Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sunday Sampler Sirens Chapter Eight

Posting early this week because I'm going to have surgery the end of this week.  I hope things will calm down soon so I can make up on lost time for writing!  In the meantime, enjoy chapter eight of Sirens!  I hope to be posting next week if all goes well!

Chapter Eight
Maggie went to work on the portal saying she had to “tune it up” a little before we used it.  I was naturally leery, but felt I could trust her.  Sophie was right—she would have turned us in first thing, not to mention, she would have to explain her treasure trove of illegal magical implements stored in her secret room to the guardians.  Maggie was helping us, not leading us on.
“What time is it?”  I asked Sophie coming back from my fiftieth trip to the bathroom.
“It’s exactly three minutes later from the last time you asked.  You’re either getting faster about going to the bathroom or you’re slowly running out of urine.”  She didn’t even look at her watch.  Instead, she had a magazine shoved in her face.
“I can’t help it.  I’m nervous.”  I paced the floor and stopped at the window.
Outside was a vastness of openness.  Big sky, big endless fields that looked like they went on for infinity made me feel insecure, almost like I was naked and vulnerable.  I was used to buildings, concrete, and glass surrounding me with the constant sound of vehicles, people, trains, and life in general.  Here, you were surrounded by nothingness.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?”  Sophie asked standing beside me.  I didn’t answer.  “Ann and I used to go to the park every Saturday if it wasn’t raining.  She liked to go there and just swing.  I used to swing with her, and then we’d both tell each other stories we’d made up.  We’d laugh and…”  Sophie’s voice cracked.  “We pretended that our swings could fly and we could go anywhere…she and I… could go wherever we wanted.”  Her voice trailed off.
Sophie gazed into the big infinity of a landscape that I found way too open.  But I knew she wasn’t looking at that, she was past the infinity part.  She gazed at the life she could never return to.
“Ann, was that the kid you took care of?”  I asked.  Since all three of us agreed on going to Atlantis, we didn’t really get to know each other.  It was more of a mutual feeling that we could trust one another, not get into each other’s lives.
“Yes, and she’s growing into a young lady.”  Sophie took a deep breath.  “She’s a beautiful young lady and not in need of a siren for a nanny.”  She pushed herself away from the window and plopped in the chair.
Like a bad odor crawling from a garbage can, I could sense her sorrow and overwhelming feeling of unfairness.
“I bet you are good with kids,” I said sitting across from her.
She looked at me with a twinkle in her eyes.  “You’re just being kind.”
“No, I mean…I can…well, it’s written all over you.”  I looked at Sophie.  “You reek with motherliness to the point that it baffles me.  A siren as a nanny is a rare thing, and I can tell you were good at it.”  I smiled.
Sophie returned the smile, stood up and went over to the window.  I followed her.
“Do you think Atlantis resembles earth?  I mean, do you think the sky is pink or maybe green?  What are the inhabitants there like?”  Sophie rhetorically asked before turning to me with wide eyes.  “We know absolutely nothing about this place, and here we are going to it.”  She defined each word in her revelation that we were really going to Atlantis—hopefully I thought.
She paced the floor before sitting back in the chair.  “We are going into this blindly.”
I gazed at her.  “Did you just realize that?”  Her eyes darted to me.  “No, we don’t know what Atlantis is exactly like, but,” I sat next to her, “look at the life we are leaving behind, and there are other sirens there.  We have amnesty there from the guardianship and librarianship.”
Sophie lifted her eyes to me.  “True, we do.” 
I smiled at her, and I reached for her hand in an involuntary movement.  I found being close to Sophie made me at ease with everything.  I too wondered what Atlantis would be like for us, but at least for the first time in my life, I had the flickering light of hope at the end of my dark tunnel.

We would leave today.  I was leaving Deadwood Kansas to never come back.  Deep down I didn’t want to go, but my visions had been pulling me in this direction for a long time.  I knew this was the something I always felt was coming, though I never actually acknowledged it to myself. 
My heart ached for Nolan.  I wanted to be with him, but knew I’d never be able to give him the child he and I wanted.  And adoption could take who knows how long.  This was the right thing to do—my senses tingled with rightness, and I knew I was headed in the direction I needed to be.  My heart said otherwise. 

“Mae, I want you to know that I think you made a good choice to go.  Especially with the visions you’ve been having, and…”  Maggie stood in front of me with glitter smeared across her nose from working on the portal.  “Sometimes we need to connect to our past to move into the future.”
Maggie knew of all my dreams and visions.  She said they were a message for me to follow them. 
I nodded my head.  “Please tell Nolan when he wakes up where I’ve gone, and,” I reached into my pocket and pulled out a tattered note that I’d written a long time ago, “give him this.”  I placed the letter in her hand that I wrote on an impulse I had a year ago. It mainly said that I loved him, always would, and that I never felt so alive being with him.  I told him that this was something greater than the both of us that I had to do.  Even though I didn’t know what it was a year ago, my instincts and visions were guiding me.  Now I know why I wrote it, and was glad I did.
Maggie smiled, and tucked the note inside her glittered covered jacket.  Nolan was none the wiser as to what I was about to do.  When Maggie came to tell me four other sirens arrived in her portal, I knew the time had come.  We gave Nolan a sleeping spell, and I kept my tears at bay until I climbed into Maggie’s car. If he knew what I was doing and where I was going, he’d stop me, and I’d let him. 
“Is everyone ready?”  Maggie announced as if we were going to hop in the car and go shopping.
Beannca, Sophie, and Hannah all stood up and gazed at Maggie and me.  I felt their anxiousness, their excitement, and their fears.  Our emotions bounced back and forth like we were two mirrors facing one another.  If we didn’t move, I felt the room would explode with emotions.
We stood on the platform all huddled together surrounded my hundreds of dusty cataloged implements that I didn’t know Maggie had.  If anyone ever had a true guardian angel, it was me.  Maggie lived here for a reason, and that reason was to help me because who else would have a decommissioned portal in Deadwood, Kansas?

All four of us sirens stood shoulder to shoulder on the circular platform.  Hannah was to my right and Beannca to my left.  Mae stood on the other side of Hannah.  Maggie wished us safe passage as Hannah slipped her free hand into mine.  Instead of fear, I felt strength run through her.  She wasn’t frightened traveling through the portal like the first time she did.  She latched onto my hand, lacing her fingers through mine as if we were on a ride going through the lover’s tunnel in some amusement park.  I liked it, and curled my fingers through hers with a content smile.
We stood just as we did when we left in the portal in the Fisher Building.  Hannah held the shell in her palm, Beannca and I placed our hands over it, and just as Mae slipped her hand over it, I felt a sudden force emit from the shell.  It began to glow brighter as it slowly levitated from Hannah’s hand.  I felt the pressure building as if I had placed my hand on a balloon that was being overfilled with air and would explode any minute.  It was hard to concentrate as I tried to stay focused listening to the portal.
Last time was a pleasant experience, and I don’t know if it was Mae or that we were traveling to another dimension that made it nearly intolerable.  Lights filled my eyes like angry flashes of lightning.  Screeching metallic noises exploded all around, and the air blew upward making my hair stand straight on end.  If we weren’t blown away and scattered like leaves, surely the violent lightning would burn us.  But instead, everything calmed just as quickly as it had turned chaotic.  I was glad when it was over with.
Salt—that was the first thing I smelled.  We must be by an ocean, but was it in Atlantis?  My knees wobbled as I forced my eyes open.  Everything was quiet except for the gentle wind that carried the salty scent and the sound of the breeze through the slender blades of grass that grew all around the triangular stone platform we stood on.  Not one of us moved as we stood there as if we were still traveling through the portal.  The shell, now pale glass, sat benignly in Hannah’s palm.
“Are we…” Beannca’s voice barely whispered the question we all were thinking.
If I answered Beannca’s unfinished question, I’d have to reply; yes.  The blue-green ocean, the brilliant matching sky, and the beauty of the landscape all said we were in Atlantis, and if not, a world that closely resembled it.

“Hello there,” a voice erupted behind us.
I turned nearly knocking Sophie over.  I grabbed her by the arm, and steadied her.  She was pale and looked like she was going to puke all over the portal platform.  Hannah wrapped her arm around her protectively as I gazed up at the man that stood in front of us. 
He had white-blonde hair, hazel colored eyes, and was dressed a long green robe nearly matching his eye color.  He held a silver staff with a starfish on the end of it in his right hand. He gazed at each of us patiently waiting for a reply.  He then said something in a foreign language that sounded like he was saying hello.
“Uh,” I said unable to speak with my tongue tied. 
The man looked confused. “Alright, not familiar with that language…maybe it’s Asrai or…”  He pondered talking to himself and rubbing his chin.
Evidently, Hannah, Sophie and Mae all had portal shock as much as me, but I wasn’t going to let this man think I was an idiot.
“Excuse me, yes, hello there,” I said in a friendly tone catching his attention.  “Is this Atlantis?”
Bravely, I stepped off the portal and walked towards him making eye contact the whole time.
“Yes, this is.”  He replied.
“Sean!”  A female voice yelled in the distance.  “Don’t tell me it was just some bird making a nest again.”  A girl about my age with white-blonde hair crested the hill dressed in the same shade of green robe.  “I’m getting really…”  She stopped dead in her tracks as her amber colored eyes met mine. 
I switched glances between them, and they seemed just as surprised as we were.
“Birds weren’t making a nest on the portal again, were they?”  The girl stepped closer. 
“Unless these are some kind of bird species we aren’t familiar with.”  Sean gave her a crooked smile resting his hands casually on his staff.  “By the energy they are emitting, I’d call them sirens.”

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Sunday Sampler Sirens Chapter Seven excerpt

I'm inching my way done with this novel.  I love the diversity of the characters and hope you enjoy another excerpt of chapter Seven of Sirens.

It was obvious to me Hannah and Sophie had something going on.  Not only was it visually noticeable, but I could sense it.  And it didn’t bother me as much as it bothered them.  That was something they had to come to terms with.  I had more important things to worry about.  We had to get to Atlantis, not only to change our lives, but I didn’t want to end up in a book.  Other than Jack knowing I was accused of murder, I tried to keep my cool about it so Hannah and Sophie couldn’t pick up on my emotions.  I wasn’t totally sure how sensitive they were, but I wasn’t taking any chances.

“She should be back by now.  It isn’t like we are in Chicago and can blame it on traffic.”  Hannah peered out the leaded glass door with all of its swirling designs.
I thought of Mae, and even though I didn’t know her, I had felt her emotions.
“You know guys; she really has it for her boyfriend or husband or whatever he is.  She won’t want to go behind his back or put him in danger to help us.  They want to have a family, and are happy with each other.  I guess you could say they are in irrevocable love.”  I smiled to myself relishing the feeling that Mae had emitted. 
“And you know this…”  Hannah raised her eyebrows.
I looked at them.  They didn’t have a clue what I was talking about.  “You mean you didn’t feel her emotions when she was here talking to Maggie?  It was all over the room.”
Hannah and Sophie exchanged glances.  No, of course they didn’t, they had a connection to each other.  I could see it as clear as a long satin ribbon binding them. They didn’t feel Mae’s emotions because they were too busy in tune to each other’s.
I shook my head.  “If we want Mae’s help, we are going to have to convince her that she’d be just helping us.  She won’t want to go to Atlantis because she found happiness here.”
“Are you sure?”  Sophie asked.
I shifted my eyes between Hannah and Sophie.  They kind of did look like a couple. 
“I’m sure.  I’ve never felt emotions like that.”  I stepped closer to them.  “I’d bet my life on it.”
The sound of a door opened echoed down the hallway.  I started to go out the door when Hannah stopped me. 
“Wait here,” she whispered glancing back at Sophie.  “Just in case.”
We stood silently in the kitchen.  I closed my eyes for a moment and reached out like I had long arms with sensitive fingers that could not only see what was beyond solid walls, but what they were feeling.
Apprehension along with curiosity, were the first two feeling that came to me.  Like a familiar scent, I could tell it was Mae. 
“It’s Mae,” I said going out the door.
“Beannca,” Sophie and Hannah said in unison like parents of a runaway toddler.
I stepped out catching Mae’s and Maggie’s attention.  They both gazed at me as Maggie locked the front door.  Mae’s large brown eyes nearly matched her long hair.  She was dressed in a flower print dress that showed her skinny, bare, arms that looked like they were covered with a rash.
“Ah, this is Beannca,” Maggie said.  “She is one of the sirens I was telling you about Mae.”
Awkwardness filled in around us.  I had nearly burst out of the kitchen door to meet Mae like I had known her all my life.  I couldn’t let my first impression be like this.
“Pleasure to meet you Mae, my name is Beannca White.”  I smiled extending my hand out in a friendly handshake.
She tilted her head, gave a small smile, and then shook my hand.  I deepened my smile.
“Your last name is White.  Mine is too.” 
I felt our awkwardness fade.  We were both labeled as “White” sirens which meant we had a good standing with the guardianship—a clean record.  Sophie was a White siren too, but Hannah carried a Black label.  I continued to smile and hoped that didn’t discourage Mae from helping us.    
Hannah and Sophie loomed behind me. 
“This is Hannah and Sophie.”  I stepped aside motioning towards them.  “Hannah and I are from Chicago, and Sophie is from the U.K.”
They greeted each other with smiles and handshakes like we were just gathering for some social event, not trying to get Mae to join us in something that could get us all in trouble with the guardianship.  We needed her to pull this off, and I needed to escape this world. 
I knew more about Mae than Hannah and Sophie.  I don’t know why Mae’s emotions reached out to me like that, but they did.  And I was going to use that to my advantage.
“Please ladies; let’s go into the study where we can discuss things.”  Maggie smiled as she led us back to her library.
Hannah and Sophie, like two magnets, sat next to each other on one sofa and Mae sat in a chair.  I took the chair next to her that was separated by a small table.  Maggie took her spot behind the desk.  Everything seemed normal as they made small talk at first.  Sophie jumped right into being the spokesperson of our group talking about herself, introducing Hannah and me and the purpose of going to Atlantis.  I listened at first, but something tugged my attention away from the conversation.  I tried to ignore it, but it was no use.
Mae’s emotions ran past me like a gentle wave.  I thought she might be frightened or uncertain of us, but she wasn’t.  She was more curious than anything, and happy to be here.  She wanted to not only help us, but herself as well.  She’d been having visions that were getting stronger.  Everything about Mae came so easily to me as if I was meant to pick up on it. I could only concentrate on one thing at a time, and I read Mae’s emotions like randomly going through a book and reading different pages.  I tried to connect things together, and I wasn’t paying attention to Maggie.
“Beannca, isn’t that right?”  Maggie’s voice broke through my siren probing.  “You worked at restaurant in Chicago and are seeking truths to your past in Atlantis.”
I glanced at Mae with a smile.  “Yes, I did.”  I was going to say how I liked it there, but wanted something more and so did Hannah and Sophie.  I planned on putting a thick layer of sincere charm about going to Atlantis to disguise the real reason I had to go there.  I didn’t know how strong Mae’s abilities were, and hoped she didn’t see through me. 
“And now I’ve had these dreams…of sandy beaches and waters so blue you’d think an artist had painted them.  I knew it was something from my past calling and I couldn’t escape them.  My desire to find a way to Atlantis grew, and that’s when I found Hannah and Sophie.”  I motioned towards them.
A light went off in Mae.  I wanted to escape to Atlantis and hide from the guardianship, but she wanted to find her family’s past.  I saw it clearly in her childish brown eyes.  I haven’t had a single dream of what Atlantis or Murk Island was like, but Mae took the bait wholly.  She was our fourth siren, and my only key to a hidden sanctuary.
“And so have Hannah and Sophie.  We all have had these visions of Atlantis, and desires to find out about our families.  But to get there we need a communicator to connect with the portal.  This is a chance of a lifetime that many sirens never get to take, and it’s sitting right in your lap.”  I may have been laying it on a little too thick, but I wanted to play on every angle I could to get Mae to come with us.
Mae took a sip of iced tea Maggie had served like we were just a group of ladies gathered to organize a party, not plan and commit a crime in the eyes of the guardianship.
“You’re lying,” Mae said plainly as she sat her glass down. I nearly choked on an ice chunk that I rolled in my mouth.  I’ve just ruined our chances with Mae, and our passage to Atlantis was shot to Hell.  I had to say something in defense, but before I could, Mae smiled at each of us.  “Well, let me rephrase that.  You are lying about the visions, but not about wanting to go to Atlantis.”
“You’re right, Mae.”  Sophie sat up straight and looked at Mae with her hand sitting on Hannah’s lap.  Not a good time to show your affection to your lesbian lover.  Things were getting worse.  “We haven’t had a single vision, and really, we don’t know each other’s secrets—secrets are meant to be private.  What we all have in common is a safe passage to Atlantis.  It is our homeland, and we have a right to go there even if it goes against the librarianship and guardianship rules.”
Mae nodded with a smile acknowledging what Sophie said, and then took another sip of tea.  Was she dragging this out for a reason?  I squirmed in the chair, and took a sip of tea with my eyes on Mae.  She looked like nothing bothered her, but I knew it did.  Her boyfriend or husband, whatever he was, she had strong emotions for.  I bet even Sophie and Hannah through their feelings for each other could sense it. 
“You don’t have to tell me about the librarianship or guardianship.  I’ve had plenty of their rules and regulations, and unlike all of you,” Mae glanced at each of us, “I’ve had strong visions and dreams of our homeland.”  She looked away.  Something glimmered in the corner of her eyes that she quickly dabbed away with her finger.  A pang of sadness ran through me like a passing train.  Mae was in love, and it was a strong love, but she couldn’t hurt him anymore.  He deserved someone better.  Her past was calling her…her lover can’t follow her there severing the ties they had bound together—that is why she’s going to Atlantis.  We didn’t have to convince her.  She made that decision before she came here.
“This is a way, and I must say, a very rare chance for sirens to return to Atlantis.”  Maggie broke in our conversation.  She had been just sitting there, watching and listening to us.  “I have the portal to provide safe passage and you have the calling shell to open the portal.”  She stood up gazing like an eager child wanting to go outside and play.  “Now, why don’t we give it a try?”