Welcome back! The newest book in the Apocalypse Shift series continues. If you’re new here and would like to start the book from the beginning, you can click here. If you’re still confused and would like to read the first book in the series, you can order it here. And in non-AS news, the release of my new collection Machina is almost upon us! The official release isn’t for a few days, but you can pre-order the print book at the publisher’s website, and the Mobipocket version is already available!
On to this week’s chapter. Enjoy!
–Derek J. Goodman
Old Clerks Don’t Die, They Slay Away
The worst thing that could happen was currently napping once again in her recliner.
Snookie would have been much more comfortable sleeping in her bed, but the bed, although made and meticulously dusted every day, hadn’t had her in it for years now. There’d been a time, after she had retired from her calling, where she had bought the bed brand new and hoped sleep in it without nightmares. In the end, it hadn’t been the nightmares that were the problem so much as plain old habit. Sleeping in a bed was too comfortable. If she slept there she felt like she might not get up in the event that something horrible happened and she needed to come back to her senses in a hurry. It no longer mattered that she couldn’t do anything in a hurry. She just didn’t feel right otherwise.
Much like the night before, Snookie wasn’t entirely sure what was happening when a loud noise woke her up. She at least woke with a clear enough head to remember yesterday, so her first thought was that the apocalypse was coming again. Twice in two days. That was uncommon, but not unheard of. She remembered one memorable time in her youth when she’d had to deal with nine separate Ends of the World in one week. She immediately looked around, trying to see if the source of the End might have found a way into her apartment. From the repeated, ear-splitting shriek she had to guess this thing was somewhere in the room with her. Maybe this was it. After all these years maybe something had found her and was ready to pounce, taking her out when she wasn’t prepared. It was a relief, really. She was prepared to finally stop living like this.
Then she realized the noise was just her phone. She sighed, then realized this was nothing to be disappointed about. Her phone was actually ringing. She didn’t remember the last time she’d heard that noise. She’d bought the phone purely to place calls to the outside world, and even then those were only to make an order with the grocery delivery service or to let the pharmacy know she was low on her meds. No one ever called her. Her family was long gone, and all her friends… well, she’d killed them, hadn’t she?
So just who the hell would possibly want to talk to her at… she looked at the clock on the wall. Almost one o’clock in the morning now. It certainly couldn’t be anything official, like the landlord. Whoever had deemed it necessary to contact her, they kept night shift hours.
Everyone she’d once known who had kept those hours had either been a friend or wanted her dead. So. An enemy finally finding her?
Interesting. She went for the phone as quick as she could, but in her current half-asleep condition that took the best part of a minute. Still, the phone didn’t stop. Whoever was on the other end had to be patient.
She took a deep breath before she picked up.
Snookie thought she was going to have a heart attack right there. She must have started breathing hard as her heart began racing, because the oh-so-familiar voice responded in a quiet, reassuring tone.
“Calm down, Snookie. Take deep breaths. I know this is probably a shock. Just be calm and one with the universe.”
One with the universe. That damned phrase had so annoyed her back in the day. She’d heard it all the time and had grown to hate it. But now those four simple words were so beautiful to her ears, beautiful and scary at the same time.
“You can’t be Aurora,” Snookie said.
“You want me to say something that only I would know, right? To prove it’s really me?”
“Remember when we were swallowed by the Beast from a Couple Fathoms, and we were trying to escape from its stomach but we couldn’t see and you complained about where my hand was? And I said that wasn’t my hand, had to be something else?”
Snookie wanted to cry. After all this time thinking Aurora was dead… “Yes. Yes, I remember.”
“Well I suppose it’s time to come clean. That really was my hand.”
Snookie laughed, and with that she really did start to cry. “I always knew, you know. Not about the hand. About the way you felt. I always felt so bad about it…”
“You hush now,” Aurora said. “You were straight. I knew it wouldn’t work.”
“How is this even possible?” Snookie asked. “There was no way you could have survived, especially after I… I…”
“That’s a really long story, and I promise I’ll tell you as soon as I can. But we don’t have time at the moment.”
“Aurora, please, you can’t just call me up in the middle of the night after almost forty years and not tell me what happened.”
“I will, but first something really bad is about to happen. The Osterhaggis Key is back in play.”
Snookie wished she had bought a cordless phone instead of this one. The cord didn’t reach all the way to the recliner, and she wasn’t sure how much more information she could take without sitting down.
“Who has it?” Snookie asked.
“Someone really evil. Really harshed groove.”
“Aurora, we’re old ladies now. I really don’t think I can handle this.”
“Really? That doesn’t sound at all like the Selected One I remember.”
“Well, I’m not the Selected One anymore. Haven’t been for a very long time.”
“But you still have all your tools from back then, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I couldn’t bear to get rid of them.”
“And please tell me you never used the necklace I gave you?”
Snookie took a deep breath. “No. No, I didn’t.”
“Then this is your chance. Our chance, really. We can put all of it right again.” Her voice hitched, like she was trying to keep from crying herself. “Both for us and for Dani and Cory.”
Snookie’s own voice rasped with the effort of choking back her sobs. “One with the universe again.”
“That’s right,” Aurora said. If Snookie hadn’t been letting her emotions get the better of her, she might have noticed Aurora’s slightly malicious tone, but she didn’t. “One with the universe. Just as we should be.”
(c) 2010 Derek Goodman