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?
She 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 in pursuit.
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 breath.
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 chains harder.
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!