Sherri Yutzy and I had a lot of fun reading all the entries from our ‘Stories of the Stars’ contest. It was a hard decision, but we both loved C.S. Johnson’s flash fiction story, The Birth of Gemini. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did!
THE BIRTH OF GEMINI
From a new, upcoming science fiction adventure series, Signs of the Stars
The moment his tiny, newborn son grasped onto his forefinger, he felt the galaxy around him shift along with the vulnerability inside his heart.
The cool, steel walls of the operation room dimmed; the sounds of the medical staff in the background became muffled. His breath suddenly came in stilted, uneven gulps.
“Micheel.” His wife’s voice was a shaking whisper behind him.
It hardly seemed real that he was standing on the Nebulous, one of the many medical starships owned by Mercy Interplanetary Alliance. He had been with the company for over ten years, working faithfully port to port, planet to planet, all across the Nova Galaxy.
It hardly seemed real that he was holding his son, Callox, his hours-old, ruddy-faced offspring, whose sparse ruffle of black hair and already darkening eyes served as a reminder of his own.
“Micheel … Pasher’s arm … ”
Micheel felt the whisper of the still, small voice of God as it passed through his premonition.
Burning dots abruptly appeared just beneath Callox’s shoulder. They twinkled in a forbidden pattern.
Micheel finally dared to look at his beloved wife. In her arms, another small, sleeping bundle glowed with identical markings.
The constellation branded on their bodies served as a marker, one indicating his twins carried the hidden code Earth’s last generation had engineered into human DNA.
“It’s not just Pasher, Nabelle. Callox has it, too,” Micheel finally said. He traced his finger along the new constellation on Callox’s shoulder, his heart filled with simultaneous fear and wonder, awed by mystic beauty and floundered by harsh reality. “The Sign of Gemini. More than appropriate, in this case.”
“We need to leave. Now. Before the Collectors come,” Nabelle whimpered.
“Gemini is the Sign of Order. It’s not a threat.”
“To my family, it is,” Nabelle reminded him. “It means a change in leadership will take place. A new human order is beginning. Pasher and Callox are its forerunners. The Collectors will not let them live.”
“But change is not necessarily dangerous—”
“Anyone embedded with a Sign is dangerous. That’s why if the Collectors find them—”
“—they’ll kill them,” Micheel finished.
“They know when the Signs appear and how to track them.”
“That’s how they killed Esta,” Micheel murmured, remembering stories of the warrior queen who bore the mark of Orion, the Sign of War, who had lived over five hundred years before.
“We will have to separate the twins,” Nabelle whispered. “If we want to save them.”
No. Micheel felt his breath rush out of his body. Fifteen years he had waited for his family, only to have them torn apart after barely five hours.
Before he could argue with Nabelle, the monitor by the operation room entrance beeped.
“Doctor Reshi.” The familiar voice of his intern, Zara, crackled with static. “Count Lux of the Pyrian System has arrived. He has requested an audience with you.”
“Lux is here? Already?” Nabelle’s topaz eyes widened with sudden fear and fury. “I doubt he’s here to congratulate us.”
Sudden, unpleasant resolve ran through Micheel. “Rest, ya kamar. You just gave us our twins. Lux might be your cousin, but he doesn’t know you’re here.”
Nabelle shuddered. “Collectors don’t forget, Micheel. Why do you think he wants to see you, of all people?”
“I am a surgeon.” Micheel gestured toward the robotic controls and surgical tools behind him. “Maybe he needs surgery.”
“I would laugh if I wasn’t so scared,” Nabelle muttered.
“There’s no need to be scared. I can protect us.”
Micheel pressed the button on the intercom. “Zara?”
“Tell His Grace I’m in surgery,” he ordered. “I’ll be with him in a few hours.”
“How long to do you think you’ll be able to get away with that?” Nabelle shuddered.
“Long enough for you and Pasher to be transported out of here.”
“What?” Nabelle gaped at him.
“Here. Take these rejuvenation meds,” Micheel said, placing a med patch onto her shoulder. “They’ll give you a day of pain-free movement. Don’t overexert yourself.”
Micheel pressed another button. “Zara, I have a patient here for emergency transport,” he called. “I’m sending the transport module down now.”
“No!” As Nabelle struggled against him, Micheel marveled at her, at how the light subtlety of his skin colors clashed so beautifully against her bronze strength. He would miss her desperately, he knew.
“Listen,” he ordered. “Once Lux is gone, I’ll find a way to get Callox out of here and meet up with you.” Before Nabelle could object, he held Pasher to his heart, gently kissing his baby’s forehead. “I love you,” he whispered. “Remember me, until we meet again.”
“This is not a good plan, Micheel.”
“Don’t I know it.” He drew her close, letting his lips hover just above hers for a long moment, before kissing her deeply. “But I can’t lose my family.”
The guardrails around Nabelle’s bed shifted, and a small, darkened glass top came down over the bed, sealing them off.
“What about Callox?” Nabelle asked.
“I pray you will forgive me, and refrain from asking me to answer that.” Micheel knew she would never forgive him if he told her his plan. “Go and return to the place where we first met, all those years ago, ya kamar. I’ll be waiting for you.”
A portal opened up behind the bed, and Nabelle and Pashar disappeared through it, heading toward their emergency transport. Micheel knew they would be safe, but as soon as they were gone, he felt as though he was gone, too.
Callox started crying, and Micheel longed for the freedom to weep with his son.
“Now I must save you,” he told his son. “And unfortunately, that means there are many more tears ahead of us.” He carefully placed Callox on the operating table and reached for his scalpel, calling in the required information for the coming surgery.
“I’m so sorry for this, Callox, but Daddy has to amputate that arm.”
Wasn’t that amazing? For more flash fiction, check out our second place story, Sunchaser.
Jebraun Clifford always wanted to step through a door into an imaginary kingdom, so it’s no surprise she now calls Middle Earth home. Too short to be an elf and too tall to be a Hobbit, she lives in a gorgeous town smack-dab in the centre of New Zealand’s North Island filled with thermal activity,
stunning lakes, and enough Redwoods to make her Californian heart swoon. Her unpublished YA fantasy, The Two Queens of Kyrie, won both the American Christian Fiction Writer’s 2015 First Impressions contest and the 2016 Genesis contest. She loves coffee, tree ferns, dark chocolate, and Jesus, and harbours a secret penchant for British spelling.
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