Talisgate Book 2 -Chapter 1

This is the first chapter of my new book, Talisgate – To Save a Sojourner. This is Book 2 in a planned trilogy. I am working hard to get this installment done this year, hopefully by the end of the summer.

WARNING! – This chapter contains spoilers for anyone who has not finished reading the first Talisgate book.

There’s this great book called A Wrinkle in Time. Madeleine L’Engle wrote it way back in 1962, three whole years before I was born. After all that happened with Molly and Sojourner and the Muldoons, you know, all the stuff about the talisgates, I needed a break, so I checked it out of the school library and read it. With all the reading I do, I can’t believe I hadn’t read it before, but somehow, I had missed it. You do remember all that stuff I just mentioned, right? I don’t want to have to tell it all over again. It was bad enough to live through it once and tell you about it in detail afterward. I wrote it all down. Go back and read it now if you haven’t already, or if you forgot some of the details. It’ll help make things clear when I tell you about what happened next.

You might remember Sojourner told us he had something new for Molly to do, and he said it wouldn’t be long before he needed her to do it, but since I didn’t know just how long that would be, I tried as best as I could to get back into the normal routines of school and, of course, reading. That’s when I found A Wrinkle in Time. It really grabbed me. I think it’s aimed at kids my age, but a lot of grown-ups need to read it as well.

This Madeleine L’Engle woman is a genius. She gets it. So many of the things I learned on my adventures with Sojourner and Molly, as well as a lot of things I have always thought about life in general, are echoed in that story. The power of love. The power of a single person and the difference they can make. Those are things that matter. Seriously, you need to read that book. I wish I had read it before my experiences with the gates. It might have given me courage during the worst of it. I made it though. Molly did too. I guess that means I had enough courage, or something, to do what I had to do. To be honest, I think it was all Molly.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve thought Molly was special. Just awesome. I told you about that before, so I won’t go on about it again, even though it’s hard not to brag about her. Not only is Molly a great friend, but she’s brave, almost scary brave. Don’t tell her I said this, but she’s kind of a hero to me. On second thought, you can tell her. I think she already knows.

So anyway, about a week or so after I thought both Molly and I were going to be goners at the hands of those nasty crashers, Sojourner just popped up. I was riding my five-speed bike alongside Molly. We were just making a big loop around the golf course in the middle of our neighborhood. We hadn’t been to that creepy old Muldoon place since the last time we came back home through the talisgate in the front yard. Sojourner just sent us through and told us he would see us soon. Neither Molly nor I had even talked about going back there. It was good to just be normal kids again, at least for a while.

I nearly wrecked my bike when Sojourner kind of nonchalantly stepped out from behind a big oleander bush growing at the side of the road. I have no idea why people want oleanders. Yeah, they have flowers, and they can look kind of pretty, but they’re poisonous. Very poisonous. If you or one of your pets eat any part of one of those plants, the result can be fatal. No thanks. I’ll find something less treacherous to decorate my yard, if you don’t mind.

I slammed on my brakes and nearly flipped over my handlebars. Molly was startled as well. I heard her say something like, “Ha!” It wasn’t a laugh. It just kind of sounded like an exclamation of surprise. I have hand-operated caliper brakes. Molly has the kind where you just pedal hard backward. I think they call those coaster brakes. I heard her rear tire skid right after the noise that came out of her mouth.

Catching my breath after being startled, I scolded Sojourner. “What are you doing? You nearly scared me to death!”

He wasn’t smiling. He seemed overly somber and serious, not wearing his usual goofy demeanor. Goofy so long as there’s not any imminent peril, that is. He didn’t say anything right away. He looked upset.

Ever the practical one, Molly said, “How do I know it’s you?” She wasn’t waiting for an answer. She still wore the talisman necklace around her neck every single day. She hadn’t talked to her mother about it, so I’m not sure how she got out of the house every day with it. I think Mary, Molly’s mom, would recognize it. Maybe she would. Sojourner said she was like Molly and knew about the gates, but I didn’t know how much she knew, and I knew she didn’t know how involved Molly was in all of it. But Molly knew one thing. The talisman could reveal crashers. She pulled the metal amulet from under her shirt and held it up in front of her face so that Sojourner’s face appeared in her line of vision behind it. She peered intently at him.

Sojourner saved her from any uncertainty. He took a step forward and touched the charm with the tip of his finger. “It’s me, Molly.” The slightest of smiles crept onto his face. “You are smart, Molly. It’s wise to test everything. I told you once to make sure I’m me when I come to you with any kind of request or news. You remembered. That’s good.”

“Okay, so you’re you,” I said. “Why are you here? I know you said you had something for Molly to do, but I didn’t think you’d just pop up in the middle of the street. An adult stranger in a floppy hat talking to two kids might look a little suspicious to people, don’t you think?”

“Yes,” Sojourner replied, “it would. That’s why no one else can see me right now. And yes, I had something for Molly to help me with. That’s why I was going to meet you at the creek when you got back to your home world. All of that got thrown asunder when, well, you know.”

“Duh,” I said, rolling my eyes, “of course I remember. Adam Muldoon tried to kill Molly, and he would have killed me, too, had it not been for how Molly tricked him and …”

I didn’t finish that sentence. Not because I don’t know what happened, because I surely do, but because of Molly. Adam Muldoon, or rather, the thing that Adam had become, was destroyed when Molly shouted the word of banishment at him. Molly’s a good person. Thinking she had ended someone’s life was not something she carried around easily. I tried to help her by reminding her that Adam had become a crasher, which is why the word even worked on him. Sojourner told us that crashers aren’t really alive in the same way humans are. When humans give themselves over to the crashers, they kind of give their lives away. So, Adam doomed himself. Molly was just defending herself.

Maybe all that talk helped Molly a little. Maybe it didn’t. I think it’s something she has to work out on her own somehow. She’s no dummy. You know that already. She had to know Adam wasn’t the last crasher she was going to have to face in her role as a coadjutor. You know, a sojourner’s helper.

“So, what’s up?” I asked. “What do you need Molly to do? And remember, I’m her enlisted assistant, or whatever that’s called. Wherever she’s going, I’m going too.”
“I remember,” Sojourner said, nodding slightly in my direction. “There’s not really a title for it, but it’s an honor, and I respect Molly’s judgement. So yes, you will come along. It might be dangerous. No, wait. That’s not right.” He winced a bit and tugged at his chin before finally smiling and saying, “It will be dangerous. Not might. Will. Yes, that’s it. Dangerous. But surely you expect that, right? Dealing with crashers is always perilous.”

“So, more of them?” I asked. “Is it always crashers?”

“Most of the time, yes,” Sojourner replied. “Sometimes, there are other things for sojourners and coadjutors to deal with, but the worst of it and the most of it involves crashers. Let’s go somewhere we can talk about this without you two looking like you are talking to the air. Meet me at the creek, just like we were supposed to before, well, you know.”

With that, Sojourner simply vanished. I looked at Molly to make sure she saw what I saw, or rather, didn’t see what I didn’t see.
As usual, Molly knew exactly what I was trying to ask. “Yeah, he’s gone,” she said. “Let’s go to the creek.”

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