Welcome to the Xeroversary! We're celebrating two years of the Xeroverse with guest fiction from some of my favourite flash fiction writers. Thanks for dropping by, come in, enjoy the fiction, say hello. =)
...and don't miss the afterparty! ^_^
by Peter Newman
“Your Highness, there is a gift for you.”
He immediately sat up, the fatigue of his morning session forgotten. He watched eagerly as his slave-mother entered the chamber, one hand conspicuous behind her back. As she walked the hundred humble steps to reach his presence, the great door, Heavens Portal, ghosted shut.
“What is it?”
She smiled and bowed, placing the black box on the viewing table. “A gift from Lord Mercy, your Highness.”
He wrinkled his nose, trying to put a face to one of his noble horde, but his thoughts were sluggish still.
“He sent this back from the ether only this morning with the good news.”
“It’s a bit small,” he said, floating closer to the box.
Her smile wavered as he came into view. “Indeed your Highness, but it is also vast. Would you like me to open it for you?”
He inclined his head a fraction and she took the precious glass orb from the box, placing it carefully on the viewing table, her fingernail resting on the top. It was flawless, the outer shell coloured a delicate blue that allowed glimpses of the miniature continents within. The artisans had even duplicated the mountain ranges, rivers and a few of the largest man made settlements.
“It’s a ball,” he said, unimpressed.
“Forgive me Highness, but it is a perfect replica of the planet Mirov, the latest addition to your realm.” She saw no interest in his face, and quickly added: “It is more of a tribute to the true gift – to remind you of the great wealth you own.” She revolved the tiny world, allowing its details to be viewed. He came closer, attracted by the light playing across its surface and she trembled a little. Gods! Had he really come from her womb just 8 years ago?
“Yes, Highness, does it please you?”
He nodded again drifting so close that he was almost touching the boundary. To her surprise he extended a tiny hand towards it. She was trapped; if she removed her finger the orb would fall from the table and if she did not then there was a danger that she could come into contact with his presence. She held herself perfectly still. The tips of his fingers penetrated the barrier and immediately the room cooled, the long diamond pyramids that dangled from her hair frosted and her blood began to retreat into the core of her body.
He touched the orb and, with an innocent laugh, spun it between the table and her finger, the land and oceans blurring into coloured lines. With a touch, he stopped it, his finger in the centre of a green expanse. “What’s this called?”
She peered over to see the spot he had picked, the feeling going from her nose and cheeks. “That is the Untamed Ocean, Highness.”
“I want it tamed!”
“It is just a name, Highness, and all the oceans of Mirov are already yours.”
“Why is it called untamed if it’s tamed already?”
She swallowed. “I do not know, Highness.”
“It will be called the ‘the Tamed Ocean’ from now on.”
“Your will be done,” she intoned.
He spun the little world again, slower this time, and watched carefully as the tiny features danced into view. “What’s this?”
“Those are the northern plains of Mirov, it is said that the rare Siren’s Flower grows there, and that they sing at night to attract prey.”
He brightened. “I want one.”
“Your will be done.”
Satisfied, he whirled the marble again, but this time he cried out as he stopped it, flying back into the dark recesses of the chamber. She swayed as his voice rang through the room, the echo growing louder, feeding on itself and buffeting her as she tried to collect her thoughts. What could have gone wrong? Then she felt the wrongness, realising with horror that he must have touched her in his panic. Bile swam restlessly within her as she looked at her hand, now whitish blue, her index finger totally frozen, a forked crack visible just above the nail.
“I hate it!” He had glided back to the Boundary, his baleful gaze upon her.
She knew she should respond but all of her words fled from his anger.
“What is that called?” he spat, pointing at the globe once more.
She looked, and saw for the first time how his finger had gone through the glass surface, leaving a jagged hole in its wake. She could see the Mirov's capital city beneath, the silver spires daubed in red where they had pricked him, and a sharp pain grew in her chest.
“What is THAT?” he screeched, the sound of his voice shaking through her teeth.
“It hurt me, tell Lord Mercy to destroy it.”
She reached desperately for something to say. “But, Highness, many thousands of your new subjects live there.”
“I hate them, I hate them all. Destroy them.” He noticed her hesitation. “Do it or I’ll hate you forever.”
“Your will be done.”
“Good, now get out!”
She bowed low and began the backwards steps to the portal entrance, thoughts racing through her mind. Her once-child was turning faster than his brother had and, despite the seed in her belly, she doubted the Order would give her a third chance.
Peter Newman: I write, I run, I work, I sometimes remember to smile.
Stories & blog here: www.runpetewrite.com
Banter here: @runpetewrite
Xero says: Pete has a great imagination and a natural flair for description. His recent serial the Vagrant was a fantastic blend of fantasy, dystopia and Lone Wolf and Son (check it out, while you still can). He's also a thoroughly lovely bloke. =)