(For more short tales from Prospero's twisted history, check out our four previous trips to Prospero.)
To kick things off, we’re going back to the very beginning.
By F.J.R. Titchenell
Clarence - 1851
We didn’t come out west for the gold, she’d kept on saying, all the while he was down there, working to blast through the rock, all the while he was trapped there by the rocks that got blasted wrong, waiting to be dug out.
We came for the opportunity.
A lady alone could have a respectable business out west, same as a man, she’d heard. Nobody could tell her she couldn’t, no more than they could tell all those men, women and children from all over the world from digging in the riverbeds. The west was free for the taking, for everyone.
The riverbeds had been all but picked clean before she could plan our escape, most of the gold left worth finding buried deep in the rock. That wouldn’t matter, she promised us. Let the fools and the madmen and the big, rich mining companies with their blasting equipment go dig up the gold. We’d give them a nice comfortable place to spend as much as they could find.
Best of all, Pa would need a blessed divining rod to find us.
Edgar and I had no complaints with that plan. We got out of Kansas in the night with five horses, all the cash from the box under Pa and Mama’s bed, and all the good lace and china from grandma. We sold everything to join a guided party out to California, and when we settled in Prosperous, we were able to buy an old farmhouse for less than the cost of the boards it was made out of. There wasn’t so much as a trickle of water running through the wooded hills of Prosperous unless it was raining, which was often, but there was quartz, jagged cliffs of it, and quartz meant gold. The prospectors were just beginning to be starved out of the goldfields and had started founding towns like Prosperous around the quartz hills, making it harder for the farmers in what had been unnamed wilderness to keep a claim on their land and livestock, but for the hospitality business, we were right on time.
Miners were so desperate for a warm, dry place to sleep and so ready to throw their money into their ventures to make it back later that we hardly had to fix the place up before we started making our investment back. She put Edgar and me to work on building extra rooms, and by summer we had the biggest, busiest boarding house in town and twenty-odd of the wives and children of the miners working for us as maids, cooks and bartenders.
The Golden Featherbed, Mama named the place, and liked to joke that a featherbed made of gold wouldn’t do much of a job of keeping you warm at night, but people flocked to mention of gold just the same.
Only problem was those miners. That is, the stories they brought in with them.
Edgar was older, with two years between us, almost nineteen, and like Mama, he always had his eye on the horizon, only for him the horizon was down the dress of a particular maid named Edith.
The gold wasn’t going to last forever, he told Mama, not even in the hills, and the miners weren’t either. Maybe Prosperous would keep on thriving enough from all the folks putting down roots there to keep the Golden Featherbed alive, but it wouldn’t be the way it was now. He needed to build a life for himself, and he couldn’t spend it shingling roofs, making beds, and breaking up bar fights in his Mama’s place. He had to get all the start-up money of his own that could be gotten while the getting was good, and that meant going down in those mines himself.
The miners would boast to each other in the dining room about unearthing nuggets as big as their fists, about how they were going to make enough in a year to retire for two lifetimes. Edgar was going to dig up his and Edith’s retirement, and there was nothing Mama could say to talk him out of it.
The day we heard the news about the cave-in, Mama called him a damn fool, sent me to watch the bar, and didn’t leave her office and her ledgers all day except to check on the kitchen staff.
Her face looked harder than the cliffs in the woods, the way Pa could make it unbreakable to spite him. It was like Prosperous itself, our glittering refuge, had snapped its belt across her cheek.
For two weeks, we waited that way. No, I waited. Mama already knew he was gone, and after the first week, I should have known it to.
Now the rescue teams that gave up hope of finding anything but bodies after a few days, and could only be persuaded to keep searching for those for so long because it was the shortest route back to the vein of gold the trapped miners had been cutting into, were running through the streets shouting about magic and angels in the Prosperous forests, and Mama was crying streams of dust-blackened tears and hugging Edgar, kneeling in the mounds of loose rock.
Other parents, wives, children and friends were stumbling through the mounds to the miners, shrieking, crying, laughing. The word “witchcraft” passed between a few bystanders, and a pair of women, someone’s sisters or daughters, held each other by the hands, sobbing and exclaiming to each other and everyone passing, “Miracle! Praise God, it’s a miracle!”
Edith was at work cleaning the rooms when it happened and didn’t catch up until the commotion of the people running down the trails from the mines to the town proper shouting the news became too much for the dead to ignore.
The crowd of people stumbling across the rocks was so much that I knew I couldn’t get close to Edgar and Mama if I tried, so I was standing by the outcroppings on the other side of the trail, watching, numb from the sudden good news I’d been hanging on hearing. Edith called out to Edgar and Mama when she couldn’t reach them, and Mama turned Edgar’s head toward her to show he was regaining consciousness.
Edith found her father among the rescuing diggers, pushed through the lines of people waiting to shake their hands, and threw her arms around him in a shower of thanks.
Edgar himself hardly seemed to understand what was happening. He rested in Mama’s arms more like a child pretending to sleep than a person who had been without food, water or fresh air for a fortnight. Sometimes he would lift his head straight up and open his eyes, fresher than the morning, and look around with a grin of wonder.
The sun and trees must look beautiful after long enough in the ground.
As some of the miners’ families began to shepherd them down the trail toward homes, beds, water, Dr. Anderson’s office, there was room to get closer.
Edgar’s wondering eyes found me and widened with delighted recognition, as though I had grown a foot since he’d last seen me. When they found Edith, he got up and stumbled to her through the rocks, falling and getting up like a baby deer, held her so tightly it looked painful, and kissed her in front of half the town.
Most were in such a celebrating mood that they cheered like at a wedding, especially when Edith’s father embraced them both. I watched with Mama, who wiped at her tears before she let me help her up.
Far under her breath, “miracle” was the word she chose too.
“Are you going back down?”
I waited until after Edgar’s turn being checked over by Dr. Anderson. I waited until Edith and her father had gone to their room for the night, later than usual under the joking pretense of Edith finishing the work she’d left to witness the miracle.
I was willing to wait for Edgar to get a good night’s sleep as well, but even when we dressed for bed at nearly eleven at night, exhaustion didn’t seem to be making any claim on him, and I needed to know.
Mama and Edith had asked him already, but they had only been able to in front of all the other miners, curious neighbors, and even a man from the California Star who was in Prosperous to report on the progress of the mining and soon began interviewing as many of the survivors and witnesses of the cave-in rescue as would let him get a word in.
Edgar had told them no. He also told them he didn’t think he’d ever be able to blow his lantern out at night again, with a big smile at the reporter. I’d been the one living with Mama’s silence while we waited to know he was dead, I’d been the one telling the staff that the Golden Featherbed and all of them would survive either way, and I’d be the one doing it again if it came to that. I needed to know if he was serious.
After washing off the dirt, Edgar looked as though he’d never been gone. He had hardly wasted at all and looked as strong as ever, stronger than I was by half, and he didn’t have a scratch or bruise from the falling rocks. Not even his fingernails were broken. He stretched out on his cot in our room as though he had never felt anything so soft and ran his hands back and forth endlessly over the seams of the quilt.
“Are you?” I repeated when I began to wonder if he had heard me.
“What am I?” Edgar lifted his attention to me.
“Are you going back into the mines?”
“Never.” Edgar sat straight upright, looking as close to as frightened as that cave-in should have made him as he had since being rescued.
More than the relief of not having to worry about another harrowing wait like the last two weeks, it was a relief to see a response out of him at all other than his giddiness over being back in the world. The day had been stranger than the days before it, and it hardly felt real.
“Promise?” I asked.
“Clarence, I scarcely know why I wanted to be there in the first place.”
I might have thought this a comforting thing to hear if I’d imagined it. Hearing it aloud didn’t convince me of his honesty.
“Did you realize Edith might prefer you alive than dead with a king’s ransom of a homestead to your name?” I tried convince myself that was all there was to know.
Edgar didn’t smile until I did. Then he laughed too hard.
“She did say something like that,” he agreed when his breath returned.
There was a soft, hurried knock at the door from our small common living space, connected to Mama’s room.
“Boys, are you awake?”
She had to know by Edgar’s braying.
“Come in,” I answered her.
If he was lying, another argument like the ones they were having before the cave-in would at least goad the truth out of him.
Mama swept into the room in her dressing gown, her frizzy brown hair flying loose, and sat cross-legged between our cots.
“I have a clever plan,” she announced.
The trials of the day and the weeks before it were already rolling off her as everything always did. This was the Mama we knew and liked best, the one who found us reasons to be away from the house when we were small, the one who told us everything would be good someday whether Pa liked it or not, the one who always knew what to do.
“It’s a plan for you and Edith,” she turned to Edgar. “And for all of us, I won’t lie. I know you wanted to do this on your own, but hear me out.”
She added these words from recent experience, not because Edgar was showing her anything less than earnest interest now.
“You would only have to stay a few years. Maybe months would be enough, but you could set yourself up best if you get everything you can out of the rush while it lasts. You said it yourself. You can marry her when things settle down, or sooner if you want. There’ll be a room for the two of you here as long as you want it. And you won’t have to go back in the mines to make a bigger fortune than any of them risking their necks.”
She paused and looked to me for hints to explain Edgar’s lack of resistance. I shrugged, and she went on to meat of her proposal.
“Honey, from now on, you can be the gold mine.”
It was a surprise to no one that Mama’s plan turned out to be exactly as clever as she promised.
By morning, she’d re-lettered every sign with her own hands, and the Golden Featherbed became Miracle Manor, and by a week after the rescue teams broke through, more reporters followed the lucky first one from the Star. Miner families from towns twenty miles away made the trek to see what the papers had dubbed The Miracle Mine. And every one of them came to Miracle Manor first. The ones we had room for stayed their nights, and the ones who didn’t stayed long enough to hear Edgar tell his story (for an extra dollar a head and the cost of drinks besides), and pick up a pamphlet on the wonders of the mine and how to find it (fifty cents), or follow one of the tour groups Edgar led personally to the mouth of the mine, but no further, to touch the rocks and whisper to each other of the power they could feel (five dollars).
A few of the other miners who’d survived the cave-in started trying to make a buck off their stories too, from anyone who would listen, but the other miners didn’t have Mama.
She had us all working on the flyers for Miracle Manor’s new rates and amenities and littering the town with them, the prettiest and handsomest maids and barkeeps handing them out wherever there was choked traffic. The Experience Lounge, the room she repurposed for Edgar’s performances recounting his survival story was curtained to be dark as a mineshaft even during noon matinees, except for Edgar’s lantern, and people left exclaiming that they could hear the picking of the faraway rescue team. She sat in on one show a day to give Edgar suggestions on embellishments, and she once had to pay Sheriff Auklee a fifteen dollar fine when she tried to nail a plaque for the Miracle Manor onto the town welcome sign, accidentally knocked the last two letters off of “Prosperous,” and they had to be patched back on with a plank of wood that would probably blow down in the next storm.
We made the fine back twenty times over that night.
Edgar got to keep ninety percent of the profits from the show and the tours to save up, the other ten and the extra business he brought the boarding house itself would let Mama die a rich woman even if Prosperous was mined clean and abandoned within a month, and give me a solid start whenever I was ready to move on as well.
When or how that would happen, I didn’t know. I wasn’t the one who knew how to make things happen, like Mama, or the one things always happened for, like Edgar. Even if I were ever lucky enough to have a story about a miracle to tell, I wouldn’t be able to tell it the way he could, with a voice that could fill a saloon, a steady smile when the time was right, and a breathless pause just the right length when a smile wouldn’t fit.
No pretty girl was ever going to beg her father to dig me out of a rockslide for her.
There was more worrying me than the fact that all the money in the world wouldn’t buy me the first idea about what to do with it, though.
It started with three patrons, a man so old it looked like it was taking a small miracle of his own to keep him on his feet, a woman who could have been his granddaughter with smooth hair and hands that definitely had not been working any job in a mining town for long, and a man with hair longer and skin paler than hers, whose age I couldn’t guess any better than somewhere between forty and seventy.
They crowded around the front desk together while I was checking people in and selling tickets.
“We need to speak with Edgar Hopkins,” the woman began sweetly, pushing one of the Miracle Manor flyers across the desk.
“Three dollars for the three of you for the eight o’clock Miracle Mine Experience,” I rang them up. “Will you be staying in the Manor?”
“No,” she giggled. “I mean we need to see him privately.”
“We haaave some questions,” the black-haired man said in an accent so strange I wasn’t sure at the first that he was speaking English, “about his escaaaaping.”
Prosperous was full of immigrants, looking for the gold same as folk from back East. He didn’t look or sound like he could be family to anyone I’d ever seen before, but Mama always said that one person’s money was just as good as another, so I didn’t take too much time trying to figure where he was from. The routine was the same.
“The Experience includes his whole story,” I assured them, “but private Experiences are fifty dollars for groups of less than that. Unless you’re with one of the papers?”
“Yes,” said the woman immediately. “We’re with the Prosperous Chronicle. We’d like an interview with Edgar to headline our first issue.”
Oh. A startup local paper. Represented by three people I’d never seen before in this very small town. It could have been be a great opportunity or a clear scam, and I knew Mama wouldn’t trust me to handle telling the difference.
No, that wasn’t true. Worse than that, she would trust me to handle it, and I’d find a way to handle it wrong, no question about it.
“I see. You’re going to have to talk to the owner. I’ll get someone to find her.”
“Is this soooo necessary?” the foreign man asked.
“Thank you,” the woman said. “We’ll wait.”
The elderly man nodded dreamily beside her.
I picked up the cowbell we’d repurposed from the Manor’s farmhouse days and shook it to signal for assistance.
Edith burst in from the dining room doors before the bell’s hammer had struck twice, worrying her apron with both hands and sweating in spite of the cool mist outside. The kitchen must have been in chaos.
“Take the register?” I asked. It was hardly a break, with the line newly growing for the evening performance, but it had to be more peaceful than whatever she had just come from. I gestured to the line with the three strangers at the head of it, and her already wide eyes widened further at the sight of them. “I need to find-”
“I have to talk to you.” She let go of her apron to clutch my elbow instead and pull, meaning to drag me into the first story office behind the desk then and there.
Her tone was so startlingly desperate that I wanted nothing more than to follow wherever she wanted to drag me and hear exactly what I could do to help her, but family business was a hard habit to fight.
“We have a line,” I whispered back, nodding at them.
“Rose!” Edith shouted toward the dining room without letting go of my arm. “Rose!” she took the bell from me and shook it hard. “Reception!”
Rose answered the call, calmly bewildered and wiping butter off her fingers, not an escapee from a short-staffed kitchen at all.
“Thank you!” Edith exclaimed, handing Rose the bell and pulling me farther away from the desk.
“We’ll be back in a moment,” I told the three strangers and Rose as apologetically as I could while following Edith, without stopping to worry until the office door was latched behind us how many talkative neighbors had now seen me retreating someplace private with my brother’s fiancée in a peculiar manner.
Too late to be helped now.
“What’s the matter?”
Edith let go of me to light the office lantern and held it close in front of her like a shield against the long shadows it cast behind the furniture.
“What did those people want?” she asked.
“Edgar, same as everybody,” I answered, more bitterly than I meant it.
“Same as everybody, or different?”
There was no denying their strangeness.
“They wanted a private interview,” I said. “Or a private something. Why?”
She put her eye close against the crack in the door, trying to watch the strangers’ dealings with Rose.
She looked at me.
“Edgar isn’t himself.”
I’d been having similar thoughts in what time I’d spent with Edgar since the cave-in, which hadn’t been much. Between shows and tours, he was either walking or playing cards with Edith or drinking until he couldn’t do either.
“He nearly died,” I told her what I’d told myself. “He was buried alive. He’s good at pretending it’s all a show now, but he’ll need time to feel safe again.”
“No,” said Edith with a firm shake of her head. “I mean he isn’t Edgar Hopkins. He isn’t your brother. He isn’t the same person who went into that mine.”
I almost called her hysterical. There was little else that talk could be. But I wanted to know if she could tell me a reason for how the understanding Edgar and I had always had since we were children no longer seemed to exist.
A reason other than that she had taken up the time he had for me before.
“How do you know?” I asked.
“When we’re alone, he...” she looked over both shoulders as if eavesdroppers might have materialized in the dark office since we’d been there. “He didn’t used to be this way. We did things before, some things, when we could get privacy enough, but...” she was fighting tears and winning, barely. “It’s all he wants to do now, and it’s different. When I try to talk to him... he hates me. He hides it, but I know.”
She had more to go on than I had of late, but I had been hoping for something solid. She saw my disappointment and shook her head, the hints of tears disappearing.
“It’s not only how he acts. His body, it isn’t human. Sometimes I see him bend in ways people can’t, and once I saw him cut himself on a glass he broke, he didn’t know I was looking, and I saw the blood flow back into him!”
She peered back through the crack in the door, and I looked over her head at slits of the silhouettes of the strangers still haggling with Rose.
“I went to see Mr. Arkham,” Edith said. “I used to help tutor his daughter, and he was in that mine with Edgar for two weeks. I thought he could help me understand what happened to him there, but I haven’t been able to find him anywhere, not for days, and when I first went to his house, those three were just leaving it!” she pointed past the closed door at the strangers. “Have you seen any of the men who were rescued today? Because I can’t find any of them!”
I thought hard and suddenly couldn’t remember running into any of them all morning, not Mr. Cartwright or Mr. Hardwick, who always broke their fast at the Manor.
“No,” I said. I said, uncomfortable. “You think those reporters have been doing something to them?”
“I’m certain,” said Edith.
“And they’re looking for my brother right now!” I finished.
The strangers had left the desk by the time I ran back out of the office, Edith rushing to keep up with me.
“I told you,” she whispered, “that’s not your brother.”
“Where did the reporters go?” I asked Rose.
“They’re in the Experience Lounge.” She pointed. “With Mrs. Hopkins.”
I followed her direction.
“You told me he’s different,” I said to Edith along the way. “That doesn’t mean he’s not my brother. If those people are looking for all the survivors of the mine, they might know what happened. And if they know what happened, they might know how to fix it, but it’s not by letting him disappear, if that’s what happens to the ones they find!”
“I want him back too!” Edith reproached me. “I only wanted you to understand, if we can’t fix this, your mother wants to make the wedding a public event, she wants to do it as one of the Experiences, and I can’t, I can’t do it, but I don’t know what I’ll-”
I stopped long enough to turn to look at her.
“My mother will understand,” I promised. “I know she wouldn’t have suggested it if she didn’t think the wedding was going to happen anyway. Nobody will make you stay with him if you don’t want to, and no one will threaten your job. Not her.”
I opened the door to the Experience Lounge too late to stop when Edith said, softly,
“She’s not what I’m afraid of.”
Mama and Edgar sat at the edge of the stage where he told his story twice a day, speaking with the three strangers who shared one of the small tables closest to it.
I turned back toward the front desk. There was no way to keep everyone in the Experience Lounge from hearing without backing suspiciously out of the room again, but I said it only as loudly as I had to for Rose to hear me over the line in front of her.
“Have someone fetch Sheriff Auklee.”
The three strangers turned to look at us, though without acknowledging my words.
“You are the younger Mr. Hopkins?” the foreign man greeted me cheerfully. “Why did you not say? And am I meeting the younger Mrs. Hopkins to be? We were just to discuss an opportunity for your Edgar!”
“An opportunity for this bunch to steal him away,” Mama corrected with the friendly shit-rejecting way she kept for negotiations. “But we’ll see if they have any ideas worth considering.”
Edgar smiled and nodded, without that easy way he had in his shows, looking as if he would have preferred to be anywhere else, which was strange even by recent standards. Ever since the mine, he’d had nothing but patience for all Mama’s arrangements for his success.
“If you could just give us a few more minutes to work out the details,” said the woman, “Perhaps we’ll all be celebrating by dinnertime.”
My stomach was making uncomfortable rotations. I had never done anything like this before, almost accusing three people of murder, while asking them for help, never mind while Mama was trying to have a business meeting with them. Maybe I’d barged in too quickly. What was I planning to say?
“A matter of fact,” I started, “we had some questions about-”
That was when Edith picked up a glass from one of the tables and threw it at Edgar.
The glass shattered against his skull, leaving a red web of cuts on his forehead, but only for a few seconds.
Exactly the way Edith had described, the blood only dribbled a few inches down his face before retreating back under his skin, which healed over as if it had never been broken.
Edgar stood up from the stage and stepped sideways toward the exit, with a shrug for the three strangers, the shrug of a child caught stealing cookies, but with even more than Edgar’s grown up cockiness.
“Do you believe me?” Edith turned to me and demanded. She didn’t wait for my answer before throwing the next glass at the foreign man, producing the same unbleeding result.
I couldn’t disbelieve any of what she’d said she’d seen, anything about how strange a thing was happening, but Edgar gone completely, that I couldn’t believe. He was changed, but he was right before us, and these people meant to hurt him.
The elderly man stood.
“Julia,” he addressed Edgar in a voice too clear for his body’s feebleness, and Edgar acknowledged him with a half-bow as though he recognized the name.
“Abner,” he answered, in a voice made by Edgar’s throat, but with a woman’s lilt.
“Julia,” repeated the old man, Abner, “we can still do this quietly. There’s no reason to disturb this poor town.”
Edgar laughed, a feminine laugh, taking another step toward the door.
Edith was still throwing glasses.
“Where is the real Edgar?” she shouted between throws. “Tell me how to find him!”
The strangers ignored her as if she were an irritating downpour of rain.
Soon she worked her way to a bottle that was only half empty of whiskey. It broke against the table the strangers had been sharing, splashing all three. She picked up one of the kerosene lanterns next, lit for the occasion of the meeting, and held it high.
This caught their attention, causing all three to raise their hands defensively, and the foreign man to swing the back of his fist at her.
She was too far from him to reach, but his arm stretched after her like taffy and wrapped around her wrist, shaking her until the lantern slipped to the floor.
“You understand noooothing!” he scolded her, dragging his vowels even longer than his odd usual manner in anger. “You will make us act in too much rush now!”
His expression changed to confusion and then concern while he held her wrist, as though the feel of it was something unexpected. She tried to pull away from him, and I reached to pull her by the shoulders to help, but the foreign man dragged her past my reach and close enough for him to put his unstretched hand on her belly.
“It is from after,” he said. It didn’t sound like a question.
“What was?” Edith asked, defensive.
“Your child is from after the mine,” said the foreign man. “For this I am sorry.”
His unstretched hand changed, sharpened to the shape of an enormous straight razor, and cut her once across the belly, once across the throat, before he dropped her on the floor, her blood flowing endlessly outward and never back.
Mama was across the room and back with her shotgun from under the Experience Lounge bar before Edith hit the ground, and put a shell of buckshot in the foreign man.
The insides of his brain were only slightly slower to go back where they belonged than his trickles of blood had been.
And then started again, when the second shell struck the same target.
Abner stepped over Edith’s body and broke into a run, not at Mama, who was hurrying to reload, but at Edgar, who sprinted for the door, faster than I’d ever seen Edgar move.
Abner’s decrepit body was keeping pace with him somehow, weaving through and over the tables, limbs stretching and twisting into whatever shapes would bring him closer to Edgar with the dry sound of breaking wood, shapes no person could take, and I had to do something.
I had to do something.
I picked up the nearest lantern and threw it at Abner.
The glass shattered and the kerosene spilled in a blazing stream down one of his legs.
He fell and screamed, the flesh under his charring trouser leg melting like a combination of burning pork rinds and tallow.
“Thank you, little brother!” Edgar laughed in that strange, female tone, before escaping out the door.
When the foreign man’s face returned to its oddly angled usual shape, it searched the room and took a horrified expression.
“Where is Juuulia?”
Abner shook his head gravely from where he had fallen. His leg was regrowing as well, though slowly.
“There will be nooooo telling what she will be when we are next finding her!”
“No, there won’t,” said the woman, patting the foreign man’s arm soothingly with the beginning of a smile. “But at least we know who Abner will be.”
She grinned at the man newly entering the room, stepping sideways to block his view of Edith’s body.
“Good afternoon, Sheriff Auklee,” she said.
Abner struggled to his feet.
“Yes, good afternoon,” he shook the Sheriff’s hand, his trouser leg still smoking. “We’re so glad you’re here. Something terrible has happened at the Miracle Mine.”
“Wait!” Mama and I protested at once.
The Sheriff looked back at us, but when the woman smiled at him again, he seemed to forget why he had looked back at all and followed Abner out toward the tour trail.
“You do not know what you have unleashed on this poor nowhere.” The foreign man shook his head at me.
“And they never will, Alexei,” said the woman.
She was wresting the gun from Mama’s hands, and Mama was hardly stopping her. Her face had gone empty and faraway, and when she shook herself out of whatever daydream had taken her, she ran to wrap her arms around me, without looking at the gun or the strangers, as if she had forgotten every danger they had shown themselves to pose.
“My boy, my only boy,” Mama muttered near my ear. “I was so worried about you.”
Before I could correct her, the woman looked at me, and nothing existed but her sweet smile.
When I could see the broken glass and the dead woman on the floor, I could not for the life of me say how they had gotten there.
There's something rotten beneath the small town of Prospero, California. For over a century, the town's history has been rich with tales of monsters, miracles and mysterious disappearances in the surrounding woods. It’s a town where everybody has something to hide, especially those who may not be entirely human.
Sixteen-year-old Mina Todd knows about the otherworldly shapeshifters that secretly run Prospero and has dedicated her life to fighting them. Ben Pastor, in town to attend the funeral of his missing childhood friend, Haley Perkins, has never believed any of the strange stories about what happens in Prospero. When Haley turns up alive and well at her own memorial service, Ben and Mina are forced to work together to uncover what happened to her. Though they may not always understand each other, Ben and Mina’s unlikely friendship may very well be the only thing that can save the town, and possibly the world, from its insidious invaders.
When autumn descends on Prospero, California, Ben Pastor hopes that the normality of the new school year may offer a reprieve from the town’s horrors. Mina Todd knows all too well that there are no reprieves and no normality in Prospero, especially after she starts having crippling, unexplained hallucinations of the dead. But even she can't prepare for what the coming year holds.
On top of the Splinters' brewing civil war threatening to make humanity its battleground, inside the walls of Prospero High, Ben, Mina and their expanding Network must face a Splinter campaign to destroy their friendship, a newly human Haley Perkins struggling to readjust to life after the Warehouse, and a Splinter assassin of untold power picking off human rebels. Ben and Mina’s one hope rests with a mysterious figure hiding in the woods outside of town, a living legend who may know how to stop this dangerous new breed of Splinter. That is, assuming he doesn’t first kill everyone himself.
Coming June 16th, 2015!