What Are AmberPax™ Collections?

Simply put, AmberPax™ Collections are groups of five stories centered around a specific theme. Each story within an AmberPax™ is released individually, on the same day as the others, and can be purchased separately, but these five stories can also be purchased as a single unit (the full AmberPax™) at a discount, currently 25%. Generally, an AmberPax™ is similar to an "anthology" of stories, but instead of the titles being released in only a single volume (file), they are also available individually. These AmberPax™ Collections are sold exclusively through our website and only in electronic format.

THIS BLOG is for news about the Pax Collections - follow it to keep up with releases, find early news of the upcoming collections, and share Pax fun and chat with the authors!

All Amber Paxes can be bought at Amber Quill HERE.

Monday, 22 June 2015

The Consigner by D.J. Manly

I lost a nephew two days ago. There is no other way to begin this blog about The Consigner. I didn’t know that one of the most despicable diseases of our time would invade his body twenty years later and end his life. He didn’t want Chemo. It would have prolonged his life for a few months, and with great sacrifice.

I didn’t know that I was going to lose a nephew, a man too young to die, a man who was only a year or so younger than I am now. It’s a shock. It’s unfair. But it’s life. I grew up with the seven children of my eldest sister. We played together, shared holidays and attended family events. A piece of my childhood is gone with him. 

Jeff’s life was not a charmed life. He lived hard and died hard. What can I say? He lived the way he wanted to? Did he have regrets at the end of his life? I’m sure he did. The person he loved couldn’t live with him so they lived apart, still loving each other. The doctor told him they might have saved him if he’d attended his follow up appointments. He didn’t. He’s gone. He made choices.

So, The Consigner was a book I wrote a few months back to fit with Time Travel for Amber. I began by asking myself a question. What if? What if in another place and time, there were special people whose entire existence were devoted to granting one final wish to the dying? What if that they could take this person back in time to revisit one period in their lives, without being about to change anything. Maybe they could just dwell for a while in a moment where they were most happy. 

Regrets. When we meet the main character in The Consigner, we realize that he is an unhappy person. How can he be happy? His main purpose is to spend time with people just before they die, and he is saddled with their sad memories and their regrets. He internalizes their tears and moves with them to the time they most cherish. He has no identity and no life. People fear him, see him as “Death” itself and yet long for him in the final moments. 

When the Consigner is called to see another of his kind to his end, he is escorted to another place and time. For the first time, he is left with an identity and a purpose, a purpose he never imagined. 

Death is inevitable. We try not to think about it a lot because if we did, we’d have a hard time living. But when someone close to you dies, like my nephew two days ago, death steps right up and slaps you in the face. Hard.

The Consigner deals so much with death, he has never learned to live. He is given a gift, a chance to live, to love, and to affect change. None of us can do more than that.

Below I’ve included a few paragraphs from the Book.


Your life. Your existence. Your destiny. 

The problem with that is that the pronouns were all wrong. There was absolutely no ownership connected to my reality. I didn’t even have a name or a physical image that I could call my own. I simply existed, and that existence was a patchwork quilt reflection of everyone else’s lives.  It was not my existence. It was borrowed and temporary, always in flux.  I was envied by those who hated their lives, feared by those who dreaded their own demise, and desperately anticipated by everyone in their final hour. Do you need to ask why I was seriously disturbed and bitterly frustrated? 

There seemed to be confusion about just what I could do for those whose lives were draining away. Although everyone was supposed to have been well informed about the Consigner’s limitations back in grammar school, when push came to shove, many didn’t accept those limitations.

I don’t know how many times I’d had to say the words, “I can’t alter the past. I’m sorry.” 

The dying pleaded with me, attempted to bribe me, and eventually some even became abusive.  I could only do what was within my power. I couldn’t change the decisions they’d made in their lives. I couldn’t erase their guilt and regret. I hated that, and so did they.

Surely someone had the power to relieve me of this damn curse, give me a semblance of a normal life. I’d never asked for this burden. None of us had. And the answer I received was always the same. 

“It’s not a curse, it’s a gift, a special power given only to a few. And one day you’ll realize that the blessings far outweigh the sacrifices you make.”  

Bullshit.  I couldn’t give it back, and if I could have, I would have done it in a heartbeat. But there were few of us, and many of them.  Our reward was a lifespan twice the normal length, but what was the point of living long if you never really lived at all? Even when I slept, I dreamt of someone else’s life, so what was the point? 

“Please, Consigner. I need for him to know.”

The voice of the dying man riveted me back to the situation at hand. For a few moments, I watched the sheer white drapes float back and forth through the open balcony windows like a ghost who’d somehow lost direction. I brought a chair up to the canopy bed. The walls were bare, no photographs, nothing but the death bed, as was the custom. I took the man’s wrinkled, heavily veined hand in mine. The average lifespan was one hundred and twenty. He was only eighty. Young by all accounts and yet he looked far older, his eyes filmy, his face heavily wrinkled. I wondered why he hadn’t taken advantage of all the resources available now to preserve youth and life. He’d let himself go, permitting age to relentlessly layer on the years. “Why?” I asked him curiously. “Why don’t you want to remain in life? You don’t need to go now.”

He squeezed my hand. “Do you believe that there is a life beyond this one, Consigner?”

“No,” I said, “at least not on this plane.”

“Do you know that for certain?” He looked pained, his eyebrows drawn together. 

“We can’t know anything for certain but I can tell you I have no evidence of such an afterlife, my friend.”

“Do you have a name, Consigner?” His filmy green eyes bore into mine.

“No.” I knew his time was growing short. I could feel it in the air and in my bones. “What would you have of me, Stewart? Your time grows short. After you draw your last breath, it is too late.”

He smiled. “I’m glad you’re beautiful.”

“I believe you see me as you want to see me. I have no idea what I actually look like.”

“That explains it then, why you look exactly like him. What can you do for me? I want to see him again, hold him.”

“I can take you back to that place in your mind but you can not undo anything you did in the past. The past is unalterable. If you relive some moments, it will be exactly as you remember.”

He nodded. “I’m aware of that.”

I sighed in relief.

“But it is unfortunate, isn’t it, that we can’t change the past. If I could, I would have told him I loved him instead of hiding, instead of taking another as my partner to pad my father’s business interest. Am I allowed to know what became of him?”

“You have one wish, Stewart. I may take you to one place where you most want to revisit your past, or I can take you to a place you never visited and show you what became of your love. He will not be aware of your presence. Sometimes it’s better not to know where people went when they moved on from you.”

He nodded sadly, releasing my hand. “Very well, I want to be again with him. How does it work?”

“You think of that time, the time you most want to relive, and I’ll take you there.”

“How long can we stay?”

“Time has no measurement. We will remain until your wish is fulfilled, then it will end. We must do this now because time does have meaning here.”

Stewart nodded and closed his eyes. “I’m ready.”

I wasn’t surprised to be taken to another bed, to see Stewart, fifty years in the past, joyously humping his young, beautiful male lover. I could feel it as if it were me, my cock inside the other’s body, held in a velvety vise of pleasure, moving frantically in and out of Stewart’s young lover. I could see his eyes, feel his joy, his heart beat slamming in my ears, the sweat from his body acute in my nostrils. My body rejoiced as it shook with orgasm but there were no physical changes occurring in my body. The kiss on Stewart’s lips left no impression on mine and yet I could somehow taste it, sweet, and leaving me with a dull ache deep in my core. 

Frequently, the patron wanted to relieve their happiest moment. So I relived this happiness for them, knowing sadly it wasn’t truly mine, and that it was fleeting. Based on the patron’s memory, those feelings flooding through me were often sketchy, diluted with regret and pain. 

There was always pain. And when the time was over, the release from it was hard. The pulling away was like a suction or current. The patron would hold on until the scene began to repeat, and I’d have turn back. They’d struggle to stay. They didn’t want to leave knowing they were headed for oblivion. They would have been content to have me live it over and over again, but I couldn’t do that. They had one wish, not two. I understood why they wanted to stay, but I couldn’t allow it. Still, it didn’t make it any easier especially in the case of someone like Stewart, who gave away his happiness for something he knew now had very little value. In truth, it broke my heart each time, and it wasn’t meant to. I was supposed to be immune, impartial, remote and unmoved.

I could hear Stewart crying as we were again in the present, surrounded by those unwavering drapes. 
Why didn’t I? Why didn’t I tell him I loved him then in that moment? Please, let me…let me…tell him…why, why?

I had no answers for him except to say that hindsight was twenty-twenty or that the act of living was fraught with regret. Both were lame expressions I’d come to detest so I wouldn’t say them. I wouldn’t answer at all because that wasn’t my role. 

The burden and struggle of life was deserving of one reward only, and that was a visit by me, a Consigner. In my opinion, the compensation sucked. The patrons were told to choose their wish well, to consider it long before the time came. But most didn’t bother. The prospect of several minutes of supreme happiness was bittersweet when combined with the ultimate end of ones’ existence. Most people didn’t want to think about it until the end, when it became suddenly most precious.

Stewart knew all along where he wanted to be in the end, in the arms of the one man he’d always loved. But he, like countless others either didn’t read the fine print or thought maybe he could convince the Consigner to change the rules. But the Consigner couldn’t take them back in time to repair the damage once it was done. The past had to remain in the past because tampering with it created chaos.

Stewart was fading but the question was still on his lips, a question he was asking himself over and over until those lips stilled. Now the answer would be forever mute. Stewart was gone. I felt his spirit leave, heavier than most, floating like the curtains for a few seconds before spiraling away.


The Consigner by D.J. Manly is now available at Amber Allure.

If you'd like the chance to win the entire pax collection, just leave a comment on today's post, making sure to include your email so we have a way to contact you. On Saturday, a winner will be picked at random from all the comments made this week on the blog. Comment on all, and that's multiple chances to win!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a moving post. Thank you for sharing something so personal with us and for explaining where this story comes from. I am sorry for your loss.