This one’s a short chapter. Honestly, chapter breaks may still shift but finalizing those is pretty low on my list of priorities at this point. You can find the rest of the chapters here.
Two weeks after the three-day telepathic hell fest, Carson petitions the Educational Board, receiving preliminary approval pending completion of the teaching program. He enrolls, tackling the challenge with a determination that has him finishing it in a record six months, a frenetic period during which he’s hindered only occasionally by the remnants of allucinari and somehow always makes time for his efforts to broaden my perspective through human media. The colleagues who oversee his supervised teaching can’t praise him highly enough, nor can the Board find much to criticize in the yearlong outline he provided for his course. The school schedule is modified to include his class, and he’s given a room, supplies, and a generous salary. He’s astounded by how simple the process is.
I’m equally astounded when he tries to pay me rent after receiving his first paycheck on the day before his class begins – many Shelter jobs provide a ‘start up’ check to help employees settle in.
<How much do I owe you?>
<Nothing,> I reply briskly, glancing at him before returning my attention to the advancing and receding line ahead of us where ocean meets sand. Two miles of beach fall within the field of the Resonance Deflector, a fact I’m increasingly grateful for the longer I’m
I stop short a couple paces from my bedroom door. Carson’s in the hallway, staring at the wall. Then he touches it, shakes his head, takes a couple steps, and stares again. He’s clearly unaware of me so I send him the lightest of telepathic nudges, a gentle nok.
“Eyan!” he exclaims, hastily distancing himself from the wall and giving an abashed smile. “Hi.”
<Hi… What are you doing?>
<I’m looking for the hallway computer interface.> He gives me what I can only describe as a partial glare, as if it’s my fault he can’t find it.
I laugh, walking past him halfway down the hallway and gesturing at the wall to my right. <It’s here.> I activate it by touching the camouflaged panel at eye level. It’s virtually indistinguishable from the surrounding paint when deactivated.
Carson joins me, shaking his head at the computer. <Why is it hidden?>
<It’s not hidden, it’s discrete.>
He frowns. <What’s the difference?>
<Subterfuge versus aesthetics.>
The corners of Carson’s eyes crease with amusement. <All right. Why are they discrete?>
<Because computers are just tools. We don’t want them dominating our lives the way humans have let them.>
His mouth thins. <I wish you wouldn’t disparage humans so much. We would be just like them if not
I’m submerged in my novel today, reading it after too long away to get a sense of what is left for me to do. I decided to take a break to post an update to the end of Chapter 5. I literally just did this earlier today so there may be typos.
This happens right after Eyan is given the memory as punishment:
The Council allows us to leave.
<I’m going to find Mara,> I tell Carson. <I’ll meet you at home.>
<All right,> he agrees.
We part ways on the street, him heading toward my house and me toward the one Mara shares with her amari. From the way her amarim greets me, I don’t think she knows I assaulted her daughter, who she tells me is at the park.
I find her walking under the trees with Yhuri. They stop when they seem me approaching.
<Good afternoon,> I say to them both.
They don’t return my greeting. She’s clearly told Yhuri, who rightly shows none of the warmth she did when I went to the hospital to see Carson.
Recognizing that I have no right to ask to speak with her alone, I get to the point. <Mara, I apologize. I was trying to help Carson, who lost hi-> I stop myself with the shake of my head. I sigh. <I didn’t come here to give you excuses. I just wanted to say I’m sorry that I harmed you.>
Mara and Yhuri exchange a glance. Mara
We return to the Shelter once my conscience gets the best of me. I leave our reentry to autopilot and all goes as planned.
<Back to the house?> Carson asks on our exiting to an empty room, the ceiling already back in place.
It’s still but that won’t last. <Or as far as we make it.>
He shoots me a quizzical glance. Before I can elaborate, Davonte and several others – the Council, I realize with some surprise – enter. It’s a crowded fit for such a small space. I resist the urge to quip about a road trip.
Davonte is all in black except the yellow sapphire pendant that makes me look at her eyes, ablaze with that fury I know so well. Face rigid, she advances, flinging an avalanche of anger. It hurls into me with such force that I stagger back and gasp, temples pounding. Carson remains steady. Not a loss of control then. A focused explosion, the equivalent to a punch.
<Explain yourself,> she commands icily.
<It’s my fault,> Carson interjects. <I wanted to collect my mom’s Imprint and Eyan helped me.>
<As admirable as that motive is, it does not excuse attacking a fellow Chosen, stealing this Shelter’s only ship, and risking that ship’s destruction, or worse, capture by the DOH!>
Each word is a pulse of pain. I wince, grateful
My alarm rouses me at 0530 for food duty. Rolling out of bed, I mentally probe the household and am relieved to discover Carson, his essence a rippling pool that is at once refreshing and tinged with grief.
<Eyan?> he questions, fatigue etched into the two syllables of my name.
<Sorry,> I apologize, <I should have noked. I wanted to make sure you were back. Didn’t mean to bug you.>
<No, it’s okay. I didn’t mean to worry you.>
<We have food duty today,> I inform him hesitantly. <We’re supposed to be in the kitchens at 0630.>
Maybe I shouldn’t have told him. He’s new and I could go without him, say he’s mourning the loss of his amarid. No one would question it.
<Okay,> he agrees simply.
Zantia, the elderly woman in charge of food services, welcomes me back to Headquarters with a warm smile, shaking Carson’s hand when I introduce them. The first thing she asks of her fifty or so Tuesday helpers is that we divide ourselves into groups: chefs, assistants, and deliverers.
I find myself explaining this to Carson proactively. <Chefs need no guidance, assistants are those who feel comfortable cooking under supervision, and deliverers, well…that’s pretty self-explanatory.>
<I’d like to sign up for chef duty!> Carson exclaims with such exuberance that my chuckle is shared by several neighbors.
Assistant is the role I typically
Happy New Year!
I’m continuing to have issues getting my chapters to load well in the blog so please let me know if you notice any issues.
I’m awake by 0600. Rolling onto my stomach, I pull a tablet out of the top drawer of my right nightstand. Powering it up, I log on to the Filument, a vast network of computers connected by Lyril technology. All Chosen computers and mobile devices have seamless Filument and Internet access.
<Access news,> I instruct. A list of recent unread items maximizes under the heading Chosen News. The top one is a reminder about the semi-annual artponere, asking everyone who is participating to contact the organizer. This event brings Chosen from all over the world to the San Francisco Shelter for an exhibition of paintings, drawings, sculpture, and an evening of music, theater shorts, and various artistic endeavors.
<Send artponere reminder to Carson.> A list of Carsons appear under the heading, ‘Did you mean…’ None are Carson Wilde. An account must not have been set up for him. Knowing Davonte to be an early riser, I contact her. She agrees to my request, as expected. I’m out and back before Carson emerges from his room at 0702. He’s shaved. A simple change that does worlds to distance him from the Chair I found him in.
<Here,> I say, handing Carson a telamp. It’s a
I read the entirety of Part One of my novel today. I’m hoping to read the rest of it tomorrow (all of Parts Two and Three). We’ll see. I got a late start from sleeping in today, and was so unusually sleepy this afternoon that I took a nap – something I almost never do.
I also forgot until this evening that it’s the first of the month and I’m supposed to post a short story or chapter today. I don’t have the time to divert from my novel, not if I hope to read it all this weekend, so I’m posting Chapter 2 of the Way of Attrition.
You can read Chapter 1 here, and I definitely recommend it prior to tackling Chapter 2. Last time I had issues getting all of the text into the blog (it was dropping sentences). I haven’t noticed that issue this time but if stuff appears to be missing, please let me know.
I wake to warmth bathing my face, my chest, my arms. My eyelids are heavy with sleep. I open them to blurred vision, blink several times. It’s bright. Sunlight streams through open blinds that hang horizontally across a window in neat parallel lines. Slivers of the public garden beyond greet me.
I’m at home. This my bedroom.
A smile takes hold of me, easily rearranging my muscles in way I’m unaccustomed to after being so long among enemies. I look around, reacquainting myself with the
Rather than post a short story today, I decided to share the complete first chapter of my novel (as it currently is, I can’t promise some details won’t change).
It’s sci-fi fantasy. A story about friendship, civil rights, and how we treat people who are different. The first chapter is apparently 8,147 words long. And that right there tells you a lot about the state of this long novel.
I had a lot of trouble getting the text of the chapter in here with paragraph breaks and italics and without entire sentences being dropped, which is a problem I ran into. To be honest, I’m still not sure I have it without cut off words and/or lost sentences. Please let me know if anything appears to be missing – there shouldn’t be questions that don’t get answered, unless something actually happens in the narrative to interrupt things, random answers not attached to questions, or shifts in the dialogue or descriptions that are abrupt / unnatural.
The Way of Attrition
by Erika Friedman
Part One: Camaraderie
The scream is agonized. It cuts the cold air, the walls, the closed door, fierce like a siren, too loud and too close. It echoes in the chill that tickles my spine, in the shiver that embraces me.
There is nothing unusual in the sound, except for its lingering in my ears and mind, masquerading as a surprise. It’s not. Not here. Here it’s so common it often doesn’t register. The ice