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Side Effects

Short Story | Novel Excerpt

By Kale RossPublished about a month ago Updated about a month ago 3 min read

Mount Etna

Pietre cannone was a beautiful landscape decorated with incredible cylindrical rock formations. Timeless works of natural art formed when ancient tree trunks became enveloped by flowing lava. Through a unique phenomenon known as lithification, solid rock casts of those young trees are all that remain today.

Rosalie ran her fingers down their hollowed out centers, visualizing the jagged bark and aromatic sensations of trees that were once molded within. It was a cruel punishment, yet it was the sole punishment she manifested to befall Ulrich and Nadine.

That is if they survived Garret’s roadblock.

Hiking east Rosalie followed her father down a hidden path though rolling knolls of tall and luscious pines. The sky had darkened from plum to red wine allowing the yellow and silver stars to truly burst to life. The moon was nearly full and was playing an irritating game of hide and seek with a dark gray stream of ominous clouds. A few birds chirped and cackled but the trek remained fairly quiet. The silent screaming between father and daughter was loud enough to keep the wildlife, other humans and ghosts at bay.

Rising one thousand six hundred and seventy meters out of the ground to meet the wisping mist flowing down from Mount Etna were two large pyroclastic cones. Molded after a series of violent earthquakes and an eruption phase that lasted from January to March in 1974, a new vent exploded open. Lava oozed with such force it caused a seventy-meter high cone to sprout from the lower slopes of Mount Etna. It was named by the locals as Monte De Fiore. Twenty-two days later, after a period of quiet tranquility, a second crater became active. Lava once again spewed and oozed with a vengeance from a vent in the western wall of the cone as well as from the base - creating a steep collar around the cone’s feet and the birth of Monte De Fiore II.

“How much further?” Rosalie asked, in between heavy heaves.

Clement stopped abruptly at the edge of the tree line and answered Rosalie’s question without turning around, “We are here.”

Rosalie joined her father’s side and marveled at the twin volcanoes. But they weren’t the only ones gripping her attention.

Emerging out of the low mist in between the two lava cones a middle aged man in dark clothes stalked towards them.

“Hello my friend,” Clement said, shaking the man’s callous hands with vigor, “Rosalie…This is Orazio. He is the guardian of the gate.”

The man nodded his head with the utmost respect and honor, “Please,” he said, holding out one hand in front of him, “It is time for you to see the heart of Sicily.”

Rosalie turned around one final time before following Orazio and her father any further and watched as Garret slowly emerged from the trees. Her heart rate increased, her skin tingled, her eyes fluttered and her balance wavered. She was experiencing the side effects of love. She had not prepared herself for this moment and was at a loss for words and proper motor function.

The closer Garret got to her the wider his smile grew, setting her own heart ablaze. She wanted to run to him but his brown-eyed gaze melted her into the soft Earth beneath her feet.

Garret’s lips parted and he began to speak.

At first Rosalie could not hear what he was saying which was odd considering he was close enough for her to see the small mole at the base of his neck.

His lips parted again, speaking a single word which she did hear, except the tone was wrong, “Rosalie.”

The melting sensation began to wear off sending an army of fire ants armed with pins and needles to restore order within her skin.

Rosalie,” Garret said again, as his image flickered before her eyes, “Rosalie!

The final call of her name snapped her free of her serotonin induced coma, allowing her ears and eyes to hear and see the truth.

Garret and his enchanting smile had vanished, and the deep voice that was impatiently calling out her name was her father’s.

Her heart and mind had played a cruel trick on her. Leaving her broken and yearning for something she knows she can never have.

She wiped away the single tear dampening her cheek, turned her heels in the flattened grass and followed the guardian of the gate into the caves.

thrillerShort StoryPsychologicalMysteryExcerptAdventure

About the Creator

Kale Ross

Author | Poet | Dog Dad | Nerd

Find my published poetry, and short story books here!

Reader insights


Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Easy to read and follow

    Well-structured & engaging content

  3. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  1. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  2. On-point and relevant

    Writing reflected the title & theme

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Comments (2)

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  • Caroline Cravenabout a month ago

    So good! I look forward to you selling the film rights too!

  • Carol Townendabout a month ago

    This is a fantasticly written story. You have a knack for writing fiction.

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