Waking Echoes [MultiFormat]
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eBook by Donaya Haymond
eBook Category: Young Adult/Fantasy
eBook Description: Accepting yourself can be unusually difficult. Taylor Calvin is a hardworking, intelligent high school student who's been stretching herself a bit thin lately. This is not improved by the appearance of Tylianvornika, a ghost that claims to be Taylor from a previous life in another dimension, one she shared with her closest friends. Now Taylor must juggle daily problems that merely feel like the end of the world, along with memories and a persistent haunting concerning the actual ending of a world.
eBook Publisher: Eternal Press/Damnation Books LLC/Eternal Press, Published: 2010, 2010
Fictionwise Release Date: August 2010
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It had been the end before, when a scar-covered girl stood on the cliff's edge, the body of her dead love at her feet, her friends rushing to reach her. She had been too young to be the seer, but no one else could have done so well. Hunger, thirst and grief fought over her body for mastery. She heard the call. She came. The echoes awakened, the echoes caused wakefulness and the echoes came when awake. It was rather complicated, but neither of her lives was simple.
The clock's hands drew a stubborn exclamation point of a line. Taylor Calvin's body suggested nearly as stubborn a protest. Eventually the clock won out, since at six o'clock it was capable of more volume than this particular nearly-seventeen-year-old could summon. Taylor never managed actually to get out of bed; she did more of a slide that automatically turned into a crouch to pray.
"Father in Heaven I thank thee for the sleep I got last night. ...Mumble... and please grant that I will have Thy spirit with me today, I'm going to need it. Mmm, and please may those idiots leave me alone today--forgive me for calling them idiots, er, and if someone needs help then bless them, and if there's something I can do to aid Thy plans let me know and I-say-these-things-in-the-name-of-Jesus-Christ-amen." She found it impossible to come up with anything original for half an hour, if not more.
Her mental capacity improved once she was clean, dressed, fed, burdened with an immense backpack and out the door. Her dad had left already, and her mom wasn't awake yet, so only her elder sister kept her company this morning. Sometimes Mom got up in time to send her off, but not in such cold. The chilly air finally woke Taylor up properly, and the sun was just peeking over the houses as if deciding whether to call in sick or not. As she locked the door behind her she noticed the mailbox groaned with flyers. "JOIN NOW!" one ad declared in aggressive letters.
Joining? Joining the YAP? No, we mustn't do that. Wait, what on earth is the YAP? The flyer's telling us to join Sam's Club.
Taylor shook her head to clear it. Her dream last night had involved something called that, she remembered now. There had been something about a rally and torches. She shrugged to herself and trudged away, following her sister Erin, who tended not to speak until nine o'clock.
When Taylor had told a classmate about early-morning seminary, which was her destination, he spoke cynically about it.
"So wait, you have three hours of church on Sunday, right?"
"And a two-hour activity each Wednesday, along with an hour on Monday designated for family time, with an occasional evening activity on Sunday for an hour and a half?"
"So? I enjoy them."
"And you are still supposed to study scriptures for an hour every weekday morning before school?"
"It's a good start to the day."
"Man, you Mormons are insane."
She had laughed at the time, but this particular morning she was apt to agree with him. At least, if other Latter-day Saints weren't insane, then she definitely was for attempting to get an International Baccalaureate diploma while simultaneously being completely active in church. To do full IB she had to take three High Level classes and three Standard Level (all of which were harder work than ordinary courses), perform a certain amount of community service and write a mile-long essay. Taylor was a junior and this was her first year of it. It was about as easy as it sounded.
Most of the other kids she knew from church walked or carpooled to seminary, then walked a block to catch a bus to Laconia High. It was a good system, but she regretted it on freezing mornings. So much for the joys of autumn.
When she gratefully entered the warmth of the cookie-cutter, nondescript one-story brick building and made her way into the still fairly empty room, the upperclassmen Seminary teacher was already writing up the morning's topic on the whiteboard. Two rows of metal folding chairs lined up across from it, enough to seat fifteen students. With the addition of Erin and Taylor only six were actually there, three of whom were children of the teacher, and the fourth who tried to pick out "Sing We Now at Parting" on a piano at the far end of the room. The inappropriateness of using that hymn for an opening song struck Taylor, but she said nothing.
The lesson that day was on spiritual gifts.
"Taylor, could you please read Doctrine and Covenants 46 verse 11 and then verses 18-26?" the teacher asked.
"Okay, Sister Griffin. "For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the spirit of God."" Taylor stopped, and her mind temporarily lost its footing in space and time. Gifts, gifts, something about gifts floated just beyond her consciousness.
Erin gave her a gentle nudge. "Wake up, sis."
She shivered alert. "Sorry. Ahem, "To another is given the word of knowledge, that all may be taught to be wise and to have knowledge. And again, to some it is given to have faith to be healed. And to others it is given to have faith to heal. And again, to some is given the working of miracles; and to others it is given to prophesy; and to others the discerning of spirits. And again, it is given to some to speak with tongues; and to another is given the interpretation of tongues. And all these gifts come from God, for the benefit of the children of God.""
The lesson continued on from there, but Taylor was aware of the teacher's words as a wooden railroad tie is aware of the trains rushing over it. She didn't only feel deja vu--it steamrolled her, caught her up in a maelstrom of remembering something that plainly didn't want to be remembered.
On autopilot she boarded the battered morning bus, left its scratched and vandalized seats and made her way to her locker. Her mind grew too immersed in trying to grab the teasing memories fluttering out of reach to focus on where she walked. As a result, she made a full-on crash into Veronica, the nastiest, and therefore the most popular, girl in her grade.
"Watch where you're going, klutzy Calvin!" she snarled. Her books had all fallen, but she did not bend to get them.
Taylor swallowed her retorts to such rudeness and mutely gathered up Veronica's things and handed them to her. "And the meek shall inherit the earth," she whispered to herself as Veronica strutted off without a single thank you.
"Bit of a confrontation there?" A pale hand entered Taylor's field of vision, zipping up the backpack that had dropped and scattered its contents. The hand belonged to an arm wrapped in black, and the voice belonged to a sharp, clear face with blue eyes and once-blonde hair that had been dyed maroon. It was Joyce Driver, better known as Joy, and one of Taylor's best friends. She linked arms with Taylor and added, pulling her along, "The funny thing is, morning is when Venom is nicest, before anyone has had time to get on her precious nerves. How are you doing?"
The sting of Veronica's harsh tone of voice faded. Taylor smiled, knowing Joy could always heal her.
"I've been feeling several tons of deja vu today."
"Well, yeah, how many times have we been insulted?" Joy grimaced, for Laconia High was not a kind place to the worthy.
"I didn't mean that. Things keep happening: I had a weirdly familiar dream last night--I read a scripture that sent me off into a trance, and, well, they seem connected."
This piqued Joy's interest in the supernatural. "Is your house haunted? Maybe one of the ghosts is trying to contact you."
"The house is extremely new, and before you say it, it is not on a Native American burial ground."
The two laughed, ignoring the stares of the students passing by.
"C'mon, let's get to World History before the bell," Joy said.
The teacher gave them time to begin their projects on the fall of civilizations. Taylor, Joy and a third girl named Art were making a mini-museum on the fall of the Aztecs, complete with a small pyramid, timeline, photographs and a short skit involving two Aztecs meeting a conquistador and dramatically dying of smallpox. But where was Art? She was supposed to bring the photos she said she printed off the Internet. Joy reassured the worried Taylor everything would be okay.
Prissy sat next to them and sprinkled glitter on her singularly uninteresting poster. The rest of her group had gone to the library, ostensibly to research the Romans, but really to giggle and gossip. She sighed as if condemned to unrelenting toil. "Sometimes I wish we could just pile up all the history books in the world and torch them."
"Yeah, that would be great," agreed Gary, a boy across from her.
Inexplicable, infinite horror flooded Taylor's consciousness. She stood up. "How could you even think of such a thing? History is the memory of nations, the record of triumphs and failures, the very heart and soul of humanity! It was the Nazis who burned history books, then the Chinese Communists during the Cultural Revolution. Are you planning on following in their footsteps?"
Everyone, including the teacher, stared at her. "I appreciate your impassioned defense of the subject, Taylor, but please return to your seat," Mr. Cooper said.
Taylor turned a shade of crimson that would gladden the heart of any tomato farmer, opened her mouth to speak and ended up sitting down again. Why had she been so vehement? Speeches like that were social suicide. Even Joy had raised eyebrows. "Are you sure you're not channeling some sort of restless spirit?"
"I'm pretty sure, Joy. Oh, there's Art. What happened to her?"
Dust covered Artemis Recklicz's usual stretch pants and T-shirt, and someone had knocked her glasses askew. She gave a breathless explanation to Mr. Cooper who seemed skeptical but eventually waved her in. Following that exchange she skipped over to where her partners sat.
"Sorry I'm late," she said, sitting down, pulling out her contribution to the project and putting her chin in her hands in one fluid sequence of motions. Taylor liked Art because of her carefree eccentricity.
Joy slid the poster over to her and handed her a glue stick. "What's the story?"
"Oh, I got locked in the janitor's closet. It was pretty embarrassing, really. I was defending anime and arguing that it was a legitimate art form when a couple of boys thought it would be hilarious to stick me in there."
"Who was it? Did you report them?" Joy asked.
"How did you get out, anyway?" queried Taylor.
Art answered nonchalantly, drawing conquistadors with a black marker. "I found out that if you kick the door long enough, it'll open. Yeah, I said who it was. You can't give in to these people. You have to fight."
"Well, you always were a warrior." Taylor did a double take. The words had just slipped out of her, without bothering to pass through her brain first. Kind of like how some people she knew talked all the time. Her friends seemed oblivious, however, so she just bent her head and worked. She found it to be the best approach to the rest of the day.
What with the strange occurrences and slight weirding out of her friends who were a bit hurt by her stares off into space when they tried to talk to her, Taylor cheered inside coming home that evening. She was late, as on Mondays and Fridays she stayed after school to take a prep course for the SATs.
"Honey," her frazzled mother implored, dragging a seven-year-old behind her, "could you please unload the dishwasher and vacuum the house? Owen has to go to baseball practice, I have to pick up Erin from work, then run to the store, and I simply do not have time."
Though generally willing to help around the house, Taylor found today beyond difficult. "Mom, I have at least four hours of homework and I am verging on a nervous breakdown."
"Thank you so much." Her mom kissed her on the top of the head and then ran out to the car.
"But I didn't say--" Taylor called to the empty air, limply dropping onto the floor. She wished her brother Jesse hadn't gone off to college. He'd help her out and cheer her up. Couldn't her mom see the pressure she was under? Eventually she had to pick herself up and do the assigned chores. Attempts at simultaneously reading Brave New World for English class and putting away dishes did not go well. When the rest of her family came home for dinner at seven she hadn't even started her homework and was too tired to talk.
"Taylor," her father said, "you can't go yet. We need to have Family Home Evening."
Erin and Taylor both winced. "Can it be short?" Erin asked.
"Ask Owen. He's the one teaching us about the importance of diligence."
What with one thing and another, Taylor didn't finish her work until twelve thirty. Then she had to brush her teeth and change into pajamas--whoops, make bedtime one o'clock. With a huge sigh of relief she slid under the covers.
"I was wondering when you'd finally be free of distractions," said a girl's voice.
Taylor bolted back up. "Is--is someone there? Do I know you?" Half asleep, she wondered if she was dreaming. Oddly, she didn't feel frightened. It was someone she remembered dimly, someone who could explain what had been happening all day. Taylor had no idea where that impression came from, but being scared of this person would be like fear at the sight of the aurora borealis. The voice sounded thin and reedy, as if a flute had learned how to speak. Now that Taylor looked more carefully, she could see a slight shimmer of a figure. Oh my goodness, she thought, Joy was right. "Are you a, well, uh, a ghost?" She'd always wanted to meet a ghost. Excitement glimmered through her weary body.
"No--well, maybe. Sort of. It depends how you look at it." Taylor saw only a vague outline of a starved teenage girl, who sat at Taylor's desk and looked at her. "A more accurate description would be that I'm a memory. You can't see me very clearly yet because the mist is just lifting. Give it time."
"Are you an angel?" Taylor believed strongly in angels, but never thought one would come to her.
"Again, sort of. I'm kind of a transfigured being. Did you think what happened today was a string of coincidences? They were echoes, Taylor Calvin. Your memories have been asleep, and they are awaking."
"Can I at least know your name, kind of a transfigured being?"
The girl's insubstantial, colorless lips smiled slightly. "I'm glad I didn't change much."
"I am Tylianvornika, resident of Canyonar, which is now pretty much nonexistent. The entire universe vanished too. Kind of upsetting, really. Right now I am sleeping in my world, in the split second before I die. I have been promised that, after I die, I and my friends will be reborn into a new world passing through the test that Canyonar failed. That is, I'm you."
"Today seems familiar because it happened before, but on a greater scale. I am here to tell you about the last year of your previous life--the last year of my life." She laughed, dropping all the mystical pretension in her voice and sounding like an adolescent again. "It's pretty exciting for me too."