The Fourth World – Chapter 1 – an Excerpt


The following piece is an excerpt from my First full length Novel – “The Fourth World”  due to  be completed this year.   It is a Dark Urban Fantasy Teen Novel.  It’s  set in modern times surrounding three teens  all of whom are strangers to each other.  They will  come together whether they want to or not to just possibly save the world and learn something about themselves and their place in the world. This is chapter has been revised a few times but I am sure it will be revised again before its all done…:)

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 The Fourth World

by PhilipWardlow

Calvin had always believed in magic. He didn’t care what anyone else thought. They could doubt all they wanted. There was a hidden world which we could not see sitting right in front of our faces, most everyone was too busy, too blind, or too stupid to see it. Calvin saw it in the trees as the distant winds kissed the leaves which flew through its branches. He spied it dancing in the fire amidst the embers at night; little tiny sprites hopping from log to log amidst the flames playing a game of tag. He smelled it in a wild rose growing in a crowded field of jostling weeds flinging its pheromones to attract the butterflies to alight upon its silken petals. He heard it in the babbling brook as the water played upon the rocks behind his home whispering to the frogs as it traveled on downriver. He felt it in the rough stone he caressed in the palm of his hand; an ancient power from ages past unearthed from the deep bowels of the earth from the crumbling’s of a mighty stone titan long dead. It was everywhere if they only choose to see. The magic spoke to him because he chose to listen and he almost understood what it is was saying…

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Chapter 1 – Reality Sets In

 

Calvin tasted the blood that trickled down to his upper lip which flowed from his nose. It had a sweet metallic taste. He liked the taste of his own blood. Calvin wasn’t a weird person don’t get him wrong, he wasn’t into to that kind of stuff.  He just liked to sometimes pretend that he was Conan the Barbarian backed up against a wall, fighting an angry horde of ghoulish creatures hell bent on gutting him like a fish, and slowly eating his entrails as he watched. With sword in hand he would hack and slash, limbs would fly. He would be scratched all to hell and bleeding from a dozen different wounds and smiling insanely because this could be his last day alive so why not go out smiling like a true warrior would upon meeting his death well met in battle. Yeah, he liked to have his mind go to places like that rather than be anywhere than where he was right now.

“Hold him down dammit he’s a squirmer! Fucking idiot, you see what he did to Omar? He’s crazy man!” Omar had it coming, Calvin told himself as he lay on the ground struggling under two other boys who each probably outweighed him by a hundred pounds.  They wouldn’t have caught him if one of the bystanders hadn’t tripped him while he was trying to get away. Trying to get away, besides talk bullshit, that’s all he ever did, until now.

Calvin was not a violent person, but he would admit, it had felt pretty good to see the plastic lunch tray connect solidly against the side of Omar’s head and watch him go down in a daze, not to mention the stunned looks of his buddies who were now holding him down who had put Omar up to flipping his lunch tray to the ground as he had walked on by. It was classic man, just classic.

“What the hell are you smiling about you sick bastard. I am so gonna end you, just wait. I always knew you were a weird little fucker. That’s why you don’t have any friends.”

Aah, Jake the jerk off, as Calvin liked to call him, a man, or boy better yet, of not many words. He guessed Jake’s dad couldn’t buy him a vocabulary to stuff inside that brain of his. His dad was more the type that likely bought him a good weight set and a big box of protein bars because he was crushing the hell out of Calvin’s left shoulder with his knees as he lay there on the ground.

“Get the fuck off me!” he yelled at them while his face was being pressed firmly into the dirt. He might as well have been yelling at the moon for all the good it did.  He was a punching bag to them. A distraction out of there boring day of the life they called school. He provided a service to them he guessed. They needed a reason to feel special while they were here.  Everyone wanted to feel special.

“Hey watch this Neil.” Jake said to the other kid that was holding Calvin. It was amazing, but Neil was actually more stupid than Jake was. The Smithsonian would have been really pleased to know a Neanderthal was still walking the earth. Neil had a prominent forehead, a squashed face which held a perpetually dull look, and knuckles that dragged the ground as he walked almost upright. He would have look great stuffed and mounted. It was a wonder he could tie his own shoes.  Oh wait, was that Velcro for laces instead? Calvin had a pretty good view at Neil’s feet at this particular time so he had a plenty of time to check them out.

“Whut?” Said Neil responding dumbly to him as Jake bent down close to Calvin’s ear. Then he heard it, the long drawing in sound of phlegm back into the throat.

It landed with a splat on the top of his forehead and traveled like a river down into his right eye blinding him and causing him to lose it entirely. Calvin thrashed and heaved and went into what he liked to call his insane berserker barbarian rage. This had little effect, but it did cause Jake to fall off from kneeling on Calvin’s back which eased some of the pain he had been feeling. He would take what he could get.

Calvin realized in that instance, that the audiences that come to fighting events come to watch entirely for selfish reasons.  It is not to support the fighter; they wanted something out of it for all the money they plunked down. Apparently being stuck at school was the payment and he was the entertainment and distraction for most of them this day.  They were content to just stand around and watch as his shame unfolded. His pain in some sick way, was a voluntary or involuntary morbid thrill you got when watching a horror movie unfold, knowing you feel bad for the victim, but not really because but what can you do?  They convinced themselves they were just a spectator to it all, that they were allowed to be insulated from it, please don’t ask for me to lend a hand they say, you must be crazy. Calvin was just another pathetic soap opera to be talked about between their friends at lunch hour, or in a text message or online, to be kept at a distance, and to not bog their day down. It was the status quo around here for most of them.

Their hand was on the dimmer switch that controlled the light of Calvin’s life into theirs and they could choose to let it in however much they thought they could take. Right now all those hands on all those switches were set to full off. They didn’t want to see him…just what was done to him. Calvin in that moment, hated them more than the ones who picked on him on a daily basis.

“Break it up! Break it up!”  The loud high screeching of a woman’s voice cut through the chaos that was his crazed mind and through the crowd of onlookers as well. Mrs. Kitchen, a teacher and woman of enormous proportions waddled over her way through the ring of kids to see what had caught all their attention. He heard her gasp out aloud so theatrically when she came upon the scene that Calvin almost laughed out loud.

Jake and Neil quickly let him go to show her they weren’t just trying to shove his head into the dirt and make him eat it.  He saw the crowd starting to disperse around him, the bloodshed was over; be about your way miscreants.

Calvin slowly got up from the ground and wiped the spit and grass clippings from his face with the sleeve of his shirt.

“Would someone like to tell me what’s going on? I found Omar back there picking himself off the ground and now I find Calvin doing pretty the same thing over here. What’s going on?” Her voice went to a higher octave on the shrill level factor if that was possible and she put her hands on her very wide hips, tapping her foot impatiently expecting an answer. Yep, she was your typical stereotype, they do exist.

“He hit Omar for no reason.” Neil said pointing at Calvin like he was fingering some criminal in a police line up.  Jake just kept quiet.

“Is this true Calvin?”  She asked.

“Yes and no,” Calvin said, “Yes, I hit him, but I wouldn’t say it was for no reason. He had it coming, they provoked me.” and be damned with the consequences, Calvin was done caring anymore.

“Provoked or not, violence is never the answer to life’s probably. Let’s see what Mr. Granderson has to say about all this. Let’s go.” She marched us into the school’s office area where we sat and waited while all the parents were called.

 

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“Two weeks!” Calvin’s mom yelled. Not at Calvin really, but in his immediate vicinity so he would get the point and know she was upset.  She was venting.  He stood in the living room staring out the window as she yelled. Calvin’s little brother Jonah, had the sense to be keeping a low profile at the moment, he was nowhere to be seen.

“I hate that ass of a principal that works there.” She said to no one particular, “Three against one, he suspends you for a two weeks and they get half that. Unprovoked my ass – boys will boys he says but that’s no reason for violence he says. How many times have they messed with you this year already and he’s done nothing?”  Calvin didn’t know if she wanted an answer but he answered anyways.

“This would be the sixth time, not including the minor stuff.” he told her. Minor stuff like the daily being called a douche, dipshit, pussy,  or the accidental shove against the locker,  the silent mouthing and knife to throat gestures of I’m gonna kill you. Yeah, the minor stuff.

Calvin looked to the window again and reminded himself two more years left after this.  But could he make it? He had snapped today and he hadn’t cared. He didn’t trust himself and it scared him.

His mom came over to him and gave him a hug from behind and put her head on his shoulder.

“You’re a good kid. There just jealous jerks who wish they were as smart as you. They know you’re going on to something bigger in life. I don’t want you to feel bad about what happened. Anyone would have done what you did. I don’t blame you hun.” she said.

A fat little robin landed on a branch in a bush near the house with a worm hanging from its beak. Calvin imagined his name was Reginald and he was late getting back home to his family. They were waiting on him and he was late, his wife was going to be so upset.  The worm had been hard to find, it had been so dry lately.  His wife could be so demanding at times. Reginald flitted off for home.

“That’s not true mom, somebody else might have done something else and you know it. Maybe I’m just like him.” he said. Calvin saw an old man’s face look back at me from the tall oak that sat in their front yard. The old man seemed to be tired and little sad it seemed. Just like me, Calvin thought.

“Don’t you say that, you could never be like him, you hear me, besides he’s much better himself now since he’s been taking his medicine and doing his counseling since getting out. He’s much better than he ever was.”  Calvin’s mom turned him around to have him look at her. He saw her eyes were starting to brim over with tears.

“Besides, it’s called standing up for yourself. I’m glad you did what you did, maybe now they’ll leave you alone.  It’s Friday now, just get through this weekend and next week’s suspension.  I’m betting everything will have settled down when you get back with those boys now that you stood up to them, sometimes bullies like that need a reality check.” She gave him another hug and a kiss on the cheek.  He told her she was probably right. Parents like it when you tell them what they like to hear.

My brother soon snuck out of the hole he had been in and made his presence known by dinner time. Calvin was stuck with him alone sitting across the table from while they waited for mom to bring out the food. On the rare occasion she was home in time from her job she loved treating them like guests in a restaurant insisting she wanted no help in the kitchen.

Jonah took this as an opportunity while their mother was not near to comment on the day’s events of what had happened at his school.

“I heard you got Omar Escobar good today?” he asked, smiling stupidly from across the table. His cool younger brother, already a legend in eighth grade, at least in his mind.

“News travels fast on the social networks I see.”  Calvin said bluntly.

“What did you do this time to piss them off?” He said pushing his hair out of the way covering his right eye.

“Walk.”  Calvin said.

“Maybe if you didn’t talk to yourself, and didn’t dress like a joke, and act like such a smart ass all the time they wouldn’t mess with you.”  Jonah had an almost disgusted look on his face.

“If I wasn’t your brother, is that what you would do at school, pick on me?” Calvin asked.  Jonah just sat there not saying anything.

“I don’t do a lot of things right, according to a lot of kids. Doesn’t mean I’m going to stop. I can’t help that your brain and theirs doesn’t function like mine,” Calvin said quietly.

Jonah threw his arms up the air, in what Calvin guessed, was in exasperation, at what he had just said.

“Ya see, that’s why they treat you like that, you think your better or something, more clever.  You talk down to people and you don’t even know you’re doing it.”  Jonah looked at him with heavy almost darkly over the dining room table.

“I didn’t mean it that way, I was…,” Calvin was cut off as their mom walked into the room with dinner.

“Dinner is served, Chicken Parmesan with spaghetti, your favorite Calvin. How many mothers you know would give their son their favorite meal after being kicked out of school?” She smiled, which made him smile. His brother just glared at him.

“Hey mom, when’s Dad coming tomorrow?” Jonah asked.

“Umm, I think at about noon or around that time,” She said, as she set down the dinner plates down in front them.

“Around noon or at noon, because the movie starts exactly at one?” Calvin asked as he could tell his words were coming out in a nervous rush clumped together and falling all over themselves.

“Sheesh, calm down ya big nerd, it’s just a stupid movie,” Jonah said laughing at him.       Like he didn’t want to see the movie just as much as me, Calvin thought.

“Quiet Jonah – I told him to be here at noon honey, just like you said. He’ll be here, don’t worry yourself over it.” She sat down between the two of them at the table.

“Don’t forget I will be leaving in the morning for that flooring project over in Two Rivers with my company. God, I hope this heat let’s up, the floors never set right if it’s too hot and humid like it’s been lately. I don’t think it’s rained in two weeks either. It would be nice to get some nice cooling rain to settle the dust down and maybe relieve some of this heat were having.”

“Don’t expect any rain anytime soon mom.”  Calvin said suddenly without thinking.

“Why’s that Calvin, hear something on the news?” She asked as she looked over at him right before forking a piece of chicken into her mouth.

Dammit, I’m an idiot. “Yeah they said to expect a couple more weeks of this to go on.” he said covering quickly.

“Really?  I don’t trust meteorologist past six hours let alone two weeks, we’ll see about that.” She said smiling at Calvin while his brother just looked at him like he was the biggest idiot.

“Yeah, you’re probably right,” he said, but Calvin knew it would be two weeks and it wasn’t the weather man who had predicted it. It had been the old man in the tree in the front yard he had heard it from.

“Time to dig in.”  She said as she noticed Calvin hadn’t touched his food yet. So he dug.

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It was Saturday and Calvin woke feeling refreshed.  A new day was here, with new possibilities. No school! Every week to him in school was frankly like walking through the same mine field over and over again day in and day out; except they changed the location of the mines on him every day.  He was glad to have the respite for just a moment. Now he had a whole  two weeks! Thank you for the suspension Mr. Granderson, pile of homework or not!

He trotted downstairs to find his brother filling his face with a bowl frosted flakes while he sat in front of the television doing what he did best, nothing.

“Mom left already?” Calvin asked

“Yeah, she left about an hour ago at eight. She said she won’t be back until late tomorrow sometime.” Jonah said, never taking his eyes from the television screen.

“Dad call yet?”

“Nope.” Jonah muttered under his breath, barely audible to Calvin’s ears.

Calvin looked at the clock; it was almost nine-thirty.  Still lots of time he told himself, no reason to panic just yet. He grabbed some cereal and tried to sit down with his brother to watch the animated show he was watching. It wasn’t long before he got up and left the room trying hard not to get a headache from the inane jokes coming from the characters on the screen and his brother making snorting noise every time he thought something was funny. He went down the hall to the bathroom to take a leak.  Had Calvin ever liked these types of shows when he was his age? He thought not.

Calvin walked backed into the room where his brother was still sitting stupidingly.

The hand on the clock had moved only a scant few inches it seemed. Why hadn’t he called yet? Had he forgotten?

“Stop pacing like a wild animal or something, he’ll be here. Take some medication for Christ sakes; you’re making me nervous just watching you,” Jonah said, spying Calvin out of the corner of his eye through the open doorway into the hall from where he still sat watching television.

I’ll be okay, I’ll be okay, I’ll be okay. Calvin repeated this like a mantra to himself as he walked down the hall to the kitchen, and then on out the rear of the house through the slider to the wood deck into fresh open air. He needed space. It always helped to have space when he got too anxious.

An inrush of energy filled his head and it wouldn’t dissipate. He pressed both of his hands to his head on either side of his ears trying to press it out. He quickly laid down on the deck and looked up into the sky. It was a lovely color blue. He let out a long drawn out breath.           One single bird flew by far above overhead?  It was black. A crow perhaps. To be a bird would be something  he imagined. The wind over its wings. The pressures above and below creating loft as the differences between them defied gravity.  He looked to the bird getting ever farther away and put himself into it.

Through the bird’s eyes, he suddenly he saw his own body lying on the back deck of his home from his new vantage point from high above in the sky. He was moving fast away from it. He was at the whim of the bird.  Calvin was nestled in the back of its mind as a silent stowaway on a trip. He would lose sight of himself and home soon. Suddenly an updraft from below pushed the bird higher still.  Panic ensued as Calvin start to feel like a rubber band being stretched to far.  He felt he was going to break.  Suddenly, he felt the hardness of the deck against his back and the hotness of the sun as the sun rays beat down on him from overhead. His body was covered in sweat.

The sun hadn’t been that high a moment ago, Calvin mused. Had he fallen asleep? What time was it?

Suddenly his brother’s face was staring down at him as I laid there on the deck.

“Dad’s on the phone Einstein, he wants to talk to you.”  He said as he munched on a sandwich held in his hands. Crumbs fell from it into Calvin’s face.

He jumped up and started to run into the house.

“You might want this.”  Jonah pulled the portable house phone out of his pocket.

Calvin spun around and snatched it from him almost growling.

“Thanks ass.”  he said marching away from him into the house as Calvin put the phone to his ear.

“Hello Dad, where are you at?”   he quickly looked at the clock on the mantle as he walked into the living room. Twelve-thirty!Fuck!

            “I’m not gonna be able to make it today, how bout tomorrow. I think I can swing it then?” He could hear the nonexistent remorse in his voice.  His Dad could care less.

“You said that last week Dad, and then the week before.  This is the last week the movies probably going to be showing.”  Calvin tried to keep the whining out of his voice. He hated when he whined, especially to him.

“I know, I know but I promise I will be there this time. I just had stuff to do that I forgot bout. I’ll be freed up tomorrow.” He said to me. Now who’s whining.

“Forget it Dad, I’m going to go by myself tomorrow, don’t bother coming.” Calvin hung up with a quick push of  a button.

“Did you just hang up on Dad? Whoa, he’s gonna be pissed he’s so gonna kick your ass later man.”  Jonah had walked into the room without him noticing.

Studies and research have shown that kids starting at about the age of fourteen years and going well into their early twenties have a chemical deficiency in their brains that leads them to having less control of their impulses or knee jerk reactions to certain stimuli or events in their lives than adults would have when it came to decision making.

So when Calvin threw the phone at Jonah’s head you couldn’t blame him, you had to blame his fifteen year old chemically imbalanced brain instead.

Luckily Jonah had good reflexes and ducked away out of the way of the flying piece of plastic. Unluckily the big panel mirror hanging on the wall being an inanimate object with no agility whatsoever was hit squarely in its center.

A hundred shards of broken glass cascaded to the hard wood of the living room floor. The sound of each piece of glass that fell and bounced on its surface seemed to accent and echo something in Calvin at that moment as well.

Jonah just stood there still half in a crouch from ducking. He stared at the mirror and pieces of it still tinkling to the floor in silent shock.

“Now mom’s gonna kill you Bro.” was all he said in a whisper.

He was right. Mom would kill him. First he got kicked out of school, now this. She also wouldn’t like more how he had tried to hit Jonah with the phone.  She didn’t deserve a son like him. The house suddenly started to shrink around him.

“Where you going Calvin!”  Jonah yelled as Calvin left out the front door.

“Nowhere!” he yelled not looking back as he broke into a run soon as his first foot hit the sidewalk.

 

End of Chapter 1.

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