Tuesday Sampler: Wind Over Troubled Waters
December 15, 2015
In our mission to connect readers, writers, and books, Caleb and Linda Pirtle has launched a new series featuring writing samples from some of the best authors in the marketplace today. Tuesday’s Sampler is an excerpt from Wind Over Troubled Waters, a science fiction novel about the struggle to survive by Francene Stanley and Edith Parzefall.
As one Reviewer said: The story is set in post-apocalyptic Britland, offering a vivid picture of what used to be Great Britain after the big floods have destroyed everything. Civilization has come to an abrupt halt and humanity returns to the times when day-to-day survival was hard work.
Corn World. Britland. After the great flood, only memories, debris and derelict buildings speak of a past civilization. Visions of these disturbing times haunt Cerridwen’s dreams.
When her dying mother sends Cerridwen to find a mural in Saint Eyes and lead Britland into a better future, the young healer has little choice but to set out on a life-changing quest. Her ability to perceive auras convinces her to accept nature-attuned Trevly’s offer of protection.
Bent on adventure and enthralled by the promise of treasure, beautiful Sasha, cunning Aron and uncut Boris join forces to get the most out of life. Their selfish plans collide with Cerridwen’s when they learn about a powerful ring and a mural pointing the way to its location.
On the bed next to her mother, Cerridwen snuggled further into her sleeping furs. Wind roared over the town. Rain lashed against the thick wooden walls of the house nestled halfway down a steep slope above the quiet village. Built in the before-times, when men knew how to construct things properly, the house resisted continual rain. A lightning flash lit up the small room. Thunder roared. In the cot beside her, Mother whimpered and turned in her sleep.
Cerridwen concentrated on creaking noises followed by a thud. A tree struck by lightning? Aware of possible danger, she bolted upright. Her brother Ivan had left before sunrise with a group of Red Roof men to hunt deer in the first light. She hoped for their safe return.
A mighty growl jarred her out of her drowsiness. What could it be? Not thunder. The sound lasted too long and grew into a rumble.
She sprung up, heart thumping, and shook her mother awake. “Quick, we need to leave the house.”
“I had a dream.” Mother raised herself on one elbow.
“Take your fur.” Cerridwen slid her feet into shoes and grabbed her bag.
Mother’s eyes widened. “What’s that noise?” She swung her feet onto the floor.
“Don’t know,” Cerridwen yelled over the roaring, slipping sound. “We’ve got to leave.” Underneath her feet, the floor moved.
“It’s no use,” Mother sighed but rose and clutched her fur around her shoulders. “Where can we go?”
“The house is moving,” Cerridwen yelled. “Come outside.” She supported Mother’s frail body while they staggered to the door. Screaming and wailing in protest, mud and water carried debris down the hill. No time to dwell on fear. Cerridwen forced them outside into the eerie backdrop.
Clouds obscured the moon. Rain drove into their faces. She headed for the familiar large overhanging rocks in the distance. At one with the earth, the outcrop would offer safety. But could she and Mother reach it in time? Mud ran over Cerridwen’s feet. “The hill’s sliding toward us.” Pushing against the driving rain, they struggled on. She dragged Mother with each step. A flash of lightning lit the rocky part of the hill.
“Look. Over there.” Nearly to their goal, maybe three men’s length away.
The slipping mud knocked Mother off her feet. Cerridwen clutched her fur, but Mother slid away from her grip. In panic, Cerridwen bent, grasped her arm, and pulled her from the sucking mud. After a few staggering strides, a gust of wind almost pushed her over. A thick branch hurtled toward them and struck Mother. “No!” Cerridwen screamed. Slipping and sliding, she used strength she’d never needed to call on before. With a mighty effort, she pulled Mother up and hauled her over the last few steps to the shelter of large boulders.
In a space just big enough for both of them under an overhanging rock, she bundled Mother in her furs again and lay beside her. “Are you hurting?”
“Don’t worry,” Mother whispered. “Not much longer now.”
Her weak voice chilled Cerridwen more than the wet garment sticking to her body. She wished she could collect her medicine. She peered over the boulder blocking her view. Maybe she could make it back to… No, the collapsed house lay halfway down the slope.
They huddled together until the roar of the storm calmed to driving rain. Faint dawn light showed the devastation of their dwelling. The collapsed roof and sections of wall littered the mud further down and their possessions scattered the slope.
Cerridwen bent over her mother’s sleeping shape and studied her face. Her cheerful yellow aura paled with each passing moment. Cerridwen had never seen Mother in such a weak state, so close to death. Would she hold on to life until Ivan came back from hunting? How Cerridwen wished her older brother could be here. The veined hand in hers felt too cold.
The crinkled eyelids moved and Mother’s eyes fluttered open. She moaned, looked around, and back to Cerridwen. “The dream,” she whispered. She gripped Cerridwen’s hand, raised it, and blinked her eyes. “No ring!”
Cerridwen leaned closer. “What did you say?”
A weak smile hovered around her mother’s mouth, but her arm dropped back to the ground. “I saw you painted on a wall, Cerridwen. A picture-mural. A pretty dress… blue. A ring on your finger that lit up the world. You looked like the goddess I named you after.”
“What do you mean?” She gripped the frail hand as if to stop her mother slipping away and forced words through lips rigid with grief. “Don’t tire yourself.” She longed to hear more. What did Mother see?
The glassy eyes sparkled. “Go to Hailing, daughter.” Her expression became tender. “You’re so young. Just seventeen. The wise woman will guide you. The ring… the key to the future.” Mother drew a shuddering breath. “It will lead Britland to…a better tomorrow.”
Cerridwen kept a steady grip on the slack skin over her mother’s hand. “I don’t understand.” A cry of woe rose inside. She couldn’t help the fifty people living below in Red Roof in their struggle for survival. How could she bring a brighter future to Britland when she couldn’t help the people in Corn World? But she must ease mother’s passing. “I’ll go to Hailing, Mother.”
“Good. Your brother will protect you.” Mother choked. “With his life.” She gasped for air. “So much pain.” Her eyes closed. “Wish I could… say good-bye to Ivan.” Her voice trailed off and her aura faded.
“Mother, don’t…” Don’t die, I need your love. Your wisdom. No use saying the words, which would make loss even harder to endure. Mother Nature eventually claimed all her children. When to let go―one of the most important lessons a healer must learn. Cerridwen kissed her mother’s forehead and whispered, “I miss you already.” Tears spilled from her eyes onto her mother’s face as the truth sank in. She’d never again venture out to visit the sick with her mother. Never share the bread people gave them out of gratitude, or cook a thick vegetable soup from their gifts. “I love you.”
A last breath eased from Mother’s chest as her spirit lifted. Cerridwen sat back on her haunches, spread her arms and raised her face to the sky. “Farewell Mother! I will do as you wish.” Taking a shuddering breath, she acknowledged that she had no idea of how to find Hailing.
Don’t. Don’t fail before you’ve tried. Tears streamed down her face.
Too many questions scuttled around her mind, while her Mother’s words sank into Cerridwen’s soul. She too must travel and leave the life she knew behind. She’d go to Hailing and find the wise woman from her mother’s dream. The mention of the mural, the ring and the task of leading Britland into a better future confused her. But she knew one thing: Mother’s visions had always guided their lives for the best. And Cerridwen had promised.