or A HOUSECAT
And never underestimate the power of a kid who loves books, especially if that kid is you, and you’re waaaaay past 37½.
Book 3 of my ‘Bede Trilogy’, ‘TOMORROW AGAIN’, is well under way, (estimated launch date, mid-August).
In the conclusion of their time-slip adventure, Kit and his twin sister Bash, newly-separated by 5,000 years, must face the same enemy after their telepathic link is severed. Bash has some surprisingly famous allies with creative inventions on her side, and Kit has some serious feline supporters at his back, including Bast and Sekhmet (that’s Sekhmet and Bast in the picture) to fight a supernatural enemy able to infiltrate small spaces, darting and stinging at will.
Turning eighteen isn’t going to be easy.
Curmudgeonly, yet stately Bede Hall, nestled beside Hadrian’s Wall, houses earth’s vast network of time portals, with a mind of its own, but it’s the housecats of Britain that join paws with their cousins in the ancient land of Kem to perfect the art of time travel to landscapes that are positively ancestral, where the cats are Egyptian and royal and dispatch puny intruders like willow-the-wisps’ with their eyes closed.
This is Anubis, on evening watch for pesky intruders. The wall is the Roman Emperor Hadrian’s 80 mile building project c. A.D. 122 who thought it would keep out the Scots (silly man)
I hereby offer you a catty chapter from book one, ‘TWINTER – the first portal’ where the Hall’s head guardian, Anubis the cat, dispatches a fairly minor supernatural intruder – a pesky willow-the-wisp in order to prove that cats overrule the supernatural world, in case you didn’t know that already, and in the hopes of piquing your curiosity to discover all three books and their upcoming prequel written by the child ghost of Bede Hall:
[A predator breeze battered the ivy growing thick over Bede Hall so that its tendrils tapped hard like thin green fingers railing against the library windows. They picked the lead strips of the diamond latticework making a scritchity-scratching noise like rustling paper, but when the guardian crept in, the breeze held its breath and shushed the vines.
Anubis padded into the library, and in spite of himself, he balked at the overwhelming sense of unease that assaulted his bones. His ears instinctively flattened like radar panels to pinpoint the disruptive presence.
As he did so, the long halogen bulb of a banker’s lamp flickered to life under its cobalt-blue shade and made a high-pitched hum only a cat or a rogue vine could hear.
It was obvious to any cat worth dignifying, that the red library was inhabited despite anyone being seated at the table or standing at the window or browsing the bookshelves or lounging in the leather armchairs.
A warning shiver lowered Anubis’s sleek tail to stealth mode and he crouched low to the ground, gliding like a snake, slithering over the carpet – his whiskers twitching.
The cat’s senses were so finely-tuned he could sometimes detect the color of a particular sound or scent, so it was with some hesitation that Anubis explored behind the curtains.
As always, he sniffed the air for mice, straining for the sound of their shrill squeaks and the scurrying of their tiny feet. Nothing. He scanned again, this time noticing the slight quivering of the pixilated foliage waving at the window.
Anubis sprung soundlessly to the window-seat, tested each S-shaped handle with his paw, and tried to stare at the moon through the dense leaves, but all he could see was his own reflection.
Yellow eyes glared back at him, and it unnerved him to see himself looking frightened because Anubis prided himself on being fearless. Living feral had taught him how to survive by staying alert, not spooked the way he felt now.
It was his duty to earn his keep by making nightly rounds of the Hall and to hiss into any corners that reeked of magic – any crevices where a spell might lurk or a curse might hide.
His back trembled involuntarily as if some unseen hand had stroked it. He flinched, and focused his investigation on the alcove beside the fireplace.
The corner was dark and formless, but nevertheless a disruptive energy issued from it like a thinking shadow.
The emanation rippled like a transparent flag and passed through Anubis’s body making his fur stand on end, fizzling and snapping with blue static.
A chuckling sound caused the cat to spin around and hiss, landing on all four feet, claws and fangs flashing.
The sound turned a ghoulish shade of yellowy-green and disappeared out the door. Anubis followed it to the top of the stairs and watched it slip, whining and moaning, through the keyhole of the great carved doors.
He leapt back to the window and watched as the shining green string swirled into a ball and rolled past the sundial. It rose suddenly to a great height and unravelled, weaving itself into the shape of a funnel cloud, and swooped into the mouth of the maze.
A moment later a whiff of red fog flew out of its center like a smoke signal, buzzed the lake, and returned to the Hall to be sucked down the chimney.
It rattled the empty coal scuttle against the soot-encrusted bricks, settled back into the same corner where it had first drawn Anubis’s curiosity, and dissipated into the wall leaving a phosphorous cough of dust on the hearth tiles.
Anubis settled on the arm of a chair to guard the fireplace. The library shook off its ominous visitor as the first rays of dawn licked everything clean, leaving the room silently bathed in the hush of retreating moonlight. The vibrations from the curtains and the smell of antique leather-bound books alerted Anubis. He perked his ears towards a new sound – the squeaking of rusty-hinges and the unmistakable clank of a sliding deadbolt that came from the main door.
The willow-the-wisp swept up the stairs in a surge of power and met Anubis head-on.
The collision caused the cat to arch his back, doubling his size, and he gave it such a blood-curdling yowl that it evaporated in a puff of slime-green mist.
Anubis shook himself back to normal and slunk warily to his bed, mission accomplished, skittishly avoiding every creak and shadow, and once he had to stop and bat away an annoying remnant of green fog that still clung to his tail.
As he prowled through the living room a child’s face peered from the mirror over the fireplace looking for signs of life, and a window blew open knocking over a vase of flowers. An icy wind howled a cat-shaped ‘sending’ to creep up the servant’s stairwell.
There it loomed like a giant black stain with the stagnant odor of swamp-scum about it that wavered and sputtered like the light from a beeswax candle.
The last sound Anubis heard before he slept was that of a loose shutter banging in the wind that echoed the rhythmic blows of hammers shaping a huge sandstone block under a vivid blue sky.]
THE ‘BEDE TRILOGY’ – by V KNOX is a middle-grade to Y/A time-slip magical realism fantasy for advanced readers aged 12 and up that links Pangea, Ancient Egypt, Mars, and a mystical corner of present day Britain.