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Lightning Bonds a Young Girl and a Lethal Dragon in The Elementalists

Chloe hasn't been the same since her accident. And neither has the world...

In the first installment of the Tipping Point Prophecy, a young girl rarely escapes death — but her near-miss comes with incredible consequences. 

Chloe has always struggled to make friends that weren’t furry or feathered, and the summer before high school, she finally embraces being a loner. To the dismay of her mother, Chloe spends nearly every day down at the pond swimming and watching the wildlife. Even so, Chloe is determined that this year be better than all the others. She’s going to try her best to fly under the radar, have some fun, and maybe make a friend or two.

By the end of day one, Chloe is already way off track. She spills her lunch all over the cafeteria floor. She brings up the missing grandmother of the senior who was flirting with her. She accidentally challenges the queen bee of the sophomore class to a race, and wins by a landslide. Chloe is instantly labeled a “brown-nosing freak.” Not exactly the way to get off on the right foot...but soon things go from bad to way worse. 

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That night, Chloe is struck by lightning. It's a miracle she survives at all, but the accident has strange side effects. After the strike, Chloe begins losing track of time. She's tortured by migraines, and worst of all, her entire life is now suffused with an unfamiliar and ancient presence, as if she's being watched. But even her personal confusion can't totally distract Chloe from the chaos going on around the world: violence and natural disasters are reaching a tipping point. 

Chloe finds surprising clarity in her friendships with three very different male classmates. Together, the quartet begins to understand that the strange presence in Chloe's head is more than just her imagination—and that maybe a bad first day of high school isn’t the worst thing in the world…

Read an excerpt from The Elementalists below, then download the book! 

The Elementalists

By C. Sharp

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The Elementalists

By C. Sharp

Chloe flipped to her back with gentle waves of her arms to keep afloat. Eyes closed, she listened to the silence and tried to settle the fury in her veins. At first, the quiet was marred only by her strokes of the water and steadying breaths, but then a current gathered in the air. Before long, a breeze arrived, drifting along the tops of the trees and rustling the canopy around the clearing. Then a wind whistled through the upper limbs, and the branches began to sway and creak with vigor…

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Chloe opened her eyes to dark clouds gathering overhead. The billowing grey cover seemed to swirl above the clearing, ominous and angry. Thunder sounded from a few miles off. This isn’t possible. What, am I cursed?

Then she felt the whole pond lurch below her as a massive, mud-filled bubble gurgled up to toss her into the air with a burst of thick, brown water. She sucked in a dirty mouthful and splashed back to the riled surface with a yelp. Earthen grit was in her mouth and eyes as she struggled to reclaim her bearings. But as lightning struck nearby, lighting her blurry vision with a blinding flash and leaving her ears ringing, she lunged desperately toward the shore.

She reached the bank and pulled her way up, coughing and blind, onto the rocks just as the pond shifted again. A wave rushed past her, dumping her further onto the grass in a flopping heap before sucking her, clawing and frantic, back into the pond. Panic set in with a pounding rain and howling wind.

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Chloe climbed frantically, scraping her knees and palms as she escaped over the pond’s edge again. She crawled over wet earth as fast as she could, her body wracked and constricting as her lungs fought to expel the layer of silt. Somehow she found her feet and ran, rubbing her eyes and stumbling as lightning cracked into the woods somewhere behind her—too close.

She slipped on the wet grass and found herself on hands and knees once more. Climbing the hill as fast as she could, she was terrifyingly aware that she was now the tallest point for a hundred feet in every direction. All she could think of was the relative safety of the dense woods ahead. She worked her arms and legs with borrowed strength, fueled by adrenaline.

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Lightning struck again and again around the water, and the earth shook with every impact. Then behind her, a monstrous roar rose up from the depths. She looked back, wide-eyed and cringing.

Through the stinging rain, she saw a massive, silvery form emerge from the waterfall that had been a pond. A hulking, shining beast climbed into the air, its crocodilian jaws open to the sky at the end of a long, sinewy neck. Huge, membranous wings unfurled on either side and beat to hold it aloft, each flap sending little tornadoes across the clearing. Its roar sent a shiver through her bones. Chloe covered her ears, fearing they might burst from the punishing vibration.

The hairs stood on end across her body as an odd tingling gathered in her feet. She was only vaguely aware that she was screaming as the impossible thing from the pond turned its piercing blue gaze toward her and set its primordial, hooked claws to the ground with a force that trembled the hillside.

She started to feel light-headed just before another bolt of lightning slammed into the tree above her and all went white and then black.

~~~~~~~~~~

lightning
  • Photo Credit: Jonathan Bowers / Unsplash

Before she could see, Chloe heard the same methodical beeping that was so prevalent on all the doctor shows on television. Someone was clutching her hand with a tight, sweaty grip. She lifted her lids with fluttering effort. At first, everything looked grey and blurry, but then her mom materialized out of the haze, leaning in close with worried eyes.

“I’m right here, baby. Can you hear me?” Audrey asked.

Chloe’s throat felt raw, and her mouth was incredibly dry. “Hi, Mom,” she rasped.

Audrey rushed in with a hug and kiss, failing to hold her tears at bay any longer. “Oh, thank God, thank God,” she whispered again and again.

“Mom, it’s okay. I think I’m okay,” Chloe reassured, glancing around at the uninspired painting of flowers on the wall beside her and then the little TV suspended above her bed. An oversized clock on the wall read 6:34p.m. She hadn’t been inside a hospital since her father had been admitted that one time by the police eight years prior. She could still picture the sickening purple of his shattered hand, and the far away gaze that seemed to see right through her as the cops conferred with her mom in the hallway—but she had no idea how she had come to find herself in the hospital now.

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“Chloe, what happened? How did you get here?” Audrey asked.

Chloe had been about to ask the same question. She remembered only vague snippets of what had transpired at the pond: the fast spiraling clouds, a mad rain, the fountain of mud that rose below her, and lightning. And there had been something else, too. Something from just before the electricity had reached into her and claimed her consciousness…the sound of a roar, born out of the storm.

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“I don’t know. I was at the pond. Lightning hit the tree beside me, and…I don’t remember anything else.”

“You were in shock, and your blood pressure was really low when you got here. Apparently you were covered in mud; it was all down your throat and in your eyes. They had to give you oxygen just to get your heart back to normal,” Audrey rattled, starting to get herself all worked up. “Honey, the nurse said a man carried you into the emergency room—just dropped you off and left without a word. They said you didn’t have on any shoes…” She looked like she might explode. “Honey, if something happened out there, I want you to know that you can tell me anything. If he—”

Chloe hadn’t seen that frantic edge in her mom’s eyes since dad had started slipping either. She would do anything she could to calm that rising squall. “No one touched me,” Chloe reassured. “I don’t remember anyone being there, and I’m fine now. I was just swimming in the pond, and all of a sudden there was a storm. The water was shifting and bubbling, and I ran. There was lightning everywhere, and then…?”

Audrey watched her daughter closely.

“Mom, I’m telling the truth!”

“I know, honey. I was just so worried. Do you have any pain? The doctor said you could have some lingering effects from the jolt.”

Just then, a portly, young nurse bustled in with flushed cheeks and a practiced but warm smile. She wore a nametag that said “Nurse Shiflet,” and she handed Chloe a cup filled with water and a straw. “Hello there, Chloe,” she said with a little Virginia twang. “I bet your mouth is pretty dry. We had to flush out your throat and eyes there ’cause of all the dirt.”

Chloe drank and winced.

“Your throat is gonna be sore for a couple days. And your hands and knees had some nasty scrapes that are gonna take some healing as well,” she trilled cheerily. “But other than that, you seem to be just fine. You gave us a little scare in the beginning with your blood pressure, but we usually see between three and seven lightning strikes a year. Trust me, you’re one of the lucky ones.”

Nurse Shiflet glanced at the printouts from Chloe’s heart monitor. “Everything looks good now. How do you feel?”

“Confused, but okay,” admitted Chloe.

“And what about the possible lingering effects: memory loss and headaches and stuff like that?” asked Audrey, still clinging to Chloe’s hand.

“Yeah, those are commonplace after such a serious shock to the system. Short-term memory loss should be expected, and some other complications can creep up on you and last for a good while, too. But you should cross that bridge if and when you come to it. For now, just count your blessings, go home, and get ready for school tomorrow,” Nurse Shiflet answered a bit too merrily for Chloe’s liking.

“School?” Chloe croaked. “I can’t go to school after being struck by lightning.”

lightning
  • Photo Credit: Max LaRochelle / Unsplash

“I don’t see why not,” answered Shiflet with a quick mark on Chloe’s chart. “You check out fine, and you said yourself that you feel okay, right? Why not go home for a good night’s sleep?” She turned to Audrey with a whisper. “And you might want to start the checkout procedure pretty soon. It’s best to clear out if you can before the shift change at seven or you could get stuck here all night.” She winked and bustled back toward the door.

“Nurse,” Chloe called, wincing with the attempt at an elevated tone, “the man who brought me in…who was he?”

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Nurse Shiflet stood in the door smiling. “I didn’t see him, but from what the other nurses say, he was sure worth looking at—amazing blue eyes.” She winked again.

“Do you know what time I got here?” Chloe asked, trying to piece it together.

“Your chart says you came in just a bit after five.”

Audrey looked at her cell phone history. “The hospital called home, and Brent called me at 5:22.”

Chloe thought about it—she’d gotten home from school after 4:00, had her run-in with Brent and started toward the pond no earlier than 4:45, and had swam for at least ten minutes before the storm came. “That’s impossible; the lightning must have struck around 5:00 at the earliest, and that was more than ten miles away and in the middle of the woods.”

“Well, then, whoever he was, he probably saved your life.” Nurse Shiflet marched away with a rubbery squeak at every step.

Chloe and her mom sat in silence for a long, loaded moment.

“It seems you have a guardian angel,” said Audrey.

Want to keep reading? Download The Elementalists today. 

The Elementalists

By C. Sharp

This post is sponsored by Open Road Media. Thank you for supporting our partners, who make it possible for The Portalist to continue publishing the sci-fi stories you love.

Published on 19 Feb 2019

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