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Seven Beyond
Seven Beyond
Seven Beyond
eBook339 Seiten7 Stunden

Seven Beyond

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Resident aliens have escaped a lost homeworld on a quest to find the New Restingplace of the Dead. A blood feud follows them to a colony on Earth. Can they avoid assassination and reach their destination before time runs out?


In this plot-driven journey story perfect for lovers of science fiction fantasy, diverse companions protect Longists Dr. Meenins and Linda Deemer from curious close encounter seekers while they manage a shared dreamscape to bolster his memories of galactic travel.  Will Dr. Meenins reconcile with his nemesis David Shanklen? Can the Longists hide in plain sight on Earth?

Erscheinungsdatum8. Aug. 2022
Seven Beyond
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  • Bewertung: 5 von 5 Sternen
    I thought it was a pretty good book.
  • Bewertung: 5 von 5 Sternen
    I felt like I couldn’t put this book down!Ms. Atrium has a way with words that makes you feel like you’re right with the characters!Without giving any story details up, I must highly suggest this book. While it did feel otherworldly, I felt like I knew these characters my whole life!I’m so thankful I was able to read this, and definitely will be visiting it again soon.
  • Bewertung: 5 von 5 Sternen
    In a lot of ways, “Seven Beyond” follows life as it happens. John, a merchant’s son, is brought into the fold as something of a musical apprentice and Felicity, an apprentice who gives lessons, has an overwhelming attraction to him. Atrium writes a romance that may be ill-fated but starts out quit courtly. There’s a firmly implied class structure that carries down from Lady Drasher to a merchant’s son. The structure of the world is mirrored in the characters and while some of what is written seems to have a touch of the modern world there is a taste of the medieval. “Seven Beyond” is a masterfully constructed story.Atrium’s settings are a step back in time reminiscent of the greats of science fiction. These characters are a world apart from us and their freedom or lack thereof in this somewhat foreign and somewhat familiar world is enticing and speaks to Atrium’s creativity. I have read other novels by this author and there is a continuity of feeling. The plotting of “Seven Beyond” is perhaps not traditional but readers won’t care. This is a story that won’t let go once it has you. Atrium’s work is unique and takes on a spectrum of emotions. If you like science fiction and eclectic tales, “Seven Beyond” is the novel for you.


Seven Beyond - Stella Atrium

… All thinking beings are different, and at the bottom they are all alike by the gift of thoughts and of desires.


The book will contain several biographies of the same man, who lives on Earth at different times – or at least, thinks he had such existences.

Hermann Hesse²

During one winter every afternoon

I’d sink into that momentary swoon.

And then it ceased. Its memory grew dim.

My health improved. I learned to swim.

But like some little lad forced by a wench

With his pure tongue her abject thirst to quench,

I was corrupted, terrified, allured,

And though old doctor Colt pronounced me cured

Of what, he said, were mainly growing pains,

The wonder lingers and the shame remains.

V. Nabokov³

Chapter 1

A six-wheeled imperial berlin hurtled along the mountain road. Covered driving lamps mounted on the high driver’s seat cast yellow beams into the yawning night. Icy sleet cut into the driver’s hands, which gripped the sodden reins. His companion’s cloak flew out behind him like the black wings of Satan. Eight great horses labored, and behind them a mounted escort, their uniforms ruined by the elements, rode unruly thoroughbreds who were stamping and wheezing in the mountain air.

Inside the coach, Dr. David Christopher Meenins braced himself against sudden lurches, his muscles aching from the rough ride. The overhead filigree lamp swung back and forth. Thin-slatted blinds banged ceaselessly against the doorframe.

With a frozen expression of tolerance, Lady Drasher Elizabeth Tasgneganz tightly gripped the armrests. Her jeweled necklace resting against her aging skin, threw glints of reflected light onto her traveling cloak. Two servants, seated behind in starched uniforms, kept their heads bowed and their shoulders stiff.

Dr. Virgil Augustus Grammario sat across from Christopher Meenins, his face both blanched and ruddy. The rotund belly under a silk waistcoat bounced in a never-ending dance. The coach stopped. Christopher Meenins steadied the swinging lamp. A question came into Lady Drasher’s eyes. Perhaps the road’s impassable, Dr. Grammario suggested.

We haven’t come this far to be turned back, Lady Drasher said. Dr. Meenins pulled the blind cord and raised the slats. He was greeted by his own reflection, deep eyes under a high cranium.

Slushy rain splattered against the window. The coachman’s face, unevenly lit from the lamp he held at chest level, crowded Dr. Meenins’ narrow view. Christopher released the interior lock, and the door swung open toward the jagged mountain wall. The driver, his greatcoat stiff and dripping, leaned into the berlin. The carpeted floor was level with his waist.

My Lady, he said, we have reached the bridge. I’ll just spell the horses.

Lady Drasher nodded, and the coachman closed the wet door. Christopher saw the escort dismount. Moving around a sputtering lamp set out on the ground, the guardsmen secured feedbags on the winded horses and covered them with canvas tarps.

Unwilling to brave the elements, Dr. Grammario moved about the roomy berlin. With his back turned, he drank from a silver flask. The two servants straightened the furnishings and brewed tea. Lady Drasher applied perfume to her throat and wrists, freshening the air with the scent of lavender and rosehip.

Christopher jerked back when the coachman’s underlit face loomed again at the berlin’s door. The driver leaned in, his elbow on the carpet. Pleasure registered on his weathered face. Perhaps he caught the scent of perfume. There’s somebody here, he said. On the road by the bridge.

It must be someone local, Virgil Grammario said.

It’s a woman, the driver added. Pregnant and in pain.

See to her, Sylvia, Lady Drasher told a servant.

But the storm! Sylvia said. The disease!

I’ll go, Christopher Meenins said. A doctor should have a look.

Your reputation is well deserved, Dr. Meenins, Lady Drasher said and reached into her traveling bag. Please, before you assume the risk, sip this poteen.

What is it? Virgil asked. A stimulant?

A barrier against infection, Lady Drasher said. Christopher broke the vial’s fragile top and tossed the liquid into the back of his throat, squinting at the chalky taste. He buttoned his overcoat and exited the coach.

The rain had stopped for the moment. A too-close moon backlit rolling clouds that raced east as if to escape the region. The granite mountains looked impenetrable. Below the deep cliff, a smooth-faced glacier reflected intermittent moonlight as if unwilling to receive any warming foreign influence.

The doctor hunched his shoulders and walked with the driver to the bridge where howling wind tortured the unnatural expanse of steel and iron. The coachman gestured with an arm over his head. Christopher joined him near the embankment and hastily knelt down by a trembling figure in a wet cloak and ruined slippers. She turned her icy blue eyes to him, vacant in the moonlight, deeply set behind high cheekbones and a broad forehead. She appeared otherworldly, deposited there as though banished from the company of her own kind.

And she was pregnant, in her seventh month. Christopher ascertained that her pain was occasioned by a fall and a swollen ankle. He lifted the wayfayer and carried her back to the berlin. He saw the faces of Sylvia and Virgil peering together from the window.

Christopher spoke to the coachman. Get underway quickly. There’s little time.

He placed the gray figure onto the berlin’s carpet before he climbed in after her.

But she cannot be in here! Sylvia protested. We will all die!

You shall not die today except by my hand, Lady Drasher said.

Christopher put his overcoat around the poor woman’s shoulders, tugging lightly at her cloak. She lowered her eyes and turned away, struggling out of her thin rags.

Christopher handed the dripping laundry to the second servant. She stepped back, unwilling to chance the contact. Christopher opened the berlin’s door and tossed the pile out onto the ground. He saw that the horse guard officers were mounted again, awaiting the coachman’s signal. The horses were guided across the bridge before they took up a high-stepping pace into the deep night.

Christopher helped the pregnant woman into his seat, but nearly fell when the coach lurched forward. Give her some of your clothes, Lady Drasher told Sylvia. Unless your body oils might infect her. With a sour face Sylvia searched through drawers of the storage cases for some second-hand garments.

Perhaps a drop of the same poteen for our guest, Christopher suggested. Lady Drasher produced another ampule. Christopher pretended to drink for instruction and held out the brittle vial. The woman looked around at their faces. She extended her hand from under his coat. Christopher Meenins caught his breath in staring disbelief. On her index finger was the extra joint that only Longist Thespians had.

What is your name? he whispered.

I am Linda, second-right chair to the Redeemer.

We can call you Linda Deemer for now, he returned. How may I serve you?

I visit per the Redeemer’s instructions to serve you.

He whispered, barely breathing, I’m remembered?

You knew David, who shared the words of the Father of the Dead.

Those words exist in our Book of Ancients. Anyone may share them.

I look forward to learning more.

Dr. Meenins moved to the seat next to Dr. Grammario and stared out the coach window. ‘David,’ he thought. David Shanklen, his patient and mentor. Christopher remembered the Blossom County Home and his visits to David Shanklen’s padded cell in the asylum’s isolation ward. Or had it really even existed?

He traveled now to the only place where the Longists might return. He had dragged unsuspecting Grammario and uncaring Drasher into the night, compelled by his dying hope.

Down the steep mountain slope they descended. The horses labored against the coach’s weight, gingerly picking their way along the rocky path. Inside, Linda Deemer dozed in her seat. Dr. Meenins settled into deep reverie.

Dante tells us, Lady Drasher said, as though continuing on with an old subject, Dante tells us there’s a dark forest in the middle of one’s life.

Dr. Meenins struggled to couple her linear words into a meaningful sentence. What was that? What was she saying?

You don’t see the forest on the horizon, she said. You’re in it, and then you’re on the other side. Then perhaps, Dr. Meenins, once we’re out of the woods, so to speak, you will allow yourself some credit for good work.

Dr. Meenins was once a seeker of pleasure, Dr. Grammario said. And a scientist of the first water.

And what caused you to repudiate pleasure? Lady Drasher asked.

He sighed, hoping their talk would cease. Pleasure turns to pain.

Moderation prolongs the ecstasy before release, Virgil claimed, his eyes partly closed and the fingers of one hand arched near his rosebud mouth.

One day you awake, Christopher said, and realize your kudos have not transformed you into something more. He stared out the coach window. The time fades without a whisper of memory.

And this young lady in her unfortunate condition, Lady Drasher asked. You have a connection with her?

I knew her people.

She has sought your company. For what reason?

Perhaps she’s been put out, he said.

Much later the coach and escort stopped again to rest the horses. The soldiers found an alcove in the mountain and built a small fire to heat a thick stew of aging meat wrapped in bread paste. Lady Drasher with her shivering servants promenaded around the clearing. Her decorated cloak dragged on the soggy ground behind their path. Christopher saw her send Sylvia to invite Linda Deemer into the early morning air.

Near a ruined rail that banked a short section of the road, Dr. Meenins stood smoking with Dr. Grammario. He saw Linda step down from the lighted coach, wearing his greatcoat over the servant’s clothes and floppy galoshes. Her hair streaming down her back, Linda joined the promenade. Lady Drasher’s diamonds flashed shards of reflected light. Christopher felt certain she had a few questions for Linda, determined to draw meaning from these events.

Dr. Grammario joined the officers and asked questions about the stew in lieu of begging a taste. Showy plumes of egret feathers on their shakos dried in the morning air. The statuesque men tolerated Virgil’s probing and judged his clothes. They looked to each other for the agreed signal to extend a wooden bowl of stew. They turned their backs while Virgil gobbled their offering, since his entreaty did not include a return gift.

Dr. Meenins joined Linda Deemer near the draft horses. So tall was she, that her head extended four inches above his. Can you return? he gently asked.

I have returned, she said.

I mean, can you leave here?

I’m second-right chair. My place is secure.

Take me with you, he shamelessly begged.

My destiny and yours are not the same.

Then all is lost? He looked at the snowcapped peaks. I feel temporal.

Seventy years or seven hundred. Only harmony counts. You have added to our structure. Linda Deemer stepped toward the horses hitched in a double row of four.

Be careful, Dr. Meenins cautioned.

There’s no danger.

Linda put her hand on the lead horse’s leg. While she stroked the second horse’s muzzle, the driver joined her, sucking his teeth and staring into her face. Are these your animals? Linda asked.

My Lady Tasgneganz maintains an extensive stable.

The other four are blanched with fear. You keep the strong horses on the inside.

So they don’t drive us over the cliff.

The second horse tossed his head, his mane flashing across Linda’s shoulder. Enough talk, huh, my critic, Linda said. She stroked his neck and asked the driver, Doesn’t your companion want to stretch his legs?

The coachman glanced up at the empty driver’s seat. After a moment he claimed, I’m my own man, and returned to the horseguards’ fire.

Linda gave Dr. Meenins a quiet smile, walking with him to the ancient rail. The morning sun hovered, a quickly cooling orb behind the white and gray sky. Below was the reflecting glacier that inched down the fjord to warmer terrain. So this is the world you prefer, she teased. I can see why you’re so committed to the concrete.

We must go, Dr. Meenins claimed. There is little time.

Lady Drasher entered the berlin first, followed by the others in orderly fashion. Virgil Grammario scrambled inside last, flushed with the unreasonable fear of being left behind. Once seated, he crossed his stocky legs, his silk trousers wrinkled and stained, and glared at Lady Drasher’s implacable face.

The lonely berlin and escort set foot upon a denuded plateau. The horses trotted all morning across the permafrost. Inside, Lady Drasher extended to Linda Deemer a hand-painted tin with layers of white and dark confections in ruffled wrappers. Linda smiled at her benefactress and selected a treasure of chocolate and caramel delight. Lady Drasher stowed the stiff box without thought of her other guests.

And now we should have a story, she suggested. A fanciful tale that will transport us to another time. Full of simile and metaphor, a broad-shouldered allegory elastic enough to convey some great truth in our lives.

Tell us about David Shanklen, Virgil Grammario suggested.

Dr. Meenins saw Linda stiffen and glance his way. After all, Virgil added, it’s because of David that we undertook this journey. When exactly did the ecstasy begin? At what point were you able to reach out?

Don’t be tedious, Lady Drasher said. A fanciful tale I requested, none of this business. Very well, if I must begin, I select this one for our edification.

Dr. Grammario took a pinch of snuff and wiggled deeper into his tight seat. Linda Deemer smiled at Dr. Meenins, perhaps delighted with the prospect of riding secure and warm, a womb within a womb, while the old woman’s voice washed over them with ancient tales of great deeds and lost love.

Chapter 2

The afternoon waned while our traveling group approached the monastery wall. Virgil Grammario pointed out the window. Linda joined him and watched the passing landscape. A tiny kangaroo, Virgil exclaimed.

A wallaby, Lady Drasher corrected while she straightened her jewels and refreshed the air with perfume.

And look! Virgil said. Dancing cranes with black-tipped wings. An army of them! He looked at Lady Drasher with amazement. They cannot be here. It’s too high.

The monastery is a watershed to many travelers.

The masonry wall, constructed during sacred crusades, had tall watchtowers and square embattlements. The berlin and escort paused at the main gate while the horse guard captain conferred with the coachman. The royal detachment broke away and dismounted near a wooden inn with a low stable behind. The bearded soldiers each tucked a shako under one arm and gladly received a draught of frothy beer from the innkeeper.

The coach lurched, the lead horse spooked by murmuring foot traffic. Ladies in chiffon camisoles girded over flowing skirts were accompanied by servants in long aprons and winged caps like those worn by hospital nuns. The exhausted horses high-stepped along a cobblestone thoroughfare. Dr. Meenins glimpsed an old beggar, blind and rail thin, who held out a wooden bowl towards any present noise, hopeful for pitiful alms.

Poor soul, Christopher said.

He is called Hercules, Lady Drasher said. He guards the entrance from evil spirits, those who would spoil the purity of this place.

Who would think to do that? Linda asked.

Many consider it. Few are a threat.

And Hercules there is a deterrent? Dr. Grammario asked.

The coach passed a thriving bazaar filled with spices and brassware and hemp. A second stone archway revealed an inner courtyard with a circular colonnade. The perpendicular arms of a Baobab tree supported branching shade.

On this day, monastery residents were enjoying an impromptu festival. Young girls in pairs, all dressed in mauve and yellow with their long tresses tied up with bright ribbon and their slippers secured with multi-colored bands, played a maypole game near the base of the Baobab tree. They danced in a gleeful circle and threaded the maypole’s red and blue ribbons into an intricate braid.

The coach halted near some steps leading to a hammered copper door closed against late afternoon sunlight. The coachman dismounted and opened the berlin door facing the steps. Dr. David Christopher Meenins disembarked first, glad for fresh air and new sensations. Dr. Virgil Augustus Grammario stepped down and vigorously shook one leg so the encumbered satin fell into place. He offered a hand to Linda Deemer, who was still wearing servant’s clothes and galoshes.

Sylvia and her companion stepped down next. They reached in to manage the cloak hem. Lady Drasher Elizabeth Tasgneganz disembarked and ascended a few steps, the long folds of her cloak rippling down. The coachman climbed onto the high driver’s seat. Where is your companion? Linda called to him. He gave her a sidelong glance before he slapped the reins. The horses painfully crossed the cobblestone yard and out the gates where they would find rest, finally, at the exterior inn.

Sylvia, directed by Lady Drasher, stopped a passing girl of fourteen dressed for the festival. What occasion? Sylvia asked.

The ecstasy has passed. Ursula is released!

No, it cannot be over! Dr. Meenins said. We cannot be too late.

Calm yourself, Linda said with a quiet smile. The ecstasy has only paused, a hiatus for Ursula’s comfort.

Praise God, Christopher said.

God cares little for your acts, Lady Drasher returned. All this is your doing.

Just then the copper doors opened with a creaking groan. A ballast blast of chilled air disturbed dry leaves and muslin balls on the doorstep, conveying the odors of incense and cool stone. Lilting music from a lyre and flute reached their ears. Four young matrons wearing the lightest green, their never-shorn hair streaming down their backs, stepped down two on each side and waited. Two more women, no longer children and wearing rich muslin gowns of maple green, stepped forward and nodded to Lady Drasher.

Sister Stone, the monastery turnkey, a handsome and big-chested forty-year-old, arrived last. Her gown of rich forest green defined her bodice and fell in undulating folds to her feet. She walked directly to Lady Drasher. So good of you to visit, Beth, she said. Although it’s not the season of your retreat.

These guests asked to come. To view the ecstasy, Lady Drasher replied.

Sister Stone glanced at Dr. Grammario and Dr. Meenins, and also saw Linda Deemer with her great stomach apparent under the old clothes. Sister Stone offered her hand to shake. We often delight in the word travelers bring. Would you care to rest before vespers?

Sister Stone guided Linda up the steps, calling back, I look forward to hearing one of your stories at supper, Beth.

From within they heard a lilting melody that improvised variations on a theme, teasing the air with cascading notes. Sylvia and her fellow servant brought up the rear of their procession, staring in wonder at the statuary and high stained-glass windows visible between the arched corridor’s winged buttresses. So many memories this moment incites in me. For myself, I treasure that time of day two hours before vespers when each laborer makes a new list and stows the utensils and counts only what has been accomplished.

Dr. Meenins and Dr. Grammario were not invited into the cloister, of course, but were quartered in guestrooms below the library. The torch-lit room included a straw and burlap mattress on a wooden frame, a cedar cabinet where the servants had hung his clothes, and a straight-backed chair by a table with writing materials. Christopher’s traveling trunk stood open at the foot of the bed, his books and humidor in a straightened row, his few personal items laid out on an embroidered napkin. Bathed and refreshed, Christopher paced the room’s long center in woolens and trousers over polished leather boots.

Three recessed arches with leaded-glass windows overlooked the leeward trail. Christopher leaned on a window seat and pushed open the weighted frame. He saw long walls built into a granite ridge. The wide trail was crowded with black camels and horses with hairy legs. Christopher heard the drivers’ commands and beasts’ complaints from three terraces below. Vespers had ended and music resumed playing through the corridors, tingling bells and a base-voiced string instrument in mock-reverential harmonies.

There was a knock at his door. Supper was brought in on a pewter tray. A young servant in crisp, light green attire kept her eyes averted and her gestures servile, delivering sliced fruit and cheese with a piece of bread and brandy in a small pewter mug. Dr. Meenins wondered for a moment what story of heroic deeds Lady Drasher related for her friends at the women’s communal table.

A second knock came at the door. A second servant brought in a second tray, crowding the table intended for a single traveler’s use. Dr. Grammario, dressed in white silk that hugged his pear-like form, entered with a self-important rush. You don’t mind, do you? he asked as a dismissal of the question.

Virgil caught the arm of a retreating servant. Be sure to lay warm coals at the bottom of my cot. And bring blankets, comforters of a finer material than that smelly burlap. The two young women bowed and left. Virgil surveyed the food before he selected a piece of cheese and held it to his nose. He threw it back onto the tray and quickly drank his brandy. At least the drink is appealing, he complained, shivering against the night air.

Virgil stepped to the wall tapestry and surveyed its story. With his nose in the air, he glanced into Christopher’s trunk. What I would not give for one of Lady Drasher’s confections.

I’m afraid I brought no provision of processed meat or aged cheese.

Living on your faith? Virgil said. Can you believe the jingoism of that woman? To embrace Linda Deemer and exclude us from the evening meal!

You knew the monastery was for women when we took up this journey.

I thought they would be more respectful!

They distill this brandy, you know, Christopher said. Not distill it so much; that’s carried on by an extended family in a mountain village. Rather, they allow the casts to age in their cool cellars. Ten years for VS and twenty or more years for VSOP, depending on quality when the VS portion is released.

Why haven’t I heard of this brand?

It doesn’t travel well, Dr. Meenins said. For eighty miles around, VS brandy is the preferred drink in every household and every inn, provided in small drops in a child’s evening milk. But when served beyond that perimeter, even VSOP sours the belly. When transported some distance, the brandy has been known to give off a pungent decaying odor.

Their story is famous, he continued. The fate of each young convert is tied to the brandy’s quality. Each year during the autumn festival two toddler girls selected from the communities below enter the convent’s care while that year’s brandy is laid in. They are educated here and may take vows if they wish.

After fifteen years the brandy is judged for market quality. One half the store is released along with one of the girls, now eighteen. She may reenter the community, marry or travel, and teach in the area of her scholarship. If the brandy is judged superb, the other girl must remain within the convent while the second half of the brandy is further aged.

How is it decided which girl?

They choose between them. It’s considered a great honor to remain in the convent. She becomes responsible for deciding when the VSOP may be released. Perhaps after twelve years, perhaps after twenty-four years. The preservation of her virginity, her service or her release into the community – these are tied to the fate of the brandy portion she guards.

But after twenty-four years she would be age forty-two! A local merchant would take a barren woman to wife?

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