Excerpts

Fractured Fragment Friday: You May Not Want What’s Coming To You – Best To Avoid This “Inheritance”

Halloween is almost here! This is the last time that Fractured Fragment Fridays will promote a story from my themed collection WEIRD, But not TOO Scary Tales (there’s a rather modern mummy in this on.)

“Inheritance” came from a combination of grave-robbers, the artifacts AND servants buried in tombs, and a touch of being careful what you wish for. Wealth isn’t always what you think, and just as one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, it works in reverse, too.

Here’s the Blurb

When Amun discovers that his family is connected to power, wealth and infamy, he enlists a friend to help him get his share. But does he really want the ancient inheritance that’s coming to him? Read “Inheritance.”

And Here’s This Week’s Excerpt

Amun stood in the moonlit woods, looking at the wrought-iron fence that cut across the rear of the Bahur estate. He walked over and touched it with the back of his hand.

“Nothing,” he said, “boost me over.”

When there was no reply, he turned around to see Shaq standing in the clearing, staring straight ahead through the goggles that fed visuals to his implant. Motionless, except for his jaw and the gum he was chewing.

“Hey,” Amun said, tapping the taller teen on the shoulder, “browsing or drowsing, iShaq?”InheritanceCover

Sometimes Amun wished he was blind so he could have goggles, too. But he knew he wouldn’t have had the brains to hack them into the web like Shaq had. That was the reason Shaq’s friends used the “i” prefix for his nickname – to honor his intellect, not to insult his hardware dependence.

“Mun, the Bahurs actually obscured the grounds on the googleverse,” Shaq said, still focused on his network feed. “It shows us at the edge of a blue blob. No terrain; nothing. Guess that’s what being the ‘Richest Family in the Pacific Northwest’ can do.

“Yeah, and I’m going to get mine. I don’t know why you decided to research this now.”

“I’d have done it sooner if you hadn’t just sprung it on me tonight. I have a bot building a twiki. Always be prepared, Mun.”

“Don’t sweat it; my grandma’s stories will be enough. Now help me up.”

Shaq swung the heavy rucksack off his back and set it on the ground.

“You sure they’re not watching?” Shaq said as cradled his fingers for the smaller teen.

“Don’t see any cameras.”

Amun pulled Shaq’s shoulders and stepped up onto his waiting fingers, but when he tried to reach for the fence, his left thumb brushed the side of Shaq’s head and hooked the goggles’ strap. They dangled from his hand, and Amun had to grab hold of Shaq’s shoulders again as Shaq staggered from the sudden loss of vision. As the goggles swung, they went in and out of his implant’s wireless range.

“Hey, you’re making me dizzy. Hold them still, would you?”

“Sorry,” Amun said.

It was awkward, but he managed to get the goggles back over Shaq’s head, with the strap across Shaq’s lids.

“Oh look,” Shaq said, “now I have eyes in the back of my head!”

“Hang on,” Amun said, as he rotated the goggles around front. “Better?”

“Much.”

Amun turned and transferred his hold to the fence as Shaq lifted him higher. He crossed over the top spikes and dropped to the ground on the other side.

“Okay, now the bag,” he said as he positioned himself. “Send it over easy.”

Shaq hoisted the rucksack onto his shoulder, then leaned it against the fence and pushed up until it flipped over the top, where it hung upside down from one of the spikes. Amun had to dodge out of the way as a crowbar slipped out. It hit the ground beside him.

“Hey, careful!” Amun said as a couple of metal bars and a spray can followed the crowbar to the ground.

You be careful,” Shaq said. “I’m doing the best I can.”

He reached up and tried to release the rucksack from the spike, and as he did Amun saw a small black tin squeezing its way through the sack’s widening mouth. He jumped forward and caught it before it hit the ground. He opened it to expose a glass vial of amber liquid, wrapped in clear bubble foam.

“That was lucky.”

Amun put the vial back in the tin and set it down, then caught the bag when Shaq got it loose.

“You know,” said Shaq, “if we’d split that stuff up into two bags, it would have been a lot easier.”

Amun smiled at him. “But two bags would have been more awkward for you.”

“Why would I have to carry both of them?”

“Stop complaining,” Amun said as he started reloading the sack, “and get over here.”

Shaq grabbed hold of the top bar of the fence and with a little struggle managed to pull himself over and drop down beside Amun.

“There you go,” Amun said, handing him the rucksack.

“Sometimes, I’d like to be something other than ‘The Muscle’,” he said as he put the bag back over his shoulder.

“But you’re so good at it,” Amun said. “Besides, that’s not all you are.”

“Yeah, I know,” Shaq said, half smiling, “I’m your trusty sidekick. How do we know where to go, BatMun?”

“My grandma lived here for a while before Bahur fired her off the estate. She used tell me stories about it, from when I was little all the way up until she died. The crypts are between here and the house. Follow me.”

Amun found a path through the trees that seemed to be headed in the right direction. Every so often they saw the big house in the distance through gaps in the trees, and could tell they were getting gradually closer.

“’Considered an eccentric genius through most of his adult life’,” Shaq read from his popup display, “’Khaldun Bahur made his mark on the world with breakthroughs in neuroscience and artificial intelligence, culminating in the invention of the Mesonic brain.’”

“Yeah, he was a genius,” said Amun, not looking back, “except he didn’t just think he could program personalities into it. He thought he could transfer real people’s minds into it, to live forever.”

“’Although acquitted of responsibility for three separate instances of brain-damaged subjects’,” Shaq continued, “’he was ostracized by a world that thought him found innocent by reason of insane wealth. He exiled himself to his estate, never to be seen by the public for the rest of his life and beyond.’ Boy, looks like people still don’t like him; seven percent like, eighty-two percent unlike.”

“Yeah, poor misunderstood Great Granddad,” Amun said sarcastically, “alone with his billions.”

“It’s so weird to hear you call him that.”

“Not as weird as it is for me. Fifteen years old, and I have to figure it out for myself. No one tells me anything.”

“Your mom was probably just trying to protect you.”

“You’re right,” Amun huffed, “who’d want to know they’re related to a mad scientist?”

“Maybe she …”

“Can we stop talking about it?” 

They proceeded in silence, except for the occasional snap of Shaq’s gum.

Finally they stepped out from the woods. They could see the house on a distant hill, a couple of windows lit, but mostly dark. The grounds before them sloped down to a huge, walled cemetery. Even in the moonlight, the flowers glowed in brilliant jewel tones. They saw the roofs of smaller crypts inside the walls, with one large building in the center.

“It’s a pyramid!” said Shaq.

“Great Granddad’s,” said Amun as he scoped out a way down the hill, “He was building it when she still lived there.”

“Nice,” said Shaq, looking at the gardens, “Oh, beware the reach of the Twikiverse! Someone’s tweeted this view; I found a ninety-two-percent match. Guess the Bahurs didn’t manage a complete photo wipe.”

“Come on,” said Amun.

They reached the base of the hill and stepped onto a winding stone path that connected the garden to the house. Amun stood looking up at the building, while Shaq walked to the cemetery wall and tried to pull the gate open; it wouldn’t budge.

“Locked,” he said, then stepped over to a brass touch plate in the wall beside the gate. It was engraved with the Eye of Horus. Shaq tried running his hands over it and pressing it. “No use. The wall’s pretty smooth; it’s going to be a trick to climb over.”

While Shaq moved to his right looking for an easier spot, Amun walked to the gate and examined the touch plate. He traced the eye pattern with his finger and heard metal clang as the gate swung out.

“Hey! How’d you do that?”

“Guess I have the magic touch.”

“Maybe it’s DNA coded?”

“If so, then even a black sheep is allowed to visit his ancestors. Come on.”

Amun walked in, with Shaq right behind him. The path was open to the air, but surrounded with man-high flowering plants. They’d only taken a couple of steps when they heard the gate close behind them.

“Hope we don’t have to climb out,” said Shaq.

They came to the first of the smaller crypts, just off the right side of their path. Amun glanced at it and continued forward, but Shaq stepped off the path toward it to get a closer look. Suddenly, a misty blue figure of a robed woman appeared before him, and he froze. A female voice seemed to come from the rocks behind the woman as her mouth moved.

“I have not uttered lies. I have made no one weep. I have…”

“Cool,” Shaq said, as he sent his browser on another search, “ninety-seven percent that’s Raziya Bahur. She’d be your cousin, once-removed.”

Amun pulled Shaq’s arm so that he stepped back on the path, and the figure and voice vanished.

“She’s not important to us,” Amun said.

“What was that she was saying?”

“Those were confessions of purity; my grandma said the Bahurs were really into that old maat stuff.”

“Oh,” Shaq said, then went off in one of his stares. “Twiki says there are forty-two of those. Egyptians used to write them on their tombs, to use the power of the words to rewrite their past.”

“Yes, to make themselves seem more pure than they were in real life. Again, not important. Stay with me.”

Amun continued along the path, with Shaq following close behind. They passed additional smaller crypts; a couple of these were close enough to the path that their passing activated more holograms. The moonlit garden echoed with the whispers of the 42 Confessions of Purity. 

At last, they arrived at the central pyramid. They stood at the bottom of the stone steps and looked up.

“He sure thought a lot of himself, even for a Bahur,” said Shaq. “This is bigger than our apartment building.”

“Well, he was the Bahur,” Amun said, “Grandma said Great Grandad liked to lord it over the rest of the family that he was where all their power came from. Figures he’d go all pharaoh on his tomb, too.”

As they started up the stairs, they heard a deep male voice begin the now familiar recitation from above them.

“I have committed no sin. I have not committed robbery with violence. I have not stolen. I have not slain men and women.”

As they reached the top, they could see the bluish figure in the archway at the top of the stairs. It was a bald, bespectacled image of an elderly, bare-chested man in an Egyptian kilt. Even though it was a hologram, it seemed more substantial than the others.

“Khaldun Bahur, in ancient Egyptian shendyt,” Shaq read as the tag appeared on his lens screen.

“Yep, that’s Great Granddad.”

The figure turned slightly in Amun’s direction, pausing briefly in its recitation before continuing.

“I have not stolen grain. I have not purloined…”

“Did you see the way it looked at you?” asked Shaq. “That was creepy weird.”

“Probably just some Kinection setup, with voice and motion sensing to make it seem more alive.”

Amun stepped forward to examine another Eye of Horus touch plate beside the door. He tried running his hand along it, but nothing happened. He stepped back over to Shaq, who was staring at Khaldun.

“I have not uttered lies. I have not carried away food. I have not…”

“Let’s have the bag,” Amun said.

Shaq handed it to him. Amun set it on the ground, crouched over it and pulled out the black tin. He removed the glass vial, and stood, looking at it in the moonlight.

“I have made none to weep.”

“Oh, that’s a laugh!” said Amun. “You made Monica Williams leave your son. You broke her heart. I could see the tears on her returned letters.”

Khaldun had stopped speaking at Amun’s outburst, and now it took a step toward him. Both boys jumped back, and almost out of their skins.

“Monica Williams chose to leave,” it said, “she was not worthy, and deprived her offspring of the knowledge and wisdom that was their heritage.”

“What the hell?” Amun said.

“I have not uttered curses,” Khaldun said, waggling a finger in the air toward Amun, “I have not blasphemed. I am not a man of violence. I…”

“That’s pretty good,” Shaq said, staring at Khaldun, “I bet it can carry on a real conversation.”

“Don’t care,” Amun said as he opened the vile and poured a little of the gold liquid into his palm.

“You going to tell me what that stuff is yet?”

“My granddad,” Amun said, now rubbing his hands together. “Grandma had some of his hair as a keepsake; it was supposed to be buried with her, but my parents forgot. Anyway, I took it…”

“And cultured it with that DNA kit Miss Reynolds had using in lab last month?” Shaq guessed. “Rad!”

“I figured only certain people would be allowed in here, and I wasn’t going to be one of them. Great Granddad’s heir, though…”

“I have not pried into matters,” Khaldun kept rambling, “I have not…”

“Oh, shut up, already,” Amun said.

He pressed his hand on the Eye of Horus. Khaldun turned toward Amun and smiled.

“It has been a long time, Okpara ,” it said, “your inheritance awaits you.”

There was a loud metallic click as the door popped open slightly, and Khaldun vanished.

“Nice one!” Shaq said, “You should tell Miss Reynolds. I bet she’d give you extra credit.”

“I don’t think so,” Amun said, pulling the door open further.

They stared into the darkness. Amun reached into the bag and pulled out two glow sticks. He twisted one, and it started giving off a bright green light.

“Sick color choice,” Shaq whispered.

“Yeah,” Amun whispered back, handing the other stick to Shaq, “bring the bag.”  

 

Amun is about to collect on his inheritance, but it may not be the boon he expects… “Inheritance” 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/256300?ref=NoTimeToThink  

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3l7vOSR  

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/inheritance-william-mangieri/1113818339?ean=2940015751697

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“Inheritance” is also included in the seasonally appropriate WEIRD, But not TOO Scary Tales, a collection of 21 stories:

Smashwords (currently 50%-OFF with coupon code GE97X – 21 stories for $2.50): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/1044795

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3jMrfNb

Honest ratings and reviews are, as always, appreciated. Hope you enjoy it!

Current Book Promotions

In a Flash Detective Jimmy Delaney eBook CoverPurrMission-MainTall_025For info on how to preorder my latest release (“Two Buttons to Eternity”), or even get it for FREE, as well as  information and links for my other current promotions (including the FREE starter eBooks for my Herc Tom, Champion of the Empire series and my Detective Jimmy Delaney series), look HERE on my CURRENT BOOK PROMOTIONS page.

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Reaching Out

William Mangieri’s writing has been published on Daily Science Fiction and The Arcanist. His ninety or so short stories and related collections can be found at several online retailers, including, but not limited to:

Want to help me make a go of this writing gig WITHOUT IT COSTING YOU A PENNY? I’m in the Amazon Affiliates program, so any time you click one of the links I provide here to my books on Amazon, and then make a purchase of something like, say, a TV, I get a small percentage of Amazon’s profit. So PLEASE consider using one of my links to get to Amazon before you make that next purchase. Thanx!

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