The following is an unedited excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel: "The Mages of Morrow." This scene is from Chapter 3: "Leaving Crope." It is the scene in which Mercy describes to the gypsy Tom Stranger how she happened to find herself working as a sixteen-year-old waitress in a brothel in Crope. This is Mercy's "crossover" experience. Please feel free to comment on anything you like or don't like about this piece. This is a "rough draft" and will be polished at some future time. Oh, by the way, this excerpt contains a reference to a "real" event experienced by the author, when she was a young naturalist growing up in Ohio.
The subdivision on the outskirts of Garrettsburg, Ohio was fairly new. Shiny new blacktop wound through the immaculate and exclusive gated community and the new houses were almost all bordered by some type of natural environment. One house was perhaps more isolated than the rest, it was down the very last road and sat on a parcel that included woods and a clear-running creek.
This was the home of the family of the former Mayor of Garrettsburg.
They'd just moved to the neighborhood, and were one of the first families in the community. They wanted to get away from town life after the Mayor left office when his term was up. They were a well-loved and well-respected family, and the Mayor had ran the town efficiently. He was looking forward to returning to a quiet life of his law practice and had plans to write a book.
His wife was a successful entrepreneur, she owned a string of popular coffee and bagel shops in five counties.
Their daughter was consistently on the honor roll and received top marks at school in every subject, especially her favorites: math and science. She wanted to be either a naturalist or a biologist when she grew up.
She loved to explore the woods and creek on their property. Every summer when school was out, as soon as she woke up in the morning, she scarfed down a quick breakfast and headed out the backdoor, packed lunch in one hand and a copy of "A Field Guild to the Flora and Fauna of Ohio" in the other.
She kept a pen sticking out of the guide so that she could check off wildlife or plants that she'd identified. She took notes in the margins and in any blank space in the book that she could find, pretending that she was a real naturalist in the wild, documenting the habits and habitats of wild, dangerous animals. The only dangerous animal, the only predator she'd ever seen was a shy coyote that was out hunting in the early morning. She was downwind of it or she might not have seen it at all. She was frightened at first, but then the coyote saw her and hightailed it in the opposite direction. It had been just as afraid of her as she'd been of it!
One day, while she was hiking through the woods, she saw a deer.
Deer were common in the area and she saw them often along the roadside at dusk when the family was riding home after some event, dinner or a movie, in town. She'd never seen one in what she'd come to think of as "her woods" before, however.
Carefully and quietly she tracked it, stopping and crouching behind trees in order not to let it get sight of her. It stopped every so often and scent the air, as if it could smell her. Then it wandered off nervously a few paces and stopped to nibble the grass again.
The girl crept around it, using what cover she could find while it was occupied eating, and tried to get downwind.
The young doe, its sense of hearing much greater than a human's, heard a noise, maybe it heard the girl's breathing, although she was still a good twenty or thirty feet away from it. It looked up, wide-eyed, and angled its ears first one way, then another...honing in on the slightest noise. It sniffed the air again and caught her scent. The doe went scampering into a clearing ahead and...
Disappeared into thin air!
Poof! Just like that.
The girl, who'd broke cover as soon as the deer took off and was attempting to keep pace with it, stopped suddenly in her tracks, stunned.
One second ago the deer had been running in a sunny clearing. The next second it was like the deer had never been there. All that remained was a sort of shimmery something that looked like dust motes. Glittery dust motes.
The girl dropped her book and headed toward the strange floating substance.
As soon as she was close, she reached out her hand to touch it.
She screamed, but no one would hear her. The sensation was like falling, tumbling, spinning. She began to grow dizzy. She shut her eyes tightly and prayed the sensation would stop. She thought that she might faint. She had a feeling of being smashed and stretched thin, like dough being kneaded and pulled to make pizza crust. Remarkably, there was no pain, only extreme discomfort. Her head felt like a balloon, her ears like they were full of cotton.
Suddenly, her buttocks and then her back and thighs came into contact with something hard. Very hard. She heard noise: voices, music, a horse neighing. The sound of clop...cloppity...clop...and creaking.
She opened her eyes.
She saw a scene before her straight out of a western movie. She was in a town, lying on her side on the doorstep of a building. Looking around her she saw a horse pulling a cart driven by a man wearing clothes that seemed mismatched: a shirt and a vest from the Renaissance period and blue jeans. He reined the horse with one hand and in the other rested a sawed-off shotgun.
The store fronts on the opposite side of the cobbled street had an old-time western feel to them as well: Hyatt and Son: Greengrocers, Evans Rx Emporium, and Mulholland Meat & Storage Locker were some of the signs.
Slowly and with some dizziness, she got her feet under her and stood up.
Looking further up the street she saw signs for other businesses that confused her: Crope United Kim Exchange and Crope Public Trust. This last one had a gallows set in a courtyard surrounded by benches. She shivered.
If it were the scene of an old T.V. western, the gallows would have made sense. But there was something else, something out of place with the television western movie theory. Perhaps it was the burnt-out shells of automobiles, buses, and what even looked like tanks in random locations along the street.
She turned around to get a better look at the building whose doorstep she landed on. She looked up at the sign: "The Good Man's Rest." A plaque next to the door read: "Fine food, drink and whatever other comfort a man's body requires! For a Good Man's Rest, Inquire Within."
The girl, the daughter of the former mayor of Garrettsburg, Ohio, had her fist poised to knock on the door when it suddenly flew open. A dark-haired forty-ish woman stood just inside the door, looking at her and smiling warmly. Her eyes had an angry glint however, and the girl felt suddenly frightened.
"Well...lookee, lookee what the cat dragged home! You new in town, little girlie? Come on in and take your rest with me."