Category: short fiction


Tears welled up in Ianeke’s eyes as she watched her partner, Manoro, scoop up his son. The look of ecstasy on his face was priceless. The consuming jealousy she felt for them rocked her to the marrow.

When she married Eckhart, they both agreed to wait until their lives were settled before attempting to build a family. Three years passed before she felt like they were missing out on a part of life. Eckhart was more than happy to give her a child; he only put it off because he had no desire to pressure her. For three months, they enjoyed trying, to no avail, but there was no pressure. They had a lifetime to build a family.

Now she stood under the scorching summer sun childless and husbandless. Ianeke racked her brain in search of what terrible crime she could have committed to anger God so, that he would snatch away her Eckhart. Maybe some choice she had yet to make condemned her love to this cruel fate.

She lost not only her reason for living, well before his time. The leader of their unit was gone. Leaving monumental shoes for her to fill.

Ianeke took a deep steadying breath, straightening her uniform jacket. She would not disgrace his funeral by entering with tear-stained cheeks. Her composure regained, Ianeke nodded to Manoro before moving forward off the gravel parking lot onto the manicured green lawn of the graveyard.

Sinai, Manoro’s woman, laid her hand on Ianeke’s shoulder. The grass, still wet from the morning’s rain, crunched under their measured footsteps. The smell of disturbed earth clung to the air at Eckhart’s grave; his coffin perched on the trellis ready to return to the earth.

As per the ways of their order, he lay in a simple pine box, his body unpreserved by the chemicals of the modern world. He would fertilize the earth as God intended. That brought Ianeke little comfort.

The crowd had already gathered graveside. The line of soldiers, in robin’s egg blue, stood tall against the glare of the sun. Ianeke caught sight of Eckhart’s parents, seated in the front row. His mother’s face was veiled but the sorrow in her eyes could not be contained. His father held his emotions at bay but his back was stooped, not by the years, but by the pain that tore his heart in two.

Taking a knee before the parents of her deceased beloved, Ianeke took a minute to let the grief take hold. She placed her head in her mother-in-law, Bonae’s lap, taking in the rosy scent of her. Bonae stroked her hair gently and whispered in her ear.

“Be strong my child.”

Zaci, her father-in-law, lifted her face. His light grey eyes pierced the depths of her, his slender hand held strength she would not have guessed. He seemed to pour courage into her, not a word needed between them, for understanding.

Her respects paid, Ianeke joined her brothers and sisters in blue at the opposite side of the casket, Manoro at her side once more. The white cloaked priests stood at the head, their faces stoic, having had to do this too many times in recent months.

“Let’s bow our heads in remembrance of our fallen brother,” the orator intoned. “He was a brave solider, fighting hard for our freedom, not quickly forgotten. He has passed on into the hands of God, no longer having to worry about the pains of this life. It is we who have to suffer on without him, waiting for that day when we will be reunited. Take hope in the knowledge that you will embrace your brother, husband, son, once again. Pray now and say your goodbyes, until the kingdom comes.”

Silence spread like wildfire as they prayed for Eckhart and the strength to carry on without him. Ianeke added a wish for justice to her whispered pleas. There was no more point to her than to make sure his death was not in vain, that vengeance was served. After that deed was done, she would be more than happy to join him in the rest of the grave.

“Honor Guard,” Manoro called out. “Present arms.”

Ianeke stiffened, aware of the finality of the next act. Her heart wanted her to fling herself on that coffin and ride with her beloved into the darkness. Her head told her that would be a waste of whatever life she had left and a dishonor to his memory. Her emotions so raw there was no sense to them, so she stayed rooted to the spot.

“Fire.” The seven guns rang of as one, eerily in time with her heartbeat. The ground rumbled and the heavens burned with the sound of them. Once, twice, and a third. Why didn’t one of them find her chest and end her struggle? That would be too fine a death for so pitiful a thing as she.

“Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. From the earth we came and to the earth we return,” the priest said as if that was enough explanation as to why Eckhart was gone.

The music started to play and the wench whirled to life, its mechanical squeal at odds with the organic melody of harp and flute. Ianeke kept her eyes on the horizon knowing, if she watched her heart lowered into the ground, she would never climb back out again. Instead, she focused on what came next. As a guardian, she had a job to do.

Her husband had caught a bullet protecting the princess. With him gone, that left her and Manoro in charge of the detail. During this tumultuous time in the country’s history, that job was more important than ever. The fourth world war was five years running and the death toll was greater than the first two combined, with no end in sight.

Eckhart wasn’t the first their unit has lost and he won’t be the last but Ianeke was determined to fight that much harder in his memory.

“Rest now my love,” she whispered against the wind. “Till next we meet.”

The New Crusader

Purpose: I wrote The New Crusader with the idea that cloned humans are treated like chattel in a nearby future. I carefully choose an Asian female lead because the modern day parallel was inescapable. Even today in many countries, including China, women are considered second-class citizens. Female babies are aborted by the hundreds in China because they are allowed a limited amount of children and they don’t want to waste them on females. It felt natural that this mixed-race Asian female should feel so intensely about the fight for these throw away people.

I hope this short story isn’t too short. Please enjoy The New Crusader.


Joss signaled to go left.  He swung right, disappearing into the heart of the cargo ship.  I rounded the corner, crouched low, and gun steady in my hand. Ardengrazed my shoulder to let me know he was still tight on my six.  Good boy, thatArden, he learns quickly.  He might have a future in this business after all.   My little brother, a crusader; the idea made me smile.

I heard hard footfalls on the metal deck a few feet ahead.  We halted.  Tucked up against the bulkhead I scanned the area.  The multi-colored cargo containers chopped up my field of vision.  The steps came closer and my heart beat faster.

Sun reflected off a gun barrel as the guard came toward the edge of the container fifteen feet in front of me.  I came around the metal box and hit him from behind.  A sharp blow to the head with the butt of the gun and the guard was down.  Leaning down to secure the weapon a shot went off behind me.

Even with a silencer, I heard the odd thunk of the shot.  I whirled. Ardenstood over the second guard, gun raised, eyes wide.  I placed my hand on his arm so he knew I was coming around him.  The second guard was clutching his left shoulder, his face wrinkled up in pain.  I pushed his gun away before leaning over him.

“Where are the girls?”

He looked up at me confused.  He spouted off a hurried stream of words I couldn’t understand.  Damn, Mandarin.  I heard Joss speak it enough times to recognize it but not enough to understand.  Thanks to daddy, I may look as Asian as they come, but little brother and I were raised inLondonwith no attachment to our Chinese heritage.

I put my hands up in surrender, hoping he would calm himself.  “I don’t understand.  Night, night.”  I pistol-whipped him.

Reaching into my right, bottom pants pocket I pulled out the pressure bandage.  I wasn’t going to let him bleed to death, forArden’s sake.  After bandaging him up, I searched his pockets.

“You alright,” I askedArden, as nonchalant as possible.

“Yeah, I -” he lowered his gun but kept a weather eye out.  “-just a little startled.”

“First shooting’s like that, but he’ll live, so don’t worry about it.”

It was my turn to keep watch while Arden moved both bodies out of sight.  I kept thinking we had to be close if two guards were watching the same area.  That still left a dozen containers to search.


“Container by container, Arden.”

He nodded.  We walked abreast, barely squeezing down the rows.  Good thing we’re both slender.  I knocked while he watched.  Carefully I listened for any signs of life inside.

Five down, no more guards, but no girls either.

Six must be my lucky number.  I knocked and listened.  At first, there was nothing, and then I heard a faint rustling.  Maybe it was the wind kicking up.  Then it came again and with it, a greeting.

“Ni hao.”

We struck gold.  Arden and stood back to back, as I used my pocket torch to burn through the lock.  It only took a minute to cut through the steel padlock.

Joss taught me to say, we come in peace.  I hoped the girls understood.

Pulling the double doors open there was a collective gasp as daylight poured in.  Fifteen girls packed into one cargo container wasn’t a pleasant way to cross the Pacific.  None of them could have been older than twenty-five.  At least they weren’t under sixteen.

Cloning humans is illegal but smugglers don’t care.  They get caught with the girls, they get a slap on the wrist for transporting illegal contraband.  The girls get shipped back to where they came from, so smugglers can try all over again.  After all, the law doesn’t even recognize them as humans, just material.

I reached out my hand.  They shied away, completely understandable, considering.  Smiling, I tried to show them I meant no harm.  A pale, thin hand gripped mine.  The fierce determination in her emerald green eyes surprised me.

“Ok ladies, hold hands and we’ll get you to safety.”  I switched channels on the walkie, radioing the boat.  “Fifteen coming your way.”

“Got it Capt.,” came backTurin, master of the boat.

Cautiously we made it around the containers and toward our entry point. Ardenushered the ladies down the ladder withTurinand Zeke on the other end.  I had my eye out for intruders when I heard the three clicks.  Someone was in trouble.

“Go, we got this,”Turincalled up before I could ask.

Point was mine andArdenfell in behind me as we descended into the ship.  I heard the gunfire, automatic weaponry, not ours.  My body told me to head away from it but I ran straight for it.  The gun blasts reverberated wildly in the metal box, making it difficult to navigate.

“Joss, position?”

“Captain’s mess, section A-7,” he yelled between shots.

Looking up I saw we were at A-4.  I charged through the next intersection, slowing only at A-7.  The captain’s mess was at the end of the cross hall.  Joss was pinned down outside.  Mara was down.  My stomach flipped.  If she was…  No I couldn’t even think it.

Mara was on her stomach.  I flipped her over fearfully.  She was breathing.  Tension slid off my chest.  She had been clipped on the hip but it looked like she knocked her head on the way down, explaining her current state.

I bandaged her up.

“Joss, she’ll live.”

His usually stoic face softened momentarily.  He nodded.

Ardentook position next to Joss while I pulled Mara to a safer location.  Joss yelled something to the shooters barricaded in the mess.  They answered back with a thick burst of gunfire.  I guess surrender was out of the question.

“Sorry we’re late boss,” Malachi said approaching from the left.

“We grabbed some toys,” explainedNikko.  He signaled Joss and tossed him a couple black cylinders longer than my hand.

Joss smiled.  “Thanks.  Watch our six, get ready.”

I may be the Captain but in tactical situations, Joss ruled.  His military background and familiarity with our crew made him perfect for the job.  I’m smart enough to understand when others’ strengths outweigh my own.

Joss pulled the pins and tossed in the flash-bang grenades.  I folded myself over Mara’s prone body shielding both our faces.  The sound was earsplitting and through closed eyes I still saw the blinding white light. Arden, Joss, andNikkostormed the room, leaving Malachi and I to keep watch.

A few shots rang out, some grunting and yelling.  ThenNikkocalled all clear.  Malachi hoisted Mara onto his shoulder and we both went in. Ardenwas tying the captain to his chair.  One guy was dead, another bound on the floor.

“Where are the girls?”

“I know no girls,” the captain said in heavily accented English.

Joss backhanded him.  With two hundred pounds of solid muscle, Joss is a solid guy who can slap the cocky out of just about anyone.

“We know the girls are here just tell us where.”

“Ain’t tellin you nothin.”

I kept Joss from punching the guy’s face in.

“Listen, we’re gonna find them either way but if you make us tear the place apart you’ll be sorry,” I said sweetly, kneeling in front of him.

“Ain’t tellin you nothing,” he repeated.  “That’s why y’all soft, you take orders from this stupid bitch,” he said staring up at Joss then he spat in my face.

Deep breathe in through the nose out the mouth.  Not a surprise the human trafficker has no respect for women.  I get that treatment a lot in my line of work.   Nice to see the look on their faces though, when they’re staring down the barrel of my gun, knowing a woman helped take them down.

“Tell me where they are or I shoot you and find them myself.”

He looked at me amused, like I wouldn’t dare.

“One, two, -” he wasn’t going to budge.  “-three.”  I pulled the trigger hitting him square in the chest.  His head lolled forward blood pooling out. Ardengasped.

“Talia, how could you.  He was unarmed.”

“He was a scum sucking human trafficker that the world is better without.  Don’t like it, leave.”  I moved from the door to let him out.  He shook his head but stayed put.

I hated to see the look of disappointment and shock in my brother’s eyes, but that’s the job.  We’re not cops or military.  We’re crusaders, protecting our little piece of the world from human filth.  We save those who fall through the gaping holes in the system.  Killing him saves all his potential victims.  A hard lessen we all have to learn sometime.

“Tear this place apart guys, we have some ladies to find.”

“Today marks a big day in international news,” the perky blonde newscaster on TV said. “The youngest member of the triumvirate, Abed Hamutal, turns thirty-five today. In his home universe, Abed is the eldest son of Saudi Oil Tycoon, Eli Hamutal the richest man on earth-alternate. Mr. Hamutal has put some of his considerable wealth to good use by giving thirty-five different orphanages worldwide a quarter million dollars each. Happy birthday indeed.”

“Wait, I did what,” Abed asked, straightening his tie.

“I may have made a slight charitable donation on your behalf,” Gaia said, checking her pinstripe skirt in the mirror.

“Slight- that’s almost nine million dollars.”

“Which you wouldn’t have even noticed if she hadn’t said anything.”

“Still, it’s my money and I would like to be consulted before you go spending it for me.”

Gaia stopped her primping for a minute to give Abed her full attention. She patted his shoulder soothingly. “I’m sorry; I was just looking out for your best interests. You’re the richest of us three and polls show people don’t think you’re charitable enough. These donations will help boost your popularity.”

“And we all know how much you want people to like you,” Peter added, polishing his snakeskin shoes.

“Oh, like I’m the only media whore in this group,” Abed complained.

“Fifteen minutes guys,” Abigail announced from the main salon, cutting short a potential war of words between the guys.

“Hopefully, our gracious leader is enjoying his birthday out on their private yacht, The Power Mad,” the anchorwoman continued.

Peter groaned, “Never again do you get to name anything Abed.”

“Well, if you hadn’t unilaterally named yourself Head of Public Relations I wouldn’t have had to placate him with the yacht,” explained Gaia.

Peter made a rude gesture and marched off into the salon.

“On a darker note Soone Kim, Korean dictator, announced a thirty million dollar reward for the location of the triumvirate’s yacht. He says he wants the pleasure of eliminating them from this world himself. This has put the Tri Guard on high alert.”

“Seriously, it’s my birthday.” Abed raked his hands through his slick black hair in aggravation. “Does he have to make threats on my birthday? This universe blows.”

“Three more years to solidify our power base here, then we can go home and take a trip to moon base, like we planned.”

“Ten minutes.”

Gaia downed the rest of her liquid breakfast, a tasteless protein shake, checked her teeth, and moved into the main salon where the plasma TV and video chat hookup was all laid out. Less than seven hours ago they were eating dinner here, reminiscing about the good old days when they first met in college.

Oxford opened its doors to three special freshmen, Peter, fourth generation Oxford royal. Gaia, a scholarship kid, hoping to reshape the world. Abed, a billionaires math prodigy son. Eight years after graduating, they ruled their world. They were best friends the instant they met and recognized the zeal for change and power found in the others eyes.

Then the greatest invention in the multi-verse was invented. The Gramin-Cordova Gateway, literally a hole in the universe. With the proper application of tachyon particles, Dr. Sheena Gramin and Walter Cordova manipulated the p-membrane that separates this universe and the next. They proved all of the naysayers’ wrong when neither this nor the other universe imploded and the first inter-universal traveler took his first steps unto a new world. He was quite surprised to land in Topeka, Kansas. His sudden appearance in a golden spacesuit stirred up a considerable amount of attention.

For the triumvirate, who wholly supported the Gramin-Cordova project, the world was suddenly not enough. There was a multi-verse out there for them to explore. Their world didn’t really need them anymore. They put the rules in place, hired the right people to take over the day to day. The original planners were no more than figureheads, faces to go with the ideal. Now they had a chance to start anew and help more people in need.

“Five minutes,” Abigail said pulling Gaia from her daydream. “You all have your information packets already. Please do your best to stay on point this time or you will be all day at this, again. Remember Peter, don’t mention Corrigan. It may have been slightly amusing the first time but it won’t be tolerated again. And please remember to stay friendly, smile. You’re brokering a mutually beneficial trade agreement here so pretend for a moment you are mature adults with considerable intelligence.” She tucked a stray sandy brown hair behind Peter’s ear. “You all look so handsome and professional.”

“You say that like you’re surprised. Believe it or not we can manage to dress ourselves without assistance,” Abed said sliding into position next to Gaia.

“The way you three act sometimes, I’m surprised you manage to find your mouth to stick your foot in it.”

“Mmmm, I love you Frenchies, so feisty,” Peter commented with a mischievous smile popping out those infamous dimples of his.

“Put those away, they don’t work on me. You know good and well without me as your personal assistant you three would be lost in a sea of crazy.”

Gaia smiled. “Too true, and that’s why we love you, Abby.” She gave her two air kisses cheek to cheek.

“One minute until you begin the first inter-universal trade conference,” Abby announced. “You’re about to change this world, forever. Goodness sake, smile.”