Okay everyone. This is one of the 3 chapters for book 3 I will be posting on the site. If anyone wants to continue reading Delvers, chapters will be posted on Patreon. Chapter 8 is about to be done. Patreon page
I hate to do this, but I’m going to start preparing to use the Kindle Select (Kindle Unlimited) program again. This means that I will need to eventually take the story down again, this time for good. The story won’t be free to read anymore after that, but the Patreon page is only $2 a month. I think this is reasonable. If you don’t, I will be super sorry to lose you as a reader, but there are many, many more folks who want to read the story on Kindle Unlimited out there and they’ve made their voices heard.
This has been a difficult decision. I plan to write up a message to all of my readers about this in the next week and post links all over the place.
Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the chapter. -BC
Blackness. Absence of light. Absence of thought. Colored lights swirling around, making music, talking to him. It was peaceful, but deep. The deepness was terrifying. He didn’t want to fall, but he didn’t know which was was up. Nothing was clear, but the lights continued to speak to him. Then everything changed.
Henry found himself walking down the streets of Seattle. His thoughts moved slowly, his surroundings seemed to be covered in a grey haze. People moved around in slow motion, none of them noticing as he passed among them like a ghost.
He aimlessly wandered for a while, realizing he was in Chinatown, the International District. Henry shrugged, not caring where his steps carried him. He noticed wisps, dark tendrils trailing his body as he moved, but he didn’t care about that either.
After he hit 4th Avenue, Henry continued towards the water, picking streets to follow at random. The world was quiet, eerily silent until Henry heard an intensely whispered, “Henry!” He turned.
Tony moved towards him, looking confused. He wore a frown, and seemed strangely out of place. The kid didn’t have any black stuff coming off of him. Henry was curious about that for half a second until he dismissed it. It wasn’t important. Nothing was important.
“Henry, is that your name?” the kid asked, his voice worried. Henry wondered why he was upset. What was there to be upset about? What had he been thinking about? He didn’t remember.
After another few steps, Tony began following him, and Henry quickly forgot he was there. The other people he saw didn’t look real, but he was fascinated all the same. He could tell they had lives and loved ones. They were connected to the world around them. Henry didn’t feel connected to anything. He walked past an alley, and a homeless person who otherwise saw everything looked right through him.
He’d wound his way through the city streets, heading to no place in particular. Tony followed behind him, muttering to himself. After a while, the boy took hold of Henry’s sleeve. He was wearing cargo shorts and a graphic t-shirt. Henry thought that was strange for a moment, but the thought passed through his mind like a hummingbird with places to be. It wasn’t important
Before too long, Henry found himself by the water. He hadn’t been trying to get to the waterfront, but he liked it there. The wisps coming off his back were getting longer. They never touched Aodh, Tony, but they writhed around, brushing pretty much everything else, like hungry tentacles.
On the nameless Seattle dock, Henry eyed the ocean. He saw his reflection and took a step back. The man in the water was tired, wounded, wearing strange, metal armor, and bleeding from his eyes. Herny rubbed his goatee and tried thinking. It was very difficult to form thoughts, they kept escaping like bubbles rising from a swamp.
Eventually he shrugged. The man in the water was scary, but interesting. He took a couple steps forward, falling into the ocean. The teen holding his shirt followed him, muttering all the way.
A swirl of images bombarded him. It was hard to make sense of any of it. Most of the time, he didn’t particularly care, but he felt odd spikes of emotion that made it hard to just exist. Panic, fear, anxiety, he felt flashes of terror as if he was experiencing them for another person. It was quite curious.
He caught a brief memory of someone thanking him. His mother? The thought held weight to it, grounding his flitting mind for a moment. He looked around and saw stars, or at least pinpricks of light that moved. Henry strangely felt outside of time, not anchored in a way he’d never realized he had been before.
The past. Time. The concepts held no power in this place.
Suddenly, the stars swirled, and the sky collapsed. There was a rush of sound, both pleasant and unpleasant sounds, all compressed into an instant. When light came back, Henry found himself standing in a field near a copse of trees, crude drawings carved into the bark. Aodh was on the ground, snoring softly.
Henry noticed a couple people in the distance walking towards him and waited for them to arrive. As the moments passed, he felt his emotions, his sense of self returning. However, the black streamers from his back he’d seen before were still there.
Henry blinked. What the fuck is going on?
He glanced up again as his mind was returning and actually really looked at the top approaching people. He blinked again.
One was his orb, or at least as it appeared to him. A tall white man in slacks, a shirt, tie, and sporting a dapper sweater. The other person was short and female. Actually, aggressively female. Her curves weren’t that amazing, but the way she walked was like femininity incarnate. She had dragonfly wings, and wore…a chainmail bikini.
The winged woman had a bluish tint to her skin and a couple small horns protruded from the rear of her jaw. Her hair seemed almost partially made of feathers, and streamed behind her in a deep blue wave. He legs hinged like a regular woman, but she stepped with an airy gracy that even Areva women didn’t match.
Henry thought she was painfully hot, and he watched her approach as his thoughts continued to gel together. Eventually, he glanced from the woman and the man approaching, down at the sleeping teen on the ground, and back up. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” Henry sighed. “He’s the one who gets a sexy orb to talk to?”
He frowned and crossed his arms, waiting for the pair to arrive. After a while, Henry realized he’d been waiting longer than he should have been. His orb’s manifestations almost seemed to be walking on a treadmill going the other direction. He squinted and realized the approaching pair were actually moving away from him.
The sky seemed to dim the further away they got, and the black streamers coming off his back whipped around faster. Henry took that as a bad sign. He thought briefly about touching one, but had a feeling that would be a Bad Idea, in capital letters.
Henry briefly wondered if he should go and meet them, but had another feeling that would be a Bad Idea. Something inside him made it clear he needed to stay by Tony. He thought about how annoying the whole situation was, and wished the two would hurry up and get to him.
Suddenly, the day brightened a bit and it seemed his orb and the chainmail bikini hottie were closer. Now that’s odd, he thought. Henry watched them closely as they slowly started drifting back again and narrowed his eyes.
“This is bullshit. Get over here!” he shouted, willing it to be so. The two sped towards him like they were on a motorized walkway at an airport. It seemed only another few seconds passed until they were standing before him.
The woman snapped her fingers and Aodh woke up. The kid immediately stood and looked around. “Where are we? Wait, I recognize this place.”
“Well, I don’t,” said Henry flatly. “Where the hell are we?”
“Well, that is a bit of a delicate subject, neighbor,” said Henry’s orb.
“Listen motherfucker, I told you not to call me that.”
“But it calms you, and you need need to be calm. It’s completely alright, this is a wonderful day. Do you like this area? I certainly do.” As the orb’s manifestation spoke, the petite, winged vixen began to fret over Aodh.
Henry gritted his teeth before asking calmly, “I have no idea what is going on. My memory seems to not be working right either. Where are we, and what is all this?” He gestured at the black trailing from his back, idly waving like paper fluttering in a breeze.
“Oh, that’s what you want to know?” asked the blue haired woman. She turned and asked the tall orb, “Should we tell him?”
“Yes, I believe we should,” the man in the sweater replied. “Henry, this is very difficult to tell you, but I’m glad we’re friends and we’re together.”
Henry rolled his eyes. “Out with it.”
The man in the tie sighed. “Well, neighbor, we’re dead, but you especially.”
“Well, sorta,” amended the winged woman.
Henry turned to regard Tony and the kid was looking right back at him with wild eyes. The teen spoke for both of them he he asked, “What in the hell is going on?”