Sunday, July 27, 2014

Legions of Fate - Book 2

This month I decided I would like to share the opening scene of my 2nd book in my Legions of Fate series. The first book in this series, The Highlander's Curse, has been one of my favorite projects and though I've been going through a writer's rut, the characters in this book have been talking to me over the last few days. Enjoy!

He couldn’t believe he was actually looking at her. After all this time, Laura Bennett was less than a foot away from him. And not just any Laura Bennett…Laura Madison Bennett. A woman who’d proved difficult to not only pinpoint from genealogical reports, but also to find in real life. It was bad enough that she’d gone off the grid for the last year, but the fact that it was his fault made his life with the Legions a living hell for the last 364 days, give or take. But, as he’d expected, she’d come out of whatever hole she’d stashed herself in and had finally deigned to join the land of the living.
Not that she looked all that lively at the moment. She was downing, what, her eighth drink already? She had already drawn snickers and whispered comments from the Applebee’s waiters and waitresses, who currently had a bet going on what time she’d hurl all over their floor.
Jared shifted in his bar stool, glancing at Laura from the corner of his eye as she huddled over her plate, sniffling at the picture she gripped tightly between her thumb and forefinger.
“Laura,” her dad berated quietly, awkwardly trying to avoid more attention. “I know its tough, but you’ve got to get a hold of yourself. You’ve already had too much to drink tonight, and that’s no way to work through your grief.”
“What do you know?” She drew the back of her hand across her face, wiping away her tears. “I tried, you know. I really tried. I just don’t think I can do this anymore.” Her forehead dropped onto her crossed arms, her hair barely missing the mashed potatoes and gravy. Laura peered up at her dad again, wiping her tears away again. “You still have Mom, and you still have me. You don’t know how this feels.”
Jared winced at the pure torment in her voice and in her very demeanor. He’d seen the pictures of the car when it had been pulled from Forestport Reservoir. The car had not only driven off the bridge into the water, but the reservoir’s bed had done insurmountable damage during the crash.
“Besides,” Laura continued with a shrug, “it’s worked pretty well for me for the last twelve months.”
“Is that what you’ve been doing at the cabin all this time?” her father gawked. “Drinking yourself into a stupor? What happened to running? You love to run.”
The cabin? Jared thought. That’s where she’s been? He didn’t even know her family owned a cabin. Had he and the Legions known, he could have reached her months ago instead of wallowing in his own failed attempt; watching other Legions shake their heads at him in mock sympathy. Those who’d never lost a charge.
He was no idiot. Even now there were others nearby, watching and waiting for him to screw up again. Waiting for him to miss his chance at sending Laura back in time.
Just then, waiters and waitresses shuffled from the kitchen doorway, the leading waitress balancing a plate with a slice of cake on her palm. The employees following her had already started clapping as they made their way through the bar and around the corner to a large table of customers, who had started clapping in rhythm as a birthday song was sung.
Laura’s father excused himself then as he made his way toward the bathroom. The poor guy had tried probably a million times to get Laura out of the restaurant; out of view of other people as she experienced a complete meltdown. And yet, all Jared could think was: Here it was. The best chance he had.
He nudged the pocket watch on the bar toward her as he leaned in, offering her a smile. “Sounds like you could use another drink. Mind if I buy you one?”
Laura’s eyes bugged momentarily as she looked in Jared’s direction, almost as though she’d been surprised there was someone there. “I’ll take one if you’re offering,” she said before sipping on the last of her drink. “Just know it’s not going to lead to anything. I’m sure you’re a nice guy and all, but—”
Jared lifted a hand and shook his head. “It’s not like that. I can just tell you’re in need of another one.” He looked at the bartender. “Another one of whatever she’s having, and can I get my bill?”
“You got it,” the man said, immediately grabbing a new glass and pouring Laura’s drink. After setting it on a coaster, he shuffled off to the computer to print off his bill.
She wasted no time in bringing the glass to her lips. “Thanks.”
“No problem.” Jared threw some cash down on the bar after seeing his total due. Standing up, he slid his bar stool back under the counter. “Don’t worry ma’am. I have a feeling things will be looking up for you soon.” He gave her a smile and strode away.
“It can’t get any worse,” she muttered, almost imperceptibly.
He reached the first set of doors and walked through as the hostess held one open for him. Please pick it up, please pick it up.
“Hey!” Laura yelled.
Jared rushed through the other door and turned left as he reached the sidewalk.
Laura’s voice called out from behind him. “Hey, uh…sir. You forgot this.”
He turned, meeting her eyes as she more or less stumbled toward him. She might have caught up to him easily under normal circumstances. Then again, under normal circumstances her mind would have already picked up on the fact that something was wrong.
Laura’s progress slowed and her brows furrowed as she peered down at her hand.
Come on, come on…hurry. There was no one on the sidewalk that could see anything; but that didn’t mean a million things couldn’t go wrong: a diner could look out the window, or Laura’s dad could waltz out of the door, a driver passing by on the street, or for the love of god, a customer could head toward the restaurant seeking a bite to eat—any of which could witness the inexplicable phenomenon of someone disappearing into thin air. None of it mattered to him at the moment; it was a chance he had to take. Not that he had any choice now.

“Hey…wha…ow! What the hell!” She tried to fling the watch from her hand, but it had already latched onto her skin. Her eyes rolled back in her head and she began to crumple to the ground. Just before her body hit the ground in this time, she completely disappeared. He knew she still fell though, just way, way, way in the past.

Copyright © 2014 Katalyn Sage

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Animas-Part One

This is a three part short story. Here's the first section. I hope you like it. 

My footsteps echo in the abandoned lot that borders the city walls. This is my fourth workout this week. I thought these grueling sessions would end once I got married. It was why I trained so hard once I was old enough to begin Physical Training. Puberty helped with my height and build. It was just a matter of fitness after that. I got what I wanted. I got married. Yet, five years into it, I’m still out here running in circles.

Being matched with Charlyt made the exercises worthwhile. Hell, I’d run every day if that’s what it took to be with her. The Matching Office really knew what was doing.

Since I have to train, I like to do it early in the morning. No one is here in the yard. The heat of the day hasn’t started to scorch the dry ground. It’s just me and the morning mist.

This morning though, a sound I’ve never heard is ringing off the surrounding buildings. It’s a muffled pounding that comes in spurts of frenzied activity and then nothing. I checked the perimeter, scanned every blown out window that overlooks the exercise yard and I still don’t know where the sound is coming from. The unease I feel with the noise in the yard spikes the readings on the monitor strapped to my chest. I don’t want my body stats going back to the Office of Male Fitness for Race Preservation to show anything unusual. I try to ignore the sound and push through the last of my workout.

The monitor beeps to end my session. I slow to a stop and lean against the wall. Another episode of pounding begins, louder than before, and I feel the wall tremble at my back. I step away just in time to avoid the shards of brick from pummeling my body as a pick axe breaks through the wall.

I switch off the monitor. Charlyt always reminds me not to give the government more than I have to.

A small body shoots through the settling dust, running right into my chest. It’s a boy, barely old enough to start Physical Training. He’s scrawny and covered in grime. He latches onto my waist. “Don’t let them take me. I’d rather die than have one of them take over my mind.”

“Whoa bud. What are you talking about?”

“The Animas. They’re putting Animas in the Corda kids. They don’t send us out there to fight the Animas and protect our city. They send us out there to be anchor bodies for the aliens.”

“The Animas aren’t in our city. The Corda are protecting us.” I argue because I don’t know what else to do. There’s so much panic in his voice. I don’t know how to handle something like that.

He looks up at me. If he could reach, he would probably shake me by the shoulders. “I am a Corda. I just escaped one of the facilities. I know what I’m talking about. They take Cordas and fill our brains with Animas. They’re not going to kill us. They’re going to take over our bodies. They want to become us.”

A siren blares in the distance. Police have been alerted to the breach in the wall. They’re coming for the boy.

“Please help me.”

I pull his arms from my waist and step away from him. There’s no way I want to draw the attention of the police. Infertility brings plenty of its own attention. I don’t need criminal attention either.

The boy looks at me with tears streaking through the dust that has settled on his cheeks.

I turn on my heels and run. I can’t have anything to do with that lunatic. Any run in with the police could jeopardize my marriage. The city leaders could take away what they gave to me. Besides, the aliens that have been taking over Earth, the Animas, have one goal: to destroy the human race. From the city monitors scattered around the streets, the images of the surrounding cities are all the same. They are completely obliterated. That’s what the Animas do to humans, not take over their bodies or whatever that boy was talking about. Why would I risk my marriage with Charlyt for some deranged kid who just tunneled his way through the city walls? Everything he said was a lie.

“No it wasn’t. He told you the truth.”

I stumble over my own feet and fall. From the ground, I scan the alley I’m in. There’s no one here but me.

“I thought you were a better person than that, Roa. You are supposed to have compassion and empathy. That’s what sets you humans apart from us Anima.”

I scramble to my feet and run faster than I’ve ever run before. After sprinting two city blocks, I feel my body slow itself down, but I’m not tired. I can keep going. I bear down and push my body to pick it up. My body stops completely. I’m not controlling my muscles or my brain anymore. Something else is. I turn down another alley and sit on the ground. No matter what I tell my body to do, it ignores me. I panic.

“Calm down, Roa.”

I don’t actually hear the voice. It feels more like a thought coming directly to my mind. My body is calm, but my brain, whatever makes me, me, is going berserk.

“Listen, Roa. That boy told you the truth. The Animas are putting their essence into Cordas. Corda children have bodies that are uniquely compatible with our essence. Your city leaders aren’t humans anymore. Well, their bodies are human, but what controls them, the way I controlled you, is completely alien.”

“How did you control me? How are you talking to me? Who are you?” I don’t speak the words because I can’t get my body to respond to my commands.

“My name is Sy-Nu. I’m the Anima that was assigned to your body.”

“What does that mean?”

“My essence is in here with you. I’ve been here since you were three. You’re a Corda. You were taken to the facilities and the Anima assigned me to you.”

I can’t believe what I’m hearing. This whole conversation is going on inside my head. I must be crazy. That boy must have spread some disease to me, a disease that will send me right to the loony bin.

“You’re not crazy.”

“Can’t I have a private moment?!” Apparently it can read my thoughts.

“Of course I can read your thoughts. That’s how we’re communicating now.”

My marriage is over. There’s no way they’re going to let me stay with Charlyt, not when I’m crazy.

“You’re not going to lose Charlyt. You and I are going to work together to stop the Anima.”

“Really, stop listening to my thoughts. They’re mine, not yours.”

“What’s yours is mine. Look, I have been here all of your life. Just because I let you know I’m here doesn’t change who you are or what you’ve done. I haven’t controlled you or used you. I wanted to observe you, to see how a real human lives. Every experience, thought, and action you’ve taken in your life has been your own. By letting your conscious develop and grow, I have been violating the laws of the Animas. I was supposed to squash your conscious right from the beginning so that your body could be mine.”

“Why didn’t you? Why did you let me live my life? How is that going to help you take over the human race?”

“I don’t want to take over the human race. Before I got your body, I felt like the humans were different from other species we’ve conquered. By not taking over your consciousness, I got to observe you. I was right. You are different. Destroying your people would be an ugly scar on the Animas. Your lives are beautiful. The relationship between you and Charlyt is something the universe needs.”

A sick feeling crept into my stomach. “You were there when I was with Charlyt? The whole time?”

“I’m always…”

“Stop. I don’t want to hear. I just want you out of me. I want to live my life without you here. I want private moments with my wife to be private. Leave me alone. And don’t ever talk about Charlyt, you alien scum.”

“I’m sorry, Roa. But you should realize that I’m the reason you were chosen to marry. Without me, you would never have passed your Physical Examinations. Don’t you remember feeling like you performed better than you ever had, that you did things you didn’t even think you were capable of? I helped you. I wanted you to be with Charlyt. She is your match. I knew it long before you even knew her. I made that happen.”

I did remember the Exam. I remembered doing things I had never even thought possible. I thought I was just so passionate about being selected for marriage that I found some secret store of strength and ability. Knowing it was because an Anima controlled me changed my perception of myself. How did this Sy-Nu even know about Charlyt? I didn’t know about her until the city leaders married us and gave us a key to our apartment.

“Charlyt is a special human, just like you. I’ve been tracking her ever since I was put into your body.”

I put my head in my hands. Control over my body has returned. “This is going to ruin our marriage. I can’t hide you from her. So while you want me to thank you for getting us matched, it’s you who will tear us apart.” It is still be better to have loved Charlyt than to live without ever having her in my life.

“You won’t lose her. Go home and talk to her.”

I stand up. “What am I going to say? ‘Hey Char, I found out today that I have an alien living inside my body. He’s always been there, even when we thought we were alone. So cheers and how was your day?’”

“That might work.”

Ugh. I start walking home because I want to see her one more time before she’s too disgusted to even look at me anymore. If the city leaders don’t end our marriage and kill me, Charlyt will end things.

“Trust me. She loves you. Things will work out.”

Sy-Nu doesn’t say anything else and we…or I…or whatever…push open the door. Charlyt stands up from the kitchen table and comes to hug me, just like she does every time I come home. I hold her tight, breathing her in. We stay that way for a long time.

Finally, I let her go.

She looks up at me. “What’s wrong?”

Here it goes. “I was at the training yard, resting after my workout, when a boy broke a hole in the city wall. He was crazy, saying that the Animas were putting their essence into the Corda children. He said our city was already under their control.”

She slowly sits down.

I stare at the floor, wringing my hands. “I didn’t want another incident with the police so I ran.”

She reaches for my hand and pulls me down next to her. Lifting my chin, she brings my eyes up to hers. “Then what happened?”

I look down again. I can’t bring myself to say it. This will crush her.

She nudges my chin again, searching for my eyes. “You finally learned about him, didn’t you? You finally talked with Sy-Nu.”