Edward Wayland – The Road Back 1

A short story related to the Omicron Matter. Edward refused a job from Millicent Morgaine and now has to find a way back to his old life.

Author’s Note

I was asked by my editor to fill in some blanks around Edward Wayland’s life after his time with Smith.  He is a side character and the main story doesn’t follow his life, but he has his own story. This story will be told in five parts.

Look for more on Thursday

Morning Preparations

Faces surrounded him like odd floating balloons. Winifred was licking her lips and leering lasciviously. Neville was fretting and shifting his look between Winifred and Findley. Findley was shouting at him but no noise was coming out. Smith stared at him impassively.  The disembodied heads swirled around him moving in and out.  Then the pain started. Winifred laughed, Findley grinned and Neville grimaced. Smith looked impassive.  Then a jolt of pleasure and the faces blurred again. Then more pain. The faces shouted at him without sound. He tried running but the bobbing heads just followed.  He punched at Findley whose face was close and the face moved away. He swung at others who dodged up and down.  Edward shouted “leave me alone…leave me alone…” He ran but they followed. When he fell, they swarmed on him and he screamed out shaking.  And then he woke up suddenly. His butler Rigel was next to the bed rubbing his jaw while trying to shake him.

At the door his father stood staring, frowning and he asked the obvious question, “Another episode?”

He looked at Rigel apologetically and said, “Blast it. I am sorry.”

Rigel rubbed his jaw and said, “You warned us sir this would happen.  Now if you are roused, I should like to get a compress for my jaw.”

His father said sternly, “Go Rigel we have it from here. Edward, for God’s sake, take the damn laudanum.  Dammit I have to be at work in two hours.”

Edward held his aching head and said, “No… No.. I’ve had enough of the like…I’ll …I’ll read in the study until breakfast.”  His father harrumphed but left the door.

His mother wrung her hands and said, “Oh Edward, what did they do to you?”

Edward sighed and stretched and said, “It’s late or its early. Go sleep. I’ll be fine. I’ll help Rigel with his compress and fix myself a cup of tea.  I will be heading to Chapman, Bressey and Dent after breakfast to ask about my job.”

His mother said in a certain voice, “Then you should rest. Just take the potion…you’ll get some rest and look better.”

He looked at the despised bottle and said, “I was …warned that I should be cautious about such potions. At least until my nightmares stop.”

His mother left muttering, “but that’s the whole blooming point …” The doctor’s sleeping potion might have worked, but Millicent and Charles had warned sternly against laudanum and any of the like drugs. They also said he should avoid opium and opium dens and strong drink as if he was some bowery bum.  They said the drugs would become a poor substitute for the pleasure cycles of the collar and he would soon be using them like Neville’s fawning for charges.  That warning had been an anchor so far. He had spent three weeks shivering and screaming as his body begged for the missing pleasure cycle. He would not enter that hall of mirrors again.

Millicent Morgaine had set him free of the collar John Smith had put on him. She had offed a job to him, but he was done with strange people who offered a trip to see the galaxy.  The offer she made was very reasonable.  But he had been told that before and now he needed to decline on principle. Millicent looked annoyed but agreed that he might be a bit wary of new contracts. She gave him an amount that was equal to a year’s salary and apologized it was not more. She also gave him two contacts. The first was a café near the university.  He had visited it frequently in his University days. The second was a pub in Dunstable. Jason and John had spent some time there and the owner would understand the choices he had faced.

He spent the morning reading the “Daily Punch” in the study, but he wasn’t really following it. When the rest of the house seemed to be stirring he called for a light breakfast and then headed up to his room to get ready.  Rigel assisted him in preparation for the meeting at C,B and D.  The butler straightened his collar and said, “You never should have trusted that man.”

Edward smiled a bit sadly and said, “I spent my early years ignoring your good advice and came to regret it, Rigel. I hope to spend the rest my life following your advice precisely.”

Rigel blushed and then said, “Don’t believe anything you hear other than you are a brilliant young man. Young men make mistakes but are capable of learning.” And then as an afterthought said, “And never sign a contract without a barrister reviewing it.”

Edward laughed, looked in the mirror and said, “armored and girded, wish me luck Rigel.”

Rigel said, “Luck sir. You deserve a bit.”


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