After much hand-wringing, I've decided to put up the first chapter of the Glimmerlings. Take a peek:
Max Hollyoak stepped onto the frozen ice.
New fallen snow covered the small shrubs and fallen branches with a thick cloak of white. Alix, his black and white dog, stamped the ground where she stood, now and then letting out a small whimper.
Max stared at the pale skeletons of the bare trees surrounding the pond. He sniffed and wiped his nose with the back of a gloved hand. With a pang in his stomach, he thought of his mother.
I can’t leave her too. How would she be able to go on?
Max looked down. Tiny hairline cracks spread under his feet like a spider’s web.
He stood transfixed, watching the slowly cracking ice, as if an unseen force was willing him not to move
An image appeared on the ice.
A reflection? No -- it couldn’t be.
He blinked and shook his head.
A rippling white banner waved in an unfelt breeze on the frozen surface of the pond, a flaming branch in its center. Red and yellow flames danced along the length of the wooden staff, curling and licking around the knotted wood. But the fiery branch did not crumble into ash. Just as suddenly as it had appeared, it vanished, bringing Max back to his feet planted on the fragile ice.
What am I doing? This is crazy.
The ice split apart with a terrible cracking sound.
His left foot plunged into a hole. Black water, cold and deep, soaked his ankle.
Now Alix barked wildly, running back and forth on a small mound of frozen earth.
Max’s foot was in a hole, and it was getting bigger. Standing on his right foot, a little off balance, he yanked his left foot out, making the dark hole even larger. Now he jumped back and felt solid ice beneath him. With all the strength he had, he hurled himself backward, toward the edge of the pond, and landed on his side with a thud. Alix nudged him with her head and whimpered. Max breathed out, cold mist swirling from his open mouth like ghosts in the cold air.
“It’s gonna be okay, girl,” he said. “It’s gonna be alright.”
He lay there on the cold ground, staring up at a November sky the color of lead. Finally, he rose, and with ice and snow crunching under his feet, headed through the through the woods, back to his house.