Welcome to Writing Wednesday! If you’re interested in a YA paranormal/sci-fi with a hint of romance from a, currently, unpublished writer!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.
On to Chapter 3!
Chapter 3: Curiosity Only Killed the Stupid Cats
Henry and I didn’t talk on the ride home, but he hadn’t released my hand since we’d buckled ourselves in and left the clearing. Instead of thinking about the girl, and our statement to the police, who had arrived shortly after the ambulance, I thought about Henry. I thought about his old truck, and his smell, and his simplistic view of the world. It made the drive home easier.
When he pulled up to my house everything looked the same as when I left it hours earlier. Blue shutters, white picket fence, light coming from the front living room where my dad watched the late night news.
“How can everything look so… normal?”
“Life goes on,” he said, but didn’t sound convinced.
“It shouldn’t.” Tears built in my eyes and I scooted over to the middle of the cab. Henry put an arm around me and kissed the top of my head. “Who do you think she was?” I asked.
He tilted his head back against the rest and I knew his eyes would close as he pondered. “I don’t know. She looked like a patient of some kind.”
I thought about the black scrubs. “Her outfit looked more like…” I didn’t finish the thought because the idea was preposterous.
I leaned my head on his shoulder and put my feet up on the area above on the stereo. “Well, at first I thought hospital, too. But her shirt had a serial number on it, and they were worn out, frayed at the edges, dirty. I can’t think of a hospital who would keep a patient like that. Besides, most patients wear gowns.”
“She’d been out in the woods, though. That would explain the dirt.”
I nodded, not totally persuaded. The nearest hospital was Memorial up in Enterprise about ten minutes north of us. The patients there definitely wore gowns.
“I’m sure we’ll hear about it on the news tomorrow.”
“Do you think she did that stuff? With the weather?” I wanted to take the words back as a soon as I said them.
Henry sounded resigned as if he knew I would go there. “I don’t know, May. It felt like it at the time but everything had become pretty scattered and chaotic.”
I looked out the front windshield at the calm night and wondered if he was right. Maybe we had both imagined the whole thing.
“My hair is still tangled from that wind.”
He turned in the seat and looked at me, and touched a strand of my hair. “I like it this way. You look free. You’re always so contained, thinking a mile a minute and about ten paces ahead of everyone else. Then you say or do something and no one can figure out why because you never let on about it.”
“You don’t think I’m free?”
“I think you want to be.” He laughed but didn’t explain himself. I wanted to argue. I was free. I had chosen my course in life. As with every time I thought about the future, I waited for the spark of excitement to hit me. When it didn’t show, as per usual, I shrugged off his insinuation. It didn’t matter anyway because I had already planned everything out. I had the first check for Yale in the mail and I’d kissed Oregon goodbye with a couple of months to spare.
“You should probably get inside.”
“I have a few minutes,” I hedged, not ready to go inside and start the long process of thinking through every detail of the evening.
Henry shifted toward me and I wondered if he would kiss me, wondered if I wanted him to. I tilted my head up to receive him out of habit but came to an abrupt halt at the last thought. His forehead furrowed at my hesitation but before he could ask me about it we heard a shout from outside.
He didn’t move away from me, but I scooted back across the bench and rolled down the window to shout back at my mother who now stood in the open doorway of my house. “Geez, Mom. No need to yell at me.”
I glanced at my phone and saw that my curfew had come and gone forty-five minutes before. Joan Brooks stepped forward before squinting to see who I rode with. I knew the moment she realized it was a boy because surprise, then irritation, flashed across her face. My mother did not have a reputation for subtlety in this town.
“Who are you with, May? Where’s Henry?”
Henry leaned past me and waved. “It’s me, Mrs. Brooks.”
Her furious stance eased as understanding dawned and she smiled at him. “Oh, Henry. You’ve got your dad’s truck tonight? Why don’t you two come inside? You had me worried, sitting out here in the vehicle.”
Henry turned to me, amused. “I told you it was time.” He turned back to my mother and raised his voice. “I actually have to get home, but I’ll stop by next week.”
“Alright, smarty-pants.” I opened the door and got out. “I’ll see you Monday.”
When I walked in my house I headed straight past my dad watching news in the front living room and into the kitchen. I hated the kitchen but my mother spent most of her time in it. She loved the color yellow and had chosen the brightest and loudest shade she could find. I didn’t have anything against yellow but I also didn’t want to have to wear sunglasses at breakfast.
I wanted, needed, to clear the air before I went to bed and my mom understood me better than anyone.
My mom’s looks were similar to mine in a general parentage fashion. We had the same figure, which, thank-you-Lord, she had kept as she aged; we also had the same light skin. The difference was mostly in tone. Her looks felt warm. She had mahogany hair with deep orange and red coloration, she had freckles, and she also liked to wear warmer colors so the overall look came across differently than my black hair, gray eyes and love for icy, jewel tones.
“I can’t believe you thought I go out with someone besides Henry,” I said as I got myself a glass of water and sat at the dining room table.
My mom rolled her eyes and sat down across from me. “I can’t believe it either.”
I took a long swig from my glass and dove in. “Something happened tonight that I need to talk to you about.” I hadn’t known whether I would tell her about the evening, but by tomorrow everyone would know and Henry and I might be mentioned. Better to tell her now so she didn’t freak out when the time came.
I explained everything as best I could; leaving out what I suspected the girl had done in the woods because I didn’t want to deal with the May’s-gone-crazy look I knew she would give me.
My mom was shocked but there wasn’t much she could do besides listen and promise to make some calls the next day. Soon after I finished the tale I called it a night and headed to my bedroom with the concerned eyes of my mother on my back the entire way there.
I slept in the remodeled attic, choosing to move there when I had turned twelve because no one could reach it except by a pull down ladder that made me feel like had I my own privacy. A small desk sat in the corner and housed my lap top, and glittery stars hung from the rafters. A Yale poster and a head shot of Marilynn Monroe hung on the wall.
Besides getting a little cold in the winter, it suited me.
I changed into some flannel pajama bottoms and a tank top and saw that Henry had texted me good night. After I responded in kind, I settled in to recoup and relax for the rest of the weekend.
My Google searches started out innocent enough, with words like patient wardrobes in Wallowa County and missing children, but as the weekend wore on I got more desperate with the lack of significant info on the web and finally started looking into kids with special abilities and silver, bleeding eyes. The only useful thing I found was that bleeding from the eyes was a certifiable condition called Haemolacria, and it affected less than a dozen people on the entire planet.
After filtering through X-Men comics and wizard sightings, I gave up.
I kept waiting to hear news of the girl’s death or something about her parents, but nothing came up on the local news. I picked up the Chieftain newspaper, which covered most of the area, and read every word regarding a moratorium on medical marijuana, a Joseph renovation idea, but nothing regarding a little girl lost in the woods.
So I started out on Monday curious and a little frustrated by my utter failure to find information. I stayed silent about it through the majority of the week still expecting to see something pop up but with two days until the camping trip I couldn’t contain it any longer.
“Why do you think they haven’t released the details?” I asked Henry. We were sitting in the cafeteria with the same group as usual and I tried to speak quietly since we’d decided not to mention it until the information went public.
His green eyes met mine. “Maybe her parents wanted to keep it under wrap.”
“Maybe,” I answered, unconvinced. I wanted to keep talking about it hoping that I could figure it out the more times I went over it, but Henry wanted to put the odd incident behind him, so I dropped it.
That night Katie and Tessa came over to help me pack before we left that weekend and as usual, the two danced on the verge of second degree murder. The constant bickering annoyed me more than usual.
“Will you guys shut up,” I snapped, tired of hearing them squabble over whom could potential climb Mount Everest faster. Katie argued that her body type and hard core genes would stand the test, while Tessa scoffed and told her that she had the breath capacity of a killer whale and could skip to the top.
Both girls looked over at me with identical shocked expressions. I found myself smiling at their similar responses even though I didn’t want to let go of my dark mood quite yet. My normally long fuse felt itty bitty tonight and neither girl was used to seeing me snap.
I‘d decided at lunch to drop the child and let it go like Henry had, but I’d gotten home and refreshed the news page online, thinking something may have popped up in recent hours. My search had morphed into all missing persons, but other than street kids and some foster runaways nothing came up with the young girl’s description. Maybe officials couldn’t find her parents or she was one of the runaways, but it would make more sense to let the population know so that the media could help with the search. And if she didn’t have parents, then why hold back the information?
“-why you’re upset. You get to spend the entire next week making eyes at Henry. They rest of us have to watch and try not to vom.” Tessa hadn’t stopped making fun of my relationship with Henry after that first kiss, years before. She went through stages of support and stages of bitterness concerning my relationship with him. I had no idea what shifted the tide between the two emotions and I didn’t care to look into it, so I put up with her attitude and the hot and cold of our friendship.
Katie rolled her eyes and gave me a look that said she would snark at Tessa at the earliest opportunity I allowed.
“We don’t make eyes at each other. And so what? He’s my boyfriend.”
I walked over and fell back on the bed, scattering the myriad of clothes thrown there earlier in my attempt to pack.
Tessa lay back against the headboard, smoothing down her color treated hair to get comfortable. She squealed suddenly and sat up pointing a finger at me. “Are you going to do it?”
Katie shot up on the other side of the bed with a look of utter disgust on her face. Her head started shaking a mile a minute but she couldn’t seem to form words such as cease, desist, no, brother.
I answered before she got there. “No. I don’t think so anyway.” But then my mind snagged on the idea. Maybe that was just the spark he and I needed to get back on track. We could take this step, and spend the summer together and head to college. He hadn’t settled on one yet, so he could choose something near me and we could…what? Do what we were doing now, but with sex?
Yeah, right, the answer to that would be no.
Tessa stood up from where we all laid on the bed and started picking through clothes. “Who knows what will happen when we are all drunk in the woods.”
Good point. No drinking, I told myself in the firmest inner voice I could muster.
A few hours later, bags successfully packed, the girls left and my mom came in to talk about what time Henry would pick me up in the morning. He and Katie would pick me up and we would meet with Jimmy and Tessa at the campsite mid-morning to spend the weekend together before the rest of the gang arrived on Monday. The drive would take five or six hours and land us somewhere in the middle of Idaho at a campsite unknown to most, according to Jimmy. A bunch of kids could drink, party and chill without needing to explain themselves overmuch. Jimmy had ingenious ways of getting alcohol from his buddies at his job at a local gas station, so they rest of us pitched in for food and water and it became the perfect Spring Break. The last Spring Break I had in high school.
I waited for any reaction and when none came I growled to myself. How could I already have such apathy for life? I was only seventeen.
After crawling into bed and picking up a magazine, I decided that when I came back from this vacation I would start caring about life. No more disinterest in everything circling around me. I need to jump back into life with a new momentum. Maybe I would think about sleeping with Henry again after all college changed everyone anyway. A small voice whispered that nothing would really change, my life would still be one among millions, and I would still achieve nothing in the grand scheme of the world and nothing would hold my interest for longer than it would take to figure it out.
I ignored that voice. If I wanted to make a difference, I had to find the motivation myself.
See ya’ll later today for Thursday Thrifts!