Authors: D.W. Moneypenny
Tags: #Contemporary Fantasy
The Chronicles of Mara Lantern, Book 3
The Chronicles of Mara Lantern
(Book 4 - Coming Soon)
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The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author. No part of this book may be reproduced or stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise—without express written permission of the publisher.
© 2015 David W. Moneypennny
Published by Nevertheless Publishing
E-book ISBN: 978-0-9960764-4-9
Paperback ISBN: 978-0-9960764-5-6
Copy Editor: Denise Barker
Cover Design: damonza.com
Here be dragons.
-The Hunt-Lennox Globe (map, circa 1510)
The zombies, the poor people taken over by the viral spirit of Juaquin Prado, had limited their damage of Mason Fix-It Shop to the large window out front and the antique gadgets on display there. As Mara stepped into the window, she noted a cuckoo clock with a footprint on its smashed face next to a shattered stained-glass lamp. While several of the shedding victims had entered the shop through the shattered window the night before, it appeared they had simply knocked over a few things, pulled random items off the shelves and left.
Cold air, dust and a thin haze blew through the gaping hole in the window. Red and blue lights strafed the buildings across the street, adding an odd aura to the gray dawn. In the street, firefighters and rescue workers helped dazed people in pajamas and hospital gowns, leading them to ambulances and police cars, presumably taking them home or to the hospital wards from which they had escaped.
They look shell-shocked, but they look normal. Even their skin is beginning to heal. And there are no green ghosties to be seen.
A man in a firefighter’s helmet approached the window and jumped back, startled when he realized Mara stood in the shadows. He looked up at her with bugged eyes but didn’t say anything.
Mara waved and said, “Don’t worry. I’m just assessing the damage.”
Gathering his wits, the fireman said, “Do you have any injured people in there?”
“No, we’re all fine.”
He pointed to Abby’s silver Nissan on the sidewalk in front of the shop door and asked, “Is this your car? We need to tow it out of here and clear the sidewalk.”
“No, it’s not my car.” She saw no point in saying it belonged to a friend. With a caved-in hood and roof, it needed to be towed no matter who owned it.
“Okay, we’ll get it out of here.” He walked farther down the sidewalk, out of sight.
Mara stepped from the window with a crunch, as her shoe ground glass into the wood floor. Walking to the counter, she leaned down and snagged the receiver of the black rotary telephone dangling at the end of its coiled cord. She returned it to its cradle, turned and looked into the rear of the shop.
As bad as it is out here, there’s a bigger mess to deal with back there.
She sighed and walked farther into the shop.
Sam stood with his back to the frame of the entryway, as if he were afraid to enter. Before him, a tiny girl stood on her tiptoes, her emerald-green eyes glittering with joy. She crooked a finger upward, indicating she wanted Sam to bend down to her, like she had a secret to tell. He lowered his face to her, and she placed a palm on his cheek, rubbed it and giggled.
“What’s so funny?” he said.
“It’s not bristly,” the little girl said. She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. “It’s smooth.”
Sam blushed, as his gaze tracked Mara, while she crossed the room and sat down at the cheap resin dinette set that constituted the makeshift break area outside the tiny back office. Ping sat across the table and stared at the girl.
“Now it all makes sense,” Ping said. “She’s a prompter, except her promptings express themselves as metaphysical abilities instead of simple thoughts or ideas. I suppose that’s logical, since a person’s metaphysical talents are dictated by their knowledge, awareness and beliefs, which are little more than organized and sustained thoughts. Incredible. She’s a prompter, just like her father.”
“So explain to me how she got here,” Mara said.
“Excuse me! Who is this girl, and why is she calling me
?” Sam asked.
Ping glanced at him but turned back to Mara. “You have the ability to manipulate the element of Time. At some point in the future, you develop the capacity to send people into the past. It appears you sent her from the future with this book, the Chronicle of Continuity.” He tapped the small thick leather volume on the table. “Absolutely amazing. I never imagined your abilities would increase to the point where you could do something of this magnitude.”
“Assuming that is correct, why would I send a five-year-old girl back in time all alone? That seems wildly irresponsible to send someone so young into such a dangerous situation. I can’t see myself doing something like that now, much less when I’m supposedly a more responsible adult.”
“Obviously it is something you
be willing to do.”
“So what are you saying? In the future I grow more powerful and more irresponsible?”
! Who is Hannah?” Sam asked.
The little girl reached up and took his hand. “Me. I’m Hannah.” She giggled.
“Again, why would I send her back in time? It’s absolutely crazy,” Mara said.
“From your perspective in the future, it won’t seem so crazy, and, if you think about it, you didn’t just throw her into time, willy-nilly. You sent her to a time and place where she has family. The interesting question is not only why but why now? What is it about this child and the events of this time period that you felt compelled to send her here?”
Pulling Hannah along with him, Sam stomped up to the table where Mara and Ping sat. “Will you guys please explain to me what is going on?”
Mara frowned at him and turned back to Ping, “Do you think it has something to do with the strange way she can prompt people?”
“It is an extraordinary ability to be able to prompt others to have metaphysical powers. That may be the reason you sent her back.”
!” Sam yelled.
Ping looked into Sam’s eyes.
“Who is this little girl?” Sam prompted him.
“She’s your daughter,” Ping said. “Mara apparently sent her from the future.”
Sam released Hannah’s hand, staggered back a couple steps and fell over a bicycle tire that had fallen off the workbench the previous night. He landed on his butt with a loud thud. Hannah ran to him.
“Are you hurt, Daddy?”
Looking dazed, he clumsily sat up on the floor, staring at her. It was the first time he’d actually looked at her face. The auburn hair and green eyes reminded him of his mother and Mara. The nose was his.
He gaped at Mara and Ping.
“I can’t be a father. I’m only fourteen years old! This has got to be some kind of mistake! This is some kind of sick joke, right?”
“It wasn’t necessary for you to prompt me. I would have answered your question voluntarily,” Ping said. He looked from Sam to Hannah and added, “There’s a definite family resemblance.”
“Shut up. I am not a father. There’s no way.” Remaining seated on the floor, Sam sat up straighter, folded his legs and rested his arms on them. His head hung down between his shoulders. “I haven’t even, you know … Never mind.” His face turned pink as he looked up.
Hannah walked over to him, pushed an arm out of the way and sat in his lap.
Sam’s blush deepened, and he craned his head away from her. She seemed oblivious to his discomfort, as she settled onto his legs. With an expression of near panic, he looked up at Mara. “This had better be some kind of joke.”
Mara shook her head. “Afraid not. I think she really is your daughter from the future,
.” She raised a finger in the air. “You know, when Melanie did your reading, she said you wouldn’t be accepted by your father until you knew what it was like to be one. Well, there you go.” She pointed at Hannah. “You’re one step closer to having a father, now that you are one.”
“Not funny,” he said. “So when are you sending her back?”
“What do you mean?”
“To the future. Ping said you brought her here from the future. When are you sending her back to where, or when, she belongs?”
didn’t bring her here. My future self sent her, at least according to Hannah. I have no idea how to send someone into the future. I feel stupid even saying it.”
“So what are we supposed to do with her?”
Hannah patted his knee. “You are supposed to take me to get banana pancakes. Let’s go to Nana Diana’s. She’ll make us some.”
Sam glanced at Mara, who had gone white.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“Nana Diana? Who’s going to tell Mom she’s a grandmother?”
“Will she be upset?”
“Well, I don’t think she’s going to be thrilled about being cast into the role of Granny all of a sudden, especially just a few weeks after learning she has a son. Now she has a granddaughter too? How would you feel?”
Sam gritted his teeth. “I’m not sure how I’d feel about being a grandmother. I’m still getting used to the idea of being a fourteen-year-old father.” He looked down at Hannah. She giggled and hid her face on his shoulder, as if she were embarrassed.
He patted her back and asked, “What’s so funny?”
“You are. You look funny.” She raised her head and poked at her own cheek. “Kiss me right here.”
Sam shook his head and looked over to Mara and Ping for help, a mixture of embarrassment and desperation on his face.
Hannah punched his arm. “Come on. I want to see if it itches.” She looked up at him expectantly and turned her cheek to him.
Mara rolled her eyes. “Give the girl a kiss. She doesn’t look like she’s the type to give up.”
Sam reddened and gave her a quick peck on the cheek. Her eyes widened, and she let out a little squeal. She rubbed her cheek with one hand and reached out to Sam’s with the other. “No scratches! It’s smooth! I like the scratches better.”
“About Mom, I think you should be the one to tell her about Hannah,” Mara said.
Mara pointed to the girl. “First of all, she’s your daughter, so it’s your responsibility. Second, Mom will empathize with the emotional implications this new relationship represents for both of you.”
“Don’t blow smoke up my backside. You caused all of this. You should be the one to explain it. Don’t you agree, Ping?”
Ping held up his hands. “I think it would be prudent for me to stay out of your family matters.”
A loud rap on the front door of the shop made them jump. “Mara! Are you and Sam in there?” It was Diana. “Is this Abby’s car they are towing away?”
Hannah jumped up and dashed to the front of the shop. Mara pointed after her and yelled at Sam, “Stop her!”
Sam did a double-take, stood and ran after her. By the time he made it to the side of the grandfather clock that stood next to the front counter, Hannah was already skittering across the wood floor, kicking shattered glass out of her path and reaching for the dead bolt on the front door.
“Hannah! Stop running! Be careful. You’re going to cut yourself,” he called after her.
She flipped the dead bolt and pulled back the door, crunching glass on the floor beneath it. Diana stood in the doorway as Hannah looked over her shoulder at Sam and said, “Don’t worry, Daddy. I’ll be careful.”
Diana looked down at Hannah and then up to Sam with raised eyebrows. “
Hannah skipped in place, put her hands on her hips and swung them as she sang out the door, “Banana Hannah’s Nana Diana, fo fanna!” and leaped into her grandmother’s arms.
Holding Hannah’s hand, Diana stepped into the shop. Bending down, she picked up the little girl and rested her on a hip. Scanning the debris scattered over the floor, she looked at Sam and said, “Why are you letting this child run around in a roomful of broken glass?”