I’ve decided to begin posting a serial of my first book, which I’ve recently pulled from publication and have revised. It was originally titled The Stream: Discovery, a name I always hated. It’s been retitled The Changeling. If there is some response, I will keep posting it. If not … well, let’s see how it goes.
It’s the story of two kids who find a world beyond the one in which we live–one where dreams come true, but not always in a good way.
Tentatively, I’m thinking of posting Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday. For now, here’s Chapter 1, Part 1. (Note: there may be some typos as I’ve not–and won’t–submit this version to my editor.)
Good Morning Is an Oxymoron
Charlie hated mornings, due, in no small part, to his having the sleep habits of a caffeine-addicted owl. Often, he was just falling asleep as the neighborhood’s early birds were awakening. For Charlie, waking was a thing to be savored over the course of a drowsy hour. He always started his day the same way: by hammering his alarm clock with a closed fist, falling back asleep, arguing with his sister who had been sent to get him up, and then stumbling out of bed, eyes closed, into the bathroom to empty his bladder.
Those were the good old days.
Recent mornings meant a surreptitious sprint to the bathroom. As if starting the day shortly after falling asleep were not bad enough, lately, he woke up like that. Once, his dad had caught him before he could pee, stopped, saluted, and said, “Ten Hut!” Charlie had no idea what he meant at the time, but when everyone else laughed, he knew it wasn’t good. His mom chastised the family and consoled him by stating it was a perfectly normal thing for an eleven-year-old boy. Still, the damage had been done, as his red cheeks attested. It was one thing to be humiliated by virtue of a joke he didn’t understand. It was worse to have his entire family be able to read his embarrassment.
This morning, however, was different than all previous mornings, because though he believed himself awake, Charlie was actually in the middle of an excellent nightmare. In his dream fugue, he staggered into the bathroom, and after completing his mission, opened his eyes for the first time.
What’s the refrigerator doing in here?
He was a bright young man, and it normally wouldn’t have taken him long to guess he was no longer in the bathroom since his mom was a stickler for cleanliness, and having the fridge so close to the toilet would not have passed muster with her. However, Charlie was in the midst of the most vivid dream of his young life, and the relocation of the refrigerator only served to confuse him. It took him fully ten seconds to realize he was standing in the kitchen, dressed, facing the open vegetable crisper. After a quick internal debate, he decided against looking down to see if he had just emptied his bladder into it. He was certain Mom would let him know if he had.
Breakfast consisted of a single kernel of oat cereal in a big bowl of water. Even the dreaming Charlie thought his breakfast odd, but not odd enough to awaken him from his deep slumber. His hunger sated, he walked the quarter mile to his bus stop and stood there alone, waiting. After eternity passed, after the sun grew to a great orange ball of sputtering hydrogen, after the first two planets melted in admiration, and all the stars in heaven were visibly moved, the bus finally showed up. It was a Greyhound with Middul Skool displayed on the front panel.
Middle school is going to rock.