by Molly Jo Realy @MollyJoRealy
I didn’t even mind standing in line at the post office for half an hour. [Ed. Note: totally minded. But it was worth it.]
I knew what the package would be. I knew because the calendar told me it was time for the next Harbingers cycle to arrive. And the calendar is almost never wrong.
As excited as I am to share what I’ve learned so far about the team, this is the part where I tell my mom to stop reading. [Insert sad face here.] No, really. Ma. Back away from the computer. Spoilers coming. All that.
The first story in this set is Leviathan by Bill Myers. Told from the perspective of Brenda Barnick, it opens with her and Daniel (remember the quiet ten-year-old she “adopted”) on a turbulent plane, finally landing at LAX and meeting the rest of the team. Insert our peeps into a limo (with a little on-edge action due to their last adventure in The Fog) and we eavesdrop to find out they’re on their way to view a taping of Live Or Die: The Ultimate Reality.
Tank enjoys the sight of the LAX pylons: big, plastic pillars of various sizes that are lit inside with changing colors. He pulls out his phone and pans the limo then the pylons for a neat video.
So. Turns out the influential powers behind The Gate have paid handsomely to have a TV show produced, and for some reason our team is invited to the premiere. The show’s title says it all, and it ain’t no game. It’s a duel to the death on a miniature-sized Colosseum. A young man and woman have a plethora of weapons to attack each other with, and the only rule is the game doesn’t end until one of them dies.
Now, I could go on about the influences of mass media, but I think our own real-world culture is doing a fine job of that at the moment. Our team tries to talk to the producer, but he knows who lines his pockets, and it’s not the good guys. And so, “the show must go on.” Or, “Someone must die.”
Early Spoiler Alert: Tank saves the day. He’s had about enough of this bloodshed and leaps from his seat to stop the final blow. Atta boy, Tank. And with his healing touch, the wounds on the young man are almost all healed. There is no end. There is no death. And the crowd. Is. Mad.
Later, our team finds themselves in the hotel room. Oh, did I forget to mention, during their limo ride, the TV turned itself on and off, showing snippets of movies? So, now Tank (Or “Cowboy,” as Brenda calls him) is trying to watch some football here and the darned TV does the same thing. Movie. Off. Snip. Off. Soundbite. Off. Over and over and over. And the producer, Mr. Anderson [Hey, I wonder if that’s an intended reference to The Matrix?], shows up at the hotel. His cell phone keeps looping a video.
Thing is, the video is the one Tank took in the limo when the TV first started fritzing. And the video’s no longer on Tank’s cell phone. In fact, nothing’s on his phone except one message, in big red letters: Sincerely, S.
And nothing’s on the other peeps’ phones either except the same message. The phones are useless, and the movies keep cycling through.
“Everything’s a pattern. Whether it’s useful or not, there are always patterns.”
But now Andi, my girl who loves to recognize patterns, realizes something. Taking the first letter of each movie, the cycle spells out a word the producer doesn’t understand. But the Team does.
S. R. I. D. H. A. R. Remember him from Cycle One, Book One? The kid who tried to escape The Gate? Boy, this is just getting more and more interesting, isn’t it?
Wait. Forgot to mention something else. Liquid tends to vibrate around Mr. Anderson. #truestory. His Starbuck’s exploded in the TV Media room during the rehearsal. At dinner after his water sloshed out of his glass and onto the floor (but the team’s beverages were untouched). Tank’s soda bubbled up and out just before the producer showed up at the hotel.
Annnnnd I also neglected to tell you, how our team was selected to come to the viewing: Mr. Anderson’s daughter is “like best friends or something” with Helsa, whom we know as Littlefoot from Cycle One.
So our team decides it’s time to clue Anderson in on what they know. He’s not exactly thrilled with what they’re telling him. Puh-leease. Would you?
But then he proffers his own opinion: The plastic, colorful pillars Tank was so thrilled with at the airport are connected to the show. And The Gate.
Well, I’m halfway through the book now, and it’s bedtime so I guess I should leave you hanging. It’s taken me maybe two hours to read and write this and I
want would like need to find out what happens before I catch my Zzz’s.
On that happy note, I bid you a fond review.
What happens when #realityTV is all too real? #amreading PROBING: Harbingers, Cycle Three, Book One
With a bookmark and a reading light,
And Frankly, My Dear . . . : That’s all she wrote!