Green Ruin (The Eternal Dungeon) as part of the free PDF zine Wanderlust: A Travel Anthology, edited by T. Spoon for The Slash Pile. Green Ruin has both heterosexual and gay content. The e-book editions of Green Ruin (HTML, PDF, and Kindle) remain available for $2.99.
The omnibus edition of the Eternal Dungeon series was winner of the Best Gay Fantasy category of the Rainbow Awards 2011.
"During the dawn hours at the Eternal Dungeon, as the day shift yawned itself awake and the night shift yawned itself to bed, the talk turned, as it always did, to the injustices of being a guard."
Three guards and a mysterious substance provide a temptation too great to be missed . . . especially when two torturers add their skills to the mix. Soon three very different men – a married man who is committed to respect and honor, a bachelor harboring secret desires, and a soldier with an unfulfilled ambition – will find themselves caught in a trap. Their rescue will come from an unexpected quarter.
This darkly humorous short story of friendship and romance can be read on its own or as a side story in The Eternal Dungeon, a historical fantasy series set in a land where the psychologists wield whips.
Mr. Sobel said cautiously, "One needs to be careful when imbibing strong liquor. I've heard tales—"
"Oh, tales." Mr. Boyd dismissed this with one wave of the hand.
Mr. Urman, still enjoying the task of imparting the worst news, read: "'The partial insensibility caused by the absinthe is attended with the ideal existence of long intervals of time, in which the events of a whole life are arrayed and appreciated, to be succeeded by terrific hallucinations and intellectual weakness, ending in unconscious struggling as if for life. In time, if the use of the absinthe be continued, these phenomena become permanently established and the result is inevitably fatal.'"
"Fatal memories!" Turning a page, Mr. Boyd snorted again. "Does the author really expect us to believe that?"
"You never know." Mr. Urman set aside the book, as though he had read enough.
"'A Vovimian physician tells us that after the first dose of absinthe, you are carried in imagination away from earth into a lofty and boundless realm without horizon,'" Mr. Sobel murmured as he read from his book. "'You imagine yourself travelling into the infinite spirals of rebirth. . . .'"
"'Hallucinations of various kinds, of naked women' – there's one for you, Mr. Sobel," teased Mr. Boyd.
"Mr. Boyd, please." Mr. Sobel had turned scarlet.
Unable to resist this opportunity to make mock at the dungeon's senior-most guard, Mr. Urman returned to his reading. "'He now carried his excesses still further, and added absinthe to his list of excitants. Then this youth, so chaste and reserved in his intervals of sobriety, lost his modesty with a very remarkable facility, not only when under the influence of liquor, but when simply dominated by a desire to drink. For a drink he would give himself to the first comer. . . .'"
"Sounds like an aphrodisiac," observed Mr. Boyd. "That could be handy in certain situations." He nudged Mr. Sobel, the married man.
Mr. Sobel, though, had renewed his composure. "It's a dangerous drug," he stated flatly. "Listen to what is said here: 'In the case of excessive drinkers there is first the feeling of exaltation peculiar to a state of intoxication. The increasing dose necessary to produce this state quickly deranges the digestive organs, and destroys the appetite. An unappeasable thirst takes possession of the victim, with giddiness, tingling in the ears, and hallucinations of sight and hearing, followed by a constant mental oppression and anxiety, loss of brain power, and, eventually, idiocy.'"
"Excessive drinkers," Mr. Boyd emphasized, unwilling to let go of a point. "Do you mind if I borrow a glassful of this, Mr. Sobel? It would be interesting to see what the drink tastes like. . . ."
Farewell from the Bookshelf!
Please note that GLBT Bookshelf -- the community wiki which was the parent to this fiction blog -- went offline on May 31, 2016, after seven years' service to members.
All Gay Romance will remain online till the end of 2016 in order to give contributors every opportunity to recover materials uploaded here.
Many thanks to all who contributed over the years, and good luck to everyone in your future works!