Brothers (A Fractured World Short)

by Siri Paulson

 

Astrolabe started out of a nightmare, his face wet with tears. Toric had been calling for him, his brother’s voice getting farther and farther away as the monster carried him off. It was a Type III monster, the ones with the legs that stayed long and powerful no matter how their bodies shifted. He had known it was pointless to chase the thing, but he’d been trying anyway, in his sleep.

His sheets were twisted and soaked with sweat, and the stump of his right arm ached horribly. It wouldn’t ease up until the doctor’s assistant came to change the dressing and administer his next dose of goatweed. No point trying to sleep again now.

He got out of bed and checked for daylight in the crack between the heavy shutters of the room where he was staying in the Medical wing. Satisfied, he unbolted them one-handed and pushed them open. The night chill was already fading, early morning was seeping across the sky, and he could see the fighter trios trickling back across the rooftops and the street in front of HQ. Some were limping or leaning on each other. Was Theo among them? He didn’t even know whether she was already back on patrol with her new trio, the two young fighters who had replaced him and Toric.

The fighters were only three stories down, but as Astrolabe leaned his head on the window frame to watch, they felt as distant, as …

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A Constant Companion (Fractured World Short)

A Constant Companion

by Kit Campbell

“…as long as you’re living under my roof,” Jael was saying, but Briony tuned him out, choosing instead to glare at the table. Her hands sat on its uneven surface, curled so tightly in on themselves that she could feel her nails digging into her palms.

Behind her, she could hear the laughs of her brother’s small children as his wife told them a story. Their youngest, Brin, would be a year soon, and had taken to copying everything her older brother and sister did, much to the amusement of all involved.

Jael should be in there parenting them. He didn’t need to be parenting her. He wasn’t her father. Just because Mother—

Briony shook her head to clear it of the thought.

“Are you listening to me, Bree?”

“It’s not really your roof, is it?” Briony leaned back, crossing her arms over her chest and staring sullenly at the fireplace. It was a silly argument—she didn’t fault Jael and his family for moving back in, not after… and it was nice to not have to sleep in an empty house. But that didn’t mean he had to act like he owned the place. It was as much hers as his.

Jael groaned and pressed his fingers to his temples. He’d started growing a beard, probably trying to look older. “Bree, for the love of the Old Ones, we’ve been over this. Mother asked me to look after you until …

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