Here it is, guys! The first part of my new book! Let me know what you think!
Once upon a time there was a boy and a salmon who saved the worlds. But they did not do it alone.
Having said that, by and large, this is their story.
A FISH AND A VORTEX
Stuart was having a lovely cup of tea with Ms. Finch when reality tore open. While it was true he had to use a straw to suck the dark, steeping liquid from the cup, he was still thoroughly enjoying himself and as such was rather peeved when it was him being sucked up and not his drink. Before he could say so much as a “Goodbye, Ms. Finch,” he found himself slurped through the whirlpool and funneled into the channels between the worlds.
Stuart rocketed violently this way and that through the turbulent in-between, passing frenzied creatures whose home had suddenly become a maelstrom. Stuart quickly realized, though, that there was a purpose to all this. A plan. He was being pulled somewhere, as were many others. His wide saucer eyes grew wider. This was it. It had to be.
The vortex bored another hole through the fabric of some reality or other before him, and he plunged into the world on the far side. He rocketed out of the water, arced through the air he now found himself in, and then splashed back down with the slap of liquid on scales.
Rain rippled across the shallow pool’s surface above him. Lily pads bobbed wildly by beside him. And the toothy obsidian terror prowled in the grassy silt below, its white bony needles flashing in the dapples of light.
“Hmm,” said the salmon. “This should be interesting.”
Tea would have to wait.
THE STORM AND ITS PUDDLES
There was an expression Jonah had heard his dad use before, and it certainly seemed to apply to today: this was going to be one for the books.
The rainstorm rampaged through Jonah Hutchins’ front yard, mercilessly trampling everything in its path as it swept onward. Jonah had spied it barreling down upon him and his house, a solid wall of water that devoured the world as it came. And now here it was. It slid over the roof, pounding it with fists like heavy ham hocks, and pressed ruthlessly on into the back yard. Racing to the back door, Jonah stared out, astounded, as it turned the grass to mud, mashed leaves to pulp. And then —
Jonah frowned. Something had changed. Something was different. But what? What could. . . Then it hit him. The rain was no longer railing on his roof. There was silence above him. Leaving the scene of the back yard, Jonah went back to the front window and peered out. The front yard was still and peaceful, beads of diamonds forming on the undersides of emerald leaves before growing fat and heavy and dropping to the grass below.
Jonah ran out his front door and skidded to a halt in the middle of the street. Turning, he appraised his surroundings. On the left and right serenity had descended like a dove on a summer breeze. In his front yard a fresh, dewy vibrancy radiated quietly from every living thing. And in his back yard a tempest raged.
Huh, Jonah thought. That’s weird.
. . .
When the rains finally stopped Jonah went out into his backyard to investigate. The plants and trees looked exhausted, like they’d been through a war in which they had barely emerged victorious. Puddles littered the pockmarked, muddy earth, breaking up the grass like lakes in a forest. Jonah walked slowly between the puddles, examining each one as he passed it. Some were shallow and had the look of brown gelatin; some seemed as deep as a well and were as clear as a summer’s night sky from atop a mountain peak.
On a whim Jonah bent down and stuck his arm into one of the deep puddles. It slid down, down, until finally the cusp of Jonah’s short-sleeve shirt grew dark with water. Retracting his arm, Jonah shook off the rivulets racing down his skin and stood. Just what was going on here? Turning, he continued deeper into the yard.
Finally Jonah came as close to the very center of his backyard as he could. There, smack-dab in front of him, was the widest puddle he had yet seen. He’d seen ponds in some other kids’ yards that looked just like this puddle. They were never big enough to swim in, but sometimes they had carp or some exotic oversized goldfish swimming around in them. He’d seen one put in next door: it had taken Mr. Morris weeks to get it working. So how had this one shown up in an hour?
Jonah sat down in the mud at the edge of the puddle. He studied the water lilies bobbing on its surface and the cattails swaying in the breeze. It certainly did look like a pond, there was no getting around it. If he didn’t know better he would have sworn up and down that it was. But Jonah did know better. And besides, what was the purpose of a stupid pond without any fish?
Oh, good. At least it had a salmon in it.
“Well hello, young man,” the salmon said. “What might your name be?”
“Jonah,” Jonah replied. “What’s yours?”
“Why, I would be delighted if you would call me Stuart,” the fish said. “Thank you for asking.”
“Sure,” Jonah said.
“Manners, I have found, are something lacking in many of today’s youth,” Stuart said. “It is a pleasure to meet one of the rarities, I must say.”
Jonah smiled. “Thanks, Stuart. It’s nice to meet you, too. So is this your pond?”
“Well, I am currently inhabiting it,” Stuart replied. “I don’t know if that means it’s mine or not, but here I am for the time being.”
“Well, it only just showed up here, so I don’t know if it could really be called mine or my family’s,” Jonah said. “I suppose it’s as good for it to be yours as anybody’s.”
Stuart chuckled. “You are quite generous, Jonah. I am much obliged.”
“So will you be staying long?” Jonah asked.
“Mm, depends,” Stuart said. “We’ll see how things work out.”
“Oh. Okay. So what brings you here?”
The congenial look (if it could be called that on a salmon) dropped off Stuart’s face, and his round fish eyes grew intense. “Perhaps a more pressing question would be, what else is in this puddle with me, and why is it there?”
Jonah frowned. “There’s something else in the puddle with you?”
“Indeed,” Stuart said. “I noticed it skulking about shortly after I arrived. I don’t know what it is yet, but judging by its teeth I would hazard that it’s not a very nice creature, whatever else it may be.”
“Are you safe in there, Stuart?” Jonah asked.
“I don’t know, to be frank,” Stuart said. “It hasn’t made any move to attack me yet, but that could just be because it’s biding its time.”
“What do we need to do to stop it?”
“I am still assessing the situation,” Stuart said. “However, I don’t think we met by chance, my young friend. I have a feeling that whatever is yet to come, it shall be you and I facing it together.”
That’s it for now. Chapter two coming soon, if you want it. It should be a bit shorter than this post, too, since it won’t have a prologue to deal with.
So, what did you think? Good? Bad? Bizarre? (No, no, you don’t have to answer that last one. I already know the answer there.) Let me know in the comments! And, if you did like it, be sure to share it! =)