Happy Thanksgiving! This is the last excerpt from my NaNoWriMo work in progress, "Inquire Within," which is BOOK 3 in the Linus Saga.
PREMISE: Carson, Linus's 14-year-old son, is back from his first term at university.
Carson was well pleased to be home. His first term had gone even better than he had hoped. Having been the only boy who actually studied in his free time, he swept the top of the class with little effort, and was bursting to tell his mum. His sister, Irene, had gone on ahead from the harbour by the coach, but Carson wanted to walk the road home. He had just got dry land under his feet, and he didn't care to part with it again. He also didn't want to be around to see his sister's reunion with [her beau] Morfindel. There were only so many things a supportive younger brother was prepared to put up with.
He was just imagining that he smelled dinner wafting through the birch trees, when he caught sight of his house and the faded green general store for the first time in four months. Emotion started to squeeze his chest, but then suddenly stopped as he took in the tableaux.
His dad was perched precariously on one of the gables, on all fours. Morfindel and Irene watched below, not engaging in a fond embrace, but instead chasing after Linus with a tall ladder. Carson soon saw the object of this odd behaviour; a gray pigeon was sunning itself idly on the weathervane. Linus's fingers were inching towards it cautiously as he fought gravity and impatience for control.
Carson stood rooted to the ground for a moment.
"DAD?" he called loudly.
"ARGH!" screamed Linus as his surprise made him lose his footing on the slippery shingles. Irene and Morfindel cried out in unison. Fortunately, Linus managed to right himself again without falling. Unfortunately, the pigeon decided to pursue another part of the roof where things weren't crying "argh" and fluttered to the south gable.
After Linus stopped cursing, Carson tried again.
"Dad, what are you doing?" he cried.
"It's performance art," replied Linus, trying to skirt a gable without dislocating his hip.
"No, really. It's a new piece of mine called 'git on a roof.' I do this for three hours and the government gives me a grant." He lunged for the pigeon again, which evaded him with an annoyed "coo" and stationed itself on the rain gutter. "What do you think I'm doing?" he snarled.
"He's trying to kill himself," whispered Irene acidly. She had apparently already made all the protests she was going to make.
"I don't have a clue," answered Carson.
His dad shot him a stern glare. "Well if that's all the deductive reasoning you can muster after a year at University, I'm going to stop paying your tuition. It's obviously a waste of money." Linus kicked at the rain-gutter, and the pigeon hopped down off the roof of the farmhouse onto the ancient thatch of the store.
"Well, it's obvious you're trying to catch that bird. I just can't see why," Carson added. He didn't take his father's threats seriously (while he was off of the ground, at any rate).
There was a sudden crash and a scream from inside the house.
"Irene, go see what that was," ordered Linus, and shaking her head Irene stomped inside. Once she was gone the mood seemed to lighten a little, as it always does when the one sensible female leaves a group of men doing something idiotic.
"So why the bird, Dad?" asked Carson again.
"See the blue band around its ankle? It's a carrier pigeon from the city," said Linus.
"Is it?" asked Carson. "I didn't know there was such a thing. I mean I've never seen one. You hear about it, but I don't think this post office has gotten so much as a pony express."
"Too expensive," said Morfindel. "They're generally only sent in emergencies."
"Which is why I need to find out what it's carrying, now! Someone paid a lot of money for this rat with wings to get a message over here, posthaste. Oi, bring that ladder closer," said Linus to Morfindel. "Angle it against the wall so I can climb down to the thatch."
"You sure about that?" asked Morfindel, looking dubious. "I mean, I'm not sure the roof will hold."
"It'll hold for long enough, now, get it over here!"
Carson watched as his Dad, with surprising grace, managed to swing down from the roof to the ladder, before inching down.
"So the message is probably something important then?" Carson asked. Morfindel rolled his eyes.
"So what did you learn at your Wizarding school?" Linus asked, sounding beleaguered, "aside from the art of being painfully obvious."
"Did you learn any magic?" Morfindel asked.
Carson shook his head. "It was all prerequisite courses this year. Maths, Languages, basic science principles, stuff like that."
"Fun," said Morfindel with a barely concealed shudder.
"Hold it steady, lad!" Linus shouted.
"Sorry Linus," said Morf. "So no magic at all?"
"Well, I learned this," said Carson. "Venyash."
The bird suddenly whipped into his hand, like it was on the end of a line. Linus, caught off guard, lost his balance on the edge of the ladder, which turned 180º before catching on the roof again. Linus found himself clinging desperately to the underside.
"What the HELL was that?!" he cried, trying to kick his legs onto the rungs again.
"Just some useless University wizarding," said Carson mildly...
Author's note: Book One of the Linus Saga "Must Love Dragons" is now available in digital book and paperback.