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First pages

First real lesson

Meredith sighed. Honestly what was the point of all this. She had been secretly meeting with Miss Oleva for weeks and she was frustrated. Meredith grimly stuffed a small children’s book into her backpack. All that woman did was make her read this infernal book over and over again, then she would quiz her on it endlessly, and then she would have to read it again. Honestly! She zipped her bag up in a huff. Meredith was beginning to think the hint of magic she’d seen had been nothing but a trick.

 Someone was shouting down the hall now, she could hear her mother raising her voice followed by the sound of broken glass. This seemed to intensify the argument. Meredith looked around furtively, now was the time to make a hasty exit. Rather than risk getting caught sneaking through the living room she unlatched her window, sat on the sill and slid her legs out onto the fire escape. She looked down. Her stomach twisted itself up like a wrung out towel and she felt her palms start to get sweaty. Still it was better than the hell she’d catch if her mother got hold of her with that book in her bag.

Meredith reached back in, grabbed her backpack and followed the rickety black staircase down to the ground. It creaked and vibrated with every step but she put her faith in the rusty old bolts holding the iron frame to the crumbling brick building that was their apartment complex. There was nothing good about this place other than that they could afford the rent. Meredith brushed her hand over the last railing and rust mixed with black paint flaked off and fluttered down into the alley below. Of course the ladder was broken but she climbed halfway down it and then just a slight drop and she was free. It was cool for a summer morning and starting to rain. Meredith pulled her hood up over her head and made her way to the library.

Miss Oleva was waiting for her in the same spot where Meredith always found her. She looked up from her armchair and smiled as Meredith walked in. The room was small, maybe big enough to fit two cars side by side. The floor was made of a solid old gray stone interlocked loosely together, it was the oldest part of the library. The walls were carved into shelves that held an endless variety of books. They rose to the ceiling at a slight angle before giving way to stone archways that met in the middle of the circular room. Despite being on a lower level, the lighting made it feel cozy somehow, and the isolation made it feel safe, as if it was cordoned off from the outside world.

Miss Oleva sat in an aged and cracked leather armchair next to a now defunct fireplace. She was dressed in her usual style, shabby chic her mother would have called it disdainfully. Miss Oleva wore a long layered brown dress that very nearly dragged across the floor when she walked. Her long bushy hair was pulled back in a sensible ponytail and she wore a ridiculous amount of odd jewelry. Strange stone inlayed bracelets adorned her wrists and an assortment of necklaces hung down from her neck, it looked as if she’d raided a flea market for everything she owned. Strange as she was she was always kind to Meredith, and ever since she’d caught her doing what Meredith swore was a bit of magic she had hounded the poor old woman to teach her everyday until she relented.

Miss Oleva removed her reading glasses and placed the book she had been reading on the table beside her. “Have you done your reading?” she asked beckoning Meredith to sit in the chair across from her.

“Yes,” she replied sullenly slumping into her seat. Her legs didn’t quite reach the ground in the large chair and she swung them aimlessly while avoiding Miss Oleva’s stare.

“You don’t seem pleased child, is something the matter?”

Meredith hesitated before bursting out with, “Well! Well I just don’t see the point of reading this silly story over and over. I mean I read this a million times when I was a baby. It’s only five pages, how much am I really supposed to learn from this?”

“I told you, all books have something to teach us.”

“I know, and I know why you want me to read this.”

“Why?”

“Because she’s me.”

“Explain please.”

“The girl. The girl in the story she’s me it’s my life. She describes this perfect world where everything is happy and green and beautiful. It’s an escape from the terrible life she has at home.” Meredith took a breath, she could feel the heat rising in her chest.

“Hmm, could you give me an example please?”

Meredith’s exasperation showed plainly on her face she might as well have rolled her eyes and groaned but instead she complied. She reached into her backpack and brought out her copy of ‘The Home I Never Knew’. “Here,” she said and began to read aloud, “I sat her upon my hilltop surrounded by such peace and beauty, I knew that not a thing could hurt me. Not here in my perfect sanctuary. I felt the butterflies rise up in the field around me, they came in colors I could only dream of dancing and flirting in the shifty rays of sunlight. They spun around me in a vortex encircling me in their wings. I reached out to touch them and felt their gentle fluttering as they parted before my hand like water. I laughed as I tilted my hand to let one land, but in that moment I knew even this perfect place could not protect me from the pain, the darkness, and the memories.”

Meredith folded the book in her lap, and looked down at the floor. “She’s created a perfect world to escape her family, and it sounds lovely actually.”

Miss Oleva’s face softened a bit, “Perhaps you are ready indeed for a real lesson then. Come here child and give me a hand.” She held out her hand for Meredith to help her out of her seat and she obliged. Miss Oleva reached back for her walking stick and using it to steady herself she led Meredith over to a block of stone the size of a loaf of bread sitting on a shelf between rows of moth-eaten books. Meredith had not noticed it before. Miss Oleva pointed at it with her staff, “Look closely dear and tell me what do you see?”

Meredith stood on her toes and squinted to examine the chunk of rock. “It looks like a rock.”

“Yes I know it’s a rock but tell me about the carvings.”

On closer inspection Meredith could see there were several rune like carvings covering their surface. “Ohhh… It looks like ancient writing, is it Egyptian?What do they call that?”She scrunched up her face trying to remember.

“Hieroglyphics,” Miss Oleva offered gently and Meredith nodded, “And no these are way older than that. She put her finger on the first carving. This is Rahe the great adventurer, he saved his family by traveling far and wide to find a cure for their curse. He is here to remind us of the importance of our journeys. And this, this is Mahle, the great wanderer she is here to remind us of the importance of exploring new worlds with an open mind. And here, here is Sotro the guardian he is here to remind us of our laws and rules that protect us.” She skipped over the last one.

“What about this one?” Meredith asked pointing to the hooded figure hunched over a confusing symbol.

“Ah it is wise of you to ask,” Miss Oleva said lowering her voice, “This is Necra, or death, it reminds us of the risks and dangers that lie ahead, and it reminds us of our own mortality, for he awaits all travelers in the end.”She laughed at Meredith’s expression, “Come now child it’s not as serious as all that, just a bunch of ancient mumbo jumbo.” She smiled, “But it’s important to be cautious you can’t just go plowing into new worlds willy-nilly, without any planning or understanding.”

Meredith just looked at the stone again then back to Miss Oleva. These lessons weren’t getting any better, just weirder. Really she was thinking of just not coming anymore, besides if her mother only knew she’d been sneaking off to the library… She shuddered to think of the consequences.

Miss Oleva roused her out of her thoughtfulness, “So are you ready to go then?”

“Go? Go where?”

“To the home you never knew of course.”

“I don’t understand,” Meredith replied looking more confused then ever.

“Come here child, and place your hand on this stone,” she took her other hand in hers, “Whatever you do don’t let go of the stone or me do you understand?”

“Yes,” Meredith nodded, she was feeling a bit uneasy. Miss Oleva was starting to creep her out, maybe meeting this strange old lady in the basement of the library hadn’t been such a good idea after all.

Miss Oleva closed her eyes, “Now concentrate, clear your head and think of nothing but the book you’ve read. Let it fill your mind, you want to feel as if you are already there living in that world.”

“This was really getting ridiculous now,” Meredith thought to herself. She did what she was told but let out a disconcerted sigh nonetheless.

Miss Oleva opened one eye and raised an eyebrow at that but closed it again before whispering, “Rahe inspire me, Mahle guide me, Sotro protect me, and Death I do not fear you.”

Meredith shifted her weight uncomfortably, how long was this weird séance going to last. Then slowly Meredith began to feel warmth creeping up the length of her. It began at her feet and trickled upward slowly, spreading as it climbed. It wasn’t a bad feeling, it wasn’t a particularly good feeling, but it did catch her by surprise and she nearly let go of the stone. Miss Oleva reached out and placed her hand over Meredith’s holding it tightly. “You might want to close your eyes now dear.”

Before she could Meredith was suddenly jerked upward and off her feet. She looked around wildly for a second. The air around her was thick with a glittery haze that dazzled in the firelight. Her body felt limp and limber at the same time, as if her bones had fallen out of herself. She felt terrified and delighted at once. Then the next second she was spinning rapidly in a vortex, as if she had turned to dust inside a tornado. Anyone watching from the room would have seen the glittery vortex get sucked up almost instantly into the stone before winking out of sight.

A perfect place

When Meredith’s eyes came back into focus she found herself laying at the top of a very round, and very tall hill. The back of her head throbbed with a dull ache, and she felt as if she was still spinning. She didn’t dare sit up for fear of falling down from dizziness. Instead she propped herself up on her hands and took a look around. The perfectly green grass beneath her palms was a cool contrast to the heat of the midday sun overhead, which despite seeming to be ten times closer than normal didn’t make the temperature uncomfortable at all.

She looked around. A family of tiny rabbits bounded past her feet, seemingly oblivious to her presence. A lazy dirt pathway wound it’s way away from her and down the hill before snaking sinuously in and out of various patches of wildflowers, with the occasional interesting rock mixed in for good measure. She looked up and squinted against the brightness. Nothing but blue interspersed with a few wispy clouds that seemed to hang motionless in the sky. In fact as she looked around she noticed everything was lush and green and beautiful as far as she could see.

Odd she thought picking up her hands to sit cross-legged. She really couldn’t see very far, in fact it almost looked like the ground was curved all wrong but that didn’t make any sense at all.

“Pretty here isn’t it?”

Meredith about jumped out of her skin. Actually the quick movement popped her up about a foot off the ground before she gently floated back down. Her heart was thumping but she felt better when she turned to see Miss Oleva. “Yes very,” she replied, “but where are we?”

“Why this is ‘The Home You Never Knew’ of course.”

“What like from the story?”

“Yes of course. You don’t think I made you read that book over and over for nothing do you? ‘The Home I Never Knew’ is one of the first books we use to teach children much younger than you about the way of things.”

“So you mean to tell me we’re inside a book now? In the library?” Meredith asked incredulously.

“Oh come now don’t be silly child how would we get in a book? They’re much too small for one thing.”

“Well… well then where are we really?”

“Come child, take my hand. Let’s walk along the path and I’ll explain it all shall I?”

Meredith nodded then took Miss Oleva’s hand. The pair stepped onto the path and walked till it just started to curve dangerously downward to the point Meredith thought they might tumble down the steep incline. Miss Oleva felt Meredith pulling back a bit against the edge.

“Come now, nothing to fear here. It’ll be quite easier if we jump for it.”

“But, but we’ll be hurt,” Meredith replied slowly shaking her head.

“Stop believing everything you know, and start believing my dear.” And with that Miss Oleva let go of her hand and did a quick little hop. A quick little hop that carried her up in the air in a graceful arc fully much higher than it should have before she floated down to the bottom of the hill. “Well come on then!” she shouted, “If you want to learn more this is the way!”

Meredith wasn’t sure what was going on, if she was dreaming surely it wouldn’t matter, but it seemed real to her. The grass had felt real, the tan dust of the dirt path felt solid and crunchy beneath her feet— She felt anxious as she always did in new situations, it would be much safer she thought looking back, to just sit down under that tree over there and wait for Miss Oleva to come back.

Miss Oleva looked impatient at the bottom of the hill, still she hadn’t tried to push her. Truly she did want to learn more, after all it was her who’d badgered the poor woman to teach her in the first place. Meredith took a deep breath, maybe just a test hop she told herself. She bent her knees and hopped as small as she could hope to hop and still get off the ground. Unsurprisingly she didn’t go very far, perhaps two feet in the air at most before floating back down. A smile crept across her normally straight face, surprising her. She decided to go for it, and with another hop she found herself halfway down the face of the hill, a bit off balance, but she gave another one footed hop off from there. All in all it was a bit too much as it flipped her up and end over end. She ended up floating past Miss Oleva upside down before landing with a gentle thud on her behind a few yards away.

“Not the most graceful of entrances, but it’ll do,” Miss Oleva said. She extended her hand to help her up.

Meredith brushed her self off and straightened her dress before resuming her questions, “Why can we jump like that? Is it magic?”

“No dear, it’s gravity,” Miss Oleva said with a sly smile before turning and beginning to walk down the path. She wasn’t very fast, relying on her walking stick to support her. Meredith bounded to catch up with her.

“Gravity? Wouldn’t gravity make it harder to jump that high? It’s a constant force isn’t it, we learned that in science class.” Meredith said in a know it all sort of way.

“Learn a lot about gravity in your science class did you?” Miss Oleva asked with a smirk. Meredith tightened up, she didn’t like to be talked down to. “Sorry no offense,” Miss Oleva added, “you’re half right anyway. The gravitational constant is constant but the force of gravity is not. The actual force you feel that holds you down to the ground is a measure of the size of the planet you’re standing on, and how far away you are from it. Smaller planet, smaller force, higher jumps.” She hopped a bit then floated back to the ground a few feet away.

Meredith had to pick up her pace to catch up with her. “Wait a minute are you trying to say we’re… I mean how could we be. We were just in the library!”

“Does this look like the library to you dear?” Miss Oleva swept her hand in a wide arc at the world around them.

“But we couldn’t be it’s not possible.” Meredith protested.

Their walk had brought them to the first patch of wild flowers along the path. Vivid hues of pinks and purples in full bloom spread before them and their delicate scent filled the air. They stood still as stone, no wind disturbed them yet a faint smell of Hyacinths wafted over them as they grew nearer. It reminded her of spring, when she was little and they would visit her Aunt for Easter, before her mother... got worse. Above them iridescent butterflies glinted in the sunlight as they followed their random flight patterns flittering to and fro. Miss Oleva stooped down and plucked a single flower from the patch. She twiddled it idly between her thumb and forefinger. “Pretty isn’t it, and so fragile?”

Meredith eyed the flower, up close she could see it glistened and shimmered like metal almost, yet it was clearly a living plant. It smelled just as good as the air around them, and for some reason it filled her with good feelings of being home. Her mind flooded with her earliest memories and for a moment she could hear her mother’s laughter from a long way off.

Miss Oleva made a tsking sound before letting go of its stem. As it fell it began to shimmer, then it broke into a thousand glittering parts, then a thousand more. Before it reached the ground it had disintegrated into a dust of fine golden powder. Miss Oleva made a swiping motion with her free hand and a small gust of wind blew the powder back into the field. “Something you’re accustomed to seeing back home?”

It was only the second bit of real magic Meredith had seen and her eyes were wide with discovery. “So you’re saying we’re not on Earth?” The thoughts of home faded as quickly as they had come.

“Well we could be, it turns out for this particular story we are not. But we just as easily could have been, there are so many Earth’s after all. It’s almost a bore to find a new one.”

“Well if we’re not on Earth then where are we?” They had made their way to a shady grove of fruit trees. Their cool shade provided a respite from the hot sun, that in and of itself hadn’t been too overbearing. Above them pink fruits that looked suspiciously like apples and pears hung down on short vines.

“We’re in ‘The Home You Never Knew’.”

Meredith sighed, “Yes we’ve been through all that but you said we’re on a different planet?”

“Well technically this would be a different planet in a different universe dear.”

Meredith’s head started to hurt again and she rubbed her temples with her hands. This place certainly seemed different, and being on a tiny planet would explain the gravity and the curviness of the place. Then a wild thought occurred to her, if she was really here, and she had no idea where here was, could they get back. She quickened her pace to get a bit ahead of her guide. “Miss Oleva, can we, I mean is it possible to go back. When we want to I mean?”

“Go back? Of course we can. It is wonderful here, but you wouldn’t want to be stuck here forever now would you. I haven’t seen much to eat around here for one thing.” She said with a smile. Then seeing the concern still plain on Meredith’s face she added, “it’s as easy as walking back to the tree on the hill and touching the stone again. Then poof we’ll be back in library again.”

They’d come to a second hill, not as steep or as tall as theirs but much wider and fatter. The path wound its way in an s shape to the top so that travelers wouldn’t have to climb its height all at once. A pretty stream filled with some sort of floating wildflower Meredith had never seen before followed the sinuous path before flowing off into the distance where it was blended into the other fields of flowers they had passed. “But let’s not leave just yet, this next part is very important.” Miss Oleva said and so they began to climb to the top of the hill. As they crested over the top Meredith saw there was a lovely clear blue pool covering most of the hill. It was surrounded with bent and weeping trees whose long arms stretched out and over the pond before letting their vine like leaves dip into the water. They reminded her a bit of cypress trees she’d seen in a book once.

“Ah here we are then,” Miss Oleva said seemingly satisfied at last. She smoothed her long flowing dress out with her hands and steadied herself with her walking stick before slowly lowering herself down to the ground. She leaned back and rested against a nearby tree and Meredith saw to her surprise that the tree seemed custom made for just that. “Pull up a tree why don’t you?” Miss Oleva asked pointing to a slightly smaller one just next to her, “and ask what you will ask.”

Meredith did as she was invited to, and nestled herself against the trunk of this strange tree. To her surprise it was quite comfortable, smooth and firm, yet almost molded to support her. It wasn’t soft at all, or giving in anyway but it fit her like a glove. Miss Oleva sat next to her with a contented smile on her face. She was flicking her wrist idly and creating mini whirling tornados of water across the flat surface of the lake. They danced rhythmically around each other occasionally crashing into one another and disappearing back into the water.

Meredith cleared her throat, “Miss Oleva, could you give me a straight answer please? What is this place?”

Miss Oleva nodded, “I told you it’s ‘The Home you Never Knew’,” but before Meredith could protest she continued, “or more accurately it’s the world described by the children’s story ‘The Home I Never Knew’. The author created this perfect place for her to hide away, but little did she know it was a real place, a world that could actually exist.”

“But how does it exist? I mean you said it was a separate universe, that doesn’t even make sense. There’s only one universe we learned that at school.”

“Ah tsk, tsk, there’s so much they simplify at school these days. Only concerned that you memorize this fact, or this formula. Oh it’s very important to remember where the 22nd battle of the revolutionary war took place I can assure you. But do they take the time to teach the really important things? Of course not.” She trailed off looking a bit miffed.

“Miss Oleva?”

“Oh yes of course well, I shouldn’t have expected any less. We teach differently in our realm. Well I suppose it would be too much to hope you’ve heard of the theory of parallel universes?”

More brilliantly colored butterflies had appeared and were gliding in and out of Miss Oleva’s mini storms. Meredith remembered perhaps watching a television program about something similar one day when her science teacher Miss Neilson had been ah, too sick to teach them anything useful one day. “You mean like when people say there could be an infinite number of universes so there’s bound to be one where you’re rich and famous, or one where everyone can fly, or something like that?”

“Precisely, although they’re quite wrong about the infinite thing, quite wrong indeed. Well to be fair they may exist but you can’t get to all of them as far as we know.”

Meredith quietly contemplated this new information for a moment. “How do you get to one? I mean how did we get to here in the first place?”

“Ah now that is a good question, and one you should be asking. The long answer is by using a focal point to exploit a discontinuity in the space-time continuum. But the short answer is we believed we could and so we did,” she smiled again evidently satisfied with her answer before whipping her hand up slightly. Her tiny storms converged into one and absorbed most of the butterflies who seemed content to soar around and around the outside of the whirl of wind.

That still didn’t really make sense to Meredith but now she was more interested in Miss Oleva’s display than anything else. “Miss Oleva. How are you doing that? Is it, is that magic like I saw you do back at the library?”

The wind stopped suddenly and scattered the butterflies, who bobbed away drunkenly regaining their bearings. “Oh this child? Oh that’s nothing at all,” she said almost absent mindedly, “I suppose it is a bit of magic though if that’s what you’d like to call it. I prefer to think of it as a skill I picked up in a book.”

“You learned that from a book? A book in the library?”

“Well of course where else?”

Meredith sighed a deep sigh of frustration, “I’m afraid I still don’t understand.”

Before Miss Oleva could answer they were both startled by a man’s voice, “I’m not surprised you’re still confused with the way she likes to talk in circles,” it said. Meredith jumped to her feet, but Miss Oleva regained her composure quickly.

“Master Igno, come to regale us with stories of your rock collection have you? Meredith my dear this is exactly the reason you should lock the door behind you when you enter a world,” Miss Oleva chided him.

“At your service as always,” he returned with a deep bow, “and don’t listen to her, locking doors behind you means it’s difficult to get rescued as well.”

Miss Oleva waived him off and went back to staring at the pond. She began to make little drops of water leap from spot to spot attracting the attention of the resident fish who began to swim to the surface to investigate. Meredith noticed they came in a rainbow of colors as well.

“Right so where did we leave off then?” Master Igno asked. Meredith considered him quietly as she sat back in her tree. He looked a bit like a friar from an old storybook she remembered reading. He dressed all in earth tones, browns, tans and a bit of gray. His shirt hung down like a tunic and ended in tatters, while it was all held around his waist with a cord of some kind. Looking closely she saw the cord had a band of pretty colored stones woven into it, and it served to hold up a small pouch by his side. She’d noticed Miss Oleva had a similar pouch that appeared periodically from the folds of her dress.

“Ah perfect,” he replied, “then I suppose she hasn’t told you the importance of the library, or the books, and certainly not the stones?”

“Oh this will be his favorite part of course,” Miss Oleva said. Meredith had a hard time telling if she was annoyed or just playing along.

“No,” she said shaking her head, “we hadn’t gotten to that yet.”

“Wonderful,” he said straightening himself up. “You know how when you a read a book you find yourself getting lost in that world, as if you were a living breathing part of the story connected to those characters and that place?” Meredith nodded. “Well in a world of infinite universes that place must a real place!”

“But Miss Oleva said people were wrong about there being infinite universes,” Meredith countered tentatively trying out her new knowledge.

Master Igno scowled slightly then wrinkled up his nose, “Well I suppose that’s true, we don’t know for sure that they don’t exist just that there’s some we can’t get to. The prevailing theory is that like universes are so close together that they collapse on themselves to form a single reality. That’s where we think the voids come from, but do try to save your questions for after.”

“Sorry,” Meredith mumbled.

“Oh quite all right dear, think nothing of it,” he rambled on. “Now the books, the books are very important. They describe a place in such detail that you can visualize them, you can see where you want to go. Once you really understand a story, live a story, then you know the way to get there. I dare say Miss Oleva must have made you read this story a thousand times till you knew it backwards and forwards no?”

Meredith agreed.

“Once you’ve read a story it becomes a part of you, you never truly forget it. You and the book become bound and that is where it derives its power, the more people who read it, the more powerful it becomes. That’s why old classics like this,” he opened his arms in a wide arc, “are so easy to get to.”

“Does it work with any book? Like a book you bought from a store or a book you write yourself”

“What? Oh well yes and no, very good question, very good indeed. A book you buy might be very popular and so in aggregate, all of them together you know, they might gain enough to become truly powerful. Nothing quite like a library book though you know,” he ended wistfully.

“Is that why you keep them all together in the library then? Does having them all together make them stronger” Meredith asked.

“Yes! That’s part of it indeed. Now we’re getting to the crux of it! You see in order to slip out of your universe as it were, and into another you need to make a hole that you can slip through.” He poked his finger through a thinning section of his tunic, “and where better to make a hole then at the weakest point?”

“Is that where you build libraries then? At the weak points?”

“Ah ha, you were right Oleva, she’s a smart one!”

Miss Oleva barely acknowledged them, her eyes were on the horizon. It was getting darker in the distance.

“You’re exactly right,” Master Igno continued, “we build that at the faults, the discontinuities. We fill them with our very best books, and design them just right so they focus all their energy at just the right spot. Haven’t you ever seen a librarian organizing their books just so? Did you believe that was just to make them easy to find?” He laughed as if he just enjoyed sharing a good inside joke. Meredith looked as though she was forming the start of another question and he gave her a moment to think. He gave Miss Oleva a quizzical look but she continued to ignore them both.

“So… if all the books are focused just right… what are they focused on?” Meredith asked after a bit.

“Now that is an even better question young lady,” he replied proudly, “they’re focused on the stone. You must have used to one just before you got here of course?”

“Yes, in the basement of the library.”

“Right, you’ll find that some of our most powerful magic comes from our knowledge of stones. Scoff all you want Oleva dear.” Miss Oleva continued to say nothing. She was standing now looking somewhat tense at the edge of trees. A cool wind blew through rustling the leaves and the sky seemed to be getting grayer, as if a storm was rolling in.

“Well anyway, the stone is the focal point, every library has one, even if they’re hard to see with the untrained eye. They’re built right at the eye of the discontinuity and all our pathways to all the worlds we know how to get to flow through that hole. Each forms a tendril, like two neurons connecting each other. It’s a living pathway you can use to travel between two worlds that grows and shrinks, as it gets stronger and weaker. The more pathways we have through the hole, the wider it gets, and the easier it is for all of us to travel to new places. There’s constant pressure to close the opening, so the more books, and more readers we have the better! You can see now why libraries are so very important to us.”

Meredith nodded her agreement, and was forming her next round of questions when a swarm of blinking lights suddenly appeared all around them. She gasped at the spectacle, and was more than a bit frightened before she realized they were just silver colored fireflies. She reached out to touch them and one landed on her hand. It happily closed its wings and waddled up her finger looking for higher ground to take off from, lazily glowing off an on all the way. Meredith didn’t think she’d ever seen truly silver light like this before.

“They’re beautiful,” she said aloud.

“That was rather more sudden an appearance than usual eh Miss Oleva?” Master Igno asked a bit concerned.

She returned his look of concern with her own grim expression but said nothing. In the distance was the sound of faint rumbling. At first Meredith thought it sounded like muffled thunder, but that wasn’t quite right. It was more continuous and growing louder by the minute. Her curiosity got the better of her and she climbed out of her comfortable nook in the tree to get a better look. It took some effort to pry herself from what had become quite a cozy spot, almost as if the tree was trying to convince her to stay.

Because of the curve of the planet the horizon was much closer than it would normally be. Over the top of the curve Meredith saw a rising cloud of dust. She stood on her toes straining to see better. It was a thin line of animals, all running towards them as fast as they could. She could just make out the antlers of some deer and the small forms of some of the rabbits like the one’s that crossed her path at the start of their journey. They were closer now, running as one, but running from what. Meredith felt afraid for the first time since coming to this place. She looked to Master Igno, and Miss Oleva for assurance but they both stood tense, eyes fixed on the scene before them.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Jeff Fenton is an author, and serial startup engineer who is as passionate about good storytelling as he is about developing technology. His writing melds good science with compelling fiction and fantasy, creating action packed stories that are hard to put down. He is the author of the well-received techno-thriller Agrarian (2016) as well as several children’s books. When he isn’t writing Jeff spends most of his free time adventuring with his wife and young daughter.


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