Book II: Chapter Three – “Time Can Be Quite A Character”
[Missed the first two chapters? Start here – Chapter One]
My excitement continues to grow as the release date gets closer. The time it takes to create a book start to finish is considerable, and laced with challenges as much as it is punctuated by minor victories. As this countdown ticks away, it brings to mind another countdown that makes time itself a featured character in this book.
It is noted in passing that time moves at a different pace above and below than on Earth in the first book. It’s explanation enough for us to realize that Paul is able to experience a long string of seemingly time-consuming events at the end of the book that happen in the space of a couple minutes for Mason and Sarah.
Those of us who got attached to our more earth-bound characters will have to wait for the book to get caught up. Although time does not behave normally in this series, I remain slave to the timeline rather than its master. For those of you wondering if Mason’s role in all this is finished, I assure you it is not. He plays a big part in this story, love him or hate him, making his return in Chapter Six.
We also get to explore in this book how time works for those who walk between worlds and how the Walker King makes time work for him. Then we’ll find out if it’s enough.
Remember that “Book I: Demons & Angels” is on sale for a little while longer, and thanks to everyone sharing my anticipation and expressing your encouragement. I hope you are all enjoying this sneak peek. Here it is, Chapter Three of “Walking Between Worlds; Book II: Rise of the Walker King”. Thanks for reading!
Kris appeared in the familiar living room, a silly sleepy satisfied small still tugging at the corners of his mouth. As the scene coalesced into his reality, his eyes grew round and his lips tightened to the thin line of a fierce frown.
“Paul!” he cried. “Paul, what are you doing?”
The Walker had Matt pinned to the wall with his forearm at his throat. He was naked, every muscle in his body taut with fury as Matt’s feet kicked helplessly at the wall inches from the carpeted floor. A spray of dried purple blood was splashed across his darkened visage. Ignoring the Guide, Paul glared at Matt as he struggled for breath.
“What are you?” Paul demanded, his short sword appearing suddenly in his free hand.
His eyes bugging out of his head, Matt gasped wordlessly and spread his hands.
“Paul. Paul!” The Guide finally got the Walker to turn his head. “You’re killing him. Let him go!”
Kris felt a chill as he looked into his eyes, cold and full of rage. Then he blinked and stepped toward Kris, letting his short sword go back to wherever it came from as Matt crumpled to the floor. The Guide took an instinctive step back, but Paul just turned and collapsed to the couch. His bloodied face watched his gasping friend warily as he absently tossed the throw from the back of the sofa over his lap, somewhat covering his nakedness.
“Brenna.” Paul’s voice was suddenly loud, angry again. “Brenna is a devil. You’re her brother.” He looked past Kris to peg Matt with his furious gaze.
“What are you?” Paul demanded again.
Kris had to turn to see Matt’s reaction, and was surprised that he was squirming uncomfortably under the Walker’s accusing stare.
He turned again to Paul.
“What happened?” Kris said again.
“She came at me,” Paul responded, his voice flat and toneless. “She came at me and I killed her.”
It was Matt the Guide ended up restraining, standing to catch him as he launched himself unthinking at the Walker. Whatever he was, he wasn’t any stronger or faster than the Guide, and Kris was learning to think success into his movements.
Holding him, his mouth right next to the Guide’s ear as Matt shouted, “You killed my sister? You killed my sister!” Kris tossed him back into the chair he had sprung from. It rocked back precariously, and then fell forward to land with a loud thump.
Kris moved before the chair, blocking him from standing. He could hear Paul’s low chuckle behind him as the Walker sat fearless, not even bothering to manifest a weapon.
His back to the Walker’s dark laughter, Kris watched the man before him deflate from rage to bewilderment. Matt looked helplessly up at the Guide, whose gray eyes went from demanding peace to demanding answers.
“What are you?” he echoed the Walker’s question.
Matt stirred uncomfortably in the chair, opening his mouth to speak only to shut it again. Finally his handsome mien relaxed, he sunk deep into the cushioned chair, and he shrugged.
“I don’t know,” he said simply.
“What do you mean, you don’t know?” Paul was standing suddenly beside him, glowering down at Matt. He clutched the blanket over his bare belly, so it covered him to the floor.
The Guide nudged his naked shoulder.
“Put something on, would you?” he asked. “And maybe clean up the, uh . . .” Kris circled a finger round his face, not wanting to point out the blood to either of them.
Turning his head slowly to land his dark gaze on Kris, the Walker’s face was suddenly clean over the collar of his leather duster.
They both turned their attention back to Matt.
“I don’t know,” he said again, squirming uncomfortable under their combined curiosity.
“Let’s find out,” the Walker snarled.
There was a glint of steel and a blur of leather, all too fast for the Guide to see.
He did see the light gash that appeared suddenly on Matt’s naked forearm, welling red blood before he realized he’d been cut.
“Hey!” Matt jerked his arm away far too late, succeeding only in getting a few droplets of blood on his shirt.
“You cut me!” He covered the cut with his hand, glaring up at Paul.
“He’s human,” the Walker said to Kris, ignoring him. “Or at least his blood looks human.”
Holding Paul’s gaze long enough to let him know he did not approve of his methods, the Guide knelt beside Matt.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“He’ll be fine,” Paul said dismissively. “It’s just a scratch. There might be some bandages in the bathroom. I don’t need them anymore.”
Matt shook his head.
“It’s okay,” he said, though he still clutched his arm. “Would you guys please sit down? I don’t know much, but I’ll tell you what I do know.”
The supernatural duo exchanged a glance and a shrug then sat again. Matt ran his fingers through his dark hair and sighed.
“You guys remember the accident?” he asked.
They both nodded.
“Well, up until then I thought I was living a pretty normal life.” Matt grinned, forgetting himself. “Charmed, but normal.”
“And since the accident?” Kris prompted.
“During the accident,” Matt clarified. “Something happened, I don’t know what. Brenna and I were . . . I guess, transported. To another place. Another world, really. I don’t know.”
“I remember that!” Paul snapped his fingers, and Matt started at the Walker’s sudden movement. “There was, like, a wave of energy that swept over everybody. It was strange. It was like you and Brenna disappeared for a second. Then you were back. Then . . .”
Paul frowned, remembering.
“No,” Matt shook his head. “It wasn’t for a second. It was like an hour.”
The Guide turned to Paul. “It sounds like they went above.”
“No.” The Walker spoke firmly. “Brenna is a devil. They went below.”
Matt nodded agreement. “Yeah, someone asked what she was doing below. Some weird dude in a monster costume.”
He frowned. “A devil. I’m so stupid.”
“What happened?” Paul pressed him.
“Brenna said she needed to see someone, some lady’s name.”
“Was it Lilia?” The Walker asked.
Kris turned to look at him curiously.
“Yeah. Yeah it was. Lilia.” Matt’s response transformed his curious look into a questioning scowl, but the Guide turned back as he went on. “We went down this long hallway, and Brenna told me to wait outside. She went into a room and came out a long time later. Then we were back.”
“That’s it?” the Walker frowned. “That’s all that happened?”
Matt shifted uncomfortably in his chair.
“Well, no.” He glanced between them, looking for sympathetic eyes, settled on the Guide. “I kind of made a deal. The guy . . . the devil that met us said he could help me, that all I had to do was one little thing.”
They both spoke at once.
“Help you with what?” Kris asked.
“What one little thing?” the Walker demanded.
“He said he could help with, you know, money. Success. He said he could turn my bad luck around,” Matt shrugged. “It’s what I’ve always wanted, to show Brenna and everyone that I can do it.”
Paul snorted derisively. “By making a deal with a devil? You’re a cliché, jackass.”
“What did you have to do?” Kris asked calmly, trying to ignore the Walker.
“Nothing,” Matt shrugged. “I mean, hardly anything. I just had to give her something and say that it was from me. It was just a pair of earrings, and they were pretty. I didn’t see the harm in it.”
Paul shook his head slowly, recalling his final seconds as a human being. “You didn’t look real peaceful when you came back.”
“No, no I wasn’t,” Matt agreed. “I remembered something, I remembered everything, and I was shocked stupid by the possibility of unintended consequences.”
Kris and Paul exchanged a bemused look. It was not like their friend to consider unintended consequences at all, much less be emotionally distraught by them.
“What did you remember?” Kris asked.
“I don’t remember,” Matt replied. “The feeling passed and when I found the earrings in my pocket later at the hospital I gave them to Brenna.”
“And then your luck changed,” Paul said.
“Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, it did. I told you guys about that stock, but that wasn’t all. I can’t buy a lottery ticket without winning something. A few hundred here, a few thousand there, I can’t miss.”
“So Roche hitched his wagon to your rising star,” Paul mused. He arched an eyebrow at Kris. “Do you think he knew?”