by as many people as possible. There was even a little memorial to the dearly departed, tastefully displayed at the entrance to the exhibit. I'd lay down twenty to one against the museum director having anything to do with that. It was Gloria's handiwork. I suddenly missed her terribly.

The crowd started to unsettle me. There were a lot of unfamiliar faces. No one I recognized from any of the local museum patrons. I decided to come back after hours to begin the hunt in earnest. Until then I decided to check up on my leftovers. Ma didn't look so good. She had a lot more gray in her hair and a lot more laugh lines on her face. I told myself they were laugh lines anyway; I had to. I sat with her for a while and I told her a few things; as if she could hear me. She started crying, so I shut up and left in a hurry.

My closest friends were in the back room of our hideout. We all shared ownership of a large studio which we remodeled and used for everything. Roach was playing a Final Fantasy game. He was the biggest help I had with my designs, and leg work at the museum. He’s the world’s greatest couch potato. Anthony was yelling into a phone while crunching numbers on a 10 key calculator. He doubled as curator pro tem and assistant to the director. I owed all of the credit for getting my proposal considered and approved by the boss to him. He's the hardest working man I have ever met.

Thomas was practicing with a boken sword; swinging it around in his own vicious kata. Thomas turned me on to swords and fencing in the first place. If I could recruit him, he would get a kick out of Urimaru's training course. He would probably have an easier time with it than I did too. He’s a dangerous man.

Bob was drinking at the bar and using the empty bottles to construct Bohr models of carbon atoms. Of all of them, we had known each other the longest. He looked like he'd just lost his best friend. Bob wasn't drinking alone though. They were all steadily amassing empty bottles in small clusters within an arms reach of where they were. This wasn't unusual; beer was the first item on the menu in our kitchen. What was unusual, was that they were all drinking my brand. We all have vastly different tastes in booze, so this was a tribute to me.
I left them after a while to look in on Gloria. I was saving her for last. She was sitting quietly in our living room with the lights off. She looked exhausted and drained. I watched her for a while and thought about how much I missed her. I stopped thinking about time, and it stretched out longer and longer. The seconds crawled by slowly until one stretched itself into a near stop; bringing everything to a standstill. I had toyed with time dilation after training, but didn't think much of it. It came naturally this time, like a reflex triggered by emotion. I didn't stop to analyze it because I couldn't get my attention off of her. After an eternity of this, it broke suddenly with the doorbell. It split the air like a thunderclap. She jumped and gathered herself before she left the room. She came back in followed by a guy I met at a party held at her office last year. I didn't think much of him then, and I was liking him less and less by the moment. He sat next to her on the couch; much too close for my comfort. A few red flags went off in my psyche. I began to sweat anger. The air around me felt thicker somehow. My mind raced for a way across the barrier. Urimaru told me there were two ways. Start over from birth, or force another soul from a living body. I couldn't do either.
I saw it coming before she did.

He started moving closer, and soon she was forcing his hands away. He pressed the issue, so she used a few things I taught her on him. He went down quickly, but I was almost too angry to be proud. My skin felt hot and the space around me was definitely getting thicker, or more dense. I reached out to touch it, and found that I could gather it into a clump. Space bent and warped around it as I forced it all into a tight wad of nothing, no bigger than a spitball. She was still fighting him off while I worked frantically. He had the longer reach, and she was in no shape for fighting; it was only a matter of time. He got a clear shot of her stomach and doubled her over. When he slapped her, I drew my sword without thinking. Acting on blind instinct I stabbed the small mass of space with surgical precision...and was instantly sucked through a breach no larger than a paper cut. I was suddenly among the living once again. Standing behind them in my living room, I was too stunned to move for several breaths. It took me a while to realize what had just happened. When I could, I grabbed him from behind and threw him across the room where he crashed into the wall and collapsed in a heap. Gloria was scrambling back and staring at me with a look I can't describe; shock and horror and disbelief and maybe love too.
"Are you all right?" I asked stupidly. She promptly fainted.

I picked her up and put her gently on the couch. Then I turned my attention on her assailant. He put up a little resistance before he caught sight of the sword. I knocked him down and loomed over him menacingly. "You know," I said glancing back over my shoulder at Gloria, "it may be cliché, but it's true. You don't really appreciate something you truly value until you lose it." I looked down at him and lowered the point of the sword over his crotch. "Take for example, your testicles. You look like the kind of guy who takes his balls entirely for granted. So here's what's going to happen. You have five days to quit your job, move to another state and forget you ever saw her. I'll be back to check. I won't bother going into what the consequences will be should I find you working or living anywhere near here five days from now." For emphasis, I stabbed the point of the sword into the carpet between his thighs, splitting open the fabric of his soiled jeans. He screamed, then threw up, then passed out.

I picked up the phone and adjusted my vocal chords. When Anthony answered, he heard Gloria's voice begging for help, then I dropped the phone. Three minutes later, the four of them burst through the front door. I put the tip of my sword into the pinpoint I came through still in the air, and it pulled me back through just as sharply leaving me just as stunned as the first pass over. I easily dissipated the mass like a stiff breeze clearing out a fog, and it faded back into blankness as if it was never there. There was no sign of the tear I had made.

They found the two unconscious bodies as I left them. Anthony took care of Gloria while the others took turns working him over in the backyard. I watched for a while before I noticed it was getting late. I left wondering just how I had managed to stumbled onto a way back and forth between the worlds of life and death, and whether or not I should tell anyone.

The museum was empty except for the guard making his rounds. I always liked it best when it was empty. I used to walk around it at night, and look at everything in the moonlight. Like all good museums, it was designed to make the best use of natural light while keeping out the elements. Under the uncovered skylights, the halls would glow by the light of a full moon, and everything would seem somehow to be fundamentally altered.

Tonight was no different. I looked down, and lo and behold I was being followed by a moonshadow. My shadow was painted in blackness there on the floor behind me. It shouldn't have been, I was still behind the scenes. But the moon is an odd bird, and my shadow has a mind of its own.

The remnants of the spell were still in place. It had eight corners and formed a cubical cage inside the exhibit. The trigger was on the scaffold, and once activated the spell contracted tightly on its target. I studied it long enough to find the clues I needed. My fingerprints stood out on the trigger, easy to distinguish. Sharper had practically written his name on it; like he was advertising. I had an instinct that poked me in the ribs. Either he was arrogant to a fault, he wanted someone to find him or he was being set up. I refused to believe that he was this stupid. No matter. I had his number, and he would be the first. I was bringing judgment to his doorstep.
© Brodie Parker Jan 2005

Don't miss the toe curling action next time at Hackwriters...

Only in Hackwriters…
Missed Chapters One & Two of our serialised novel - it begins here
Chapter Three here

Chapter Four here
Chapter five here

Chapter Six here
Chapter Seven here
Chapter Eight here
Chapter Nine here
Chapter Ten here
Chapter Eleven here
Chapter Twelve here

I sold my soul to rock and roll right here at Hackwriters…
If you like Brodie's writing, tell him so, every writer needs feedback and nourisment -Ed

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