Hi again and welcome to Book Tuesday.
This week I will be featuring the start of an idea that came to me whilst writing Deception. The plot is simple and has probably been used a few too many times; hence the reason I never bothered following through with this story. Anyway, I was going through my files and stumbled upon it again, so I decided to give you a taster. It’s about a group of teenagers that have survived a flu pandemic. One of the teens was pregnant at the time and will play a key role in the future plot.
Tell me what you think and if you would like me to continue the story each week (similar to what I did with Cecil The Bully). As always, thanks for reading and giving your feedback. I appreciate it.
The sun crept over the horizon and slowly lit the valley below. Trees turned their leaves to the warmth and the fog that had engulfed the night rose to meet the morning light. James turned under the covers and stretched his young body to its full length. He knew he was tall for his age and used it to his advantage with the girls and sports coaches. Everyone seemed to like his sense of humour and devil-may-care attitude, but deep down he knew the truth. Scratch a little below the surface and you found a scared little boy whose dad had left when he was four and a mother with relationship issues to say the least. He had to use his height to push out unwelcome male visitors who thought a night cap included a one night stand.
Everything in Jame’s world had alway had some sort of balance. Making sure his school life was bearable against Mom’s “friends” who liked to visit late at night; balancing friendships with the guys against girls who wanted him for his social status and feigned confidence. That was until Chelsea arrived at the school. She was different, so original to the churned out sheep that circulated the dating scene. Her hair shone bright in the sun and she wasn’t afraid to braid it. Soft patterns and little clips made her look angelic and his heart melted at the sight of her. She was shy and seemed to enjoy hanging out with the nerds in the library. It gave him an excuse to update his knowledge on reference books and fiction titles as he sauntered along the narrow aisles,, watching her laugh and use her hands to gesture at every conversation. She liked to chew on the tip of her ponytail and twirled it in her long fingers, caressing her hair whilst she chatted.
Yes James could feel the uncontrollable adrenalin rush through his body at the thought of Chelsea. If only she would notice him! Her bright blue eyes secretly followed him and she wondered when he would get up the courage to approach her. A girl had to be careful not to give one guy too much attention, especially in a new school. Everyone was a stranger but wanted to be a friend. It took time to find the real thing amongst the fakers who wanted the skinny on a girl’s past. Chelsea knew the drill. She had moved around so much with her dad being in the army, she felt that this was the norm. Find a few easy friends, no-one too intense and wait out another year of school in a strange town. Soon enough she would be packed up and moved to another place, maybe country to continue her studies amongst strangers. Army brats knew how to take care of themselves, even if it felt endlessly tiring and terrifying to meet new kids and maintain temporary friendships.
“Hi!” a deep voice said behind her. She spun around, surprised out if her internal monologue. It was James, tall, handsome with long blonde hair and dark eyes that didn’t quite match his fair skin and hair.
“Hi yourself ,” Chelsea replied, smiling at his awkward stance and twisting her braided hair around nervous fingers. “Aren’t you in my library club?”
“Yeah! Uh, so I was wondering, what are you doing after the sponsored walk next week? A group of us are thinking of going into town and getting something to eat.”
“Okay. Yeah that sounds good thanks. Can I invite some of my friends from library too?”
“Yes sure.” James shifted his weight from one foot to the other, looking awkward and out of place amongst the other teenagers with their noses buried in books. “Okay I will see you after the walk on Friday then!” he smiled and walked off into the crowd of teens trying to escape through the library doors as the bell rang to announce the change of lessons.
That had been weeks, no months ago. A lifetime ago.
The baby wailed and everyone cringed in fear. The patrols had been cruising past more frequently and if they didn’t do something to quiet it down, they would be found. It was early evening but it had been raining for most of the day, the coldness seeping through their dirty layers of clothing. Beth stood up and stretched her stiff joints, hearing her back crack into place. The scarf covering her frizzy black hair was the brightest thing on her and could be seen more clearly than the dark velvet coat and grey skinny jeans that covered her thin body. She reached out to take the baby from its dozing mother. The movement woke her, her startling blue eyes showing fear until they focused on Beth’s dark arms pulling the baby from her clutches.
“Don’t worry. I’ll take her for a while,” Beth whispered as she gently plucked the baby out of Chelsea’s weakening grip. The little bundle wriggled and made a loud burp which cracked the three gaunt faces around the fire and gave them something to smile about for a moment. “Better in than out, as Shrek would say!” Beth smiled. The baby smiled back at her and wriggled some more, getting on with her own business in the already full nappy.
Their hiding place was not much. After leaving the buildings behind and following the long road through the farmlands, they had happened upon a barn that was still full of hay. It was warm enough when dry but the drips and drops of water seeped through cracks in the corrugated roof, making slush puddles on the dirt floor and wetting the hay to the point of stinking rot. No-one complained because they all knew the consequences of getting caught by the SX16 squad. Death would be welcome in comparison.