The Chains We Forge In Life: Part Two

Submitted by Christopher Wright on
Little Dresden Freedom House, January 7, 1984

“First thing you have to understand: I'm not anyone's leader.”

Roland is lean almost to the point of emaciation. He has no body fat at all—just lean, pale skin and ropy, knotted muscles. He wears a dirty white tank top shirt, black jeans, and heavy work boots. His hair is cut short and dyed green. His face is angular with high, sharp cheekbones; blue eyes peer out from underneath thick dark eyebrows.

CB has seen him somewhere before. He can't place it.

“I'm serious,” Roland says. “I'm not a leader, I'm a guide. I figured out how to deal with myself a long time ago, and I managed to do it without killing anyone—which is incredibly lucky, considering what I can do. All I care about is getting you to the point where you can get a handle on what you do to the point where you don't hurt anyone, including yourself.”

“That's it?” CB doesn't bother to hide his skepticism.

“That, world peace, and the occasional cold beer,” Roland says. “Look, I won't pretend there isn't more to me than that. I have opinions and I share them. But you don't have to agree with them for me to help you. You could be a fucking Democrat or Republican for all I care, I'd still help you. That said, I have a little speech I give everyone before I start, and if you want my help you have to listen to it first.”

The Chains We Forge In Life: Part One

Submitted by Christopher Wright on

“I wear the chain I forged in life,” replied the Ghost. “I made it link by link, and yard by yard; I girded it on of my own free will, and of my own free will I wore it.” -Jacob Marley, A Christmas Carol

The Thorpe Industries supersonic cargo plane looks more like a space ship than an airplane. At least, it does to CB—it's an argument he'd briefly had with Robert, back in the old days, starting when he made the offhanded observation about a prototype design. Robert had taken it upon himself to disagree.

“It's all smooth and bubble-like,” CB says. “I've never seen an airplane look like that before. It's… spacey.”

Robert shakes his head. “It's aerodynamic, which would be completely irrelevant for a spaceship. Spaceships fly in space. They don't need to deal with the friction involved in tearing through a gas at 800 miles per hour.”

“Spaceship,” CB insists. Robert wisely lets the matter drop.

Now CB and his group are riding in the passenger cabin of the thing itself—the schematic he'd seen in Robert's lab—and he still thinks the same thing.

Spaceship. It even hovers.

Six men and two women sit around a table in the passenger cabin. One more man is laid out on a couch in the small recreational area at the far end of the cabin, unconscious, an IV sticking out of his arm. A seventh man—or what's left of him—has been stuffed in a black-and-yellow biohazard sack and is propped up against the cabin kitchenette. He's not dead, but his current state is non-conscious and, in a direct quote from his only conscious teammate, “visually disturbing.”

Triple Helix: Part Fifteen

Submitted by Christopher Wright on
The Fourth Horseman

CB forces himself to breathe. It’s hard—mucus keeps filling his lungs, and he’s constantly coughing and gagging, trying to take a clear breath, but he finds if he focuses on breathing it's easier to handle everything else: the fever, the chills, the pain shooting through his gut. Focusing on a very basic act of survival allows him to move everything else into the background.

It doesn’t solve the problem, though: Plague is killing him.

“I didn’t even have to try this time.” Plague sounds smug. “Last time we met, I really had to work up a sweat to break through your—I don’t know. Whatever it is. That thing you have that’s protected your sorry ass for as long as we’ve known each other. But here, in this place? With all this power swirling around? I just had to think and it happened.”

CB coughs, wheezes, and says nothing.

“What, no smartass comment? Well I’m not surprised. Disappointed, I guess. I kinda hoped you might go down swinging. For old times' sake, you know? On the other hand…” Plague chuckles to himself. “I did give you a hell of a disease, didn’t I? And you know what the best part is? This is the best part…”

Plague crouches down in front of CB, staring at him hack and cough and try to breathe.

“The best part is, I made it up.”

Triple Helix: Part Fourteen

Submitted by Christopher Wright on
Deus Ex Machina

Richter’s eyes narrow as he recognizes Jenny. He says nothing, but eases into a defensive stance, watching her carefully.

He thinks it’s going to be a repeat of last time.

Jenny doesn’t jump in swinging—Richter has, for whatever reason, given her a moment. She takes it, allowing herself to catch her breath, then she too eases into a defensive stance.

Focus, Jenny. Don’t forget how good he is.



She feints with her right, swings hard with her left. Richter ignores the feint, moves to block the left hook, and just as he bats the blow aside, her right arm closes on his wrist. She twists, pulls, and as he starts to fall forward her left arm locks, and she throws him over her shoulder into a row of shelves.

Thank you, Red Shift.