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The Crystal Clipper

The Crystal Clipper

Book excerpt


      At the age of seven David Nickerson’s lively, joyous world went silent.  The surf roaring only steps from his front door, his mother’s sweet voice, the cries and squeals of his little sister, the stern teachings of his father, his Aunt Dorothy’s rip-roaring laughter - were sounds he could no longer hear.  They were, nonetheless, indelibly imprinted in his heart and memory, never to be forgotten.      

            Little did David suspect that in the ensuing years his disability would become his greatest asset.  Never in his wildest dreams did he imagine that his hearing aid would become an instrument for telepathic communication.  And if anyone had told him that one day he would travel to worlds beyond this one, and experience the past, present and future as one, he would have said they were crazy.       

      The startling events that will change David’s life forever are mere hours away, but the means of transport that will take him to worlds unexplored is not an ordinary vehicle.  It fits in the palm of his hand, yet can travel to the endless reaches of time and space on a journey that only the soul can take.   As guardian of this coveted prize, David will learn that he is not only blessed, but cursed; there are others who are willing to die for it and to kill for it.  For whoever possesses The Moon Singer and learns its secrets will control the fate of the world.


      But, what about David’s fate?  Which world will he choose to live in – the world of fantasy or reality?  The “other world” of hearing or his “real-time” world of silence? And what will be the full consequences of his choice?  In the end, will he really have a choice?

      One always does…

Port Avalon, June

David Nickerson studies his newest treasure, holding it between his thumb and forefinger.  The sunlight shining through the open parlor window reflects on each of the gem’s perfect planes.  Its mysterious beauty dazzles him.

      “Holy Cow.  I’ve never seen anything like it, Aunt Dorothy.  What kind of crystal is it?”  After years of practice, David speaks with barely an impediment. The special hearing aid he uses enables him to hear his own vocal vibrations but not discernable words.  Still, it gives him a connection to the resonating world around him.  The illness that took David’s hearing was a grave one, but his spirit prevailed.  He worked tirelessly to become a champion signer, an expert lip reader, determined not to let his deafness limit him. For, in all other ways, David was a normal boy - bright, curious, athletic, strong willed.  Every summer, he spent hours in the sun surfing and swimming, tanning his skin bronze from head to toe, his blond hair bleached almost white. 

In school, his penchant for music coincided nicely with his interest in science and computers.  Yet, in somewhat of a paradox, David also grew to love the romance of metaphysics, especially the mystical and mythical powers of crystals.

“It’s called a Singer,” Dorothy says, and signs the word Singer.

“Why do they call it that?”  David stares intently at his aunt to read every word on her lips. Dorothy is an adequate signer but struggles to communicate the intricacies of the gem’s description, and so combines words and sign language.  

“Each crystal in the cluster contains its own unique vibration,” she tells him, “but joined together like this they create a symphony of sounds that literally sing the answers to all the mysteries in the universe.  Or so the legend goes.”

      “I bet it’s thousands, maybe millions of years old,” David figures.

      The crystal sparkles pure and translucent one minute, a rainbow mosaic the next. It is a jigsaw arrangement of atoms, a harmonic conversion of energy and matter.  Yet, it looks amazingly like a primitive sculpture fashioned by someone in love with the sea.

      “It’s incredible.  Look at it, Aunt Dorothy.  Its microstructure is so complex.  But what really amazes me is its shape.  It looks like a miniature ship.  Here’s the mast where the sail would go, and here’s the bow, the stern and the rudder.”

      Dorothy adds more impetus to the Singer’s mystique. “If its owner believes in it, and works with its energy, he will develop extraordinary powers of communication, clairvoyance and prophecy.”

      “Hogwash,” Isaac Nickerson scoffs without looking up from his evening newspaper.  “It’s a rock, like all the other so-called magic crystals you’ve given the boy.  Stop filling his head with nonsense.”

      David cocks his head and looks at Dorothy questioningly.  He was not able to read his father’s lips, but he senses his displeasure.  Dorothy signs, “Old Fogey.” David stifles a chuckle.

      “Just because you don’t agree with something doesn’t mean it’s nonsense, Isaac,” Dorothy needles her brother.  “Besides, we all need a little myth and magic in our lives.  It gives us hope.”

      “The only hope we have is hard work and accepting our lot in life.  There are no amulets to protect us from harm, and no talismans to bring us good luck.”  Isaac folds his newspaper with an agitated snap and drops it in the basket beside his chair.  He rises to leave the room, but Dorothy presses the debate further.

      “Is that why you light that old oil lamp on the porch each night to welcome home sailors who no longer sail?”

      “You know that lamp light has been a tradition in our family for 200 years.  It’s symbolic,” Isaac defends his nightly ritual.

      Dorothy winks at David.  She’s going to drive another one home. “One man’s tradition is another man’s superstition.  And what about Father’s gold watch fob?  Why do you always wear it when you ask Fischbacher for a raise?”

      “That fob is the only heirloom Father was able to leave me after years of giving his blood, sweat and tears to Fischbacher and this town.  I am fond of it, but I certainly don’t consider it a lucky piece, not in the least.” 

      Isaac leaves the house abruptly and walks out to the pier that extends from the front of the Nickerson’s historic Victorian home.  He stands there, pensively gazing out at the sea.  The afternoon breeze is impotent and barely stirs the small flag atop a buoy that bobs lazily on the water.  The usually peaceful sounds - the squawking of sea gulls, the dinging bell of a slow-moving barge approaching the harbor - seem melancholy now.  The despairing idleness of the town mirrors Isaac’s mood on this summer day.

      David expels a helpless sigh.  “Dad’s in no mood to spar with you today, Aunt Dorothy.  Fischbacher refused to give him the loan for Sally’s operation.”

      “What?  Why, the old tightwad.”

      “My feelings exactly.  Dad even offered to sign a paper agreeing to any terms Fischbacher wanted.”

      “Signing a contract drawn up by Nathan Fischbacher would be committing financial suicide.  The man is an unethical snake.” Dorothy hisses the word through tight teeth.  “Still, if he knew he’d get paid back, why did he refuse your father the loan?”

      David removes a document from the desk drawer and hands it to Dorothy.  She reads it, then sinks into her brother’s easy chair. 

      “Oh, no.  I can’t believe it.  Selling the company after all these years.”

      “Yeah.  Selling the company and letting everyone go at the end of the month.  And without a job, Dad could never pay back the loan.”

      “Or get one anywhere else.” 

      “Please don’t say anything to Sally.  Dad doesn’t want her to know yet.”

      “Maybe the new owners will keep him on.  He’s the best draftsman in the business.” Despite their sibling rivalry, Dorothy is proud of her younger brother’s accomplishments.  “Surely they can use him.”

      “If they’re smart they will, but Dad doesn’t think there’s much chance of that.  They’re only buying Fischbacher’s company to eliminate the competition, not to expand.”                    “And Fischbacher will rake in more millions, as if he needs it, the greedy reptile. 

What a waste, putting all those people out of work.  They’ll never find new jobs in this lifeless old town.”

      David searches through the oversized file cabinet next to his father’s drafting table, then pulls out a set of blueprints and opens them up to full size.  “Look at these, Aunt Dorothy.”

      “What are they?”

      “Designs Dad has been working on for laser-powered cargo ships.  They’re sleek and clean, more fuel efficient, and more powerful than anything Fischbacher has now.  These ships would revolutionize the business.  They could cut expenses and increase profits dramatically in just a few months.”

      “Has Isaac shown these designs to Fischbacher?”

      “Dad gave Fischbacher a whole set of them.  He keeps promising he’ll look them over, but he never does.”  David refolds the blueprints and replaces them in the files.

       “Mom’s dying was hard enough on him.  And now with the worry over Sally’s operation, Dad’s just about given up on everything.”  He slams the drawer shut.  “Damn!  It’s just not fair!  Dad deserves to be recognized for his work.  And Sally...” David’s voice softens.  “Sally deserves to get out of that wheelchair and walk again, to go to the prom in a pretty dress and dance all night, like...”

      “Like a princess,” Dorothy completes David’s wish.

      “Yeah.  Like a princess.  I feel so helpless, Aunt Dorothy.  Maybe I should quit school and get a full-time job.”  The thought deflates him.

      “You’ll do no such thing, David Nickerson.  You need that diploma to get into college.  You don’t want to wind up being a cook on a freighter like your old aunt.”

      “I could do worse,” he says fondly.  He loves his aunt.  She is still vital and attractive at age 60, with a mind as agile and curious as David’s.  “I mean, you get to travel all over the world and bring me back wonderful treasures.”

      Dorothy takes David by the hand and leads him to the sofa where they sit, side by side.  “It’s not as glamorous as you think,” Dorothy confesses, then laughs at herself.  “Beats me why I still do it at my age.  And I certainly haven’t contributed much to the world.  But you -- you have the special gifts that can make things happen, that can change the world for the better.  And a solid education is just the beginning for you.”

      “I’m not sure my physics teacher would agree with you after my dismal final exam.”

      “Well, maybe I’ve visited too many psychics and fortune tellers, but I just have a gut feeling that your insights transcend this little old Earth plane, but they have yet to be tapped.  Most people are too afraid to explore the depths of their soul, and they wander aimlessly through life feeling helpless.  Meanwhile, the unscrupulous seize all the power and use it to their own benefit.”

      “You mean like Nathan Fischbacher.”

      Dorothy nods.  “Exactly.”

      “But his power is his meanness, not to mention his money.  How could exploring my soul teach me to outsmart a creep like him?  They don’t teach that in physics class.”

      “Truth is knowledge, and knowledge is power, David.”  She signs the words truth, power, and courage as she speaks.  “It not only takes great courage to seek the truth, it’s also a responsibility not to be taken lightly.”

      Truth-seeking is a sojourn that David equates with King Arthur’s quest for the Holy Grail.  The thought overwhelms him.  “I’ve got all I can do to handle the normal stuff, Aunt Dorothy.  I’m no Sir Lancelot.”

      Dorothy hugs her nephew fiercely and kisses his cheek.  “I’ve got to go now.” She gathers up her purse and sunglasses, then moves to the table where all of David’s crystals are laid out side by side.  She picks up the Singer and presses it into his hand.

      “Don’t give up hope, David.  If anyone can find magic in these beautiful crystals, you can. But remember, it must only be used for good.”

      Dorothy leaves the house and joins Isaac on the pier, slipping her arm affectionately through his.  David’s heart warms at this sight, and he can’t help but smile despite his anguish. 

Scanning the parlor, he seems to truly see its history for the first time.  It is filled with functional antiques, sturdy furnishings handed down from generation to generation and still used proudly.  Memorabilia and artifacts, collected by the Nickerson family during centuries in the business of designing sailing ships and fishing boats, line the shelves of the oakwood breakfront and mahogany table tops.

      David concentrates on the crystal in his hand.  Its aura visibly pulsates with a white hot energy.  He closes his hand tightly around the Singer and his face wears a determined look.  He can’t -- he won’t -- let his father lose everything now.

      “I’ll find a way, Dad.  If it’s the last thing I do, I’ll find a way for you and for Sally.”

      A sudden, sharp buzzing sound makes David grab his right ear.  He pulls out the small hearing aid and shakes the noise out of his head.

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