Wednesday, February 26, 2014

You Promised Me Two Years - Part 2

A second sample from my new novella, You Promised Me Two Years...

The first few days at the Academy were cold, and it had nothing to do with the January weather.

Everyone in the school had been identified by a Prophet or seer as being important to the future of the world—and especially the future of the country—in some measurable way. Or rather, everyone was supposed to have an important role to play some day. On the other side, Tyler’s own importance was fully dependent on Connor’s. Quiet rumors also swirled through the hallways, as elusive as tendrils of fog, that a spot in the Academy could be bought. Apparently, parents only had to know the right people and pay the right price. Where did those rumors come from, though? Tyler couldn’t imagine that anyone who had been accepted in the Academy in this particular way would boast about it.

Whether they had an important destiny ahead of them or not, however, the hundred or so Academy students were at the moment no different from the ones in Tyler’s old school. They were immature, or lazy, or exuberant; others were shy, or fun, or a thousand other things that teenagers could be. And they were also cruel in a way that only teenagers could manage.

If it had been cruelty toward himself, Tyler would have shrugged it off. He’d had a lot of practice learning to let comments about his sister, his clothes, his preferences, every damn little thing about him, slide off like innocuous water drops he could just shake off. He couldn’t have kept taking a swing at every damn idiot who looked at him wrong, so he’d learned to ignore it.

But when vicious jabs were flung at Connor, it felt different. Very different indeed. Like mud rather than water, and it stained and it stank. It didn’t help that Connor never reacted. Whether in class, in the cafeteria, in the hallways, or even in their dorm room, whenever a hurtful word was thrown at him he always remained utterly still in a way that, to anyone else, might mean he didn’t care. Tyler heard it as the unending shout of pain and rage and despair that it was. In truth, what else could Connor do? Any verbal protest would be lost unless Tyler interpreted it, and even then being one step removed would take away the sting of whatever he might say. As for fighting, it didn’t seem like something Connor would do, as though it were simply beneath him.

Tyler couldn’t understand why the other students, or at least a large number of them, were so mean to Connor. It was just so perplexing to him. Connor was a Prophet. How could they disrespect him like this when they owed their very presence at this elite school to someone like him? Even seers, much more common than Prophets, were well regarded, even if they could only predict events on a much smaller scale, and less reliably than Prophets.

Someone finally clued him in. Prophets were honored and respected for the knowledge they imparted. How could Connor be a true Prophet when he never said anything to anyone? If he didn’t intend to play his role, the other students, or at least most of them, would make him pay for it.

By the fourth day, Tyler had had enough. He couldn’t actually believe he’d let it happen until now, and didn’t want to imagine how long Connor had been forced to endure it. When they woke up that morning in the four-bed dormitory and one of their peers said something idiotic toward Connor, something Tyler didn’t even want to remember after that day, Tyler stood from where he was putting on his socks at the foot of his bed. With one sock on and his shirt only half-buttoned and untucked, he crossed the room and punched Stevenson in the nose.

It didn’t break—Tyler knew from experience how much force it took to break a nose, and he had a small idea about how much he could get away with at the Academy. A broken nose was on the wrong side of the line, but damn if it wasn’t satisfying to look down at that idiot, sprawled on the floor and blinking wildly up at Tyler. Their other dorm mate, Dalton, seemed ready to intervene, but a hard look from Tyler and he wisely appeared to think better of it.

“You leave him the hell alone, you hear me?” Tyler said, ostensibly to Stevenson, but he had no doubt the message, his message, lower case and still very important thank you very much, would spread throughout the Academy. He might have to repeat it, but he was ready for it. “You leave him alone, or I’ll make you.”

When Stevenson did nothing more than blink, Tyler turned very calmly and went back to his abandoned sock. In no more than a handful of seconds, only he and Connor remained in the dormitory. Connor hadn’t moved a finger since Tyler had first stood from the bed. He was watching him with a slight frown and an expression Tyler couldn’t really place—but then, he was trying not to look at Connor, so it wasn’t all that easy to figure out what he was thinking.

“Snowfalls are stupid in the summer,” Connor finally said.

They were the first words Tyler had heard him utter since their first introduction. And he heard the Message behind them loud and clear.

That was completely unnecessary.

“You’re welcome,” he said, grinning.

Connor looked away, but not before Tyler could catch the smallest of smiles flickering on his lips.

Monday, February 24, 2014

You Promised Me Two Years - Part 1

Here is a sample from my new novella, You Promised Me Two Years...

When they first met, Connor stared at Tyler for the length of five heartbeats, his gaze flying from Tyler’s shoes to his shirt, his tie and ending on his face. The scrutiny felt unpleasant, and Tyler couldn’t help but wonder what Connor Saw when he observed him. His clothes were brand new but nothing special: a white button-up shirt, a dark blue tie with two white stripes to indicate he had two years to go after this one before graduation, black slacks and a black blazer with the Academy’s insignia, the stylized profile of a woman’s face, embroidered over his heart. Connor’s clothes were similar, although he wore a navy blue sweater instead of the blazer, and his tie merely peeked at the collar. Where Tyler’s short brown hair was carefully parted and combed, Connor’s blond locks stuck out at odd angles, as though he’d been raking his fingers through them.

Tyler tried to smile despite feeling a little intimidated. It was rather silly. He was a few months older than Connor and it wasn’t like meeting him should have fazed him, even if Connor was a couple of inches taller than him and looked at him like he was an insect to be examined and pulled apart. There was no denying that Tyler was nervous, though. It was the first time he’d met a Prophet. Even in his own head, he could all but feel the capital P. Not just any Prophet either, but the youngest of three in the United States at the moment. The most promising one in at least four generations, the people at the Department of the Future said—if only he was finally paired with the right interpreter. No need for the uppercase there. Some people thought interpreters were special, but Tyler knew what he could do; he knew his place.

He only hoped this could truly be his place.

Being enrolled in the Academy was already an amazing opportunity for him, and whatever happened with Connor, Tyler had been guaranteed he would be allowed to study here until he graduated. A diploma from the Academy would open many doors that would otherwise have remained closed to him. It was a chance too good to pass up. But if he ended up a washout as Connor’s interpreter, he would feel like a failure in his own eyes; he knew others, back home, would feel the same.

When his smile wasn’t returned, he offered his hand to shake. Connor had already been told his name, but Tyler supposed he might as well introduce himself properly.

“I’m Tyler. Or Ty, whichever. It’s nice to meet you. I’ve heard a lot about you.”

“Twin lambs,” Connor said, then turned away abruptly, never having shaken the hand Tyler proffered. He navigated around the desks toward the back of the room.

The three adults standing at Tyler’s side looked at him expectantly. Or rather, two of them did. The Secretary of the Future, a graying man with sharp eyes, had already made it clear that Tyler was to inform him in the best possible haste of anything of importance that Connor uttered.

“Even if you have to wake Miss Carrington in the middle of the night,” he’d said.

Miss Carrington, the Headmistress, had nodded at that as though it were completely normal. Even now, she looked as eager as the Secretary to hear what Connor had just said. Only the third person, a severe-looking woman in a crisp pantsuit and long wool coat kept her eyes on Connor. She’d been there during each of Tyler’s interviews and tests but had never said a word, and Tyler didn’t know her name although he thought she worked at the Department of the Future. Connor had stepped as far away from them as he could and he was now standing by the window, his forehead pressed to the fogged glass.

“Twin lambs?” the Headmistress repeated, a little breathless. “What does he mean?”

Tyler’s throat tightened. His first Message. Did it really have to be this one? There was no doubt in his mind that he was right. He could practically feel the meaning of Connor’s words as though it had been carved into his skin, could hear it like music composed for his ears only. His interpretation scores had been good, but he never dared hope it’d be so easy. Two words only, and already Tyler knew he and Connor were a great match.

And yet…

“He means I’ll be his interpreter for two years,” he said quietly.

The Headmistress and Secretary looked at each other, disappointment obvious in their matching frowns. Prophets and interpreters were usually paired up for life. Connor, however, was anything but usual. He’d run through five interpreters already since being identified at the age of ten, six years earlier. If Tyler lasted two years, it’d be twice as long as anyone else, but still not what he’d hoped for.

By the window, Connor huffed. That sound, too, Tyler could interpret, although he didn’t say anything.
That huff meant, “Either you’re another idiot who only understands half of it all, or you’re too scared to tell them what I actually meant.”

Tyler wasn’t scared of Connor or of the adults around them. But he was scared of this Message. He was scared he’d be there, right next to Connor in two years, watching and unable to do a damn thing when he died.

Because the true Message had been, “Don’t expect to make a career out of this interpreter thing. You’ll watch me die in two years.”

For the first time, Tyler wondered if taking the Cassandra Tests had been such a good idea.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Coming soon... You Promised Me Two Years

I'm excited to have a new novella released soon. I'm waiting for the custom art to be ready for the cover, and then You Promsised Me Two Years will be out. Here's a little bit about the story...


When Tyler became Connor’s interpreter, he thought all that entailed was translating the Prophet’s cryptic messages about future events.

However, it doesn’t take him long to realize Connor needs more than that. First and foremost, he needs a friend, someone who will stand up for him at the Academy, the elite school they both attend and where Connor, despite his talent, is far from popular. He also needs someone who understands that, for him, the talent of prophecy is a curse he would get rid of if he only could, a curse that pushes him toward substance abuse and oblivion.

It also doesn’t take Tyler very long before he starts seeing Connor as more than a friend, and he’s lucky enough to have Connor return his feelings. Just as things begin to settle down, however, the arrival of a new Prophet at the Academy threatens Connor’s hard-won and still-fragile peace of mind.

Through it all, Tyler is all too aware that every day brings Connor closer to being eighteen, the age of his prophesized death, two years after their first meeting.