Five: A Maor Novel (Maor series)

BOOK: Five: A Maor Novel (Maor series)
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Five

(Maor series book one)

By Caroline Greyling

 

Published by: Smart M Communications (PTY)
LTD, Johannesburg South Africa May 2014

Copyright: Caroline Greyling

All rights reserved.

The moral right of the author has been
asserted

Cover design by Bernadette Potter

This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or
are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons,
living or dead is entirely coincidental.

This book or any
portion thereof
may
not be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or
used in any manner whatsoever
without
the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

The author
acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of
certain wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction.

 

Acknowledgements:

To
my parents, who taught me to reach for my dreams;

to
my first believer, Bronwyn;

to
my first readers and critics, Bernadette, Ronelle, Naomi and Liezl;

and
to my family, who supported and encouraged me.

Thank
you!

 
 

Chapter
1

 

Terror

Tastes like: The metallic
saltiness of blood on your tongue.

Smells like: The briny
ocean, when you can’t swim.

Sounds like: The screech of
rubber on tar when you’re half-way across the street.

Feels like: Pins and
needles.

Looks like: The eyes of a tiger,
glowing in the dark.

 

I woke to the
sound of screaming, the kind that raises the fine hairs on the back of your neck,
sets your heart racing from zero to one hundred in two beats and has you
bolting upright, fully alert from the middle of a dead sleep. The clank of
metal on metal, intermingled with cries of pain, drifted in on hazy air through
the open window, filling the room with a thickness that made each inhalation an
effort.

 
I threw back the bedcovers and flew the three
short steps to the bay-window, feet barely touching the carpet. For a moment,
time seemed to pause as I stared, mesmerized at the scene below. I was
ninety-nine percent sure it was night-time, yet the blackness outside my
first-storey window was ablaze with light, emanating from a ring of fire encircling
the house.

Beyond the
reaching flames, there was movement but the silhouettes were distorted through
the miasma of heat and smoke. I caught the reflection of fire on steel, the
dark stain of red and then a scream rent the night-air and time began to move
again. I whirled from the scene below and dashed toward the doorway.

‘Mom!’

My voice was high
and shrill with youth and fear, but lost in the cacophony of sounds that filled
the heavy night.

‘Dad!’

My throat constricted
with rising panic at the responding silence, and along with the thick cloud of
smoke that hung all around me, made every breath burn. Heart pounding, I tore through
the doorway and across the landing, skidding to a stop at my parents’ suite. The
doors leading from their sitting room to the bath and bedroom areas were both
flung wide but the rooms were empty.

‘Mom! Dad!’ I
cried as I struggled to keep my fear in check. I ran down the staircase, from
one empty room to the next and came to a sudden halt before the expansive
windows at the front of the house. Beyond the circle of fire blazing at the
edge of the lawn, the silhouettes took on shimmering, familiar shapes. They
danced in the haze, lunging and jumping in the choreography of an ancient
battle ritual.

One shape, smaller
than the rest, tugged at my subconscious. My mind recognized it and a strange
shiver passed, like a jolt of electricity, from my right hand to my heart. I
looked down at my hand, at the tiny scar there that tingled with sensation and
then back up at the figure in the distance. I could feel my heart beating a
frantic rhythm in my chest, hear my breathing loud and ragged, taste the bitter
edge of terror on my tongue and it seemed as if every fibre of my being was
crying out for me to move, to get outside, to reach the apparition.

I flung myself
through the front door, stumbling to my knees on the porch. My bare legs grazed
against the coarse wooden planks; my cotton pajamas tangled around my limbs,
flimsy and useless against the chilly night air but I hardly noticed as I
scanned the edge of the fiery ring, desperate for a glimpse of the familiar
figure.

My vision blurred
in and out of focus as I knelt there, searching beyond the greedy orange flames,
but then I saw it and began to crawl, heedless of the splinters that embedded
in my palms, or the blinding pain that shot from temple to temple with each
movement.

I couldn’t see, I
couldn’t breathe but it didn’t matter. I had to get there.

Then suddenly,
there were hard hands, pulling me away from the searing heat - away from the
shadow. I struggled against them but they were too strong, and as they drew me
back, I gave a low moan of pained frustration.

In a brief flash
of clarity, I saw the figure turn toward my whimper. Something moved, detached
itself from the shadows behind, something sharp glinted in the firelight… and
then the scene faded into chaotic colours as my vision flickered out of focus
again.

No…

As I desperately renewed
my efforts to free myself, a warm breath whispered something low in my ear but the
vision of that glittering object was branded into the blackness of my eyelids -
and I screamed.

 

‘Nooo!’

My own muffled scream jolts me awake and off the pillow.
Like a swimmer breaking the water surface after a deep dive, I gasp air into my
starved lungs. My eyes scan the darkened room, searching for the danger that
surely lurks there but the room is still, and the shadows harmless. Pressing
one trembling hand to my chest to still the erratic pounding of my heart, I fumble
with the other hand for the switch on the bedside lamp. I find the switch after
knocking my phone to the floor, and survey the room again in the lamp’s soft
illumination.

There is nothing sinister about the white and lavender
embroidered linen, the white-washed cupboards or the Victorian wing-back chair beside
the window, with its disarray of yesterday’s clothing. The yuccas on either side
of the window throw their long shadows across the multi-coloured rug beside my
bed and the African violets on the night-stand, as always, have their pale
purple faces turned toward me, like sunflowers following the passage of the sun
through the sky.
 
  

With a shaky sigh, I swing my legs off the side of the
bed and run a clammy hand through the sticky wisps of hair that cling to my temples.
My eye catches the movement in the dressing-table mirror opposite and I pause,
contemplating with distaste, the face that reflects back at me.

Dark bruises are evident below my too-large emerald-green
eyes and my pink rosebud mouth is set in a grim line, leaving no hint of the
dimple that appears on my right cheek when I smile. I run my fingers through my
long sheet of tar-black hair, twist it off my sweaty neck, and drop it over one
shoulder, revealing the tiny, bone-shaped birthmark below my left ear.

‘Shaylee Greene, pull yourself together, it’s just a
dream,’ I admonish the reflected image.

But in my heart, I know that it isn’t. It’s
the
dream - the same one I’ve had every few
weeks for as long as I can remember. I know its content by heart now, from the
first heart-wrenching scream to the exact point when I wake, yet it still has
the power to set my pulse racing. It is unlike any other dream; there is
nothing surreal or changeable about it. Here, in
the
dream, I have no control; I am captive in its story, helplessly
subject to its intense emotions and powerless to control the never-changing
outcome.

I stifle a yawn on the back of my hand and reach out to
caress the velvet petals of the African violets beside my bed. The relief I
feel is subtle but instantaneous as my own personal ‘rescue-remedy’ takes
effect.

As I revel in the soothing relief flooding though my fingertips,
I’m reminded of the day in third grade when my parents had given me the
pot-plant. I remember how angry I’d been - because I’d asked for a puppy, not a
plant
. As an act of defiance, I’d
refused to water the potted-plant and relegated it to the hottest corner of my
window-sill, where it lay forgotten for three weeks.

One Saturday, I’d stood by my window, looking absently
outside as I waited for my mother to return from the shop to take me to dance
lessons. My fingers had strayed to the discarded plant, and without thinking, I’d
found myself rubbing the drooping petals. A feeling of incredible warmth, like winter
sunshine on my uplifted face, had spread through me from my fingers to my toes,
and I’d stared, amazed as the blooms turned from dismal brown to verdant purple
beneath my fingertips.

For a long time, I’d wondered what it was about the velvet
petals that soothed me or how the delicate blossoms flourished under my constant
man-handling and neglect, but I’d learned to accept it, and eventually, to take
it for granted. Some people have pets - I have African violets.

I let go of the petals and pick up the tiny note-pad
that lies beside it. The word ‘Five’ is scrawled in black fine-point pen on the
cover.
Five
is slightly bent and the
edges of the pages are curled inwards from being constantly shoved into the back
pocket of my jeans. This is my current writing project, its purpose: to use
each of the five senses to describe a particular feeling or emotion that grabs
me.

I slide the small pencil from the spiral binding, turn
to the next open page and write the word ‘terror’ at the top. Beneath it, I
print: ‘tastes like:’ and then leave two lines blank. On every third line, I
write the remaining senses: ‘smells like’, ‘sounds like’, ‘feels like’, ‘looks
like’. I tap the pencil against my lower lip thoughtfully, and proceed to fill
the blank lines.

 

Terror:

Tastes like: The metallic
saltiness of blood on your tongue.

Smells like: The briny
ocean, when you can’t swim.

Sounds like: The screech of
rubber on tar when you’re half-way across the street.

Feels like: Pins and
needles.

Looks like: The eyes of a tiger,
glowing in the dark.

 

For each of the senses, I give myself a maximum of ten
seconds to think of a description. The key is to write the first thing that comes
to mind without regurgitating clichés. Often, I look back at my writing and
think:
what a load of rubbish
, but
every now and then I write something unique and possibly useable. At any rate,
the exercise keeps my imaginative juices flowing and allows me to hone and
practice my writing skills, while providing an outlet for my often intense emotions.

I put
Five
back
beside the violets and glance at the clock with a deep sigh.

Two am.

The frequency of the dream has increased these past few
weeks and is taking its toll on my sleep-deprived body. With less than two
weeks to go to the dance competition, I need my rest.

I grab my iPod off the nightstand, flick off the lamp
and curl into a fetal position with the downy duvet tucked beneath my chin. Then,
I shut my eyes and try to focus on the drum-rhythm beating through my earphones
instead of the minutes ticking by, until finally, my breathing slows and I
drift into dreamless slumber.

BOOK: Five: A Maor Novel (Maor series)
8.78Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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