Hello and welcome to Ayami Publications, home to an ever growing collection of stories and novels. Here you will find tales of wonder and imagination, all free to read and serialized in full for your convenience.
Within these pages await vistas of distant places and times, so please explore. You can read any of our stories by following the links to the right, all available here in their entirety and free of charge, or you can scroll down for samples of our latest releases and for announcements about new projects.
If you like what you read, be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed so you can follow your favorite stories. And if you want to read the whole story right now, you can visit our Catalog to learn how you can buy e-Book versions of our stories to take with you anywhere, including on your iPad or Amazon Kindle.
Sit back, relax, and allow your mind to see more than ever before.
- Ayami Tyndall
Dylan shuffled through the rubble, not taking notice of the approaching sirens. When he found a fallen beam not actively burning, he sat down stiffly. He breathed the air, the only air, and groped in his pocket. His wallet fell free to the floor, but he left it, instead hefting the loose coin he found there. He rested it carefully on his crouched thumb.
“Heads,” he called as he flicked the coin. It spun through the air, seemed to hover for a moment at its zenith, then plummeted back to earth. It splashed down into the ash, anchored firmly where it fell. The sharp beaked eagle stared up at him.
“No chance,” whispered Dylan. He leaned forward, arms on his knees, and let his eyes drift shut.
There was a clatter and Dylan looked up. The last shards of glass had fallen in through the sliding door to what had been the yard. Rafaela stood at the threshold, dressed in her paramedic’s uniform, looking around at the wreckage.
Dylan sucked a hot, pained breath. He sat up as she carefully entered the ruin of her home, but he didn’t know what to say. She was shocked, confused, frightened. He wanted to do something for her, but he felt all his usefulness had finally run out, maybe years before. He could only watch as she waded through, nudged rubble aside, then stopped at the bodies of Maria and Michael. She looked at them, although Dylan didn’t know what she was seeking with her gaze, then she softly reached down a thin hand and slid closed each set of eyes. She moved to join Dylan, sitting on the beam beside him.
Dylan’s mind was a blank. He opened his mouth a dozen times, but closed it quickly again. Finally he just planted his eyes on the distant sky.
After a time, he felt Rafaela move closer, then she said quietly, “I wish I could’ve known them.”
Dylan’s head swiveled and he looked at her. In her, for the first time, he saw something, some recognition, and as he did he drew back, his own face pulling tight. “No,” he whispered, tears bursting to his eyes. “No, not you too.”
As Dylan shivered stiffly, paralyzed, Rafaela reached down and lifted his wallet. She opened it, ran her fingers through its contents, then deftly pinched the worn white corner of a photo enshrined there. She slipped it out with loving care and held it by the margin between them. Dylan shut his eyes, tried to look away, but he could not. His neck creaked as he turned his eyes down to the cracked old picture.
Above the tiled floor of a hospital, a woman’s hand lay weakly on the edge of a wheeled medical crib. Wrapped in a handmade blanket with tasseled edges was a newborn baby girl. Newborn, but never once able to draw a breath. Her form was forever still. On the front face of the crib, the name plaque read Rafaela Quale.
“I really do have her eyes,” said Rafaela, and he looked up at her smiling face. She really, really did. Dylan coughed a sob through a broken little smile. He fell into his daughter’s arms.
“I don’t understand,” he said, sobbing uncontrollably. “I held you, I buried you.” Rafaela held him as well, offering her strength to him. “I don’t understand,” he said again.
“I know,” said Rafaela. “I know, but it’s okay.” Slowly withdrawing from his arms, she stood, still holding his hand as she smiled down at him. “Come on,” she said, tugging him to his feet.
He stood, breathing more steadily as the tears cleared from his eyes. “Where are we going?” he asked as she led him through the rubble and ash.
“To dinner,” said Rafaela, eyes ahead. “Maria and Michael are waiting for us.” She paused then, turned slowly, and looked back at him with an impish smile he knew well. “Don’t you want to see them?”
“More than anything,” said Dylan.
“The narrowing is getting worse,” said Gabriel. “Reality’s logic is crumbling. We have to hurry before your path to success is destroyed too.”
“You said I couldn’t save the plane,” said Dylan. “Why couldn’t I?”
“It was narrowed,” said Gabriel, “and no one can undo the narrowing.”
Dylan shook his head slowly, held his son more tightly. “We did,” he whispered. “Michael and I changed it.”
“I’m sorry,” said Gabriel, “but you didn’t. You never did.”
“I saw it,” snapped Dylan. “You said so yourself after I saved Mayor Katz.”
“Mayor Katz is still going to die,” said Gabriel. “Like I said, you just delayed it, but the outcomes have been narrowed. Michael has no power to shape reality. All we can do is stop the narrowing.”
“But the family in that burning house –”
“They were never actually narrowed.”
“– and the coin flip,” barked Dylan.
“The quantum probability trickle down,” said Gabriel. “Every time you flipped, one Fork got heads, the other tails. You’re the sum of each successively less likely Fork that got heads.”
“But when I spoke to Michael…”
“Only words. You guessed; the Fork that was wrong, for whom the family didn’t survive, who saw Katz jump, he just quit. But you’re the one who was right. You stayed the course.”
“The course,” said Dylan, shaking where he sat. His son clutched at his arm. “Damn you and your book of spells.”
“I never wanted this,” said Gabriel. “But the Atlas shows it clearly; if you’d known, you wouldn’t have kept going. And there are versions of you who didn’t. But you’re still the one who can save us. You need to leave that mountain, come to my lab.”
“Is that another ruse?” asked Dylan. “Another lie?”
“No,” said Gabriel. “I know you have no reason to believe me, but there won’t be any more lies. You’re ready now. You can come and see the Atlas for yourself and we’ll stop the narrowing before any more futures are lost.”
“Any more,” said Dylan. He kissed his son’s head, straightened his hair. “You said there’s no way to turn back the narrowing.”
“Yes,” said Gabriel. “We can’t get back what was lost, but we can stop the bleeding, save what’s left.” Dylan sat in silence, eyes closed, listening anxiously for each of Michael’s weakening breaths. When he said no more, Gabriel added, “Besides, even if you don’t, there’s a Fork of you who will.”
“You think so?” said Dylan.
“Yes,” said Gabriel, frothing. “All that matters is your choice.” Dylan felt himself calm as Gabriel spoke. He pulled Michael up closer to him, raised his son’s quivering head to be level to his own. “Choose to be the one who does,” said Gabriel. “Choose to be the Dylan who makes the right choice.”
“Okay,” said Dylan. Holding his son with every ounce of delicate strength he had left, he whispered to him, “Let what is be all that is.”
Michael gasped as his vision narrowed. Dylan saw nothing, heard nothing, but he felt it. Not with his body, but deeper. And then Gabriel confirmed it. “Dylan, what are you doing?” he demanded. Where was his voice coming from?
“I’m simplifying things,” said Dylan.
“Dylan, no! Dylan! Stop! Stop it!”
The worlds crumbled and Dylan felt lighter for it. Michael grew hot in his arms, a final rush. “Dylan, please!” bellowed Gabriel. “Please, stop this!” For the first time, Dylan heard genuine surprise and fear in his voice, and he caught himself feeling sorry.
“Gabriel,” said Dylan. “You’ve been manipulating me from the start. But now it’s over.”
“No!” screamed Gabriel.
“Be with your family,” said Dylan. “I got to see mine again. Make sure you see yours.”
“This isn’t over!” said Gabriel. “I won’t let it end here!”
Dylan drew and then released a slow, heavy breath. “Why are you so obsessed?” he asked. “Why can you think of nothing except the narrowing?”
The audio crackled, hissed with the burning, crumbling ruin. Then Gabriel shouted, clear and from everywhere, “Because I don’t know anything else! I remember nothing from before when I contacted you this morning. I don’t know what’s done this to me, if it’s part of the narrowing, but I’ll stop it, I will fix this and –”
“Oh, Gabriel,” said Dylan. “I’m so sorry.”
“Don’t you dare apologize!” shouted Gabriel. “You are a useless coward! I am the man who can see eternity!”
“And you have been an excellent guide,” said Dylan.
“No,” began Gabriel.
“But your job is done,” finished Dylan.
And as the last of it all fell away, Gabriel too was gone. Dylan was alone. In his arms, Michael lay dead, succumbed to the fresh wounds inflicted in a street fight so many years before. He laid his son down by Maria. Together again, his family.