Hello! I do hope you all had a most fabulous July Fourth weekend. Mine was quite lovely, and I am late to my normal Monday posting because of it, but that’s all right.
So, in honor of finishing Fallen Matter and all that excitement, I thought I’d share some snippets with you. This book is still extremely first draft-y, so be sure to read at your own risk. Don’t want any eyeballs melting or other such inconveniences.
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A sense of fear took over the emptiness inside me. I jerked away from the balding man and the arms gripping my shoulder, stumbling into the bed. I gripped the mattress, crumpling the thin white sheets in my fists as I waited for the room to stop spinning. A hand reached for me but I moved away again and staggered toward the door, hardly knowing what I was even doing. If only I could get one clear thought.
The balding man came for me, snagging my arm in a tight squeeze. I found myself far too weak to pull away this time. I simply stared at his round face as it wavered back and forth through my wobbly vision.
"Where...where am I?" I croaked, finding I could hardly even speak.
"They're coming!" a woman behind the man shouted, staring wide-eyed at some sort of small screen in the palm of her hand.
The man jerked my wrist up toward him and reached to remove the plastic band. It had spun around, and now instead of the stream of random numbers I could see two words. Breighly Matterdon. I stared at the words, mesmerized.
Trying to find my voice, I licked my lips, but my tongue was so dry it did no good. "What's Breighly?"
The man struggled to pull the thing off from around my hand. Its sharp edges cut painfully into my sore wrist. "You."
I only blinked, my head too foggy.
"That's your name," he clarified. "You're Breighly Matterdon."
"My name..." I whispered. Ripping my arm away from him, I covered the band with my other hand and held it tight against my chest.
He stared at me with his beady eyes. A drip of sweat slipped down his temple. "We have to hurry. I must get the band off of you and get you out of those clothes."
Looking down at myself, I only then noticed my white pants and shirt. I took a step back, the tiled floor cold under my bare feet, and pressed my wrist closer against me. I could not explain why I wanted to keep the band. It was the one thing that proved I was somebody. I did not want to let go of that.
. . .
"Well, you'll have a cot tonight. I'll show you around after lunch. Now come on, I'm hungry too!"
"You're always hungry. You could stand to wait half a second." Elan went over to retrieve his trench coat from the floor and proceeded to put it on.
"No, don't hide them," his brother protested.
"I don't particularly want to be gawked at."
"You're no fun. If I had them I'd be showing them off."
"You draw enough attention to yourself without wings."
Cyrus just grinned proudly.
. . .
Swerving around, I found Cyrus racing toward me, the echo of his pounding feet in the thin hall rapping into my coming headache.
"What happened back there?" he asked the second he had reached me. His rapid words rattled as he tried to catch his breath and speak at the same time. "Elan told me to find you. He was going to come but the Enlighters wanted to examine him right away. They told me you just needed time to think or something like that and I should show you where you'll sleep. Except it's not even bedtime, we haven't even had supper, but they told me to show you anyway. Speaking of supper, are you hungry? It didn't look like you ate any of your lunch. I know it wasn't very good, but you should eat you know. Oh, you found Fay! Hi, Fay!"
It took my brain at least a full minute to even process that jumble of information. The Enlighters told him to show me where I'll sleep? They were really going to let me stay? I couldn't even decide what that meant before Cyrus was speaking again.
"What are you doing on the floor, Fay?" He stepped around me and helped the girl to her feet.
She gave him a weak smile and then cast me a half-second look before biting her lip and returning her gaze to the ground.
I tugged at my shirt, choosing the ground to stare at as well. "I...um...accidentally bumped into her."
"That happens to you a lot, doesn't it, Fay?" Cyrus said with a half chuckle. "She's so quiet, sometimes you don't even know she's there! But it all worked out, because I was going to introduce you two anyway. I didn't get a chance at lunch." His voice lowered with suspicion. "Unless you've already done it without me."
I looked back up to find him giving me a skeptical glare, but there was an unmistakable gleam in his eye. It was so hard to stay upset around this boy. "Don't worry, you came just in time to introduce us."
His face transformed into a grin, but he cleared his throat, forcing it to a serious expression. Standing erect, he waved a hand dramatically in my direction. "Lady Fay, allow me to introduce the good Miss Breighly Matterdon." His widely gesturing hand turned toward the girl. "Miss Matterdon, this is the fair Lady Fay." He leaned in my direction, blocking the side of his mouth with a hand. "Technically, her real name isn't Fay," he said quietly, "it's just short for Finn...Finnoo..."
"Fionnuala," the girl said. Her voice was so soft, it barely reached above a whisper.
"Yeah, that." Cyrus gave a single nod of triumph.
I ran the name through my head carefully. Fin-noo-lah. "That's an interesting name."
"It's from some ancient Irish legend," Cyrus said, "about people being turned into swans for nine-hundred years or something like that. I always forget. Anyway, we all just call her Fay. It's easier."
Swan. I probed my mind, trying to bring up an image of that word. It was a bird I thought. Yes, a white bird with a long neck that glided on water. Quiet and graceful. I studied the girl in front of me, small and silent. Her name fit her well.
. . .
Isaac's eyes studied my hands gripping his wrist. "I better not be late."
"Oh." Blushing, I released him. "So you're one of the surveyors?"
This time, he flashed a grin. "They wouldn't have gotten anywhere without me. Don't you remember? I'm the best hacker in the city."
"You mean you're the one who opened the aerodite dock in the Lab?"
"That and killed their cameras."
I smiled. "I guess I have a lot to learn about you. Or relearn, I suppose."
"I look forward to it." He took a few hesitant steps down the hall before halting and turning to face me.
I shifted under his gaze. "What?"
He smiled. "It's just good, seeing your face again."
I waved him off. "Shoo with you. You're going to be late for your meeting."
Grinning, he gave me a wink before swerving around and vanishing down the adjacent hall.
I lingered only for a moment before leaving in the opposite direction, unable to wipe the smile off my face.
. . .
I hardly remembered entering the girls' room, or entangling myself in my cot, or how long I had been biting down on my blanket, screaming. I did know I had run one word through my mind one hundred thirty-two times.
Stupid, stupid, stupid...
More muffled screaming.
"Goodness, girl, some people are trying to sleep."
Snapping my eyes open, I found a wrinkly face staring back at me from a cot in the middle of the room. "And what are you doing with that blanket in your mouth?"
I pulled it out and swallowed, grimacing as I realized my mouth was full of fuzz.
Well? Well what?
The old woman narrowed her eyes. The skin over them was so stretched I wondered if she could even see. "You gonna tell me why you're making such a ruckus and eatin' your blanket?"
"I was...upset," I answered lamely.
"And that's how you cope, eatin' things that will tear up your digestive system?"
Ashamed, I pulled blanket lint off of my tongue, completely at a loss how to respond to this craggy old woman.
With an hmph, she began pushing down on her poof of gray hair, but it didn't seem to be improving anything. "Wakin' old ladies," she muttered, apparently to herself. "No respect for elders these days."
I decided this was Tiff's grandmother. I had yet to properly meet her, all she seemed to ever do was sleep. Tiff had mentioned her "Grans" was tired all the time and couldn't do much. Although she wasn't exactly oozing "frail old lady" at that moment.
"What's got your voice box shattering anyway?" she asked, peering at me below the flaps of skin over her eyes.
Dropping my gaze, I ran a finger across the wrinkles in my blanket. "I upset a friend. A very good friend."
"Then why are you here wakin' old ladies and not out there apologizing?"
My wandering finger found a hole in the material and poked its way through. "I'm afraid."
"Well, apologizing certainly isn't easy, but life isn't easy, hon."
I huffed a dry laugh. "No."
"You just got to face it. No point in losing a friend because you're too frightened to say 'I'm sorry'."
. . .
If only my heart would stop beating so hard.
My body stiffened when I realized that wasn't just the sound of my pounding pulse I could hear. Another noise came from down the tunnel.
Thump, thump, thump.
Jumping to my feet, I twisted around.
Thump, thump, thump.
It grew louder by the second, with more pounding joining in, all in rhythm to my racing heart.
Light appeared, illuminating the white shapes coming straight toward me. Someone spotted me and pointed.
Reeling around, I surged forward. The light in pursuit behind me sent my shadow stumbling wildly on the tracks.
They couldn't be here. They just couldn't. How did they find us?
I had to move faster, faster!
The second I saw light ahead, I lurched around and darted through halls. My lungs felt ready to burst, but there was no time. Our time was up.
"Run!" I hacked out, bursting into the mess hall. Stumbling over chairs and tables, I waved the few people inside away. "We have to run! They're here!"
Cyrus jumped to his feet so fast his chair fell over, adding more clamor to the room. "Who's here? What are you talking about?"
"The authoritaters! They've found us! They're com—" A rush of heat sent me hurdling forward, away from the charred table. Swerving around, I saw the redhead at the hall entrance, rubbing her hands together and smirking at the half dozen Purists cowering in fear before her.
"All right, everyone. Come forward with your hands up or it's going to get ugly." She emphasized this was ball of fire plunging from her bare palm and igniting a nearby chair.
. . .
"Could you hurry, please?" Lykan's impatient voice broke into my fears. "Those stun guns don't last forever."
I shook myself free of the worries and nodded. At this point, I had no choice.
"When did you figure out what the gun did, anyway?" he asked.
"Your stunning personality gave it away."
"My face does have magical properties."
I wasn't sure if it was the nerves or just the fact that I hadn't done it in so long and it came out as a coping mechanism, but I actually laughed.
. . .
Redness caught my eye, and I found a splotch of blood covering Lykan's upper right arm. "You're hurt."
"That's what happens when you don't wear your seatbelt and let an idiot drive."
I bristled. "You told me to!"
"That was before I knew how incompetent you were. Really, is it that hard to keep your eyes on the road?"
"You shouldn't have been hanging out the door of a speeding vehicle!"
"It's called saving your life, so I think the proper response would be a thank you. Those authoritaters were never going to give up."
. . .
"I hate hats and hoods," Lykan said, slipping on a coat he had apparently retrieved with the rest of the clothes. Of course it was black. "They muss up my luscious hair."
"Well, right now your luscious hair is greasy and tangled, Mr. Handsome, so keep your hood up," I said, standing on tiptoe to reach over his head and pull the hood down over his eyes.
He shoved it up to where I could see his blue eyes twinkling. "Oh, so you're making jokes now? We've made strides."
I turned away before he saw my cheeks flush.
. . .
"Lykan! What are you doing here?"
Our intruder spun on his heel to face me. "Here to escort you to the Lab, what else? Oh, and look, if it isn't Bat Boy. Going to join our ranks? Can't say I'm surprised." He wandered toward us, slipping around the counter to examine the contents of the kitchen. "Got any food? I'm starved. You wouldn't believe how dry ol' Ferton's fridge is."
"Excuse me, young man," Marli shrieked, “didn't I just tell you that you can't barge in here like this?"
He peered over the counter and gave her a wink. "I believe you did."
"Well, I..." She blinked, seeming baffled.
"Lykan, stop that this instant!" I jumped from the stool to confront him. "Did they really send you to take us to the Lab?"
"Well, technically no. The escort picked me up first and then drove here. Our apartment buildings are pretty close by you know."
"Then where's the escort?" Elan asked, frowning.
"You mean to tell me you two have been eating pancakes and didn't invite me? I'm hurt." Lykan swiped up my unfinished stack and stuffed nearly a whole pancake in his mouth.
I snatched the plate away and slammed it on the counter. "Where's the escort, Lykan?
His grin revealed nothing but chewed up pancake. After swallowing, he merely shrugged and said, "He was annoying so I made sure to get to the elevator first and closed the door before he could reach it. I'm sure he'll be up soon." With that he reached over me and snagged the plate back, shoving two more pancakes in his mouth.
. . .
As the fire withdrew, Reese poked her head into the new room. "Well, this one looks fun."
Cautiously, I took a glance. Waves of heat bombarded my face the moment I did.
Before us stretched out another room, long and wide, but far from empty. Jets of fire streamed out from the walls, floor, and even the ceiling in sporadic patterns. A single metal box, about six feet in width and height, rested close to the door.
A click and a swoosh came before each burst of fire, and when I heard one close by I knew to jump back before the closest one shot through the doorway for the third time.
"Any bright ideas for this one, O Guide?"
Tiff gave Lykan a shove. "Leave her alone. We all know you're just scared to get your oh so perfect hair burned."
. . .
"Let's all give Breighly an applaud for actually using her supposedly perfect memory for once."
"Lykan, this is kind of a big moment, so could you stop ruining it with your sarcasm?"
He merely responded to Tiff's comment with a wink.
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Not sure how half of those ended up being centered around Lykan. . . >.> Ahem, but, I hope you enjoyed them!