Friday, June 19, 2015

Bonus Scene 2 - The Restorer's Son

The Restorer's Son Bonus Scene -

in which Jake peeks into Susan's journal and finds more than he was expecting.

After Chapter 5


Good grief. What was the big deal? It wasn’t like the attic held state secrets, or that I’d mess up some fancy rug clumping around in my dirty tennis shoes. Mom and Dad weren’t even around, so it wouldn’t hurt anyone if I popped upstairs to see the new room. I might even find my baseball-card shoebox that had disappeared after one of Mom’s cleaning binges.

Throwing a quick glance over my shoulder, I scrambled up the ladder. I got the whole deal about how she needed some privacy once in awhile. Jon and Anne were into everything. I had to barricade my door to keep them out of my stuff. I’d only take a quick look around and she’d never know.

The reality was more boring than I’d expected. A few bins and boxes and a dusty old chair. The notebook looked new, though. Probably a journal. Mom had talked about starting one.

I stepped closer. Had she written about me? I’d overheard her once on the phone complaining to a friend about how hard it was to be a parent. The words had startled me. Sure, my three younger siblings were a handful, but did she really see me as a burden? Those years of doctors and hospitals . . . I’d never really thought about how it felt from her side. I was busy dealing with the experience from my end. And now that I was getting ready for college, what was she thinking of me? Did she believe I was ready? Did she think I’d be a success? 

I picked up the book. Just one quick peek and I’d put it right back. If she had written something about me, I had a right to know, right?

Instead of juicy info, I found some boring notes about her Bible study. I turned a page and grinned. She’d drawn a pencil sketch. Cool. I didn’t know she could draw. On a whim, I scrawled a little note inside. Sure, it gave away my trespassing, but she’d laugh when she saw it. She had a good sense of humor . . . most days. 

I dropped the journal and ducked to search deeper under the eaves. My missing shoebox could be tucked back in the shadows. 

A prickle danced across my skin, an uncomfortable sensation like an electric razor. The hum built and vibrated inside my skull. Maybe Dad had made a mistake wiring the lights. I glanced down to be sure I wasn’t standing on any metal ductwork. Something electrical was buzzing, but I couldn’t figure out why it resonated so powerfully in my body. I shook my head a few times and stumbled forward, wincing against the rising ache behind my eyeballs. I grabbed my head as if to keep it from exploding and squeezed my eyes shut. Lightning sparkled across the insides of my eyelids. Was I having a stroke or something? 

A sudden whoosh of air engulfed me, along with a small pop of pressure releasing, as if I’d pushed my way through a particularly stubborn revolving door. I pulled my hands away from my face but saw only darkness. Flailing my arms in all directions, I couldn’t find the rafters or boxes or my way back to the ladder. Did strokes cause blindness? I stumbled a few steps and finally found a hard surface. Something solid and round, like a twisting beam, spiraled upward beyond what I could touch. Impossible. The attic roof wasn’t that high. My legs went rubbery, and I stumbled a few steps. Come on, Jake, keep breathing.

Panic built with each gasp. I tried for a slow deep breath, and inhaled an unfamiliar spicy scent, a combination of pine and cinnamon and fresh-cut grass. “Help?” My voice carried in thin, open air. I couldn’t ignore the evidence any longer. I wasn’t in the attic.

I moaned and clung to the beam that felt like a tree trunk. I couldn’t be too far from home. Maybe the nature reserve near our house? Someone would find me eventually. With the decision to hold on and wait for help, the rushing pulse of my heartbeat steadied.

A snuffling noise to my left threw my heart into a gallop again. Wolf? Coyote? Bobcat? Whatever outdoor wilderness I’d found myself in, did it hold predators? I couldn’t just stand here, blind, disoriented, waiting to be attacked. A gravelly growl to my right raised the hairs on my neck. I pushed off from the trunk and moved away from the sounds. The uneven ground underfoot further convinced me that I was outside somewhere. For hours I stumbled aimlessly, in total blackness, terrified that the world had disappeared and I was completely and forever alone. Each time I’d sink to the ground to rest, some strange sound would propel me forward again. 

 After what seemed like years, my straining eyes caught the contour of hills. Was my vision returning? A few minutes later, I stared at the sky and realized dawn was breaking. I wasn’t blind. I’d just been stumbling around in the night—but a night like I’d never seen before. No moon or stars, no distant city lights.

With the relief of being able to see, a hint of wonder swelled under my ribs. A smooth, rolling, gray-green golf course stretched out from the clump of trees. In the distance, tall white towers rose above a strange curvy wall with a gray, featureless sky overhead. I choked back a laugh. It looked just like a scene from one of my video games. I glanced up nervously, expecting some animated dragon to swoop toward me. 

Man, oh, man. Back when I had chemo, they’d warned me of some strange side effects, but could hallucinations show up all these years later? Where was I? And more importantly, what was I supposed to do next?

After swallowing hard, I coaxed my lungs to work again. I took a few more steps, cautiously testing a small circle of earth around me. Would lava creatures burst through the nearby rocks and attack? If I stepped in the wrong place, would quicksand swallow me into the ground? 

I was thinking like a video game again. My gaze trailed to the city in the distance. If this were a video game, the logical next step would be to head toward the city, collecting coins and tokens to boost my score. Unfortunately, I didn’t see either. But if I stood near the empty grove much longer, I’d probably grow roots and turn into one of the weird twisty-trunked trees. Gingerly testing each step, I finally decided the odd, mossy ground would remain firm, so I broke into a jog toward the city. I only hoped this hallucination didn’t mean the cancer was back, or that it had spread to my brain.


The rest of Jake's adventure is found in The Restorer's Son


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