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Authors: Shana Chartier

Parallel

BOOK: Parallel
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Parallel

Part One

The first novel in our
Interactive Ramblings
collection

 

 

 

Shana Chartier

 

Rambunctious Ramblings Publishing Inc.

Norristown, PA

Interactive Ramblings is the perfect mix of drawing the reader into the action and giving the author a writing adventure they won’t soon forget!

Our innovative project will include five parts of 10,000 words apiece, each one continuing where the previous one left off. In between each installment, there will be a round of voting so the readers can decide how the next part of the story will be written.

See the link below to take part in our adventure!

rrpi.co/interactive-ramblings

Dedication

 

 

For Shane

Chapter One

THEY SAY THE
full moon brings completion to all unfinished things.

Ava sighed, nestling into Mason’s warm embrace as they sat with their feet dangling off the lakeside dock. The lake itself was a glittering canvas of tiny waves dancing in the moonlight, singing to the tune of a happy heart.

“What’s up?” Mason asked, nudging his shoulder against her. Ava lifted her head.

“What?” she asked, gazing up at her love in adoration.

“You sighed,” he replied, a small smirk tugging at the corner of his perfect lips. Ava pulled him closer. She had waited years to be able to touch Mason freely. No use in not taking full advantage of that now. She beamed, brighter than any orb in the sky.

“I’m just happy,” she said on another sigh. Ava knew she should feel like a mushy, love-stricken idiot. All the stupid couples she used to watch made her want to gag when they got all ‘goo goo gaga’ on each other. Deep down in that place no one wants to acknowledge, she wanted it, too. It had taken her years to work up the courage to tell Mason how she felt. When he kissed her for the first time…first love isn’t universally famous for nothing! Never before had she felt her heart soar, her blood rush all through her body, her stomach flutter like a hummingbird’s wings.

Yes, finally, everything was going right. Mason kissed the top of her head.

“Hey, what do you say to a moonlight kayak ride to the bridge?” he asked, rising and holding out a hand for Ava to take.

“I’d say last one to the beach loses!” she stage whispered, pulling his hand to launch herself up and dashing down the long dock toward her parents’ house. Ava wasn’t spoiled, exactly. She was privileged. Her father was a retired sea captain, and the house he chose to settle in before she headed to college was a stately mansion on a clear, clean lake. Warm lighting poured onto a pristine lawn that melted into a small lakefront painted with creamy sand and silt. Bobbing along the shore were two kayaks, one red and one blue, just waiting for them. Before she could step into one, Mason grasped her hand and pulled her in for a kiss. She wrapped her arms around his neck and fell even deeper in love. When he broke the kiss, Mason pressed his forehead against hers, holding her close.

“I love you, Ava,” Mason whispered. She would never get tired of hearing those words. It seemed Ava would never stop smiling again.

“I love you, too,” she said, giving him one more peck before loading herself into her kayak.

The waters were tranquil as they paddled along, enjoying the sounds of nature. Ava skimmed her hand along the cool surface of the lake, her fingers still visible underwater. She could see the bridge towering over a small river.

Bayer’s Bridge was an ancient relic, built of large gray stone. It was one of those scenic landmarks local photographers used to sell pictures to tourists and no longer in use for travel. The archway under the bridge formed a perfect crescent; with the right lighting the reflection of the water created a circle. She gasped. Tonight it appeared to be glowing. Eerie shades of blue wisped in and out of the circle. Or did they? At night, so many things were left to the imagination.

Ava squared her shoulders. She wasn’t going to let childish fears take over. Anyway, Mason was by her side, gazing out at the circle with a faraway look in his eyes. He glanced over at Ava. His eyes looked…misty?

“Another race?” he asked, though his voice seemed strange. Like two voices speaking at once. One the warm timbre that had won her heart, the other a beastly growl. Before Ava could decline and suggest they go home, he began paddling fiercely, leaving her far behind.

“Mason, wait!” Ava cried. She began her own desperate paddle to try to catch up. The bridge loomed closer. Ava glanced into the water. Little wisps of blue light darted in and out of sight from beneath her boat. Her heart raced, though not because of the effort it was taking to catch Mason.

“Mason, please!” she shouted, still paddling. Mason glanced back. Wisps of gold danced around inside his eyes like tiny snakes. Ava bit back a scream.

“Come and get me,” he said. The double voice Ava had heard earlier had taken over. It was deep and gravelly, not Mason at all. His kayak bolted toward the bridge. Ava realized with horror that he was no longer paddling. The paddle stroked a frantic rhythm all its own. Finally, he thundered through the bridge’s circle. As he went through, a blaze of blue light like a million fireworks flashed, blinding Ava. When the flash evaporated, her vision was full of black floating spots. She rubbed them frantically as she tried to see clearly once again.

She realized she wasn’t paddling either, yet her kayak was drawn like a magnet to the bridge. She grasped onto her paddle and tried to pull it back. The boat moved forcefully forward, the bridge looming overhead. Bright light filled her vision once more. Ava screamed as her kayak sailed under the bridge into a raging river in broad daylight.

Sunlight burned her skin as Ava clung to her paddle, which was dangling from her limp hand along the side of her no longer possessed kayak. The kayak dropped into white water rapids, forcing her to avoid rocks and boulders as water splashed mercilessly into her eyes. Wiping her face, Ava manipulated her paddle to keep her boat from slamming into rocks. She looked up and saw the river’s end.

Ava screamed as she plummeted down a waterfall, her kayak pulling away from her body as she fell endlessly. Some part of her brain still functioned, directing her body to go feet first to lessen the blow of the waters below. Ava crashed down, her nose filled with water and her body aching from the impact. Above her the water from the falls churned underwater, and Ava blew air out of her nostrils as she instinctively began to swim away from the chaos. Sunlight beamed through crystal clear water, and as Ava burst to the surface she took a gasping breath. The piercing ache in her lungs eased slightly as she stroked her way to a forested shore, where she collapsed on her back, breathing heavily.

Pressing her palms into green grass, Ava managed to sit upright and glance around. Her kayak was nowhere to be seen. A clear pool of water reflected the crisp green leaves of the surrounding forest, a peaceful contradiction to the violent crashing of the falls. She had to crane her neck and lift her hand to block the sun just to see the top of the waterfall, and her stomach twisted at the sight. Had she really fallen that far? A bout of dizziness overtook her, and Ava fell back to the ground, her vision turning black.

Mason. That was the last thing she remembered before losing consciousness.

***

MUFFLED VOICES.

Dim lights flickered outside of her eyelids.

So tired…

Ava stretched, flinching at sore limbs. Eyes still closed, she felt warm and cozy under a fluffy blanket.
I must have eaten something really weird to have such a dream.

“What are you going to do with her?” someone asked. Ava frowned. It wasn’t her father’s voice. It wasn’t Mason’s.

“I don’t know. We’ll have to figure out where to find another portal and get her back where she came from, I guess,” a female voice said. This one was familiar. Like, really familiar. Unsettlingly familiar. Against her better judgment, Ava opened an eye.

“She’s stirring,” the man said. “I’ll leave you to it.”

A wooden chair scraped against the floor as a burly figure rose and exited through a brightly lit door. Ava opened her other eye and allowed her gaze to dart around the room. She appeared to be sleeping in a storybook cottage. The ceiling looked like it was made of thick hay. A small kitchen housed dried herbs and copper cooking supplies dangling from the walls and ceiling. The smell of roasting meat and pastries permeated the air. Ava’s stomach rumbled. Her bed was roped together with branches, and yet somehow was still surprisingly comfortable. Then again, Ava had always been an avid camper and never minded sleeping on rough surfaces. The girl with the familiar voice took a breath and rose from the table. She turned and Ava gasped.

She was looking at herself.

Not an exact copy, per se. The girl wore cotton trousers, like she was a peasant in some Shakespearean play, and a long white shirt with a brown corset over the front. Her long brown hair was braided back with something that resembled twine, woven with tiny white flowers. She pulled up a small stool and sat facing Ava, her expression direct.

“Well then,” she said, staring at Ava like she was supposed to have any answers at all.

“Where am I?” Ava asked. Her mind flooded with images of the bridge, the glowing light, fighting rapids that had appeared out of nowhere. She rubbed a hand over her eyes, hoping that when she pulled it away, she would see her own room and forget this weird daydream had ever happened. Her doppelganger sighed.

“You got pulled into a portal gate, friend. I’m afraid to tell you that you are me, from another universe. Now I suppose it will be up to me to get you home.”

Chapter Two

AVA STARED AT
herself. She blinked. She blinked again. Her doppelganger waved a hand directly in front of her eyes, startling her.

“Hello, are you still in there?” she said. Ava sat up, and looked down. Her clothes had been changed into something similar to the other girl’s outfit. Cotton trousers and a white top. She glanced up at the girl, feeling violated.

“You changed my clothes while I was asleep?”

Other Ava didn’t look the least bit remorseful.

“Well, if you’re anything like me, you don’t like sleeping in wet clothes, right? Besides, it’s basically like you changed yourself.” The girl tried to look guileless. Ava wasn’t buying it.

“Why do you look just like me? Where am I? What’s going on?”

“Why don’t we take a seat at the table, fill your belly, and I can do my best to explain? You’ve been out cold since yesterday afternoon. I imagine you’re quite hungry.”

After a pause, Ava nodded, following the girl to the table just across the room. It was a very small house, but it felt comfortable. Ava tried to relax. She needed answers. She needed to find Mason and get back home. But hysterics had never solved anything and the girl clearly wasn’t in a hurry to provide information. Ava folded herself into a kitchen chair and watched in silence as the girl set copper plates and misshapen silverware on the table, followed by some kind of meat pies and two cups of what smelled like sweet mead. It reminded Ava of some of her mother’s brewing projects from back home, which was oddly comforting. Her mother loved experimenting with beer and mead, and she wasn’t afraid to sneak Ava a glass every so often, even though she was just seventeen. Still, after falling off a cliff and nearly drowning, Ava was somehow too parched to consider alcohol.

“Do you have any water?” she asked. The girl nodded and brought over a pitcher, filling another copper cup. Ava drank three before she looked up to find the girl seated across the table, staring at her.

“What’s your name?” Ava asked. The girl’s eyebrow lifted.

“Avalon, same as yours, right?”

Ava blushed. She’d always been self-conscious about her weird King Arthur inspired name. Her parents were some odd ducks.

“Um, yes, but I go by Ava.”

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