Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week.
I’m continuing the story of Willem and Torrey, who are struggling to keep their love on an alien world. This week the prompts were: use a bowling alley in some way or “my mind is racing but my body’s in the lead” or “when did we fall apart?” or use: a mouse, a cat, a bell or make a Supertramp reference or “why shouldn't we fall in love?” or “hot child in the city” or “why do fools fall in love” or have a character appear on a runway or use popcorn in some way.
Sealed in Stone #12
Torrey devoured the message in the privacy of his chamber. The paper bore his mother’s crest but the words… he recognized Willem’s ink strokes, the tapered slashes and crisply drawn punctuation. The terse language made him smile, because it expressed anger and longing.
I am sleeping on your sheets, inhabiting your cage. How did you stand it?
Torrey read more, and then the line that told him what he needed to know:
Your mother hangs at my shoulder like a third arm.
The words were Willem’s, all of them. He wasn’t being told what to say. Torrey read the letter again, drinking in every trace of his lover’s frustration, humor, rebellion, and spirit. No one he knew could be more stubborn than Willem, or more determined to prevail. Jayn would keep her promise, but Willem wasn’t going to make it easy for her.
Torrey folded the letter and put it away in a hidden compartment in a large stone chest brought from the kumbh as part of his furnishings. The polished surface gleamed with veins of crystal and he’d piled the top with books and drawings. He had a desk for his more formal service to Cyrrhi, though that so far had consisted of little more than sitting in veiled silence at her feet during audiences with representatives of Pesht’s kumbhs. Yesterday she had met with an ambassador sent by several Gerbari towns—an unprecedented honor for so lowly an emissary—and had allowed Torrey to contribute questions. Torrey had retired with her to her chamber to talk for several hours about how Pesht’s trade in human slaves shaped border policy.
She had asked for him to attend her again later that night.
Wanting fresh air and to arrange his thoughts, Torrey walked the broad avenue to the Queen’s terrace. Carved from the mountainside and surrounded by inaccessible cliffs, the garden was completely private. Only the Queen and her privileged household might visit its perfumed paths or enjoy the delicate music of its waterfalls. Torrey had found it on his second day in the nom, while exploring his new environs. Since then he came here often to clear his mind. The garden’s solitude and quiet had a way of freeing his thoughts.
He had just reached his favorite spot, a bench between banks of violet arumspires, when he pulled up short. Hari sat upon the marble seat, gazing at him with bright eyes.
“This is where you come, isn’t it, when you’re not locked in your room or reading books?”
“Sometimes.” Torrey kept to himself by choice. He had not yet decided how he wanted to relate to Cyrrhi’s other men. At least Hari wore a loose robe, though it showed flashes of bare, toned torso and the glitter of his jewel-sheathed cock.
“I was told She didn’t want me tonight. She used to want me every night, until you came.”
“We talk.” To walk away would be to yield dominance. Torrey seated himself on the opposite end of the bench. “I’m sure she’ll want you again, a lot, once she’s delivered her brood.”
“Have you screwed her?”
The question startled him. Hari was being deliberately crude. Torrey refused to look toward his taunter. “Not as often as she’s screwed you.”
“You don’t know beetle shit. I wonder if you’ve ever screwed anything at all. That’s how the kumbhs do it, right? Don’t let you use your cock at all so it’s all fresh and shiny for when a queen wants a taste. Have you ever even gotten hard?”
Torrey bit back a laugh. “Do you seriously think that wasn’t one of the things they tested before I was Chosen?” When Hari didn’t answer and stewed in silence, Torrey turned the conversation. “How did you end up here? I know you’re not from the kumbhs, but where are you from?”
“Stirna. It’s a village along the Gerb.” Hari met his gaze and shrugged. “The women there steal pretty children from the tribes across the river and raise them to sell to the nomari.” His mouth twisted bitterly. “Most of us died.”
“Yeah.” Hari rose, his robe flowing from his shoulders but doing nothing to conceal his long legs and beautiful body. His cock pushed thick and long within the sheath that restrained it. When he leaned in on Torrey, grasping him by the shoulders, his breath was warm and sweet. “That’s why I don’t a give a fuck. Like you, I mean… we could be anything. Enemies. Lovers. Would that be so bad? Why shouldn't we fall in love? They let us play in any way we choose.”
“I don’t want that.”
“You don’t know what the fuck you want. But I can see you don’t want Her.” Hari leaned in to lick his ear. Torrey’s heart began to hammer when Hari’s hand groped for his cock, found it, and squeezed. “What do you want, Chosen? Why are you so soft?”
“Let me go!”
Hari’s arms might as well have been steel, or stone. Torrey grappled but all Hari did was tighten his grip until Torrey strangled a yelp. Calling for help now would show weakness.
“You know what the one great offense is, the one no Queen will let go unpunished?” Hari’s voice wormed into his ear like a brain beetle’s larva. “A soft cock. A man who doesn’t spring wood in Her presence gets turned into vrnabi food, staked out and pierced and planted with eggs while She watches. There’s a platform, see”—he pointed to a large open place across a lawn below—“that’s where they do it.”
“Just remember that part, when you go to her.” With that, Hari placed his hands to each side of Torrey’s face and held him while his mouth descended.
Torrey moaned against the kiss. Hari’s lips were hard and determined, but Torrey’s tight jaw and closed teeth prevented invasion by the other man’s tongue. Hari pulled back in frustration and grinned before he walked away.
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