What Light Flickers

For those of you few and faithful who come here and read the little things I eke out week after week, I give you an exclusive treat, an excerpt from The Book of Sight, my first novel which came out on Kindle yesterday.  Not much in the way of a thank you, I suppose, but there’s an even better one at the end.

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Left alone on the bank of a rushing river in a giant underground cavern, sick with worry about her friends, and feeling the dark press in around her as if it would extinguish her little flashlight, it was easily the worst moment of Alex’s life.

She saw Logan and Dominic dive into the water and disappear from sight, and a panic rose up in her throat, almost choking her.  In that moment, it was all she could do to keep from throwing herself into the water as well.  But Dominic’s last words to her were still ringing in her ears.  Find something to use as a rope.  Her panic took a new direction.

She began to rummage, snatching up each backpack and dumping its contents on the ground.  A few items caught her eye but were rejected nearly as quickly as they were seized upon.  Some rubber bands.  A necklace.  Dental floss.  At that last one, Alex screamed in frustration.  This was useless.  There was nothing.  Then her eye fell on the ace bandage from her first aid kit.  But, no, it was only about two feet long.  Unless…

With sudden inspiration, Alex whirled around and seized the pile of discarded clothes.  It was perfect.  Starting with the socks, she tied everything together, carefully double and triple knotting, praying that getting wet would make the knot stronger.  Unsure how long a rope would be needed, she stripped off her own socks and shoes, adding the laces to the very end.  That was it.  The best she could do.

Gathering up the whole hodgepodge pile in her hand and balancing her flashlight on top, she began to make her way downstream as quickly as possible.  She had only gone about four feet when she slipped and, unable to catch her balance with her hands so full, sprawled face first on the rocky ground.  The soft rope cushioned her fall, and she was unhurt, but her flashlight rolled off with a thunk and went out.

By this time she could hear yelling very faintly from up ahead.  There was no time to lose.  She felt frantically around for the flashlight with no luck.  She knew she had no chance of feeling her way along in the dark.  Another yell reached her.  There was no choice.

Alex stood up and began slowly creeping along, praying she wouldn’t misstep and fall into the water.  Two steps, three, four.  She tried unsuccessfully to remember how far away the end of the cavern was.  More yelling.  Five steps, six steps.  She bashed her bare toe on a rock and cried out in pain.  Seven steps, eight.

With no warning, her right foot came down in about a foot of water.  She fell sideways this time, into the river.  Flinging out her hands to catch herself, Alex let go of the rope.  The water wasn’t deep, and Alex was able to get back up on the bank in no time, but the rope was gone, carried away by the rapid water.

Alex collapsed in despair.  She sat huddled alone on the bank in the dark, sobbing and dripping and shivering uncontrollably, listening as the shouting from downstream continued.  She didn’t know if she could bear to hear the last drowning cries of her friends.  Alex covered her ears and cried harder.  She had no idea how long she sat there, but at some point she heard something that caused her to raise her head.  It was quiet.

Was that it then?  Were they all dead?

A sudden sense of horror at being alone in the dark with all her dead friends spurred Alex into action.  She crawled back upstream, feeling carefully around for her lost flashlight.  When she arrived at the pile of junk that was the emptied out backpacks and realized that she had missed the flashlight, she had to stifle another sob.  She turned back, this time walking and trying to count the steps she had taken before falling.  A few steps in, she stepped on it, falling for the third time and skinning both knees.  Clutching the precious plastic tube to her chest, she felt for the switch.  A few frantic flips of the switch and a tightening of the battery cover later, the light came on.  Alex cried out in hysterical relief.

Now that she had the light, she had to decide what to do.  Should she just head out of the cave and go get help?  Or should she attempt to look for her friends?  Was there any chance that anyone was still alive?  The thought of hunting by herself in the dark and maybe finding someone’s body washed up on the bank was almost more than she could bear.  But in the end, she knew she couldn’t just leave without knowing for sure that no one still needed her help.  With only a short pause to put her shoes back on, Alex headed downstream again.

Now that she had the light to guide her and her shoes to protect her feet, it didn’t really take that long before she could see the wall of the cavern looming up ahead of her.  The roaring sound of the river was getting louder as she approached the place where the water crashed against the rock face, but she began to imagine that she could hear something else over the rushing sound.  Was that laughter?

Heart pounding, Alex moved forward even quicker.  Suddenly she heard shouting from the other side of the river.  She couldn’t make out all the words, but she definitely heard her own name.

“I’m here!” she yelled.  “Are you okay?”  Alex leaned forward with her flashlight, but the river was just too wide.

There was some response, but she couldn’t understand it.

“I can’t hear you!”

More indistinguishable shouting followed this and then a pause.  Finally several voices in unison reached her, “Go upstream!”

Alex did, moving slowly, aware that the others would be walking without the aid of a flashlight.  From time to time she shined her light out across the water.  Even though she couldn’t see the other side, she hoped they could see her light and that maybe it would help them walk.

When she arrived back at the pile of discarded belongings, Alex stopped to wait, leaving her light trained on the river.  It was several minutes before she heard the yelling again.   The water was a little quieter here, and this time she could hear Dominic’s voice, faint but clear.

“We’re all okay.  We made it.”

That’s from Chapter 19 of The Book of Sight.  You can get the whole book for Kindle on Amazon for only $.99.  And here’s the gift part, if you wait until April 1, you can get the book for free.  The free offer will only last for five days, so be sure to take advantage of it right away.  If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download the Kindle reader app for your computer, phone, or tablet and read it that way. 

And there’s already a sequel!  The next book in the Book of Sight series, The Broken Circle, is also available on Amazon, so you won’t be left hanging when you get to the end.

These two books are the first in what I plan to be a five book series about five friends who are given a book that changes their lives. Once they’ve read it, they are able to see things that have always been there but couldn’t be seen before. They meet wonderful creatures (and some terrible ones, too). They see beautiful, amazing things (and some hideous ones, too). Their lives which used to be flat and predictable are now rich and full and exciting, but they soon learn that they are going to have to fight hard to keep it that way. There is someone out there who will stop at nothing to keep the book a secret and stifle its power, and the kids will have to work together if they are going to survive.

There will be real paperback books available soon, too.  They will be coming in just a few weeks, and I expect to have a place to pre-order those on the Madison House Publishing website later this week.

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