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An excerpt: “What’s going to happen after I’m dead?”

Posted by on Dec 26, 2022 in Blog Posts, Writing | 0 comments

“There’s one thing that’s bothered me.” He felt the camera’s gaze and flushed, knowing those at the window would hear. “Maybe I should ask you to excuse me for saying this…”

“You will never have to apologize to me for anything.”

“What’s going to happen after I’m dead, when John Kosichev keeps giving the Commonwealth hell?”

Gloria released his hand and smoothly reached for her dropped pocketbook. “I couldn’t answer you for certain, but I do have a theory—don’t worry about them,” she said when he glanced at the window. “They don’t care so much as long as we cooperate.”

“So what do you think?”

“I once heard of two philosophers. I can’t remember the names, maybe this is a made-up story and the names don’t matter. But they were rivals. These were the days before radio or television or Inter—I’m sorry, they stopped that before your time—the thing is, it happened when news traveled slowly. One philosopher reported that the other, his rival, had died.”

In the window, the woman had crossed her arms, but she seemed to be smiling.

“The other, of course, protested he was still alive, and reported himself as such in the newspapers and so on, but his rival called him a fake, an imposter. And an imposter never commands the respect of the real thing.”

“So that’s it. They’re trying to discredit him, make him look like a liar.”

“I believe so.” She sighed. “It doesn’t really matter which John is real. Perhaps it doesn’t even matter if you hang—I’m sorry. But the Commonwealth has already done it. They’ve shown the people a John Kosichev who was captured, who failed.”


“And that’s it. If they destroy the myth, they don’t need to go through the trouble of capturing and destroying the man. Because that’s John’s real strength—his myth.”

“How can you do it?” he asked. “How can you talk about it so calmly? How can you help them ruin his reputation like this? After everything he’s done to build that myth, how can you destroy it?”

“Because,” Gloria Kosichev said, “I don’t want my son to hang.”

She rose. He stared at the wall behind her, and kept staring even when she went to his side and put her arms around his shoulders. A last embrace, mother and son.

“My name is Eric Melbourne,” he told her.

She left the room without answering.

-“John Kosichev,” my story of resistance fighters turned folk heroes and the power of, shall we say, alternative truths, is (as you might have guessed from the title) one of the four pieces collected in John Kosichev and Other Stories – which itself is one of the three science fiction and fantasy ebooks I have for sale and discounted to 50% on Smashwords until January 1, 2023. Check them out here.

This was the original cover, before I updated it to reflect the more hopeful tone of the story and its companions in the collection – but the shadow of a hangman certainly seems to fit Eric’s situation…

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