Betrayal Among Brothers

Castiel held Ishaan with his eyes through 3mm of vacuum-hardened plastic. It may as well have been 10 meters of lead.

They’d been as close as brothers, once. But the tides of time erode brothers as easily as shorelines; it’s not a measure of virtue or desire, or even grit, but of the accelerating expansion of the universe. All points must drift apart, be they captains, or carriers, or continents.

The tick-tick-tick of the clock in the otherwise deadly-silent hanger bay brought to mind bootheels on the concourse, practicing formations beneath triplet suns. Back then their prospects seemed limitless—they’d only been kids, after all, not yet having shackled themselves to so many choices. But now, for Ishaan, his whole life was behind him. The march of armies was the closest man had come to replicating time’s abstraction, for it held in its cadence and its rhythm the inevitability of destruction. And death.

Well, Ishaan had brought the destruction. Now Castiel must respond with death.

“Ishaan—” Castiel held back the conflicting emotions roiling in his chest. “Just tell me why you did it. Help me understand.”

Ishaan was steely; a man who accepted his fate long ago. “Your question contains the answer. Why? Why, Ishaan? Why did you do it? Always why, never if!” His voice swelled behind the sealed airlock loud enough for some of the officers standing at attention to just hear.

“Have you changed your mind, then? Do you want a trial?”

Ishaan scoffed. “I have a trial, but you misunderstand. You are the defendant. You stand accused. All of you! And history is the harshest judge of all. You may live today, but your legacy lives forever.”

“Ishaan, my friend… Did you sabotage the Westerhout?”

Ishaan pressed his nose against the partition which fogged as he spoke. “No. I sabotaged your soul, Captain, and you’re no friend of mine. My friend Castiel died a silent death long ago.”

Castiel looked away. “Then join him.” He pulled the airlock override and turned back to watch Ishaan tumble soundlessly into the void. He dismissed his officers, but stayed by the airlock mouthing silent prayers for a long time.

8 thoughts on “Betrayal Among Brothers”

  1. Anonymole sent me over here. Nice short stuff, I know you’re just blowing these out for writing exercise, but add some self editing to it and you’ll be doubly productive.

    but stayed by the airlock mouthing silent prayers for a long time.

    So he was praying for a long time? Overetime? Extra innings? There’s a good deal of that in several of your works where you know what you’re saying, but people reading it are scratching their heads. Even me. An Ah owny beeze ’bout haf stoopt masef so yew mitawanna sidder thayut fur the reel dumeez.

    Just my .02.
    Good stuff. Write more. Work harder!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi there, thanks for stopping by! I do appreciate the feedback. I think I understand your point, but not the specific example. This is a good learning opportunity, so would you mind expanding?

      “So he was praying for a long time?” Yes. He stayed by the airlock and prayed for a long time. I’m not seeing another way to interpret this, but I realize I’m especially dense =) Are you saying the phrase “for a long time” should be between “airlock” and “mouthing”? And if so, is this a question of preference and clarity, or is there a grammatical error at work here?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dangling modifier. It reads like he was praying for a long time. Long time is modifying praying, not the act of hanging around for a long time. I won’t advertise on your site but I just dealt with this on mine. To ing or not to ing. Go through your stuff, look for superfluous words and things we would say, or how we might say them conversationally instead of writing. I do it all the time, and it’s easy to correct. Like where you use ‘once’ at the end of the sentence where it’s hanging when, if written that way, should be in the front end. But either way they were brothers once which is quantitative. I get what your saying, so does your audience but there are stronger words to make it pop. Inseparable comes to mind, or something that conveys their bond. I’m not busting on you, I like your vignettes. Just hit them with some self editing polish, make them go BAM. Every line. Every word. Particularly when they’re this short.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Choices are shackles, aren’t they? A forged chain of Marley’esque decisions, linked as memories pulling us into the past. The Past is Pain.

    Mr. Huston will gut you and leave you quivering, bleeding out in the snow. But he means well. And his advice is *almost* always on point.


  3. Both real and imaginary people, planet-side or space-bound, don’t speak or think or write like the Turabian Guide or Chicago Manual of Style.

    I survived the toughest and most strict of all English grammar teachers in high school, the infamous, Ms. V.O. Beck; a holy terror and the thing of nightmares. She was also one the finest teachers of my life and a woman of infinite grace and empathy, beneath her extremely crusty surface. Her lessons were so tough and she was so (seemingly) mean, that everyone in the academic student body had to literally suffer through at least one of her classes during their high school career (“dems were da rules”). Her students and pupils (yes, she made sure we all understood the difference) ranged from the advanced college prep straight-A kids (who would easily get an F on a paper, if they put their name in the wrong place), to the school’s linebackers (who would cry like little babies with real tears and snot dripping from their noses, when facing the possibility of flunking her class and their GPA going below the acceptable limit for them to stay on the team); nobody came out unscathed.

    But yet, surprisingly, in a rare form of acute leniency (and definitely a perplexing dichotomy for the more sensitive types to fathom), she taught us that in creative writing, such as musical lyrics and poetry, and even fantasy stories, all grammar, punctuation, and spelling rules can go to Hell and it’s OK to use “ain’t” and “paint” in the same sentence, run amok with run-ons, load up on colloquial speech, and end one’s prose in prepositions or dangle as many modifiers and participles as could possibly be written askew – all in the name of art.

    So, this is an excellent and poignant sentence written perfectly well, damn it; “he… stayed by the airlock mouthing silent prayers for a long time.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. An impassioned rebuttal from Emily! I like the dialogue we’ve got going here.

      I agree that in creative writing no rules are sacred. I also believe it’s important to break the rules with intention. Dangling modifiers are fair game, but there has to be thought behind it, even if the reasoning is simply, “I think this way sounds better.”

      As a reminder, this blog is all about idea generation and quick, solid first drafts. Each piece is handwritten on a single notebook page (I do have to write very tiny to make it all fit sometimes). I don’t edit before posting; that is not what this blog is about. All of these pieces would benefit from a couple rounds of edits. I’m always happy to get some feedback so my *next* first draft can be a little bit stronger.

      Keep the comments coming, everyone; I love it! 😁


      1. I love your work, Mr. Shocky.
        Especially during these precarious times,
        your creative genius is a breath of fresh air.
        Thank you for sharing your artistry;
        it means a lot to me and I’m sure to others, as well.

        Liked by 1 person

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