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By Etimire_T All Rights Reserved ©

Thriller / Scifi


Terris Noble is the daughter of an imprisoned rebel in the oppressive Underfoot colonies and has never seen the sky. In a desperate attempt to escape, she boards a hidden elevator and finds herself among the Upperhand, who are just as unaware of those who live beneath them as Underfoot is of those on the surface. But not is all well in paradise. Can she find her father and escape before the world falls apart both inside and out? Meanwhile, Quinn Alabaster, high prince of Upperhand, is not sure what to make of the strange girl who he finds wandering in his garden.


In the midst of war, authorities announced that they made a mistake. A vital one. In their lust for blood, nuclear weapons were fired and released lethal amounts of radiation. The radiation was in the Earth’s cloud cover and at any moment poison could rain onto the entire surface of the beloved planet. Within five years, they estimated, the entire population would be extinct.

Panic ensued.

Why was this happening? How could we let this get so out of hand?

…Are we going to die?

Then like a miracle, Cedric rose up.

He took hold of abandoned reins in the government and offered salvation with open arms.

They would drop their past disagreements, he would be their undisputed leader. In exchange, he would save their lives.

How? They asked. And with a quiet smile, Cedric explained his plan to the world leaders.


Beneath the Earth’s surface, everyone could start again. Underfoot was a maze of secret cities all built beneath the Earth’s surface and large enough to house the entire Earth’s population. There would be no rich, no poor. Everyone would eat and everyone would work. It was a beautiful idea.

The year is 3016. It has been sixty-six years since any of us saw the light of day and there is no inclination that we will be leaving anytime soon.

The third generation of Underfoot has arisen, and with us, greed, starvation, and curiosity. How long will they keep us down here?

There’s a part of me that wishes I turned away; that I never looked up and I kept myself to myself. If I had, then I’d have a reason, or rather, an excuse to do nothing.

Is it such a bad thing, ignorance?

But as it was, my eyes jerked away from my shuffling feet and met the personification of suffering. They were dirty and tired, beaten, worn. Their eyes sunk into their sockets, yellow and blinking like cheap light bulbs, and with chattering teeth, they stood in rags. They stared at the floor, too tired to be ashamed; too weak to look up; to change their situation.

And I was one of them but I didn’t realize how horrid we were until a cry brought me to my senses and for the first time in a long time, my gaze left the floor.

That was how it started.

Now look where I am.

My mind felt numb- useless, and I was yet again pounded by fear. I was just one girl. I didn’t want this. I never asked to hold the fate of billions of human beings in my hands. Nothing I did here was going to be remembered; no one would sing my praises or make songs about the girl with fiery hair. However, in the course of my admittedly short life, I have learned one thing. Knowledge may be power, but power without action is useless.

I had the knowledge to save everyone, but only if I acted upon it. If I stood still, the guilt of doing nothing would burn me to bits.

So as my friends rushed toward me, terrified protests on their lips, I looked past them and locked eyes with the one person who appeared calm. His raven hair, forever disheveled, fell into midnight eyes and he gave the smallest nod of approval.

That was all I needed. It didn’t matter whether I was remembered or not. My name on the tongues of others was a hollow victory. It didn’t matter that I was only lighting the flame, that in all probability I would die in the process. What I was about to do was right; it was good and true. For once in my life I didn’t feel like a coward who lived on the edge, wishing to do something great but never did. The knowledge and my actions thereof- they were worth the punishment.

But that’s the end of the story and anyone who’s anyone knows that that is a rubbish place to start. In this case, it’s just downright horrid. So let me go back to the beginning.

My story begins in a metal apartment hundreds of feet from the surface of planet Earth on a day once upon a time called Christmas.

Honestly, most of what I remember from my early childhood is my mother. She was a sensation, smell, a soft caress full of love, but there are a few days that have cemented her in my mind. Christmas morning is one of them. But before that, I can only vaguely recall the silk-like texture of her hair, red like mine, and the smell of her clothes when she held me tight; cinnamon and fresh air.

There was a time, a happy time, when she winked at me with emerald eyes, full of life, and leaned over her bulging belly to pick me up. I remember she placed my hand on her stomach, excitement quivering her lips. Impatiently I waited. And then I felt the smallest kick from within Mother’s womb. My eyes widened with astonishment and my mother’s in amusement. She laughed and it was a tinkling bell, burbling water.

“That’s your little brother, Terris. He’ll be our Christmas present!”

Wrinkling my freckle-spotted nose, I opened my mouth with a question. “How’d he get in there?” I pointed at her belly. “Did you eat ’em?”

My mother seemed to find this hilarious, but never answered my very vital question. I wondered if she ate my brother, why was she laughing at all? I said as much and Mother set me down. “Terris Noble, I did not eat your sibling.”

“Then how’d he get in there?”

Fortunately Mother was spared a response by the sound of grinding gears lifting up our front door. Apparently my father, who stepped into our kitchen, heard the last bit of our conversation because he took one look at my worried eyes and puckered lips and his face split into a grin.

My father, James Noble, was a complex man who always had a tune on his lips and a smile in his eyes. He was the sort of fellow who had been shoved, who had been ignored, and who, despite the scorn he received, was strong. Like a weathered oak that clung to a seaside cliff. I saw a picture of that once. He whispered and won and lived and laughed, unbroken. Love for his family spilled into his every choice, and he spun me around upon arriving home.

That memory was the last time everyone was happy.

Years later, my father explained exactly what came to pass after that day, and the reasons why we were forever after at ill-ease, but as a child, I only caught snippets of the trouble and worry brewing in the life of my family.

There was talk of money, or rather, the lack of it and there was one time that I caught my mother off guard. I rushed into our apartment building, intending to show her an earthworm my friend Dallas and I found, but the sight that met my eyes caused me to forget the worm entirely.

My mother lay curled up against the wall, our telephone clasped tightly in her fist. The cord was wrapped around her hands and she clung to it like a lifeline. Gradually, tears slipped from her eyes and spilled down her fair face. She sobbed silently and it sent terror to the soles of my leather boots.

Acting quickly, I tip-toed forward and wrapped my short arms around her the best that I could. Then I laid my ear against her stomach and screwed my eyes shut. Mother jumped in surprise, gave a sad attempt at a smile for my benefit and wiped her tears away. Imagined I could hear a double-heartbeat from inside her and when I closed my eyes, I thought of a little boy sitting grumpily in her stomach, still mad that he was eaten up and couldn’t play in the halls outside our apartment.

“What are you doing, Terris?” Mother asked me, her voice congested and tired, but slightly amused.

“I’m making sure the baby isn’t sad.”

“Why would the baby be sad.”

“’cause you’re sad, mommy.”

My mother smiled weakly. “I’m not sad.”

I shook my head. “Yes, you are. It’s okay, I cry all the time.”

And for some reason she leaned down and gripped me so tightly I thought I would burst. “You would have made a beautiful sister, Terris.”

“But I am a sister.”

My mother said nothing.

A large chunk of time must have passed, but I remember none of it. It seemed to me that suddenly my mom was too large to walk comfortably. When an obnoxious knock slammed into our front door, I offered to answer it instead of watching her waddle painfully.

Unconcerned, I pressed a pale thumb against the access pad next to the door and cracked it open.

Immediately, fear crackled through me like fire. Two Enforcers in an all black assembly and a third Enforcer dressed in white stood at my front door. They had helmets over their heads like something a motorcyclist might wear and it gave them an emotionless, robotic feel. I was told months back to never let an Enforcer inside our house.

Fear made my teeth chatter and I slammed the door in their faces. My feet slapped against the metal paneling as I raced back to my mother.

She took one look at my terrified eyes and went entirely ashen. Immediately Mother stood up and gripped my hand. “Enforcers?” she asked.

I nodded, loose red curls bouncing.

“Good girl.” My mother pulled me to her chest and kissed my forehead before leading me to a small closet in our kitchen. A bunch of dried, government issued food and other bits of rubbish was piled inside, but my mother threw it aside and revealed a circular indentation in the floor. It was an opening into the sewer system underneath the network of apartments that wound underneath the earth’s surface. The Enforcers banged relentlessly on the door and I flinched at each blow. It was only a matter of time before they broke in. Quickly, I raced to my room and back again, clutching a small doll with hair fiery-red like mine. Mother gave me an agonized look but hugged me tightly. “Can you be brave, Terris?”

I hesitated. And then resolutely, “...yes,”

My mother smiled sadly and brushed a strand of hair from my eyes. “That’s my girl.”

Then she bent away and felt around the seam of the circular lid, looking for something to hold onto. “I knew they’d come eventually,” she murmured, finally heaving up the sheet of metal with difficulty.

I wrinkled my nose. The smell was horrible!

“They don’t like it when someone doesn’t pay for permission.”

I blinked uncomprehendingly at her, “What’s a per-mission?” I asked.

“Nothing, sweet.” Mother didn’t elaborate. Instead, she lifted me and pointed down the hole that was now in our floor. “Climb down the ladder, Terris. I’m right behind you.”

“But it’s dark!”

“Nonsense baby, it’s just not light. Everything is still the same.” She pressed down on my shoulders urgently and with uncertain steps I scrambled down the rusty rungs. Almost immediately my mother fumbled after me, her belly making it all the more difficult. She closed the lid above us and clutched my hand with shaking fingers. A thick line of sludge ran through the middle of the tunnel, but we skirted the sides and did our best to avoid it. Murmuring comfort into my ears, my mother raced down the tunnel with me in tow.

I was too young to understand why the Enforcers weren’t supposed to find my mom, or why we were running through a tunnel in the first place, but I had a general idea that the Enforcers didn’t like my brother, the one mommy ate. Mother needed ‘permission’, and didn’t have the money to get it. So I ran on my tip-toes, occasionally splashing in puddles of undesirable substances. Faintly, the sound of stomping feet and shouting voices reached out ears. The Enforcers found the tunnel. Our breaths came in gasps and my mother stumbled. She caught herself- kept going.

Soon I was jerked to a stop. I looked up at Mother in confusion, but she only pushed me forward. There was another ladder on the wall, and I hastily climbed up. When I reached the top, I pressed a release button on the ceiling, and the better-quality sewage lid slid aside. Immediately, I scrambled into the open and was followed my panting mother. She gasped, a hand fretting near her stomach. “Come along, Terris,” she spoke, “Just a bit farther.”

“Are we gonna get Daddy?”

Mother nodded, pulling me along. My father worked long hours in dangerously deep mines, but hopefully he would know where to go when he heard the Enforcers found us.

We were no longer in our apartment but had come out of the sewer in a small maintenance closet. When we opened the door, we were instantly swept away by the crowds of hurrying, worrying, murmuring people. This was one of the biggest crossroads on this side of the planet. You could start here and walk to hundreds of other Regions. If we disappeared into one of the dark hallways, no one would be able to find us. “Mommy, I left my shoes.”

“That’s alright love, don’t worry.”

People glanced at us, but they were too wrapped up in their own miseries to do more than that. Whenever someone caught our eyes, Mother stared at them stubbornly until they looked away and hugged their arms to their chests.

We were so close to freedom now. Twenty, maybe thirty feet, and we would disappear- never to be seen again.

But at the last moment, Enforcers poured into the crossroad, pushing, shoving, chasing. Chasing us like we were evil felons instead of a pregnant woman and a barefoot child who couldn’t have been older than three. Picking up the pace, we sped down the crossroad, pushing and apologizing. I was tired, and my feet ached from running barefoot across the metal floor grating.

“Don’t stop, Terris,” Mother gasped.

But my fingers were sweaty and loose.

The next time someone ran into me, the little red doll slipped from my tiny hand. I let out a cry of dismay and immediately broke contact with my mother. I could hear her calling to me, her voice nearing hysteria, but in the movement of the crowds I paid no mind. A few more feet and I would reach the doll. I stretched out a thin arm to grasp the little toy, but instead of feeling the coarse cloth of her crudely sewn dress, a masculine, gloved hand clamped down on my wrist like irons.

I screamed, trying to wriggle out of the Enforcer’s grasp. But he was strong. I was a child. Mother heard my cry and renewed her push against the flow of people.

She was terrified. For me. Forgetting her original goal, she clawed her way back. In that last instant, my eyes met hers. Her face was stained with tears. She stumbled with exhaustion. And she was beautiful, desolate, defiant and untamable. In that last moment.

Then an Enforcer came up from behind and wrapped a gloved hand around her neck- not to choke her, but to hold her in place. My mother’s shouts echoed throughout the hall and no one took the time to notice.

Tears fell from my itchy, red eyes. I struggled against the Enforcer, but he picked me up and slung me over his shoulder like a slab of meat. My tiny fists beat against his black suit, doing absolutely nothing.

Still, my mother screamed my name. I tried to look up at her, but couldn’t in my position. Never did I see her truly alive again.

There were two Enforcers around her now. One of the men, who was in a white suit, had a bag around his waist. The other Enforcer latched his arms around her neck and shoved her face-first against a wall. She screamed, in pain now. Her breath came in heaves, and several passers-by flinched.

However, a sudden bolt of gray and brown burst from the streams of monotone people and ran toward my mother.

It was Father. He was here, just like he said!

I let out a cry as he raced across the hall, his feet pounding across the metal grating, and the Enforcer holding me captive smacked me across the mouth. He plowed forward, dragging me behind him. Enraged, I bit the hand covering my mouth and the Enforcer stopped for the slightest instant to shake off my little teeth.

It was just long enough for my father to run bull-like into the Enforcer pinning Mother and to throw him off of her. Instantly my dad’s red, snarling face melted from fury into concern and fear. He bent down to my mother and spoke to her gently. I never knew what they said, for as my father prepared to literally carry her out, the Enforcer clasping my arm let me go and raced forward. He tackled my father and after a moment, three other Enforcers did the same. There was a tangle of limbs over him in an instant, swallowing my dad like a giant black spider.

And I stood still, a pebble in a river, clutching the threads of my ripped uniform while tears made white stripes down my face.

The last thing I remember is the Enforcer in white grasping my mother by the hair, leading her away as she screamed. There was a bathroom on the wall and before the door completely shut behind them, I saw the Enforcer take a long silver hook out of his bag.

Then the door shut and I knew no more.

That was years ago.

The room was dull with a predominate grey theme. The ceiling hung low, and the walls moaned, pressing in on the occupant. The coarse sheets of my bed were tangled around my thin legs, but I didn’t notice in my slumber. Tossing back in forth, I was trapped deep in horrible memories. My fingers splayed against the cool metal wall, and it hummed, the air conditioners keeping the room from turning into an oven. Underfoot was buried too deep to be habitable without air conditioners. Across the room, which was approximately five feet away, there were two indentations on the wall. If I pressed my finger against it, a shelf slid out with my government issued grey shirt and pants folded neatly within.

I woke up crying, my heart a pair of frantic footsteps. Sweat wet my forehead and fear, like ice, set up residence in my heart. I was so done being psychologically scarred by that evil day. I’d had the same nightmare for over twelve years.

I breathed. In, out- Repeat. Slow. I needed to stay calm. Steadily my heart wound down and continued at a more reasonable pace. I sat up. Of all psychological scars that could arise from that day, why this one?

And I was doing so good; hadn’t had a nightmare for over a month.

Because it’s Christmas, I supposed. I always had a nightmare on Christmas, the day it happened. Usually, Dad would stumble off to work, suppressed anguish in his eyes, and I would sit alone in my room until Dallas, my best friend, got off of work. He’d come over and sit next to me on the floor, and we’d eat the sweets he stole from the marketplace.

But not today. Today I wasn’t allowed to be an emotionally scared wreak whose childhood innocence was marred by the murder of my unborn brother and the eventual suicide of my mother when I was seven. Today I was taking the test to see how I could benefit our society in my adulthood.

And according to society, my psychological state was of little consequence. The truth is that the government put you wherever it wanted. And if it didn’t want you at all? Well, you were unnecessary and therefore, criminal. The Enforcers hunted down the useless and disposed of it.

I sighed and reluctantly stood. Might as well get ready to leave. I glanced at my clock on a metal shelf. It was five in the morning.

Moving slowly, I reached across my bedroom and pressed my thumb against the rectangular indentation in the opposite wall. My dresser drawer slid open, and I shifted to the left so that it could open all the way without running into my knees. The bedroom I called my own was larger than most of the bedrooms on our hallway. It was rectangular in shape and was relatively empty except for my bed, a single light bulb that dangled from the ceiling, the dresser embedded in the wall, and a single metal shelf.

On the shelf were my clock and a drawing charcoal of my mother when she was fifteen. Father told me he drew it during their last year of schooling. He said my mom looked so beautiful the first time he saw her that he stood in the hallway completely and utterly stunned. Capturing her likeness perfectly in the drawing, he lit her eyes with a playful gleam I missed in the year or so after my brother died. I wanted to always remember her that way.

Gently I rubbed my finger across the drawing, feeling the bumps and wrinkles of the paper. “Morning, Mom,” I murmured.

Snatching up my satchel, I padded across the metal panel flooring. No time to waste today. I pressed my finger on a thumb pad by my door. It was passed four, so the silver door opened without protest. Doors were locked at night, keeping the crowds contained until morning.

After exiting my room, I entered the kitchen, which doubled as the living room and the dining room. We were one of the lucky families who had a bathroom that was closed off from the rest of the house. Dad’s room was across the kitchen, the opposite of mine, and when I peeked through his slightly open door, I saw that he was already asleep. The man came home from work late at night, or if you prefer, early in the morning, and instantly collapsed into oblivion. Mining was no easy job.

Careful not to wake him, I poked my head farther inside. My bedroom was smaller than his but a whole lot cleaner. He slept in a twin-sized bed that he bought for mother at their wedding. It was traditional to keep the bed throughout the couple’s marriage, but not after.

However, Father was never one for tradition. He didn’t want another bed, and he didn’t want another wife. He was one of the lucky people who found their other half in the world, the person who filled his soul.

And then he lost her.

I didn’t blame him for keeping the bed, or his widowerhood.

My head cocked to the side; I gave him a sad smile. He didn’t bother to get into his blanket when he came in or even take his shoes off. He sprawled out on the bed, the picture of absolute exhaustion. Even though his head was turned away from me, I knew that if I happened to look, I’d see purple weariness under his eyes.

Worry tugged at me and for a moment I wanted to rush over and bury my face into his chest. Why did they work him so hard? Didn’t they know it was killing him?

The answer was yes.

He didn’t get nearly enough rest, and his labored breathing testified to the horrid conditions in the mines, his workplace. I wanted to believe everything was going to be alright, but in a few hours he would go back to work. Nothing was okay.

I pulled back and shut the door.

Sighing, I shifted toward the kitchen cupboard where our morning rations were. I let the habit swamp me, and my hands moved to open up the air sealed bags of dehydrated mushrooms and chemically produced food without real thought. Apparently, when everyone lived on the surface people ate food that was grown by the power of the sun instead of the full-spectrum lights we had in Underfoot. The gardeners worked day after day in large caverns harvesting mushrooms and planting any seed that they could get to grow. I supposed I wouldn’t mind being a gardener, and when I say that, I mean I’d rather be a gardener than a toilet cleaner, but it’s not at all what I wanted to do. It was monotonous, simple, and most of all, not dangerous. Unlike mining. Miners were constantly in danger.

Quickly, I poured water into a plastic package.

The directions on the back of the plastic package said to shake for precisely sixty-two seconds. I did so and set it on the counter. What if this was the last time I ate food in this apartment? What if I never came home after today?

That could happen. Sometimes you were called to fill an occupation across the globe. There was no way to travel back and no way to say no.

“Terris?” I gravely voice sounded from behind me. I could always tell when my father walked into the room. The sole of one of his shoes was falling off and slapped at every step. He smelled like smoke and freshly tossed dirt.

A smile claimed my lips despite my intentions. “Dad,” I answered. Turning around, I gave my father the sternest look I could manage. “You should be sleeping.”

Apparently I don’t do stern very well because he smirked. He hadn’t had time to shave for a few days, and dark-brown stubble was beginning to shadow the bottom half of his face. He took the time to wash his face when he got home, but that was it. Everywhere else was black with dirt and dust from the mines. He ran his fingers through a nest of dark hair and blinked tiredly. “I couldn’t...” He yawned. “couldn’t let you go without saying goodbye to my,” Another yawn. “little girl.”

And I melted. Stepping forward, I hugged him tightly. Oh God, please don’t let them send me away. I don’t want to lose him.

My father grunted and I released him quickly. He cringed at my touch and my eyes widened. “You’re hurt! Why didn’t you say anything?”

“It’s nothing,” He grimaced, sitting down.”I’m fine.”

But I was not to be deterred. “Pull up your shirt.”

“Terris, I’m all right.”

I shook my head. “No, you’re not. Le’me see.”

He let out a huff of breath and slowly lifted the bottom right side of his shirt. Nothing. He was fine.

I smelled a rat and put my hands on my hips. “Lift up the other side.”

“Terris.” He shook his head. “I’m fine.”

“Come on! If you’re bleeding, then it might get infected!”

Rolling his eyes, he lifted his shirt gingerly and revealed a cut across his left hip. It wasn’t bleeding any longer, but looked dirty and annoyed. If not treated, the cut would most definitely get infected. I sighed. “I thought they banned whipping in the mine…”

“You want to know the truth?”

“Of course.”

He looked at me very seriously. “I told you that so you would stop worrying.” I huffed indignantly and he sighed. “You are so stubborn, Terris.”

Rolling my eyes, I kept him seated in the one chair we owned. “I’m stubborn? You’re the one keeping secrets!”

My father just shrugged, no longer listening. His eyes misted with thought. If the mines didn’t kill him, I swear, he’d do it himself. The man could seriously do with a dose of self-preservation instinct. Acting quickly, I wet a rag with some of our water ration and pressed it gently against the gash. He refused to flinch. Wrapping around his left hip bone and onto his back, the slash was about the length of my forearm. I sighed. Water wasn’t enough to clean the wound. I skinned my knee when I was eight, and I remember Dad fussing about it, scared it would get infected but acting confident in front of me. He washed the scrapes with something much stronger that water...

I glanced up at him. “Do you still have some of the alcohol from the market?”

“In the closet,” he spoke through gritted teeth. “You’re gonna be late.”

I nodded and got the alcohol.

He was right when he said I’d be late. Tardiness was looked down on, but I wasn’t going to just leave him. Fetching the can of alcohol, I very gently poured it onto my father’s wound. Anger sparked in my chest. Why did people have to be so horrid? How did the Enforcers whip men and women without their moral compass stabbing them?

The answer? They dug out their compasses.

My father clenched his fists but made no sound. It hurt his pride to shout when he was hurt. Sighing sadly, I ripped up another clean cloth and wrapped it tightly around my father’s waist as a bandage. That was all I could do. If we were lucky it would heal and we’d be done with it, but luck didn’t seem to be on our side most of the time. Feeling slightly childish, I leaned in and carefully hugged him.

We sat there for a while, neither of us wanting to leave. He sighed, chin on top of my head. “It’s gonna get easier, Red. You’ll see.”

Red. I loved it when he called me that. It made me feel special, beautiful, brave. Red is the nickname he gave me years and years ago when it became apparent my hair was going to stay stubbornly crimson and wavy like my mother’s. I’ve never cut it except for the occasional trimming of the ends, so it goes past my waist, and I constantly have to move it out of the way when I sit down. Most of the time I let it hang free, no restrictions. Lord knows I already have enough of those.

“After today, Terris, everything is gonna start changing.”

I looked up at my father, confused. Why today? His jaw curved into a defiant chin, strong and quite handsome according to some. “What do you mean?” I murmured.

He gave me a smile and pulled a strand of hair behind my ear.

My voice was just a whisper as I spoke my fear. “What will we do if I have to move away?” Today had been an object of my terror for years because of this possibility. It was required to accept whatever job we were given, even if it meant moving away and never seeing my family again. Above all else, I didn’t want to be alone. It would kill me, but more importantly, it would kill my father.

And that brave, brave man, James Noble, my dad, he looked at me with these brown, doe-like eyes of his and hugged me tighter. “Then I’ll follow you.”

“To the ends of the Earth?”

He nodded, his chin bouncing on my head. “Anywhere.”

It was something we always said, even though we both knew it was unrealistic. If my new occupation took me away, there would be nothing he could do about it. He was stuck here forever, digging his grave at the mines, and I was stuck wherever the government decided to put me.

Unless something changed.

Suddenly, my dad pulled back and inspected me at arm’s length. “Whatever happens, Terris, I absolutely love you.” There was a frightening seriousness in his eyes that I didn’t quite understand. It was rooted deeper than concern for my occupation. There was something else he was trying to tell me. But what?

Despite my worry, I found myself smiling tiredly. I nudged him gently. “You should go back to sleep.”

My dad nodded, rolling his eyes sarcastically. “Yes, ma’am.” He smirked. “Now get going. You’re already late.”

Glancing at my wrist watch, I saw most definitely late. “Flying shingles! You’re right!” I spun away and shoved breakfast into my satchel.

Dad chuckled. “An unusual expression… Where’d you learn that?”

I realized my shoe was untied, bent down, tied it. “Dallas.”

Nodding, Dad made his way back to his room. “Of course. Who else but Dallas Singer, the legendary mechanic?” He sighed melodramatically.

I chuckled and pressed my finger on the keypad on the front door. “Love you.” The door opened, accompanied by the grind of several gears turning within the metal sheeting. At the last moment, I swiveled around. My father was standing in front of the door of his room. I bit my lip and tried to smile. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

James nodded, a worried light in his eye that almost made me pause. “I love you.”

And with that I closed the door, pulled back a mischievous strand of hair, straightened my jacket and started down the metal hallway lined with door after door of identical apartments. It never occurred to me that it would be my father who left home, not myself.

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Angel S. Adames Corraliza: Sensational! As a fan of superheroes, I have to say, you have a real winner of a story so far. I like that you made Allison a Wonder Woman expy, but kept her likable and relate-able in this first chapter. You showed us the Mother while also glancing at the Superhero, which I think is important to...

Leah Brown: This was an amazing read! I was hooked from the very first chapter, holding my breadth to see what would happen next. The characters are rich and vibrant, and the world Danielle has created is fascinating. If you love YA, you MUST read this book. Such a smart, brilliant debut novel. I loved it!

Ben Gauger: Kudos go to Karissa, author of Elements Of Engagement, an otherwise dark and twisted tale of love and workplace intrigue, very 'Fifty Shades of Grey' to be sure, her writing style being very graphic ad otherwise sexually-charged, hence the 'Fifty Shades of Grey' reference, and as for her use of g...

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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."

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