Hello!

This is the post excerpt.

I’m Gina Ouellette, and this is my blog. I’m going to be posting my story by each chapter (they’re short chapters, because I get tired of typing after a while 😉 ). I’m doing this because it’s FUN and because I love writing and I want people to be able to read my stories. After all, I want to be an author someday! 🙂 🙂

I hope you like my story . . .

 

Chapter Twenty-Eight

The next few days I spent a lot more time with my family than usual. I got to stay up late, playing card games and board games and watching movies, even boring games and an okay movie that somehow we ended up having way to much fun with-simply because we were together, and felt closer than we had in ages. Something had occurred between us in the last few scary hours of my life, and, somehow, it made all the difference. Like it was easier to talk freely and laugh away troubles `after you’d been reduced to not knowing where to start.

In fact, it took me three days to discover I’d gotten a text from Cara. I instantly felt bad for not responding quickly. Did she think I was blowing her off? I pressed my thumb to home button and clicked on her contact.

Come over my house Friday at nine its about the place with the stuff

I noted absent-mindedly that she really should have written it in two sentences before realizing that she meant today.

And while “the place with the stuff” could technically mean virtually anything, there was only one place I figured it could be. (Hint: I just realized it existed and the portal is my fireplace . . .but please tell me you did not need that hint)

Considering it was about the single most intriguing thing in my life, I decided to go even though I wanted just as bad to hang with my parents longer. So, after spending fifteen minutes convincing my parents I wasn’t going to die on the way there, I hopped on my bike and set off to Cara’s house.

My neighborhood was large and complicated. It was also the place to go for privacy-which made sense, really, considering I lived there. It had such a random location and a tendency of making strangers accidentally circle through all the same places, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone unfamiliar make it near my house at the cul-de-sac. Besides Autumn, that is.

But people as strange and mysterious as her shouldn’t count for these things.

However, Cara lived in the neighborhood over, which was a different story. She lived at what was not only a larger house than any in my neighborhood, but also the one people tended to remember because of the insane zip-line in the side yard. (I’ve been on it several times-it’s great because it goes right over the in-ground pool and we can let ourselves drop into the water. Being friends with Cara has its perks)

Cara’s house is also perfectly positioned for spying. It sits right next to the main road, so any cars that come in the neighborhood go right by it.

Of course, that’s not the only exit from her neighborhood. However, the other one recently was blocked by a fairly large sinkhole, and no one really used it anyway so it never got fixed.

It made Cara’s house the perfect secret agent headquarters in third grade, when we would spy on suspicious neighbors returning from their highly illegal grocery shopping.

Now, I absent-mindedly lead my bike into the driveway and stopped at the extremely familiar surroundings.

Cara stood in the open garage, enthusiastically and urgently beckoning me over.

What did she have in mind that was so urgent?

Chapter Twenty-Seven

“I-sorry-didn’t mean-” I choked, but they were hopping down through the hole with expressions of utter relief and suddenly I found myself in the center of a tight, three-way hug.

I just stood there (because somehow I had gotten whisked off my bed), wide-eyed. I barely even winced when they accidentally touched the several cuts and bruises all over me.

After an eternity of tears and shock and love, my dad finally pulled away, looking more steely and stern despite the extra shines in his eyes. “You are in big trouble, young lady,” he stated firmly.

“I’m really sorry,” I apologized.

“Any how many times have we talked to you about strangers?” Mom added.

I remained silent in response to this. After all, she’d really only said it once or twice-I could be so agreeable and rule-abiding at times that it didn’t seem necessary to push reminders of boundaries. However, it really didn’t seem smart to say so now. Right now, I just wanted to be back in their good graces, and maybe even get back all the trust I must have utterly demolished just now.

“That Autumn,” Mom continued, hugging me close again, “barging into the house, and the attic, never mind vandalizing our property . . .” It appeared she was far more angry at Autumn than she could ever be at me.  “What happened on the island?” It was spoken with an urgency on levels I didn’t usually hear from her.

I explained everything, from how Cara and I wandered the island to discovering the secret hideout and Angela helping us get back. They looked startled at how long we searched the island, then nodded when Angela came up. When I finally finished my story, something had occurred to me. “Why didn’t you come after me?”

“We wanted to,” Dad assured me quickly. “But it seemed likely the people who sent Autumn were waiting for you there, so we called Angela for backup. She told us nobody else was there.”

“They have WiFi there,” Mom explained further, “But it’s unpredictable how long it takes a signal to travel through the portal. I had no idea you were there so long!” Then she said something that caught me off guard. “We’re so sorry.”

“What?” I asked, startled.

“We’re sorry,” Dad repeated.

I blinked. In all my predictions and fantasized scenes of this moment I had come up with in the last few days, this scenario had not been one of them. Even in fantasies where my parents decided to reward my hard work discovering their secrets at such odds against me with a trip to Disney World, there was no apology. This, for one, I had not anticipated.

“We were too secretive and we lied to you, when you’re our daughter and you deserve to know.” Mom sounded frustrated with someone-maybe herself. “It could have destroyed our relationship, and I’m so sorry.”

I opened my mouth, but was unsure why I’d done it. No words came to me, and even if they had, I’d suddenly found myself incapable of speaking at all. Something had stuck itself in my throat, and I could only wait for Mom, or Dad, to fill the silence.

However, they hadn’t expected me to say anything. They simply brought me into a tight hug once more, and seemed excessively reluctant to ever let go.

And I didn’t mind at all.

Even with my cuts and bruises protesting every squeeze and touch, I didn’t pull away or even wince. I barely even realized they were there.

Instead, I felt something I’d felt a few times before, but never to this degree. It was like the calm after the storm. All the anxiety and nerves and jumpiness that had built up inside me to massive, dark clouds dropping torrents of rain had been suddenly blown away. The sun shone down, and so abruptly I hadn’t seen it coming, and now all I could feel was happiness.

Happiness, relief . . . and peace.

And finally I found my voice again. “I’m sorry,” I croaked, as if they hadn’t known that already, and the hug broke up. “I love you.”

Chapter Twenty-Six

“So we just touch it?” Cara asked, peering at the little brown blob curiously.

“Yes,” Angela confirmed. “But first you have to decide where to land . . . and you’re probably going to want somewhere soft.”

My terrifying fall into the ocean came to mind, and I nodded. I wouldn’t want to repeat that onto concrete.

I walked over to the Peacock Fern tentatively, with a few glances back at Cara in case she had any more silent “messages”. She didn’t, although she did seem a bit wary.

The plant dangled from Angela’s hand. It was almost ominous, the way the bright colors shimmered as they swayed slightly, compelling me over. It was like they called bystanders over in mock innocence touch me . . . touch me . . .

And I was that crazy one who would be touching it. Who would let the temporary portal open. Who would use the fern for its concealed power.

It didn’t seem prudent.

But I was doing it.

I reached out a hand, concentrating on my soft bed at home.

My finger was an inch away from it . . .

At the last second, I looked up at Angela. She was smiling, watching me warmly with that calm, friendly manner she had so mastered. “Thank you,” I said.

My finger brushed against the slightly fuzzy surface of the seed. Pushing my bed back to mind, I tried not to wonder what the portal would look like . . .

And long before I could have guessed, it formed out of nowhere.

One second, I was standing with my finger on a brown seed. The next, I was falling through nothingness.

The ground seemed to suddenly be simply not there. It had disintegrated into nothing from beneath my feet. I barely had time to see Cara’s startled expression and Angela’s forever calm one before the blackness swallowed me up.

For the second time that day, I was caught between worlds-between what human senses can detect and what, if there was anything there at all to be detected, we would never be capable of knowing.

And then, once again, it was over.

There was a flash of light, and in an instant I realized something was wrong.

Instead of the calming blue of my room, I saw the bright, flashing lights of the attic. I barely caught sight of my parents’ shocked faces before I hit the floor.

However, the Peacock Fern seemed still to know how to get the job done. The impact had been too much for that particularly feeble section of floor.

There was a stentorian crash that rattled the whole house-and then I was on my bed, just not quite as intended.

Funny, really-it didn’t feel as comfortable as anticipated as I lay on it and a host of other debris, shocked, staring through a gaping hole in the ceiling.

Everything was silent.

My parents peered through the hole. Seeing their expressions, anyone would have thought they were in the middle of finding a dead body. But, the scary part was, maybe they thought they would.

More silence.

That is, except for the deep breaths I was taking, trying to remain calm but utterly failing.

My arm and half my back burned where I had broken the ceiling. I could feel drops of blood dripping off me and onto the debris below me-hot and yet chilling.

I wondered weakly whether my parents would pity me at all-if, say, I had seriously hurt myself-after what I had put them through. But now didn’t really seem to be the time for such thoughts.

Then my mom exclaimed, “Sofie!”

Chapter Twenty-Five

“C’mon, let’s go.” Angela walked over to the tropical forest section of the island.

Feeling a bit like a robot told to walk into an active volcano-programmed to follow, but dreading its destination-I tailed her wordlessly. In all the wide, wide world of words and sentences, I had nothing, absolutely nothing, to say.

Out of the corner of my eye, I caught Cara’s eyes for a split second. They were a bit wide, considering we were just casually strolling along a perfect island. And it wasn’t like she had to worry about being in trouble. Her parents would think she had a nice day at good friend Sofie’s house, and maybe hit the beach, from the look of her damp, sand-coated clothes.

She stared at me pointedly.

I frowned. Was it possible she was trying to convey a silent message? Because I had no idea what she was trying to say.

Angela lead us down one of the many dirt paths that swerved through the foliage, transforming the place into a complex labyrinth. As she inadvertently brought us through one fork and another, it occurred to me that I might not have actually explored the entire island. The way Cara and I had wandered around, we could have easily missed whole sections-despite our feeble attempts at thoroughness.

I caught Cara’s gaze again. She gave me an even more pointed stare with eyes wide enough, now, that her irises floated oddly within the vast white.

What?” I mouthed, not sure whether to be concerned or annoyed.

Cara tilted her head in Angela’s direction.

I turned from Angela to Cara, utterly perplexed. What was she getting at? All Angela was doing was striding along the paths, and, apparently, thoroughly enjoying the scenery. Personally, Sofie didn’t find palm trees and all the various other plant life all that fascinating-but it wasn’t anything to hold against her.

When I turned back to Cara, Cara had her finger to her lips.

What?!” I mouthed again. Whatever message Cara was trying to tell me, I was no closer to understanding it then when she had stared at me.

Irritated, Cara shook her head in defeat.

Okay . . .

Angela stopped abruptly, and I almost crashed into her.

“Um . . . exactly how are we getting back?” I questioned.

Angela waved towards some foliage. “You’ll find this plant can be very useful.”

Cara and I exchanged incredulous looks.

However, Angela just smiled, apparently oblivious to our doubt, and picked up a piece of what looked like a wrongly-colored fern. It was long and shimmering green with blue and red splotches down the center, speckled with silver for a finishing touch. A perfectly round, brown seed hung from the end-which was a bit confusing, since normal ferns don’t even grow seeds.

I blinked stupidly. What was it?

“It’s the doprava aliscent,” Angela said, as if reading the question off my mind. “But most people call it the Peacock Fern.”

I could see why. It really did look like a peacock feather-as if someone had tugged it off the bird and somehow convinced it to grow. However, while this was all fairly fascinating, I couldn’t see how random knowledge of tropical plant life would get me home.

Not that I was in much of a rush, of course. I still had no idea what to say to my parents. Or, for that matter, what they would say to me. What do you say to someone who just broke rules shamelessly, indirectly blew up the attic door, and then ran away to an island who-knows-where?

Waves of pure dread washed over me as often as the real ocean slid on and off the shore.

At Cara and I’s silence, Angela finally spoke again. “They’re magic,” she explained pointedly. “The seeds create a portal in the ground for a few seconds when you touch them.”

Oh. That made more sense.

And yet . . . absolutely none. A temporary portal in the ground? What would it even look like? I mean, the fireplace portal had just been a hole-but they couldn’t all look like that, could they?

I guess I would just have to find out.

 

Chapter Twenty-Four

img_0933But Angela didn’t seem daunted by Cara’s doubt. “It would be incredibly difficult to convince the world,” she explained. “I don’t think they would trust my sanity. Imagine bringing people here-‘Just jump down the dark, foreboding hole, I promise you’ll be fine’…I don’t know how well that would work.”

Although I recognized the truth in this, I felt more and more indignant as I thought about it. How many people had lived and died, never knowing the amazing secrets nobody had bothered to share? And why they didn’t? Because they were scared-scared of what people might think of them, and too comfortable on their private island to find better ways of traveling there. And my parents-my parents were some of them!

And they never even told me.

At this thought, I gripped the rock I was sitting on a bit more fiercely.

Angela must have noticed, because she spoke again. “It is more complicated than just that, though.”

I glanced up from my glare at the ocean. “How?”

Angela sighed. “People,” she muttered pensively, shaking her head. “So indecisive and impossible. They wish they could magically change things in life, or escape to another dimension, but when they find out they can…”

“What?” Cara prodded impatiently.

“They refuse to believe it,” Angela announced bluntly. “For years and years people have believed they’ve ‘disproven’ magic, and they’re not going to admit they-and all the people they admire and respect-were wrong.

“So to them it doesn’t matter how much evidence there is for or against anything we say, it’s all wrong.”

“So you just gave up?” Cara demanded.

“No,” Angela replied. “Not yet. That’s really the ultimate goal of the CDA, for the Mutiverse’s existence to be common knowledge. However, for now we’re just working on the portal issue.”

Angela looked me straight in the eye, and for a second I wondered if she was trying to read my mind or something. Then she stared at Cara the same way, and told us solemnly, “So I think you’ll understand if, for now, I ask you not to tell anyone what you’ve seen?”

Cara nodded slowly, seeming excited to be let in on the secret but still a tad wary.

I hesitated. I didn’t want to keep this to myself. Something very large had welled up inside me and shouted incessantly at the unfairness. But, then again, Angela had a point-and even if she didn’t-she had been really nice to Cara and I, and I could only return the favor.

I opened my mouth to say “I understand”, but the words got stuck in my tongue and somehow morphed into nothingness.

It seemed pure insanity to me to think of how this place existed and I believed it true, but even more incredible to think I could leave and simply pretend it didn’t exist. How impossible…how frustrating…how-well, how in sync with my parents’ plans to keep it hidden.

Locked up and protected, safely out of prying hands. Like the basement. Like the attic.

“But-” I stuttered, unable to hold back, “We can come back, right?”

Angela stared at me with a curious smile. After a brief pause, she said, “You have my permission. But after the scare you’ve caused your parents, I think you should talk to them first.”

I nodded slowly.

Then another flood of questions re-entered my brain. The scene of my dad and Autumn flashed vividly before my eyes, as well as the cold sneering of the quickly decided Eric.

“Angela,” I said questioningly. They thick layer of suspicion coating my tone surprised even me.

“Yes?”

I realized Angela likely had no idea who Autumn was, so I refrained from asking the pressing questions about her that tantalized my tongue. However, I knew she must be full of information on Eric.

“What was Eric saying about us infiltrating and stuff? He could tell we didn’t get in-um, that place-on purpose, right?”

Something disturbingly steely and sad at the same time stole over Angela’s expression for a split second, but a second later anything cold had melted away. “There’s a rival orginization trying to shut us down,” she said finally. “With horrible, really awful people. They’re trying to get the magical population-I mean, the people who already live here-out of the way so they can have the Multiverse for themselves, and with our opposition to this is easier with the CDA out of the picture.

“Eric’s really angry about it. I’m sorry if he took a bit of that out on you.”

Autumn flashed to mind, with her unnerving knowledge of my life and impeccable sense of secrecy. Was she part of that organization? Could you even be at her age?

“He thought we were part of it?” I asked incredulously, glancing at Cara.

Angela smiled at the ludicrous idea. A satisfied look seemed to steal over her face for a moment, but as quickly as it came, it was gone. “Now,” she said, “You’ve got to get home-and Sofie, you’ve got to explain everything to your parents.”

I nodded away her pointed, reproachful glance, but inside I was full of dread. How could I possibly make up with my parents anytime soon, after I’d broken their number one rule? And not only that, but several times? I might as well have spray painted “I don’t care what you say” in neon, glow-in-the-dark letters all over the house.

Besides, what could I even say? “I’m sorry I broke your rules and made you nervous, but if I went back I’d probably do it over the same way, no offense.” Ya, that would go over well…NOT.

This wasn’t good.

Chapter Twenty-Four

Leading us out of the underground hideout and to a few good sitting rocks by the ocean, the woman told us to sit down. “First of all,” she began, “I’m Angela Morrison. I-”

Angela stopped abruptly and peered curiously at me.

“What?” I asked, concerned.

“Nothing,” she said quickly, “you just look something like two friends of mine. Do you know an Emily and John Berlin, by any chance?”

“Um, yes,” I said, confused. “They’re my parents.”

The letters CDA-in the attic and basement, and on the rug in the underground room-flashed to mind. So my parents must have known about the island and everything.

And now Angela knew my parents’ names. How, exactly, did these things connect??

Now Angela’s expression lit up brilliantly. “Oh! So you’re Sofie!” She held out a hand and gently shook mine, seeming even more interested in the two of us. Or, rather, in me.

“How do you know Sofie?” Cara asked. I couldn’t tell if it was warily or with curiosity.

“I work with her parents,” Angela explained brightly. She turned to me again. “They’ve told you about their job before, haven’t they?” she inquired.

I opened my mouth, instinctively about to say yes. But something stopped me. The hidden basement and attic, the letters CDA, the strange, secretive lives my parents lived . . . my tongue froze within my mouth. Did I really know anything about their jobs?

Frowning slightly at my own stupidity, I said in an unusually small tone, “I don’t think so.”

Cara glanced at me. “What are you talking about? You said-”

“I think,” I interrupted, in a slightly less small voice, “I think I was wrong.”

Seeing my own struggle being played out in my expression, Cara closed her mouth.

Angela shook her head, looking sorry. “I tried to tell them it would be better to tell you sooner. But, nevermind. There’s nothing we can do now.”

I smiled faintly. I was really beginning to like Angela.

“So?” Cara prompted impatiently. “What are Sofie’s parents really up to?”

“They work for an orginazation called the CDA-which, I’m sure, you’ve figured out already. But you might not know that it stands for the Committee for the Defense of (highly secure) Areas.”

“What-what do you mean?” Cara asked, speaking my thoughts exactly. That is, a clearer version of the thousand questions that had just come up in my brain.

“I mean, we’re some of the very select groups of people who work hard for the protection of this planet. Because this isn’t Earth that we’re on here. In fact, we’re in another Universe. And-” she continued, before I could ask any more questions-“to be technical, this is actually a Multiverse. It has more than one planet that can hold life.”

I blinked.

Cara looked about to laugh.

There was the long, awkward silence that has to follow a completely drastic, pivotal statement like that. After all, nobody has ever said something completely crazy and had everyone they were talking to simply nod their heads in agreement.

However, to my own surprise, the majority of my being could believe it. Not that I did, really, becuase it was pretty insane. But I felt completely capable of going along with the idea of two universes-fully able to comprehend and accept the fact that I was standing on a diffrent, uncharted planet.

And it startled me.

Finally, Angela spoke again. “I know it technically doesn’t make sense . . .”

It didn’t, did it? So why was I so close to believing it? Again, I got caught on the fireplace incident . . . if it wasn’t a portal, then what did happen?

“I just have one question,” Cara said, a questioning glint her eye. This statement caught me off guard. Angela just stated there were two universes, and she says she only has one question???

“If this is true,” Cara said slowly, “why haven’t you told anyone?”

A valid point.

Why hadn’t this been brodcasted to the world? News this big would sweep the nation in a matter of seconds. The news channels would be working on overdrive. Millions and millions of interviews would be made with Angela and my parents, and thousands of articles and facebook posts would excalim at how nobody, nobody, had ever seen this coming. They would be some of the most famous people alive. The ones who discovered the Multiverse, Emily and John Berlin and Angela Morrison. They would be living legends . . . like the place they discovered.

So why not? What was there to lose?

I caught Angela’s gaze, raising my eyebrows.

What hadn’t she told us?

 

 

Chapter Twenty Three

“We weren’t trying to break in,” Cara told the man, surprisingly calm.

“We both know how many attempts to break into our headquarters there has been,” the man snapped. “You’re obviously too young to be part of the CDA. How do you explain yourselves?”

“I don’t think that’s your business,” Cara announced quietly, crossing her arms defiantly.

The man seemed slightly taken aback, as if he wasn’t used to not being immediately obeyed. “I hold one of the most powerful positions in the CDA,” he said finally. “You’re on our property. I think I have the right to ask you what you’re doing here.”

There was something so cold, so relentlessly forcefull in the mans disposition that I couldn’t help but think he should definitely try for the bad guy in a movie sometime. But as it was, I felt something dangerous lurked behind the man’s cold expression. There was one thought running through my mind-that is, one controlling movement that cancelled out all the rest-and that was the get away. Something told me it would have been better to stay on the island without knowledge of this place.

“I’m sorry,” I said quickly, trying hard to sound like I wasn’t extremely distrustful of him, “I didn’t mean to come down here-we didn’t, I mean.” I grabbed Cara’s wrist to pull her towards the exit-at least, where the exit used to be. “We didn’t mean to-um-disturb you. If you can just tell us how to get out of here, I promise we won’t come back.”

Cara looked horrified at the idea.

I shot her a dirty look, trying to convince her to go along without saying anything.

But the man didn’t move. He kept watching us with his fierce , searching gaze as though a sharp enough glare would reveal our thoughts.

Once again, I wondered where on earth I was and what kind of ultra-protective club I had just barged into without permission. My head spun. Did they know it was Cara who broke the wall/door thing…?

Just then the pool room door opened. A small wave of warm, chlorine-filled air wafted into the refreshingly cool room as a tall woman stepped out. She wasn’t in a bathsuit, but her dark, dripping bun revealed she had just changed out of it.

“That’s the lady from the hot tub,” Cara whispered to me.

I watched her curiously as she looked from Cara and I’s scared faces to the man blocking the door. When she turned to me, I realized she must be at least forty, but still seemed very fit and athletic.

“What’s going on here?” She asked the man blocking our exit.

“They broke in,” he replied gruffly. “This was there attempt of finally infiltrating our headquarters-two little girls by themselves.” His tight frown softened, as he thought it funny.

“We are not little!” Cara whispered indignantly into my ear. “The nerve!”

I almost winced at the loudness so close to me eardrum.

However, I was less annoyed at him calling us little and more intrigued at what he was getting at. “Finally infiltrate our headquarters…their attempt…”…I was beginning to think this wasn’t some overprotective club.

The lady shook her head in disbelief. “Honestly, Eric, you need to stop being so paranoid all the time,” she said to the man.

Leaning closer to say things I couldn’t hear, the woman convinced Eric to go away. He eyed them suspiciously as he left, but nonetheless disappeared into one of the doors Cara hadn’t opened and didn’t return.

She sighed and turned to us. “I’m sorry, girls,” she apologized kindly. “Eric isn’t the most secure person in the world, it comes out on other people a lot…but I can explain everything.”

i opened my mouth to speak, but she read my mind and beat me to it. “And get you back home. I’m really sorry, I don’t know how you got caught up in this mess.”

For the first time since this morning (which felt like years ago) I breathed freely again. Even though I just met the woman, the warm glow in her brown-black eyes and the amicable tone in her voice instantly put me at ease.

We were going back home…we wouldn’t starve on a remote island…

Now all there was to worry about was how to explain everything to my parents…my pulse quickened again. If only there was a way I could picture of that going well…