Today’s 25% excerpt is from my latest release, the SF/fantasy novella, HEALING:
“It was. Technically speaking, I should’ve reported it immediately but, well, you know how I view the guardians.”
“Yes, if I remember correctly, you called them fascist thugs!”
Tener laughed. It had been many years since he’d said that to Audin and in an odd way he was touched that Audin remembered. “Yep. So, instead I asked the guy what he was doing to get shot, and he told me.”
“Did you bother to ask him why he sought you out rather than another doctor or a healer?”
“It happened he’d known me from college; he’d read some of my articles in the college paper. The confrontation with the law guardian had happened nearby and he’d tried to make it to the treatment center when he saw me crossing the parking lot. Said he knew then fate was telling him he’d made the right choice.”
“Did I know this man? What was his name?”
“Hmm, I don’t recognize the name. Anyway, you were going to tell me what he’d done wrong.”
“Whether it was wrong depends on your definition, but it happens he worked for the department of military research, same place you do now.”
Tener couldn’t help but feel that capricious fate was interfering in his life again.
“A couple of months earlier,” Tener continued, “he’d found out that he and his colleagues had been lied to about the purpose of the project he was working on. He’d been shocked by what he discovered and he’d wanted to expose what was going on, but he knew he couldn’t prove it. Instead, he kept his mouth shut and carried on working, but at the same time he tried to find a way to contact one of the Partizan groups, which eventually he did.
“That evening he’d stolen some papers from the department that he was to pass to a member of this group, a way to confirm his story and that he wasn’t a government plant, and for them to see exactly what the ministry was up to.
“He was leaving the building on the way to meet his contact when he was challenged by a guard. He panicked and ran, as the guard was blocking the way to the parking lot. The guard called for the guardians and Burdet hadn’t gone far before he was fired at. Still panicked, he kept going, not even realizing he’d been hit at first. He managed to give them the slip and made it into the parking lot of my building, where he saw my name at the bottom of the plaque for the medical practice. Pure luck, he believed, and then he saw me coming out and decided it was fate.”
Tener paused then and looked up at Audin. He shrugged as he added, “And perhaps it was. It certainly changed my life.”
“What was he working on? I mean, what did he want to publicize?”
“I never knew.”
“What? But that… What the hell!”
“I was treating him as he talked, and he was just about to tell me about what he termed the ‘new device’ when the door was kicked open and two law guardians charged in, with weapons drawn and aimed at both of us. They put us in restraints and dragged us out of there.”
“I know your license was revoked and you served a short term in prison,” Audin said quietly.
“Yeah. I managed to convince them I had no links with the Partizans and it had just been chance Burdet had found me in the parking lot, or they would have revoked more than my license. I told them I had no idea until I cleaned the wound that it had been caused by a guardian weapon and I had been about to call them when they broke into the treatment room. Still, the adjudicator wasn’t happy with the fact Burdet had received treatment so that only a dressing was required; he decided I had acted beyond my rights and sentenced me to a year. I suppose it could’ve been worse, but at the time I was devastated.”
Tener took a breath. Even after all this time, it still had the power to upset him. “I didn’t discover what happened to him until almost eighteen months later. He was executed the day after our trial.”
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