This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
It was the sound of the crowd that Matilda remembered most from the day her father died. They did not scream in outrage at his pain, nor gasp in horror, even as he flailed in desperate agony and his face turned the sickening color of a day old bruise. No, they cheered. They laughed. They cursed him; all while he slowly choked on the hangman’s noose, many of them fully aware that the criminal’s four children were among them, watching, helpless, as their only parent was dying.
It was a messy execution. His neck did not snap as it should have. Instead, he suffocated slowly, agonizingly slowly. Matilda and her brothers cried and screamed their father’s name, desperate to be heard over the jeers of the blood thirsty crowd, until their throats were raw and aching. The twins, Rolland and Rhys, at only eleven, hurled themselves brazenly at the crowd, throwing punches and kicks as hard as they could and screeching like wild animals. Jasper, the eldest of their brood at thirteen, stood with their tiniest member, Mathilda. They stood shoulder to shoulder; staring blankly at their father’s violently twitching limbs. Jasper clasped her hand so tightly it hurt, as if he were afraid she might join the twins in their fight, although she made no move to.
She looked around at all the people around her, glaring at them. She could feel her chest burn with pure, fiery hatred. They’re eyes had this odd glint to them as they watched her father die and their grinning mouths seemed to be filled with razor sharp teeth. They were monsters…monsters…every last one. She was only seven years old and yet, at that moment, she was filled with an overwhelming desire to plunge a knife into each of their bellies. A feral desperate cry suddenly rang out through the air. She crouched down low with her hands over her ears to block out the hideous sound. She did not realize until much later that the scream had come from her own mouth.
The men Rolland and Rhys attacked finally chased the children off like they were a bunch of feral cats. They never saw their father’s feet stop kicking.
That night, they returned home to their empty hovel. It was so strange, the silence of the place. It was so deathly quiet; all they could hear was the familiar scurrying of the ever present rats. Their father was a thief to be sure, but when he was with his children and not full of wine, he was a kindly, warm man with a laugh that could practically shook the house. He was always humming or singing a drinking song very badly, always talking. The man never shut up. Now, without him there, the house felt as dead as he was. None of the children could bear to even look towards the little chair by the hearth where their father usually sat.
They huddled around a dying fire. Rolland and Rhys nursed their swollen, bruised faces while Jasper ladled lukewarm soup into dirty old bowls. He hadn’t said a word since their Father was led up to the gallows, so when he finally did speak, the sound startled Matilda.
“Eat what I give you. Don’t ask for another bowl. We have to make this last as long as we can.” He said softly, his voice cracking.
“What are we going to do, Jasper?” Matilda cried. Big tears dripped down her dust covered face.
Jasper eased himself down onto the floor with his sister and brothers and rested his head against the stone wall behind him. A tired smile tweaked the corners of his bow shaped mouth, though the expression did not touch his dark brown eyes. “We do just as Father did.” He shrugged. “We’ll take what we need.”
“And Wha’?” Rolland slurred through his swollen mouth, “Hang like ’em too?”
“I don’t wanna die!” Rhys began sobbing pathetically. Bloody snot dripped from his busted nose.
Jasper remained eerily calm. “No one is going to die.” He sighed. “He got caught. We won’t. I’ll make sure of that.” A gurgle echoed in the tiny space. Jasper’s gaunt cheeks flushed and he busied himself with poking the last embers in the fire to muffle out the sounds of the his empty belly. He had made no move to fill his own bowl. It would later prove to be the first of many nights he would go hungry for their sake. “Besides, it will only be temporary. Once we’re old enough to get apprenticeships, we won’t have to steal anymore.”
“What about me?” Matilda asked, eagerly. She did not want to be just another mouth to feed. She wanted to help.
Jasper looked at her in a strange, pitying way. “We’ll marry you off to someone nice and rich, don’t you worry.” He smiled. His eyes peered into hers for a long moment, before he turned away and went back to tending the fire.
Of course, everything he said, everything he promised, would turn out to be nothing but lies.
Lauren Suzmeyan-Raine: I'm so glad you found a place to post your stories. I was horrified when I saw yours had been taken down, they are definitely the best 'reading' stories I've ever read. And I've made it my business to read every one I can. Well done.Lauren
Alice Liu: Whoa! I've been wondering how would the Maurauders react to Harry's life and here we go! YOU ARE THE BEST! All the characters are consistent with their personalities shown in the book! I love how you compare Lily with Molly and it's definitely true for her being a mother! I wish Peter comes have ...
Animeviewer: It is one of the best stories I've ever read. This story will have you riding a roller coaster of emotions and nearly dying to know what happens next.You will get very attached to the characters and in my case I relate well with some of their very traumatic or emotional experiences, Just Juliet f...
Nymeria: Really can't get enough of this story. It flows well, it captivates the reader from page 1, and throws you into such a well-written, well conceptualized world that you'll believe it's real. Everything in the book is meshed together really well. From character backgrounds to plot twists, you can t...
MavisMcQueen: "To Live Again" is a well crafted, highly engaging, heart vibrating tale surrounding our favorite Elven King. The author will keep you engrossed until the very end and by that time you will feel so strongly for Clara and the other characters that you will never want it to end...like ever. Thrandu...
Alex Rushmer: Although I don't know the story of the Phantom of the Opera, I really enjoyed this story. The writing was very evocative, and it really put a picture of time and setting in my mind. The voice of the story really added to the character development. The idea of the time travelling -- or whatever re...
summerstone: Seriously this is one of the best books I've ever read. The plot is intriguing, I love the narrative style. Its very descriptive and unique, with minimal cliches. It makes for a great read and the sequels are amazing. Totally worth reading. ^^ That's me trying to be professional. But in all hones...
Usagi Kita: This story is emotional from beginning to end. You get to watch the characters struggle and grow, maturing in different ways so that they come to be the people they are meant to be. Inea is insanely adorable, and his antics made me laugh more than once, and Kaedon is perfect for him in so many wa...
LouiseJ2: I enjoyed the detail you went into with regards to the case. It made the UNSUB appear believable. The crisis in the middle of the story was my favorite part, very dramatic but not over the top. I feel like sometimes pairings can be overdone but I liked that some of the relationships were a little...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."