The Insomnia Files TEASER | File #3: ALAIN SOMNUS (Prologue)

“The darkest secret ever kept”

 

Hello my dear Sleepwalkers, and welcome to another Teaser Tuesday!

In anticipation to the April 7th release of The Insomnia Files (Insomnia Saga #1.5), a short story collection, I’ll be sharing a teaser today of the third file, ALAIN SOMNUS.

 

The Insomnia Files contains three short stories written from three different perspectives, diving deeper into the Insomnia Saga universe.

FILE #1 tells the story of Jodi Collins and takes place four years prior to INSOMNIA: Thirteen years old, Jodi has just started working for the Miller Academy. As she’s sent on a mission on a dark, wintery night, she has no choice but to confront the demons of the Night—and fight them.

In FILE #2 fifteen-year old Kay Somnus is about to take his final exam to become the youngest Summoner in history… but in order to succeed, he will have to pretend—and believe—he is someone he’s not, and forever deny himself his true power.

Alain Somnus, the very first Summoner of Light, is the voice of FILE #3. Hundreds of years ago, he opened a gate and allowed dark powers to spill in that would change the world forever… creating the darkest secret ever kept. Haunted by nightmares and his failure to protect the only girl who had ever managed to touch his heart, he opened the Somnus Academy—but could he live with the lies?

 

Did you know? The first story, JODI COLLINS, is available as a free eBook! Find out more.

 

Today I’d like to give you all a sneak peek to the third story, written from Alain’s (Kay’s forefather who lived literally centuries ago) perspective — so hereby I’ll be sharing PROLOGUE: SUMMONING GHOSTS.

 

[SPOILER WARNING: If you haven’t read INSOMNIA (Insomnia Saga #1) yet, the following chapter will contain spoilers that could affect your reading experience. So… read on at your own risk — or quickly close this tab 😉 ]

 


 

FILE #3: ALAIN SOMNUS

 

PROLOGUE

SUMMONING GHOSTS

 

Past

 

Ghosts, demons, devils, angels—they were all out there, in other realms, some close, some distant.

    Of that, even though he was merely twelve years old, Alain Somnus was certain.

    One of his books splayed open beside him, he ran a hand over the wooden board he’d acquired only yesterday. There were numbers on it, the entire alphabet, and the words “yes” and “no” and “goodbye”. There was a skull-faced sun in the left-hand corner, and a crescent moon with a stitched smile on the right.

    A Ouija board, and a rather rare edition at that, he’d been told by the shop owner.

    Sitting on the floor, Alain glanced at the book, reading the instructions that carefully explained how one could summon those deceased and passed on to the Next World. It was quite a ritual, involving candlelight, incense, and this mysterious slab of wood that apparently enabled spirits to communicate with the living.

    Alain felt a tingle of excitement—but stiffened when there was a rap on his door.

    He deftly shoved his book and Ouija board under his bed, sprang to his feet, and then paused—just for an instant—before opening the door of his room.

    A boy his age gazed back at him, dark-eyed and fair-skinned. He was one of the child servants working for his family, barely a year older than Alain. They used to play together when they were younger, but Alain’s father had made clear to him that they couldn’t be friends anymore. They were from two different worlds.

    Actual worlds, his father had said, making Alain wonder whether he believed in other universes as well, where unearthly creatures roamed and humans didn’t live. Still, he’d never dared to ask him.

    “A message for you,” the servant boy mumbled, casting a stealthy look around the wide hallway with terracotta-colored walls, while pressing a piece of paper into Alain’s hand.

    Alain’s face brightened. It had to be a message from Frankie, his best friend—his family would come to visit today. Resisting the urge to fold open the piece of paper and read it immediately, Alain instead dug up a coin from his pocket and gave it to the servant boy. “Thanks,” he grinned.

    The boy merely nodded and then darted away, quick as a rabbit.

    Closing the door behind him, Alain unfolded the wrinkled note.

 

    Our secret spot. I’ll wait for you.

    F.

 

    Alain’s grin widened, and he bent down and pulled his book from under his bed; he couldn’t wait to show Frankie, and—

    Heavy footsteps neared his room, and before Alain could even turn around, the door was wrenched open.

    He startled when his father swept inside.

    His blue eyes were blazing.

    “We need to talk,” he said, his voice tight.

    Alain tried to recover and looked at him innocently. “What is it, Father?”

    His lips pressed into a thin line—which became even thinner as his gaze fell on the book Alain was still holding. It suddenly grew heavy in his hand.

    “It’s one of those books, isn’t it? Give it here. Now, boy,” he snapped, snatching it from Alain’s fingers.

    Alain swallowed and remained silent. He knew better than to speak when his father was in this kind of mood. He winced as the tall man leafed through the book, handling the old, yellowed pages in such a rough manner that Alain braced himself for the tearing sound of paper.

    “What is this nonsense?” he muttered, glancing up at Alain. “Speak, boy!”

    Alain stammered: “It’s—It’s about other worlds. Ghosts. The deceased aren’t truly dead; they’re still alive, but in another form and place. Some are good, but some are bad; they’re called demons, and—”

    “Devilry and witchcraft,” his father rumbled, snapping the book shut with a single motion; Alain winced again. “Mr. Miller was right, then.”

    “Mr. Miller?” Alain repeated, confused.

    “He just told me about what you’ve been up to,” his father began, his eyes narrowed with anger. “Reading strange books, entertaining dreadful theories about devils—at first I couldn’t believe it, because I thought no son of mine would waste his time on this absurdity. But here we are.” He lifted the book as if it were a vile thing. “Who started this? You? Or Frank Miller Junior?”

    Alain hesitated, then drew a steadying breath. “I, Father.”

    He regarded Alain. “So, you dragged Frank Jr. into this.”

    Well, he supposed that was true, in a way—but Alain and Frankie had been friends for as long as they could both remember, and Alain never had to force Frankie to play along with any of his games.

    But something told him now wasn’t the time to point that out, so he meekly lowered his eyes. As his father muttered a word Alain was fairly certain he wasn’t supposed to say—the kind of word that would make his mother gasp in horror—Alain kept his gaze to the floor as he felt his pulse flutter nervously in his throat; silently, he asked the gods or demons or whatever was out there to keep his father from asking him whether he had other books, whether he was hiding more things.

    “Mr. Miller has already disciplined Frankie, who has promised to stop this nonsense,” said his father eventually. “Could you promise me the same, Alain? Look at me, boy.”

    Alain jerked his head up, blinking.

    His father raised his eyebrows. “Well?”

    “Yes, Father,” Alain rushed out. “Of course.”

    “So you can assure me that your curiosity has been satisfied?” He held up the book.

    Alain gazed at it with a sense of longing, then caught himself. “Yes, Father,” he repeated.

    It actually surprised him, how easily the lie slipped from his tongue.

    “Very well,” said his father darkly. He tucked the book under his arm. “I expect you to be on your best behavior during dinner tonight; not only the Millers, but also the Maina and Grant families will be present, and we have some important business matters to negotiate.”

    “Yes, Father.”

    His father eyed him one last time, then turned on his heel and left—the book still tucked under his arm. Alain released a sigh and ran a hand through his hair, disheveling the dark, wild locks his mother had made the maid brush down so neatly this morning. He felt a pang of loss as he thought about the book his father had taken away from him, but he smiled faintly as he glanced to his bed.

    Underneath, in the shadows, were many more books, a collection that had been growing drastically the past year—he kept them in a locked chest, so the maids who came to clean his room wouldn’t find them.

    Besides, he comforted himself with the thought that he didn’t need the book for the ritual he wanted to try; he’d read it so many times, he could recite the text from memory.

    The note crinkled in his hand as he tiptoed toward the door of his bedroom. Peeking out, he scanned the hallway. It was large and wide and, above all, empty of people.

    After leaving his room and sneaking down the stairs, Alain slipped out of the mansion undetected, and once outside, he started running, dashing through the city’s streets and alleys. It was a dreary afternoon, the sky a peculiar mix of grays and sickly yellows, and he didn’t even slow down as he stomped through the rain puddles. Soon his shoes and clothes were smudged with mud, but he barely noticed—and hardly cared.

    He reached the nearby park within minutes, a quiet place on a wet day like this. In the distance, the city’s Gothic architecture dotted the horizon, tall, proud buildings with stained-glass windows and majestic towers that rose into the sky, all resembling the same features of his own house, the Somnus Mansion.

    His breaths came out rushed once he slowed down near the bridge that crossed over the park’s pond filled with koi. He hurried down the sloping patch of grass and then ducked under the bridge.

    Crouched down near the water’s edge sat a boy his age.

    “Frankie!” Alain beamed.

    He barely glanced up. “Hey, Alain,” he said, his fingertips hovering over the water, as though he couldn’t decide whether he wanted to try and touch the fish or not.

    “I received your note—it’s so good to see you. I’ve discovered so many things in the month we haven’t seen each other, and I’m very glad you’re here again so I can tell you all about it,” Alain went on, sinking into a crouch beside him, smiling broadly.

    Frankie turned away a bit, his gaze trailing one of the koi. “I’m glad to see you too,” he murmured.

    Alain’s smile grew fainter. “Are you all right?”

    “Yes.”

    “Then why won’t you look at me?” Alain took in his friend; where his own hair was a deep, dark shade, Frank’s was a dull brown. He was lanky, skinnier even than Alain, and he seemed smaller even though they were of the same height. “Frankie?”

    Finally, Frank turned and looked at him.

    Alain froze.

    His friend’s face—it was ruined. A dark bruise bloomed around his right eye that was slightly swollen, and his lip was split.

    “What happened?!” Alain hissed, grabbing his arm.

    Averting his gaze, Frank shook him off by rising, keeping his neck bent so his head wouldn’t hit the underside of the bridge. Alain rose as well, staring at him and waiting for him to say something. Frank swallowed, hard. “My father, he—found my books. He wasn’t… happy.”

    Alain blinked, suddenly remembering what his father had said; about Mr. Miller having disciplined Frankie.

    His face tightened and his hands curled into fists.

    Frankie’s gray eyes turned moist as he met Alain’s gaze. “I—I’m sorry for telling on you, Alain,” he choked out. “My father will tell yours now. I didn’t want to get you in trouble, I swear, and I didn’t say anything at first, but then—”

    “It’s fine, Frankie,” Alain quietly cut him off. “My father already talked to me.”

    Frankie’s eyes widened and then searched his face, finding nothing, not a single trace of violence. “He didn’t…?”

    “No.” Yes, his father was angry, but he would never hurt Alain. “He only took my book away. Just one, though—he hasn’t discovered the others.”

    Frank’s shoulders sagged in relief.

    Alain hesitated. “Does it… still hurt?”

    “It’s fine.” Frankie shrugged, but didn’t quite meet his gaze.

    “During dinner, make sure you stay close to me,” Alain said, putting his hand to Frankie’s shoulder. “I’ll make sure your father won’t hurt you anymore.” He said it bravely, and yet, he couldn’t suppress a sliver of unease coiling in his stomach; he wasn’t exactly scared of Mr. Miller, though Alain had never been very fond of him either.

    And now he knew for certain that his instincts had been right: Mr. Miller was an irritable, short-tempered man—and violent.

    A careful smile tugged on Frankie’s mouth, and he nodded.

    They both crouched down again, and Alain slowly lowered his hand into the water, lightly running his fingertips across one of the fish’s scales who swiftly yet gracefully slithered away from his touch.

    “Will you… stop? Now that your father has found out?” asked Frankie after a silence. The rainfall grew heavier, disrupting the quiet pond, drawing circles in the water.

    Alain shook his head. “No.” He grinned when Frankie glanced up in surprise. “I love my books too much—and the idea of other worlds… it’s so fascinating.” Especially the dark ones; the stories of realms where devils resided intrigued him the most, as he craved adventure in this dull life of his, filled with rules and politeness and money and endless dinners and expensive clothes and tidy hair. It was painfully boring.

    Frankie nodded slowly. “I wish I could keep reading those books too…”

    “You can,” Alain said after a beat, making Frankie frown at him. Alain smiled. “Whenever you come to visit, you can read them in my room. If you want books of your own, I can even keep them for you. I’ll make sure nothing happens to them.” It wasn’t an empty promise; their families were close, for their parents were friends and their fathers did business together involving pieces of land, people working for them, and other things Alain didn’t really understand or cared about—and so, the Somnus family and the Millers visited each other often; Alain and Frankie would be able to meet frequently.

    Frank’s face lit up. “Would you?”

    Alain nudged him with his elbow. “Of course.”

    “Thank you,” he murmured, gazing at the koi swimming by. “I wish,” he then started, “I could literally go to another world. Away from my father. Away from… everything.”

    His voice grew husky, and Alain could hear his tears. He stiffened, slightly panicking on what to do if he’d started crying, but then— “Well, I don’t know about going to other worlds,” Alain began, “but we could always get those worlds to come to us.” He explained at seeing Frank’s puzzled expression: “I’ve read about this ritual that can help you summon ghosts—you know, the actual spirits of the deceased. It involves what they call a Ouija board, and as a matter of fact, I bought one yesterday. I actually wanted to ask you—”

    “Somnus!” a voice suddenly hollered.

    “Miller!” another one joined the first.

    Before Alain and Frank could even look up, two boys rushed up to them and crouched down, slinging their arms around their shoulders. Alain blinked and then his face brightened: Salvador and Casper—Sal and Cas for short—, their other friends whose families also came to visit the Somnus Mansion today.

    Salvador, sitting next him, grinned widely. His teeth were straight and a brilliant white against his ebony skin. “You know,” he said, “you two really need to find a better hiding spot.”

    “You are as easy to find as birds in the sky,” Cas added, tightening his arm around Frankie’s narrow shoulders—but then he drew back, surprised, his straight blond hair falling away from his face as he studied Frankie. “Frank Miller Junior? Who have you been fighting with?”

    He sounded positively perplexed. After all, it was Casper who often got into fights, especially with older boys—as he hated to be made fun of, and that’s what older boys do—but Frankie… he was the quiet one, the boy who never got into trouble, gentle-hearted and sweet-faced.

    Frankie wavered and his gaze flitted from Cas to Sal, who was now also staring at him, though Alain sensed that he might have already put two and two together. Still, Casper was eying him with eager expectation.

    Alain could tell Frankie didn’t want them to know.

    “As a matter of fact,” Alain spoke up, “Frankie has been in a fight with a dreadful demon from the underworld. It had eleven heads, a thousand teeth, and nails sharper than a soldier’s sword.”

    Salvador snorted, and Casper arched an eyebrow. “Is that so? Who won, then?”

    “Frankie, naturally,” Alain replied, not missing a beat. “He’s still here, isn’t he? I can’t say the same for the demon.”

    “I suppose I should congratulate you then,” said Cas to Frankie.

    Frank merely smiled—though not too broadly, mindful of his split lip—and shot Alain a grateful look. Alain gave him a slight nod.

    “Not that I feel like going to this dinner tonight,” Sal began, “but I think we should go back. Your mother was looking for you, Alain. And she was a bit…”

    “Psychotic,” Cas offered.

    “That’s rude—it’s his mother, Cas,” Salvador chided. “What I wanted to say was worried.”

    Alain heaved a sigh. “She’s always worried,” he muttered, but he rose from his crouch anyway. His friends immediately followed suit, trailing him out from under the bridge into the rain.

    Suddenly, Cas let out a roar. “Race you to the mansion!” he shouted, barreling past them, nearly shoving Sal into the pond. Salvador yelled his name and hurried after him.

    Alain laughed, ready to join them, but paused when he glanced back at Frankie. He walked slowly, looking miserable now that he thought that nobody was watching him. “Frank,” Alain said after a hesitation, feeling a twist of pity, “would you like to try that ritual tonight? We could sneak away after dinner.”

    Frankie’s face immediately brightened. “I’d like to see what happens.”

    Relief flooded Alain’s chest, but before he could respond, their friends hollered at them from a distance.

    “Come on!” Cas was shouting.

    The thoughts about rituals and ghosts slipped from Alain’s mind then, as he and Frankie both broke into a sprint and simply became two boys running through the rain, unaware of what the future held in store for them.

    For it would be the very first summoning Alain Somnus ever did.

    But most certainly not the last.

    Back then, he would never have suspected, let alone have known, that he and his insatiable curiosity would one day change the world—forever.

 


 

— ALAIN SOMNUS contains 6 chapters in total. Want to read on? Pre-order the eBook on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes&Noble or Smashwords, and start reading on the day of the release! (JUST ONE WEEK LEFT! Let the countdown begin!)

 

As you can read, Alain is a twelve-year old boy in this prologue; in chapter 1, however, we’ll jump 9 years ahead in time, and Alain will be a 21-year old young man… and that’s when the real trouble starts 😉

 

I hope you enjoyed this sneak peek!

 

>>> The Insomnia Files will be released next week on April 7th! Stay tuned! <<<

 

 

Thank you for reading! 🖤

 

BE CREEPY. STAY FREAKY.

— Lynn

 

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Posted by Lynn Robin

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