— Excerpt from "Portents" by Shanyn Hosier
"How does it work?" Amanda pressed, keen to learn about the most intriguing talent of the group.
Toby shrugged, then grimaced, struggling to clear his mouth of sticky powdered sugar-coated donut paste. He took a gulp of coffee to help wash it down. "Truth is, nobody knows a damn thing about it, least of all me," he said, then cleared his throat.
Disappointed, Amanda nodded, sinking lower into the vinyl booth.
"Mostly, it's a feeling in my gut," Toby continued, absently rubbing his taut abdomen, and Amanda perked up. "Nothin' more than that. It's up to me to figure out what it means in context, which isn't always easy."
"So, gut instincts are real?" No gazing into crystal balls? No tarot cards? No trancelike states?
"Dok says I have an especially intuitive enteric nervous system, yeah," he said. "'Visceral perception,' he calls it. I just get this feeling… like a strong urge… maybe to do something, or go somewhere, or stop—" He shrugged his shoulders again, took another drink of coffee. "Usually, that's all it is."
He squinted in the sunbeam shining through the window onto their table. "Sometimes it's more. A vision—no more than a flash, really."
"Of what?" Amanda asked, edge-of-her-seat fascinated.
"An alternate reality, according to Dok," he replied. "Or a parallel universe, depending on your definition."
Amanda shook her head, confused. "Not the future?"
Toby took another sip of coffee. "Not technically. But if I see it—whatever it is, and it's usually pretty big if it's visual—it comes to pass…"
Did you know humans have more than one brain? And no, it's not the "male" one we all joke about.
Scientists regard our enteric nervous system—comprised of 100 million neurons lining our gut (which is more than the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system)—to be a "second" brain. It controls our gut's behavior independently of our noggins; in fact, 90% of the vagus (internal organ) nerve carries info FROM the gut TO the brain, not vice versa.
Those tummy "butterflies" you've felt are absolutely real! Neurogastroenterologists (yeah, it's an actual discipline) believe our emotional state is likely influenced by our guts. They've recently discovered 95% of the body's serotonin is kept in the bowel, not the brain. No wonder antidepressant drugs can often trigger serious GI issues as side effects (check out this article from ScientificAmerican.com for more info).
It's no wonder we all talk about "gut" feelings and "gut" instincts. And research has shown it's a good idea to pay attention to them. Go with your gut—quick decisions are statistically shown to be better than those made after long periods of thought (check out this article on livescience.com for more about this study). You think you're guessing, but your brain and visual systems pick up clues you're not aware of. Your gut-influenced emotions know the right answer before you realize it's the right answer, and well before you can consciously explain why (check out this article from ExperienceLife.com for more about gut instincts).
After reading this research and more, I knew just how to make Toby's paranormal gift of "kinda-sorta" seeing the future work. He just listens to his gut—and it's never wrong.
When all signs point to trouble ahead,
can Amanda steer clear of disaster?
# # #
Link for Scientific American article: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=gut-second-brain
Link for livescience article: http://www.livescience.com/3289-study-suggests-gut-instincts-work.html
Link for Experience Life article: http://experiencelife.com/article/5-gut-instincts-you-shouldnt-ignore/
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Amanda Ryder V.I.
When all signs point to trouble, can Amanda steer clear of disaster?
Amanda Ryder's determined never to fail her coven again. Next time, she won't hesitate to pull the trigger to defend her friends. If only they'd trust her enough to let her set foot outside the Academy…
Frustrated and itching to prove herself, Amanda snags her first Academy mission: she and Toby Laboyteaux, fellow teen witch who "kinda sorta sees the future," must work together to track down a local swamp monster stirring up trouble in the sticks. But overturned suburban garbage cans and blurry tabloid pictures aren't the only problems—strained relationships with her new colleagues, a growing guilt-complex, and the waxing moon all add to Amanda's stress. Add to that the pressure of being hunted by a psychic psychopath, and Amanda's got plenty on her mind.
Meanwhile, Hamilton Nash swears Marian Dupree and her Academy of bumbling do-gooders have thwarted his plans for the last time. Convinced Amanda's the subject of his mother's recent prophecy and the key to his future success, he redoubles his efforts to obtain the mystery girl. But when Amanda proves too slippery a quarry, Nash sets his sights on the next best thing. When a valuable member of the Academy coven is kidnapped, Amanda and her friends are in a race against time. Is a tragic future destined to come to pass?
About the Author:
Born and raised in small-town, rural Indiana, I now live in metropolitan Phoenix, Arizona with an intimidatingly smart and devastatingly handsome husband and two hyperactively cute and talented sons who will one day be Earth's Overlords (never underestimate the power of Legos). I enjoy cooking, traveling, gardening, sewing, quilting, and embroidery but only when I'm in the right mood and seldom concurrently (I'm kind of streaky when it comes to hobbies). I adore reading and writing in the same way that I love breathing and eating, gaining a similar nourishment from each.
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