The International Writers Magazine:
The Great Beyond: a serialised novel about life beyond death
you haven't read the previous thirteen chapters start at Chapter
Great Beyond - Chapter XIV
was close." I said. "They were right on top of us."
I could feel the resistance from the other side as I closed the
breech. I couldnt tell who they were but there were plenty
of them. We couldnt sit still for very long. There would
people on this side looking for us soon if there werent
already. The obvious targets would be my family and friends, so
we had to plan quickly and act immediately.
"We need to
split up. Are you sure we can handle anything they send at us here?"
My companions were sitting in a slight daze. I had an easier time crossing
through the breech than they did. I waited patiently for them to collect
"Yes," said Clemens, "we can easily overpower anyone
from either side here. Even if they send huge numbers of enemies at
us. But before we go any farther we need a plan. We need to return as
soon as possible to the other side. We can hide here for now but eventually
we have to go back and make some serious changes. The council will be
in chaos for a while. The larger faction will still operate with their
typical heavy handedness to try to placate or subdue any of our sympathizers.
We have to find them and either bring them here or find a way to hide
them on the other side. The more the merrier. For now we should look
after Sloans family. They will undoubtedly try to use them to
bring us out. Once weve established wards and other guards and
defenses we can begin contacting others from the council and the Gray
Area." He stopped suddenly. Then we all felt something sweep over
us and move away, then reverse itself and come back towards us. He gestured
and as it passed over us again I couldnt feel it.
"Someone is searching for us already." Urimaru spoke up. "Theyre
working fast. Wed better wrap things up here and move out."
"There will be two primary targets and several secondary targets.
Gloria and May will be the primaries. Your friends will come second.
I assume you want to guard Gloria, so Ill watch over May and Urimaru
will guard your friends until we can bring others in on it, or they
get the point and stop sending their people after them."
By May he meant my mother. There was only one person I had ever know
who called her May. I suddenly understood what Clemens meant when he
said we were blood. "Uncle Jerry." I said. "I should
have caught on sooner."
He smiled and suddenly he looked like himself again. Like he did the
last time I saw him alive but better; more alive than ever. "I
thought you would have, but youve had a lot on your mind. Im
proud of you kid. Youve surpassed all my expectations of you,
and I had many. When I was murdered they thought they were taking you
out. They confused us and it set them back for years. I tried to keep
up the subterfuge as long as possible, but shortly after I joined with
the council they knew they had the wrong man. I did everything I could
to ensure your safety but I suppose it was only a matter of time. Im
"Dont be. I know you did everything you could. You always
did. Even for those ungrateful brats you died saving. If I have to be
in this situation, Im glad Im in it with you."
"This is all very touching," Urimaru said "but we should
finish here and leave as soon as possible."
The search continued as we spoke. The sweep had passed us over several
times with only Clemens web keeping us off the radar. "I
think they spotted us on the first pass. Theyll send in someone
Clemens nodded in agreement. "Ill set up watch over May.
After a couple of days, if nothing happens Ill contact the two
of you and well discuss what should be done next.
"I would rather send Urimaru to guard Gloria." I said. "Ill
go see after the guys and wait there for your signal." Clemens
looked startled but didnt argue.
"Very well. Try to keep a low profile and be ready for anything."
With that, he was gone. I felt the field that shielded us leave with
him, and tried to duplicate it. It took some time to get it right, and
it felt like there was something clinging to me as the sweep continued.
It sloughed off as I figured out the web and followed Urimaru out of
the alley we were in.
"Take good care of her."
"Naturally." He replied with his playful smile, then he was
I took a moment to make my hair darker, as well as my skin pigmentation.
I looked nothing like myself as I boarded the bus that would take me
to the studio where my friends would eventually congregate. I couldnt
spare any time to watch them individually and I needed my hands free
to move on Clemens orders at the drop of a hat. I would have to
warn them off and convince them that they needed to be cautious. I knew
them all well enough to know that a leap of faith would not do. They
would need proof, and I would have to prove it to them. I was still
thinking it over as the bus stopped a few blocks from the building.
I looked through the walls as I approached and found it empty except
for Thomas. That would make things easier. If I could convince one I
could convince all of them. Thomas would be as good a place to start
He answered the door with a boken still in hand. He looked like he had
been practicing hard, and was just getting warmed up. Perfect. I introduced
myself as a friend of Sloans and produced one of my old business
cards. He invited me in and offered me a drink. We talked about the
accident and some of the swords that lined the mirrored
walls of the section we used for sparring. I asked if he would like
some help with training and he seemed eager to have someone else who
knew their way around a sword to practice with. The wooden practice
swords were kept on a rack in the corner. I picked out the one that
had always been my favorite and faced him. He didnt mention my
selection or show any sign that it affected him, but after several passes
he got a puzzled look on his face that became more and more pronounced
as we went back and forth. Finally he stopped me in the middle of a
"How did you know Sloan? You werent just business associates.
You knew him as well as I knew him. Fighting styles are like fingerprints.
I know how Sloan fights and what youre doing is no coincidence.
Neither was the boken you picked up. That was Sloans favorite.
What the hell is going on?" He was getting angry. He kept his sword
I used my own voice to answer him. No accent or change in pitch. "Its
me T. Its Sloan."
"Youre lying. Sloan died. Hes gone. I dont know
who you are or what youre doing here but you should leave now."
He turned started to walk over to the rack of swords that we kept mostly
for decoration. They were all razor sharp so as a standing rule we never
fought with them. He could still see my reflection as he put a hand
out for one. I changed my appearance so that I looked like myself again.
The change was immediate and he stopped without turning around. He just
stared at my reflection in the mirror for a long time. His hand was
still an inch from the hilt of one of the weapons and he seemed to have
forgotten what he was doing.
"Im sorry about the deception. I was pretty sure you would
see through it. We have a lot to talk about." He turned around
slowly and looked me over.
"Suppose I believe you. What then?" His face was unreadable.
"Then you have to change some of your ideas about the way the world
works, then move on. I dont like coming here like this, but its
necessary now. Im into something heavy and you and the others
might be caught in the middle of it. I had to warn you." There
was some noise from outside. The others were coming in. I didnt
change anything about my appearance. I was almost certain I had Thomas
believing, and if I did I could convince the rest of them. "I need
your help with the others. I was pretty sure I could prove it to you
but they wont be as easy. You have to help me show them. Ill
explain as soon as I can.
He nodded and kept quiet for a long moment. I couldnt read him
at all. His face was perfectly stoic. As they came through the door
he motioned for me to wait and went into the other room. I replaced
the boken and took in a deep breath. The hardest part was over.
The others took a little more time, but through whispered secrets that
only I could know and a lot of beer and Thomas help, they all
came around. I told them my story from beginning to end without leaving
anything out. They were all very quiet for a while after I finished,
but as the truth began to sink in they were all full of questions and
they started to relax. Once I impressed upon them the urgency of the
situation and the need for caution they started making plans of their
own. Thomas and Bob started doing a security detail around the building
while Anthony and Ryan made some phone calls. They insisted on checking
in on May and Gloria every day even after I assured them that they were
being taken care of. I asked about the guy I pulled off of Gloria and
they told me he had disappeared after Bob had nearly beaten him to death.
"Like a ghost." They said. That statement rolled around in
my mind and wouldnt let me settle down. After a while they finished
making preparations for a full assault on the building and started discussing
ways to keep in touch with each other throughout the day. I excused
myself and promised to return to check in, then went to look in on the
He had moved as far from Gloria as he could while still remaining in
the country and it took most of the evening to find him. When I did,
I was totally unprepared for what I found. Surrounding his new home
was the hint of a force I had only felt twice before. Once when I found
Sharper, and then again when I faced Shugg.
More next month...
© Brodie Parker - Begun May 10th 2004 - this
Chapters One & Two of our serialised novel - it begins here
Chapter Three here
Chapter Four here
Chapter five here
Chapter Fifteen here
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