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Different Not Damaged


Some call them disabilities, but for others they are gifts:

- A voiceless child painting visions of death.
- A killer with a deadly message plagued by a burden of guilt.
- A priestess divinely empowered to absorb others' pain.
- A soldier fighting for courage in the face of fear.
- A broken warrior-priest on a mission of vengeance.
- A thief desperate to escape the burden of his memories.

Betrayed by mind or body, these people struggle to survive in a grim world that takes no pity on the weak. Yet they will discover that they are simply different, not damaged.


(Each paperback is hand-signed and personalized by me. Swag included!)

Different Not Damaged

Look Inside

"I paint a black picture because there is no other to do it."

The paintbrush danced over the canvas, leaving trails of swirling colors in its wake. Errin twisted the worn wooden handle between slim fingers, but he had no control over it. A compulsion yanked his arms about like one of Brother Trollus’ marionettes, moving his brush as if by the Illusionist’s own hand.

Liquid color splashed the walls, his face, the cold stone floor of his cell. Droplets of light that tried to draw his attention from the picture burned into his mind.

He wouldn't let it. He had to get the image out now. If he didn't, it faded for good. Though he hated every one of the pictures, he'd always painted them. Unthinkable.

A final jerky twitch of the brush, and he slumped onto his bed. He'd forgotten to breathe again. But he'd rushed to finish before the light burned him alive. A single shaft of daylight, nothing more, but he hated it. Hurt his eyes, felt like his skin was on fire. He ran a hand across the cool stone walls. Better. Shadow is much better.

He counted the footsteps. One, shuffle, two, shuffle, three. Brother Cerimon. Bringing lunch, I hope. The frenzied pace of his painting left him hungry.

He pulled the scratchy blankets up over his head and closed his eyes against Brother Cerimon's candle. Too bright.

He groaned in time with the squealing hinges and clapped a hand over his ears.

"Easy, Errin." Brother Cerimon's voice. Deep, quiet, calm. "I've brought food. Addara's soup, your favorite."

He lowered the blanket, squinted at the man at the door.

Cerimon smiled and nodded. "That's right, Errin. Soup." He set the bowl down on the wooden cot and stepped back.

Errin liked Cerimon. Never tried to touch his shoulder or hand. Kept far back, moved and talked quietly. Easier for Errin.

"Another black picture, Errin?" Cerimon stared at the canvas, head tilted.

Black? Errin wanted to scream. What are you talking about? It's right there! "G-girl..."

Why didn't the other brothers see the images? He'd painted dozens, maybe hundreds, but no one understood what he tried to show them. He lacked the words--he only had his brush and paints. Why do they all see black?

He'd stopped trying to show the others in the Temple of Prosperity. He bore the burdens of his pictures alone. To his eyes, the canvas was alive with colors, colors that formed a picture that made him shiver. Stars twinkling in the night. A little girl, maybe eight or nine, lying on the edge of the Midden, chest and stomach sliced open, leaking blood. Branded with a claw-tipped hand. Why can't he see it?

Cerimon turned to him. "You'll be wanting to go out, then?" He leaned Errin's easel aside and placed the painting on the floor.


Errin hated it. Cerimon looked at him the way he looked at a wounded kitten or a lame horse. All the brothers did. He wasn't broken. Cerimon couldn't understand that, or any of the others. And he hadn't the words to tell them. He knew what he wanted to say, but he could never quite get it out.

He took a deep breath. "Night."


Errin's words refused to form. He nodded.

"I'll be ready, lad." He pointed to the rope hanging beside Errin's bed. "You just ring that when it's time."

Errin wrinkled his nose. The bell wanted to break his head into a thousand pieces--thousand is a good number--but he had no other way to communicate.

"Eat it before it gets cold, eh?" With a smile--I'm not broken!--Cerimon left.

Errin stuffed fingers into his ears as the door squealed shut. He stared at the bowl, and his stomach growled as he smelled the spicy scent of herbs Addara used to make her soup.

The shaft of light stood like a pillar between him and his meal. He stretched out his arms and felt the walls of his cell. Squeezing his eyes shut, he shuffled forward. Three steps to the light. Deep breath. Jump through it.

A leap carried him past the torturous light but, for a moment, it set his skin prickling. He reached for the bowl of soup--chicken, dumplings, carrots, potatoes, onions, garlic, rosemary--and drained it in a few slurps. Not too hot or cold. Cerimon knew how he liked it.

His attention wandered to the painting. The little girl in the picture looked scared, alone. Why does she need to die?

The paintings never told him why, they only showed him who and when. He never knew what he would see until he finished it. He hated being jerked around, but worse was the burning that grew in his mind if he didn't paint. Last time, Cerimon hadn't brought his paints, and he'd tossed and turned as the monster battered his mind. Only when he put it on canvas would it leave him alone.

He had to see this one. Had to see them all. Too many of them went forgotten, unnoticed by the world. He wouldn't forget them. His canvas captured them, a final remnant of their lives.

Bowl empty, he stood and reached for the walls; wide enough he touched them with outstretched arms. Helped him balance, made it easier to walk. Taking a deep breath, he jumped through the light. Eyes open this time. Didn't hurt as much.

He sank into his chair, covering his eyes. Cerimon and the others needed light. He didn't. Light hurt his eyes, burned his skin, made his thoughts bounce around in his head like a ball on a string. He needed darkness--cool, comforting. Light played with his mind, but darkness simply was. Staring into the shadows, he saw everything he needed to see.

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Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
Claire Brooks
Grim and heartfelt

Beautifully written and heartfelt. Grimdark and realistic wrapped up in an amazing fantasy setting. Carefully handled without tip toeing around or diluting the trauma. I was fully engaged throughout and can't wait to start one of the series this author has crafted!

I'm so glad and honored these stories connected with you!

Joel Allan
Some of these stories were incredible, some just okay

I picked up Different, Not Damaged by Andy Peloquin on a whim after seeing a tweet containing the incredible cover and reading the quick blurb. I was disheartened that I couldn’t find the ebook on Amazon, but after a quick search I tracked it down on Andy’s website. Here are my thoughts for each of the short stories that make up this collection of stories about people who are Different, not Damaged.

Strength and Courage

One of the best displays of PTSD that I’ve ever seen in a book. The tension and fear was palpable and it made my heart flutter and my chest tighten. One of the rare occasions where I felt like the author had first hand experience, and if Andy hasn’t then hats off to him for eliciting such real and vivid scenes.

Paint a Black Picture

Errin struggles in a world where everything he paints appears black to everyone else. Not only that, but he paints future tragedy and must battle his disabilities to warn those he loves before they fall victim to cruel fate.

The Goddess’ Gift

I’m sad to say that I read this and didn’t absorb much if any of it. All I can recall is that the main character used her powers to take away people’s pain.

At Any Cost

This story was as good l, if not better than Strength and Courage. Dealing with a thief who goes to see an Illusionist Cleric in order to forget some painful memories he ends up losing more than he could want. This exploration of a man with ahlziemers was riveting and emotional.

A Life for a Life

The first of the two stories that are included but are specifically not about disability representation.

Andy proves that he can write a dark, assassin central story just as well as he can write about disabled characters. I was enraptured by the Hunter and am beyond excited to read some of his novels if they are this good.

The Path of Vengeance

This was a long story, perhaps a little too long as it covers five seasons. I never really got invested in this story of revenge and ultimately it fell just a little flat.

Some of these stories were incredible, some just okay. But Strength and Courage and At Any Cost will stick with me for a long time. The way that Andy portrayed some big mental illnesses in these stories was both powerful and real. I would be astounded if Andy didn’t have first hand experience with mental illness other than ASD, and if he didn’t then hats off to him and his sensitivity readers. He has put together one of the best short story collections I have ever read. They say don’t judge a book by its cover, but this one drew me in and the words exceeded even my lofty expectations. Well done, Andy. Well done.

Rating: 3.5/5

Thank you so much for posting the review! I'm so glad you loved the stories you did.

Anna O
Different, Not Damaged - essential listening

I loved this collection of short stories set in the fantasy world of Voramis. Six stories about people living with mental and physical disabilities who are not defined by their disability. Written with insight and affection these stories challenge preconceptions and show respect not pity for those affected.