I write dark things...
As promised yesterday, here’s an excerpt of my upcoming release, The Dream Sifter, the first book in The Depths of Memory trilogy. This trilogy is a genre-mash of sci-fi/fantasy/mystery/thriller/horror. I haven’t yet set a release date, but am in final edit rounds. Enjoy!
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The far-off murmur of chanting voices and rhythmic drumming sounded from the mid-morning meditation. Still drowsy from the crèche medicinals and comfortable in the water, she closed her eyes and relaxed into the sound, intending to wait out Mala’s return with the food. The drumming and chanting grew in volume, Rai nodded off into a trance-like sleep.
And with sleep, came a dream.
Rai stood in a forest full of ancient trees, so tall the crowns were lost beyond her vision. The smallest shimmer of light shone through the dense canopy, not enough to burn away the thick morning fog lying in the valleys. A melodious trickle pointed the way to a nearby stream. Gliding deep into the large grove, she took in a landscape dotted with immense ferns growing out of rocky outcroppings and long-dead fallen trees. Some trees were split into great building block sections, as if they were massive tables and benches laid out for a feast. The moist humus squished between her toes. Rai felt like a mere trog bug dwarfed by her surroundings.
Blisters wore at the soles of her bare feet, and her clothes, a long brown cape over a simple dress, and areas around the knees and forearms of her clothing were caked with mud. Her waist-long red curls contained bits of fern and dirt within their tangled mess. She gasped at the cool, humid air, trying to slow her breathing, then stilled in fright when the rustling fronds of ferns moved in the distance.
The sound of muted voices grew, echoing off the ancient trees. The meaning of the words escaped her, but their tone was all too clear. They were coming to punish her, but where could she go? The voices became a thundering force pushing down upon her, relentlessly pressing her to either run or face their malicious fate.
Filled with terror, Rai ran away from the voices. The forest fought her, fern fronds whipped her in the face, branches ripped at her clothing, and gnarled roots caught at her toes and twisted her ankles as she fled. She caught glimpses of hooded figures in her peripheral vision and her fear drove even faster. Running through fog and fern the voices pursued, getting closer with every step. She stopped to gauge her path through the dense fog and the voices abruptly ceased. The entire forest stilled. Something brushed through her hair, took hold, and pulled. Rai let out a frantic scream, striking her fists against her unseen attacker as she fell backward . . .
Mala’s voice delivered Rai back to consciousness for the second time that day. Rai laid in the bath, Mala leaning over her, Mala wrenching Rai’s wrists in the air between them, her grip burning against Rai’s skin.
“Stop it!” Mala cried out. Her grip on Rai’s wrists tightened.
Shaking in residual fear, Rai relaxed her arms and tried to regain some composure. “Yes, Mala, I’m fine.” A red mark on Mala’s chin stood out against her tanned skin. “Oh, I’m sorry! Did I hurt you?”
“Be still, Rai. It was just a bad dream.” Mala released her grip and stepped back, and then straightened her skirts. “You must be more tired than usual from the crèche. It happens sometimes. Still, for your own safety, don’t nap in the tub.”
Rai sat up, bristling over her mistake. “It won’t happen again.”
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I hope you enjoyed this snippet. Let me know what you think!
If you’re a reviewer and would like to get on the list for an ARC, just let me know.
Most of the time my life is fairly normal. I don’t mean this in a bad way. My life is awesomesauce, and I adore it.
Occasionally, things ratchet up unpredictably, and I have my epilepsy to blame. This is one of those moments.
The other day I was riding the train home. I’d felt normal all day, no warning signs, nothing felt off, everything was par for the course.
I was reading a book on my phone, surrounded by passengers. Again, nothing out of the ordinary. This is a boring story. Yes? I could describe the boringness of the ride and the passengers around me, but trust me, the only thing of interest was the book I was reading.
The first thing that’s non-boring? I can’t read because the words all scramble up. And although the book is super-awesome, it’s not *that* amazing. I also notice an incredibly clear feeling in my body. It’s like a bell has gone off in my head.
And I know ‘it’s’ happening. That’s the only warning I get. It’s always the same, at least for a focal seizure. Note, these aren’t absence or tonic-clonic’s. I’m right there, conscious, and aware, the entire time. I’m just along for the ride. And by the way, I don’t get to pick the ride, it picks me, and it’s always different. Imagine getting on an amusement park ride, but never knowing what will happen past the first turn, yet the ride’s gonna last thirty seconds to two minutes.
You may not realize it, but there’s this pin in the undercarriage of your reality that holds everything in place. Mine just fell out and hit the floor, and the separate dimensions of my lenses slip and slide over one another, distorting what I used to hold to the status quo. Welcome to my life.
I turn off my phone, cause you know, I can’t read moving words. Everything’s moving in super slow-mo, which is fantastic, because that means those two minutes will go by even slower. The train stops at a station and a lady steps on board, and I fixate on her ears, which are misshapen. She’s obviously an elf, dwarf, or something, and everyone else knows it.
I hide my face in my hand. I am not going to react. None of this is real.
The train starts to move, and I look out the window. A group of teens is walking by, and one of them carries a full head mask with hair on it. I look up to his head. He no longer has one. It’s been replaced with a blurred, black void.
I hide my face in my hand. I am not going to react. None of this is real. How much time is left?
I look out between my fingers at the balding man across from me. He’s been diligently reading a book on military history. He takes the opportunity to extend his neck and smile at me in a fetchingly reptilian sort of way.
I hide my face in my hand. I am not going to react. None of this is real. How much time is left? Please. Please be done now?
The man next to me coughs, and the woman standing next to him says something to him, and then looks in my general direction. Have they noticed that I see everything?
And then life suddenly clears as we reach the next train stop, just as enigmatically as it started. My head aches like I was run over by the train, I feel nauseous, dizzy, irritable as a wolverine, and I’m cursing myself for not having any water on me for taking my aftercare meds.
I look around, and am happy no one appears to have noticed me behaving oddly. That’s one of my biggest concerns: when my medications fail me, I won’t be able to control my reactions. The other is that people will misinterpret seizure activity for mental illness. I can’t control others desire to rush to judgement. All I can do is contribute to awareness and education, and hopefully add in a bit of humor in the process.
This is an excerpt from Living with Shadows, my collected stories about living with Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.
I sat inside reading a book, likely a Madeline L’Engle story, I read those over and over back then, when I lost focus on it. I kept trying to read, but the words wouldn’t stay together, or I couldn’t keep my mind on the task, I was simply and suddenly too agitated. I was 15 or 16 at the time, I’m not exactly sure.
And I felt the nudge. This is all too familiar to me now. You don’t ignore the nudge. There was something it wanted to show you.
I told my mother I was going outside for a while, and I wandered into the backyard. We had a wonderful backyard in the house on Cornell Street, full of flowers, bushes, trees, a small garden with fruits and vegetables. But today, I felt fuzzy and out of focus. I stumbled off the back porch, down the back sidewalk and into the middle of the lawn. I was nudged again into the shade of the massive birch tree. I veritably collapsed onto the ground, drawn to lay myself out and bask in its shade.
Lying there, at first all I felt was the itch of the grass on my skin, and the warm summer breeze blowing across my skin. A bumblebee buzzed by, unconcerned with my presence. Perhaps I had imagined the nudges? But no, I’d learned to be patient. The nudges came, the physical sensation of being pushed, or kicked, or well, nudged. And then the odd awareness of ‘something’ coming, and I’d perk up. Whatever the puzzle piece, I had to pay attention. I had to make sense of it. It was essential. I’d learned this. I didn’t know why, but I knew, if I was ever to make sense of what was going on, I had to pay attention.
Suddenly, my consciousness shifted without warning. My mind left my body and spread out like butter across the surface of the birch tree above me. Before, I’d noticed how it swayed in the breeze. Now, I swayed along with it, dancing as it did with the other trees in the vicinity. I felt the commingled pollen amongst the trees; saw the little messages passing as wavelengths of energy. I read those messages, understood them, and laughed aloud.
The sun broke through the clouds, and the tree sighed with appreciation as it lapped up the rays eagerly, the energy flowing into the heart of the tree, storing to feed and nurture the future seeds. I fed on the sun, took it into myself. Water sucked up from the extensive root network reached to the tip of every leaf. I felt the tree breath out, and I breathed in its breath. I felt like a speck of disconnected dust next to this massive creature, dug as it was into the earth and interwoven across the skies to its brethren.
As the moment began to fade, dissonance crept in. I tried to cling to the tree. I’m with it one moment, and the next it’s shattered into a million pieces, and I’m nauseous, confused, dizzy, and my tongue tastes metallic. Sometimes I forget where I am, or what I was doing beforehand. The degree of disorientation varies. I get up, and go back inside. I was clumsy afterwards, but not for too long.
It’s inevitable on the pleasant moments, I don’t want them to fade, but I always try and hold on. It doesn’t matter, they last a set period of time, I don’t get to pick. I’ve learned this over the years.
This is a short except from The Madness Path, the second book in my Chosen Few series. Yes, I’m working on five books at once. Enjoy!
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Just when you think everything is coming together, everything is perfectly set on course, the bottom inevitably drops out, two steps before the finish line. When you’ve fully invested yourself, heart and soul, body and mind, financially and socially. You’d wrapped everything into this one venture, put it all on the line. Now it laid in a pile of shattered dreams. Or is that your mind, there on the conference room table in a movers box? No, that was just her job, and most of her social life, rent into shreds.
This never happens when you’ve gone half way. No. That’s not how these cards get dealt. It takes your full, absolute commitment before the hammer will fall. Otherwise, what’s the point? You’re not primed. You’re not ready. It takes full and absolute dedication to your goals before you’re able to be shattered into a million tiny shards of ruin.
It’s the moment the cosmos tells you your dreams don’t matter one iota. That everything you’ve clung to for so long is without merit. And it’s the moment you’re utterly destroyed and reborn, all in an instant. Stripped of all that was, stripped of the assumptive yoke you’ve thoughtlessly given yourself over to, at this moment, this singular instant, your eyes have a grain of clarity.
Whatever happened to Erin out in those woods, she knew this moment was a culmination of that raw, elemental power. Something now took root in her, shook her foundation to the core, and cracked open the base. Although she’d lost her job, and for all she knew she’d be out on the street in T-minus two weeks, this moment was worth every second.
Right now, she felt so alive, so fully drawn into her own skin it crackled with anticipation, and she might just burst. Was she scared? Sure, her heart was beating at a million miles an hour, but the colors around her were so vivid and alive in a way she’d never seen before. No, that’s not true, they’d been like this in the forest. With him. But now, that same clarity was here, and yet she was all alone. Or was she? The air itself vibrated around her. Was this real, or illusion? But then she caught the scent, his scent. Musky, earthy, fresh and green, a hint of wine. Her lips curled as she panted anticipatorilly. She sprinted out the door, box forgotten. Where she was going, it wouldn’t be needed.
The hunt was on.
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