Omens of the Moon – A Story Swap with KristaLyn A. Vetovich – Part 2: “26 Hours Until”

As I mentioned last Wednesday, fellow Glass House Press author KristaLyn A. Vetovich and I have decided to engage upon a storyswap! We were inspired by the moon on the 31st of this month — it’s not only a full moon and a blue moon, but a super moon and a lunar eclipse as well. Our imaginations went a little wild and we decided it was a little too good to pass up as a story.

The lovely KristaLyn was so kind as to start us out on this writing adventure, the first segment of which can be found here. I’ve taken inspiration from her beginning and continued below…

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Trevor stood on the boardwalk, throwing bits of lint from his pocket into the water, long after his fingers and toes turned numb with cold. Most everyone else had cleared out of the biting weather, with nothing much of interest out here besides the creaking metal and rhythmic waves. Trevor looked up again into the gaze of the waxing moon, deceptively full-looking, until another set of clouds shifted and covered the view. He took a deep breath of the biting air —

And saw her a second before she spoke, barely managing not to jump out of his skin.

“I still don’t know why you come out here.”

Trevor rolled his eyes to cover up the adrenaline surge, refusing to show she got the jump on him. “I still don’t know why you follow me out here.”

“I didn’t follow. I made an educated guess.”

Trevor’s big sister slowly came into view, bundled in a green coat over her bright pink scrubs from work. Their parents continually insisted that she’d been taken more seriously as a doctor if she wore blue scrubs like everyone else, to which she always wrinkled her nose and with eyes like steel said, ‘They’ll only make that mistaken once, not taking me seriously because of a color.’ Her hair was a mess and she looked exhausted, but she grinned when he looked at her.

“You look like crap,” he muttered. “How was the hospital?”

“The usual approaching a full moon. The ER is swamped. They sent all the interns home so we can be fresh for tomorrow, when it’ll be worse.” She reached him, gazing up into the sky like he had been. “Did you know that’s where the word ‘lunatic’ came from? Luna-tic, moon-crazy. The full moon has been making people erratic since forever.”

“I’m not being erratic,” Trevor muttered.

His sister side-eyed him. “I wasn’t saying you were. Though nice defensiveness there.”

Trevor drug a hand through his hair with a jerk. He couldn’t tell by looking at her how much she’d heard from their parent. She was always so good at being impossibly, always, upbeat. Which was misleading, really, because she also had the most perverse sense of humor of anyone he’d known.

Sophia turned back to the sky; some of the clouds had shifted a little and a part of the moon was visible again. “I asked the nurses if the super moon will be worse than a normal full moon, but I got varying answers on that.” She glanced at him, and he stayed mute. She continued: “I also found out today that a true blue moon isn’t actually a second moon in a month; that’s more common than a traditional blue moon, which is the fourth moon in a season. Which is a lot rarer.”

Trevor sighed reluctantly. At least she wasn’t asking about what had happened a few hours ago. “So is this a true blue moon or not?”

“I don’t think it is.”

Trevor smirked. Ha, he thought. It wasn’t even a real blue moon. The ‘doomsday-ers’ were even more wrong.

Sophia walked out onto the pier that was closest to them, and with a groan of effort, sat down with her feet dangling over the water. He made a face and followed.

“Isn’t that cold?”

“Better than standing. My feet are dying.”

“Don’t you have a car you could be sitting in?”

Sophia paused for a beat before shifting back on her hands and staring up into the sky again. “So, traditionally, the full moon was the time that the ‘good people’ came out to enact revenge on us mortals. What mischief do you think they’ll enact tomorrow?”

Trevor huffed. “’Good people’?”

Sophia grinned wickedly. “Fairies. That’s how you don’t offend them, you know. Call them ‘good people.’”

Trevor rolled his eyes again. “You’re ridiculous.”

She suddenly brightened. “Or, maybe the full moon will kidnap someone.”

“What?”

“Supposedly she’s done that before, to people who displease her.”

Trevor wracked his brain, trying to remember any folklore he’d heard about that, but came up empty. The only thing he could remember about the full moon was stuff about werewolves.

“Then again, tomorrow is an eclipse, which is a whole new barrel of fish. Gods will battle, the moon will be swallowed, and we’ll have to scare the monsters away by being as loud as we can.”

Trevor submitted to defeat, sighing heavily as he dropped next to her. Damn, the wood was freezing. And the water licked at his boots, as his legs were longer than hers. It seemed more turbulent than usual right underneath them both, breaking against the wooden legs of the pier in violent crashes. The moon did pull harder on the tides during a super moon…

Sophia smiled sweetly at him when he sat, and Trevor scowled.

“For someone into science, you sure know a lot about ‘magic,’” he quipped.

“I’m multi-faceted, what can I say.”

Trevor hunched against the cold, shivering again. “You didn’t have to come out here.”

Sophia leaned her head against his shoulder. “Yeah I did.”

“You should go.”

She let out a yawn, snuggling up against his side. “I’m good.”

Trevor stared down at the churning water, feeling guilty. He should go home, apologize, make up with his parents, smooth everything over. Sophia wouldn’t go home until he did. She was 8 years older than him, in the middle of her intern year, and swamped with work. But she was always by his side at the drop of a hat.

Trevor’s throat swelled. He kissed the top of her head before he knew what he was doing, and Sophia’s head turned, her eyes wide.

“Did I just get affection out of you?”

“Shut up.”

“You did! I’m so proud of you!” She practically squealed, her arms suddenly around him like a vice.

“Jesus Christ, get off…” Trevor half-heartedly shoved at her, turning his face away to hide the smile.

Before they could react, the water bulged upwards with a rush, soaking them to their knees and nearly spilling onto the pier itself.

Trevor and Sophia bolted to their feet with shrieks. Trevor looked up and down the boardwalk: all along the shore, the water was retreating back from the sudden surge. Panting, his skin prickled, his legs frozen into icicles.

“What the…”

“Good god that’s cold…”

The waves were perfectly calm now, lapping idly around the pier. The legs of Sophia’s pink scrubs were dark, almost maroon, sticking to her legs. Trevor stepped forward a few steps, scanning the water and now shaking with cold.

“Do you think – ”

Sophia’s words stopped with a gasp; Trevor lurched backwards: something moved around the legs of the pier. A long, sheer fin broke the surface, weaved between the pier posts, before disappearing below again.

“What was that?” she breathed, and crouched to peer down into the depths. “An eel? Was that an – holy crap, I think that’s a jellyfish!”

Trevor didn’t know how he’d missed it before — a gigantic jellyfish floated just beyond the reach of the pier, almost glowing faintly in the darkness. Its head was almost as big as a dinner plate, dozens of tentacles disappearing downwards, it’s body a myriad of white, blue, pink, and clear. His mouth almost dropped open. He’d never seen one so big and alive before. He moved forward instinctively, grasping Sophia’s shoulder, ready to pull her back.

The water shuddered … ripples fanned outwards from the bank… across the water, and disappearing against the usual incoming waves. Trevor’s breath froze in his lungs as a series of glowing shapes pulsed in the dark depths, like a response.

Trevor jerked Sophia back, the hair on his body standing on end. “We should go.”

“Yeah, humans who mess with fairies don’t usually end up on the right side of history,” Sophia said, her voice shaking.

“That’s not funny.”

They backed up slowly, holding onto each other, staring out in the dark. Once they reached the edge of pier, off the boardwalk, with land solidly beneath their feet, they both collectively stopped. Both Trevor and Sophia’s breathing was quiet as they stared out, gazes flicking over the dark waves.

Trevor felt his shoulders slowly relax a little as time ticked by. The ocean’s normal grace had returned: saltwater roar, rhythmic ebbing and flowing of the waves.

“There’s marine life that glows,” Sophia muttered, breaking the quiet. “But this close to the shore?”

“Is there supposed to be a storm? Pushing anything inland?” Bizarre things washed up on shore sometimes, but that was usually after a storm.

“Maybe…”

Trevor and Sophia slowly let go of each other. Sophia looked up at him, solemn now. “We should go home.”

The heaviness from the fight with his parents returned with a crash. Trevor clenched his teeth and stuffed his hands into his pockets. “I don’t know if I can – ”

“Come home with me. You can sleep on my couch.”

Trevor’s head came up, his heart leaping with relief for a second. “I couldn’t ask you that.”

Sophia glanced towards the ocean, and trepidation prickled up Trevor’s spine again. Sophia took his arm, pulling him towards the parking lot. Her little car was parked not far away.

“You haven’t heard my conditions yet.”

Trevor narrowed his eyes.

Sophia smiled a little evilly. “I never have time to do anything around my apartment, so this is perfect. In trade for staying, you clean my place from top to bottom. I want it spotless when I get home tomorrow. You’ll have the whole day, because I probably won’t get home until the wee morning hours.”

Trevor groaned, dragging his feet.

She made a little skipping movement. “It’ll be perfect! I’ll get back in time for us to watch the eclipse together! We can both be sleep deprived for the end of the world.”

Trevor made a sound that couldn’t decide if it was a laugh or a snort.

“And, if the world doesn’t end, we’ll work something out until you get your feet under you. You can stay as long as you want, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting a free ride.”

“Mom and dad – ”

“Can deal. You turned 18, you didn’t suddenly develop adulting superpowers.” There was steel in her voice, but Trevor didn’t really think it was directed at him. “You’re allowed to not know what you’re doing, but you can’t just do nothing.”

They reached her car, and Trevor slipped into her car and away from the ocean wind in relief. Sophia was quiet as she started up the engine, her gaze scanning across the water in front of them before she twisted to watch as she backed up.

Trevor was quiet too, stuffing down a different relief that he didn’t have to go ‘home’ tonight. Sophia’s little car picked up speed down the road, and he gazed out the window, eyes drawn to the water. It dawned on him then that the ocean was in sight the entire way to her apartment. It suddenly seemed ominous.

He mentally shook himself. The ridiculous newspaper and far-fetched theories had obviously gotten to him; there was a perfectly rational explanation for what had just happened. Trevor just needed to figure out what it was. His eyes remained fixed to the ocean, annoyed yet unable to stop watching for those glowing lights.

 

… enjoy this segment, curious to see what happens next? Head over to KristaLyn’s blog and give ‘er a follow for the next part this coming Wednesday!

About R. K. Brainerd

I've been writing since my pre-teens, mostly in the realm of fantasy and sci-fi. Taking interesting concepts and dropping complex characters into fantastical worlds is my jam. I also raise dairy goats and herd cats, the evidence of which can be found on my Instagram. Welcome to the adventure. View all posts by R. K. Brainerd

5 responses to “Omens of the Moon – A Story Swap with KristaLyn A. Vetovich – Part 2: “26 Hours Until”

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