Q: It’s 8:27pm…do I know where my children are?
A: Generally, yes. Roman is heading home from Parkour, and Jordi is headed out to scoop up lost baby chicks and return them to their coop for the night.
Q: What books are on my ping pong table?
A: The Mysterious Death of Jane Stanford, by Robert W. P. Cutler, M.D.
The Elliott Bay Book Company
Reading & Presentation
Good afternoon, and thank you for coming.
My name is March Twisdale, and today I will be
reading an excerpt from my first novel, The Ghost Lords.
He didn’t exactly pull me. In fact, I couldn’t feel any tugging sensations at all. That didn’t surprise me as much as it might have. I also wasn’t feeling the branches that should’ve been leaving welts on my skin.
The only effect, as we moved through these normally substantial elements like a sunbeam through glass, was that my vision was occasionally obscured by the inner browns of thick wood and the flickering greens of leafy branches. My feet, having no eyes, noticed nothing out of the ordinary; even when they slid, knee-deep through an unexpected ledge of rust-colored dirt.
We were almost there.
Giacomo didn’t need any help finding my body this time; not with Tristan’s panicky shouts ringing off the cliff walls like a klaxon! I knew it wasn’t fair, my being irritated with Tristan. It was my fault he was here, after all. But, I couldn’t help it. I was thoroughly un-prepared for what was about to happen and I couldn’t help myself from…
What? Wishing that he wasn’t my best friend?
I bit my lip. No. I would never give that up…so, maybe a flat tire? Yeah, I could wish for that! But what was the point? He was here, pumped up tires and all, and I had no idea what to do about it!
Ahead of us, the cliff walls jutted out sharply to the right, toward a deep curve in the river, the water darkening in color. Usually, I slide off the rocks and let the sluggish flow of the river carry me past the difficult part, but Giacomo had another route in mind.
And this time, as we sped straight toward a wall of stone and dirt, I felt dragged; my mind instinctually recoiling from the root-strewn face of the crumbling cliff. My resistance wasn’t even noted as Giacomo slid through the solid matter, pulling me in after him.
I didn’t have time to scream before the darkness enveloped us. My stomach lurched, though, and I anticipated suffocation! Panic! But before either could set in, the utter darkness of ancient earth was replaced by jarring brightness as we re-emerged into high noon.
Just like that, my private – and nearly perfect – reunion with Giacomo ended; the unnatural silence of Mother Earth giving way to an embarrassingly human scene. Tristan was in a total panic. He knelt on his knees, thigh deep in the shallow water of the river’s edge, splashing water wildly over the still form in his arms.
“Jordan!” He cried, his tone demanding and pleading all at the same time. “Desperta! Wake up! Ξυπνήστε!”
That’s when it hit me! Tristan wasn’t holding someone in his arms; he was holding me. I must have flinched, because Giacomo’s hand tightened around my own as he studied my reaction. His expression cautious.
“You know him?” It wasn’t a question.
I looked away from his penetrating gaze, toward the spectacle before us; appreciating that he was polite enough not to voice the obvious questions out loud. What could I say?
“Yes. His name is Tristan. He’s my…my best friend.”
Giacomo raised one eyebrow and paused, clearly wrestling with the questions he wanted to ask, and what his strange version of propriety would allow. Good manners won out. Sort of.
“This might be another reason to take care with where you leave your body.” I caught the mischievous twinkle in his eye. But that wasn’t all I saw. The earlier jubilation and joy was slipping away; replaced by renewed doubt and…another emotion. One that I didn’t want to see on his earnest features, even though I couldn’t put a name to it. Like a hand sweeping crumbs off a counter, the easy lightness of moments ago was gone.
My fingers tightened this time, as if, by doing so, I could keep him from slipping away. There wasn’t enough time to explain about Tristan. A clock was ticking over all of us; he had made that clear earlier. And yet, I needed Giacomo to know that Tristan was only my friend. My dearest, closest, most trusted friend…but still. Only.
There was a plop and a splash and we both turned toward the sound. “Damn cell phone!” Tristan cursed, even as he began to shake the body in his arms.
My body, I reminded myself. It gave me a queer feeling in the pit of my stomach, watching myself from this vantage point. This was going to take some getting used to.
Thank you for reading, and
please check back frequently, for
tantalizing glimpses into a world which
is both startlingly familiar and more
frighteningly real that we
would want it to be.