Sunday, July 10, 2011

Excerpt from MUTINY, A Mystyx Novella

Excerpt from MUTINY, A Mystyx Novella
© Artist Arthur, 2011
You are here…
I’m looking down at the ground, which isn’t really the ground at all. It’s some sort of shiny black surface that feels squishy under my sneakers. At first I thought it was quicksand, but since I’m still standing and not sinking into some gooey substance I guess that assumption was wrong.
Anyway, this is a different place than the cold dark den where I was before. A reaper grabbed me without saying a word, and dropped me off here just as casually as he did when he’d snatched me. Of course his people skills sucked!
I’m not going to move from this spot, because I don’t know where I am or what I’m doing here. Logic says this is not earth, but my fear and heart palpitations say maybe I shouldn’t be standing still but running instead. But running where? I’m not sure.
You are here
Those three words, like the red arrow on the shopping-mall directory that tells you where you are in the maze of department stores and food courts, keep resonating in my head. Well, I don’t see a red arrow anywhere, but I feel like I am here.
But where is here? That’s the million-dollar question I’m waiting for an answer to.
“You are not dead, if that is what you mean,” says a deep voice from out of nowhere.
I turn around slowly, but I’m not prepared for what I see. If I thought the reaper was freakin’ weird, this thing is totally off the charts. It’s just a huge black cloak that hovers above the ground. No hands, no feet, no face, just the cloak. Behind the cloak is a big plume of black smoke that makes my bladder weak. The cloak moves and floats kind of like it has a body, a physical form, but it has no features, like ears, eyes, a nose or a mouth, that would make me think it’s a living, breathing thing.
What did I do to end up in this nightmare?
“Where am I?” I ask, since that seems like the most reasonable question.
“You are in Trance,” says the voice.
“I’m guessing that’s not in Connecticut, huh.”
“It is the realm where you await your final fate,” he continues. “Some are sent to Hades—the land of the dead.”
“Whoa, did you say Hades?
“Hades is for the dead,” the disembodied voice says. “Trance is where you wait until your destiny is decided.”
I nod. “I get it,” I say, trying to mask my fear. “I’m, like, in between worlds.” Of course I don’t get it. What the hell? Why am I here? I think to myself.
“So why am I here in Trance?”
“You have been chosen to help me in my quest to fulfill my destiny,” is the ominous reply from the cloaked specter.
Is this thing…serious? No, none of this is serious. It’s gotta be a dream, and my alarm clock is going to ring and wake me up in a few seconds—hopefully.
“Let me get this straight, you chose me to come here,” I ask, using my arms to indicate the large expanse of nothing that surrounds me, “to help you find your destiny?”
Do I sound incredulous? Probably, since I cannot believe this is really happening to me.
The cloaked figure, bounded by smoke, moves and reaches out, I guess, to avoid enveloping me in its darkness? Is this for real?
“I chose you because you can help and you are connected.”
“Connected to what? And just who are you?”
“I am Charon,” he says, just before extending his arm as if he’s reaching for me. His gesture makes the cloak billow like a sheet, as the ground below shifts from the shiny blackness to an image—a mirage of some sort.
There’s sunlight and asphalt, cars parked on a street and a school. It’s Settleman’s High. Kids are streaming from the doors like insects let loose on an ant farm. One tiny spec grabs my attention. It’s Krystal Bentley.
She’s wearing a white skirt that floats around her thighs like clouds. Her shirt’s light blue and sheer so the white tank underneath is visible. Her hair is out and she has on sunglasses that cover her eyes. I automatically lick my lips, since she looks hot. I pause because and think I might actually be drooling.
Krystal’s not alone, but then there’s nothing new about that. She’s always with the clique she hangs out with, Sasha and that new girl, whose name I forget—and Jake.
“You know these students?” Charon asks.
I nod my head. “Why?”
“That’s why you were chosen. You are going to help me conquer them.”
“Conquer who? Krystal and her friends?”
“They’re interfering with my destiny.”
“They’re just kids, like me. And you are… What exactly are you?”
The emptiness around me grows very cold, like I’m suddenly in a deep freezer. Then it gets hot and sweat actually pours from my face. Something grabs me around the neck and squeezes. I’m gasping and gagging and this feels real, like at any minute I’m going to pass out on this spongy ground and get sucked into an abyss.
“I am very powerful. I will one day rule. You would be wise to help me. If not, you will die,” said Charon.
Just like that, my throat is released and I breathe in gulps of air that is polluted with all that black smoke swirling around the cloaked figure.
Okay, the choice is help him or die. That seems simple enough. Like the blue shirt or the red one, pick one and get dressed.
“What exactly do you want me to do?”
“You must first prove you are worthy. Show your loyalty to me by doing whatever I ask.”
I’m thinking Charon’s demand is way too open-ended. I mean, what if he asks me to jump off a cliff or something insane like that? It wouldn’t be any crazier than me being in a place called Trance and deciding if I want to live or die, though.
“If I prove myself, what happens to me? Do I get to go back to my life as if nothing’s happened?”
“From this day forward, your life will never be the same.”
No kidding. If this was a dream, by now I would have awoken with a mix of dread and confusion coursing through my body.
“You help me, and you will be rewarded with powers beyond your dreams.”
Powers? Who wants powers? I’d much rather breathe the polluted air on earth and walk the streets with kids who have real bodies, not smoke screens. But anyway I hear myself asking, “And if I don’t help you?”
Charon lifts his arms again and this time the black cloud comes closer, shadowing me as the image I see now is not one of sunshine and suburban bliss. It’s dark and tinged with a red aura. Skeletal bodies move aimlessly around in this inferno as three-headed beasts bark ferociously.
“Death,” he says.
This is a different place. It’s still evil, but I can see there’s a different kind of suffering here. It’s crowded with terrified, emaciated beings clinging to and practically peeling off the walls. Their mouths are open, though I can barely hear them. But I can easily imagine their wails and moans.
The jaws from the head of the three-headed beast open up to roar, but then quickly clamp shut. Another creature appears. This one is huge and tall and humanlike, but with grotesque features. The other two heads of the beast encircle him, intent on attacking the giant. The fight is brutal and I get the sense that the fight will be waged to the very end. This is Hades, and I so don’t want to be in this place.
“On the sixth day,” Charon says, holding his arms in the air. A breeze begins to blow around me as I stand perfectly still. “Of the sixth month,” he continues. “At the sixth hour—you will be judged.”
Dream or reality, there’s this deathly silence. I figure he’s waiting for my answer, so I shrug, thinking I’ve got nothing to lose, really. “Done deal.”
MUTINY, A Mystyx Novella

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