Artheena and dad put Olzenbeth and the lamp down, for a split moment, so they could take off their shirts. They tied the shirt ties around their heads, securing the fronts of the shirts over their mouths and noses. The fabric was soaking wet, and gritty with dirt, which made the shirts feel like an uncomfortably suffocating source of face protection. But it was better than suffocating to death, by breathing in more dirt. Olzenbeth’s shirt was buried beneath her swaddle of vines, but her long stripes of hair blew freely. Artheena grabbed Olzenbeth’s hair, and quickly tied as much of it around her face as she could. Then they got up and started walking again. Their eyes gushed with tears, from all the dirt. The bright lightning helped them see where they were going, but they still had to blink wildly, to keep the tears from blurring their vision. Once their eyes cleared up enough, they ducked into the wind, and forced their legs to run. The wind had grown so powerful, it was like trying to run through mud. Kicking the debris out of their path felt more like shoving aside piles of bricks. Artheena’s lungs felt as scorching hot as the lightning, because they couldn’t perform their natural function of breathing heavily from the exertion, when she had her wet, muddy shirt clinging to her nose and mouth. If it wasn’t for her strong and desperate will to live, and make it back to the house, she would’ve passed out. She and dad kept their minds so focussed on making it past the storm, they paid no attention to how painfully their muscles burned, or how the bright lightning hurt their eyes, or any other tormenting discomfort. More ice cold, hissing columns of Jyoseppy’s spit poured down on them, but they eventually got accustomed to the abuse.
The hot and cold in balanced winds began to intermingle together, making the vervetts’ skin perspire and get goosebumps, at the same time. The storm’s hellish screams grew to such a deafening, shrill pitch, Artheena feared her eardrums might shatter.
Torn off pieces of trees, dislodged teppid stone tree garlands, small clay plant pots, and all kinds of other objects flew at them. They did their best to jump and dodge out of the way, but getting out of the path of one large piece of debris often caused them to get pelted by another. Dirt poured over them, like dark rain, constantly blurring their vision with tears, as they ran through whirling gusts of it.
Artheena worried about Olzenbeth, who wasn’t able to dodge the flying debris. She could tell by the way dad ducked forward and sideways, that he was doing all he could to protect Olzenbeth from getting pelted. Artheena wanted so much to glance over at the vine-bound bundle, but if she so much as turned her head, she might miss the chance to dodge an object that could crack her skull, or impale her ear. They had to stay focussed on looking ahead, and go, go, go.
Then a bolt of blue lightning, that was brighter than the sun, instantly blinded them.
“I CAN’T SEE!” dad shouted in Artheena’s ear.
“NEITHER CAN I!” she shouted back. Through the roaring screams of wind, they could barely make out the vowels and consonance of each other’s words.
The two pitches of thunder were followed by a third and higher pitch. To us, it would sound like the trumpeting of angry elephants over amplified radio static. Artheena felt her scalp tingle, and her hair writhe, as the air grew more electrically charged. The smell of metal and ozone seeped through her face covering, like a direct death threat. “Juummeelllliiccaa hheellpp!” she cried out in pure terror, her cry reduced to just an inaudible vibration through her sodden shirt. There was no possible way they were going to live through this.
“Go here”… “Go here.”… “Go here.” said the nearby plants and trees, kindly offering to guide Artheena to the house. Thankfully, the wind and thunder didn’t drown out her telepathic inner hearing..
“THE GARDENS WILL GUIDE US!” she shouted in dad’s ear, and then pulled him in the direction that the gardens lead her. Unfortunately, she had to leave Mell May’s lamp behind, in order to follow their lead. She quickly shoved the lamp beneath a cluster of dense shrubs, and had to just have faith that it wouldn’t get lost in the chaos, in case Mell May wanted it back.
“Go here.”… “Go here.”… “Go here.”… With her freed hand, Artheena felt for each plant and tree, as they spoke, following their trail. The plants’ and trees’ calmness made her feel a little confident that they could make it out of the storm, but not confident enough. “Please, Jumellica, let us live through this! Please, Jumellica, let us live through this! Please, Jumellica! Please, Jumellica! Please!” she could only feel herself crying out loud, as she followed her garden friends’ lead, trembling all over. She thought that the hallucination of the skullvick attacking Mell May was the scariest experience in her life, but that seemed like a blissful thought projection Fantasy, compared to this.
As the plants and trees guided her, they told her when to duck down from the path of a thrown object, or which direction to jump out of its way. “GET DOWN!… LEFT!… RIGHT!… BACK AWAY!… DOWN!…” she strained to scream in dad’s ear, which was awfully difficult, when she just wanted to scream in fear. Despite her friends’ guidance, no longer being able to see what the storm was throwing at them made this living nightmare all the more petrifying.
Through the deafening wind and three monstrous pitches of thunder, Artheena could faintly hear the crashing and banging of even larger objects being thrown. Bigger plant pots with plants in them, stone statuettes, and unfamiliar feeling pieces of furniture were dropped in the trudging vervetts’ path. Artheena screamed in horrified grief, forgetting to help dad dodge from debris for a moment, when her foot collided with a furry leg and fluffy tail of a small animal that lay smashed beneath a statuette. She could only hope to Jumellica that it wasn’t one of her friends. She had to not worry about it and pull herself together, and continue helping dad. Or else his and Olzenbeth’s brains would be smashed next.
“Good-bye, Artheena! I love you!” called out an ancient tree, from further out in the yard. The tree was a few hundred years old, and had lived through a thousand or so summer storms. Now too brittled with age, it gave way to the merciless wind. Loud snapping and popping—much like the sound of Earth’s gunshots—pierced through the wind and thunder, as the storm tore Artheena’s dear old tree friend apart. Grief stabbed through her already-pain-wracked chest, but there was no time to cry.
“I CAN SEE AGAIN! HA HA!” Burjiss rejoiced in his daughter’s ear. “WE’RE ALMOST TO THE DECK!”
“DAD! KEEP YOUR EYES CLOSED!” said Artheena. “YOU DON’T WANT TO BE BLINDED BY BLUE LIGHTNING AGAIN!” Intensely bright purple flashes behind her closed eyelids, let Artheena know that her vision had returned too.
They both jumped and shouted with joy, when their feet bumped into the edge of the pool deck. However, there were no plants on or around the deck, to guide them across it. They opened their eyes, just a crack, and ran across it as fast as the wind would allow them. Through her slits of vision, Artheena could see that the deck barely glowed underneath so much dirt and debris. The swimming pool was even more of a mess, looking more like an over-sized mound of yard compost.
Before they reached the back door, three columns of Jyoseppy’s spit—one after another—crashed over them, like a frigid waterfall. All three of them screamed from the coldness. But then they were glad that the powerful blasts of rain washed away most of the dirt and debris off of them, before they came into the house.
“We’re home! We made it!” Artheena shouted, rejoicingly, as they burst through the back door.
“Praise Jumellica!” shouted dad, They jumped up and down, whooping and dancing. Burjiss tossed the bundle of Olzenbeth into the air, and caught her, before setting her down against the wall.
Tabatha and Willberry bounded into the kitchen, clapping and cheering until the four of them came together in a group hug.
Once in the house, Artheena realized that her hearing was a little off. Everything sounded a little muffled, like they were under water, but she wasn’t bothered by this. She was just so ecstatic to be alive, and hugging her parents and brother again. Surviving through that storm was the best miracle she could ever ask for. There was no better place in the world than being safely back home with her family. The kitchen’s bright lighting and clean smell seemed more warm and welcoming than ever, as though its comforting qualities were enhanced by Jumellica’s love.
Artheena felt no reason to complain, if her hearing impairment might be permanent. She was thankful that she could still here her loved ones’ happy voices—and Willberry’s rude outburst of roaring laughter, when he noticed poor Olzenbeth.
Thank you so much for reading the 3 excerpts of chapter 20❤️ Hopefully book 2 will be out this summer. Love you all! Post you soon!