Control (Everyday Heroes #3.5)

By: K. Bromberg

An Everyday Heroes Novella






One Thousand and One Dark Nights



Once upon a time, in the future…



I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.

I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and

the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast

library at my father’s home and collected thousands

of volumes of fantastic tales.



I learned all about ancient races and bygone

times. About myths and legends and dreams of all

people through the millennium. And the more I read

the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered

that I was able to travel into the stories… to actually

become part of them.



I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher

and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I

would not be telling you this tale now.

But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off

with bravery.



One afternoon, curious about the myth of the

Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to

see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar

(Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then

sent yesterday’s wife to be beheaded. It was written

and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,

the vizier’s daughter, he’d killed one thousand

women.



Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived

in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged

places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had

never occurred before and that still to this day, I

cannot explain.



Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have

taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can

protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to

protect herself and stay alive.



Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.

And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a

point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.

And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that

he might hear the rest of my dark tale.



As soon as I finish a story… I begin a new

one… like the one that you, dear reader, have before

you now.





Prologue



Reznor



“It wasn’t your fault, Rez.”

“Easy for you to say.” I look over to my supervisor, Harry, and take in the pained look on his face, but I don’t really care. “I made the call to breach. Their blood is on my hands.”

“That’s bullshit, and you know it.” Laughter in the bullpen outside his office filters in, so he walks the few steps and shuts the door hard enough for the cheap metal mini blinds to make a noise as they bounce back against its glass. “It was the fucker who did this’s fault.”

“Mm-hmm.” I keep my eyes on my hands, but with her scream so loud in my head it could be blood on my cuticles and not the grease from working on my motorcycle earlier that I stare at. “I need some time off. A month or two. I don’t know.”

His chuckle is dismissive. “Guys like you don’t take time off, Reznor. You’re a throwback. You’ve been doing this, what? Twelve years?”

“Fifteen.”

“Fifteen. How many times in my tenure here have I heard you say you want time off only to come back the next day?”

“It doesn’t matter. What matters is I’m asking now.” I roll my shoulders because I was right. He was going to fight me on this.

“You’re the team leader. You just can’t—”

“Paul will do just fine stepping into my shoes for a bit.”

“He’s not you though. In case you haven’t noticed, it seems like we’re in a wave of serious shit right now. One fucking thing after another. The calls aren’t stopping…Christ.” He puts his hands on his hips and stares at the guys in the pen. They’re ribbing each other and laughing when fuck if I know how long it’s been since I’ve gotten a solid night’s sleep. “They depend on you.”

I nod, the guilt already eating at me that I’m going to let my men down. “I know.”

His sigh is heavy and weighs down the room. “I can’t do it right now. I can’t let you step away so you keep reliving everything that went down. You’re going to get in your own head over it, and that’s gonna fuck you up further. You’ll walk away.”