I’ve waffled on in previous posts, describing at length the seed of an idea that led to me writing ‘The Door to Caellfyon’. For anyone wishing to learn how one fantasy writer turned a childhood mystery into the foundation of a book series, may I suggest you read some of my previous posts. Rather than direct you to a specific post (or posts), may I suggest you rummage through them all. There aren’t many, and I’m sure you’ll find something of interest.
I’ll continue here on the assumption that you have read my previous material and know full well that Caellfyon is a ‘through the portal’ type tale aimed at 9-11 year-olds, in the spirit of Narnia, The Song of Albion and Thomas Covenant. Here I’d like to provide an extract from my book. The scene I’ve chosen is the one in which Levi (my thirteen year-old protagonist) steps through the mysterious door in Thornley Abbey, with no clue as to what awaits him on the other side.
Levi stepped from daylight into darkness. Not the shadowy murk of a moonless night, or the gloom of a small cupboard. This was absolute blackness.
Stepping through the strange opening had stripped him of his other senses, too. He no longer felt the ground beneath his feet. For all he knew he could be free-falling through space. But, without sight, sound or touch he had no idea whether he was safe or spiralling madly towards his doom.
Amazingly he remained calm. The panic he’d felt earlier had gone and, into this tranquillity, his senses gradually returned. First of all the light touch of a soft warm breeze caressed his skin, lifting goose-bumps on his forearms, shoulders and neck. From the tingling sensation, that was more thrilling than unpleasant, a light jingling seemed to rise from his quivering gooseflesh, the sound gradually evolving into the ringing of a bell, slowing, becoming clearer, more distinct, like …
… like a call to prayer.
The thought came involuntarily to Levi’s mind and, as it did so, he heard voices. Men’s voices – a choir singing in beautiful harmony. Levi forgot his own plight, straining instead to hear more clearly. At first indistinct the sound shifted gradually as words then phrases formed themselves within the harmonies, until Levi finally understood. The song was in Latin. Of course! This was the sound of monks, their psalms echoing across the centuries.
As though triggered by this sudden insight, the gently melodious song suddenly increased in volume, taking on a rough edge, becoming a harsh shrieking; a din that became louder and louder still, until Levi felt that hacksaw blades were dragging across his ear drums. He screwed his face against the agonising racket and waited for the syrupy wetness of his own blood to trickle out of his ears and down his checks and neck.
Instead, the pain receded quickly as the screeching lost its edge, moderating, evolving into a wind; not a howling gale but a mild whooshing – a stream of air that whistled past his face. This was it, he thought, the realisation becoming a heavy weight in the pit of his stomach, he was falling after all. Falling fast.
The strangeness of his predicament and his gradual awaking senses had served to mollify him, diverting his attention from the dilemma he faced. But now the sudden shocking realisation bound his chest with icy tendrils of fear.
Mercifully there were no painful screams now. They had receded to the white noise of a badly tuned radio, the harshly chaotic hissing characterising his fear as he hurtled towards the impact he knew was to come.
There was no way of telling how long he’d been falling; no way that he could measure the time – whether it was seconds, minutes or a lifetime. Either way, he knew the end of his short life was only heartbeats away.
Would there be pain, he thought. Would his crushed brain register the agony before death took him?
Levi tensed instinctively, bracing himself for the impending impact when, with a sickening jolt, his feet connected with something solid – but, instead of the devastating collision he’d expected, he could have simply stubbed a toe against an uneven pavement. His body jolted, his teeth seeming to rattle inside his skull as his arms flailed for balance, and he pitched forward, his body flopping untidily onto something that was both soft and cool.
If anyone would like to receive a PDF of Chapter One from ‘The Door to Caellfyon’ please let me know. I’d be delighted to provide it. Thanks for reading.