This is the beta version of my novel. If you are a new reader – welcome. You can read from the start here.
New sections are released every Tuesday and Friday. Please let me know your opinion in the comments section. Thank you for reading.
Artie slammed the heel of her hand against the back of her bedroom door. He hadn’t believed her. She and her parents had spent dinner, not in silence, but with big empty spaces in the conversation. Empty places like the one that her mum kept forgetting not to set for Alex. She had all but run away up here to avoid the atmosphere.
Her father had suggested grief counselling . For the whole family, of course. But he had sent enough under-lash glances at Artie for her to know that it was all for her benefit.
No one believed her: police, doctors, mum, dad. And why would they? She was starting to not believe it herself. Artie dropped onto her bed and stared at the ceiling. PTSD. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The words she had heard her dad muttering to her mum as she fled up the stairs. Did she have it ? How would she know? Artie didn’t think that it had anything to do with ‘seeing things’. Had she been seeing things? Everyone knows that faeries aren’t real.
Artie reached for her sketchbook. She flipped through the pages to the crude lines of Lord March’s picture, then to the gloriously detailed portrait of Lady March. They were real; they had to be. If they weren’t, then her ‘seeing things’ had started before Alex’s death. And if that was the case – how could she trust any of her memories. Maybe she had pushed Alex in the path of that car while living out some crazy fantasy.
Artie shivered. She turned the page back to the picture of Lord March. It was the only one she had kept, the only one that really caught him: the cold glee, the perfect unnaturalness of his features. Murderer.
He was real. He really had killed her brother. And Artie would kill him. All these were true facts. There had to be a way back through to Faerie. She would find it, no matter what, and when she go there she would kill Lord March. The thought crystallised something inside of Artie. She felt a part of herself setting and locking into place. It had sharp edges. Like a lens, the crystal hatred focused her mind into a new clarity. She remembered.
Artie leaned over the side of the bed and raked through a pile of clothes in the corner. She fished out a pair of jeans with earth-stained knees and gave a quick thanks that they had escaped her mum’s take-no-prisoners laundry sweeps.
A glossy green acorn rolled from the pocket into her palm. My card, Gorth had said, in case you need to contact me. Artie rolled it between her fingers. It was just an acorn. She pulled the nut out of the cup and looked at its base. Hoping for a hollowed space, she was disappointed by the smooth continuity of the nut. A joke at her expense. Or, she felt a mist of doubt threatening to rise within her, had she just picked it up in the woods while drifting in a hallucination of flying green girls and cats on their hind legs. The sharp part of her forced its way out in a high-pitched, jittery laugh that she despised the sound of. Her eyes stung and she felt her throat closing.
“Shit.” Artie slammed the acorn down on her bedside table and then covered her face with both hands. “Gorth. Shit.”
A faint crackle. A louder crack. Artie quickly glanced at the acorn; it twitched. She brought her face closer to it. The acorn rolled to vertical. Fine lines traced from the apex of the nut to almost the base. As one, the segments spread open to form the shape of a six-petalled flower. Inside was a tightly rolled piece of paper.
Artie let go of another giddy laugh. “Tap and unwrap.” She reached for the paper and with delicate fingers unrolled it. She stared for seconds at the letters written in flowing brown script on the paper.
It was an email address.