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Mystery Fiction Speculative

This story contains themes or mentions of substance abuse.

This one is basically a first draft of a chapter for a larger story. Let me know what you think. Enjoy!


Finding Etherealle


The falling leaves of autumn decorated the campus of Ministry College as the students began their after mid term activities. Jennifer Hayden, a sophomore of almost 20 with wavy dark hair traveled across the campus to the science building for her morning classes

trying not to think of the date she had the previous weekend.  


Her roommate, Melanie had set her up on a blind date with a friend of a friend from one of the fraternities just off of campus. Mel always thought that Jennifer needed to get out more and socialize with others and she often invited Jennifer to various parties and other campus activities. Jennifer sometimes would oblige her gregarious roommate and go with her to these outings but she found very little that interested her.


"Well, if you don't go out of your 'hobbit hole' in the library, how will know what's interesting to you?", Mel would say.


The blind date that weekend was another attempt to get Jennifer to socialize and again, Jennifer went on the date as a courtesy to her roommate but didn't expect anything interesting


Her date was nice and he cleaned up well in a nice two piece suit, but.....he was boring and he wasn't into anything except the booze in the bottle. About halfway through the evening, her date suddenly got very ill and barely made it to the bathroom before having to puke. She felt somewhat sympathetic towards him as she found socializing to be a very taxing experience and frequently made her I'll as well and she didn't even need the booze.


After he stumbled back to the table and collapsed, she had to call him a cab to get back to the frat house while she walked home. At that point, she had decided that she was going to decline any other attempts her roommate made at getting her to socialize. 


It wasn't until this very date that for once, something actually caught Jennifer's attention, a rare thing.


Jennifer had paid for the meal for both of them after he had left after hurling in the bathroom. As she left some 15.minutes later, and walked out of the restaurant into the rainy night, she stepped onto the curb, and glanced down and saw a book near the gutter that was just about to fall into the drain. Jennifer thought that perhaps it belonged to her drunken date, and found it surpisng that he would be carrying around an old book.


For some reason, the book almost seemed to call to her as if it was begging or perhaps dating her to pick it up and read it.


Jennifer was a lifelong bookworm who found herself right at home in the library or a bookstore, so this wet book seemed to pick the perfect victim. 


She bent down and picked up the very wet little book and decided to take it with her to the dorm to dry it out and find a way to return it to her date at some point.


 As she picked it up, she glanced at the first page which had the title "Property of Etherealle". Jennifer looked at the cover and the bindings and determined that this discarded book was someone's diary and it certainly didn't belong to her date.


"Etherealle" she said to herself as she walked towards the campus. "I don't know anyone with that name...   She looked at it again. Nothing remarkable about it other than it was wet but salvageable. For some reason, it still felt to her as she should read it. 


"No. I need to let it dry and then tomorrow, I can ask campus information about Etherealle and that way I can make sure it gets back to her.".


Jennifer knew that Melanie would be out of town that weekend visiting her family so she would have the room to herself. Jennifer was grateful for that since she was still not happy with her roommate



She made it back to her hall and the room and put it on her bedside table while she disrobed,.had a shower and got ready for bed.  



That night, as she slept, she had some pretty wild dreams. She dreamt of being a witch that had just discovered an ancient and powerful tome that was filled with spells that could bewitch the powers that were. Another dream seemed to tell her that this book held a treasure map from the pirates of the 16th century and that she should keep it locked away to keep it from prying eyes who would want the treasure for themselves.


She woke up the next morning feeling a little shaky, but the book was still there on the bedside table, tempting her with it's now warped pages. At that moment, she determined to follow her original course of action and find the original owner, this Etherealle and stop the insistent voice of temptation


That was what happened the last weekend. 


Today, Jennifer did her best to concentrate on her classes even though the diary was still with her, in her satchel the whole time. The classes continued without any incident as if nothing new had happened,.the mystery almost all forgotten. 



After 1:00 pm Jennifer went to the campus cafeteria for lunch and let her mind settle a bit.  On her way to the building, she saw a woman in the distance, looking around the ground near the restaurant from Jennifer's weekend date as if searching for something. Jennifer's heart quickened as she saw the woman and thought "Etherealle!"


She walked.more quickly towards the woman at the restaurant and hopes she could catch her before she left. As she got closer, a truck convoy passed by the restaurant, obscuring her vision for a little while. After the convoy had passed, the woman was gone.


Jennifer crossed the street towards the restaurant hoping that perhaps the woman would still be close since they were both on foot. Unfortunately, her search was fruitless. There was no sign of the woman anywhere.


Jennifer sighed as she decided to go into the restaurant for lunch since she was already here. She was greeted jovially by a server as she entered and she was led to an old table in the back, near the bar and she was presented with a menu. As she sat down at the little table her hand felt some small scratches that were etched into the surface. At first she thought nothing about it while she looked at the menu and decided on ordering a simple salad and a drink; it wasn't until the server left after taking the order that she was able read the faded scratch. It read


"Etherealle"



May 24, 2023 11:28

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4 comments

Shannon C.
14:51 Jun 05, 2023

This does keep you wanting more, and I love that! I want to know who she is too and hope you are able to bring it all to fruition. Love the groundwork, and it does give you a sneak peek into something larger. Great read!

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Patrick H
17:36 Jun 06, 2023

Thank you so much! I am still fleshing out the plotline for this.

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J. D. Lair
20:35 May 29, 2023

The story definitely leaves me wondering who Etherealle is and wanting to see where it goes next! You mentioned it was more an into to a larger story and it does come across that way. Hopefully, you get to finish the larger picture! One suggestion: take time to proofread your story a couple times before submitting. I noticed several random punctuations and some spelling errors. Being part of a larger story, I’m sure you’ll have time to iron those details out. For the purposes of Reedsy though, it would have been good to polish it up a bit...

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Patrick H
23:10 May 29, 2023

Thank you so much! Yeah I have been editing a bit but obviously I missed some. I will keep trying

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