Sunday, November 30, 2014

Birthrite Series News

Hey all!

The final touches are being put on Descent. If it's not released by tonight than it will definitely be sometime tomorrow.

For the time being, here is a final excerpt before its release. For those unfamiliar, this excerpt is in the part of the book and story taking place in the year 1931.

Read after the jump. :)




CHAPTER 24

Blue early morning light filtered into Dorothy's bedroom. Throughout the night, sleep was sporadic, littered with unexplainable and bizarre images. Aunt Roxanne's image appeared among dark cyclones and thunderheads, continuing to speak though never able to be heard while droplets of blood dripped from a dagger.
When Dorothy awoke, remnants of her feverish sweating remained as she lay on her back, eyes fixed to the dream catcher. Her nightgown was soaked through, but she made no effort to change it. The mental image of Roxanne lingered.
She turned her head toward the vase that held Carl’s rose. Beside it was the corsage he gave her prior to the dance. Taking in a jagged breath, she lifted her hand to view the now soggy strip of paper. Roxanne's cryptic message was smudged, though still legible. Dorothy studied it with weary eyes as her mother’s words echoed back to her: “My sister told me to give this to you the first time a boy gives you a flower.”
Suddenly, that familiar ominous feeling started seeping in through the walls in the same subtle, though noticeable fashion as cold morning air through a window pane. Chills rose on her body as invisible eyes stared down at her. She tried lifting her head in an attempt to sit, but her body was like lead. Her soft breath grew rapid as panic surged within. She struggled again at picking herself up, but to no avail. The sense of another presence in the room was heightening.
Finally, she seemed to budge and raised herself rather fluidly. Relief began calming her as she turned on her elbow to view the clock, but then stopped at what she saw. In her peripheral, she could see her body lying flat, still, and staring upward.
She wanted to cry out, but it was as though cold, dead hands closed around her throat, paralyzing any movement. In the deafening silence the air started to hum, and as she listened, the humming resembled a human voice.
Her gaze shifted toward her full length mirror where a small body was seated on the floor, hunched over and rocking back and forth.
Dorothy strained for a better look, but thick strands of dark, matted hair hid the other's face and a small frame was lost inside a soiled, white nightgown. Back and forth, the figure rocked. Rocking as a female voice hummed nothing in particular. It seemed to shift between sitting on the inside and outside of the mirror. The ringing in Dorothy's ears accompanied the humming as the speed of the other's rocking increased. Then with a sudden, jolting movement, its head shot up and turned in Dorothy's direction.
Dorothy stared in horror as she immediately recognized the person's face.
She bolted up in her bed, finally able to take in deep breaths. Golden sunlight had instantly replaced the cold, blue light and the space in front of the mirror was now empty.
A sigh escaped her as she brought a hand to her throat. A look at the clock caused her to frown. Only seconds ago, the hands pointed at a time two hours earlier. The telltale sounds of her mother downstairs in the kitchen replaced the silence (and the humming).
“Only a dream…” Her voice sounded scratchy and her mouth was dry, as though several wads of cotton were lodged in her throat.
She grabbed the glass of water her mother had apparently left for her on the nightstand and gulped it down. It made her feel slightly better and she decided that a bath was in the cards.
Slowly, she rose out of bed, steadying herself before making her way to the closet for her robe. On the way, she noticed her hand still clutched the small slip of paper with Aunt Roxanne’s scrollings. The ink was now smudged through and almost unreadable, yet the message seemed to pulse with life on the parchment.
Dorothy tucked it in the top drawer of her desk and turned once more to regard the space in front of the full-length mirror. Juliette...
Retrieving her robe, she headed to the washroom.

2

Shortly before breakfast, Dr. Ramsay made a house call to the Blake residence and confirmed that Dorothy had caught a stomach virus. It would just need to run it's course as she rested and ingested plenty of fluids.
Liz had taken some lightly buttered toast and hot water with honey on a tray up to her daughter. Dorothy had been able to eat a little of it despite her non-existent appetite. She then spent the latter half of the morning reading through the rest of Wuthering Heights.
At around noon, Linda and Gail phoned to check on their friend. Both conversations were brief, and Dorothy promised she would talk to them once the illness subsided.
As she read through the final chapter of Cathy and Heathcliff's story, the doorbell rang. Dorothy looked up from her book upon hearing her mother answer the front door.
“Oh hello, Gladys,” Liz said.
Dorothy's already queasy stomach flipped as Carl's mother entered their home.
“Hello, Liz. My son told me Dorothy was under the weather. How is she? I brought some soup for her.”
“Oh, thank you,” Dorothy heard her mother say. “Dorothy seems to be doing better. She’s resting right now, but I’m sure she’ll appreciate the soup for lunch.”
“Well, my son is anxious to see her,” Gladys replied. The footsteps of the two women headed toward the kitchen. “Would tomorrow be all right for him to phone or stop by?” She lowered her voice. “I think Matthew makes him a little nervous.”
Dorothy set her book in her lap and sat up straight as Liz and Gladys continued their conversation. Then, she heard her father emerge from the master bedroom and descend the stairs.
“I’m going over to Tom’s for some firewood,” Matthew announced upon entering the kitchen. “Hello, Gladys.”
“Hello, Matthew. Liz was just telling me about Dorothy. I brought some soup for her.”
“Well, that’s nice,” he replied. “Thank you. Liz, honey, do you need me to stop by the store or anything while I’m out?”
“Actually, sweetheart, I do have a small list.”
Dorothy heard her mother's chair scrape back as Liz headed toward the refrigerator where her shopping lists were always kept.
“If you would, dear, there are a couple things I need for tomorrow,” Liz told her husband.
Dorothy rose and slowly walked toward the bedroom door as her parents gave one another a quick goodbye kiss before Matthew thanked Gladys again.
As the back kitchen door shut signaling her father's departure, Dorothy opened her bedroom door a crack. The aroma of coffee floating up from the kitchen turned her stomach, though she was able to steel herself as Carl's mother spoke again.
“Look, Liz...I know Carl isn’t Matthew’s ideal choice for Dorothy.”
Liz sighed. “Well, my husband tends to forget that he was once in Carl’s place.”
“I’m sure most fathers are that way. I’m certain Paul will be with Emily once she is a little older. But…as for Carl…I know he has a tendency for trouble, but he really is a good boy and means well. And I really do believe he genuinely cares for Dorothy. In fact, I am a little worried about him.”
“Why’s that?”
“Well, ever since coming home from the dance last night, he’s been unusually quiet. Even this morning when I tried getting him up for breakfast…he just seems distracted. Dorothy hasn't said anything to you, has she?”
“No. Right after my husband brought her home, she went straight to bed. She did have a high fever, though it seems to have broken. But she didn’t say anything this morning when I took her breakfast up.”
There was a pause before Gladys said, “Liz…I just want a nice girl for my son. Paul and I really think very highly of Dorothy. And I can tell she means a lot to Carl.”
Tears stung Dorothy’s eyes and she shut the door. All morning, she had managed to avoid thinking about her boyfriend and now the very mention of his name sent sharp pains through her heart. His words from the previous night that indicated his assumption of taking her to bed crept into her mind.
Well, you thought wrong…
Anger pierced her every fiber. She blinked away the tears, refusing to cry as she fought to ignore Gladys's words. She’s his mother…of course she would say those nice things. Carl didn’t care about her. To him, she was only another conquest. He really thought I was going to fall for it…after only a month of going together…and he didn’t even at least discuss it with me.
As Gladys left, telling Liz how happy Carl would be to talk to Dorothy, Dorothy made a decision.

3

That evening after supper, the phone rang as Dorothy sat at her desk reading over an English assignment. A feeling of impending dread came over her as Liz knocked on the half-open door.
“Honey, Carl’s on the phone.”
Dorothy felt her heart stop. “Um…tell him I’ll phone him later.”
Liz frowned. “Sure, dear…is everything all right?”
Dorothy kept her eyes fixed on her textbook. “Yes, fine. I’m just not in the mood for phone calls right now.”
Liz regarded her daughter for another moment before relenting. “Alright. I'll let him know. Just rest, then.” She turned and headed back down the stairs.
Dorothy rose from her desk chair and went to lay on her bed. She leaned against the pillows as her mother repeated her message to Carl on the telephone downstairs. Part of her felt horrible for turning him away, but she just couldn’t bring herself to talk yet. What had happened the night before had been not only embarrassing, but confusing and infuriating. And then I have a dream of Juliette...well, it doesn’t matter. It will all be over soon.


4

Sunday morning arrived, and Dorothy was relieved when her parents offered her the option of staying home from Mass. Although the Turners were Methodist, which made running into Carl at church very unlikely, she would definitely see Gail and Jimmy (and possibly Bernice). Chuck's Diner was also popular among families before and after services, making the possiblity of seeing Carl and his family there high.
After her parents left, Dorothy rose from her bed, deciding she was well enough for a walk to the library. Mrs. Stratton usually attended the very early Mass before opening for a few short hours on Sundays.
Dorothy dressed and made a quick breakfast of oatmeal and buttered toast before leaving a note for her parents.
With most of the town residents in church, peaceful serenity was present. As her steps moved over the sidewalk, she contemplated how she would approach ending the relationship with Carl. Her broken heart was undeniable. Everything seemed right in the time she was with him, but suddenly it just felt...wrong.
As she ascended the front steps into the library, she stole a quick glance at the statue of James Livingston as Roxanne's message appeared before her again. Shaking it away, she pulled open the door and said a quick hello to Mrs. Stratton, who regarded her sympathetically.
Dorothy sighed. Of course, the whole town knew.
Browsing the bookshelves offered a beautiful distraction. She ended up selecting Anne Bronte's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall and Shakespeare's Macbeth before finding herself drawn to the section that held the works of Dante Alighieri. As she took out The Inferno and The Divine Comedy, her gaze fell onto the case displaying James Livingston's journals. She was considering asking Mrs. Stratton to open it for her when the door to the front entrance opened. Her breath hitched upon seeing Carl enter, and she quickly ducked behind a nearby shelf, feeling slightly foolish for doing so.
As she crept along the back shelves, she stole a glance at the clock and saw that an hour and a half had passed. After approaching the center shelf, just diagonal to the framed portrait of President Herbert Hoover, she bumped into a figure in her path.
Her heart skipped a beat as her eyes met Carl's, and the two regarded one another before she spoke.
“Hi…” she stammered.
“Hey,” he replied. “I stopped by your house and your mother told me you were here. How are you feeling?”
"Better, thanks." She shifted away her gaze.
“I'm glad. Dorothy…if you're up for it, can we please talk?”
Unable to respond, she clutched her books. What was there to say? What would she say? She had never broken off a relationship before.
“Dorothy, please. It seems like you’re avoiding me. Are you?”
She looked up at him and drew in a breath. “Let me check these out, first.”
Carl waited as she checked her books with Mrs. Stratton before the two walked out together.
After a brief silence, he said, “Listen, I owe you an apology.”
“You certainly do,” she replied, surprised at the cold emptiness in her voice
Carl shifted uncomfortably. “I got carried away and I shouldn’t have said what I did. I’m sorry. It was never my intention to make you uncomfortable…which, I obviously did. But Dorothy, I don’t want you to feel wrong about my intentions toward you. I…I’ve never gone with anyone like you.”
Dorothy kept her gaze forward. “It was very presumptuous of you. You thought a few kind gestures and I would fall all over myself to…” She lowered her voice. “…be seduced by you?”
“Honey…please…that’s not how it was.”
She halted her steps and turned to face him. “Then what was it, Carl? Hm? Why would you set aside a room and come prepared if you didn’t plan for it?”
“Habit, I guess…alright, maybe I did plan it a little…”
“What do you mean you planned it a little? How do you plan something like that a little? And without even discussing it with me!”
Carl's voice lodged in his throat as the truth lingered at the tip of his tongue. “Dorothy…I just thought…”
“What? What did you think?”
Carl's heart pounded as a panicking sensation churned in his core. “I…was afraid you would leave me…so I...”
Dorothy stared at him. “You're making absolutely no sense. Face it. You did something underhanded and I didn’t fall for it the way you thought I would. You completely undermined and insulted my intelligence. Well, I have news for you. Just because I’m not Bernice or those girls at the speakeasies you ran around with doesn’t mean I’m completely na├»ve.”
“I didn’t say you were! Please, just let me explain.”
“What is there to explain?”
Carl opened his mouth. “I love you…” He flinched slightly as the words escaped.
Dorothy felt her insides jolt as she searched for a response. “Carl...I...I don’t know what you’re trying to pull, but...honestly, I don’t think a relationship between us is going to work.”
“Honey…”
“Don’t call me that. We are no longer going together, and if you don’t like it then maybe you should have thought before acting like a playboy!”
Carl started protesting, but Dorothy cut him off. “Goodbye, Carl. I’ll have either my mother, Linda, or Gail return your jacket.”
With that last statement, she turned on her heel and ran off, leaving Carl to stand alone on the sidewalk.
As she hurried away, she thought he tried calling to her, but she never stopped. His declaration of love hung over her, but she hardened herself, taking a back road home so she would not pass the lamp post he had kissed her under only a week ago.

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