The Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy site is sponsoring another blog tour beginning on Monday, Feb. 18. Look in here for reviews and comments. But, while you are here, look up the posts about The Windfallow Chronicles that are the main feature of this column.
Rajah was beginning to stir and would soon be alert. “Open the cage door.” The voice still echoed in the silent wood. “I have put a control over the animal and he will obey your commands. But take care, for he will not love you! Now, let the leopard do his work!”
Zulah’s hand fell limp to his side, sore and stiff from being held up and out for so long. Carmen’s hands trembled as she opened the door of the heavy metal cage. Rajah raised his head and looked into her eyes. She stepped back as the beautiful cat rose unsteadily to its feet and half jumped, half fell from the cage. He swayed, his legs still weak, then took a step into the right-hand path. Immediately he stopped and they could see that he was forced into the left-hand path instead. Soon his walk became a lope and he was gone.
Zulah and Carmen looked at one another. Carmen was first to speak,
“Well, we’re here. The wood is peaceful and inviting, but I don’t see any of the gemstone we were told of.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” scolded Zulah. “This is our base of operations. You wouldn’t expect to see much here. Come on, let’s get this cage and cart back through that hole so no one sees it.” They worked to turn the cart and direct it back to the shed.
The little shack in the wood held two rough cots, a table and chairs. A pile of clothing lay on each cot with a small leather bag on top. Each dressed in the slim leggings and silky tunics, slipping the strange moccasins on their feet. The leather bags held the contacts. Two pair apiece and colored brown to match their eyes. They sat on the cots looking at one another. Even Zulah looked a bit daunted now that they were actually here. To cover his uncertainty he grabbed Carmen’s hand and said, “Let’s get a look at this place.”
As they left the undergrowth and canopy behind, the trees began to thin until they were looking out at a vast meadowland. Trees dotted the landscape and flowers were sprinkled liberally through the lush grass. All vegetation had a slight bluish tinge and the sky was not quite blue but a shade between blue and green. Both were glad they had put on the contacts before they left the shack for the sun was blindingly bright here and the flash of gemstone everywhere. “By all that’s holy, he was right!” Carmen breathed.
Zulah was also having difficulty taking in the wonder of this place. He pointed to a small band of horses grazing a hundred yards or so away. “Look at the quality of those animals! Thoroughbreds if I ever saw any! And there, aren’t those gazelle?”
Carmen was about to agree when Rajah reappeared. He was loping toward them, the carcass of a small deer held in his mighty jaws. Blood dripped from the broken animal staining Rajah’s silky coat and dropping to the springing moss like temporary flowers. He dropped to the ground near the couple and began to eat.
Carmen turned her head away from the feeding animal. Why did it seem so wrong here for Rajah to revert to his natural instincts? Bird song and the chattering of squirrels had welcomed them to the meadowland. But now the silence was complete. No bird sang, no small animal wandered within sight. The three figures might have been alone in this new world. Even the horses had left their sight.
Here, Zach and his family have been driven out of their home by the threat of discovery by the demon who tries to lure him into revealing himself through a video game. They have fled to a motel in Kentucky…
The Deceiver 2
Daylight pouring through a crack in the drapes woke Zach and he jumped out of bed. The others were asleep, but he turned on the TV, hitting the mute button before the sound could rouse his parents. A news program was in mid-broadcast. Zach looked at his watch on the nightstand. Eight-fourteen. The top stories would come around again in fifteen minutes or so. He relaxed in the chair, but sat back up immediately as the picture cleared. He hit the volume button and, trying to keep his voice low, called, “Hey, Dad! Look!”
Instantly all were awake and watching as the newscast zeroed in on a computer screen. The narrator was saying, “…video game began appearing on computer screens across the nation at nine o’clock Eastern time yesterday evening. Several individuals recorded the game when they were unable to get it off their screens. We have this recording to show you now. The last message transmitted was this one.”
The Thomases watched in dismay as the message, presumably from
Sparrow, played across the screen. The newsman continued. “The boy’s face was then displayed and the game asked persons who knew him to give his name and address.” Thankfully, Zach’s name and address were not displayed, nor was his face. “Shortly after that transmission, the game was discontinued and the computers returned to individual control.
“Authorities went to the address displayed, but found the family gone, apparently on vacation. Names have been withheld pending further investigation.” The news moved to another topic and Zach switched it off.
“Well, so much for anonymity.” Jake sighed. “What are Grandma and Grandpa gonna think when that news reaches them? And your church, Dad?”
“We can’t worry about that, Jake. Right now we have to keep Zach out of the reach of whoever was powerful enough to put that game on computers nationwide. I paid for two nights, and I think we’d better wait right here and hope Angari can find us.”
What about our car, won’t that give us away?” Zach peeked through the drapes. The police will broadcast bulletins to anyone who might see it, won’t they?”
“That’s probably true, but if Angari gets here and takes us to Windfallow, we could be back in time to get home before any action is taken.”
“I never thought of that…” A knock on the door made them all jump. Zach looked carefully through the drapes and gave a relieved, “Right on!” He opened the door and pulled something in. “It’s Angari! Boy are we glad to see you! Oops, I guess it’s just me again, right?”
“For now, Zach.” Angari stood just inside the door, his wings folded to
conserve space. With dark blue leggings and a tunic of iridescent green, he looked like a medieval jester. His head full of bright yellow curls completed the look. Only his soft brown wings with black markings belied the description. “Tell me, what’s going on here that has you in hiding?”