Drake read over their Timekeeper mission again. Blood. Deep south. Race. Broken. Soul. Red flags waved through his mind like a category five hurricane. He’d seen one too many movies and documentaries to know 1855 was not a great time in history for people with his skin color. Drake shut the Timekeepers’ log, and shook his head vehemently. “There’s no way in hell I’m gonna go on this mission, Lilith!”
Lilith wrinkled her long, narrow nose. “I understand why you have these fearful feelings, Drake, but I do not choose where you go into the past. Belial is the one who holds that power, and seeks to disrupt history whenever he sees a chance.”
“May I see the Timekeepers’ log, Drake?” the Prof asked.
“Sure, Prof, but I’m still not going,” Drake replied, passing the log over.
“Can he do that?” Ravi asked, glancing at Treena.
“I don’t think so. It’s like signing a contract for a movie. You’re committed to finishing the film or you face the studio lawyers. Case closed, gavel down.”
“Lilith isn’t a judge.” Ravi looked at Lilith. “Right?”
“No, Ravi, I am not your judge, but what Treena said rings true. You were all chosen as Timekeepers for a reason, and are bound by this covenant,” Lilith replied, unclasping her hands. “That is all I can offer you.”
“Fine. I’ll just remove my Babel necklace,” Drake said, digging under his shirt. “Problem solved.”
“Drake, why are you freaking out like this?” Jordan asked, helping Amanda to her feet. “It can’t be as bad as fighting the Nazis in our second mission.”
“Yeah, or being interrogated in the Gestapo Headquarters by Belial’s creepy crony Marcus Crowley,” Ravi added.
“Why don’t you ask Amanda why she puked? It wasn’t because she had warm and fuzzy feelings about this mission,” Drake argued.
Melody wiped Amanda’s chin. “Do you feel well enough to speak?”
“I…I think so.”
Professor Lucas whistled. “Now I see why Amanda was sick to her stomach. Using the words deep south and the date as a clue, this mission puts us in the antebellum era, six years before the American Civil War began. This period was filled with so much hate, racism, turmoil, and political upheaval, I’m willing to bet these emotions went right through her.”
“If Uncle John is right, why would Belial want to change anything back then?” Jordan asked, frowning. “That slithering douche-bag lives for human suffering during those dark times in history.”
“Exactly.” Drake removed his Babel necklace. “So why tempt fate?”
“N-no, Drake, you have to come.” Amanda reached for his hand, and squeezed it. “Trust me, you’re an important part of this mission.”
Sharon Ledwith is the author of the middle-grade/young adult time travel adventure series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, and the award-winning teen psychic mystery series, MYSTERIOUS TALES FROM FAIRY FALLS. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, exercising, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a southern tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her spoiled hubby, and a moody calico cat.
Learn more about Sharon Ledwith on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Look up her AMAZON AUTHOR page for a list of current books. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, TWITTER, PINTEREST, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM, and GOODREADS.
Giveaway Information and Entry Forms:
Piece of Mind by L.R. Braden
Stale, slightly ionized air flooded my lungs, bringing with it the scent of disinfectant and…something else, sharp, sweet. Panic flitted around the edges of my exhilaration. I exhaled. I’d been dead another eighteen months.
The scientists didn’t like us using that term, but what else could I call it? Hibernation? Dormancy? Suspended animation? None of those were strong enough to fit the empty silence of the limbo where we waited.
What piece of myself have I left in that cold, dark place this time?
“Back with us, Mr. Thompson?” A voice floated out of the darkness, but not the inky void of that other place. Not even close.
I opened borrowed eyes, blinked.
Dr. McCarthy perched at the edge of her steel stool, watching me, waiting to see if I remembered how to speak, how to move, who I was. The gray at her temples was more pronounced than I remembered. Skin sagged from her cheeks like deflated balloons, silent testament to the time that hadn’t passed for me, proof of her indispensability.
One hand poised over the tablet in her lap, she leaned closer. “How do you feel?”
I raised one smooth, pale hand, translucent skin bright under the ceiling lights. It tingled as motes of dust brushed against it, asteroids pummeling my senses compared to the nothing that came before. Purplish veins swelled when I made a fist.
“Alive.” My lips snapped closed, cutting off the deep baritone voice I didn’t recognize as my own.
“Do you know where you are?”
I blinked twice, slowly, relishing my control over the flash of light and dark as the room flickered in and out of existence. Medical tools lined the otherwise bare walls. An endless vibration thrummed through me, and I dug into my memory for the cause.
“Still on the Ark.” The unfamiliar voice cracked, shattering the last word.
Her mouth twisted to one side. “I’m afraid so. What do you remember about your life on Earth?”
“I lived in…an apartment, in…” I wracked my brain, sorting through labels until I found one that felt right. “New York.”
“Very good.” She smiled and nodded encouragingly.
“I—” More images flitted by, but I couldn’t hold them. “I was a—” My fingers tightened on the chair as I groped for some way to end that sentence, but all I found was a gaping hole where the information should have been.
Liquid trickled down the side of my face, and I was momentarily distracted by the need to identify it.
“It’s all right, Mr. Thompson.” Dr. McCarthy set one cool palm over the back of my clenched fist, and the low moan I hadn’t realized I was making subsided.
“I can’t remember what I did before,” I said, waving my free hand, “this.”
Her smile returned, small and sad. “You were a writer, Mr. Thompson.”
About Far, Far Away:
In a land far, far away… In a distant galaxy… Once upon a time…
These are all ways to begin fantastical tales of love and adventure. Gateways into the realms of imagination. In this anthology, we bring together authors from all over this world to transport you into the worlds they’ve created.
Travel through space and experience infinity three hours at a time. Explore dangerous caverns for the source of a deadly disturbance. Get stranded on a mysterious island from which no one returns, then learn to survive on a distant planet while you hope for rescue.
In this far-reaching, magical collection love allows you to see in colour, time is vast but fragile, and changing minds and hearts in Ancient Rome is only one stop on an epic journey across time, space, and reality.
Stories Included in the Anthology:“Piece of Mind” by L.R. Braden
It’s 2021. The pandemic drags on and we’re all stuck inside. Blegh. Reality sucks.
So why not take this opportunity to escape into fiction?
A year ago we ran a contest and we asked writers to submit stories set in other times, places, and versions of reality. Then we had our judges pick the best ones to include in this anthology.
Therefore, the seven stories you are about to read are windows into other worlds, but also into the minds of eight extremely creative and talented individuals. We’ve included their bios and a few words from each of them so you can get to know the people who have created such imaginative stories to take us far, far away, if only for a little while.
So pack your bags, or don’t because you won’t be needing them for this journey. Instead, sit back, relax, and turn the page to find distant galaxies, alien cultures, mysterious magical islands, unknown planets, the value of colour, the fragility of time, and the fickle nature of fate.
Publisher Website: http://www.mirrorworldpublishing.com/
Publisher Blog: http://www.facebook.com/mirrorworldpublishing
Publisher YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-d6tf8fpn4_mjraKjM-hUQ
Jotto had been leaning forward, paws on the table as he looked across at Dru. Now he stood, drew himself up to his full height, his ears almost touching the sloping reed roof, and said: “It’s been, what, four or five moons since Zarda first suggested a return to the Expanse. Why have you not Seen this before?”
Before either Dru or I could reply, Elver cut in. “Dru is only included in these meetings as a courtesy to Zarda. The understanding was that he would listen and say nothing. Yet here we are, taking his babbling seriously.”
“It isn’t—” Dru began.
Kalon silenced him with a wave of his paw. “Zarda, have you Seen this too?”
I shook my head. “No, Lord. But if Dru—”
“Dru is an untrained youngling,” said Kalon, flicking a dismissive ear. “If you, a Fate-seer, have not Seen this, then why should we believe it?” He stepped away from his throne-stool and paced from one straight-sided wall to its opposite, ears twitching with thought, while everyone else fell silent, waiting. “I see no reason to change our plan,” he declared at last, strutting to the end of the table where Dru’s overturned stool lay. He ran a paw through his grey mane, extended his one remaining wing, and went on: “As agreed before we were interrupted…” A fierce glance at Dru dissuaded any further dissent. “Zarda, Jotto, Shaya, and Urxov will form the scouting party. They will be accompanied along Death River by nine other flyers—”
“May I request, Lord, that the other two half-growns who are nearing maturity be allowed to fly with the escort?” Jotto lowered his head and set his ears to full apology as he dared a further interruption. Before Kalon could object, he plunged on: “My own pup, Tonil, and Myxot’s Yaver would consider it an honour to accompany Urxov on his Proving Flight.”
The rumble in Kalon’s throat might have been a growl, but Jotto’s clever reminder that this would be Urxov’s Proving Flight at least prevented him from biting anyone. “Yes,” he said, tugging on his beard, his voice gruff, “yes, that is an excellent idea, Jotto. Though Urxov, of course, will have the more dangerous flight, as part of the main scouting party. They will have to live on the Expanse for a whole moon, discover what they can of conditions there, and fly back here as quickly as possible with their report. The other flyers will stage along the route in threes till they reach Falls Camp, so that messages can be relayed if needed. They will all leave at dawn tomorrow, while the Spiral still shines overhead. May its sacred lights watch over them and return them safely to us. So it has always been.”
“Hi, Nikki.” A strange, hollow-sounding voice came from somewhere behind me.
I turned and saw a young boy dressed in a blue uniform standing at the foot of my bed. I dropped the ball and fell against my dresser, knocking my kerosene lamp over. I quickly picked it up before the oil spilled out onto everything.
“W-who are you?”
He fit the description of the ghost we were looking for. Only now, I wasn’t too excited to see him. My knees were shaking.
“My name is Oggie.”
“Oggie? Jesse’s friend?”
I couldn’t think of anything real smart to say. In fact, my mouth didn’t want to work real good at all. I wanted to run away, but I stood frozen.
“I just want to talk to you.” He sat down on the edge of my bed as if to make himself at home.
“Are you a g-ghost?” I asked in a shaky voice.
“No, silly. I’m just a soldier. Don’t let this jacket fool you. I ain’t no Yankee.”
“So you’re the ghost from Battlefield Ridge?”
“I told you, I ain’t no ghost.”
“Then how’d you get in my room without anyone seeing you?”
He looked around. “I don’t know. Do you know where my regiment is?”
“No, I don’t know nothing about no regiment. I just know I’m here in my room talking to a ghost.”
“Why do you keep calling me that?” He glanced around again. “My name is Ogden Watkins, and I’d appreciate it if you’d just take me back to my regiment. I have to find where I buried that tin box.”
“What box?” I asked.
“The box I put my mother’s Bible in.”
“Whoa. You need to start from the beginning.”
“The beginning of what?” He looked confused.
“Okay, I know your name, but what happened to you? Why are you lost?”
He scratched his rough and dirty mess of brown curls. Then he stood up and inched closer to me. “I can’t remember.”
I backed toward the door. “How do you know my name?”
“I followed you from the graveyard,” he said. “I heard the other kids call you Nikki. For some reason I know you can help me, but I don’t know why or how.”
Looking at this young boy’s confused face, I was no longer afraid. His name was Ogden…Oggie for short. Even if he was a ghost, which it was apparent that he was, he was more lost than he was scary.
About the Book:
Publisher Website: Mirror World Publishing
Enter the Giveaway:
Winner’s choice of a Kindle copy of one of the books in Rita Monette’s Nikki Landry Swamp Legends series. Go to Amazon to learn more about the books in the series
Meet the Author:
Laurence Raphael Brothers is a writer and a technologist. He has published over 25 short stories in such magazines as Nature, the New Haven Review, PodCastle, and Galaxy’s Edge. His WWI-era historical fantasy novel Twilight Patrol was just released by Alban Lake. For more of his stories, visit https://laurencebrothers.com/bibliography, or follow him on twitter: @lbrothers.
Enter the Giveaway:
Meet the Author:
Jackie rushed Babu from the church. Outside, a cold March gale cut through the thin jersey of Jackie’s skirt and ruffled the flaps of her headscarf and trench coat.
Babu gripped her upturned coat collar to protect her neck. Her eyes were sad and watery.
What was Babu not telling her? What was she hiding?
As Jackie drove her clunky Oldsmobile home, Babu, silent and contemplative, clutched her purse and stared out the window. She let out a weary sigh now and then.
Jackie wasn’t sure where to begin in asking about Babu’s past. Despite their language differences, she and Babu typically communicated without a problem with simple day-to-day banter, but to communicate with Babu about what she had picked up from Mrs. Kevich and what she had said would take a lot more Russian nouns and verbs than Jackie had in her arsenal.
David’s translation services were out of the question. She didn’t want him to know any more about Babu than what he and she had learned after the possession fiasco. It was bad enough that David hadn’t been thrilled that to get rid of the demon, Babu had used a crystal paperweight, a pewter letter opener, and a channeling technique to open up a portal to send it back to the underworld and that his holy water and scripture reading had only agitated it.
Babu had assuaged the situation by saying these things were just instruments and that the real power came from the heart. And that’s where Jackie had left her questions about Babu’s life in Russia, never wondering what it was like before she had given up her pagan ways.
But now Mrs. Kevich’s accusations brought so many questions to mind. Was Babu the one who had frightened Mrs. Kevich as a girl? Did she cause those people to suffer and die? And why did Mrs. Kevich call Babu and her witches?
Even if Mrs. Kevich kept quiet about what she knew or thought she knew, it was more than that which troubled Jackie. Babu had the gift to heal just as Jackie did. What if they had this ability and many more paranormal abilities because they were witches—like a genetic thing she could never put behind her?
Jackie gripped the steering wheel and bit her lip. Her stomach grew queasy. As much as she dreaded what she might uncover, she had to find out more about Babu, more about herself, before her relationship with David went any further. A priest married to a psychic was maybe tolerable, but a priest married to a witch—an abomination!