Today, with great fear and trepidation, I thought I would post the first chapter of the novel that I am in the process of editing. This is a middle grade fantasy called The Prophesy of Ilverzah, where four kids go to a magical parallel universe. However, they cannot leave - it seems that they are being kept there because they are the key to resolving a generation long civil war. I originally wrote this novel during the 2009 National Novel Writing Month challenge (write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November). I have edited this novel several times already and hope I am nearly done. I would appreciate any comments, reactions, suggestions, or advice from anyone who is willing to read this chapter.
Thanks so much, Coreena.
Chapter One of The Prophesy of Ilverzah
Energy. Their teacher wanted them to explore their personal energy fields. Mara usually enjoyed the grade 8 Science class, but this sounded a little flaky, even for Ms McNulty. Their teacher was new this year, young and enthusiastic, and believed in a hands-on approach which meant the class was always involved in some sort of experiment. Ms McNulty loved science and her love was contagious in the classroom.
“Okay, everyone, close your text books,” Ms McNulty announced. “Today we are going to try something different, something on the cutting edge of science, but also something tremendously simple.” Mara stared expectantly at her teacher. “We are going to explore energy and Quantum Physics. Does anyone have any idea what Quantum Physics means?”
The kids in the class looked around; Mara didn't know what Ms McNulty was talking about, but anything called Quantum Physics had to be confusing. Finally, Rose, the new girl in class, who stood out in her bright yellow sweater set off with a conflicting purple scarf wrapped around her neck, half put up her hand, “I think it has something to do with New Age psychology?”
Ms McNulty nodded. “It has been associated with that, but it's been around for a long time. In a nutshell it describes energy and its behaviour at the atomic and subatomic levels. We know that everything is energy and today we are going to explore our individual energy fields.”
Mara could see her confusion mirrored in the dazed looks on the faces of her classmates.
“I know it sounds complicated,” continued Ms McNulty, “but really, it's not. Everything is ultimately made up of energy and everything relates to everything else energetically. We can actually feel this energy with an easy experiment.” Ms McNulty rubbed her hands together, and the class watched her. Mara was engrossed with her words. “Everyone try it, rub your hands together and feel the heat of them, then gently pull your hands apart, concentrating on feeling the energy between them. Be aware of the invisible pull as you separate your hands.”
The class was clearly sceptical, but Mara copied Ms McNulty and before long, everyone was rubbing their hands together. Mara's field of energy became more intense and she could sense the power in her hands, a kind of warm, gentle tingling along with an invisible bungy chord which kept her hands from separating too far. There really was something there, and it was quite strong too. As Mara continued, her mind burst with questions. This was incredible! Why had she never heard of this before?
The murmuring and comments from the class got louder and louder. Excitement filled the air as some of the kids started goofing around, pretending that they were Luke Skywalker, using the Force to wield invisible lightsabers and move objects around the room. Realization hit Mara like a baseball bat to the head, she had first hand experience of how people always make fun of anything different. Just like how the other kids tease her sometimes because she likes reading books better than playing sports. In fact, Mara could overhear some of the other kids whispering and pointing at her. She dropped her hands and stopped the experiment; feigning disinterest usually got people off her back, and she did not want anyone to know how interested she was in this energy.
Not everyone was making fun, though, and Mara could see that a few of the other kids were really into the experiment. Rose, the girl who seemed to know about New Age psychology, was the most absorbed in what she was doing. Mara could almost see the sparks flying between Rose's fingers. And then there was Jason, good looking, athletic Jason, one of the kids who never got bugged, he seemed to be fascinated by the energy pulling at his hands.
Mara watched them experiment for a few minutes, until Ms McNulty spoke and pulled her out of her trance. The teacher continued her lesson, explaining about Quantum Physics, but it was clear that most of the class thought she had finally gone over the deep end. After class, the kids were still laughing and pretending they were using energy to knock each other out. All Mara wanted to do was to get away and think about what she had learned that day. She could tell it was important, but wasn't sure how.
In the hall, on her way to her locker, a group of girls from her class stopped Mara.
“You sure seemed interested in McNulty's nutty lesson today,” said Laura, a cheerleader with long blond hair.
“It was okay,” shrugged Mara, as if she wasn't that interested.
“Didn't seem that way to us,” countered Laura, grinning at her friends. “It looked like you and that flake Rose were really into it. As if New Age psychology has anything to do with real science! But, you would like that kind of thing, now wouldn't you? Anything weird.” Laura's friends agreed and the group walked off.
Mara sighed and continued to her locker. What was wrong with thinking that something different was interesting?
* * *
As soon as Mara got home, her dog, Homer, came bounding out the front door to meet her. The largish sized brown mutt was always glad to see her. Mara's family had rescued him from the local pound a few years ago after he had been found wandering the streets and no one had come to claim him. Mara's mother had a soft spot for strays and runaways, and, ever since her father had been killed in a car accident a few years ago, their house seemed to be the favourite of every cat in the neighbourhood who was in search of food. Her mother simply could not turn them away. Mara had inherited this sympathetic trait from her mother and seemed to relate better to her dog than to other people.
“Hey, boy,” said Mara, as she bent over to pet Homer. “Just a minute, let me put my stuff away and get a snack, then I'll take you for a walk.”
The dog seemed to understand and followed Mara to the kitchen. There was a note on the fridge from her mom: Tom has soccer after school and I'll be home around 5:00. Love ya! Mom. Mara was on her own for the afternoon, as usual. She grabbed a couple of cookies and the dog leash. Before long, Mara and Homer were out walking by the river near their house.
The days were getting cooler and the leaves on the trees were changing. It was one of those amazing, brisk autumn days where Mara would come in from outside with rosy red cheeks, feeling exhilarated. After she threw a stick for Homer a dozen times, she sat down on a rock to watch the blue-grey water of the river rush by. Homer lay down next to her, chewing on his stick. Mara could feel the warm sun and a gentle breeze on her face as she pulled her sweater around herself more tightly.
Mara needed time to think about what had happened that day at school, and what this new type of energy could mean. She could not get it out of her mind. As she sat there, Mara rubbed her hands together, at first to warm them, then she felt the energy surge up from her body, radiating through her arms, and tickling its way down into her hands and fingers. She started to pull her hands apart, feeling the gentle pull of the energy, listening to the quiet, lulling roar of the river and the leaves rustling in the cool breeze.
Mara concentrated and could feel the energy getting stronger and stronger, her mind instinctively stopped its internal chattering, leaving only the river, the trees and the energy, her energy, as it grew in intensity and even took on an electrical brightness against the backdrop of the dark, running water. Colours emerged slowly from the darkness, vague at first, then more vivid, an impossible miniature Northern Lights in the palms of her hands.
What is this? Mara's mind drew her deeper into the energy and the world around her stopped. The river halted, all noise ceased, the birds' chattering disappeared, and even the breeze was gone. Homer whimpered, making the same kind of noise he made when he chased squirrels, but Mara didn't hear. There was nothing but the glorious, comforting, tingly aliveness of the energy.
Sparks crackled, then indistinct, fluttering shapes formed deeper in the energy field. How pretty, they must be some sort of butterflies, Mara thought. Her curiosity piqued, she focused her mind to see the shapes more clearly. With a gasp, Mara's mind reeled back from what she saw because it simply could not be real. In disbelief, she shook her hands as if they were covered in spiders. The energy shattered and dissolved into the air as if it had never existed at all. Time and the outside world came crashing back like a thunder clap. That just cannot be real, Mara told herself, I could have sworn I saw a faerie, or at least a little person with butterfly wings, and that it stared back at me, waving its arms, looking worried.
(c) Coreena McBurnie, 2011.
(c) Coreena McBurnie, 2011.