With the power to alter reality, Tadgh is the most powerful man on the planet. Which is why the demons want him.
Three hundred years ago, a group of heroes imprisoned a dark god and his lieutenants in a hell dimension known as the Void.
Since then, the people of Maghe Sihre have lived in relative peace. Now, a secret war brews at the edge of civilization.
Tadgh Dooley, a young gay man from Earth, is burdened with a dangerous and impossible power. He has the ability to warp the fabric of reality, to make his wishes come true. One wish binds him to the spirit of a demon cat. Now he is a shapeshifter, a werecat. The armies of evil see him as a weapon. They will not rest until they control him.
A mysterious force transports Tadgh to Maghe Sihre and, in doing so, ruptures the Void. Worse, each time he uses his ability, the Void cracks open a little further. Prisoners start to escape. If Tadgh can’t control his power, he risks shattering the Void completely, unleashing the dark god on an unprepared world.
Earlier that morning, Tadgh woke up from the same nightmare. This time he stopped himself before he cried out. He settled back into bed and stared out the window until the man with orange sash brought him breakfast on a tray. There was a pasty oatmeal-like dish that tasted like cinnamon with a slight after-taste of smoked oysters. He drank a small glass filled with a purple juice. It looked like grape juice but tasted like lemons. There was also some sort of fruit on the plate. It was, by far, his favorite. It was the size of a grapefruit but the skin was edible and the meat of the fruit tasted like honey and watermelon.
The monk spoke to him but Tadgh could not understand a word. He simply smiled and nodded. Then he remembered his smile was hidden behind the bandages around his head. Eventually, the monk left him alone to eat. Later, another monk removed the breakfast dishes. There was more incomprehensible mutterings.
‘I could really use some subtitles,’ he thought.
Later, the monk with the orange sash returned with another man dressed like him. They lay their hands on him and chanted. Tadgh had no idea what they were doing but it seemed to work. The pain in his hands and chest dissipated. When they finished, they lifted him outside and left him on a bench. His left leg was in a cast making it difficult to walk on his own.
For the first time he saw the source of the sounds he’d heard yesterday.
‘Apparently I landed in a kung fu movie.’ Dozens of teenage boys stood in rows within an octagonal courtyard. All wore white, sleeveless robes. They punched and kicked the air, grunting with each thrust. An older man wearing the same robe with an orange sash at the waist shouted orders at them. Occasionally, he stopped in front of one and corrected his form. Farther away, a group of three men fought with staves.
‘How the hell are they moving so fast? That’s not even possible. Then again, neither is amnesia but I seem to have it. I know it eventually happens to someone on ever TV show in history. A trauma erases their memory, pushing it so far down the victim can’t recall anything. I know it’s ridiculous. All the experts say real amnesia is pretty rare and almost never the result of a simple blow to the head.’
He remembered most things. ‘I know my name. Tadgh Dooley. I’m 17 years old. The idiots in school always teased me as a kid. Called me “Tie Drooley”…which they often did. It was a big joke to them. They’d tie me to fences, bike racks, street lamps. Anything they could think of. I changed schools three times. Never helped.’
‘I remember my parents, too. My mom’s Jolanta and she works at the marina. My dad’s Ian. He’s a manager at Sherwin-Williams. We live in Cleveland, 13204 Euclid Ave. I can see my bedroom. Light blue walls, dark hardwood floors, white curtains, white sheets on the bed.’
And he remembered pain.
He stared at his bandaged hands. ‘How did I get here? I’ve no idea where I am but this place just doesn’t feel…right. The sun’s too big. Maybe I’m near the equator but I’m pretty sure the sun doesn’t change color the further south you go.’
The sky above was cloudless. Turquoise blue. The sun was significantly more reddish than he’d ever seen the sun before. Occasionally, birds flew past his line of sight. They were unlike any kind he’d seen before.
‘It’s almost like I’m on another planet. But how is that even possible? Was I kidnapped by aliens or something?’
Again he had a flash of a pain. A memory. But no other memories came. No visuals, no sounds: just a dark empty moment of pain and fear.
Then he saw something that made his heart beat a little faster. One of the most beautiful men he’d ever seen in his life walked directly towards him. Though not as muscular as the monk-types, he still seemed perfectly constructed. His tousled blond hair was roughly cut and damp with sweat from the early morning heat. Something stirred inside Tadgh. His pulsed quickened and he turned away.
‘I remember this, too,’ he thought. Last summer watching boys at the beach wearing swim trunks, splashing in the waves. They all went to his school but he didn’t know any of them. More to the point, none of them knew him. They were on the volleyball team. He was on the year book committee. They all had girlfriends. He wanted a boyfriend.
Another flash of pain: something scrapping across his face, someone laughing. He shook the memory away and turned back to the approaching man. Although he appeared to be older than Tadgh, his blue eyes seemed open and vulnerable. That and his easy smile and smooth face gave him a boyish innocence mingled with a body that was solidly masculine.
‘Like farm boy from Princess Bride,’ he thought. Tadgh’s eyes traced the gentle slope of his hairless cheek down the smooth neck to his chest. Then he looked away.
‘What the hell am I doing? I have no idea what these people will do to me if they found out I am…’ He blinked rapidly and kept his eyes on the ground.
The man was before him. He spoke in the same rhythm of syllables and tones as the monks. A quiet rage built up inside Tadgh mingled with a not-so-quiet yearning. He avoided looking into those eyes.
The blonde man knelt at his feet, his voice soft and pleading. Tadgh couldn’t help himself. He stared into those eyes and something inside him melted. All the confusion over his lack of memory faded. The only thing in existence that mattered was this beautiful, nameless man. He wanted to touch his cheeks and kiss those lips.
“God, I wish I could talk to you,” he said.
The world stopped. The air grew heavy making it impossible to draw in breath. Something swallowed up the sound of the wind in the trees and the distant call of birds. The man looked shocked, as if he’d felt the moment too.
The man spoke. “What the hell was that?”
“Holy crap,” Tadgh said. “I can understand you now.”
“Really?” The man removed his hand but did not move away. “How? Did you do that?”
“Did I do what?”
“There was a…never mind. We can talk about that later. My name is Shonndira Bannmerci. I’m from the town of Tarkon north of here. What’s your name?”
“Tadgh,” he responded. His voice felt weak. It was hard to concentrate with those blue eyes so
close to his face. “I’m just happy to finally be able to communicate with someone. My name’s Tadgh Dooley. I’m from Cleveland. Where am I?”
Shonn smiled. “Tig Dooley. Nice to meet you. I’ve never heard of this Cleveland. Is that in Norshire?”
Tadgh shook his head. “Isn’t Norshire somewhere in England?”
Shonn shook his head slowly. The smile started to fade a little from his face. “I’ve also never heard of this England. Can you tell me that last thing you remember?”
“How the hell have you never heard of England? I mean, they pretty much owned the planet at one point.” Tadgh looked up at the sky at the odd-colored sun.
Shonn followed his eyes up and exhaled. “It’s not completely unheard of. People coming from other planets. They say sometimes they slip through a foramen.”
“What’s a foramen?”
Shonn sat on the bench beside Tadgh. “I’m not an expert but it’s supposed to be a weak spot in the reality field. Sometimes people and animals from other planets stumble into foramen. Geognosts can use them to travel quickly around the world. They know how to use them better than any fieldbender. Are you some sort of Geognost? Is that how you crashed at the monastery?”
“What do you mean crashed? I don’t know what a Geognost is but I don’t think I’m one. I have no idea how I got here.” Panic rose in Tadgh. Shonn placed a comforting hand on his shoulder and, for a moment, the fear retreated.
“Whatever happened, you’re safe now.” Shonn removed his hand. “The Brothers found you in pretty bad shape. Your body was covered in blood and claw marks. Do you remember what happened to you?”
Pain. Tadgh touched his head. “No. My memory is foggy. I can’t remember things. I’ve been trying to but it’s all one big empty nothing.”
“Damn.” Shonn hit the bench with the heel of his hands. “I was hoping you could tell me something so I could stop…”
Shonn shook his head and stood. “Never mind. It was a long shot anyway.”
“Did I hear talking?” The monk with the orange sash appeared from inside the infirmary. “Yes, you did, Prelate Fin.” Shonn said.
“Weird.” Tadgh said. “I can understand him now, too. Thanks for the food. I wanted to thank you before but…you know.”
“This is a good sign,” Prelate Fin said. He came and knelt to look Tadgh in the eye. “I was worried there was brain damage. If you’ve finally regained the ability to speak any damage was probably temporary.”
“I don’t think he ever lost the ability to speak Prelate,” Shonn said. “I don’t think he speaks our language.”
“Do you think he’s from Norshire?” Prelate Finn looked into Tadgh’s eyes. “The eye color would be right but the irises are very unusual.”
“I don’t think he’s from Maghe Sihre at all,” Shonn said. “It’s possible he fell through a foramen from another planet.”
Prelate Fin narrowed his eyes, studying Tadgh. “Shonn, why don’t you run and get Instructor Mal. He’ll want to know about this.” Then, inhaling sharply, he stood. “I’ll take our friend inside. Now that we can talk I’d like to run a few test.”
Shonn bowed his head in acknowledgement. “Of course. I’ll be back soon.”
Tadgh watched him go and turned to Prelate Finn. “Can someone please tell me where the hell I am?”
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Joseph Murphy was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. He earned his geekdom at an early age. He read X-Men comics from at the age of 8 and it only went downhill from there.
As a teenager, he wrote short stories and wanted to be the next Stephen King. Instead of horror, however, he kept writing fantasy stories. After surviving high school as a goth with a purple mohawk, he studied English and Creative Writing at the University of Windsor.
When not writing, Joseph works as Lead Accounting instructor at a local college. He lives in Windsor, ON (right across the stream from Detroit, Michigan) with his husband, two cats, and shy-but-friendly ghost.