First Chapter Finalist Award for Sci-Fi: The Children’s Hour by Douglas Derrer


The Children’s Hour by Douglas Derrer is a Finalist in the Science Fiction/Fantasy category of Works in Progress for the East Texas Writers Guild First Chapter Book Awards.

Award-Winning First Chapter

“The Mommy and the Daddy are going to read us a story,” said the Eldest Child.

“Well, yes, of course we will,” replied the Mommy. “What would the Children like?”

“The story we all love so much. Jenny’s story. About the Genesis Child,” dozens of the Children shouted. “The New Beginning. The return to the Garden. How it all came to be!”

“But we just read that one to you a few nights ago…” the Mommy protested feebly, but smiled, knowing she would read it again for the umpteenth time.

“Please read it again. Because we do like it so,” the Eldest Child reminded her.

“But we’re so tired,” the Mommy begged. “Just this one night, can’t we…”

“We’ll ‘urge’ you, then,” she said, “that always helps.” Her eyes rolled up in her head.

Douglas Derrer
Douglas Derrer

The eyes of all the Children did the same. As they concentrated, their heads and hands shook with a mild palsy. The Mommy grimaced, knowing too well what to expect, then tried to relax into what she knew was coming. She tried to recall a French phrase that described these Children… Then it came to her: enfants terrible.

Beyond the wide veranda where everyone was seated—the Mommy and the Daddy together on an old wicker glider with thick, floral-print cushions, the Children relaxing nearby—large multi-hued fireflies sparkled and danced under the spreading limbs of ancient cypress trees. The strident shrill of cicadas pierced the humid evening air, which was soft, warm, and gentle against the skin. Now and then a zephyr wafted along the veranda, lifting the graying hair away from the Mommy’s forehead. She sucked in a long, slow breath of the hazy evening air, waiting for what she knew was to come.

A short, sharp shaft of pain shot through her body. “Uh!” she blurted involuntarily, exhaled hard, and nearly vomited. Electric worms ate through her brain, which felt swollen, like it might explode. The pain was vehement, inexorable. Her eyes closed tightly and tears squeezed from them. She forced another breath and swallowed hard. Seconds later, her pain abruptly stopped. The Children’s faces changed not a whit, but hers did. Her smile returned.

She bathed in a gushing glow of warmth, peace, and pleasure. The Mommy inhaled long and fully, overwhelmed with powerful feelings. The hedonic sensation was greater than the most wonderful orgasm her aged body had ever known.

“Ohhhh, god…god…god…. You don’t know what you do-o-o to me-e-e….” she rasped under her breath. Her back arched, her shriveled breasts felt firm again. She pushed them high and hard against her taught blouse as her pelvis thrust rhythmically in orgiastic delight. As the waves of pleasure faded, she sank back into the cushions of the wicker glider, exhausted, weak, drained, but deeply relaxed and satisfied. Her racing heart slowly resumed its normal rhythm.

She opened her eyes. Oh my God! I was twenty again and Carlo was fucking me relentlessly with his big, Italian cock. How do they bring those memories and feelings back after all this time?

Her eyes glittered with a grim, embittered determination. I used to hate this treatment—the kick and the kiss, I called it. They hurt you with unbelievable pain for a few agonizing, seconds. Then, they force a wave of overwhelming pleasure and warmth to roll through you washing away your suffering and fury, as if that would make it all better. The kick and the kiss left her reeling with a crazy mix of joy, rage, and despair.

She had to admit, though, that over the years she’d lived with the Children, she’d at first fought these sensations, but now looked forward to them with great, albeit secret, anticipation. She’d realized the pain cleared her mind, helped her focus, kept her sharp; but it was nothing to the pleasure. Wave after wave of sensate joy washed through her. Sometimes, for hours, or so it seemed.

She knew many parents took pleasure from their children, but this was something no other parents she’d known had ever experienced. But then, hers were the most unusual children the planet had ever birthed.

Truly, the Children were parents to the Mommy and the Daddy, who would now be rotting in one of many mass graves that speckled the planet had not the compassionate Children rescued, revivified, and rehabilitated them. The Daddy was still nearly blind and mostly deaf, and the Mommy’s limbs were missing at the elbows and knees. But the children had made progress with these problems, too. Tiny limb buds had begun to show from the blunt, scared ends of her elbows. The gray sheen of cataracts over the Daddy’s eyes had cleared so much he often waxed eloquent about the sun at dawn and dusk. Like an infant, he was learning to see shapes and colors again—miracles all.

Still, she despaired when she acutely felt the loss of her old world and her helplessness in this new one. She could do nothing about the Children’s medical treatments of either of them. But she hoped their miraculous ministrations would not delay her overdue death. Make it come soon, she prayed in her deep, comfy bed at night. Then I’ll be well beyond their ‘loving’ reach. Take me soon, she prayed to what was left of the God she’d once known. But she no longer knew what she believed. Was He alive? Gone? Not listening? Not caring?

She had faith once, but the wild child she’d secretly birthed long ago in that insane eugenics experiment changed all that—along with these young creatures who never seemed to age and who cared for her and the man they called the Daddy. Her so-called Grand Children.

She sighed, resigned, stoic, yet very mellow in the midst of her post-coital narcosis. “Yes, of course, we’ll read that one to you. You are the loving masters now, aren’t you?”

“We are! We are!” the Children chorused.

The Children never seem to notice my irony, my cutting sarcasm. But they’re just children, after all. Aren’t they? Unanswerable questions. Children, yes, and so much more.

The Children’s Hour was at hand. The Tale was what the Children wanted, once again, to hear their own story: the miracle of the Genesis Child, and where the Children came from. Oddly, with all their other incredible skills and powers, they did not read. But they made considerable efforts to preserve Old Ones who still had this arcane skill, calling them the History Tellers. When the Old Ones died, as many had, they took the past with them. For reasons unclear to the Mommy, the Children feared that loss, and made efforts to keep them, and their story, alive.

The Mommy settled into her pillows on the creaking wicker glider; and the Daddy, seated next to her, rocked them gently, his foot brushing the worn boards of the porch. The Children sat scattered about the floor, on railings, on fluffy cushions, or on old rattan chairs, tilted back against railings or pillars. A true veranda in the old Southern style, it wrapped completely around the rambling aged manse, and provided a cool respite from the warm, muggy evening. Wisteria dripped from its roof with elegant purple and white blossoms nodding in the evening breezes.

Nearby, immense ancient cypress trees, dripping with Spanish moss, overhung the veranda. Giant fireflies twinkled and gleamed under the spreading arms of the trees. The Children loved fireflies. These were much larger than those the Mommy had grown up with. Many were the size hummingbirds and gave off glows of different colors that lasted a long time.

Enormous dragonflies had frightened the Daddy at first when they’d swooped too close to his face with their loud insistent hum. Their iridescent colors and ceaseless thrumming wings were quite beautiful. The Mommy saw there was nothing dangerous about them and reassured him gently. Dragonflies had not been this size since dinosaur times, I’m sure. The Children have done amazing things with their brave, new world.

And there were no mosquitos. Well, there were, but they did not bite nor even come close to you. The Children had not killed them because of their deep reverence for all life, but they had changed them just as they had the fireflies, the dragonflies, and many other creatures, fauna and flora. Lustrous snakes plied the riverbanks, woods and grasses. None poisonous. Not now.

Several inches of grass grew thick and green all over the yard where the children played. No one ever cut it. Wildflowers poked up through the grass everywhere. All this, the Mommy knew, was part of their Return to Eden. She wondered and worried about what they’d done to the world they’d inherited from the Genesis Child, but she consoled herself with the thought she would not be here to see whether it eventually became Heaven, as they all proclaimed. Or Hell.

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