Friday, February 24, 2017

Short And To The Point: As If Magic Was Enough

This story is a very short story idea I had when I'd decided that there needed to be a short involving Sato, Barris and Feylashar. I like to circulate the characters and give each of them the spotlight from time to time. It was initially going to be very short but I managed to clean it up apply a relevant plot line to any who've been bitten in their life. It's also a bit of something to buy me more research time for Evan And The Ironsides which is likely going to be a very intricate plot line and as historically accurate bar my own interpretations her and there. I'm more concerned with bringing up the right issues at hand more so than defining who are the good guys and who are the bad guys. I think in that story it will explore all sides and very thoroughly.

So I hadn't written anything with Sato that didn't require Barris' presence as is often the case. The two characters play off one another but I thought that Sato deserves his own short story. Hallowed Weave was initially going to be that story, but due to time constraints I kept a lot of ideas from the story in favor of keeping it short. It kept the same goal with this one and it worked out just fine. Initially when I'd started the story on Friday, I'd been nearly intoxicated and it certainly showed. So today (Sunday) I'd just finished designing a 3D version of the exterior of the Sanctum (I'll render it sometime in the next few weeks and share the pics), and decided to clean up what I'd written and get it back on par with other A Lady's Prerogative and The Butterfly Dragon content. It was a nice break from What Different Eyes See for a change.

I hope that you enjoy it and you can probably look forward to a bit more A Lady's Prerogative content in the future.

Brian Joseph Johns

As If Magic Was Enough

Sato fell to the dirt drained and exhausted. He'd done all that he could for those in his care and beyond mere breath and ease of the passage of breath. No more could he have done and he'd fallen exhausted. Fearful he'd failed.

Did I do everything I could have? Everything?

The voice in his head asked and he remained reluctant to answer.

Somewhere in the distance he could hear the sound of taiko drums, their rhythm matching the beating of his own heart.

Barris he thought. Where? He'd left Barris some time ago as much in space, though in the midspace there was no passage of time. Barris body still lay somewhere upon the harsh and timeless ground of the midspace landscape. His final jest still fresh on his face though his assailant had not found it so fancy. Perhaps Barris' final scar upon the face of the living. Humor that none who'd loved him would fail to find a smile or tear within. Done he was and it was so because if Sato had given in, it could be none the more true. It was Sato after all. War veteran and honored Pilot of the Japanese Air Force despite his disagreement with the war. He'd never taken a life and in the end, he'd saved a few, including the life of an American pilot by a simple act of mercy. Was that him? Was that Sato? His life or was he just dreaming it all?

No. He wasn't dreaming. Not this. He used to be an explorer. An adventurer. He'd set up shop in Shepperton, in London England after years of global adventure. Selling the curios he'd accumulated during his years traveling. That was where he met Barris. Poor dead Barris. Dead and gone. Followed the time lords to their realm. John Pertwee perhaps? Tom? The Daleks? Who knew when it was Barris in question. Poe and the telltale heart perhaps? No. He did pass on but how? How long ago in this forsaken timeless pit in the underarm of all being?

Feylashar lay stretched upon the ground her energies spent even for a healer. She'd given it all and when Barris had fallen she'd given her own life. He'd seen her try to rescue his friend. In the end she took a place beside Barris on the cold midspace ground. Cruel it was. Very cruel this life. After all, Sato had lived over seventy years. More than enough he'd thought. Why then did his best friend who was much less than half his age have to die beside the healer that tried to revive him?

Why were they even out here? Jasmer had told them not to go. Or maybe he'd asked them to go? Yirfir too? In the Sanctum... Yes it was the Sanctum. They were in the Sanctum gathering something from the gardens. Something with nectar. Honey. Something important. Feylashar, Barris and he. To the garden to get the nectar.

"Wake up? Wake!! Don't leave me in this place alone!" Sato panicked speaking to himself.

Trying anything he could to keep himself focused. Maybe if he waited a bit?

Time doesn't pass you fool. It's an illusion here. Want to hear a joke?

"Barris? Is that you?" Sato sat up looking around for his fallen friend.

What do you get when you pass go?

Barris' voice seemed to come from the air itself.

"Barris! Don't leave me!" Sato demanded of his best friend.

Are you serious? You don't know that one? The answer is $200 dollars! 

Barris' voice faded.

"That's not Barris! Don't play with me!" Sato cried.

No. That's community chest my friend. Draw a card? Perhaps your luck will change?

Barris laughter echoed through the air.

Nonsense!

This time it was Feylashar's voice that pierced the still wind of the midspace.

You heard her! She said nonsense!

"Is that you?" Sato asked allowed recognizing the voice.

Yes it's me. The real me.

Sato recognized the voice. It was his own. He struggled to maintain his composure the sound of taiko drums pounding in his head.

"Then who am I?" asked Sato fending off anxiety.

You're just a memory. You're what's left of an illness we had. You're the panic. Fear. Pain.

"That's not true. I remember things. Of my life! It's my life! Mine!" Sato exlaimed.

No, I'm afraid not. You see, you only think that you're me but you're not. You're only a little piece of me. Like the sting of a sudden sharp pain you can into existence. If you don't believe me then why are you so panicked?

"That's not true. My friends know who I am! Don't they? Barris! Barris! Feylashar! Tell him! Please tell him!" Sato pleaded.

Sato could smell Feylashar's fragrant scent.

I'm afraid he's right. You're just the leftovers from a painful memory. You know? Like when you stub your toe?

Feylashar suggested.

Sato considered what she'd said. Could what she was saying be true? All he could remember was feeling panicked and tense. Everything else seemed imaginary. Like it hadn't to him. What about the rest of his life? It was all a haze to him.

"No. I'm real. I feel real. I am alive. I'm not just a painful memory. I'ved lived." Sato responded jumping to his feet.

No. I'm afraid not. You see we're here to rescue you. The real you. You are not the *real* you. I am. Because of your illness you're taking precedence. Anxiety. Fear. Pain. That's why your friends are gone. You couldn't help them because you can't be anything else but those emotions. That's because you're the effects of the symptoms of an illness. Now I need my body back so I can fix this problem once and for. There might even be time to save Feylashar. Barris too. You wouldn't want them to die just because you can't come to terms with the reality of your situation.

The voice was certainly his and he was debating his own existence with the voice. He could hear the taiko drums and their awkward timing.

"No. I don't want them to die. Really I don't!" Sato said still anxious.

That's good. Then just lay still and let me get rid of you. The more that you struggle, the longer it will be before I can have my body. If you delay it too long they'll both die.

"Why were we out here? In the midspace? Where's the Sanctum?" Sato demanded of himself.

You were in the gardens looking for the nectar. You know the nectar of which I speak. You needed it to cure an illness. Feylashar was going to make a medicine with it to cure that illness. The illness *is* you. You panicked when you thought it was the end for you, and took over my body. Now I want it back so I can save our friends.

His own voice reasoned with him.

You know what he's saying is true. I'm dying right now on the stone ground of the midspace right beside Barris. If you just go to sleep, he can take back his body and save us both.

Feylashar appealed to him.

For a moment the ground shook and shuddered. He braced himself covering his head with his hands.

"What is happening?" Sato screamed desperately holding onto his sanity.

"Don't listen to them Sato! Don't listen to the voices! Believe in us! Don't give in!" Feylashar's voice broke through the rumble of the quake.

"Sato! It's me! Barris! Come back! Don't you leave me here without someone to bicker! Mila wouldn't have it and I certainly won't!" Barris' voice followed Feylashar's.

Don't listen to them. They're just part of your psyche. They're trying to talk you out of giving up your body to me. They'd say anything just so you'd go their way. After all without you they won't exist, while your real friends will die.

"If I wasn't real, then why would I have real friends? Or even memories of them? After all, I came into existence through an illness, right? I'd have no memory of my friends, so I must be myself. I am Sato." Sato said in realization.

No you're not. You're panicking and your friends... My friends are dying. If you don't give me back my body I can't save them. Give me what is rightfully mine!

"It's not yours. It's mine. If I am thinking this right now and arguing with you, then it must be mine. If you are me, then what musical instrument did I learn to play at the age of nine?" Sato asked his voice.

You're wasting valuable time. They'll be dead soon and it will all be on your hands. All of it!

"I asked you a question! Now answer it!" Sato screamed at his voice.

Alright. I learned how to play the taiko drums. Are you satisfied? Now give me back my body.

"You know it's true that I considered learning to play the taiko drums. After all, my childhood friends used to play music together and we did not have anyone to play the taiko drums. I even asked my Father if I could earn the money to buy them. He said no of course, only because we did not have the money for taiko drums but we had a family Shakuhachi. So instead I learned to play the Shakuhachi despite the fact that I'd thought so much about taiko drums. I never learned to play taiko drums at all. So it is you who do not belong. You heard my thoughts about the taiko drums and assumed that was the instrument I'd learned how to play. So it is you that are the imposter!" Sato answered.

It shames me that we must decide this another way. So die you must old man. After all. I need that body more than you do. For myself and my kind.

It suddenly appeared before him, a humanoid without visage. It had no facial features or distinguishing form of its own. It took on the appearance of Sato's body though without the fine details that rounded out his being. Sato suspected as much of the being's martial arts skills.

It swung its limbs at the real Sato, and Sato effortlessly dodged the blows catching the beast's arms and folding them across it's chest. Sato merely stepped forward and the creature fell into submission on the ground of the midspace.

The creature turned over onto its stomach and before Sato's eyes it transformed into a mosquito looking insect about the size of a bird. If flew off and disappeared into the distance.

A moment later Sato awoke. He was on a gurney his chest  bare. He arched forward startled to see Feylashar and Barris hovering over him. His head connected with Barris' and they both grabbed their foreheads in pain.

"Oww! Argh! I know I've been saying that we have to starting putting our heads together but that's taking it a little too literal." Barris said rubbing his swolen forehead.

"You buffoon. What were to doing hovering over my face like that? You know how easily I'm startled when I sleep!" Sato said massaging the top of his tender head still dizzy from the impact.

"It's good to see that you're feeling much better." Feylashar responded upon seeing Sato come to life.

"If this is better, I'm glad I wasn't awake to see how I was unconscious." Sato said sharply still sore.

"I'll accept that as a thank you." Feylashar replied holding a pleasant smile while delivering her sarcasm.

"What happened to me?" Sato asked his eyes still watering.  

"You were tending to the gardens and you were bitten by a Doppleganger Fly. Pretty nasty bite they have. First it renders you unconscious. Then it tries to take over your body and and your life. Then it tries to lure everyone you know near more of its kind so they can do the same them. Most of what you experienced was just in your head. You imagined most of it." Feylashar answered as she poured two cups of tea and handed them to Barris and Sato.

"What's this for?" Barris asked.

"Your head." Feylashar answered them.

"Right. Thank you." Barris said taking a sip.

"So when did we start keeping Doppleganger Flies in the garden and Atrium?" Sato asked.

"We don't. One snuck in when someone left the courtyard door to the Atrium open." Feylashar said as she tidied up the remedies she'd used to cure Sato.

"Imagine that! Someone leaving the courtyard door open like that. The nerve! I'm just glad to have you back my friend. I'll speak to Mila about this incident and ensure that it doesn't happen again." Barris said to Sato shaking his hand before hastily making his way out of the Life Well healing area.

"Well I'm going check the Librum Universalis Codex. Maybe we can find out who did leave it open... Oh and arigatō. I mean thank you. " Sato said putting his tunic on as he headed for the Librum Universalis Codex.

...

Later that night Barris sat in bed thumbing through a book of William Butler Yeats selected works. Mila lay in bed beside him working on a charcoal sketch in her favorite drawing pad. Mila's attention didn't waver so nearly as much as Barris, who looked from time to time to Mila, without saying anything to her. Finally he spoke.

"Honey. Thanks for clearing up that problem in the Librum Universalis Codex. I mean it was for a special occasion." Barris said to her casually.

Mila remained quiet for a long period and then spoke.

"That's alright. I'm still going to hold you to that back rub tonight. You said..." Mila reponded keeping her emotions hidden as she concentrated on her sketch.

"You don't think anyone could find out. Do you?" Barris asked her still seeming a bit nervous.

"Find out? What? You did a good thing. You just wanted me to erase the Codex entry about you sneaking a present for Sato into the Atrium and gardens through the courtyard door. You just didn't want anyone to see it just in case someone told him and ruined the surprise. I mean you did nothing wrong." Mila stopped sketching and looked at Barris a little skeptically.

Barris feigned innocence and Mila's brows tightened inquisitively.

"Didn't you?" Mila asked Barris.

"How 'bout that massage?" Barris said rolling over onto her nibbling her ear.

"BARRIS!?" Mila asserted herself as Barris poured on the charm.

The End.

.Copyright © 2017 Brian Joseph Johns

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