Sunday, July 5, 2015
First 5 Pages July Workshop - Joesephson
Name: Kalyn Josephson
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Title: The Underground
In situations like this, the best thing Ross could do was stand as still as possible and filter out every single word her father spoke. Unfortunately, she’d never been very good at it. She made it all of ten seconds before seizing an empty beer bottle from the kitchen counter and chucking it at his head. Ericen ducked with all the grace of a dancing hippo, which was more than Ross expected considering he could barely stand upright.
The bottle shattered against the far wall, joining a growing collection of dust and hair on the floor. “I swear to God.” Ross’s voice was more of a growl than anything. “If you say one more word about mom, I’m going to kill you.” It wasn’t the first time she’d threatened her father’s life, but each time she felt more and more like she meant it.
Ericen collapsed back against the wall, his normally pale cheeks full of color. He’d been a handsome man once, before his wife had been kidnapped and he’d tripped and fell into an unending pool of liquor. Now Ross loathed their resemblance, the amber eyes and brown hair alight with red.
“I’m not saying it was her fault!” he snapped. Six beers in and he still didn’t slur. Considering drunk was his natural state, it wasn’t surprising. “I’m just saying she shouldn’t have left that night! She knew the people following us were close by.”
Ross had read once that if you focused on your breathing, you could control your anger. Too bad she couldn’t calm down enough to try it. “She left to meet with your contact!” She slammed her hands down and rose from her seat at the counter. “You should have been with her. And now she’s trapped in Haven, and we’re out here doing nothing.”
Every muscle in Ericen’s face went rigid, his hands curling into fists. “Trapped?” he demanded, staggering off the wall. “You think she’s trapped, Ross? Your mother’s been gone for two months! She isn’t trapped. She’s dead.”
“No!” Ross swept her hand across the counter, sending a week’s worth of dishes clattering across the floor. There was a reason she’d traded out the ceramic set for plastic. “You’re wrong. I know you’re wrong, and I’m going to prove it.”
Ericen’s voice followed her through the arch to hallway. “You can’t go to Haven, Ross! They’ll kill you!”
“Like you give a shit!” If there was a door there, she would have slammed it. Instead she trudged up the stairs with the heaviest footfalls she could manage, only stopping when she approached the orange tabby sitting on the top step. He eyed her with a flat gaze, his tail flicking from side to side.
“Oh, don’t look at me like that.” Ross slipped past him onto the landing. “I can’t stay here another minute.”
“I wouldn't ask you to.” The cat’s voice floated through her head.
Ross stopped, turning back to look at him. Tom had been the only thing keeping her sane since her mother’s disappearance, and if he thought leaving was a good idea, there was no way in hell she was sticking around.
“Will you come with me?” she asked. For her entire life, Ross and her family had been running from the same people. She wasn’t too keen on facing them alone, especially on their territory. Haven City was a safe place for supernatural creatures, and while Ross had never been there, she knew quite a lot about it. Still, having a native of the place along for the ride couldn’t hurt. And although she wouldn’t admit it, the idea of leaving Tom behind made her chest ache.
Ross grinned and slipped into her room. It was so empty and plain it looked uninhabited, but she’d gotten tired of packing everything up long ago. It was much easier to move on a moment’s notice when everything you owned fit into one bag.
The first thing she grabbed were her knives. As much as they reminded her of her father, who’d given them to her on her twelfth birthday, they were the only set she had. So she strapped the sheathes on her forearms and tried to pretend they had nothing to do with him. It was easier than thinking about all the time they’d spent together training with them.
After stuffing some of the essentials into a shoulder bag, Ross dug up her hidden stash of money from under her mattress. It wasn’t long ago that she’d caught her dad trying to pilfer it for a liquor run. She pulled the stack of bills out, setting aside the American dollars and Russian rubles but pocketing the Euros. Not that they would do her any good once she was in Haven. Despite the fact that the city was in Ireland, it had a currency all its own.
Tom waited for her at the door, trailing after her as she jogged down the stairs. The sound of the television filtered in from the living room and Ross made a point of walking right past it. Ericen’s armchair let out a creak as he fought to his feet, calling after her as she opened the front door.
She froze with her hand on the doorknob. No one besides her mother called her by her full name. Coming from him it was like a slap in the face. She turned slowly to look over her shoulder at him. “Don’t ever call me that again,” she said, and slammed the door behind her.
The walk down the dirt road into town was long, but the adrenaline running through Ross’s veins made the overgrown grass and ancient trees pass quickly. Tom said nothing as they walked, knowing better than to try and calm her down. By the time they reached the bus stop, she’d cooled to her usual degree of just above room temperature.
It was later in the evening, and the bus was empty except for an old man asleep in the back. They took a seat in the middle so they could talk without being heard.
“How far is Haven from here?” Tom asked.
Ross slumped down in the seat and folded her arms across her stomach. “Not far. Like an hour maybe.”
“And what exactly is the plan when we get there”
“Please stop being practical.” She closed her eyes. Now that she’d stopped moving, the last remnants of her adrenaline had begun to fade. In its place were her father’s words on repeat: she’s not trapped, she’s dead.
Tom climbed into her lap and sat down facing her. She cracked open an eye to see if he was indeed staring at her as hard as it felt like he was. Letting out an exasperated sigh, she unfolded her arms and turned sideways on the bench so her legs dangled out in the aisle. Tom balanced on her chest with ease.
“Look, all I know is the people who took my mom are big supporters of Haven’s slave trade, and my parents did something to screw with them.” She spoke quietly so not to be overheard. “If they’ve already killed my mom, there’s no reason for my dad to come back. I think they’re keeping her alive hoping he’ll come save her.”
What they didn’t know was that both of her parents had made the other one promise never to come after them if one of them was taken.