Today I’ve got a treat for everyone. It’s an excerpt from J. Cafesin’s short story collection, Fractured Fairy Tales of the Twilight Zone. This is the campfire story The Activation, one of the stories you can find in the suspenseful fantasy collection.
J. Cafesin lives on the eastern slope of the redwood laden Oakland Hills with her husband/best friend, two gorgeous, talented, spectacular kids, and a bratty but cute Shepherd pound hound. Find her on Facebook, Google+, and Goodreads.
The Activation – Synopsis
Michael still loves the family’s annual summer camping trip. His teen sister, Amy, doesn’t. It’s likely going to be their last year among the ancient redwoods, the majestic elks, and the seemingly glowing round rocks Michael discovers along the bank of the roaring river. The Activation is a cautionary [campfire] tale for bickering children, and the parents who fail to silence them.
The Activation by J. Cafesin
..It’s dusk. The sky’s indigo, but the trees are all silhouetted black. Micheal isn’t afraid. He knows his way by heart. The family has come to Hindley State Park the last seven years in a row to mark the official start of summer. This year’s probably their last though, since Amy doesn’t want to come anymore. She’d begrudgingly agreed to join the family, but is likely she’ll be miserable all weekend so they’ll nix the trip next year. She really is a killjoy now.
He’s at the river in three minutes. The stones are still there, along the waterline and gathered in the shallows, though they don’t appear to be glowing. Outnumbering the normal rocks among them ten to one, and no longer in waving strings, they line the riverbank in multiple rows, clacking like pool balls as the water bumps them against each other.
Twilight’s set in and everything radiates midnight blue. Micheal kneels to examine a large cluster of stones gathered in the inlet of the spit. They look to be mostly granite speckled with quartz. The glowing effect he’d seen earlier had to be from the crystals reflecting the last of the day’s light. Years of flowing down rivers could account for their spherical shape and smooth surface. These rocks weren’t really so strange after all.
He reaches out and pokes one. No shock. Feels like a rock. Micheal snatches one, stands and examines it. It’s surprisingly light, more like a Nerf ball then solid stone. It feels warm, really warm, already dry though it has been only seconds since he’s lifted it from the water. He rolls it from hand to hand examining its gently pocked-marked surface. Could be geodes—hollow with crystals inside. And all he has to do is crack it open for the treasure…
With as much force as he can, Micheal hurls the stone down hard against the cluster in the shallow.
The clatter of the rock across the tightly gathered stones turns into a strange hum. The hum amplifies with each rock the rolling stone touches, activating them to hum, setting off a ripple effect that continues even after the rock he’s thrown lands atop several others.
Micheal stands on the sand barely breathing, the hum resonating in his chest as it grows louder, spreading among all the round rocks. It sounds almost like music, like violins blending with the river’s rhythm and weaving with the rushing water. Micheal stops breathing completely when he notices the rock he’d thrown radiating a vibrant cobalt blue from its center. A blue/green light arcs into the several round rocks it rests upon, lighting them up, the light then spreading outward among them. Suddenly it seems hundreds of stones glow prosperous green along the riverbank as far as he can see.