Solstice - New World by John J. Blenkush is a Stress Busting Festival pick #magicalrealism #giveaway
Title: SOLSTICE - NEW WORLD
Author: John J Blenkush
Genre: Fantasy/Magical Realism/Romance
After emerging from her pod, Julissa is thrust into a dystopian world where she struggles to fulfill the Foretold.
Edeaoin goes first, taking care to brush aside the fronds, broadleaves, and vines overhanging the trail. We edge in, deeper and deeper. My confidence grows. My fear subsides. I relax. Even whistle under my breath, as though I’m just out for a Sunday walk. And then I see a vine rear up, flick out its tongue, and stare, with its beady eyes, into mine.
My screaming sets off the howling of monkeys, who are tracking us overhead in the canopy. Edeaoin is at my side within seconds. He reaches out and shoes the green snake away.
“You okay?” Edeaoin asks.
I shake my head. “No. What good’s it going to do for me to lay down in here if I can’t achieve singlemindedness.”
“Told you. I’ll protect you.”
I tap my skull. “You can’t protect me from the demons in here.”
“You mentioned a bathtub of water. I know where there’s a pool of fresh water. You think you could recharge there?”
“Not to the extent I need to. Plants give off a lot of energy because they’re constantly growing. And dying. Water in a pond not so much.”
“Unless it’s moving.”
“I know where you’re going with this. But I’d have to stand under a waterfall for a very long time, while maintaining singlemindedness. I don’t think I could do it.”
“But you could, if you were lying down.”
“Under a waterfall? Getting pounded. I don’t think so.”
Edeaoin points to his ear. “Hear that?”
I listen. To birds. Howling monkeys. Slight breeze rustling the foliage. The Glass girls’ voices echoing. And the surf. The pounding waves of the ocean. Releasing enormous surges of energy upon the shore. I smile.
“You want me to ride the surf.”
“Got a better idea?”
“No. I don’t. But I’d need a raft of some sort. Something to float on. Where I’d be immersed in water.”
Edeaoin reaches over and pulls down a broadleaf the size of a surfboard. “I think a couple of these tied together would work.”
“Will they float? With me on it?”
Edeaoin scans me up and down. “How long do you need?”
“Singlemindedness isn’t time oriented. I really don’t know.”
“Then I guess there’s only one way to find out.”
Standing on the shore of an ocean, land that was once so far inland, serves to remind me how drastic things have changed. I’m standing in the shadow of what once was Mount Shasta but is now a high plateau harboring a jungle and all that it entails. I feel like an alien in my own land. Yet I couldn’t have found a more inviting people than the Glass Clan.
Edeaoin readies the broadleaf surfboard. He, Tualina, and a couple of the girls painstakingly stitched together a stack of leaves. They used resin from a plant to seal the sewn seams, effectively locking in a layer of air between each leaf.
If my extracting lifeforce energy from the kinetic energy of the sea is to work, I will have to stay afloat for at least – well I don’t really know. But if the home-made surfboard sinks upon launch, my hopes will end up on the bottom with it. To leverage an angle into the open sea, Edeaoin leads us around the Antiquity Cave bay and out onto the farthermost point. Launching from here will allow me to ride the waves all the way back onto the sandy beach.
That’s the plan anyway.
As Edeaoin, Tualina, and two other girls steady the surfboard, I swing my legs up on deck, roll over, and settle in.
Edeaoin smiles down on me. “No frogs or snakes out here.”
I want to ask him about sea-monsters, but I push that thought out of my head. The last thing I need are negative feelings floating around in my psyche while I’m trying to achieve singlemindedness.
I stare past Edeaoin, Tualina, and the girls’ probing eyes. All I see is pure blue sky. I ignore the popcorn-kernel-looking clouds floating by. The rash of birds too. And instead move my psyche deeper into the endless, mindless, expanse of nothingness.
I really don’t feel Edeaoin launching the surfboard. Maybe he didn’t. Maybe he just let go and the surf grabbed me, sending me on my way, into oblivion.
I put my mind at ease by reminding myself of what Gautama Buddha had said so very long ago: “We are the same as plants, as trees, as other people, as the rain that falls. We consist of that which is around us, we are the same as everything.”
Same as everything.
Same as the water I float upon. Same as the infinite sky above me. Same as the air I breathe. But to achieve singlemindedness I must achieve singularity. A single thought. Uninterrupted. Focused to a razor-sharp point. And hold it.
But I’m not finding it. Not by staring at a nothingness sky. Not by being bounced around in a makeshift boat. In fact, rough riding the ocean waves are inviting negative thoughts, like when Aaron and I had been sucked out to sea after the tsunami in Songline. There, too, I clung to a crude raft, made of debris. Only to find that Aaron, lying face down in the water, was dead. In my thoughts. A happenstance created by my consciousness. Because, when stressed, I intuitively drowned in negativity, rather than swim in optimism. Jungo’s training changed all that. In the Discovery Tunnel I learned to embrace hope and faith and the will-to-live, against any and all odds.
All I needed to do was achieve singlemindedness. And now I can’t find it. Not by looking. Not by seeing. Not by feeling. I close my eyes. Open my ears. And listen. Beyond hearing. As Aaron taught me to do, while we sat in our underwear up on the window of Castle Crags.
I feel the transformation, the inner fire burning, the heat radiating through my body, the steam – created by saltwater splashing on my blistering skin – siphoning off energy.
The wrong way!
Whereas the plants of the jungle were eager to give up excess lifeforce energy, the ocean may not be. Yet I know enough not to despair, not to sink into the mire of negativity. To remain calm. The way Jungo taught me. To insist on keeping my body meridians open, even as they are being used to deplete my core energy. And just as I sense life seeping from me, I find singlemindedness, not in thought, prayer, or purchase, but in tune. For there, within the waves is a musical note to which I can cling, to which I can repeat, over and over again. An underlying hum with a ringing tap, so melodic my mind can’t help but drift away, far from the world in which I’m encased.
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Julissa and Aaron’s story draws one into a magical-realism world. “Blenkush has created a universe that stands out from the rest, wrapping his main characters up in narratives that are full of mystery, passion, and inspiration.” Red City Reviews
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Runs May 1 – 31, 2021.
Drawing will be held on June 1, 2021.
John J Blenkush is the author of the critically acclaimed thrillers REDDITION and STACY’S STORY, (Kirkus Reviews) and the epic SOLSTICE SERIES. Besides writing, John loves the great outdoors, running marathons, and recreational mountain climbing. He lives with his wife, Nancy, in Northern California.
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