QSFer Alex Silver has a new MM urban fantasy out, book four in the Psions of Spire series: “Clear Sight.”
When the slightest touch triggers visions of horror, you learn not to let anyone close.
After more than a decade hiding from society, Seth Albright is sheltered. His visions make it a necessary evil. After a precocious emergence as a seer when he was eight, his mother took him to live in the woods. To protect him.
When he can’t take another day of isolation, Seth turns to SPIRE. There, he gets partnered with Roy Merchant as his anchor. Enough inexperienced psions have burned Roy by using him as a stepping stone to last a lifetime.
Roy has seen scandals come and go in his time with SPIRE. Seth has seen atrocities most people couldn’t imagine. But neither of them has seen anything like what’s coming for them next.
This is MM urban fantasy containing some mild BDSM elements and an age gap.
The first time I saw Roy Merchant, I didn’t know his name. I didn’t realize the fascinating swirls of curling, iridescent energy around him were an aura. Before that moment, I’d never seen an aura.
I was eight, and he was the first vision my abilities showed me. A boy, older than me. Grieving. He wept over another person. Their features remained shrouded by thick tresses of long, dark hair. I knew from the flash of vision that he was heartbroken. The vision left me with a lingering ache in my chest when I regained awareness of the world around me.
It happened when I was in school—third grade. I was sitting in class beside my best friend, Carlos. He said I just fell out of my seat and lost consciousness. Our teacher said I’d hit my head when I fell.
The details of what happened after the vision were fuzzy, but I’ll never forget how scared Carlos looked when he asked if I was okay. I couldn’t reply, couldn’t move. I just lay on the ground blinking up at him in a daze, mind fuzzy and body heavy with a lassitude I’d never experienced before. It’s familiar now; the aftermath of a vision.
Then our classroom burst into chaos, people moving around me. It took everything I had to work up enough energy to crack a joke for my best friend before they herded him away along with the rest of my classmates. I don’t remember what I said, something that made him smile. That smile did funny things to my heart. I wanted to make him smile forever.
Lights and sirens burst that bubble of happiness. An ambulance brought me to a hospital. My parents met us at Mount Hope, and everything changed.
The doctor in the ER diagnosed me with epilepsy at first. Later, we learned it resulted from PEPS, Pre-Emergence Psionic Syndrome. I was young for it. There should have been warning signs. Something. There was nothing I recalled. So, for a while, they treated it like epilepsy.
Everything happened fast after the first vision of Roy in mourning. I kept losing time. Seizures, they told me. But the usual treatments didn’t work. They put me on a restrictive diet as a last ditch effort.
My life became a blur of doctors and tests. Needle sticks, beeping machines, bossy nurses, bitter medicine and my parents arguing.
I had more visions. Sometimes I couldn’t separate what was real from the visions. Before the Divergence, I would have landed in a psych ward for seeing things that weren’t real. Mother was the one who insisted that psionic emergence was at the root of my medical problems. It made sense; I came from a line of psions.
They transferred me to a psionic medicine specialist. She changed my diagnosis to PEPS-Associated Seizure Disorder. They said I should outgrow it once my abilities stabilized. I didn’t, though. The visions got more intense.
I saw my nurse, herself in a hospital bed with a swaddled baby in her arms. My doctor, standing over a fresh tombstone. My dad, his body broken and lifeless. Children laughing, people crying. Joy and death. Terror and hope.
PEPS symptoms resolved once abilities manifested. The seizures should have stopped when the visions started. They didn’t. Not for me.
“He has developed an irritable focus,” my doctor explained. “He should be on antiepileptics.”
Mother refused. Dad fought with her. I tried the medications again, but they didn’t stop the visions, just made my head fuzzy. My parents fought all the time.
I tried different meds. There was a dietician who told me I must avoid eating anything with sugar or carbs. I had fewer visions for a while. It didn’t stop the fighting. Dad moved out, Uncle Hugh moved in to help. Uncle Hugh was an anchor. He linked with me. Held me through the terror that gripped me along with the visions.
I grew up in a psion household. I knew about touch sensitivity. Sometimes my mother couldn’t stand to hug me; my small child’s aura was too wild and erratic against nerves scraped raw. She taught me other ways to share affection when it was bad like that. She wrapped me in a blanket she’d made for me and sang to me for hours.
It was worse when my parents were fighting and she already felt unstable. I thought I understood from seeing how it affected my parents. When I was peri-emergent, I gained new insight into just how bad it could be.
Sensitivity was bad enough for most psions. Sensing a stranger’s aura was often uncomfortable. At times, it hurt. For me, it also risked triggering a vision. The altered electric pathways in my brain meant visions left me weak and miserable, as the seizures had when they were at their worst.
Often all I saw were simple things, pointless and painful in their after effects. When Carlos visited me in the hospital with his mom, my visions revealed him getting an A on a test. Or my nurse’s future child. Those happier visions I didn’t mind as much. But seeing death was harder. I hated it. Hated my abilities.
Even after we got the seizures under control, I didn’t go to school anymore. Mother homeschooled me. I barely left the house.
When I was ten, Dad died. A car accident. After the funeral, we moved to the cabin. It had become obvious that the seizures, though rarer, wouldn’t stop just because my abilities had settled. In the woods, separated from the daily exposure to stranger’s auras, my visions transported me to a place out of a fantasy world.
A place where the sky glowed with a greenish tinge and monsters stalked the night. A girl who told me that someday we would be best friends. The same boy from my first vision. I still didn’t know his name, but he was a teenager now. His grief had turned hard and sharp, his expression sullen and withdrawn. The beautiful colors around him were muted and dull with sorrow.
I saw a woman, her features an incoherent blur, who spoke of safety and peace while her insides roiled with avarice. Her words were lies, and when she touched me in my vision, I woke with a jolt of pain.
Alex Silver grew up mostly in Northern Maine and is now living in Canada with a spouse, two kids, and three birds. Alex is a trans guy who started writing fiction as a child and never stopped. Although there were detours through assisting on a farm and being a pharmacist along the way.