It’s Tease Me Tuesday! A day for sneak peeks into a work-in-progress. The peek might be a teaser, an excerpt, or just a tidbit of information.
This week’s tease…
An Excerpt From A Work-In-Progress
This excerpt is from a novella I wrote for an anthology. Well, the project folded and I plan on publishing this in 2018. I’m envisioning a series with twisted takes on fairy tales. This first one is a gender-flip on Cinderella with time travel and dark magick!
The story begins in the year 1838 in the fictional town of Crowley, England…
A burning sensation—like a hot poker touching flesh—passes through me. I yank my hand free of my pocket. The wisp of smoke catches my eye, but it’s a fleeting moment. Bile creeps up my throat, and the parlor starts spinning around me. The motion is unnerving. I drop to my knees holding tight to the chesterfield’s rolled arm.
A myriad of bright lights—blue, green, red, and purple—dance before my eyes. I clutch my stomach, and choke back another wave of nausea. My sudden sickness abates as the cloying aroma of baked goods permeate the air. I can imagine the delicate, textured biscuits and cakes. The crumbs melting on my tongue. Vanilla, lemon, and even butterscotch flavors excite my palate. The scent of maple and cinnamon tease my senses. It’s like being inside a wondrous, bake shop. My stomach rumbles its agreement.
A strong gust of wind, like an invisible hand, pushes me onto my rump. The last thing I see is a dark wall closing in around me.
The pounding in my head has a pulse all its own. I stagger to my feet and slowly take in my surroundings. This room has the bones of the parlor but not its flesh. The chesterfield is still here, but the walls are painted a bright, sunshine yellow while the rest of the furniture in the room is all white. A decorative, floral rug covers the gleaming wooden floors.
Lyrical sounds—laughter and a heavy thumping—come from another part of the house. I hear Eleanora along with the voices of my siblings. Another voice joins theirs—it sounds like my father! If this is a dream, I pray the ending is a pleasant one.
“Oh, my god!” Eleanora’s startled voice disrupts my thoughts. “Is it really you? Trev, where have you been?”
I whirl around and my jaw drops. This version of Eleanora wears bright blue trousers, and her arms are exposed. A somewhat garish, pink paint covers her thin lips. There are other colors adorning her face. She looks like a poorly restored Renaissance painting—too many colors applied too heavily.
“What’s wrong, Trev?” Her brow wrinkles, and she clasps her hands together in front of her chest. “You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”
A rendition of my father, wearing a black knitted jersey and a pair of indigo trousers, rushes into the room followed by Arabella and Lance.
The jaw of the man I’ve missed all these months drops. He crosses the room and pulls me into his embrace. “Trev, do you know how long we’ve been looking for you? Son, were you hurt? Why didn’t you contact us?”
“I don’t know,” I stammer out.
“Maybe he was a little lost,” Lance suggests. His tone is full of acid.
“Well, he’s home now. You have been missed, Trev,” Arabella offers flatly. “I’d love to stick around, but I’m going to be late for my flight. Mom, are you still taking me?”
“Of course. Let me grab my keys and we’ll leave.” Eleanora walks up to me, places a kiss on my cheek, and pats my shoulder. Her eyes rake over my appearance. “It’s good to have you home, Trev. When I come back, we’ll go shopping. Get you some new things.”
Their enthusiastic welcome has me puzzled. Outside of my father, no one in my family would care if I left. I wonder why these people are different.
“Wonder no more, Trevor.” Merritt, dressed in black leather trousers and a jacket, steps in front of me. Her dark hair hangs down to her waist.
I look toward where my father and Lance stand. They are frozen in time.
“What’s going on, Merritt?”
She waves her hand in front of me. My threadbare clothes fade away, and are replaced with a dark green, cotton shirt without buttons and a pair of dungarees. On my feet are strange rubber-soled shoes. They are made from a black stiff material with white laces.
“That’s better,” she says. “To answer your immediate questions… the shirt is called a t-shirt, the trousers are called jeans, and your shoes are sneakers. Those things will help ya blend in better. Your father and Lance are wearing sweaters.”
I nod and run my hand over the comfortable shirt. “Where am I?”
Merritt perches on the edge of a chair. “Ya wanted to go some place far away from your world. Something in this time period called to your spirit and brought ya here.”
A lesson in the mechanics of magick isn’t necessary at the moment. I just want to know where I am. “Where is here?”
“You’re in the year 2017. It’s the twenty-first century, Trevor.”
I walk past the petrified figure of my father and sit on the chesterfield. “Is that even possible?”
“Time travel? Of course, it is. You’re a silly boy. There are quite a few changes that have happened in Crowley through the years. It will take ya a little while to catch on, but you’re a bright young man.”
“These people,” I jerk my head toward Lance and my father, “look like my family but—”
“They aren’t. You’re in a different realm. In this existence, the Cuthbert family are celebrities. Ellie and Bert lost their son, Trev, a year ago. It was in all the newspapers and on television—”
Merritt points to a black rectangular contraption hanging over the fireplace. She picks up a skinny, black object from a table, and pushes her fingers along the surface. A bright light appears followed by pictures of people talking to each other. Merritt touches another part of the gadget, and I can hear the people’s voices.
“That’s a television. It’s very popular in this time period. People are entertained by it, and they receive news from it as well.” She runs a finger over the object in her hand and the contraption goes dark. “Bella and Lance aren’t exactly like your siblings. They are a lot nicer to Trev.”
“So, I replaced Trev?” My gaze darts around the room taking in all the various ornaments. There are pictures of the family scattered on tables along with small golden figurines of different heights.
“In a matter of speaking.” Merritt’s voice drops. “Trev was never found.”
“That explains why Eleanora—”
“Ellie,” Merritt prompts. “Ya must remember their names. You’re Trev. Your stepmother is Ellie and your siblings are Bella and Lance.”
I scratch my head. “Why isn’t his name different?”
“I’m not quite sure. There’s something about him that strikes me odd. I can’t quite put my finger on it.” Merritt goes to the window. “There is a lot to learn in this time period. Trust your heart. Oh, and Tamara is the girl ya should meet. She’ll be patient with ya, and teach ya things. Listen to her.”
With those final words, Merritt vanishes. Again. My father and Lance resume their movements.
“Trev, I bet you’re hungry. How about I fix your favorite blueberry pancakes?” Bert stares at me. He resembles my father—warm brown eyes, light brown hair, and a gentle manner—so much. This man isn’t clean shaven and has a bit of a paunch.
I have no idea what pancakes are, but a meal sounds wonderful. I start to follow him from the room.
“Dad, we’ll meet you in the kitchen.” Lance seizes my bare arm. “I want a moment with my brother.”
“Very well. Don’t take too long.” Bert whistles an upbeat tune and walks out of the room. His shoes echo against the hardwood.
Lance spins me around as soon as Bert can no longer be heard. “Who the bloody hell are you?”
I swallow the lump forming in my throat. “I’m Trev. Remember, your long-lost brother?”
“I don’t think so. Trev isn’t lost. He’s dead. I saw him die myself,” Lance snarls and drops his hand. “Is this a bit of magick?”
Beads of sweat trickle down my spine. This version of Lance is just as intimidating as my own. “Magick? I don’t have any magick. What are you talking about?”
Lance purses his lips. He jabs a finger into my chest. “Don’t think for a minute I won’t find out your little tricks. I’ve got my eye on you, stranger. I suggest you go back to wherever the hell you came from.”
This teaser is a little about the world of magick Trevor comes from: