Chicken–It’s what’s for dinner

Alright, alright. So I have a confession to make. Orphans of Paradise was supposed to be uploaded and ready to go this weekend but then I sort of had a panic attack (figuratively but painful nonetheless) and I kind of chickened out.

It was mostly caused by all of the usual fears. You know: rejection, failure, disappointing the people I care about, being heckled by strangers, poverty, being forced to do those timed math trials for the rest of eternity or to only use public bathrooms, sharks, ghosts, tornadoes. It just sort of all piled up at once and I couldn’t hit upload.

But then I realized, besides the sharks and the tornadoes, all of those other trepidations are pretty much ridiculous. Not to mention inevitable the longer I prolong publishing my second book (well maybe not the math). Because isn’t stalling a form of failure in and of itself? It’s not quite quitting but it’s not quite finishing either. It’s the dreaded in between, a place in which I never wish to become comfortable. Because nothing happens there. Dreams don’t come true there.

Dreams come true when you get shit done. When you finish. So I am. I’m finished with the self-doubt and I’m finished with this story. And whether or not I can bury the fear under enough chocolate and cheesecake, it will be available this weekend. So keep your eyes peeled and please enjoy the final teaser from my second novel, Orphans of Paradise.

In the dark, sounds swelled and took shape—grating across Camilla’s skin, sliding cold down her back. Her ears burned, twisted beneath the blindfold pressed tight to her face, and then all she could hear was her pulse. The knot dug into her hairline, a few strands caught in the fabric and she rubbed her neck along the back of her seat trying to rip them free.

Someone placed a hand on her knee, his thumb pressed hard to her bone as the paved road gave way to a manic emptiness. They pulled to a stop, a hand reaching for her arm, gripping her tight. She stumbled out after them, her hand sweeping across some frozen grass, the dew burning cold against her fingertips. She was pushed forward and then she felt the cold, dank darkness pouring over her.

They threw her against the wall and she slumped to the floor. They ripped off her blindfold but it was still dark, their silhouettes lit only by the small glow of a cell phone as they searched for the light switch. Suddenly a flame swelled from the center of the room, cutting the space in lucid shards. It burned and Camilla closed her eyes, trying to hear past the buzzing of the breaker box.

Soiled colors peeled down the walls in long petrified drips. Her hands bound behind her were numb, her head spinning as something slid to her throat, thick and dry at the back of her tongue. That smell still hung on the edge of her lips. But there was a fervency to it, something raw and wild.

A dark ribbon cut between her legs, spilling into the cracks along the floor. And there was so much. There was too much. Camilla leaned forward, heaving, trying not to look, to breathe. But in the corner of her eye there was a shadow slumped against the wall, the girl’s arms wrangled in the same position.

She turned her face, meeting Camilla’s eyes, letting her see her. And Camilla didn’t want to see. She didn’t want to count the bodies, she didn’t want to know. But then, against everything inside her, she turned to the mangled mess on the floor and looked.

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