Five: Episode Twenty-five is based off the following book excerpt from my science fiction supernatural thriller, The Contingency Generation.
I say goodbye to Logos and head back to the Abide.
The woodsy path I take echoes with the tap, tap, tap of dripping rainwater, now only a result of gravity and not a downpour. Droplet jewels cling to the Hosta leaves and reflect the brilliant sun penetrating the tree canopy.
I tuck my prized book under my arm to shield it from the dampness.
How did my Book of Wisdom end up on Five?
My recollection of life before Five is faded, but dipping into the ocean brought back portions of my memory. I’ve been afraid to write another message ever since. Afraid even to the point of illness.
Now I feel a great strength, and I’m amazed at the affect. The collection of words that I hold under my arm has power over me. I suspect it always has. Although quotes and words from the Book of Wisdom are spoken freely on Five, (and familiar to all who hear them), I’ve not thought about the book as a whole until I saw the multitude of copies in the Word Keeper’s vault.
Thomas’ directions to me, to compose five messages to bring life and survival to a relative I’ve never met who lives in a world that no longer exists to me, is impossible. Knowing that the world my granddaughter lives in will soon end is another added pressure. What if my words fail to say the thing she needs most? Am I responsible for her life?
These concerns agitate my soul and steal my courage to write.
But now I have new confidence. The book will surely deliver the words I need. I must narrow them down to four more messages. Perhaps only references to the words. My granddaughter can look them up and be drawn to the power of the entire book as I have been.
What if she does not have a Book of Wisdom?
This new doubt sneaks in to taunt me.
I clutch my book tighter and quicken my pace. Soon, I’m out of the woods. My path connects to another bordering the Rose Garden. I notice the grounds show signs of a celebration. Crowds are cheering and a banner above the entry arch reads, “Rose Festival Today.”
Considering my past few days of sleepless nights, I wonder if resting in my home at the Abide would be the better choice, but festivals on Five are always spectacular. These wondrous events entertain and usually conclude with a feast.
For the first time in several days, I’m hungry.
I make my decision. It will be food today.
Just inside the entrance of the fragrant and colorful garden, a herald sits under a tent canopy. His wears a common bay laurel wreath on top of his flowing red hair. Beside him is a pile of headpieces made from roses of all shapes and colors. He fashions them from the cut stems beside him. Rose stems on Five are smooth and pliable and hold no thorns.
“Greetings Soul Evie. Have you come to compete today?”
“I’m not much of a racer. I’ve come to watch.”
He nods and refocuses on his task. The wreath headpieces must be for the race participants.
I wait in the customary tradition. When the herald says nothing more, I turn to follow the outer path to the spectator stands where I’ll assume the role of cheer giver.
Every festival event has capacities for those who want to participate in the challenge and those who chose to contribute by cheering and offering encouragement.
One of the Life Rules on Five is no one is allowed to be useless. The rule is unnecessary because life on Five is vibrant and full. Even resting and healing are considered useful endeavors.
I pause at the base of the first stand. There are few seats open. The crowd is happy and noisy.
A trumpet sounds. The crowd quiets as an Arch Herald announces, “Souls, the Petal Race is about to begin. If you are a player, please take your position.”
I watch as participants step forward, all sporting glorious rose-filled head wreaths. Half are dressed in blue caftans and the other half are white. Each team lines up, and one by one, they ascend the short marble capstones that stretch in two parallel lines down the center of the garden all the way to the throne pergola at the far end.
I’m excited when I see the throne. It’s appearance means the Author Perfecter will be in attendance. His specific presence is cause for great enthusiasm, which the crowd seems to already radiate.
In the shaded border that encompasses the rose garden, I catch a glimpse of the cook staff and food bearers assembling the feast. My stomach churns in anticipation. Drinks are always available, and a lemon verbena smoothie is my first choice. I shield my eyes to find the drink stand, and I’m about to make my approach when I hear my name.
I turn to discover that the wreath-making herald is at my side. He holds a headpiece, a beautifully simple arrangement of coral tea roses intertwined with tiny blood red sweetheart roses. The effect, softened by maiden hair fern sprigs, is stunning and contains my favorite stems.
“Your crown.” The herald holds out his gift.
“Thank you, but I’m only a cheer giver today.”
Pennant wavers now surround us. The crowd noise swells. It seems they’ve mistaken the herald’s presence with me as an indication that I am to be another player.
I wave gaily but shake my head “no.”
Both the herald and crowd ignore my protest, and the floral wreath is raised high above my head and then ceremoniously placed into position. I feel the crown shift onto my skull and my hair swiftly lifts of it’s own accord and wraps around to secure it in place. Awkwardly, I pat the effect with my hand. Only the herald has the power to undo the arrangement.
I make one last plea. “Really. I’ve been ill and just begun to feel better and thought it best that I watch today. I’m sure you understand.”
“As for the illness, this race will be part of your healing. You are chosen to play.”
“But I received no notice.”
“You just did.”
Graciously I accept the challenge. It is best. It is good. All will be well, I tell myself.
It always is.
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.