Sneak Peek. :)A Chapter by TadKent
A small snippet from my book. I'll unveil more if I get a positive response.
4. City in the Sky
Howard was so caught up in the excitement of the moment, in the wonder and fright of his coming adventure; he completely forgot that he had not set down his stuffed lion or his blue blanket. He had brought them onto the S.S. Alice, and promptly shoved them under his shirt, to hide them from Mr. Clutterbottom (who was pre-occupied with steering the now gliding sailboat). He cursed himself in his mind for already making a mistake. He couldn’t be acting like a child already! He had a very important thing he had to do; he couldn’t be dragging his stuffed animal and blanket around the whole way. Mr. Clutterbottom turned from his duties and looked back at Howard, who was trying to look like he hadn’t suddenly grown a bulge in his front. Mr. Clutterbottom looked at him for a moment, about to ask a question. Howard then guiltily pulled out Tiger and his periwinkle blanket and looked down at the ground.
He was expecting Mr. Clutterbottom to scold him, to tell him that he was being far too childish, but instead the man lit up with excitement, and exclaimed, “Of course your friends can come! The more the merrier!” Mr. Clutterbottom continued after a moment of Howard’s shocked silence. “Mr. Tiger and I have actually met before, and have had quite a few good talks, but I’ve never taken the liberty of meeting your blanket. Does he like toothpaste?”
Howard’s embarrassment was lost immediately, and his eyes widened, “You’ve talked to him?” Mr. Clutterbottom nodded at Howard, looking confused. “Well of course I have, haven’t you?” Howard shook his head incredulously at first, then sadly. “He doesn’t talk to me…” Howard then looked at Tiger, lying silently on the wood floor. Mr. Clutterbottom chuckled lightly. “Well, of course he does! Maybe you just don’t speak the right language,” he suggested with a thoughtful frown. Howard was still looking at Tiger, wondering if the stuffed animal had ever tried to talk to him. Mr. Clutterbottom went back to steering the ship, and then added, “You’re his favorite, you know. He told me he hopes that he’s your favorite too.”
Howard picked up his beloved stuffed animal and hugged him fiercely, and softly so Mr. Clutterbottom couldn’t hear, he whispered into his Tiger’s ear “You’re my favorite too, Tiger.”
He picked up his blanket and walked back to his seat, which was a chair carved out of the wood with a dark blue “H” painted on it. He felt sleepy, but his eyes were held open by the beauty around him. He tried to keep track of time, but he found that it was impossible. Time seemed to stretch on an invisible band out there, in the great blue and black ocean, not running slowly or flying by. He saw the planets, in all their gigantic brilliance. To the west, the sun glowed and burned a bright hole in the color canvas. The Milky Way lined the great expanse and weaved through asteroids. The moon sparkled to his right, looking like the biggest, most beautiful silver dollar Howard had ever seen. They passed great flashes of white and blue light, and others that pulsed and glowed. Stars winked every now and then nearby, and Howard seemed to feel a fuzzy warmth when he looked at one long enough. He was too timid to try to speak to one, but he managed a grateful wave. Mr. Clutterbottom often nodded his head when one whizzed by, like electric kites lit by blue fire. They almost seemed to be whistling or singing soft tunes when they did so, making Howard wonder if they knew the songs his mother sang to him. Howard gazed back towards the attic door, which had now disappeared, and realized that he missed
Howard was lost in his thoughts when the boat stopped. He looked around him when it did, but he saw nothing but the same space he had seen earlier. Mr. Clutterbottom sat down across from Howard and adjusted his glasses, looking out to admire the sky ocean with him. Howard waited for him to speak, to explain why they stopped.
After a while, after the silence continued and his movements made sounds that echoed into eternity, Howard stuttered out softly, “A-Are we h-here, Mr. Clutterbottom?”
The man glanced back, seeming to remember that Howard was there. “Oh! No. Not yet.” Mr. Clutterbottom replied simply, and began to look about him again. Howard waited again, hoping to for the man to say more.
When it was clear that he wasn’t going to, Howard cleared his throat and spoke up again, “Mr. Clutterbottom, what are we doing?”
The man played with his tie (which seemed to try to dance in his fingers) and stated simply, “Waiting.”
Howard considered for a moment, then asked, “Well, aren’t we supposed to go see the Man on the Moon?” Mr. Clutterbottom answered as the tie flitted through his fingers, “Well, Howard, that’s what we’re waiting for. Directions.”
Howard shook his head. “I don’t understand.” He rubbed his eyes, and asked, “Directions to the moon? Don’t we just sail to it?” Howard pointed to the moon, which was now closer and bigger than he had ever seen it.
Mr. Clutterbottom tapped the tie lightly on the knot, and it stopped moving. “If we sailed to it, all we would do is land on a moon with white dust and a whole lot of rocks. But, if we take the secret passageway, we’ll get to go to the real moon. That’s where the Man on the Moon is,” he explained.
“Where’s the secret passageway?” Howard’s eyes lit up with curiosity.
“That’s the problem, Howard. It’s a secret. I don’t even know where it is!” Mr. Clutterbottom chuckled, and gave Howard a goofy grin. “That’s the fun of it!” His eyes shone with excitement.
Howard stared at the man in shock. “But what are we supposed to do?” he said, almost in panic, “What directions are we waiting for?” Howard was starting to think that maybe he shouldn’t have left his attic.
Mr. Clutterbottom stood, patted Howard’s shoulder and said, “Don’t be afraid. I’ll call for help.” He reached inside his suit jacket and pulled out a large metal object, that shouldn’t have fit inside a coat. When it was all pulled out of the pocket, Howard saw that it was an old telephone, like the ones he saw in the black and white movies that the actors wound up before using. Before Howard could ask how Mr. Clutterbottom could fit that inside of just one pocket, the man put the receiver to his ear and the mouthpiece to his chin. He wound up a few times, and then winked at Howard while he waited for a response. After a moment, it seemed that someone picked up on the other line. Howard expected Mr. Clutterbottom to greet with a “Hello?” but instead, he whistled in a high pitched sing-song melody for a short while. He would stop occasionally and listen, and then reply in different whistling patterns, high and low, long and short. When he was finished with the call, he whistled a single note goodbye and put the phone back in his pocket, where it slid in as easily as it had come out.
Mr. Clutterbottom jumped up excitedly and exclaimed, “Great news, Howard! I know someone that can tell us how to get there!” With that, he went straight to the sail and pointed it easttward.
Howard bent down next to him and said, “Who were you talking to on the phone?” Mr. Clutterbottom good-naturedly answered, “A Star of course! She told me to go see Dio. He can tell us how to get to the Man on the Moon!” He beamed at Howard for a moment, then, pulled a lever, yanking the S.S. Alice back into movement. It began to speed up steadily, and Howard had to sit down against his seat for fear of falling out. The boat was now going faster than he preferred, and he melted against the railing, his fear getting the better of him.
“W-Where does, D-Dio live?” he managed to choke out.
Mr. Clutterbottom looked back at him from the steering wheel in the front with a mischievous and daring grin. “Aeris, the City in the Sun!”
It took a minute for Howard to register what he had said, and Howard’s heart almost jumped out of his chest. “The sun!? We’re not going into the sun, are we!?”
Mr. Clutterbottom laughed aloud and said, “That’s how you get there!”
Howard gawked at the grinning man with horror as they sped towards the great ball of fire. Howard saw no city as they approached, and his clothes began to feel hot on his skin. He timidly crouched behind Mr. Clutterbottom, peeking over the man’s shoulder in great fright. Closer and closer they sailed towards the flaming sphere of fiery gold, and Howard had to cover his face from the heat. Mr. Clutterbottom adjusted his glasses, leaned forward and pushed as hard as he could on the blue throttle lever, almost pressing it past its breaking point. The boat hummed a low hum and shot forward. The deafening roar of the blaze made all speech inaudible.
They approached the atmosphere, and when Howard began to wonder what heaven really looked like, they whizzed through the wall of fire, and straight into the inferno. The instant they hit the wall, Howard shut his eyes as tight as he could, bracing himself for searing heat. What happened instead, turned out to be a great surprise.
Instead of unimaginable pain and the feeling of melting like a popsicle, Howard felt the intense heat pass, and warmth replace it. It was a peculiar warmth, warmth that reminded Howard of when he would fall asleep out in a field, under the gentle springtime sun. Howard opened his eyes, and was startled to find that he could do so. When his eyes adjusted to the brightness around him, Howard’s eyes did not find a gigantic swirling mass of fire and lava like he expected; no, they found a splendor beyond anything they had ever seen, a wonder above anything they could ever fathom. A golden city lay before Howard, shining in regal beauty. Instead of volcanoes, castles and towers touched the now goldenrod sky. In the center of the sprawling city, an immense arena sat on the highest point of the surface, which looked like yellow, glittery sand. Howard couldn’t comprehend the transformation, and he looked at Mr. Clutterbottom, who was smiling.“You didn’t really think the sun was just a giant ball of fire, did you?” Mr. Clutterbottom asked in a gentle teasing tone. “You’ve got to think big, Howard. Otherwise the universe is one boring place.”
© 2010 TadKent
Shelved in 3 LibrariesAdded on July 24, 2010
Last Updated on July 24, 2010
AboutI'm a twenty-one year old musician from Fresno, California. I've been in an incredible relationship with the Love of my life for three years now, so I am very much taken. I write all kinds of things, .. more..
People who liked this story also liked..