Ok, I am going to be at LibertyCon, or at least in Chattanooga, some time today. So when you read this, I’m traveling. I started to put up this snippet and realised it is very short… so I will add some more. I’m working on something entirely different right now, but I will be editing this in the week following the convention based on feedback from my beta readers, and sending it off to the editor for the final polishing. Then comes the fun part of formatting for print, and all the other hoops to jump through. All worth it when I get my first sale!
The High Path always fascinated Linn. It wasn’t strictly speaking a path at all, and it didn’t go anywhere. The first time she had walked it, with Blackie’s help, she had been too scared and worried to pay much attention, and there had been very few opportunities to examine it closely since that wild night when she and Blackie had saved Bes’s life as he lay helpless on the battlefield.
Now she looked at the ‘walls’ as they walked. Blackie kept pace with her, and they were a little ahead of the others. The High Path, Linn knew, was an extra-dimensional tunnel through the space between universes. Earth was only one of at least three universes, Linn knew for sure. The others were the long-lost world the gods and spirits of myth had fallen from untold years before, and the world they used as a rest place. Only those who carried the nano-machines which made ‘magic’ possible could use the High Path, and cross between the worlds. Linn, by virtue of the ones she had inherited from her mother, could travel on it, but she needed help to make that first step, still.
She was fairly sure that if she stopped moving, the High Path would still take her where she was meant to go, but she had been cautioned not to stop while on the path. She’d been studying quantum mechanics, just the basics, and was puzzling over how that related to this gray, shimmery stuff that didn’t look, or… she reached out and poked the wall cautiously. It didn’t feel like much, but sort of deformed away from her hand, leaving a bit of a pocket in the smooth wall.
Blackie made a noise and batted at her leg with his big paw.
“Oops.” Linn realized she had stopped walking and started up again. Then she stopped, making the big kitten yowl as she stepped on his toe. “Where are the others?”
He looked behind them along with her. It was sort of foggy, and she couldn’t see or hear anything. Maybe they had walked past while she was checking the wall out. Linn shrugged and started to walk quickly, giving up on the strange other-worldly substance.
“Bes? Deirdre?” Linn called out. Her voice was just sort of swallowed up. There were no echoes, nor sense of distance. No answering call came out of the foggy tunnel. Linn bit her lip, wondering how far ahead they were, and kicking herself mentally for being so scatter-brained. She really couldn’t do that, and this was undoubtedly Bes’s way of teaching her not to lose track of her surroundings.
Linn sighed, and kept going. From what she understood of how the High Path worked, they would all come out at the same place, and she wouldn’t stop and get separated from her party again on it.
“Okay, Bes.” She called out, not expecting an answer. “I learned my lesson. See you when we get there!”
Linn stopped at the edge of the high path, studying it intently. The transition between worlds shimmered, a little, and she knew from experience it would be like stepping through the looking glass into a whole ‘nother place, from the gray tunnel of the Path. This metaphor amused her, and she giggled. Blackie butted her thigh with his head, knocking her sideways a step.
“Oof!” she regained her balance. “You’re getting too big for kitten tricks, mister. And yes, I’m nervous, doing this alone. I wish Bes and Dierdre hadn’t gone ahead. “
That they had gotten separated at all put her on edge. Setting out together on the High Path usually meant you wound up in the same place. When Linn had lost track of them, she wasn’t sure. She was also not sure they were in the right place even now. She did know it was time to take the next step, and be fully part of the adult’s world. She was tired of being treated as a child.
These last two years there had been a lot of interrupted conversations when she or the other young ones were around, and mysterious comings and goings. Which left her and Blackie on this errand, to take Grampa Heff’s apologies to his old friend… although the look on Grampa’s face when he’d said that made Linn wonder how friendly it really was. If she had learned one thing in these illuminating years, it was that odd alliances had been forged over the millennia of the shadowy myth wars.
Quetzalcoatl, Sekhmet and Bes, Coyote… although Coyote, she understood, was a wild card. No one ever knew when or where he would pop up. And her grandfather, the only Olympian amongst them, and the de-facto war leader. Quetzalcoatl seemed to be the overall leader, but there was a loose council of sorts which would gather from time to time and make decisions. Linn knew they tried to stay out of human affairs as much as possible.
Two years ago when she had arrived at Grampa Heff’s farm looking forward to summer vacation, she expected the biggest surprise to be the litter of kittens in the hayloft. She certainly didn’t expect to find out her mother was the child of two gods, making Linn herself a demi-god. To learn this one night, and be on the run with the kittens practically the next moment had been an education in itself, and there had been a lot more to the summer after that.
Now, she squared her shoulders and stepped through the veil between worlds, from the High Path inter-dimensional corridor, back onto Earth, a half-globe away from where she had started that morning. It was raining a little, and very, very green. Even the birds were silent, and she could hear the sighing of ocean surf – very familiar after the last two years at Sanctuary in Hawaii – not too far off. But for now, they stood in deep forest.
Blackie lifted his nose, his mouth half-open. She recognized that he was using his Jacobsen’s organ to smell the air deeply, detecting anything nearby. She couldn’t hear anything but the raindrops pattering on leaves far overhead in the grove of trees. Maybe oaks? She wasn’t sure. The big cat closed his mouth and then licked his nose.
“We’re all alone, I think. Now how to find him?”