Welcome to my Writing in Real Time serial novel experiment – this first story in the Realm Wraith Trilogy will unfold here on my blog in weekly episodes, and is yours to enjoy. Friendly discussion and thoughtful comments are welcome. Who knows – your ideas might just help shape the story as I write! If you’re joining us in progress, start with Episode One: Leap of Faith
The last ferry from Bainbridge Island to downtown Seattle is already boarding.
I hand a twenty to the glass-eyed attendant, a middle-aged woman whose dragged-down looks suggest decades of self-abuse, and wait for the change. Money perplexes me. Not the money itself so much, though it is weird. What doesn’t track for me is the concept of trading effort for colorful paper and coined metal that represents value, but has no particular inherent value itself. Little in this realm can be accomplished without it, either as motivation or as purchase. Once people start chasing after shiny objects instead of looking for ways to make a real contribution in their world, it’s a downhill slide into oblivion.
The attendant forces a smile over gritted teeth as she hands back the leftovers and waves me ahead. I thread the jeep through a maze of orange traffic cones and multi-purpose lanes, and line up on the boat deck. Not as many travelers as one might expect on a clear spring night, but enough that I’d rather ride the trip out in the jeep. The late night crowd is an oddball mix, but not so odd that I wouldn’t stand out.
This crossing is almost as brutal as the one that brought me to this realm. Before the boat chugs halfway to the Seattle dock, I can sense the elemental harmonics pitching toward a screech. Not that anyone of this world would notice, but the closer the ferry carries me to the city, the more distorted the spectral fields become. It’s a skewed view, like a reflection in cracked glass. The Seattle skyline is less a majestic backlit silhouette, and more a glaring clash of shifting angles and arcing pulses. It never ceases to astonish me that humans can’t see how broken it all is.
They live blissfully unaware of their surroundings, which is really just a poetic way of saying mankind is totally oblivious to its own impending doom. How the entire race came to be in such a predicament is a hotly debated topic among the leaders of the preternatural races – are the humans ignorant or apathetic, are they victims of an innate drive toward self-destruction and thereby unable to escape the consequences of their actions, or are they simply so arrogant they have convinced themselves there are no consequences to escape?
I guess it’s like the Caretaker says. They’ve adapted. Maybe Melody adapted too. She would have had to, in order to survive so long in this place. At some point, she must have made that choice, and that is the thing I just can’t get past. My sister decided to stay, decided to acclimate. Melody abandoned who she was.
I never could. I never would.
The low, steady grumble of the engine chucks into a whiny grind as the ferry gears up to dock, kicking me back into gear too. Much as I loathe the city, this is where I need to be. The perfect place for otherworldly creatures to hide in plain sight, especially in the dark. The freaks really do come out at night. Continue reading