The Inheritors - Timeborn

The Inheritors - Timeborn

A Story by Matt Kramer

A prequel to The Inheritors, a story series I'm starting. The year is 1888 in an alternate timeline where present day's technological advancements and yesterday's culture collide.


Mackinac Island, Michigan. 1888.

The air was something one would have to feel for themselves. The breeze smelled of a sweet, salty aroma, and it rolled off of the water from below and found its way up to the eye of the cliff where nature ran its course. There was a single tree that rested in ground, and it cast a shadow over the edges of the rock that formed a sharp, hook-like point toward the open, blue abyss. The hook was large enough for someone to stand at its tip, and at that tip stood Cyrus Morton. He was as still as the rocks beneath him, and he could only imagine the feeling of the water hitting his body for that split second before he lost consciousness. It wasn't like him to just think about it, he was a man of action; a man who shot first, and asked questions later. But something held him fixed to the dust and soil; maybe it was some common sense, trying to knock itself into him. Or perhaps it was the melodramatic moment he had so craved for so long, giving the mute assurance that this was it. He had put his knot at the end of his rope, and the friction had burned his fingers down to their bone. Cyrus held onto life too long, and just like that rope, he needed a break. It had become overwhelming to see the world shift its gears so many times. From fashion statements to political dogfights, it just seemed like everyone on Earth was just waiting for something new to wear out every week. And he had seen a lot of weeks up until now. Perchance if he hit the water wrong, he would see a lot more. Cyrus stared to the open ocean and spread his arms almost like a majestic lone bird taking flight into a cobalt void. It was nearly perfect for a nice, timed jump. He could nearly feel himself counting down a fake timer in his head. Just, perfect.

“Are you stretching or something?” Azrael said. Cyrus fell forward, but not enough to propel him over the cliff. He flinched and hit the ground in a swift motion that should have been made for the deep blue below. He could only think of something along the lines of “Damn it, why now?”

“Where, the HELL, did you come from?” Cyrus shouted rudely, brushing himself off from the dust.

“How do you keep forgetting that I can go wherever I want to, friend? It’s not exactly something you forget about once you learn it. Do you think I’ve forgotten what gift you’ve got? Absolutely not-

“It isn’t a gift. Don’t spout banter like that.”

“Spout…banter.” Azrael appeared stunned for a second, taking the moment to catch his breath in a mocking attitude. “I’m not going to lie, pal; it has been an eternity since I’ve heard you say something like that. Man, I haven’t heard either of those words since like, 1943, or something. It may have been in another language, I don’t know.” Cyrus was already intolerant of the man and his inability to keep his mouth shut, but if there was ever a chance he could kill the b*****d, now would be the time he’d do it.

“Why are you here? You haven’t been around for like, three weeks. That’s a record for you not annoying the hell out of me.”

“Very funny, my friend.” Azrael said, his tone gripping a more serious tone. “I need you.”

“For what?”

“Something you aren’t going to like. At all.” Strong emphasis on “at all”. There was a little piece of him that began to solve the riddles Azrael was speaking. He was the reaper, Thanos, an angel of total darkness. Nothing he could ask would be considered “good” for anyone of human standards. But Cyrus wasn’t one to follow human standards, or at least he hadn’t for a very long time. Cyrus didn’t respond, but a sigh left his mouth that gave Azrael the impression that he knew what had to be done.

“What is it? Just tell me and quit pressing my patience.” Cyrus asserted.

“I need you to make it another thirty or so.”


“Cy, come o-

“F**k. You.” Cyrus made his way from the bottomless water that had once called his name. Yet another day ruined by the superior beings of the universe. He just needed to find his car and drive on to another cliff; maybe even a tall building would do, if there weren’t many people walking by. He wasn’t even sure if it was his car,

“It’s for the good of the planet!” Azrael shouted after him. His robe prevented him from running far, so he walked after Cyrus as fast as he could let himself go without tripping and looking like a fool. Cyrus was more antagonistic than ever.

“Yeah? That’s real nice, Az. Real goddamn nice, since the planet is looking pretty good right anyway right? Why the hell did you let that happen?”

“You just don’t get it.” Azrael implored, finally getting Cyrus to stop and listen.

“No, I get it just fine. You want someone else to do a favor that you can easily do yourself.”

“He told me I can’t interfere. It has to be you.”

“Why? Why is your master holding your leash now? Is that what you are? A  lapdog?” Cyrus was cut off, by a further statement that was as grim to him as the nickname that had been worn around his friend’s neck for centuries.

“No, it involves the Fissure.” Cyrus could feel the blood drain from his face.

“How could I possibly benefit the planet when you talk about that?”

“Because you’re going to help someone stop it.”

“Death, you’re one funny guy. Everything you say is an instant goldmine for laughter. You’re a highly underrated dark comic. Honestly.” Cyrus began to clap scornfully at him, while Azrael held a despondent face.

“I’ll let you die after you’re done.” Cyrus stopped clapping, keeping the angry, sarcastic grin on his face.

“You said that after she died. Paris, March 4th, 1792 and once more afterward at Gettysburg, July 2nd, 1863. I remember that as clear as yesterday. You think I’m going to fall for that a third time?”

“I would like you to, since you know I took Harper just as fair.” The smile left, but the anger didn’t. It had been enough times since he brought her up, and it was about right to let him know it.

“Leave her out of this, Az. Stop bringing her up every single goddamn time you want me to do something. And don’t even start about taking his name in vain, because you know I don’t believe in him.”

“Let me get this straight. You know for a fact he exists, yet you don’t believe in him.”

“That’s funny, because he knows we exist, and I’ve never heard him say he believes in us. So yes, it’s fair to be a deist or an atheist no less. It’s all about belief, and if God, Emerth, whatever the hell he wants to be called these days, doesn’t believe in us, then I’m repaying him with that.” Azrael removed the hood from his head, and the mask that constricted his face hit the passing wind. It was so hot in that thing, and it had been centuries since he took it off last. But he had to bear it, lest another Tunguska would happen, and that was horrendous to say the least. He could probably slip it off at the very end, right before this whole “Fissure” thing came to fruition. That was another century ahead though, so he wasn’t in a place for winning that small freedom.

“Cyrus. I’d like to think of you as my friend. The only reason I brought her into this is because you are both involved. Your lifeline is, anyway.”

“We don’t have any children, Az. We never decided on that after all that time. Where to raise it, what to name it, how to raise it. It took time that we somehow didn’t have.”

“What if I told you I could give you more time with her?”

“You offered me that last time.” And soon, at the snap of Azrael’s fingers and at the summit of Cyrus’ adamancy, a small ball of appeared at the side of the angel. It twisted and contorted itself in odd and bizarre ways, as the sphere of the unknown began to grow. It soon landed on the ground, and rose up like any man would stand, its knees soon began to lift the shape off the ground, and its arms grew elbows, then hands. From shapeless to shape, formless to form, and finally the body of Harper Rachel Reed returned to Earth right before Cyrus’ eyes; and that was the first thing he notices. Those eyes of hers were something out of a dream, just like they were back in those brittle, Paris nights of 1792. That memory was but one of many that instantly reemerged from the deepest recesses of Cyrus’ mind. She looked up at him, cold, confused and naked, almost like she had started her life again, out of some metaphorical womb. And that was when their eyes met for the first time since her impracticable passing, and right away they fell into each other’s arms. Azrael looked on with indifference, and soon he continued with his proposal, without the presence of Cyrus’ full attention.

“I can take her away too, if you don’t follow what I ask of you.” Cyrus had broken to his well-meaning will, as Azrael knew he would. You give a mortal what he desires and he will bend to your will once he knows you have total control of said desire. And bend he did.

“What is it, friend?” Cyrus asked; as he shed the sarcastic skin he once wore.

“I already told you. I need you to stay alive for another thirty two years.”

“What happens then?”

“Your child will die.” With the shocking future laid out in front of him, Cyrus’ tone became less submissive, and the dominance returned to him.

“You want me to have a child, just so she can die? That’s not how it works, pal. Life isn’t given just to be taken away.” With every argument thrown at him, Azrael felt his tone disappear from the likeness of a human, and reappear in the bounds of a logical, removed deity. It was in his nature, but he tended to forget that he was not as mortal as he wanted to be.

“The both of you are the only contradictions of that rule. He made you who you are, whether you believe in him or not.”

“I’ve already told you, I don’t believe in a god. There’s no reason for me to.” Azrael smiled, ready to crush the logic with an even more confusing yet victorious answer.

“All this time I let you believe you he was a god. No, he is something much greater. The masses will be surprised when they awaken after I meet them. They will see that their Lord wasn’t all he’s cracked up to be. Just a pipe dream he let you all believe. Even if you say you will not comply, he will make it so without giving a second thought. Everyone dies, Cyrus. Harper left you alone at those guillotines, and that should have taught you something.” And with that, Azrael began to walk away, as Cyrus sat still, clutching his silent wife. He stood them both up, and began to carry her in his embrace to his black Model-T that had been parked a few feet from him. He looked in the direction that Azrael had journeyed, but his friend had disappeared into the air he appeared from just minutes ago. Cyrus was left to ponder his next move alone. It was only a few moments earlier where his life was prolonged without meaning, and he was ready to sacrifice himself to the waters at the bottom of the cliffs, and now that he had her in his arms, there was no telling what to do. He looked back to Harper, but inside of seeing what came next, he just saw an unconscious, tired, beautiful woman that the world knew as a casualty of the National Razor a century before. Cyrus opened the door to the back seat to set her down, when he spied something already laying in the backseat, awaiting them. It was a fresh pair of woman’s clothing, and they appeared to be in Harper’s size.


© 2012 Matt Kramer

Author's Note

Matt Kramer
I'm open to all constructive criticism, I want to improve my technique and style and every review/opinion would be helpful to me. Thanks.

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You start with a long description. In fiction I find it best to start with well-described action or, if you feel daring, some declaration of novelty. This could be either dialogue or thought that will catch a reader unexpected. Or it could be action or description that has something odd to it. This is particularly true of short fiction, because readers will tend to have a look at the first few lines (or paragraph at most) and only read on if they are grabbed.

Here's the start of Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream: "Limp, the body of Gorrister hung from the pink palette; unsupported hanging high
above us in the computer chamber; and it did not shiver in the chill, oily
breeze that blew eternally through the main cavern. The body hung head down,
attached to the underside of the palette by the sole of its right foot. It had
been drained of blood through a precise incision made from ear to ear under the lantern jaw. There was no blood on the reflective surface of the metal floor. When Gorrister joined our group and looked up at himself, it was already too late for us to realize that, once again, AM had duped us, had had its fun; it
had been a diversion on the part of the machine. Three of us had vomited,
turning away from one another in a reflex as ancient as the nausea that had
produced it. Gorrister went white."

Here's the first line of Alfred Bester's novel The Stars My Destination: "He was one hundred and seventy days dying and not yet dead."

It's particularly hard to have long fiction read on this site, people tend to read and review short poems. Good luck getting reviews!

I'm not sure what "catch his breath in a mocking attitude". This might just be me being ignorant, but if other readers are unsure about it then it might give you cause to change it.

Posted 7 Years Ago

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Added on August 25, 2012
Last Updated on August 25, 2012
Tags: dystopian, steampunk, superhero, science fiction, noir, grim reaper, immortality


Matt Kramer
Matt Kramer


I'm a senior in high school, and I'm not one to talk about myself, who I am and what I do (besides writing, aha). Anyway, I hope you enjoy my writings! more..