In a near future dominated by institutions, technology, and government control, children are raised in state homes and have no concept of family, with the exception of Terran and his younger sister, Brooke. Together with their friends, Taylor and Simon, they often steal from the local market to subsidize their diet.
Running from the authorities after a raid goes wrong and looking for a place to hide, Terran is drawn to a vibrant green glow behind a crumbling city wall. It’s an archway with a small opening that has fallen away, like a window into a different world—the world of the Beigfur. The Beigfur once shared the earth with humans, but now exist in a parallel universe where they have learned to live in harmony with nature.
Centuries before, the Beigfur used the last of their technology to place a glamour between the worlds to protect themselves from the destructive ways of Man. Climbing through the archway, Terran, Brooke, Taylor, and Simon inadvertently tumble into The Meadowlands, where an unexpected, life-changing adventure begins.
Speaking to the confusion of the modern era, The Meadowlands explores society’s impact on nature and the environment, the importance of family, and the challenges of coming of age in a world of technology and isolation.
“Kelly’s writing style is poetic and lyrical. Her images of nature are redolent with richness and texture. She explores juxtaposed themes of prejudice and empathy, of conflict and resolution, and of urban decay and rural environmentalism. The Meadowlands is an enchanting story reminiscent of Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I highly recommend it.”
—Collett Tracey, PhD, Professor of Canadian Literature, Carleton University
“Kate Kelly has drawn mysterious characters, whom we care about, in magical settings. We keep wondering what will happen in the next chapter. We don’t want her story to end. What an imagination! What empathy for nature and for those who did not grow up within it. Well done, Author Kate, with this masterpiece of conjuring story.”
—Dr. Anne Winters, recipient of two Canada Council Doctoral Fellowship Awards and author of four books, including FLASH! The Science Behind Intuition (Post Hypnotic Press, 2018)
“In The Meadowlands, Kate Kelly’s latest novel, we travel along with her young characters to a parallel world radically different from the Orwellian one that is all they have ever known. Although outwardly more simple and not devoid of judgment and prejudice, in other respects it’s a more open, evolved, and wonderous world. Mythical beasts and mystical mind rituals provide for an epic adventure that is equal parts challenging, thrilling, and ultimately rewarding and hopeful.”
—Robert Campbell, DDS, IMD, DHS
From Chapter One:
Brooke has taken her portion of the market food and wandered into the forest, following a narrow path to a nearby stream. The sensations are overwhelming, sights and smells she’s never before experienced but holding a truth, a knowing so deeply felt she finds herself nodding with wonderment and understanding. She recognizes a reality here that she can’t put into words, some awareness in the emerald sheen around her, the dappling of sunlight, the living movement of the water. The air is so fresh it invigorates her and she calls to the boys who find her sitting beneath a tree on the bank of the stream. The water looks cool and refreshing, murmuring gently as it bumps its way over the rocky bed. She eats the bread and cheese, and listening to the stream’s soft syllabic murmur she feels safe and protected and before long is soothed to sleep.
Tye picking up a flat rock skips it along the river bank with natural ease, watching its trajectory with satisfaction. “What do you think this place is, Terran?”
“I don’t know. But if the state owns it, we’ll be picked up soon enough.”
“I didn’t see any security cams or sensors or anything, did you? We felt something, but who knows what that was,” pipes up Simon, looking from Terran to Tye. “Besides, we haven’t seen anyone, never mind area controllers or security pols.”
“Yeah, I know,” Terran answered, looking around. “But why do I get the feeling someone’s watching us?”
“I think it’s just the animals,” said Simon “I’ve never seen so many birds and furry things in all my life!”
Terran laughs. “Well, I’m not too worried about the animals. But we should keep moving. If this is a Government Green Area that hasn’t been opened up yet, it’ll be full of heat detectors and they’ll know we’re here. If the Pols catch us one more time they’ll split us up. And as much as GATE sucks, ACSES is worse. But we’ll rest for a while first. I think Brooke’s asleep. We’ll move on in an hour or so.”
Terran stretches out on the ground with his hands behind his head, staring up at the blue fullness of the sky, thinking about ACSES, the Area Controller’s State School. He knows the rumors well – being sent to ACSES meant a record and five years mandatory deployment with the Tassarac government. And Terran can’t stand them. The Tassaracs control most of the world and their form of government is oppressive, restricting and fear based. But their power is undisputed and absolute. You do what they say, immediately and without question. And he’d rather die than put on a Tassarac uniform if he could help it. From a very early age his father had given him a healthy distrust of the Tassaracs but being in the state school and living under their government, Terran had developed his own distrust and disgust of them.
Brushing his hair from his eyes, Terran’s thoughts move to his father and mother. All children lived with their parents for the first four years, before entering the GATE, the Government Academy of Technology and Education boarding school. There were some children, like Brooke, who were brought to the Gate earlier. It was only through careful screening that people were allowed to have a child. If they passed the requirements, or had special qualities and were passed for procreation they were moved to specific areas. It wasn’t exactly forced breeding but everyone knew that they were there for a reason: find a partner in order to have a child. Marriage contracts usually existed for five years, ensuring a child’s environment for the first four years of life. If the couple chose to renew their contract, they could. But one child was all they were allowed, except in rare circumstances.
Terran and Brooke’s father was a scientist and their mother had a doctorate in psychology. Both worked for the State, but why they were allowed another child, Terran didn’t know. He could remember seeing his mother and father with Brooke just before he left for the Gate. The years following were punctuated with brief visits but often his father was absent, sent on assignment by the Tassaracs for months on end. Terran was seven when his father last visited him at the Gate, an unscheduled visit and one he cherished, for it was just him and his father for the day. It was unusual and outside the norm for his father to come mid-week and take him for the day but Terran hadn’t thought much about it until a few months later when his mother came to the Gate with Brooke. They were told their father had died in an accident in the rainforests of South America. They were never given details, as if their sorrow was of no consequence.
“You are young for me to have to tell you this, Terran but I don’t know if the opportunity will arise again so listen to what I am about to say to you and think about it whenever you can.” It was after the swim in the enviro-bubble, it was noisy and busy with laughter and kids. His dad was drying him off and smiling, pushing the wet hair from Terran’s face. Then he turned serious. Holding his son tightly by both shoulders he looked into his eyes with an expression Terran had never seen before. “You are going to be asked to believe many things in your life, son. Things you will be told are truths. Some of them you will agree with. Many you won’t. Question and wonder about everything you are told because in the end it will be up to you to find your own the truth.”
“But how will I know what is true and what is not?” Terran remembered asking, into the stillness his father had created between them.
“You will know truth when you feel it, here.” His father said, laying his hand on Terran’s chest, over his heart. “They can lie to your head but they can never lie to your heart. Remember that, son.” He said and Terran nodded, transfixed in the gravity of the moment and then his dad smiled, rubbing the top of his head. “Come on, I’ll race you to the pool!”
“But the rules are, no running.” Terran said, even as he chased after his father.
“Some rules are just meant to be broken!” His dad called back to him laughing.
After their father’s death, the State dissolved his parent’s marriage and Brooke was put into the Gate nursery, in the care of the dorm mothers. The children were not encouraged to form individual friendships. But because group activities were common, very close bonds did form, not overtly but quietly and discretely, consciously hidden from the mothers. Terran and Simon and Brooke were an example. Terran couldn’t deny that the blood tie he felt for Brooke was strong. She was a link to their parents and he missed her if she was not around and worried about her safety. Brooke also worried about her brother and before she was allowed into the pack she would sit for hours waiting for him to return from their raid on the markets. Anxious and full of questions when he returned she would take his hand in both of hers, smiling with relief. Terran didn’t immediately realize the uniqueness of their situation, or the depth of his feelings for Brooke, these were something that dawned on him slowly. He and Brooke had a connection that inexplicably gave him strength and courage. He never spoke of this to anyone, for no one could understand this type of bond. Even the pack they formed to scavenge the city was purely for personal gain. The only one who came close to understanding was Simon. And now, here they were in a strange meadow somewhere, cut off from the outside world. But at least they were together and they were safe here. Terran knew that with the certainty one only experiences in dreams, or in the heart, he thought, placing his hand on his chest.
Their provisions wouldn’t last long, but even when they were gone, Terran intended never to return to life outside the archway and the world of the Tassaracs.
Dacloness, pushing the long tendrils of hair from his face, straightens up from his stooped position under the great oak tree, his side pouch filled with the small white mushrooms he’s been collecting, his fingers dark and moist with the clinging fragrant earth. He hears – no, he feels, even senses – the sudden dramatic change in the world. Tilting his head to one side that he might hear more clearly, the sounds emerge, gathering intensity with every few yards. Connomar also feels the change. He has never been this far from the Bally before and is aware of his heart quickening as he steps closer to Dacloness. With their senses heightened and their eyes and ears strained toward the meadow, the upsurge has an almost visual as well as an audio effect. Small insects leap, furred animals scurry, while the birds swoop up and back, their excitement both contagious and bewildering. Dacloness had been foraging the southern tip of the forest that fringed the intermediate for years, usually be himself, sometimes, like today, with an apprentice but never had he felt so vulnerable. The forest and the meadowlands are bursting with life, the ground and sky, noisy with whistles and scuttles and cracking branches from rabbits, ground dwellers, birds, and all the creatures that lived on, under and above the mother but never have their activity brought such dire warning.
So confused was he that Dacloness couldn’t move. Nor did he notice that he was holding his breath, concentrating as he was on the land. It took only a few heartbeats for the building crescendo to explode about them, with a tidal wave of force that assaulted the senses, and yet he felt as though they had been transfixed for a lifetime.
Dacloness could feel Connomar’s confusion. His young companion had not long come from the Hearth and his safety was paramount. “We must return to the Bally! Run ahead, Connomar an-e, and I will follow. My legs have not the swiftness of your youth.”
Connomar nodded to his elder and with the speed and instinct of the animals he turned and fled toward the village. Dacloness knew that the animals, and the warning they were issuing, would arrive before Connomar but he wanted the younger Beigfur safe in the Bally. He knew also that he must make haste as he would be needed by the council, both for his wisdom as an advisor and for the questions he could answer regarding the source of the intrusion. For Dacloness knew that it was an intrusion. Perhaps not an intentional intrusion, but all the same, their world had been penetrated. It had happened before, when Dacloness was very young and confined to the hearth while the intruder was sought out. The oldest still told of this time and greater precautions were taken to strengthen the Glamour, the invisible force that kept them safe, but the old knowledge was hard to come by, long forgotten, and they knew a passing between the worlds would happen again. The Wise Ones had gathered back then, too, and it was said that with the threads of the old knowledge they still held, they placed a new Glamour around the world. Not the same Glamour as was already in place, but one to patch up the thinning areas of the old one. Yet again, it seemed the Glamour had been breached by the very ones it was meant to keep out – Man.
Dacloness raced home, thoughts tumbling through his mind like rain through the leaves, his short legs and big feet carelessly crashing through the underbrush in his haste. He was not a Hunter, he was a Healer, and it had been many moons since he ran with such speed. Weary and out of breath, he pushed himself on relentlessly. For in the fringes of his being, creeping around the consciousness of his mind, was a small nagging feeling. One which was hard for him to comprehend, for being a Beigfur he rarely experienced this feeling. As far as he could tell, it was the feeling of fear!