Can love survive the clashes of multiple realities? 3 time Quill winner. My best work
It begins with Supernatural Sisters
It takes incredible strength to survive the conflicts of the mind, and tonight it's a full-scale battle for me. Blooms of light explode behind my eyes, and my fingers attempt to rub out the burning exhaustion. The blooms fascinate me, but the explosions intensify the burning. I flex and gasp at the stabbing pains between my shoulders. My brain's on fire writing, and there's no stopping the momentum.
In fact, my story reads so hot, I'm aroused. My characters are sparring with sexual innuendos. Sparks are flying and I keep writing to see if Ryker walks out on Sybil, or Sybil slaps him. Will they collapse on the floor and do the wild thing? Wait, Sybil's got whipped cream, and she's . . . she's . . . My mind blanks.
Take a break, Little. Get some sleep.
Everyone has a little voice in their head. Mine happens to be my twin sister, Jude, who died last year. Grief transcends the theory of time, and every day feels like the day she died. I know she's helping me write the book, but it's not like the words disappear when we're not working together. Jude? With my fingers drumming on the desk top, I will the story to return but Sybil and Mick have disappeared, taking my plot hostage. Ian Blake, Mick's assistant remains aloof, the bisexual Holly turns away—even the dependable Daphne refuses to speak. My sister's right. Sans her professional editorial help, I falter. I wonder, not for the first time, if she's working through me to complete a book her abrupt demise interrupted.
I cast a gaze toward my cat, Peerless, who is sleeping in the middle of a stack of laundered clothes I have yet to put away. He is my constant companion, my best friend.
"Peerless? Any thoughts?" One eye opens while he considers my request, but he yawns and goes back to sleep.
I pace around the apartment for a few minutes, knocking my head against the wall and shaking my hands, but no words tumble from my rattled brain to my fingertips. The computer's cursor blinks in accusation. In self-defense, I turn it to sleep mode and close the top, but it's impossible to leave it behind—a not uncommon relationship forged between authors and laptops, or so I convince myself. I tuck it under one arm.
"Thanks for nothing, Peerless," I call out over my shoulder. He's nearly deaf, so I can say whatever. With flashing fingers behind me—a rudimentary sign language—I sign: I love you, too.
The clock's striking midnight, so I trudge up the stairs, toss the laptop on the bed, and curl up next to it.
Light explodes outside the window, illuminating the apartment like a thousand stars gone rogue. Shielding my eyes, I slip from the bed trying not to wake Peerless whose body is pooled around my feet and creep toward the window. Peerless thumps from the bed to the floor—it's not easy being graceful when you weigh twenty-five pounds. A triple bolt of green lightning shears the sky—it's a bizarre phenomenon—snow is falling. One crazed fork hits the transformer, the explosion knocks me off my feet and my head smacks the wall. Peerless bolts from the room.
From the floor, I watch a spattering of sparks snap and sizzle and then dim and fade, extinguishing all illumination. I reach for the light switch, but a green snap of electricity zaps me. Shaking the shocked finger, I pop it in my mouth, an instinctive reflex because water subdues pain. The soft hair on my arm rises. A whooshing sound like a train passing through deafens me.
Lights flicker and flash, the energy-charged air shimmers. Walls expand and contract, losing definition, and I hear a familiar voice in my head.
I open my eyes and gasp. Evidently, Jude's capable of creating visual illusions, or I'm delusional, and that's why I see her sitting at a desk in a virtual office. I still feel her presence in my bones, my marrow, and my soul. If she's visible, maybe she can hear. "Got tired of living in my bones?"
"Yes, the marrow's soft, but the bones poke."
My sister's unmistakable dry humor comforts me. "You're not a voice, anymore."
"Ah, you always were the Mistress of the Obvious."
"Totally not funny."
"Okay, sorry. It's easier to work as a team when I have my own desk." Her mouth quirks up on one side. "Nice place you have here." She glances around the room. "Old . . . but I like it, Little."
"I see you fabricated a complete . . . office."
Her shimmering desk floats near the window in her virtual conference room. Pinpricks of starry eyes blink against an inky sky. Like sci-fi, or fantasy. The effect is disconcerting, but she always was the creative one. Her PC sits open on the desk. It's newer than mine, which hardly seems fair.
"Which one of us is writing the book?" She's a spectral image, not a solid physical body. She types using her mind? Mind-types?
"Both of us."
Working with my dead sister poses serious mental issues. In fact, I'm overly dramatic and fear for my mental stability. It's as if she reads my mind.
"You're not going to end up in a loony bin. Don't worry."
"Easy for you to say, you're already dead."
"Little, when you answer the phone tomorrow, remember where I was before the . . . the incident."
"Answer the phone? Someone's calling me?" This is nuts. "I . . . um . . . you were working in Syracuse as an editor. You talked about a book you were working on."
"Exactly. See, it all makes sense now."
"Yes, Mick Ryker will call you."
"He's a character in my . . . our book, Jude. Not a real person."
"Oh, he's real, alright. I'm surprised you don't recognize the name."
"You're driving me insane."
"He might question the names of the characters in the novel."
"You'll think of an explanation."
"You're guaranteeing this Ryker guy calls tomorrow. You alter the future?"
She laughs and walks away from her desk, her feet hovering a few inches above the floor. "Observe." She sweeps the room with her arm and a river appears next to my feet.
It has to be an illusion, but I stumble backward and fall on my ass.
The river is turbulent, rushing and churning, flowing steady, and cascading over a cliff all at the same time. I try to pin down thoughts tickling my brain.
"Time isn't a straight line?"
"Forget time. It's merely a physical construct used to frame your universe. I'm able to operate without those constraints."
"So, you traveled from the past into my present and changed the future?"
"Cool, nothing. This isn't happening, you're not here, and it's not possible." As if words create reality, Jude dissipates.
I check my watch. Midnight. She's right. No time has passed. My body twitches, releasing tension, and an uneasy sleep dims my consciousness. It's almost a relief, but I feel guilty as if I'm rejecting my sister's . . . whatever she's offering. Companionship? She'll follow me around and hang out? Tossing and turning, fist-beating pillows, kicking away covers, nothing helps me drift into a deeper sleep. Jude's always in my mind.
I'm wide awake. My back is pressed against the headboard, covers pulled up to my chin and clutched with fisted hands.
Jude's added more plants to her desk and the stack of books is higher. "Sorry to disturb you, but you thought me away before I finished."
"I'm racking my brain, searched the internet for any references, but still came up empty. You died. How can you be here?"
"I can transfer from energy to matter, but it drains me. Kiska, in part, your love keeps me here. I exist in others' memories, but yours are the most defined. When you meet and fall in love with Mick Ryker, all our destinies will change.
"Again, with the Mick Ryker." Her cryptic words baffle me. "How will I find you?"
She's returned to her chair, wearing her wry smile. Behind her desk she's tacked a poster of the "New York Giants" football team. Actually, the picture hovers, but it's obvious she believes it's pinned to her wall like her room on Taber Road where we grew up.
A blink and the scene changes. Now, my little brother is seated in her lap, surrounded by dozens of teddy bears. It's a picture from my mind. My reality's at stake here. Her desk dangles from a midnight sky. Is she projecting these images, these conversations, into my reality or have I entered hers?
"The answers will come to you. Think of me tomorrow, and I'll be there for you. Gotta go."
And then she's gone. People who take weird occurrences as normal need doctors, doctors writing prescriptions. What would a shrink think if I told him I have a supernatural sister? They say twins are linked in a unique way, beyond death, apparently. Jude intentionally smashed my world into Mick Ryker's. Why?
Right before my body lapses into blessed sleep, I wonder where Jude is, exactly. An alternate universe, through a wormhole, up a tree?
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