Here is the first chapter of my completed YA novel Gifted, about two identical twin sisters who discover they have supernatural abilities and are sent to a special boarding school that holding a secret inside.
The unexpected visitor
Oh, so this is where I die. Well isn’t this just dandy?
This is my only thought when flames surround me. An unfamiliar forest is burning before my eyes. There are shouts and cries of agony in the distance, mixing in with gunfire. A battle is going on without me. People in there need me! People who depend on me, and I’m letting them down. Wait a minute, I can’t die! I’m the hero! The hero can’t die! No one will believe it!
Using the screaming as a guiding point, I raise my sword and charge forward once more. It’s only a few steps before my knees give out and sink to the moss covered ground. Dammit.
On my hands and knees, I crawl my way forward. This is a difficult task, since apparently you need oxygen to keep going, and mine’s being stolen by heavy black smoke.
Gasping for air, looking up at the darkened sky, I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I’m fully screwed. “Oh hell.”
“Charlie! Charlie! For God’s sake, Charlie wake up,” a panicky voice screams in my ear. I jerk back to life, coughing like a 40-year smoker. See, the hero doesn’t die.
No longer in the burning forest, but a small room. On a hard bed with someone touching me.
I try to speak but my lungs are too busy trying to get all the oxygen inside of it to make words. But it shouldn’t feel like this, because it was all a dream. It wasn’t real…right? It felt real. My body felt the heat of the flames and the moss on the ground. My lungs really thought my dream was real. But why? Ugh, I can’t handle this right now, I need water.
“Breathe, Charlie, Breathe”the voice reminds me.
Through the suffocation I manage to roll my eyes “WhatdoyouhinkI’mtryingto do?” My sentence is smattered with a choir of coughing.
I don’t need to look at her to know she’s rolling her eyes at me. Her hand leaves my back for a few moments before returning with a glass of water. I manage a smile, she’s always fast.
I take the glass and, with some minor struggles, got the water down my burning throat.
My coughing dies down after a few minutes and my breathing returns to normal. the source of the voice, my identical twin sister, is now sitting at the foot of the bed, staring at me, brow furrow.
I clear my throat. What does one say after almost dying in one’s sleep? “Good morning?”
“What the hell, Charlie? I leave you alone for five minutes and you nearly choke to death in your sleep! I mean what the hell?”Her voice is both angry and worried.
“Well what do you want me to say Cami? Bad morning? And FYI, choking to death isn’t one of my favorite ways to wake up in the morning. It’s right up there with blow horn solo and two raccoons doing it!”I shoot back. I don’t need a lecture this early.
“Well maybe if you don’t die in your dreams all Freddy Krueger style it would be a good morning.”She pauses. “Wait, how do you know how raccoons sound like when they’re-um, yeah?”
“I don’t, just figured it would not be a fun way to wake up,”
“You’re ridiculous.” Both of us laugh.
She becomes serious. “It’s the forest again.”
I didn’t have to say anything. She knows everything about me. Well, almost everything.
She frowns, brow furrowing even more. “Anything new?”
“Nope.”We’ve been trying to figure this out since the dreams started a few weeks ago, looking into the weird dreams books at the local library, and even using their computers, but coming up empty handed. “It’s probably nothing,”I try to assure my worried sister, but to no avail.
She plays with the ends of her hair. “Maybe we should tell-“
“No. People here think I’m crazy enough without adding ‘night terrors’to the mix.”
“I mean it Cami,”looking her straight in the eyes.
She sighs and gets off the bed. “Fine if that’s how you want it.”
“Thank you.”I flop back down on my bed, throwing the blankets over me.
“Whoa wait a minute; you’re not going back to bed. We’re on breakfast duty remember? And I’m not making it all by myself because you decided to die in your sleep. Now get up!”she rips the sheet off me.
I moan in annoyance. “I remember when you were cool!”
“No you don’t. Now hurry up and get dressed; you look awful!”
“Really? I think I look pretty good,”looking at her with a slight grin; it’s a running joke between us; the same wavy, honey blonde hair, dark brown eyes, nose, lips, and body shape. The same constellation of freckles on the bridge of ours nose and cheeks that one day, out of sheer boredom we counted to find the numbers matched up. We’re carbon copies of ourselves.
Her highlighter yellow sundress is covered in daisies and utterly nauseating “Don’t much care for my outfit though.”
She shakes her head. “Well I look like crap, so get out of the bed before the sisters’drag you out of bed!”
I quickly get up, not in the mood to deal with the nuns.
“Okay, Okay! I’ll be down it like five.”
“You better. I’m not making breakfast by myself again!”she warns me and disappears down the stairs.
“Pfffttt,” rolling my eyes I walk into the bathroom and wash my face in the sink, stopping to study myself in the dirty, cracked mirror. Cami’s right; I do look like hell, with the heavy bags under my eyes. Sucks that Cami had to catch me in the middle of my nightmare, these bags could have easy to explain away.
We live at St.Maria Abbey, just the two of us for 15 years, entering the Abbey at the tender age of one. Ever since Sister Bernice being the good Christen woman that she is, took us in after our mother left us on the doorstep, after making Sister Bernice swear to take care of us. I guess, taking care of us means making us become child maids. To cook, clean, and other servitude duty. All with the golden rule to obey or be served with a ruler. I am often the bearer of the second part of the rule, much too poor Cami’s dismay.
I go back to the bedroom and look out the small window, watching the hot Arizona sun rise higher and higher into the sky. Sighing and wishing that the window wasn’t bolted shut; so I could open it before our room turns into an oven. Arizona is warm at any given time of the year, but the summers are brutal, especially with no cooling source. Apparently God doesn’t believe in air conditioning.
Getting almost fully dressed, it dawns on me that I have no idea where my hairbrush is.
“Come on where are you?” Getting down on my hands and knees to look under the bed, finding the little sucker… just out of reach.
I consider leaving without brushing my hair when an idea hits. Smirking, I lie flat on my stomach, eye level to the hairbrush. Lifting my right hand up in front of me, moving my fingers towards my palm in a “come here” motion. The hairbrush slides forward, stopping in front of my out-stretched palm.
I grip the hairbrush and quickly stand up. My eyes dart about the room, waves of paranoia creeps into my stomach. Even the very few times I have done this leaves me nervous and on edge. Magic, voodoo, or whatever you call this, is not something that’s exactly encouraged by the nuns. Sister Bernice has been itching to do an exorcism. Maybe they’ll do a good old fashion witch burning.
I brush the knots out of my hair. I wonder if Cami knows? She couldn’t know, I’ve only known for like a couple of months. In stupid Bio when I broke the beaker. She was so mad when I got in trouble I swear it was closest she got to yelling. How was I suppose to know my eyes could move the beaker. Should I tell her?
A knot tangles itself up in the pit of my stomach, though I’m not really sure it’s from the secret I’m keeping, or the thought of her knowing.
After my hair is somewhat combed, I rush downstairs, careful not to wake anyone up.
“Good morning Jesus!” greeting the life-size statue of Jesus spreading his love in the center of the convent’s lobby. I jump up to give his outstretched hand a high five and head down to the kitchen. A nunnery isn’t the greatest place to live, but how many people can say they high five Jesus every morning?
I enter the kitchen where Cami has already started breakfast: lumpy, gray porridge, a Convent classic. Cami’s stirring the gray matter in a large pot. She notices me.
“Oh good, you’re up. You can stir while I make the nuns breakfast,” she tells me cheerfully, walking over to the stove on the other side of the kitchen.
“Of course, because heaven forbid if the nuns have to wait a couple minutes to get their breakfast. Or worse! Have to eat this crap!” Over-dramatically stirring the pot as I say this.
“Hey Cam, fry me up a couple of eggs would you?” asking in my sweetest voice.
“Charlie no, we’ll get in trouble,” she hisses.
“They’ll find out. They count everything.”
“Jesus would want you to do it. Ask him, he’s right outside.”
“Charlie just stir the porridge,” she orders.
I scowl. “Fine.” I continue to stir the gray matter. Dipping my spoon in it to find it disgusting. Hey, everyone who comes in this convent may be poor, but no one deserves this.
“This needs sugar,” I mumble under my breath as I raise to my tiptoes and open the cupboard above me. The bag of sugar is just out of reach. A common theme for me today.
I look over my shoulder, Cami is cracking eggs, humming to herself, taking no notice of me. If I could move it ever so slightly…
Placing the spoon down, I turn my attention back to the bag of sugar. I raise my hand and slowly, carefully, curl a finger towards me.
The bag slides forward and off the shelf, landing in my waiting hands.
“What did you just do?” Cami voice puts me in a dead freeze. My stomach tightens, panic waves wash over me.
I breathe and turn around to face her “What are you talking about?”
“The bag. You moved it… without moving it.”
“Pffftt Cam that does even make sense.”
“Then why do you have that face on?” she questions placeing her hand on her hips.
“The ‘I’m panicking but I’m not going to admit it’ face.”
“I don’t think that’s accurate.”
She sighs “Charlie, I don’t think you’re telling me the-“ she disappears. Poof. Gone.
“Cami!” I scream, my heart lures forward and into my throat, only to have her reappear, her face flush and her eyes widen. “What the hell was that all about?”
“Okay, so don’t panic.” Not at all comforting.
“Don’t panic? You just disappeared out of thin air! How long have you done that?”
“How long have been making things move with your mind?” she shoots back.
“Don’t give me that, what have you been keeping from me?”
“What are keeping from me?”
The brick wall behind Cami explodes, sending her over the fallen table, landing next to me on the floor. Putting my arm around her, I manage to cover us from the flying bricks and kitchen equipment. Is this another dream?
It ends as quickly as it started. I lift my head up to look at the site of the explosion.
A man stands in the newly made opening of the kitchen. In the dust cloud, the only I can make out is his eyes; one dark blue and one vivid green.
As the dust settles he looks down at his suit and tries to brush off the debris without success. “Muybe I could’ve used less power,” he mutters to himself. His voice is low with an accent unfamiliar to me.
Cami stirs, turning herself over to see what had happened. “Who’s that?”
The man looks up at Cami, noticing us for the first time. “Oh hullo,” he greets. “Gideon Harcourt, at your service.”
Gifted is completed at 96,000 words. Fans of Vampire Academy, The Moral Instruments series and Six of Crows would enjoy this book. If you are an agent, publisher or editor and who like to read more or hear more about my novel, please reach me at the “Contact me” section.