This is the start of my current work, the fifth volume of The Doom Healer. I’d be very grateful for your feedback. Even if you know nothing about what went on in the first four volumes, does it grab you? Please leave a comment at the bottom.
Bill’s first awareness was of a comfortable, pleasant warmth, and eight smells. The strongest scent was a lovely smell of safety, while the other seven signaled terrible danger. He felt his feet — many feet — on a smooth, hard surface, but everything was dark. He heard something huge associated with the safety-smell moving about.
Then memory came. He remembered his thousands of lives, spanning 10,000 years, the clearest being the last one as Bill Sutcliffe. He knew where he was, and why, but he didn’t know what he was, as yet.
The safety-smell became stronger, and he felt the container enclosing him move. There was a slight bump, then a beautiful golden glow shone through the top half of whatever he was encased in.
He could now see, simultaneously all around. The glowing surface above reminded him of the inside of an eggshell, then he laughed within his mind: that’s what it was!
He moved his head, which was on a long, flexible stalk. He saw it attached to an approximately elliptical body colored mottled green and yellow, which stood on six pairs of legs. A straight little horn stuck out from the front of this body.
He lifted a foot. Strangely, it could be positioned at any angle, thanks to four shoulder-like joints. The palm had a suction cup, with six little tentacles around it.
Something shoved his shell very hard, and he heard screams, bangs, scrabbling sounds. He automatically danced around to maintain his balance, even while knowledge came: he now needed to fight for his life.
His shell disintegrated, and indeed he was in the middle of a battle he assessed in a split-second. Two beings his size were doing a tug-of-war with the legs of a third, and he saw one of the legs come off, yellow fluid spurting. Another two were entangled in a twelve-leg wrestle. The final two were charging at him, one from each side.
A smell he instinctively knew was blood overwhelmed others, but there was still the beautiful safety-smell, high up. Bill thought, I am there, NOW.
He was. As he’d been promised back Home, the Ability worked here. He clung onto a smooth, leathery green mound, with the most delicious smell coming from its yellow tip. Bill sucked the tip into his mouth, feeling a sweet liquid pouring in. He swallowed, and almost felt himself grow. Meanwhile, he was able to look down — a very long way down. The two individuals who’d attacked him were now fighting each other. One of the wrestlers was biting big chunks out of the body of the other. The tug-of-war couple were butting heads, hard.
The huge being with the lovely smell lifted three feet, and stomped them down on the fighting little ones, squashing all seven. Its tentacles curled in, then the three legs moved up, past Bill. He noticed several golden bands at various levels around each leg, with sparkling jewels on them. He swiveled four eyes upward without knowing he knew how to do that, and saw the being toss the little bodies into its mouth, then a yellow tongue emerged, licking each foot in turn.
Bill stopped sucking in horror.
Another sound and two new smells attracted his attention. Two gigantic figures were approaching: adult versions of himself. Both were even taller than the one he was clinging to. Both had many golden, bejeweled decorations encircling their legs and neck.
A fluting, musical voice emerged from that baby-eating mouth. As he’d also been promised back Home, Bill understood the meaning, although the sounds were strange. He/She/It said, “My dears, meet the new addition to the Power family. Bdud, your heir is worthy of you! He didn’t even get injured!”
Bdud! That was the name of the Devil, the invader Bill had banished from Earth! Well, perhaps it was a common name here.
The taller of the two answered. “Got your message, Grizelix.” His voice had similar fluting tones. Bill had expected something deeper. This being didn’t have a breast. Instead, it also had a horn like Bill’s, considerably lower than the breast he was clinging to.
The other visitor said, “My bloodline is known for laying the best eggs. Tell me.” This one had neither a horn nor a breast.
Grizelix had to be the person Bill was attached to. She/It answered, “As soon as he emerged, he place-shifted up to my nipple. Clearly, he has exceptional mental force, like both of you.”
“Remarkable,” the egg-layer answered. “It normally takes about eight twelvedays to manifest itself.”
Bdud said, “No, that’s merely typical. Being born with it is not unheard of, even among Admin.” He advanced, then lifted a leg. Bill froze as the tentacles closed around him, and he was pulled away from the teat. But the huge person held him gently, and brought him up to the level of the circle of eyes. The mouth opened, displaying three rows of triangular teeth. Terrified, Bill expected to be eaten. Instead, Bdud said, “All right, little one, if you can wait until I die, you’ll be the next Gog of Magog.” He returned Bill to Grizelix’s breast. “What’ll we name him?”
Grizelix said, “Ramun, you’re the mother.”
“Somehow, I like the sound of Bild.”
“NO!” Bdud roared, though still in that high-pitched voice.
“But, Bild is a common enough name. It was my grandfather’s.”
“Ramun, listen.” Bdud sounded calmer. “Last night, for the first time since my infancy, I fell asleep and had a dream, but it was no ordinary dream.” He paused awhile, and the other two stayed silent, waiting.
“I have no doubt it was all true. And I remember everything. I was on a small planet, a quarter Magog’s size. It revolved around its sun faster than Magog, but all the same, a year is a year. I was there for 10,000 of their years.”
“And you remember it all?” Ramun demanded.
“DO NOT INTERRUPT ME! You may be my consort, but I’m still the Gog!”
This was the Enemy Bill remembered, all right.
“I was given the knowledge that there are many Universes. Ours is the oldest, strongest and most powerful, but this planet I was sent to was part of a young upstart that dared to challenge Us. So, I, and many other Champions, were sent to destroy It. Fittingly, I was the leader of them all.”
Bill noticed a difference from his memory of the Enemy on Earth. There, he’d had two black horns of light, but no aura. Here, all three adults had a glow about them, with swirling chakras.
“I had a connection to Home, though not here on Magog. I could draw on energy from Home, and had technology far more advanced than ours here. I could link the spirits of beings from Home to copies of the natives of that planet, though I lived by transferring my living spirit from one body to another. That was quite enjoyable. But soon, a spirit came to oppose me. It was one of these weak, poorly designed humans, but whenever it died, it returned as a new baby, and grew to oppose me again. I called it the Wretch.”
“I can understand that,” Ramun said, then held a leg in front of her mouth.
Grizelix said, “Bdud, she is not being disrespectful.”
Bdud waved his left front foot, and the other two visibly relaxed. “It all ended, 10,000 years of effort, when the Wretch defeated me! And in its last life, its name was Bill. Now do you understand?”
A literal translation, Bill realized, was “Now do you smell my meaning?”
Grizelix offered, “It’s not the custom, but we could name him Bduhod. How does that sound?” Bill understood the meaning: “Second Bdud.”
Ramun said, “They do say that nurses are the smartest. I’m happy with that.”
“Ramun, I also agree. I didn’t choose drox by accident, either.” Bill realized that “drox” was untranslatable, being the pronoun for this third sex Ramun had called a “nurse.”
Soon, the male and the egg-layer left. They simply disappeared. Bill assumed translocation, since Grizelix had mentioned “mental force.”
Grizelix stroked Bill — Bduhod now, but still Bill inside — with a gentle tentacle. “Suck and grow, little one,” drox said with apparent love. How could that go with eating the babies this person had hatched? Bill sucked, and forgot everything but the delightful taste.
When he stopped, replete, Grizelix enclosed him in the tentacles of a foot, and lowered him onto some object, pushing down so his twelve feet splayed all around. Then one of its… drox’s tentacles pressed on a particular spot of his underside, and he felt his insides empty. He thought, I must fit into the culture. Male and female pronouns are drod and dron. They can be translated. Nurses are drox.
After that, he must have fallen asleep.