I’m nearing the finish line editing Clifton Chase on Castle Rock and want to share the first chapter with you, including the delicious art by Debbie Waldorf Johnson.
I hope you enjoy Chapter One: Normal.
There is no way of knowing, when the day begins like any other, that something extraordinary lies on the horizon. On a normal morning in a normal town, Clifton Chase opened his eyes. He had no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary. No warning by woodland creature, no March wind whispering he remain vigilant on this particular day. In fact, it began in the same predictable manner as every other morning.
And Clifton was glad.
He dressed in jeans and a T-shirt that read Rainault Plumbing: Our Pipes Hit the Mark in big block letters. His stomach grumbled, a bloodhound sniffing for breakfast, and led him to the kitchen.
“Clifton,” his mother called from her bedroom. “We’re leaving for archery club in five minutes.”
“That’s today?” he called back.
“Yes, and we’re running late.”
Clifton scarfed down cereal, slurped milk, and placed his dish in the sink. Skidding in tube socks down the hardwood floor, he rushed into his bedroom. He liked his room. It was warm and comfortable with a stained oak bed, matching dresser, and end table. Over the years, he’d grown an impressive collection of medieval relics, from antique stores, estate sales, and by wealthy relatives vacationing in Europe. His two prize possessions were his lucky iron horseshoe lamp and a wooden plank with hilts and pommels screwed in for hanging his backpack and coats.
His closet door glided across the thick rug. Clifton reached for his sneakers but stopped. Beside the bookcase packed with boardgames and novels, wedged behind art supplies and science equipment, he spotted the copper feather, one that unquestionably took residence while he slept, as the space had been vacant when he tossed his sneakers in the night before.
He’d hidden the three arrows in the back of his closet, out of sight, out of mind. Beautifully crafted, the first arrow ushered him through time to 1485 England, where he’d rescued two princes from their tyrant uncle, fought in an epic battle, and witnessed his good friend, a dwarf named Dane, die before his eyes. Forced amnesia fed his denial of any adventure through time. A centuries old oil painting, depicting Clifton with the notched arrow on a battlefield, evidenced the proof that it had happened.
He passed his fingers through the barbs of the fletching, like the feathers from nesting birds that floated to his porch in the spring. Only these gleamed in a striking copper flecked with gold, shades he’d never seen on the wings of any Florida birds. The wood shaft, he remembered, was forged from the Tree of Knowledge, where Simurgh the all-knowing bird of reason nested before Time herself existed on Earth.
He knew these things, but he wanted to forget.
Except for Pearl, the beautiful Siren who rescued him from an evil Mer King. Her memory was locked away from the rest. Why, just the thought of Pearl and the lightweight shaft heated in his hand as the Arrow of Light brightened and the fletching shimmered.
Then a pair of glowing eyes, at the rear of the closet, shone like spotlights. Clifton blinked hard and shook his head. The eyes were gone. It had to be something else. He stepped closer. Something jutted out from between his coats like a witch’s nose. He leaned in closer still. Was his jacket moving? Clifton took in a sharp breath.
Someone else was in his closet.
With all the bravery he could muster, Clifton reached a shaky hand toward the nose, relieved when he palmed the hard wood hanger instead. He smacked it and scolded himself for letting his fear paint such vivid pictures in his mind. As he stepped back, the Arrow of Light snagged on something that tugged it, nearly yanking it from his grip. Clifton twisted around and pulled hard, expecting a tug-of-war but getting no tension from whatever had held the arrow captive. His own force sent him sailing into a stack of boardgames, which toppled to the floor. Pieces flew across the rug and Clifton smacked the ground at the base of his bookshelf, now with no doubt in his mind that someone else was in his closet.
He jumped up, plunged back into darkness, and flung his clothes aside to find nothing but the wall. No escape into Narnia for Clifton. He ran his fingers through his hair. What was the matter with him? But he knew. The Arrows of Light held magic. Many beings would endure the impossible to unearth them for personal gain. No matter how desperately Clifton wished life would return to normal, as long as he possessed the arrows, it never would.
Then an eerie feeling, as if on cue, struck him, and he worried someone was tip-toeing behind him. Clifton jumped around half-expecting to catch the glowing-eyed monster, but instead found his mom in the doorway.
“What are you doing? It’s time to go. Never mind, just…grab Grandpa Samuel’s archery set if you want. You can try it out today on the field.”
“Do I have to?”
Mom scoffed. “Seriously? I figured you’d be dying to shoot those arrows. Is something wrong with them? You haven’t shot them once since Dad and I gave them to you.”
“I know,” Clifton said. “I just don’t think I’m ready yet. They’re really old, Mom.”
“That’s kind of the point,” Mom’s voice trailed. “We’re late. Let’s go!” He was about to stash the arrow in the back of his closet with the other two, when he decided he’d place them all in his backpack for safekeeping. Just in case someone really was after them. He threw on shoes without tying the laces and deserted the room, blind to the creature in his closet, whose closed eyes eclipsed the monster in total darkness.
To Be Continued….
If you love it already and want to preorder your signed copy, click HERE. (Scheduled release 10/31/2020)