☯️ May I have your opinions? 🥺Pretty, pretty, please? ☯️

Hello fellow bloggers, and those who are also authors. 

I FINALLY came up with a blurb for book 2, The Will of the Dark Creator! The book has been FIFTEEN months in the making, so it’s about dam time. This is the rough draft of the blurb. I know it probably needs to be shortened, because it’s a little over 400 words. And the ideal blurb is supposed to be under 400 words, right? Here’s what I concocted so far. Let me know what you think… 

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The alignment of the three moons is a sign of positive changes to come… 

How come the opposite is happening?… 

This second installment picks up where the first book left off, as the fun and festivities continue at the Hecctrossipy Festival—Continent 15’s yearly tradition that celebrates the victory over a legendary evil monster who had the power to manipulate the elements, and create chaos. However, not everyone is having a good time. 

Artheena has been unexpectedly betrayed by her sister, and cruelly used and disposed of by who she thought was the man she was meant to be with. While Mell May basks in her stolen glory, Artheena is left to figure out how to piece back together her shattered world. 

Shortly after the festival ends, she learns that there are far worse problems to worry about than her broken heart. Jyoseppy—the great entity in charge of the negative side of creation—is taking over other lands on Velva Leena with its catastrophic weather, strange and deadly new diseases, and other dark forces of nature. In a world where the majority supports Jumellica—the great entity in charge of the positive side of creation—even the Guardians can’t figure out how and where the dark creator is getting its steadily increasing power. Continent 15 is one of the few remaining safe havens on the planet—but for how much longer? 

An unknown virus is wrecking havoc among the grungol population. Young vervetts are disappearing without a trace, even while safely inside their own homes. Gruesome killings happen deep within the forest, that are too brutal to have been done by a carnivorous animal. Guardians and villagers have to put up a harder and harder fight to drive Jyoseppy’s destructive forces out of Continent 15. 

Jyoseppy’s dark influences also overshadow the lives of Artheena and her close-knit circle of friends and loved ones. 

Mell May returns to Village 3, alone and mentally unstable. Is she suffering through emotional trauma from being used and disposed of too? Or is it possible that there could be a much more disturbing reason behind her short-lived stardom? 

By the end of this second installment, someone will become a cold blooded killer, another will become a prisoner, and another will die.  

The dark creator’s hecctrossipy may be just a storybook myth, but the great entity’s will to take over all creation isn’t. 

Plot Structure Formula: Craft an Engaging Story

By Cristia HJ Who said a writer’s job is easy-peasy? Well, it’s far from being a stress-free task, especially if we want to entertain our readers in …

Plot Structure Formula: Craft an Engaging Story

💘🧧THANK YOU NOTE🧧💘

Thanks to all of you who had read my rough draft excerpts to the second novel in my YA/sci-fi series, HECCTROSSIPY  book 2  The Will of the Dark Creator. Your likes and your feedback means the world, the galaxy, and the universe to me! 

I’ve never been employed. As a person who is both blind, and has confused, haywire sensory perception, it’s been an impossible journey trying to get into the workforce. It’s my dream to one day be able to make a living writing novels and children’s books. Yeah, I know this sounds delusional, knowing how the book business is these days, but I have iron clad faith in God that this dream is possible. 

There was a time when I thought that joining the writing Community would be like throwing myself into an infinite battlefield where competition is fierce, and artistic egos may clash. Boy, was I a big-time ignoramus for making that judgmental assumption! 

We authors and aspiring authors are all aiming for the same dream—to write books, and have them sell. However, those among the writing community are the least ego-clashing group of people I ever got to know. We support each other, rather than compete against one another. The help we give to one another, whether it’s beta reading, feedback, sharing writing knowledge and links to helpful resources, or promoting each other’s books on social media, the writing community represents the good side of humanity. It’s like a positive, brilliant light that outshines the darkness and conflict among the rest of the world. 

I know that I have a long way to go, and hundreds, maybe thousands of hours of hard work and perseverance ahead of me, before my writing career starts heating up. But your willingness to take the time to read and respond to my novel excerpts is like the sparks of hope that could help build things up to a steadily rising smolder. 

Once again… 

Thank you! 

Love you all, post you soon! 

Coming up is another enlightening re-blog of the latest Let’s Get Published post…    

Excerpt 3, the final excerpt of my WIP (The Will of the Dark Creator)

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!

Excerpt 2, from my WIP (The Will of the Dark Creator)

“Olzenbeth! You idiot!” Artheena shouted, as she and dad hurried after her, franticly kicking obstacles aside, but they couldn’t keep up. Olzenbeth’s Guardian-like long legs made her a faster sprinter, and a higher leaper. She practically flew over garden paths, and gardens. Running and leaping in every which direction, like a disoriented insect. “ADNICK! ADNICK! ADNICK!” she kept screaming, wildly waving the lamp around. Burjiss and Artheena had no better choice, but to go against their own safety precautions, and leap through the gardens after her. No matter how loudly and persistently they called after her, she ignored them. She didn’t want to listen to reason or common sense, and she most certainly wasn’t going to wait for them to catch up with her. The wind started picking up again, but Olzenbeth moved through it, like lightning. Several times, they came close to catching up with her, but she leapt away before Burjiss or Artheena could grab her by the shell. 

After last night’s search, Artheena could understand what Olzenbeth must be going through, but she really wanted to punch her. Not only was her refusal to cooperate infuriating, she had no regards for Artheena’s and dad’s lives. And here they were, trying to help her. Burjiss was just about to grab the side of Olzenbeth’s shell, when she made a sudden sprint in the opposite direction, and disappeared completely. 

“Curse of Jyoseppy!” shouted Artheena, kicking some rocks and thrown produce across the garden path. “I can’t believe that girl! All she cares about is Adnick, without giving a second thought about leaving us to fend for ourselves, in near-pitch-dark, deadly weather!” 

“Where the heck did she go?!” said dad, exasperated. They stopped walking, and strained their eyes to see around the yard. They couldn’t see her, or hear her. The shrill wails of the accelerating winds drowned out her frantic calls. Artheena’s intuition told her to look towards the direction of the house. She couldn’t see the house, but she knew which garden they were standing beside, by the emanations of the trees and plants individual living energies. They were back in the front yard again, but only ten garden paths from the front door. The moment Artheena looked towards the house, she caught a brief glimpse of the lamp hovering a little ways above where the roof would be. Then the light disappeared.  

“She leapt onto the roof, dad!” said Artheena.. 

“You got to be kidding me!” said dad, getting angry again. “She’s crazy!” 

“I think she used it as a short cut to get to the back yard!” said Artheena.

They sprinted for the house, pushing through the wind with all their strength. The moment they leapt onto the roof, they got struck by a narrow column of ice cold, pounding rain, which made them nearly lose their footing. Jyoseppy’s spit, is what this type of rain is called. The shock of its coldness made Artheena have a hard time breathing, for a few moments. She gasped and coughed, as they struggled to run across the roof. Both were shivering violently, which made them unable to sprint or leap. A few gusts of warm wind blew over them, but they were too sopping wet with Jyoseppy’s spit for the temperature change to relieve some of their discomfort. Just as they were about to reach the other side of the roof, another column of Jyoseppy’s spit blasted down on them. Artheena screamed in pain, as it did. The rain was so cold, it felt like it had serrated edges that sawed into her skin. 

Without thinking, the two vervetts instinctively clung onto each other, in a tight hug, as their trembling bodies tried to recover from the icy blast. They stood like that for a moment or two, before it registered to them that they were wasting time. 

“WE HAVE TO GET MOVING!” Burjiss strained to raise his voice through chattering teeth. 

“LET’S SEE IF WE… IF WE  COULD…” Artheena had a harder time trying to raise her voice through her chattering teeth, when her breathing passages felt partially paralyzed from the cold. “IF WE COULD… SEE THE BEAM OF… THE BEAM OF HER LAMP FROM… FROM UP HERE… THEN MAYBE… MAYBE…” 

“GOOD IDEA!” said dad, not needing his poor daughter to finish what she was trying to say. 

Still huddled close together, they turned their heads toward the back yard below, and scanned the dimly lit gardens. 

“THERE SHE IS!” Artheena exclaimed, now able to catch her breath. She pointed at a wispy beam of white light that shone from within a cluster of vegetable trees. 

IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE SHE’S MOVING!” said Burjiss. “SHE MIGHT BE HURT!” 

“Serves her right.” Artheena couldn’t help thinking, as they jumped down from the roof, and started for the vegetable trees. As they did, a few more columns of Jyoseppy’s spit came down in other parts of the yard. They looked like black hecctropes reaching down from the darkness, and their sound wasn’t like that of heavy rain. It was a loud hiss, like venom from a thousand skullvick eyes. Artheena was reminded of the liquid hecctrossipy in her nightmare. 

Thankfully, their run to the vegetable trees warmed them up enough to take away their shivers. They spotted Olzenbeth sitting on the ground, vigorously massaging her foot. The lamp was propped up against a large tree root beside her. She called out to them, once she saw them coming, but her words sounded like incomprehensible mumbling beneath the loudening wind. 

It was getting so difficult to hear one another, Artheena and dad had to bend toward her, and almost yell in her face. 

“ARE YOU OK?!” said Artheena. 

“WHAT HAPPENED?!” Demanded Burjiss.

“I HURT MY ANKLE!” said Olzenbeth. “BUT IT’S NOT BROKEN! I TRIPPED OVER A ROCK, AND LANDED ON A TREE ROOT, BUT I CAN STILL WALK! I THINK IT’S JUST A LITTLE SPRAINED!” She picked up the lamp, and carefully got up, using a tree to keep her balance. 

“FROM NOW ON, JUST STAY WITH US!” Artheena ordered. She still wanted to punch Olzenbeth. Or chew her out for running off on them. But that would have to wait until they were safely back in the house, or in the under-village—if they could make it out of the storm alive. 

The winds began shifting in different temperatures, as they linked arms again, and headed out of the vegetable trees. It went from cold to warm to being as hot as an open oven, and then it was lukewarm, and back to being cold again. More columns of Jyoseppy’s spit hissed down from the thrashing, black clouds. Things were about to get deadly. A flash of white lightning lit up the yard, brighter than afternoon daylight. Then a low rumble of thunder shook the sky and ground with such power, it felt like the sound could shatter both elements. This thunder was followed by another rumble of thunder, that was a little higher in pitch, and it crackled loudly with scorching electricity.

“WE NEED TO GET TO THE UNDER-VILLAGE!” Burjiss urged.. 

Another flash of lightning allowed them to spot where the nearest patch of grass was, that had enough space for all three of them to summon grungols. 

“OVER HERE!” ordered Artheena, pulling them in its direction.

“I’M NOT GOING TO THE UNDER-VILLAGE!” Olzenbeth protested through another world-quaking rumble of thunder. “WE HAVEN’T FOUND ADNICK!” 

“IS ADNICK A WELL EDUCATED BOY?!” asked dad. 

“OF COURSE HE IS!” she answered. 

“WELL, THEN HE SHOULD KNOW HOW TO DO THE EMERGENCY GRUNGOL CALL, HIMSELF!” said Burjiss. 

“BUT HE CAN’T CALL ON A GRUNGOL, IF HE’S LYING UNCONSCIOUS, SOMEWHERE!” Olzenbeth stubbornly argued. 

“BUT WE’LL HAVE EVEN LESS OF A CHANCE AT FINDING HIM, IF WE’RE ALL DEAD!” argued dad. 

An even brighter flash of lightening blazed over the yard, as dad and artheena dropped on their stomachs, onto the clear patch of grass. Olzenbeth however, still refused to cooperate. “I’M NOT GOING! I CAN’T GIVE UP ON HIM!” Then she tried to run away again, but Artheena went after her. 

She and Burjiss would’ve been better off just letting her go, and looking out for their own survival, but Artheena was still in shock over Jo Joga’s death. She didn’t want anyone else to die, if she could help it.  

Luckily, Olzenbeth’s sprained ankle slowed down her running, and prevented her from being able to leap. Artheena quickly grabbed Olzenbeth by her good foot, and knocked her down onto a garden path, flat on her face. In a mean sense, it felt good to slam her to the ground. Olzenbeth was being such a stubborn thorn-in-the-foot. The fall made her drop Mell May’s lamp. The force of the winds sent it bouncing and rolling to the other side of the garden path. “Thank you, Jumellica.” Artheena thought, when the lamp shined on a nearby Clinging Poccoleelee plant. Sincerely apologizing to the plant, she yanked off one of its long, bristly vines, and bound Olzenbeth’s legs. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING TO ME?!” Olzenbeth shrieked with rage. Artheena could tell she was crying, by the way her body shook. “YOU REALLY HURT ME! I’M GOING TO REPORT THIS TO THE GUARDIANS!” She wriggled her body, and flailed her arms, as Artheena grabbed another clinging vine. 

“I’M SAVING YOUR LIFE!” Artheena screamed in her ear. Olzenbeth angrily butted her in the face with the back of her head. 

“NEED HELP?!” asked dad, who had stayed behind Artheena, the whole time. She nodded and pointed to the Poccoleelee. He immediately got to work, pulling off vines, and helping his daughter hold Olzenbeth’s struggling arms behind her shell, and bind them. She stubbornly kept fighting, despite how it only made the vines cling to her even tighter. She bucked and thrashed her body this way and that, and swung her bondaged legs at Burjiss and Artheena. Fear and adrenaline allowed them to move fast, like the speeding winds as they pulled off more vines, and wrapped them around Olzenbeth.

The Poccoleelee vines constricted around her until she gave up the struggle, and cried with frustration and defeat. Artheena and dad picked her up and carried her, like a giant swaddled baby. 

Because she was bondaged, Olzenbeth wouldn’t have been able to get into burrowing position on a grungol’s back, so seeking refuge in the under-village was no longer an option. They were just going to have to have faith that they would make it to the house. Father and daughter linked arms more tightly than before. Artheena carried the lamp in her other arm, and Burjiss’s other arm carried Olzenbeth. 

They barely walked a few steps, when a sweltering wind kicked up a thick cloud of debris that rose from the ground and crashed over them, like a dirt tidal wave. They fell backwards onto the teppid stone, coughing and choking. 

“Please, Jumellica, let us live through this. Please, Jumellica, let us live through this. Please, Jumellica, let us live through this.” 

Final rough draft excerpt from HECCTROSSIPY book 2–Chapter 20, arriving tomorrow🌩

Ladies and gentlemen! Please welcome to the WordPress Reader, and to ALL of cyberspace… My WIP!!!

Hey, blogazoids! 

Here, I proudly show off my WIP for the second instalment of my HECCTROSSIPY series, which, I know a good majority of you are not familiar with… 

…yet. 

This chapter is nearer to the end of HECCTROSSIPY book 2 The Will of the Dark Creator, but I chose this one to let you have a sneak peak at, because it doesn’t mention anything about past events in book 1 that would be spoilers to those who haven’t read it yet. Also, this is one of the chapters I had the most fun writing, so I hope it’s just as fun for you to read. This is only the rough draft version. If it’s full of punctuation and sentence structure mistakes, I guarantee it won’t look like this for the final copy.   

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NOTE: This story takes place on a different planet called Velva Leena. Chapter 20: TRUDGING THE STORM is much too long to be a blog post itself, at 5,075 words. So I divided it into three excerpts. 

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Before you read, here is a short list of brief story facts to help you not feel totally lost. 

1. Burjiss is Artheena’s dad, and Tabatha is Artheena’s mom. So Burjiss and dad, and Tabatha and mom are the same people. 

2. Olzenbeth is a minor character who made a brief appearance in book 1. 

3. Jumellica is kind of like the Velva Leenan version of God, and Jyoseppy is kind of like their version of Satan. (Their beliefs are explained in book 1) 

4. Vervetts, grungols, and Guardians are the three types of people who inhabit this planet. (also explained in book 1) 

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Chapter 20: TRUDGING THE STORM (excerpt 1)

Burjiss and Olzenbeth were linked on either side of Artheena. Since she already had the lamp, she took the job of holding it. Fighting against the winds, they headed down the front walking path, and turned down the garden path nearest to the house. 

Just stepping out beneath the summer storm’s black sky and aggressive winds, made Artheena feel so small and vulnerable. As though she was a mere ant who could get crushed and swallowed up in the violence and darkness, at any moment. The wind was bone-chillingly cold, but then a gust of warmth blew over them, like the breath of a monstrous creature. Artheena’s pulse quickened as her fear rose. Imbalanced winds were a sign that this storm was about to raise some detrimental havoc. 

“Please, Jumellica, let us live through this. Please, Jumellica, let us live through this. Please, Jumellica, let us live through this.” she mentally pleaded, trying her hardest to be brave and selfless for the sake of the missing child. 

She couldn’t believe they were on another search again. Like with Last night’s search, she shined the lamp slowly, from side to side, making sure its beam was aimed thoroughly into the darkness of the gardens’ crowded plants and trees. All while the three of them tried their best to call out Adnick’s name over the howls and shrieks of the wind. 

Artheena tried hard not to cry, as she was calling him. She was outside in an approaching summer storm, in her nightmare. Now here it was, happening in real life. Her worst fear came true, at last. However, Artheena never would’ve imagine that she’d face this fear willingly. It took all of her inner strength to not just shove the lamp in dad’s hand, and run away back to the safety of the house. It was also hard for her to not hate Adnick, at the moment. Why couldn’t that stupid boy have just waited until after the storm was over, to check on his stupid swillgie trees? 

“Please, Jumellica, let us live through this. Please, Jumellica, let us live through this. Please, Jumellica, let us live through this.” 

Black clouds writhed and whirled, like a violent ocean made of Jyoseppy’s evil. The bioluminescent plant lives among the gardens were intelligent enough to know that this darkness wasn’t nighttime. So they didn’t release their glow. The thrashing trees and plants in the gardens looked like hordes of shadowy monsters dancing in celebration over the evil entity’s wrath.  By now, it was almost afternoon, but not having the sun come out prevented the solar powered teppid stone from getting reactivated. The garden paths, and all the teppid stone yard ornaments glowed with less than half the brightness that they did, last night. The dirt, mulch, and leaves that were blown all over the yard, dulled the light even more. If the three vervetts didn’t have Mell May’s lamp with them, they’d be almost surrounded by total darkness.    “Please, Jumellica, let us live through this. Please, Jumellica, let us live through this.” Artheena kept thinking, as her heart raced like a Hecctrossipy Festival stampede. 

Another thing that made summer storms the most terrifying, was how unpredictable they were. Sometimes they progressed at a slow and steady rate. Other times they would strengthen gradually, but then, like an explosion, they’d become violent and deadly within a few short moments. Fear heightened Artheena’s senses, making her as alert as a prey animal who knows it’s being stalked. She kept her eyes on where they were going, and where she was shining the lamp, but she couldn’t help glancing towards the sky, every other blink. Paranoid that, at any moment, a bolt of blue lightning might strike the yard, and set it on fire. Or the wind might suddenly grow to twice its speed, and throw a tree, which they might not see flying towards them, in the dark. Or the thunder might come back and start rising in pitch, and the electrically charged air would smell like metal and ozone. A smell that Artheena deeply despised, because to her, it was the smell of death. NO animal or plant life is safe, once the thunder starts rising in different pitches. 

AAAAD-NICK!!” Burjiss and Artheena called out in unison, at the tops of their voices. The wind was getting too loud for individual voices to carry over it. Three voices in unison would’ve enhanced the volume of their call, even better, but Olzenbeth was too distressed to bother with team work. 

“ADNICK! ADNICK! ADNICK!” she frantically screamed. Her shrill pitch almost blending in with the shrillness of the winds. 

They had searched all through the front yard, and found no sign of Adnick. On a normal day, the distance between the edge of the front yard nearest to the street, and the house’s front door was just a vervetts’ short sprint, or a few dozen high leaps away. While trudging through this summer storm, Artheena felt like her house might as well have been on a different continent. She wanted to go home, more than anything. Her heart ached to be back in the cozy, brightly lit kitchen, helping with the breakfast dishes. Or doing puzzles with mom and Willberry, in Willberry’s room. Or relaxing in her own cozy room, and enjoying her new books and goodie baskets. Such longing made her call out Adnick’s name, with louder desperation. Her voice rang out through the wind, getting her hopes up that the boy would hear her, if he was even out there.     

As they carefully turned down a path that lead into the yard to the right side of the house, the storm’s shrieks and howls became louder screams of hellish rage. Sounding as though Jyoseppy was getting angry at the three of them, for daring to challenge it. Larger objects were thrown onto the teppid stone paths, like heavy branches, fruits and vegetables, and garden rocks. They had to stop walking, every few steps, to kick obstacles aside.  Gusts of dirt, leaves, and other yard debris flew at them, like swarms of stinging insects. 

Artheena wished they could just stop now, and whistle for some grungols to take them down to the under-village, and have faith that Adnick had already made it there. All children of Continent 15—vervetts, grungols, and Guardians—are taught the most important, basic skills for surviving through dangerous situations, before the age of ten. Adnick would no longer be considered a defenseless child. 

“Please, Jumellica, let us live through this. Please, Jumellica, let us live through this.”  

Dirt flew into their mouths, when they called Adnick, making them cough and choke. A small piece of bark that was as jagged as a shard of glass, slammed into the back of Artheena’s throat, and came dangerously close to going down her wind pipe. When she coughed it up, she tasted a little bit of blood, and couldn’t stop herself from gagging. 

“ARE YOU GOING TO BE OK, ARTHEENA?!” Burjiss could barely shout over the wind. 

“I’LL BE FINE!” Artheena shouted back. “I JUST GOT A PIECE OF TREE BARK STUCK IN MY MOUTH, FOR A SPLIT MOMENT!” 

“YOU WANT ME TO TAKE THE LAMP?!” dad offered. 

“PLEASE DO!” Artheena answered, coughing on more dirt. Maneuvering the bulky lamp against the wind, made her arms burn, and her hands get stiff and spastic. As Burjiss unlooped his arm from Artheena’s, and took the lamp, the wind suddenly slowed down. Its volume lowered to a shushing whisper, revealing that Olzenbeth had stopped calling Adnick’s name, and was now crying.  

“don’t give up hope, Olzenbeth,” said Artheena. “We still have three more areas of our yard to search through. So there’s still a chance that we’ll find him.” 

“I AM GIVING UP HOPE, IF WE DON’T START MOVING A LITTLE FASTER!” screamed Olzenbeth, sounding on the verge of a nervous breakdown. “We’re going about this too slow!”

“Olzenbeth,” dad said, firmly, stopping and turning towards her. “We had to slow down our pace, so we won’t get hurt. The storm keeps throwing things in our way.” 

“Golly gee, you think I didn’t notice that?!” Olzenbeth cried. “We don’t have to walk down each and every garden path, you know! We could leap across the gardens!” She was so on-edge, Artheena could feel her trembling. 

“Be reasonable!” said Burjiss, losing patience. “We’re trying to help you! Leaping across the gardens won’t do us any good, once the wind picks up again! You should know better than that! One powerful wind would knock us all flat on our shells! Probably enough to put us in the hospital!” 

Olzenbeth let out a scream of frustration and despair, before bursting into sobs. 

“Olzenbeth,” Artheena said, calmly. “I’m sorry, but my dad is right. If the wind could get powerful enough to throw a big tree, we vervetts wouldn’t be that much heavier than dead leaves to it. If we got caught in a violent enough gust of wind, while leaping around, it would not only knock us to the ground, it would do some serious damage. These gardens have thorn bushes and jagged rocks, and trees with sharp spikes on their bark, and all kinds of stuff you wouldn’t want to be slammed into at full force. It could happen. You know how unpredictable these storms can get.” 

“Aside from that, if we rush things along too much, we could end up walking right past him without even knowing it,” said dad, sounding calm too. “It’s dark as a ground worms’ nest out here, and your uncle is a small boy. We could easily miss sight of him. I know you wish there was a better way to go about this, and so do me and Artheena. We’ll move it along as much as we can, but we have to keep our own safety in…” Before he could finish his sentence, Olzenbeth leapt at Burjiss, yanked the lamp from his grasp, and sprinted away.

To be continued tomorrow…

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You’re invited: How to Make Time for Writing Live Q&A with Christie Adams