Dance of Death

His lungs could take no more.

Teroux had nothing left to fight off the grasping desperation around him, but he wanted to live! He thrashed and managed to dislodge fingers clutching at his throat. He kicked hard against a tumbling, inert form, using it as leverage, and fought his way through the press of bodies, some so intertwined in the dance of death he would lose his way if he did not go around them. He had but seconds before he swayed in an eternal current of oblivion.

His lungs were a-fire, his eyes extended in the effort to hold, to save, to have that final breath of life.

Teroux kicked against debris, felt his fingers stiffen.

Is it true one stiffens before the nerveless state of death?

In blind panic, he surged up with everything he had left.

And pierced the inky surface of a silent, calm lake.

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Gasping, spluttering, he drew in precious air. It burned worse than a lack of had, but was also the most glorious sensation in the entire universe. He drew more in, held, released, again and again. Life was precious, so very special.

Debris from the ship bobbed silently, accusingly, upon still water. Amid the destruction, lifeless remains of crew and passengers floated.

It was calm and quiet, when half an hour ago everything was chaos and all was insanity.

Teroux swam to a broken spar, wrapped arms around it, rested his head against the swaying wood, and surrendered consciousness.

He had given all.

The Nowhere Sphere

For Love of Elianas

Teroux closed his eyes. “I swear to vanish into obscurity somewhere, ignoring the demands my father makes, if …” His eyes snapped open, but he said no more.

“If?” Torrullin growled.

Rose lifted her head.

“One kiss, Elianas. It is all I ask,” Teroux whispered.

Elianas felt how Torrullin’s gaze flicked to him, awaiting his reaction.

Teroux reached out, clutched Elianas’ hand. His thumb smoothed the flesh there. “Please. I will disappear, you have my word.”

He shuddered inside, but Elianas removed his hand gently from the desperate clasp. Torrullin gaze fixated on him, he felt it. Elianas stood and then stared down at Teroux.

“You have not understood. I cannot kiss you, despite your promise. As much as it would ease the situation, it is not …”

Teroux hurtled to his feet.

Thank all gods Torrullin could move fast. The man stood between them in a heartbeat. “I suggest you stop now, Teroux. Elianas has the right to his choices and you are not among those.”

“One kiss,” Teroux whispered.

Both men stared at him nonplussed.

Teroux snarled, waved a hand, and vanished.

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THE MASTER MECHANISM