Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Why Yes, This is a TEASE

I know I told you fun folks yesterday that today would be a different kind of Tease, one having to do with my debut YA novel, ALWAYS AND FOREVER, which btw is a free Kindle download today.  Don't worry.  I'll wait while you slide on over there to nab your copy.

Anywho, today's tease is actually from one of my current WiPs, my epic alien rebellion saga ZERO(hope that's alright with you, peeps).

Anywho, if you'd read the last ZERO snip, you know that poor Thia has been through a bit too much trauma lately.  Hopefully today's tease gives her a little respite :)

Enjoy!


Time passes in hiccups and gasps.  I stare at the walls.  I sleep.  I wake to find trays of food, cups of stagnant water sitting just inside the door.  I never see anyone enter.  All is quiet, both in this room and beyond it. 

My mind begins to play tricks on me.  Sometimes, I am certain I see light flitting around in this windowless box.  At others, I know the pitch black for what it is: a reflection of my own heart now that my family is no longer with me.  Now that I am truly alone.

I sleep some more.  I wake.  Force the food they have left for me into my stomach.  Sip at the water.  The taste assaults me, makes me gag, but anything wet is better than nothing at all.  My life is now reduced to nothing more than a vicious cycle of uselessness and lethargy.  They are killing me with boredom, a slow cruel death.

The hours between napping and chewing up the scraps they leave for me fill with tedium.  I feel my way through the darkness, learning every inch of my cell through questing fingers and narrowed, squinting eyes.  Every miniscule crack in the rough concrete blocks that make up the walls.  Every tiny imperfection in the poured cement floor, the swirls and dips created during a rushed job at smoothing out the surface. 

I learn all of it.  The location of the door.  The corner where one of those metal bowls the humans love so much stands.  Toy-lets, they call them.  Why they feel the need to build a room in their home to take care of their business is beyond me.  I find myself whiling away the time propped up next to the toy-let, poking at the button that takes the water and waste away.  The noise of water rushing out only to be replaced by more crashes around the room, breaking through the silence. 

Somehow, it soothes me like nothing else ever has.  Mama’s softly sung lullabies as she rocked me to sleep.  Papa’s strong arms when he hugged me.  Leda burrowing into my side at night.  None of that compares to the peace that floods through me with the steady whoosh of the toy-let hard at work.

Maybe the humans aren’t so strange in their love of noise after all. 

I lay curled up on my side next to the toy-let, hovering at the edge of sleep, when muffled voices drag me up to full wakefulness.  Two of them, loud and deep.  Men.  Coming closer and closer until their words crawl through the walls and seep into my ears.

Mind whirling, I push upright, ignoring the sharp twinge slicing through my head at the quick movement.  Tiny prickles skitter just under the skin of my legs, the muscles tingling from being at rest for far too long.  One long stretch, and then I back up against the wall and crouch low next to the toy-let. 

There are only two of them.  Jabbering at each other as they are, they should be easy enough to take down. 

Shrinking further into the corner, my fingers curl into fists at my sides.  I bite down on my lower lip, my eyes trained on the area I know the door to be. 

Watch and wait.  Then…escape.

“So you just shoved her into a room and forgot about her,” a disbelieving, almost angry voice demands.  They talk so loudly, almost shouting at one another, that I can hear them clearly enough, even if their voices are a bit muffled from the thick concrete separating my room from the outside world.

“What would you have had me do with her?”  The other man’s indignant response tips my lips up into a smile.  I think I know who this voice belongs to.  The lieutenant’s brother, Mick.  In my mind’s eye, I picture him, bruised and battered from my assault.  Pride cracks my face even more.  “Give her full run of the base?  Our forces would be cut in half within the hour if she got loose.”

“So, now you agree with Jim?  That she was miscategorized.  She should be a Five?  That’s an awful big mistake.” 

“I didn’t say that, but she’s definitely no Zero, Dunc.  You didn’t see how she attacked me and Jim on the trip here.  We barely walked away from that one.  Then, when we got here, she pretended to faint and all hell broke loose.  She took out Davies.  Tried to pick up one of the little ones and make a run for it.  All with her hands still tied behind her back.”

“So, you tased her.”  It’s not a question, and no response is given.  Silence falls between them for a beat. 

Their footsteps halt.  Metal pings on top of metal, the lock disengages, and the doorknob turns.  Light floods the room as the door swings in.  After living in total darkness for so long, it pierces through me, burns my eyes.  One arm lifts automatically to shield my face from the brightness.

“Lights, ten percent,” he says, and the room dims.

Weary, I lower my arms.  Many of the humans’ devices are voice-activated, like their arms and legs are somehow defective and don’t work at full capacity.  Really, I think it’s mostly because they are just lazy.

He crouches down to my level, looming over me so he fills my line of sight.  There is nowhere to look but straight at him.  His eyes glitter, his lips quirked up in amusement, but I don’t know what’s so funny. 

“I wouldn’t get too close if I were you.  She’s a sneaky one.”

He ignores his brother and continues to regard me for an unending moment.  The intense blue of his gaze cuts deep, seeking out all of my darkest secrets.  My skin creeps and crawls under his close scrutiny.  My body screams for me to get up and run, but I can’t.  Not yet.  I have to catch them unawares if I want to make it out of here alive. 

“I hear you’re making friends,” he finally says to me, his grin widening.

I don’t respond.  His smile fades.

“Your file says you’re a Zero.”  He slides a small, palm-sized com-pew-ter out of his pocket and pokes at it.  He doesn’t speak as he looks at the screen, his eyes jerking from side to side.  Reed-ing, the humans call it.  I still don’t know exactly what it is, but it happens to be the only thing they do without making a bunch of noise.  Well, most of them.  A few of them talk while they reed, mumbling to themselves as their eyes bounce along with whatever is on their com-pew-ters. 

He bites down on his bottom lip, his teeth pulling it into his mouth before chewing slowly.  I can’t help but stare, transfixed as he works on devouring himself with his own teeth. 

Humans are such strange creatures.