Three, p.1

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Three
 


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Three
HREE

  BY SHŌSHI

  Copyright 2014 Shōshi

  All rights reserved.

  -1-

  DOWN

  25000 words

  Bryan loves caving; his twin Joel hates it. Exploring newly discovered caves, Bryan gets lost. To find him Joel is helped by Roke, a strange, giant of a man who lives in the caves year-round. Quarreling at first, they learn to get along as they overcome the terrors of cave-climbing and attacks by thugs who want to kill them. Finding Bryan near death, they face their biggest challenge: how to save him.

  -2-

  THE RECKIE

  34500 words

  Mozart was never able to finish his last and greatest work, his Requiem, because he died of an infection. Carol and Mathew want to time travel to the l8th century to cure him with antibiotics so he can finish it as a gift for her musician dad. They find a way to do it, but then Mozart gives them the wrong music so he has to time travel to America himself to deliver it.

  -3-

  FEENA

  16500 words

  In this dystopian fantasy, Feena is a human survivor of an interplanetary war. She falls for Jome, an enemy robot soldier severely injured in the conflict. An enemy official, called the Inspector, wants her to be his slave and tries to kidnap her. She must find a way to foil him and mend Jome.

  DOWN

  (Preliminary)

  “They’ll find him eventually. Pull him out.

  I feel sorry for his folks.”

  It was their favorite Italian restaurant. They had taken a long wooden table in a room at the back---just right for a family and friends looking for some privacy, for a chance to be noisy and sentimental at a summer birthday party. Joel was on his feet giving a toast. “Here’s to holes in the ground,” he said. “And the nuts who go down in them.” He thrust his beer at the guy sitting next to him. “Happy 18th Birthday, Bryan! My half-wit twin.” Now he took a deep draft of the beer in his hand. “And happy birthday me! Who’s too smart to join him.”

  “Too chicken, you mean!”

  “Who said that?!” Joel was about to fire back something equally insulting. Instead he stopped and looked serious for a moment. “You’re probably right, Jim. I can’t deny it.” He looked at his twin brother and lifted his beer mug at him and said quietly: “Here’s to Bryan, the absolutely bravest guy I ever met.”

  Everyone raised high their paper cups and yelled in raggedy unison: “Yea, Bryan!”

  Bryan looked sheepishly down at the birthday cake and its half-eaten sentiment: ‘“HAP BIRT AY” ---and barely smiled. Joel knew this was not his brother’s kind of scene, but he had insisted he come. Not just to celebrate their mutual birthday but also the beginning of an underground adventure Bryan was about to go on---exploring some newly discovered caves in northern New Hampshire. He grasped the back of his brother’s chair and kneeled down. He spoke in a teasing voice that everyone could hear. “Hey, come on, Bry, you can tell us. It’ll never leave this room.” He whispered loudly in Bryan’s ear. “Who are you meeting down there?”

  Bryan smiled his enigmatic smile and pushed him away. Feigning an intimate tone, Joel said: “Is she a caver, too?”“ The table was starting to laugh.

  “You think I’m going to tell a chump like you?”

  But Joel was serious. He whispered now so only Bryan could hear. “There’s a secret down there, isn’t there? Why won’t you tell us? Me at least.”

  His brother just shook his head. “I don’t know what’s down there.” That almost-smile again. “That’s why I’m going. I want to find out.”

  “I’ve never understood what they see in caving,” one of the women seated at the far end of the table said to her neighbor. “It’s so damn dangerous.”

  “I’m with you, Lois,” said the neighbor. “Your brother’s insane.”

  Joel got back on his feet. “I knew he wouldn’t tell us. But it’s all right. He knows what he’s doing. No one knows more about caving than Bryan.”

  Still, there was an uncomfortable silence. Everyone seemed to get thoughtful as they stole looks at him. They all knew what he was doing was chancy---so why was he doing it?

  “All right, you want to know why? I’ll tell you.”

  “On your feet, bro,” said Joel. “On your feet.”

  Bryan got up with painful slowness and glanced along the table at all the faces. “This is lots scarier than caving,” he said blushing. He sat down again. “Think I’ll talk from here.”

  “Louder!” called Joel. “We don’t want to miss one golden word.”

  “Okay, okay.” He glanced at Lois. “I don’t know how politicians do it,” he said. “Well, I haven’t thought about this a lot---but I can say this. If there’s a girl down there, I guess it’s the cave goddess and her siren call. She’s the one pulling me down.” He stole another look at his sister. “Yeah, it’s risky. But it’s just something I have to do. Until you’re gone caving, you don’t know how addictive it is. I can’t stay away from it.” As he began to get into it, the words came more easily. He stopped peering down at the birthday cake and met the eyes of those around the table. “It’s a soul-changing experience—like nothing I’ve ever known. You look into those spaces and shadows that just go on and on. Light seeps down here and there. It lets you see, but not quite see. There’re strange shapes all around you that maybe no one else ever got a look at before.” He stared at the cake again. “It’s wild, man.”

  “But why these new caves, Bryan?” asked Lois. “Nobody knows what’s down there. It hasn’t been mapped. You might get hurt—really hurt.”

  There was a weighty moment of quiet. Joel knew the real reasons why his brother caved, reasons he hadn’t mentioned. He was in love with the challenge of it. The sheer dare of it. The very reasons why Joel didn’t cave. Bryan might be shy, but he was fearless. The whole idea of caving scared Joel to death.

  But this was getting too serious, especially for a birthday party. Joel almost shouted for a change in direction. “Hey, let’s lighten up!” He grinned a huge grin. “You forgot one of the other reasons you cave. Getting a snootful of that beautiful smell down there. The smell that’s everywhere underground.” He pinched his own nose. “Bat poop!”

  Bryan shook his head as the table laughed. “Not if you go deep enough,” he said.

  “That’s because the bats are scared, too,” said Lois. “They hang out near the entrances. You said that yourself.”

  “Listen, Lois and I know there’s no way we can talk him out of this,” said Joel. “We never could about anything.” He grinned and shook his head. “Neither could Mom. By the way, here’s a little send-off message from her on her book tour. She’s out in Kansas somewhere. She texted me just before dinner. A love note for Bryan. I was saving it till now. ‘Dear Cutie,’ she says. ‘Be sens—’”

  Joel was drowned out by a mocking chorus of “Aw-w-w!”

  “Please---this is our ever-lovin’ mom talking. She says: ‘Be sensible. Don’t do anything screw-ball. Have fun at your party. Tell us all about it when you get back. I love you.”‘ Joel glanced at his twin. “You better.”

  Bryan returned the look fleetingly, uncertainly. He knew none of them understood. Joel was his best friend, always had been, but he knew he didn’t quite get it either.

  A woman leaned over and whispered to Lois. “Why does Millie let him do it? I’d put my foot down.”

  “You think he listens to his mom? He doesn’t listen to any of us.”

  Joel overheard her. “Hey, we’re 16,” he said. “You don’t tell a sixteen-year-old what to do!”

  “Who do you think taught him how to cave?” This was another whisperer.

  “Millie? She caves?”<
br />
  “Not any more---but she’s proud of him going down there. It takes guts.”

  Joel put his arm around Bryan. “I know there’s a secret down there. You don’t have to tell me what it is. I only hope you know what you’re doing.”

  “You’ll be the first to find out everything when the time comes,” said Bryan softly.

  “All I know,” said his brother, “is this is crazy, you’re crazy, caving’s crazy—and we just have to put up with you.” He took another swig of his beer. “It’s okay. Follow your star, bro. Now go get some sleep. You’re going to need it.”

  (ONE)

  The cell phone lying on his desk began ringing and vibrating around six p.m. He just let it ring. He watched it slowly turn a circle on the desktop. He had fixed it so it wouldn’t take a message. Then, it stopped for a while as though the caller had given up. After a while it began ringing again. He didn’t want to answer it because he might find out what he didn’t want to know. It wasn’t so. It couldn’t be so. It was incomprehensible. He couldn’t fit it into his head, couldn’t encompass it.

  “Bryan,” he said aloud. “You goddam idiot.”

  His sister Lois called from the living room. She was trying not to sound as irritated as she felt. She knew how obstinate he could be. “Aren’t you going to answer it?”

  He didn’t reply.

  “Do you want me to answer it?”

  He still didn’t reply

  She came into the room and sat down on the edge of a chair. “It’s got to be them,” she said.

  He nodded slowly. “I don’t want to
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