Five: Episode Twenty-four is based off the following book excerpt from my science fiction supernatural thriller, The Contingency Generation.
I open my eyes and discover I am face down on a bed of smooth dark stones. I sit in the brilliant light and the rocks expand and contract as if alive. My head throbs. I lean over to keep from passing out and focus on a vibrant green plant pushed up between the close packed stones.
“It’s a foxglove, sleepyhead.” A cheerful voice calls from nearby.
I push myself up to stand and then search for the source. A woman about seven yards up waits beside a large pile of garden waste holding a rake.
Where am I?
Every direction looks like a picture on a jigsaw puzzle of plants and blooms of all types. Trees and bushes I cannot even begin to name are all laid out in a breathtaking display.
The woman moves toward me and kneels. I back away in protest but when she lifts the slightly drooping head of the plant at my feet I quickly realize the tribute is not for me.
“Digitalis Purpurea. Originally known as Folksglove. Favorite flower of the honeybee. The blossom lasts six days but a single plant can produce 2 million seeds. Poisonous to ingest but good for external use.” She recites the facts to the ground as if a botany class has commenced amongst the stones.
Then she stands and extends a hand. “It needs water.”
I don’t respond, because I’m stunned to see the person who faces me.
It is Kate.
I grab her and hug her. “Oh my God, Kate, you’re alive! I was so worried. Your body was not there, and then I saw you at the meeting with Medical Plausibility. I’ve been so worried something horrible is going on. What happened?”
Kate stares at me with a weird expression. “You’re right. I’m Kate, and I’m very much alive, but I do not know you. How do you know my name?”
“It’s me. SJ. Come on Kate. No games please. Everything is very messed up and Fol is angry with me. I think he wants to kill me.”
Kate looks alarmed and repeats, “Fol? He’s here? He can’t be. No harm comes to this place. That’s the first message we hear when we arrive.”
“That’s it! There are messages and Fol—you’ve got to remember me now. I’m your best friend. We grew up together. Child Development School? Designated Kin?”
I can see that nothing I say triggers recognition. Kate shakes her head. “None of what you describe is familiar except the name Fol. Please don’t speak his name again. I have a very bad feeling. He’s dangerous. I’m certain of that. What messages do you know of him?”
I pat my hip for the pocket containing the last message I received and realize I’m in different clothes. My lab coat and wrist screen are gone. A linen tunic and loose linen pants are my clothing. My feet are bare.
“I don’t know what has happened. I’m not in the clothes I had on. The message was in my pocket and the rest were on my wrist screen.”
“Effects of Five. The wardrobe is specific. Can you remember any of them? The messages? Just try.” Kate is earnest, and her expression is so dear and familiar, that I want to hug her again in my relief, but I’m afraid to disturb her. Perhaps she has suffered an amnesia affect from some terrible ordeal and my actions might make it worse.
“Well?” My friend’s persistent nature is consistent.
“I can’t. I know them generally by topic. The first was about a thief destroyer and someone else who was good. It was all part of a letter, and the next message was very short and said something about resurrection and life. After that, there was the earthquake message about love. The last one was in my pocket and it was about…..”
I stop speaking because the effort to recall memory is overwhelming. I feel as if everything is fading.
Kate immediately points to a willow bench in a shady alcove. “Sit over there. I’ll bring water for the two of you.”
I wonder who the second thirsty soul is, and then I remember the plant and see from my position it is now a foot taller. I want to re-examine it, but leaving the bench is out of the question. I drop my head between my knees to keep from fainting.
Kate is back in seconds with a cobalt glass bottle, plugged with leaves, which she pulls out, and then hands to me. “Drink every bit. I’ll get more for the foxglove.”
The smell in the air is mint and the bottle yields a refreshing water drink. Kate stands by waiting for me to empty it entirely. I giggle when I hand it back. “You’re still bossy.”
She smiles back at me. “So true. Now about that other message.”
“True. Truth. That’s it! Something about truth. From the Book of Wisdom. There’s always a number sequence after the words. The same first number each time…..It’s…. “ I stop again. The flow of memory is gone.
“The Book of Wisdom? Evie sends messages from the Book of Wisdom. She would know. She’s in Healing. Let’s go find her. Lean on me.” Kate holds out her hand to help me up from the bench, but the light behind her grows so blindingly bright, that instead I must shield my eyes and then close them.
When I open them again, everything is dark except for a dim outline of what appears to be a door. I know I’m inside, because there are no sounds and no sense of a garden. I feel a rough flat surface underneath me, and when I raise my hands, I realize I’m tied to something. My wrist screen is gone. There’s enough slack to feel inside my pockets and remove the folded piece of cardboard with my most recent message.
My fingers brush across the words I can’t see. I remember them.
When you’re a captive in the dark, it’s the only way out.
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.