Sunday, July 12, 2015
First 5 Pages July Workshop - Josephson Rev 1
Name: Kalyn Josephson
Genre: YA Fantasy
Title: The Underground
In situations like this, Ross tried to stand absolutely still and filter out every word her father spoke. She made it all of ten seconds. Seizing an empty plastic bottle from the kitchen counter, she chucked it at him. Ericen dodged with all the grace of a dancing hippo, which was more than Ross expected considering he could barely stand upright. The bottle clattered against the wall before joining a growing collection of dust and hair on the floor.
“Stop it!” Ross clenched her hands. “I swear, if you say one more word against mom, the next bottle won’t be plastic.” At the rate her father drank, there was plenty of ammunition.
Ericen collapsed back against the wall, his normally golden skin pale and awash in red. Ross turned away, unable to bear their resemblance. He’d been a handsome man once, before her mother had been kidnapped and he’d tripped and fallen into an unending pool of liquor. Now Ross loathed their similarity, the amber eyes and brown hair alight with red.
“I’m not saying it was her fault,” he said. Six hard drinks 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.”
“She left to meet with your contact!” Ross 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, with who the hell knows what kind of creatures, and we’re out here doing nothing.”
Haven was a dangerous enough place when you weren’t human. It was meant to be a safe place for supernatural creatures, but it’d gone more downhill than her father.
Every muscle in Ericen’s face went rigid, his hands curling into fists. “Trapped?” he said, 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 plastic dishes clattering across the floor. “You’re wrong. I know you’re wrong, and I’m going to prove it.” She turned for the hallway.
Ericen stepped after her. “You can’t go to Haven, Ross! They’ll kill you.”
“Like you give a shit,” she said without turning around.
“Ross!” His hand closed around her upper arm, pulling her back. She fought his hold, but he spun her around, slamming her up against the wall. Her head struck the plaster with a dull thud.
How had he moved that fast? That quietly? Ross’s mind focused on the questions, on the way her father stared wide-eyed and unmoving down at her, on anything other than the fact that he’d just laid a hand on her.
When her throat started burning, she realized she wasn't breathing. She released the breath and Ericen stepped back, his hands held up like he was backing away from a wild animal. Ross’s mind screamed at her to go, to run, to lock herself in her room. But her body refused to respond.
“I’m sorry.” His voice was barely a whisper. “Rossalyn, I’m sorry. Please, don’t go.”
Ross stiffened. Only her mother called her by her full name. Coming from him, it was a slap in the face. It took several more breaths before she regained her voice.
“Don’t ever call me that again.” She left.
She sprinted up the stairs past an orange tabby sitting on the top step. It took off after her, slipping inside the second before she slammed her door. Collapsing back against it, Ross slid to the ground, her heart drumming in her ears.
Tom rose onto his hind legs, balancing his front paws against her knees so he could see her face.
“I’m an idiot,” Ross said. “I kept thinking he’d snap out of it.”
“You love him, Ross.” Tom’s voice floated through her head.
“Not him.” Ross shook her head. “This isn’t him. The man I know would have gone after her, no matter what.”
Tom leapt up over her knees, climbing down into her lap where he sat. “They promised each other that if one of them was taken, the other wouldn’t leave you to come after them.”
Ross snorted harshly. “He might as well have gone after her. He’s not really here.”
They sat in silence for some time. Tom curled up in her lap, purring quietly, as Ross struggled to process what had just happened. Her father had always been a loud drunk, but never a violent one. He hadn’t meant to hurt her. She knew that. But she couldn’t sit here and wait any longer. Ericen may have promised that he wouldn’t go after her mother, but Ross hadn’t.
She slid out from under Tom, who rolled sleepily onto his feet, and grabbed her shoulder bag. Tom watched with a flat gaze, his tail flicking from side to side.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she said. “I can’t stay here another minute.”
“I wouldn't ask you to.”
Ross stopped. 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.
Despite both being natives of Haven, neither Ross nor Tom remembered any of it. Her parents had been forced to run when she was just a baby, and he’d been taken when he was just a kitten. Or a whatever he was. No one actually knew. Just over a year ago, Ericen’s last contact from the city had showed up with Tom. Her father had bought him for her. He’d become the closest thing she’d had to a friend in a long time, and the idea of leaving him behind made her chest ache.
Ross took a long breath and started packing. Not that she had much to take. Her room was so empty and plain it looked uninhabited, but she’d gotten tired of packing everything up long ago. It was easier to move on a moment’s notice when everything you owned fit into one bag.
The first thing she grabbed was her knives. As much as they reminded her of her father, they were the only set she had. He’d given them to her on her twelfth birthday, after another party alone with her family. By that time Ross had stopped trying to make friends. There was no point, not when she’d just have to move again. Her father had gotten her the knives to cheer her up, and they’d spent the rest of the day in the wood beside their rental practicing.
Ross’s throat tightened and she forced the emotion away. Thinking about who her father used to be just made who he’d become that much more difficult to accept. He might not see it, but he needed her to go as much as she did. Not only before he destroyed what remained of their relationship, but because if there was any chance her mother was still alive, she was the only thing that could bring him back from the edge.
She waited a moment, letting the memory fade before strapping the sheathes to her forearms. It was easier to pretend they had nothing to do with her father. Much easier than thinking about all the time they’d spent together training with them.