Storm Moon Press - Helotry Untitled Page


Suzanne van Rooyen

Out of Print

Rontak is a slave, his status marked by the scars on his skin. In a fit of rage, he breaks free of his bondage and tries to hide himself in the city. With no resources, he knows it's only a matter of time before he is caught. Through the kindness of a stranger named Tréy, though, Rontak is secreted away and given shelter and food. But when he learns the truth about Rontak, Tréy has to make a difficult choice between upholding the law and doing the right thing.

Tréy meandered through the cobbled streets of the old town, winding around red brick and concrete buildings. Half of a century ago, this had been the city center when the first humans settled on Kishar. Tréy ran his fingers along the rough exterior of the brick, wondering how many Earthean feet had trod the same spot. He rounded a corner and entered New Time's Square. The antiquated architecture of the clock tower had been preserved, but the hand-ticking face had been replaced with a digital display. Unlike the rest of Cinder's city squares, this one had no fountain, and no musical susurration of running water. So dry and strange.

Tréy's gaze shifted from brick tower to the vagabonds sheltering from the afternoon heat in its shadow. Lifting the camera to his eye, Tréy maintained a respectful distance as he snapped images of the motley homeless. He squinted through the viewfinder, adjusted the aperture and focus on his vintage camera, and, with a definitive click of finger, immortalized the moment, creating art from homeless slumber.

Old men slouched devoured by wrinkles as younger men languished beneath the clock smoking blue cigarettes. The tang of the analgesic herb thickened the air already turned syrupy with humidity.

Not wanting to over stay his welcome among the flotsam crowds, Tréy strolled from the square, hugging the shadows as sweat slicked his chest and shoulders. His feet led him toward the cemetery, the ancient grove of tombstones and monuments for the dead Eartheans, the resting place of those intergalactic pioneers. Here, at least, there was shade provided by the interlocking limbs of trees.

Silence clung to the crumbling tombstones. The cacophony of Cinder respectfully left the dead in a cocoon of quietude, leaving the dead astronauts in peace. Tréy picked his way carefully between jagged chunks of weathered stone; some of the tombstones had already succumbed to time and rot.

The sound of footsteps caused the hairs on the back of Tréy's neck to rise. He turned to find a young man staring at him, a blanket was wrapped around his shoulders.

"Hey ya," Tréy said, in a voice as brittle as Autumn leaves. The man was filthy, but his face possessed a feral beauty with high cheek bones and wide set eyes.

"My greetings," the stranger said, his accent curling around the syllables. The man was tall and strange, his presence incongruous with the surroundings. Their voices were an intrusion on the dead. The man's gaze dropped from Tréy's face to the camera in his hands. Tréy's pulse quickened, feeling so vulnerable in the penetrating stare.

4 - Gigi at MM Good Book Reviews
"Wow! I’m impressed with this series of short stories from Storm Moon Press! Helotry is part of the Written in Flesh series, and Suzanne Van Rooyen does a great job of creating a foreign planet, and co mingling new and separate human species. Another enjoyable read by an author that is new to me and I can’t wait to dig up more of her work!"


Written in Flesh


12,900 words
45 pages

Release Date

Book Type

Short Story





Cover Art

ThinkSentient Ltd


M/M, science fiction, tattoo