Once Upon A Time…Why I Started This Blog and Why I Didn’t

Once upon a time, a long long time ago, (less than two years if you want to get technical) I started I Came For The Soup.

When I started this blog I had one goal in mind, and that was to harness creativity, fan flames into raging fires, and create, create, create.

I have said this a few times before in other postings. You will have to surf through my archives to find those posts as I have no idea what they are called at the moment.  Here is a link to a posting called Keep To the Path that first touched on the current topic of this blog posting.

What’s important is raw creativity and spiritual growth,  to become better at what I am doing, to turn this spark into a sustained fire.”

Every now and again, I find that I need to give myself a reminder of not WHY I created this space of expression and bonding, but why I did NOT create this blog space.

If you are curious as to the “whys,” read my About Page, the Welcome Tab found under About, or How It All Began. I even created 4 rules for myself just as a daily reminder (Rules taken from “Keep To the Path):

Rule # 1. Keep to the path. Always remember, this blog is about discovering your new light and creative world. Let that be your beacon towards every post.

Rule # 2. Don’t take yourself too seriously, this blog is playtime. Playtime is fun and adventurous.

Rule# 3. Give what you have at the moment and spruce it up later. (Pictures are lovely. I would like to illustrate some of the Freewrites I have done but clearly this will have to happen later. It wouldn’t make sense to stress over it now.) NEVER FORGET THE POWER OF A QUARTER!

(There is a Blog called “The Almighty Quarter” found under the Daily Words in the Musing tab if you are interested in reading it.)

Rule# 4. This is not a 9 to 5, this is “Creative Therapy”. If you forget to nourish yourself first you will faint before you are able to give something satisfying to others.

Great rules, huh? I even went as far as to give myself 3 MORE statements of “why.”

Frustration forces us beyond our fear and complacency because it has caused us to become uncomfortable, thus pushing us to do whatever it takes to gain our ease again.

  • My Vision: My vision is to grow and take advantage of artistic freedom. As an artist I would like to harness a new level of  artistic expression. As we grow our signatures change. I would like to discover 1 or 2 visual styles of expression and polish them into coherent and clear artistic signatures. I want my writing to flow easily from my imagination into typed or written words, without hindrance and over thinking. I mostly just want to have fun with the process in general. As I discover these things and sample different avenues of expression I will share.
  • My Voice: Even as I create with freedom I want to do so with purpose. I want to discover the voice of that purpose and speak it loud and clear.
  • My Doing: I want this blog and journey to be the catalyst for the creative and spiritual journeys and discoveries of for others. I want to inspire my readers and watchers to create and grow, and inspire others to create and grow. I want to discover more of me and I want others to be inspired to discover  more of themselves. (Taken from the About tab in Main Menu)

None of this has changed really. Actually what I am facing now is the frustration of NEW VISION and a CLEARER VOICE, as I struggle to express myself in a NEW WAY OF DOING.

Frustration, if you don’t already know, is a speed bump in our road of progress. Frustration is not always an enemy, as speed bumps are not the enemy. What it is is a tool. Frustration causes us to pause in our “doing,” take note of what is missing, and change our course of direction to take hold of what is we need.

Frustration forces us beyond our fear and complacency because it has caused us to become uncomfortable, thus pushing us to do whatever it takes to gain our ease again.

Frustration… is a speed bump in our road of progress.”

My current frustration is in my rhythm. Its like going from driving an automatic transmission car, to a stick shift. You need to drive, you just don’t know how to use your vehicle to the fullest…yet.

That being said, I am fully committed to polishing the “Newness” that has grown out of my previous seasons in order to take to the road again with style.

So, frustration in hand as a tool, why did I NOT create this blog?

  1. I did not create this blog to gain a sense of worth. Let’s face it. If you blog, you have been bitten by the “statistics bug” at least once or twice. You have pouted over low views, follows and ratings. This is not a “road bump.” Falling pray to this kind of bite is like a cancer that threatens the very life of your creativity. DON’T GIVE IN!
  2. I did not create this blog in order to be regimentedSchedules are good things, but I need to be careful with them. I can easily lose my “glow” by becoming legalistic with my sense of “order”. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday are my absolute blogging days, but I will most likely still post in between. Creativity is not on a schedule.
  3. I did not create this blog to look like the blogs of others. It is tempting to see the success (stats and what not) of other bloggers, the popularity of their content, and seek to follow their lead because of it. Although it is wonderful to admire and even borrow some techniques, if you just become a “copy” of someone else, then why are you even blogging?
  4. I did not create this blog for it to be a chore, filled with “have to’s.” This blog is and remains an instrument of growth. Growth happens naturally and not out of force. I don’t HAVE to post, but I should as I have the voice and spark to do so. Anything else is inauthentic and just not welcome.

With all of this being said, I take my keys in hand and I put myself behind the wheel of my new creative vehicle. I hope that my frustration and growing pains are helpful to you all as well as encouraging.

Thanks for riding along with me, and if you have any words of advice or encouragement of your own, please do share!

Cheers!

Chopsticks_(PSF)

{Curious about this picture? Click it!}

Satellite 12: A Flash Ficion Freestyle Writing Challenge Results

The prompt: You wake up one morning. Everything’s quiet. No electricity. No people. Everyone has gone. You go outside…What happens next?

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Satellite 12

I had never put on my suit this quickly. I wondered with the power being out would it even protect me from what lay outside. I swallowed down my panic, finished the zip and the seal of my suit, smiling with relief as the securing hiss let me know that I was air tight before I went towards the exit door.

My hand, gloved, hovered over the release button of the door, cautious, suddenly cautious not to press it. What if I opened the hatch and all the oxygen exscaped? The was no power. I would sufficate in the matter of a few short hours.

I checked the levels of my suit again. It was fully charged. That was a blessing. Allowing reason and wisdom to rule the moment rather than my panic as having lost or misplaced everyone on board, I removed my helmet and gazed out of the viewing bay.

Everything looked normal, still, in a somewhat eerie way, almost like the first day I had come to this satelitte. I was the first one to land. The first person to set up shop. Dang it all, that day there was no power either, which had scared me out of my mind.

That day satelitte twelve fell from the heavens and crashed into the west wing of my compound.

Just as the memory came to mind, the shadow, blanket black, of satelitte twelve cast itself over head.

My heart lodged in my throat…it was falling again.

Number of Words=248 Time= 6 minutes

What is the Free Style Writing Challenge? 

Hello, lovelies! This is my second go at the FWC, and I have to say, like last time, I had a blast participating. As you can see, I am not the best of spellers, and as the rules (you can find them below) dictate, utilizing the “delete” key is NOT an option here…I confess I did use it a couple of times before I realized my error. Forgive me.

Before I share the rules, allow me to thank PhoenixGrey for nominating me to play/write along! The prompt she created has so many endless possibilities.

Since I have done the challenge before, I will not be nominating anyone HOWEVER I do have a prompt down below the rules should anyone choose to give it a go! I hope you do. It is great fun!

DON’T PEEK AT THE PROMPT UNTIL YOU HAVE READ THE RULES!!!

RULES: 

  1. Open a blank document.
  2. Set a stop watch or mobile phone timer to 5 or 10 minutes.
  3. Your topic is at the foot of this post. DO NOT SCROLL DOWN TO SEE IT UNTIL YOU ARE READY WITH YOUR TIMER!
  4. Once you start writing, do not stop until the alarm sounds!
  5. Do not cheat by going back and correcting spelling and grammar using spell check. (The challenge is only meant for you to reflect on your own control of sensible thought-flow and for you to reflect on your ability to write with correct spelling and grammar.)
  6. You may or may not pay attention to punctuation or capitals.
  7. At the end of your post, write down “No. of words = ____” to give an idea of how much you can write within the time frame.
  8. Copy and paste the entire passage on your blog post with a new topic for your nominees, and copy / paste these rules along with your nomination (at least 5 bloggers).

My Prompt:

You walk into a that was bursting with wild laughter, but as soon as you step in the laughter ceases. Who are you? Why has the mood shifted in the room? What will you do next?

Cheers!

Trying New Things: Tweaking My Blog

What are your thoughts? I do appreciate them, and take them into consideration. If you haven’t noticed (it would be bizarre if you haven’t) but I have added a repeating image to the background of my blog theme.

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What do you think? Do you think that it is too much? Should I keep it or can it?... You have to admit, it is a very fun image. Thank you Pixabay!

Cheers!

(10 minutes later…)

Soooo, I scrapped it. Sigh. It’s still a great image.

But One Wish: A Poem

dandelion-215169_640If I could have but one wish

It would be to sit along side you

Gaze in the glory that is your beauty

And be filled with the warmth of your smile

If I could have but one wish

It would be to dance among the stars and fireflies

Twirl within the cadence and thunder of your laughter

And take my bow within the lighting that sparkles in your eyes

If I could have but one wish

It would be to melt in your embrace

To feel the heat of your palms against mine

And the strength of promise as our fingers intertwine

If I could have but one wish

It would be of the sweetest thing

The priceless precious treasure that is you

Your friendship

Your company

And all the hope that it brings

When Creation Worships: A Moment of Pause and Praise

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The sound of crickets through my window at night reminds me of the constant heart of God. The heavens declare His glory and even nature sings a chorus of praise. (Psalm 148)

As we are awake, our mouths and hearts sing to His loveliness. But as we rest, those who we deem small, begin to sing a song all their own, for even nature knows the love and care of God.

Yeshua Jesus is altogether lovely. Even when tears blur our eyes, or pain bruises our hearts, the worship of Him not only delights Him, but brings healing and peace to us.

Take a listen to these two videos. The first is a shorter version with an explanation of how the cricket song came to be, the second is a longer video just filled with natures chorus in worship.

~Poiema, Poetry in Motion

Chapter 20: Ascension Graveyard (First Draft Blog Novel)

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Chapter 20

~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague I found that I liked to watch Jørn wake up in the morning. He was so predictable in the mornings. He was predictable, period. Something about that was comforting. The way his face would contort like he was about to sneeze, but never did, squeezing his pillow near to death, before completely relaxing. I think I liked the way he looked most once he relaxed; the hardness of the muscles in his back flexing, and then smoothing out into a state of nirvana. Sometimes he would turn to me no matter where I was in the room once his eyes had opened, and then he would say my name as if it were a question. “Etta?” It was almost as if he was trying to make sure he was awake and not stuck in some reoccurring dream, a dream where I wasn’t really there. The sad thing is he doesn’t realize that I am not really here…not in the way he thinks. One of us is living a lie.

Jørn rolled over, groaned and hugged his pillow to his face. Relaxing, he shifted again under the sheets before lifting up slightly, and resting his weight on his elbow. His dark eyes immediately wondered the bedroom until finding her, as if drawn by magnets. He narrowed them sharply once they had met their mark. He said her name through the fog of waking and waited for her to answer.

For several seconds, far more than was necessary, Etta silently stared at him, barely blinking, her mascara wand dangled in her hands, locked at the ready. Her expression was blank, exposing nothing of her thoughts.

As if the awkward silence had not taken hold of them, Etta turned her back to him, shoving the wand back into the black pigment and began to pull it through her lashes. “Long night? Too much to drink?”  She typically didn’t bother herself with the details of his binges, but she couldn’t help but be the least bit irritated with his calling all Friday night only to go incognito on Saturday morning. He wasn’t even home when she had come looking for him. The bandages on his forearms also taunted her. It had been a while since he had physically hurt himself from drinking.

She knew when she asked him about his escapade that he wasn’t going to be able to answer. It was that or he chose not to. All she knew for sure was that he drank to a point whereas he could make it home by himself. Yesterday was a shock to everyone in Greenwich Pass. Etta was certain it was no different for Jørn. The fact she couldn’t get him on the phone and had not heard from him since Friday attested to that.

The narrow slits of Jørn’s eyes only deepened. His lips tightened beneath the black hairs of his beard. Cold tension began to fill the atmosphere around them. The reflection of the electric currents around him fanned out violently around him in a flash of colors. A pinkish orange hue was the most dominant. Baldwin’s was the same way when he was angry with her. It stood to reason that Jørn’s would be no different. Even the sound of his frequency was ominous.

So he’s angry? What the heck does he have to be angry about?  She considered calling him out on it, but decided on a different course of action. She was the one who had the right to be angry. Arguing about it would have been nothing but a waste of time.

“You should cut your hair.” She finally said, leaning back from the mirror, waiting for his usual response—shut down and retreat. She wanted to jab him.

Jørn’s eye twitched. The marble stillness of his body and stare shattered like  broken glass. He grunted and pushed the bed linens away. Standing ramrod straight, the muscles in his shoulders and back tightening again, he walked towards the guest bathroom without a single word.

Etta watched him in the mirror as she applied her lip gloss, her eyes following his retreating frame until they locked onto the other being in the room.

Baldwin gave her a reproving look. Etta responded in turn.

“Why do you torment him, Etta?” He ran his hands down his face.

Etta waited until she could hear the shower running in the other bathroom before she said anything. She let her eyes shut for a moment, allowing the strain upon them to loosen. Her eyes felt like she was wearing contact lenses, and both of them had flipped or folded at the same time. She was still getting used to the sight gift she had received from the incident at the Yard. The colors were still intense, but far less volatile, the sounds and frequency she had all but pushed to the background, blocking it off as white noise.

She said, “I am not trying to torment him,” Baldwin cocked his brow. She raised her hand. “Okay, I don’t generally try to torment him. But he does need to cut his hair. He looks too much like you. Besides that he is all riled up this morning—”

“He didn’t even say anything, besides your name.”

Etta tapped her temple with her finger. “Did you forget about my recent development? Jørn was angry, I don’t know what about, but he is angry. His currents were all fiery like yours were yesterday.”

“Both of us have our reasons.”

“Whatever. Did you see the way he scowled at me?” She huffed. “If his eyes were razors I would be bleeding to death.”

Baldwin moved towards the hallway. “Etta, he has been left in the dark for years. So let’s just assume he received second hand information about what happened yesterday. Or let’s make it something as simple as the fact that there was chaos yesterday, and you failed to make contact with him.” He looked at her over his shoulder. “I would be livid if I was worried about you, trying to find you, and 24 hours passed without a word. And then the first thing you say to me when I do see you is something snarky or just out right hurtful.”

Etta grimaced. Why was everything that seemed to go wrong between her and Jørn somehow always her fault in Baldwin’s eyes? She didn’t bother asking. Instead she headed towards the guest bathroom. She doubted that in his state last night Jørn would have had the mind or the ear to hear anyone out her on stopping the ascension. Addressing that would have to come later. The least she could do was talk to him about the phone calls or the lack there of. He had been worried about her on Friday night. She would just have to let that be her reason for apologizing.

*          *          *

Jørn sat on the closed toilet seat, his knees bobbing nervously, his hands over his mouth. He was running the shower to buy himself some time. He was hiding. The angry awkward cloud that hovered around him had made him retreat. It was either that or him exploding with angry roars. Etta telling him to cut his hair again, reminding him of Baldwin again, had made a sickening fire rise up in his belly.

He felt like he had caught her cheating and she didn’t even know he was on to her, like he was holding on to life changing information and she was none the wiser. He was, and she was. Etta had lied to him and had been lying to him, so had Baldwin, wherever he might have been.

His fist clenched. Brødre uden døden. Brothers beyond death. They had said that whenever they parted, even with the last message Jørn had received from Baldwin, were the Danish words added. If Baldwin was messing around with Etta he was going to wish he had died once Jørn was through with him. He left her. Jørn married her. There was no turning back.

Etta’s knuckles rapping on the doorframe sent his stomach into lurching. He sat up straight, but did not make any attempt to move towards the door. He wasn’t ready to confront this. Not yet. Why had the sense of betrayal stolen his tongue away?

*          *          *

Baldwin peeked his head through the door and then looked back at Etta. “He’s just sitting there. He hasn’t even gotten in the shower.”

            Etta pinched her eyes closed. “I am married to a rabbit,” She whispered suddenly feeling irritated at his retreat. She rather he yelled and fussed than hide away. She knocked on the door and then shook the doorknob. They needed to hash it out and move on whether he liked it or not. And if it came down to it she was going to suggest he go to Alcoholics Anonymous. The world was hitting major speed bumps. It was best he be sober than sloppy, and in the way. “Jørn, stop wasting water. I know you are not in the shower. Stop hiding in there. Open up! Let’s talk.”

*          *          *

Jørn stared at the bathroom door with utter offense. Etta’s tone was nothing but that, offensive. Generally speaking, he understood her ways. He had come to know her as guarded while everyone else simple wrote her off as rude. Right now she was just being plain hurtful.

His brow furrowed and his eyes stung. She thought he was an idiot, a stumbling drunk idiot, in need of pacifying. And now she wanted to talk. She had not given him the privilege or lent him the trust to let him know what she was up to. She had not thought him worth the effort to lie to rest his fears about Baldwin, not knowing what had become of him. She was there when he filed the missing person reports a few years after Heidi had ascended, and never once did she tell him not to waste his time. Why? Because the two had been plotting and planning all the while behind his back!

He stood up, and turned off the shower before walking to the door, letting his hand hover over the doorknob. He was suddenly so enraged that he could have crushed it with his bare hand. She had hurt him, cut him so deeply with all of this, and now she was accusing him of playing the role of coward just because he needed time to processes.

He laughed inwardly, but it was writhe with sarcasm. At least Etta was being consistent in her treatment of him. She was the same way when it came to him dealing with ascensions; emotionally detached and simply disinterested. He wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction, not this time. He had prayed for this moment, and now it was at hand.

He yanked the door open guns blazing.

*          *          *

The door swung opened so quickly that it slammed against the adjacent wall. Etta leaped back, totally unprepared. Jørn glowered down at her when he pushed forward, careful not to touch her. His eyes seared into hers just long enough for her to stumble back completely off guard. He heart lodged in her throat. He had never looked at her like that. His jaw was so rigid, and the currents around him were a dangerous color of red, almost fiery white towards his skin. His frequency was nothing short of a roar.

The veins in his forearms stuck out against the flexed muscles of his arms as he clenched his fist, protruding past the bandages.  He stood in front of the window in the sitting room, one hand on his hip and the other over his mouth, his stance wide like he was ready for a gun fight.

Etta swallowed down the knot that had leapt into her throat. The colors around Jørn had decreased in fire, but he was still far from calm. He suddenly turned to face her, his round shoulders raised like a charging bull.

“You want to talk, Etta? Fine. Sit. Let’s talk!” He pointed to the couch and waited for her to come forward.

Etta spared Baldwin a confused look, but he was playing the part of possum himself. Obviously he had not seen this side of Jørn either. Etta tapped into her secret place, tucking the sudden panic that had hit her between the ribs away from sight, and emotional contact. If the Pulse ever looked for it, they would never find it, they would never find any of her hearts thoughts. They would never know, just like Jørn would never know.

Jørn was upset, so much so that his predictability had gone down the drain with the shower water, and all Etta could think to do was comply and try to temper the sudden trembling that had risen in her bones. She sat down on the couch painted on her cool expression and waited for him to join her.

Jørn stared down at her before he too sat down, his posture still very rigid.

Etta studied his face, the set of his jaw, the ticking in his muscles, even the dark liquid brown of his eyes. He was going to cry. She sighed and shook of the sudden discomfort that had smacked her between the eyes. She ached for him. His posture, the threat of his tears, them sitting, made her think of Heidi Flagg, and the night she and Jørn had first been together. It had changed her whole world.

She steadied her voice. “What’s this about?”

Jørn’s head snapped towards her. He looked as if she had slapped him. “What’s this about? Seriously?! Oh, I can name off several things, but I will start with a question first.”

“Okay,”

He shifted his body so that he was facing her. Even with the space between them the tension was suffocating. “Where were you yesterday? And who were you with?”

Was this a trick question? She gave the obvious answer. “I was at the Yard, like I told you I would be,” She watched the currents whip and snap around him shifting in color. The deep red was rising again. He clearly didn’t like that answer. “Is this, is this about the phone?” She hated how small her voice was sounding. “Are you angry because we didn’t talk yesterday?” She thought about Baldwin constantly nagging about it. Maybe he’d been right.

That only made things worse. Jørn’s face contorted. “Do you think that I am that petty to be this upset with you over the phone?!”

“But you are not upset, Jørn, you’re practically enraged.”

“I have the right to be!” He finally yelled, his voice set in a growl that made her flinch. “But I will address the phone issue that you want to make out to be so darn small. I called you 19 times. Nineteen!”

“You did not call me 19 times,” She chuckled nervously. Why was she nervous?

“Check your phone, Etta, or did you lose it at the Yard?”

She sighed and raised her hands. “I am not going to argue with you about this. I am sorry if you felt like I was ignoring you—”

“You have done enough of that for me to be resigned to it! This is about the fact that I didn’t know what happened to you—”

“Nothing happened to me! And I don’t ignore you.” Her voice had far less starch. She did ignore him. She did it often. But hearing him say he had resigned to it, that he had settled for it, plucked more than a nerve. It cut through several of her heart strings and made bile rise upon her tongue.

“How was I supposed to know that?! How was I supposed to know you were okay? And. Yes. You. Do. You have been ignoring me for a long time.” Silence settled for a brief moment. Jørn covered his mouth and reigned in his tone. “I wonder if my name was Nobody, if you would have answered my calls.” His gaze darkened.

Etta clamped her mouths shut before her face contorted with irritation. “What does Nobody have to do with this?”

“Everything! One call, that is all I wanted from you. But you didn’t even think that much of me to give that.”

“That is not fair! I do think about you.”

“You think I am an idiot. That’s what you think about me.”

Etta leaned back and turned her head away, shaking it in shear disbelief. She refused to make eye contact with Baldwin. She was grateful that he had refrained for throwing in his two cents for once. She turned back to Jørn. His gaze had not left her nor had it lessened in intensity. The evidence that he was jealous of Nobody and truly believed she thought him an idiot resonated all over him.

It frustrated her to no end. Yes, she thought he had his flaws, she had flaws. But she certainly didn’t think idiocy was one of his. She thought he was brilliant, but if she said that now she doubted he would receive it. She tried a different course of action, not bothering to address Nobody, not yet at least. She couldn’t. “Jørn, I don’t think you are an idiot.” He snorted and rolled his eyes and made the attempt to stand. Etta grabbed his hand with both of hers. “Will you please tell me where this is coming from?”

He slid his hand from hers.  “This is coming from the fact that for the last decade you have looked me in the face and lied to me. You have pretended. What else are you lying about? Who is Nobody?”

Etta’s brow came together. What had she lied about? She hadn’t lied to him. “Nobody is nobody! They are irrelevant!”

“Then tell me who they are!”

“They don’t matter, Jørn.”

“To me they do.”

She crossed her arms over her chest. She wasn’t going there, not about them. “I haven’t lied to you about anything.” She stated flatly hoping he would just take it. He didn’t but she knew better.

He finally stood, with a snort of derision. “You haven’t?”

She stood with him, shaking her head no. “No I haven’t, and quite frankly I am lost here.”

His eyes narrowed. “If you haven’t been lying to me, treating me like some idiot, or worse some stand-in guy, if Nobody is nobody as you say, then tell me who was it who helped you stop the ascension yesterday.”

Her jaw locked. This was about Baldwin. He thought Nobody was Baldwin. The thought nearly made her laugh out loud. She should have been prepared for this. She had imagined how this moment would be, had played it out in her mind several times, but she had never imagined it like this, this volatile. In Etta’s mind she had pictured it a happier occasion even if bittersweet, tearful even, but enraged? The thought had never crossed her mind. She certainly had not anticipated Nobody being confused for Baldwin, or even being in her life at all.

If she wasn’t mistaken, Jørn was not only angry but jealous. You betrayed his trust, that is what he thinks. That is why he said you think he is an idiot. She thought about the conversation that she’d had with Baldwin yesterday. He had accused her flat out about the mistake.

Jørn had called her a liar. That stung a whole lot more. She was somewhat of a liar, but not the way he was thinking.

She steepled her hands under her nose and sat down again. Very little she had said to Baldwin about her decision to leave him in the dark had pacified him. She was less convinced that she could pacify Jørn. “I know what you are thinking,”

“You don’t know what I am thinking.”

She looked up at him. “You think I betrayed your trust, left you in the dark. You think Nobody is Baldwin.”

“He’s not?” Sarcasm

“No. He is not. I told you Nobody is irrelevant. They aren’t important.”

“And Baldwin is.”

Another gut punch. “Jørn!”

“Fine, assuming I believe what you are saying, you still let me believe that my only cousin was dead or missing, that you didn’t know where he was or what happened to him, when all this time,” His voice cracked. He clenched his jaw. “All this time you knew he was alive. You’ve known where he is, you have been communicating with him. Imagine how I felt, how I feel, having to get that information from Doris, and not from you! My wife didn’t think enough of me to tell me!”

“Doris? When did you see Doris?”

“Yesterday, when I was going out of my mind looking for you, only to be told that not only were you okay, but that you and Baldwin had stopped the ascension. And don’t change the subject!” His voice was strained, the current storm around him was now a sickly blue color, with hints of red and yellow. Jørn finally dropped back down on the couch next to her. “Where is he, Etta? Where has he been?”

Baldwin stood next to him, his head down and his arms around himself as if he was the thinking man, sadness was evident all around him as well. The mournful vibrations almost made Etta moan or cover her ears to keep from hearing. She pressed it back into the background with grinding teeth as she reached for Jørn’s hand again. Again he pulled away.

“Please, hold my hand.” She said, her brow drawn. She was more frank than compassionate. She needed him to understand. She needed not to get drawn into a whirlwind of emotions—no matter how much it hurt Jørn, or hurt her—and lose site of the course ahead. Too much was at stake.

He did not give her his hand. She took hold of it anyway, and scooted closer to him. “I am sorry. I am sorry that you had to find out like this—”

He tried to snatch away, but Etta gripped his hand even tighter between hers. “I didn’t have to find out like this. You could have told me! You should have told me.”

“I couldn’t. Just like Mr. Albert and the others didn’t tell anyone that they were on the Council.”

“But you knew he was, didn’t you? That’s why you stopped talking to him.”

His tone was so accusatory, but she was going to have to suck it up. “Yes.”

“Did he tell you?”

“No, I figured it out. Don’t ask how.” She saw the question right on the threshold of his lips. “As a matter of fact, don’t ask anything else. Please.”

“How can you ask me that?! Don’t ask anything else? Where is my cousin, Etta? What have you two been up to? How did you stop the ascension? What in the hell are we dealing with!” He would have kept going had she not put her hand over his mouth.

“Jørn, stop!”

He growled and went to stand again. Etta leaped on to his lap. Straddling him, she cradled his face with her hands. He grabbed her waist, ready to eject her from his lap.

“Jørn just listen! LISTEN!” He stopped struggling, though he could have easily moved her aside with very little effort. “I am sorry I hurt you. It’s not what I want!”

The look he gave her told her he didn’t believe her.

“Its not!” She said again. “I am sorry I made you feel like an idiot. I don’t think you are an idiot.” Jørn’s flesh was hot against her palms. “I know that sorry may not be good enough,”

His nostrils flared again. “Where is Baldwin, Etta?”

“He is safe.”

“I didn’t ask you that, I asked you where he is.”

She shook her head. “I can’t tell you that.”

“I have the right to know.”

“I can’t tell you that.”

His teeth clenched. “What can you tell me, then?”

“I can’t tell you very much, but I will tell you what I can, and that is going to have to be enough.”

“You don’t trust me.” Another statement, not a question.

“This is not about trust. And if it is, then you need to trust me.” She pointed to herself.  “Do you trust me?”

*          *          *

Jørn held on to her waist, the feel of her hands upon his face, the weight of her on his lap was almost suffocating under the circumstances. The confrontation had gotten him nowhere. The only knowledge that he had gained was that Baldwin, who he still suspected was Nobody, was indeed not dead. He was not missing. He was just missing from action, and the only person who knew anything about him was like a tomb.

Etta wasn’t going to talk. No matter what she said, Jørn couldn’t bring himself past the mountain of her actions. She had lied. She was still lying. She didn’t trust him. What did that mean in the long term? What did that mean about them? This was probably why she had refused to give him a child, start a family with him.

He closed his eyes against the stabbing pain that had ripped through his middle, and dared not ask the question. He knew full well he would not get a straight answer or an answer at all. “No, Etta,” He tightened his grip around her waist and lifted her from his lap. Ignoring her protest, he sat her on the couch beside him and stood, making his way to the bedroom before she could latch on to him again. “No, I don’t trust you. I don’t even know what you are saying right now.”

“Jørn, just listen,”

“Listen to what? You aren’t saying anything. You’ve lied to me all this time. He has lied to me all this time! Jokes on me.” Saying the words was like a fist to the gut. He turned again and went into the bedroom.

Etta called out behind him. “Jørn, you are thinking micro when this is a macro issue! This isn’t some joke!”

Jørn closed the door and slid down to the ground, sitting as if he was completely exhausted, and he was. This was a macro issue? No, Etta had gotten it wrong. This was a micro issue, it was their life, his life, his small little world that he had built with her. But he didn’t even know what that meant anymore. He didn’t even know if it was real or ever had been in the first place.

*For Next or Previous Chapter(s), Please follow this LINK to the TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 19: Ascension Graveyard (First Draft Blog Novel)

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Chapter 19

~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague My reality is tricky. That is why I have an absolute grey area when it comes to lies or the afore mentioned “lie by omission.” Telling all is never a wise thing, not in my experience, not when you are fighting an invisible enemy who can inhabit your closest of kin just on a whim. But the truth, the truth is always the truth. Some say “Truth hurts.” I don’t care for this statement either. The reality is that the truth only hurts when it follows a blatant lie…thinking about it, I suppose omitting the big things in the face of the truth can feel like a lie. Grey is not my favorite color.

Jørn felt like he had been hit by a Mack truck. He sat in Doris’ front room staring forward as he inwardly gnawed on every word that she had said. Never mind the fact it was past midnight. Doris had been talking for hours, and had only recently slowed her pace. Andrea, her niece, had even given her perspective on things.

Jørn had all but completely tuned them out, their voices falling into the background of his pounding thoughts. Etta, his Etta, his wife had stopped the ascension.

How in the world had she done it? The whole idea seemed utterly impossible. What hit him even harder was hearing his cousin’s name. Baldwin Falk was apart of it. Where the hell had he been all of this time?! Hiding somewhere only Etta could find him, that’s where! Etta knew all along! All those phone calls from Nobody…

His jaw clenched beneath his beard.

“You want some more coffee, Jørn?” Jørn snapped out of his thoughts, his eyes glanced down into the dark liquid. It had been neglected the same way the Sheppard’s Pie Doris insisted he eat for dinner had been, a few bites here and there, a few sips, but otherwise his appetite was completely gone.

Doris’ held the coffee pot in hand, tilted at the ready. Jørn shook his head. “No. No, thank you, Doris.”

She handed the pot to Andrea and sat down in the chair next to him, rubbing her hands against her knees. A sudden calm and solemnity filled the room. Only the sound of the grandmother clock’s ticking on the mantel could be heard. Jørn remained for almost a complete ten minutes longer in silence before finally speaking.

“I should probably go now.”

“Oh, honey you don’t have to rush off.”

He stood. He wasn’t rushing. He needed to change environment. “It’s past midnight, and you need to get some rest. Today, yesterday, was intense.”

“I hadn’t really given any mind to the time.” She stood up and eased into his stiff embrace. Andrea came back out of the kitchen with a bag filled with leftovers. Mark was right behind her. Thomas stayed glued in front of the television.

Mark took his place beside Doris and squeezed her tight, kissing her temple and rubbing her back. Doris rested her head on his shoulder as her face grew pink. She was having a moment. They were having a moment as husband and wife, partners, friends, trusted confidants. Jørn looked away from them and his eyes collided with Andrea’s. He forced a smile and took the bag from her hands.

“Thank you for dinner.” He chanced a quick glance back at Doris and Mark. His head was beginning to pound. He’d had enough. He wanted to run, needed to run, clear his head.

Mark extended his hand and shook Jørn’s vigorously. “No, thank you Jørn, and thank that wife of yours.”

Jørn nodded but his jaw clenched again. He needed to process what he had heard before he said anything to Etta. He needed to find Etta in order to say something to her. But he suddenly had no desire to find her, not now, not with all of this in between them. She had lied to him. She had been pretending. What else was she keeping from him? The thought made his pulse race.

Mark continued, a tear streaking his cheek. “You tell her thank you for giving me my life back. A man is nothing without his heart. Doris is mine, just like Etta’s is yours. You understand what I mean. And that Baldwin fellow, whoever he is, if you see him, you thank him for me too.”

Jørn gripped the bag, smile tight, before saying goodnight and pulling off on his bike. He drove towards the hills, his mind on auto pilot. He had not packed any running gear with him but he was going to run anyway. He couldn’t go home and he couldn’t think clearly. He was inwardly imploding.

He didn’t know what was putting his guts in the meat grinder more, the fact that not only had Etta kept this “ability” or whatever it was that she had used to stop the ascension, from him but she had kept it a secret that she knew where Baldwin was. She had known he was alive, had been in contact with him, and had not said a single word!

Nobody. It had to be Baldwin. The first time he had noticed Nobody on the caller ID was not long after Mr. Albert and Etta started growing apart. He recalled asking her a few times before who “Nobody” was.  Etta had brushed him off, never once breaking a nervous sweat, innocently saying, “Nobody is nobody, literally. They might as well be a telemarketer for all the grand conversation that comes out of them. But I have to take their calls. At least this way, by realizing I am talking to Nobody, I have mentally checked myself before doing so. Who cares what they say? Who cares what they want? It is just one of the cons of being me I suppose. Talking to people I could do without, but can’t seem to shake. It comes with the territory of being in sales.

And she had soled him that tale, beautifully. It had been over a decade since Jørn had heard from Baldwin, almost that long since he had moved his life into collision with Etta’s before completely intertwining with hers, all on the pretence that Baldwin Falk, his first cousin, her fiancé, was gone.

But that wasn’t true. Jørn stayed because he loved Etta, didn’t know when he had started to but he knew he did, but he was suddenly beginning to question if she had ever loved him back. Lately it seemed she had only be tolerating him, biding her time…

Nobody.

He rebuked himself for the stupid thoughts but he just couldn’t shake them no matter how hard he tried. The realization troubled him so deeply that he began to doubt everything about himself and Etta.

He came to a rough stop upon the hills, his tires kicking up dust and rocks and shooting them like bullets into the darkness. He flung off his helmet, leather jacket and even his scrub top, tossing them on his bike, and without a second thought ran off into the darkness.

He could hardly see a thing in front of him, but he kept running. The imagery that swept past him was reminding him of his life: he could hardly see anything, not with the ascension, not with what they were about, not with Etta, not with Baldwin. He had been running in the dark all this time.

“Father God, where are YOU!” He shouted into the black, his growling voice echoed into the shrouded tree line. He heard no answer and felt no peace only the intrepid role of howling questions and a thousand wayward thoughts as he considered everything Doris and Andrea had said.

 

“She just rolled in out of nowhere like John Wayne, bullhorn a blazing!” Doris said. She smiled and even lifted up off of her seat with elation. Her arms had shown signs from her fall as she fought to get out of harms way once the human stampede began. “She said, as of today no more ascensions,”

            “No, she said from the order of Baldwin Fawn,”

            “Falk, honey. Baldwin Falk.” Doris gave Jørn another strange look after she corrected her niece. “That’s the other good news. Your cousin is alive. Did you know that?” Jørn didn’t move. “None of that nasty stuff people used to say about Etta doing something awful to him was true, not one lick of it! I never believed she did anyhow. And neither did you. You married her.” She smiled. Jørn stayed corpse still.

 

He kept running, picking up the pace, the impact jarring his knees. He felt heavy, and rightfully so. He was carrying a massive load on his shoulders. Etta had looked him in the face day after day, night after night, and lied to him. Each time they made love, when he was feeling hit with guilt, not just for breaking his faith covenant with God, but for breaking the unspoken oath to his cousin, she lied. He would ask her what they would tell Baldwin about what was going on between them, or what about Baldwin period. She would change the subject or give the same old cryptic response, “Don’t worry about, it’s my problem.” Nothing more came, not even a hint to a solution, no matter how much he argued that it was their problem, his as much as hers.

Now he understood why she answered the way she had. What had she told Baldwin about them? He had to have known. She had clearly not broken contact with him. The memory of finding Baldwin’s picture in Etta’s drawer made fire burn in his chest. Just thinking about it made him pick up his pace. He wanted to smash it to bits the same way Doris described Etta’s Lotus destroying the ascension pods.

 

            “Jørn, you should have seen it! Those things could walk! They came out of nowhere, just like Etta had and they flanked her like this,” Doris gestured with her hands. “Then Etta told them to break up the pods.  I didn’t hear her say it, but I could tell because she didn’t look at all shocked when they smashed those stupid things to smithereens!”

            She laughed. “There was also that strange wind that knocked all of us down too. I think it gave me whiplash, it hit so hard.”

           

The tip of Jørn’s sneaker rammed into a rock and he went tumbling head first into the darkness. He braced himself for the fall, his forearms sliding across the unforgiving terrain, stopping him completely in a wash of painfully torn skin, blood and sweat.

Gasping for breath, he rolled over unto his back and waited for the pain to ebb away. Silence again flooded around him. The chill of the night air slid across his pebbled chest. He thought about Vanessa Wong as he lay still. Doris said she had been laid out too.

 

“Did Etta,” The words seemed to escape him. “Did Etta shoot her, did she?” Jørn winced as he asked the question. He knew Vanessa hadn’t been shot. Rachel had told him so.

Doris looked confused. “There was no gun shot. I mean I didn’t see one.”

            “There was that Lotus that had cornered her though.” Andrea added.

            Doris grabbed Andrea’s arm. “Yes, there was that!” She turned her attention back to Jørn. “But that thing didn’t do anything to her either at least not from what I saw.”

            Andrea spoke again. “Etta, your wife, she stuck out her arm like this, and then the mayor fell flat. I can’t say that she shot her because that is all I saw, but then who knows. As bad as it sounds, I don’t even care. The mayor was trying to make everyone ascend and because of Etta my auntie is still here.” She kissed Doris’ check and wept.

 

Jørn pushed himself up from the ground. The fire in his chest and arms had lessened, but the pain in his foot and heart was another story all together. He rotated his ankle and checked for a sprain. Then he checked his toe. He could thank God for that much. He was intact enough to head back to his bike and then back home.

He slowly walked back down the trail, taking his precious time. He was still in less of a hurry to face Etta. His fear for her had morphed into something else. He didn’t know what it was, couldn’t describe it. He just knew he wasn’t prepared to face it, not yet.

 

It was easing into three in the morning by the time Jørn made it home. The apartment was quiet and eerily still. He crept into the bedroom and peaked in. The bed was completely empty. He suppressed the anger that was rising up within him again and settled for a shower instead, and then bed. He could do those things at least, get clean, get bandaged, and then get rest. He would settle for getting understanding some other time.

*For Next or Previous Chapter(s), Please follow this LINK to the TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 18: Ascension Graveyard (First Draft Blog Novel)

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Chapter 18

~The Journal of Etta Castle Teague I have never been one to believe in the whole “lie by omission,” statement. My opinion is if you want a certain answer then you had best ask the right question. If you don’t ask for “it” I am under no obligation to give it to you. Now, does that make me a liar?

Rachel stretched her arms and downed the last bit of coffee from her Styrofoam cup. It was ice cold but she didn’t mind. She was in it for the caffeine. It had been a long day, not really any longer than her usual shifts, but far crazier.

Greenwich Pass had a propensity to be either black or white. Either things were as easy going and uneventful as the next mountain valley town, or it was full of bizarre occurrences. The people of the area didn’t need to have a full moon to behave like they were lunatics. The vein of crazy that ran through the valley clearly coursed in the blood of the locals as well. It didn’t matter if they were straight laced upper-middle classers with a propensity for looking down on others or if they were the stereo typical valley dwellers who moved 20 years behind the modern curve, they were all crazy. At least Rachel thought so.

Rachel wouldn’t have it or them any other way. She didn’t know any other way.

She rubbed her tired eyes with her knuckle and stifled a yawn as she leaned into her computer screen. Her shift had ended a few hours ago, but she was too tired to drive. She took a cat nap in her office before diving right into Vanessa Wong’s case. Under other circumstances, knowing that her patient was stable would have been enough for her to head home, get some sleep and attack the “giant” of the unknown another day. But this wasn’t any other patient. This was the mayor. It didn’t help at all the Oliver Taubmen had called her several times asking for an update on Vanessa Wong’s condition, as if he were at liberty to know.

His response to her closed mouth retorts, “It is the right of the denizen’s of Greenwich Pass to know the condition of those in leadership, especially under such sketchy circumstances.”

Rachel didn’t give him anything and eventually he stopped calling. But the nagging and the edge of his voice, hinted that he would stop at nothing for answers and that she had better have them soon. He was such the politician.

Rachel refused to be bullied, even by Oliver Taubmen, but the prodding of pride and the hope of being able to play passive aggressive while gloating in Wong’s face when she eventually came to, if she came to, was just too much for Rachel to handle. She’d told Wong she needed to have a more thorough check up and the woman refused. It was no surprise that she was suffering the consequences.

Rachel had no proof that the cause of the coma-like trance Vanessa Wong was in had anything to do with her contusions and head injuries from the week before, but then she had no proof of the contrary.

“Yes you do, Rachel. None of the test you had done proved conclusive.” She growled and glanced at the clock on her desk. It was nearing midnight. She had been at the hospital since five am. She needed to get some real rest if she was going to be worth a dime in figuring things out. She needed to figure things out for her own ego if nothing else.

She turned off her computer, grabbed her things and headed out her office door. She did a quick primp before heading to the nurses lounge. Dr. Michael Baxter and she had had a good evening of conversation between rounds. He like many others, wanted to know what had happened to Vanessa.

Rachel took her time in telling him. After a few well played hands of cat and mouse flirting, Rachel had landed herself a coffee date with the handsome doctor. He had even asked her to stop by the lounge before she left, a request she was more than willing to oblige.

Michael smiled warmly when she came into the lounge, he even stood. “I hoped you hadn’t forgotten about me. Do you have a quick moment?” He pointed towards the chair next to him.

“Sure,” She smiled but another yawn escaped her.

Michael’s eyebrows rose bashfully. “I won’t keep you too long,”

“I am sorry,” She blushed. “It has been a really long day.”

Michael smiled again. “Okay, I will make this quick then. I was thinking about your case with the Mayor and I might be able to give you a bit of a lead. No promises, but there is a possibility.”

“Oh?” Rachel perked up. She was all about making some grand conclusion of her own, but she was not so prideful to ignore help, especially when Michael Baxter was offering.

“Yeah, I don’t know if the case I am thinking of is at all related, but it sounds a bit similar,”

Rachel leaned forward. “You going to tell me already or are you going to make me work for it?”

“Work for it.” His grin broadened. “How about instead of coffee, we do lunch on Monday to go over what I am thinking? I will collect the information needed for your case and bring it along with me, and then we do dinner sometime soon, no work only play. Deal?”  He extended his hand to her.

“Deal.” She had obviously worked her magic on him. Graciela had helped a bit as well. She owed her. She owed Jørn more for calling off.

She hoped she hadn’t blushed again when she took Michael’s hand, but she suddenly didn’t care. The way he kept hold of her hand and even helped her to stand was well worth the embarrassment.

“Alright then I will call you tomorrow to confirm. I know this great place on the Square called Dahlia’s. Have you been there before?”

Rachel shook her head.

“Excellent. Dahlia’s it is. I’ll walk you out.”

 

Michael watched Rachel’s car pull away and felt the ache of a guilt riddled frown draw at the corners of his mouth before he plastered back on a smile and waved goodbye to Rachel’s car one last time.

Guilt. He knew he was doing the right thing. He trusted Pastor Wesley’s motives and direction, but he didn’t like lying to Rachel, and maybe he hadn’t. Sure, the whole purpose for there pending date on Monday was all about him gently nudging her in a certain direction revolving around a specific case at the prompting of his prior phone conversation Pastor Wesley, but the following date was all about pleasure for Michael.

He liked Rachel and had for a while. The events at the Yard, Pastor Wesley’s call and request, Jørn’s asking the favor of him to take his shift, were all perfect excuses for him to finally work up the nerve to ask her out.

He sighed and stuffed his hands in his pockets. His fingertips collided with the smooth screen of his mobile phone. He would text Pastor Wesley later and give him an update on things, but in the meantime, he would finish his break and contemplate how he would make Thursday’s plans so enticing that Rachel wouldn’t be able to deny another date with him. Better yet, he would start his romantic plotting for Monday.

*          *          *

“I think my ankles are swollen.” Etta leaned back in the coolness of the hidden room, wishing for some heat. Her feet were screaming from all the walking she had done over the past few hours. She was damp and smelled less than pleasant from all the digging and burying she had to do in the woods, but at least now all of the necessary Lotus where in their places. That was one less thing to worry about.

She rubbed her hands together and blew into them. It was always cold in the secret room, it didn’t matter the season. Whoever had built it obviously didn’t give a thought to heating. The only thought they had in mind was reinforcing it like a bomb shelter—sound proof and virtually escape proof.

Etta had her speculations about the mysteries room. She had heard rumors as a child, that years before she was born, there was a serial killer who lived right in Greenwich Pass. It was said he worked as an usher at the movie theater. At least five people in Greenwich Pass were abducted and killed having been last seen at some slasher flick. Their bodies were found, but no one could ever locate the actual murder scene.

The man who was the number one suspect had no family, and no friends so when he disappeared from Greenwich Pass without a trace no one really put two and two together. That was until the killings stopped.

It all made sense in Etta’s mind, this creep of a man killed people and used the secret room to do it. It was all just wild guessing on her part. Nevertheless, the serial killer did exist and Etta hoped the T.O.W.E.S had gotten him. She hoped they would like the gifts she was making special for them too. All in good time.

“You’ll live.” Baldwin poked his head through an adjoining wall, pointing at her feet. “You have some sweat pants and a hoodie in there. You should get changed and freshen up before you catch a cold.”

Etta limped away and did as instructed, letting the hot water from the bathroom soak into her hands. She wished she was at home so she could take full advantage of a bath, but she was too exhausted to drive. It didn’t help at all that her car was parked several miles away from the mall, hidden away from sight, or that her vision was burning her eyes and the sounds in her ears was rattling her equilibrium again.

She had started replacing her breeding Lotus throughout Greenwich Pass right after her encounter with Mr. Albert. Before everything was all said and done, these Lotus would have each produced 100 times the volume of their normal seeds. She and Baldwin would have just enough seeds for what they had planned. But it had taken her several painful hours, not to mention the backbreaking dig and recalibrating she had to do in the woods in order to anticipate such a harvest. She would have killed to have had a helping set of hands, but using Kyle wasn’t worth the risk. If Mr. Albert suspected him of being involved with Etta, it was only a matter of time before he let the Towes know.

She needed to give Kyle the heads up on that one.

In the end, swollen feet, and smelly flesh aside, it had been a fruitful day. She unrolled her sleeping bag and dropped her weight upon it. At least she had planned ahead in that regard. She had only closed her eyes for a brief second before Baldwin started talking to her again.

“How are you doing? How are you holding up under the change?”

            Etta shrugged and mumbled out a response. She really didn’t want to talk about it again. She was feeling loads better now that her eyes were closed, even if thinking about it still made her heart race nervously. She dared not tell him that. “I am fine, better. I will give you an update in the morning.” She settled deeper under her covering.

“Show me what you used on Wong today.”

Etta pealed open one eye and stared at him. He was serious. Rather than argue she pulled the thing out of her sweat pant pocket and showed it to him. It was no larger than his thumb, curved slightly like a claw, and was white in color, just like the Lotus that had lost it all those years ago when it attacked Heidi.

When Baldwin looked away from it, she tucked it back in her pocket and closed her eyes again.

“How does it work? What is it, exactly?”

She didn’t bother opening her eyes. She wasn’t even certain she could if she tried. “It’s a piece of a Lotus.” She left out the part about Heidi. “You know, the part they use to put people in a trance while they scan them? Its one of those, but I managed to shift its frequency. Its is in a more pressurized volume.”

“So its concentrated coma in a spray bottle?”

“Baldwin, it is necessary is what it is.”

“How do you know its safe, Etta? How do you know Wong will wake up from that?”

She mumbled something under her breath but forced herself to sit up. “I know its safe because the Lotus use it on humans every pre-ascension both on the ascenders and the rejects.” She thought about Heidi again, how the Lotus had put her into a sleep she never woke up from all those years ago. Doing so to Wong was like getting revenge for her.

She continued, “I know it can be reversed because I have used it on a raccoon or two or five,” Baldwin’s eyes widened. Etta shook her head. “The point is it that if I hadn’t used it today on Wong the Lotus would have ripped her apart like they did the ascension pods. So technically I saved her life.”

Baldwin studied her. “That’s not all of it. There is something else to it.”

“What Baldwin, did you want me to get shot?”

“I didn’t say that!”

“But that is the reality you seem to be missing. Everyone was watching me. If I would have let the Lotus kill Wong, Rick Henley would have opened fire on me.”

“You don’t know that.”

“Don’t be naïve! Be mad about me leaving you in the dark about it, but don’t play dumb. It would have been a blood bath out there. But because I put the mayor to sleep for a while, everyone else backed down. Gosh Baldwin! Wake up! And let me get some sleep!”

“When do you plan on waking her up?”

“When it is necessary. Goodnight.” She dropped her head back down on the sleeping bag and pulled to top layer up to her ears.

*          *          *

She was out like a light. Within minutes Etta was breathing heavily and a slight snore was coming from her nose. She only snored when she was exhausted. Baldwin had many more questions on the tip of his tongue, but it wouldn’t profit to wake her up with them.

He was still tense about earlier. No matter her explanation, no matter how absurd it was, he just couldn’t get past the betrayal. It had brought back the first time she had ripped out his heart with Jørn. He comforted himself with the knowledge that that time her betrayal wasn’t planned, but it had still caused a fissure in their relationship, today only brought the fissures back to remembrance with a threatening vibration of widening even further.

He sighed. “Goodnight, Etta.” He laid his body next to hers and closed his eyes, knowing full well he wouldn’t get any sleep. He had not slept in years, had never felt tired.

He was beyond surprised when he woke up in the midst of a what felt like the perfect dream.

*For Next or Previous Chapter(s), Please follow this LINK to the TABLE OF CONTENTS

Chapter 17: Ascension Graveyard

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Chapter 17

~The Journal of Etta Castle-Teague I don’t know about anyone else, but I have never liked surprises. I have always felt like they were sneaky attempts at distraction, or they are just badly played out, leaving the surprise-victim feeling awkward or wanting to throttle the one who has given the surprise. If we are all honest, we’d have to admit that we tend to feel a mixture of both.

Etta had been home for a couple of hours. She allowed herself a moment to lie down. Her head was no longer pounding and the assaulting sound of high pitched frequencies had dulled in her ears. She still was not herself, but at least she was not vomiting.

Baldwin sat next to her. He had been silent since they left the hills, a contemplative expression painted on his drawn face. Etta asked him again what was on his mind even offering another apology for having blindsided him that morning.

“It’s not that, not to say that is still not an issue, but,” He turned towards her. “I suppose I had never really taken into consideration the way Mr. Albert felt about me. Honestly, it surprised me.”

Etta cocked her brow. “Baldwin, really? There are so many more important things going on right now. I mean does it really matter what Albert Castle thinks? That wasn’t even him speaking today. He is a doll, just like Clive, and just like Vanessa.”

Baldwin sighed. “No, for that brief moment, that was him, the real him, talking. You know that. I saw the look on your face.”

            Etta sat up on her elbows. Baldwin was right. She had heard the real Albert Castle speak today, even if it was just for a short moment. It had been so long. She didn’t know if she felt more pity for him for being a puppet of the T.O.W.E.S or a prisoner of his own deteriorating mind, with a sudden flash of his old, lucid self suddenly breaking through that afternoon, even if it was to give Etta the what-for concerning the man she had once been in love with.

If there was anything remotely good about Mr. Albert’s current state as a Towes doll, it was the fact that his brain had been preserved. Dementia had begun to gnaw at it around the time Baldwin came to Greenwich Pass. That was the initial reason Etta had so swiftly connected to Baldwin in the first place, her home life was falling apart again, and she had needed a safe place to land. She did truly love him though.

“You’re right,” She finally conceded. “It startled me a bit.”

“What do you suppose it means, him being able to have a break out like that? Do you think it has something to do with what the Pulse did today? Maybe like with you, they broke something loose with him, freed up a bit of his natural mind.”

            “I don’t know. I don’t think it matters.” She narrowed her eyes thinking about what it would be like having the old, crotchety man back. She suddenly rebuked herself. She would not have him back, not like he was when she was growing up. Even as detached as she was from him at his own prompting, she still didn’t think she had it in her to watch him spiral like he had been.

He had become slightly verbally abusive when the Dementia began to show it’s self, saying hurtful things about Etta’s father, her mother being a lousy drunk who abandoned her, and even her. He would have moments of panic, but only when they were at home alone. He privately saw a physician, and had begun to manage the disease, but then a few years ago it was like a switch was hit and the Dementia was totally gone.

It was not the work of a divine miracle, but Their cursing touch.

Mr. Albert had gone missing for four days before that. Etta had to tell Sergeant Henley that Mr. Albert had Dementia only to end up looking like an idiot when he showed back up again fit as a fiddle and lucid as ever. That is when Etta knew he was gone. The T.O.W.E.S had gotten to him. Baldwin even said his frequency had changed and even though Etta could not hear it she could feel it, and it had been completely altered.

But today with his lashing out verbally about the shame that had come down upon them when Baldwin had gone missing, Etta knew she was hearing the voice of the real Albert Castle.

She wondered if she would ever hear the voice of the real Nobody. All of the messages they had left earlier that day and late last night, flooding her voicemail was a sudden reality check that she was most likely reaching. The T.O.W.E.S had nothing to do with that situation. Nobody’s current state was the result of their own selfish choices.

Etta changed the subject. “We have been home for hours and still no sign of Jørn. He must be having a grand old time.” She pushed herself off of the bed, bitterness glazing her tongue with the thought of him drinking.

“Why don’t you call him again?”

She huffed. “For what? I called him last. He should have called back by now, and I haven’t heard my phone ring one good time which means he is clearly occupied.”

Her sarcasm over the subject never ceased to trouble Baldwin. “We can track him, if you want, make sure he is safe at least.” Being connected to the T.O.W.E.S Net did have its benefits, Baldwin being able to transport and find people within it was one of them. That was another way they knew Mr. Albert was in trouble all those years ago. They couldn’t find him through the Net.    

            Etta slipped back on her shoes and began to tie the laces. She needed to head back to the mall. “You can track him if you want to. Me, I am good. Are you coming along with me or do you have other plans?” She headed out of the bedroom. The sun was beginning to set and had cast an orange and pink glow across the sky. It was beautiful. Today had been beautiful, sickness and side affects aside. She didn’t want to ruin it.

She slipped on her coat and left the apartment, Baldwin at her heels.

*          *          *

Jørn had gone home first, straight home after he had left the hospital, but Etta was not there and had not been there as far as he could tell. He waited around for a few moments before restlessness set in and he needed to go back out and look for her.

He drove around all of Greenwich Pass, even headed out as far Ubert County before turning around and heading back towards town. He found himself praying a lot, asking God for guidance and peace. He hated to worry. Worry was counterproductive to faith.

He had called Kyle earlier. Kyle said he had seen Etta on the trail, but briefly. He didn’t say anything else besides his phone was about to die. Jørn checked the trail parking lot just for good measure.

He drove around the mall parking lot a few times as well, somehow thinking Etta’s car would magically appear. It hadn’t. Desperate, he tried Mr. Albert, going to his house, but Albert wasn’t even home. It was a long shot and he should have known better. The world could have been on the verge of imploding and Etta would not have gone to Mr. Albert’s.

He decided to do a turn around the town center. People generally gathered there. He and Etta had lunch their together every now and again when weather permitted. She loved the fountains, the serenity.

“Maybe she’s there.” He drove his bike around the town center. A few people were there but not his wife. It was as if she had completely disappeared. He tightened his jaw and pushed away the tension. He would just go home and wait for her. She had to go home at some point.

He pulled his bike around to the light and put on his blinker to turn back towards home. Thomas Allen, aka Chicken Little, stumbled slowly across the cross walk. Jørn followed him with his eyes before feeling compelled to help the young man out. He did have a slight concussion after all.

“Thomas? Thomas Allen?”  He parked his bike and pulled off his helmet.

Thomas stopped and stared at him, narrowing his eyes before Jørn’s face finally registered. “Oh, hey doc,”

“Are you alright, Thomas?”

“Yeah, just heading to Andrea’s auntie’s house.” He thumbed behind himself.

“Dover’s Pointe?” It was the nearest neighborhood in that direction.

Thomas nodded.

“That’s another six miles from here.”

Thomas shrugged his shoulders and started to walk again.

It was going to be dark soon, and the guy did have a concussion. Jørn couldn’t risk it. He jogged towards him. “Thomas, let me give you a lift. You have had a long day.”

Thomas glanced back at Jørn’s bike. The custom black matte finish with high gloss detail was a thing of beauty to any bike enthusiast. Thomas followed him towards the bike. “Nice Harley. Is this a CVO Street Glide?”

“Yeah. Thanks,” Jørn handed Thomas his helmet. “Come on, I will drop you off. Andrea is probably worried about you anyway, right?” He offered a polite smile.

Thomas slid on the helmet. “Yeah, she has called me a ton of times. I told her I was at the hospital getting stitches, but I would be to her aunties when I was finished.”

Jørn didn’t bother to tell him that was several hours ago. Obviously he had gotten lost, may have still been lost. “Do me a favor, text Andrea and ask her for her aunt’s address.” He waited until he had the house number, confirming it was indeed in Dover’s Pointe before driving out there.

They drove in silence before pulling up in front of a bungalow a few streets from the neighborhood’s entrance. Jørn took back his helmet and followed Thomas up the steps to the front door. Thomas rang the doorbell. Jørn waited with him for someone to answer. He figured Thomas would not bother telling them he had a concussion and had been wandering around Greenwich Pass for the better part of the afternoon.

The front door flung open and a tiny young woman, that Jørn could only guess was Andrea, leaped on Thomas’ neck and began to cry hysterically. Had Jørn not braced them both, the two would have fallen hard on the porch.

“Where were you?!” She cried. “I have been worried out of my mind!”

“Oh I was fine. I was with the doc.”

Jørn cocked an eyebrow. “I’m Jørn. Nice to meet you. You must be Andrea.” He offered her his hand. She shook it vigorously.

“Thank you, Doctor.” She gave him a quick once over as she brushed the tears from her eyes. “You don’t look like a doctor.” Her brow creased.

Jørn smiled. “I am a NP, I helped Thomas out today. I saw him walking and offered him a ride home.”

Andrea still looked leery.

“He has a concussion and has been wondering around all afternoon.”

Thomas glared at him. “No I don’t. I cut myself is all. See?” He showed Andrea his bandage.

Jørn gave her a look to which she nodded.

-“Andrea, who is at the door? Is it Thomas?!” A familiar voice echoed from the back of the house. “Oh thank Jesus! Thomas you had us all scared to death! Jørn Teague? Is that you?”

Doris pushed passed Thomas and Andrea. Grabbing both of Jørn’s arms and immediately began to cry. “Oh, my goodness, Jørn!”

“It’s a small world, eh, Doris!” He pulled her into a sincere embrace remembering what Etta had told him about her, that she was meant to ascend. “I am just glad to have been able to help Thomas, and I am glad that you are alright too, Doris. I really am.” His tone was solemn.

-“Who is at the door? Is it Thomas? I didn’t find him anywhere when I went out. Where was he?” Mark, Doris’ husband hollered from the back of the house, but didn’t bother to come to the door.

“It’s Jørn, honey. Etta’s husband.” Her voice was like a hiss and her eyes went wide. Andrea stared at him in similar fashion.

Jørn’s eyes narrowed. Why had Doris sounded so cryptic? “Doris you don’t happen to know where my wife is by chance?”

Doris covered her mouth with her hands. “No! I have not seen her since the ascension!”

“Well if you do, give me a call. I have not been able to get her on the phone since last night.”

Doris gripped his arm again. “Oh my word, you must not know. You don’t know!” She covered her mouth again and the tears sprang forth again.

Jørn’s pulse picked up speed. “What happened to Etta, Doris? Did something happen to her at the Yard?” His hands were fist and his stomach was beginning to clench. No, Kyle saw her afterward, remember? He reminded himself. Still his heart was racing.

Doris just stared at him.

“Doris, did something happen to my wife, today? What happened to Etta?” Panic was creeping up his neck. He tried to keep his calm but it was slipping free of his grasp.

Doris’ expression was nothing short of shock. “You don’t know what happened?”

Jørn’s eyes bored into hers, the color washing from his face, only the worse thoughts sprang to his mind. He should have gotten her last night. He should have saved her, taken her home, and now something bad had happened to her. He was about to lose it completely when Doris grabbed his arms again.

“Jørn, Etta is the reason there was no ascension! Etta stopped it!”

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