I’m busily doing what I hope are my almost final edits on my sci-fi novel, “The Lone Wolf” so I can get it to the publisher. After major rewrites and a complete overhaul, it’s almost ready. With that on my mind, I’ve included one of my favorite scenes here as a teaser.
The main characters, Wil VanLipsig and Matilda DuLac reconnected after nearly 10 years of being apart. Not realizing at first that they knew one another before, they fall almost instantly in love. This scene takes place shortly after they declare that love for each other. They are walking around the seedy side of town on the pleasure planet, Aolani.
Walking a little further, a large sign stood in a front yard. In screaming orange, chartreuse and gold, it said: “What does your future hold? Ask Lady Lena! No appointment necessary! Walk in and have a seat!”
She tugged his hands. “Let’s go in and see her.”She pointed to a small ‘Open’ sign in the window.
Wil held back cautiously, not from fear but courtesy. He knew how telepaths reacted to him and he didn’t want to hurt anyone. “Baby, if she is a real telepath, they don’t like me much.”
“Oh, how could she be? It’ll be fun. I’ve always wanted to have a psychic reading done. Come on!” She tugged his hand doggedly.
He reluctantly followed her to the porch of an old house on a back street. Debris and filth filled the empty lots around it. An old sign hung above the doorway, squeaking and thumping in the wind that had suddenly sprung up. The door opened quietly inward, the hinges smooth and soundless.
A dry, raspy voice emanated from a back room behind the faded curtain of cheap green beads. “You are expected, children. Come in and be quick!”
The room was Spartan with a single round table top sitting on crates. Though it was freshly swept, the small room smelled of decay and mold. A timeworn ceiling fan moved the thick, moist air with very little effect. Four dented, old, metal chairs surrounded the table; three on one side, the fourth facing them on the side near the curtain. The beads jangled aside, moved by a gnarled, age spotted hand, more like a crustaceous claw than a human appendage. An old woman stepped through.
The ancient, wrinkled face looked up at them. Wisps of thin, white hair were pushed back with another frail and trembling clawlike hand. No synth clothes here, she wore a faded black woolen dress; long sleeved, even in the oppressive heat. Around her tiny shoulders was a white knit shawl. When she looked up at them, clear, light green eyes bored into theirs; steady, calm, unwavering.
She smiled up at Wil, then turned to Matilda. “Welcome, my dears. Please sit.”
Wil remained standing. Matilda sat across from the old lady who hobbled to her seat. She was the tiniest woman Matilda had ever seen. Just over four feet tall, her body was frail and thin. Her gaze compelled Wil to sit reluctantly at Matilda’s side.
“Let me see your hands, child,” she said to Matilda.
Slowly, she raised her hands, holding them across the table. The old woman reached over gracefully, taking Matilda’s hands in hers. Like moths in the dark, her touch was light, fluttering. Lady Lena studied the back of Matilda’s hands, nodding and muttering to herself.
“These are good, strong hands. You have worked hard in your life, my dear.”
She turned the palms up, tracing the lines with one delicate finger. A hiss escaped her lips. She took the other hand, tracing those lines too. She studied the palms a few moments longer, going over and over the lifeline with her nail. Looking from one to another as if coming to a decision, Lady Lena drew a dome shaped object from her lap.
It seemed to absorb the meager light in the room. It could have been wood or metal, it
was impossible to tell, for it was more ancient than she. The lid was dark and sleek, polished to a dull sheen, as if hundreds of hands had held it, caressing it tenderly for centuries. It was devoid of all ornamentation, with no visible seams.
Chanting, she closed her eyes, moving her hands over the box once, twice, three times. She pressed both hands on the sides of the domed container. Leaning across the table, she slid the box toward them.
“Place your right hands on the dome. If it opens, take what is offered.”
“And if it doesn’t open?” Wil spoke with more confidence than he felt.
The old woman’s eyes flashed brilliant green, a suppressed fire dwindled to almost nothing, throbbing in the iris. “If it does not open, then I have wasted our time.” Lifting her chin, she gestured sharply to the box. “Touch it.”
The dome felt warm, pulsating and sleek. The silence in the room resonated around them. Suddenly, the box flew open without a sound, startling Matilda, making her jump. Wil stiffened in his chair.
Inside were two rings, one shiny black, the other matte white. They were suspended in the air above the box, spinning around in and out of one another. A bright light illuminated them from below, though Wil couldn’t detect its source. Faster they spun until only a blur. They came to a gradual stop, no longer black and white, but a silky gray. The rings floated serenely in midair above the box.
“Take them quickly! They will be offered only once!”
Lady Lena motioned to Matilda first, who gingerly reached out toward the nearest ring. Wil remained wary and reluctant to touch them. The pale green eyes locked with his black one without wavering or blinking.
“Take it, boy. One cannot work alone and this offer lasts only a short time. Take it!”
Reaching out his hand, he took the other ring. The box flicked shut, grazing his knuckles. The old woman took the dome back into her lap, nodding at them to put on the rings.
“It is time for you to go now, children.” She rose to leave.
Wil got up angrily. “We came for a reading, old woman! We’ll have one before we leave.”
The old lady glared at him, then the anger passed from her face. “Very well, a reading you came for, one you shall have,” she said almost sorrowfully. “But be warned, not all like what I see.”
Her eyes took on a faraway expression, her breathing slowed to a mere flutter as she went into a trance. Even to Wil the skeptic, it looked authentic and he had to admit that this old woman truly held great power. He could sense it vibrating in the very air surrounding them. When she spoke, her voice changed in pitch and timber, as if more voices than her own spoke through her body.
“The Lone Wolf howls alone now, the Romance gone from his life. Into the Halls of the Hallowed Dead you shall go. Into greater darkness shall you pass. What was lost to the Ancient One shall be returned, the journey started. To love’s end shall you come, life everlasting shall be yours. Love eternal.” She blinked her eyes, coming out of her trance quickly, a touch of sorrow in her eyes. “Go now, children.”
As they turned to leave, she pointed at Wil, saying sternly, “Beware, Lone Wolf, lest the Rat-faced Man fasten his teeth onto your heels. Proceed with caution, the claws of the Dragon Lady are sharper than you know.” She strode from the room, the bead curtain clattering behind her with a note of finality.
They walked quickly from that place. Wil felt the hackles rise on his neck. Matilda had an odd urgency to leave. They went a dozen or so paces from the house when the air shimmered and the ground shook. Looking behind them, they saw that the house gone. Only the rings on their fingers bore evidence to the fact that they had been there.
a second excerpt can be found at: