(Before you read, this book is far from done. I hope to release it on my birthday like I did book 1, but Genesis is not a series that I want to rush either. It means so much to me that people are exploring this world I've been so deeply attached to for so long. If you're interested in some of my world-building blogs, I'll be posting those soon as I re-immerse myself in the Waste! So here is a little taste of where Genesis is today and what she's been up to. I hope you enjoy. And if you haven't read "Genesis," be sure to check it out on Amazon!
. . .
I heard Violan’s voice screaming through my thoughts like a siren. She was a little thing, but her lungs were strong. Even her imaginary ones.
My body jolted, rousing me from my sleep just as the sun was reaching the top of the jagged, mountainous horizon. My eyes shot open, burning already as my racing blood heat the flesh on my face. I couldn’t remember exactly what I was dreaming about, but it was enough to shock my system and wake me.
Above me were metal bars and a clouded, Plexiglas barrier between me and the golden sky. My bed was swinging lightly back and forth, squeaking on old, metal joints. As I rose, I rubbed my temples with the balls of my palms and peered out at the park around me. I was on a somewhat elevated bench on an old Farris wheel. Everything looked clear save for an army of grey clouds that was closing in from the coast. I narrowed my eyes at them. The ground was still mush from the last time a storm passed and it made the land hard to navigate.
Sighing, I reached down toward the floor of my little compartment and felt around for a screw or a metal nut. I found a small pebble, I picked it up and leaned out from my Farris wheel car, tossing the pebble down into the one below me. I heard it tap the metal and smirked as my companion started to stir.
“Wake up,” I said.
I reached over to the end of my little bench and unfolded my duster, slipping it on before I maneuvered my body out of the window space on a door that no longer worked. Once I was out, I reached inside for the rifle that I’d stuffed under my bench and secured the strap over my shoulder. Climbing over to the web of metal bars closer to the center of the wheel, I started to descend the old structure, passing the car below me. I knocked on the wall of it twice, loud enough to annoy the boy sleeping inside. I heard him groan and saw his poncho fly up off his body in a fit of sleepiness as he woke. I kept climbing down, constantly scanning the park below for signs of movement, but all I could see were puddles of old water on cracked cement that was overgrown with weeds, both alive and dead.
Once I was a few feet from the ground, I leapt down and straightened my coat, lifting the collar to shield from a gust of surprisingly sharp wind. Down the path a bit was an old building. The windows had been shattered and the concrete was discolored, but it was a good, sturdy structure and from it I could see a giant beast emerging from the dark. He walked tiredly, yawning wide enough to show me every, silvery tooth along his massive jaws. He shook out his fur as he walked, showing me glimpses of silver plating amongst his black coat. When he looked at me, his icy eyes were calm and reassuring. He walked my way, his knife-like claws tapping the cement floor beneath him, and sniffed the air. His ears turned this way and that, listening. Once he’d finished his analysis, I was relieved to feel the absence of anxiety. He was calm and unalarmed.
“Is it safe?” I heard a voice say from above.
I glanced up toward the little compartment where the boy was peeking over toward me, his hair a mess of dark knots like he’d been tossing all night long.
“Come down, Axel,” I said, waving at him.
“Does Kazan say it’s safe?” Axel asked, as if he didn’t trust my judgement.
I rolled my eyes. “Kazan says it's safe. Come on. We should get moving.”
Axel grumbled and threw his poncho over his head before swinging himself through the door of his compartment and descending the Ferris wheel like a monkey. When he hit the ground, he ruffled his muddy-brown hair with his fingers, throwing little ropes of knotted strands all over until they were standing in every direction.
To my right was an old refrigerator on its side. I lifted the door up and reached inside, pulling two, leather packs out with our weaponry. Kazan trotted away, eager to stretch his legs, and disappeared into the park to scan the perimeter more thoroughly as I handed Axel his bag and crossbow. He slung both over one shoulder and sniveled, taking harsh breaths as if he was still trying to wake himself. As I buckled my bag across my chest and pulled my gun belt around my hips, I looked at him. His youthful features were refreshing every time I saw them. He didn’t have a single blemish on his face except for a tiny, silver speck right below his eye in the shape of a crescent moon that traced his bone.
Axel looked up at me, blinking the fatigue from his eyes. “What?” he said, pulling a small, metal bottle from the side of his pack and unscrewing the top. Taking a swig of water, he raised a brow. “Stop worrying,” he complained. “I know that face. You’re worrying.”
I chuckled, reaching over and taking the bottle to have a drink myself. “I’m not worrying,” I said. “I know you’ll be fine.”
I handed the water back to Axel, who stuffed it back in his pack and squinted his eyes at the horizon.
“Are we almost there?” he asked.
“Yeah,” I exhaled. “Almost there.”
We began walking east, following Kazan’s direction deeper into the old theme park. The rides, if they were even still standing, were covered in red rust or eaten by dried vines and dust. It smelled musty, the humidity in the air making my clothes heavy. We walked quietly, looking through every space and alley as we trekked on, but it was quiet. The wind was barely blowing and aside from the occasional squirrel or small flock of birds, the terrain was still.
As we passed a massive roller coaster track, the park began to open up into a large, central area where I could see clear across the lot. Kazan was in the wreckage of the roller coaster below the tallest loop, sniffing around as if he’d found a small animal. As he scratched at the ground, I turned to Axel, who was bobbing his head like he was listening to music.
I nudged him with my elbow. “Hey. What do you want to eat when we get there?” I asked.
“Hmm,” he hummed, pursing his lips. “Probably chicken. Like new chicken. Not the dried stuff. And eggs.”
“We’ll get both,” I nodded. “I was thinking pork for me. Shredded, salted pork.”
“Oh, yeah that sounds good. And bread.”
I laughed at him, watching him lick his lips like he was hovering over the food-filled plat already. While Kazan made off with what looked like a rabbit in his jaws, I stared ahead at the long path leading out of the park gates. It was blocked by the top of a castle peak that once stood erect atop a building off the road, but now it was rubble on the ground. We avoided it, walking through an old bumper car station that was filled with puddles and soggy fall leaves. We made our way along a brick path until we came to the end of the park and ventured out into a landscape that was rich with broken machinery and vacant of buildings.
“Sooo,” Axel asked, kicking a metal scrap out of his path as we walked. “Who’s Finley?”
My expression froze for a second and, glancing up at the angry, dark clouds ahead, I could see the smoke of a giant freighter billowing before me. I could practically smell the oil and blood as if I was back there in that ravine.
“He was someone I knew,” I said vaguely.
“Really? Just someone you knew? Because I knew people in Ash Cove and I don’t think about them anymore. At least I don’t think I do. Maybe I dream about them, too.”
“No, I guess he was more than that,” I admitted, hesitating for a moment to appreciate a few fleeting memories as they passed.
“You say a lot of things in your sleep,” Axel said. “I’ve been wanting to tell you.”
“Like what?” I asked, alarmed.
“Mostly names and then you sometimes start talking in Andros, which I didn’t even know that you could speak until you said all those funny words in your sleep. So? All those names you say. Are those people you knew? Did they die?”
“Depends on the names.”
“She was alive three years ago when I saw her last.”
I faltered for a second. “Dead,” I said softly.
I laughed, taking a deep breath of the cool, humid air. Each name stabbed me in a different part of my heart and I had to change the subject.
“Come on,” I said. “Can’t we talk about something else?”
“Ok,” Axel bounced. “Let’s talk about my birthday.”
“You don’t know when your birthday is.”
“Which is why I’ve decided it’s today. I at least know that I’m gonna be nine, so let’s say I’m nine today.”
“Ok, what do you want to do?”
“I want to sleep in a bed and I want a car.”
“A car? You’re too young for a car.”
Axel’s voice was cut off by a raspy groan that scraped through his throat. He stopped, hunching over, hand on his head. He began to lose balance, stepping backward like he was being pushed by some invisible force. I reached out, grabbing his arms to hoist him back up only to lower him down to the ground with more grace.
“Axel?” I said, aiding him as he lay flat on his back, resting his head in my lap.
The veins began to bulge on his neck as the spout of pain coursed through his skinny body. I could practically feel it myself, like little shocks igniting through my bloodstream. I placed my hands on either side of his head, keeping him still as the episode slowly passed. Axel reached up, balling the fabric of my coat sleeve in one fist, his feet scraping on the gravel beneath him. I watched, wishing I could do more to ease his pain. I knew that pain well. It made me wish I was dead most days and other days it terrified me. Made me feel like a baby with no way to run away. No way to defend myself. I hated that Axel was feeling it now.
When a thin drip of red blood crawled from his nostril, I worried it wasn’t just any attack. I pulled the hem of my sleeve down to wipe the blood away and took deep breaths, stroking Axel’s forehead with my other hand.
“You’ll get through it,” I muttered. “Just focus.”