The Gribble’s Eye: a serial 1.4

1.4

Sathena preferred that only her mother call her by the endearment “Sadie.”

Lada Ara seemed to notice the girl’s hesitation.“I see. Well, perhaps in time you’ll learn to trust me. For now, bring forth the Eye you still hold within your pocket.”

“I’m sorry, but my mother used to call me Sadie. My father, though, still uses my full name.”

“I understand. The Eye, please.”

“Oh yes, here you are.” Sathena held out the blue marble, glowing cobalt in the white light from the Moon.

“No, no. You hold it. The longer you possess it, the more… Well, never mind.” The spider extracted a heavy magnifying glass from her satchel and held it out to the girl.  “A full moon provides better light, but this will do for now. Hold up the Eye to the light and look at its illumination through this.”

 

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Sadie began but paused. “What is a Gribble?”

“Not what, dear. Who. The Gribble, as he is called, is, as am I, an ancient being. You may meet him soon enough for he seeks, though blindly, that orb you hold.” Arachne motioned for the girl to lift the glass.

Sadie twirled the glowing blue sphere in the light and gasped, “There are writings within the marble! Hmm, I think they are writings…”

“Ancient glyphs. The knowledge to read them has been lost.”

“Wait, I think this says,” Sadie paused and shook her head as if to clear it of cobwebs. “I could almost read it. I see odd symbols, and they start to mean something. But then they don’t. Wait…” Sadie turned the marble a degree. “It says ‘prison’, I think.”

“Put it away child.“ Ara took back the magnifying lens and stored it. “Put away the Eye, but keep it safe. Take it out in private and let it become warm in your hand. Lie in bed and let it rest in the hollow of your throat, roll it in the dip of your belly.”

Sadie returned the Eye to the small case. Ara’s words were mesmerising, but felt unsavory coming from the massive spider.

“I don’t understand.”

“Nor do I. Not fully. Yet. But the Gribble may. And there is your namesake…”

“My namesake? You mean…”

“Yes. Her.”

“This Eye, it belongs to the Gribble?”

“One of many. But that’s enough. The less you know, the safer you’ll be. For now.”

The spider packed her things. “I think your father follows us.”

Sadie gave a harrumph. “I was quiet when I left…” Turning around she spotted a bright flashlight scanning back and forth a few hundred yards behind them. The faint call of Professor Brimson wavered through the woods.

“Nonetheless, he comes. And with him comes that beast.”

“I’m sorry. What should I do?” Sadie’s anxiety lifted her voice.

“Return to your father. Control your dog. Come find me when the Moon is full.”

Sadie watched as Lady Ara angled off the path. Within seconds the spider’s hat dipped below the seed heads and was lost.

~~~

Professor Brimson spied the faint red torchlight and his daughter who held it. He released his pent-up breath. There she is. He stopped, called and leashed the dog. “Don’t want you knocking her down, old boy.”

Sathena spun around and ran back up the path. “Father!” she cried when she came close and the wolfhound struggled to reach her. “There you are. Isn’t this fun!”

“Fun? Fun would have been if you’d invited me out rather than me having to discover you vanished in the pit of the night. Why must you vex me so?”

“I’m sorry, Father. I…I thought I saw lights from my window. I didn’t want to disturb you. I know Mother’s been troubling you recently.”

He tilted away to gauge her face as she lied. I know there exist enticements in this new landscape. I wish you’d trust me though.

“Let’s head back. You’ve an important day tomorrow,” he said.

“Oh?” She reached down and scratched the dog’s chin taking over the leash.

“Ah, right. I neglected to mention in the turmoil of the electricity failure. Richard has found you a tutor. She’ll be here tomorrow, ah, today, at nine.”

“A tutor? But you said I could have the rest of the summer off from schooling.” She started back toward the house, pulling Harry with her. “Come on, Harry.”

“I think you’ll like her. And Sathena? I know I’ll never keep you captive. What I want you to promise is that you’ll take Harry next time.”

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The Gribble’s Eye: a serial 1.3

Sadie held her flashlight in a tight fist as the cave’s inhabitant began to emerge. First a thin stick-like leg tapped forth. Then another. And another. In the red-tinged light she could see each jointed appendage was covered in prickly black hairs. The massive spider’s feet, two of which turned out to be hands covered in a pair of leather gloves, lifted forth a small satchel from which the creature pulled a foppish hat and placed on its head.  

“My head gets cold in this night air,” it said, in the same gravelly voice the girl had recently come to know. “Could you turn your light? The red tint is nice, but it’s impolite to shine into another’s eyes.”

“Oh! Y…yes, sorry.” Sadie had no idea that her tunnel friend was a such a horror.

“You needn’t stare, girl. I know I look a fright.” The creature shifted the satchel to its back. “Shall we?”

“Shall we w…what?”

“Oh, come now. You invited me out for a midnight stroll. So, let us proceed. We’ve had such good conversations. Don’t ruin it now by forgetting your manners.” The great mechanical-looking thing led the way. “Now you can understand why I chose to remain in hiding while we spoke,” explained the giant arachnid. “Just focus on my voice. You’ll get over me soon enough.”

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They plodded along the path through the growing moonlight.

Sadie followed cautiously for a while. “I guess I’ve never properly introduced myself. I’m Sathena Brimson.”

“I know who you are, dear. I’ve known since you arrived. I know about most of the goings on around here.”

Sadie focused on the ground before her. “I suppose I’ve been very rude to never ask your name,” she said with more confidence, now that the shock had worn off.

The spider stopped and Sathena nearly bumped into her legs. You’re a girl spider, aren’t you? Sadie realized.

“You may call me Ara. That name, you may figure, is short for Arachne, a famous figure you will someday read about.”

“Miss Ara?” asked the girl.

“Ha!” the spider laughed, her hat slipping back off her head to land in the crook between her thorax and satchel. “No, but you can call me Lady Ara.” She fetched it back to her head using her front leg’s gloved pincers.

Ara noticed the girl’s eyes following her hands. “It’s proper for a lady to glove her hands when out.” Ara plucked a daisy from near the path and handed it to the girl who received it without thinking. “I hear some call you Sadie. Is that the name you prefer?”

The Gribble’s Eye: a serial 1.2

“A wish, made by a child, sends shivers into the world. Vibrations through existence. And deep within the Earth, entities exist, beings that listen to such vibrations, beings who hear the wishes of children.” Professor Brimson’s eyebrows twitched as he waited for a reply from his guest, Professor Richard Clarke.

Clarke had begun to drift off with the sumptuous dinner. “Wishes and fishes, Professor?”

“Richard, you haven’t heard a word I’ve said.”

“I’ve listened to every one.“

“Wishes, not fishes, cast by children, have power. Haven’t you felt that yourself? Or imagined it?

“Yes, a child’s dreams can influence them their whole life. But beyond that, I’m saying that a wish, made by a child, seeds the universe with a desire. A desire that, gone unfulfilled, will fester into an evil. A malfeasance that will simmer and eventually boil over into our world bringing discord and chaos with it.”

Harold of Ire, the Professor’s Irish wolfhound, heard his master’s voice, entered and insisted on cleaning their dinner plates.

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Richard replied after some time. “I hear one of the larger volcanoes in Indonesia has begun to signal a pending eruption.”

The Professor shook his head. “You see. Signs of Chaos rising.”

Richard Clarke left and the house settled down to sleep.

~~~

Midnight came to the Professor’s house and Sadie was ready.

Harry’s whining ceased at her shush. He’d followed her descent to the kitchen.

“Harry, you must stay,” she whispered. She bent down and he darted out his tongue slathering her cheek. “No. You must stay here. I think our tunnel friend is afraid of you.”

Alone, Sadie left the house and made her way down the dark path to the tunnel.

“Hello? Are you there?” Sadie asked. This would be their first encounter, face to face, and her nerves gave her voice a quiver.

“Is your rabid beast locked away?” came the voice. Its accent, she decided, was reminiscent of a gypsy she’d heard at a fair; a grinding of r’s and hoarse vowels.

“He’s not rabid! But, yes, Harry’s locked in the house.”

“Do you carry the Eye?”

“How did you know I’d bring it?” Sadie pulled a small jewelry box from her pocket and rattled it as proof.

“Careful girl. That’s just the sound to draw the Gribble.”

~~~

Professor Brimson was awoken by Harry who whined, imploring his master to investigate the house. The Professor shuffled through the house and first checked in on his wife who sat on her bed next to a eerie green lamp looking at photos. She didn’t hear him knock and didn’t look up. She only had eyes for her precious albums. He shook his head in concern, closing the door carefully.

When the Professor checked in on his daughter he found her missing.

Sathena my child, where have you gone, now?”

He padded down the stairs, the dog leading the way. “Let me get my Wellies and a sweater, and we’ll be off.” Then, more to reassure himself than to quiz the dog, he asked, “Do you think you know where she’s headed?”

On the back porch the lights glared out across the vast yard. He whistled softly to his hound and asked, “North or south?” The last time he’d found her south, near the river. Much too near the river.

The large wolfhound leapt toward the north, a dashing shadow in the starkness of the floodlights. The dog’s nose lifted to set his bearing and then angled down to confirm the trail.

“Got her scent my friend? Good. She can’t have wandered far.”

The Gribble’s Eye: a serial 1.1

I’ll be releasing an abridged version of The Gribble’s Eye as a series of posts focused on the images masterfully created by Yulian Mulyono.

These installments will be a much condensed version of the story which I will then compile into a sister book offered to the youngest of readers. The writing is geared toward the middle school and younger age — it is, after all, an illustrated book.

If you have comments or suggestions as to whether this is a good idea, or a poor one, or if there are changes you’d like to suggest… Don’t hesitate.

~~~

The Gribble’s Eye

A brief version
By Dave Cline

 

Sadie walked the familiar path to where her new confidant could be found, hiding in a wide hole, a tunnel really, beneath a large oak tree.

“Do you get lonely down there?”

“I’m not like others you’ve met. I’m happy with my solitude.”

“Maybe the sunlight is too bright for you?”

A voice, rough and exotic, replied, “Yes. But I do like to stroll about after midnight.”

Sadie considered this option. “I could come back then. I have a flashlight with a red glass shade.”

“That would be wonderful dear. Here, I have something for you.”

Rolling up from the tunnel came a sapphire blue marble. It stopped just inside the shadow.

“My, that’s beautiful. Should I take it now?”

“Of course. If you leave it there the Gribble might come and steal it back.”

She knit her brows at this strange name but ignored it for now. Reaching down and lifting the vibrant blue sphere, she marveled at its weight. “It’s heavier than it looks.”

“I find the Eyes as light as breath, heavy as a sigh.”

“The Eyes?”

“I’ll be here at midnight.” The voice called from further down the tunnel.

“Alright.”

“And make sure you lock up that beast of yours?”

Sadie frowned. “Do you mean Harry, my dog? Harry’s no beast.”

“Midnight,” came the last word from below.

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The Gribble’s Eye: Cover assembly

The cover is taking shape.

StoneEyeCover

With the chiseled stone “Eye” that I tapped into the patio in the back, we’ve begun our trek that leads through the forest to the glade where there blooms a sun drenched pool of possibility.

The “Eye,” as Widowcranky has insisted, must be a real physical object, else the treatment will appear cheapened. I wholeheartedly agree.

Ergo, I’ve begun, and hopefully have found, a source for the “Eye.”

https://handmadeglasseyes.com/

Megan has told me she can create an “Eye” of the right color, size and intensity that will lend the cover image that “Whoa, this is real,” impression to readers.

So, I’m discussing the manufacture of such an Eye with an eye toward, perhaps, creating a channel to have Gribble’s Eyes available for sale to readers. Wouldn’t that be fun? For the 1.3 of you who have read the story (I have an epub or mobi for you if you’d like to try it out…) I think having an “Eye” glued to the cover of your copy might be an incentive for others to read the story.

Gimmicks never work — until they do.

BATS – twitter promotion

And so it begins. The self-promotion, back-alley descent into peddling one’s own wares. Well, I had to give it a try, just to see how the process might go. Morgan Wright provided what looks to be a simple, pervasive and low-cost venue for announcing my novel (or your novel).

Morgan delivered on her promise. I think her way of promotion is the way to go in the future.

Regardless of the efficacy, it was great to see this in my feed.

BATS_Twitter_Promo

Medic! Whiteout, STAT

 

A2

I have a great copy editor. She’s dedicated, technically focused, a great speller and grammarian. And she’s free. We edited Blue Across the Sea at least four times before we called it quits and just published the thing.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39719790-blue-across-the-sea

She bought herself a hard copy from TheBookPatch and proceeded to find glitch after glitch. She was beside herself with chagrin. Well, I said, we can change the book anytime and for any reason we like.

So, she re-read the whole thing, correcting in pencil this time and then transferred the corrections up to the Google Doc we share. I pulled down the DOCX version, uploaded to Draft2Digital, republished and voila, errata are now toast.

Until the next few glitches show up, of course.

And that’s my point. No matter how many times you edit your manuscript, you will ALWAYS find something to fix. Fortunately, this self-publishing channel is drop-dead-simple for making changes.

If you purchased my novel (there have been two of you so far) I’m anxious to get you an updated epub or mobi version, with all the (50+) fixes in place, gratis. Give me a jingle and I slip you a link.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Paleo Friendship #2

Sleep eluded me. Or so it felt as the chattering of a rock-rodent woke me from my dazed stupor. I fisted a hand full of gravel and threw it in the wretched creature’s direction. I suppose I’d dreamed of the sea for I convulsed and heaved my stomach into the ashes of my now dead fire. “Damn Tak and his seal meat.”

My goal persistent though, I packed up my belongings and slipped up hill through the rocks, headed toward the top of this valley’s watershed. My back ached from the poor bedding, but I recalled suffering worse in the trek down the coast. At least the insects had abated. The others, west, moving south along the great-water, would be reeling from the constant whir of nagging, biting crawlers.

“Diza, guide me. Lift me from this grumble that infects my mind.” I shook my head and stepped higher.

I thought of the dark youth and how he had peered into me. And I know, I into him. “Who are you? You feed and nurture the Fire, I am sure.” But those two, they are not of our kind. I pictured he and his partner and felt their difference to my core. If they are here now, are there others like them? Such thoughts drifted through me as I mindlessly worked my way from copse to outcropping. All the time headed up.

A hawk screamed his outrage as I busted through his private aviary. “Patience, brother. I’ll leave this valley to you. But for now, allow me passage.”

To the east I could see the valley’s root, a pinching of ridges that pressed into the spine of the world. It was here, still ten shout-fars from the valley’s top, where I stopped to rest. My lookout gave me a fine view across and down the gorge. The vista calmed me. Take me to the top and I could breathe and feel the sky.

As I scooped and sucked at melted snow, I spotted the dark others break out of the lower treeline. They showed as mere specks, yet I knew them. More so, I knew the tan-brown shape above that tracked their progress. Every valley, or so Tak had recounted, held a demon, a monstrous cat that claimed the territory as far as you could see. Just such a beast stalked the two dark ones below.

I watched as the pair made their mistake. The easy path up the bowl of the canyon might seem the obvious trail. But such a line left one a target from above. I huffed acceptance of one of Tak’s rare truths — go high and take command. Yet I cursed him at the implications of the dark ones’ plight, “Diza take your other eye, you old fool.”

The inescapable events unfolded below me. I was unsure that I wished them on the others, or that I mourned what was about to befall the dark youth and his partner.

A merry ground-thief crept up to me, there on my perch. I had nothing to feed it, yet it came to investigate my outstretched fingers. “Here, you striped, furtive thing. Skitter away while you can. My hunger may return and you, though slight, would be welcome, roasted.”

A thunderous roar echoed up from below. Still mid-day, I watched, wide-eyed, as the cave lion tumbled down upon the pair of dark men. I imagined the impact and crunch of teeth over top of their skulls. Such an onslaught could not be stopped. I witnessed the sight, enraptured, my palms held cupped before me, peering through them to focus the light.

The first man stood waiting, I thought, with an anchored spear. The lion hit him first and knocked him back and down. The beast then embraced and engulfed the second man who disappeared beneath the tawny expanse of the huge cat. The initial roar continued to echo. And the screams of the men followed, faint and depleted.

Ten heart beats and the valley returned to silence. “No more others to nag my travels, now.”

My bluster lasted all of a single breath. I remained perched, scanning the area of attack. Nothing moved. The wind had ceased and the murmur of the trees gasped, holding their breath, waiting for my response. Even the striped tailed thieves sat, the three of them, tiny hands knit as if nervous, waiting for my reaction.

I looked up to the distant valley spires. Just over them I could descend and make my way to what I knew would be a land of bounteous food and leisure. Yet the haunting deep-set eyes of the youth tugged at my spirit. “Diza, you wench! Judge me not. I will take your sign and when I come to my own end, I will welcome the feel of your throat within my fist. No mercy will I show. But,” I hefted my pack, the three ground thieves vanished into the rocks, “until then, I will go see what the valley’s demon has left me for salvage.”

 

 

A Paleo Friendship

I danced over top of the dry stones in the river making the far side without slipping. Sounds of pursuit followed me. Whoever it was cared nothing for stealth, limb-cracks and shuffling sounds echoed through the thick green-needle trees. If I could disappear on this side, work my way upstream, and cross again — with the same nimble care — I could double back and lose these clumsy oafs.

My bark-and-leather moccasins, though quiet, were old and if I had to run many more shout-fars I knew they would split and slow me down. I needed to head up into the rocks of this narrow canyon, hide and make repairs.

I’d seen glimpses of my pursuers. Two dark haired, dark skinned and dark clothed shapes that walked wide and sturdy. I’d never seen their like. As I’d wandered past their camp, early the prior morning, I’d cut wide, not expecting smoke or others in the valley. One-eyed Tak and his stories had branded my mind with wariness for strangers.

They caught sight of, or smelled me somehow. I swear to Diza I’d moved like a mink. They made loud calls my way, nothing I could understand. If I harken back, they may have been greetings, but, alone in this new land, Tak would scoff and sneer were he to find I’d been killed for curiosity.

Ten-ten strides from the river on this side, I turned upstream. I cursed the moist earth here, flap-tail dams had no doubt swamped the area, my prints would be as tracks in snow. No choice for it, I picked up speed and ran through the tall trunks, silent as a ghost-cat. I heard a shout, back at the river, and smiled. One of my leaps had been daringly long. The stout men must have tried and failed. Mountain water is bitter cold this high up.

I’d now run at least a shout-far and thought I’d better recross. I veered right, and worked my way through thick green brush. The sound of the river had turned quiet. I pounded my fists as I came across a long flap-tail pond. Diza, that goddess bitch, had vexed my senses. I needed swift water and stones to cross undetected. Here, if I swam I’d be wet for a day. If I backtracked I’d risk an encounter with the dark men. I’d have to walk the dam. It was downstream there two-ten steps. I wove my way through the catching brush, my leather jerkin and pants protection from scratches and noises.

I walked a few steps out onto the ridge of the stick-mud dam. The pond water nearly cleared the rim and my moccasins became soaked. Half way across I scanned up and down the river length. No sign of them. I worked my way to the other side and scrambled up the steeper bank. As I shifted my elk-horn pack, custom carved by my da, Hounta, I turned to look down through the trees and there he was. One of them had stayed on this side and matched my pace.

He stood rock still, his deep eyes, with rough thick brows, drilled into mine. I could have struck him with a well tossed stone. He wore an animal pelt cap and a wolf-skin cloak, the fur long and luxurious. I could tell from the way he stooped his pack must weigh a deer’s weight. To carry that and chase me all this way? I had to wonder at their strength and stamina.

His partner called from across the river behind me, but this man’s eyes never left mine. I’d guess he’d be about my age, two-ten summers. I watched as he planted the butt of his flint-tipped spear in the ground before him, raised his hand to his mouth and give a call.

“KO-TAH NA.”

My own weapon, a fine bow of heartwood and sinew, had snapped in half as I used it to beat away a young knife-toothed cat five nights ago. I’d sunk two fine arrows into its chest but it charged me heedless — I beat at it out of panic (and not a little fear). I carried its small but wicked teeth and much of its hide in my pack. The next day I’d begun making another bow and kept at it as I traveled, heading over this range to the east. But, as of yet, it remained a stave I carried and might now need to defend myself.

I could hear the young man’s partner begin to teeter over the dam. I risked a quick glance and knew I must run or die. I turned back and watched as the solid fellow bent, as if to pull a flint from a sheath, but instead, swung his arm up and gestured with his hand, “flee,” he seemed to be saying. When I looked confused, his motion became more animated. “GO!” He flicked his hand and grunted for emphasis.

I wasted no time, but, still staring into his eyes, gave him a nod, turned and dashed through the woods, zigzagging to keep out of their line-of-sight.

That night, nestled in a high rock crevice, a small fire lit behind a boulder, I dried and mended my footwear. I still had some seal meat from when I left the coast; I didn’t save any of the cat’s flesh — eating such an animal, taking in its spirit would taint my own. The meat tasted foul anyway. So I gnawed on the rich, flavorful seal jerky and vowed to complete this new bow within a day or two. I was a fool to walk these new-land forests without a weapon. I admitted I was anxious to see the other side of this range. The stories of the great sloths, camels and shaggy rhinos had filled me with wonder. And now, with strange, heavy-browed men in the valley — one I was told to journey — this set my mind to  ponder the why of my recent escape, or rather, my release.

Sathena comes to grips

“I don’t know if what happened was real or…” Sathena flexed her fingers examining the tips as they curled.

Allie, still recovering from her wounds, perked up from the berth within their sailboat as they traveled out through the calm seas outside Edinburgh. “I was barely conscious from that beast’s attack, but I distinctly remember the roar of a lion. Now, don’t ask me to testify, but I’ll swear that what I heard and saw — in the dark of the night — was a lioness.”

Sathena’s smile stretched wide. “Yeah. Like I’m going to believe my spirit animal killed Lycaon, the werewolf.” She swirled her mixing spoon in the stew on the stove. “No, I’m pretty sure my mind has snapped. I mean think–”

“No way.” Allie groaned as she wedged herself to her elbow. “Sadie, I’ve only known you a little while, but, you and I — we’re sisters. What we’ve experienced… You are the spiritual manifestation of the Goddess.”

Sathena paused in her stirring. She recounted the fantastical interactions of the last few months. No, she told herself, No, this is too much. I’ve gone around the bend. Losing Father. And me mum dashed and wounded…

Allie cried out as she slung her legs out of the bunk.

“Allie, hold on. Here, let me help you.”

“No, no. I’ll be okay.” Allie held her aching belly as she toddled up the gangway. “You realize the evidence is irrefutable.”

Knowingly, Sadie allowed her friend to fend for herself. Back at the stove, Sadie lifted a spoonful of seafood chowder to her lips, blew and sipped.

Allie continued, “I am, I know now, the living embodiment of Alethea. And you, you are…”

“No! I can’t be.” Sathena Leona Brimson stabbed the spoon back into the pot. “How can I be her?”

“Lady Ara knew. Argus knew. Even your mother knew — I’m sure of it.” Allie plopped into the seat at the galley table. “You are the embodiment of the spirit of Athena.”