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Feb 24, 2011 09:50AM
Hmm...aku termasuk orang yang harus, setidaknya, membaca sedikit bagian dari sebuah buku (satu-dua chapter) sebelum memutuskan untuk membeli/membaca sebuah buku, jadi...cuplikan-cuplikan buku cukup memengaruhi keputusanku. Nah, bagi yang tahu ada cuplikan-cuplikan buku seru bisa
di sini....tentu saja yang memang diperkenankan untuk dibagi ya (
Mari berbagi kabar tentang buku seru....
Feb 24, 2011 09:59AM
Abandon (First Book of The Abandon Trilogy
by Meg Cabot
Anything can happen in the blink of an eye. Anything at all.
A girl is laughing with her friends.
Suddenly, a crater splits apart the earth. Through it bursts a
man in an ink black chariot forged in the deepest pits of hell,
drawn by stallions with hooves of steel and eyes of flame.
Before anyone can shout a warning, before the girl can turn
and run, those thundering hooves are upon her.
The girl isn’t laughing anymore. Instead, she’s screaming.
It’s too late. The man has leaned out of his ink black chariot to seize her by the waist and pull her back down into that crater
Life as she once knew it will never be the same.
You don’t have to worry about that girl, though. She’s just a
character from a book. Her name was Persephone, and her being
kidnapped by Hades, the god of the dead, and taken to live with
him in the Underworld was how the Greeks explained the changing
of the seasons. It’s what’s known as an origin myth.
What happened to me? That’s no myth.
A few days ago, if you’d told me some story about a girl who
had to go live with a guy in his underground palace for six months
out of the year, I’d just have laughed. You think that girl has
problems? I’ll tell you who has problems: me. Way bigger ones
Especially now, after what happened the other night in the
cemetery. What really happened, I mean.
The police think they know, of course. So does everyone at
school. Everyone on the whole island, it seems, has a theory.
That’s the difference between them and me. They all have
So who cares what happened to Persephone? Compared to
what happened to me, that’s nothing.
Persephone was lucky, actually. Because her mom showed up
to bail her out.
No one’s coming to rescue me.
So take my advice: whatever you do?
As in the autumn-time the leaves fall off,
First one and then another, till the branch
Unto the earth surrenders all its spoils.
DANTE ALIGHIERI, Inferno, Canto III
Once, I died.
No one is really sure how long I was gone. I was flatline
for over an hour.
But I was also hypothermic. Which is why — once they
warmed me up — the defibrillators, along with a massive dose of
epinephrine, brought me back.
That’s what the doctors say, anyway. I have a different opinion
about why I’m still among the living.
But it’s one I’ve learned not to share with people.
Did you see a light?
That’s the first thing everyone wants to know when they find
out I died and came back. It’s the first thing my seventeen-yearold
cousin Alex asked me tonight at Mom’s party.
“Did you see a light?”
No sooner were the words out of Alex’s mouth than his dad,
my uncle Chris, slapped him on the back of the head.
“Ow,” Alex said, reaching up to rub his scalp. “What’s wrong
with asking if she saw a light?”
“It’s rude,” Uncle Chris said tersely. “You don’t ask people who
I took a drink from the soda I was holding. Mom hadn’t
asked if I wanted a huge Welcome to Isla Huesos, Pierce party.
But what was I going to say? She was so excited about it. She’d
apparently invited everyone she knew back in the old days, including
her entire family, none of whom had ever moved — except
Mom and her younger brother, Chris — from the two-mile-byfour-
mile island off the coast of South Florida on which they’d
Except that Uncle Chris hadn’t exactly left Isla Huesos to go to
college, get married, and have a kid, the way Mom had.
“But the accident was almost two years ago,” Alex said. “She
can’t still be sensitive about it.” He looked at me. “Pierce,” he said,
his voice sarcastic, “are you still sensitive about the fact that you
died and then came back to life nearly two years ago?”
I tried to smile. “I’m fine with it,” I lied.
“Told you,” Alex said to his dad. To me, he said, “So did you
or did you not see a light?”
I took a deep breath and quoted something I’d read on the
Internet. “Virtually all NDEs will tell you that when they died,
they saw something, often some kind of light.”
“What’s an NDE?” Uncle Chris asked, scratching his head
beneath his Isla Huesos Bait and Tackle baseball cap.
“Someone who’s had a near-death experience,” I explained. I
wished I could scratch beneath the white sundress Mom had
bought me to wear for the evening. It was too tight in the chest.
But I didn’t think that would be polite, even if Uncle Chris and
Alex were family.
“Oh,” Uncle Chris said. “NDE. I get it.”
NDEs, I’d read, could suffer from profound personality
changes and difficulties readjusting to life after . . . well, death.
Pentecostal preachers who’d come back from the dead had ended
up joining biker clubs. Leather-clad bikers had gotten up and gone
straight to the nearest church to be born again.
I thought I’d done pretty well for myself, all things
Although when I’d glanced through the files my old school had
sent over after it was suggested that my parents find an “alternative
educational solution” for me — which was their polite way of saying
I’d been expelled after “the incident” last spring — I saw that
the Westport Academy for Girls may not necessarily have agreed:
Pierce has a tendency to disengage. Sometimes she just drifts off.
And when she does choose to pay attention, she tends to hyperfocus,
but not generally on the point of the lesson. Wechsler and TOVA testing
But that particular report had been written during the semester
directly following the accident — more than a year before
“the incident” — when I’d had a few more important things to
worry about than homework. Those jerks even kicked me out
of the school play — Snow White — in which I’d been cast as
versi pdf dari excerpts ini bisa kamu baca di sini:
Abandon - Chapter 1
Buku dirilis tanggal: 26 April 2011 (USA)
Mar 06, 2011 06:53PM
by JC Marino
368 pages / $20.95 USD
Chapter 1 – Canto I, II – The Dark Wood – Fear and Despair
I gave the area the once-over to find myself in dark woods.
Okay, Joe, what’s the gag?
I gazed skyward, but the forest’s canopy was so thick, I couldn’t tell if it was day or night.
It must be daytime, Joe. At least it was when you ran into that weird light. Who brought you here? Argenti’s men? Argenti was a pilot, so maybe he had access to some kind of silent aircraft. That’s where the light must have come from. So, they came up behind you while your peepers were on the light, cold-cocked you and dumped you here. Makes perfect sense, Joe… yep… perfect sense… if you’re applying for a degree in Dipstick University!
A thick mist came up to my knees, flowing around me like cloudy water. It reminded me of my time in England as I waited for D-Day. I felt just about as nervous.
My Italian side took over, prompting me to respond with anger rather than fear. “Argenti?” I yelled. “It’s not going to work! I’m going to find you!”
Joe, you marmaluke, why did you drop your damn gun?
I heard a growl. I ducked into a low squat, all of my senses heightened. I saw nothing but the soupy mist floating through the sea of trees.
“Damn,” I whispered. When I’d squatted down, I’d noticed footprints through the mist.
One guess, Joe. Whose tootsies are those—Argenti!
The soft ground contained only one set of prints. I felt compelled to follow them.
When the growl grew into a chorus of roars, I felt even more compelled to run.
I reached the end of the forest and didn’t stop. Instead of the marshy field typical of a foggy wooded area, I reached the top of a giant sand dune. I tried to run, but I tripped and rolled to the bottom, gaining an education on the taste of sand.
I lay there for a while, half expecting the owners of the roars to attack and oddly unsurprised when they didn’t. It would have taken something or someone crazed with hunger to chase me down that dune, and if they were crazed, they would have taken me down from the get-go.
Several things registered all at once. I realized that it was, in fact, daytime, which was why I could see the light through the trees. However, I saw no sun and no clouds… only gray sky. It was as if one giant rain cloud covered the sky and blotted out the sun.
I got up, gazing from horizon to horizon. I saw nothing but desert—flat, dry, and dusty desert. “Well, isn’t this just lovely,” I muttered to myself.
Who else was I going to gab to? I was alone, and I felt the resonance of that loneliness.
Then I spotted the footprints again. I thought it strange that footprints would be embedded into the parched earth.
On the ground, next to the footprints, lay my bracelet. It must have dropped from my wrist when I fell. I quickly picked it up. Of everything I processed, the bracelet represented my only link to my family—my Beatrice and Anna. Kathleen had died long before Anna gave me that bracelet, but it also reminded me of her. I put it back on and smiled, forgetting for a moment my current predicament.
Looking back to the footprints brought me back to the fix I found myself in.
They were Argenti’s prints. I felt it in my gut. So, it was either climb back up the dune into the forest and face lions, leopards, wolves and God knows what else, or follow these footprints to Argenti.
I’ll give you one guess which way I chose.
I followed the prints for hours. I should have been thirsty but I wasn’t, which was okay by me since there wasn’t any water in sight.
The giant dunes were no longer even a speck on the horizon behind me. Just when I began to regret my decision not to go back into the woods and take my chances with the mysterious roaring beasts, I happened upon a strange sight.
Hundreds, maybe even thousands of small wells lined the desert. The wells were too small for a water bucket, but large enough to have an opening. I peered into one of them, not at all surprised by the consuming darkness I encountered.
When I pulled my head out, a woman grabbed me and jerked me down to a squatting position.
“What the… Where did you come from?” I asked.
She didn’t answer, not in English anyway. This dame was an odd bird, to say the least. To say the most, she was a loon the size of a Buick. I say that, not because of her, but rather because of her manner of dress and the way in which she spoke. She wore odd-looking make-up and…ah, the hell with it. The broad was a fruitcake.
I’m not a history buff and rarely read historical novels, but I did see The Ten Commandments. She wore some kind of ancient Egyptian outfit, and she babbled in a language I’d never heard before.
I knew Italian, and I’d picked up some French and German in the war, but this lingo was a whole other ballgame. All I could do was assume it was Egyptian or some African or Middle-Eastern dialect.
“Look, lady, I…”
She put her finger to her lips to shush me. I guess shushing is universal because I certainly knew what she meant.
She grabbed my arm and pulled me into a trench, where five or six other people waited. They jerked me down like soldiers pulling me into a foxhole for my own protection.
Everyone spoke at once in different languages.
I decided that I had to take control of the situation. I put my fingers in my mouth and whistled like I was hailing a yellow top. “All right, everybody just simmer down!” I yelled as I pulled out my badge. “I’m Joe Dante, Boston PD.” I pointed at my ID. “Boston!” I stressed. “I’m looking for Filippo Argenti. He’s a fleeing felon. Anyone understand me?”
I noticed that a few of the men wore ancient Roman or Greek garb. The rest, I didn’t even want to guess. “I take it that’s a no?” I continued. Everyone stared at me as if I was the lead banana in a fruit salad play, but I suppose everyone in a nut house would stare at the only sane man in the same way.
Suddenly, a small flag popped out from one of the wells, floated there for a couple of seconds, and then darted off. It didn’t seem that windy, but the flag dashed violently back and forth. The wind must have come from the well itself. Of course, I was just guessing.
Everyone in the trench ducked down. I couldn’t tell predator from prey. A second later, all the wells spit out flags as if they were on sale at Gimbles. One of the Roman guys finally stood up, screamed a warrior’s cry, and everyone in the trench leapt out as if in battle to chase after them.
As I stood there dumbfounded, the impact of the situation struck me. These weren’t just five or six people in one trench. Multitudes of people emerged from a whole slew of hidden foxholes to chase those flags, but their efforts reminded me of trying to pick up sand with chopsticks. There seemed to be thousands of people in pursuit of those flags. I’d never seen so many people focused on one trivial goal.
I continued to watch in amazement as people ran back and forth in this fruitless effort. Several people blew by me, knocking the badge from my hand. “Hey!” I yelled as others crushed my badge into the sand and dirt.
I’d finally had enough. I grabbed a woman whom I thought had the best shot at speaking English. At least, she wore what appeared to be more modern dress. When I say more modern, I mean somewhere this side of the Middle Ages. She blankly stared at me.
“Do you speak English?” I said.
She struggled to free herself, obviously desperate to chase those stupid flags.
“Parla Italiano?” I continued in Italian.
If she understood, she didn’t care to answer.
“Sprechen sie Deutsch?” I tried again, but this time in German.
I suppose if I knew ancient Chinese, that would have been next, but finally, someone spoke to me in English.
“She cannot understand you. She had been long dead before the language of the Brits dominated the land, and those on this level don’t attempt to learn from each other,” he said in a decidedly British accent.
There were just so many things wrong with what he’d said that I didn’t know where to begin. I released the woman, focusing on the man leaning against the large rock.
(last edited Mar 09, 2011 08:51PM)
Mar 09, 2011 08:50PM
Yg ini dipersembahkan khusus buat Iyut ^^
Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life & Times: Little Red Riding Hood
by James Finn Garner
There once was a young person named Red Riding Hood who lived with her mother on the edge of a large wood. One day her mother asked her to take a basket of fresh fruit and mineral water to her grandmother's house-not because this was womyn's work, mind you, but because the deed was generous and helped engender a feeling of community. Furthermore, her grandmother was
sick, but rather was in full physical and mental health and was full capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult.
So Red Riding Hood set off with her basket through the woods. Many people believed that the forest was a foreboding and dangerous place and never set foot in it. Red Riding Hood, however, was confident enough in her own budding sexuality that such Freudian imagery did not intimidate her.
On the way to Grandma's house, Red Riding Hood was accosted by a wolf, who asked her what was in her basket. She replied,"Some healthful snacks for my grandmother, who is certainly capable of taking care of herself as a mature adult."
The wolf said,"You know, my dear, it isn't safe for a little girl to walk through these woods alone."
Red Riding Hood said,"I find your sexist remark offensive in the extreme, but I will ignore it because of your traditional status as an outcast from society, the stress of which has caused you to develop your own, entirely valid, worldview. Now, if you'll excuse me, I must be on my way."
Red Riding Hood walked on along the main path. But, because his status outside society had freed him from slavush adherence to linear, Western-style thought, the wolf knew a quicker route to Grandma's house. He burst into the house and ate Grandma, an entirely valid course of action for a carnivore such as himself. The, unhampered by rigid, traditionalist notions of what was masculine of feminine, he put on Grandma's nightclothes and crawled into bed...
Bagi yg mau baca dalam format pdf, silahkan di klik.
Apr 06, 2011 09:38AM
KINGS, QUEENS, HEROES, AND FOOLS (The Wardstone Trilogy Book Two)
From Chapter 39 (unedited)
copyright 2011 by
M. R. Mathias Jr.
Seeing the Shepherd’s Goddess raising sail and easing away from them made Mikahl shiver. He let out a nervous laugh. Beyond the ship the bright amber sun was setting. The little rowboat he and Hyden were in was heavily loaded with supplies that they knew were ultimately useless, and the waves were huge, but slow rolling.
“What’s funny?” Hyden asked, as he gathered up the oars and began to row them away from the sun.
“You and I, Hyden,” Mikahl laughed again, shaking his head in disbelief. “We’re either daft or just plain ignorant.” He turned away from the silhouette of the departing ship and looked at Hyden. Hyden had the sun in his face and was squinting. “We’re miles from land in a fargin rowboat, with the sun going down no less. What if we get switched around and row all night in the wrong direction? What if the current carries us right into Kingsport? We’d be caught and killed. What if...”
Hyden spoke over him. “What if you quit acting like a worried old crone,” Hyden joked at his friend’s obvious nervousness. “In all of our travels, Mik, you’ve been the brave one. You’re the reckless swordsman, the one who shows no fear.” Hyden looked around them, and for a fleeting moment he felt as insignificant as an insect. “You’re afraid of the sea aren’t you?” He asked with a grin.
“Not while I’m on a ship,” said Mikahl with a scowl at Hyden’s mirth. His scowl faded as Hyden’s grin slowly turned into a wide eyed look of fear.
“Oh gods, Mick,” Hyden gasped, pointing behind Mikahl toward the sunset. “Its a giant serpent!” Mikahl’s eyes grew wide and he twisted around clutching the sides of the boat.
Hyden burst into laughter. “You... are... as white... as a ghost,” he managed between guffaws.
“Stow it,” Mikahl growled. “That wasn’t funny.”
“Oh yes, it was,” Hyden laughed even harder. After a moment his glee subsided. He started rowing again and spoke in a somewhat serious tone. “You’d rather be out here at night Mikahl, trust me. The sun would burn us alive, especially since you’re wearing your mail.” He shook his head and his friend’s lack of forethought. “Can you swim in that?”
Mikahl looked at him a moment then began peeling off his belts and packs so that he could get out of his mail.
“I don’t know why you even brought it.” Hyden began laughing again. “We’re supposed to swim through the underwater passage into the Dragon Queen’s dungeon. What were you thinking?”
Mikahl couldn’t help but laugh with his friend, though his laugh was tinted with sarcasm. “Its a good day’s hike from where we’re making land, just to get to the lake,” he paused to get the shirt of armor over his head. “I brought it in case we are attacked on the way.”
Talon called out from overhead, and after circling the rowboat, came swooping in to join them. Unlike the sea birds, the large hawkling wasn’t made to fly for days on end without rest.
“Talon is our compass,” said Hyden. “You’ve forgotten who you’re traveling with, Mik. I’m a wizard with a familiar that can sense the land even now. ”
“A jester and a glorified chicken is more like it,” Mikahl returned.
Talon cawed his disapproval of the remark.
“Alright Talon,” Mikahl conceded. “A jester and his chicken hawk.”
***If anyone missed the free Wardstone flash fiction short story called The Blood of Coldfrost, it is available at Goodreads.com in the stories section of my authors profile or free for download or on screen reading from your PC here at Wattpad:
You can see the tenative cover for this title on my Goodreads Blog here: M.R. Mathias
Follow M. R. Mathias @DahgMahn on twitter.
May 01, 2011 06:24AM
Mediator Short Story
Many years ago, I was asked by the original publisher of the Mediator series (back when I was writing it under the name Jenny Carroll) to write a short story for their teen magazine, Pulse, about Suze Simon, the heroine of the series. Here, at last, is that long lost short story, which appears chronologically between the books Reunion and Darkest Hour. Enjoy!
Every Girl's Dream
There I was, in a long white Jessica McClintock dress and orchid wrist corsage, moonlight playing on my hair and a pair of strong arms encircling my waist, while a masculine voice gently whispered my name: "Susannah." My dance partner's breath was soft against my cheek. "Susannah...."
Yeah. In my dreams.
In real life, the voice calling my name wasn't a bit masculine. That's because it belonged to a twelve-year-old boy.
"Uh, Suze? Yeah, there's something seriously wrong with these cannolis."
I tore my gaze from the whirling couples before me and looked down. Instead of the total hottie in a tux I'd been imagining, standing beside me was my redheaded stepbrother, holding a tray of Italian pastries.
"Kelly's really mad," Doc-known as David to everyone but me--said. "She says they're like deformed, or something."
Kelly was right. The cannolis were deformed. As vice-president of the sophomore class, and reluctant chairperson of the junior/senior prom committee (I had been appointed to the position when no other sophomore volunteered), I had tried to cut corners, using Doc's seventh grade Home Ec class as caterers. This was what I got for my efforts: deformed cannolis.
Not that I cared. I mean, considering the fact that I was the only sophomore girl in the entire school, practically, who had not been asked to this particular dance. This dance I was chairperson of. What did I care about the stupid refreshments?
Oh, all right already. I cared.
"Suze, are you insane?" Kelly Prescott came stalking up, the skirt of her Nicole Miller evening gown shimmering in the moonlight that poured into the Mission's fountained courtyard. "You actually expect people to eat those?"
I looked down at the pastries, which were supposed to be tube-like shells but which looked more like pretzels.
"Are there any more cannolis, or are these the last batch?" I asked Doc.
"Um," he said, looking nervously at Kelly, who, being the most beautiful girl in Carmel, California, considered the two of us, mere mortals, complete freaks. She was right about one of us. And it wasn't Doc. "There should be more."
"Fine," I said. I took the tray of cannolis from him. To Kelly I said, "Don't worry about it. I'll take care of it. Go back to your date."
Kelly's date, senior-class president Greg Sanderson, was standing beneath a nearby palm tree, tall and cooly handsome in his tux. He was one of the best looking guys in school, so it was only fitting that he'd asked Kelly, though a lowly sophomore, to his prom....
Still, he'd only done so after his original date, Cheryl McKenna, unexpectedly, well....
But hey, it was Greg. What kind of fool would turn down an invitation to go to prom with Greg?
I'll tell you what kind: me. Not that he'd asked me, of course. But if he had, I'd have been forced to decline. Because my heart belongs to another. For all the good it does me.
Giving Kelly a smile she didn't deserve, I whisked the offending pastries back to the Mission Academy's kitchens. Built something like four hundred years ago by Franciscan monks, back in the days when three foot thick walls and giant oak beams overhead were not considered decor don'ts, the Mission, now a school, had updated the appliances--and added wiring-so that as I entered the kitchen, I could see my reflection in the huge Subzero fridge at the far end of the room. And let's just say I was not thrilled by what I saw.
Oh, the long white dress was fine. With my shoulder-length dark hair and the corsage-bought for me by my stepfather-I looked like a girl from another time.
The problem was the reflection I saw alongside mine. And that was the reflection of someone who really was from another time.
I whirled around fast to face him.
"What," I demanded, "are you doing here?"
I'd nearly dropped the cannolis. He took the tray and set it gently on a nearby counter.
"Hello, querida," he said, with a smile. "Nice to see you, too."
It was the smile that did it. The smile that, each and every time I saw it, caused something inside of me to wilt.
Because even though he's been dead a hundred fifty years, Jesse is still the handsomest guy I've ever seen.
And I've seen a lot of them. Guys, I mean. Because, like the kid in that movie, I can see dead people.
Only unlike that kid, the ghosts don't scare me. Some of them I sometimes think I might even love.
Okay, I'm pretty sure I do love.
Not that I'm about to let him know it. Because what kind of guy-even a dead one-could possibly ever love a freak like me?
But that doesn't mean I can't dream.
"I happen," I said, looking away from Jesse's shrewd, night-dark eyes-not to mention the place where his old-fashioned shirt fell open to reveal a set of abs Greg Sanderson would have envied--"to be extremely busy right now."
"Oh, I can see that, Susannah," Jesse said.
"I mean it," I said. "I don't have time to chat. I am in charge of making this prom a night these people will always remember."
Jesse was leaning against one of the countertops, his arms folded across his chest. "These people, " he echoed, with another one of those smiles. "But not you?"
"It's not my prom," I said, with a shrug, trying not to notice how darkly tanned those arms of his were against the whiteness of his shirt. For a ghost, Jesse is extremely buff.
"So that means no dancing for you?" he asked.
I froze with a tray of fresh new--undeformed--cannolis I'd just removed from the fridge in my hands.
"Dancing?" I could feel heat rushing into my cheeks. He isn't, I told myself sternly, asking you to dance. He's just asking in general. Don't get your hopes up.
It was too late. Already, in my mind's eye, Jesse and I had joined the other couples out in that moonlit courtyard, those strong arms of his circling my waist, his soft breath against my cheek....
"Yes, dancing," Jesse said. "Surely even in the twenty-first century, people still dance."
I drew in a breath, wondering even as I did how I was going to reply.
I never got a chance to find out. Because before I could say a word, I saw her.
"Greg?" she called. "Greg? Where are you?"
My jaw dropped. I'd have recognized that lustrous blonde hair anywhere, but the hospital gown was a dead give away. No pun intended.
"Oh, no," I said.
Cheryl, hearing my voice, came to stand uncertainly in the kitchen doorway. Her lovely, blue-eyed gaze was hopeful as she looked at Jesse and me.
"Hello," she said, in the dazed but polite manner so often employed by the recently dead. "Have you seen my boyfriend, Greg? He was supposed to bring me here tonight, only he never showed up. He must have forgotten."
Jesse and I exchanged glances. His was unreadable. Mine, as I was able to see only too well in my reflection in the fridge, was miserable.
Well, and why not? Seeing Cheryl like this was just further proof of my freakishness.
"Cheryl," I said, putting down the tray of cannolis. "Listen. Greg didn't forget to pick you up."
Cheryl blinked like someone waking from a dream. Perhaps that's what death is. Who knows? Well, Jesse knows, only he won't tell me.
"He must have forgotten," Cheryl said. "It's prom night."
"I know, Cheryl," I said, gently. "It is prom night. And Greg is here."
Cheryl's lovely face lit up. "He's here? Where? Oh, I've got to find him."
She turned to rush from the kitchen. I stopped her. The spirits of the dead are without matter-to everyone but freaks like me, of course. To us, they are flesh and bone-or, as in Jesse's case, muscle and mysterious smiles.
"Greg's here, Cheryl," I said. "But...he's here with someone else."
Cheryl's eyes filled instantly with tears. "But that can't be," she said, her voice rising slightly. "He asked me. Months ago."
"I know, Cheryl," I said. "But Greg had to ask someone else because you...well, you died, Cheryl."
She shook her head. "No, I didn't," she said. "That's ridiculous. I'm not dead. Look at me. I'm standing right here. I am not dead."
"You're standing right here in a hospital gown," I pointed out. "Cheryl, I'm sorry, but you died of a burst appendix two months ago. If you go out there now-if you try to talk to Greg-he won't see you. He can't. I can only see you because...well, because it's what I do. But the truth is, Cheryl, you're dead."
I saw it-the horror as my words sank in-spread across her lovely features.
And that's when she went mental.
Could you blame her? She'd been eighteen, and in love. She'd had everything to live for...college, career, marriage, kids...and now....
Well, now it was all gone.
"NO!" she screamed, her lovely face contorting into a mask of rage and despair. "NO! I don't believe you! You're lying!"
She wrenched free from my grasp.
"You're just jealous, that's all!" she screamed. "Jealous of me!"
And that's when she brought both fists down into the tray of cannolis, sending its contents flying.
And not the deformed cannolis, either.
"Stop it!" I yelled, stepping forward and seizing her by both wrists. No matter how much she contorted her body or kicked out to be free, I wouldn't let her go. Not this time.
"You are dead, Cheryl," I said. "Do you hear me? Dead. It's not fair, but it's the way things are. I wish you had gotten to go to your prom. I know it's every girl's dream to go to prom with the guy she loves. But Cheryl, Greg has moved on. It was hard from him, but he did it. It's time you did the same."
Something in my words-maybe the assurance that Greg had not had an easy time coping with her death, for all Kelly Prescott might wish otherwise-drove all the fight from her. She sagged against me.
Then, a second later, I heard her murmur, "I really am dead, aren't I?"
And then she was gone.
Just like that.
Jesse, who had not stirred the whole time from the spot he'd been standing, confident I could handle Cheryl myself, was grinning.
"It's every girl's dream to guy to go to prom with the guy she loves?" he echoed, not just one, but both inky black eyebrows raised.
"Don't start with me," I said. I tried to hide my suddenly flaming cheeks by scraping away what was left of the cannolis, and replacing them with the contents of an upended bag of chocolate chip cookies. "I have things to do."
"Oh, yes," Jesse said, getting out of my way as I stormed past him. "I can see that."
If I'd hoped the night air would cool the fire in my face, I was disappointed. I was still feeling strangely flushed when I found Doc out in the courtyard, and shoved the tray of cookies at him.
"Suze, these aren't cannolis," he said.
"I know. There aren't any more cannolis."
"I thought there was a whole--"
"Not anymore," I said, shortly, and turned away because I saw Kelly glaring at us from over Greg's shoulder. Whatever had happened now, I did not want to know. Because it could not possibly be as bad as what had happened to poor Cheryl McKenna, dead at eighteen.
Or to me, born a freak who can see ghosts.
But when I ducked into the shadows of the Mission's open-air corridor, hoping to escape, for a moment, the music and laughter, I found that I was not, in fact, alone at all. Jesse had followed me.
"You never answered my question," he said, in a voice that was soft as moonlight. "Do people in the twenty-first century still dance?"
My heart beat thundered in my ears, far louder than the slow music. "Um," I said, barely able to swallow, my throat had gone so dry. "Sometimes."
"How about now?" he asked.
And then his strong arms were encircling my waist, his breath soft against my cheek as he gently whispered my name: "Susannah. Susannah...."
(last edited May 09, 2011 12:04AM)
May 09, 2011 12:02AM
by Alma Katsu (goodreads author)
Goddamned freezing cold. Luke Findley’s breath hangs in the air, nearly a solid thing shaped like a frozen wasp’s nest, wrung of all its oxygen. His hands are heavy on the steering wheel; he is groggy, having woken just in time to make the drive to the hospital for the night shift. The snow-covered fields to either side of the road are ghostly sweeps of blue in the moonlight, the blue of lips about to go numb from hypothermia. The snow is so deep it covers all traces of the stumps of stalks and brambles that normally choke the fields, and gives the land a deceptively calm appearance. He often wonders why his neighbors remain in this northernmost corner of Maine. It’s lonely and frigid, a tough place to farm. Winter reigns half the year, snow piles to the windowsills, and a serious biting cold whips over the empty potato fields.
Occasionally, someone does freeze solid, and because Luke is one of the few doctors in the area, he’s seen a number of them. A drunk (and there is no shortage of them in St. Andrew) falls asleep against a snowbank and by morning has become a human Popsicle. A boy, skating on the Allagash River, plunges through a weak spot in the ice. Sometimes the body is discovered halfway to Canada, at the junction where the Allagash meets up with the St. John. A hunter goes snow blind and can’t make his way out of the great north woods, his body found sitting with its back against a stump, shotgun lying uselessly across his lap.
That weren’t no accident
, Joe Duchesne, the sheriff, told Luke in disgust when the hunter’s body was brought to the hospital.
Old Ollie Ostergaard, he wanted to die. That’s just his way of committing suicide
. But Luke suspects if this were true, Ostergaard would have shot himself in the head. Hypothermia is a slow way to go, plenty of time to think better of it. Luke eases his truck into an empty parking space at the Aroostook County Hospital, cuts the engine, and promises himself, again, that he is going to get out of St. Andrew. He just has to sell his parents’ farm and then he is going to move, even if he’s not sure where. Luke sighs from habit, yanks the keys out of the ignition, and heads to the entrance to the emergency room.
“Luke,” the duty nurse says, nodding as Luke walks in, pulling off his gloves. He hangs up his parka in the tiny doctors’ lounge and returns to the admitting area. Judy says, “Joe called. He’s bringing in a disorderly he wants you to look at. Should be here any minute.”
“Trucker?” When there is trouble, usually it involves one of the drivers for the logging companies. They are notorious for getting drunk and picking fights at the Blue Moon.
“No.” Judy is absorbed in something she’s doing on the computer. Light from the monitor glints off her bifocals.
Luke clears his throat for her attention. “Who is it then? Someone local?” Luke is tired of patching up his neighbors. It seems only fighters, drinkers, and misfits can tolerate the hard-bitten town.
Judy looks up from the monitor, fist planted on her hip. “No. A woman. And not from around here, either.”
That is unusual. Women are rarely brought in by the police except when they’re the victim. Occasionally a local wife will be brought in after a brawl with her husband, or in the summer, a female tourist may get out of hand at the Blue Moon. But this time of year, there’s not a tourist to be found.
Something different to look forward to tonight. He picks up a chart. “Okay. What else we got?” He half-listens as Judy runs down the activity from the previous shift. It was a fairly busy evening but right now, ten p.m., it’s quiet. Luke goes back to the lounge to wait for the sheriff. He can’t endure another update of Judy’s daughter’s impending wedding, an endless lecture on the cost of bridal gowns, caterers, florists.
Tell her to elope
, Luke said to Judy once, and she looked at him as though he’d professed to being a member of a terrorist organization.
A girl’s wedding is the most important day of her life
, Judy scoffed in reply.
You don’t have a romantic bone in your body. No wonder Tricia divorced you
. He has stopped retorting,
Tricia didn’t divorce me, I divorced her
, because nobody listens anymore.
Luke sits on the battered couch in the lounge and tries to distract himself with a Sudoku puzzle. He thinks instead of the drive to the hospital that evening, the houses he passed on the lonely roads, solitary lights burning into the night. What do people do, stuck inside their houses for long hours during the winter evenings? As the town doctor, there are no secrets kept from Luke. He knows all the vices: who beats his wife, who gets heavy-handed with his children; who drinks and ends up putting his truck into a snow bank; who is chronically depressed from another bad year for the crops and no prospects on the horizon. The woods of St. Andrew are thick and dark with secrets. It reminds Luke of why he wants to get away from this town; he’s tired of knowing their secrets and of them knowing his.
Then there is the other thing, the thing he thinks about every time he steps into the hospital lately. It hasn’t been so long since his mother died and he recalls vividly the night they moved her to the ward euphemistically called “the hospice,” the rooms for patients whose ends are too close to warrant moving them to the rehab center in Fort Kent. Her heart function had dropped below 10 percent and she fought for every breath, even wearing an oxygen mask. He sat with her that night, alone, because it was late and her other visitors had gone home. When she went into arrest for the last time, he was holding her hand. She was exhausted by then and stirred only a little, then her grip went slack and she slipped away as quietly as sunset falling into dusk. The patient monitor sounded its alarm at nearly the same time the duty nurse rushed in, but Luke hit the switch and waved off the nurse without even thinking. He took the stethoscope from around his neck and checked her pulse and breathing. She was gone.
The duty nurse asked if he wanted a minute alone and he said yes. Most of the week had been spent in intensive care with his mother, and it seemed inconceivable that he could just walk away now. So he sat at her bedside and stared at nothing, certainly not at the body, and tried to think of what he had to do next. Call the relatives; they were all farmers living in the southern part of the county . . . Call Father Lymon over at the Catholic church Luke couldn’t bring himself to attend . . . Pick out a coffin . . . So many details required his attention. He knew what needed to be done because he’d been through it all just seven months earlier when his father died, but the thought of going through this again was just exhausting. It was at times like these that he most missed his ex-wife. Tricia, a nurse, had been good to have around during difficult times. She wasn’t one to lose her head, practical even in the face of grief.
This was no time to wish things were different. He was alone now and would have to manage by himself. He blushed with embarrassment, knowing how his mother had wanted he and Tricia to stay together, how she lectured him for letting her go. He glanced at the dead woman, a guilty reflex.
Her eyes were open. They had been closed a minute ago. He felt his chest squeeze with hope even though he knew it meant nothing. Just an electrical impulse running through nerves as her synapses stopped firing, like a car sputtering as the last fumes of gas passed through the engine. He reached up and lowered her eyelids.
They opened a second time, naturally, as though his mother was waking up. Luke almost jumped backward but managed to control his fright. No, not fright—surprise. Instead, he slipped on his stethoscope and leaned over her, pressing the diaphragm to her chest. Silent, no sluicing of blood through veins, no rasp of breath. He picked up her wrist. No pulse. He checked his watch: fifteen minutes had passed since he had pronounced his mother dead. He lowered her cold hand, unable to stop watching her. He swore she was looking back at him, her eyes trained on him.
And then her hand lifted from the bedsheet and reached for him. Stretched toward him, palm up, beckoning him to take it. He did, calling her by name, but as soon as he grasped her hand, he dropped it. It was cold and lifeless. Luke took five paces away from the bed, rubbing his forehead, wondering if he was hallucinating. When he turned around, her eyes were closed and her body was still. He could scarcely breathe for his heart thumping in his throat.
It took three days before he could bring himself to talk to an- other doctor about what had happened. He chose old John Mueller, a pragmatic GP who was known for delivering calves for his rancher neighbor. Mueller had given him a skeptical look, as though he suspected Luke might have been drinking.
Twitching of fingers and toes, yeah that happens
, he’d said,
but fifteen minutes later
? Mueller eyed Luke again, as though the fact that they were even talking about it was shameful.
You think you saw it because you wanted to. You didn’t want her to be gone
Luke knew that wasn’t it. But he wouldn’t raise it again, not among doctors.
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May 15, 2011 07:32PM
The Russian Renaissance
by Ian Kharitonov (Goodreads Author)
The Soviet Union
Death was the only destination in the train’s five-year-long schedule.
Even its name sounded like a shrill omen. The
, a 137-tonne locomotive, was a child of its era—an unstoppable mass of raw power fleshed in metal.
During 1936, its first year of operation, the
coursed between Russia’s faceless stations and towns, hauling cattle. The animals had filled the tidy new freight cars with the lingering smell of their sweat and waste, parasites infesting the cracks between the hoof-dented boards, the feeling of imminent slaughter staying with the train forever.
Soon enough, the cattle was replaced by people. Men and women, old and young, most sick, some bleeding, all filled the freight cars heading to the gulags, towards a fate far more dreadful than that of the animals. The luckiest died on the way.
Now, as the war broke out, the
carried a special cargo to the safety of Central Asia: hundreds of wooden crates stacked from the secret vaults of Leningrad and Moscow. Special passengers in the form of a six-man Red Army escort occupied the newly-fitted first class carriage.
The single beam of light sheared the night as the
roared across the vast Kazakh steppe. The train pushed its boilers to the limits, charging to the invisible finish line. Yet its run was cursed by the presence of the treasured cargo.
Death still waited at the other end.
Inside the confines of the single passenger car, the gunshots boomed above the monotonous throbbing. The Red Army soldiers were too slow to react. They had not expected an attack from within. Not from their commander, Comrade Yehlakov of the NKGB.
At close range, Yehlakov blasted the heads of four soldiers keeping watch, each barely eighteen. While the other two fumbled for their bolt-action rifles, shocked awake from sleep, confused, Yehlakov finished them off.
The new car was now also smeared with death.
Yehlakov replaced the empty clip of his TT semiautomatic, and entered the driver’s cabin, gunning down the crew. The driver clutched his throat, trying to clog the wide open hole, and the torrent of blood gushing from it mingled with the soot on his hands. He stumbled, gurgling, looking at his black blood. A second gunshot destroyed his face, and he crashed over the corpse of his fireman.
Stepping over their bodies, Yehlakov pulled the brake handle. The brakes locked onto the wheels and the enormous friction showered sparks in every direction. A piercing screech of protesting metal reverberated around the compartment. The train shook as it tried to restrain its own momentum. Gradually, the
came to a stop.
Yehlakov climbed down from the cabin and looked around. The gloom was impenetrable. The train’s lamp would serve as a position marker.
Leningrad, the origin of the
, was a city commanded by evacuation mayhem. Fuel, provisions, armaments and entire factories were being relocated from the advancing Germans, and many consignments lost in the process. The disappearance of the train, if it were ever noticed, would be written off to a Luftwaffe raid in Moscow by Army staffers fearful of repercussions. Yehlakov didn’t care much. There was little chance of Moscow surviving anyway.
A column of trucks appeared in the distance, their flickering lights drawing closer. The huge ZIS-5 vehicles stopped in front of Yehlakov, washing him in the beams of their headlights. In the blinding light he couldn’t make out the faces of the men approaching him.
“Right on time,” Yehlakov said, squinting.
“Too bad for you,” the man from the lead truck replied. Three figures leveled their machine guns at Yehlakov—the recognizable silhouettes of American Thompsons.
Yehlakov’s cry was cut short by a hail of .45-calibre bullets that shredded his body.
“All right men,” an order sounded. “Move, move, move!”
The tiny figures of two dozen soldiers scurried to the
like scavengers ravaging a beached whale.
Reloading all the crates into the trucks proved to be a massive job, but the attackers carried it out with efficiency. Trouble arose only once. A crate crashed, bursting open, and antique icons poured from it onto the dusty ground. Gleaming through the darkness in their radiant halos were the faces of saints. The holy men gazed at killers with divine serenity, their eyes full of suffering and forgiveness.
After it was all over, raging flames engulfed the empty cars, and the attackers vanished back into the night.
The dead metal beast had completed its final, blood-drenched journey.
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