The Scribe: Prologue

Tel Aviv, Israel

“You’re going to think I’m crazy.”

“Are you?”

“No. Though I suppose most crazy people think they’re sane. So it doesn’t matter what I say.”

There was a pause as the doctor examined the young woman. The listless mouth and relaxed demeanor were belied by the fierce expression in her gold eyes. Barely suppressed anger and… resignation. An odd combination for one so young.

“Why do you assume I will think you’re mentally unstable? You’re a professional woman. Obviously intelligent from our previous conversation. University educated. Successful in a highly competitive field—”

“They all think I’m crazy, Doctor Asner.” She shifted in her seat, letting her gaze drift out the window to the tree-lined street as a mother with two laughing children passed. A flicker of sadness in her eyes, then nothing again. “It’s okay. I’m used to it.”

“You hear voices?”

“No question mark on the end.”

He blinked and looked up from his pad of paper. “Excuse me?”

The look she gave him was almost amused. The woman’s dark curls fell over her shoulder as she angled herself toward him and crossed her arms. “No question mark. I hear voices. Your intonation held a slight lift at the end of that statement indicating you questioned what you were saying. There is no question. I hear voices. I told you before. I’ve heard them for as long as I can remember. You can believe me, or you can think I’m insane. But it’s not a question.”

“You’ve studied linguistics.”

“Linguistics. Phonetics. Ancient languages. Modern languages. I have a very generous stepfather who likes it when I’m not at home. Getting several degrees seemed like a good way to pass the time.”

“But you became a photojournalist.”

“I’m a travel photographer. You don’t have to make it sound more important than it is.”

He shrugged. “Your work has appeared in major magazines. You make your living with what you do. Are you embarrassed by your work?”

“Not at all.”

“Then why qualify?”

“I don’t believe in putting on false fronts. Dishonesty irritates me. I am not a photojournalist. Remember the generous stepfather? He gives me a very generous allowance in order to keep me out of his hair and out of the country. I can afford to travel lots of places that make for pretty pictures. Magazines like to buy them. I’m not saving the world or exposing the horrors of war. What I do is fun, not meaningful.”

“Would you like to do something more meaningful?”

A rueful laugh was her first reaction. “God, no.”

“Why not? The… voices?”

“There’s that unspoken question again. Yes, the voices.”

“Is that why you’ve never had a serious relationship?”

“So my mom called you before the session, huh?”

Asner smiled. “She’s concerned about you. That much was evident. Are you and your mother close?”

“I suppose so.” The young woman shrugged. “She’s the reason I’m not locked up, so I can’t really complain about her.”

Her eyes drifted to the window again.

“Miss Matheson?”


“Excuse me?”

Ava blinked and turned her eyes back to the doctor. “Call me Ava. Matheson is my stepfather’s name.”

“But he raised you? Your stepfather and your mother raised you, didn’t they?”


“And you only recently met your biological father.”

Her eyes narrowed. “Is that why Mom and Carl insisted on this appointment? Because of my father?”

“He’s a new presence in your life.”

“Not really. I’ve been a fan for years.”

He gave her blank look.

Ava sighed. “Yes, he’s a new presence.”

“He’s a musician?”

“Please don’t pretend you don’t know who my father is. It’s irritating. I knew him as an old friend of my mother’s; that’s it. When I found out he was my actual father, it wasn’t a big deal. I’ve known Carl adopted me since I was little.”

“But you had no idea he was your father.”


“Did he know you were his?”

“Yes, but he agreed to let my mom raise me. He’s not the most… together person. He knows that.”

Asner paused thoughtfully. “Do you think your voices have anything to do with your father? A shared… creativity perhaps?”

She curled her lip. “My father—as messed up as he is—is a brilliant composer. He hears music in his head and writes it down and makes lots of money. I hear garbled voices I don’t understand. Not really the same thing. You don’t get locked up for being a brilliant composer.”

“Do you fear being institutionalized?”

The fierce expression returned. “Why would I? As you said, I’m a successful photojournalist. Plus, thanks to my surprise dad, I’m rich enough to be eccentric instead of crazy.”

He couldn’t stop his own smile. “Tell me more about your voices. What do they say?”

She shifted again, and her eyes drifted back to the window. “I don’t know.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean exactly what I said.”

“So you don’t hear language. You don’t hear other people’s thoughts?”

“I don’t know what I hear.” Her eyes swung back and narrowed on him. “But I know you believe me more than the others. I wonder why that is.”

“I’m an open-minded individual.”


“Tell me more. How do you know I believe you? Can you hear me?”


“What am I thinking?”

“I can’t tell you that. That’s not the way it works.”

“Do you sense my feelings?”

“It’s all in the tone of your voice. The voice I hear, anyway.”

“And what voice is that?”

“The one everyone has.”


She took a deep breath and he saw the hints of resignation again. “Every country and every age. Different voices speaking the same language. That’s what I hear.”

He leaned forward. “Every voice sounds the same?”

“Of course not. Everyone has a different voice. They just all speak the same language.”

“Everywhere in the world?”

“Everywhere I’ve travelled so far. So… a lot of it.”

“What language is it?”

“I don’t know.”

“What are they saying?”

Frustration flashed. “I don’t know.”

“So how do you—”

“It’s a language, doctor. There are rises and falls in the rhythm. There are common words and phrases I hear again and again. I hear the same things from the minds of people all over the world. I just don’t know what they’re saying.”

He had to pause to contain his reaction. It didn’t matter.

She cocked her head. “That’s exciting to you.”

He smiled. “It’s very interesting, Ava.”

“Interesting is one word for it.”

He heard the irritation in her voice. “Though I’m sure it is frustrating, as well. I imagine it can be quite distracting.”

The corner of her mouth turned up. “It’s enough to drive you crazy.”

Asner laughed a little, and Ava relaxed a bit. “How do you sleep?”

“Probably the same way you do. A bed is usually involved, but I’m pretty comfortable on trains, too. Planes are harder. Buses practically impossible.”

“What a clever and humorous deflection of my question.” He stretched his legs in front of him, almost spanning the small office where they met. “When you sleep, do you dream?”

“Vividly. Always have.”

“And these voices… do you hear them in your dreams?”

She frowned, and Asner wondered if he was the first mental health professional to ask that question. Ava Matheson had seen more than her share.

“No. No, I don’t hear them in my dreams.”

He smiled. “That must be a relief.”

“Yes, it is.”

“Is that part of the reason you prefer to work alone? No voices?”


“And happy, relaxed places. Vacation spots instead of conflict areas.”

“It’s all falling into place, isn’t it, Doc?”

“Have you tried medications?”

“All sorts of them.” She stretched out her arms and grabbed the arms of the chair she sat in. “Most of them make me sleepy. Kill my appetite. That’s about it.”

He nodded, jotting down more notes as she examined him. “Do the voices… are they always the same volume? Are some louder than others?”

“No. Everyone is different. Some people are clearer than others. Yours right now is very quiet, but… urgent. You want to get this information as quickly as possible, but you’re trying to remain calm.”

He stopped and looked up at her. “That’s very disconcerting, Ava.”

She gave him an innocent smile. “Imagine what it must be like for me. What do you want, doctor? You want something.”

He paused, trying to decide how to answer. “I’d like to refer you to a colleague, if you don’t mind travel. He’s someone who I think might be able to help you.”


“I remember him speaking once about a patient with similar symptoms. Do you mind traveling to see him?”

She waved at the distant ocean. “I was in Cyprus when my mom called and told me to go to a doctor in Israel for my yearly ‘what’s-the-matter-with-Ava’ appointment. What do you think?”


“I might not, though.” She shrugged. “Carl and Mom get pushy about once a year, but mostly, they leave me alone. Especially now that I have Jasper’s money.”

“Jasper is your father?”

“Yeah.” A hint of a smile crept across her face. “I guess you could call him that.”

“I don’t want to take up too much of your time. I know we’ve gone over the hour—no charge, of course—but…” Asner scribbled down a name and telephone number from memory. “I do hope you’ll see my colleague. He’s in Istanbul. Have you been before?”

Ava’s eyebrows furrowed together. “No. I’ve been told it’s beautiful, even though it’s crowded.”

“And you don’t like crowds because of the voices?”

“That and the lack of deodorant on hot days. I might check it out.” She shrugged and tucked the paper away. “Like I said, no guarantees. If I happen to be in Istanbul, I’ll look him up.”

He smiled politely and rose to his feet as she stood to gather her things. A large messenger bag. A battered camera case. A light scarf thrown around her neck to keep the dust of the city away. She grabbed the paper from his hand and started toward the door before Doctor Asner spoke.

“May I ask…”

The young woman turned, tucking a curl behind her ear before she put her sunglasses on. “You can ask whatever you want. If I don’t want to answer, I won’t.”

He frowned. “Your name—Ava—means ‘voice’ in Persian. Did you know that?”

The sunglasses hid her eyes. “Yes.”

“Who gave you your name?”

She paused. “My father did. It was the one thing he asked for. To name me Ava.”

“Do you know why?”


“And you never asked?”

She shrugged. “Does it matter? It’s a nice name. Maybe he just liked the actress, you know?”

“Names are important.”

She smiled a little. “Goodbye, Doctor Asner. Fun chatting with you. I probably won’t see you around.”


Mikhail Asner watched her through the window, winding through the narrow streets of Neve Tzedek as she wandered North toward the city center. The slight woman with curly black hair melded into the city landscape effortlessly, a seasoned traveller accustomed to blending with her surroundings. He watched for a few more minutes, then picked up the phone, dialing a number from memory.

“You haven’t called me in some time,” said the voice on the other end.

“I found someone of interest.”

“Did you give her my number?”


“Her name?”

“Ava Matheson. American.”

A notable pause followed Asner’s declaration.

The voice asked, “Will she come?”

“I honestly don’t know.”

“Did you tell her I could help her?”

“Of course.”

“Then she’ll come.”


Copyright 2013 Elizabeth Hunter


  1. Pingback: Pre-travel Stuff and Ramblings (Oh, and maybe the prologue for the new book…) | Elizabeth Hunter Writes

  2. I. Like. It! This short prologue did more to capture my interest and desire to continue reading than the last several books I’ve read put together. I’m looking forward to the on. Write on, Elizabeth.

  3. I really like Ava. She’s a strong character, not a whiner (I hate whiners). I like that she deals with her frustrations with wit and sarcasm, instead of anger. Your words really convey her sadness and her struggle for hope. Ok, now you have me hooked and I want to know what happens next, really badly. There is a mystery to unravel and I can’t wait to get started. I look forward to this book as I’ve looked forward to all the others. You’re an extremely talented writer and wordsmith. Thank you for the hours of joy your gift has given. Keep on writing, no pressure or anything, but your voracious readers are waiting. 🙂

  4. I’m hooked already! Can’t wait for this series now. Have fun on your trip I hope you find lots of inspiration.

  5. Love, love, love, love it! You are one talented lady, as Tabby said you do more with character and emotion in one short passage do than others manage in several novels.

    I also love the emphasis you put on names, I researched my children’s names thoroughly before naming them, my youngest is Beatrice, we have excellent taste 🙂

  6. This sounds very interesting. I think I already love Ava, she seems just like my type of a heroine! Must be the sarcasm… gets me every time. And, perfect locations too, Cyprus, Turkey, Mediterranean… gorgeous places, plenty of history, and great food too! Looking forward to reading more!

  7. Wow!!! Excellent prologue. Definitely hooked and extremely jealous of your research trip:). I hope your journey surpasses your expectations and fills your soul with an abundance of inspiration. Safe travels.

  8. I am pretty sure I will like this since the prologue was right on. I already have a favorable impression of Ava, can’t wait to see what you come up with.

  9. She is like a soul whisperer, is that what she hears? Oh my goodness what good descriptive writing, and just enough about the referral in Turkey to get really curious! Can’t wait! Safe journeys!!

  10. I’m already feeling impatient to read it. Love the name thing, sometimes what’s in a name is important. 😉 I like Ava already too. I can’t wait to go on her journey.

  11. I am so completely in love with Gio, Beatrice, Tenzin, Carwyn, and all the Elemental Mysteries/World characters and I think I was probably set emotionally to reject whatever this new stuff offered out of loyalty to my old friends. But, honestly, Elizabeth, with this small taste you have me drooling! I cannot wait to read more about Ava, her travels, and to find out what her voices are whispering. Characters, setting, plot, and conflict …it’s all there as only Elizabeth Hunter can craft it. Have a great trip, safe travels, and keep us posted.

  12. Can’t wait to read it! I just re-read the Elemental Mysteries and one of the Elemental World books (and I never re-read books). Love your writing! Can’t wait read your new story.

  13. Pingback: Travel Update and a Teaser for The Scribe | Elizabeth Hunter Writes

  14. Oh boy oh boy oh boy. It appears like another favorite. Of course, most everything you have written, I have gobbled up. In waiting for the next elemental, springs, and non-series … and now scribe.

  15. Is “The Scribe” part of any of the current series? Have read the Elementals….and up thru Blood & Sand in El. World, and now I’m going to Cambio Springs! Just not sure what The Scribe is?

  16. Pingback: COVER REVEAL: The Scribe (Irin Chronicles #1) by Elizabeth Hunter

  17. Pingback: Cover reveal: The Scribe by Elizabeth Hunter | escape into books

  18. Pingback: Cover Reveal: THE SCRIBE: Irin Chronicles Book One | Elizabeth Hunter Writes

  19. Man you’ve did it again! I read the first of the Elemental series and said I wouldn’t read another……they called to me. I came to your page to see what’s after Blood and Sand (oh I need more of the Elemental World) and instead find another series – I give……I’m hooked!!

  20. I read many of the current UF/PN authors and find many of them to be very good to excellent writers. Skilled wordsmiths, if you will. I would name several, but that would probably be gouche as this is your site. What I am trying to say is that since downloading the first free Elemental, I have been totally hooked on your writing. From Elementals to Cambrio Springs and now to The Scribe I am enthralled by your use of the English language. You clearly have a way with words that is unique. I would say “Hemingway-esque” though not directly comparing you to that great author, still a distinctive style that is a cut above the rest. This may appear to be a little ‘over the top’ but great writing deserves great praise. As all your fans say- we are looking forward to publication of the Scribe, and hoping for more Elementals and Cambrio’s to follow.

  21. Please please please speed the process of finalizing the next book…. im dying. In my mind and heart that is. Its been a long while since ive been able to sink my teeth into a book and im suffering with despair and suspense. My mind is ravaging possible future events for ava, and for mal amogst others. So please stop me from ruining the story.
    Gaahhh, ok so thankyou for this book and ease my mind by completing the series… please… hahaha.
    Sincerely a newly founded addict.

  22. I have a confession – I’ve been sitting on The Scribe. Not literally – just downloaded the day it was released because I’ve loved & devoured everything else you’ve written (…impatiently waits for more Cambio Springs and E.World), why should this be any different! But I’ve yet to delve into it. After reading a few ‘Scribe’ reviews of high praise and angst for the next book, I’ve waited….. and waited….. I’d like to read it all at once, but I don’t know if I can hold out…. we’ll see!!

  23. Pingback: Elizabeth Hunter | Coffee and Bookaholics

  24. I have just recently discovered your books and love them. I think they are good movie material. I would love to see The Scribe on the big screen. Any plans for that?

  25. Pingback: ELIZABETH HUNTER: The Scribe - Irin Chronicles #1 | AzureStrawberry

Leave a Reply