Fractured Fragment Friday: “My Brother’s Keeper” (and a coupon!)

Mental invasion and mind-control keeps cropping up in my work. “My Brother’s Keeper” took the medieval notion of demon possession, which some “science” now tries to explain away as probable psychological disorders – I’m not sure I buy into that. What if there is such a thing as possession, but it’s a little more commonplace – at least for a visiting alien culture?

Here’s the blurb:

What would you be willing to do to save a soul from oblivion? Abduction? Possession? Murder?
A space traveler lands on a primitive planet, and contends with the backwards philosophy of some brown-robed brethren as he tries to rescue his own brother’s spirit. Does he succeed? Read “My Brother’s Keeper” to find out.MyBrotherCover

And here’s this week’s excerpt:

The readout on my finder glowed bright blue against the night’s darkness; it indicated my brother Zagaar was somewhere on the rocky outcropping ahead. Whatever his spirit had transferred into, it was still latched on, holding itself back from oblivion. I might yet be able to return him to the collective.

The light from this planet’s waning moon highlighted one of the primitives’ structures near the top, this one larger than the others I had encountered.

Cross Hill Friary, came my host’s thoughts. So, he was familiar with this place – had a passion about it.

His body was annoyingly frail; I delved further into his thoughts as I made my slow way up the hill’s roughhewn path. The friary was a place of spiritual significance to them, where men who sought their god went for refuge.

I was winded by the time I arrived at the top, so I paused to catch my breath. The finder showed that my brother should be in the structure; I tucked it back into the folds of my host’s coarse brown robe, and as I did so, the door before me opened with a heavy creaking. What dim light there was inside spilled onto the path, and a man clothed much the same as I was stepped into the opening and peered down at me from the top of the steps.

“Brother Michael?” he asked. Apparently, my host was expected.

Do not harm him, daemon! Brother Michael shouted in our mind.

He attempted to wrest control from me, so that for a moment I was able to do little else than resist before I finally put him in his place.

I won’t need to harm anyone if you help me, I thought, and rested a hand on the crude weapon inside his robes for emphasis. Tell me who this is.

Brother Simon, he thought at last. I pressed him for more information on the friary and Brother Simon, which he gave grudgingly.

“Is everything alright?” Brother Simon asked.

“Yes, Brother Simon; I am just weary from the road,” I said, as I let my hand drop to my side.

“We had expected you sooner,” Brother Simon said, as he came down the steps. “I hope our summons wasn’t too great an imposition?”

He reached out to me and we clasped hands. His was a younger and more vital body than the one I controlled. I was tempted to transfer into it, but that would have freed my current host and given me away; that would not help me retrieve my brother.

“No imposition at all. I merely experienced a delay,” I said, recalling the precious time it had taken to waylay Brother Michael and secure my own body in my vessel. “I’m sorry if I caused you any undue concern.”

“These are strange and dangerous times,” he said, as he helped me up the stairs. “But you are here now, and that is what matters.”

We passed into the building, and he closed and secured the door behind us, then led me through the chapel, where a handful of monks sat silently. He paused and knelt where a long wooden box lay before the altar. I came alongside him and copied his actions, staring down at the body of a young, brown-robed man laid out in the box. Bruises were visible where his skin was exposed.

“Brother Timothy!” escaped from my lips in my host’s surprise; I sought to cover it with an awkward “Sorry, Brother.”

“It’s still quite a shock for us, too,” Brother Simon said. “We bury him tomorrow.”

As he rose, I snuck a look inside my robe at the finder – Brother Timothy’s spirit was here, but my brother’s was not.

That cannot be, my host thought. The soul leaves the body upon death.

See for yourself, I responded.

I placed my hand on Brother Timothy’s head and pushed my thoughts outward, Brother Timothy, are you in there?

My host was having none of it. Stop this foolishness now before

Brother Michael – is that you? I can’t see you – it is so dark here.

I removed my hand and severed the connection.

What deviltry is this? asked my host. How can his soul still be there?

You think you know of the soul, but you cannot locate it, let alone relocate it, I thought to him.

I rose and rejoined Brother Simon where he waited by a side door, and he led me into the kitchen.

“Please have a seat,” he said, then looked in a pot that hung over the fire. “Good – there is still some stew.”

I sat as he fetched a bowl, ladled out some of the thick glop, and set the bowl in front of me. I did not hunger, but what I’d learned from my host told me it would be rude to say so. Brother Simon sat on the bench at the other side of the table watching quietly as I ate. I preferred he not do that, in case I revealed myself in some tell-tale deviation from the Brother Michael he knew.

“How did it happen?” I asked. “Brother Timothy, I mean.”

“For the same reason that we asked you to come,” he said, sadly. “Brother Isaiah.”

Killed by the daemon possessed, thought my host.

“Brother Isaiah killed him?” I asked.

“Not intentionally,” he said, shaking his head. “We were concerned about his behavior, all the unintelligible muttering he’d been doing since Brother Timothy first found him stumbling on the hill.

“After we sent for you, Brother Isaiah seemed to return to himself, so we allowed him to roam about freely, always with one or another of us following him about, lest he harm himself. Brother Andrew and Brother Timothy were in the garden with him this morning, the three of them gathering vegetables. Suddenly, Brother Isaiah threw down his basket and shouted ‘You cannot hold Zagaar here!’ and jumped the fence.”

Ah! Zagaar has taken refuge in one of the primitives, I thought. In his weakened state after the crash, it must have been a struggle for him to gain control. That ‘unintelligible muttering’ may have been our tongue.

Daemon heresies, my host grumbled.

“Fearing that he would reach the cliff and throw himself off, the brothers gave chase,” Brother Simon continued. “Young Brother Timothy first caught up with him at the cliff’s edge and tried to hold him back while he waited for help. In Brother Isaiah’s mania, he knocked Brother Timothy over the edge and made to follow.”

Trying for separation, I thought. Why? With no keeper he would be lost.

Perhaps he longed for the Hell you both came from.

“Brother Andrew had to subdue him with a blow to the head. He has been unconscious since.”

“Where is Brother Isaiah now?”

“We’ve been afraid that he might awaken and attempt to kill himself again. He is tied to his bed, and one of the brothers is always by him.”

I rose from the table.

“Let’s get to it, then,” I said.

“Would you not rather rest from your journey?” Brother Simon asked.

“A soul hangs in the balance – I will rest later,” I said. “Please take me to him.”

What will our space traveler find? And how much longer will he have to exchange pleasantries with Brother Michael? “My Brother’s Keeper” is a speculative fiction short story, and is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/380717

collection4coverAmazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GUUY6VI

It’s also included in the collection Still Even More Things I Could Get OUT OF MY MIND:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/489509

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P46ZP64

“My Brother’s Keeper” is also in the collection The Next Three ‘Things I Could Get OUT OF CollectionNext3CoverMY MIND’. (The next ten people who purchase the collection on Smashwords with coupon code RAE50 will receive a 40% discount. That’s only $2.99 for EIGHTEEN stories – such a deal!):

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/784952

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B079CNM1L5


Swordsmaster – my first novel – is ready for your reading pleasure, so give it a read, won’t you?

Fate is neither something to run away from, nor something to run towards.Swordsmaster4

The first bright-eye to be seen on the mountain in living memory, Sandrik didn’t want anyone to think of him as they did the ominous Aurae of legend, so he had worked hard to keep his special abilities hidden. But there was more to Sandrik than even he knew. Now that it was time for him to enter the ancient ruins of Taernfeld and be declared a man, what other changes might he be forced into?

Swordsmaster is available at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/954501

Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WNK79FM


William Mangieri’s writing, including “Breathing is Overrated” (one of his Writers of the BreathingCoverFuture honorable mentions, and another case of alien thoughts), as well as another 80-some-odd short stories (plus his collections) can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:
• Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/NoTimeToThink
• His Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B008O8CBDY
• Barnes & Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/william-mangieri?store=book&keyword=william+mangieri

To CONNECT WITH HIM (and LIKE and FOLLOW – you know you should…), go to
• His site on WordPress:  https://williammangieri.wordpress.com
• “William Mangieri’s Writing Page” on Facebook at:  http://www.facebook.com/NoTimeToThink
• His Goodreads author page:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6893616.William_Mangieri
• Or on twitter: @WilliaMangieri

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