Hey, everyone! This week, I’m sharing the first chapter from my most recent novel, Mordecai Episode One: Bloodthirsty. Now is a great time to get your own copy, because next month I’ll be posting a sneak peak at Episode Two: Imprisoned. If you want a taste, here’s the first chapter from Episode One:
Journal Entry #1
Date: August, 9th 2020
Time: 8:30 AM
Dr. Learnbach insisted that I be more expressive. I don’t find it to be the easiest task. Instead, I opted to keep a journal, and she more or less accepted that. Well…when she disagreed, I cited that she’s a scientist, not a therapist, and she shrugged and told me that I was going to do what I wanted anyway, which is true.
Johanna, though irritating as a pseudo therapist, does occasionally unleash an idea—a fleeting thought—which lingers on my mind and festers into a steady stream of consciousness. And in this most recent ‘therapy session’, the doctor triggered in me a desire to write out the most painful time of my life. She’d said that getting it on paper might get it off my mind, but my hopes are low to say the least.
It was twenty-seven years ago…the day my father, Jude Arda, was taken.
He was working in his office, as he did every night, and I, eight-year-old Mordecai Arda, was sat in the wheeled chair, spinning in circles as I did every night. To fill the empty space that often grew eerily quiet when my father was deep in thought, he had a bootleg of Flogging Molly’s early performances on repeat. Without knowledge of it, Flogging Molly had replicated to near perfection the sounds of elvish drinking music originating in the world where my father had come from, the world he’d lost. The very world he worked so hard every night to find.
According to my father, he’d stumbled upon a hidden portal (disguised as a small pond, as portals often are), and when his hunting party essentially called him a wimp, he touched the magical water—shining as any water might on a sunny day. Except when he touched it, he was instantly taken from his world… He didn’t come directly to Earth, to the Milky Way Galaxy as we call it, but it’s where he ended up. It was just another stop on his journey home, a fruitless journey at that. The contacts he made through time after being sucked into the portal were uneducated. Not Prowlers, not even Dead Wood members. They were Wanderers.
He’d finally ended his partnership with them, quickly realizing that Wanderers aren’t to be messed with, before finding himself more or less stranded on Earth. He’d planned on leaving as soon as he got the chance. That is, until he met my mother.
A tall, proud elf having the signature elvish paleness falling in love with an African American Catholic school girl from New Orleans is a thought difficult to garner. But, it seemed that Jude had traveled across worlds and lost nearly everything for nothing but Eleanor. Luckily for my father, it would take a woman of faith to believe his tale, and more: to stand by his side anyway. Tired of being the school ‘troublemaker,’ my mother agreed to elope to Portland, Oregon with my father, where they eventually married in traditional human fashion. Why Portland? Well, in my father’s own words: why not?
As it was, though, not even true love could keep my father’s need for discovery at bay, but it would merely change his trajectory. Instead of leaping from world to world, grinding against the threads of space for tears large enough to slip through, and utilizing ancient artifacts of the Testaments, artifacts outlawed to Prowlers for a good reason, he resigned his research to his office (lab, more like it) in order to find a travel plan of the less-endangering variety. With the hope of taking his beloved Eleanor along.
But it would all be for not, jumping back to the lab on the night of his disappearance, when the opaque windows that paneled all of one wall became overrun with an array of imposing shadows.
He took no notice of these shadows at first, too deep into the device he was working on to have his attention shaken. I stared with mouth agape, my spinning chair having come to a jolting stop. My father continued on, ambivalent, tinkering away at his ancient technology when, to both of our terror, we heard my mother scream from inside the house.
My father ripped his goggles from his head and threw them aside, snapping up from his chair and shoving me under the desk. “Stay here, son,” he said to me. But I squirmed. “Mordecai, look at me. Don’t move.” He stood up straight, hearing the fast approach of many feet. I could see in his face he’d hoped to reach my mother…but it was too late. He looked at me again. “I love you, son,” he said, a single teardrop on his cheek. “Tell your mother I love her. I love you both—”
And then the door to the lab burst open.
In came at least four figures dressed in long, imposing grey robes, hoods shrouding their faces in darkness. And beyond the fact that I knew they were there, I couldn’t say any more about them; except that their hands were uncovered. Each hand was of a different kind, each figure of a different race and a different world. But on each of their left palms they shared in common the branding of a wilted tree in an uneven, fiery circle. One hand, which had fingers tipped in claws, had the emblem burned right through white fur.
The figures quickly converged on my father, and he slipped his hand into his pocket and retrieved a small item. I couldn’t see what it was, but he shocked one of the attackers with it in a severe way. The robed creature went soaring back against the wall, sending tools, maps, and trinkets flying forward. Another figure slipped around to my father’s right side, throwing a simple punch. But that only started a brawl.
Looking back, my father didn’t seem surprised—rather expectant. He’d no reason to be armed with a weapon when just his son was there. Yet he was ready, and he fended them off with experience.
I remember my eyes feeling swollen as they filled with tears. It was the last time I ever cried.
When the fight was over, one of the hooded foreigners planted a fist in my father’s throat and slammed him against the wall, and then without even a glance around the room the figures were dragging my father, alive but limp, from the lab by his arms.
When I finally crawled out from under the desk the world outside was uncannily noiseless. Unable to contain my eight-year-old self, I called out to my father, and then my mother. As if in response to my holler, there came a bright and fluorescent blue light from somewhere beyond the windows. I’m not sure how, but by some intuition I knew my father was gone by the time the blue light had disappeared. Gone to another world far from home. I stood silently staring at the now pale-grey windows until my mother came running into the room and grabbed me in the tightest hug I’ve ever received, tears streaming down her face and her body trembling.
That day set my course. I knew from then on that I, like my father, would spend my life chasing what I’d lost.
End of Journal Entry
A noise from the window over my desk draws my attention away from the journal. My wooden wind chimes swing disjointedly outside the front door of my ground-floor apartment, but the lack of wind raises concern.
My pointed ears caused me trouble growing up, as being half elf isn’t quite understood on Earth (especially with most humans being blind to the worlds beyond), but the enhanced hearing of an elf makes up for the strange glances and passive insults. Though I heard nothing just now, there are things in the multiverse too quiet to stir even me from my writing desk. Taking a quick sip of coffee, I retrieve my pistol (a jet-black Beretta, matte and discreet) from the desk drawer, and slide the drawer shut again with the gun’s barrel.
A glance out the window leaves me without an eye on anything of importance, and I can only see Mrs. Cochran, the loving apartment manager, speaking with a passerby. My apartment remains still and dark in the cloudy Portland morning. A soft ticking echoes from my clock; a buzzing ripples out from the blank TV; and the floor shakes softly from the vehicles moving by outside.
A footstep. Quiet and moving quickly around my apartment. A pinecone cracks underfoot.
I raise my gun, taking aim at another window across the unkempt living room. Nothing passes by. I haven’t been Prowling in…ages. I’ve no reason to be followed, but I turn again, weapon raised, reacting too quickly to my neighbor’s shower nozzle clicking on. Several light footsteps stamp up my walkway, their subtle vibrations moving beneath my own feet. I move swiftly to the door, maneuvering around my messy glass coffee table and leather couches, and put my back against the wall to overtake the attacker—and then there comes three gentle knocks.
“Mordecai, open this door this minute or I swear I’ll come burstin’ through. You wouldn’t dare miss church on a Sunday when we’re finally in town together!”
“Mother?” I say, more surprised than I’d like to be as I open the door to see Eleanor Arda outside in her favorite turquoise dress and ornamental hat. Her dark cocoa-toned skin is as vibrant as ever, but is in sharp contrast to my maple complexion. I stick the pistol into the holster on my belt, releasing a sigh of relief. “Sorry, I thought that—well, never mind… How could you even imagine I’d miss church?” My tone is agitated despite my jest, and she catches it like any mother would.
“What’s goin’ on, son?” She chuckles as she comes inside and notices the eight and half coffee mugs (the half being a broken one) on my coffee table. “Clearly, you’ve been having some late nights and early mornings.”
I rub my eyes, greenish-brown like my father’s, and glance at the mess she’s referring to. “There’s been more movement than normal across the worlds. Dr. Learnbach has been keeping me updated, but they’re irregular—nonsensical spasms at best.”
“Now, Mordecai… I told you I don’t want you Prowlin’ anymore; it’s dangerous. I know you’re an adult, and you’ll do as you please.” She lifts her hands as if in innocence. “But…well, Jude is gone. I don’t think he’ll be coming back, son. And if he’s out there, travelin’ the worlds still, maybe he doesn’t want to be found.” Hiding her face, she turns away.
My mother’s words, true as they are, impact me like a hammer to the heart. “I know,” is all I say, but not all I think. Not all I feel. Repression. That’s my only escape. I know she hurts, too. But she won’t show it. “I don’t think you should be chastising me on dangerous trips when you’ve just finished a six month reprieve across Europe, though.” I crack a smile, attempting to shift the subject.
“Old doesn’t mean unable, kiddo!” She allows the shift. “Come on, now. If we don’t leave we’ll never make church. I’ve told you how the reverend gets about late arrivals!”
“Still surprises me,” I say as I move to collect my maroon trench-coat and slip my journal into its pocket, “that you don’t attend mass at the cathedral anymore.”
“Well…” My mother sighs and shrugs, a hidden emotion slipping out only momentarily. “People change.”
That they do, I think but won’t say. That they do.
Thanks for giving this week’s post a read. To get your own copy of Mordecai – Episode One: Bloodthirsty, click here. If you want to read the synopsis and/or check out some of my other books, click here. Don’t forget to follow the blog, too, and get notified of future posts. Have a great week!
Weekly Writing Prompt:
He was from another world, but she accepted him anyway…