Home > Chrysalis (The Formicary #1)

Chrysalis (The Formicary #1)
Author: S.E. Harmon





A man that studieth revenge keeps his own wounds green.

-Francis Bacon



I was having the strangest dream. Either that or I'd died and gone to heaven. Literally. I didn't have any evidence to back up my theory, but all signs certainly pointed that way.

I had no other plausible explanation for my current state of being, which was drifting through miles and miles of fog. I wasn’t tired or hungry or thirsty. I wasn’t cold or hot. I just was. I couldn't remember how I’d gotten here or why, and the longer I drifted through the mist, the farther away reality seemed.

Get a grip, I instructed myself firmly.

With that helpful advice in mind, I tried to get my bearings. It was difficult, mostly because everything looked the same. Clouds blanketed just about everything as far as the eye could see, and the freaking mist swirling around certainly didn’t help. I reached out to touch the fog and swirled it with my hand. It slipped through my fingers like smoke.

"Is there anyone out there?"

My voice echoed like I was in a chamber. I stopped myself from doing the clichéd thing and calling out hello, but just barely. No one responded to my query, and I wasn't sure I was disappointed about that. I wasn't ready to find out the circumstances of my death. Instead, I continued to wander around, feeling my way through the smoke.

The ground elevation changed under my feet, and without warning, I was climbing. Unconcerned for my safety, I just went with it. I was meant to go this way. If something happened, then it was probably beyond my control. There was something strangely comforting about that.

I kept walking until I crested the top of the hill, and suddenly, the clouds parted. I looked out at the valley below, staring at the landscape before me. A field of profusely blooming pink flowers stretched as far as I could see, parted by a river, blue and clear as crystal. Everything was quiet and serene as the river babbled gently. I lifted my gaze to the outline of snowcapped mountains in the distance. And quite suddenly, I knew I wasn't alone.

“Someone help me,” I said quietly.

“I'm right here.”

I turned to find a woman standing there dressed all in the palest of blue. Her long dark hair was liberally mixed with gray, reaching her waist in a thick, neat braid. Her dark brown eyes were kind and surrounded by crow’s feet—a badge of honor from a lifetime of smiling hard and not caring about the aesthetic consequences. Those eyes were all too familiar.

“Mama,” I breathed. I tried to touch her face, and my hand went right through her skin. I was only slightly disappointed. I might not have been able to touch her, but she was here. It was more than enough. I hadn’t seen her since I was eight years old.

“I'm not your mother,” she said kindly. “I just came in a form that would make you feel more comfortable.”

I knew the truth of it even before I processed her words. Her appearance was dead on, but the voice wasn’t quite right. And it wasn’t right because she wasn’t real. It was a blow unlike anything I'd ever felt before, and it almost sent me to my knees. As it was, I staggered back a few steps as I dealt with that reality. Please don’t tell me that I’ve died, and I still don’t get to see her again. Just tell me that.

I blinked away tears. “Is she here? Can I speak to her?”

The woman looked sympathetic as she shook her head. “I’m sorry, child. It's not your time.”

I took a deep, fortifying breath. “Then why am I here?”

“Because things have taken a very wrong turn.”

“I don’t know what that means.”

“You know all you’re supposed to know.”

I looked around at the stunning vista, which was unlike anything I'd ever seen before. I couldn't remember much, but I had a feeling it was better than anything I'd ever had on earth. “Do I have to go?”

“Yes, and you must go now. When it's your time, you'll find the answers you seek.” Her voice grew firm. “Do not come here again.”

Last time I checked, dying isn't always up to you. I scowled as I bit back a response. I certainly didn’t want to piss off a spirit guide or angel or whatever the hell she was. I didn’t know what she was capable of. She might just turn me into a frog for shits and giggles. Were angels allowed do to that kind of vengeful shit?

Her mouth twitched as if she could read my thoughts, and I wondered if that was a possibility here at the intersection of Where The Fuck Am I and Who The Fuck Are You.

Clear. I heard the word faintly, but her lips didn't move. I blinked. “Clear what?”

She shook her head. “It's time.”

“Can I see my mother before I leave?”


“Just for a few seconds?”


“I promise I won’t tell a soul—”


Apparently, I could test the patience of even an angel. “What kind of spirit are you?” I groused.

“The busy kind,” she snapped as she took my arm and pulled me closer without any effort at all. “I'm also the kind that doesn't mind breaking rules.”


“Obviously, you don’t care about things like manners, either,” I said primly, trying to pry her spiritual paws off my arm. “And just why do you keep saying clear?”

She gritted her teeth even as she gave me a little shake. Just my luck to get an angel that was about two millennia late for an anger management meeting. I didn't even know you could get bounced from heaven. I squinted at her. “Have you ever seen Roadhouse?”

She pinched the bridge of her nose. “Just so you know, what I’m about to do next is completely necessary and not at all retaliatory for you being a major pain in the ass.”

I gaped. “You said ass. You can’t fucking say ass.”

“You said fuck,” she snapped. “One isn’t worse than the other.”

“Yeah, but you’re a fucking angel.” I huffed. “I mean, really.”

“You’re so bloody annoying.”

“I want to talk to HR,” I demanded. “Where’s Saint Peter?”

“And the mystery of why someone tried to kill you has been solved.”

“What?” Briefly distracted from forming a formal complaint against my spirit guide, my eyebrows climbed my forehead. “What are you talking about? Who tried to kill me?”

Her reaction was unexpected. She slammed her hand into my chest, hard. I gasped and fell back a step. “What're you—”

She hit me again, and I staggered. Suddenly, my airflow seemed restricted, and my face contorted in a rictus of pain as she shined the brightest light I'd ever seen in my face. I gasped as I took in a shallow breath. “I can't seem to catch my....”

“Breathe,” she said gently. “Just take a deep breath.”

I did as she requested, and the pain intensified. Everything hurt. Everything. The quiet of the hilltop was gone, replaced by loud beeping and people moving. Those sounds were accompanied by urgent but calm conversation.

I blinked into the light, which was not heavenly like I’d thought, but some sort of overhead light contraption. A hand crossed my field of vision and adjusted the lamp. My eyes watered. If blinding me further was the goal, then mission fucking accomplished.

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