|Contact me for more information about this novel.||Read Chapter 2 of Morning Rising|
1Kara sat with her back pressed to the cold, stone wall of the alley. The bright afternoon sun brought little relief from the icy breaths of wind that slipped over her. Cold bit through the thin fabric of her shirt. She welcomed the distraction, welcomed anything to take her mind off what just happened.
It was a wasted effort. Warm tears rolled down her cold cheeks. At the moment, she didn’t have the energy to wipe them away. She didn’t have the energy for much of anything.
Every time her mom’s boyfriend got out of jail, things were the same. Her mom never turned him away when he showed up, no matter how much Kara begged. When he was in jail, her mom promised he wasn’t coming back. When he was out, she had a million excuses for him. He always promised that he was a changed man, but Kara knew he would never change.
Kara wiped the tears from her right eye. She was careful to brush her cheek bone gently, but hissed in pain anyway. It wasn’t broken, but a bruise was forming. It would be something else to explain away at school. Not that many of the teachers bothered asking anymore. Kara didn’t blame them, they had heard enough lies. Back up in the apartment, her mom’s boyfriend would be bitching about what a waste of space Kara was, such an unappreciative little shit. She should have given him the damn remote when he asked for it.
“You look like shit.” The voice behind the harsh words was as beautiful as it was unexpected. Kara quickly wiped away the rest of her tears with the back of her hand. She looked up at the girl.
The girl was beautiful. Dark hair hung in waves down her back and too much makeup lined her eyes. People said Kara was too skinny, but this girl made her look obese. Below her threadbare sweater, a pair of ripped jeans hung low on her bony hips. A good two inches of her flat, tan stomach was left exposed. Her fingers were curled protectively around a cigarette.
When Kara’s eyes returned to the girl’s face, the girl smiled. “Want to take a picture?” she teased, raising an eyebrow. Her eyes never left Kara’s.
“Sorry,” Kara said. She shoved herself up, her back scraping against the wall. Her face flushed, the girl probably thought she was crazy. Had she really just stared at her for that long? Kara adjusted her hooded sweatshirt, covering her pale stomach.
Kara pushed her blond hair behind her ear, wishing she had taken the time to brush it before the incident with the remote. Beside the girl, Kara felt like a slob with her messy hair, jeans, school sweatshirt, and scuffed sneakers.
Kara tugged her sleeves over her cold fingers. She faced the girl and watched as she took a long drag from her cigarette, studying Kara. Kara looked down, fidgeting uneasily under Dylan’s gaze. Half of her wanted to bolt from the alley. The other half was too intrigued to move. All of her was scared.
“It’s cool.” The girl waved her fear away. She looked down, and Kara let out a breath she didn’t know she was holding. “I’m just fucking with you,” the girl said. She looked back up with a small smile. “So, are you alright? ‘Cause like I said, you look like shit.”
“I’m fine,” Kara said. The girl tilted her head and raised an eyebrow. It was clear she didn’t believe Kara. “My mom’s boyfriend is a real asshole,” Kara added with a small grin. She looked down, hoping her hair would cover the bruise.
“He do this?” the girl stepped forward, unexpectedly close to Kara. She cupped Kara’s face in her free hand and ran her cold thumb tenderly over the still forming bruise. Kara winced, both from the pain and from embarrassment. The girl’s hand was soft, and it smelled like cigarettes and bubblegum.
“Yeah, he did,” Kara admitted and felt herself blush. She wasn’t sure why she told the truth, usually she would have lied. Something about the girl was making her feel safe, if a little on edge.
“What a fucker.” The girl shook her head and let her hand fall as she stepped back. Kara blinked, realizing she missed the contact. The girl dropped her spent cigarette to the ground. She pulled the pack out of her back pocket and shook another cigarette free. “Want one?” she offered, after lighting her own.
“No,” Kara answered out of habit. She never smoked, but then she shook her head. “Actually, yeah I will have one.” Habit wasn’t getting her all that far in life anyway. “My name’s Kara Hart, by the way.”
“Oh yeah, last names and everything, huh?” the girl teased with a smile that showed perfect teeth. “In that case, I’m Dylan Perry,” she said. She handed Kara a cigarette and stepped forward to light it for her.
Kara inhaled to light the cigarette, hoping she didn’t look stupid. The smoke burned into her lungs, but she managed to keep from coughing as she blew it out. Dylan slipped the lighter back into her pocket. A small smile formed on her lips before she began to laugh under her breath.
“What?” Kara grinned, she couldn’t help it. The girl’s laugh was contagious.
“Nothing,” Dylan said. She shook her head as she studied the sidewalk with an amused grin.
“What were you thinking?” Kara prodded with a laugh. She nudged Dylan with her hip before she could stop herself. Dylan laughed louder.
“It’s just,” Dylan said, bringing her eyes up to meet Kara’s again. She wasn’t laughing anymore, but her eyes sparkled. Kara swallowed, feeling trapped in Dylan’s gaze as she continued speaking. “I was just thinking, they say you become fifty times more attractive to someone when you light their cigarette.”
Kara’s eyes snapped open. Her body ached; each muscle was cramped and sore. The cold room stank of death and mold. Minute by minute, a dank chill was working its way deep into her bones. The earth was damp and cold under Kara; she could feel it through her clothes. Wet mud stuck to her face. With painful slowness, Kara lifted her head and tried in vain to wipe away the mud that caked her features. Wiping at her face, she realized her hands were already covered in mud and gave up. Kara’s thoughts jumped to Dylan. She looked around in the dim light for any sign of the other girl. Nothing moved.
From far above, a thin shaft of faint light made its way down to Kara. The light illuminated a small circle around her before total darkness took over. Kara couldn’t remember how she ended up in the pit, or where it was. The memory of meeting Dylan so many months ago flitted through Kara’s head again. Her heart pounded at the thought of Dylan, wondering if she was okay. Kara shook her head, why was she was so concerned about a girl she barely knew? She remembered meeting the girl, but nothing more.
“She’s a pretty thing, isn’t she?” the voice was small and high pitched. Kara stepped back from the direction it came from. Her senses strained into the darkness as she tried to spot the speaker. The complete blackness made her body tense with fear at each small sound.
“Very pretty indeed,” it was a different voice, a little deeper than the first. Kara stopped moving. The voice came from a different direction, directly behind her. She spun to look in the direction of the voice, but found nothing.
“And she hears us too,” said the first voice. “What can it mean? Have we a fairy child in our midst again? We hasn’t had one in years.”
“Who are you?” Kara asked, turning to the first voice again. Her voice shook as she spoke, and try as she might, she wasn’t able to steady it. Wart covered goblins, sneer-faced leprechauns, and massive hairy spiders paraded through her head. Any of those creatures, or worse, could have come out of the darkness, and she wouldn’t have been surprised.
“Oh ho, a fairy child indeed, but has no ideas who we is? A changeling she is, I’d say,” the second voice said. It was closer, and Kara flinched toward it. The pit was silent. Water dripped in the distance, but Kara heard nothing else. Her breath was ragged in her chest and seemed to be growing in volume with her fear.
Kara wanted desperately to know what was out there, but was just as afraid to see the creatures. She racked her brain to remember how she came to be in such a dank pit, but found no answers. Her last memory was of meeting Dylan, but in her heart she knew that was months ago. Panic began to boil inside Kara; she pushed it back down. There would be time later to wonder why she lost her memory.
“Is she the fair haired one?” the second voice was still distant, but the answer came from right behind her.
“One and the same.” Kara turned to see a small creature squatting behind her. He stared up at her without fear. His wide eyes were milky white and empty. It was like looking into the eyes of a blind man.
Kara stood her ground as she studied the thing, knowing full well it was studying her in return. Its skin looked leathery tough, and its knobby limbs stuck out at rough angles from its body. The creature’s arms were long, and it rested on its curled fists the way an ape would. A pair of membrane covered wings, a shade darker than the rest of the pale gray of the thing’s body, stuck out from its shoulders. They didn’t look strong enough to carry its weight. The creature’s mouth seemed to stretch too far across its face, and its lips were turned upwards in an easy smile to reveal sharply pointed teeth.
“She doesn’t know us.” The second voice was close now; Kara wasn’t surprised to see the other creature squatting to her right when she glanced that way. Except for being a tad darker, it looked exactly the same as the first creature. Its head tilted to stare up at her, white eyes just as disconcerting as the other creature’s.
“You doesn’t?” the one directly in front of her cocked his head at an unnatural angle, almost a complete ninety degrees. It was the first time either had actually addressed Kara, so she felt compelled to answer.
“No, I don’t know you.” Kara hugged herself, trying vainly to warm her thin body. She wore only a t-shirt, and her bare arms were covered in still drying mud. She wiped at a stray piece of hair that tickled her chin. “Who are you?”
“Aw, the Guardian has forgotten us,” sang the one to the right. “Forgets old Glint and Collicks right quick she does.”
“Who is who?” Kara asked flatly. She wasn’t sure if she should be afraid of the things, but since they hadn’t hurt her yet she was beginning to feel more confident. If this was all only a game to them, she didn’t want to give them the upper hand. She watched the one in front of her expectantly. Finally he, she had begun to think the creatures were male, turned his head right way round again, nodding briefly.
“I is Glint,” he spoke, pointing to himself. “He be Collicks. You be the Guardian of the Morning.” He pointed at Kara.
“What?” Kara frowned. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I think you’ve got this all wrong, you should really let me go.”
“She doesn’t know.” Collicks giggled madly. “Lost the Morning to the Inbetween and she doesn’t even know.”
“We don’t keep you here,” Glint said as Collicks lost himself to laughter. “Is only the master himself who can keep you here.”
“Where is he then?” Kara asked, annoyed that Collicks couldn’t seem to stop laughing.
“In his palace of course,” Glint answered with a grin so wide it seemed his face would surely split in half.
“Palace?” Kara shook her head. Her head swam as she tried to force everything to make sense. “I want to see him.” Collicks stopped laughing abruptly. The smile faded from Glint’s face just as quickly.
“See him?” Collicks asked stonily. “I think not, I thinks you wants to go home, yes?”
“No, I want to see the asshole who threw me down here.” Kara was surprised at the forcefulness of her voice, it wasn’t like her. Again, her thoughts flicked to Dylan.
Kara clenched and unclenched her fists at her sides, trying to calm herself. When it came down to it, she didn’t know if these creatures were dangerous or not. She didn’t want to risk upsetting them too much.
“Home is better,” Glint said. “Forgets the Morning, the Inbetween is good enough for her. Just say yous forget the Morning and home you’ll be in a wink. Safe and sound will be you. Tuckin’ in nice and safe you’ll be, with only a nightmare to shake you.” The creature gave her a pleading look. Kara almost believed he was trying to do what was best for her.
“Who is her?” Kara asked. She ignored the nagging feeling that she should agree and be sent home. Something more important was going on, but she’d have to dig for it.
“Her who’s caused you enough pain already, her with no feelings for any but her,” Collicks said, he hopped towards her. “You forgets her.” He patted her arm in a mockery of comfort. Had it been Glint patting her, Kara might have bought it; she sensed he was the kinder of the two. She snatched her arm away from Collicks and glared.
“I want to know who she is,” Kara spoke slow and clear, standing her ground.
Glint sighed, sounding genuinely sad when he spoke again, his pale eyes swimming with tears. “The guardians, they don’t learn.” When he stood straight, Glint came to Kara’s waist. In his own lurching way, he walked to Kara’s side, reaching one of his long, emaciated arms upwards to touch his finger to her brow.
Kara fought to stand her ground and not push him away, though it was all she wanted to do. As his finger touched her head she jerked violently back. Acid seemed to be bubbling through her skull, she grabbed at her head, praying the pain would stop. She shook her head, clawing at her skull as if she might be able to tear the pain out. Crying uncontrollably, Kara sunk to her knees, losing consciousness and falling face first back into the mud.
“Never learns.” Collicks nodded consolingly at Glint as he settled beside him to wait.
|Contact me for more information about this novel.||Read Chapter 2 of Morning Rising|