War and Wonder, the third book in Littsburgher Dana Faletti’s Young Adult paranormal romance series, The Whisper Trilogy, will be available as an e-book on December 1st. On Thursday, Dec. 17th, Gifted Hands Gift Shop in Wexford will be hosting a book launch to celebrate the release of the paperback.
For those of you who haven’t read first two books yet, we’re thrilled to be able to share with you an excerpt of Whisper, the first of the trilogy…
Opening one eye, I glanced at the clock the next morning; it read 9:07. Gasping, I sat up straight, thinking I had slept through the alarm. Then I realized it was Saturday. Sigh… relief… until I remembered the scene in my room the night before. Gasp again.
I wanted to believe it was all a dream. I could just rub my forehead for a minute and laugh it away, maybe even write it down in a dream journal, then save it to marvel over someday in the distant future. I could jump in the shower and wash the dream away, greet the new day as the sixteen year old cell phone owner that I was. I could just forget about it.
But the fact that Silas was right now stretched out on his belly atop my dresser, legs crossed behind him in the air and reading the current issue of Seventeen Magazine like it was his job… Well, this kind of made it impossible to pretend last night never happened.
He slapped the pages shut and turned toward me, chin resting in his hand. “Well, Calliope, good morning to you.”
I swiped the sleepers out from my eyes. “Hey.”
Now, yesterday, I’d never have answered him back. It took hours of convincing for me to believe they weren’t some kind of hallucination. The Italian one –Jules was her name – didn’t even stick around. She’d said she had business to take care of and just disappeared. She didn’t even fly out the window or anything – she really just up and disappeared. Then I was stuck with a tireless Silas who, for hours, provided me with explanations that made no sense and then proof that they were true. Some of what he told me even explained the craziness that had been happening in my own life as of late. Nothing could have prepared me for the information Silas shared. In fact, I was having a bit of an identity crisis over it all.
Up until yesterday, I was simply Calliope – Callie – Evans, teen drama queen extraordinaire. My biggest concern for the longest time was – when the hello was I going to get my own cell phone? Then I start getting monster headaches, visions, hearing creepy whispering ladies and listening in on people’s thoughts. I develop some weird super strength and beat up a couple of jocks… or something like that, and Silas and Jules appear on wings to explain it all and more.
Now, I apparently had transcended to a higher cause, namely – hunting demons, or as my new sidekick Silas calls them – the Darks. Last night, Silas walked me through a crash course on demons, and what I realized afterwards was that there are freakin’ demons everywhere. Like, if you walked down the aisle of the grocery store, they’d be having demon boot camp in the banana bins or at the library, there would be hundreds of them just hanging out on the shelves. I highly doubt they read – they didn’t seem very smart – but they do whisper. And, it wasn’t because they were following library rules about quiet.
Apparently the Darks whispered into the ears, minds and souls of people on earth. Their whispers were powerful suggestions of terrible things, urging humans to commit acts that ranged from deceitful to heinous. These were Silas’s words.
I, of course, met them with typical teenage enthusiasm – pouty lips, rolling eyes, and heavy sighing. Did he seriously expect me to believe this?
Not only did he expect it. He was out to prove it all.
“Take my hand, Calliope.”
“It’s Callie.” At this point I was over the whole “don’t argue with an imaginary fairy” business.
“Callie, then. Just take my hand.”
“The last time I touched you, it felt like razor blades digging into my skin. No thanks.”
“That was only because your intentions weren’t benevolent.” He flew over to where I was sitting, legs crossed on my bed. “Come on.” Gently, he took my hand in his tiny one.
Suddenly, we were in the hair care aisle at Wal-Mart.
“Silas!” I yelled, attempting to cover up my key parts. “I’m in my pajamas!” I was horrified that someone was going to catch me, braless, in my tank top and Victoria’s Secret Pink boxers, no shoes, not even slippers. This floor was so gross – ugh. In the next second, I forgot about my bare feet and inappropriate attire and screamed for a totally different reason.
All around us were these… creatures. Some were about my size, maybe a little taller. Some were smaller than Silas. And some were in between. Some had fangs that slid in and out of their mouths, and some had pointy ears. Some had wings and some had webbed feet. Most of them were greyish brown and leathery looking, but some were dark purply red and looked to be made of clay. They all had beady little black eyes, and most of them had snot or something that looked like it, running from their piggy snout noses, oozing all over their faces.Read an excerpt from Whisper, the first book in @DanaFaletti's Whisper Trilogy! Click To Tweet
Wait. They reminded me of something…
The creature from Heather Chandler’s locker. The one that looked like mush. Hadn’t that thing been telling Heather something in her ear? Had it been a Dark I’d seen back then?
My head felt like it was about to split in two. I focused again on the Wal-Mart Darks. What a motley crew.
One of them, a purply red ball of play dough, about the size of a bulldog, started to waddle toward me, not really looking at me.
“Silas… what the – ?” I started, but then stopped. I looked at this creepy little pudge ball, brought my leg backwards and, with as much force as I assumed an NFL player would, I kicked it like it was a career field goal for me. Pow – all of the anger I, for some reason, felt toward this ugly little guy, just burst out of me and into him… or her. Truly I didn’t know if it was male or female. The ugly pudge ball flew toward the back wall and into the pharmacy window. It exploded with a noise that sounded like “oops,” in a hushed baritone voice.
I looked at Silas, unbelieving what I was experiencing, “What the hello is that smell?” It burned the inside of my nose and made me want to gag, like dirty diapers or garbage or worse. Gross.
“That’s what the Darks smell like, Callie.” He looked at me. “I think you’ve experienced it before. Your birthday?”
I thought back to that fateful night. Yes! I thought it was the twins playing a joke or just passing gas. “These guys were at my birthday party?” I gestured to the menagerie of creatures mulling around the shampoo and conditioner, seeming to take no notice of us.
“Probably not these ones, but, as you can see,” he pointed at them, and all around us, “they are everywhere. Even at the Wal-Mart in the middle of the night.” He grabbed my hand, and, in an instant, we were somewhere else, somewhere dark and cold. It still stank, even worse than “the Wal-mart,” as Silas called it.
I held my nose and spoke. “Okay, where are we?”
“Duncan Avenue. Behind a cafe.”
My brain tried to process the information. Cafe? Duncan Avenue? “Are we in the alley behind Starbucks?”
“It’s Callie.” I sighed. “And why?”
Silas said nothing. Instead of his answer, I heard whispering voices.
“Feels so good… A little more.” It was a female voice and definitely not human. I squinted into the blackness and could make out a half dozen or so creatures, all fairly tall and mushy looking. They were circling a pair of young girls and a guy, all seeming to be about my age. Although it was totally pitch black out here, I could see them as if I were shining a flashlight on them. Suddenly I spotted the needle they were passing back and forth. My heart sank.
“Push it. Push it.” Several of the mushy demons chanted, their black eyes almost smiling as they closed in on the kids.
“I shouldn’t be doing this,” the blond haired girl with the glasses thought.
“Go ahead.” The whispers came over and over.
“Just do it.”
“Your parents can’t stand you.”
“You don’t fit in anywhere.”
Then I heard the other girl’s thoughts. “My parents hate me already, so what if I get caught.” The red head pushed the drug into her arm and threw her head back in pain or pleasure. I honestly wasn’t sure which it was.
And, six or seven demons cackled with glee, actually jumping up and down, cheering. It’s a creepy sight to see demons celebrating.
“Stop it.” I spoke out loud, surprising the blond girl and the one guy with her. The red headed girl was too high to care. She just looked at me, maybe wondering where I’d come from.
“You don’t need this stuff. It’s dangerous.”
“Let’s get out of here.” The guy said and grabbed the blond girl’s hand. They ran off into the blackness to who knows where. I stood still, staring at the other girl, who was sitting cross-legged and dreamy on the ground. A bunch of stinky demons lingered, grumbling over their treasures lost.
Figuring she wasn’t going anywhere, I faced the uglies. “Shut up!” I shouted.
“Urr?” They looked around, confused, again not registering my presence, eyeing each other as if to say “who said that? D’you say that? Wasn’t me.” What a bunch of dummies.
“Silas, can’t they see me?”
“No, you are not visible to their evil eyes, Callie.”
I grinned. “Cool.” I walked easily up to a demon with sharp teeth and dead looking leathery gray skin. Grabbing its slimy egg-shaped head; I twisted it, as easily as if I were twisting the cap off of a water bottle. Snap. One down.
And the others didn’t even notice. They never even saw me coming. This was some cool superhero stuff. I looked to Silas for approval. This was worth a high five, right? Did angels slap wings or hands? He nodded at me and motioned toward the girl.
I kneeled down and took her face into my hands. She had these amazing green eyes. They were so glazed over by the drugs, but I could almost imagine how they had sparkled at one time. Her hair was long and fiery red, and well… she was just… well… perfect.
It sounds so sappy, but I looked at Silas with tears in my eyes. It hurt so much to see this beautiful creature being destroyed by drugs and self-hatred. I just knew she was more than this, better than this.
“You’re seeing her soul.” Silas said to me. “It’s another part of who you are, Calliope. You can see them as they were made to be.” He cleared his throat. “I know it’s difficult, but you have to focus.”
I took her in my arms and lifted her up. Although the girl was my size, maybe a little bigger, she felt weightless to me. I had no trouble holding her. She giggled and mumbled something I couldn’t understand. I touched her face, and her glazed eyes found focus on mine and stayed there. Tilting her head to one side, she studied me.
“You are loved.” I told her, not sure where the words came from but knowing deep inside they were true.
She smiled a sleepy smile, exhaled once and then closed her eyes.
Somewhere in the next half second, Silas did his magic touch trick and whisked us all away from the scene. We ended up dropping her off at the hospital. Hopefully, she would get some help. At least she was safe for tonight.
It was amazing though – the emergency room was overflowing with demons – whispering to the homeless and drug-induced patients, who were curled up in corners, to the receptionists and tired parents with children. They were seriously at work. I heard one trying to convince a doctor to cheat on his wife with one of his interns. Weird.
I shook my head, disgusted.
Darks were just gross – there were no two ways about it. No matter what form or what package they came disguised in, underneath they were all the same.
Foulest. Creatures. Ever.
I guess if you’d have asked me a year ago to describe how I’d feel face to face with a demon, I would have thought to say “well duh… terrified,” but not now. Now, I knew, they weren’t really scary, just absolutely disgusting. First off, their presence gave me a whopper of a headache, and their smell was like a thousand, no wait – a million rotten eggs ever ripening in the sunshine. Yeah, it was that bad. They weren’t mysterious or even tricky. Their goal, as Silas had explained, was destruction of every human, every creation, and their strength was in numbers, definitely not wit.
Looking around, I felt so sick with rage. I wanted to tear them all to shreds. I started toward a smaller-sized demon in triage, setting my sights on his overfat neck.
“Take my hand, Calliope. We should get you home to rest now.”
Was he kidding? I was in full on destroyer mode. “What? I’m off the clock here?”
“You can’t destroy them all.” Before I knew what was happening, he had taken my hand, landing us back in my bedroom, where it was demon free.
“I was so gonna kick that demon’s arsenal, Silas.” I stomped. What was his deal, apparating me out of the ring when I was just warming up? Yeah, I totally acknowledge the crazy on so many levels of that comment, but seriously.
He flapped his fairy wings over to my bedposts and landed with a sigh. “Calliope, I meant what I said. You simply can’t destroy them all.”
“What are you talking about? I was on fire out there.” I hopped onto my bed and crawled over to where he was perched near my pillows. “How many necks did I snap?”
“Ah, dear child.”
“Not a child, dear fairy.”
He gasped – the horror – and eyed me shamefully. “Not a fairy.”
This guy was so easy to get to. I stifled a giggle. “Seriously, why didn’t you let me have my way with that mob?”
Silas then gave me a lengthy and kind of preachy explanation. I think he was really into the sound of his own voice. His point was this – although there were demons everywhere, I couldn’t just be a random demon hunter; way too general, impractical really. My demon of choice, or assignment to be exact, was called the Rayser. Raysers preyed specifically on youth. Not small children – that’s an entirely different brand of demon, apparently. Raysers attacked the least sensible and the most easily swayed– teenagers. We catch a lot of slack for being hormonal all the time, and it was true – the excess of hormones made it loads easier for the Darks to mess with our already confused brains. It wasn’t just puberty though. Who’d have thought those parents back in the stone ages were right when they guessed their daughters were plagued by demons?
Fatigue had gotten the best of me somewhere in the middle of Silas explaining that Raysers were one of the more intelligent (although not really smart) forms of demons and that they mostly played to a person’s insecurities and deep set fears. Sleep had taken over, and a minute later it seemed now, it was morning.
Sunlight and crazy colors were streaming in through my window – again making it hard to forget how much life had changed for me. I mean, there were literally colors I’d never seen before casting a glow around my room. And, the sounds! Buzzing bees sounded like a symphony. The birds were harmonizing. It was so unreal, and yet…
None of the events of last night were even a little bit fuzzy in my memory. I could still feel the leathery skin of the creatures I’d killed last night.
I sat up on the edge of my bed and looked around then. Even after the highly educational demon field trip, it was just… well, a whole lot of crazy.
“I know it is a lot to process, Calliope.”
Why did he insist on calling me that? “It just seems so unreal.”
“Most of your kind feel that way at first, but you get used to it, and it becomes your reality.”
Did he say my kind? Like I was an extra-terrestrial or something? At first I scowled at him and the slightly English lilt to his words, but then I got kind of quiet, wondering. “What am I?” I asked him.
“You, my dear, are an angel too.”
Wow, he was way off. I could give him a grocery list of reasons why that wasn’t true.
“Humans have a certain image of angels, and,” he gestured toward his tiny form, “as you can see it’s not exactly accurate.”
I raised my eyebrows at him. He had a point there. He was not the muscle bound Greek god I would have expected an angel to look like. No, Silas was definitely no Hercules. He was more of a Jeeves… in a white suit with pink handkerchief.
“And, there are many kinds of angels, Calliope.”
I could tell by the tone of Silas’s voice that it was time for angel history 101.
“We, well, Jules and I, are Micros. Our main purpose is to coach angels such as yourself. We’re small but as you have witnessed, mighty. We don’t get in the way of battle, but we do well on the sidelines, directing, helping until you are ready to be on your own.” He cleared his throat, getting ready for round two. “You are an Arc. Arcs are protectors of the young, and believe me, dear – this generation needs protecting more than ever before. The enemy has such a stronghold over them specifically. He knows that this is where he can gain the most destruction and steal the most souls.”
Wait a minute –this was starting to get weirder. “You mean, the devil? As in Satan? ” I was definitely losing it now. I mean, my parents took me to church, and I was confirmed Catholic and everything. I even had a Lives of the Saints book in my dresser somewhere. But the real devil? Come on.
“Lucifer himself.” Silas almost whispered.
“Come on now. So, you’re telling me all of this exists. Angels, demons, God, and Satan?” I guess on some level, seeing should have been believing, but I still wasn’t totally sold. Wasn’t there some guy in the Bible like this? Tom somebody? I seriously needed to start paying attention in my Catholic Ed. Classes.
“Here there and everywhere, Calliope. They are all around you, all the time.” He flew over and perched on my knee. “You can sense the changes in yourself, by now I am sure.”
I sighed and rolled my eyes, true to my teenage form yet, “Do you mean the amazing music outside and the colors? Or do you mean the eavesdropping I’ve been doing in random people’s heads?” Silas just smirked at me. Like this was funny! I found no humor in my new freakishness. “Yeah, I’ve noticed some subtle differences.”
“Well, these are all part of being who you are.” His tone was almost tender then.
I swallowed. An angel. Me. Callie Evans, demon slaying protector of teenager’s souls. Who’s idea was this? “Silas?”
His subdued fatherly chuckle annoyed me, but I was eager to hear his explanation, so I tried really hard not to huff.
“Why is water wet? Why is sunshine warm? Why is silk so much more luxurious than cotton?”
“Huh?” He totally lost me there.
“Well, scratch that last one.” Silas raised his tiny index finger. “What I’m trying to tell you is that you are what you were made to be.” He paused. “And what you have always been.”
Lost again, Mr. Confucius. Pretty sure I’ve always been just Callie.
“Long ago, at the very birth of this world, you were what you are now, Calliope. Your memory currently fails you for reasons you will understand as time goes on, but you are and have for eternities been an angel.”
I raised my eyebrows. “I’m a little confused, Silas. Do you mean I was an angel in a past life or something? Like reincarnation?”
“No, Calliope. You’ve always been an Arc but you came to earth as a human infant to grow into the teenage girl you have become. A purposeful metamorphosis for a very short time in the grand scheme of things. Your mind has simply been altered for the past sixteen years so that you wouldn’t remember anything until now. Your forgetfulness works in much the same way as how humans may witness you performing acts they may deem impossible or crazy and then forget all of it as if it had never happened.”
Well, that was good news anyways. He frowned, surely annoyed at the lingering look of doubt on my face. Excuse me for having a tough time believing! Wasn’t it his job to explain this stuff?
“It’s just that – well, even after everything last night, I just can’t fit myself into an angel outfit, Silas.” I shook my head. “I mean, I don’t feel like an angel. It’s not like I all of a sudden sprouted a set of wings or something.”
“As I told you Calliope, angels don’t always look as humans have imagined us to be.”
I eyed him from head to toe. You’re not kidding there, Mister. “There’s just nothing in me that feels like an angel.” I shrugged my shoulders, a little defeated. Come on, Silas. Give me something I can understand.
“Okay Calliope, you say there’s nothing in you that feels like an angel. That’s where you are wrong. You feel a certain pull toward the Darks, correct?”
If he considered the overwhelming urge I felt to rip them to shreds for no apparent reason to be a “pull,” then I’d say yes. “Yeah, kind of.”
“Well, my dear, this is quite instinctual for you. Although you have never before had a violent nature about you, you feel rage in their presence. Your actions toward the Darks may even seem heinous to some, but they are only natural. It may seem strange to you because at first glance they simply look like – “
“Mangy, slime oozing heaps of gross?” I finished his sentence for him. As a matter of fact, my negative feelings toward these things were oddly rather strong. Shouldn’t I be all peace love and understanding here? Weren’t angels supposed to be loving, kind and good to all creatures? I shuddered and seriously felt the urge to gag. Kindness? Toward demons? Wasn’t gonna happen. It just plain felt wrong.
He let out another fatherly chuckle. “As I said, instinctual, Calliope. You are mortal enemies. Good versus evil. You were carefully woven by a pair of all knowing hands. Hands that make no mistakes I should add. Every ounce of you was created to seek and destroy these Darks. Within every fiber of who you are is hatred and disgust for what is most evil, and they are. There is not and never could be a single thread of good in any of them. Nothing you or anyone else does could change these beings. They are void of goodness and everything that is wrong with this world. They were also created. ”
“To destroy me?” I had to admit, the thought freaked me out a little. I didn’t really dig the idea of being on anybody’s most wanted list.
“No, Calliope. They were not created to destroy you. As you observed with the Raysers behind the coffee shop, many of them cannot even see you.”
“Well, that’s a relief.”
He cleared his throat and looked away, across the room at nothing. There was definitely something Silas wasn’t telling me.
“You’ll find out more as time goes on, and soon you’ll forget what it was like before. They always do.”
“So, there are others like me?”
Phew. Thank God for that one. I had a feeling my friends weren’t going to dig my new angel persona once they figured it out. I mean, Mila was definitely not going to be down with me playing around in her thoughts even if the phenomenon was limited to times when she was being influenced by Darks as Silas had explained. What guy would want to go out with somebody like me? At least there was a peer group out there for me. “So, when do I meet the others?”
Silas looked taken back. “You don’t.”
“Arcs are solitary. Your focus is to be on saving the souls of your peers while remaining totally inconspicuous. This is why your identity isn’t revealed to you until age sixteen. You have to be one of them. You have to move in their circles and understand their mindset.” He looked away, perplexed. “For some reason, no other genre of humans can understand the teenager. They are their own subculture, apparently.”
“Wait a minute… so I have to just go back to my normal scene and pretend not to notice I see little purply dough balls that smell like garbage waddling around and whispering not so sweet nothings?” Who was this fairy- I mean angel kidding? There was no way I could pull this off.
“Calliope, this is an eternal position. There is no way around it.” He started nervously picking up random items from my desk and rearranging them. I marched over to his little flappy self.
“What are you talking about, eternal?” I was getting nervous.
“Eternal as in forever.”
“Yeah, I take honors English, Silas. I know what eternal means. Forever what? Forever fighting demons?”
“Well, yes, but… well, all of it.”
He stopped his nervous rearranging and looked me straight in the eyes. “Calliope Evans, from now until the end of the world as humans know it, you will appear to be a sixteen-year-old girl. You will, on the surface, attend high schools, befriend other teens, join clubs and teams etcetera. You will act largely like any other teenage girl would act. Your purpose is to be on the battlefield, ready to act at any and every moment. You will protect youth from the Raysers and destroy these demons before they can destroy God’s precious creations. This is your purpose, Calliope. This is who you are.” Silas fixed his eyes on mine and fluttered his wings in the air so as to remain face to face with me. Finally he placed his tiny hand on my shoulder and gave me a firm supportive squeeze that was really more like a pinch considering his size. He looked gravely serious as he quietly uttered one last word.