Five: Episode 16 … Gate of Paradise

Five: Episode Sixteen is based off the following book excerpt from my science fiction supernatural thriller, The Contingency Generation.

 

Episode 16

Gate of Paradise

 

Considering our rocky Partnering Day, I find the next seven days of Fol’s undivided attention unsettling. The Nest is his choice for our Partnership getaway. A quiet secluded bungalow on the beach with a tropical garden, waterfall pools, and an aviary are more than I could have imagined. The staff of the fantastical paradise works hard to cater to our every whim. It truly is as advertised, “A place with everything the heart desires.”

All of it feels real even though Fol tells me that the food, drinks we consume, and the inside of our room are the only things that actually exist. The Nest is an incredibly seamless world with no clues to indicate otherwise

On the last day, I sleep late and wake to an empty bed. Through the open French doors, I see Fol at the breakfast table. An elegantly wrapped box sits beside our daily fresh bouquet of peonies. Fol’s attention is on his screen, and his unwrinkled dress attire, ecru slacks and white shirt, serve as notice to me that our leisure time is at an end.

He looks up and catches me staring at him. “Sorry babe. I hope I didn’t wake you.”

“Don’t worry love,” I call sheepishly from the bed. I grope for my robe, and self-consciously put it on. “I should have been up an hour ago. Without daylight, I’ll just keep sleeping.”

I busy myself pulling open the curtains and setting the light ambiance for morning. When I turn around, I see he now stands and holds the box.

I’m amused but check my smile when I see his stoic expression. “Really dear, you look quite formal. Please sit back down. I’m not royalty.”

“Oh but you are. You just don’t see it.” His reverent tone puzzles me. He’s acting very strange, and I’m beginning to believe he has something up his sleeve, but the box is beautifully enticing. My heart races at his focus.

He pulls out my chair and I sit. Then he hands me the box. I look up at him, but cannot read his eyes. “What’s this for?”

“A gift and a promise.” Fol clears his throat. “I’ll not interfere in your work again, whether it’s raising the dead, rating products, or deciphering data or messages. In fact, as partners should do, I’ll only help you when you ask. I know you’ll do the same for me.”

“Of course, love.” I murmur accordingly, and we exchange cheek kisses. His tone is more expectant than apologetic, but I know it’s the best he can do. I want more than anything to believe him, so I do. I can’t ask for better. He’s admitting his mistakes. That’s all I need. Good will surely follow.

I untie the blue ribbon and the ivory paper releases to reveal a carved wooden box. When I press the latch, it clicks open. Painted inside the lid is a panorama I recognize from my history lessons but cannot name. Ten small scenes are incorporated within the rectangle design. Inside, I find a brand new, recent edition data store device wrapped in a black protective case. When I power it on, a collection of messages begin scrolling down the screen.

“It’s to help you keep track of all the messages that are coming in about Five. They are restricted access. Only the Departments of Communication and Global Safety are allowed, but I worked out a deal. My manipulative skills are good for something after all.” Fol smiles at his self-promotion and hands back the device.

I’m wary. I know he believes the entire thing is a hoax and wishes I’d accept that view, too. My continued intrigue irritates him. So why the change? I test him. “Are there any quotes from the Book of Wisdom?”

“I don’t know. That’s for you to determine. The messages are not my field of concern.” His voice is curt.

I soothe and distract. “You know I wouldn’t care at all about proving if it’s a hacker or not if it weren’t for Kait’s End Message. And I can’t ignore the third message I found on the rock at her place.”

Fol grapples with something under the table. He pulls out a familiar rock and hands it to

me. Surprised, I take the stone from him and notice it’s been cleaned.

“Yep. This is it. Don’t you see? It can’t be a hacker.” I hand it back.

“Actually it can be.” Fol places it on the table, reaches under, and pulls out a second rock.

It’s identical to mine.

“This one is yours. Turn them over. Look for the fish mark. It’s on both of them.”

“What? How?” I examine the rocks and see he speaks the truth. There are fish-like symbols engraved in tiny detail on both rough surfaces. “Where did you get it?”

“I snapped a picture and sent it thru our delivery network. Sector 22 responded with an affirmative match and location. I had my team pick up a matching stone from an abandoned production facility, Ichthus manufacturing. Several years ago they designed rocks for various projects including ones with personalized inscriptions for clients who often used them in gardens.”

“I don’t believe this.” I balance the stones one in each hand.

“Believe it babe. It’s just that simple. Facts are facts. Mere coincidence and a hoax explain all three messages.” Smug, Fol sits beside me and pours our coffee.

 

Dear Reader,

This blog post is an excerpt from my supernatural thriller, Five, presented in rough draft version. The posts will appear weekly as my story development progresses. The story snippets will likely be full of typos, garbage, and confusion. I’m sure to regret allowing readers a sneak peak of the chaos involved in this process of making a finished book.

Someday, if I still have an audience, my book(s) and screenplays will be polished and for sale. Until then, my story snippets are free, but payment by “subscribing” with your email would be a nice gesture. For doing this you might get a discount on my purchasable work should that day ever arrive. All you get now is a notice via email of a new story episode that I have ready to read on my “blog.” I don’t sell my email list or do anything else with it.

Why am I doing this stupid and terrible thing—letting readers see my “off the cuff” story writing?

Book industry experts say that in today’s world of book marketing, an unknown author must build their own sales platform. I’m supposed to advance my platform by collecting readers, and for now, by blogging. Since I can’t imagine blogging about what I had for breakfast or the things my cat does, then instead, I’m blogging fiction excerpts of my work(s) in progress.

Thanks for slogging along. Maybe we’ll meet on a bookshelf someday.

Ann

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