November 25th, 2060
0300 hours, Seattle Metroplex local time
My car service sent an immaculate Euro Westwind to pick me up at the office. I rode home alone, having sent Lily and Rose back as I was leaving Djibouti airspace. It was quiet, dark, wet and chilly in Seattle that night. I felt tired right down to my soul.
For me, years had passed while I was trapped in the tormenting darkness that seized me in the metaplane called the "Place of Gates". Now I was going home, feeling like I had spent an unforgivable amount of time away from wife and daughters. Had it only been a few days?
The car pulled up into the driveway of my house. I was home. "You have arrived at your destination." the navigation app voiced over the speaker system. I was startled for a moment by the disembodied voice, then opened the door and stepped out into the cold rain. The front door chimed as I approached, the security system recognizing my biometrics and awaiting my entry code. It took a long minute to remember the password.
I walked into my house, bracing myself for what I might find. I knew, in the logical part of my mind, that I had only been away for several days. But my heart, my very soul, felt as if I hadn't seen home in forever. I felt old, and tired all the way to my spirit. Aria was sitting up on the couch as I walked in, the sound of the door opening waking her.
Her eyes took me in and she rose from the couch and took three long strides to me. She threw her arms around me and pulled me tightly against her warmth. I dropped my bag and held onto her like a drowning man grabbing onto a lifeline.
"It's so good to have you home." she whispered.
"Home." was all I could say before tears flooded my eyes.
Aria, my beautiful wife and mother of my daughters, held onto me while I shook and cried like a frightened child. The darkness had done things to me. Showed me a life of horrors as it picked through my memories and made me experience things I would never wish to see. I had endured years of watching my wife and children flee from me, die horrific deaths, or be swallowed in conflagrations of my own power. I had forgotten that they were alive and whole, the darkness wiping that reality from my senses as it tortured my very soul. I wept, not daring to let go for fear that Aria would evaporate and I would be alone in the darkness.
She held me close, her hands resting on my spine and in my hair, gently holding me fast in the reality that she was there. I felt my tears rolling down my cheeks even as Aria's fell into my hair. We sat there for a long time as I cried out anguish and despair. I was home, and I could finally let it out. I don't think I would have came through it sane without Aria being there, holding me and telling me she loved me.
When I sobbed out the last of my tears, Aria placed her fingers under my chin pressing my face up. She kissed my forehead and ran her fingers through my hair, still stiff from the salts of Lak Assal. "You need a shower, baby."
I nodded, stood on sore legs and let her lead me back to our bathroom. She started the shower and helped me out of my form fitting body armor. My skin was raw at every joint from the salts rubbing against me. She gave me a gentle push and then I was under the warm water of the shower. Aria joined me, a sponge in hand, and began to wash the salts off my sore back. "The girls are going to be so excited to see you. I think they've missed you..."
Aria told me everything I missed while I was away. I heard of joy and laughter, terrible diapers and new favorite cartoons. There were adventures with pureed fruits, the joy of discovering cookies, and the misadventures of stuffed animals covered in drool.
I found myself smiling under the shower, asking questions and hearing of wonders. My wife and daughters had been safe and happy. Aria had worried about me being gone so long, but she didn't blame me. I could see that she was worried about me, her heart was breaking at the thought that something had happened to me. I couldn't tell her the things I had been subjected to, not in the metaplane and certainly not in that hellish cavern beneath Lak Assal. I grabbed the soap and was clean in short order. Aria rinsed, citing that she had showered earlier, then we were out of the water and drying off.
We climbed into bed, Lily shimmering into existence on the floor at my side of the bed. Rose was in the babies' room, watching over them. "Get some sleep, baby." Aria whispered as she placed her arm around me and drew herself up against me. "I'll make breakfast in the morning." With that I closed my eyes, feeling spent and glad to be home. Sleep seized me, and dragged me down into a blissfully dreamless rest.
0900 hours, Seattle Metroplex local time
I woke up to the smell of bacon cooking and the sounds of Jasmine and Violet giggling. I forced my eyes open and found Aria sitting on the bed, the twins were between us as they emitted their tinkling laughter while Aria tickled their feet.
"Good morning," I said. Jasmine and Violet rolled over and started scooting toward me. I played with them, tickling their feet and asking them about their adventures. They cooed and giggled, squirmed and looked like the happiest human beings in the world to me.
"Mom is coming over in a couple of hours." Aria said. "She's bringing the turkey."
"Turkey?" I asked.
Aria shook her head at me. "You forgot. It's Thanksgiving day, baby. Mom, Rickie, and Crank are coming over this afternoon."
"Thanksgiving." I smiled. "It slipped my mind, I guess."
"Well, Rose is in the kitchen cooking. Lily is 'helping' by tasting everything." She caught Violet's foot as she kicked and squirmed. "Rose said something about you needing to rest. I think that is a good idea. Why don't you get dressed. I'll take the girls into the living room and put on this old flatvid cartoon they like. Honestly, I think that they get that from you. They are very picky about their cartoons you know."
I did my best to savor the Thanksgiving holiday. Rose and Lily did a fine job preparing the meal with a little supervision from Aria. The turkey Sheila brought was exquisite. Crank had showered thoroughly before coming over and didn't smell anything like the old landfill he lived in. (Truthfully, he smelled like peaches. He went through a phase where he was very hung up on scented lotions.) We discovered that the twins loved cranberry sauce, didn't care for the green bean salad, and that they loved to pull on uncle Crank's horns. Rickie defiled my plumbing, again, and I was quite grateful for the air purification system we had installed while Aria was pregnant.
The day passed in a blur of holiday movies, giggling twins, fantastic food and laughter. We were being people, and it was so very nice.
Thank you for reading my Shadowrun fan fiction. I write these stories for fun and as a form of writing exercise. These stories are based on game play and the stories of what occurs between them. I am guilty of sometimes writing my own personal demons into these when I think they make the fictionalized accounts more fun to read. I do hope you enjoy them.
I also design, write and publish role playing game material (though not for Shadowrun, unfortunately). In order to fund art for those books I utilize crowd funding and I've had some very good results from that practice. In a few days I will be launching a KickStarter campaign for my next book, Whispers of Persephone, which is a book on necromancy for the 5th edition of Gary's game. If you have enjoyed these stories, please do check out my KickStarter campaigns and share them with anyone who may be interested.
Art for Whispers of Persephone was created by: Christian Martinez
|Screen capture from the playtest version 3.5 of|
Whispers of Persephone
Artist: Christian Martinez
I hope to see for the next entry in Tommy's stories.