Well, sorry that this is a little late, but here’s the first chapter of my novel. Thoughts and suggestions would be much appreciated! Note: Only the first chapter will be posted on this blog. The rest of the novel will go on another blog that I have not created yet, but I’ll be sure to post the link.
Summary: Rowan is injected with a poison that takes away her memory. Although she tries to fight it, she eventually falls unconscious. When she comes to, she’s in a steel prison cell without any memories. After five miserable days of imprisonment, a mysterious woman gives her the name Lacey Gorse and takes her to her new home.
Rowan Atreus wishes her heart would stop beating. Not to die. No, she’s clawed her way through too much to give up now. Though with each treacherous thump, the larcenous substance courses through her veins, making her wish it would just. Stop.
But her heart won’t stop, or even hesitate for a breath. How could it, in a moment like this, when the power of the truth is in Rowan’s head but is about to be snuffed out? When she’s strapped down to a metal table, ominous machinery and lab equipment looming on all sides?
She thrashes against her restraints, making her heart hammer like a bird desperately throwing itself against the walls of its cage. There’s no use. The serum is doing its work; the darkness is coming.
Rowan fights back despair as she begins to accept the inevitable. She’s going to forget. She’s going to lose all she is so they can mold her into what they want. Black specks dance in her vision, telling her there’s little time left. As her consciousness slips away, she holds onto the truth with all the feeble strength she has left.
Then the darkness takes over.
Cold. That’s the first sensation she feels. When she blinks, her eyelashes brush the hard steel floor. She sees grey, grey and a tendril of something sandy colored. Only when she pushes herself up does she realize the sandy tendril is hair, her hair. Groggily, the girl forces herself to look around.
She’s surrounded by nothing but steel. Four steel walls, a steel floor, and a steel ceiling. Prison, she realizes through her daze. She’s in prison. The girl slumps against one of the steel walls. Now why, why would she be in prison?
That’s when she realizes. She has no idea who she is. The agonizing awareness pulls a gasp from her throat as she makes a frantic move to face the wall. Who is she? Where is she from? Why is she here? The girl rubs the steel surface of the wall with all her might, hoping to get a clearer reflection. Could it spark a memory?
Though after all her attempts, the inexorable wall yields only an obscure shadow, nothing that brings the slightest hint of a memory. The girl hits her fist against the wall and puts her head down with a sob. Is there more to life than this oblivion and exile? Will there ever be? She has neither a memory nor a friend to tell her otherwise.
Leaning her back to the wall, she lets out an anguished scream. But no one hears. She is entirely alone, all of her torment locked inside of her. This torturous truth causes her to collapse inside of herself, welcoming darkness’s cold embrace.
It’s Day Three now. Day three and she still knows nothing. Or she assumes it’s been three days. She can only count days by the lights. Every night the light in her cell flickers out, and the girl sleeps on her cot. Every morning the lights come back and she wakes up, though she’s never truly sure why.
And there are meals, three every day. They come in and out the same chute, and there’s a separate chute for her toilet pail. At one point, they even sent her a new set of loosely fitted grey clothing. She’s thought about starving herself, or rejecting the clothes. Yet she doesn’t.
She goes through all the motions of living. Sleeping. Waking. Eating. Wondering. Though she always feels like part of her is sleeping, and even with plenty of food, she never feels full. With all her wondering, she’s never found a single answer. Who is she? Who are her family, her friends, her fiends? Who put her here and why?
She wonders if perhaps she’s done something awful, something so awful that she deserves this fate. Some instinct tells her she isn’t that sort of a person, but sometimes this voice can’t be heard over the screeching silence that only prison can produce.
The girl doesn’t know who would bother to take such good care of a former criminal. She only knows that if she spends much more time here, she’ll go insane. She can’t remember anything, no matter how hard she tries. If she ever needs people, it is now. But she’s hopelessly alone, without any contact or help. If she ever needs memories, it is now.
So she waits. Whether it is for change, truth, insanity, or death she isn’t sure.
The thing she is waiting for comes on Day Five. She’s lying in a puddle of misery when without warning, one of the seemingly impenetrable walls parts, allowing room for a woman in a grey suit to walk in. “Come with me,” she orders brusquely.
The girl lifts her head and uncurls from her fetal position. “Come? I’m leaving?” she croaks with her unused voice.
“Yes. Up now. We don’t have all day.” The woman gives her a critical stare as she types a few notes on her board. It’s then that the imprisoned girl sees a single word printed on her liberator’s chest. Auroran.
“Are you my imprisoner or my liberator?” she asks.
The Auroran, as the girl comes to think of her, gives her a smile as warm as an ice storm. “Both.” Then she turns on her heels with a sharp click, staring down a long grey hallway.
Who is she? Can the girl trust her? Probably not, but this may be her only chance out of prison. Peeling herself from the floor, she follows after the Auroran. “Where are we going?”
“Save your questions for later,” is the curt response.
When they arrive in front of a set of metal double doors, the Auroran makes a sharp turn to face the girl. “I’m going to explain everything to you in a condensed, brief manner, so it would serve you well not to interrupt. Your name is Lacey Gorse.”
“No.” The response slips out before she can bite back her tongue. After all of the hours she spent trying to recall her name, she never produced any results, but some instinct tells her that’s not it.
The Auroran’s eyes narrows as she makes a discreet mark on her board. “I told you no interruptions. Your name is Lacey Gorse. Your past was bleak with a grey future, so when the Aurorans offered you a chance to take the Evaluation, you readily accepted. Since you scored among the top twenty percent, you earned yourself a place at the Auroran Learning Institute, commonly known as ALI. Your results are here.”
The Auroran makes a pause to hand the girl… Lacey a formal piece of paper. She ravenously reads the information in hopes of discovering something of herself, but finds her mind is whirling too quickly. She’s learned more about herself in the last five minutes than she has in the last five days, yet… if the Auroran lied about her name, what else could she be lying about. “What’s the Evaluation?” Lacey asks, trying to fill one of her hundreds of holes of knowledge.
“An accurate measure of beauty, intelligence, personality, creativity, and strength. You just completed the final part.”
Lacey’s eyes widen. “The prison… and the memory loss was part of a test? Does that mean I can have my memories back now?”
The Auroran keeps her eyes trained on the door. “The prison was a test of emotional strength, yes. The memory loss I’m afraid was an unfortunate side effect.”
“Why… how did it happen?”
“I’m afraid I don’t have time to explain.” The Auroran checked her board. “When that door opens in thirty seconds, you will begin your life at ALI.”
“What do I do there?”
“You learn. You live. You prepare for liability. You’re liberated.” The door opens to a stage with a crowd of young people around it. “Come now. The assembly is waiting.”
Lacey slowly creeps through the doorway, lingering behind as the Auroran steps to the front of the stage. “Students of ALI,” she begins. “Today Lacey Gorse will be joining you.”
A wave of whispers passes over the crowd, making Lacey want to slink behind and crawl back into her prison cell. No, she decides. Nowhere could be worse than there. She needs to be here, where there are people. Where someone might know something. She holds her head up, pretending that the crowds’ eyes aren’t turning her stomach into knots.
“Now we know you thought no one else would be joining, but these are unusual circumstances,” the Auroran continues, silencing the crowd. “You also need to know that Lacey has unfortunately experienced amnesia, which may cause some trouble to her adjustment, but we’re sure we can leave her in your care from this point on.”
Without another word, the Auroran walks off the stage and through the door, which closes behind her with a soft click.