So it’s Friday. Statistically, about half the working world got paid today, and what better time to promote an upcoming release than over coffee and danish? Or eggs, bacon, hot cereal, bagels, or whatever makes up your morning ritual. The important part here is that I have a book coming out next week, and half of you just ran out of excuses not to buy it.
As friends, fans, and followers of this web site, you’ve already tuned in to what I have to say (that, or your eggs are particularly uninteresting this morning). So this week I’m saying it with style, “teasing” the opening chapters of the third installment of my serial novel, Seasons of Truth, and this is the place to see it!
If the various gatekeeper algorithms of social media have kept you from reading along until now, never fear. You can catch up on all fun here.
But enough about me. Let’s get to our next exciting chapter!
“WHAT HAVE YOU…LEARNED?”
The hard voice from the darkness caught Josiah by surprise as he closed the door, but he at least knew how to answer the priest’s question.
Josiah had given quite a bit of attention to the woman as she spoke. The light of the candles framed her face, revealing sores on her cheeks and brow and dark discolorations on her neck that were most likely healing bruises.
Just hours after the attack she had been frightened and near tears. Her story had been hard to understand, and there had definitely been something odd about it. Several days later, her second account was detached, describing the events almost as if they had happened to someone else. Her chief concern had been for the identity and location of her rescuer, the man who now…
“What have you…learned! Collect your…thoughts. Quickly. Impressions. Meaning. These fade with…time. Speak your mind…while you can.”
The darkness was intent on an answer, and Josiah gave it.
“I…things are not always what they seem? This third version of her story is different from the other two. She said she could remember nothing, but when you asked the questions, she did. More and more as you went on. How…”
“You do not…question. You stand as…witness. She heard what…she needed…to hear. What else?”
Josiah was sitting now, with no memory of how he came to be across from the scarred man. Somehow he had walked to the table, pulled out the chair, and filled the cup in front of him.
I am so tired, as if I’ve been standing for a hundred years. A drink, a cool drink of wine will…
“Constable! What else?”
A chill passed through Josiah’s body, replacing the impossible heat on his skin with ice in his heart.
The cup was forgotten.
The Voice was all.
“The things she describes, the light, not being able to move, the speed of the attack. These are things she did not tell me before. But when you asked, when she answered your questions, I knew the words were true. I do not know how that can be possible, but it is.”
Josiah’s racing heart slowed as he spoke, as if voicing his thoughts were the most important thing he could be doing. In this newfound calm he noticed an odd smell, a scent of flowers that must have come with the girl and lingered in her absence.
How long did she sit here, to leave behind that part of herself?
How long have I sat here before noticing it?
As the silence deepened, Josiah felt other questions bubbling up inside him. How had the priest known exactly what to ask, or even what the right questions were? No witness had ever spoken to Josiah with such honesty and certainty, yet the scarred priest drew information out of the girl as easily as…
The candles still refused to move as they burned. Josiah no longer feared them, though sweat still trailed down his face to gather at his collar. His mouth was dry and pasty. If there was water to be had, or better yet wine, he would surely feel better. He would…
“Bring the next…witness…Constable. Little time…remains…for us. Much to learn. Much to…accomplish. Go. Now. Bring more wine.”
The candlelight flickered, and to Josiah the unexpected change seemed every bit as violent as the crime they investigated. No wind had stirred the flames, and the room’s other occupant was too far from the candles for his breath to move them. And outside the island of light there was only darkness, untouched by the sweltering heat. It was if the warmth and light outside the chamber’s door was forbidden to enter that space…
“Do not…tarry. And do not…forget…the wine.”
Josiah found his feet, and in the act of standing his spirit soared. Each step he took toward the door brought him closer to the world of light on the other side.
His hand closed on the handles of a wooden bar he did not remember securing, but he paused before opening it, his churning thoughts at war with his desire to turn and look at the priest.
When he did look back, all he saw was the cup, now dry and empty like his mouth. Josiah didn’t know how long he stared at the cup, but fearing another breathy rebuke he fumbled with the bar and slipped outside to fetch the next witness.
Questions? comments? If you liked what you just read, you can preorder the book today at Amazon.com and Smashwords. Don’t be shy about telling your friends on social media sites, and since you’re already in a giving mood,