Erik Dackis, the former junkie turned shamed engineer, hoped that a trip to the galaxies most expensive resort would help him shake his depression, and forget about his lost love. However, when his ex-fiancée shows up with the man who stole her, Erik risks relapsing on the drug that once controlled his life; a drug where only a few in a hundred survive a relapse.


The blue sky was made even bluer by the calm ocean, rolling up the coast slowly, soaking the white sands. The bright red sun—Maggo the locals called it—floated high above the clear sky, while Andes, the little brother was just beginning to fade beyond the horizon, turning the entire sky a breathtaking purple. Palm trees, artificial of course, but beautiful nonetheless, blew in the gentle breeze and scents of lemon and coconut filled the air. It was often said there was no place in the galaxy more beautiful than Paxia, and in a moment like this, nobody with two eyes and a brain between their ears could possibly disagree.

Yet Erik wanted to die.

He downed the last of his beer, his ninth, or maybe tenth? It didn’t matter. The world was spinning, that was enough for him. He stumbled across the twilit beach, scowling and tossing his empty glass in the sand when he passed a couple locking lips. Lover’s Moment, was what this hour was called, when Andes set but Maggo burned bright. He shouldn’t have gotten mad at the sight of the couple, he knew that, but he couldn’t help it.

Passing about a dozen other couples before he reached the hovercar didn’t help either. Muttering a string of slurred curses, he hopped in the car and hauled the glass down.

“Destination please,” an automatic voice said.

“Hotel,” Erik was certain he said, or at least tried to.

“I’m sorry, I couldn’t understand. Destination please.”

Erik growled. “Goddamn hotel!”

The hovercar zipped through the sky, flashing passed other cars headed for the beach, no doubt filled with couples, teeming with love and lust. Erik put his drink to his lips, and remembered he had no drink.

“Bar!” he shouted at the machine.

Suddenly the car changed directions and headed for the other side of the resort, landing on the near empty pad. It took him two…three tries to get out of the car, and when a tiny Pax girl tried to assist him, he swatted at her with drunken hands, forcing her back. “I don’t need help from a woman, let alone a little weasel like you.”

The Pax bowed her head and wiggled her long ears. “As the man commands.”

Damn right. With an odd sense of satisfaction, Erik strode to the bar, probably feeling a lot better than he looked. He reached the counter and slumped in one of the seats, while the heavy music seemed to thump at his brain. “One whiskey!”

The Pax bartender turned and cocked his head, studying Erik with two yellow eyes. “The man wants a drink?”

“No you little weasel. I’m sitting here for fun. One whiskey!”

“What does the man want I to put in his drink?” the weasel asked. Sarcasm was often lost on a Pax.

“Just…whiskey,” Erik growled. Even a Pax could sense the darkness in his tone. The bartender’s tiny hands went to work, and in only seconds, a glass was filled to half with bronze whiskey. When he caught the glower of Erik, the glass was promptly filled.

As Erik stared at his reflection in the swirling liquid, he thought of how low he had fallen. What was it, six months since she left him? It feels like a damn eternity. And what did he do to get over her? Take a vacation to the exact same place the bitch fell in love with Carver.

Yes, Carver. The big, handsome, suave, oily haired prick she worked with. “It’s just a business trip,” Lyanna had assured him. “Carver is just a friend, he’s like my little brother,” blah, blah, fucking blah. He heard it all, and for a while believed it. But he knew, oh yes he knew. The moment she said she had a business trip to Paxia, and told him they all would be staying at Eternity, the most expensive resort known to man, he had a bad feeling. Carver was always trying to wedge himself into her life, and a whole two weeks in the galaxy’s most romantic hot spot would be just what the bastard needed.

And boy did he take advantage.

Erik spun his drink as he gazed up at the Eternity holograph, burning bright in various neon colors in the purple sky. Why here? Of all places to try and get over her, he chose here? He always was a glutton for punishment. Everywhere he looked, he could see them, laughing together, touching eachother. Was the bar he was currently seated at the spot where Carver confessed his love to her? Or was it at a table down the hall? Or was it on the beach during Lover’s Moment? He would never know, and as he took a swig, emptying the glass, he vowed he would never want to find out.

He turned and faced the lounge. Bright blue bulbs burned above, lighting the dome structure, while a mix of dancers filled the stages; human’s, bright eyed and fair skinned, with perky tits and round asses; Cedrican’s, with their small oval heads, large egg shaped eyes, tiny but plump breasts, and long slender legs; and even a few Pax, the creepy and short bug eyed inhabitants of this lush tropical world. There were males too, but Erik couldn’t care less about them. Hell, he couldn’t care less about anybody right now.

I thought being drunk was supposed to make you happy?

Instead he would wake up with a blinding headache, probably puke once or twice, and still be miserable. Why did Anna do this too him?

She was always sweet, easily the nicest person Erik had ever met in his thirty-some odd years of life. Most of that probably had to do with the fact she wasn’t born on Earth. The taint of homeworld never infected her, turning her into a shallow, entitled diva like every other woman from earth had become. No she was born on Aurillia, a vibrant forest planet somewhere on the fringes of Human space. Aurillian’s grew up in small, tight-knit communities. They grew up looking out for each other, helping one another, finding joy in generosity and forgiveness instead of wealth and possession, like Earthlings.

Why couldn’t he have been born Aurillian? Maybe he wouldn’t have been so hateful. The Eco-Foam cup was crushed in his hands. The Pax bartender looked startled, but only wiggled his ears and went about his business. Yes, if he had been born on Aurillia, he would have been kinder and gentler, and much more loved by everyone he knew. Just like Lyanna.

But that didn’t stop her from ripping out your heart, did it Erik?

She’s a bitch.

No she’s not, and you know it.

He cursed, both himself and Lyanna, then rose in search of the nearest restroom and hovercar. He took it back to his room, which just so happened to be a penthouse with a gorgeous view of the ocean. Perfect for someone who wasn’t broken and single, someone who had someone to love. He entered the elevator tube. “Floor fifty-six,” he said and the tube zipped him down almost forty stories in a flash.

He could hardly remember walking to his room, but did remember bumping into an old woman in his drunken stupor, and curing her for it, leaving her confused. It didn’t matter when he reached his door. “Dackis, Erik,” he said.

Or thought he did. “Sorry sir, I do not understand. What is your name?”

“Goddamn Erik Dackis!”

He didn’t know how many times he tried, but somehow the door managed to unlock and allowed him to step inside his room. “Dim!” he shouted immediately, and the window that overlooked the beach slowly faded until it was almost black, allowing zero light inside. In the pitch black he collapsed on his bed.


Just as he anticipated, a headache pounded his head like the storm pounded the beach last night. “Light,” he muttered, his voice coarse from sleep, or his hangover. Take your pick. The window went from completely black to only slightly tinted, allowing faint red light to fill his room. It was still dark outside, but dark didn’t mean night on Paxia. When Andes set, it was usual gone for around sixty-hours. That left only Maggo, which was too far away from the planet to fully illuminate it. His clock said 9:36 AM. He rubbed his temples as if it would make his headache go away, and went to the window.

The resort was fairly quiet now. All the clubs were dark, closed until the next night, except for Afterlust, the only club open every hour of every day. The bar he was at yesterday was still booming beneath him, a large blue dome with a glass roof, neon lights shooting every which way. There would be only a few losers in there now, trying to forget themselves before lunch. Erik would be one of the losers very soon. The pools, spas, and kitchens were all being opened now, and he could see people darting back and forth between them, looking like little ants from this height. He put a thumb to the glass and tried to crush them.

But of course beyond everything was the Great Violet Sea, the trademark of Paxia. Now, it looked orange and red as it reflected the great sun Maggo, but it would soon turn violet again when Andes decided to rise from his slumber once more. The sight made him feel sick—or maybe it was the booze—but it also made him think of Lyanna. They had never visited Paxia together, although they talked about it. Still, somehow, the sea in all its crimson glory made him think of her.

I need her.

No you don’t.

She has Carver now. She doesn’t need you.

Why were his eyes burning? Damn this dry hotel air. He wiped a tear with the back of his fist and went to one of his suitcases. He put a thumb to the scanner and it popped open with a hiss. Under all of his beach clothes and formal wear, which he still had not used, sat a tube full of a thick blue liquid. He took it in his hands carefully.

Ten years. Do you really want to throw ten years of sobriety out the window for her?

She was the one who saved me, seems only fitting she’s the one who kills me as well.

The tube was filled with Cedrican Sapphire Wax, from the Ocean Willow trees that dotted the coasts of their alien homeworld, Nirbiru. If he was caught with this tube back on earth, he would be lucky if they gave him life in a space prison. But earth laws and space laws were two totally different things. In space, the only things that are illegal is piracy and murder. And in Paxia, it is legal to possess Saph Wax, but not to consume it or sell it.

He looked to the injector, hidden under a ridiculous light blue flowered shirt he bought once when he was drunk. Alcohol may not have been able to fill the void Anna had left in his heart, but this would.

Ten years. A decade. Boy you are an idiot aren’t you?

Booze doesn’t help. I need this.

Do you?

He tossed the glass tube across the room, hearing it tink off the wall. If he was lucky, it would have shattered, but when he turned, it sat gingerly on the pillow of his bed, beckoning him. He buried his face in his hands and began to sob. How was he so broken? Why was he even crying right now? It wasn’t for Lyanna, at least he thought it wasn’t. No, he was crying because he was lost, stranded in an endless cavern, feeling his way around like a blind man in a strange land. He didn’t know what to do with himself anymore. He looked back to the tube with hopeful eyes.

You don’t need it.

I do need it.

At this point last year, everything seemed so perfect. He and Lyanna were happily engaged, she was graduating from her Space Mining program, and he was to be featured in every science magazine across the galaxy for his work in Light Engines. He spent so many years perfecting his formulas and logarithms. Harnessing light and using as a combustion source is possible, all they needed to do was give him a chance. Harnessing solar energy had been done before, back in the twentieth century, but not the way he had envisioned. With his engine design, his engines would not only absorb light and turn it into energy, but literally take the energy straight from light beams, thus allowing engines to be made with more power than anyone believed possible. It would expand humanity’s reach into the stars ten times over, and he would be rich and famous beyond his wildest dreams.

But a week before he was to be featured on Extranet, the galaxies number one news station, and before his article was to be published in magazines and newspapers everywhere, the plug was pulled. “Harnessing light and using it as fuel is not possible,” was what the academy had told him. “You’re wasting your time. Top engineers and scientists across the galaxy agree, your theories are incorrect.”

His world came crashing down around him after that, shattering into itty bitty pieces around his feet. He knew he was right, they knew he was right, but still they dismissed him, mocked him, made him a fool. Then six months ago a story aired on Extranet. “Cedrican Physicist discovers possible ways to harness light energy.”

His jaw was on the floor as he watched it. Everything the Cedrican bitch talked about was taken exactly from his thesis; all her formulas, logarithms, theories, they were all his, literally copied word for word. When he tried to call them out on it, they only laughed and asked him for proof. He did not have proof, but he knew. He told everyone, his family, friends, Lyanna, and even they doubted him. The people he thought would have his back to the end shunned him. He never thought it was possible to feel so alone.

Then a few weeks later, Lyanna told him of her business trip to Paxia.

He was wrong, oh so wrong. It was possible to feel lonelier. He was feeling it now, sitting in the galaxies most expensive resort, gazing upon a view most people could only dream of. In half a year, his life was turned on its head. He took one last long look at the tube.

Saph Wax would make him forget all right. He could still remember the days he had been hooked. After you injected it into your arm or leg, all you had to do was sit back and relax and let it take over. It brought upon you an ecstasy unmatched by anything in the galaxy, making the dullest task, such as watching grass grow or paint dry seem amazing, so beautiful it could bring you to tears. It made you feel like you were in a dream, but not asleep. You could control the world around you, split apart colors, run your hands through the clouds, and fly. Erik still remembered his first trip. He flew through the skies of earth, using only his hands as wings. He flew through space, using the sun as his energy source, flying to distant planets still untouched by humanity.

Of course he woke up trembling in his brother’s arms, but only a month later, he began his work on harnessing light energy. It would have paid off, had he not been fucked by the academy of science, giving the credit to the Cedrican girl instead of him to improve humanities relation with Nirbiru. Very soon light engines would become the standard method of travel for starships across the galaxy, and his name would never be mentioned.

You don’t need it.

I need it.

He didn’t remember crossing the room, but somehow he was holding the tube, tilting it in his hands, watching the wax cling to the sides of its container. No, he couldn’t, not only because he shouldn’t, but because it would probably kill him.

Back on earth, the relapse rate for normal narcotic drugs was almost at seventy percent, but relapse rates for Saph Wax was under ten. It wasn’t because it was any less addicting or desirable, but because only four in every ten people who relapsed survived, and out of those who survived, only one kept their minds intact.

Yes, if he relapsed now, there was only a seven percent chance he would remain himself. Most likely he would die, and if he didn’t he would probably be crazy, one of the lost ones, trapped inside their own minds for all eternity. Or he would wake up tomorrow and be exactly the same.

But he had heard people say that the relapse trip is the best possible trip. They say you cannot imagine the pleasure or bliss as you become lost in your mind one last time. The ones who die, die with a smile on their face, and the ones who lose their minds claim to be happier than they ever where in their normal life, as if they were on a never ending trip.

You don’t need it.

A trip that never ends? That sounds amazing, better than this.

Better than what? Living? Having a normal mind? You’re a coward.

What’s the point of life if you aren’t happy?

Living. That is the point of life.

One more, one more time and I’ll stop forever. I promise.

Because you’ll be dead or crazy.

Erik crossed the room in a flash, tube in hand, reaching in his case. He picked up the injector and placed the Saph Wax into a slot above the trigger. A green light blinked. The injector was ready. He walked to the other end of the room, slowly, admiring the view again, truly admiring it this time. This time he saw it differently. It truly was magnificent. He looked long and hard at the injector, remembering the days of his early youth, the days where this blue wax controlled his life.

You don’t need it.

I don’t need it.

He bent down and opened the safe under his bed. Gently, he placed the injector inside and shut the thick alloy grate. He entered a four digit code—2207, the year of Anna’s birth—and sealed it forever.

He stood with renewed vigor and confidence, breathing deep, thinking happy thoughts. As he gazed out the window, he wondered why he had ever beat himself up so much. Sure, Lyanna was nice, probably the greatest person he had ever met in his life, no shame in admitting that, but she was gone now. There was no point in being upset after six months. She was gone and would never be back, and he finally accepted that. A smile etched across his face as he gazed upon the resort. There were other woman in the galaxy, a lot of other woman, and he was still good looking and charming. Tonight he would find one and get laid, then when he got home, would find a new girl to replace Lyanna. He was on vacation, it was time to kick back and relax.

With a hop in his step and a grin on his face, he put on that stupid blue shirt he bought that one drunken night and stepped out into the halls. It was time for a turnaround. No longer would he be Erik Dackis, the shamed Light Engineer who spent his nights drinking and wallowing in his grief. Now his Erik Dackis, the Light Engineer who was destined for greatness, the life of the party and the man every other man wanted to be. He was reborn.

As he rounded the corner, he bumped into somebody; a man, with a hard lean body. He didn’t get a good look before he fell flat on his back.

“Dammit!” the man shouted, more startled than hurt. “I’m sorry brother.” A hand extended to help Erik to his feet.

As he took the hand and looked up at the jagged face before him, and a startling realization came over him. “Oh,” was all Erik could mutter.

It took the man a moment to shake his confusion. Squinting, he cocked his head to the side, his bright blue eyes studious. “My god,” he finally said smiling wide. “Erik Dackis, is that you?”

Erik swallowed hard and nodded. “Hi Carver.”


“That’s when I knew I had the bastards by the balls. They slipped you see, they claimed Quantum Flux was dumping their waste in the Gregor Marshes, when really they weren’t. They hoped I wouldn’t find that little detail, but they don’t know Carver Jamison. I see everything.” Carver finished his tea and smiled at Lyanna. “Right babe?”

Lyanna smiled, white teeth shining in pale blue light. “Of course Carv.”

That sent a spike of pain through Erik’s chest. “I heard Quantum was dumping waste somewhere on Tisha though. Was Extranet wrong?” said Erik as he took a long swallow of Paxian Beer.

Carver grinned that wicked, cocky grin Erik had grown to despise. It was as if he knew exactly what Erik would say, and always had a reply ready. “Yes, somewhere on Tisha. Not the Gregor Marshes though, so when I exposed that, their whole accusation fell apart. Quantum won the case.” He rubbed his forefinger and thumb together. “And I got a paycheck.”

“But you lied,” Erik said bitterly. He looked to Lyanna to see her reaction, but she kept her face blank. She was always good at hiding her thoughts.

Carver laughed, a booming cackle that echoed through the bar. “That’s what being a lawyer is about buddy.” He smacked Erik on the arm. “It’s a game only a few can play, and I am one of those few.”

As Carver called for a drink—not tea this time, an actual drink—Erik couldn’t help but wonder what Anna saw in this tool. Sure he was good looking, with a stone jaw and grizzly stubble dominating his face, and two baby blue eyes, but damn he was an ass. Everything he seemed to say started with “I did this,” or “I’m the reason this happened.” His arrogance was sickening, and Erik never failed to notice all the subtle insults Carver was throwing at him. The way he would grin right before he leaned in and pecked Anna on the cheek, or how he would always be whispering in her ear. Erik was a Light Engineer, not an idiot.

“So Erik,” Lyanna said sweetly as she sipped her drink; some pink, fruity thing the locals liked. “How have you been?”

How have I been? On the verge of suicide for months. Drinking liquor like its water and living like a hermit. Three times a week I would charge up my blaster and hold it to my head, but not once did I have the courage to pull the trigger. You left me Anna, left me when I needed you most. You were the last thing I had to hold onto in this vast, empty galaxy, when every single thing I worked for was taken from me. I loved you Anna, more than I loved myself, and you betrayed me.

“Good,” said Erik.

Lyanna nodded in that same, reassuring way he remembered. “That’s good. I’m happy for you.”

A few awkward seconds passed. Even Carver, who always had something stupid to say, was quiet. It was Erik who finally broke the silence. “So how have…you two been?”

Lyanna opened her mouth to speak, but Carver cut in. “Fantastic,” he said. “I just got promoted, got a new hovercar; the Blitz 360, I’m sure you seen the commercials.”

Erik took a sip. “I have. It seems li—“

“And we put a down payment on a gorgeous penthouse on Luxin, one of the prettiest human colonies out there.” He turned to face Lyanna. “All while being able to take my sweetie on the best vacation of her life.” He leaned in a kissed her. Even Lyanna seemed surprised, but she allowed it nevertheless.

Erik couldn’t escape it. No matter where he looked, he could hear them; their lips locking, smooching. Even with the head pounding music. His fist smashed into the table. Lyanna jumped, startled, but Carver just smiled. “I need another drink,” said Erik.

“Slow your roll buddy. There is more to life than booze.” Carver smiled.

“Not much more I think, right Anna?” Now Erik smiled. Lyanna giggled.

“I don’t know any man who can handle his booze better than Erik,” said Lyanna softly, barely audible over the music.

“Buddy, her names Lyanna,” Carver grumbled as if he was offended. He puffed out his chest. “And you should see me when I get going. Nobody could match the Carvmeister.”

Carvmeister? Really Anna?

“I’m sure you’re just perfect at everything you do,” Erik said, his voice dripping with sarcasm.

Carver smiled, but it wasn’t the same smile. This one was evil. “So I’ve been told.” He leaned in and kissed Lyanna again, who tried to shove herself away.

“Okay Carv,” she said. “That’s enough.”

You know I can’t resist you when you use that apple shampoo.” He took a long sniff of her hair, and Erik allowed his eyes to venture around the bar.

He loved the apple shampoo too, and Carver knew that. It meant Lyanna had talked about Erik to some extent. It hurt, real bad. “How’s your family Anna?”

“It’s Lyanna,” said Carvmeister.

“Carv, relax please,” said Lyanna like she was trying to calm a dog. Carver wasn’t cute enough to be a dog. “My pa is fine, but ma passed on about three months back.” As always, her face was blank, devoid of emption.

“I’m sorry to hear that. I’ll always miss her Apple Stew.” Erik took a sip and shot a smile at his former love. “And the way she used to swat my hand with that damn bamboo stick every time I ate before saying grace.”

Lyanna smiled softly, giggling. “She loved you Erik.”

“I know. She was—“

“What brings you here anyways bud?” blurted Carver, smiling like an ass.

Erik shrugged. “What brings anyone here?”

Now Anna spoke. She leaned in close, and had that smile she used to get right before she talked about horses. “Carver and I are going on a horseback ride on the beach in two days, when Andes rises. You remember how much I used to talk about horses?”

“Every damn day,” Erik said as he and Lyanna both laughed.

“Carv doesn’t want to go,” she said, looking to her boyfriend.

He just shrugged his broad shoulders. “Smelly animals is all they are. Gimme a nice, speedy hovercar any day.” He put his hands up, pretending to drive. Lyanna rolled her brown eyes.

“I’ll go with you,” Erik said. “We always said we would one day.”

It took a moment, but Lyanna did smile at him. But it wasn’t the same. When she used to give him that adorably crooked smile, it filled him with warmth, made him feel wanted, sexy, like he was a king. Now it was just a smile, an empty, sympathetic smile.

Carver’s jaw twitched. He was pissed, but soon enough, as always, he smiled. “So how’s work buddy.”

Lyanna winced, her face finally betraying her.

Carver knew damn well the academy had let Erik go after the whole Light Engine debacle. It was a low-blow; lower than all his smirks and quips, lower than all his kisses and hugs. This man wasn’t only an egotistical bully, but a cruel sociopath as well. He knew what to say, and when to say it. 

It literally took all of Erik’s strength to smile and say, “A little slow.”

“I’ll bet,” Carver said, voice thick with contempt. “You must be doing all right to afford to stay at a place like this.”

Erik smiled.

He wished he just stayed in his room a minute longer. But how in the hell was he supposed to know Lyanna and Carver would be checking in their room the exact moment he stepped out into the hall? Eternity resort hold up to nine-thousand people, what are the goddamn chances of running into the only two you do now want to see?

It was either awful luck, or exceptional.

It made him want to use that Saph Wax even more. If he was this lucky to run into Lyanna and Carver here, he would be lucky enough to see blue one more time, without dying or going insane.

You don’t need it.

I…don’t need it.

The rest of the evening went on. Carver boasted about this case and that case, leaning in and embracing Anna whenever he could, while Erik just sat back and listened, learning more and more about the man that stole his woman. Anna just watched on in silence, her brown eyes shining. He had almost forgotten how beautiful she was. Her short shorts, rolled up even shorter due to the heat, and tank-top quickly reminded him. He tried to steal glances at those breasts he once massaged when he could, but did his best to keep his eyes up. But her hair was still gorgeous; always straight, clean, and shiny, and black as the night sky. It came down to rest on her shoulders, soft as a butterfly.

So they drank, Erik a good three or four glasses ahead of Carver, while Lyanna only sipped on her fruity cocktails, and they ate. Carver chose a big plate of Paxian Mussel-Clams, big blue and pink things you had to crack open to get inside. Erik chose an earth-shrimp pasta, refusing to eat local foods for fear of becoming sick. And Lyanna stuck to her favorite meal. Even back on earth when she lived with him, or during the very few visits they both took to Aurillia, her meal stayed the same. A classy dish for a classy lady.

Lyanna chose to eat the biggest bacon cheeseburger Erik had ever seen in his life, and even as the grease dripped down her chin, she was flawless, and did not leave a scrap behind. After she finished, she dabbed her filthy hands in the napkins and went to the ladies room to clean up.

Carver downed the last of his mussels and burped. “So,” he said as he picked his teeth. “This must be awkward for you, hm?”

“Why’s that,” said Erik.

Carver chuckled, gesturing to the empty seat where Anna once sat. “Me, here with your ex fiancée. It must be driving you mad.”

You have no clue asshole.

Erik shrugged. “You said it, ex fiancée. There’s nothing between us anymore.”

“And it better stay that way,” Carver said, his tone suddenly darker. “She’s mine now, you hear you damn light geek? I will kill you if you try to screw around.”

Erik leaned forward and rubbed his face. He was happy the truth had finally come out. Looking Carver dead in the eye, Erik smiled the same way Carver had been smiling all night, and said, “Wouldn’t dream of it…buddy.”

Carver’s face flushed. “I’m going to propose to her.”

It felt like someone kicked Erik in the gut. Maybe it was just the shrimp. His head started swimming with flashbacks of the day when he proposed to Anna, under the great Heart Tree that lied at the center of her home town on Aurillia. Anna married? And to someone who wasn’t him? It didn’t seem right…didn’t seem possible. He felt sick. Tossing his napkin down on the table, he rose to his feet. “I think I should go.”

“Aw, why’s that buddy?” asked Carver, his eyebrows raised in amusement. “You don’t want to stay with me and my soon to be fiancée?

“No,” Erik said. “Only one of you.” Then he vanished into the crowd.

Somehow he found his way back to his room, through his drunken haze. Or was it tears? When the door closed behind him, he went for the safe. “2207,” he said to himself, his voice cracking. “2207, her birthday.”

He held the injector to his arm, his finger gently brushing the trigger. “2207,” he sobbed. “Her birthday. Her birthday.” God she was so beautiful tonight. “2207. Come back to me Anna.” Where had his confidence gone? Did Carver sap it all away?

Yes he did.

No he didn’t.

Erik threw the injector away and wept into his hands. He would not do this too himself on a count of a man like Carver. He would not give him the satisfaction.

So Erik wept until his eyes were raw, and when his tears dried, he shouted “Dim!” and went to bed.


He woke the next morning to a soft knock on his door. Thinking it was room service, he shouted “Open,” and the front door slid open.

Unless Lyanna had taken a job at the resort, it wasn’t room service. “Bad time?” she said.

Erik shook his head and confirmed he wasn’t dreaming. “Uh, no. Come in.” He wouldn’t have said it if he had seen Carver behind her. He turned his head and scowled, but for some reason the lawyer was quiet today. Sweat was glistening off his forehead as he stood by the door with his arms folded.

“Carv said you weren’t feeling well last night. We just wanted to check on you.” She smiled softly. Suddenly her eyes darted to something on the floor and she scurried towards it.

“Yea, we,” Carver grumbled.

“How kind of both of you,” Erik said, shaking the sleep from his head. “I’m fine.” He went to his case and pulled out a black t-shirt and slid it on. Carver looked like he was going to faint. “Maybe it’s him you should be checking on.”

“I’m fine!” As soon as he said that, he hiccupped and covered his mouth, turning green. “Lyanna, can we go now.”

“In a second Carv. Can I get some time with Erik, alone?”

“Yea right. You think I’m just going to—“ His stomach roiled and he hunched over, groaning. “Okay, I’ll be back at the room.” He was halfway down the hall before he finished his sentence.

“Is he going to be all right?” asked Erik, trying his best to hide his smile.

Anna rolled her eyes. “He doesn’t want to believe he is sick.”

That man wouldn’t believe there was a fire around him as he burned. What did she see in him?

He’s obviously better than you.

No he’s not.

Than why did she leave you?

“Well, thanks for checking on me Anna, but I’m fine. Really.”

“You’re not,” she said frowning. She went to his bed and reached under. When she stood, she was holding the injector full of Saph Wax. “What were you thinking? I hid this when I saw it because I didn’t want Carver to see, but damn Erik. What has it been? Eight years? Nine? You know what happens to people who relapse.”

“Better than you!” Erik shouted, frustrated by her ignorance. She was the reason he was like this, she was the one who broke him, and he had a feeling she knew that.

“So was this your plan all along? To blow the rest of your money on this trip, then kill yourself with the wax?” She put her hands on her hips, convicting him.

“Stop acting like you know everything Lyanna. You don’t.” Erik turned and gazed out the window.

But she’s right you know.

I know.

“I knew you were having a hard time Erik, but suicide?”

“It’s not suicide. It’s not the same.”

“It is the same,” she said stepping closer. Her voice turned soft once again. “If you’re having trouble, there is no shame to admit that. You can come to me for help, you know that, right?”

He laughed to himself. Would the mouse go to the cat for help? She was the reason he was like this, the source of all his problems. There was only one thing she could do that would help him, and that was impossible. He loved her and hated her, wanted her to stay but leave, all at the same time. It wasn’t fair. Why could she not see him the way he saw her? Why did love have to hurt this much?

“I know Anna,” Erik said. “But I don’t think there is anything you could do to help me.”

He didn’t see her face, but he felt her frown. “I don’t believe that.”

“Why do you love him?” Erik blurted. He shook his head as soon as he said that. Why did he say that? That was not a fair question to ask, he knew.

“Excuse me?”

Erik turned around and looked her in the eye. There was no point in going back now. “You heard me. Don’t play dumb.”

He saw anger rising in her face, but she managed to keep her cool. “Why does anybody love anybody? He was there for me when I needed him, was always there for me.”

“And I wasn’t?”

“No you weren’t,” she snapped. In the twelve years he’d known Lyanna Greaves, this was only the second time she had ever used this tone with him. “All you ever cared about was your work. Staying up for days at a time, punching numbers into your terminal, reworking this formula and that formula. Sometimes I would be up all night, wearing that sexy night gown you got me, lying in bed with dinner, waiting, waiting, waiting, for you, and you never showed. When you did crawl back home, all you did was complain about this and that, then fall asleep without even touching me. And then after that whole thing with the Academy of Science and the Cedrican Engineer, you went into a shell even I couldn’t break. All you did was drink and complain. All the while Carver was there, doing everything you should have been doing. He made me laugh, took me to movies, gave me a friend. When I realized you weren’t going to change, I decided it was time for me to change.”

Erik stepped towards her. “Anna, you don’t understand how close I was to having my name—our name written in history. I loved you Anna, more than you will ever know.”

And I still love you.

“You may have thought you loved me Erik, but you didn’t.” She folded her arms and looked to the ground, tears welling in those soft brown eyes.

“Anna, you didn’t understand how close—“

“I didn’t care about that!” she shouted, the tears finally breaking free. “I cared about you! Not no stupid light engines, no combustion logarithms, you! And even my first few months with Carver, I still silently wished you would call one day, or show up with a bouquet of flowers or a box of chocolates and say you were sorry. But you didn’t, and it didn’t surprise me one single bit.” She shook her head, wiping the tears from her eyes.

Just as fast as she broke down, she was built back up again. “You want to know why I love Carver,” she said sternly. “Because he was everything I wanted you to be. I didn’t need fame or money to be happy, only someone to make me smile, laugh at my stupid jokes, and make me feel beautiful.”

“Anna…” Erik didn’t know what more to say. All this time he blamed her for everything, when in reality it was his fault. Everything was his fault. It hurt one-hundred times more knowing that. “I still love you.”

“I don’t think I believe that anymore,” she said, straightening her skirt. “I have to go find Carver.” She turned, her black hair slicing through the air behind her.

“Anna, wait.”

She stopped, but didn’t turn.

“Are you happier?” Erik watched her think. “Answer that question for me, and I’ll leave you alone forever.”

She looked at the ground. “Carver proposed to me. And I said yes.” It was only then he saw the glimmer of the ring on her finger.

“You also said yes to me once.”

He heard her chuckle. “Goodbye Erik.” And then she was gone.

He didn’t know how long he stared at the closed door, hoping she would return.

She’s gone because of you.

You’re an idiot.

You’re an idiot.

You’re an idiot.

I’m an idiot.

The injector was still on the floor. He picked it up and put it to his thigh. “You did this to me Lyanna,” were his last words. He pulled the trigger, and the Saph Wax filled his body.

He went down the halls in a blur; an enraged, rushed, blur, toppling over tables and Pax alike. He heard one of them call for security, but he didn’t care. He was already condemned, a dead man walking. All he had to do was wait for the wax to take over, to make him forget everything once and for all.

He entered the tube elevator and pressed the ground floor. They say your last trip is the greatest, and he was going to make sure he went out with a bang. He turned around and looked out the window, into the crimson sky and he wondered; he wondered how different his life would be if he could get one more chance, if he could go back six months and tell Lyanna he loved her. She said it herself she wanted that. She still loved him then, all he needed to do was show it.

But you didn’t because you’re a coward.

Get out of my head! Soon you will be gone. Everything will be gone!

Suddenly the elevator stopped and began to wobble. He clutched the sides of the wall in terror, as if it would help him. The glass in front of him shattered, and the wind pulled him through the opening.

He was falling, the wind blowing past him as he tumbled towards the rushing ground. He was falling, and would die soon. With tears in his eyes, he spread his arms in one last ditch effort to survive.

And he flew.

He cried even harder when he realized what was happening. He was flying. He soared above the resort, watching all the little people scurry around beneath him. He flew over the bar he, Anna, and Carver where at earlier and looked through the glass roof at the dancers. He flew over the beach, flying so low the water rippled beneath him as he zipped past, looking at his reflection in the clear liquid. He was smiling. For the first time in…forever, he was smiling. He reached his hand out and felt the water rush past him.

Then he flew up, straight towards Maggo. He felt the heat entering his body. It soothed his muscles, made his blood flow slower, and relaxed him. This wasn’t a normal relaxed feeling, like you got with a massage or a nap. This was different, a bliss he could not describe. He let Maggo’s rays enter him and turn him inside out, allowed it to cleanse his body of everything negative; all his nightmares, worries, and doubts washed away, sent tumbling back into the red ocean beneath him. He smiled and screamed at the top of his lungs for no reason other than he could.

He let himself fall again, but he wasn’t worried this time. He put his arms and legs out and closed his eyes, fluttering towards Paxia like he was a snowflake back on earth. It was like he was on a hammock, gently swaying back and forth in the wind, before he finally dipped into water so warm it made him shiver with delight.

He swam, cutting through the water like a shark. He went towards the shore, sometimes on his back, staring up at the red fireball in the sky, and sometimes he would swim down, brushing against the sandy ocean floor, watching all the fish and seaweed dance before him. The water pressed against him, and slowly became him. He was the water, gently flowing, rocking with the tide towards the shore. A school a fish swam through him, tickling his insides.

He drifted on his back, allowing the water to wash him up on shore. Every muscle was limp, numb, tingling with pleasure. Staring up at Maggo, he opened himself up once again and allowed the red giant inside him.

Maggo began to blink and flash, and suddenly it wasn’t Maggo anymore, but an orb of light, changing colors every second. One moment it was a fiery crimson like Maggo, but the next it was a deep blue like Andes, then a pale purple like the sky during lover’s moment. Then it changed green like Carver had been, then to a light blue like his stupid shirt. People stood around him, watching him, cheering him on.

Erik was dancing. The music coursed through him, moving him limbs in time with the beat. He wasn’t just hearing it, he was feeling it. He danced, and danced, and danced, and couldn’t stop even if he wanted too. The people cheered for him, cheered with him. They weren’t mocking him like the academy did, no, they wanted him to be happy, wanted him to know he was doing good. His dancing was making them happy, and in turn, he was happy.

One of the people watching him; a pale skinned Cedrican girl with two pointed ears and long, slender legs began to dance. He could not take his eyes off her, could not close them. She was so captivating. Her body moved to a tune only they could hear. She wiggled and shook like she was made of water, turning the music to her will, a hypnotic trance that could not be explained. Erik was sitting, watching, utterly in awe.

The woman crawled towards him seductively, her top only covering a small portion of her breasts. Erik could feel his smile giving her strength. More dancers began to emerge around her, each one moving just as fluently and entrancing as the first. He lost track of all time, lost track of himself, like he was flying through another dimension, not sure where he would stop next.

The night flew by before his dilated eyes, one adventure to the next. There was a light show that told him a story that brought him to tears. Afterwards he spoke to god; yes, the god, for hours and hours. They ate and drank and talked. During their talk, he found a little lizard he named Nigel. He carried Nigel with him everywhere he went, until he came across a cake so big it made the mighty Maggo look like a dwarf. He lost Nigel after that and searched for hours, under benches, between bushes, everywhere. After a while, two monsters came and grabbed him by the arm and threw him down a flight of steps. He vowed vengeance against these monsters, so he went to seek out Nigel, and together, they would return with an army and slay them all. When he grew bored of searching for Nigel, he spread his wings and flew again, to the beach, to the pool, then tried to fly back to earth but was far too tired. He laid down for a rest.

He laid on his back, and his face was sore from smiling. Looking up at Maggo, he tried to remember what he had ever been so upset about. Life was good, life was great.

Someone called his name. “Erik,” they said softly. It was the voice of an angel, he knew. It was so beautiful. “Erik.” He began to sob uncontrollably as the beautiful lullaby filled his ears. He closed his eyes and sighed with pleasure, putting a thumb to his lips like he was a baby in the womb. He felt the warmth of the voice wash over him.

Erik, it’s me. It’s Anna.”

They say your last trip is the best.

When he woke on the hard hotel bed, his limbs were water. He blinked hard, three times, wiggled his toes, fingers, arched his back, he was still alive, if a little numb. His head fell to the left, where the window was left undimmed, giving him a great view of the twilight hours, the moment leading up to the rising of Andes, and the return of Lover’s Moment. It was dark outside, very dark, with a hint of red. It was like a massive volcano had erupted and spewed ash into the sky.

It took more strength than he thought it would to turn his head to the other side. Someone was lying beside him, a lump under the white bed sheet; a rather familiar lump. A swirl of tangled black hair poked out of the bundle. He listened to the soft breathing. It was like a baby being rocked to sleep in her mothers arms, snoring ever so sweetly.

Erik would know Anna’s snores anywhere.


Submitted: September 21, 2014

© Copyright 2023 Kyle D Wahrmann. All rights reserved.

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Short Story / Science Fiction