Tag Archives: Young Adult Gothic

Soul Cages is a Finalist for NM-AZ Book Award

Book cover Soul Cages by Lynn KilmoreI hope you all are having a good Tuesday. This is just a quick note that Soul Cages is a Finalist in Young Adult for the 2014 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards.

I’m stoked. This is just the sort of news I needed to hear after recovering from another long bout of illness. I’m looking forward to getting back to the final editing of the sequel to Cubicles, Blood, and Magic so that I can get to work on a new YA novel. It’s going to be a very busy autumn and winter.

Cheers, Lynn

Soul Cages – Part One. Dreams in the Desert. 23.

On to Soul Cages. This week we reach a milestone: the last chapter of Part One. This novel is PG-13 for language and situations, so please be advised.

Soul Cages

 Lynn Kilmore

Second edition copyright © 2014 by Lynn Kilmore

Published by Osuna Publishing

This story is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogue, and locales are either drawn from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, and locales is entirely coincidental.

Part One. Dreams in the Desert

23

Friday morning came all too soon. Even the distraction of having to drop Dad off at work couldn’t help me keep from dwelling on the upcoming meeting with Andervender.

Henry and I discovered that Dad worked in a glass-and-concrete office building near I-25. “Nusystech is on the top three floors,” Dad told us. “After the October software release, I’ll be able to work less hours.”

Dad and Mom then fought for over ten minutes about what time Mom should pick him up. Mom wanted him to come home early since it was Friday. Dad felt it would look bad if he left while the programmers he oversaw were still working. In the end they compromised on six o’clock.

After Dad got out, I had to get into the front passenger seat. Next stop, First Beginnings.

Mom drove hunched over the wheel, fuming about Dad refusing to leave early.

Near the end of the drive, Henry sensed Mom’s upset. He pointed at a gathering of pigeons on a streetlight. “Pigeon party!”

Mom didn’t laugh.

“Pigeon party!” Henry said again.

“Hush, Henry,” Mom said.

We pulled into the cracked parking lot for First Beginnings. On a weekday the shopping center was even more depressing to look at. Except for First Beginnings in the center, most of the storefronts were empty. Only a locksmith and a tax service were in business on the far left side of the center.

Mom led the way, pulling open a glass door that let out a blast of chilled air. To me, Mom’s heels echoed too loudly in the empty sanctuary. As we approached Andervender’s office, I smelled his aftershave and heard his chair creak as he shifted in it.

Mom rapped on his office doorframe. She peered in to exchange joyous greetings with Andervender, as Henry and I lingered behind.

“You ought to get a secretary,” Mom said.

“Next year,” Andervender replied, “perhaps the church can hire one. With the way we’re growing, we’ll soon have the funds to do so. And I’m thinking we’ll be ready for a Wednesday night service. Maybe even a second service on Sundays.”

I realized, appalled, that Mom might apply for the secretary job.

Mom said to me, “I’ll take Henry. You come get us when you’re done.” Mom led Henry over to the Sunday School room, entered, and closed the door behind them—leaving me in the hall.

I took deep breaths and shoved my shaking hands into my pockets as I slowly walked into the dim bookshelf-lined office. Lighting came from two desk lamps on either side of Andervender’s desk.

Beneath the aftershave reek was the scent of decaying books.

“Ah, there you are, Marian.” Andervender sat in a high-backed leather chair behind a mahogany desk, hands clasped together, laptop and papers neatly pushed to the side. “Please shut the door behind you.”

I closed the door, and walked as slowly as I dared toward his desk, studying the room.

There were no windows. Three filing cabinets took up the wall next to the door. On the bookshelves were religious books—Bibles, theological tomes, references, and who knew what.

Andervender waved a hand at the two leather chairs before his desk. “Please, Marian, have a seat.”

I avoided looking at his face as I sat, instead watching his hands. How I wish I never had to listen to another sermon of yours. How I wish I never had to see you again.

My silence got to him, for he tapped a silver pen against his desk blotter as he waited for me to speak. When it became clear I wouldn’t, he said, “You and your family have had quite a week.”

“Yes.” I looked at the shelf behind his desk with its Bibles of various sizes and colors.

“You’ve hurt you parents quite badly.”

No way was I responding to Andervender’s guilt bait. I eyed his laptop. It looked new, probably purchased in the last year or so.

Andervender steepled his fingers together. “Your parents have sacrificed much to bring you and Henry out here.”

I studied the glass-enclosed shelf above the Bibles. It held ceramic vases.

“Your mother tells me you asked to go to the Methodists.”

“Yes. I want to go to the nearest Methodist Church instead.”

“Would you mind telling me why?”

“It was my Grannie’s church.”

He shook his head sadly at me. “So many have lost their way from the Gospel, lost the gifts the Church once held. You would be lost there to God and Christ.”

I took a deep breath, gathering my strength, and shook my head in return. “No I wouldn’t.”

“You are mistaken.” He pointed his pen at me. “Almost all have lost the power of the Spirit, the power to heal your brother, the power to see the visions of God, to speak as the prophets spoke.” His voice rose in indignation. “Your parents have brought your brother to me to be healed, and by the power of the Spirit through me he shall be. Are you so enamored of Henry’s dependency on you that you would stand in the way of him being cured?”

I gripped the armrests, feeling the leather grow slick under my sweating palms. “That’s what you think.”

His voice boomed like thunder. “That’s what ‘I’ think! That’s all you can say to me on such a grave matter as your brother’s cure?”

I trembled, but made myself stare into his eyes, not saying another word. No excuses, no pleadings.

Andervender flung his pen down. It rolled off to clatter on the floor. His mask of kindly concern was gone, replaced with rage. “Your selfishness knows no bounds. I am very disappointed, but in time, you will come around. The truth will out, as Scripture shows.” He gave me a knowing smile as he reached a hand inside the central desk drawer. “I had a long talk with Mrs. Hawthorn about your life in Alexandria. I sensed, by the guidance of the Spirit, that there was much you’d kept hidden.” He pulled out a silver ring, rolling it between his thumb and fingers as he showed it to me. “Do you know what this is?”

My throat went dry.

“Well?” He held the ring out in his palm. Watching me, weighing me. “You do, don’t you? I can see it in your face. It’s a purity ring. But if I asked you to wear it, as a symbol of your pureness of mind and body and soul, you’d refuse, wouldn’t you? You’d say it was because you don’t believe in wearing such a ring, but we both know it’s nothing like that.” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “Trent Fenchel. Yes, I know his name. And his phone number. He remains angry about the way you dumped him.” Andervender dropped the ring onto the blotter. “You’re not a virgin.”

Humiliation and rage flooded within me. Any denial would sound weak to my own ears, let alone Andervender’s.

Andervender nodded. “I give you credit for not wasting my time with pathetic lies.” He scooped the ring back up and put it away. “Here are how things are going to be, Miss Marian. I shall not require you to wear a purity ring, for now, since you have much to atone and cleanse your soul for. You’ll go to Youth Group, stop the nonsense about leaving for another church, and not interfere as I heal your brother.”

“N-no.”

“I must have misheard you. What did you just say?”

No.”

Andervender pinched the bridge of his nose. “Very well then. You can leave.”

I rushed out, feeling like I’d nearly been struck by lightning. When I threw open the Sunday school door, Mom took one look at me and said, “Marian, what’s wrong?”

Andervender came to his door, smiling, and called out to my mom, “Mrs. Hawthorn, may I have a moment of your time, please?”

I watched with dread as Mom got up and went into Andervender’s office. Andervender gave me a stern look, and shut the door.

The deep rumble of Andervender’s voice was muffled by the door. But I knew he’d decided to punish me by telling Mom about Trent. Waiting here was more than I could bear.

I said to Henry, “C’mon, let’s wait outside.” Henry swept the blocks back into the box without my help, then jumped up to follow me down the hall.

As we made our way through the curtains, Henry said, “Do we have come here again?”

“Probably.” I shoved open a glass door with my shoulder, and stumbled into the sunlight to warm up my chilled skin.

No matter how I tried, I couldn’t think of a way to head off the coming fight with Mom.

Henry sat on the shopping center’s curb and pointed out the circling pigeons to me.

Finally Mom came out, eyes red. She said not a word to me or Henry as she drove us home.

************** End of Part One. 23. *****************

 

Soul Cages – Part One. Dreams in the Desert. 22.

Here’s Chapter 22 from Soul Cages (rated PG-13).

Soul Cages

 Lynn Kilmore

Second edition copyright © 2014 by Lynn Kilmore

Published by Osuna Publishing

This story is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogue, and locales are either drawn from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, and locales is entirely coincidental.

Part One. Dreams in the Desert

22

I found Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday followed the same schedule as Monday. Morning run, then watching Dad drive off at seven. Unpacking boxes, then John arriving after lunch to fix things. Helping with repairs, then participating in a prayer circle with Mom and John at five-thirty when he left. Eating a too-silent dinner with Henry and Mom, then taking Henry out to play at Piñon Park; Ben, Sarah, and Fermat joined us on Wednesday evening. Sneaking off to call Nicole, then Dad stumbling home exhausted at nine from work.

Through it all, the winds blew, kicking up reddish dust to hang above the city. And the upcoming meeting with Andervender on Friday loomed in the back of my mind.

I asked Ben to stop by with Jin on Sunday to meet Dad. Ben was willing, so we set the time for one-thirty.

Every day John and I talked, but kept to safe topics since Henry and Mom interrupted us frequently. We talked about Alexandria versus Albuquerque; about autism; about Habitat for Humanity; about the yard work he did for Mr. Brown, Mrs. Girady, Mr. Rickmand, Miss Wratham and others; about East Alexandria High School, though I left Trent out; about my summer trips with Grannie and Aunt Letty to the Outer Banks; about the black sheep in John’s family—Uncle Arn, who was an entertainment lawyer in Los Angeles; about Grannie’s love of writing poetry and poetry slams; and on and on.

Each night I wondered if I ought to fake a fight with John to take the pressure off him to change my mind about First Beginnings. On Thursday night’s call I asked Nicole for advice.

“Forget it,” Nicole said. “It’s too late. They know you two get along, and would expect any fight to blow over. But if you told your mom you wanted to date him, his parents would freak since they think you’re not a good Christian. He’d be ordered to stay away.”

My heart sank. “I’d do it, except I’d lose John’s friendship.”

“Well, it’s the only solution I can think of. You sound so lonely and stressed out there. Once Mom’s past the chemo, I’ll come out to visit.”

“That’d be great.” But I wondered how willing Mom and Dad would be to have Nicole visit. They had left no friends behind, just acquaintances and coworkers. I doubted they would want to find out how First Beginnings looked through Nicole’s eyes.

************** End of Part One. 22. *****************

Happy Thanksgiving! L.M.

Soul Cages – Part One. Dreams in the Desert. 21.

We’re approaching the end of Part One of  Soul Cages (PG-13). Just a few more chapters, and then it’s on to Part Two.

Soul Cages

 Lynn Kilmore

Second edition copyright © 2014 by Lynn Kilmore

Published by Osuna Publishing

This story is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogue, and locales are either drawn from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, and locales is entirely coincidental.

Part One. Dreams in the Desert

21

I spent the morning helping Henry unpack his boxes and hanging up his white boards (one used for his daily schedule, the other for his monthly calendar). But the overstimulation of the last few days had taken its toll on him. Henry began to repetitively flick his legs, arms, and face after lunch.

“Hey,” I said, “do you need a deep pressure session?”

Henry ran for the white couch and got the seat cushions pulled off before I caught up with him. He flopped onto the carpet and lay on his stomach.

I piled the cushions on his back and legs. He preferred that I start with his back, so I placed both hands on the cushion, which rose and fell with Henry’s breathing, and pushed down as hard as I could.

Henry gave a happy sigh.

Then the blasted doorbell rang. I let Mom answer the door since I had no keys to unlock it. I was relieved to hear only John’s voice in answer to Mom’s greeting as I kept up the pressure on Henry’s back.

John’s toolbox rattled as he said, “I’ll start with the main bathroom faucets you told me about. Then I’ll look over the irrigation system.” He caught sight of Henry and me in the living room, and paused, bemused.

“Marian is helping Henry to calm down,” Mom said.

John put down his toolbox and came into the living room. He had fresh grass stains on his jeans and T-shirt. “Can I help?”

I leaned forward to whisper in Henry’s ear, “Is it okay if John pushes the leg cushion?”

“Yeah,” Henry said.

“Go ahead and push down on the cushion on his legs,” I told John. “Henry will say ‘more’ or ‘less’ if he needs you to push harder or relax.”

On his first attempt, John pressed gingerly on the cushion, and Henry said “More.”

“Don’t worry,” I said. “You can’t hurt him with that cushion.”

John studied how much weight I was putting on mine, and adjusted his arms accordingly.

Henry gave a pleased grunt.

“Now you’ve got it,” I said.

“How long do you apply pressure?” John asked.

“You don’t have to keep doing this,” Mom interjected. “Marian’s got it under control.”

“No, it’s all right,” John said to Mom. “Like I said, I want to understand Asperger’s better.”

Mom fiddled with her keys. I could tell Mom was embarrassed about John seeing Henry like this.

I said, “I usually do this for ten to fifteen minutes per cushion. Feel free to get up whenever you’ve had enough.”

But John stayed the entire time, asking questions. I ended up giving a rather detailed lecture about the nervous system difficulties of kids with autism. At some point Mom wandered off to unpack boxes in the kitchen.

Once done, Henry followed John to the main bathroom to watch him work on the faucets and clogged sinks.

I went back to work on Henry’s boxes. But I could hear bangs and clangs from the main bathroom, and the muffled rise and fall of Henry’s voice asking questions.

Then I overheard Mom go into the main bedroom and scold Henry for bothering John. Which shut Henry up. But the clatter of tools and hammering went on. I was impressed that Henry didn’t come running into his bedroom with his hands over his ears. The lure of a toolbox had proved to be strong enough to overcome Henry’s noise sensitivity.

I’d gotten to unpacking Henry’s CDs of animal recordings— whales, frogs, and wolves were his favorites—when the racket stopped.

Henry said in the hall, “Here’s my dead bug collection.” He dragged John by the hand into his bedroom.

John caught sight of Sydney’s closet, and paled.

“Henry, let me get the collection for you.” I rushed for the shoebox on top of his short bookcase. “You can take it out to the backyard where the light is better.” I put the box in Henry’s free hand, and he whirled around and tried to drag John out of the room.

But John resisted, his gaze fixated on the closet. The raw pain on his face made me look away.

Henry tugged harder at John’s hand.

John snapped out of his thoughts. “It’s okay. There’s enough light for you to show me the collection here.”

I watched him struggle to listen to Henry as my brother pointed out the various dead insects and spiders he’d gathered.

When it became clear Henry was stuck in a monologue, I said to him, “Henry, how about you take your box outside and add those dead spiders we found near the apple tree?”

Henry raced out of the room. I made to follow, but John reached out toward me and said, “Stay, please.”

We both stared at the closet.

“There’s something I need to do,” John said. “If you would warn me if you hear your mother.”

I moved over to the bedroom door and listened. “Mom’s in the kitchen,” I whispered.

John walked over to the closet door slowly, as if he moved underwater, and gently grasped it to pull it all the way open. He took a sharp breath when the scent of roses hit him, and then flicked on the closet light.

The grimy interior was just as depressing as I remembered it. John stepped inside, kneeled, made the sign of the cross, and bowed his head.

He began to pray, too softly for me to hear.

My ears strained to place Mom’s movements. A faint sound of ripping cardboard; Mom tearing open a box.

John finished his prayer, made the sign of the cross upon the floor, and then stood up and proceeded to say the Lord’s Prayer while making the sign of the cross on the walls, closet door, and into the air.

Then he came out, flicking off the light. He said, sorrow in his voice, “I’ve done what I can.”

I was unable to hide my confusion.

He touched the cross around his neck. “Some say the souls of suicides are lost or damned.”

I thought of Sydney and shivered. “What does your father believe?”

“He believes they’re damned.”

“And you?”

“I’m pinning my hopes on grace.”

“You were praying for her soul, weren’t you? Praying she finds her way if she’s lost.”

John nodded.

Henry’s room felt too dark and damp. I needed sunlight. “Let’s take a break and join Henry in the backyard.”

I headed for the kitchen, John following. Mom was busy putting fine china in high cabinets where Henry couldn’t reach.

Mom caught sight of John. “How’s the faucets?”

“Fixed,” John said. “I’m going to look at the back irrigation system.”

I hurried into the backyard.

“I’ll bring out lemonade in a few minutes,” Mom called after us.

Henry sat in the house’s shadow watching anthills. The bright sunlight was welcome after Syd—no, Henry’s—room, but the gusts of dirt-filled wind were annoying.

John moved past me, and kneeled next to a plastic cover in the ground. “Stay back. May be black widows.” He flipped the cover up and over, and studied the interior. “All clear.”

Henry and I peered over John’s shoulder into the moist graveled pit in which the line valves for the irrigation system were laid.

Henry said, “Found two dead wolf spiders, and one dead daddy longlegs to put in my collection. I want any dead black widows.”

No,” John and I said in unison.

Henry groaned “Jinkies” in protest, and went back to watching anthills.

Mom came out, handed around plastic cups of lemonade, took a look at the valves, and then retreated back into the house complaining of the dust and heat.

John said in an undertone, “I’m going to check the irrigation sprinklers before I flip this system on. Come with me.”

His tone hinted that I wouldn’t like what he had to tell me. Something about Matthew or his parents, no doubt. “Okay.”

He went around the side of the house to the apple tree—out of earshot of Mom if the kitchen window was open. He studied the ground, and nudged a broken irrigation head near the tree. “Cracked,” he said to himself. “The ‘official’ reason I’ve been sent over here is that your parents need help getting this place fixed up.”

I tugged a leaf off the tree and crumpled it in my fist. “What’s the other reason?”

“Your mom told my parents about you demanding to go to a different church, and about the screaming match in the street between you and Matt.” John looked impressed. “That must have been some fight, because Matt swears he never wants to speak to you again. My mom’s given up on you two going out. I was supposed to help.”

“Yeah, I got to watch you stomp your brother’s toes and kick his heel.”

“Glad it’s over.” He shook his head. “My new commission is to change your mind about Youth Group and First Beginnings. But I think you should go where you want.”

“What happens if you fail in changing my mind?”

“That’s not your problem.”

“My feelings aren’t your responsibility!”

“They’ve now made it so. I’ll cope.” He pulled out a screwdriver to poke around the cracked irrigation head.

John acted like it was no big deal, but I sensed he was under intense pressure to get me in line. Anger simmered in me but I couldn’t think of an immediate solution. If I confronted Pastor Andervender, he’d figure out John was talking about things he was supposed to keep quiet.

There’s time, I told myself. I don’t have to have an answer now. Dad’s commitment to First Beginnings is weakening, and soon Mom’s will as well. I just need to be patient.

************** End of Part One. 21. *****************

Have a great week! L.M.

Soul Cages – Part One. Dreams in the Desert. 20.

My husband and dog are both definitely on the mend from their injuries from the dog attack, so I’m taking a quick moment to post the next chapter of Soul Cages as I promised. Oh, and the Goodreads giveaway of 9 signed copies will end by midnight on Nov. 18. (Soul Cages is PG-13.)

Soul Cages

 Lynn Kilmore

Second edition copyright © 2014 by Lynn Kilmore

Published by Osuna Publishing

This story is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, dialogue, and locales are either drawn from the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, and locales is entirely coincidental.

Part One. Dreams in the Desert

20

I crawled out of bed at six when my cell phone alarm went off. Thank God, I’d been spared another vivid dream. I needed to get back into a morning running routine no matter how tired I felt.

As I dressed in running clothes, I thought about the night before. Albuquerque sewer roaches had proved to be fast. The roaches loved to congregate in clusters next to the metal sewer covers. Henry had snuck up on each cluster to flick on his flashlight, causing them to scatter. If I’d let him, he would have done it for hours.

I’d convinced Dad to let me keep his keys, as long as he got them back before he left for work at seven.

The morning air was cool as I let myself out of the house. The Sandia Mountains blocked the rising sun. I did a slow run around my block ten times, studying the houses—there were barred windows, home security stickers, BEWARE OF DOG signs. One portion of the run I nicknamed Street of Barking Dogs due to the racket made as I jogged past. On a longer run I’d head for the bike trail to escape the incessant barking.

When I got back, Dad was microwaving his breakfast and had put out paper plates and napkins for everyone.

Dad said, “Mom and Henry are sleeping.” He pulled out his paper plate from the microwave—French toast sticks—and ate them with maple syrup and a sliced banana.

I sat at the kitchen table and put his keys on the smooth wooden surface, pushing them toward him. “I’ll see if Mom can get keys made from hers today.”

Dad looked apologetic. “I’ll have the car since it’s my first day. This Saturday we’ll drive over to a hardware store and have it done.”

“Okay. Oh, Ben was wondering if Henry and I could join him and his girlfriend Jin to explore Sandia Crest on Saturday.”

Dad paused in tossing his plate into the garbage.

I could tell he was torn. He knew Henry would love such a trip, but he hadn’t met Ben and Jin.

Dad threw the soggy paper plate away. “Not until I meet this Ben person first. And definitely not this Saturday, it’ll have to be a later one.”

He picked up his briefcase, made for the kitchen archway, stopped, and came back to me. “I know you’re angry about having to move out here for senior year, but your mother and I honestly believe we have a chance at curing Henry before it’s too late.” He leaned over and kissed me absentmindedly on the forehead. “Pastor Andervender wants to meet with you for counseling on Friday morning at eight-thirty. Be good and help your mother today. She’s exhausted from all the excitement.”

A counseling session with Andervender, just what I DON’T need.

************** End of Part One. 20. *****************

Take care until next time, L.M.