Fallen Ruler Excerpt
The older, gray-skinned being Lya had seen in her dream now helped her off the soft bed. She was still disoriented. Her head felt detached from her body, like she had been on a rollercoaster for hours. She stared open-mouthed at the weird looking bald being, while she allowed herself to be led. Lya had a vague memory of being lifted from the green gel by him and the younger being. The younger one wasn’t around now. Lya’s feet touched the ground. She wasn’t dreaming. Oh, this was bad.
Her pain had subsided somewhat. Lya looked around the room. It reminded her of those sci-fi movies: clean and modern, with lots of glass. Aside from the narrow, high bed, the only other item in the room was a ten-inch panel, with rows of light running the length of the far wall.
She turned back to study the gray being’s face. He was ugly. He had no hair. The thick membrane around his eyes looked like fake eyelashes. Odd, pulsating veins covered his body.
“Who are you?” Lya’s voice sounded like a rasp. With every word she spoke her head throbbed. “Where am I?”
Lya frowned. “Is it near
“A few light years away. It’s a planet, in a parallel universe.”
His words acted like an electrical discharge, jolting Lya awake. She was hallucinating. She knew she was. There was no other explanation. She reached out and touched the gray being. She felt him. Okay, hallucination was real. Her mind was distorting her vision. That sounded plausible. Don’t freak out. Lya smiled. “Is it close to those Streams?”
“It’s beyond that.”
The smile faded from Lya’s lips. “You’re screwing with me, right?”
“Don’t you worry, everything will be fine.”
Lya continued to stare at the gray… man—she guessed he was a man—as his words echoed in her brain. They triggered an image. She saw this same being placing her into that green tank, saying those very same words. Or not her... Lya. Although it felt like her, and somehow she knew it was her, but it was really the albino. The albino didn’t want to leave. She hesitated, grabbing onto the tank’s edges, and asked what it would be like? Would she ever come back? She turned to the older gray being and said, “Natuc, will you bring me back?”
“Natuc?” Lya whispered.
The gray being smiled. “You remembered. Good. Keep alert for those sudden burst of images, that’s how you will get your memory back.”
“My memory?” Lya searched Natuc’s face. “Please tell me this is all a mistake. A punishment for…” Lya couldn’t think of something she should be punished for, she hadn’t done anything all that bad to deserve being locked up in… what was this place?
“Calm down. You’re not hallucinating, Tsaen.”
“Tsaen? The albino, Tsaen? I’m not Tsaen.” Lya bit down on her lower lip. “I’m not Tsaen….”
Andrea, the character vs. the inspiration.
By Eleanor T Beaty
I based Andrea, Lya’s older sister, on a childhood friend. I did exaggerate a bit of her meanness but not too much. Her role, as a secondary character, was meant to contrast Lya’s kindness. I intended Andrea to be extremely dislikable, but many readers have reacted warmly towards her. Concerned even. An unexpected reaction, but a welcome one. This childhood friend of mine was a year older than me, and I was fascinated by her. For the sake of this blog, I will call her Mary.
Mary was my alter ego. I was shy, she wasn’t. I never lied, she always did and so on… that should be enough to get an idea of how opposite we were. Even physically. I was tall and thin, she was short and curvy. What we did have in common was; complicated parents of foreign origin, the same school and the tendency to get into trouble. We were drawn to each and did practically everything together through our early teens.
However, we did have a few falling-outs. I was somewhat short tempered and Mary was a provoker. Once, when we were at summer school together, we fought and went from best friends to worst enemies. I had a roommate I didn’t like much and Mary knew it. She decided to befriend the so-called roommate to annoy me and would come around to provoke.
It didn’t take much to make me lose it. My roommate and I had split the room in half with tape and I stated Mary could never step on my half. Until that day I had never released my wrath on Mary. She had no reason to think I would. Mary walked in, saw the tape and put her foot on my side. I warned her to remove it. She didn’t. I pounced on her and scratched her from head to toe. She ran out, straight to the infirmary where she was given a tetanus shot. Maybe she didn’t explain that the nails that scratched her were FINGERNAILS. Seriously, who gets a tetanus shot because of fingernails?
Well there went my reputation for the rest of the summer. Mary never challenged me again, physically, but when she could, she would put me down verbally, or go for the guy I had a crush on. Even so I couldn’t help but like her. She was funny and creative, had a great sense of style and got whatever she wanted. Unfortunately, when a teen we don’t see the down side to having our every whim fulfilled. What Mary didn’t have was a family that cared.
I didn’t have much of one either, but somehow it was more than she had. My parents imposed more rules, I didn’t get almost anything I wanted-even though my family was also well-off, and I got shipped off to boarding school for three years. Summer camps filled in the gaps between school terms. Mary went to a boarding school for one year and was allowed back. But not me. I could beg until I was green, my parents didn’t care. I only managed to come home in ninth grade after getting kicked out so many times, my parents ran out of options.
During my years in boarding school, Mary started drinking, not on the weekend or at parties, like the rest of us, but during school. She would take orange juice and vodka with her everyday. By 15 she was an alcoholic. Then going out with Mary to a party became a not-so-fun adventure. Most of the time the night would end with either my sibling or I carrying an almost unconscious Mary back to our house.
In Fallen Ruler, the scene on the stairs where Lya has to get Andrea up to her room was based on Mary. Every time Mary would argue with me all the way up, saying she could do it alone, until one day I got tired of being mistreated and let go. She tumbled down the stairs. I went back down and asked her if she was ready to try again. That was the last time she berated me. In my bedroom I put her down on the mattress, took off her clothes and covered her. She asked me to untie a bead necklace. For the love of God, there was no way I could undo the knot, and she insisted I get it off. I did, with scissors. When she woke up the next morning she saw all the purple marks on her body and her bead necklace strewn across the floor. I told her I had no idea how any of that had happened. If she wasn’t go to remember, why should I, right?
We slowly grew apart as her drinking got worse. So many people tried to help her get off that path of self-destruction but she didn’t want to change. By the age of twenty, she had such a bad reputation no one would take her seriously, nor give her a chance, or even want to be with her. It made me angry and sad at the same time that a person with so much potential would choose to be a drunk. And even though I know alcoholism is a disease, she had so many opportunities, the friends, and money to get the treatment and help she needed, but she chose not to. Mary died in her early fifties, leaving only the memory of a sorry drunk as her legacy. Andrea is a tribute to Mary, and a reminder that children require and need guidance, not things. Not luxury, not freedom but rules, well defined rules, to be able to cope with life.