So now, it's Tuesday. I almost forgot. Not that it's Tuesday, but that it's TEASER DAY! Luckily for you, my dear ninja-friend Amy reminded me. And also recommended (took me three tries to spell that right) that I post some of Rage.
Rage is my creepy fantasy-dystopia version of Beauty & the Beast. Enough said. Here is a snippet from it. ENJOY, AND THANKS FOR READING. :)
It was morning, but it was as dark as the dead of night outside.
I woke up to Caroline's voice, hissing my name. "Natasha. Natasha!"
I opened my eyes, which quickly adjusted to the dim light. My sister was shaking me, and I could see that her eyes were wide with terror. Right away, my heart started thudding. I heard the distant crackle of thunder, and my fear was confirmed. Like always, it was a feeling that came out of nowhere, a sensation that couldn't be defined. It was like a snake slowly coiling around my neck and choking me.
I couldn't breathe. "Today?" was all I could manage to croak out.
Caroline already had a shawl wrapped around herself. Her teeth chattered. She nodded.
I sat up, rubbing at my eyes, running my hands through my hair. My head reeled, trying to clutch at my own fluttering thoughts and pin them down.
Today. Today was the Sacrifice. Caroline and I were fifteen years old now, and that meant that, for the first time, we were in danger.
As I got out of bed, the chill of the early morning seemed to sweep around me in a cruel embrace. I noticed that our mother and Brandon were up, too. They were both standing at the cottage door, my mother crying and Brandon trying to comfort her.
I grabbed a simple blue dress from the closet. Caroline turned away, and I hastily got dressed, my fingers fumbling with the buttons. I could hear my own loud pulse in my ears, my breathing coming out thin and shaky.
I couldn't believe this was happening. Me? And Caroline? In danger of being Sacrificed? I wasn't sure whether to feel terrified or angry about it. Of course I feared being chosen, having to journey by myself into the unknown. But I was also furious. How dare that Monster demand this from us! And why did we obey? Why did we choose to do so without protest?
I hopped over to the door, still pulling on one of my shoes. Caroline handed me a shawl, which I draped over my shoulders.
I tried not to look at our mother, but I couldn't help it. One glance, and I could see how devastated she was. She had always been fragile and emotional, which probably had something to do with the death of our father; he had died when Caroline and I were babies, so neither of us could remember him. Lately, things had seemed to get worse for our mother. She kept getting paler, skinnier, until she almost looked like a child. Right now, tears were running from her dark eyes, streaking down her thin face.
“No, no,” she was sobbing, wild with fear. “Girls, you can't … I won't let them …”
Brandon had a hand on her shoulder. “Mother, don't worry. They'll be fine.” He gave me a pleading look, like he was begging me to say something. He probably didn't trust Caroline to comfort our mother; she was the kind of person who would only break down crying and make everything worse.
“We'll be fine,” I echoed my brother. I tried to force a reassuring smile onto my face. “Now, come on. We have to get to the Meeting House.”
Walking outside, I felt like I was experiencing the end of the world. Black clouds rolled across the sky, roaring with thunder, lightning branching down from them like electric blue veins. Rain lashed into my face right away, and I had to keep blinking in order to keep the water out of my eyes. In seconds, we were all soaked.
Meanwhile, the other Villagers were emerging from their cottages and scurrying towards the Meeting House with their hands over their heads, as if that would shield them from the downpour. Some people were shouting, crying out in fear. Others were murmuring to each other in anxious tones. I couldn't clearly see the expressions on anyone's faces; everyone kept their heads down to avoid the assault of the rain. The only comfort I felt was the brush of Caroline's shoulder against mine, as we walked side by side towards our unknown fates.
“Natasha.” My best friend, Michelle, came up behind me, out of breath. Her face was flushed; she had the type of fair skin that blushed easily. She brushed her dark brown hair, which was limp from the pouring rain, out of her face. She clutched at her wet shawl, pulling it tighter around herself. “I can't … can't believe this is happening.” Her voice was hoarse, almost a whisper.
“I know,” I answered in a mutter. I swallowed, feeling like I was going to be sick. “Neither can I.”
We didn't say anything else. The Meeting House had come into view. It was a simple, sturdy building built out of stones. It had small, round windows that didn't provide much light; on the inside it was always dark, giving the place a gloomy atmosphere. Especially on a day like this one, it didn't improve the mood.
Inside, everyone was crushed together, like every person was trying to get lost in the crowd. I held my breath, staying between my sister and my best friend. My mother and Brandon came in behind us. My mother was still crying, but more quietly now.
I searched the faces of the people around me, searching for the girls who were in danger. I saw parents trying to comfort hysteric daughters. Or, in some cases, the girls were trying in vain to console their parents. Everywhere, there were voices whispering that everything was going to be all right. Every girl seemed confident that she wouldn't be the Sacrifice. But it had to be someone, I wanted to scream at them. One of us has to go. One of us has to die.
As if in a dark reminder, thunder rumbled through the sky, and it sounded like deep laughter.
At the front of the round room, there was a wide platform. An elderly woman in black robes stood on it, as still as stone. Her snow-white hair was pulled back in a tight bun. Even though we all knew that she was very old, there was still an unusual hint of youth in her face, a sparkle of wisdom and intelligence in her eyes that made her appear younger. She was the leader of the Village, the one who watched over us all. We all addressed her as Mother Dearest.
Mother Dearest raised her hands, her white palms outstretched towards us, to calm the unsettled crowd. The voices around me fell obediently. Caroline and Michelle both reached for my hands, and I squeezed their hands in return. Like everyone else, I turned my face up towards Mother Dearest to listen. I couldn't help but feel a burst of blind hope: she would make everything all right, just as she always did. I trusted her, and she wouldn't let anything happen to any of us.
But I knew, in my heart, that she was powerless against the Monster. As many times as she had saved us all, she could do nothing to prevent the Sacrifice from happening.