The Inheritors Chapter 3 – Reginald Seth Van Gelder, 1635AD

Read The Inheritors Chapter 2 – Tommy Ayers, 210 Cavalos Era

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The Inheritors Chapter 3 – Reginald Seth Van Gelder, 1635AD

He woke up terrified. And pleased. Nothing — Nothing! — Father ever told him mentioned anything like this.

Addie, his nurse since suckling babe, came in at his first stirrings. “Young Master?”

He wanted her to take him to her breast as she had for every fall, every come-uppance, every insult since first he walked.

Instead he pulled his bedsheets tighter around him, feeling naked for the first time before the woman who had washed him since birth.

His young sister Sharon called him from the hall. “It is morning, Seth. Come out and play.”

“Close the door.”

Addie stared at him. “Master Reginald?”

“Close the door , ” he shrieked.

She closed the door behind her and approached his bed.


Her dark, Welsh-coal hands fell against her white apron and black skirts. “Master Reginald, it is Addie here. ” She raised her arms to embrace him and started towards him again.

“No. ” He struck his foot to the frame beneath the covers of the bed.

She turned and opened the door. “I will get your father. He will see to this. ” She stared at him from the doorway, “full-rigged ” as Father said when talking with his chums.

Seth did not answer. She closed the door and left.

He pulled the scattered bedclothes around him, feeling himself and something else, something new and different recently come from him.

One of his mother’s nurses knocked on his door. “Are you well, Reginald?”

“Yes. quite well.”

The lie sickened him. Something was different today. The childish-fat still clinging to his chest and stomach and arms and face, something Addie rubbed to a fine glow yesterday to make him laugh, not to be touched today.

Not to be touched by Addie.

Father’s heavy steps came down the hall. The door opened and Father stood there, short and solid, balding without his wig but with his mustache perfumed and stiffened until it curled like some vizer’s sword upon his face.

“Get out, ” Seth shrieked.

Father lifted a rod he’d hidden behind him. “That so? Get out yourself, then. Get out of that bed I’ve given you and then get out of this house.”

Mother rushed up behind him and pulled the rod from his hand. “No, James. Please. You know the boy. It’s his fits. It’s not him at all.”

Father bloodied her nose and took the rod from her. “A fit, is it? We’ll see to that. Get out of bed, Reginald. Do you hear me? ” He lifted the rod over his head again. “Get out of that bed.”

Addie came back and stood behind Father. She rested a dark hand on Father’s arm and, upon seeing her, he put the rod down and stared at his wife.

“A fit is it he’s had? See to him, then.”

Addie curtsied to Mother and Father alike. “Yes, Master James. ” She closed the door behind her as they left. “You are well, Master Reginald?”

Seth tensed, hoping to stifle the quivering of his chin, to squeeze shut the watering of his eyes. He promised himself not one summer ago to no longer suffer Father’s rages.

It was no use. His own rage grew at each failed attempt.

Father was correct. He, Reginald Seth Van Gelder, was less than a worthless churl, some high-toby gloak, not fit to be seen by Father’s eyes.

His rage turned inward once again. What had he done? What warranted such rage between Father and son?

Is this the proper fit in every London house?

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Meet Me Off-Planet

The good folks at Federal Street Books in Greenfield, MA, invited me to take part in their sci-fi/fantasy book fair on Thursday, 13 Feb 2020, 7-9pmET.

There’ll be lots of folks there and I’ll have lots of books and a ready pen.

They say it so much better
“Join us Thursday, Feb 13, next door at 12 Federal Street for an out-of-this-world book fair! Participants include Far Cry Zine, @organdonorstudios, The Imaginary Bookshop, local author Joseph Carrabis, and more. Preview over 500 new (to us) sci-fi and fantasy titles: paperbacks for just $3.50. Meet other readers and enjoy light refreshments. Free to browse, items for purchase.”

And if that’s not enough…
“Our bookstore will be open until 7pm so if you’d like to browse our shelves beyond the book fair titles, come a little early! This will be a sober event — but The People’s Pint has great brews, and food, just two doors down from us.”

Come on! Have some fun!

See you there!

Three Offerings for #WorldReadingAloudDay 2020


Sister Jamie Beth Cohen aka (@Jamie_Beth_S), author of Wasted Pretty, mentioned she’d done a reading for #WorldReadingAloudDay.

I, of course, never heard of #WorldReadingAloudDay.

The joys of mountaintop living.

But I love the idea, so here are three I hope you’ll enjoy.

The first two are from The Augmented Man, the last is from Those Wings Which Tire, They Have Upheld Me, one of the stories in my Tales Told ‘Round Celestial Campfires anthology.

Hope you enjoy!

(and let me know what you think)




Inheritors Chapter 2 – Tommy Ayers, 210 Cavalos Era

Read The Inheritors Chapter 1 – Roland “Ro” Ayers, 27 June 1994

Creator and above level members can download a PDF of this chapter to read offline

The Inheritors Chapter 2 – Tommy Ayers, 210 Cavalos Era

“Waek uuhp, Tohmee. Waek uuhp.”

What was Uncle Reynard doing here? Wasn’t he back in Europe? Any second now he’d break into some Romani folksong, some proudful tune of the Hungarian Gypsy people as his hands snuck under the covers to tickle Tommy and Ro awake.

Tommy reached for Ro with his foot but Ro wasn’t on his side of the bed. He must already be awake. Probably had to pee. Ro always had to pee first thing in the morning. Tommy snuggled under the covers, searching for Ro’s warm spot, wanting to stretch into it, to draw comfort from it.

“Tohmee. Kuuhm ohn. Waek uuhp.”

Each word, each syllable, had a note, a tone, associated with it, as if each sound were a small piece of music complete in itself.

But that was Uncle Reynard, his voice breathy and mellow and with a touch of laughter even when he talked to himself.

“Ha. I still sing grandma and grandpa’s songs with this strong Gypsy heart,” and Uncle Reynard would thump his chest with his mutilated, three-fingered left hand. Poor Uncle Reynard. He always lost watches because he refused to wear them on his other arm, where a full hand would stop them from sliding off or flying away. He held up that mutilated hand like a badge of honor. “I don’t mind I lost this hand. You remember, Sam?” he would ask Poppa. “I never forget that. The SS man sits up in the back, we didn’t even know he was there, then tells us to jump and pushes us from the car. He tried to kill us, telling us to jump and pushing us like that, then the car goes and explodes right after we jump out.” Uncle Reynard and Papa were the only ones to escape The Camps when Hitler gathered the Families.

But he laughed about his hand and made fun of himself, his accent so strong it cut into Tommy’s consciousness like strong coffee on a cold, winter morn.

“Tohmee. Waek uuhp.”

Something gently shook his shoulder. A gentle, muffled shaking with each word.

Couldn’t be Uncle Reynard. He came in like rolling thunder, always hugging and kissing and jumping and tugging, always wanting Ro and Ceilly and Tommy to play. He would grab each boy by the belt, one in each hand, lift them to his face and brush his whiskers against them. “Which of you is the heavier today? “He’d shake them one at a time as if deciding. “Everything should balance, you two, you just don’t know it.”

Tommy rolled under the covers. Pumpkin pie. He could smell Mama’s pumpkin pie baking in the oven.

That wasn’t right. Mama never made pumpkin pie for breakfast. Not even for Uncle Reynard.

Sleep yielded to consciousness. Uncle Reynard’s accent resolved itself into Standard. “Tommy. Wake up. You are needed in the Neuroscaphe.”

The gentle shaking continued. Tommy opened his eyes. One of the Librarians stood next to his bed, the two blisters where its eyes should have been still pulsing their message as he moved. The gentle shaking came from the thermal pressure of the Librarian’s “speech” on Tommy’s skin, like knowing there is a candle by feeling a spot of warmth in a cold room.

Tommy sat up. The covers tucked themselves under him and onto the bed. The Community sensed his movement and adjusted itself to allow more light into the room. The Librarian’s head followed him a second later like a whale searching for its echo.

“Good morning, Reynard. You are Reynard, aren’t you?”

The blisters, dark and cold as the Librarian fell silent, heated and pulsed red again. “No. I am the one you call ‘Roland’ and ‘Ro’. Your brother’s name, was it not? Reynard, named for your uncle who will have died in five years, is waiting.”

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The Inheritors Chapter 1 – Roland “Ro” Ayers, 27 June 1994

I wrote this chapter as a separate short story (originally entitled “Uncle Tommy”) on the date indicated in the title above. I sent it out once. The editor wrote me a scathing letter about encouraging juvenile suicide. I met them at a con a few months later. “Did you read the story to the end?”

“I didn’t have to. You encouraged juvenile suicide. I stopped there.”

Yeah, well.

Two years later I acquired an agent. She read through my work and singled out “Uncle Tommy” as something to reconsider. “There’s something more here. More story. Take a couple of months and see if you can come up with a novel. She also told me she had a publisher who was interested in “fantasies using a Christian Mythos.”

Two months later I handed her The Inheritors. She read it. She gave it to the head of her agency. He read it. She arranged for a concall for the three of us. We talked for about an hour. He repeated “To come up with a novel in two months is amazing. Two come up with this novel in two months is incredible” several times during the conversation.

Well, it turned out the publisher didn’t want a fantasy using a Christian Mythos so much as she wanted a Christian Fantasy complete with Jesus, the Apostles, the church as Holy Mother, …, which I definitely didn’t write.

The agent was incensed. With me. How come I didn’t write a Christian Fantasy? “Because you told me to write a fantasy using a Christian Mythos.” (which I definitely did write)

Rather than shop the novel around, the agent kept asking for rewrites. I kept asking for guidelines, as in “Don’t tell me to make it bluer, tell me what color of blue you want it to be” which got the response, “No, you figure it out. Bluer!”

I finally asked the agent the relationship ending question, “How many manuscripts have you placed?”

That got the response, “I can’t work with someone who won’t give me what I ask for.”

A few months back I got it out, dusted it off, began reading.

Yes, it needs some work. My style has changed a lot since the 1990s.

Let me know what you think.

Creator and above level members can download a PDF of this chapter to read offline

Inheritors Chapter 1 – Roland Ayers, 27 June 1994


Hello, Little One. Oh, such hugs and kisses in the middle of all these tears. Your momma says it was a bad day for you at school.


You want Uncle Ro to tell you a story? Something to make you laugh?


You want me to tell you about Uncle Tommy? I’ve told you about Uncle Tommy so many times, you know it better than I do!

Okay, okay. Come up here on the rocker with me, up on my lap, and rest your head over my heart so you can hear my love for you.

Here we go.

This happened a long time ago, back before you were born, back before I was even your age, when Uncle Tommy and me and your momma still lived with Grandma and Grandpa.

Yes, and Rusty, I won’t forget Rusty. He was everybody’s dog but he was really your Uncle Tommy’s dog.

You remember Grandma’s house? With all the woods out back?

Well, that house was old even when we lived there. The windows and doors, they always creaked. Some people called it spooky, the way the doors creaked and closed when you walked, but we didn’t think so.

The house smelled so rich and so good with Grandma cooking and baking. Thick rye breads and custard tarts and lemon squares and oh! my mouth waters thinking about it. Every day Grandpa told us stories about the people where he worked fixing cars and he’d act out all the people — Fat Mr. Bonomo who always wanted to help people but couldn’t fit under a car unless it was up on a lift and Thin Miss Lukasie who flirted with every customer who came in and Little Jimmy Foster, poor guy had some kind of birth defect. His head was too big for his body and his eyes always seemed half shut. But a nice guy, a sweet guy — and we’d laugh.

Laugh, laugh, laugh! So much laughter in that house!

Your Uncle Tommy told stories, too, but not funny ones like Grandpa told and Tommy’s stories didn’t have lots of people in them. Tommy talked about places and things — the imagination he had! — none of us knew what the heck he was talking about but boy could he keep us going. It was so real what he’d say. You could touch it and taste it and see it and smell it and feel it. Even Rusty sat quiet, listening to your Uncle Tommy, and then he’d howl when Uncle Tommy finished and we’d all laugh because it was like Rusty understood even though we did not.

Your Uncle Tommy, he knew things he had no way to know. Things you’d have to be in college to know and I’m not even sure you’d know it then. Star Wars stuff, crazy stuff.

One time he picked up one of Grandpa’s steel brushes. The handle was a metal coil. Well, Tommy looks at it and turns in around in his hand so he’s holding the brush and the coil is pointing away and he says, “With the right capacitance bridge network we could set up an induction field with this.”

Your mom and Grandma and Grandpa and I just nodded. We had no idea what he meant but he did. Sometimes he’d say these things in front of other people. One time he and I went with Grandpa to his work on a Saturday and Tommy said something like that and Jimmy Foster said, “I think you’ve been watching too many Buck Rogers movies, Tommy.”

Tommy looks at Jimmy Foster, shakes his head and walks away.

But Jimmy Foster, he goes, “I don’t understand Tommy. Help me understand” and that’s all your Uncle Tommy needed and he’s going on and on and Little Jimmy Foster, he’s a head and a half taller than Tommy, and he’s nodding and Uh-huhing and Hmming and saying “What about this part? And what about this part?” like he knows what Uncle Tommy’s talking about.

Uncle Tommy, he’s so happy, he’s helping somebody understand.

But come Monday, your Uncle Tommy, he doesn’t want to go to school, he wants to go with Grandpa to work. He’s got more ideas on how to make things work and he wants to share them with Little Jimmy Foster.

But Jimmy’s not there. He didn’t come in to work that day or the next, he didn’t call, and when Mr. Peters who owns the garage calls the house where Jimmy Foster stays they say, “Jimmy who?” They never heard of him.

Oh, your Uncle Tommy he almost died. The first time someone maybe understands him, pays real attention to him, and they’re gone and there’s no way to find them. Oh, how he cried.

“Someday I’ll find him,” Tommy says.

And we all say, “Good, Tommy. You will. We know someday you will.”

Your Uncle Tommy and I were twins and shared a room. Your momma had the room next to ours in that big old house. When Uncle Tommy wasn’t in our room he was out back in the woods with Rusty or reading books and Rusty’d be right on the bed with him. I spent most of my time in the garage playing with Grandpa’s tools. I’d get so involved in what I was doing I wouldn’t hear Grandma calling me for lunch or dinner. I remember more than once the big spring that opened the garage door would snap and whatever I was working on would go flying, it gave me such a fright! That spring used to snap up quick and I always had to get Uncle Tommy to help me close it down because I wasn’t heavy enough.

Grandpa’s garage was a palace of wonders to me, but not like Uncle Tommy. I could fix things but Uncle Tommy, he made things and didn’t have to use tools to do it.

One time he made me a little paddle boat out of a block of wood, playing cards, paperclips, and a rubber band. Can you beat that? So simple and it would go across a pond if you let it. I lost it long ago, though. One day it just disappeared. No idea what happened to it.

Uncle Tommy and your mom and me, we’d all go to the movies together when we were kids. Movies were different than the movies now. For one thing, in our town you had to go to Wade Smith’s Proud Union Movie House to see them, they didn’t come into your home on your phone or computer. We didn’t have computers in our homes when we were kids. Oh, yes, I know, we’re so old!

So there we were, sitting in the movies on a Saturday afternoon watching what they called a “horrorthon,” playing one movie right after another, kind of like bingeing now but you had to go to a movie theater all day to see it. We watched Zaat, The Island of Doctor Moreau, Trog, and The Mutations.

Your mother hated those movies but Grandma said she was older than us and had to watch out for us. Your mom would sit there going “Eeyeww! Eeyeww!” and covering her eyes and we’d be laughing and making fun of the movies, they were so bad.

Now on this day, there’s this guy sitting behind us. He listened to us talk and he laughed at our jokes and he said things to us about what we said.

But mostly he talked with Tommy. At the end of the horrorthon he gives your momma his card and asks if Grandma and Grandpa can call sometime.

Well, Grandma and Grandpa told us never to talk to strangers and your momma and I got real mad at Tommy because he broke the rule, but that was Tommy, always making his own rules so long as nobody got hurt by them.

Anyway, when we got home, your momma kept that man’s card hid.

Two weeks later who shows up at our door? That same man. We think he showed up earlier because Rusty, he puts up a fuss! He’s barking and yelping like the devil himself set the house on fire, then he stops, snap! Just like that.

Anyway, about an hour later Rusty goes to the door and he’s growling and barking and then comes a ring at our door.

Grandma opens the door and there he is. “Hello, Mrs. Ayers.”


“I’d like to talk to you about one of your sons.”

“I’d like to know your name.”

Your momma peeks out of the kitchen and this guy smiles at her, smiles like he knew she wouldn’t show Grandma his card all along.

“My name’s Fernberg. Joel Fernberg.”

“Fernberg? That’s a Jewish name?”

He looks shocked for a second, like he didn’t know he had a Jewish name. “I suppose it is.”

“Has one of my boys done something wrong, Mr. Fernberg?”

“No, no. Not at all.” He gives grandma one of his cards. “I’m with the government. One of your sons, Thomas, we think he’s a very special boy. We’d like to test him with some other children.”

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