by Chess Desalls
Genre: YA Fantasy/Sci-fi
Release Date: December 11th 2015
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She stopped about a foot away from the pole and shined her flashlight at its base. Unsure whether she felt more relieved or terrified that she didn’t see a pair of shoes and legs, she circled the pole to make sure no one was behind the lantern.
“No one’s shining a flashlight through it, so I can check that off my list. Now what?”
Tori stopped to think. She reached up to hold the lantern in her hands and took a look inside. Once again, condensation from the inside of the globe blocked her view. The glass felt smooth and cool between her fingers.
“Well, Lantern,” she said, “explain yourself. How come you’re out here all alone? And where does your light come from?”
Tori breathed through several beats of silence.
A dot appeared on the left side of the glass as if some of the condensation had melted away. The dot stretched to the right, and then turned back on itself and reached downward, forming the letter T.
Tori’s breath hitched. Her hands sprang free from the glass. Too scared to resume breathing, she watched, mesmerized as another dot appeared, then five more, each forming another letter until the globe of the lantern spelled out a message:
The lantern dimmed, and then brightened, as if accentuating its point.
Tori swallowed a lump in her throat. The words looked like they were written by a child, wavy and shaky, like someone forced to write backwards.
Okay, don’t freak out. Lantern hasn’t hurt me; there’s no one else here. Too loud? Maybe it means me—I guess I’m shouting right at it.
“What are you trying to tell me, Lantern?” she whispered. “Are you a ghost?”
Another dot disappeared from the condensation below the T and formed the letter N, followed by more dotting and stretching until a second message appeared:
No I’m Jared
Tori chewed on her lip as she looked left and right, and then peered back over her shoulder. Are you kidding me? Remembering to keep her voice low, she cleared her throat. “Jared? Are you inside the lantern?”
Instead of spelling out more words, the condensation began to disappear as if someone were wiping it away. Beads of moisture gathered and dripped along the inside of the glass. The closer she looked, Tori noticed two tiny hands swiping along the surface. She gasped, squinted, and then looked closer.
Unable to hold it in, she screamed.
The light dimmed.
Tori pressed her lips together and covered them with her hand. Finding her voice again, she whispered, “Sorry—I’m sorry. If I was too loud before, that must have been horrible.”
The lantern brightened again. Tori tentatively glanced at it and caught her breath. A tiny person stood inside, rubbing his ears.
Oh no, what have I done? I’ve hurt him. The male figure had young features. He was so small that they were difficult to make out, but she guessed he was a teen version of whatever he was, with dark hair and matching dark eyes. His clothes looked like they were from ages past.
“How’d you get in there?” she whispered.
He removed his hands from his ears and reached out to the glass, rubbing away more of the condensation. His mouth moved but made no sound.
“I can’t hear you.”
Jared wound up his arm and let it spring forward. His fist came in contact with the glass, resulting in a faint clink. He dipped his head.
Tori frowned, her heart melting. “It’s okay,” she whispered. “I have an idea. I’ll visit you again tomorrow night.”
The light brightened as Jared looked up.
“How do you do that—make the light brighter and dimmer?”
He shrugged and shook his head.
“Okay, don’t worry,” said Tori. “We’ll figure this out. I’m going to go back to my grandmother’s house.” She pointed a finger, not completely sure it pointed in the direction of the house, but to show him that it was far away. “Next time, I’ll bring tools—something to help me hear you and try to get you out. My name is Tori.”
A grin stretched across Jared’s face; the light glowed brighter.
Travel Glasses is YA fantasy filled with metafiction and other literary twistiness. Sign up for Chess' newsletter to receive updates on giveaways and new releases.