Oh, this is so cool! Tessa Conte is hosting a Blogfest of Death today where writers share scenes they’ve written showcasing a character’s death. Morbid, ain’t it?
Anyway, I figured this would be a great oppotunity to share the opening pages (about 1200 words) of my new WIP, SHARP’S BLOOD. (It’s a YA dystopian where vampires are once again badass.) Oh, yeah, and if you would let me know your thoughts on the term “Sharpie”–I’m looking for a substitute (something other than vampire), but haven’t found it yet.
Enjoy, and click here to check out the other fabulous entries!!!
A siren signaled a warning. I drew Sammie to me and stared at the dim outlines of bunk beds and chairs, scanning the darkened room for movement. The other Anemies—outcasts based solely on their low red blood cell count—huddled in pairs on their mattresses, crouched lower, as if curling into living meatballs would prevent the Sharpies from finding them, tearing them out of their beds, and burning them alive.
The siren’s call came to a crescendo. My heart hammered a traitorous beat while I tried to deprive my lungs of oxygen. Breathing lowered my ability to hear the stealthy movements of the Sharpies. I squeezed my eyes shut, praying the horrid sound of the raid call passed us by.
“They’re stopping here, Justin.” Sammie huddled closer to my chest, trembling.
“Shhh.” I smoothed my little sister’s golden hair. Maybe this was our time to die. Surviving three years beyond our parents was unheard of anyway, especially with the Sharpies raiding sanctioned safe houses.
Safe houses. What lies they spread. Nowhere was safe. How could you hide when they heard your heart beating, when your scuffling movements sounded like thunderstorms, and your decay oozed out in waves? No matter how much you tried to cover your scent, they could still smell fear. The building was rife with it. As the sweat trickled down my spine, I grimaced at the salty, dank odor emanating from my pores. No wonder they hated us. Our stench. Our weakness. Our frail humanity.
The shrieking of old hinges followed by the splintering of wood meant our stronghold—a converted school building—was breached.
Screams echoed from the first floor. At least I’d secured a spot for Sammie and I in one of the second floor classrooms. It meant we had time to attempt escape while the Sharpies busied themselves with torturing the victims below.
“To the roof, like I showed you,” I hissed in her ear.
“You’re not going out there are you?” A boy, no more than seven, grabbed my arm. I remembered him taking the only spot left by the door. The worst place to be, but he had no family to help him. Not that it mattered. His life was about to end anyway.
“Come with us,” Sammie extended her thin, pale hand.
“No. We go alone.” Sure, I felt bad for the kid, but he’d slow us down and then we’d all end up dead. No way I’d sacrifice my sister for some stranger, even if he was a child. Besides, it was hard enough keeping two mouths fed, let alone a third.
The boy cried. It yanked my heart out to leave him, but surviving proved more important.
I shoved Sammie into the hallway. Our bare feet slapped against the cold tile floor as we ran. My sweaty grip around her slender wrist slipped.
“I can’t see, Justin,” she cried.
“Keep going anyway.” Please God, don’t stop. Don’t pitch a fit. How many times had we run drills? Do this now. I wanted to clamp my hand over her mouth, but the Sharpies heard us anyway. Our heartbeats called to them like homing beacons. Our scent drew them like vultures. The ultimate predators chasing after weak prey. And I really thought an escape plan would work?
The cries of fear echoing behind us turned to screams of agony. The Sharpies enjoyed inflicting pain and our less fortunate hideaways no doubt suffered beyond comprehension.
I glanced over my shoulder in time to see an orange-yellow glow flickering at the edge of the stairs. “They brought flame-throwers. Sammie, come on! You must. Go. Faster.”
“I’m scared.” How her arm didn’t escape its socket from me tugging at her, I’ll never know.
Finally, we reached the end of the hallway. It took all my weight to push open the metal door leading to the roof. Outside, heavy rain sheeted down. We’d be blind if it weren’t for the city lights glowing all around. We ran to the edge of the building and looked over. Two stories. We could make twenty feet.
I swung a leg over the ledge.
“No, Justin, we can’t jump. They’re down there.”
“And they’re chasing us. Look, the alley is empty. We still have time.”
Sammie yanked out of my grasp. “I can’t. It’s too far.” She stepped away.
“Come. Here.” I hissed, scanning the roof. In seconds, we’d be overrun with Sharpies. They inflicted pain thoroughly and efficiently, which was not something I wanted to endure.
“No.” She shook her head and crossed her arms in eight-year-old defiance.
My hands clenched into fists. “We don’t have time to argue. This was the plan.”
“You said there’d be a fire escape. A ladder.”
There was. Yesterday. The Sharpies day workers had torn it away from the brick façade. I should’ve known they were planning a raid and not “making repairs” like the men said. How stupid of me to trust a “chosen slave.” The bite marks at his neck should’ve been warning enough, but no, I had let my guard down and we were gonna die because of it. Seventeen year olds shouldn’t have to make these decisions.
“Come on!” I lunged at Sammie, but she slid out of my grasp, wet and slippery from the pelting rain.
The door we’d just come through burst free from its hinges. A Sharpie, tall and darkly clad, stood in its wake, his body backlit by the flames overtaking the building.
Sammie screamed. I grabbed her shoulders.
“Going somewhere?” The monster’s deep voice echoed in my ears despite the heavy downpour.
“Cover your ears!” I pressed my hands to either side of my head. Listen long enough and the Sharpie’s voice triggered a trance. It would be impossible to run or fight, no matter how much you wanted to.
Sammie didn’t move.
The Sharpie kneeled. “Come here, little one.”
She stepped forward.
“No!” I caught her shirt collar and tugged. “You can’t have her, blood sucker.”
A throaty laugh embraced me. “My, my. Such energy for an Anemie. But really, what makes you think you can run from us?” He extended an arm. “Come here, Samantha.”
Sammie turned to me and slashed my arm with her nails. The sharp burn of it raked through my body and I let go. Freed from my grasp, she ran to the Sharpie and he collected her in his arms, lifting her above his head. One twirl. Two twirls.
“Stop it! Let her go.” I yelled. Why didn’t my legs move? Why did I just stand watching?
The Sharpie set Sammie down. “You’re brother doesn’t like to play, does he? All right, then. Fun’s over.” He put his hands to her neck and twisted. A sick snap crashed against my ears. Sammie slumped to the ground, dead.
“No!” Tears blurred my vision, racing down my face, matching the river of rain falling over me. Pain seized my chest, cutting my cry short. Air refused to enter my lungs. The already frigid rain became icy, each drop striking my skin like a liquid razor blade.
“Your turn, Justin. I promise not to make it so easy for you. It will ease some of your guilt for not helping your innocent little sister.”
The coldness of his words matched the chill of the night. I shivered. What would it feel like to have fangs burrowing into my flesh and my limbs torn away, one by one?