No Longer a Child; Part One

I’ve finally started writing fiction again.  It feels good to put stories on digital paper.  This is the first part of a short story I’ve written, inspired by this picture.  I’m not sure how many parts it will be, probably three or four.  The main character has a fun voice to write in.  Enjoy.

It’s easy to forget what it’s like for those less privileged than you. You spend your days being waited on by servants with nothing better to do than attend to your every whim, in mansions that dwarf the housing complexes they float above. Meals are prepared in a kitchen you’ve never even seen, served on brand-new silver that will be discarded within a week and replaced. It’s easy to forget.

Until you’re lying on your back in a pile of rubbish, watching that mansion float away.

My name is Alphonse Benedict Meridius the fourth. This is the story of when I fell.

*#*#*#*

I woke on my seventeenth birthday with the expectation of presents, as I had done on each year previously. My best clothes hung on the armoire beside my bed, and I changed out of my nightclothes with as much haste as I could manage without my appearance suffering. Mother would have been furious if I’d made my entrance with my clothes in disarray, for she always invited whichever members of our social circle were in good standing at the time.

Once I had dressed, I noticed a package sitting on my desk, with a note on top. I picked up my letter opener and slit the top of the envelope, pulling out the letter.

My son,

On this, your seventeenth birthday, you are no longer a child.  As of this day, you are a man, and as a man, you deserve the respect of your peers and the fear of the commoners. May this gift serve you well as you begin to make your own way in the world.

– Your father, Alphonse Benedict Meridius III

This seemed to me a most unusual thing. My father had never paid much regard to the course my life took, at least not personally. He oversaw my tutors; that was the extent of his involvement. I set the note aside and used the letter opener to cut open the paper on one side of the package. My fingers touched smooth wood, which only deepened my confusion. I slid the box from the wrappings, running my fingers over the etching in the top of the otherwise plain box: a sword, point-down, with lightning coming up from the tip in a ‘V’. It was a logo I’d seen before, in shop windows and adverts on the public view screens.

My hands shook with excitement as I unfastened the latch and lifted the lid. There, resting in red velvet, sat a smooth black device, no more than seven inches long and three inches wide. I lifted it from the box, feeling its solidity, its reassuring weight in my hand. At my touch, one side of it came to life. The company’s logo presented for a moment, and then faded, replaced by a single circle. I pressed my thumb into the center and watched as it scanned me. It beeped after a moment, confirming that it had imprinted me as its owner; only my touch could activate it now.

I held it away from myself, reading the buttons and settings that came to life. It seemed to have come with standard settings, ready for use. I pressed the central button.

The device hummed, and a beam of energy slid from the tip, three feet of glowing blue power. I nearly dropped it in my excitement. My very own lasersword. And not a toy, either, one of those cheap models for children that could only shock. I whirled, swinging the sword in a clean arc, slicing through the practice dummy I’d so often used my wooden or metal training swords on. For a moment, it remained in place. Then it slowly slid down the diagonal cut, toppling to the floor when it unbalanced itself.

I pressed the central button again, and the blade faded. In addition to the weapon, the box contained a belt holster for it, which I strapped on immediately. It felt good to have the weapon on my hip. I felt like a true member of the noble society.

A knock on the door startled me from my thoughts. “Young master? Your mother wishes you to join her in the lounge.”

Of course. My mother. My guests. I’d forgotten, in the excitement of my first gift. “Tell her I’m on my way.”

Footsteps moved away from the door. I took a look at myself in the mirror and adjusted my clothing one last time. Satisfied, I pushed open my door and went to mingle with my guests. And receive presents, of course.

*#*#*#*

It was hard for me to judge the quality of the gifts I received that morning. In comparison to the lasersword hanging from my belt, no gift seemed as elegant as the person presenting it seemed to think. For the first time in my life, I found myself gladdened when the time for gifts ended, and I was free to seek out the young boys my age and flaunt my new possession. When I found them, though, the one I most wanted to find was not among them. Edward Castellion Black, a braggart and a fool, who somehow tricked the adults into think that he was superior to the rest of us young folk. He possessed a lasersword as well, and often mocked us with that fact; I wished to return the favor.

On a tip from one of the other boys, I went towards the kitchens, where supposedly Edward had been seen last. I pushed open a door into an observation room, one with a balcony overlooking the vast city below. But my gaze wasn’t drawn by the view. It was drawn by Edward, who had a grip on my younger sister’s wrists and had her pinned in the corner.

I didn’t think. The lasersword was in my hand and the blade hummed to life as I shouted a challenge at Edward. He turned as I charged him, and his own lasersword just barely blocked my first, wild swing. He countered, pushing my back, and I parried and countered in turn.

It soon became obvious I was outmatched. Edward had more real experience in combat, and against such experience, all my training was useless. Our fight carried us to the balcony, and our blades became harder to see in the bright, direct sunlight. Edward knew this would happen. I did not. In the moment of my disorientation, his blade lashed out, cutting into my shoulder.

I staggered back, deactivating my sword and raising my hand in surrender. My face colored in shame, but at least, I saw from a quick look under my upraised arm, my sister had escaped. Edward smirked at me, and there was a dark glint in his eye that I knew nothing good could come of. He lowered his sword, then, in the moment that I relaxed, he kicked out, a powerful strike to my chest.

The momentum knocked me onto the edge of the balcony’s railing. Then it carried me over.

I fell, retaining just enough presence of mind to fasten my lasersword back into its holster, before the sudden stop at the end.

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Filed under My Stories, Sci-Fi, Short Stories, Writing

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