Mather’s Odds: Sample 8

The fun thing about schedules is that they change. I’m still waiting on the edits, and after that it’ll be a quick (hopefully) edit for punctuation and grammar, then off to the bookstores! It might be mid-July, but I’m still hoping for the end of June. I’m sorry to everyone waiting and waiting, but I’m waiting and waiting, too.

Anyhow, here is another sample chapter from the book. Funny story about this: one of the artists who competed to make my book cover spontaneously created a cover that looked exactly like the event in this sample. “There’s no way you could have know,” I told her, “But this image is the crux of the story.” And Cadence says it himself.

Enjoy a sample of the Sun Ceremony.


If the Sun Ceremony had not happened, I would never have written this.

Other things happened before it, of course. I started working part-time at Momo’s garage to supplement my income from cleaning the bookstore. I visited the bar where Mark worked just in time to see him finally collapse from taking shots for his dyslexia. Catherine and I had a good laugh over that one. I even had dinner with Timothy once or twice, although I could never get a straight answer out of him for how he and Catherine were doing… or anything important that only he could tell me. And Catherine seemed to grow warmer in herself.

The weather began to warm up. The blue flowers sprung up in the cracks of pavement. Birds returned from the south. Trees began to bud.

The Sun Ceremony came.

The whole two weeks preceding it, the town buzzed with gossip about it. “How is he going to do it?” people wondered. “All we’ve seen is those odd statues.” “Will it be a magic trick? Is it an odd wind coming in? Why is it a ceremony?” Around and around the questions went.

Everyone was eager, as was I. I was the only one who was worried, too. Something was wrong. Maybe. But what?

The Hearts in me felt my disquiet. There was something in this that resonated with many of them like a dischordant string that stretched back an unseen thousand years to anchor to what they could not remember. They knew that the moment it happened, they would all remember, like snapping their fingers and saying, “Yes, that’s what it was. I recall it now.” What ‘it’ was, we didn’t know.

But we were waiting.

And then it was time.

I woke up that day covered in a layer of fear sweat. My sheets were damp from it, which was gross and disquieting all at once. I remembered shards of a nightmare, but not enough to recall it or to make sense of what I could remember. I threw the bedding in the garbage before I went to pick up Tuli and Amy.

They were ready for a spring-warm day, in medium-weight jackets that they could take off if it got warm. I didn’t blame them. It was shaping up to be a warm day even before I got the Harlan rolling. Amy pointed delightedly at it when I came up. “Can I ride on the front bumper?” she asked excitedly. Her mother and I told her no.

Businesses had shuttered up for the day, more than I expected. Everyone was heading for the College grounds, and traffic seemed to grumble at me as I arrived behind it. ‘Yeah, get in line, pal,’ it seemed to complain. But it was an eager complaining. Eager. Curious.

We parked where Catherine had told us (company parking for the clan, apparently), and walked the rest of the way. Seating had filled up fast, but Catherine had also reserved some seats for us by her at the front. She had Skyler with her, but Timothy was nowhere to be seen. It was his project, I supposed, and he may have had last-minute preparations. I saw Mark off a little ways and caught his eye. He waved at me before vanishing into a chair below the level of the milling crowd. It seemed like everyone from the town was here. Curiosity virtually buzzed in the air.

I asked Catherine if she had any idea how the Ceremony was going to work. She shook her head. “He always said I’d have to wait and see like everyone else. Do you have any… ideas?” she asked significantly.

I shook my head. “Wait and see, it seems. Just like Timothy likes it.”

“He always hoped you’d be back in time to see it.” She settled into her seat with Skyler on her lap. “It sounded important, the way he talked about it. Made matters worse between… never mind.”

He never comes home and he barely knows his own son. How could matters be worse? I asked myself. Then I thought of her waiting for me. Oh. Those matters?

It was some dozen minutes before noon, the official start of the Ceremony, when Timothy came up on the stage. The crowd cheered, and he took his bows and waved to the crowd. “I want to thank you all for coming to this today,” he said finally into the microphone. “It’s taken so much work from so many people. So many sacrifices, too. Especially for my wife and son, who had to live without me so much these two years.” There was some obliging applause. “Perhaps it was less a loss on their part than that. I don’t claim to be that interesting.”

The crowd laughed. I didn’t. I noticed that Catherine didn’t, either. Skyler clapped because everyone else did.

He went on. “I was first inspired to apply to my clan to take this project on, oh, three or four years ago. I was looking into the history of this place. Legends I uncovered always spoke of miracles happening here, and the more I looked into them, the more I thought, ‘I could make a miracle happen.’ But what kind of miracles do people want? We have hospitals that cure so many diseases. We have factories that turn out amazing machines. We have farms that give s so much food and cooks that make such wonderful meals. I didn’t want a miracle like that. I wanted something… impossible.”

I had to shake off a horrible feeling to focus on what he was saying.

“I remembered something my wife had told me. A friend of hers had taken her to see the sunrise on the edge of the canyon one morning. It was a very special day for her. Suddenly, I had my miracle. I could find a way– I would find a way– to peel back the clouds that always hang over the city and bring some light, the way that person had brought light to my wife. I wanted to be that special someone for the city.”

I brushed away something that was buzzing at my ear. There aren’t any bugs around– I nearly told myself. The buzzing didn’t go away, so I swatted it again.

No, it wasn’t coming from outside my ear.

“CADENCE!”

“David?” I whipped around, certain I’d heard him…

I woke up to the silence. My brother’s Heart had screamed so loudly within me, especially compared with the silence around me.

Silence.

I looked at Tuli next to me. Her attention was fully on the stage. Amy, as well. Everyone beyond them. Behind them. Everyone. So focused on the stage, on what Timothy was saying, that they didn’t even notice me. I nudged Tuli, but she tapped me quiet.

That buzzing was back in my ear. It wasn’t outside my ear, I realized. It was inside. The restless humming of indistinct… something.

But Timothy was speaking. I had to pay attention, or I’d miss something.

Miss something? Like what?

Like– I looked up on the stage– like where he’s gone.

If I had woken up before, I felt like ice water had splashed on my soul. I’d felt this way before, once, in The War. The day David died.

Something was wrong. Strongly wrong.

“Catherine,” I said quietly.

She shushed me.

I looked at her. Her attention was fixed on the stage. Skyler was… missing.

I tried to spot him from where I sat. No good. “Catherine,” I tapped her on the shoulder. “Where’s Skyler?”

She shushed me.

Oh, something was badly wrong.

“Catherine, Skyler is missing.”

“Hush.”

I whispered harshly into her ear. “Catherine! Skyler is missing! Your son is gone!”


Don’t you just hate cliffhangers?

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