With the release of this book on October 13, 2018 – I thought I would share one of my favorite chapters.
The artwork is a work in progress and I am open to suggestions.
The room went silent as everyone attempted to find the voice shouting in the room. D was shoved to the side by someone as they rushed up on the stage. Before she could comprehend what she was seeing, Roy was underneath Jonah, propping him up on his shoulders. Jonah was still breathing and appeared to be unharmed.
“What are you doing? This is my son?” Roy shouted as he struggled to maneuver Jonah into a comfortable position on his shoulders. “Cut him down now!”
“We can’t!” Tavish shouted back, signaling for men to move into position to restrain Roy. “He’s one of them. They’re going to destroy us, one way or another. You said it yourself Roy.”
The men signaled by Tavish looked torn between their leader and the man taking charge. Roy looked horrified as the realization hit him. This was why his son was spending so much time with D. He formed this mob to help kill his own son without realizing it. Roy had backed himself into a corner of his own making. His heart sinking into his stomach, he looked at the angry mob.
“I should have been consulted as the rest of the families were. This is not right!” Roy looked for any compassion from anyone but the only one who gave it was D.
“Consider yourself informed. Now, are you going to back away or do we have to remove you?” Tavish folded his arms, smiling smugly.
D watched the men go back and forth, neither budging in their position. She looked around the room for where he entered because she couldn’t put any of it together in her head. Erack was flanked by two men at the double doors leading to the abandoned interrogation wing. It all made sense now. Her best friend in shackles, Xayres running away. This would be the last stand for them, but she wasn’t going down without a fight. The distraction allowed her time to get her hands loose. Kneeling down with her hands behind her back, she pulled a throwing knife hidden in each boot, to be ready to fight her way free if necessary. If she stayed low, she may be able to get to Erack in time to free him but no matter how many ways she played it out in her brain, they would have to leave Jonah behind and that was something she simply refused to do.
Watching as the standoff in front of her reached a stalemate, she needed to plan her next move. This distraction would not last long and once they realized she disappeared, her window would be gone. Feeling the knives in her hand, she counted how many knives she held. Half a dozen, maybe eight. Her fingers were shaking which made her too clumsy to count exactly. Her next move would depend on a lot of factors and this was the most important one. Scanning the room, everyone’s attention and allegiances were torn between Roy and Tavish. With little hope of further reinforcements, D stood, ready for action.
“Erack!” She didn’t look at him as she shouted but he knew what she wanted from him.
Erack had one man on each elbow and as attention turned toward D, he yanked the two men forward, slamming them together in front of him. One swift agile movement with his hand, he swiped the key to his shackles out of one of their pockets and rolled forward between them before they crumpled to the floor. In a flash, his chains clanked to the floor and he stood up.
The room erupted in shouting and murmurs, no one sure what to do. Erack ran toward the stage as D threw one knife toward the gallows, aimed at the loop of rope on the top beam above Jonah’s head. Then a second one flew toward the collaborator’s noose as well. The ropes snapped in succession as Erack pulled the collaborator back, knocking him to the floor. Erack untied his hands and the collaborator removed the rope from around his neck.
Roy began to fall backward from the strain of trying to see what was happening above him and behind him and as he did, Jonah began to topple but Jonah’s rope was not completely cut through. Erack jumped behind Roy, pushing Roy forward as he fumbled with the ties around Jonah’s tiny hands. Roy steadied his feet then holding Jonah in place, Roy pivoted to be able to assist Erack. Erack turned his focus to the rope around Jonah’s neck, removing it carefully then pulling him off his father’s shoulders. They exchanged a glance although Erack didn’t know what it meant. Roy placed Jonah’s hand into Erack’s and nodded toward the door behind them. Erack nodded back and took Jonah with him as they raced to the door before the mob could respond and pour onto the stage. As they swung the doors open, the collaborator followed them through.
“I’ll tell him where the evacuation point is. I hope you see you there. Thank you!” Jonah’s voice ripped into D’s head momentarily disrupting her concentration.
At the sight of the collaborator dropping to the stage, the crowd froze, unsure how to react. D took this time to crawl across the floor and come up on the back side of the room near the corral. Climbing over the wall, she turned and barely glimpsed the back of Erack’s head as he disappeared out the door behind the gallows before the crowd rushed the stage. Roy cried out in pain as he was tackled and trampled. Tavish stood at the corner of the stage, shouting orders but D couldn’t hear what they were over the rise in noise level.
D’s eyes met Tavish’s as he realized she was the only one situated in the corral. Four to six knives left. Tavish’s eyes darted to the door behind the corral, his mouth dropping at the sight of it being wide open. He turned his head toward the back door as D flung her next knife straight at him. At the last moment, Tavish saw it out of the corner of his eye but it was too late for a complete dodge. The knife dug into his left shoulder as he leaned left to avoid it. He looked back toward the corral to see see racing toward the door. He pointed, shouting for someone to follow her.
She reached the door, looking over her shoulder to see how many people she had to shake when she hit something solid. Stumbling back, she looked in front of her. Four men in full combat gear now occupied the space of the doorway. D heard screaming behind her. Shots were fired. She raised her hands in surrender. Turning around, all the doors were now occupied by men in full combat gear closing in on the mob.
“On the ground! On the ground now!”
Another shot rang out and D heard a body thud as it hit the floor. People screamed as the ran over one another in circles.
“I will shoot you!”
More screams. More panic coursed through D’s body as the wave after wave of the emotions in the room hit her hard.
“On the ground! Face down!”
Hands on your head! On your head!”
D realized she had not answered a single command but then she noticed the men in front of her only blocked the door. They weren’t shouting orders.
“On the ground!”
Slowly the noise died except for a few cries around the room. D turned to scan it more completely. Everyone now laid on the floor, on the bellies with the hands on the heads as the men in gear held them at gunpoint, pacing through the rows and rows of people. The men in the doorway parted and Tallin walked through. His wave of dark thoughts hit her like a bullet to the stomach. He didn’t even bother to mask anything now. The ideas swirling around his head of torture and fear, lapping up the fear and chaos of the situation like a new trainee after their first topside run. D’s stomach turned. This was the real Tallin. The one no one ever saw. The man hidden inside the man. With one look, Tallin knew D heard everything and the walls immediately went up in Tallin’s head.
He clapped sardonically as he pulled himself over the corral wall. “I would love to say this surprises me, but it doesn’t. Disappoints me, definitely.” No one responded or moved. He paused to take in a deep breath. D felt he was breathing in the fear like he could taste it and smell it, shivering at the idea.
“Everybody sit up.” No one moved. “I said, sit up and face me!”
The soldiers shouted the order, getting everyone to respond, except Roy. He didn’t move.
“Okay, before I decide how to deal with all of you, we’re going to have a conversation.” Tallin moved to his favorite speaking spot in the middle of the room. “I have one question for all of you. It was asked of me not too long ago and now I am going to share it. Who do we want to be as a community, as a people? Is this who we want to be?”
Tallin surveyed the room. All he saw were the tops of heads. Everyone refused to meet his gaze. No one answered. Not one single person could answer. With no mob to lead the charge, the mentality was gone. Each one examined their actions in their own minds and many found their behavior inexplicable and unacceptable.
“If we lower ourselves to the same methods and regimes as our enemy, we become no better than they are.” Tallin motioned to round them all up.
A wave of shame and disgrace rolled over D as the military stood them up and marched them out in a single file line. Tallin followed at the end, leaving D alone in the room. She took some time to recover from the physical and emotional onslaught. Climbing over the corral wall, she walked toward the gallows. Roy’s eyes stared at her from the floor. A pool of blood underneath him. The man who led the charge ended up trampled to death by it. She knelt down and closed his eyelids. Breathing in hard, she walked out of the meeting hall. Today, she would not be leaving with the rest of the Potentials.