Tuesday Teaser : Maker Of Worlds

Must Read

Marc Mullinex

Fantasy

Date Published: 05-22-2024

Publisher: Evolved Publishing


 

If you had the chance to remake the world, what kind of world would you
choose?

When tragedy strikes Lucas Mack’s young life, he desperately yearns to
escape its sorrow, and takes an improbable leap through the mythical
maelstrom. Rather than splashing down on the far side like his neighbors,
he’s transported to a magical realm where he has the power to redefine not
only who he is, but the world in which he resides.

As he stumbles about trying to find his way, he meets Mia, an equally
troubled fellow pilgrim. With the help of a mystical guide and an aging
wizard, they navigate the enchanted land while learning to control their
newfound powers. Yet this realm is more complex than they expected, with
seasoned sorcerers who’ve been corrupted by the sinister side of
magic.

Limited by natural law and seduced by magic’s power, they are tested as
never before. Will the gift of magic bring renewed hope or drive them to the
edge of the void? 


Excerpt

Chapter 1 – The Departure

All stories begin with a question, and this is mine: if you had the chance to remake the world, what kind of world would you choose?
Let me start from the beginning. 

 The day before my leap, spring had peeked above the horizon. A bolder sun had inspired buds to sprout on the branches, so tiny they stood out only when moistened by the morning dew. A smattering of flowers had bloomed as well, daffodils and the tips of tulips that showed more as promise. Forsythias bulged yellow, lilacs blossomed and spread their fragrance, and the air tasted fresher too, as if purified by the increased sunlight. A time for hope. 

But not for me. The arrival of spring did nothing to remove the cloud that had shadowed my days and darkened my dreams these past six months. 

Addy had always chided me for living only part time in the real world, the rest of my time filled with flights of fantasy. 

I disagreed. My approach had always been a conscious choice, a matter of perspective. After all, what was so wonderful about reality? 

Her answer: only in the real world would I find her. 

I discovered too late how harsh my life would be without her. 

I’d slept poorly that night, my sleep disturbed by dreams, but when I awoke well before dawn, my resolve remained. Though I’d sleepwalked through my coming of age five years earlier, my circumstance had now changed, replaced by a lingering sadness, a malaise that would not heal. I’d become inclined to imagine another life elsewhere, desperate to try out an alternate path. On this day, I intended to test the maelstrom. 

The maelstrom appeared as a swirling circle of water for only three days each year, starting at the equinox—an unusual anomaly that behaved in a manner different from a proper whirlpool. This vortex hovered a foot above the lake’s surface and, more bizarrely, stood vertical. 

Townsfolk debated its purpose. The more rational claimed a perturbation of light, like a prism, caused by sprays of seasonal runoff and the angle of the sun. Others believed it to be magic, though none existed in our world. 

Of course, what we called magic might be nothing more than a label for things beyond the boundaries of reason. Natural phenomenon might still be magic. The sun’s rays lifted our spirits, and the advent of spring lightened our hearts. 

Each year, as the equinox approached, young boys who’d reached their eighteenth year would boast about their intent to challenge the maelstrom. In practice, few did. By eighteen, most had narrowed their path through life, following the example of their elders, or rebelled and chosen a contrarian course. With age, the lust for adventure diminished to bluster, tall tales told to impress their younger peers. 

Those who took the leap landed with a splash on the far side to the derision of their mates, but rumors alleged one had vanished years ago as villagers gaped, never to return. Philosophers speculated the swirling water might be a gateway to the gods, but only for those with sufficient faith. 

At eighteen, I would never have abandoned Addy, but once she was gone, my desire for change stirred. While I lacked the required faith, this was caused by the cruelty of the world, and did not reflect my belief in magic. My desperation grew until, in the spring of my twenty-third year, I determined to go. 

I’d leave before sunup, guaranteeing solitude on the shore. Should I stumble through the maelstrom to no effect, no one would witness my folly. Still in a daze, I stowed provisions in my backpack: a day’s worth of salted mutton, a loaf of hard bread, two dried apples, a full waterskin, a knife, a flint, and a rain slicker to ward off the morning chill. 

At the doorway of my Queen’s Hill cottage, I hesitated. This morning’s excursion would likely be a fool’s errand, but what if it turned out to be something more, a journey to who-knows-where? As I gazed down to the lake, a sense of foreboding crept over me. No matter. Foolhardy or not, I was committed.

 I slipped across the threshold and navigated the switchbacks in the dark. 

 The maelstrom hovered over the shallows a dozen paces offshore, in the dim light showing as nothing more than a disturbance in the air. I yanked off my boots, knotted the laces and slung them around my neck. As I rolled my trousers above the knee, I cast a lingering glance up the hill to catch a last glimpse of my cottage. 

I waited until the eastern horizon reddened and waded into the lake. 

An arm’s length from the gateway, I reached out, keeping as far away as possible while my fingertips brushed its surface. It felt like… nothing, likely no more than an illusion. In half an hour, I’d be back in my bed, no closer to comprehending the universe. Yet I’d yearned for a portal to another world, one that might allow me to deviate from accepted norms. I longed to float off to a fresher fate. 

Once, I too would have followed the safe path, with no risk of surprise, but then life did surprise me with a cosmic slap across the face that left me shattered—the taking of Addy. At twenty-two, misfortune had cleared the slate, leaving me alone and adrift. 

I drew in a breath and plunged through. 

In the light of pre-dawn, and in my half-awake state, no difference struck me at first, other than the chill waters deeper than expected, soaking the rolls of my trousers. Out of the mist on either side, giant evergreens loomed graceful as usual, rising until their tops blurred. The view so distracted me that several heartbeats passed before I realized the change. 

Perhaps I was still sleeping in my bed, for where the channel to the west lake should have been, a broad flood plain spread. The water had washed over the banks and crept inland for a hundred paces, leaving the trees the only witness to what once had been dry land. 

Beyond the trees, nothing. 

Nowhere a dock or a mooring, not so much as a hint of early morning smoke rising from a chimney. Nowhere the cottages of Queen’s Hill. Nowhere houses at all. As I gaped, the edges of branches shimmered as if undecided whether to remain intangible or become real. In a panic, I realized the folly of this quest. Better to return to a safer, albeit gloomier life, to go back through the portal at once. 

Behind me, the maelstrom still swirled, a fleeting comfort as it had started to recede. While I stared at the last link to my old world, the orb diminished, shrunk to a size I could cover with my hand, and then to that of the tip of my thumb. Before I sloshed more than two steps closer, it winked out. 

Now, to the north and the south, nothing showed but water. I stumbled to shore, my movements causing the slightest wake in the surface, which lay so still I could make out my astonished features in the reflection. 

I’d spent much of my young life with Addy, like a mate sailing across a forever lake. She’d been with me through calm and storm. I’d yearned to find renewed hope on this side of the gateway and return home to a new life, yet now the gateway, like Addy, had vanished.

 

About the Author

The urge to write first struck at age sixteen when working on a newsletter
at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the
wild night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by the northern lights
rippling after dark. Or maybe it was the newsletter’s editor, a girl with
eyes the color of the ocean. But he was inspired to write about the blurry
line between reality and the fantastic.

Using two fingers and lots of white-out, he religiously typed five pages a
day throughout college and well into his twenties. Then life intervened. He
paused to raise two sons and pursue a career, in the process — and without
prior plan — becoming a well-known entrepreneur in the software industry,
founding several successful companies. When he found time again to daydream,
the urge to write returned.

David now lives in the Great Northwest. He no longer limits himself to five
pages a day and is thankful every keystroke for the invention of the word
processor.

 

Contact Links

Website

Facebook: David Litwack – Author

Twitter: @DavidLitwack

Goodreads

Instagram

 

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1 comment

RABT 07/09/2024 - 5:06 pm

Thanks for posting

Reply

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