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Sebastian and the Hibernauts: Beyond the Gloaming
It is Easter, 1973 and twelve year old Sebastian Duffy has some serious self-esteem issues. He is beaten by his parents, bullied at school, steals from his friends and still mourning the death of his brother. To cap it all, strange things have begun happening around him and he is finding it hard to distinguish dreams from reality. After a nightmarish assault, he wakes in the Gloaming, a shadow world inhabited by ghosts. There to greet him is Porrig, a creature from Hibercadia, a magical realm crafted from Celtic dreams. Inhabited by Fir Bolg, Tuath and Milesians, it has been overthrown by brother gods from another dreamworld. One brother, Phobitor, is a tyrant and even the Tuath, who took to their underground sidhe millennia ago, are concerned. Sebastian discovers that he alone can save Hibercadia by finding an enchanted spear. Teaming up with the Hibernauts—a mercurial sorceress, an orphaned druidess, a taciturn warrior, a snuff-sniffing leprechaun and a lovelorn poet—he embarks on a fantastical quest, but can he succeed when he is yet to find his magical potential or even his courage, and half the realm is bent on his destruction?
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Beyond the Gloaming from Kaleb Lechowski on Vimeo.
Sebastian concealed himself amongst the boulders and bracken, the only noise a low breeze that fluttered through the fernery. Though he knew his friends were close, he suddenly felt quite alone. As he peered at the ebony sky, thinking he had never seen such darkness, he noticed a faint blue light. He took it for a star until it grew steadily brighter and he realized it was an aiia. The nervous excitement he had initially felt—long since dispelled by the irritation of staggering across moors—returned as icy fear. He pushed back against a rock, desperate to meld into it. Unsure where his friends had hidden, he contemplated calling to them, but stopped himself for fear of the aiia overhearing. He felt an irresistible urge to up and flee, to take his chances and try to outdistance it, not to stay there like a helpless animal, easy pickings for the monstrous creature. The longer he stayed, the greater he worried he was losing his head start, yet as the light advanced pitilessly he found himself unable to move. Now he could see her outline, the floating body no bigger than his thumb, the silhouetted head darting this way and that. He tried to dive for cover, but his body froze, unwilling to move despite his exhortations. It was not until the aiia steadied forty feet from the ground and began to pass back and forth, scanning the moors, that his body finally heeded him. He slid to the ground and pressed his face to the earth, screwing his eyes shut and covering his ears, desperate to zone out.
“Sebastian!” she cried, the hills echoing to her lamentation.
Never had he heard anything so alluring. He removed his hands and raised his head. As she flew overhead, he turned to her and was transfixed by her beauty, surrendering fully to the uncontrollable passion that hurtled into him, possessed his entire being, and vanquished all fear. All he wished was to behold her forever.
“Sebastian!” she repeated, desperately, achingly.
Such pain. Such yearning. His love-addled mind had an epiphany. He would return to her, for surely it was she, the one eternal love that each renewed life was a quest for. They had finally found each other. How she craved him. How she missed him. Seized with a violent desire, his arms reached out to her, but the tall fernery conspired to conceal him.
“Sebastian!” she wept in heartrending tones, sweeping directly above. As she sang his name, a metallic liquid issued from her mouth, carried on the breeze this way and that. A chain of drops descended to him, pouring into his ears, filling him with ecstasy.
“I’m here,” he gasped, yet his love-parched throat would brook no words.
The desire was so intense it became agonizing. He struggled to find his feet, yet his leaden limbs betrayed him, as if his mortal frame were jealous of the pending reunion of souls. With a Herculean effort, he sprang up and began to wave his arms wildly. Too late. She was some way off and did not look back. Finding his lungs, he released a plaintive howl.
Author Brendan Murphy
Brendan Murphy was raised in Sheffield, England, with dreams of becoming a writer, and has written every day since he was nine years old. After reading medicine in London and psychiatry in Manchester, he moved to Australia in 1999. He is an Associate Professor at Monash University and has written widely on youth mental health. His nonfiction work on the development of football in Victorian society, From Sheffield with Love, was published in 2007. He lives with his wife, Katrina, and their children, Sebastian and Violette, in a sprawling property built for the composer, Dorian Le Gallienne. They share their garden with a mob of kangaroos, a wombat, two possums, any number of creepy crawlies, and some very feisty kookaburras. In 2013, he was signed to Assent Publishing for a six-book deal. Beyond the Gloaming, the first Sebastian and the Hibernauts adventure, will be published by Assent imprint, Phantasm Books in 2014.
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