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HomeAdventure StoriesChaordia - A Novel of Transformation Ch. 4

Chaordia - A Novel of Transformation Ch. 4

Because of climate change a man wants to transform an old farm into a new colony

It had stopped raining, but the dark, wet streets sparkled from the streetlights. We drove for a few blocks before anyone said anything. Alice turned to look at me in the backseat as if she wanted to say something, but hesitated. Her eyes told me she was as confused and disturbed as I was. My mind was swirling. What’s going on? How could the books we read be real? How could Elizabeth know about the Bendula? This is nuts.

Tim kept his eyes on the road, but the way he gripped the steering wheel told me that he was also baffled. I glanced at Tim’s huge tuba case next to me, then looked back at Alice, wanting to say something, but no words came.

"Well, that was something," Alice finally said.

"You can say that again," I muttered. "Something weird is happening."

"I really like her," Alice said. "She’s feisty, and I hope I can be like she is when I’m ninety."

Tim looked at Alice, then glanced back at me, but didn’t say anything.

"What do you think?" Alice asked Tim.

"I don’t know what to think. I want to read these books because you said I should, and you’re my friends, but I don’t get this Atlantis stuff. It’s too crazy."

"I wonder what Gabe will think," I said. "He said he’s going to read the books, too."

"It’s hard to know what Gabe will think," Tim said. "He’s got a pretty wild imagination and is into all that spiritual stuff. I listen to him, but think, 'whoa what’s gotten into you, man', but I don’t say anything. He thinks I’m too rational."

"I don’t think you’re too rational," I said. "You’re a great musician. I love how you play the drums and let go."

"That’s different. Playing the drums is real. They’re right there in front of me, and the sticks are in my hands and man, it’s not transcendental meditation."

"Drums are ancient," Alice said. "I read that every culture had drums, and they were part of ceremonies. They were used in wars and were used for communicating. It was the first instrument."

"Yeah, well, maybe,” Tim said. “I just like playing them and keeping the beat and making the guys play louder and wilder. I don’t analyze things, even if Gabe thinks I’m too rational."

"Well, thanks for driving us to meet Elizabeth," I said.

"Well, you know me, you asked, and I said why not. I didn’t have anything better to do, and you guys are my best friends. I mean, what are friends for."

"I’ll be interested in knowing what you think of Twins of Atlantis," I said.

"Daughters of Atlas," is my favorite," Alice said, "I couldn’t stop reading it."

"I still can’t stop thinking about the last book," I said, "and how Jesse was shot at the end after they had the big concert in the park. Before that, I didn’t know anything about Jesus."

"Come on guys, stop talking about the books, you’re going to spoil it for me," Tim said, then added, "I’m really hungry, let’s go to Charley’s for some pizza or something."

"Good idea, " Alice said. "I could go for a salad. I haven’t had anything since lunch."

I was hungry, too but was also anxious to get home. It was after seven, and I knew they closed at eight, so when we pulled into the parking lot, there was only one car other than Jean’s old Honda. We sat down at one of the booths and Jean came over to us with menus, but we didn’t need them. Alice ordered a Greek Salad and Tim, and I shared a small pizza with pepperoni.

When Jean brought us our food, she sat down next to Tim. "I need a break."

She had a glass of root beer with a straw. There was only one other occupied table, and they were just finishing. I knew that Tim and Jean had gone out a few times, and they had a thing going.

"So what’s happening?" she asked, then sucked on the straw, making a gurgling sound.

"Not much," Tim said, then glanced at us.

I looked at Alice, who was about to take a bite of tomato while I folded over a slice of pizza. Both of us were stunned by Tim saying, "Not much."

"How about you?" Tim asked. "What’s happening with you?"

"I’m good, working hard, sending out applications to nursing school, trying to keep my piece of crap car on the road."

"Me too," Tim said, then laughed. "But I’m not applying to nursing school."

"Hey! Don’t be a wise guy." Jean punched his arm, then turned to Alice and me. "So, where have you guys been tonight? It’s kind of late for dinner, isn’t it?"

Alice glanced at me, then back at Jean. "Have you ever heard of Atlantis?"

"Atlantis? I know there’s some fancy resort in Florida, I think that’s where it is called Atlantis. I’ve seen it advertised."

"No, I mean, the Lost Continent, Atlantis."

"Lost Continent?" Jean stirred the ice in her root beer. "No, I don’t know anything about a lost continent. What’s that about? Sounds like science fiction or something?"

"Let’s not talk about this," Tim said. "I’ve heard enough about Atlantis for one night."

"What’s going on?" Jean asked. "What’s all this about Atlantis?"

"It’s nothing," I said, trying to change the topic.

"Well, we just read these really interesting books about Atlantis," Alice said. "I bet you would like them. They’re really important books."

"No kidding," Jean said. "Maybe I will. I really like science fiction and fantasy. By the way, I just read the whole Twilight series. I couldn’t put them down, and I saw the movies."

"It’s the same with the Atlantis Trilogy. We couldn’t put them down, and now Tim is reading them," I said, surprised that I was joining Alice in trying to get Jean to read them. "I bet you’d really like these books."

"Are you reading them," Jean asked Tim.

"Yeah, I just started, Twins of Atlantis and Alex is right. It’s really good."

I was glad Tim said that.

"You can download them from Amazon or the writer's site, Clayfield Books," Alice said. "Do you mind reading books online."

"I don’t mind. I’m used to it, and I can read it on my phone when it’s slow here in the afternoon. Dad doesn’t mind as long as everything is set up," she said, then glanced into the kitchen and saw her father putting things away. She turned back to us, "Breaks over. I better get back to work."

When she stood up, picking up her empty glass, she took a sip and made that bubbly sound again with the ice cubes in the bottom of the glass. "Thanks for the suggestion of those books." She turned to Tim. "Call me."

Later, after Tim dropped off Alice and then drove to my house, we parked in the driveway. The kitchen light was on, and I wondered whether I would tell my dad about Elizabeth, but for some reason knew I wasn’t ready to tell him.

"What’s happening this weekend," Tim asked. "My band is playing at the college on Saturday, maybe you and Alice will want to boogie," he said, knowing it was something I didn’t do. "It’ll do you good to stop thinking about Atlantis."

"I’m going to Vermont on Saturday with this guy, Glenn. My dad might be doing some project with him on his farm. Alice is going with us."

"Wow, Vermont. I’ve never been there," Tim said.

"It’s an old farm that used to belong to his grandfather. It’s falling apart, but now he wants to do something pretty exciting with it. Anyway, he invited Alice and me. It’s kind of a camping trip."

"Sounds cool," Tim said. "I haven’t gone camping since my dad got sick. It’s been awhile, but I liked it."

"How’s your dad doing?"

"He’s okay, but the chemo took a lot out of him, and he’s tired a lot. They think they got him in remission, but who knows."

"Maybe they’ll find a cure," I said. "I hear they’ve cured a lot of different kinds of cancer."

"All I know is we’re broke because of the medicine he has to take and the insurance won’t pay for what he needs to take. It’s too experimental they said."

"How’s your mom holding up?"

"She’s exhausted and worried, and now she’s worried about getting laid off ‘cause a lot of the work she does is getting done in India."

"I know that’s what’s happening with lots of jobs. We heard this guy at the library the other night say he thinks this country is going to become like a third world country with all the jobs disappearing. He said we’re becoming a Banana Republic."

"I don’t know. My dad has a Ph.D. and taught economics at the community college for twenty years before he got sick. And my mom has a Masters in accounting and doesn’t know what she'll do if she loses her job, especially with my dad sick. She said we could lose our house."

"Wow, that’s horrible."

"I better get going," Tim said. "Have fun this weekend."

"Thanks for driving us to Elizabeth’s house. Let me know what you think of the book."

When I went into the house, my dad was at the kitchen table drawing on a large piece of paper. He had a ruler and several colored pencils. He looked up, took a sip of his coffee, "What’s going on? I thought you would be home for dinner."

"Sorry, I should have called you or left a note. Nothing’s going on. We were just hanging out."

I went over to the sink and poured myself a glass of water. I wondered if I should tell him the truth. I could feel him looking at me while I stood at the sink. He has a kind of radar.

"Is anything bothering you?" he asked. "You've been acting strange lately."

"Nah, nothing." I stiffened from the tension that comes when I’m holding stuff in. "So what are you working on?"

"I was thinking about Glenn’s farm," he said. "I don’t know anything about it, but I was imagining what it might be. I kind of know a little from what he said about the barn and the fields, so I was just sketching some preliminary ideas."

"I wonder what his project is, but it sounds different," I said. "He didn’t say much except he wants to do something special to deal with climate change and living differently. It sounds exciting."

"We’ll see," my dad said, staring at me. I knew he sensed something was bothering me. Sometimes I think he can read my mind. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me because he’s easy to talk to and just listens, but that night, I didn’t know what to say and wasn’t sure why. It was too weird meeting Elizabeth and not knowing what to think about what she said about Atlantis and the Bendula and how similar it was to the books I had read.

My cell phone buzzed. "It’s Alice," I said, glancing at it, "I’ll talk to you later, Dad."

I left the kitchen, relieved that I didn’t have to say anything more to him and answered the phone in the other room.

"So, what do you think?" Alice asked without any hello.

"I don’t know," I walked up the spiral steps to my room and closed the door, something I rarely did. "It’s weird. How could this be happening?'

"Do you think there really was an Atlantis?" Alice asked and then answered her own question like she often did. "I do."

"She really seemed worried about the Bendula," I said, pacing. "She said they have to be stopped. I’m really baffled."

"What do you think Lou meant we will meet again? I wonder what he thinks about Atlantis."

"Well, he knows about it from Elizabeth," I said. "It’s strange how he knew that melody and was humming it at the homeless shelter and Elizabeth recognized it."

"So how do you think those two violin players knew that melody? One was in England, and Lou’s teacher was in Chicago. That’s really a mystery. Do you think it was just luck or supposed to happen?"

"I don’t know. I don't know what to think."

"Did you talk to your dad about any of this?"

"No, I wanted to, but for some reason didn’t want to bring it up. I don’t know why."

"Interesting," Alice responded.

"Why do you think that’s so interesting?" I asked. "What are you saying?"

"I don’t know. It just is. You tell your dad everything. I know you do. You’re more like best friends than father and son. I like that."

"I want to tell him but can’t. At least, not yet. Maybe I’m afraid he’ll think I’ve got too active an imagination. Maybe I’m afraid of what’s happening. Something really weird is happening, and I don’t know what. I just feel weird about all of this."

"Me too. I’m kind of upset because I can’t figure it out and usually I can figure out things, but this is a big mystery."

"How could that writer, Arnold Greenberg write those books?" I asked. "That’s another mystery."

"I was wondering the same thing. How could he write those novels unless he knew about the Bendula and the Mothers of All and the melody they hummed?"

Alice stopped talking on the phone and yelled, "Hi Mom, I’m on the phone, I’ll be down in a minute." She continued talking to me. "Damn, my mom just got back from her AA meeting. I have to go in a minute."

"So what do think about the writer of the books?" I asked and sat down on the edge of my bed.

"I don’t know what to think," she said. "Hey, I remember, there’s an email address on the Clayfield Books site. Maybe we can write to him."

"Wow, that’s an interesting idea. Do you think he’ll respond?"

"Can’t hurt to find out," Alice said. "We have to do something to find out what’s going on."

"Right, are you going to email him?"

"I need to think about this before I do, but maybe we should do it together. We’ll talk about it tomorrow, okay,” she said. "I have to go. My mom wants me for some stupid reason."

"Okay, see you tomorrow." I closed my phone.

The thought of e-mailing the author of those books intrigued me, so I opened up my iPod and went to the Clayfield site and checked his profile and wrote down the email address and wondered what we would write and whether he would respond or not.

The next day, Alice and I met in the library before lunch was over. We decided to use the computer in the library instead of her phone. It took us awhile to figure out what to say. We wanted to make sure we used good grammar and to be respectful, but we knew that what we were asking was strange. Here’s what we wrote.

Hi, we wanted to tell you how much we love your Atlantis Trilogy. They’re really exciting and had a big impact on us, but something strange has happened, and we wonder if you can help us figure it out. The other night we met a 90-year-old woman named Elizabeth who never read your books, but she knew about the Bendula and the melody that the Mothers of All hummed to Dimitri and Jethro to bless them. We are confused how that could be if she never read your books, so we’re writing to you and hope you can tell us your thoughts on how that could be. How do you know so much about Atlantis? We hope you don’t mind our asking. We’re at school right now, but here’s my email address--Alice75 @ We hope you’ll help us. By the way, you’re a really a good writer. Thank you for your books, Alice, and Alex.

We read over the message, at least, three times before Alice pressed send, and then we both took deep breaths. "Do you think he'll answer?" I asked.

"I hope so. I wonder if anyone else ever wrote to him."

"Maybe, but I doubt anything like this has happened to others. That would be too crazy."

"Right. That would be weird."

When the buzzer went off letting us know the lunch period was over, we left the library and stood in the noisy hall for a moment before we had to go to our next class. Kids were walking past us, rushing in both directions.

"If we’re leaving for Vermont early tomorrow, I think I should sleep over your house tonight," Alice said. "I have what I need in my locker. What do you think?"

"That’s a good idea," I said. "I was going to suggest that, but you’re always way ahead of me."

"That’s true, but that’s because I’m a girl." She laughed.

"I don’t know what that’s supposed to mean, but I’ll let it pass."

"That’s because you’re smart, Alex," she said, then continued. "I’m really looking forward to seeing Glenn’s farm."

"Did you bring any warm clothing, it could be cold this time of year in Vermont," I said.

"Of course, I have my sleeping bag, two sweaters and my down vest I got at the thrift store last winter," she said. "Except for the sleeping bag, I was able to squeeze it all in my backpack."

"Good. I can’t wait to find out what Glenn’s project is all about."

"We’ll find out soon." Alice started to go down the hall then turned. "I’ll come over after my dance class."

I nodded and continued to my history class and saw Gabe standing in the hall in front of the room. We both had the same class.

"I just started reading, Twins of Atlantis last night," he said.

"Great, what do you think?” I was really eager to hear what he thought.

"I like it. I never heard of Atlantis before," he said. "It’s amazing that those kids saw it in their dreams."

"Guess what, Alice and I just sent an email to the writer."

"Really, why?"

"Long story. I’ll tell you later."

"What are you doing this weekend," he asked. "Tim’s band is playing at the college."

"I’m going to Vermont with my dad and this guy, Glenn. Alice is going, too. It’s something about a project he wants my dad to work on."

"Cool," Gabe said. "I’ll let you know what I think of the book."

When we went into the classroom, I sat in my usual seat in the back row by the window. The teacher, Mr. Fahy took attendance and glanced over at me and said something really sarcastic. "I’m checking you present, Alex, though I know you’re not."

Everyone laughed and turned to look at me, which embarrassed me, but I swallowed my anger. That was mean. What a jerk.

That night, Dad brought home Chinese food. Alice’s friend, Janine dropped her off at our house after her dance class. "Oh, wow, Chinese," Alice said when she walked in without knocking and saw all of the containers on the counter. She dropped her backpack on the floor while my dad brought everything to the table. Alice went to the shelves near the sink and brought dishes to the table. It felt more like she lived here, and we were brothers and sister, except, we both knew our relationship was more than that, even though we never said anything. It’s hard to explain.

My dad and Alice used chopsticks to eat, but I used a fork. I loved how enthusiastic she was about food, and noticed she had everything on her plate except for the spareribs.

"Eric, guess what we did today," she said. "We sent an email to the guy who wrote those Atlantis books we just read."

"You did? Why?” He raised eyebrows like he always does when he's surprised.

"We wanted to tell him how much we like his books, and we had some questions," Alice said.

I was surprised that she said anything and hoped she wouldn’t tell him what was going on with Elizabeth.

"What questions?" he asked, sipping his Won Ton soup.

Alice looked at me and could see I was surprised. “Just questions, you know, just asked why he wrote them."

I was relieved she didn’t say anything specific, and then she said, "I think you should read those books, Eric. I think you would really like them. They’re really special and relevant to what's happening today. We’re trying to get all of our friends to read them."

"I know, you said that the other night. I don't know. I have a stack of books on the floor next to my bed I’ve been waiting to read but haven’t, although I’m really enjoying Alan Bigalow’s book,"

"I want to read that,” Alice said.

"Enjoying the book might not be the right word. It’s pretty intense and disturbing."

"I bet," Alice said.

"Do you think the guy who wrote those Atlantis books will answer your email?"

When he asked, he glanced at me, and I knew he wondered why I hadn't mentioned that.

"I hope so," I said. "We’ll see."

Alice’s phone buzzed and she took it out of her pocket, opened and her eyes widened. She looked at me, "Wow, it’s a message from Arnold Greenberg," she said, excited and started reading it, then got up from the table and walked away. I got up and followed her.

"Oh wow," she said again while she was reading. I wanted to know what it said, but I couldn’t read it over her shoulder.

"Wait until you read this," she said and handed her phone to me. I could feel her eyes on me as I read his message.

Dear Alice and Alex. Thank you for your interesting message. I’m happy that you liked my books, but I am afraid I have no explanation for what you are experiencing. I wrote these books for my children many years ago when I became interested in Atlantis. I have no idea why I became interested in the lost continent, but I just started writing the stories and really didn’t know where my thoughts about Atlantis came from. I wish I could be of greater help, but I cannot explain why or how I wrote the trilogy though it does seem as if there really is a Bendula. Your friend, Elizabeth sounds like an interesting woman. Good luck to you both.

Take care, Arnold.

When I handed Alice back her phone, I didn’t know what to say, but then my dad called from the kitchen. "What did he say?"

We went into the kitchen and sat down at the table. My father looked at both of us. "So, what did he say?" he asked again.

"He just thanked us for writing to him," Alice said. "That’s all."

We finished eating but didn’t talk much. My dad said he was going to turn in and get a good night’s sleep and suggested we do the same. He cleared the table and said he'd do the dishes. Alice and I went upstairs. She put her things in the guest room down the hall, then came into my room.

"What do you think," Alice asked.

"I don’t know what to think," I answered, "but I might have trouble sleeping tonight."

We read the message over again and then she stood up and said, "Good night."

She stopped in the doorway, a slight smile on her lips. “We’ll figure it out,” she said then left.

I went to the bathroom to pee and brush my teeth and heard her getting ready for bed. She came into the bathroom, barefooted and stood next to me. She was wearing a long yellow T-shirt that came halfway down her thighs. She had her toothbrush. We looked at each other in the mirror, while I brushed my teeth and she watched me.

"You’re a cute guy," she said, then stood next to me and started brushing her teeth.

I looked back at her in the mirror, surprised at what she said. I liked how unselfconscious she was about brushing her teeth with me. I bent over and cupped my hand under the water to wash out the toothpaste, but she filled the small plastic cup we had next to the spigot, took a drink and swished the water in her mouth, making a soft gurgling sound. We looked at each other in the mirror. It’s hard to explain, but it was a really intimate moment.

"See you in the morning," I said turning to go to my room.

She smiled, then said, "Goodnight" and went back to the guest room.

In bed, I turned off the lamp next to my bed staring up at the ceiling. I thought about what had happened with Alice and me brushing our teeth together and how sexy she looked in the long yellow T-shirt. I then thought about what was happening, the email we received, what Lou meant that we would meet again, what it would be like at Glenn’s farm and wondered what special project he had in mind. I remembered how Elizabeth said the Bendula must be stopped and wondered, what does this have to with us?

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