The Inheritors Chapter 11 – Lucifer

Read The Inheritors Chapter 10 – Resa ValJean, 211 Cavalos Era

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The Inheritors Chapter 11 – Lucifer

Thomas woke under a rising full moon. Resa made a fire on the sand from branches up on the hill. He gazed at her naked body, how the flickering flames made small shadows of her nose, lips, and breasts. Gulls caught the offshore breezes and coasted, their silhouettes playing hide and seek on the craters and crevices of the moon’s bright surface.

He pointed to the gulls. “Are those real?”

“I think so. They seem a lot like the ones I remember from home. But they started wildlife roundups and euthanizing domestic animals in my time because they were disease vectors, so maybe yes, maybe no? The gulls seem natural. Most everything the Cavalos make isn’t quite the same and it’s obvious how it isn’t so. ” She reached for her blouse. “We should be getting back, Tom.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea for me.”

“Suit yourself. There’s somebody I want to meet. I’m going to ask one of the Librarians to introduce me.”

He reached for her. “You’re going to leave? Just like that?”

She stroked his face. He held her hand to his lips and kissed her fingers. She smiled and pulled her hand back. “Tommy. My world’s not like that. We did what we did. That’s all there is to it.”

“You don’t love me?”

“Love you? Of course I do, Tommy. But there are different kinds of love. I’m not committed to you or anything like that.”

“I can’t…I won’t believe you.”

“Tom, I care about you. But I don’t love you. Not that way. You’ve got to get out more, Tom. All the cultures here are different. Haven’t you met any of the other Thinkers?”

“A few.”

“I don’t know whether to laugh or to cry, Tom. You think you’ve been here six years and never talked with anyone other than some Cavalos, some Librarians, a few Thinkers and the Travelers who brought you here?”

“I hear some Thinkers once in a while while when I’m in the Neuroscaphe. I hear them crying. I don’t want to be like them. I don’t want to cry. And here, in this time and place, this is the first time anybody has ever let me just think.”

She nodded. “You too?”


“You said this was the first time anybody ever let you think. Your family thought you were a freak, too? Is that what happened? Did your family sell you to anybody who could score something they could use?”

“No, never. My family loved me. They still do, somewhere in time. My family did everything they could to help me. It was everybody else. The teachers, the schools, other kids. My brother, Roland, he’s my twin, he use to come home with black eyes and bloody noses and split lips because he’d go fight for me and tell everybody he was me when people picked on me. He thought I didn’t know.

“But I did. He never told me. Mom and Pop would always watch out for me. Ro and Ceilly, my sister, they were always protecting me so I’d have the time to think.

“No, my family loved me. It was everyone else who hated and feared me.”

The fire popped into human form. “That, dear Thomas, is the one thing all you Thinkers have in common.”

Resa pulled back. “Who’re you?”

“Lucifer, dear lady.”

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The Inheritors Chapter 10 – Resa ValJean, 211 Cavalos Era

Read The Inheritors Chapter 9 – Kyagtshagg, 2035AD

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The Inheritors Chapter 10 – Resa ValJean, 211 Cavalos Era

Resa stretched, anguine like, as the Librarian guided her from the Neuroscaphe. “There were some fluctuations in the Labyrinth today, Bertrand. ”

“One of your compatriot Thinkers achieved something unexpected.”

She waited but the Librarian offered no more. “Bertrand, you’ll have to learn to give more information if you want to talk to me.”

The Librarian’s eyes remained dark.

“Bertrand? ” She slowly moved her hand in front of his face. He didn’t track it. Instead he kept his dark, silent eyes on hers. “What’s wrong, Bertrand?

“A Librarian died.”

“Oh, Bertrand, I’m so sorry. Was it someone I know?”

“No, a brother another named ‘Roland’.”

“Still, I’m sorry. Was it a painful death?”

“For whom?”

But she had already turned away and her clothes insulated her from the heat of his words.

They continued through the BookShelves. Resa’s skirt swung methodically as she walked, her long, pale legs taking small steps so as not to tax the little Librarian. “I’d like to go outside today, Bertrand. Would it be possible to see the sun today?”

“The sun can not be seen near the purification plants.”

“Oh. The clouds. Of course. Can we go further out then?”


An hour later they walked in the dark towards the terminus of a forgotten service tunnel. Small things scurried underfoot and Resa heard water dripping along the way. The Librarian held her hand and guided her in the dark. “Bertrand, could you give me some light? Only for a little while. I don’t want you to hurt yourself. I want to see where I am.”

The Librarian’s eyes grew hot, passing from dull red into orange, the heat he generated searing the flesh around his eyes. She felt him screaming, “If I had a mother she would have called me ‘Sonny’.”

The light from his eyes faded and he shook.

“Thank you, Bertrand. That was very kind. ” She wrapped some of her skirt around the shaking librarian.

His eyes glowed again and she kissed his forehead between them. “No, no, no. Silence. Silence now. Don’t speak. Just listen.”

She held the Librarian close and rested his head against her chest, its eyes running with plasma as they blistered and healed themselves. Slowly it put its arms around her neck and allowed itself to hang there. She rocked back and forth as if comforting a tired child. “There are thousands of creatures down here in this tunnel, Bertrand. Far more numerous and varied than any on the surface, I think. But they live in the dark. Perhaps they’ve lived in the dark for so long they’ve grown accustomed to it. I don’t know. But I do know they’ve grown to fear the light.

“Now think, Bertrand, although I know you’ll say thinking is not the basis of your kind, but think with me for a moment anyway.

“You, who were not designed to think, spoke a joke that gave light in this darkness. Some creatures feared it and ran away. Others were curious and came close. Those that came close, you’ve given wisdom to. Those who ran away ran back to superstitions they already had.”

He lifted his eyes to her face and whispered softly, “A wise thought.”

She pulled his head back down to her chest and rubbed the muscular neck. “Yes. I think so. It’s from the man I named you after, Bertrand Russell: ‘Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.’ Now be quiet. Give yourself time to heal.”

She wasn’t sure how long they stayed thus, only that she’d nodded off and was woken by something making its way up her arm. She caught it in her hand and felt its softly furred surface. Tiny scampering feet forced their way through her hand until a tiny, big-eared head poked free. A long, murine tail curled around her fingers. “Cheep.”

“M. Souris? Mr. Mouse? Is that you?”


The big-eared head burrowed into her palm and she felt its nose and whiskers sniffle for crumbs in the hollows of her hand.

“Would you like a crust of bread? A bit of cracker?”


She opened the hand that held the mouse and quickly clapped it to her other. She felt the mouse crack and crunch between them as it shrieked its final “cheep”.

“Eat that, little thing. No one touches Resa Valjean unless she lets them.”

The Librarian breathed deeply, as if waking, and her voice grew soft again. “Oh, my, Bertrand. How long have we been away? You won’t get in any trouble, will you?”

“No. ” He paused, his eyes silent for a moment, then a dull glow, a whisper, “Resa, how do you repair?”

“Repair? I’m not sure what you mean.”

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The Inheritors Chapter 9 – Kyagtshagg, 2035AD

Read The Inheritors Chapter 8 – Roland Ayers, 1996AD

Note his is a work-in-progress, folks. Kyagtshagg use to be “Yu-Ping Chang.” I realized that language form was some 22,000 years ahead of her first introduction to the story hence was invalid and went with a similar meaning in the earliest Tibetan dialect I could find.

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The Inheritors Chapter 9 – Kyagtshagg, 2035AD

Fire, it seemed, was the humans’ answer to everything. Didn’t like the people? Burn them. Didn’t like the place? Burn it down. Didn’t like the ideas? Burn the books.

Oh, Kyagtshagg had seen it so many times she was sick of it. Sick of it, do you hear? Sick, sick, sick.

Even their celebrations were ceremonies of fire. New Year’s Eve in Montreal was, yes, a gala celebration, and oh, yes, the midnight sky was alight with the nomads’ fireworks. Big booming bangs of every shade and hue shuddering and shaking the ground far below.

She laughed and looked away from the key to some children holding their parents’ hands beside her. So long ago.

Or no, it wasn’t.

She couldn’t remember. She’d either been a child or had a child.

Which was it now?

Another booming blast of light obliterated the full moon and hid the cosmos behind a veil of specters dancing in the midnight sky.

But the humans did this. Not spirits. When she was young, yes, she remembered, when she into a demon changed, the Dancing Skies came down and danced with her. Yes. She remembered and smiled.

A little girl holding onto her grandfather’s hand looked up and smiled back.

Kyagtshagg lazily raised a gloved hand to her face and felt whiskers there, but not the demon kind. No, now a mustache and beard, both straggly and worn, like the face and body she wore, she’d allowed herself to show some age — Not too much, though. No. Not too much — since she’d run away from the last life she’d led.

That was a good thing about a society moving so quickly while standing still; you could escape whatever prison you imagined yourself in by simply walking faster than a camera-eye could follow. So, when there was nothing more to be gained from where you lived, just walk away. People were flooded with so much information they could see your face on milk cartons, breakfast boxes, soda pop bottles, buses, trucks, garbage cans and every five minutes depending on which screen they were watching, and they’d let you be unless they had a reason not to.

Say boo to their dog when it took a pee on your foot and they’d sell you for the price of your skin, but ignore whatever they and their foolish nomad kin did and they’d keep you around just for the sport of it, just to have a place for their dog to pee.

And, oh, how she hated things that peed.

But no dogs peed on her boot this cloudless, full mooned, cold, Montreal New Year’s Eve night, no Dancing Skies came down to tweak and twizzle her demon whiskers. Tonight only this little girl smiled up at her as she, Kyagtshagg, deserter of wives and husbands and children and nomads all, smiled back down.

The booms piled up on each other, coming like rocket shells raining fire down on villages, towns, and people in wars past; the finalé. She wished it were the Dancing Skies who the humans recently renamed The Aurora Borealis.

Such a name, Aurora Borealis. Not romantic. Not even as much a carrier of the truth as the other foolishness she’d heard, The Northern Lights.

Humans had no sense of their history, of their origin. But honor their pasts? Revere their ancients?


Screaming drew her attention. A disturbance where Rue de St. Catherine met the Old Quarter. Several police tanks came fast, their psychecannons aimed high, the radiators cool.

They don’t want people to get out of the way?

She stood, hesitating, the cold masking her unsure twitches as shivers from the code.

Move closer? Find out what the rush is all about?

Or run because just this once the damned nomad technology found her out, her face hadn’t changed enough and been seen by someone who knew someone who knew someone who knew.

She’d killed all who knew. She’d killed all who even guessed. Even if they hadn’t guessed, even if only once their eyes glistened with some intelligence, an intelligence bringing their eyes back to bite her in their thin moment lives, she killed them.

They were nomads. You could do that with. Kill them, be gone, and they hardly registered the loss unless somebody owed somebody or someone failed to line up their next pawn in the game.

The man holding the hand of the little girl lifted her into his arms.

“Where are we going, Poppa?”

“It’s okay, Resa. We have to be going now.”

Kyagtshagg, hearing the brief exchange, focused on the man and child just as the man stared back.

Poppa? Certainly you are too old to be her “Poppa”.

The man stared back, crushing the child to him. “Poppa, you’re hurting me.”

He looked away, holding the child close still but relaxing his grip a little. “It’s because I love you so much, my little one.”

He glanced back at Kyagtshagg and, catching her eye, glanced away.

Does he recognize me?

“You have a lovely daughter, Sir.”

The child smiled as the man turned away. He froze. Kyagtshagg watched steam rise from him, evaporating in the streetlights. He turned back slowly and met her eyes. He held the child close but away from Kyagtshagg, protecting the child from a sudden grab. His eyelids lowered and his lips barely moved when he spoke. “Thank you, sir.”

What are you seeing? Does you recognize me? Do I have to kill you, too? Is that what you want? Here, in this crowd, in front of your daughter? Really? Do you want me to kill you?

The New Year’s Even wind shifted slightly, blowing out the old year, blowing in the new. Kyagtshagg breathed deep the midnight Montreal cold and caught a scent of fear.

From this man holding so dearly this little girl.

Fear of Kyagtshagg.

Well, yes, of course. But how? Why?

The little girl wrapped her arms around her father. He pulled her coat and scarf and mufflers tightly around her as his gaze wandered through the crowd. “Rose?”

An elderly woman two people over waved and nodded at him. Two boys, older but each dressed warmly and snuggly much like the little girl, were attached one to each of her arms.

Broadcasters on the police tanks called to the cold midnight crowds, repeating and sending their message in every direction in Quebeçois and English, “Ayez votre Carte de Santé OMS en main. Have your WHO Screen Card ready. Ayez votre Carte de Santé OMS en main. Have your WHO Screen Card ready.”

The man carrying the little girl, the woman and her two boys, stood shaking, their eyes darting, evaluating, flight or fight, an island of fear in a sea of civilization, even as Kyagtshagg’s hand reached into her coat, even as a thousand hands reached into a thousand coats around her, even as each hand pulled out its owner’s WHO Screen Card. The lights of the last booming false fire in the sky faded, the echoes ran down streets and alleys, fleeing into the St. Laurent on either side as the crowds stood still in the streets, each face basking in the broad, pale New Year’s Eve moonlight, a city of zombies waiting for passage to humanhood.

Except for the man, the woman, the little girl and the two little boys. The man took his eyes off Kyagtshagg’s but now other eyes stared at him. His eyes came back to Kyagtshagg’s. “Monsieur – ”

“Je parle l’Anglais maintenant ici, s’il vous plait , ” Kyagtshagg answered.

“I beg your pardon, sir. ” The man held the little girl close to him, closer than Kyagtshagg had ever seen a father hold his child.

Kyagtshagg handed the man her WHO card. Tears came into the man’s eyes. His chin quivered. He kissed the little girl he held, kissed her fiercely, holding her face against his and rubbing his cheeks against hers as if he were a cat marking her as his own. Then he said, “Get down, Resa.”

“But why, Poppa?”

“Just get down, Resa. You’re such a big girl now, you’re a little too heavy to hold. ” The man released his grip but the little girl held him tight.

“But Poppa — ”

“Get down, Resa. You, Momma, your brothers and I. We told you this day might come.”

The little girl’s face iced in the Montreal moonlight as she slid down from her father’s grasp. Somebody bumped into Kyagtshagg from behind and she felt a rude hand search her pockets for her WHO card. “Excusez-moi, Pardon me, Pardonnez, A’scuzá a’scuzè , ” came a voice after the hands, the body feigning drunkenness as the hands searched through the next person’s pockets. Crude. Someone else, another immigrant, another nomad who came for solace and comfort and instead found a land in the throes of panic over a disease no one knew how to combat.


She noticed but thought nothing of it. Sloppy. Weak. Let her guard down like that again and the nomads would be at her throat; She was the oldest — ha! she chuckled at that — looking person she’d seen in the crowd. For someone with gray hairs to be out on this cold a night, under a full moon and where others could see you? Such a person must have a WHO card with them, upon them.

Amazing more nomads hadn’t picked her pockets.

The man, the woman, and the two boys vanished into the crowd. Only the little girl remained, sniffing back dry tears at his feet.

A policeman came up and held out a gloved hand. “Certificate.”

Kyagtshagg lifted the little girl up in his arms. “Show the nice man your card, Resa.”

The little girl stared at him.

“Go ahead, sweetheart. He’s not going to hurt you. ” Kyagtshagg smiled at the policeman who didn’t look back, simply continued holding his hand out for the card.

The little girl handed the card over.

The policeman lifted his Reader from his belt and put the card through. The screen blinked then came up with garbage. “Damn. ” He banged it and put the card through again. Still garbage. He breathed hard into the chip reader and tried one more time. “Sucre-Deiu.”


“Damn fools sent us out on the coldest night in years and expect us to gather up HLPs. They know these Readers are only good to Zed.”

Kyagtshagg smiled as the policeman whacked the Reader again and waited for the screen to clear. “Maybe you got some Anglos in command who think zed is zero-Fahrenheit, eh?”

The policeman kept his eyes on his Reader but laughed. “You got any other papers, sir?”

“Sure. Hang on a minute. ” He put the little girl down. “Go find Momma, Resa, okay? Tell her I’ll meet you all at Chez Temporal in ten minutes for drinks and then we’ll go home, okay?”

“But — ” Resa protested.

“Shh. Hush. Do as I say or there’ll be no wine in your glass, little girl. ” She spun Resa in the direction her family fled and patted her bottom to hurry her along.

The policeman lifted the WHO card. “Hey!”

Kyagtshagg took it and pocketed it quickly. “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure she gets it when the family gets together later. Now, as for something else to show you… ” She took her wallet out of her backpocket and appreciated the absurdity of it all: money, wallets, watches, identity via drivers’ license and what-have-you, a;; all now safe. Pickpockets wcouldn’t bother with them. The new exchange de franca were WHO Screen Cards stating sometime within the last sixty-eight hours you were tested free for HLP III prions. Laser tagged and smart, the industry forging the cards was almost as preumptuate as the industry performing the tests. But forged cards were costly to make and expensive to buy and had to be renewed at sixty-eight hours from their initial use. Talk about industries spawning industries! By the time most immigrants bought their way here from wherever they couldn’t afford new cards, hence the roundups like the British cattle culls of the mid-1990’s.

Kyagtshagg intentionally let her wallet pop open to her McGill University WHO Lab pass, photo ID showing her mature, whiskered, male smiling face.

The policeman glanced at it long enough to know he shouldn’t piss her off; someday either his or his family’s test might be in this man’s hands and a slight misreading of some strip of paper or some computer screen would send the WHO guards to his house, to burn it down while they stood about cold and hard behind their environmental shields, talking amongst themselves in their environmental suits, asking did the family have any pets? Asking were there any others recently with the family? Was there anyone else recently in the house?

The policeman turned quickly away, holding his Reader like a shield over his breastpocket nametag. “Thank you, Monsieur. Sorry to take up your time.”

“Not a problem. ” Kyagtshagg smiled at the nomad’s retreating form. “We all make little mistakes, yes?”

The policeman stopped. His shoulders slumped. He hurried on.

Kyagtshagg shook her head. She evaluated hundreds of tests per day and what happened to individual nomads was of little concern to her. What was happening to them all, however…

Evaluating forms was a different power than the Demon Kyagtshagg possessed long ago. But it suited her none-the-less.

She looked around her. The little girl, gone. Her family gone longer still. The impudent fool who sought Kyagtshagg’s card in her pocket?

Ah, police already surrounded him, guided him with their tasers and not their hands, each protest met with a mild tzzzng followed with a yelp, the sound of a little dog kicked while taking a pee.

It made her smile, the sound of the tzzzng followed by the yelp and then followed sometimes by the smell of fresh, hot pee on this cold Quebeçois night..

How she hated things that took a pee.

But without things that took a pee, would she not be in the lab and so close to understanding what the BrainStone had done?

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The Inheritors Chapter 8 – Roland Ayers, 1996AD

Read The Inheritors Chapter 7 – Reginald Seth Van Gelder, 1635AD – 1644AD

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

The Inheritors Chapter 8 – Roland Ayers, 1996AD

The sunset cast rainbow-like orange, crimson, and rose rays west to east through the sky. He heard guidebouys clang in the harbor and gulls squawk on the roof above and in the streets and alleys below. Soon the breeze would change and instead of riding the temperature gradient from sea to land they would ride one from land to sea.

An hour and a half by time zone changes away, Ceilly and Leila would be singing Hungarian Gypsy tunes as they walked home from school. Almost half a world away, beyond where night became day and day became night again, Coyne, Kawahara, Sekiely and Emilikoff were freezing and being eateny alive by mosquitoes.

He lifted a cup of thick, strong, almost burnt coffee to his lips and sipped, wiping off the drops which collected on his dark, walrus mustache, taking a moment from the present conundrum ISU had handed him – the bones of a white man discovered in Washington Sound. Not unusual, no, except the best dating for the bones put the caucasian in Washington Sound circa 9300BC, long before any caucasian had a right to be in the New World, let alone Washington Sound, and chronologically right between the Na-Dené and Aleut-Eskimo migrations, as if somebody had an extra white man they had no use for and dropped him there rather than have him continue on.


He shrugged it off. Leave it for a another time. He sipped his coffee and kept his eyes on the few gulls aloft, waiting for the brief moment of anxious flight when the thermals changed. It was a little thing, he thought, yet so much science took place in that moment of transition. Somehow the universe flipped a switch and the direction of airflow changed. Somehow the gulls knew it was about to change and started moving their wings slightly in preparation. Somehow turbulence caught them but only for a second or a little more and then their directions were set, their courses laid in anew, and they continued as if nothing happened, this was the way it was suppose to be, this was God’s Master Plan and they were only players doing their small part in it. There was nothing mystical about it at all, but deep inside he knew there still had to be the mystic. The mystic was in his blood and in theirs.

Only they didn’t know it.

Or did they?

The phone rang and he knew it had already rung in his kitchen an hour and a half time zones away, bouncing off the pink formica countertops and pink refrigerator and pink stove and pink dishwasher and pink everything that Momma and Ceilly had picked out for him when he bought the house twenty years ago and hardly lived in since, had already rung in his Jaguar XKE classic, forest green with black leather and wood panel interior, would next find its way to his office at the Institute for Psychology of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in Budapest, where blackboards and greenboards stood heavy with equations which might be solutions to problems he’d heard a Mr. Fernberg ask his brother when both he and Tommy spent two weeks at a special school which never existed, and if he didn’t answer the phone on this desk in this room by the tenth ring it would begin shaking the mobile cellular in his breastpocket and then, as a last ditch effort to find him on a planet growing constantly smaller, chirp the pager on his hip.

He had another cellphone but only the ISU had the number to it and they called him thrice in all his time with them; once when the Martian bacterial spores had been found in the Antarctic meteor fields, once when the SME satellites’ imaging systems detected something moving on the far side of the sun, and once for the white man’s bones.

The first two turned out to be natural anomalies and didn’t concern him. The third? Ehh. Who knew?

He kept his eyes on the gulls and absently reached for the phone, letting it ring while waiting for the gulls to change.

Eighth ring. The turbulence began but only noticeable to those who knew to look for it.

Ninth ring. The gulls opened their wings little more and flapped once, twice.

Tenth ring. Winds changed. Wings filled. Gulls twisted. a little thing, unnoticed by most, but the universe had slightly changed and he had witnessed it.

He lifted his coffee. It tasted good and he licked off the drops clinging to his mustache.

The phone stopped ringing. He lifted the receiver and tapped a starcode in. Somewhere a computer recognized that he’d answered just a little too late and rerouted the call back to the now silent phone. When he heard the line become active he said, “Ayers.”

“Roland?” It was Ceilly and she didn’t sound good.

His heart sank into his stomach. What was wrong? Why hadn’t he picked up the phone on the first ring? “Ceilly? What is it?”

Cold silence answered him on the phone.

“My God, Ceilly, no. No.”

Her voice broke. The phone shook in his hand. She couldn’t talk, only hysterical screams and sobs made their way through the lines.

“Ceilly. ” How could he calm his sister against their greatest fears? “Where are you now? Are you home?”

Two sobs. An old part of him remembered a joke he and Tommy use to make when Ceilly was upset: two sobs for yes, one sob for no. It was hell but maybe an old joke joked best for her now?

“You are home?”

She shrieked words he hadn’t heard since Poppa touched the hot electric ground coming into the house when he strung the Feast of Magda lights. “Goddamn you, Ro , ” she finished.

Okay. Not now. “What has happened, Ceilly?”

“She hasn’t come home from school , ” she sobbed.

He checked his watch and added the time difference. “How long?”

“An hour, maybe two.”

The ISU phone chirped in his pocket.

“Ceilly, I — ”

“Ro, little Leila. You don’t think…”

The ISU phone chirped again. First all of Poppa’s family in the Camps, then Tommy gone when he was a boy, Uncle Reynard five years later, then Poppa, then Momma, and now…

It was too much agony now. He couldn’t do this over the phone. “Ceilly, I’m calling up a plane. I must go.”

She interrupted him with another barrage of hysterics that struck him like cannon fire over the phone.

“Ceilly, Ceilly, you give me an hour and a little more and I will be there with you. have you called the police?”

“What will they do? They will do nothing unless she’s been gone for a day or more.”

“No, no. Ceilly. I don’t want you to call them.”

Slowly her sobs abated. Ro kept his eyes on his watch and counted the cell-phone’s chirps. He didn’t know what would happen if he didn’t respond to the ISU. He always had before.

All three times.

Each time as soon as it rang.

That’s what the SPD’s Chief Investigator was suppose to do.

Ceilly, the words still stopping in her throat, said, “You don’t want me to call the police?”

He dropped his watch hand. It had taken a full minute for Ceilly to calm enough to speak. The ISU phone continued chirping. “No. I’ll take care of it. I’ll be there soon. ” All the friends and neighbors would be mobilized by the time he got there, he knew. Ceilly would stop men and women in the street to ask if they’d seen her daughter.

“Okay, Ro. I’ll be waiting.”

“Ceilly, I have to tell you to do something. It’s very hard, I want you to know.”


“I want you to do nothing. Stay home. This is something you must do.”

“Roland — ”

“Ceilly, it is something you must do.”

She paused. How much longer would the ISU phone chirp?

“Okay, Roland. You know what’s best.”

“I do, Ceilly. I do. Now good-bye. I will be there soon.”

He dropped his office phone without looking to see if it hit the cradle and snapped the cell-phone open. “Yes?”

The line pulsed with static. He couldn’t recognize the voice and barely understood the words. “Roland? You okay?”

“Yes.” The ISU didn’t use such dirty lines. He ran out of his office and up the access stairs to the roof. Pigeons and seagulls scattered and cawed at his approach.

Still dirty.

Strange. ISU phones used a satellite based priority acquisition, line-of-sight mapping technology, not standard cellular methods. The line couldn’t be this dirty.

Was it possible there were no satellites passing overhead?

“Roland, this is Emilikoff.”

“What are you using? The line is dirty as hell.”

“Same as you, ISU cell-pack. The dirt your hearing is why I’m calling. We ran into something and we think you should see it before we go any further.”

He forgot to ask Ceilly if she’s told her husband, Yves, about this. No matter, he’d be there soon and make amends. “Can this wait a day?”

“A day? Roland, it’ll take you that long just to get here and that’s flying suborbital.”

“Yes. It can wait two days, then?”

“It’ll have to.”

“Then can it wait three days?”

“What is this, God talking to Lot? Roland, something has happened. Something you should see.”

“Yes, yes. I understand. I will be out there soon. I will need a day to deal with something else.”

“Roland — ”

“It is important.”

“Okay. It’s your call. We’ll shutdown ’till you get here.”

“Three days. That’s all. ” The ISU phone signalled off.

His strength was the understanding of mysteries, he knew. So did the ISU, which is why they hired him. Like the mysteries of stationary gulls effortlessly riding the winds of flight, gulls seemingly stationary until you knew how to look and what to look for, it seemed Ceilly and Emilikoff’s calls were related.

Connections were wonderful and he was good at finding them. They made understanding easier. Tommy’s gift to him, he knew, the ability to understand mysteries, to recognize connections.

Perhaps their time in the womb together caused some of Tommy’s genius to rub off on him?

But he could think like Tommy when he had to. He couldn’t do it long and he couldn’t do it hard, the way Tommy could, but for a few seconds he could have insights like his brother, insights leaving him weak and exhausted for days with a mind hellishly in fugue, fighting for his sanity amidst the möskeström of chaos.

How Tommy lived there day in and day out Ro didn’t know, although he muchly appreciated the hell his brother must have lived in all those years, seeing things and understanding things no one would know or understand for years, maybe centuries even. Fortunately, his thought processes didn’t make themselves known for several years after Tommy’s disappearance.

But now, here, as he listened to the gulls and watched the setting sun’s rainbow burn itself out like a too hot photograph across the sky, he felt the tweak and twitch in his left eye, the weakness along his rightside, and knew that mysterious connection engine inside his head at work again.

He spread his arms and asked God to help him fly.

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The Inheritors Chapter 7 – Reginald Seth Van Gelder, 1635AD – 1644AD

Read The Inheritors Chapter 6 – Yu-Ping Chang, 1985AD

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The Inheritors Chapter 7 – Reginald Seth Van Gelder, 1635AD – 1644AD

Seth sucked on his tongue and choked on the blood flowing there.

“Clean yourself.”

“Yes, Father.” Seth reached for some aprons the maids laid out for him.

Joseph Van Gelder lifted his son’s face and inspected the blood dribbling out the corners of his mouth, focusing on it mixing with spit and tears. “Is it true what they say, that you have fits?”

“No, Father. It was a spectre that overpowered me.”

“Tell me.”

Seth rested on his knees. “There was a ghost in the hall — ”

His father pointed at the floor. “Clean.” He watched Seth scrub. “When?”

Seth didn’t raise his eyes. “I do not know, Father. It was there when you and Addie left.”


“I’m sorry, Father. I didn’t — ”

“What did it do? Did you see?”

“It did nothing. Nothing until I came here to bathe. It seemed prepared to go away until I noticed it flickering there.”

“Flickering? It wasn’t a steady light?”

“No, Father. It seemed ready to leave until I spoke.”

“What did you say?”

“I called out asking if anyone was making fool of me.”

“You spoke nothing from the Solas?”

“How could I, Father? [[I’ve not seen the book]] until this day.”

Father grunted the truth of it but the sound did not please Seth or calm his fears.

“What has happened, Father? What have I done?” What have you done to me?

“It would seem those who Speculate do more of the Operate. Jebulon hear me.”


Father’s attention focused back to Seth but his gaze didn’t give the boy pause. “Finish this. Clean yourself. Then bring yourself to me. We have reason to talk. ” He closed the door, leaving Seth alone in the bathing chamber.

Seth dropped the aprons beside the tub, shrugged out of his robe and slowly sat in the lukewarm waters, careful not to let any pass the lips of the tub and splash the floor. Today, less than an hour old, was not a day Seth hoped any day to be: his jaw ached where Father thrashed him, Addie and another housemaid mocked him, things came from him no one warned him of, and his privy ached with a pressure never felt before. For the first time in his life his body sickened him and he didn’t know why. It sickened him to the point he feared touching it, any part of it, his body a new and alien thing set to consume him if he gave it a hint he existed.

He felt this before, when the spectre approached; a sense of something about to consume him. Something he couldn’t stop. Something he couldn’t fight off. Much like Father when Seth misspoke during a meal.

But now… Now he loathed his own flesh and it frightened him so. He lowered his face into the still waters and cried.

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