I’m dreaming of Billy. Billy in his last minutes. Billy as a duck, squawking and flailing about as his wings erupt into flames. I am back there again, in the college cafeteria watching Suzie, Sandra, Moshi, Gul and the others screaming and crying for help as they burn or bleed from their broken bodies. And there was nothing I can do. Because again, I have been blown back from the circle, bodily into a concrete pillar. I am laying on the floor watching them, with a leg broken in three places and a fractured hip. I can’t help, but I can watch, watch in horror as they die. But Billy is the worst. It’s bad enough to die, to burn to death. But to be transformed into a goddamned duck before you’re roasted, that’s just mean.

I awoke from that horrific dream the way I always did, face mashed into a pillow, gasping for breath, covered in a cold sweat. And alone. And that’s probably a good thing, because if anyone could wring out of me why I awoke like I did it was Toni. And I did not want her to.

“It’s just a dream, it’s just a dream, it’s just a dream,’ I repeated, chanting the imagery out of my mind. Yeah, it’d been real, once. But that had been enough to give me nightmares still.

I turned over in the dim light, the words gradually calming down my racing heart. I hated that dream, had hoped I’d never have it again. How long had it been since I’d had it last, shit, five years, six? How could I possibly be having it again after so long.

At least my condition wasn’t a repeat of that terrible night. I seemed otherwise fine. And when I glanced worriedly around my bedroom, there was nothing out of place. No alarm or phone was ringing, the air didn’t smell at all of brimstone and burning human flesh.

And then I remembered what was going on this November A.M.

I looked over at my Android on its stand. 7:56 it glowed menacingly. Four minutes before I the alarm was set to go off. Not unprecedented, And even expected, all things considered.

I had to get up, had to be in the office by nine, and so pulled my unwilling body out of bed, went through all my morning routine, still, knowing I was going to have to face again what forced that 2 AM wake up call. Damn it, the night had started so well. But Toni was long since gone. Her shift at St, Michael’s starts too early for a sane human being to contemplate.

Three days past Halloween.

It was cold for this time of year, the news said five degrees tops, but, in my flannel robe and armed with a hot cup of coffee, I ventured out onto my balcony, into the cold and crisp fall air to look down, and remind myself that this wasn’t at all a good morning to be the building manager of 23 Pangbourne Place.

Yes, the police cars were still there, in fact, they’d multiplied. There were four of them now, and what looked like it could be a crime scene van. There was also a Pulse 24-7 news van as well. Great, we’d be chatted about breezily all through the local the morning news, and virally online to who the hell knows where. That would certainly mean I’d have to ready myself for a long reassuring call to Emily. And what was that among the marked vehicles. Something white and brown, a convertible helping to block the buildings entranceway. Looked like it was long enough to be some vintage 60s classic. For some reason just looking at the thing made the hairs on the back of my neck stand right up.

I shook my head, went back inside and finished my Tarrazu dark roast.

Maybe Teresa would know what kind of ancient muscle car that was. She’d had more than one boyfriend who’d been a car buff, or so she’d claimed.

Ah, Teresa. The moon was still in the sky, low on the horizon. Almost full, really.

How do you tell what time of the month it is? Do you check your calendar, your alarm clock. Do you looked at the top of your newspaper, . Or is there a nice animated object on your computer screen that tells you when you are.

I don’t have to do that. Because I know exactly thirteen times year, where I am shown that there’s going to be a full moon in the sky.

You see, typically, my admin assistant, Teresa, tends to wear, clothes that show a fair bit of skin, albeit usually smooth and attractive olive tinged skin, whether it be a dressy tank top, skirt with a slit, I think you get the idea. Pretty much whatever she can get away with and still look like she works in an office and not a cocktail bar.

Because, be fair, she could easily be described as hot, still a few years shy of thirty and relatively single.. Something that my girlfriend Toni has pointed out, almost jealously, more than once. Not almost at least once. Honestly, I do my best to be a gentleman and a good boss.

So, I’ve always told her not to worry. Why? Because I get a lesson of what Teresa is really like three days a month. And this Thursday, November Second, that lesson would begin repeated as it had over the six months since I hired her.

Go To Chapter 2

 

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Other serials by A A Roi updated with new Chapters  every Saturday on thenewscifi.com

The Promethead (Post-apocalyptic science fiction)

It has been more than two hundred years since the destruction of galactic civilization by the invasion of the Macros. Althea Ram, exile from a culture which survived the apocalypse, has been searching for answers amongst the lost worlds of the Consortia. Her past failures, pyrrhic victories and dwindling resources have lead her to plan a desperate transit to Elysium, a world which could provide her everything she needs. But the probability of getting there on the first try is very low. And she has no way of telling how dangerous her destination might be.

Because on any lost world, Althea must face dangers; hostile environments, the technologies once beneficial, now warped by Macro control, the decendants of human survivors – turned violent and suspicious by the Macro threat, and even herself, driven by needs she barely controls, or understands.

***

Up In Space (Scifi Comedy)

Iain Compton never planned to be abducted by an alien spaceship.  It just… happened.  And now he’s been awakened 22,000 years in the future and half a galaxy away by a pair of oddly human seeming beak nosed aliens and a space ship A.I. that seems to have more than a few screws loose. Oh, and then there’s this gorgeous alien woman who he probably shouldn’t trust at all.  His plan is to find a way home to Earth, even if its unlikely to be remotely the same; to find a better class of companions among an often strange and inexplicable galactic community, at least one who won’t use him or sell him out at the first opportunity; and to do something about the parasites in his brain who are supposed to connect him to a library the size of the galaxy, but seem to only be telling him that almost everyone and everything he comes across wants to kill him.

But at least he can still send tweets.

***

Call it a Mission (Contemporary Supernatural Mystery)

Palantine and Co. is an unusual company that does its work in an unusual field. But it’s attractive enough to out of work Gary Bellamy, and offers decent pay and a good benefits package. But there are a few things a little strange about the local office. The CEO is perpetually out of town, apparently in search of ‘Enlightenment’. His co-workers are involved in research and investigations involve the likes of Bigfoot, ghosts, walk-ins and other supernatural phenomena, for who its not quite clear. It all seems a bit dodgy to Gary but again, good benefits package.

Ephram Palantine is having problems of his own. His search for Enlightenment hasn’t been going all that well, has lead down some rather bizarre rabbit holes. It’s about to get a lot worse.

The employees of Palantine and Co. are themselves hoping their new hire is exactly what they need. Otherworldly phenomena is on the rise. A seven year old girl has gone missing in northern Michigan, and they are sure it involves something that happened to Gary when he was a boy, thirty years ago, not to mention that there have been sightings of same identical dead man on a Lake Erie beach now for several decades. Some might call what Gary and his co-workers are about to get involved in to protect humanity from a world whose borders with other realities are fraying at the edges, incredible and perhaps even insane. Some might call it a mission.

***

Defending Mars(YA Science Fiction)

14 year old Tory Ciarelli did not want to get stuck on the planet Mars, but here she is, dragged 50 million miles from her home Earth, by her parents to the new frontier. She has a plan to escape Mars, but might not be able to accomplish her goal on her own.

21 year old Gurminder Kalsi is a third generation bornehere Martian, a rig driver working for the planetary clans who were abandoned by Earth but managed to survive and prosper but are now at the mercy of the massive new colonization effort. He too is trapped on the red plane, but not by circumstance, but by biology. Born on Mars he can not leave to go to the world his grandparents came from.

But together Tory and Gurminder might be able to find a way out of their traps. If they can work together. If they don’t manage to make things even worse…

***

Black Cloak White Art (High Fantasy)

It has been eighty years since the since the last Conjunction of the Three Realms and the accompanying Riven War wrecked havok on the world of Aethros.  Since then the Wizards of the North have worked hard to reshape thier identities, forge the Alliance of the Thirteen Greater and Lesser Kingdoms and prepare for the next conjunction, barely more than a decade away.

But under the twin suns, one hot one cold, something is not quite right. Greyslan Amberglass, veteran of the last conjunction and one of the masterminds behind the new orders of magic has begun to discover that the plans he helped enact aren’t quite turning out as expected.  And the new generations of Wizards have their own ideas of how to defend against inevitable conflict with the worlds above and below.

To uncover these growing conspiracies, he sets out into the new world he helped create, searching for answers and uncovering threats to the lands he vowed to protect.  And this starts with the theft of a set of Arcory Stones, created in the last act of his mentor Arcory, Master of Demons, Victor of The Riven War.  Where it will end, there is know way yet to know…