More coffee? the great voice in the sky said as I sat in the middle of the street in a rocking chair, coffee cup held in one hand, watching the construction taking place around me.
“Please,” I said, raising my cup to the sky. I feel the cup get heavier as a silent tide of caffeine filled it.
“Your good health, bossman,” I raise my cup and take a sip of its perfection, allowing the thrill of the wake-me-up juice to shed my exhaustion away.
The big pair of lips in the sky smiled.
Did you enjoy the lake?
“Yes! Thanks for coding that and the gazebo for me, it was a great night.”
I look forward to reading about it.
“Chapter 8, baby, you don't want to miss it!” I said, firing off a goofy finger gun at lllusion.
We share a laugh as the construction continued around us.
I gesture at the massive construction site. One of the towers were already built, and some privileged members of the city have already started visiting.
“Hentai Mode any good? When's that coming to us public peasants?” I gestured with my coffee cup.
Good... not good enough though, we still need a few more cum tests and maybe we can open, the lips in the sky pursed in professional concern.
“This place is growing beyond my wildest dreams,” I watched as truck upon truck carrying fresh action cards arrive to disgorge their cargo at a nearby warehouse.
And mine. This is only the start. There will always be new towers to build, new modes to explore. I just hope there will be enough people to enjoy it all.
My phone rang. I look at the name of the caller and felt my heart sinking slightly.
“Gotta take this. Its from my office. See ya.”
“Oh, also,” I said, stopping and turning around. “You're cool with officiating the wedding, right? Only don't tell Frenchie, he thinks he's doing it.”
It'll be our little secret.
Hours pass as I gaze out from the gazebo and at the lake. Songbirds serenaded the area, the fish leapt out of the water playfully. The scene in the day just as wonderful as it was that night, but I felt none of it reach my heart.
“You are far from home, warrior,” a voice behind me spoke.
Clad in white Astartes plate and dominating every landscape he enters, the man I knew from another life crossed that same bridge my smiling bride-to-be did. He held his helmet in the crook of his arm, the blade forged by his brother Ferrus Mannus belted to his side. It was not the Warmaster as he was, but as what we, the sons of the Traitor Legions, remembered him as.
Horus Lupercal, Warmaster of the Emperor's Legions, beloved by all, had come to honor me with his presence.
“My lord...” I made to kneel, only for him to raise a hand to stop me.
“Please Winston, none of that. Stand.”
I stood, and this time saw the Warmaster through the lens of my helmet. I looked down and realized that I have become the 7-foot-tall Night Lord Space Marine that I once was in another life. A wicked chainaxe hung loosely at the waist, my gauntleted hands the color of Nostramo's skies, that of a sunless, unending sky, or as they say in Nostramo – In Midnight Clad.
“I am honored that you know my name, lord.”
“The Demon of Hill 67, held the line against an Imperial Fist counteroffensive for two months with only two squads. One of the last Night Lords to withdraw from Terra,” Horus nodded solemnly.
“It was a good war,” I said, daring to snatch the merest of breaths before the Warmaster of Chaos.
“Was?” Horus raised an eyebrow.
“It no longer holds much meaning to me,” I nodded.
Horus smiled, and turned to look at the magnificent view laid out before us.
“And so we come to it... you are here because you are troubled.”
“I have to leave, and soon,” I said as I joined him in taking in the view.
“You are concerned over this? People come and go all the time, that's life.”
“The oblivion? Being forgotten? That people move on?”
“I made friends here...”
Horus Lupercal shook his head, chuckling slightly as he turned to look at me.
“Oh Winston... You can always leave home, that doesn't mean you are a stranger every time you return.”
The Warmaster paced around the gazebo.
“How long has it been since your Warhammer forum gone under? Am I still no less part of you? Do you still not have friends from that part of life?”
The Primarch of the Sons of Horus laid a paternal hand on my shoulder. I was no longer in midnight clad, but in my customary British red.
“The way I see it... you can kill trillions of people from beyond the grave,” Horus Lupercal, the greatest mass-murderer of all time, whispered. “But to care and love the people that matter to you... you can only do it in the present.” He squeezed my shoulder and turned to leave.
I turn on my heels and crash my fist against my chest in the Unity Fist salute.
“LUPERCAL!” I roared as the Warmaster faded into the distance.
I made my way to the exit, alone. There, a slender, pale lady stood waiting for me.
“Ready to go, mortal?” Her whisper carried across the area like a chilling wind.
“I'm ready when you are Corona,” I stepped forward and closed the distance between us to only 1 metre.
A cruel smile slashed its way through her visage.
“Are you sure you want to leave this world? I'm still out there... your presence... could lengthen my reign...why not stay here? Why take the risk? Let civilization waste away... it is none of your concern anyway... Work can wait..”
“I kinda like driving, though....” I said. “Plus, it's not like I can't ever come back. It's time to stop hiding and get back out into the world. Being here all the time was nice, but it's time for a healthier take to things.”
Corona bowed her head in acknowledgement of my little speech.
“Well said.” She held out a dainty hand to me.
“Now take my hand. Let's go home.”
I looked at her for a long moment, my expression unreadable. Eventually I cracked a soft, melancholic smile.
“I'm sorry sweetie,” I said regretfully to the personification of the Coronavirus.
“But I wasn't born yesterday.”
A genuine smile crossed her small, sallow face. Wordlessly she stepped aside, and a door revealed itself behind her.
“On your own head... be it...”
I made my way to the door and on instinct, turned around. My friends appeared on the horizon.
I smile slightly and waved. I don't think I could quite do more without breaking down.
I went to the door and opened it, stepping back into the real world.
I close the door behind me.
I will be back.
END OF CHAPTER 9
- This story was written about a year ago on our Discord server and is not a reflection of current events, just importing it from Discord to our blog.
2. I genuinely enjoyed writing all 9 chapters of this novella. I hope you had fun too. Please drop me a line and tell me how you felt.
3. . All praise to God – only the mistakes are mine