Our Alice discovers a kindred spirit...
by Dale Mayer
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I'm delighted to be here discussing one of my favourite books.
Dangerous Designs is 60,000 words, and a full on 200+ pages of action with a surprise hook ending.
Drawing is her world...but when her new pencil comes alive, it's his world too.
Her...Storey Dalton is seventeen and now boyfriendless after being dumped via Facebook. Drawing is her escape. It’s like as soon as she gets down one image, a dozen more are pressing in on her. Then she realizes her pictures are almost drawing themselves...or is it that her new pencil is alive?
Him...Eric Jordan is a new Ranger and the only son of the Councilman to his world. He’s crossed the veil between dimensions to retrieve a lost stylus. But Storey is already experimenting with her new pencil and what her drawings can do - like open portals.
It ... The stylus is a soul-bound intelligence from Eric’s dimension on Earth and uses Storey’s unsuspecting mind to seek its way home, giving her an unbelievable power. She unwittingly opens a third dimension, one that held a dangerous predatory species banished from Eric’s world centuries ago, releasing these animals into both dimensions.
Them... Once in Eric’s homeland, Storey is blamed for the calamity sentenced to death. When she escapes, Eric is ordered to bring her back or face that same death penalty. With nothing to lose, can they work together across dimensions to save both their worlds?
This is book 1 of the story, with several sequels coming soon. The story leaves on a hook. Not to worry, book II picks up where book one ends.
Here's an excerpt:
She pulled her sketchbook out of her backpack. Then grabbed her red binder from class. She plunked down on her bed and flipped through the pages in both books. And stopped. Yes.
Leaning close, she studied the images. The newer one was an enlargement of the lower right hand corner of the bigger drawing where she'd run out of paper. Odd how ancient the doorway in her pictures looked. She rarely drew anything medieval or historical looking and had no idea why she would have now. What did it mean?
Tracing the picture with her fingertips, she tried to understand why it was so important to sketch such detail. Her fingers moved slower and slower in a repetitive and oddly mesmerizing motion. She lost herself in the movement, feeling soothed and comforted by the knowledge that if nothing else, she'd created this.
Tapping on the window drew her attention. The sun had gone behind a cloud. Even as she watched, rain pelted the glass, giving everything a distorted look. Kind of matched her life right now. With a sigh she refocused on the large sketch.
She stopped. Then frowned. Had the picture changed? Shifted? Bending her head, she studied it closer then shook her head. No. It was the same. At least she thought so. Anything else was so not possible. As she went to close her books, she paused again.
There. A new line. She studied the picture. She hadn't drawn it — or had she? Stupid that's what it was. If she hadn't, who had? She had to have put it there. Tilting her head to look at it from another angle, she realized the line still wasn't quite right. She snatched up her pencil and thickened the left side of it, widening it on the bottom.
There, that was much better. It felt right.
Stupid maybe, but the change made her happy.
She switched to staring at the weird blow up picture she'd made in class today. With the geography notes underneath, it was irritating to look at. Within minutes, she had redrawn the picture into her sketchbook properly. Now that she could see it clearer, she realized it was a door of some kind. Without a latch or knob, yet the right size and shape. She laughed at her imagination. So there was a door. Now wouldn't it be great if that meant she could just open the door and walk right through?
The last thing she did was add a flat metal looking door handle to the right side.
Storey glanced at her bedroom door. "Mom, is that you?" Her bedroom door was closed and stayed that way. More unnerved by her reaction that at a stupid noise, Storey hopped up and checked if someone stood outside her room.
The hallway was empty. Laminate floors and red and gold painted walls stared back at her. Remnants of the previous owners.
Closing the door on the horrible colors, Storey surveyed her own lemon and lavender room. So much easier on her eyes. The rain continued to hit the window filling the room with a steady pounding. With everything as it should be, she sat back down on the bed and picked up her drawing.
And caught her breath. She'd put the handle in as a joke.
It was no joke now. The freaking door was open. She peered closer. At least she thought it was. The edge of the door was now a thick black line hinting at a darkness on the other side.
She dropped the book on her bed and bolted to the far side of the room. She chewed her nails, not taking her eyes off her picture. The open door stared back at her.
An open door she hadn't drawn. She knew that. Still, she couldn't stop a quick glance at the pencil in her hand. Just in case. There was no way. Surely? How could those couple of lines give off such an ominous vibe? With so much power? And grace? Chills rippled across her shoulders.
Inviting her? Warning her? Freaking her out — hell yeah!
Storey knew she wasn't that good an artist.
Could she be having blackouts? Momentary relief bloomed at the idea. Then she reached up and touched her temple. She didn't suffer from headaches. She hadn't been injured. As far as she knew, she was healthy.
How could the picture have changed without her or someone else changing it? And why? She studied the lines of the door. Flat, thick lined, almost needing something from her. Waiting for her to do something. But what?
It's not like she could walk through the stupid thing. And even if she could, it's not like she would. Who knew what lay on the other side? A half chuckle escaped. Right. Now she was losing it.
Shoving the drawing deep inside her bag, she closed and tied up the outside straps as a deterrent. Determinedly, she grabbed her English reading assignment and focused on finishing her homework. When she couldn't keep her eyes open any longer, she dropped the book to the floor beside her, clicked off the light and dropped into a deep sleep — a sleep full of weird dreams and voices calling to her.
"Storey, come and get me."
"We need you, Storey."
Disturbed, she bolted upright gasping for breath as she stared wildly around the room. Who said that? No one. She was alone — and clearly losing it. Her heart banged in her chest as a film of sweat covered her skin. She took several deep breaths and tried to calm down. Talk about nightmares. She shuddered and lay back down. It took several minutes to get her breathing under control and when it did, she started to get pissed.
"What the hell do you want with me?" she snapped in the direction of her backpack, the drawing safely secured inside. "Crap. This is too freaky, even for me."
"Storey, is that you, honey?"
Her mother knocked on the door and poked her head around, the light from the hallway lighting the silver streaks in her otherwise dark hair. "Can't you sleep?"
"Sorry if I woke you." Storey sat up, brushing her own jet black hair back off her face. "Just a bad dream."
"That's because you didn't have any dinner. I checked up on you after the meeting finished only you'd fallen asleep." Her mother's fingers twisted around a dangling lock of dark hair, stepping further into the room, her Wiccan robes dragging on the floor. She bit her lip. "Storey, you have to eat. You're already skinny enough."
Bone rack is what a jock had called her last month. Looking down, Storey realized they could be right. Her hip bones stuck out to match her big elbows. And her body had developed to the point she just barely missed the skinny scarecrow look. Too bad. She might have been able to make that work.
"I'm eating, Mom. They had pizza in class today, so didn't need my lunch. Ate that on the way home." She had more important things to worry about anyway.
Relief washed over her mom's pretty face. "Oh, I'm so glad to hear that. Sometimes, I worry about you."
Sometimes? Didn't she mean all the time? Was that was normal for moms? Then again, there was a world of difference between normal moms and hers.
"What time is it?" Storey looked out the window. Blackness stared back.
"It's just a little after midnight. Please get into your pajamas. You don't want to be sleeping in those jeans." She backed up to the open door. "If you're alright, I'll say good night. It is witching hour after all." With a carefree grin, her mom closed the door.
Witching hour. Right. Only in her house. Sighing at her mother's antics, Storey collapsed down on her covers and fell into a light, troubled sleep.
She sighed. "What now, mom?"
No answer. She sat up and glanced at the closed door. Weird. She could've sworn she'd heard someone call her. Lying down again, she pulled her blankets over top, not bothering to get changed.
She bolted upright. That's it. Who the hell was playing games with her?
Throwing back the blankets, Storey kneeled on her bed. "Who said that?" she hissed into the early morning air. Not trusting the gloomy light, she flicked her bedside lamp on, quickly scanning the room. Empty. "I am so losing it. This is nuts."
Her gaze landed on the backpack on her floor. Her gaze widened. Oh no.
"No, no. Hell, no." She shook her head, slowly at first then more wildly. "This can't be happening. It's a picture. Nothing more. Nothing less. I created you. I can destroy you."
That's exactly what she was going to do. She dragged the backpack onto her bed and opened it. The knot defied her first and second attempts, before she managed to pull the laces apart and yank out her book. "I don't know what's going on here, but enough is enough."
She flipped to the last page she'd been working on and grabbed it at the top left and ripped. It wouldn't tear off. She tightened her grip and tried again. It refused to budge. Scared now, she threw it on the floor and in a fit of defiance, she jumped on it.
And fell through the picture, through the floor even.
She went right through the doorway in her picture.
Guest post created for October Trix-n-Treatz event by Dale Mayer, author of Dangerous Designs - Turn the page, I dare you!
© 2011. All rights reserved.
by Dale Mayer
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READ more about these characters here...
by Dale Mayer
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* image source Alice in Clockwork by Strangeling