Reading Sundays: SHADES OF UNREALITY (Part 8), a short story by Cynthia Sally Haggard

I seethed, like a pot on the boil, anger making me forget my fear. Just at that moment, Roomba careened into the long velvet train of my plum-colored court gown and growled. My belly lurched as I clutched my arms together across my chest. Was this a form of torture the Necromancer had dreamed up for me? Was the platter going to eat me for dinner?

“Can’t you shut that thing off?” bellowed Pandora.

Augustus leaned forward.

A deafening silence erupted.

I sagged with relief. The platter was dead. He could no longer toy with me. But what had Augustus done? Had he murdered something?

“You have killed the creature,” I exclaimed. “What you have done is most evil. God will punish you.”

“He just turned the damned thing off.” Pandora jumped back down onto the carpeted floor, and stared at me.

I was too distraught to be angry with her. Tears welled in my eyes. I was so relieved the creature was dead, yet I felt a great wrong had been done.

“Every living creature has a soul,” I remarked. “It is our duty to protect them.”

Augustus stood up. “Ummm.” He scratched his head again. “Perhaps it might help if I gave you another demonstration.”

My neck stiffened with fear. Not another creature performing strange acts. Could I manage another such encounter? I shuddered as he walked over to a silver box in the Guardroom. Reluctantly, I followed. He bent down to open a cupboard near the floor, and took out a bottle of liquid.

“This will clean the dishes,” he explained, opening the door to one of the silver boxes, and pouring something into it.

I peered in. There were various things sticking up in a container to one side. Were these weapons? Perhaps they were specially shaped arrows, or knives. Whatever they were, they did not perturb Augustus, who shut the door and pressed a disc marked Power. It played a descending major triad in reply.

“It sings,” I exclaimed, relief making me smile.“How did you know what to do?” [Continued next week.]