Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Sneak Peek of Part of Chapter 1

Hello. Today, I'll give you a sneak peek of part of chapter 1 of "The Deliverers: Sharky and the Jewel". Chapter 1 is pretty long, so I'm doing the first part now. I'll follow up with the second half in an upcoming post. So, without further ado, here we go:

Out of This World

The boy’s heart hammered in his chest. His knees quaked and he felt weak as he stood on the narrow mountain path, high above the plain below. Wind whipped his red hair and tugged at his clothes, trying to blow him over the cliff as he clung to the solid bulk of the rock face.

Beside him stood a man. Although the face was blurred and indistinct, the boy knew it was his father. The mountaintop was shrouded in mist, making everything around the pair hazy and surreal. A faint reddish light gave the mist a rosy glow, adding to the otherworldly feeling.

The boy’s father nodded, and they both began inching up the path, the man in the lead, each clutching the rock face. The boy took a deep breath and looked over the edge of the cliff. Wisps of cloud tracked across his vision, momentarily obscuring, then revealing, the dizzying drop to the landscape below.

He trembled, suddenly unable to move. His father stopped and turned, gesturing for him to follow. Almost without thinking, the boy took one step, then another, then one more. The reddish glow became brighter as they walked, until the air around them glowed blood red.

Suddenly, a black shadow loomed over them. The boy heard the flap of leathery wings and felt a blast of hot air as some creature flew overhead. Startled, both climbers darted toward the cliff to avoid the creature, their momentum carrying them toward the edge. The boy managed to grab hold of a boulder on the precipice, but his father stumbled, wobbled sickeningly on the edge, then toppled over. All the boy could do was watch as his father spun and twisted, hurtling down toward the plain, which rushed up to meet him. Arms and legs flailing the man tumbled, his mouth forming a scream.


Eric Scott ‘s cry split the night. He sat straight upright, his freckled brow bathed in sweat. Opening his eyes, he stopped screaming and looked around. He was right where he'd been when he'd fallen asleep an hour or so ago—in the blue nylon pup tent under the old oak tree in his back yard.

The light of the full moon and the branches overhead flung shadows across the roof of his little tent. A faint June breeze made the shadows rustle and dance. An owl hooted.

Eric lay back in his sleeping bag, trembling. That dream again. He'd been having the same one ever since his father had died from a fall while hiking, a little over a year ago. It was now so familiar, he knew in his sleep what would happen before it did. The maddening thing was, he could never alter the terrible outcome.

“Probably means I’m next,” he muttered. “Man, 12 years old and having nightmares. What am I, a baby?”

He ran a hand through his tousled hair, yawned and stretched. No use trying to get back to sleep, he thought, I’ll just send my dad plunging to his death again. Might as well go out and have a look around.

Wriggling out of the sleeping bag, he slipped his long, skinny legs into a pair of jeans and pulled a dark green sweatshirt on over his blue t-shirt. He crawled over to the tent door and pulled on his socks and sneakers before unzipping the entrance and scrambling out.

The night had turned chilly. Eric stretched again and looked around. The moon provided plenty of light, although a row of trees lining the edge of the yard cast dark shadows in which he could see nothing. The light wind ruffled the grass and played with his hair. The branches of the oak swayed and creaked above him. The sound made him glance up. When he did, he noticed something he’d never seen before.

Perched on the lowest branch, not three feet over his head, was a snowy white owl. It was large. Its eyes were closed, and it appeared to be asleep. Eric stood, transfixed. Wow, a real live owl, he thought, I’ve never seen one before. Wonder why it’s asleep, they’re supposed to be nocturnal. It should be hunting.

Its eyes snapped open. Eric held his breath. The owl's large round eyes glinted in the moonlight as it gazed at him for what seemed a long time. Eric tensed, expecting it to fly off, hoping it wouldn't. The owl didn't fly. Instead, it did the last thing Eric expected. It

"Good evening," it said.

Eric stared at the owl. "You can talk?"

"Obviously," said the owl, "and it appears you can as well."

"People are supposed to talk," Eric said, "but don’t expect me to believe owls can."

"My dear boy, I assure you I am an owl and, as you can plainly see, I am talking."

“Is this some kind of trick?” Eric asked. He looked around, half expecting to see his friends hiding in the bushes.

“Oh, it’s no trick,” the owl said, with the faintest hint of a smile.

“This is crazy. Animals can’t talk, only people.”

The owl shook its head. "That's the problem with you humans. You're too full of yourselves. Most of you couldn't care less about talking with us. You don't even take the trouble to find out whether or not we can talk, much less if we have anything interesting to say."

"You expect me to believe all owls talk?"

"My dear boy," the owl chuckled. "Not just owls. All animals can speak. Not all of them speak well, mind you, but all speak at least a little. Cats, for instance, are quite well spoken creatures. Dogs tend to blather, saying nothing about everything, while blue jays have a limited vocabulary and are quite nasty. Squirrels are nervous and talk a mile a minute. You humans could hear them if you tried, I daresay, but you simply don't listen."

Eric thought about it a moment. He still didn’t completely believe it, but it was hard to deny this particular owl was talking.

"Is that your nest?" The owl pointed a wing toward the tent.

"What? Oh, yeah, I guess you could call it that," Eric said. "Do you want to come in and, oh I don’t know, perch a while?"

Perch a while? Did he actually say that? Things are getting out of control here, Eric thought.

"Thank you very much, but I prefer the open air. I hope you don't mind?"

"Huh? Uh, no that's okay, it's kinda stuffy in there anyway."

"I much prefer trees, wonderful places to live. I grew up in a tree. Loved it. A nice hollow oak. Very snug."

“Yeah, I guess you’d think so, wouldn’t you,” Eric said. "This tree of yours, is it near here?"

"No, it is quite far from here. Almost a world away, you might say."

"Well, you know, the tent's not really where I live, I just camp out there," Eric was beginning to think he’d woken up in another dream.

"Then, am I correct in thinking this fine oak is your home?"

Eric laughed. "Are you kidding? I live in that house over there, with my mom." He pointed to his small single story house.

“There is no need to be impertinent, young man,” the owl said, glancing over at the house. "I suppose it was too much to hope you didn't live on the ground. You are human after all. Still, you seem to be rather a nice one, despite your prickly disposition. What is your name, if I may ask?"

"It's Eric, Eric Scott. What's yours?"

"My full name is Stigidae Ghostwing, but you may call me Stig."

"Cool name,” Eric admitted. “For a bird.”

"Yes, it does rather roll off the tongue, if I do say so. I've been watching you—what do you call it? Camp out. Actually, I’ve been sent to bring you on a little outing being planned, sort of an adventure."

“Oh man, this is too weird,” Eric said. “Who sent you, the owl king?”

“My, you certainly woke up on the wrong side of the nest this evening, didn’t you?” Stig said, and puffed up his feathers.

“Okay, okay, I’m sorry. Don’t get your feathers ruffled,” Eric said. “Where’s this outing gonna be?”

"Well, it's actually rather close," said Stig. "But then again it really is quite far away."

"Do all owls talk as crazy as you?" Eric asked, squinting at the owl.

"Well, you see, I'm talking of going to another world."

"You’re joking, right?" This is getting weirder and weirder, Eric thought.

"I can understand your skepticism,” the owl said. “As a matter of fact, the Gatekeeper said you would make a fuss."

"Where is this world, and who’s the Gatekeeper?" Eric asked.

"Well now, those are difficult questions." Stig said, screwing his face into something resembling a frown. "As for the world, it's not here, obviously. To be quite frank, I'm not sure where it is exactly. It's not in this solar system or this universe."

"So it's really far?"

"No, as I said, it's not far from here at all."

"But if it's not even in this universe, how can it be so close?"

"These things are rather tricky," Stig said, sighing. "And I don't think it can be easily explained. Let's just say that while worlds can be a universe—or even two—away, there are doorways connecting them that make traveling to them as easy as walking into the next room."

"You mean that there are doorways leading to other worlds in this world?" Eric was getting a headache.

"Not many. Oh, there used to be quite a few, ages ago. There was a time when people would stumble upon them quite regularly and wind up in any number of places, some quite nice and others very terrible. But doorways have been disappearing steadily over the past couple of centuries. I would venture a guess that in this world there remain only a very few."

"You remember?" Eric asked.

"Oh yes, you see, owls live quite a long time where I come from."

"How old are you?"

"Oh let me see…I turned 427, no, no 428 this past March." Stig said.

“428,” Eric repeated. “Are you sure I’m not dreaming?”

“Quite sure,” Stig said. “As I was saying, the number of doorways on each world has been declining. That’s where the Gatekeeper comes in. It’s he who regulates the traffic to and from worlds.”

“You mean people can travel between worlds?” Eric asked, with growing interest.

“Only when the Gatekeeper sends someone on Official Business,” the owl said. “Then, they go through a doorway on their world to the Hallway of Worlds. From there, they go to their final destination.”

“You mean it’s like travelling on the airlines?”

“Er, I really wouldn’t know,” Stig said.

“What’s Official Business?” Eric wanted to know.

“Well you see, every now and then a world will encounter a problem, a snag, so to speak.”

“A snag?” Eric asked.

“Yes, it could be some sort of sociological or technological dilemma, or a stubborn way of thinking—something where some outside help is needed,” Stig explained. “Often times all it takes is a little nudge, really, to get things back on track. Some worlds hit a number of snags over the course of their history.”

“And this Gatekeeper wants to send me on some Official Business?” Eric asked. A strange excitement coursed through him.

“Actually, he wants to send you and I.”

“So you’ve done this before,” Eric said. “Have you ever had any problems?”

“I’ve had a number of posers, I can tell you,” Stig said. “But in the end, I got through them all right.”

“Is it dangerous?” Eric asked.

“Well, it’s not for the faint of heart, my boy. As a matter of fact,” the owl confided, “There was one encounter I had with a giant four headed ogre that would make your blood run cold. You see, the creature was pillaging the countryside and no one could get at him because, with four heads, he had a perfect panoramic view. Well, I decided to swoop down on him from above and try to peck out his eyes one at a time. How was I to know he would pick that exact moment to look up and check the weather?"

“What did you do?” Eric asked.

“Hmm? Oh, well, It’s a little painful to remember, really,” Stig said.


“Well, to make a long story short, the beast took a swing at me with its club. Luckily, I managed to avoid it, and the club came smashing down on two of the heads, which restricted its vision a good deal. I took advantage of this by pecking at it with my beak. Fortunately, we were in a mountainous region. I drove the brute over the nearest cliff and that was that.”

“Man, that was a little harsh, don’t you think?” Eric said.

“No more harsh than what that creature was dealing out to the gentle folk of the area,” Stig replied.

“So the Gatekeeper needs me?” Eric’s brow furrowed, but his heart leaped.

“Oh my, yes,” Stig said. “He was most specific.”

“If I go, how will I get back?”

“The Gatekeeper will send you back through the proper door,” Stig said. “It’s really quite simple.”

Eric nodded. It’s hard to believe I’m even considering this, he thought. “I guess I could go and check it out, at least.”

Stig clapped his wings in delight. "Splendid, splendid. I'm so glad. Now come along, we must be going.”

"Where?" asked Eric.

"Through the doorway. Follow me," Stig said, and soared into the air.

“Hey wait! I can’t fly!” Eric called.

“Well hurry. “ Stig said as he circled the boy. “We've wasted enough time already.”

"I gotta get some stuff!” Eric ran into the tent, shoved his flashlight, some rope and a canteen into his knapsack, slung it over his shoulder, and hurried out after the owl. He was just in time to see Stig’s white body disappearing over the house toward the front yard.

Eric caught up with him at a row of trees that lined the steep slope of his front lawn where it fell down to a stream. The owl descended, and Eric plunged into the thick undergrowth that grew on the hillside. Pricker bushes pulled at his pants legs as he scrambled down. A bed of old leaves made the ground slippery and hidden rocks and roots threatened to trip him in the dark.

When he reached the bottom, he heard the stream gurgling and chattering as it flowed in its bed. It was wide and shallow, and Eric could not help remembering the times he and his father had caught frogs and crawfish in the muddy water. Stig was waiting for him on a big rock in the middle.

"Got down okay?" asked Stig.

"Oh sure," said Eric, plucking a thorn from his leg. "No trouble, just a bit steep is all."

"Right, well the easy part is over. From now on, remember that anything can happen! And I daresay, it probably will!” Stig appeared to be smiling, but in the tricky light of the moon it was hard to be sure. "This next bit will be a little wet for you, I'm afraid, but it won't last very long. Just keep slogging ahead and you'll get there in no time."

"Wet? What do you mean, wet?" asked Eric, but Stig was off, flying along the brook.

Eric shrugged his shoulders and followed. They headed up along the stream and he could see the stone retaining wall and the large drainpipe that passed under his driveway.

Stig, flying a little ahead, called over his shoulder, "Into the drainpipe!" and swooped straight into the dark opening.

The pipe was four feet in diameter. Eric stepped onto a flat rock standing in the water and peered into the opening.

"Come on!" Stig's voice echoed from inside. "We're almost there."

"It’s kind of dark, isn’t it?” This was definitely weird. Who ever heard of walking into a drainpipe in the middle of the night?

"It won’t hurt you," said Stig. "My wings are getting tired. Are you coming?"

"Yeah, keep your feathers on," said the boy as he stepped on to the lip of the pipe.

He had to bend over because the pipe was too short for him to stand upright. He had expected to see a faint light coming from the other side, but it was black up ahead. He made his way forward as his eyes adjusted. His sneakers and socks were wet and squishy as he made his way along the ribbed interior of the pipe. Then he saw the white owl up ahead, a ghostly shape of lighter darkness.

"Now what?" asked Eric.

"We're here," said Stig. "We're at the doorway."

"Already? Where?"

Stig pointed with his wing, and there it was—the faint outline of a round door filling the end of the drainpipe. Eric blinked with surprise. It was here, in his front yard.

In all his exploring, he had never seen it. He was positive the door hadn’t been there before.

"I've never seen this," Eric said in wonder.

"Of course you haven't," said Stig. "A Doorway appears only if the Gatekeeper wants it to be seen. Now would you mind opening the door for me? It’s terribly difficult to do with wings.”

Eric pushed on the door, they went forward, and a moment later it swung shut behind them.


  1. This is very visual- I love the imagery and character development in the first sentences. It was easy to form a picture in my head, and I quickly felt a relationship with the son, experiencing the emotion from his perspective as his father plummets downward. ~ Jess Haight
    The Secret DMS Files of Fairday Morrow

  2. Great word choice! I love the assortment of vocabulary that you used to help the reader picture the scene. A wonderful start! I am looking forward to reading more. :)


  3. Thanks. I've been over to your site a few times. I think it's fantastic--so creative and interactive. You two are doing it right!