Chapter 16 – Rooftops

They were flying low, the ocean stretching out on all sides. There was the smell of salt water on the wind, and a soft mist that settled on her face as Rachael stepped out onto the deck. Arsha was standing at the prow, leaning back with her hands holding onto the railing. Her face was turned upwards, a soft smile on her lips as she basked in the sunlight.

“Hey,” Rachael said, leaning against the railing beside her.

Arsha turned to her and smiled. Continue reading

Addenda

First off, a big thank you to everyone hitting those ‘like’ and ‘follow’ buttons, here, and on twitter, facebook and tumblr.  I really do appreciate it.  And if you’re enjoying this story so far, share it around.  Get your friends involved.  Just think; you’ll get to say you were a fan before it was cool 😉

Next up, a correction; Chapter 14 was accidentally published under the title “Falling”, which is actually the title of Chapter 15 (which is why you will have seen the same chapter seem to go up twice).  Chapter 14 was actually supposed to be entitled “Conversations”.  This has now been fixed.

Finally, our actual big news item; After Chapter 16 (“Rooftops”), to be published this Friday, The Stolen Child will be taking a one week hiatus.  What’s the hold up?  Well, it’s mostly because I need a short break in the publishing schedule in order to get some pieces in place for the release of the finished book, which is going to be available through Amazon (and probably Smashwords) as an e-book, and as a print on demand physical book from Lulu.  So that’s awesome.  I’ll also be using this time to finish up the review copies which I’ll be sending out shortly after.  If you review young adult/crossover fiction, or you know anyone else who does, get in touch.

After our mid-point intermission, we’ll resume normal service on Monday the 28th with “Distance.”

Chapter 15 – Falling

Rachael leaned out across the railing just in time to see the cable going taut as it took Arsha’s weight. The line followed along the underside of the hull, and the girl slid along it like a streak of lightning, mouth open in a scream of delirious excitement.

Rachael’s head span as she saw the girl disappear from view. She took another wary look up at the windows above, but saw no movement. The clouds below them parted for a moment, and all she saw was a vast expanse of open water. From this height, she knew she’d never even survive the impact. Continue reading

Chapter 13 – Clouds

The room smelled faintly of lavender and old timber. The air was heavy and stifling. Her body was all tangled up in thick layers of blankets. She could hear, or at least feel, a muted humming in the distance. Then she heard the sound of a door opening. Light footsteps on a wooden floor moved closer, and Rachael felt herself tensing up beneath the blankets. She kept her eyes closed and forced herself to breathe slowly.

The footsteps came to a stop beside the bed, and she heard the rough scraping sound of someone pulling up a chair. Then the room was quiet again, except for the soft rustle of pages being turned. Continue reading

Chapter 12 – Lightning

For a moment, nothing happened. Then she felt Justin’s body begin to dissolve. One moment he was there, the faint beat of his heart through his ribcage, the rise and fall of his chest under her trembling hands. Then there was a feeling like waving your hand through a cloud of steam. Black smoke flowed out around her. The men on the boat were shouting. They looked nervous. The smoke grew, rolling outwards until it filled the whole of the rooftop. There was so much more of it than she had expected. It grew as it rose into the sky, a towering shape forming above them. It gathered like a storm cloud over her. The shape spread into two great swathes, like wings. Details began to form, each gleaming feather larger than a kite. The raven’s body was so vast that it could have been an aircraft. Its glistening black eyes were each the size of a beach ball. Talons, ugly yellow and large enough to lift a car, dug deep into the rooftop. Black wings shook out, the back draft rocking the tiny ship as it pulled away from the rooftop. For a moment the curve of the raven’s beak seemed like a cruel smile. Continue reading

Chapter 11 – Thunder

As they broke through the cloud layer, her father set the Zephyr on an even keel, slowly circling above the city. Arsha stared down at the view in amazement. London was a sea of lights, as if the earth been set on fire. The thick black line of a river snaked through the ethereal glow, sharply dividing the two sides of the city. She saw smaller pinpricks moving through the streets like brightly coloured ants, and hazy points of light drifted on the surface of the water. Spotlights picked out gleaming towers of glass and steel, clustered around the riverbanks. She saw the shape of a giant wheel standing over the water, it’s purpose unclear. Continue reading

Chapter 10 – Exiles

A pair of wooden covers had been lifted open on huge steam driven arms in the middle of the Triskelion’s deck, to allow the skiff to be raised up from the hold below. It was a slender little ship, resting on iron runners that looked like insect legs. From prow to aft it was maybe thirty foot long, and the twin propellers, mounted on long outriggers, accounted for most of its width. At some point Arsha had taken to calling the little boat ‘The Zephyr’, thinking it sad that it didn’t merit a name of its own, and it had quickly caught on with the rest of the crew. Eventually Abasi had paid for the name to be painted across the ship’s prow in letters of bright gold. Continue reading

Chapter 9 – Shelter

Arsha pressed her hands against the bulkhead and waited for the world to stop spinning. When she seemed to be standing on her own two feet again she opened her eyes and straightened up. Her stomach still felt strange, but she grudgingly decided that she’d be all right, for now.

Her father had warned her that crossing the Veil would be different, but the reality had been even more unpleasant than she had expected. Even her cycles weren’t quite as bad. It was a little over twelve hours since they had cleared the ways, and the dizzy spells had grown less frequent, but only slightly less intense. Continue reading

Chapter 8 – Lights

Rachael walked with her head held low, as the lights from the cars washed over her in the darkness. Far below her feet the trains thundered on, a low rumble reverberating upwards through her body. Empty cans and crisp packets crunched beneath her heels, and she heard shouted laughter in the distance.

London never slept. She had spent countless nights walking the city streets alone like this, and always there was the light, the movement and the thunderous sound. The heat of bodies pressed together, the sudden turn of laughter to violence, the smell of vomit, urine and beer. At night the pulse of the city seemed louder, more palpable. It was an animal thing that grunted and howled in the dark. Continue reading

Chapter 7 – Shadow

Rachael sat on the rooftop, huddled in her jacket, staring out over the city with dead eyes. Barely visible through the wall of cloud, the sun was just beginning to descend towards the horizon. After their narrow escape from the construction site they had been constantly on the move. Rachael had slept little, and she had a feeling that Justin was sleeping even less. Food had been scarce, with both of them unable to risk returning to their usual haunts. Every time the sun set, Justin had repeated his strange ritual, drawing the mark in blood on her forehead. To keep them from following her, he claimed. Each time she watched him pierce his thumb with that knife blade she felt a chill run through her body, but arguing had been pointless. Continue reading