Two things: my site was down for a few days, I am sorry for any inconvenience. Should be good now, but don’t hesitate to let me know if something isn’t right. The host I’m using until January has been starting to tinker with the backend. Looking for hosting… And likely moving a lot of the moving parts and posts from here on out over to the Substack (free, although there is a paid option if you like me that much).
Second, this is another snip from what has turned into a novella. I should have it finished in a week, with publication following rapidly thereafter. I even have a cover already!
Pol landed easily, his head on a level with the tunnel entrance. Not that he could see it in the dark. He clapped his hands together, sharply, the sound echoing from distant hard walls. Yellow lights began to glow, taking a couple of moments to come to their full brightness.
Pol waited, listening and watching, while the lights came up. There had been a reason he’d chosen their parent’s school, and not just for the trust fund that paid their education if they’d come here and studied the right things. This place had been here, waiting. Pol would never forget that last conversation with their father. Oly had been sleeping soundly. Their mother was already dead, although neither of the twins knew that yet.
“Dad?” Pol had held up his arms, sleepily thinking his father had come for a good night hug and kiss, as the parents would do any time they returned home after their children were sleeping. The twins were twelve, which wasn’t too old to want the affection.
“Shh. Come with me.” His father had a strange look on his face, and he moved with care, keeping one arm close to his chest. “Into the hall and close the door.”
“Don’t you want Oly, too?” Pol had asked, doing as he was told.
“Not for this one, sport. This one’s for you to carry.” His father had put a hand on his son’s shoulder, and looked into his hazel eyes. “I’m sorry. I wish this weren’t necessary.”
“What is it, Dad?” Something was wrong, but Pol didn’t know what it was. Something itched at his mind, but he was focused on his father, and didn’t try to figure it out.
“Oh, Kiddo.” His dad ruffled his hair and pulled him into a hug. “I wish it hadn’t come to you. You’re going to have to grow up fast and strong.”
His father had let go of him as he talked, and now Pol drew himself fully upright and pushed his chest out. “I can do it.”
There was a ghost of a laugh. “I believe you can. You’re going to have to remember this, you can’t write it down. Not anywhere. You can’t tell anyone, either, not even Oly until later, got it?”
Pol nodded. His father looked into his eyes, silent for a minute.
“You’re going to go to university, the one your mother and I went to, where we got our doctorates. We met there. Remember that story?”
Confused, Pol nodded. “What if…”
“Wait, this isn’t the time for questions. Sorry, kid, sometimes you can’t have all the answers. When you go there, you’ll be working in the old labs, because what you’ll be studying is dangerous and they stick experiments that can go explodey out there in the woods. In the back corner lab, there’s a secret door. I had it installed. I intended it as a bolthole, in case of…” His father sighed deeply. “I’ll just say that eventually, the politician’s popcorn and candy promises grew brittle. We were working on a project I can’t tell you about. You’ll find my lab notebooks, though, and you’ll be able to carry on my work. Reach under the sink and hit the back wall. Got it?”
“Got it. I don’t understand, Dad.”
“I know. I can’t tell you much. You’ll have to figure out most of it on your own.”
“Why can’t you tell me?”
“I won’t have time. And what you don’t know, you can’t tell. Remember your Mom’s lessons on how to tell the truth creatively?”
Pol nodded. They’d made it into a game. Always tell family the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but. Never tell strangers a lie, but don’t tell them everything. He’d overheard his parents talking one night, not more than a week before, about having to be paranoid.
“It’s not easy, living like this.” His father cupped his hand behind his son’s neck and looked at him again, with those strange, piercing eyes. “Take care of Oly. She’s your little sister even if you are a twin, and you think differently. That’s a gift, Pol. Don’t think less of her for it. She can complement your mind, and the two of you together accomplish more than apart.”
“Yes, Dad.” It wasn’t the first time Pol had been taught that, and after he’d been told, had observed it was true. She thought at an angle to him, and it was fun to see how they could solve a problem in more than one way.
“Don’t let them separate you.”
“Who is them?” Pol’s chest hurt suddenly with tension. His father was worried, but trying not to show it, he realized that now. There was a sense of urgency, strain in his voice. “Dad?”
“Remember, you can’t always know all the answers. And you can’t always tell all of the truth, even…” His father took a deep breath, then coughed. “Even when you think you can trust someone. Got that?”
“Good lad. Go to sleep. I’m going to look in on your sister. Love you.”
“Love you too, Dad.” Pol turned and put his hand on his doorknob. “Dad?”
“Yes?” His father had already gone to his sister’s bedroom door.
“How will I know?”
“You’ll know when you can’t hear me any more.” His father opened Oly’s door, and disappeared into the darkened bedroom.
Pol went back to bed.
He’d woken up in a new, strange, and terrible world.
Because I’ve been unable to make commitments, this was a spare prompt again. One thing about spares, I can choose something that sparks my mind into the existing WIP rather than having to write a new thing or shoehorn it into the WIP. The spare was: “Eventually, the politician’s popcorn and candy promises grew brittle.”
You can read all of the prompt responses, or play along yourself, over at More Odds Than Ends. Creativity needs a little push from time to time!