This is the last chapter of my preview. Hope it has inspired you to want to read more. I am currently offering 50% off my eBook version at Smashwords (see the previous post). Or, you can find the paperback version on Lulu.com for a discount (coming soon to Amazon, B&N, etc).
WHEN HE AWAKENS, the agonizing pain in his back and joints is nothing short of an assault on his sanity. He knows in his heart that something is wrong, but nothing other than agony registers in his mind. He peers about through blurred vision. He is lying on a patch of dirt amid a cluster of overgrown thorns and bushes. He looks above him. The rain appears to have ceased and sunlight is struggling to break through the dark clouds.
He struggles to sit up and leans on his right arm, which, despite appear-ing uninjured, is still weak from the muscular convulsions. He takes a deep, raspy breath. Most of the pain is originating from his right shoulder, so he turns his head to see what he can. The agony at once morphs into dismay. Though he sees, he does not quite comprehend. Something is missing.
The realization that he will never again be able to fly plummets down on him as heavy as an anvil, and he is unable to prevent the bile from rising in his stomach. He vomits into the bushes beside him, his stomach contents burning his oesophagus on the way up. When his body has spent its last morsel of energy to retch, he collapses onto his side, devastation seeping into every pore. In the deep pit of his stomach, as burdensome as a boulder, lies the fact that he is now doomed to this fate.
The lightning strike has severed his right wing from his body.
Trembling, he braves a glimpse over his left shoulder. The fall must have broken this wing, for in two spots the bones bend in ways that they should not. Beyond the swelling, he can see that blood has coated the feathers.
He strives in desperation for some thread of lucidity while on the brink of hyperventilation. Despite his age, his wisdom, he holds no remedy for such mental and physical anguish. He wants to scream, needs to scream, but he cannot jeopardize his secrecy. Instead, his heart laden with lead, he allows himself to pass into unconsciousness.
WHEN HE WAKES AGAIN, the sky is dark and the air is cool. A raven caws vehemently somewhere behind him.
The pain in his body has not diminished. Against every fibre of his being, he comes to the decision that he needs help. Tonight he must reveal himself to a human for the first time in half a century.
He crawls on quaking knees out of the bushes, suffering a few minor thorn scratches in the process, and the cool, dewy grass brushes against his legs. In agony, he feels his left wing flopping roughly as it hangs from his back, weighing down that side of his body. If he could just rip it off his back himself and be forever done with it, he would. It is now nothing but a hindrance to him.
Although the full moon sits uncloaked high in the sky, he does not require its light to guide him across the lawn. His kind boasts keener vision than that of any creature on the planet. In the moonlight, he sees his surroundings almost as day. In the day, his pupils adjust to the intense sunlight so that its piercing rays do not blind him.
Amid agony stealing his breath away with each movement, he finds that he has fallen into the backyard of a two-story, red brick house. The odour of dead tulip petals wafts towards him in the breeze. The fresh scent of mown lawn is otherwise dominating. When he reaches the back patio door, he struggles to his feet, which feel like mush, at present unsup-portive. To his surprise, he finds that the door is unlocked, and he slides it open with caution. The doorway is not wide enough to allow entry without knocking his wing on the frame, and he ends up sliding through sideways.
The white tile flooring in the kitchen feels ice cold but the house is warm. The lingering scents in the air are sweet, that of chocolate, sugar, but it also holds a hint of bitterness, maybe that of barley. The house appears empty, but owing to the late hour, any inhabitants are apt be asleep. With a shuddering hand, he slides the door closed again. Just as it clicks shut, a feeling of hollowness invades his legs. Seconds later, his knees give out beneath him and he crashes to the floor, knocking a kitchen chair onto its side. This results in a deafening bang, one that echoes throughout the home. Pain seizes him, slices through every organ and limb, and for a few moments, he can only lay there helpless on the floor, struggling for breath and a sense of reprieve.
When at last the pain recedes into the place where it will linger until it is time to flare up once more, he manages to grab a hold of the oak table and hoist himself to his feet. The world swims around him. He can feel his blood pressure dropping, his heart thumping with slow force. He slides around the kitchen table, grasping it tight, unsure of how much longer he can tolerate this torture.
Though uncertain of where he should be going, a light appears in the upstairs hall, illuminating an ascending staircase located off the kitchen. This light, so bright, it will lead him to his salvation. If he follows the light, everything will be fine.
“Who’s down there?”
The voice sounds as though the words come from under water, muted and garbled. He is unable to distinguish if it belongs to a man or a woman. On unsteady legs, he reaches the bottom step and clasps the railing for support. He has to follow the light.
At the top of the staircase, a goddess appears, and she is holding a sceptre. He cannot make out physical features from here because the pain has distorted his vision, but he knows that her greeting will be the instiga-tor in the healing of his pain.
No. She is not a goddess. She is just a human holding a baseball bat.
A beautiful human, though.
In the typical human manner, she gasps at the sight of him and her legs crumple beneath her. With a silent elegance, she falls to the floor. He gazes at her body for a moment and then realizes in exhaustion that if he wants her assistance, he must illustrate that he will not harm her.
He yanks himself up the staircase with the railing. Halfway to the top, the railing has become loose due to his strength and weight. A screw pops out of the wall and lands on a stair behind him. When he reaches the land-ing, he crouches over the unconscious woman and, with a great effort, lifts her slender body.
She is wearing blue pyjama pants and a tight black tank top. As he carries her, he cannot help but notice the perfect shape of her breasts beneath the shirt. The skin of her arms is so soft. Her long, loose curls dangle ever so beautifully, bouncing with each step that he takes.
A different sort of aching fills him then, an aching to be with her. Her full lips rest parted, almost begging him to kiss them. Her beauty is akin to nothing he has seen in so many years. He carries her into the room and lays her down on the bed. Then he sits on the edge of the bedspread, waiting and teetering, helpless, in and out of consciousness.
© Lindsay Mawson 2010