x0: synopsis and my 3 favorite excerpts
x0 is the first novel in the loosely interrelated collection known as 46. Ascending. Each novel tells the tale of an otherwise normal person coming to terms with having unusual abilities. The stories are designed to be read in any order as they overlap in time and build upon each other in all directions.
This page contains a short description of the book x0 followed by three of my favorite excerpts from the first part of the novel. To read more, please purchase x0 at smashwords.com, at amazon.com, or at Barnes and Noble.
The ancient group x0 hides in the shadows until a young
Nigerian beauty forces them to emerge. Thinking that her telepathic abilities
are perfectly normal, this Igbo woman draws upon her powers to seek an ally to
rescue her captive sister. Unfortunately, the telepath she finds is cranky
Texan lady who doesn’t believe in nonsense and who insists that the disturbing
phenomenon in her own mind isn’t there.
Realizing that her sister has become a strategic pawn in a
dangerous game of international politics, she vows to do anything to get the
attention of this uncooperative fellow psychic. As the women struggle with each
other, common links begin to forge these two radically different women together
in ways that even x0 does not understand. They could intervene, but should
Somadina awoke with the wonderful feeling that the lady was coming physically closer. At first Somadina was confused. Then she realized. Of course. The lady was not Nigerian. That possibility had not occurred to her. But it made sense. And for some reason the lady was actually coming to Nigeria. At least to West Africa. Somadina was sure of it and so she sent thoughts over and over to tell the woman that she was now exactly where she needed to be. Somadina then spent two happy days feeling even closer to the woman, working to make her feel happy to be in Nigeria, and trying to find a way to better connect.
Then, two mornings later, she awoke just as sure that the woman was already leaving. What? Yes, she was heading to an airport. But she had just arrived! Who spends only two days in a country?
You’re leaving? You just got here. You can’t go! Somadina knew that she was being immature, but she could not help feeling anger, and disappointment. In the strength of her own emotional outburst, she received the worst kind of confirmation that the mysterious woman had been hearing her all along.
With an evening flight home on Wednesday that required a late afternoon departure from the hotel, Lola had decided to sleep in as late as she liked, to spend a few hours by the pool relaxing (no solo adventures into town, she had promised) and to just have an easy day before the nineteen-hour sojourn home. Sleep came and went that night, with an odd blurry feeling of nervousness but nothing upsetting. It wasn’t until morning, when she woke up naturally with no alarm clock, that she felt the sense of turmoil.
You’re leaving? You just got here. You can’t go! It was an unmistakable thought, as clear as if it had come from a distraught lover, needy parent, clingy friend. Anger and disappointment. Even a bit of panic. Who the hell cared if she stayed in Nigeria?
Impatiently, she got out of bed, began to gather together her toiletries. Leave me alone, she thought with vehemence. I do not want to hear from you. Whoever you are. Get out of my head. And then to herself. Stop thinking this is real. It is not. You have a thirteen-year-old daughter and two other kids counting heavily on you and this is absolutely no time in your life to have mental issues. You are fine. Get a grip. Act like a normal person.
She took a moment and sat in the uncomfortable easy chair and forced herself to use the simple mental imagery she had learned in Lamaze classes so very long ago. But instead of picturing a beautiful lake at sunset like they had taught her to do in order to relax, this time she pictured the giant steel doors to a vault, glimmering in a cold artificial light, clanking closed in her head. The doors seemed to work. She got out of the chair feeling better. As she finished packing and headed poolside for lunch with her email and her internet, she felt fine, although strangely alone.
In the days that followed, Djimon discovered how extraordinarily fortunate his choice in a second wife had been. Throughout the drive southwest toward Lagos, sometimes over major highways and twice over bad roads as he detoured for “business meetings,” Nwanyi was not only timid, she asked for almost nothing and did not even seem to expect kindness from him. She stopped her attempts at conversation early on when they were met with stony silence, only asking twice to use his cell phone to call her sister. He informed her curtly that his charger worked poorly and he was saving the battery for important calls. After the second time she did not ask again.
She appeared to be fearful about sex, or at least shy enough about it that although they slept in the same bed at night, she never brought up his lack of interest. As they traveled he saw to it that she stayed covered and had whatever meager food and water she required, and in return she did not complain to him. He figured with satisfaction that she was scared of him and vowed to see that useful condition continue throughout what he had come to think of as “phase two.” Phase one, of course, had been finding and procuring her.
Four days later they arrived at his home, where Mairo, his true and beloved wife with her beautiful Fulani features, dutifully got Nwanyi settled into a particularly cramped and poorly ventilated room in the rear of the house, and promptly assigned her a sizable share of the less desirable household chores that would normally have fallen to the servants. Djimon had to smile. Even though Mairo understood all too well how important Nwanyi was to their plans, and what little husbandly interest Djimon actually had in the woman, Mairo was apparently not inspired to exhibit the least bit of kindness to the Igbo. Now that Djimon thought about it, that was just as well. He would let Mairo inflict all the petty insults that she wanted.
For part of each evening, Lola allowed herself to just sit on the porch and imagine the sound of rushing water and to think about how she now had trouble washing her hair without cringing. This puzzled and even intrigued her a little. She would never have guessed a brief experience like the one she had, which ended perfectly well with no harm done, at least once all the minor cuts and bruises had healed, could linger on in her mind with such intensity.
The sense of panic could be set off by sunlight glistening on a liquid the way it had glistened through the water on the unreachable other side of the canoe, or even by just feeling trapped by riding in the back seat of a two-door car. To a woman who, for most of her forty-nine years had reacted to the idea of mild mental problems and syndromes of all types with “why don’t you just get over it?” it was, well, informative to discover that some things were surprisingly difficult to get over.
When all those doubts and fears would no longer keep her mind busy, Lola’s thoughts would invariably wander off to the strange woman with whom Lola had agreed, bizarre as it seemed, to listen. In spite of that, she had not acquired much more useful information. The woman seemed to be younger, less educated, and probably more superstitious. She also seemed foreign and based on her not wanting Lola to leave Lagos, Lola was assuming she was Nigerian.
She had a younger sister, of that Lola was certain. She was very worried for the sister and lacked the means to help her. Lola supposed that meant resources, maybe money, but also the woman seemed to lack the knowledge to help as well. Was the sister lost? Kidnapped? Had she run-away from home? Certainly she was gone and could not be found.
Sometimes Lola tried to sort of mutter comforting things back to the woman in her head, but that never seemed to help. Lola had not a clue what else she could do.
Other times she just sat and thought about nothing at all. It was one of those times, when her mind was sort of on water and sort of on nothing, when she heard an elderly gentleman’s voice clearly in her head.
Lola? Little Lola Conroy? Good heavens dear, is that you?
Lola searched her mind for knowledge of any older man who might have known her by her maiden name.
It’s okay honey. You’re fine. I didn’t mean to startle you. It’s okay. She could almost see an elderly man backing out of her mind with great care.
Good grief, she thought. Now what?