Welcome to my post for The First Page Review October bloghop. I'm sharing the first 1000 words of my Novel in progress, "Dhor'en Sands"
If you'd like to sign up, the list is open for another week. The rules are simple. Post the first thousand words of your book or story, and link back to the list at: The First Page Review
If you take the time to read it, I'd love to know if you'd continue reading it, or if it fails to capture your interest.
The opening pages...
Lily cradled the photo in her hands.
It was taken on a happy day, one way better than this one; she couldn’t think
of a single day that wasn’t. Staying low, she twisted around to peer between
broken bricks and shattered wood. Smoke blew her way mixed with dust, carrying
the smell of civilization burning to the ground.
Sobs threatened. She swallowed them
while she studied the photo—like she’d done a thousand times before. Gracie’s freckled
nose was a miniature of her own, but
Annie’s crooked smile was a mirror of her dad’s. He sat between them, pulling
their daughters close. Ben. Their hero.
Were they were even still alive? Tears spilled
down her face. Ash in her eyes, she told herself, not the sorrow in her heart.
A helix blast howled by just above
her head. Shit. The aliens had their location. She tucked the photo inside the note
from Ben and crammed them into her pocket. Behind her, the old sandstone
foundation exploded. Bits of rubble peppered her in her forward position, but
the collapsing wall buried the few other fighters left in her group.
Her eyes burned. Blinking, she
grasped for bearings. Around her, the lack of sound matched the lack of
movement—save for the acrid smoke blowing by. No cries. No moans. More humans forever silenced. She was it—the last
defense before the bunker sheltering a half dozen children and the two old
women caring for them was discovered.
Motionless, flat on her belly, she spied
between fragments of twisted rebar and concrete at Bulragers advancing through
piles of collapsed yesterday, crumbled yesteryear. Seemingly fearless and stepping
tall, they jerked to a halt. She looked the direction they faced and saw a lone
alien approach. Wasp-waisted and clad in armor so blue it looked black, it sent
shudders rippling down her spine. The other aliens, murderer’s and thieves all,
raised their arms in what looked like a salute. Had they given away rank?
lay still, training her ears on them. The new arrival, seven foot something of
pure evil, spoke in nearly flawless English. She held her incredulity to
silence, but the thought screamed in her head. How long, you sonsabitches? How long have you been watching and
planning? Long enough to know our language along with our weaknesses. We’d
underestimated them right from the start.
Another helix volley sliced through the
air overhead. Her heart pounded and her mind raced. The kids.
Blue-black shouted, “Cease
weapons. We need live ones.”
Hell, it was way too late for that. The
humans were dead, all but her and the group of innocent, terrified
children. Crunching footsteps closed in;
she had no choice.
Her hands, bloody and broken, fumbled
with a clip on her belt. She pulled out the object and raised it to her mouth.
Spitting the pin from her teeth, she stood and screamed at the stunned creatures,
“You want a live one? Come and get me, you killing scum!”
Locking eyes with indigo hatred, she
lobbed the grenade at the blue-black leader then fled. It was all she had left, leading them away. It’d
at least give the kids a chance. The
explosion behind her nearly knocked her off her feet. Staggering, somehow she
found her balance and kept going.
She sailed over and around the shattered
remains, vestiges of buildings, trees, humans. Even with her focus on evade and
escape, the carnage registered in freeze-frames—what the end of the world looked
like. A glance over her shoulder spurred her on; they’d taken the bait and were
They should have sounded like a
stampeding herd of wildebeests, but were nearly silent, and they were closing
the distance between them. At least a dozen, from a quick count. She hoped the missing aliens were dead, not
behind her searching through the rubble for survivors or, God-forbid, hidden
bunkers full of children.
A patch of green woods beckoned just
beyond the battlefield. A battlefield? For God’s sake, it was
the parking lot for Buzzy Bill’s Superfoods, or where Buzzy’s used to be. She raced
to the cover of the wooded ravine then stumbled down the steep slope. At the
bottom, her swift getaway ceased while she slogged through calf-deep muck, then
she clawed her way up the other side. Her muscles burned when she reached the
top, but she pushed on through thick brush and brambles. After she cleared the worst of it, she
stopped and leaned over, placed her hands on her knees, and tried to catch her
So desperate for air, her body nearly
rebelled when she stopped breathing long enough to listen. They were already slopping
through the mud in the ravine behind her. She took off, hurdling branches and
ducking limbs. A shade bramble ripped her shirt and tore her skin, but the pain
was a blip in her mind. Her sole thought was to run. Just run.
She didn’t stop to listen again. At the
edge of the woods, maiden grass swayed in the hot wind. Beyond it, the
playground, a stinging reminder of the normal that used to be before they came
to rape, kill, and kidnap.
She’d often admired the tall and wispy
wall of grass while watching her children swing and slide. Today, it sliced her
cheek and her hand when she ran between clumps of it.
Breaking into open sunshine—and in plain
sight of any alien vermin patrolling the area, she pushed herself. Faster. The empty swings made an eerie squeak as she
sprinted past, sending pin-prickles down her spine. Gusting wind pushed the
Lily’s heart lurched when movement
caught her eye. Black and white fur appeared. She made little more than a hoarse
sound when she tried to call, “Jobe, come puppy—time to hole-up for a while.” The
Border Collie raced to her, his head dropped low and his tail half-tucked. Even
the dog knew the world was being turned upside down.
Copyright 2017 by Teresa K Cypher All Rights Reserved May not be reproduced or used without explicit, written permission.
Thanks for reading!