Category: Reverie

Welcome to Reverie #2: Love and Loss in 4025

“Welcome to Reverie” is a series of short stories that happen in the worlds of Trystin Bailey’s YA Fantasy book series, Reverie.  You don’t need to read Reverie Book 1 to enjoy the story, but it definitely adds to the fun.

 

Love and Loss in 4025

Activate: journal.

I did it. I told Sim I love her. And she said it back! I just- I’ve been talking about it for so long and now that it’s happened I’m so zzagging happy!

[Timestamp: 19:44, 18.03.4025]

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Launching… Log 0001.

I just upgraded the encryption level for my own peace of mind, hence having to restart my log. I mean, after everything that’s been going on, can you blame me? Nexis’ sanctioned public news outlets continue parading lies as truth, but I’ve started getting my information from Shadowsource. It’s honestly the only reliable thing in this world now.

There was an explosion down in Industry Plaza. Amara was there tinkering with some friends and I caught it on her live-feed. She didn’t come into school today and the authorities are pretending nothing’s wrong. Thank the Core that Shadowsource is looking into this.

Zzag. Right. I told Kyler I love him today. I had so much on my mind and it just came out. He’s nice and everything, but, ugh. Why does life always have to be so difficult?

____________________________________

Activate: journal.

Sorry if I’m a little all over the place. Sim was kind of distant today. No, not kind of. Completely. I mean, it’s one of the things I love about her honestly. She never plays games. Never puts on a show. In every moment she’s her authentic self and sometimes that self just wants to be left alone. She did mention something about an explosion, but I couldn’t find anything on the Net so I don’t know.

It’s fine. I’m fine. It’s just that we said the words, you know? And then to follow it up with this? My psych app rates my insecurity well above average right now, but how else am I supposed to feel when the girl I love is so intelligent and beautiful and mature and curious and then I’m- I don’t know. She hasn’t viewed any of my chats.

I guess I’m just worried about her.

[Timestamp: 16:04, 19.03.4025]

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Log 0004.

I finally found the strength to stop by Amara’s. Well, kind of. There was a sentry bot buzzing around her apartment door. A new model, I think. Weaponized. I don’t think it saw me, but I watched from around the corner long enough to see the neighbor from across the hall get home. The bot asked him if he had any information on Amara.

“Amara Hajjar is under arrest for conspiring against Nexis. She must be obtained for questioning.” That’s what it said in that soulless, metallic voice.

Lies.

I came home and said nothing to the ‘rents. They’d probably turn me in if they knew what I was up to.

I got about a million chats from Kyler. I told him that I’m okay. He called me immediately and we talked for a bit.

He’s the only person in the world who makes me feel like it’s safe to cry.

____________________________________

Activate: journal.

They’re here! Sim’s been feeling down for a while so I bought her a pair of the new SpaceGlide 4000s from Bezzle’s. I dunno. I had to do something and I think she mentioned that she liked them this one time.

We went on a date last night. It was…fine. She was on the Net basically the whole time. Like, I could see her eyes moving back and forth like she was reading something. Then the little shifts in her lip like she was chatting someone. I wanted to ask who she was talking to, but I guess I was terrified that I wouldn’t like the answer.

Core knows I’m trying to be cool about all of this. It’s fine.

It’s probably totally fine.

[Timestamp: 10:04, 23.03.4025]

____________________________________

Log 0019.

I did it. I chatted Shadowsource what I saw at Amara’s. And they responded!

It turns out that this isn’t the first time something like this has happened at Industrial Plaza. Not even close. And every zzagging time, anyone who happens to be around to see anything strange zzagging disappears.

Poor Amara.

All I know is that this tragedy has brought me to Shadowsource. I finally feel like I’ve found a group of people who understand me. People who want to make Futara a better place. Maybe if I can gain their trust- if I can prove myself -they’ll let be one of them.

____________________________________

Activate: journal.

Sim just stopped by unannounced. I was excited at first, but then…then I saw the look in her eyes. They were intense and tired and, I think, terrified.

She was breathing heavily and I took her to my room. She said she couldn’t stay long and she reached into her backpack and pulled out… She pulled out a laser blaster! She pulled it out and sat it down next to me. A tear rolled down her face then and she said, “To protect yourself. Say nothing to anyone. Please. I can’t lose you.”

And then she ran out of my room and out of my apartment. I was so shocked by the whole thing that by the time I was outside she was gone.

[Timestamp: 00:36, 28.03.4025]

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Log 0034.

I have my mission. Tonight I will meet with Designates Sixty-Four and Thirteen in Central Square and we’ll go on a fact-finding excursion in Industrial Plaza. We’ll be disguised as tinkers, just walking the streets, looking for scraps.

This is the beginning of a more meaningful life.

____________________________________

Activate: journal.

I haven’t heard from her in days. Like she said, I haven’t told anyone anything. And it’s zzagging killing me.

So I have to do something, you know? I just do.

I love her.

When she was in my room and in such a hurry, neither of us noticed the papers that fell out of her backpack when she was removing the gun. There were scribbles on it. A badly drawn map of Industrial Plaza. And something called “Shadowsource.” It turns out that they’re some sick conspiracy cult that manipulates teens into committing crimes against the Nexis. It looks like she’d been trying to use comms signals to locate their base of operations.

Sim…what was she thinking? Now I get why she didn’t want me to talk to anyone. Shadowsource allegedly has spies everywhere.

Journal…mom, dad, whoever may hear this eventually… I’m going to take this gun. I’m going to find the base. I’m going to get her back.

I-I don’t know how, I just am. Okay?

[Timestamp: 21:28, 04.04.4025]

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Begin recording: The date is April 4th, 4025. I think. My name is Simmerel Taylor, 3rd year student at the Calico Jones Secondary School, currently held captive by Nexis’ sentinels in what we believe to be the southeast quadrant of Industrial Plaza. Designate Thirteen was able to repair one of our comms devices. Sixty-Four is sure there’s a way out. I, honestly, don’t see it. We’re injured, hungry, and sadly the bots came on us so fast there we weren’t able to get any intel on what Nexis has been up to down here. If by some miracle we get out of this we’ll try again. If not, keep fighting the machine.  Even though it’s only been a short time, I’m honored to have worked with you, Shadowsou-

[Connection lost]

Welcome to Reverie #1: The Boy Who Roars

 

“Welcome to Reverie” is a series of short stories that happen in the worlds of Trystin Bailey’s YA Fantasy, book series, Reverie.  You don’t need to read Reverie Book 1 to enjoy the story, but it definitely adds to the fun.

 

The Boy Who Roars

He watched as the other children giggled, shrieked, and played on the jungle gym, wondering why he wasn’t as happy as they were.

Andy Liu was seven years old. He had thick, black hair cropped short and eyes that shone a warm chocolate brown when the sunlight hit them just right. His mother Amy had always said his eyes were his most beautiful feature. “Baby,” she’d say in Chinese, “I can see it in your eyes that you’re an old soul. There’s peace and goodness in those eyes. The others will see what I do soon enough. They just have some growing up to do.” She’d say things like this when Andy was feeling particularly outcast. That is to say, she’d say this sort of thing daily.

Andy’s father, Thomas Liu, was something else entirely. The youngest of five and son of two stern, serious owners of a Chinese restaurant outside of San Francisco, in his youth he defined himself wholly by his ability to rebel against everything his parents stood for. Thomas refused to learn Chinese, rejected the expectation that he’d join in the family business, and ran away from home at the age of seventeen, paying his way through sculpting school. A darling of the San Francisco art scene, Thomas decided to keep his creative fire alive by uprooting his little family and moving to a small town in middle America where he would have the space and freedom to work on his large scale masterpiece: a series of life-sized dinosaurs constructed with the remains of demolished mom and pop shops. The series was called Shop Cretaceous.

That’s how Andy ended up at Addley Elementary.

Andy hopped off of the bus, glad to come home. His mother greeted him with a hug and a kiss and asked him about his day. “It was fine” tended to be the usual answer. Andy tore through his homework with ease as his mom prepared dinner. With her work done and the food in the oven, Andy entered his favorite time of the day. He plopped on the couch beside his mother and the two watched episodes of old British comedies. He loved the old shows which, in his mind, exemplified his ideal world: sensible and smart, dry with even the most chaotic bits neatly tied up with a clarity. Oftentimes the wit was of a level his seven-year old mind could not quite grasp, but his mom did her best to offer contextual commentary.

“Guys!” Thomas’ muffled voice echoed from the back door. “You gotta see this!”

Andy sighed as his mother reached for the remote and pressed the blue-gray pause button. She countered his frown with a great big warm smile. “Come on,” she said, “Your father must have finished it!”

Amy and Andy Liu opened the screen door into their spacious back yard. The flat grassy terrain was littered with a stegosaurus, triceratops, pterodactyl, and more made of old wood and brick and wires and discarded antiques. The neighbors, all with more conventional careers, had conflicting feelings as to how this display effected their property values. Those feelings would only become more polarized as the newest addition to the menagerie, the very reason Thomas had called his beloved wife and son outside, appeared to be complete.

Standing over twenty-feet tall, this monstrous sculpture seemed the most alive of the lot. Rusted pipes made up the most of its skeletal structure. Its mighty torso was coated with sheet metal, floor tiles, and ceiling fan blades. The tail was thick and long; a thing of roof shingles and heavy cables and ropes bound tight. Its head appeared to be a curious amalgamation of an aquarium, an air conditioner, and a mix of the parts that comprised the rest of its body, including the broken cinder blocks at its feet. Its mouth was open wide, as if frozen in roar, foot-long chair leg teeth bared. Its wiry arms, though small, ended in silverware claws prepared for battle. There was no mistaking the majesty, the craftsmanship, the power of the final piece of the Shop Cretaceous series: the tyrannosaurus rex.

“So…what do you think?”

Andy took in his father’s expression of pure and boundless joy; one that mirrored the one so easily achieved by his classmates.

“It’s incredible,” Amy exclaimed. She turned to her son, filling him with dread. “Isn’t it incredible, Andy?”

Andy hated this part the most. Even at this young age he could sense his father’s longing for his acceptance; his pride in his father’s work. The two loved each other for sure, but the chasm between them insofar as how they experienced the world was one neither had the tools to overcome. And to be perfectly honest, Andy hated his father’s work. He hated how it made the neighborhood kids want to come and play. And most of all he hated dinosaurs. Nothing about those wild, unruly monsters making a racket and tearing each other limb from limb appealed to him. “I like it,” said Andy to his father unconvincingly. “It’s really nice.” Then came the moment where Thomas tried to hide his disappointment and Andy pretended not to notice the charade.

Dinner was a magnified version of the usual. Thomas would engage in lively conversations with Amy about his sculpting and her teaching (she taught Mandarin online). Amy would engage in sensible conversations with Andy about British shows and their lackluster American counterparts. Amy would attempt to spark more than small talk between father and son. Usually it was successful enough, but this time Thomas’ energy was high and something just…snapped…

Thomas landed his fist hard on the table. “What is wrong with you?” He didn’t yell, but his voice was sharp, hard nonetheless. “I have given you every opportunity to live and- and thrive, to enjoy life and you just mope around and… Sometimes I feel like this is some cosmic joke my parents are playing on me for disappointing them.”

The empty chair crashed to the floor as Andy ran down the hall and into his bedroom. With one hand he slapped his door, the other wiped his eyes. He could hear the muffled arguing as he turned off the lights and slipped under the covers.

He could hear his door whisper open. A soft click and the lights were on.

“Andy.” It was Thomas.

Andy didn’t respond. He was too busy rubbing the sheet against his bloodshot eyes. His body jerked to the side as his father sat down on his bed.

“Come out, Andy,” his father said. “Please.”

Andy sniffled and pulled the muted green comforter from over his head. There was his father, wearing an expression uncharacteristic of him. A deep frown pulled the youth, the joy, from his face. His gaze was intense as ever though. But the tears. Those were new.

“I’m sorry,” said his father. “At the table…the things I said. In that moment I became everything I swore I never would.” He placed his hand gently on Andy’s shoulder. “Parents have these ideas of what their kids are gonna be. Right or wrong, they do. And in my mind you and I were gonna be in the shop picking out junk and turning it into art. But that’s not you, you know? And that’s okay. It’s perfect. And then as I sit here I realize that I have no idea what you’re passionate about. And that’s on me. It’s all on me. You’re this amazing, unique human being that I made and I don’t know a thing.”

Thomas had more to say- lots more. And it was honest and raw and apologetic and hopeful. He kissed Andy on the cheek and promised to be better. Andy didn’t say much, but as he drifted to sleep that night, he felt quite content.

…………

Andy found himself in a dense jungle. Leaves as big as he was were dripping wet from a rain that had freshly passed. A mist permeated all things as did a cacophony of shrieks and growls and other unsavory sounds. This was not ideal.

Andy was so utterly dissatisfied by the scenario that he hadn’t the slightest idea of what his first move should be. Then came a rustling in a large leafy shrub nearby. His first move was, as it turned out, to run as fast as he could away from the sound.

From the shrub leaped three cavemen, hairy and dressed sparsely in tiger fur. They held mighty clubs which they held above their heads as they took off after Andy, howling through crooked yellow teeth.

Andy’s heart was pounding. His head was spinning. He swatted his way through swarms of giant flies, hoisted himself over an algae-covered root, and splashed across a swiftly flowing stream. He could hear the cavemen drawing closer and closer, their grunts seeming to say, “You will make for a worthwhile meal tonight, little boy.”

Andy tripped on a turtle and crashed against the muddy earth. In an instant he was surrounded by the filthy, awful cavemen. Hunger in their crazed eyes, all three raised their clubs in unison. This was it. Andy closed his eyes and hoped it would be over quick.

Then, from the jungle depths rung a mighty ROARRRRRRRRRRR!

Andy’s eyes snapped open just in time to see an enormous green tail whack one of the cavemen into the air and out of sight. A pair of scaly fingers grasped another caveman by the shoulder and pulled him into a dense bush. The earth trembled heralding the arrival of a horned creature the size of an SUV barreling into the final caveman, sending him deep into the mist.

Andy could not believe what he was seeing. Where once stood three primitive cavepeople were now three very curious dinosaurs. The first was not much bigger than he was. A brown scaly velociraptor with large, friendly eyes wearing a bowtie smartly around its neck. The second was an enormous triceratops, thick skin a light violet. Its three great horns were adorned with rings of gold and diamond. Red lipstick was expertly applied to its beak. Finally, towering above the rest was a great, green tyrannosaurus rex wearing a monocle and a top hat.

“A fine and pleasant afternoon to you,” said the tyrannosaurus in a booming voice with an accent that sounded entirely…British. “Quite the scrape you’d found yourself in, eh?” Andy was at a complete loss for words. “Oh! Where are my manners? Introductions are paramount in moments like these, aren’t they? I,” he puffed out his chest proudly, growing his already gargantuan form, “am Reginald Von Roar, lord of this jungle. This,” he gestured to the triceratops with his tiny hand, “is the substantial Lady Wilhelmina Thrice, of the Talonbrook Thrices. A stalwart friend and fierce protector of the less fortunate, yes.”

Lady Wilhelmina batted her eyelashes. “Charmed.”

“And over here,” Reginald continued, gesturing to the velociraptor, “is young Miles Hooktoe, servant boy to our Wilhelmina and as good and loyal a soul as you can find.”

Miles bowed his head. “A pleasure to meet ya, it is!”

Reginald lowered his huge head, cocking it to the side so his monocled eye was level with Andy. “Dear boy, I am utterly brimming with curiosity as to how you found yourself in such a predicament as this. But might I suggest you regale us with your tale in a more appropriate setting? One that involves tea and biscuits, perhaps?” Reginald grinned. “What do you say to that?”

…………

“And then we went to this fancy mansion and had tea and biscuits! Lady Wilhelmina prefers three lumps of sugar, but Reginald likes it black. Miles pretends to love Wilhelmina’s biscuits, but he’s just doing it because she’s sensitive about that sort of thing!” Andy had hardly touched his cereal he was so excited.

His mother giggled, “Sounds like quite the dream you had!”

“Mmhm,” Andy tried his best to recall every detail, every word of it.

“You know,” Thomas began. “I may have enough extra junk in the back to make a top hat. Maybe you and I can watch some of those shows you like so much to make sure I get the dimensions right.”

Andy smiled.

At school that day Andy watched from a distance as his classmates giggled and shrieked and played on the jungle gym.

A jungle gym. Ha. Andy had been to an actual jungle. And survived a caveman attack and…

Andy whispered something into the ear of the nearest teacher, a short, pudgy red-faced man. The teacher smirked and walked him back into the school, to the classroom, to a chest full of toys reserved for those rainy recess days.

Three kids were positioned at the top of the dome-shaped jungle gym arguing about who would win in a fight: Batman or Spider-Man. Below them were a dozen other kids climbing and falling and trying to impress one another by hanging in new and interesting ways.

“My brother Max says that Spider-Man could lift a whole truck if-” A boy with freckles and a mop of red hair stopped talking. He noticed a boy with black hair cropped short holding a plastic tyrannosaurus rex high above his head and a triceratops and velociraptor tucked under his other arm. His eyes glistened a warm chocolate brown.

“My name is Reginald Von Roar,” said Andy in his best British accent. “I fancy my tea black, my biscuits plentiful and the occasional scrape with cavemen when they try to hurt my friends.”

In a single perfect moment, everyone on the jungle gym went quiet. A few giggles and whispers came and went. The boy with the freckles swiped the hair from in front of his eyes and grinned, showing off a few missing teeth. “You’re weird,” he said. He then pointed to the triceratops and velociraptor. “If that’s Reginald, then who are they? And do ya think they could beat Spider-Man?”

Andy smiled and offered his reply. And it was sensible and smart, dry with even the most chaotic bits neatly tied up with a clarity.

The kid with the red hair patted a piece of rubber-coated pipe beside him. “Come on up, weird kid. I bet Reginald couldn’t beat my brother Max…”

 

Like what you read? Want more? Pick up Reverie on Amazon or follow these stories and more on Instagram/Facebook @welcome2reverie.

From Dream to Reality: The Making of Reverie

I was perusing the Barnes and Noble at Union Square, one of my favorite bookstores to explore in NYC, when I received a call from a friend…well, more of a brother, really. “What are you up to?” he asked. I told him I was staring at covers in the YA Fiction section. “I always wondered why you never wrote one of those before,” he continued. He took my lack of a convincing response as an opportunity for a challenge. “By the next time I talk to you, I want you to have a concept for a teen fantasy novel, dude.” I couldn’t say “no” to family.

Flash forward a month and I’m talking to him once again. I tell him I’ve got a concept. And beyond that, I’ve just finished the fourteenth chapter and have fallen in love with the characters, excited to see what sort of trouble they get into next.

Reverie was born of all the things that formed the foundation of my relationship with my friend/bro. In college, we would spend hours at night, at a diner or on the road, discussing the possibilities and the magic of life; how beneath every inch of physical, there was something metaphysical that drives and guides, teaches and inspires. Naturally, this led to talk of dreams and the power of fears, desires, and the chasm that exists between who we are and who we could be. Claire, Victor, Jack, and the rest offer the different ways in which our dreams manifest and those differences will only deepen in following books in this four-part series.

The first draft was the most exciting to me. All that possibility and uncharted territory nestled in every page. As I completed each chapter I would send it to one of my best friends and we’d discuss. From those discussions more possibilities would arise; the scope would widen. And when I reached the end, I handed it off to my mom to bless with the gift of eagle-eyed proofreading.

At about the third draft, I did a short thirty-book run for the purpose of handing out to friends, friends of friends, and real life young adults…people I knew would have honest and valuable opinions on the otherworldly tale. I designed a cover using a few stock photos and my semi-competent Photoshop skills.

The feedback was bountiful and helped birth a few more drafts. It was time to take it to the next level. I researched and found a wonderful editor, Steve Parolini, who tore Reverie to SHREDS and made me rethink every decision I’d ever made in my life. But damn was he good.

The licking of my wounds took the form of writing the first two drafts of the second book, Cosmos. I needed some time and space away from Reverie before I dove into the mighty undertaking of those major edits and writing Cosmos was the perfect way to reconnect and reignite my love of these characters. It was about a year before I returned to Reverie and, with the help of an editor and Leigh, a pro-proofreader/friend of mine, whipped out the final drafts. During this time, I also met a fantastic cover illustrator and superb collaborator who designed the cover we have today.

As with the first draft, I gave the final one to my mom for one final edit sweep before initiating the self-publishing process through Createspace. Now, after three years, you can buy a print copy of Reverie. Kindle (and other ebook options) coming soon.

Even though the journey is just beginning with the Reverie series, it’s been a dream come true.

 

SNEAK PEAK: Back Cover.

Reverie drops November 2017. There are plenty of updates to come, but the first is an informative one: Here’s the back cover (with text)!

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