Monthly Archives: June 2014

The Invastion – part three

Here’s part three of my short story.

 

The Invasion – part three

Despite thinking she wouldn’t be able to sleep, Elayne’s exhaustion took over and she quickly fell into a deep, dreamless slumber, but the morning came all too quickly.

She woke suddenly and without knowing why. Getting out of bed, she glided noiselessly across the floor to the window so as not to wake her sleeping sister. As she stood by the window looking out over the valley, magical in the hazy summer morning mist, she heard a strange whirring noise. Selena, who had also woken, came and stood beside her. Silently the two girls watched as a big helicopter flew low over their house. They stood slightly to the side so as not to be seen from outside. The big machine paused for an instant, hovering over their lawn. From their vantage point Elayne and Selena glimpsed a man in dark clothes sitting in the helicopter, his face obscured inside the machine and beside him a strange looking blond woman with very distinguished features; a strong nose and chin and an expressive mouth. Both of them were carrying machine guns. Just as suddenly as it had appeared, the helicopter was gone and the girls were left alone gazing out the window, the beauty of the summer morning wasted on them as the memory of the previous day’s events came flooding back.

Their parents were already up when the two girls went downstairs, and the family breakfasted together. It was another silent meal, the girls remaining quite about the early morning encounter. Just as they were about to clear the breakfast away, there was a knock on the door and their aunt Lena entered followed by the distinguished looking blond lady the girls had seen earlier that morning. Selena turned deathly pale and quickly excused herself and ran up the stairs. Lena introduced the blond woman as her old friend Marla who she had met while studying abroad. Marla approached Elayne who was trying her best to leave the room unnoticed, and began to chat to her; apparently her aunt had told her a lot about Elayne and Selena.

On leaving the kitchen and going upstairs, Elayne found Selena huddled on the bed shaking. Sitting down beside her, Elayne hugged her tightly and told her to be brave and that she would be back in a bit. Amid Selena’s protest Elayne slipped her jacket and boots on and crept down the stairs and out the side door into the forest. She headed at a sprint to Mat’s house, where his mum opened the back door to her urgent knocks. He appeared immediately and without a question he too donned his coat and boots and promising his mum to be back soon the two of them disappeared into the woods.

Elayne didn’t say a word until they were deep within the safety of the woods. Looking around them to make sure no one had followed the two friends slowed to a brisk walk, their jackets touching. Then it all came out; from the helicopter over the house, the strange blond lady and the dark clad man with their guns to Lena’s arrival with the blond woman Marla.

Mat listened without commenting and when she finally finished he simply said, “I need to show you something,” and with that he headed off further into the forest with Elayne in tow.

They jogged along for about twenty minutes before arriving at a clearing of beech trees and pines, in the distance they could see the sparkle of water from a small lake where they often came to picnic and fish in the summer. Mat led her slightly away from the lake and up a steep rocky path covered in moss and lichen, still slippery from the early morning dew, and further along through brushwood until he finally stopped in front of a ledge with a steep incline which was completely overgrown.

“What is this place,” inquired Elayne looking around her slightly bemused.

Without responding, Mat checked no one was around, nodding to himself he pulled aside the undergrowth and led her on hands and knees into a small damp, dark cave. Completely blinded after the bright sunlight outside it took their eyes a few minutes to adjust to the darkness, once they could see Elayne looked around. Covered with fine sand the cave wasn’t very big, and it was so low that they both had to stoop half bent over in order to stand up. Telling her to sit down near the entrance Mat went further into the cave, returning a few minutes later with a black box which he laid on the ground near Elayne before lowering himself beside her.

“This,” he said opening the box “is something my father gave to me before he died.”

Mat’s father had died a few years ago, a loss that the whole family had still not come to terms with. Mat had idolized his father and after his death he had suddenly found himself the head of the family with the responsibility of supporting his mother who had literally fallen apart after the accident. It didn’t help that his father’s body was never recovered along with the other mine workers’ after the explosion where they worked. They had had nothing to bury, no way of getting complete closure and it took Mat two years before he stopped hoping every knock at the front door was his father returning home. For Mat’s mother, it was many a month before she was able to go about her daily chores again, but even then she never completely returned to her former cheerful self.

As the sun glinted through the foliage in front of the cave mouth it caught the content of the box which Mat had just opened. For a moment they were both dazzled by the glare.

“Is that what I think it is?” asked Elayne, shrinking back toward the cave wall.

“It’s ok, it’s not loaded,” replied Mat taking a gleaming gun out of the box. “My father gave me this before he died, he took me aside one evening and gave me this box with the gun and explosives, he said if something ever happened to him I would be the man of the house and that I’d have to look after my mother and sister. A few weeks later he died. It was almost as if he knew something would happen. He told me to put it somewhere safe in case we ever needed it, so I brought it here and it’s been hidden here ever since.”

Elayne didn’t know what to say. She’d never seen a real gun before, never mind fired one, the whole idea terrified her. “What are you planning on doing with it?” she asked, then stopped, “what’s that?” she said reaching to pick up something that had fallen out of the box when Mat took the gun out, “it looks like a note.” She gave it to Mat who opened the folded paper, slightly faded with age and read it out loud.

“If they catch me and take me away, don’t come looking for me, Uncle Tom, he’ll explain everything.” They looked at each other, their puzzled faced reflected each other. Mat read it again, “Why have I never seen this before?” he asked, not really expecting an answer. “It doesn’t make any sense, dad’s been dead three years,” he muttered as he fingered the note before putting it in his pocket, closing the box and standing up.

After safely stowing the gun away again, the two friends sat on a rock outside the cave for a while in the sunshine talking, Mat repeatedly re reading the note and shaking his head. Mat’s mum, like Elayne’s, seemed to think it was another invasion but neither of them had said much, so the two young people didn’t have much to work with apart from the bits and pieces of information they had gleaned over the years. But why now and what should they do?

 

To be continued …

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Robert Jordan, The Wheel of Time series

Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time series

Robert Jordan, Wheel of Time series

Wow! Are the first words that came to mind last night after a solid four and a half hour stint of reading to finish A Memory of Light, the fourteenth and final book in Robert Jordan’s epic fantasy series, The Wheel of Time.

I started the series a year ago when I moved to Australia on my flight from London. It has taken me an entire year to read through the fourteen books, which equal to more than 12,000 pages, not a poor feat if I may say so myself. Throughout the year I came across other books I wanted to read, I downloaded some of these to my Kindle, others were given to me as gifts. However, I have not read a single page of another book in the past year, my attention was fully concentrated on Jordan’s series.

American author James Oliver Rigney, Jr. or Robert Jordan, his pen name which he is better known by, had originally planned a six book series, of which the first book, The Eye of the World, was published in 1990. The series now spans fourteen books and they are hugely popular the world over.

Sadly Jordan died in 2007 while working on the final volume of the series. Before his death he prepared extensive notes so another author could complete the book according to his vision, a smart move if you ask me. Fellow fantasy author and fan of the series, Brandon Sanderson, was asked to complete the series after the authors death. During the writing process, the book proved to be too long and was instead published in three volumes; The Gathering Storm, Towers of Midnight and the final book, A Memory of Light which was published last year.

I was introduced to the series by my brother-in-law, with whom I share an affinity for fantasy books. It took me a while to start reading them; however, once I started I was hooked. Whenever people have asked me in the past year what I was reading, I always struggled to explain the plot of the books without rambling on for hours and getting them completely baffled. I’ll give it a try though and hopefully I don’t lose you along the way.

The books – like many fantasy novels – is fundamentally a battle between light and dark, good and evil or more specifically to the series; the “Creator” and “The Dark One” or Shai’tan. Set in an imaginary world where magic is commonplace and all sorts of strange creatures roam, Rand al’Thor, born a humble shepherds son, is destined to become the Dragon Reborn, whose role is to unite the nations of the world and lead them to the Last Battle where he will face The Dark One in a final attempt to save the world.

The Wheel of Time series has an extensive plot and multiple sub-plots as well as a huge range of characters – the series has more than 1,800 named characters – many of whom have become so lifelike to me over the past year that I now feel like I’ll be losing touch with friends with no more of the books to read. The novels are written from the different characters perspectives, which means it can get quite complex at times. Among many topics the series focuses on the strife’s of monarchs and nations, the everyday life of the characters, battles and the tensions between the male and female Aes Sedai; people born with the Power or ability to channel, which is essentially the force or energy the Creator made to turn the wheel of time – in other words these peaople have magical capabilities.

Have I lost you yet? As I said the series is quite complex but if you are a fantasy fan you have to read these books. On occasion it can be a bit long winded, political or male versus female orientated but you just have to persevere, trust me it’s definitely worthwhile, a real page turner.

I have to admit, I’ve been very unsociable the past fortnight while devouring the last two books. I pretty much spent every waking moment when I wasn’t eating or working, curled up on the couch, oblivious to the world around me, completely engrossed. Although I have to say I still haven’t decided to think of the ending, that said I had no idea how the books were going to end. Give me a few days and I’ll have digested it enough to know what to make of the finale.

I’m going to grant myself a few days respite before launching into my next book. As I mentioned earlier I’ve got a list of books – non fantasy – to get through before I launch into another series. As always I’m open to reading suggestions, especially good fantasy novels, I love the escapism and other worlds the genre sweeps you away into.

My final word on The Wheel of Time series is, READ IT!

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The Invasion – part two

I’ve had a few responses wondering how the beginning of the short story I posted last week continued. So here’s the next part.

 

The Invasion – part two

The two friends hurried on together. Elayne glanced at Mat, his handsome face usually so full of fun and laughter was serious, she gripped his hand tighter, worry beginning to take over. When they reached the clearing where Elayne’s family house stood Mat kissed her on the forehead, promising to call as soon as he got home.

Elayne turned toward her own home, despite her hurry she stopped for a minute to gaze at it. Nestled at the edge of the woods, surrounded by a halo of pink and white Mayflowers and cherry blossoms it was picturesque, feeling more at ease she breathed in the heady sweet scent as she walked towards the door. As she entered the back door into the kitchen she was engulfed in a bear hug and the door was quickly closed and locked behind her.

“We were so worried about you dear” her mum mumbled into her hair. Her dad and sister Selena were standing in the doorway equally anxious.

When Elayne was finally released, they went into the living room together and sat down in front of the TV. It was chaos; the entire valley was on alert. The reporter was speaking to a number of locals who were talking about how a number of men in a black car had pulled up at their home and taken a few people away with them. This story was repeated by numerous different sources, each telling exactly the same narrative. The men had said they were conducting an official investigation and needed to speak to the people they took away, but not once did they mention what it was about. Everyone was starting to panic and more and more people were calling the TV station to report that they’d had a relative or friend who’d been taken away.

Suddenly the phone rang, they all jumped and looked towards the kitchen. Elayne ran to answer it, it was Mat. He’d gotten home safe, his sister and nephew were there but his sister’s husband was nowhere to be found.

“Have you been watching the news” Mat asked quietly, Elayne replied that they had. “All those people being taken away …” he stopped. Elayne was thinking the same thing but neither of them voiced it. They hung up both promising to stay in touch.

As they huddled around the TV the screen began to flash and then it went blank, the room was plunged into darkness. For a long while they all sat in silence in the gloom looking at the TV. Far away a siren went off, the young people had never heard it before but they knew what it meant, the valley was under curfew, which could only mean one thing, they were under attack.

The two sisters prepared something to eat. Usually a great house for meals and chatter, this dinner was a silent one and no one felt like eating. Soon after they all went to bed. Just as she was snuggling down to try and sleep, there was a knock at Elayne’s door and Selena slipped into the room. She padded across the wooden floor to her bed,  Elayne moved over as her sister crept in beside her.

“I’m so scared” she whispered into the dark, “what’s going to happen Elayne?”

Elayne had no answer; instead she wrapped her arms around her sister, hugging her tightly. They eventually drifted off to sleep, neither of them knowing what the morning would bring.

 

To be continued …

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The Invasion – the start of a short story

Almost two years ago I had this strange dream that was very vivid. I was so lost in the dream, that when I finally woke up all I wanted to do was to find out how it ended but try as I might I could not get back into the dream.

When I woke up properly I thought what a great story the dream would make, so I turned on my laptop and spent the next few hours writing it down.

Every now and again I’d revisit what I’d written and amend or add to it but I never did anything with it, I wasn’t sure whether it did my dream justice. Today I’m still not sure about that that but I decided I’d post the start of the story on my blog. It’s not finished yet and I’m not sure if any of you will like it, but I thought I might as well see what you think.

If it’s well received I might post some more of the story at a later stage.

 

The Invasion

The water lapped gently over the edge of the pool as the last few swimmers came to a stop in the shallow end. Mr Jordan had blown his whistle a few minutes before to signal the end of the class and the students stood in the water in groups laughing and chatting before heading to the changing rooms. Elayne waded over to where Mat was standing, his tall dark frame silhouetted against the sunlight that was filtering through the large window at the side of the pool. Outside the leaves danced in the May sunshine but Mat seemed oblivious of this as he gazed out over the schoolyard, he seemed far away.

“Penny for your thoughts” Elayne said as she came up beside him.

The two of them had been best friends since they were five or six years old and they were still inseparable at the age of seventeen. Mat had just come back from a few weeks away visiting his grandparents at the coast and he seemed relaxed and well rested. They had plenty to catch up on as Elayne hadn’t seen him properly since he got back the night before.

As they chatted away, getting up to speed on the events of the past few weeks they suddenly heard a strange whirring noise, like a helicopter, outside the building, followed by what sounded like an explosion at the back of the school. There were screams and everyone began to retreat en mass to the far end of the pool. Mr Jordan, who had disappeared into the supply room, re appeared and briskly ordered everyone out of the pool, to the changing rooms and to the front gate and home as quickly as possible.

Mat and Elayne hurried out along with everyone else. “I’ll meet you outside the front gate in a few minutes,” and with that Mat left her at the door to the girls changing room.

Elayne quickly dried herself and pulled on her jeans and green sweatshirt, barely drying her long brown hair before running out the door backpack in hand. The school entrance was chaos, there were people running everywhere and teachers stood at each entrance ushering students out and urging them not to panic. Mat was waiting at the gate for Elayne. When she was level with him he grabbed her backpack in one hand, swung it over his left shoulder and seized her hand with the other.

They didn’t say a word as they hurried along the main road until they reached the quiet of the woods and were deep within its sanctuary. The two young people had been roaming the woods since they were children and they never lost their way. Only once they were safely within the woods sanctuary did Elayne dare to speak. “What do you think that was?” she asked looking sideways at Mat. “You don’t think it was another attach on the valley?” He didn’t have to reply, his face, which Elayne knew so well confirmed her worst fear.

Many years ago, before either of them had been born, there had been an attack on the valley. Everyone knew about it but no one spoke of it. The memory of what had happened lived on in those who had witnessed it and the fear of what had happened and of another attack lived on in those who were born in its aftermath.

 

To be continued …

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