Excerpt from "Ascension" by Laurel Amberdine

This week's excerpt is from Laurel Amberdine's story "Ascension".  Marina is visiting Jerusalem with a Catholic tour group because of a promise she made to her dying grandmother, and having the worst time of her life.  She's just abandoned the tour for the day and is setting out on her own in search of a fun adventure.

Marina pulled out the hotel’s tourist map, but after a few turns she lost track. The cab kept lurching into motion and stopping hard, the sun glared harsh through the glass, and everyone kept honking. She closed her eyes and leaned against the window, thinking back to what she’d promised Grandma. This excursion was probably breaking both the word and the spirit of that promise. Not that Grandma was around to care anymore. For all Grandma’s rosaries and masses, Marina didn’t feel the slightest hope that any of it mattered. Marina didn’t have anything against religion. It seemed nice. She liked the art. But Grandma wasn’t anything but dead and gone.

Even if grandma was, improbably, somewhere else, it didn’t help Marina any. She was still alone with no one to count on, just her drunk, flakey mom, pushy step-dad, and lying cheat of a real father.

By the time the cab lurched to its final stop, Marina was curled up on the back seat, sobbing.

“Hey girl, stop that.”

Marina sat up and scrubbed her face. “Sorry, how much?” She fumbled at the unfamiliar bills in her purse.

The driver’s scowl deepened, which hadn’t seemed possible. “How can you Americans be so stupid? Did you see me touch this meter? No, I didn’t. It’s off. I could charge you anything. Then you spend the whole ride crying in my car. How do you think that makes me feel? My day is ruined. Get out.” He gestured at the window. “There are your buses.” One of the bus drivers misunderstood and gestured rudely back.
Marina tried to hand a few bills to the driver, but he told her to get out again. Possibly this was his attempt to be nice? She would never understand this place.

Laurel Amberdine works for Locus Magazine and helps out with Lightspeed Magazine. Raised without any particular religion, she converted to Catholicism at age 21. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and one big dumb cat, where she enjoys visiting the ocean, taking naps, and trying to teach herself quantum mechanics. Such study prompted her to wonder about the nature of glorified matter, and inspired her story “Ascension.” Her debut YA fantasy novel Luminator is forthcoming from Reuts Publishing in 2017.

Mysterion can now be purchased as an ebook and paperback at Amazon, and as an ebook at iTunes, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. The paperback is $16.99, the ebook $9.99.