New Release: Providence by Chantal Boudreau
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As Sam raced to return to the settlement, he knocked frantically at Grace and Arthur’s walls. The pair were together, having a private conversation, but they assured him they weren’t doing anything out of the ordinary. Sam explained quickly what the problem was and then moved on to his next contact. He hoped that the danger that Angela had sensed wouldn’t be provided by some outside force, especially since she was no longer capable of pinpointing it. Warning the others wouldn’t be much help if the threat was being posed by something external, since they had no way of predicting who and when it would strike.
Sam sought out Arthur’s Finder, Craig, next. He was all alone in the fourth, somewhat-incomplete shelter and Sam could tell that he was greatly annoyed, but not because Sam had disturbed him.
“Craig, are you okay?”
“Yeah, yeah, I heard Angela’s message. We’ll worry about it as soon as the roof’s patched. The stupid thing is leaking again, it has been for days, and me and Isaac woke up drenched to the bone. If I had known how shitty this place would be, I would have stayed at Windlea. At least we kept dry there,” Craig responded, not hiding his dissatisfaction.
“Patch the roof? You can’t go up there in this rain, it’s not safe. Besides, you know we have to take Angela’s Sentinel warnings seriously. I can almost guarantee you’ll get hurt if you go.” Sam couldn’t believe that Craig was being so blasé about the whole idea.
“Oh, don’t worry – I’m not crazy enough to go up there. Isaac, on the other hand, wouldn’t listen to reason. The worst of the leaks was right over where he sleeps. I told him that he’d be better off just moving his bed, but Isaac can be a stubborn ass and when he decides he’s going to do something, it’s really hard to talk him out of it. He’s up there right now.”
At the thought that Arthur’s Watcher was purposefully choosing to ignore Angela’s warning, Sam’s stomach dropped. He understood why the young man didn’t place much value in heeding her gut feeling. Arthur’s group had never been exposed to the Sentinel’s gift in any significant capacity, and they hadn’t had any secondary purples of their own. Neither Isaac nor Craig had accompanied them on their rescue mission to Transcendence or even been involved in planning for it, like Arthur. That and that house-family was known for ignoring or purposefully disobeying authority. Sam had to stop him, before it was too late.
As he tried to reach Isaac through the connection, Sam began to sprint, wanting to get back to the settlement physically as well. Ignoring the whipping sting of the branches and leaves that collided with him as he raced through the brush, he launched himself hard against Isaac’s mental walls, hoping he would pay attention. The Watcher had never been receptive, but then again, none of Arthur’s family ever had been.
“Geez – quit being a pain in the ass and leave me alone. I’m busy here,” Isaac thought at him, clearly annoyed.
“Isaac, you have to listen to Angela’s warning. She sensed something bad is going to happen and her talent lets her know these things. Stop what you’re doing and get down off of that roof. We all have to avoid anything risky and take shelter, until the danger passes.” Sam knew he wasn’t the most persuasive of people, but he hoped Isaac wouldn’t fight him. Otherwise he’d have to consider recruiting the help of a Teller, and that would stir up a whole other kind of trouble. Unfortunately, Isaac had no intention of being agreeable.
“I don’t take orders from a stupid Control, or a nosy Little Finder. I’m almost done here. I’ll get down when I’m good and ready. I’m sick and tired of waking up to lying in a puddle. If you guys had gotten your asses in gear and finished this thing before Craig and I had got here, I wouldn’t have to do this,” he grumbled.
“Well, we could move you then, just until the rainy season is over and we can patch things up here properly, Whatever it takes, you have to get down now.” Sam found it difficult to concentrate on his conversation with the disgruntled Watcher, as he crashed his way through the foliage, trying to get back to the settlement as quickly as possible.
“No way! Move in with a houseful of Tellers, Controls or rutting couples popping out babies? Not going to happen. I’d rather drown in my bed than suffer through that.”
“It’s not drowning in your bed you should be worried about. It isn’t safe for you to be up there. What can I say or do that would convince you to get down?” Sam was grateful he only needed to communicate by thought, breathless now from his desperate sprint, passing the jungle around him at a blurred pace. He had already concluded that he would likely have to resort to asking one of the Tellers to command the stubborn Watcher to get down.
“Nothing – I told you, I don’t take orders from some Little who thinks he’s the boss of me. I…”
Sam experienced a sudden dizzying, lurching sensation, one that stole away what little breath he had left and made him lose his footing. He sprawled, dazed, into the broad, wet leaves that covered the jungle floor. Fortunately, the foliage cushioned his fall, but despite this he was still assaulted by a horrible and overwhelming pain – as bad if not worse than the one he had experienced during the explosion at Transcendence. It made him sick to his stomach, wave after wave of agony not giving him a chance to regain his bearings. It took him a few moments of fighting confusion before he realized that the pain was coming from Isaac. Needing to restore his senses, Sam threw up his walls to sever his direct link with the Watcher.
The pain stopped immediately, and Sam could finally think again. It wasn’t long before he concluded that something terrible had happened to Isaac, something as bad as Angela had predicted, and that he had shared the Watcher’s trauma because of their direct connection.
No response – in fact, Sam could barely sense him there.
Sam’s first regret was that he hadn’t been able to hold on to their link while restoring his concentration. If he had still been inside the Watcher’s head, he could have better gauged what was going on. Since he couldn’t reconnect, Sam returned to Craig, hoping he could get answers from the other Finder instead. Craig’s thoughts were chaotic, the fluster symptomatic of panic.
“Craig? What happened?” Sam asked. “I was talking to Isaac but now I can’t reach him.”
“That’s because he fell off the roof, and he’s hurt really bad. I told him not to go up there,” Craig replied, confirming Sam’s fears. “I think he may be dying. I called all the Fixers. I hope they get here in time.”
Sam’s mind was still foggy, but he was still able to register “dying” and “Fixers.” It took a few seconds for him to put it all together, but his heart sank as he realized just how bad this situation could be, and not just for Isaac. A chill ran through him and he struggled to his feet again. The rain was pouring even harder, the winds picking up as well.
“Not Sarah. Please tell me you didn’t call Sarah,” he begged, knowing what the answer would be, but desperate to hear the contrary.
“Of course Sarah, she’s our best Fixer,” Craig told him. “If anyone can fix him, she can.”
Chantal Boudreau is an accountant by day and an author/illustrator during evenings and weekends, who lives by the ocean in beautiful Nova Scotia, Canada with her husband and two children. In addition to being a CMA-MBA, she has a BA with a major in English from Dalhousie University. A member of the Horror Writers Association, she writes and illustrates predominantly horror, dark fantasy and fantasy and has had several of her stories published in a variety of horror anthologies, in online journals and magazines and as stand-alone digital shorts. Fervor, her debut novel, a dystopian science fantasy tale, was released in March of 2011 by May December Publications, followed by sequels, Elevation and Transcendence – and now Providence. Magic University, the first in her fantasy series, Masters & Renegades, made its appearance in September of 2011 and its sequel, Casualties of War in June 2012, with Prisoners of Fate, the third book, expected out soon. She also has a YA tribal dark fantasy trilogy available, beginning with The Blood Is Strong: The Snowy Barrens Trilogy #1. The third and last book of the trilogy, The Blood Flows True, will be released later this year.