|So, last week I got a wild hair. |
I realize that is a strange thing to say, but I’ll explain.
A friend told me about a short story competition. The challenge was to write a dystopian story in under 2000 words.
Now, I love me some good dystopian fiction, Hunger Games, The Lottery, etc.
So, it is less surprising then that the idea of how hard the challenge would be, to do the necessary world building in under 2000 words, just rolled around in my brain.
It sat back there for an hour or two, and then an idea popped up.
So… ta da! This story is on vocal.media and I will share the link for you to read it for free down below.
I give you: The Test
|I know I have been cryptically giving hints about my serial story for Vella, but I’ve decided to give you more clues leading up to the launch of the platform.|
Once I give you all the clues I have planned, you’ll know more about some of the characters, see the full cover, and I will share the link with you when it goes live. Of course I’ll share the link, hopefully you’ll all click it. 😉
And here are your first couple clues!
The rules are simple: No killing or antagonism, and no conducting business on the grounds of the Crossroad Inn.
It would be nice if everyone followed them.
For an Inn at the intersection of the Underworld and the realms above, if some of their patrons get out of line, it could destroy the world.
Good thing most don’t push their luck.
Eleftheria and her sisters are witches, but that isn’t what keeps people following the rules. It’s who their father is.
Here’s hoping the service is good.
|In the Three Realms, a witch’s power manifests as sparks.|
Bathsheba’s are white.
She is the Innkeeper of the Crossroad Inn, along with her five daughters.
But unlike her daughters, she doesn’t have the gift of an unusually long life.
She’s a witch, the Father of her children is… not.
Makes for an interesting family dynamic around the dinner table.
|The clues coming up will give you more details about each of Bathsheba’s daughters, including the main character, Eleftheria.|
I hope you enjoy the clues and join in reading the story when it comes out!
And now for chapter 18 of our story.
The Voice in the forest
I didn’t understand why Petra and Jameson wanted to stay on, it wasn’t like they were enjoying themselves. But I had more important things to deal with.
Knocking on the door to the office, with Blackwell just over my shoulder and no one else around, I licked my lips and tried out my story in my head for the fifth time.
The door opened and Henry gave me a wide smile.
“Hello, Arabella, can I help you?” Of all the people in the house, Henry seemed like he was the happiest about my being the heir to the property. I still couldn’t put my finger on why that bothered me.
“Hi. Yeah, I was wondering if you have, or the estate has, any information on the history of the house.” There, that sounded… okay.
Plausible was all I was aiming for. I needed to make it plausible.
“Well,” he said, looking around the office, “Yes. I have some things. Come on in.”
Henry held the door open for me and I stepped to the side, letting Blackwell in first, but trying to make it look like I was just awkward in giving Henry space.
Blackwell made it in fast, shaking his head. It was the shake of the head that reminded me he could walk through walls when he wanted to.
For some reason, it was easier to accept that no one else could see or hear him than it was to wrap my head around the fact he could move through solid things. Maybe because all my life it was true I could see things no one else could.
But I had to be better. I couldn’t afford to slip.
I straightened my shoulders and looked at Henry with what I hoped was an expectant expression.
“You said you had some things…” I said. It was safer than yammering on again about why I was there.
“Of course.” He jumped, shut the door, and went to one of the walls of books, scanning the spines.
“For some reason I expected papers, not a book. But I guess that makes sense with how old the house is,” I said and bit my lower lip on the inside.
I had to remember all I learned at the hospital, return to that muted version of myself. It didn’t matter that I knew Blackwell was real and I wasn’t what they said. They would never believe me.
As much as I wanted to escape being that Ara, the one in the hospital, the fake me, it hurt to put her back on.
Mostly because it felt natural.
“Well,” Henry turned a little to look bak at me over his shoulder, “It isn’t exactly a book, but a lot of the genealogy and history of the family is in these ledgers.”
His hands skimmed the spines and he moved down to another row.
“If I could just find the one…” While he looked, I stole a glance at Blackwell, who was, himself, perusing the shelves.
The hardest part about being the version of me everyone wanted, was trying to be deliberately incurious.
I wanted to look at all the shelves too. Even though I didn’t know what I was looking for, I wanted to just see them.
But that might heighten suspicions that I was doing something strange. Strange and weird behavior, no matter how small, was the worst sin I could commit.
The room around me, the details of the heavy dark wood that made up every surface, including the ceiling, became my sole focus.
On the floor, the wood was so dark the grain wasn’t obvious, but on the ceiling, it was light enough that I could stare at it and make things out of the intricate, woven patterns. It was like looking at clouds, but darker. And after a while it seemed like the ceiling was coming down, pressing against me.
I had to look away, focus on the utter disaster on the desk.
How did Henry manage anything in here? How did he get anything done?
“Found it,” he called, making me jump.
With a large leather backed volume held high, he turned, a massive smile on his face.
“Start with this one. I think it has the most recent information. And if you need anything else, any more details about the house, you can just ask.” He cocked his head to the side as I nodded.
I stopped nodding.
If that wasn’t a normal response…
“Arabella,” he handed me the large book, “it’s good you want to learn about this house. Really. If there is more you need, I might be able to help you find it. But you also might just want to explore the house.”
He walked back to the door.
No matter how out of tune with regular discourse I might have been, I knew when I was being dismissed.
“Thank you, Henry,” I said, making my way past him, remembering to not wait for Blackwell this time.
Seconds after the office door shut behind me, Blackwell appeared out of a wall.
But he nodded at me and walked away before I could say or do anything. And I wanted to invite him to my room to look over the book.
Instead I looked down at the heavy thing in my hands and headed toward the only room I was really comfortable in.
Maybe Blackwell would find me there.
What do you think of the change to first person? Does it work better?
Don’t forget to check out the short story, The Test, and a reminder that if you sign up for the newsletter, you’ll get our exclusive new short story, Until We Didn’t and our exclusive ebook of The Lost Chapter.
As always, happy reading!