Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Excerpt from The Sea Inside (Cerulean Songs, book 1) By Vickie Johnstone

Feeling emboldened, I strode across the floor of the huge building to the other side. As I approached the man, he glanced up and then blinked in surprise. I suspected it was due to my appearance and clothing, which were not of this world. “Good day,” he replied. “You are not from Entyre?”
“No, but then I was, and then…” I said, stumbling over my words. “I, err, no, I’m not.”
The thin man nodded and his expression softened. He replaced the sheets he was holding on to the bookcase by his side. “How can I help?”
“I spoke with the Balaenoptera, which told me to ask you for the Tome of Time,” I announced, deciding to get straight to the point.
For a second the Keeper looked taken aback, but he soon recovered his composure. “That is not a title that is oft requested. Come. Follow me.”
The blue-haired man turned and marched further across the room as I trailed behind. I almost had to run to keep in step as he seemed to glide in gigantic strides until he finally stopped in front of a narrow doorway. Passing through the mist, we entered a smaller room, lined with rows upon rows of bookshelves, all filled from top to bottom with gleaming strips of sheer ice.
“Come,” said the Keeper, and I followed him across the place and down a short flight of frozen steps until we came to yet another doorway. Again it was filled with mist, but this time it was silver.
“This is the place, but I will enter first,” he told me. “It will not open for you.”
Nodding, I waited for the man to pass through the shimmering and then I followed. The silver was resplendent and I imagined the stars in the sky being made of the same. We entered a room as dark as night, lit by specks of some glittery substance in the walls. I followed the Keeper to the furthest bookshelf, from where he removed a black box. Upon it was a silver image of a butterfly. It looked so real that I almost expected it to flutter off the top before my eyes.
The man took a couple of steps forward and set the box down carefully on a table. Lifting the lid with great care, he glanced at me out of the corner of his eye and said, “This is the tome. There are a number of leaves inside. Take the top one. I cannot touch them.”
Surprised, but trying to hide it, I peered into the black box as the Keeper stepped aside. With shaky fingers, I reached in and felt the top sheet of ice. It was freezing and appeared to tremble. Gripping the edges tightly with two hands, I removed it and held it up in front of me.
I could feel the eyes of the Keeper burning into the side of my face, but the sheet of ice consumed my attention. It was sheer and smooth, but it was not blue, like everything else. This book was fiery red with streams of yellow that floated across the surface. Trembling slightly, I deciphered the words that seemed to manifest from nowhere. All the time, the man watched me like a hawk, not knowing what I read.
In the place where the earth is as red as blood and the sun drips yellow, you will find The Only. Only she can point the way. The Seeker will find the Path is not an easy one and he will have to face his fears through a series of Tasks, which only he can accomplish in order to go Forward. To Return he will have to go full circle. Time is all we have. It bends, but it does not break. To go forward the Seeker must destroy these Words.
“I don’t understand,” I mumbled, glancing up.
The Keeper raised an eyebrow. “What do you not understand? Is it not clear?”
“It says…”
“No!” he cried. “Do not tell me. The words are for you alone.”
Glancing down, I reread the sheet over and over, until the words seemed to ring in my ears. My eyes hovered over the last line. To go forward the Seeker must destroy these Words. Frowning, I blinked back my tears as the realization that I was stuck here forever, alone, finally dawned on me. The book made no sense at all. It was just a few lines of nothing.
Who was The Only – the only what?
If I was to be trapped here in this time, I would rather return home, seeing as I had lost everything here. At least back there I had people who knew me. Tears filled my eyes and I blinked them back, but not until one had run down my face and dripped on to the surface of the glass. It sparkled as the water bounced. For some reason it made me smile. I thought of Skyen’s face, which I knew I would never set my eyes on again.
“I cannot leave you alone with the book, but you can sit down and I can turn my back,” the Keeper suggested, giving me a look of pity.
I sniffed more loudly than I intended and shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. Nothing does.”
“But everything matters,” the man replied. “You have not deciphered the true meaning of the words. Perhaps they mean something else. Read them again.”
“I’m tired of reading,” I replied, sitting down beside the desk.
Resting the book on my knees, I stared at it once more. The red did remind me of blood and the yellow swimming across it did appear to be as bright as sunlight. It washed over the surface like egg yolk, I thought with a frown. If it were not for the crystal smashing, I would not be in this predicament.
I cursed Yava silently. How could she? But she did not know, I reminded myself. She could not know the consequences. The girl was full of hate for me, but she was also acting on her emotions, which were raw. She did not know that I would be cast back to my own time. Who could imagine such a thing?
My eyes hovered on the final lines of the text again – ‘must destroy these Words’ – and then it struck me. Of course, I had to smash it! I glanced at the Keeper, who was still watching me with an almost fatherly expression on his face. I imagined him to be very kind.
“I think I know what I have to do,” I told him.
“That is good,” he answered with a sigh of obvious relief. “Do not tell me, however.”
“I hope you forgive me if it does not work.”
The man’s face snapped into a smile. “I shall.”
Trembling slightly, I rose to my feet and looked down at the alluring slice of ice. Closing my eyes, I let it slide ever so slowly from my hands. In the darkness I heard a low gasp escape the lips of the Keeper, but he made no effort to move. As if the world was standing still, I stayed silent, not daring to breathe as I awaited the inevitable. An ear-splitting, shattering noise echoed around the walls as the text splintered into what I could only imagine was a thousand pieces, its beauty destroyed forever.


This scene occurs near the centre of the book and it is a pivotal one. The heroine, Jayne, is about to embark on a journey of self-discovery, during which she must face her fears and rely on herself to find her true destiny. Already, the girl has come a long way, but just when she thinks she has solved the puzzle, there are more trials to come. I wanted to make the scene mysterious, so that the reader couldn’t guess what was coming. The scene leads into a new section. I think the story is composed of three main bits. And this one heads into the final one, which is my favourite part of the book.

About the author

Vickie lives in London, UK, and works as a freelance layout sub editor. Her first book, Kiwi in Cat City, was written in 2002, and she has scribbled stories and poetry all her life. Since the beginning of 2011, Vickie has written eleven books and is currently working on some new ideas. Her loves include cats, reading, films, travelling, rock music, Castle, The Walking Dead, tea, the sea, sleeping and Milky Bar.

Vickie has self-published the following books:

Kaleidoscope (poetry); Travelling Light (poetry); Life’s Rhythms (haiku); 3 Heads and a Tail (comedy romance); Kiwi in Cat City (magical cat series for middle grade readers); Kiwi and the Missing Magic; Kiwi and the Living Nightmare; Kiwi and the Serpent of the Isle; Kiwi in the Realm of Ra; Kiwi’s Christmas Tail; Day of the Living Pizza (comedy detective series for middle grade readers), Day of the Pesky Shadow and The Sea Inside. The Kiwi Series has illustrations by Nikki McBroom.

Contact / book links

Kiwi Series website
FB author page:
FB Kiwi Series page:
FB poetry page:
FB editing service page:
Amazon US page:
Amazon UK page:
Smashwords page
B&N page:

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