Welcome to Writing Wednesday! If you’re interested in a YA paranormal with a hint of romance from a, currently, unpublished writer! Look no further!
Here’s a quick blurb, introducing the story.
My name is May. Welcome to my ordinary life.
Everything about my life was planned out just the way I wanted it. I would graduate from high school in a few short months as valedictorian, after beating out the rough competition of the thirty other kids at my tiny school. I would attend Yale University in the Fall. I would also find some way to save my stagnant relationship with my loyal boyfriend Henry, because he is too good to lose.
Look out, world! My life would finally begin.
Now, tell me this. What do I do when my ordinary life crashes like a mirror on concrete? What do I do, when my friends and I get mistaken for deviant youths, kidnapped, and experimented on by an insane scientist?
Queue crickets? My thoughts exactly.
I can handle the kidnapping. I can handle the horrific experiments. But no one can blame a girl who cracks when her boyfriend is taken and reprogrammed to hate her and kill her. Slowly. With a lot of pain.
How do I know for sure? Because I was reprogrammed, too. Now, to my dismay I am stuck seeing the future as my subconscious chooses to show it to me.
What do I see? My death. At the hands of the guy I love.
Good-bye, ordinary life.
If you are just joining me, take a look back at the First Chapter to catch up on the story!
“The Hybrid Chronicles: Time Begins”
Puzzle Piece Uno
Dinner was everything I had expected. It was impossible not to feel comfortable around someone who climbed trees with me through elementary school and knew exactly when my time of the month was because he spent more time at my house than his. He had watched as I changed from a kid to a woman and thought I was beautiful the entire time, having more confidence in me than I had in myself. Henry had never lied to me and knew all the tiny things that made me feel better, like Christmas cards and pink roses, and the smell of the air before a storm.
So as we grabbed pasta that weekend at our usual diner, we talked about the upcoming Spring Break camping trip, and visiting Yale in the summer.
“You think you’ll love it?”
“I’m not sure. But I know it’s different than here, so probably.”
“And once you’ve conquered it? Then what?” He joked. Henry never understood my lack of enthusiasm for things after the mystery died. Like Tessa, he preferred a smaller life. Unlike Tessa, he wasn’t the devil. I had tried explaining to him on multiple occasions why I needed to continue moving forward but he didn’t feel the same need to find a new problem once he had already solved one.
“I wonder if anyone really conquers Yale.”
His green eyes grew serious. “You will. Do you think you will come back?” I heard the minute trace of insecurity beneath the question and wanted more than anything to tell him that yes, I would eventually come back and we would get married and have babies and buy a big house and smile until we died.
I remained silent.
He sighed and I could see him shaking off his disappointment. Me going away wasn’t something he cared to talk about and for the most part we had avoided the conversation instead of dealing with it. “How about we go stargazing tonight?”
I grinned at his suggestion. We had started stargazing at thirteen when we had gotten lost in the woods one night after building a fort in the forest behind Henry and Katie’s house. The darker it got and the farther we wandered from the house, while trying to find the house, the loud and shriller Katie got and the snottier Tessa got, as she normally did when overly stressed.
Henry had looked to me to figure it out.
Nerves ate at me as well, but in looking for the answer, I tilted my head to the sky and saw a beautiful sight. I remembered thinking that as long as we stayed in one spot someone would find us because someone would always look for us. So I suggested we stargaze until their dad came out to find us, who I knew would have already started looking because we should have headed in at sunset. I pointed out star constellations that I had learned from my summer camp and made all of them find a picture in the stars and tell a story that went with it. Within the hour, their dad had found us and led us back to the house.
Then and there, a stargazing tradition was born and though Tessa and Katie had stopped joining us, both too bored with sitting for hours, Henry and I still enjoyed it.
Once we drove out of town, Henry pulled off the road and onto a beaten path that threw me around the bench seat in the truck. When he stopped in a small clearing with an unhindered view of the sky we climbed into the back of his Chevy’s bed and lay down to watch the starry night above us.
We had passed too many years together to feel the need to fill the silence, so we both lay, arm against arm and thigh against thigh listening to the sound of the owls and the crickets and each other’s breathing in the calm, quiet night.
The warmth from his hand enveloped my smaller, cold one and I rubbed my thumb over the calluses he had gained from all his extracurricular activities. Henry had strong, capable hands.
“How was Jujitsu yesterday?”
He squeezed my hand. “Good. Normal. Just learning to kick butt.”
I started to laugh but cut myself off when he suddenly leaned over me and put a forearm on either side of my head. His body heat enveloped me; his face was inches from mine and his body hovered just above me, blocking my view of the sky.
I felt the air around me charge, but couldn’t tell if it was my air or his. Or both. I never knew with Henry. Our first kiss had occurred on a muddy field in junior high as we ran our weekly mile. He raced past me and shoved me forward as he went, issuing a challenge about my running skills. So I tore off after him. Home plate signified the end of the run our teacher had asked us to do, and Henry beat me there. He watched me the rest of the way, a grin on his face and his hands hanging loosely on his hips. When I finally reached him, I planned to give him a piece of my mind and instead he had pulled me to him and laid one on me.
I remembered the thrill of his lips on mine and the electricity that ran through every nerve I possessed, not to mention sheer happiness that Henry had done it. Now, his face came down toward mine and my eyes slid shut while I tried to find that chemistry once more. A whisper of sensation met my skin but before I could even pucker my lips his body stiffened and lifted off mine. I opened my eyes and sat up in confusion.
“Shh,” he said while he gestured me over to where he now knelt at the end of the bed of the truck. I went without question. His muscles flexed and his eyes darted through the dark trees around us. We weren’t that far out of town, could still see some of the lights in the distance, glowing a soft yellow that didn’t hinder our view of the night sky.
A wheezing sound from the darkness made me jerk my head south. My throat closed up.
Henry’s hand crept toward his pocket and he removed his keys, holding them in a fist so they didn’t clink together. He reached back with that hand to give me the keys and said, “Start the truck.”
I felt like my skin wasn’t fitting right. Adrenaline coursed through me along with a goodly dose of fear. I didn’t want to move from his side. What if I got off the back bed and whatever walked toward us ate me or chewed me up or killed me with massive claws. Once Spring hit, bears started coming out of the caves in the area, and curious other wildlife, looking for food. We didn’t normally have too many issues with them though.
When I didn’t move right away, Henry motioned me with a swing of his hand to get moving.
May, grow a pair, I thought to myself.
I swung my legs over the back in a slow movement and put my hands on the edge of the dropped gate. My body tensed to drop to the ground when the wheezing sound came again but much closer. I jumped off in a rush and faced the direction it had come from, breathing hard and squinting into the blackness that had seemed so peaceful moments before.
A small shift in the shadows drew my eyes but then everything went still again.
“What do you think it is?” I whispered.
Henry came off the tailgate and stepped close to me, not answering.
Another movement from the same area, and we both knew it would breach the tree line in moment’s, mere feet from us.
My fists clenched and I fought the urge to flee knowing that some animals would give chase.
The wheezing sound came again and something that looked like a wounded animal shifted out of the brush. The darkness hindered our view at first and as the thing came closer, I squint to get a better look in the night. Henry dragged me behind him and turned to face it, but I stepped to the side to see.
Its feet dragged, its lungs wheezed and suddenly the shadows formed a figure, a head and body, legs and feet.
My breath caught.
“It’s a girl,” Henry breathed beside me. “It’s a little girl.” He moved forward at a dead run and shouted back at me, “May, call 9-1-1!”
At first I just stood there watching the small girl move forward. Then in a flurry of movement I tripped around the truck to the cab and grabbed my phone from the front seat. My fingers shook as I tried to slide the screen to unlock it, eventually settling for the emergency call button.
I sprinted over to Henry and the girl with every intention of helping, somehow, but as I got closer I came to a dead stop. She lay on the ground with her head in Henry’s lap, just a small child, no more than ten. She had white blonde hair that looked gray in the moonlight and wore a black set of what looked like scrubs, as if she had come from a hospital. She had no shoes. My brain processed all these details on autopilot because my attention was riveted on her eyes.
She wept blood. It gushed from her eyes like sobs but the only sound she made was the wheezing of overworked lungs. My own lungs ached as I listened to hers labor on, trying to get oxygen into her system and failing.
Henry had taken off his hoodie sweater and wiped at her stained cheeks with it. His hands were red from the effort. I could hear him whisper words, nonsense words, comforting her in any way he could.
Static against my ears reminded me that I had someone on the line and I pushed one side of my hair behind my ear to hear the dispatcher.
“My name is May Brooks; I need to report a severely injured child. We are off Highway 82 just outside of town. I don’t know how she was injured. She is bleeding from…from her eyes, though they look undamaged.” I stepped closer to see her injuries better and as I moved the child started seizing on the ground.
“She is having a seizure.” My voice had risen as I went to my knees on the opposite side of Henry and the child. The dispatcher told me to stay calm and gave me directions to get the child through the seizure unharmed.
I spared a single glance at Henry who looked shaken but clearheaded. He tried to hold her down while the seizure continued but I stopped him and placed his sweater under her head so she wouldn’t hurt herself too badly until it petered out.
Once she lay still, she curled in on herself in Henry’s lap and I felt pinpricks of tears in my own eyes. He continued to clean off her cheeks and this time more blood didn’t replace what he had taken off. We said nothing to one another, both listening to the sound of her strenuous breathing. I tried to think of something to say, anything to make this more real, more bearable, but nothing came to mind.
In minutes I heard the ambulance in the distance. I gave the dispatcher a few land marks and hung up, turning on the help light for my phone. I looked down at the child and jerked away from her when I saw her steady gaze on mine.
“Your eyes…” I deadpanned. Her eye color were pure, undiluted silver with a bright ring of green around the iris. Henry watched her as well with a look of shock. “Can you tell me your name?”
She just stared at me. The sirens turned onto the side road we had taken to get here and the girl’s body jerked to the side as if she wanted to run but her body wouldn’t cooperate. The creepy silver irises did switchbacks in the whites of her eyes and Henry and I looked at each other in panic, afraid she might start seizing again.
I shivered as a breeze picked up around me, wishing Summer would start a few months early. The breeze blew steadily around us and branches hit against one another. I looked around, thinking that a storm must be coming through.
A high pitched howling started and I jumped at the sound before I realized that the wind had caused it by racing through the trees, hitting branches as it made its way through the forest. Leaves fell from the giants above us and twisted around us and through us. One landed on the girl and I swept it to the side, sending it off with the wind once more.
Any light we’d had from the moon was lost under an instant cloud cover making it hard to see Henry or the girl even with the small light from my phone. I looked up into the sky and the wind hit my face like a slap taking the breath straight from my mouth and making my hair fly out around me.
“What’s happening?” I had to yell over the bluster now. With the trees so close together in the small copse, the funneling of the wind reached a scream around us and I couldn’t hear Henry’s answer but his wide eyes stared back at mine.
I looked down; the child’s eyes remained fixed on the sky above her and her and she had stopped trying to take in large breathes and instead her chest pumped up and down with short, shallow breaths in.
I reached a hand out and felt her erratic pulse fading fast and the quick bursts of her inhales started dropping down to nothing. Her lips moved and on instinct I leaned down, my hair covered our faces like a sheet. “What? What is it?”
I couldn’t hear anything she said. I drew back an inch and tried to read her lips.
“Won’t?” I asked. “Won’t go?”
Over and over she said the words until eventually the mantra made sense. I looked at Henry in question but his attention stayed on the irregular weather and the incoming ambulance.
I laid my hand on her cheek. “You don’t have to go back,” I said, hoping it sounded soothing.
I felt a hitch in her breath and as quickly as the chaos started, it stopped. The wind died, the howling grew silent, the moon shined once more and the ambulance pulled to a stop next to us. I sat up and looked around me. Everything sat with the same calm as before, perfect weather for stargazing.
Henry and I looked at each other, but as I opened my mouth I had no idea what to say.
The emergency medical service people came over and shoved us, with polite firmness, out of the way. We went without argument. As we stepped back I caught sight of the little girl’s eyes one more time. The silver hadn’t diminished with the storm. Her mercury gaze, vacant now, continued to stare and tears slipped out of my own eyes. I reached up to brush them off my cheek and was almost surprised to see that they weren’t blood.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this story! Hope it has kept you interested thus far and I am SO interested to hear any comments.