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The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

by Doc Sawzall

Part 1

With apologies to Rod Serling and full credit to the Twilight Zone, Season 1, Episode 22


"Maple Street, USA., its late October. A tree-lined little world of front porch gliders, barbecues, the laughter of children and the bell of the ice cream vendor. At the sound of the roar and the flash of the light it will be precisely 6:43PM on Maple Street.

This is Maple Street on a late Wednesday afternoon. Maple Street in the last calm and reflective moment – before the monsters came."

Chapter 1

What the heck Caleb thought to himself, reading science fiction was the last thing he'd chose to do as he put The Chronicles of Malvern down. Give him history or American literature any day Given the choice, he'd rather deposit a big fat sloppy tongue infused kiss smack dab in the middle of Mary Sue Cartwright's pie eating gobbler.

And what was up with the weird dreams lately, the last freaking place he'd be found would be in a library…and the clothes, no one since Woodstock would be caught dead wearing that shit. It was bad enough the shirt looked like it was cut from some poor granny's quilt…but fringes? And then there were the pants, or were they someone's painting tarp from the Wizard of Oz set. Christ…stick a ten-gallon hat on his head and he'd be a psychedelic Roy Rodgers!

Placing the book on his nightstand Caleb wondered why the book was so addictive. As a lark, he'd picked up the book while he was killing an hour or so at the weekend flea market waiting for his parents to finally to come home to supper with his younger brother Zeke.

He had been looking for nothing in particular, perhaps something he could pick up on the cheap for his brother's birthday. Zeke was a gamer and nearly addicted to and collected old board games, games of skill and strategy. Spotting what appeared to be a first or early edition of the game Risk, he moved closer to the table it was on. The box looked to be in mint condition however there was a book covering the price tag. Once he had touched the book with his hand a spark of static electricity traveled up his arm and faded away.

"That's a great board game you got their son, it will never need batteries and you don't have to plug it in either, it's a game for the ages and world domination. Tell you what son, I'll let you have both the game and the book for fifteen dollars".

Never one to pass up a chance to bargain Caleb offered a fiver and they settled on ten bucks.

The book reminded himself of his shyness, so hard to overcome, partially due to the stunning realization of his sexual preferences, a death sentence here in the deep south if he were outed, to the fact he seemed to be the least conversant in social situations. Caleb lived in fear of being found out. Books and schoolwork were his refuge.

He wished he could be like the Crown Prince, so brave knowing his differences could unleash havoc and potentially destroy the world he lived in, however he really identified with Kalob the boy who was destined or so it seemed to marry the prince. It seemed for every chapter he read there were so many more to go.

At first, he was stunned that he found a book with homosexual themes and wasn't sure about bringing it home, he knew there would be hell to pay if his parents ever found it. On arriving home with both the book and the game he was unable for some reason to throw the book away or hide it leaving both on his desk before going down to supper.

It was Zeke's 13th birthday and he hadn't a chance to wrap the game and asked him to come up to his room completely forgetting the book. Once the brothers were in Caleb's bedroom he handed Zeke the first edition of the board game Risk.

Zeke was thrilled and grabbed his brother in a bear hug, letting him go he spotted the book, "Hey, what's this?" he asked, sending Caleb into momentary shock. "Looks like a cool book", as he opened it. "It's all gibberish but some pretty far out pictures though". Tossing the book back to his brother, "I didn't know you were into science fiction, you gonna cut out the pictures and hang 'em on your wall"?

Opening the book back up Caleb noticed as he quickly opened it up that for a brief instant, it was just as his brother described it, the words were in a language he had never seen and then became legible. Handing the open book back to his brother he pointed out an illustration on one page. On the other page was a description of Crown Prince's palace. Once the book was in his brother's hands, the words became indecipherable.

Once the brothers were finished and Zeke went to show off his present, Caleb climbed out of his bedroom window and made his way out to the garage roof. Something he found himself doing more often the more he read the book. Somewhere out there he liked to think was his prince, the one who would carry him away.

Three months earlier….

"You summoned me sire?" asked Councilor Harmon as he entered Crown Prince Simka's library. The Councilor looked on with affection for the young man seated on the table in the middle of the room. As his illness progressed the Crown Prince more often than not would be found exactly where he currently was.

"I've found him Councilor, right here, see for yourself, he's right here!" The Crown Prince was pointing at one of the several crystal globes revolving around him. "He's right there hiding in plain sight!"

Councilor Harmon leaned over to look at the crystalline globe, it was one of sixteen, each one representing one of the known parallel dimensions. The hard part he reminded himself, was finding a parallel dimension that had evolved life on par with theirs. Each parallel dimension featured the same solar system and yet most, if not all, had differing timelines and states of evolution.

He shuddered at their last failed attempt to find the match the Crown Prince so desperately needed if he were to stave off that which ailed him. Together they were in a race against time. Fifteen years ago, a male baby, the possessor of the desperately needed genetic key, of one of sixteen identical was planted in this parallel dimension unknowingly in a host uterus, his brothers in the remaining dimensions. All in hope that one of the sixteen would be the match so urgently needed.

While Circadians were long lived Councilor Harmon knew their lifespans would stretch over several millennia, like any mammalian species there were various and sundry ways their lives could end. He had served the Royal family faithfully, he had been councilor to the Crown Prince's great, great grandfather. While not of Circadian decent in this dimension, he was a Circadian from the 14th parallel dimension, one that was now closed off to them due to a gravitational flux when the yellow star suddenly went super nova. That dimension held so much promise, the match was within the bounds of tolerance at 94%. Councilor Harmon wasn't a fool, he hadn't survived these thousands of years without understanding palace intrigue.

Someone wanted to see the Crown Prince die.

Wistfully gazing upon his charge, the Crown Prince, he wondered just how much time was left, that the boy was ill was not in doubt. What was in question was time, a universal truth across all known parallel dimensions. This boy was a favorite, an amalgamation of what was best of his ancestors and therein lay the rub. Selective (in)breeding not only brought out the best but inherently magnified imperfect traits. There was time, just. There could only be this last effort. So many variables were coming into play, last but not least was the compatibility, could…would the boys ignite the spark?

Councilor Harmon looked deeply into the globe that represented the 12th dimension, it was backward but further along than the other remaining dimensions. While their technology had advanced to allow rudimentary efforts in satellite technology, space flight was just in in its infancy. They had yet to master internal divisions, questions of power, subservience and faith. The world economy was a series of competing centers in a constant struggle to outdo one another rather than work for the common good.

Manufactures desecrated the fragile environment to produce various and sundry items that would eventually end up in landfills. An over reliance on carbon-based fuels pumped poison deep into their atmosphere. The inhabitants with the exception of a derided few, were blissfully unaware of the ecological disasters awaiting them. Their oceans the wellspring of life, were slowly chocking on the billions of tons of refuse pumped into them.

Unaware of the tottering financial collapse that was soon due, that an economy built on credit would and will eventually collapse on itself. Pharmaceuticals grew to massive proportions as the world spun widely out of whack. Humanity was poisoning itself with their despoliation of the planet. Miracle drugs costing billions were devised only to see newer drugs to combat the side effects; heart failure, don't take if you are allergic, bloating, gas and oily discharge. While the rest of the dimension would survive, time was running out from self-inflicted wounds.

Political factions rent progress nearly impossible as entranced financial centers only looked out for themselves. Three major religions while sprung from the same source were engaged in constant warfare, draining and depleting precious human capital and technology while devising newer and better ways of extermination. Schisms were found within the different faiths, with so many internal sects, not only were they at war with others but amongst themselves as well.

It seemed time was relative after all.

Was the boy a match, what were his toxicity levels? There would be intensive lessons, a week of total immersion in his culture, a background to create and above all…deniable plausibility. The Crown Prince would simply have to go on a 'retreat'. Far away from prying eyes and his Uncle Bordon, the regent until Crown Prince Simka reached the age of majority on his 18th birthday.

There was little love lost between the Crown Prince and his uncle the regent and much less for Todar, Bordon's son. Todar, a couple of years older made no effort to hide his disdain for his cousin, a sick puny weakling who was all but one foot in the afterlife.

Bordon became the regent upon the death of Simka's father some ten years prior just after his fifth birthday. His mother, a noblewoman of high esteem from one of the oldest families entered a forced life of contemplation after the state funeral. The monastery, The Sacred Order of the Mother was cloistered. Once you entered and took the sacred vows and admitted you were committed for life. No one ever left. Cut off from the world, others paid little attention to a cloister of virgins shepherded by foolish old women. Located in the foothills of the Orgin Mountains, little was known, only that the outer gates opened two times a year for 'trading days' on the spring and fall solstices.

The monastery was completely self-sufficient, it produced in abundance all sorts of highly desirable things. Highly prized were their wines, jelly's and jams. Their lace was of the highest standards and to have a lace table cloth or window curtain was a status symbol of the highest order. The same could be said for their wool, as highly prized as any of the other items. Their glassware graced the finest tables, their ceramics as well. Their book bindery was highly sought after and while authorship was not their forte, they did produce one sacred book, The Chronicles of Malvern.

Everything produced and sold by the Sacred Order of the Mother was in great demand and the profit allowed the Order the ability to furnish a clandestine network of agents who procured the very best in technology. Technology that allowed the Order to know much more than thought.

Those who dismissed the Order as a bunch of old, dried up women…did so at their peril.

Councilor Harmon stood by as the learning pod functioned, connected to the great libraries of the 12th dimension, the program was geared towards instructing the Crown Prince in the typical life of a fifteen-year-old teenager living one block over from Maple Street, deep in the backwoods of southern Florida circa 1969.

His 'family'; mother Sue-Ellen, father Roberto and Sprog the family dog were already in place. Sue-Ellen was a very happy homemaker married to Roberto a former and highly decorated marine who served with distinction in World War 2 in the Italian Campaign. His skill in his parent's native language was paramount in many of the battels as the allies marched northward. Sprog on the other hand was an amalgamation of several breeds, truly a mutt and affectionally referred to as the original Heinz 57 Variety dog.

Time was running out, Simka was coming of age and his illness steadily progressing and the change would most likely kill him. Everything was riding on this last hope, his last chance at a match. Time was running out for The House of Godson.

As the learning pod concluded its program the health pod would replace those functions' and begin its work. While Circadians were immune to the various and sundry illness of the other fifteen dimensions, the 12th dimension posed several problems due to the overwhelming pollution general toxicity of the human inhabitants. In the Crown Prince's state this was not an insurmountable problem, time was needed to gradually adjust his body chemistry to allow a successful immersion into the 12th dimension.

Councilor Harmon only allowed the entire operation to move forward out of duty, a duty that would require his presence alongside the Crown Prince. He would be the kindly widowed grandfather, they would leave two days after returning to the palace from the discreetly hidden laboratory they were currently occupying. What wasn't known was the lab was an Order construct that would quickly revert back to the veterinarian offices, or that Councilor Harmon was one of the most reliable of agents, a network that spanned the other dimensions as it served and protected the remaining fifteen. That they had lost one was infuriating beyond belief, the highest crime possible, one conducted to ensure the fall of the noble House of Godson. While the perpetrators were known, the proof was elusive.

It would however, not remain so.

After finishing the health scans there was but one last examination to be conducted, this would be done in the strictest of confidences and privacy. Councilor Harmon's thousands of years of service to the royal family uniquely placed him in his service to the House of Godson to conduct this exam.

There were a number of factors to be considered, primary was the health of the Crown Prince and his physical development. The illness, if it could be called that, was unique. An issue not seen in Councilor Harmon's lifetime. In fact, mention of this condition was only alluded to in the oldest of tomes in the family's extensive library. It had taken several years after the birth of the Crown Prince for Councilor Harmon to find the correct medical test. If it hadn't been for the assistance of the Order who possessed the only known other medical reference on the subject, Councilor Harmon would not have known what to look for and where to look.

Buried under years of collections, the text was finally found. The task was enormous for every book, text or journal published, the first copy was reserved for the House of Godson. Unknown to but a select few the Order would also obtain a copy. The issue now was to conduct the invasive physical examination. Since birth the Crown Prince displayed certain characteristics, traits if you knew what you were looking for. It had long been prophesied that a child would be born to one of the Noble Houses. This child would be unlike any other and it would be through this child that the future of the Circadians would be ensured. That this child would bring new genetic material, refreshing tired bloodlines.

After tens of thousands of years of relative peace and prosperity, some of the Noble Houses were chafing, demanding exploitation of the lesser fourteen remaining parallel dimensions. They were especially eager to exploit some of the lesser developed, identical planets barely registering on the evolutionary scales. The loss of the Crown Prince's father and the Regency of his Uncle Bordon only exacerbated the tenuous political situation.

At birth, all Circadians through a quirk of evolutionary development, much like the humans of the 12th dimension underwent sexual determination while in fetal development. The overwhelmingly majority of children born were sorted before birth. In the 12th dimension perhaps 0.05% to 1.0% of children born were intersex or hermaphrodite, outwardly displaying physical traits of both sexes. Such was not the case with Circadians. The sequestered evolutionary development over the tens of thousands of years simply precluded, ruled out that variation. Circadian pregnancies, carrying a child to term, were subject to a multitude of internal checks. Inevitably the mother's body would sense a deviation and self-abort, in some rare cases a child would be born but not last the first week. These cases were less than a thousandth of the percentages found in the 12th dimension.

All of this weighed on Councilor Harmon's mind as he prepared to begin the examination of the Crown Prince. The images from the health scan left little doubt, it was imperative if the future was to be ensured that close examination confirm the results. If the whispers from his contacts within the Order were correct the Crown Prince would be the anomaly prophesied.

Naked, Crown Prince Simka lay on the examination table and not for the first time. There was no issue to the exams as Councilor Harmon had been a part of his life since his earliest memories. There was nothing he hadn't seen, as a youngster scampering naked in the family quarters to his confidant as his body matured into a young adult. When puberty hit and hormonal surges wracked and rent his psyche he was his trusted confidant, the councilor who guided him with wise words of wisdom and simple logic. In many ways Councilor Harmon was more than a stand in for the father he so sorely missed. Crown Prince Simka knew he was different after all, living in the royal court precluded any notion of normalcy. His life was scripted, organized into various daily functions interspersed with the various high holy days. He was a product to be displayed, shopped and weighed to see if he measured up in the matrimonial stakes. He was a desirable commodity simply because…he was heir to the throne.

Still in stasis after coming out of the health pod the physical component began while the scans downloaded onto the Councilors files. From an overall outward appearance, the Crown Prince was a typical average fifteen-year-old boy. There was no overt distinguishing marks or blemishes, he was in proportion to his height, obviously his resemblance tended more towards his father, his eyes however were clearly his mothers. While he could be impetuous there was always thought behind his actions.

Slightly above average in musculature and strength belied a gentleness of his soul. Perceptively he was quick, possessed a nimble mind unlike is cousin Todar, a brute, the two were as different as night and day. Councilor Harmon rued the day Bordon was born. The difference between the cousins were not uniquely limited, they were passed down from their fathers.

From behind the health pod softly issued a series of beeps indicating the scans were complete. Beginning, Councilor Harmon checked the Crown Prince's ears, eyes, nose, teeth and throat. Lungs were listened to, pulse was taken from the sleeping boy. Reflexes checked and weight noted. An examination of his genitalia turned no outward surprises up. Everything was average in size and weight. The concerns were with the perineum and the lower end of the alimentary canal.

What the examination uncovered confirmed Councilor Harmon's worst suspicions.

"Your reports were clean and concise Councilor and from my observations it is evident you've left nothing out". Mother Superior noted dryly. "The child somehow survived my womb and has grown to be a fine, healthy strapping young man", she further noted with a hint of exasperation "who just so happens to be a throwback, something not seen as far back as we can trace our lineage over the countless millennia, an evolutionary miracle".

"Your son", Councilor Harmon responded testily "Your son, need I remind you is a living, breathing Circadian. I need not remind you he is what stands between us and the abyss your brother-in-law would plunge us into. It is imperative and with the greatest of urgency we finish what we started''.

"The Order has not placed anyone in another dimension since the birth of the child. I do not know what foolishness led you to believe and yet convince me, that the placing of those children in the other dimensions, all in the foolish hope that one of them would be the insurance policy that would protect us from Bordon and his plans".

"It's really quite simple Mother Superior…the child…your son for lack of better words, has a condition. Based on our physiology if we leave it untreated, chose to ignore it…it will kill him. I need not remind you what the consequences would be, we are allies in this and our future and the protection of the remaining fourteen dimensions we need to act and quickly"!

"And all of the evidence to the contrary we need to find among the remaining fourteen dimensions a suitable mate for the child…".

"Your son, your highness…your son. The die has been cast, we face a crisis unknown since the Wars of Unification".

"Do not try to tell me my place" the countess replied quite angrily, "The loss of my husband was all the proof I required, just how safe do you think I would be outside these walls if I were to reclaim my throne"?

"The time is coming…Bordon is ready to make a move" Councilor Harmon continued, reverting back to his diplomatic mode, "if and I mean if…we are to stave off at least delay by a few weeks we need to send the Crown Prince to the 12th dimension and away from Bordon's prying eyes. Bordon's no fool…he knows something is up. It seems Todar's around the palace every week or so".

"What of the Celestial Globes and Library, what plans have you for that"? Inquired the Mother Superior.

"You may find it presumptuous of me, but it is on the way your highness, we can't risk leaving it in the palace living quarters. It will be here tomorrow. With Bordon ready to make his move we can't risk letting him get his hands on it."

"It won't do any good once Bordon finds out it's here, what's to stop him from turning his wrath towards us"?

"Bordon has always thought himself to be the cleverest of all of us, he forgets that pride goeth before the fall. He has underestimated your popularity, the popularity of the Order, the popularity of your son and the good works you do. While the Noble Houses may have forgotten, overlooked this place, your 'friends' keep the pulse of the populace." Simply put Councilor Harmon continued, "Once Bordon makes his move the seeds of his downfall will be sowed. We simply need to hang on and let nature take its course."

With a sigh of finality Mother Superior relented, "My son will never find love in the arms of a woman but will have a male for a mate, something unheard of for a couple of hundred thousand years, that Simka is the one who will bear the child of the prophesy. How is this possible?"

"The pains your son has been feeling since the onset of puberty were worrisome, that we could find no cause or cure". Continuing the Councilor explained, "The only way we Circadians could survive the earliest days of our evolutionary history were to be both male and female. Natural selection was a determining factor based on the need at that time. Somehow a biological trigger was flipped within the scant population centers and in doing so ensured that procreation would take place".

Explaining further the Councilor continued, "At first we thought it was an issue with the Crown Prince's prostate or lower alimentary canal. The initial scans were confusing early on, it wasn't till puberty fully set in that the biological changes were picked up. We aren't sure what was the trigger was, but Crown Prince's transformation will be completed, we simply cannot stop the process without great risk."

"Just above the anus, a biological reconstruction is working in the perineum, rudimentary reproductive organs are forming and within weeks the transformation will be complete. For all intents and purposes and the tests we have run, the wrong match of a mate could possibly prove to be fatal as well".

"From the old texts you have supplied and those in the Royal Library we can ascertain that from body chemistry and pheromones, these unique individuals have built in olfactory sensors that naturally weed out incompatible mates".

"For more than a millennium we have been seeding the other dimensions without any issues all in an effort to combat the results of our racial purity laws. Despite all of our knowledge and technology we have diluted our genetic pool to the point where our evolutionary background is reasserting itself. Already there are signs in the densely populated southern continent that many more mothers are self-aborting and the numbers of new born children not surviving the first month".

"We fear the latest generation of seedlings may also carry this regressive trait and if a match is to be found it would have to be among one of the remaining fourteen. The best remaining match from an evolutionary perspective would be the male child from the 12th dimension. All of the others are not as far along the path of development, culture, knowledge and reason."

Looking askance at Councilor Harmon and acerbically pointing out, "You are aware of the dangers of bringing that child here, I assume you are also aware of the tremendous cost and drain on planetary resources you are suggesting we undertake. What if after all this effort we fail, don't have a match…what then? What do we do with that child? If I understand you correctly, we are at the beginning of this conundrum, why the urgency, the expediency you are suggesting?"

"Your reverence, I beg we look at this further. We know your brother-in-law is planning his move with some of the minor noble houses. Hoping that as his alliances grow with the promises of cheap and easy profits he will amass from the destruction of other planets in the remaining dimensions, he will have built a powerbase to destroy the House of Godson".

"As to the drain on resources and expense I propose that we send the Crown Prince to the 12th dimension, if you agree to allow this, events have been set in motion to ensure the Crown Prince's security. If we are correct in our initial scans and assessments, there is better that an 90% chance of a match. At the least we bring him back and try another dimension. If the boys are a match we can synthesize at no harm to the child a vaccination to arrest the genetic malformations until we better understand the issue we face".

"Let me leave you with one last warning, if we do nothing we ensure the de-evolution of our species!"

"You ask much of us Councilor Harmon, to step into political events spiraling out of control, to face down our genetic regression at great cost in resources and fundamentally change the development of our next generations".

"You and your family have been with us since dimensional transport was possible, you have served us well and nobly, protected the House of Godson from all enemies, often at your peril. Your dedication is without peer and for that we are and remain appreciative and grateful, we owe you much".

"Our informants tell us Bordon is closer than ever to making his move, I doubt you have the year even a month would be fortuitous. The drain on our resources will not go unnoticed, we can obscure and delay but eventually our part will come out and be known amongst the Noble Houses. There is much fear of Bordon and several of the major houses are and remain uneasy. Information will have to be carefully and with the utmost caution shared as the time is right."

"Once the Celestial Globes and Library is safely established you will bring my son here. He will depart and return from here and there will be no argument on this…he will return along with his mate, once events are known we risk much leaving him behind. I give you one week from today."

On leaving the monastery and approaching the royal quarters Councilor Harmon's security apparatus blared that the royal palace was under assault.

When he came to, Crown Prince Simka found himself in an unfamiliar part of the capitol city. Here there was no grandeur, magnificent buildings on wide treelined streets and gardens. Rather the opposite was the reality he awoke to face. The pain from his groin was nearly unbearable. He knew from his discussions and lessons what was going with himself, the need for the lessons, the time spent in the health and learning pods. He was the Crown Prince, his duty precluded nothing less than total dedication in the service of Circadia and its inhabitants.

He knew of course that others had brought him here, how he wasn't so sure. His memories were jumbled, the sequence of events confused. He had been spending much needed time with Sprog, his neglected dog. There was a commotion at the entrance to his quarters setting Sprog on alert and growling at the door, his teeth bared and hackles up assuming the attack posture.

One moment the door was there, the next a pile of jumbled pieces scattered about the floor. As the dust cleared and the noise of the explosion finished reverberating he watched his cousin Todar race across the room screaming words he could not hear.

As Todar drew close, Sprog waited until Todar could not duck or move out of his way, leaping as he was trained to do, Sprog sank his jaws in Todar's unprotected groin. Squealing from the unexpected attack Todar lost every element of surprise. With great effort and considerable damage to his genitals Todar was able to refocus on his cousin the Crown Prince. As Todar advanced a short, deadly blade appeared in his hand raised as if were seeking Simka's neck. Before he could close to within striking distance Sprog once again leapt into action sinking his teeth into the back of Todar's neck.

The last image Crown Prince Simka could remember was Councilor Harmon withdrawing his kulinar from Todar's mid-section.

Bordon was disbelieving and furious, "Tell me once more how this plan failed and my son is no longer and there is no idea where the Celestial Globes and Library are?"

Having retreated to what was thought as a secure bolt hole to await the news the Crown prince was dead, Bordon knew he had lost the element of surprise and just as importantly, any support from the Noble Houses. Once the events of the attack on the House of Godson became known as the Order quietly disseminated further proofs he'd be marginalized. Circadia was in an uproar forcing the minor Noble Houses uncomfortably to acquiesce to the restive demands for justice. The demand for Bordon's head and the end to this turmoil or suffer as traitors. All across the continents the cry went out, one of their own, their beloved Crown Prince had been ruthlessly attacked and was now missing.

Slowly his hearing and equilibrium had returned, it had been several days of travel from one small town to towns that progressively got smaller until all appeared lost in the farmlands and forests. Signs of Circadian activity were non-existent unless one counted the occasional dwelling or the obvious signs of the well-tended fields. Simka, for he was Simka now…all of the trappings of his royal life were long removed. No one, not one person in the traveling party thought of him but as anything but a traveler to the monastery of the Order.

Travel was in non-descript jitneys, refurbished castoffs from the closer cities, modes of transportation that had outlasted their usefulness decades ago. For all that Circadia was and is, technology and its advances were mostly confined to the cities and the suburban outliers. While the larger industrial farms closer to the population centers had access to more modern methods of agribusiness, here in the hinterlands it was as generations past tilled the fields.

The air was crisper, nights colder as they drew closer each successive day to the Orgin Mountains. The growing season had reached its zenith some time ago and the harvest was soon approaching. Simka could not remember eating or sleeping so well. The pain from the changes affecting him abated and were more manageable. There had been no spotting of blood in his small clothes for a couple of days. It had been nearly a week since persons unknown had sequestered and absconded with him at the start of this journey. He was briefly told just enough to understand the nature of this journey, the need to avoid at all costs discovery of who he was or where he was going.

Dressed as a common farmer he knew Councilor Harmon was responsible for his safety and had taken great risks to ensure his safe passage to the monastery. Nameless Circadians, while gruff and unassuming, zealously minimized his exposure to the populace at large. He wore dirty tattered clothes, tending to his hygiene was a minute or two at a dirty water basin and a strip of cloth to wash as best he could. More often than not the remainder of his personal ablutions were either on the side of the dirt path or in a foul-smelling outhouse.

As the journey lengthened the preferred mode of traveling as they drew closer to their destination was on foot as the roads became dirt and rutted. Shortly after they left what passed for roads and traveled on dusty narrow footpaths. Slowly gaining altitude as they trekked through the fields, the first of scattered copse of trees appeared. Here were the various fruit and nut trees neatly tendered in their orchards.

Pausing for a much-needed interruption in their travels Simka marveled at the rudimentary irrigation system the orchard keepers devised. A small pond had been created from a swiftly flowing stream further up in the mountains. A small portion of the water had been diverted, creating the pond which then was distributed through a series of small canals to the various sections of the orchards.

A certain equanimity suffused Simka as they rested at this last stop before reaching the monastery. He had spent the first day wandering the orchards, often accompanied by a few of the village children. They were eager to show a stranger the wonders of this unspoiled land. Days of travel had left layers of grime and clothing sorely in need of cleaning.

Rumenk, a precocious boy of about twelve summers took Simka by the hand and brought him to a lower pool of water. It was obvious by the design that this was a bathing pool. Overflow from this pool traveled further down the ingenious canals down the mountainside to the lower orchards.

Here the bathing pools for the sexes were separated by a naturally occurring earthen fold in the terrain. The bathing pool was terraced, each subsequently lower terrace was deeper than the one above thus serving the entire community as to their needs.

A wash cloth and soap were produced and no sooner as Rumenk passed them off to Simka, he shed his clothes and was happily working his way to the middle of the terraces. Not to be outdone Simka shortly found himself enjoying what passed for water games in this peaceful hamlet.

Having a chance to scrub what seemed years of grime away Simka felt rejuvenated, at peace with himself and what was to come, the path his future was to take. For what passed as a brief eternity all was right, calm and peaceful. Gone were the rigors of living the life of a crown prince in the royal court, gone were the need for lessons in diplomacy, court etiquettes, which silly fork or spoon to use and the endless, unimportant lessons of who did what to whom and when.

The realization that Circadia was so much more than the sum of the courtly life of the Noble Houses was an epiphany of such sudden and overwhelming realization that for the briefest of moments he lost sense of time and place. What also went unnoticed was the mother nagiluar down from the mountain forests seeking water and game for her kits at the lower terrace.

Having soaped and washed to his heart's content, Rumenk called out for Simka to join him in the deepest pool in the hope of playing some boy games. Reverie interrupted, Simka turning towards Rumenk, noticed the startled nagiluar react to the sudden noise and react as only a threatened wild animal would.

With a low throated snarl, the nagiluar leapt towards Rumenk. Grabbing a hand-sized stone, years of training kicked in as Simka let it fly, catching the nagiluar in mid-leap directly mid-chest stunning and knocking the wind out of the big cat, who quickly retreated to nurse its pride as it slunk back into the forest.

Unknown to either boy the episode was noted by those entrusted with the protection of the crown prince. No slouch when it came to hunting Rumenk could appreciate that skill when he saw it, and he knew at that moment his bathing companion was no ordinary boy.

Word of Simka's heroics traveled back to the village quicker than the wind rushing up from the valley floor. Try as he might downplay that moment in time, too many eyes had seen the rock sail from Simka's hand. Having left the deeper terrace pool Rumenk made his way up to where Simka was standing with a look of total adoration and awe clearly written across his face. Clutched in his hand as if it were the finest gold or gemstone was the stone that Simka had thrown

While the village was as remote as could be given the geography of the terrain, they were not isolated or unaware of events in the wider world. The knew of the assignation attempt on the Crown Prince's life, that the Regent, his uncle was in hiding. What they did not know until that moment was that the Crown Prince, was in fact alive and in their sleepy village.

Rumenk clearly was tongue tied and as he dropped to kneel before his sovereign he ended up totally immersed and as he came back up sputtering the precious stone still in his hand. Red faced and totally embarrassed to the delight and mirth of Simka whose cover had evaporated, Rumenk lost his balance and went under again.

As Simka reached down to help Rumenk back up he was caught off guard, as all of a sudden, he found himself falling backwards as Rumenk launched the stone at full force directly at his head. As the stone cleared the falling Simka's head a knife appeared in Rumenk's upper thigh. Up on the lower terrace wall the assassin crumpled from the force of the stone hitting his temple. As he fell face first into the wading pool three more knives found his back. One of the villagers leapt into the pool and ensured the assailant would be dispatched with a slice across the throat.

As the assassin was being dealt with Simka carried a dazed and hurting Rumenk up and out of the pool where he was quickly surrounded. Rumenk clung to the Crown Prince as they were guided to the closest dwelling, a space had been cleared on the dining table and as he lay the wounded boy on the table the village healer arrived and began to treat the boy all the while at his side, his hand firmly clasped in Rumenk's.

The assassin proved to be a member of the traveling party, one of three new guides that joined their group at the last rest stop. Investigation proved he was acting solo, nevertheless the other two guides simply agreed to stay in the village until the Crown Prince returned.

It was decided that the traveling party would leave in three days in a final push to the monastery walls. While Rumenk would stay behind he would continue his studies and would on the Crown Prince's return accompany his 'brother' on the return to the capital. There was a 'lifebond' now between the two boys, for each owed the other their life. For Rumenk the parting was difficult and only tempered by the knowledge of the future path he would take on the return of the Crown Prince.

Bordon was at a loss, slowly his network of informants was going silent, it wasn't anything he could place a finger on, normally the informants closest to the Crown Prince would be the first to go, at least delineating a path that could be followed. He had lost the trail, informants were disappearing with no apparent rhyme or reason. It was if his entire network was slowly being rolled up. He was nearly blind with rage as it was, information was becoming harder to obtain. He knew somehow the monastery was a key to the riddle he was facing. The old hags running the place weren't stupid or ignorant. He knew they had their tentacles spread in a far-reaching web keeping tabs through a planet wide network. It made his decision simple, difficult beyond belief, he'd have to find a way to the monastery and then in if it could be arraigned.

Along the way he would have to deal with Councilor Harmon, payback was going to be a bitch. Nothing short of a long, slow agonizing death would suffice in payback for the death of his son…Nothing!

If the path to the village was but a narrow, difficult to follow, dusty winding path, this trail to the monastery made it look like a garden path. There were boulder fields to traverse, gullies with swiftly flowing streams and on two occasions narrow, ancient rope bridges that had seen better days. It was a solid day and a half of ascent with no letup as they gained elevation until they reached Fanars Col.

It was here col, a hollow between two peaks known as The Sisters. Those who journeyed this trail would find shelter from but the worst of the storms that were known to pass this way. The evening meal along with the morning's would be cold. While there was a firepit, only the foolhardy carried excess weight on this journey.

As well as they had prepared and outfitted themselves for this part of the expedition to the monastery, what they did not expect were the falling temperatures and the bitter cold driven by the relentless wind as the sun set early in the bleak western sky. Daylight would be several hours off and as the darkness fell upon the trekkers they bundled themselves as best they could and as close to the windbreak and each other as they lay down for the night.

Dawn found the early morning sun providing a grim foreboding expanse of white as they awoke. Upwards of a foot-and-a-half of snow had fallen as they slept. Shaking off the blanket of snow that covered the group they quickly ate and began to break camp. As they finished their preparations Simka could hear a commotion at the trailhead they would take far end of the col.

Plowing through the snowdrifts was the unmistakable sight of Sprog with the single purpose of reuniting with his master. Before he fully realized what was happening Simka found himself flat on his back having his face washed and none to gently. By the time Simka was able to collect himself and restore a modicum of decorum and equanimity he noticed others had joined the group, the beginnings of a fire started and a more substantial meal was being prepared. Dusting off the remaining snow, Simka walked over to the group now gathered by the fire.

In the midst of a heated discussion concerning the Crown Prince stood Councilor Harmon. He arguing that they would continue along the present trail. Bordon's network of informants was still partially active and the only secure route was continuing as they were. "Who knew?'', argued Councilor Harmon "We have no idea who saw or was aware that we left this morning. We'll continue as anyone who is aware of our departure will surely send someone this way to see just what we are up to. We will leave a couple of men here, hidden to deal with any informants who may come this way".

The ruse was successful. An hour after the camp was cleared two men came carefully into the col. While the path the Crown Prince's group took as they left was obscured, the trail they came up was not. The 'informants' were quickly disarmed before they could kill themselves, interrogated and left naked to the elements.

These two informants were no ordinary mountain guides, they were highly trained soldiers, fully capable to decimating a squad five times their number and do so effortlessly. They were trained to be ruthless and to act without mercy and the Crown Prince was their intended target. After severing their achilles tendons, the two were left to their fate. With any luck the snow nagiluars would quickly find the fresh meat left for them and the extra protein would certainly benefit the unborn kits.

Chapter 2

Having a chance to clean up and put on clean clothes Simka awaited the summons to meet with his mother and Councilor Harmon. He had not seen his mother since the death of his father when she was forced to this place to become head of The Order. His 'guest' room was comfortable and warm, unlike what he thought it would be. The food was good and the staff helpful. His discussions with Councilor Harmon had been frank, the time was now if they were to stand any chance of a successful outcome. While there was always a chance that the match with the boy from the twelfth dimension would not work, time was running out, they were out of options. They were ready to go barring any unforeseen issues with the physical scheduled for the morning. Concerns surrounding the lessening of the symptoms were paramount, a growing worry that they may be acting in haste. Alleviating all of the worry was that fact that Bordon, the former Regent, whereabouts were still unknown.

The meeting with his mother was a private affair, supper on her terrace. A meal she had fixed herself to minimize prying eyes, as was everything regarding the Crown Prince's stay. The path from Fanars Col was a ledge trail across the face of the mountain known as the First Sister. Suitable for the mountain goats it was precarious to say the least for Circadians who negotiated that route. The Monks Path traversed, for most of its length, shear ledge face and led to the separate male community of monks on the north side of the mountain.

There was little to no communication between the two cloistered societies, the only time they communicated were for the biennial trading days. The monks produced a variety of products that were highly sought after, from mountain goat cheese to wool carefully selected for the finest of fleeces. The pemmican jerky was without peer and world renown. In order to conserve the source of their products they limited production to sustainable levels.

What was only known between the Mother Superior and the Senior Brother was the existence of a tunnel that led directly to the living quarters of each at either end. All other communication otherwise was by the Monks Path to Fanars Col and from there up the path Councilor Harmon took the morning he met the group escorting the Crown Prince, The Sister's Pleasure.

Councilor Harmon escorted the Crown Prince to his mother's quarters through the tunnel and were unobserved along the way. With a soft knock on her terrace door Simka laid eyes on his mother for the first time since the death of his father, ruler of Circadia.

Mother and son stood still for a moment, each appraising each other, each trying to fill in the blanks after so many years of separation. Councilor Harmon quietly retreated towards the terrace. Standing by the roaring fire he watched expectantly as both reached out towards each other. Satisfied this abrupt disruption and reunion would go well he turned around and left the two to their own devices.

Any awkwardness between them melted away as both fell onto a tearful embrace. It had been far too long under the most difficult of circumstances. That her ever trusting husband had named his brother Regent in the unlikely event of his demise would prove to be his downfall.

Upon assuming the Regency Bordon exiled his sister-in-law to the Order as the new Mother Superior. Little did he know at the time it would prove to be the beginning of his downfall. Descended from the oldest of the Noble Houses the family connections stretched far and wide. If she were to ensure the continuation of the House of Godson and her son's ascension to the Throne of Circadia there was a longer game to play at hand.

What was unexpected and took everyone by surprise was the news that shook both Councilor Harmon and herself to the core. At first, the news was inconceivable and she requested additional tests be run, only to have the original diagnosis confirmed. It wasn't something unheard of, there were plenty of references in the earliest of medical manuscripts and records.

As life imperceptibly improved for the earliest of the Circadians and population censuses showed a healthy, growing populace, instances of environmental sexual determination became less frequent and finally non-existent. At the behest of earliest religious dominations, the racial purity laws were passed. Careful records were kept tracing bloodlines and establishing a matrimonial registry. Couples wishing to marry needed to establish the proper bloodline before a union could be approved and blessed.

As to the why's and how's of Crown Prince Simka, it was easy to see in retrospect what was happening. For whatever the reasons, simply put…somehow…there was no genetic match for the young Crown Prince. What was not understood was how his body knew that biologically, the need to procreate would awaken evolutionary changes not seen in generations lasting the span of several millennia.

Left unspoken and hanging over them like the darkest of storm clouds, was the simple fact that if…a successful mating failed to occur an internal trigger would be tripped. And as such, the biological necessity would terminate the life of those who failed to mate. As the species evolved, genetic weakness was pre-programmed to self-destruct to ensure the survival of the fittest.

Racial purity laws had run the law of unattended consequences, the effort however intended, had finally come home to roost. A quirk of Circadian evolution had remained dormant and eons of inter and cross breeding failed to ensure healthy bloodlines. At the molecular and cellular level biological triggers were activating. For the species to survive fresh genetic material was needed, injected through natural selection into the Circadian bloodlines.

Many decades ago researchers approached The Order with their findings. Tests were run, no cost was spared, findings confirmed and after much discussion concerning the morality of the proposed course of action, the decision to move forward on a small scale was approved. To this end, 'seedlings' were introduced to the fifteen different parallel dimensions.

The hope was that the infusion of new genetic material, steeped like tea, over several generations would produce heritable genes that could be re-introduced into the Circadian population. If the singular mating of a Circadian and an ''off-worlder'' descended from a seedling produced a child, the genome could be duplicated and a vaccination created. In order for the program to work, many more children from different sets would be needed.

As lead scientist, Fanar explained to those needed further convincing, 'It was time to shit or get off the pot".

Much was caught up on over the simple meal based on the fall harvest, root vegetables glazed and roasted served as companion to a small roast of lamb, ciders were served and as mother and child ate companionably and caught up with each other, discussion of the future was agreed upon. The Crown Prince would be traveling to the 12th dimension. It made the most sense, while the 3rd and the 8th were nearly compatible with the 12th, it was the 12th that was the most technologically advanced.

Compared to Circadia, the 12th was still in its infancy yet they had reached the Age of Reason. While it may not have been put into practice there was the ability of discernment. Like most early societies they had failed to reach their potential, the planet was wracked by internecine tribal warfare, there was a planetary organization of nations but it was and would remain toothless for several generations to come. The single overriding qualification was the ability when needed, to think beyond themselves.

There were many other issues to cover, there would have to be an announcement that the Crown Prince was alive and well, Simka would need to address the Circadians and announce the need for rest, contemplation, the studies needed for when he ascended the throne.

A new Regent would need to be announced and on this Simka was unyielding, it would be his mother. There was much heated discussion on the focus it would bring to The Order. Simka wisely countered as to who better, who had at this time the best planetary network?

Privately there were discussions with his mother about the biological changes he was undergoing. He was at a loss as to what to expect and to understand the totality of the changes. Why was he spotting, why were there days when the pain emanating from his groin was nearly unbearable? And what was up with the mood swings?

By the time Simka was done discussing with his mother all of the various and sundry issues he had a much better understanding of biology, particularly of the other sex and the menstrual cycles. At times the conversation was a bit graphic for the young prince. The idea that his hips and pelvis would disjoint during the birthing process was ameliorated only slightly by the average weight and size of the typical Circadian new-born.

Hanging over the three dining companions was a final discussion concerning how to reveal the information to the Circadian populace. Unlike the era when the purity laws were introduced the major religious centers had lost much of their power and adherent's through a continuing series of scandals, mis-information and generally bad behavior.

One suggestion was to publish more information on the origins of the Circadian species in conjunction with the newly discovered information concerning the racial purity laws. If presented correctly with the right emotional level of hubris, along with support from The Order it was felt the news would be well received.

Still there was the issue of the match, so much was riding on this one chance. Everyone was feeling the pressure internally while not trying to show it externally. There was no word of Bordon's whereabouts, while his network of informants was slowly evaporating, there wasn't a clue as to his location.

It was decided that Councilor Harmon would proceed before he Crown Prince in transport to the 12th dimension and would go later that evening. Crown Prince Simka and Sprog would follow just before dawn. The drain on resources would be immense, in order to maximize power storage and regeneration, without damage to the Celestial Globes and Library, everyone would have to return within sixty days from initial transport.

Deep underground in a laboratory located on the southernmost continent Bordon watched the only other known Celestial Globes on a view screen. This laboratory had been years in the making and these Celestial Globes were a poor cousin, a bad first attempt when dimensional technology was in its infancy. They weren't complete or stable nor did they hold all of the information and power the Celestial Globes and Library did. It was thought they were destroyed much like a potter would reject and discard rejects from his potters' wheel.

Because of the unstable nature of these Celestial Globes they were contained securely in a reinforced view room, the danger was the random spikes of power that would surge intermittently and without warning. In the effort to securely contain these celestial globes many died in the effort.

The only way to observe these Globes was from view screens that monitored the containment fields. What was unknown to but a select few, was that anytime dimensional transport was used, the corresponding celestial globe would brighten and shine like a beacon.

Once, transport was tried from this chamber. It was Bordon's first attempt to determine the feasibility resource extraction from another dimension. The 14th dimension was selected, it was relatively young in its evolutionary development. Few if any species walked upright, raw minerals and gems lay relatively close to the surface, in fact much that was desirable was easily extracted.

All the equipment that was needed for resource extraction was gathered and readied for transport to the planet in an enormous cargo ship. Coordinates were set and the sequence for transport begun. Everything went off without a hitch. Those gathered watched as the cargo ship hovered, its shape fluctuating in and out as it finally disappeared from view.

Roughly five minutes later, the Celestial Globe representing the 14th dimension went dark.

A thorough review and analysis pointed to the instability of the flawed Globe, the mathematics' involved in the transport and strongly suggested that the cargo ship, containing all of the raw power needed for the expedition somehow arrived within the solar systems sun. The resulting explosion took the sun nearly instantly into a super nova, with all the expected results.

In the royal palace, attendants responsible for the Celestial Library were stunned with the events they witnessed with the 14th dimension, what they saw was without president. The import and magnitude of this event were truly frightening. This was no accident of nature…this was a caused event…the implications, well the implications were of the gravest import.

King Oblan was summoned and once the events were reviewed, placed all of the information on lockdown. An intensive behind the scenes search was instituted. The assistance of The Order was requested in tracking down the defective celestial globes.

Bordon, as the King's trusted brother was tasked as liaison, when the trail grew to close comfort, Bordon surreptitiously had his Celestial Globes moved. It was an expensive and costly proposition, one that would ultimately bankrupt Bordon.

King Oblan wasn't a fool, he had two investigations going, as he drew closer to confirming Bordon's involvement, the more he understood, the need to confront his brother grew. Bordon knew the trail was tightening the noose around his neck and decided to meet head-on with his brother instead.

A vial was obtained, those who sold it disappeared without a trace, leaving no evidence as dead men tell no tales. Bordon met alone with his brother on neutral ground, he listened dispassionately to the evidence against him and the offer that would spare his life. Transport to the 8th dimension, a technologically backward world. The contents of the vial had been emptied into a mini-hypo syringe.

As Bordon accepted his punishment he hugged his brother one last time with deadly effect. King Oblan would be dead before Bordon's punishment would be made known later that week. In the summation of the evidence presented to him, Bordon realized his brother accidently revealed the very sources of that information. They would all die the very same day, all records were expunged and destroyed. The only information denied to him was in the archives of the Royal Library and only the Crown Prince could order the archives open.

The Order knew they had been compromised and were careful to cover their tracks, their investigation of Bordon. Their informant used the informants of informants. It would take time and considerable effort but…their networks would be rebuilt and the cold trail would slowly grow warm again.

They watched Councilor Harmon and Sprog depart and mother and son relaxed, there was a plan, they knew the risks and if careful the Houses of Godson would prosper as Circadia changed, for the better.

"Our time is short my son and as your mother I took steps on my own once we knew of your condition and I pray you will forgive me. However, that is a subject for another day on your return. I took the liberty to improve your chances. Know this isn't the path or the future I would have chosen for you, it will not be easy, nevertheless…you are my son and you are precious to me".

"My love for you could only be surpassed by that of your father, and we are close to removing Bordon from any position that would endanger us. I want you to wear your fathers signet ring, it is yours by right and you are worthy of it".

Simka was stunned, this was an honor he should have received upon his coronation. "I am honored you find me worthy, I will not let you or the House of Godson down", he replied…eyes misting and, in a voice, choked with emotion.

Smiling, she reached out to her son and gathered him into a fierce embrace, willing her confidence into him, "I've taken one other step you should know about for your protection and success. The boy, your intended has found The Chronicles of Malvern.

Twice Bordon was summoned to the view chamber, twice the Celestial Globe for the 12th dimension briefly glowed. At last he had a destination for his plan.

At the Order, the Celestial Library was manned around the clock waiting…the Mother Superior smiled to herself, a trap had been set and the fool would take it. All it would take was for Bordon to attempt to transport himself to the 12th dimension. Once the Celestial Globe glowed in Bordon's laboratory it would give off its location, once known a reactionary assault force would be there, nearly instantaneously.

Once the lab and the Celestial Globes were destroyed Bordon would be trapped, for the unique trace elements of his transport would be destroyed as well. He would be calling the 12th dimension home.

Bordon knew it would take a day or two to refine the exact location of the transport, it would be slightly easier as there were two transport signatures, the dual mathematical computations should rule out any variants in location. He had calculated that his transference to the 12th dimension would give him a success probability of 98% of arriving within five miles of the Crown Prince.

From there it was a simple matter of reading the burnt ozone trail. Bordon was frustrated that he'd have to wait two to three weeks to transport as it would take at least that long for the burnt ozone to coalesce into a recognizable trail.

Chapter 3

When he wasn't on the garage roof after school, Caleb found himself spending nearly all of his free time engrossed in the Chronicles of Malvern until it was time for bed and there were many nights he'd be back out on the garage roof stargazing.

The days were getting shorter, and while temps in the low 80's were still warm, it was nothing like July. Three weeks in sophomore year was becoming routine, he knew what was expected in his classes and had a few classmates he could share a lunch table with without the fear of letting his secret slip.

September quickly edged towards October and preparations were beginning for the big Halloween festival, parade and dance. Every year his sleepily community went all out for Halloween, it was something Caleb found ironic considering how deep they were into the bible belt down here.

It was one of those inconsistencies everyone lived with much like their faith, hellfire and brimstone on Sundays and Wednesdays, boozing on Saturdays and whoring around and generally condemning their souls to hell on the other week days. There were no acts of Christian charity for those caught sinning, acting out and disturbing the norms. Lot had it easy.

The first week of September, Caleb was sitting at the lunch table with the regular crowd discussing which 'decorating' committee to join when 'he' walked in. It was hard to miss the new guy in a school as small as his. Nearly every pair of eyes, at least those who hadn't shared a morning class, turned to watch the new kid walk up to and through the lunch line.

Most of the lunch tables were taken with the various cliques and all were nearly full and it was some small surprise to many, if not all, when the new kid walked over to Caleb's table. Smiling 'Berto' introduced himself and asked if anyone minded if he sat there.

Mary Sue Cartwright was the self-appointed 'leader' of the table of misfits. At five-foot-ten and easily 20 pounds on anyone at the table, Mary Sue was a bulldog. To big for cheerleading, her heart's desire, too socially awkward to be a part of the 'in-crowd', Mary Sue decided her talents were better suited to lording it over the less unfortunates who graced her lunch table.

Mary Sue was a daddy's girl, spoiled rotten by her father who was the president of the local bank and the keeper of many secrets and nefarious tales. A single man, divorced when his wife ran off with the Cuban gardener. Bob Cartwright may have had the gravitas to survive such a scandal but the apple of his eye, fell far from the tree.

Both were supremely self-absorbed, golfing with Bob was a necessity and a chore if you wanted to do business in town, take out a mortgage or a car loan. To top it off…Hal was a hack. Conversely, everyone was nice to Mary Sue…to her face, fueling her self-delusion. Whether she chose to live in her fantasy world or was trapped, one was never sure.

Everyone chose to live with her eccentricity early on, an upset Mary Sue would find comfort for what ailed her in the arms of her father. Folks learned early on that only invited approbation and trouble.

Mary Sue was delighted that the new kid…Berto wanted to grace 'her' table, with her best saccharine smile and doll house voice welcomed and introduced him to her tablemates. No one knew if it was a deliberate oversight but Berto ignored or did not see Mary Sue patting the seat next to her. As he greeted everyone at the table, shaking their hands, he made sure that Caleb was last and then sat next to him.

Conversation with the new kid was easy, if you discount the cartoon knives Mary Sue was casting from her eyes. The game of twenty questions commenced, Berto was from Manchester New Hampshire, full name was Roberto Michael Spinelli, glad to be missing another New England winter, yes…snow and cold was miserable. The rest of the year was ok, he'd miss the fall foliage and school was about the same as far as he could tell.

His dad was an ex-marine, going to work for a local aerospace contractor, Living on Maple St, just behind Elm, no brothers or sisters, a stay at home mom and a mongrel dog named Sprog. Berto listened attentively to everyone, asked a couple of questions and made sure to make frequent eye contact with Mary Sue especially when he asked what her father did for a living and acted suitably impressed.

Caleb found out in the course of conversation they shared the same afternoon classes, History, English and PE alternating with Home Economics. The rest of the lunch period passed quickly and it was time to head off to history class. As they were leaving the cafeteria Mary Sue was overheard commenting to one of her so-called girlfriends that the new kid seemed ok but he was Italian, had to be catholic, not much better than a Cuban.

History proved to be interesting class. They had been studying the Pilgrims and the early colonial societies along with the witch trials. One of their classmates, Todd Peter Kusters was the preachers' kid better known as TPK. You couldn't get any more 'saved' than TPK. Of all of Caleb's classmates TPK was the one with the definitive career path nor was he shy. He preached in his father's church on Wednesday evenings and the sermons were pure bible belt, full of hellfire and brimstone. He knew the path or righteousness and he tread proudly, it wasn't so much as he was convinced, it was because he knew.

There was a lively argument concerning the fate of those who lost their lives in the hysteria. On the morality of those religious figures who were leaders of the community, the accusers and what was the rational justification for the trials? As one could expect the debate at times grew heated with TPK defending faith-based governments based on the bible. At one point in the debate the teacher looked towards Caleb and asked him for his opinon and he quietly responded looking directly at TPK and said, "Judge not lest ye be judged."

The bell signaling the end of class went of and as the class was breaking up TPK was heard to say to Caleb, "It is the type of comment one could expect from a sinner, a loser, someone who hasn't graced the doorway of church in quite some time!"

A hush fell over the departing students and stopped them in their tracks at such a venomous personal attack. Responding, Caleb placed his books down on the nearest desk and held a hand up silencing the last few murmurs, "As an American, my right to worship God in the manner I so chose, is a sacred freedom guaranteed to me and enshrined in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. It is not something you can challenge or deny me as I cannot to you. I would strongly suggest you do two things…reread those two documents and for good measure read the Danbury Letter. Secondly…mind your own business, look towards yourself and try shutting your mouth for a change.

The room was hushed, stunned, it was the most demonstrative any of his fellow students had ever heard Caleb speak. Someone started clapping, a ripple of laughter broke out and as everyone departed the classroom for the next class nearly everyone was laughing at TPK, who had been rebuked thoroughly as he stood there with a most unchristian look on his face.

It was only a week and, in many ways, it seemed like a lifetime of experiences as Caleb and Berto became the fastest of friends. Caleb was beside himself, Berto was someone he could call friend, a close friend. While he hoped and knew it was wishful thinking, that Berto would think of him as he did of Berto. Caleb wasn't stupid, he had been on his toes and ever so careful not to reveal the terminal fact that he was gay.

What truly confused Caleb were the touches, bumps and elbows that 'innocently' came his way, the way his eyes seemed to find the deepest recesses of his psyche, always saying the right thing at the right time and the right moment. Caleb, the former wallflower was beginning to blossom.

It wasn't unnoticed, however no one picked up on the sexual tension between the two boys, it was Caleb's classmates began to realize that here was a kid who, without trying, was becoming popular in the most unassuming manner. Both he and Berto were asked to be part of the sophomore class on the Halloween Committee, the second most desirable committee after Homecoming, traditionally the province of the jocks and that was just fine with the boys.

As Caleb continued to come out of his self-imposed shell with Berto's quiet encouragement TPK found himself becoming marginalized, more often than not, thought of and referred to as a parrot. For someone who had serious designs on becoming a leading pillar of the community like his father, it was a bit too much as he seethed over the recent events.

Every time TPK would confront Caleb in class he came out on the losing end. How was he supposed to know that Caleb had read the bible, that he could quote scripture as well as he could and counter all of his hellfire and brimstone. For someone who was at the top of the food chain it was fast becoming a humiliating turn of events. It was becoming very evident that a certain someone needed and would have to be put back in his place, along with that fucking new kid.

Most likely it was Mary Lou Prentice who was the trigger, the catalyst that finally set TPK over the edge. And it was his own damned fault. The more he marginalized himself, the easier it was for Mary Lou to see him for what he was. A bigoted, self-serving, self-inflating asshat of the first rank.

Mary Lou was without guile, she was a sophomore cheerleader on the varsity squad, she knew her place in the pecking order. A solid straight A student, Mary Lou was one of a rare breed of person, she was without affectation. For years it was always assumed that she and TPK were the 'Golden Couple". Things began to change towards the end of Junior high School. Mary Lou started to become more self-aware. She found learning and the challenge of the difficult college prep track enjoyable.

Through church and some of the outreach programs for the elderly shut-ins, young struggling families, she developed and gained a broader perspective of the larger events that affected her community ecosystem. In short, as Mary Lou became 'self-aware', TPK was becoming a regrettable, embarrassing caricature. The end of the reign of the 'Golden Couple' may have started a couple of years ago but the final nail in the coffin was Mary Lou asking Caleb to the Homecoming Dance. It was to be a double date, Sara Foley, Mary Lou's best friend, would be escorted by Berto.

Mary Lou knew she was taking a chance, but the signals were there, difficult at first to find or see…but they were there. They were the same looks and subtle signals her beloved older cousin Jarred gave off with his boyfriend. As hard as they tried not to slip up, Mary Lou knew, she simply just knew and kept their secret as they kept hers.

It was a late autumn Florida afternoon thunderstorm that Friday afternoon, over shortly after it started, Caleb and Berto had plans to meet at Caleb's house to go over a history project. Berto needed to speak with his math teacher after school and would meet Caleb at his house shortly after.

Grabbing his bike Caleb was distracted by thoughts of he and Berto alone for an hour or two, his brother was off to a sleepover and the parents were off and out to an early dinner.

Something was there, it was hard for a scared sophomore, so certain of his sexuality, to take that first step, to make it known he was receptive to the signals that were becoming over time, not so subtle. He never saw TPK and a couple of cronies begin to follow him.

As Berto finished up with his math teacher as sudden feeling of dread overwhelmed him. It was a race to his bicycle and he couldn't get there fast enough. Caleb was in trouble and every passing moment he felt the danger increasing. Pedaling as fast as he could, cutting across traffic in front of the school, he went as fast as he could in the direction Caleb would have taken.

At the last moment Caleb saw a fast-moving blur come at him from the side, the next thing he knew he was dazed and lying on the ground. Standing above him was a very angry TPK. Scrambling to crawl away and stand he caught a shod foot to the mid-section, knocking the wind out of him. Someone was screaming at him, the words indecipherable as he absorbed more body blows. And then it went quiet.

Looking up thru blurry eyes the two goons were on the ground holding their heads, turning back towards TPK he saw a foot appear suddenly between his legs. As if he was watching in slow motion TPK's eyes rolled back into his head and a stream of projectile vomit flew out past Caleb as TPK collapsed to the ground, falling on his knees holding his midsection.

Berto, going as fast as he could, saw Caleb hit and thrown to the ground. Jumping off his bike he grabbed some crushed limestone rocks from the side of the road bed. Within seconds the two goons were out of the action, nursing very sore heads. Two steps later his right foot connected squarely with TPK's testicles.

The only thing that saved TPK's bacon were the two construction workers who had witnessed the entire episode. Had they been thirty seconds later it would have been anyone's guest as to what might have happened. A homeowner coming out to check his mailbox also saw what happened and offered to call the police as the construction workers kept the three miscreants under control.

Statement were taken, TPK and his 'helpers' were bundled off. Caleb insisted he was fine, he just needed to go home, it was just around the corner. His bike was damaged and he'd walk. Obviously Berto would go with him. On closer inspection, his jeans were torn and covered like the rest of him in mud and dirt. What wasn't covered were coated in grass and weed stains. There were a couple of scrapes and it was obvious that there would be some bruising.

Together the two of them limped towards Caleb's house…grateful that there was no one home to witness the two of them in their disheveled state. Placing the bikes behind the garage Berto turned to Caleb internally upset and nearly as bad as Caleb looked. Reaching up he started picking twigs, leaves and some grass from Caleb's hair.

Leaning forward Caleb bent his head and placed his hands on Berto's hips as he luxuriated in the moment. He felt Berto place a finger under his chin when he finished and lifted his head up. As his eyes traveled the contours of the face belonging to the boy he loved he noticed there were the slightest beginnings of a few tears leaking. Reaching up he wiped at the corner of Berto's eyes with his thumbs and gently brought their foreheads together. After savoring the closeness for a moment, words were unnecessary as Caleb sought Berto's lips.

Frisson would barely describe the tremors quaking, coursing through both boys. Frustrations released, questions wordlessly answered, each boy surrendered to the other as they melded into each other. Hands traversed the outlines of the boy in front of them as they remained lip locked.

Seared into Caleb's memory was the first shower after gym class when Berto, standing next to him, nonchalantly removed his clothes as if there wasn't a care in the world. It was a conflicting moment for Caleb, here was the boy he was fixated on and in his nakedness, he did not disappoint. It was a matter of focusing his will and it took supreme willpower as he quickly removed his clothes and headed for the showers right behind Berto clutching his towel.

Praying…praying as hard as he could to any of the gods in gay heaven that would hear his plaintive plea and supplications, that he would be able to stop the events conspiring with his wayward penis, to keep his recalcitrant member from escalating its ailment any further.

It was a waking, walking dream Caleb decided, one that had his full attention and exercised his powers of concentration to his fullest as he watched the lithe, winsome specimen of male teen anatomy walk to the showers with a towel jauntily tossed over a shoulder. His eyes followed the line of the spine as it descended downwards to the cleft that began and defined his buttocks and further to the legs that carried him. Caleb was reminded of Michelangelo's David for here it was in front of him.

As he walked into the shower area Caleb passed Berto who had stopped to talk with a classmate who was exiting the showers. Heading to the first available shower head he stood under and began to wash. Quickly soaping up, washing his hair he failed to notice Berto taking the slot right next to him.

As Berto began to wash his hair Caleb could not help himself, he had to look, see his maleness and wonder what would it be like to hold it, to bring his foreskin back, see the opening where what he desired most would come forth. Knowing his time for looking a Berto like this was short and was instigating a rather undesirable reaction despite his best efforts.

Knowing he needed to focus on not revealing his true nature Caleb quickly turned the shower spray to cold and gave his nuts a quick flick of a finger. The resulting efforts had their looked-for effects. It bought him time to fully rinse off expeditiously and hustle back to his locker and get some clothes on.

The towel carefully wrapped around him barely concealed his growing erection, it was quickly becoming full-blown and it would have its way. Opening his locker Caleb withdrew his underpants, putting them on before the towel came off, his shorts followed. Thanking his lucky stars his baggy tee-shirt followed. As the hem of the tee-shirt finished the concealment. As he turned to grab his deodorant he saw Berto coming around the corner and breaking into a wide grin as he saw Caleb, who couldn't help but admire the sight coming towards him.

Berto's broad shoulders framed his wide hairless chest, two quarter sized dusky brown nipples begged to be kissed and as his chest and ribs tapered downward to reveal a 'innie' bellybutton. Framing the base of his penis light brown pubic hairs which lay in front of two walnut sized testicles held snugly in their reddish scrotal sack. It was everything Caleb had dreamed of.

Caleb winced as Berto slid a hand down his side, he was sore from being kicked and it provided an unnecessary interruption in the boy's discovery of their common interests, that wordlessly they answered the questions left unasked.

Breaking their clinch, evidence of their arousal clearly not obscure they shyly grinned at each other. Placing a finger to Caleb's lips Berto began to examine the obvious areas of damage to Caleb's clothing. It was noticeable that a shower was needed, one that Berto was going to administer personally. Starting with the filthy shirt he began to remove the soiled clothing. Before long both boys were naked, clothes in the washing machine and standing in the shower, hot water cascading. Ever-so-gently Caleb was washed, Berto was exceptionally careful in cleaning his penis and scrotum, he was determined that their first time would not be in the shower. Both were hard, painfully hard, by the time the shower was done, their towels would lay discarded on Caleb's bedroom floor.

It was an hour of mutual self-discovery as both boys satisfied their curiosity, hands and fingers telegraphed their destinations as they explored each other's firmament. Caleb made the first significant move as he closely studied the erection he held in his hands. This was everything he wanted and needed, what he had dreamed about since he first met Berto. Lowering his head, he slowly took him into his mouth.

It was a case of sensory overload as Berto writhed under Caleb's oral administrations and knew he'd be climaxing sooner than he would have liked and it was evidently obvious as he gurgled out the warning he was about to, to let Caleb know in time that…he…was…just…that close and then he surrendered as his body crashed as his orgasm overtook him.

It wasn't long afterwards when Berto returned the favor, in the back of his mind was Caleb's seminal fluid. Would he have a reaction to it or would they be compatible? Berto knew he would soon have to have a discussion regarding the events and issues surrounding him, his true identity. First though would be this first test, would his body welcome Caleb's essence or was all of this in vain? He had fallen hard for Caleb, in any other time and place, any other dimension he knew with total certainty he would do everything whatsoever it took to be the one Caleb looked towards when he saw his lover.

As Berto established a rhythm, one nearly older than time, he instinctively knew what to do, when to speed up, change the pace and prolong the delicious agony he was putting Caleb through.

Caleb's impending orgasm wasn't vocalized but telegraphed in a myriad of signals; a twitch of his leg, the curling of his toes, the hands clutching the sheets in a desperate attempt to stay connected to some form of reality. The way his breathing changed, the huffing, gasping for air and finally the tensing of his body as rigidity set in, and finally the bright white light that shooting stars exploded from as the crux, the quintessence of his fundamental nature surged outwards from his rapidly deflating body.

Chapter 4

The head librarian of the Celestial Library was shocked, it was something completely unexpected and to the best of his considerable knowledge never seen before., and the news was brought to him by the novice apprentice. He had served in his present capacity since nearly the beginning. He had once been a young boy apprenticed to the first head librarian. It was a powerful signal, one that was resonating through all of the Celestial Globes…including the one representing the 14th dimension, what once was a dark sphere held the tiniest glimmer of light so faint it could be easily missed.

Both Caleb and Berto had the obligatory photo sessions with their dates for the Homecoming Dance in three separate houses and were equally fawned over by all three sets of parents. It was a good thing Berto had suggested an early start as the time the dance was starting was rapidly approaching. Caleb's father would drop them off and pick them up in the family station wagon.

The high school auditorium had been decorated with balloons, banners and other shiny objects and looked as good as one would expect. Upon arrival there was one last photo session to endure and then it was off to find a table and meet up with friends.

Everyone had a good time and did their fair share of dancing, when the band took their first break Mary Lou suggested they sit outside cafeteria tables and cool off for a few minutes. They joined several other couples as they picked a table away from the crowded area. Mary Lou knew the boys were nervous and just slightly uncomfortable and she knew the next few minutes would be uncomfortable for all of them, critical important secrets would be spilled, shared and if all went well all of them would find the room to be themselves, at least among the four of them.

By the time she was done speaking the boys were horrified, scared out of their wits and finally relieved beyond measure. Mary Lou explained how she concluded the boys were gay, the not to subtle looks, touches, shoulder bumps and the general unease when the boys were separated. She explained about her cousin and then about Sara and herself.

As everyone at the table digested this latest turn of events a collective sigh of relief was exhaled, Mary Lou was nothing but forthright and gentle in her approach. Further explaining the need to keep this amongst themselves, as this was small town Florida…the heart of the redneck bible belt brought murmurs of agreement from the other three. From this point forward towards graduation they would remain in public and to families committed dating couples.

The next couple of weeks flew by and Halloween was but a couple of weeks away. Mary Lou and Sara joined the boys on the decorating committee and their help was invaluable in the planning for the dance. Along with the other students from the senior, junior and freshman classes all was left to do was to order the supplies and when the time was right decorating the auditorium.

The only fly in the ointment was TPK, his home confinement was coming to an end and he would soon be back at school. He was barred from any extra curricular activities but the kid was walking trouble.

No one was really sure what the disturbance in the Celestial Globes portended, it was there was a resonance, a harmonic vibration enaminating from all of them, the watch on the library was doubled and broken into split shifts so there was no overlap. Every few days the it would flare every so slightly and imperceptibly fade.

Now that the ice had broken Caleb and Berto found the time and place every few days to relieve their tensions and to enjoy each other's company. The double dating and having 'girlfriends' worked wonders. It gave them a certain gravitas among their classmates and solidified the animosity between TPK and the two 'couples'.

All four made to keep a wide berth and to never walk the hallways alone. Still minor confrontations could not be helped. Petty disagreements would erupt in class, snide hurtful comments or disparaging remarks were thrown towards Mary Lou and by extension, Sara.

TPK was smart enough to not directly confront Caleb and Berto, he had lost all but a few friends who were stupid enough to continue to follow him.

Bordon was incensed, the burnt ozone trail was slow in forming, his Celestial Globes had given him a dimension, approximate location but time, the very essence that would measure his success or failure was something he was running out of.

Every effort to find and to infiltrate the Royal Celestial Library had failed, he had lost nearly all of his highly placed assets, those who remained were in positions that were inconsequential and even those were being lost over the fullness of time.

It was time to call back all of his remaining assets and regardless of the risks, follow the Crown Prince into the 12th dimension. He would wait no more than two weeks and he would transport along the Crown Prince's burnt ozone trail. He knew the condition of his Celestial Globes were weak, there would be enough energy to make the transition to and back again. After that it would be months if not years before they could be used again.

It really was quite simple, the Crown Prince simply had to die and do so before he could spawn and whelp an heir. Next on the list was Councilor Harmon, nobody should live that long. The councilor would die a particularly slow and agonizing death for what he did to his son. Nevertheless, once he'd had the two impediments out of his way, his path to the crown was wide open, once he was king there would be no one and nobody to oppose him, it was a blood tie after all.

The Crown Prince's mother, dried up hag that she was, would be no match and once he had the Celestial Globes and Library firmly in his control then vast riches plundered from other dimensions would be his and more than enough riches to buy all the support he needed.

It had taken some time but Caleb had finally managed to get most of the Chronicles of Malvern finished. For a sci-fi book he had to admit it was pretty good. He had fallen for the two main character's, the prince in trouble and the commoner who was the key, not only to his survival but the prince's kingdom. It was a whole new world for Caleb, it was plausible fantasy that had him thinking beyond the immediate and larger world around him.

He began to see how insular his world was here in South Florida and wondered how he and Berto, if they lasted, how could they build a life together? The more he thought about it the bluer he became. His resolve did not weaken because Berto had given him a glimpse of the future, he just knew whatever they went, it would not be in South Florida. College would have to be far away in a place more tolerant.

Caleb also reminded himself when he got moody that Berto was the cure, the sex was amazing, they hadn't progressed past hand jobs and oral, but the next steps were often coming up in their discussions, as they lay together in a post-coital bliss in the early afternoons after school.

Caleb thought Sprog was a hoot, he had always wished that their family had a dog, it was something he and his brother had asked for but it never came to pass. Caleb and Sprog got along like a house afire from the very first time they met. He made sure there was always time for a game of fetch, tug of war and silly vocal commands. Sprog, Caleb realized was a very intelligent dog, a mutt really, he'd get embarrassed when the boys shucked their clothes and would walk over to the bedroom door as if to guard the room while they had their fun.

Somehow Sprog knew when the boys were on their way, if he wasn't at the end of the driveway he would meet them partway up the road. Then there would be a game of race and chase with Sprog happily chasing both boys home. Once off the bikes he'd give each a tongue bath as they play fought on the front lawn.

More often than not they found themselves at Berto's house, it seemed it was always easier to go there. His parents worked and his grandfather was always occupied, tinkering in his workshop. His grandfather was a kindly older gentleman who always had a snack waiting for the boys when they arrived after school. They would sit in the kitchen and talk for a few minutes before he excused himself to go tinkering. Caleb was fascinated at his woodworking skills on the few occasions he went with Berto to the workshop. The quality of his work was readily apparent even to Caleb as he admired many of the on-going projects. He was particularly impressed with a writing table/book stand that you placed in your lap, it also would hold writing paper and supplies and if you wanted to, it could be placed on a desk. It was inlaid with many different types of woods and if Caleb no been so besotted with the upcoming exchange of bodily fluids, he would have noticed the images were taken from the Chronicles of Malvern. The odd thing was that every time Caleb had a chance to look at it, it somehow seemed different, like he was seeing the inlaid image for the first time.

The boys did have one steadfast rule however and that was to see homework was done while snacking with Berto's grandfather in the kitchen. Once homework was done the boys could count on an hour and a half of privacy with Sprog holding down the fort.

It was the third time the Mother Superior visited the Celestial Library this week and was deep in conference with the head librarian. The light within the 14th Celestial Globe was a tad brighter and the harmonic vibration was imperceptibly stronger. No longer was it winking out, now it would brighten and dim. This was a puzzle that was beyond their technology to adequately to explain. It was if the Celestial Globes were communicating with one another and transferring some sort of energy was the best scenario they could come up with. There were no signs of the other globes weakening, quite the contrary. They seemed to be as robust as ever.

It couldn't be helped, it was her son after all but she had to look in on him occasionally. She was well aware he had become sexually active and while she approved reluctantly of his choice of mate, she knew that she would have to pick her spots to look in on him. no mother after all would want to see their son and lover in the act so to speak.

In her heart she was coming to accept and love Caleb, she knew he was good for Simka and while she was worried for the future she knew it was a bridge they would all cross together. It wasn't in the manner she would have liked but…she took immense pride that soon she would be a grandmother.

Orders were given, while respecting the privacy of the boys, someone was to keep an eye on them at all times, if there was even the remotest threat they were to be transported immediately and without question.

It was a novice apprentice to the Head Librarian that noticed something regarding the Celestial Globes and the mystery surrounding them. Donar's watch coincided with the boy's mid-afternoon through their bedtime. It was during these hours that the boys were likely to 'fool around'.

Donar, while not a prude and in fact slightly turned on, needed to be careful as to how he presented his suppositions' and findings. It was early on after the transport that he noticed it. Just after the Crown Prince met the boy named Caleb that the tiniest of flares in the 14th dimension. This finding was the result of going back over the visual records consisting of hundreds of hours.

Once the issue with the Celestial Globes became known, the entire library staff was put to work to see if they could solve the puzzle. Truth be known, Donar was bored with his assignment, until he fit the puzzle pieces together. All of a sudden Donar wasn't quite so bored. Watching the Crown Prince and his boyfriend have sex was voyeuristic exercise, it couldn't be helped. Donar was just a few years older, full of hormones as the Circadian version of puberty ran its course and came to its logical end.

Being a novice apprentice meant that you were on call for every menial task and at any time of day or night. There was no social life, just a life within the cloistered walls of the Celestial Library. He came from a lower caste family and this was a position far above his station. That he took advantage of the educational opportunities was the thing that opened the door for him. He did well, in fact excellent, in his schoolwork and this brought notice to his teachers and instructors. Attending a college was not without reason, his grade point average would more than likely afford scholarships but he was in competition with hundreds of other worthy, deserving students. It was a gamble, if not successful he would be stuck, the best he could hope for was a teaching position. Not that there was anything wrong with that, for it was a noble profession, it was just not what he wanted to settle for.

His marks brought notice of him to the headmaster and school librarian who were not without connections. The Head Librarian was a classmate of the school librarian who sent Donar's transcripts along. A week later was the first interview, ten days later was the second and final interview. He was offered a position as a novice apprentice. His role and duties were thoroughly gone over, there was no question as to the path he would follow.

The offer to work in the Celestial Library was not without merit, in fact it was a prestigious prospect. In the four years he would serve his apprenticeship he would progress as if he was in college, it was the chance of a lifetime with out the costs incurred if he decided to go the other way. After discussing it with his parents he accepted and was welcomed into the ranks of the Celestial Library.

Watching the Crown Prince and Caleb that first afternoon was a bit much, having been confined within the library walls mean little or no chance with someone his own age of either sex. Watching the both of them get off was too much to bear, Donar was hard, hot, bothered and horny. Within seconds of the Crown Prince orally finishing off Caleb, he came hard.

What Donar didn't plan on, was not having a tissue or a rag to clean up the resulting mess. Gingerly walking over to his desk for the box of tissues he passed by the rest of the Celestial Globes, it was then he noticed the harmonic resonance and flair in the 14th dimension.

After a week of careful observation and collating his notes augmented with references to the hours of video time stamped with video of the Celestial Globes, Donar felt he was ready to present his findings. He asked for a meeting with the Head Librarian via a secure channel. He felt that discretion was in order to protect the privacy of the Crown Prince and the boy who would be his mate.

In his request he included a sample of his findings with a note explaining his thinking and the need for discretion. Donar decided to leave out the manner in which he first noticed the connection. The Head Librarian responded within the half hour with the request he bring everything to his study.

Shortly after the Head Librarian finished the review of Donar's 'research' he smiled broadly. Leaning back, he thought to himself that it was the right decision to bring the boy into the Celestial Library. The question now was how and when to share this with the Mother Superior. The information would have to be sanitized for her consumption, it was how and who would present it to her. By all rights it was Donar's discovery and he deserved the credit and the decision was made.

Donar was stunned, never in a million years did he ever think he would converse with royalty and a Mother Superior at that! What left him tongue tied was the subject matter. After all, it wasn't every day you would be in a meeting, where you would be in a meeting discussing the sexual activities of a boy and his lover, with his mother.

Chapter 5

The Halloween dance at the school was but a day away. Planning had gone smoothly and all that was left to do was the decorating and the freshman crew would handle that. Double dating with Mary Lou and Sara had worked wonders, there was no question on the four's sexuality. Both girls had taken to studying with the boys at Berto's house. They had grown close as a group and had become great friends. They were comfortable with each other and had no problem discussing their sexuality with each other.

They were curious and while there was no overwhelming desire to swap partners they did agree to examine each other in a game of show and tell. The girls were fascinated with the boy's foreskins and the boys were content to let their fingers do the exploring in return. When both the boy's and girls were finished with their examinations they returned to their partners and brought each other off for the others to see.

Mary Lou and Sara were curious, they had just witnessed Caleb jerk Berto off and Berto orally satisfy Caleb. Did they have intercourse yet and if not, when? Were they planning to do so? This left both boys blushing and the answer was they hadn't yet and yes, they were planning to…soon. Caleb allowed as how they were thinking that they may try after the dance, he was going to sleep over that night.

Berto chimed in that he had been pushing Caleb to take that next step, that he wanted Caleb to take the lead. Countering, Caleb let it be known he would expect the same. This led to further questioning by the girl's, as to how they determined who would go first. Berto wasn't shy and simply said that he wanted Caleb, that his desire was to have Caleb make love to him.

Sara who had been sitting quietly spoke up and suggested that they all leave the dance as early as they could without attracting attention. If the boys were agreeable, as she and Mary Lou, rarely if ever had alone time, could drop them off at her house. Her parents went to bed early and after they could walk over to Berto's. They weren't trying to horn in as it were, but they needed a safe place as well to express their love. Would the boys mind if leaving the dance early? Her parents would pick them up and drop them off.

Bordon could wait no longer, in consultation with the keeper of his Celestial Globes it would have to be in the next few days. Everything he needed was ready and waiting. The final piece of his plan was about to take place. In short order the final parts would start clicking into place, and he was ready to make it happen. None of this would have been necessary or needed if only his brother had been a bit more farsighted. Unimaginable riches and resources lay out there scattered across the other parallel dimensions.

TPK was furious, madder that a wet cat getting a bath. Not only would he not be not taking Mary Lou to the dance, he was barred from going anywhere near the school and Caleb and Berto. If he couldn't exact revenge tonight then when everyone was out trick or treating next week, he would make his move. No one would recognize him in costume and the gun would be back in his house before anyone knew it was missing.

The power surge was first noticed on the southern continent as fate would have it on Donar's shift. It could only mean one thing, Bordon was powering up his Celestial Globes. It was just his luck something like this would happen to him and so quickly after his interview with the Crown Prince's mother. Talk about embarrassment.

Donar had been shown into the Mother Superior's chambers. Not the public rooms but her office. Sitting across from her plain desk was torture. He sweated profusely and wondered just how you discussed her son's sexual activity and the link to the issues, if that was what they were, on the Celestial Globes.

Handing over the report, heavily annotated and footnoted, he waited silently as she read through it. The room was deathly quiet, only the sound of the old wind up clock on the wall behind him. Looking around the room as he waited in the silence, his stomach in knots, he noticed the scarcity of personal effects and decorations. Prominently displayed on the wall behind her were the Order's precepts as handed down by the Goddess.

A shuffling of papers and a clearing of the Mother Superior's throat brought the task of Donar's visit back to the forefront. Squaring his shoulders and looking directly at the Mother Superior he waited for her comments and questions.

Handing the report back to him she commented, "You have done a credible and well thought out analysis Novice Apprentice Donar and we thank you. I am sure it is difficult to present this to me knowing who the subjects studied are. I would try to put you at ease, please remember I was also young once and fully understand Circadian sexuality. You need not be embarrassed to discuss further any items you think may need further clarification or answer any questions I may have.''

Motioning to Donar to stand she led him over to a pair of comfortable chairs near a balcony window overlooking the mountain trail known as The Sisters Pleasure. Quickly put at ease as they snacked and partook of some of the Order's finest foods and juices the Mother Superior so skillfully questioned Donar as to his findings and conclusions. By the time the interview was concluded, Donar felt a respectable sense of ease.

Since his 'discovery' of the link between the issue with the Celestial Globes and the Crown Prince's sexual activity Donar had a direct channel to the Head Librarian and was no longer known as a Novice Apprentice. He was now Apprentice Donar. He was under orders to report anything out of the ordinary no matter how insignificant.

Documenting the fluxuations of power on the southern continent and the pattern they provided, he was certain that he had Bordon's location. He knew there was nothing located on that continent that would draw the immense power he noticed that was moving towards one location. It could only mean that Bordon was charging his capacitors and battery banks.

Once again after notifying the Head Librarian of the results of his study of the energy grid and findings, he found himself once again in the Mother Superior's office sitting in the very same seats as she discussed his report in exacting detail. She was very concerned with his sub-report, something he had undertaken entirely on his own.

As well as increased power concentration there was in increase in traffic to the area was well. Like the power drain there was no distinguishing pattern unless one knew what to look for. While in and of itself it could seem harmless it was another indicator as to Bordon's location.

The Halloween dance went off without a hitch, the theme was Pirates and Romans. The boys went as pirates while the girls went as Roman royalty. They spent time chatting and dancing with friends and at the appropriate time made their exit. Sara's father dropped them of at Caleb's house where the boys would clean up and head over to Berto's. as they got ready to leave Berto asked to bring the Chronicles of Malvern with them. Knowing the time is right to end the charade, to let Caleb know who he is and that he will more than likely die if their match fails.

Berto was torn, as much as he wanted to live, he wanted his relationship with Caleb to be genuine, not forced or out of pity, that he'd be loved as much and to the same degree he loved Caleb. Frankly he felt life would be pointless without Caleb by his side. To that degree he was willing to gladly meet his fate however Caleb decided, and it would be his decision, once the facts were known, not coerced or bargained for.

It wasn't without a sense of trepidation that Berto walked up to his house with Caleb. As they walked into the kitchen they were met by Berto's Grandfather Hal who had snacks and drinks laid out for them. While the boys ate and chatted with Hal, he asked to see the book and asked Caleb to join him, in the sitting room while Berto cleaned up.

On a table next to the chair he was told to sit in was the lap desk, it was finally finished and was magnificent. As he sat Hal placed it in his lap and told Caleb adjust it and get comfortable. Once seated he handed the Chronicles of Malvern to Caleb and had him place it on the lap desk while holding it.

There was a flash of light while the book and the boy connected and once done Councilor Harmon walked out to the kitchen to comfort his beloved Crown Prince. It would be at least an hour before the book finished its work and another two hours before the girls showed up. He suggested that it may be best if he waited in his room.

When Caleb woke up he was overwhelmed with tears streaming down his face. As he made to get up and set the book and desk down he noticed Sprog studying him carefully. His tail waving and a paw came up to rest on his lap, whining kindly and cocking his head he waited for Caleb to make his decision.

Putting the book and desk aside he reached out and held Sprog's paw, "I guess we're stuck with each other, aren't we boy?" Sprog climbed up and proceeded to eagerly wash Caleb's face. Once cleaned to Sprog's specifications Caleb walked out to the kitchen and took a chair across the table from Berto's grandfather.

"Do I call you Hal or Councilor Harmon?" He asked.

Smiling Councilor Harmon said, "Whatever you prefer, Hal is fine in private, in public it would have to be Councilor."

"I'm finding all of this to be a bit much and hard to comprehend, but it is real, isn't it?"

"I'm surprised at how well you are adjusting to this, is there anything or questions I can do or answer?"

"As the Crown Prince's father is dead I'd like to ask you for his hand in marriage." Said Caleb with as much conviction as he could muster.

It had been years since Councilor Harmon showed personal emotion, years of planning for such an eventuality had born fruit, Simka would live, the House of Godson would survive.

"I suspect you are missing something important." Reaching into his vest pocket he pulled out a small velvet box. Eyes misting as he held out the box to Caleb he noted, "These are the royal engagement rings, tens of thousands of years old, the only time they will come off is when you exchange them for your wedding bands."

Standing up, Hal walked over to Caleb and wrapped the boy in a loving hug. Holding him by the shoulders he welcomed him into the family, it would be best to go and relieve someone's, a very special someone's, misery. As he turned to go up the stairs he looked back at Hal and said, "I love him you know, as much as anyone could love someone and I'd follow him anywhere."

Bounding up the stairs, two at a time Caleb could not get to the bedroom quick enough. As he slowed to open the door he took a deep breath, he knew he would have to be serious, this was not the moment to fool around. Knocking on the door he asked for permission to come in. behind the door he heard some snuffling and the blowing of a nose and a faint yes.

Walking into the room he could not hep but notice the pained look in Berto's or was it Simka's eyes. It was going to be confusing for a while, putting that though aside he walked over to the boy he loved, dropped to one knee and asked in a voice heavy with emotion, "Simka you are one half of my soul, the part that completes me, the part I cannot do without. I need you in my life now and forever…will…you…marry…me?"

Hearing the commotion as the boys fell to the floor Councilor Harmon smiled and released his grip on Sprog's collar and when the mutt made it into the bedroom, he joined the boys and gave his blessing. Finally, tension abated the rings were produced from Caleb's pocket. Opening the box, he took one out and placed on the fourth finger of Simka's hand. As he slid the ring up the finger, "With this engagement ring I pledge my life to you and my love eternally." Handing the box to Simka, Caleb held his hand out as the ring was placed on his finger, "I pledge my life to you and my love forever.

Mary Lou and Sara were right on time and were invited to share some snacks with Grandfather Hal and a few minutes of conversation. Like the boys they were randy and looking forward to some quality time with their lovers. At the appropriate moment Hal made his excuses, leaving the two couples alone. There would be no issue with Berto's parents, they were off on an 'extended business trip.'' In reality they had transported back to Circadia a week ago. Berto suggested that they go upstairs once they had cleaned and put away the dishes and kitchen. Once in Berto's bedroom clothes were flying and four naked teens turned to their partners and began the dance…the dance of love.

Whispering into Caleb's ear, Berto asked him to take that next step, to fully make love to him. Nodding his assent, Caleb lay his partner on one of the twin beds. Climbing between his legs Caleb began to tenderly kiss and explore Berto's body from the lips down. He knew that there was a slight anatomical difference from the lessons the Chronicles of Malvern imparted and that was where his voyage of discovery would lead to.

Gently kissing and tracing his lips and fingers he worked his way southward. Down the center of his chest with a detour to his nipples and back down towards his navel. Caleb could feel the heat of Berto's rigid desire. Tracing his finger down the length he hefted the scrotal sack and kissed each orb then tracing his tongue ever so slowly to the glistening tip. With his lips he retracted Berto's foreskin fully as Caleb began to orally minister to him. With one hand he gripped the shaft and with the other, he began to explore the hairless perineum. He was seeking a spot just above the anus. It would be partially covered by a thin membrane of skin, skin that covered the passageway he was seeking.

The incompletely covered opening was slick to the touch, he was ready as was Caleb. Bringing Berto's legs up he placed a pillow underneath his bottom, Caleb moved into position as Berto placed his ankles on Caleb's shoulders. Placing himself against the opening his eyes sought out Berto's as if asking permission to go further, with a slight nod of his head Berto signaled he was ready. Centering his weight behind his hips Caleb slowly thrust forward. At first there was some minor resistance and then a slow tortious glide inward to what seemed to be a moist, warm velvet sheath. Berto's face transcribe the ecstasy he was feeling, his head lolled back as Caleb fully entered him. He could sense the length and contours, the very shape of his lover. Lightning flashed as it rubbed across his prostate sending wild electrical jolts throughout his body.

Caleb began to pull back and then fall back in as they both became slightly accustomed the new sensations, this delicious torture that overrode their conscious thoughts and their primal instincts overtook them. It seemed that eternity was captured in a few minutes of labored breaths of exhilaration, the gasping of air, the nearly impossible effort to focus on anything but the moment, how newer sensations threatened to overtake them.

What seemed to be a lifetime was anything but, Caleb knew his release was drawing near, burying himself as deeply as possible he sought out Berto's lips as his climax wracked his body, within seconds Berto joined him in that all too brief stay in nirvana.

Mary Lou and Sara could only watch in wonder as the boys finished, they were witness to a stunningly beautiful act of love.

Donar thought he'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind to have missed the end result of what he had just witnessed. The harmonic resonance was louder than ever before, all of the Celestial Globes were vibrating. At first, he thought it was a trick of his eyes but the faint light in the 14th dimension's globe began to glow at a steady rate.

It wasn't planned, but by the time the weekend was over both Berto and Caleb had taken each other's virginity and bedded both Mary Lou and Sara. They chalked it up to teenage hormones and curiosity. Downstairs, Councilor Harmon made plans to deal with the new wrinkle.

The Celestial Globes settled into a constant and very pleasant harmonic vibration, light was beginning to spread within the 14th dimension.

Bordon stepped into the transport chambers, it was time, the burnt ozone trail was peaking and was showing signs of weakening. He gave the command to proceed. There was a massive power surge as the transporter. It would be October 31st, in the common year 1973 on Earth.

The power surge was duly noted in the Royal Library, the command was given and within seconds Bordon's hideout was no longer.

First Epilogue

Maple Street is full of children playing and adults talking when a shadow passes over, accompanied by a roar and a flash of light. The residents soon discover that their power went off, affecting stoves, lawn mowers, cars and phones. They gather in the street to discuss the situation. Todd Peter Kusters Sr volunteers to walk over to Floral Street, the next street over, to see if it is affected as well. His neighbor, Steve Brand, decides to go into town, but Tommy, a local boy, urges him not to leave the street. Tommy has read a story of an alien invasion causing similar controversy, and says that the monsters do not want anyone to leave the street. Furthermore, in the story, the aliens are living as a family that appears to be human. The power outage is meant to isolate the neighborhood.

Another resident, Les Goodman, tries unsuccessfully to start his car. He gets out and begins to walk back to the other residents when the car starts on its own. The bizarre behavior of his car makes the neighbors suspect that Les may be an alien, as suggested by Tommy's story. One woman brings up his late nights spent standing in the garden looking up at the sky. Les, defending himself, claims to be an insomniac. Steve tries to defuse the situation and prevent it from becoming a witch-hunt. Charlie Farnsworth pressures Steve about his building a ham radio. Steve and the other neighbors continue to argue.

Darkness descends and a shadowy figure is seen walking toward them. Charlie panics, grabs a shotgun, and shoots the figure, thinking it to be an alien. When the crowd reaches the fallen figure, they realize it is Todd Peter Kusters Sr, returning from his scouting mission on Floral Street. He is dead. As Charlie struggles to defend his hasty action, the neighbors voice suspicions that Todd had discovered evidence that Charlie is an alien, and Charlie shot Todd to prevent him from exposing him. The lights in Charlie's house come on, further fueling their suspicion, and even Steve is too angered by Todd's death to defend Charlie. Charlie makes a run for his house while the other residents chase him. A hurled stone hits Charlie in the head, creating a bleeding gash. Terrified, Charlie attempts to deflect suspicion onto Tommy. Several neighbors agree, as Tommy was the only one who knew about the aliens' plans.

Lights begin flashing on and off in houses throughout the neighborhood; lawn mower and car engines start and stop for no apparent reason. The mob becomes hysterical, hurling accusations, smashing windows and taking up weapons as the situation devolves into an all-out riot.

Bordon has crash-landed next to a golf course just off the center of town, in an effort to restore a power link he uses a device to manipulate the town's power. He never notices the New York real estate mogul racing out of the back door to the clubhouse fleeing from a disastrous liaison. The resulting collision of the two bodies submerge one into the other, creating one where there was two. Momentarily stunned Bordon quickly realizes what has happened with the device he was using. Not only is he now in a new body, he has no way back to Circadia, he's trapped here in the 12th dimension unless he can find the Crown Prince and Councilor Harmon.

Councilor Harmon realizing what is at stake completes the process of evacuating not only the Crown Prince and Caleb but Caleb's parents and brother along with Mary Lou and Sara. Bordon resets the hand-held device and uses its tracking function. He can't locate the house where the Crown Prince was staying when the emergency transport became complete. With one last sinking feeling and cry of rage Bordon realizes he is defeated. He's without any visible means of support other than who he's melded with.

He finds the wallet in a back pocket and opens it, pulls out the drivers license and wonders who in the fuck is Donald Trump?

Second Epilogue

"The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices – to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill – and suspicion can destroy – and a thoughtless frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own – for the children – and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is – that these things cannot be confined – to the Twilight Zone."

Happy Halloween!!


This story is part of the 2018 story challenge "Inspired by a Picture: Empty Shoes". The other stories may be found at the challenge home page. Please read them, too. The voting period of 31 October to 21 November 2018 is when the voting is open. This story may be rated, below, against a set of criteria, and may be rated against other stories on the challenge home page.

The challenge was to write a story inspired by this picture:

2018 Inspired by a Picture Challenge - What?

The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

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Realistic - it could have happened that way
I found it hard to follow
Good characterisation
I feel better for having read it
It was romantic
It was erotic
Too much explicit sex
It had the right amount of sex, if there was any
Not enough explicit sex
I have read and enjoyed other work by this author
It was true to the picture

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