Years and an Ocean by Jo Noelle
What was meant to be a harmless diversion in Victorian England turned out to be a life altering experience for Delia Spencer. Ever since the day she attended a séance with her friends, she has been plagued by fainting spells while her consciousness visits Elle Thomas–who lives more than a century in the future, in modern Day New York.
Elle hasn’t told anyone about the dream-like memories of Delia’s life. The visits from her have become more frequent, and Elle is becoming confused about what is her life and what is not. Back in England, Delia’s father is determined to marry her off before her illness becomes known to society. Will Delia consent, now that she’s had a taste of Elle’s independence?
Our medium parts a curtain and reenters the parlor, candlelight flickering behind her. Silently, she makes eye contact with each of us, her gestures bidding us into the next room, arranging us around a wooden table, seating herself between Janey and me. The night is clear, but the air smells of dust with the static charge of a lightning storm, though it didn’t feel like this a minute ago. If this isn’t a well-staged theatrical as I’m expecting, then I hope Janey has the right of it and not Madeline. I survey the faces of my friends, smiling or grimacing, as Mrs. Aggret begins snuffing the tapers in the center of the table. It takes a few seconds for my eyes to adjust to the dimming light.
“Many spirits linger near tonight. Keep your palms against the wood to thwart the malevolent souls seeking entrance.” She presses her own hands to the table, nodding to us to do the same. Madeline’s hands press the table hard enough for her fingernails to whiten.
With only one small candle lit and glowing red embers in the fireplace, the room is nearly dark. The medium begins to hum, her head lolling from shoulder to shoulder, her eyes closed. A flicker of anticipation courses through me, part excitement, part fear. When the table shifts back and forth under our hands, I’m close enough to see our medium’s palms resting lightly atop of it, and I realize she isn’t moving it. The feeling of icy sparks wraps around my arms and spills down my spine. I want to shake them out, but I dare not remove my hands from the wood.
The table rocks sharply to the side and drops back, then tips away again. The hair in my clip rises in a breeze. When I peek around the table, no one else’s hair is moving. A cold presence brushes across my back and neck, and my eyes fully open, looking for whoever was touching me, but there is no one in the room with us. I feel it again and gasp, then raise my hand to rub the sensation from my skin. A warning voice whispers fear to my mind. “There’s nothing there. You’re imagining it.” I tell myself with much less confidence than I wish, my warning voice whispers fear to my mind.
Mrs. Aggret’s voice sounds shaky and frightened. “Who’s there? What do you want?” Then she moans, slumping toward her hands, convulsing then stiffening, her head skewing to the side and her chin rising. When she grabs my hand, lightning riots through my body, scorching through my blood, blasting across my skin, and writhing against my heart in palpitations. Though I try to rip my fingers from the table, they don’t respond, and neither does my voice. I’m frozen in place from an electric charge gnawing through me. Gray shadows of myself convulse in and out of my body. I feel as if my flesh, my mind, my very spirit were fighting to remain together. Panic swells in my chest.
The medium’s mouth opens for each word, but it is not her voice I hear. “An altered creature you have become—two lives, a time-ripped soul, from one.” As she finishes, two things happen at once—an arctic breath of wind chokes out the final candle, and the embers in the fireplace explode with life.
My friends leap from their chairs and back away from the fire, their mouths wide with shock, but I hear nothing. The sound in the room is completely white and blank. And it appears that I am the only one incapable of escaping my chair.
Looking down, I will my hands to move, but they stay firmly attached to the tabletop, my thumbs anchored to the edge with ghostly white knuckles. Crimson drops splatter the front of my dress, falling from my nose. Janey’s eyes are wide as she rushes to my side. From deep within my chest, a rip travels up my body, bisecting me, burning away the cold, scalding my heart, searing reality from my sight.
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Years and an Ocean Blog Tour Giveaway
Open internationally – Enter by April 30, 2015
Prize (1 winner) –
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