As my latest endeavor, The Healer: A Novel, grows ever closer to completion, I’ve had many of you very excited and eager for it, asking when it will be released. It’s looking as if it will be late spring now rather than the early spring release date (my birthday!) I had hoped for, but nevertheless, it will not be much longer at all!
In the meantime, I gift you here with another exclusive sneak peek excerpt from The Healer: A Novel, coming to you via Starfield Press. Enjoy!
(PS—Click here to see the first exclusive excerpt I released back in December!)
THE DARKNESS NO LONGER bothered him. It had become so familiar to him, so comfortable, he rarely remembered anything else, or noticed that anything was other than it should be.
And the waiting; he no longer realized he was waiting.
How long had it been? Centuries? Or had he only been confined in this darkness a day or two? It didn’t matter.
Time had lost all meaning and measure for him. But then again, they had meant very little to him even before this moment, hadn’t they?
He really didn’t mind, either way. He was still here, and that was what mattered. As long as he was here, as long as he was able to think, he would be able to wait. No one knew where he was anyway. He had been afraid for a few weeks or decades at first that someone was left, that someone would find him, that his end would come after all. But no one ever came. No one ever found him. And so he had begun to relax at some point of the way.
And one day, maybe next week, maybe today—what difference did those words mean to him?—he would be able to move again; he only had to remember how to move. When that day came that he was able to move once again, he would be able to do things again, and he definitely had things to do. He had already decided on that long ago, or just a minute ago.
Perhaps time would be important to him again then, too. He could imagine needing to work within a concept of time again—hadn’t he done it before? He couldn’t quite remember. That may have been only a dream. Regardless, he would do what he needed to do; he had seen it from his place outside of time.
He had also seen all that had happened before. He had seen it all over and over again. That was what kept him going in this deep, silent void. Or was it the nutrients he had discovered he could absorb from the soil encasing him that kept him going? He had figured that out yesterday, or last year. No, it was definitely the memory of the things he had been through before that fueled his desire to keep waiting.
And he had done this himself, hadn’t he?
The tiniest drop of dew dripped from what slight space there was over him, and landed on his head. He felt it. He allowed the thoughts of what happened before to slip from his mind as he smiled at the dewdrop. He could pull in as many nutrients from the earth he wanted, but it was a rare occasion to find and draw in actual moisture. He savored it as if it was giving him an entirely new body.
He still had a body, didn’t he?
He focused on the molecules of the dew as it soaked into his scalp, merging and becoming a part of him. Yes, he definitely still had a body. He forgot sometimes.
His thoughts landed back on what was to come.
When he moved again, they would all see him. They would all see who he was. They would all see what he could do. He would be the one they came to for their every need. They would quickly realize that in their hard times, he would be their shining wayshower, and that in their easy times, he would be their vigilant watchman. They would appoint him to a high place, and he would be—no, all that was what he had already been before, not what he would be to come, wasn’t it? Or was it?
He couldn’t quite remember sometimes.
How long had it been?
A drop of water fell on his head.
Excitement shot through his system. He definitely still had a body—he was positive about that now. He wouldn’t have been able to feel its outline, its shape, as the surge of adrenaline coursed through it otherwise. Before did not matter. What was to come did not matter. This moment had brought him not only the infrequent taste of dew, but now, too, a larger drop of water to be thoroughly enjoyed!
Perhaps he did not need to be expending so much energy on such intangible things as before and next, and instead concentrate his efforts into finding more of this irresistible, satisfying moisture. Oh, how he had forgotten! How long had it been? He hadn’t felt this since he was out and around, before, and all had come to him with their every need regarding the sun and stars or earth and sea, and all—No, no, that was before again. What mattered was what was coming up. The things he would be able to show them was what mattered, and this water on his head.
No—only the water on his head mattered right now, didn’t it? Two drops in one day—imagine! This was still the same day, wasn’t it? Maybe that was last week he had felt the dew. Did it even matter? He decided it didn’t. It was a miracle, and the miracle was all that mattered. All else could—
Another drop, even bigger!
If his vocal chords had been used in ages, he would have been able to cry out in joy as the sensation from the molecules soaked into his scalp and interacted with his own cells.
Three drops in a single day! He truly was blessed; surely this was a sign he would accomplish all he had set his heart to, and once he moved again, all he touched would be gold in the eyes of the stars! When he moved again, he—
Two more near-simultaneous drops landed on his head, and his ecstasy froze in a heartbeat, then rapidly melted to fear.
Oh no. Please, no.
Four more drops, one after the other, paved the way for the steady trickle of water that followed. Each new drop-within-drop increased his anxiety and confirmed his fears.
He felt it.
He read it.
He received the message in the water loud and clear.
He turned and drew back the dark, heavy drapes that had held the sunlight from his sanctuary for so long. He had done this before, hadn’t he? Or was this now? No, this was before. He had resolved that these draperies never be pulled open again, and he should have simply had the window sealed up with stones or even precious metals, for inspiration, but had not. He had been too focused on his work, too committed.
Now the audible sounds from the crowds below his window blended and blurred with the impending messages he had been ineffectively attempting to ignore and desperately searching to conquer, and he knew he had lost. He had run out of time. All he had fought for, all he had waited for, all he had been promised was now being murdered, stolen, ripped from him with no opportunity to defend, much less attack.
And it was all her doing.
He whirled around as the massive wooden doors to his area burst open. The armored soldiers of the Seeker’s camp poured in, nothing but their eyes exposed. His own eyes frantically ran over his possessions, panicked, seeking what could be grabbed before he was grabbed.
They were on him before anything was able to be rescued, dragging him swiftly to the door. He felt the vibration of his voice making sounds he had never heard before as he screamed in protest. He glimpsed his tools and his work engulfing in flames as he twisted and fought—work he had devoted his every waking moment to, work he had nearly perfected, work that would make him even more indispensible to the Ancient and the people, if he was only given a chance to prove it.
The sight of fire being set to all he owned pushed him immediately to his breaking point.
Nothing was left to lose, if these were lost. Nothing would be gained if he didn’t try, and he had to try; he had not worked so diligently on this science and ability for nothing—what better test was there than the very real situation of these soldiers dragging him from his own sanctuary? He could show them all right; he could show them all, right here.
Abruptly, he ceased his struggling and closed his eyes. He allowed the sounds to continue rising from his throat, and brought his full awareness to the vibration they created. Then he shifted a portion of his awareness to the vibration of the floor boards as they shook beneath the stomping of the soldiers’ feet.
Mentally grasping each end of this vibrational rope—his voice on one end, the solid wood of the other—he inhaled sharply, drawing each vibration to the center of his belly, then exhaled as hard and fast as he could, willing the vibrations to enhance in strength tenfold as he shot the vibrations down his arms and out his hands, which were being firmly held apart by the soldiers.
The thunderous blast that impacted the soldiers on each end of his arms sent them crashing into the soldiers behind them. He immediately dropped to the floor in the confusion, and threw himself out the door. Shouts and yells filled the air of his previously peaceful sanctuary, adding to the rising cries of the crowds in the streets below. The soldiers scrambled to their feet and toward the door after him as he leaped to his feet and spun to make his escape—and suddenly stopped short.
She was standing there, still as an idol, an image of perfect calmness amidst the uncharacteristic chaos that had escaladed within the city these past months—chaos that had now peaked in this chain of events here and now. It was her doing, all of it. He knew it. Everyone knew it.
And she was right here.
She had won.
The soldiers took hold of him again, careful to grip only his forearms this time rather than his hands, all while she merely stood watching it all, as if it were the most commonplace thing in the world.
Never speaking a word, she gracefully turned and began to walk away. The soldiers dragged him behind her, following.
His shockwave had worked, and would have worked, would have spared him this predicament, and quite possibly his life, had she not been there. And this was not the first time she had gotten in his way, was it? She was the entire reason he had secluded himself away in efforts to speed his progress and preparation. But his labors were not for his own soul, as she thought—this is how he knew that he was the one in the right. He had done his work for the benefit of the Ancient, and though the Ancient did not yet know, he would see.
Or would have seen.
She led them all into the underground chambers that tunneled beneath the city. As they passed beneath the main streets, the rumbling and ruckus of the crowds above could be heard and felt even this far below ground. Dust and pieces of the stone supports broke loose and dropped among them periodically.
Sudden inspiration struck him.
Perhaps there was still a chance.
Wasting no time debating internally, he zeroed his focus in on the sounds and vibrations the warring crowds above were creating, inhaled the vibrations into his belly center, amplified its strength, and shot it downward, into the earth, adding the sound of his own voice to the power again as well.
He was amazed how much easier this level of magic was the second time, and marveled as the crater below him yawned open before anyone realized what had happened.
The soldiers cried out, releasing his arms as they twisted and desperately grabbed at the edge of the hole to save themselves, while he willingly surrendered to tumbling directly into the center of it.
Even at this turn of events, he had still heard no sound or utterance from her as he pulled vibrations from anything and everything his awareness could touch, and blasted himself diagonally deeper into the earth, deeper and deeper each time, finding it easier and easier with each thrust until he felt he was a safe distance from her, from the city, from everything.
Now nobody knew where he was.
No one would be able to find him, and he could simply wait here a few weeks until all the disturbance and uproar worked themselves out, leaving his city, his home, in peace once again. He would rebuild his sanctuary, and begin his work where he had left off—this time with the renewed faith and confidence from his experience escaping her.
But she had found him now, hadn’t she?
It had been more than a week, hadn’t it?
The walls of his temporary earthen sanctuary suddenly seemed to close in on him, darkness flooding his awareness even faster than the trickle of water dripping on his head was soaking his hair. He had been so clever, so careful—hadn’t he? Where had he gone wrong?
The water dribbled down his face, and he felt a tingling numbness slowly spreading through his body. As the water reached his shoulders and began wetting his chest, he felt his body completely paralyzed—or more accurately, no longer under his own control.
She had him.
Remembering that his mind was clearest, and his chances of finding and attempting an escape were greatest when he was calm and submissive, he willed his mind to resist struggling to make his body move. Panic would only make things worse.
Ramika, he thought upwards, knowing she would be able to hear him through the water connection she held on him.
I am no longer called that, came the instant reply. I have become Sierra.
Tears immediately welled below the surface of his face, but were denied the gift of birth. His mind reeled and tried all the more desperately to take control of his body and his weeping.
So it was true.
He had lost track of time. He had waited too long to return to the city, to his work. He had allowed her too much time to hunt him down.
And now she had him again.
How did you find me?
I always knew where you were, Murphy. I found you the same day you buried yourself within this self-appointed grave. I simply didn’t need you yet.
Levels of dread never felt before shocked his nervous system.
She had known, all this time.
He had never been safe, never been hidden.
How long has it been?
Time is measured differently now as well—not that time ever held any meaning for a prophet, hmm? But in the way we counted it in the Old Days, it has been over two hundred and sixty thousand cycles.
How was this possible? How could she be speaking truth? Yet that was what she had always done, wasn’t it? That was her service in the city.
What do you want with me, if all is… lost?
The same thing I wanted with you before.
But if all is now gone… Are we the only survivors?
We were. We are no longer. I thought I had things firmly in my control and would not have need for you, but I am now concerned that is not the case.
Then it seems you are still repeating your own patterns, Ramika.
Call me Sierra! I am no longer that other—she foolishly grew too comfortable, too arrogant to succeed. I am new. I—
Have just confessed you’ve done the same once again: relaxed in a false confidence as your prize slipped from your hands.
No! I have not! I am here to retrieve you to ensure I do not fail again—this shows I am not the same!
Murphy made a silent mental note regarding the weakness and sensitivity he had discovered in her, for future use, as he relented, to watch and wait.
How could I possibly be of any help to you, if it truly is a new world? I know nothing of it.
Silence followed as Sierra seemingly debated whether to continue
Suddenly he became aware of a low, rumbling vibration slowly descending around him on all sides. It grew in intensity until it was deafening to his trained senses, even after all this time.
What are you doing?
Mental images immediately flooded his mind. Rain. Trillions of endless drops of rain, crashing onto countless people, metal moving objects, oddly shaped castles, endless tree and plant leaves, and hosts of all sorts of animals. He felt each and every drop on each and every object—individually, and as a whole simultaneously. Visuals of all the energy, all the information, all the sound being gathered into a massive vortex high in the sky and slammed down directly over his earthen sanctuary overwhelmed and overloaded his system.
Just as suddenly, all but the rumbling around his body disappeared.
Precious vibrations for you, Prophet, she stabbed into his mind. Get up here now.
The Healer: A Novel © 2014 Lloyd Matthew Thompson
All Rights Reserved