***Today, I want to introduce a very talented lady, Veronica Knox. She's started a new series for the pre-teens and from what I've seen here, it'll be magical!! After I finished reading the blurb, a notion popped into my head. At this age, I thought Nancy Drew was adventure!!!
Part one of a time-slip fantasy series by V Knox
‘TWINTER – the first portal’
~ V Knox
Ghosts, Time-travel, a Dozen Terrible Secrets,
and a Curse of Snow
Twelve-year-old twins, Kit (a keen scientist) and Bash (a girl with a miraculous ‘green thumb’ and a flair for elaborate words) are excited to be moving from a noisy city to Bede Hall, their eccentric grandmother’s crumbling stately home, set in the sleepy English countryside.
With all that’s gone horribly wrong for a year, it’s about time life got back on a positive track. Moving to a grand old mansion seems the answer that promises an adventure of endless exploration and freedom. Bash can create the garden of her dreams and Kit has an abandoned space to set up his own laboratory.
Instead, they begin to uncover the supernatural secrets of a mysterious village, meet the ghost of Bede Hall and some unexpected life-forms, some of whom, are just as haunted as the presence of the hapless young girl trapped in the attic.
It’s all ‘about time’ when the twins discover a portal to the future. Can they also travel to the past and unravel the truths of natural history in order to save the planet from a natural disaster? The answers lie in Ancient Egypt, but only time will surrender its hidden knowledge.
The responsibility of holding the future of the world in the twin’s hands is as bizarre as their grandmother’s magic snow globe.
THE MUMMY’S CURSE
It was the first day of August, but a thin slick of ice defied the blistering heat of summer and
crept over the sundial’s weathered face. The rest of the garden grew perfectly wild the way
an abandoned landscape should.
The over-excited little ghost was undaunted as she rubbed a small hole in the window frost
and peered down. She saw the same things she always did: a marble sundial leaning slightly towards the stables, a maze that looked like a giant green puzzle, and a bright carpet of flowers that shimmered like jewels. Beyond them, a topiary sphinx basked under a blazing sun.
For a moment, the ghost-child sensed the delightful fragrance of carnations that wafted up to the attic from below, and she allowed herself to feel the thrill of anticipation at the thought of meeting her friends again, but the garden was deserted. Her eyes searched in vain for a familiar figure until snowflakes obscured her view.
For the second year in a row no-one had come. Sadly, she melted back into her wintry room. Haunting, as she knew only too well, was mostly a tedious business.
Other than a spectacular address and two last names, which made them sound rather glamorous, nothing about the twins, Kit and Bash Stratford-Smyth (that rhymes with myth) was extraordinary. Except, that is, for their ability to know what each other was thinking... and the ghost of a little girl in their grandmother’s deserted stately home.
But the ghost belonged to Bede Hall and the month of August, and for the moment, Bede Hall belonged to no-one.
The three-hundred-acre estate of Bede Hall had been on the market for two years with only one interested party, but last month the deal had unexpectedly fallen through for unknown reasons, and with the market for large stately homes slow at the best of times, it looked as though it wasn’t going to sell anytime soon.
The old lady and the great estate languished restlessly in empty parallel states of unrest while its ghost pined, expecting another lonely summer. It was only June.
Kit stood in the center of an Egyptian tomb and directed his sister’s attention away from the sad sight of three skeletons jumbled together in a discarded heap of bones.
“It’s all right; they’re safe now,” he comforted, but his voice couldn’t reach her.
Bash should have known something terrible was about to happen because she’d woken from a disturbing dream with skeletons chasing her. She’d arisen with a wobbly feeling in her legs as if she was a skeleton herself. Her brother Kit felt uneasy too, but then, sharing feelings was fairly normal for twins.
“It was awful,” she told Kit, “I was trapped in a dark room. The air was all musty and I think there were bats because I could hear them squealing, and something was crawling in my hair. It felt like the fingers of the skeletons. I couldn’t breathe.”
“It’s only nerves,” Kit reassured her, “you’re just worried about the science exam,” but he felt anxious too. He hadn’t wanted to alarm his sister, but he’d had the exact same dream.
The eleven-year-old twins were so un-extraordinary it was rather tricky for new acquaintances to describe them. They were of average height, neither fat nor thin, and had brown hair and brown eyes. They were never ‘alike as two peas in a pod,’ but they did share the same cheery enthusiasm and infectious good nature.
Kit, short for Christopher, was exceptionally curious about everything, and his sister Bash, short for Bathsheba, was single-mindedly devoted to interesting words and anything
to do with gardens. The best thing one could say about them was that they were the sort of people you’d want for a friend, however; other than tongue-in-cheek, this could not be said about
their older brother, Rupert.
The twins dressed for school, and each had a soft-boiled egg for breakfast with bread and butter cut into ‘soldiers.’ Bash ate hers with her science textbook open, her eyes desperately scanning the pages, and barely tasted her food. Kit was looking forward to acing another test on his
favorite subject, and savoured the salty taste of the bread strips dipped into the runny yolk. He even polished off two slices of toast spread with marmalade, and, as always, he cut his toast into several isosceles triangles, leaving one of them plain for their lanky deerhound, Jack.
The open window brought the sounds of early morning traffic drifting into the cosy kitchen the same way it always did. It was unusually bleak for the last day of June, with the sort of grey sky that promised drizzly rain all day. Already the first drops were spattering the pavement below.
Pigeon, their father’s ancient parrot, resumed sharpening his yellow beak on a new cuttlebone after loudly reproaching the family’s ginger cat, Feathers, for nibbling a plant.
It was always unnerving when Pigeon mimicked someone’s voice, but with the nightmare fading, nothing unusual warned the twins that a message would bring their safe world tumbling
down like a pyramid made of sand.
Feathers continued to paw the pot of mint growing on the windowsill hoping it would turn into its catnip cousin, while Jack kept his unblinking eye on Kit’s toast with the anticipation only a dog can know of a treat from a human’s plate.
Mrs. S sipped her tea, and smiled happily as she opened the letter with the foreign-looking stamp which arrived in the morning post.
“It looks like your father will be home soon,” she said, reading. “His dig is over for the summer. He writes that the June heat is quite unbearable, so the authorities are shutting
things down early this year. He sends his love and some pictures of the pyramids.”
“At least someone is having sunny weather,” Kit said.
“Rain is good for the gardens,” Bash added, tilting her head to search for a word that momentarily escaped her. “I find it... invigorating.”
The twins were looking forward to their summer holiday, but sadly they were no longer spending their school breaks at Bede Hall. For two years their grandmother, Lady Nan, had been
half-asleep, fading away in ‘The Beehive Nursing Home,’ no longer in residence at her grand manor which was for sale.
Lady Nan’s dreams were deeper than the usual twilight wanderings of her elderly companions. Most of them slept adrift in a pleasant happy-go-lucky sea randomly replaying their good old days, but Lady Nan had always been different. Sometimes being of sound mind was too cruel to bear.
Lady Nan made every effort to control her dreams by concentrating on one of her favorite daydreams: she conjured up amazing images of the golden sands of Egypt and the glory days of its ancient past. She dreamed creatively in order to live there and leave England behind.
Lady Nan begged her dreams to crowd out her mistakes, shout down her enemies, and erase her sad memories. She dreamed purposely to forget; she dreamed selectively to remember something wonderful. Her dreamtime was a place to escape a series of tragic events because it was easier to slip away than face the terrible truths which plagued her, but as hard as she tried, old-family loyalty was in her blood, and messages of responsibility crept in to disturb her blissful reveries.
Her beloved old manor house was evermore insistent she return home. It began to send her pleasant invitations and then ever more urgent messages and stronger pleas, until, at last, it had no choice but to order her return.
But it was the fretful voice of a lonely little girl she once knew, calling out for help, who disturbed Lady Nan’s sanctuary the most.
The ice on the sundial had sealed time in a narrow wedge of mauve shadow.
It had been a scorching August day, over seventy years ago, in the afternoon to be exact, when Bede Hall first heard two little girls crying. One was distraught with an alarming headache; the other from the worst sort of fear – that of being lost and alone.
The ‘little girl lost’ had looked down on the maze from her window, and beckoned the other with a frantic wave but had hidden when the door opened, only venturing a timid look at the unwell girl when she was sleeping.
For a while they remained alone yet together, dreaming now-and-again in the same wintry room, both in search of comfort.
One girl sought refuge to avoid her father; the second searched in vain, hoping to find her father. They were connected by a secret neither of them knew and a window of friendship they pledged would survive forever even though they were separated by a hundred boring tomorrows that reached into an uncertain future.
In spirit years, yesterday often seemed like a lost trail of pale dreams and the present was most often a confusion of restless memories, but this time the house had promised to intervene.
The old sundial continued to wait patiently in a sea of emerald grass like a lonely gravestone, sundrenched and frozen, and for many years time jumped ahead in erratic leaps like a frightened rabbit. And then the unthinkable happened – a third girl lost her father.
No-one was prepared for the bomb of devastating news that dropped into the unsuspecting kitchen when the telephone jangled.
Mrs. S’s cup of tea crashed to the floor in mid-conversation, startling poor Feathers into the next room in a blur of orange fur and sent Jack slinking under the table. Pigeon squawked a louder version of “stop eating that plant, you!” and flapped his bright, red and green wings.
“Mum what is it?” Bash said, “you’ve gone white as a ghost.”
Kit, who had been about to give Jack his treat, nearly knocked over his chair getting up too fast. “What’s happened?” he cried.
Mrs. S slumped back into her chair. “Your father... is... missing,” she said in a barely audible whisper quite drained of emotion. “He never showed up in Cairo,” she continued
weakly, “the museum thinks he may have been... kidnapped.”
The twins stared at each other in disbelief.
“I have to call Rupert,” Mrs. S said, getting up suddenly. “He will have to come home. Oh dear, I’ve broken one of my best cups. Be careful. Mind your feet, and watch out for Jack.”
“Don’t worry,” Kit said, “I’m sure they’ll find Dad. He’ll be all right. Egypt’s a funny old place. There’s been a mistake.”
Bash’s knees were more wobbly than ever as she settled her mother in a chair and poured her a fresh cup of tea. But Mrs. S abandoned her tea, jumped up again, and busied
herself, cleaning up the broken china, all in a rush as if someone’s life depended on it.
“Leave that Mum,” Kit said. “Sit down and drink your tea. I’ll call Rupert.”
Mrs. S obeyed and stared dry-eyed at her letter, still in shock.
Kit looked over at Bash and their eyes met, widened with fear. Neither of them had any idea that their lives were about to become more extraordinary than they could ever have
Veronica has a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Alberta, writes and paints on Vancouver Island, and is a freelance editor for her company, Silent K Productions. She has written several novels of women’s fiction, all of which, have paranormal elements:
The ‘Second Lisa’ trilogy is an historical fantasy about missing paintings, lost identities, the ‘Mona Lisa,’ and the life of Lisabetta Buti, one of Leonardo da Vinci’s forgotten sisters. http://www.secondlisa.org
‘Woo Woo – the Posthumous Love Story of Miss Emily Carr’ is a romantic ghost story about the Canadian icon, artist, Emily Carr. http://www.woowoothenovel.com
‘The Day I Met Botticelli,’ Knox's sixth novel, is currently being edited – another ethereal romance set in the fifteenth century of the Italian renaissance. Due for release in February 2014.
‘TWINTER – the first portal’ is her first foray into writing for preteens (age ten to twelve) – a series that will project into the young adult genre. All Knox’s books are available on Amazon in e-book and print-on-demand formats. Currently, ‘Twinter’ is a kindle select feature.
Knox’s paintings and her editing services may be viewed on her websites: http://veronicaknox.com and http://editorvknox.wordpress.com
She may be contacted through her email: firstname.lastname@example.org