Fallen Ruler Excerpt #1
From above the hospital bed, with her body imbedded into the ceiling and veiled by shadows, a bald, blue-skinned girl watched, untouched by Carla’s plight. The blue girl’s dark, goggle-like eyelids reflected Carla’s image as she cursed those she felt were responsible for her predicament; not even God was spared.
The hospital nurses behind the desk across the hall continued doing their best to ignore the screaming woman. They believed the moment of birthing to be hours away and Carla’s angry words repulsed them. The blue girl had heard one of the nurses say such a poisonous woman like that shouldn’t even have a womb, much less be allowed to give birth. They had no intention of being kind to Carla.
Carla’s belly tensed and stayed peaked. The blue girl’s lids split open to reveal concerned human-shaped purple eyes. It was time to bring Tsaen out. She pursed her lips and blew down towards Carla’s head.
Carla closed her eyes and became silent. Her fingers relaxed their vice-like grip on the bed sheet.
The blue girl surfaced from within the ceiling and dropped down. She pressed her index finger against her navel, and just before touching the floor, she took the human form of a young Buddhist monk.
The monk stood next to the bed with his palms over Carla’s belly button. A glow spread throughout the swollen mound.
Carla moaned, turned her head, then settled back down.
The monk slid his hands across the soft skin, until they came to rest between Carla’s legs, just in time to support a tiny body enveloped in a pouch of green mucous. He bent over the baby. His mouth was inches from the green pouch when he sensed someone in the hall. He looked down and saw a shadow beneath the door, the nurse’s feet. They were small. It was the nurse called Sumana. The doorknob twisted. The monk realized Carla’s silence had caused concern. He placed the baby onto Carla’s stomach and slid towards the head of the bed. He touched his forehead to Carla’s and, using Carla’s voice, let out a loud scream, followed by a curse word. The shadow beneath the door grew small. The nurse had stepped back but she hadn’t left, nor had she released the doorknob. The monk screamed again.
Sumana seemed to hesitate. Her feet changed positions.
The monk waited.
Finally Sumana released the knob and retreated.
The monk pulled away from the sleeping Carla and went back to the baby. He lifted the baby from Carla’s belly and bit into the pouch, ripping off a piece of membrane with his teeth.
The loud sound of tearing disturbed Carla. She tried to open her eyes, but only managed a blink.
The monk swallowed the piece of membrane before ripping off another. A glistening head of thick black hair appeared. The monk continued until the baby was free. With a swipe of his hand, he severed the umbilical cord and carried the baby to the changing table.
Fallen Ruler Excerpt #2
A lush garden, with ancient ficus trees, surrounded her grandmother’s cottage in the Grove. The tall trees’ cascading aerial roots had terrified Lya when she was small. At night they turned into huge monsters with scary faces. Nee had come up with the perfect solution to make her feel safe; she'd placed three angels with chimes in the garden to guard the house. These angels didn’t have wings or names. They were but blue wooden silhouettes.
Nee’s gates stood open. The mango trees in her garden were loaded; the sweet scent of ripe fruit permeated the driveway. There would be mango bread for tea. Her seventy-year-old grandmother opened the door dressed in an orange Sari. Her shoulder-length gray hair was pulled back in a ponytail, which brought out her almond-shaped brown-green eyes.
“Abhaya.” Nee gave her a tight hug.
Abhaya, Lya’s Indian name meaning “fearless,” had been given to her by a nurse at the Delhi Hospital the day she was born.
Lya kissed her grandmother’s cheek.
Nee looked past her. “And Utpalini, has she escaped?”
Utpalini was Andrea’s Indian name, given to her by Nee. “More like bolted, while I dozed.”
Nee smiled. “Her loss.”
Lya felt bad about her sister’s treatment of Nee. Andrea considered her an embarrassment, an outdated hippie who should be put out of her misery.
The aroma of mango and dough drifted through the house. Nee’s cottage had beautiful art pieces collected during her travels. The Russian icon of a Madonna and Child and the bronze Buddha sitting on his wooden pedestal were Nee’s favorites.
“I set tea in the garden with the angels.”
Lya smiled to herself. As soon as they stepped out, the chimes rang in welcome. Lya bowed and thanked the angels. She still hadn’t figured out how her grandmother rang those chimes on cue. There were no wires. Three places had been set on the old picnic table under the golden raintree’s cascading canopy, now lined with yellow flowers. Lya sat facing the house, knowing her grandmother liked to face the angels.
“How was the trip?”
Lya shrugged. “Ok. I didn’t sleep much. The plane was full.”
Her grandmother poured the tea. “And your father?”
“He caught a flight to headquarters. He’ll be back tonight.” The company’s headquarter was in New York City.
“And your mother?”
Her mother, Carla had stayed behind to pack up the house. Or so she said. “She arrives next week.”
“How is everyone dealing with the move?”
“Well, it varies. Mom’s upset; she didn’t want to leave Brazil. When Dad announced the move, she said she didn’t care where they went, since anywhere with Dad sucked.”
Nee’s eyebrows shot up. “I thought things had calmed down.”
“No. I think it’s gotten worse between them. They weren’t fighting as much because they kept out of each other’s way. Both Dad and Andrea are furious over the move. Dad thought he’d get something like Paris after Bolivia and Brazil, and not another underdeveloped country like India.”
Fallen Ruler Excerpt #3
The older, gray-skinned being Lya had seen in her dream now helped her off the soft bed. She was still disoriented. Her head felt detached from her body, like she had been on a rollercoaster for hours. She stared open-mouthed at the weird looking bald being, while she allowed herself to be led. Lya had a vague memory of being lifted from the green gel by him and the younger being. The younger one wasn’t around now. Lya’s feet touched the ground. She wasn’t dreaming. Oh, this was bad.
Her pain had subsided somewhat. Lya looked around the room. It reminded her of those sci-fi movies: clean and modern, with lots of glass. Aside from the narrow, high bed, the only other item in the room was a ten-inch panel, with rows of light running the length of the far wall.
She turned back to study the gray being’s face. He was ugly. He had no hair. The thick membrane around his eyes looked like fake eyelashes. Odd, pulsating veins covered his body.
“Who are you?” Lya’s voice sounded like a rasp. With every word she spoke her head throbbed. “Where am I?”
Lya frowned. “Is it near Delhi?”
“A few light years away. It’s a planet, in a parallel universe.”
His words acted like an electrical discharge, jolting Lya awake. She was hallucinating. She knew she was. There was no other explanation. She reached out and touched the gray being. She felt him. Okay, hallucination was real. Her mind was distorting her vision. That sounded plausible. Don’t freak out. Lya smiled. “Is it close to those Streams?”
“It’s beyond that.”
The smile faded from Lya’s lips. “You’re screwing with me, right?”
“Don’t you worry, everything will be fine.”
Lya continued to stare at the gray… man—she guessed he was a man—as his words echoed in her brain. They triggered an image. She saw this same being placing her into that green tank, saying those very same words. Or not her... Lya. Although it felt like her, and somehow she knew it was her, but it was really the albino. The albino didn’t want to leave. She hesitated, grabbing onto the tank’s edges, and asked what it would be like? Would she ever come back? She turned to the older gray being and said, “Natuc, will you bring me back?”
“Natuc?” Lya whispered.
The gray being smiled. “You remembered. Good. Keep alert for those sudden burst of images, that’s how you will get your memory back.”
“My memory?” Lya searched Natuc’s face. “Please tell me this is all a mistake. A punishment for…” Lya couldn’t think of something she should be punished for, she hadn’t done anything all that bad to deserve being locked up in… what was this place?
“Calm down. You’re not hallucinating, Tsaen.”
“Tsaen? The albino, Tsaen? I’m not Tsaen.” Lya bit down on her lower lip. “I’m not Tsaen….”