The residents of Impervious are the remnant, the survivors of the war of Annihilation. And though the city is chockfull of pleasures to tantalize and entertain, a beast lurks in the corners, haunting the residents with its presence. The Beast, a mysterious and terminal illness killed off most of Generations One, Two, and Three. And as Gen-Four prepares to take the stage, a provocative, yet questionable, new method to avoid an untimely death incites a cultural rage. But Fran lives counter-culture, off the grid in true rebel fashion. With a life far from opulent, she scurries through dark tunnels, searching for hot meals with Pete while ditching the holographic security team. To her, it's a healthy trade-off. Unaccountability means The Council can't steal her sliver of hope, a belief that she'll see The Epoch arrive before The Beast can pull her into its Fetid embrace.
Fran spied Gillius, third in line, in front of a girl with a sleek chestnut mane. Like the others, Gillius’ left fist rested on his chest, pinky pointed upward as he gave honor to the great city of Impervious. His glassy stare screamed of the venom already snaking through his veins, soon to bring an end to his life.
A shudder shook Fran as she wondered about corporeal termination. Rumors spoke of an excruciating end where the forfeitures dropped into agonizing spasms of death during the final pageant. Fran shivered again and reminded herself that sensationalism stemmed from useless gossip which, in turn, always led to melodrama. Then again, the entire event was absurd, so why not?
She questioned whether she and Pete should even be there, gawking like a typical resident as the parade worked their way down the stairs from center stage to the outside rim of the circle. They began an official promenade moving as one unit, soundlessly, like a snake slithers through tall grasses. Right behind Gillius, the girl—what’s her name?—moved with the grace of a dancer, while glowing hair cascaded about her shoulders like the velvety train of her robe.
Chestnut Peak―that was it.
As the procession moved closer, Fran could make out their facial features with better clarity. Chestnut’s obvious youth surprised her. As far as she knew, no one under twenty-five had ever forfeited, yet this girl still had the look of a mid-lifer, like Fran.
The line swayed with rhythmic motion, and soon snaked only fifteen feet or so away from the venting where Fran and Pete hid. The eerie silence which enshrouding the promenade morphed into the sound of rushing air. A dozen pairs of slippers moved in a whisper just a few inches from Fran’s eyes. When the fourth set of feet swished into her line of vision, Fran noticed a hesitation.
“Ladies and gentlemen, would you please bow your heads as Sasha Lee Dees surrenders, and we give honor to her name.”
Sasha? Fran sucked in her breath.
The entire march halted. A deafening silence reverberated through the courts followed by horrific gurgling sounds. Then, Sasha dropped to the floor. Not more than a few feet from where Fran sat tucked into the venting, her chestnut head rolled from side to side and her eyes shone like polished black orbs.
Back when Fran still lived in the Old East Wing, Sasha had visited their pod once or twice to work with Ted on his macros. Fran remembered spying on them from her doorway, hoping to catch her brother making a move or something. She could almost hear Sasha’s easy laughter and witty remarks.
Now, however, her eyes locked onto Fran’s as if screaming for help. Her face contorted, and her body trembled. Fran felt a vibration move through her own body as her nerves quivered in sympathetic pain. Sasha’s arms and legs splayed and spasmed as her back arched and head thrashed about. A sickening, acrid odor, like a mix of poison and death, wafted from the velvety robe, and bile rose in Fran’s throat. Finally, Sasha’s eyes rolled back into her head, and her movement terminated.
A cheer erupted from the crowd who loitered on overhead balconies and platforms, and Fran clasped her hands over her mouth stifle the scream that roared through her body. All Accountable residents of legal viewing age watched the event. It was a big deal. Although some probably scrutinized from a small screen in the comfort of their living pods, too many just couldn’t resist the sick urge to watch it live.
The cheers finally died down, and when reverence returned, the swishing slippers resumed. The seven forfeitures in line behind Sasha tiptoed over the fallen body and continued the march, leaving Sasha where she dropped.
I’m a book-writing, selfie-taking, latte-drinking, social media gal. I’m living a good life on the road as a full-fledged Bedouin (Well, except, my tent is actually a fully-equipped RV.) Me and my partner-in-crime (Benj) tend to hunker down wherever the skies are clear and the temps stay in the 70’s. We call ourselves Gypsy Nerds because we aimlessly wander the U.S. with glasses perched upon our noses and faces jammed into computer screens (for the first half the day... The second half of the day is typically devoted to playing because we’re also somewhat immature.)
Like most authors, the characters I create are my extended family. And like most readers, when the story ends, I get a little sad. In real life, I have two handsome, hardworking, grown-up boys who know how to make their Mama proud! *Waves to Joey and Mike!*
The Ascension Series is my debut into the world of YA fiction.
I’m living what I love and loving what I live!