Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Wednesday Briefs: Useful Things #17

Welcome back to Wednesday Briefs, in which writers post a 1000 word flash story—or episode, in my case—based on the weekly prompts.

I’ve opted to stay with my science fiction M/M story, “Useful Things.” The prompt I chose this week is "But you said..."

Want to start at the beginning of Useful Things[Chapter One]

You’ll find links to the other Wednesday Briefs bloggers at the end of this post.


Useful Things #17

Rasvim blinked up at the grid of the hut framework against a silver-blue dawn sky. A deep breath helped banish the strange dream, tatters of images the only remnants to remain in memory. He remembered so much, so many things, but seldom his dreams, which remained ghostly footprints through the otherwise neatly partitioned corridors and soundly locked doors. He had awakened in Aeth custody, same as always. His nakedness reminded him of what he was.

Seeing Majak seated on the other bed, hands sometimes moving in the n-space of Aeth communications, Rasvim was reminded of other things. Taking care not to disturb his pre-occupied master, he slipped off the bed and went to the hygiene closet to tend to his needs and appearance. He did not take long. Alaksu had treated his hair so at least it stood up as elegantly as ever. When he returned to the bed, he sat upon it and looked to Majak, wondering what he would want of him.

Not sex. Even in full arousal and dominance display, the alien had not used him for that. The refusal still jarred Rasvim, but not as much as that Majak had called him by his human name.

Jesse. Only Enir had ever asked for it, so only Enir could have told Majak. The other Aeth—his captors and the slave dealer, even Osvith—had not cared to learn it. They had named him Rasvim and he had clung to the sound of it. Enir had said correctly that the Aeth did not name their food.

Majak ceased his silent communication and tucked the disc into his shield suit. He looked rested and had probably slept. Not all Aeth slept, but there were some who did. The higher the rank, the more sleep an Aeth needed. Rasvim did not yet understand the reason, but knew it had something to do with whether an Aeth was genetically engineered. 

“Tell me what you are thinking,” Majak said. He sat across from Rasvim now, leaning forward, eyes assessing him. His attention no longer unnerved Rasvim the way it once had. There was no threat in it.

“That you sleep more than the soldiers—and Osvith said only those who are truebred sleep or dream.” For once, the truthful answer came easily. He waited to see how Majak would react.

Majak held his gaze. “That is what we Var’Sareem are. Born, not cloned. Unaltered, at least for the last thousand years. Weaker than soldiers, smarter, longer lived. And we sleep as the native race did that left our home world so long ago. Our dreams are shared. Do humans dream?”

He nodded, but said, to clarify, “We don’t share them.”

“But you do share information in complex ways.” Majak lifted something from the bed. Rasvim was surprised to see the Oz book. “This book holds many concepts and the information in it appears false. That doesn’t make sense that your people would go to such effort to create a document filled with falsehoods.”

Should he explain it? Could he? There were no flying monkeys, never had been. There were no wizards or witches. Just farmers and Kansas, and even those were vanished now. His father had explained about stories. “Just because something doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean it’s not true. The book has ideas, and the ideas are true.”

“Ideas?” Majak looked at the cover, so faded now. “The place in this book is an idea?”

“I think so. My father—” he caught Majak’s look of encouragement and continued, “—he said stories reveal things that are true. Like how the lion thinks he’s a coward but he’s really brave.”

“So it is a lie.”


“But you said—”

“It’s a false belief. A lie is something else.”

Majak appeared thoughtful, then asked, “What do you consider a lie?”

Rasvim held his gaze and said, “I think you’re ugly.”

For a moment, they simply stared at each other. Then Majak smiled. “A lie?”

Rasvim’s heart eased out of his throat. “A lie. Because that’s not what I think.”

“And so what the lion thinks is not a lie because he believes the falsehood?” Majak’s smile remained, along with a light in his eyes that said he understood.

“Yes. And the book doesn’t think he is, either, because it knows he’s brave. That’s the idea. Like how everyone thinks the wizard is so powerful, but—”

“But he is really powerless except for what their belief makes possible.”

Rasvim grinned.

“This is a fascinating book,” Majak said. His smile became something new and vastly intelligent. “Are other human books like this one?”

“I don’t know. Story books are.” History books probably weren’t. Or books of science.

“And these truths…these ideas…are important to humans?”

Why did he want to know? Majak’s curiosity about humans was familiar now, but… new warnings ripped at the seams of Rasvim's trust. Maybe he was being used in a different way. What if the Aeth had gotten as far as they could fighting the remaining humans with weapons, and now they needed something more? A way to trick them? His cold lips ceased speaking and he averted his eyes, fearing what they might reveal.

“Rasvim?” The sound of his own breathing didn’t quite block Majak’s voice, or the order that followed. “Look at me.”

He did so and saw Majak kneeling on the floor again, just as he had the night before, except this time he was grasping his hands, holding them, and looking deep into his eyes, delivering the same promise as before.

“I will not hurt you, Jesse—”

“Don’t call me that!”

Majak pulled back, but did not release his hands. “I won’t. Only what you wish. It is a beautiful name, and I will not speak it if my doing so hurts you. I am not like the ones who had you before. Just listen to me now…”


Of course, they’re not finished talking by a long shot. Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll also visit the other Wednesday Briefs bloggers below to find out what wonderful stories they have to offer.
Lily Sawyer     
MA Church     
MC Houle     
Cia Nordwell      


  1. It's so good it hurts! Updates make my Wednesdays good days!! Thanks!

  2. I love how your writing is an example of what books do...let us escape and get us to think...
    It is kind of mind boggling to think what Rasvim/Jesse is feeling and thinking. What he has experienced is so tragic and to have to question everything around you and know your life depends on how you interpret it would be so draining. You also have me curious as to why Majak wants the knowlege also. I don't think he plans to do anything negative with it, but I would have the concern that others whom he shares it with might use it to hurt. I found the revelation about born v. cloned Aeth interesting. Makes you wonder if someday that might be a distinction within humans even. We're not so far away from that capability, are we? This is one of the most fascinating stories I have read, so thanks for that, Tali!

    1. one more thought...
      It would be good to learn a bit about Majak..for him to reveal some stuff about himself and his goals to Rasvim. That would help Rasvim to move away from having to concentrate only on the past which was bad enough to live once. He could start seeing the world though Majak's eyes. Learn how to act and relate to the world he lives in from the perspective of a good Aeth. His experience and ideas about them is Osvith's and he's using it to guide his behaviors.
      I'd also love to know if there are any other Aeth like Majak. Sadly, it sounds as if he is the complete exception for these creatures. I know it's not possible to go into much detail with the word count limits though :)

    2. Fearing for your life and never being sure of your next step is a terrible place to be. :( Majak's hopes (it's too early to call them plans) are good ones, but he isn't sure yet if Rasvim can meet those hopes. More about that will be revealed in the next chapter and Rasvim, too, will see something new. Unfortunately, at this point, the word count limit and my desire for more development of core ideas are affecting where I can go with the story. Majak is not the only Aeth to hope humans can be better used, however. This is where the underdevelopment of subplots becomes an issue. :( I can do more with it if I revise and expand. Because, believe me, there's lots more going on. With me, there always is. Thanks for reading! :D

  3. At last Majak talks and I'm on the edge of my seat waiting to see what he says.

    I understand that, with a story as complex as this the 1000 word limit is difficult and inhibitive. I've found it the same sometimes with mine.

    I love this story and these characters

    1. Oh, I love how rich your stories are and, yes, I can see sometimes where you have to make shortcuts. I do the same thing. It's just part of working with it. :) I hope what Majak has to say is worth the edge of seatness.

  4. Love the way you weaved Oz in. Complex story with many layers.

    1. Thanks Victoria. :) Your story wasn't up when I was by earlier, but I bet it is now, so I'm off to read!

  5. I love how you wove the explanation of lies versus false belief. That was just brilliant! The story is great and I want to hear what Majak will say to convince Rasvim/Jesse that he's not going to harm him or the human race, and is in fact trying to help them, but I was caught up in your explanation of fiction and the whys of it for the most part.

    1. Oh, thank you so much for not thinking I'm just a boring writer talking about writing, even though I am in a way. But it's also about how humans view the world and I am hoping Majak can do something with that. ;)

  6. Wednesdays just can't come soon enough anymore!!!! I love this story so much, and look forward to it every week. There is something so sexy about a man (tho I know Majak is an alien, so I use the term loosely) who is dominant but caring. It calls to a primal need and I'm so happy that he's showing patience and understanding with Rasvim. Trust isn't earned over night... So the fact that he is controlling himself and allowing for this trust to develop is amazing.

    That being said...

    It seems like every Wednesday these stories get shorter and shorted, lol. I think that's due in large part to the fact that at points in the story, 1,000 words just doesn't allow for the detail needed... And we end up with unnatural breaks in the story.

    This is beginning to feel like Madd and Vorgell's story. It's wonderful, and we all look so forward to it every week... But the story is growing larger than the Wednesday Briefs can accommodate. I wonder if you'll be pulling it soon to give it all the love and attention it deserves? But until then, I will be anxiously awaiting next Wednesdays post.

    1. The story grown sub-plots I can't really address in this format. There's stuff going on offscreen, so to speak, among the Aeth, and also more about Rasvim, Enir and Alaksu. Some of it occurred to me after I'd already posted stuff that happens later, so it gets left off to preserve the central story arc.

      You hit the nail on the head about Madd and Vorgell, though! I think you'll be pleasantly surprised about how they ended up. :D

  7. Best line: “But he is really powerless except for what their belief makes possible.”
    Amazing how you're making an alien sex-slave story into so much more!!

  8. Lies and beliefs, that was beautifully explained, Tali. Now if you only hadn't left that cliffhanger! Grrrrr

    1. Well, that's the trouble with flash chapters. Conversations have to be cut to make 'em fit. :-\