Thursday, November 2, 2017

Characters within The Birthrite-verse: Maxine Fleming

Throughout the month of November, I will be posting excerpts from Kindred (The Birthrite, #2), along with excerpts from the previous two installments in the series, Descent and Sacred Atonement: A Novelette. 

Today I am featuring one of the most complex characters in the series, Maxine Fleming. We first meet Maxine as a child of ten at the very beginning of Descent when she has a rather peculiar and unsettling exchange with James Livingston, indicating that she may or may not be an ordinary child...





Maxine Rosalind Fleming was born in the year 1834. Her birthplace and birth parents, as are those of her brother Nathaniel, are unknown as both were adopted as infants by Cedric and Margaret Fleming.
As a child, Maxine lived well as her parents were among New York’s wealthier class. They were close friends with the Livingston family and Maxine got on well with her older brother, Nathaniel. The two had a close relationship until he passed away at the age of twelve after being stricken with scarlet fever. Nathaniel’s death seemed to leave a rather troubling imprint on Maxine. She would frequently be seen talking to herself and referring to an imaginary friend named Nathaniel. Many familiar with the situation decided to shrug it off as a child simply dealing with the loss of her dear brother, her father Cedric claimed that it upset her mother Margaret. Therefore, he very harshly put a stop to it.
When her parents opened the Nathaniel Fleming Orphanage in the small town of Plains (just outside of the city), the remaining family moved onto the property, living in a lavish apartment on the fifth floor of the main building. Maxine’s imaginary friend “Nathaniel” seemed to disappear and all was well for several years, especially as Maxine started training to be a classroom assistant to the very handsome (and married) Christian Andrews.
Christian ended up being Maxine’s first (and seemingly only) love. Their affair carried on for two years before they were caught by his wife and her parents. Maxine was also carrying Christian’s child at the time.
She was sent upstate to deliver the baby, which was taken from her by Christian’s wife after the birth. Christian was not permitted to be present.
After falling into a depression, Maxine threw herself into her work as she studied to not only become a classroom instructor, but also priming herself to take over running the orphanage once Cedric and Margaret were no longer able to. She seemed to recover well from the incident with Christian (which was kept private by both families) and even spoke of a suitor that was a mystery to everyone else.
Everything seemed to be running smoothly at the orphanage until Cedric and Margaret were discovered dead in their fifth floor apartment on Halloween of 1867. Maxine took over running the orphanage, bringing in her cousin Jared to assist her. It was also rumored that the two were more than just cousins and Maxine’s health and well-being seemed to spiral downward. A few years later, all hell seemed to break loose on the orphanage property when Jared was found hanging in the front hall of the main building apartment and Maxine was rambling about the ground, claiming to have seen her deceased brother and claiming that he had the Devil’s eyes. It was also said their her eyes had gone black and her hair stark white.
The orphanage was closed down and Maxine was sent upstate to an asylum were she spent her remaining years until she died mysteriously at the age of sixty.
It is questioned whether Maxine was truly insane or it perhaps she was simply opened to a reality that few humans are able to see. And the story of Maxine Fleming and her family is far from being over…




EXCERPTS FROM KINDRED (THE BIRTHRITE, #2)

Excerpt 1:
Four years later when Nathaniel was stricken with severe illness, Maxine had a sickening feeling that it had something to do with the dream. As Nathaniel lay dying, he seemed to take on the form of the doppelganger he described. Just before leaving their natural world, he weakly beckoned to her, whispering faintly in her ear that he would return for her. Then he drew his last breath, his body stilling and his eyes fixed and staring at his sister before they were shut by the preacher.
After his funeral and burial, he materialized only to her, warning her to be careful when talking to him.
(Heaven forbid someone might see and throw her into an insane asylum)
Nathaniel’s warning rang true on the day he had been with her in their old bedroom. As brother and sister conversed, their father overheard her giggle, saying Nathaniel’s name after her brother told a joke. She remembered that joke, too…
Two men are in a graveyard and one walks up to a grave. The second man asks, “who is in that grave?”
The first man points to the grave and says, "Brothers and Sisters I have none, But that man's father, is my father's son." 
Who is in the grave?
“It was he who was in the grave…”
Maxine had no idea why she, as a small child, found such a joke funny, much less understood why Nathaniel saw it fit to tell it to her. But she had laughed, causing Cedric to burst into the room.
Their father harshly scolded her, raising his voice so loudly before grabbing and slapping her. That was the first time she had ever been afraid of her father. In that moment, it was as though another being was inside him, for after realizing what he had done, he seemed to emerge from a trance, practically in tears and begging a poor confused, terrified child for forgiveness.
As she allowed her distressed father’s embrace, Maxine looked over to where Nathaniel was, seeing a rather cold stare on the boy’s face. After that, her brother emphasized rather harshly on keeping their playtime a secret.
For a long while after the incident with their father, Nathaniel came only at night and the two would whisper their conversations to each other. Then when her father and mother moved with her to live in the fifth-floor apartment at the orphanage, Nathaniel’s visits grew less frequent. It was as if having all the other children around made him feel less relevant in the lives of his parents and sister. But Maxine missed her brother dearly and even while growing into womanhood she could feel his presence hovering. On occasion, she would dream of him, and his words of returning whispered to her just prior to his death reverberated through her being.


EXCERPT 2:

“We've also read through Maxine’s diary several times over the last year and a half,” Tahatan said. “Aside from being a book that would make some publisher a great fortune, and probably banned in some parts of the world, as we all know, re-reading these documents always seem to overturn a new detail that was previously unnoticed.”
Reginald frowned. “You found something else?”
Tahatan turned to the last few pages of the diary and a hushed chill spread among the group. The last entries were written on the night Jared met his gruesome demise and Maxine was found wandering the grounds before being taken to an upstate asylum.
The group leaned in, seeing the crude handwriting (a far cry from the neat, very lady-like penmanship in the first half of the book).
Cletus narrowed his eyes, looking at the scrollings that seemed to have no rhyme or reason. Yet, there is a reason…a reason for all of it…

I SEE THEM I SEE THEM ALL
DAMN THEM ALL
NATHANIEL NATHANIEL NATHANIEL HE WANTS ME TO LET HIM IN HE WANTS ME TO LET HIM IN HE IS ANGRY WITH ME FOR LEAVING
LILA SHE’S EVIL OH WHY DID I NOT LISTEN TO MY BROTHER
CHRISTIAN CHRISTIAN CHRISTIAN I LOVE YOU CHRISTIAN SAVE ME PLEASE
I SEE HER IT'S THE WITCH THE WITCH THAT LIVES IN ROOM 410 SHE'LL BE HIS LOVER GOD HELP US ALL DESTROY THEM ALL

“She definitely lost it...” Reginald murmured.
“Not necessarily,” Father Louis replied.
“True.”
No other words needed said.
After another long pause, Gail spoke. “About the witch in room 410. James Livingston mentioned Maxine talking of something like that right before the orphanage opened. She was just a little girl then, but even all these years later she was still talking about this so-called witch.”
Father Louis picked up another journal and started paging through it. As he did, Dorothy's warning concerning Gail and Reginald pulsed throughout his being. His thoughts turned to the previous day when they tried contacting the parents of Gail and Reginald. At first, he felt nothing out of the ordinary. But as of now, he was starting to feel a sort of change in the air. The Carr and Johnson residents appeared in his mind’s eye for a brief second and disappeared. Dread pulsed through his core and he tried to refocus, knowing that the only way of helping anyone was remaining calm and well-informed.



The Birthrite is available on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and other retailers



And enter for a chance to win ebooks of the first three installments of The Birthrite. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment