Rise of the Gomeral

David and Cam


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Cam walked into the living room, giving David a distracted nod.

“What’s wrong?”

“I, um, I have some awkward news.”


“My father turns fifty next week and the rest of the family are planning a surprise party for him. They want me to come.”

David sighed. “It’s just for one night and it’s a special occasion for him, so you really should go, you know.”

“No, you don’t understand. They want me to bring you along.”

“Yeah, okay I guess.”

Cam groaned. “You still don’t understand. They think you’re a woman.”

“They think I’m a – what?”

“You know, a woman, like your sister. I let slip to Mother once that I was living with someone special to me, so she just assumed you were, um –”

“You mean they don’t know.”

“I guess not, and I’ve had no desire to tell them.”

David grinned. “This should be fun to watch, I’m sure.”

“Can’t you, like, get sick or break a leg or something so I’ll have an excuse for not bringing you?”

“You want me to break my own leg just to get you off the hook? I might have sworn my love for you when you were dying from Drago’s dart, Cam, but even so, that’s going a bit too far, don’t you think?”

Cam sighed. “You’re probably right, Davo, and I suppose a broken arm wouldn’t incapacitate you enough.”

“Sooner or later you’re going to have to tell them, you know, and better they hear it from you than some tawdry ultranet gossip site.”

“I suppose they can’t have a much lower opinion of me than they already do.”

“You never know, they might be pleased. After all, my parents were very accepting and supportive when we told them.”

“Yeah, but your parents are proper civilised people.”

David shook his head. “What’s the worst that can happen? They shout horrible words at you, making you storm out and never speak to them again. Is that so bad?”

“I guess not, unless, no, I don’t think even she’d do that.”

“Do what?”

“Kill me.”

“I’ll make sure she doesn’t.”

“How? I mean, seriously, if Mother pulls out a handgun and shoots me, how would you stop her?”

“Does she own a handgun?”

“No, but –”

“You think she’ll go out and steal one from Hazler’s criminal underworld just in case your girlfriend turns out to be me.”

“Um, I guess not. The worst I’ve seen her do is throw a rolling pin at me.”

“If you don’t mind me asking, why’d she do that?”

Cam blushed. “I came into the pantry with muddy feet just after the floor had been cleaned.”

“My dad did that once and Gran swore at him so badly he ran away from home.”


“Yeah, Aaron had to go out in the pouring rain and bring him back.”

“If I’d run away, no-one would’ve come looking for me.”

“Surely not.”

“I once got lost going home from a school excursion and spent two days roaming the city before finally spotting a familiar landmark. No-one at home even realised I’d been gone.”

“But surely they’d know when you didn’t show up for dinner.”

“We always ate with the staff who were constantly coming and going and minding their own business. Honestly, nobody noticed or cared.”

“Couldn’t you have just asked someone for directions?”

“Don’t be daft, Davo. This is Hazler we’re talking about; survival of the fittest is what it’s all about and kids who can’t find their way home don’t deserve to contribute to the gene pool.”


“So will you?”

“Will I what?”

“Break your leg.”

“No, Cam, I’m going with you, come hell or high water.”

“Helen who?”

“Never mind.”


* * *


After landing at the Oswald spaceport on Hazler and collecting the rental car he’d booked, Cam turned onto the Echelon Hills motorway, soon leaving the metropolitan sprawl behind.

David couldn’t help noticing that most of the other traffic consisted of black or silver chauffeur-driven limousines, while ahead of them and set amongst the forested hills overlooking the city, were many luxurious mansions. “You’ve never told me much about your family, Cam, but judging by where we’re going, I guess they’re richer than I’d thought.”

“You could say that. Grandfather Dunn ran Bean There Dunn That, a simple café in a quiet neighbourhood that suddenly became the centre of a new technology park. The influx of workers liked his coffee so much that he started opening cafes elsewhere, and before he knew it he was rolling in the big bucks. Ultimately Bean There Dunn That turned into a planet-wide mega-chain of high-end coffee houses and we became one of the richest families in the galaxy.”


“That’s what everyone says when they hear the story.”

“I suppose they wanted you to carry the business on into the next generation.”

“I have a younger sister who’ll probably do that, but yes, Mother had insisted I be the heir apparent until I turned my back on them and went to study astrophysics on Cornipus. The rest you know.”

 In spite of what he’d just been told, David’s jaw couldn’t help dropping as Cam drove in along the tree-lined driveway to the parking area in front of his family home. Six storeys tall and at least two hundred metres across, even in this neighbourhood the hilltop mansion dominated its surroundings.

“I know you said they were mega-rich, but, but gosh!”

“Do you see now why I didn’t want to bring you?”


“Don’t worry, you soon will.” Cam turned to look at him. “Um, couldn’t you have worn something more formal than that loin cloth and body paint? We still have time to go into town and buy you a suit.”

“Cam, you know this is the height of formality for my people, well almost. To be completely formal I’d have to ditch the loin cloth.”

“No, please don’t, just don’t, okay?”

David grinned.

A lavishly dressed butler opened the door as Cam and David mounted the steps. “Master Cameron, the Mistress said you were coming but I scarcely believed it.”

“I’m not sure I believe it myself, Alfred, but it’s good to see you again. You haven’t changed a bit.”

“Come on through to the drawing room.”

Alfred gave David an odd look as he followed, but said nothing as he led them down a long gloomy corridor. In spite of such a grand display of wealth, David couldn’t help noticing the worn carpet under his soles and the flaking paint in the cornices, making him wonder whether the family riches mightn’t be quite as great as they were making out.

“Cameron, look at you!” a tall heavily-bosomed woman said as Alfred pushed open a huge oak door on the left. “You’re so thin and pathetic-looking; just because you’re now a famous scientist doesn’t make you a man. Quite the opposite, from what I can see; you’re still just a selfish inconsiderate spoiled little child.”

“Hello Mother, it’s nice to see you too.”

She turned to David, a scowl of disapproval crossing her face. “Alfred, take Cameron’s servant to the pantry and make sure it’s looked after.”

“Mother, this is Davo.”

“I don’t care what its name is, just get rid of it.”

“He’s the special friend I told you about, the one you asked me to bring along.”

For a moment, David thought she was going to faint as the blood drained from her face before rushing back up to turn it purple. “This is your girl- … b-boy-friend?” She turned to David, her face now crimson. “What have you done to my son, you perverted evil creature!”

“Mother –”

“It’s all right, Cam,” David said. “I’ll handle this.”

“Cameron, go to your room; I’ll deal with you later.”

“Mother, please –”


A plump middle-aged man stepped towards them. “Aphelia, what’s all the shouting about?”

“Rupert, it’s terrible, this horrid beast has corrupted our son. What will the neighbours think?”

Rupert turned to David, a puzzled look on his face.

“It’s true, sir, Cam and I are soulmates, but –”

“What do you mean?”

“It’s perfectly obvious what he means,” Aphelia said. “Albert, take this thing and lock it away while I call the police.”

“Mother, wait,” Cam said. “It’s like Davo said, we’re just –”


Cam looked to his father, who grimaced. “Do what your mother says before she bursts a blood vessel.”

“Come on Davo, I think we’d better leave.”

“Neither of you are going anywhere,” Alfred said, now brandishing a rolling pin. “Cameron, do as your mother says while I secure the prisoner.”

“Alfred, what are you doing? I thought you were my friend.”

“I’m first and foremost your mother’s employee, Cameron. It was you who turned your back on this family and now look at what you’ve become. I can’t imagine a more despicable act than bringing this vile creature into our home. Now go to your room before I’m forced to use this on you.” He slapped the rolling pin into his palm to drive home his point.

Cam backed away, his hand over his mouth, as Alfred wrenched David’s arm behind his back.

“No, wait,” David said. “You’re making a –” In a shower of sparks, darkness enveloped him as the rolling pin struck the back of his skull.

Letting David slump unconscious to the floor, Alfred grabbed Cam’s wrist, dragging him screaming up five flights of stairs before throwing him into his room and locking the door.

“Rest in peace or rot in hell, Master Cameron,” he said, pushing the key deep into his pocket. “I don’t care which.”