In the meantime, here's a sample of the revising process. This is the opening of chapter 1 of The Door to Justice. It still needs a little polish, but it's coming along! Enjoy!
Wes wandered the woods behind his grandparents’ house, a stout limb serving as a walking stick. He felt at peace out here, wandering in the silence. He walked without a care in the world, just enjoying the day. It had surprised him how easily he had slipped back into his life. After what he’d been through, the daily monotony of school had been a welcome break.
He still hated homework, of course, but it didn’t seem quite so horrible lately. It had only taken him three days to catch up on all of his late homework assignments, once he’d put his mind to it. What had seemed an impossible task before had turned out to be a minor obstacle, in comparison to… well, in comparison to fighting a dragon.
He’d managed to keep up with the rest of his homework for the semester, too.
in particular had been surprised by his report on the sextant, especially when he’d brought his own in for demonstration. What had she called it? ‘An articulate and well-documented explanation on the art of celestial navigation.’ An A+! He still had barely squeaked by with a C+ for the class, but it was a passing grade. Passing grades in all his classes, as a matter of fact. His Dad had been so surprised when he handed him the report card! Mrs. Jensen
Not everything was better, of course. Three months without playing the trumpet had taken its toll. He’d been challenged twice, and dropped down all the way to fourth chair. Somehow, though, that didn’t seem like such a devastating thing. He’d practiced a lot, and was already back to his former skill level, maybe even surpassing it. He hadn't bothered challenging for position, though. It just didn't really seem all that important.
Wes looked up to see
Jack walking up the slope opposite him. Wes was amused to see his cousin with a silly grin on his face, lost in his own thoughts. Jack was kind of a space cadet sometimes, but Wes had to chuckle at the look on his face. He must be excited about graduation tomorrow. Jack was eighteen, tall and skinny, but he and Wes still had a lot in common despite their age difference. Jack was also an athlete, where Wes was most certainly not. But with Wes spending so much time with his grandparents, and Jack living just down the road, it was only natural they'd hang out. They used to get on each others’ nerves a lot, but that had changed as Wes got older. Especially these last few weeks. Wes waved his arm in the air to get the other boy’s attention.
“Hey, Wes,” called
Jack, working his way toward him.
Jack, what’s up?” Wes stopped and waited patiently for his cousin to struggle up the steep slope.
“Grandma said you were down here. She said to tell you to get your butt back up there for dinner, it'll be ready in an hour.”
“That’s cool. What are we having?”
Wes smiled. “Sounds tasty. I’ll be up in a little while.”
“You want to go up and play some video games? I got the new Duty Calls map pack last week.”
Wes thought about it for a moment, but shook his head. “Nah,” he said. “I think I’ll just walk around for a while. It’s nice out today.”
“Nowhere in particular,” Wes replied.
Jack seemed to have something on his mind, but Wes figured he’d let the older boy get around to it on his own. They walked along side by side through the dense woods, in silence at first. It wasn’t long, though, before Jack finally spoke.
“You know,” he said, “you’ve changed some lately. You used to be kind of a punk.”
Wes laughed out loud. “Yeah, I suppose I was.”
“See, that’s what I mean,” said
Jack. “You’d have thrown a fit if I said something like that a few weeks ago.”
“I guess I’m growing up.”
“About time,” Jack said, chuckling. “Heard you picked your grades up. Mom said you passed all your classes, even made it out of a couple of them with B’s. You haven’t gotten in any trouble lately, and I never hear about you and your dad fighting anymore.”
“Dad and I… things have changed. We have an understanding.” Wes smiled. “Things are good between us now.”
“Well, I’m glad,”
Jack looked uncomfortable. “I’m not trying to tick you off or anything, or get in your business, but Mom was kind of worried about you guys. I used to hear her and Dad talking about it a lot.”
“I know. It’s okay. Some stuff happened, and Dad and I worked a lot of things out.”
“That’s good. You know, you’re almost tolerable lately.”
Jack gave Wes a grin.
“Thanks,” Wes replied sarcastically, but with a good natured smile, and they continued on for a while without conversation.
As they trudged up a hill, Wes felt a peculiar sensation and came to a halt. There was a pulling in his mind, as if he were being led somewhere. It was a familiar feeling somehow, and he shivered.
"What's wrong?" asked
And then it was gone, and Wes shrugged. "Nothing. Just a chill down my spine." He glanced around, but the feeling was gone. "Just déjà vu, I guess." He began walking again, and
Jack again fell in beside him.
And then they crested the top of the hill, and
Jack stopped dead in his tracks.
“Um… where did that come from?” he asked, looking around as if to reassure himself of his location. “That wasn’t there yesterday.”
Wes stood looking down into the hollow below, his expression grim.
Jack,” he said.
“How did a house get out in the middle of the woods without us knowing?” He looked around for a moment. “Wait… where are we? This doesn’t look right.” He turned and looked back the way they’d come. “There should be another hill here. It leads up to the clearing, and then down to the pond.”
Wes let out a long sigh. “I can’t explain it. You won’t believe me. Just go on up and tell everybody I’ll be a little late for dinner.” Wes considered for a moment. “And tell my dad to come out here. He’ll know what you’re talking about.” He turned and started toward the shack, and
Jack quickly reached out to grab his arm.
“You know something,” he said accusingly. “What’s going on? Where are we? Where did that house come from?”
Wes jerked his arm away. “You wouldn’t understand,” he said. “Just go get my Dad. Please, just do it.” He quickly trotted into the hollow and up the rickety steps before
Jack could stop him. Jack started to follow, but stopped in shock when the door to the old house opened of its own accord.
“No way,” he said. “You’re not going in there! Are you crazy?” Wes ignored him and disappeared inside the house as the door clicked firmly shut.
The house shuddered slightly as it felt the boy enter.
The other boy remained outside, the one that wasn’t supposed to be there, but he didn’t leave. Only a moment after the chosen boy entered, the second rushed to the porch and began pounding on the door.
This could be a problem. The house’s intellect was limited in its understanding of human interactions, but it knew that the second boy shouldn’t be there. It’s thought processes were far different from anything a normal person could fathom, but its overriding motivation was duty and responsibility, and it had a duty to keep its confines secure. That duty could be circumvented by sentiment, of course, such as the house’s decision to return the memory of the father of the chosen boy. But in this case, there was no doubt. The second boy should not be allowed inside.
The house turned its attention to other matters. While its intelligence and sentience were unfathomable in the conventional sense, its mind was incredibly vast and powerful. It maintained the doorways and kept them free of the influence of the Unnamed. It also controlled, at the Gatekeeper’s direction, when and where the house was accessible in the real world. It had failed in these duties before, but those had been isolated incidents, and they had worked out for the best in the end.
A sense of wrongness suddenly intruded on the house’s introspection. It slid its thoughts along the lines of force that controlled the doorways, moving down the endless hallways, trying to find the irregularity. In just moments, it discovered the source of its unease.
The house reached out to the Gatekeeper in order to alert him to the situation, but something blocked it from connecting with the Gatekeeper’s mind. The Gatekeeper was occupied in conversation with the chosen boy, but that would hardly keep the house from getting his attention. It tried again. The Gatekeeper remained frustratingly oblivious.
What to do? This was different than the last incursion by the forces of the Unnamed. There was no sinister presence, no intrusion into the house itself. But the fact that the Gatekeeper was walled off from the house was disturbing.
Something must be done, or it could be disastrous. Even now, the Gatekeeper was leading the chosen boy up the stairs and into the endless hallway. Time was growing short!
Perhaps… perhaps the second boy. The boy outside, who shouldn’t be there. Perhaps…