Monday, August 5, 2013
1st 5 Pages August Workshop - Mayberry
Name: Martha Mayberry
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction/Romance
Title: Gone Wild
The first day I truly lived was my last day on Earth. I began a metamorphosis. A journey that transformed me into something wild.
It’s hard to look good in a durasuit, but somehow our President managed to pull it off. I studied him as he spoke, trying to figure it out.
His voice blasted through the speakers. “Today’s a historic day for Earth. Our children go forth to propagate a new world!”
Please, I am not a brood mare.
My eyes moved past him to the ships perched like raptors on the runway. Within an hour, my brother Joe and I would sleep inside, cruising across the galaxy. Space icicles.
Stellar 1 and 2 had been successfully colonized and I was crossing my fingers for Stellar 3. Hell, if there were rabbits left on Earth, I’d have mummified toes in my pocket. Ick.
“I wish you didn’t have to go,” Auntie Minerva said. “Stay and I’ll take care of you.”
Joe tugged her shirt. “I can take care of myself.”
She gave him a long look.
“I can take care of myself. I’m almost nine. A man.” He puffed his chest, looking anything but manly to me. He was lean and small for his age. Shortness ran in our family. Great for girls. Not so great for boys. Perhaps he’d grow taller on Stellar 3. Like a transplanted tree. His thick auburn hair was askew and his brown eyes were fierce. Maybe a thorn tree. . .
She grimaced. “Chemicals and cryogenics; it’s all so dangerous.”
Yeah, nail us with the gruesome stuff. Like I’m not nervous enough already?
“Please. We’ll be fine.” I said. “Mom and Dad made it without a hitch.”
“You’re right.” Her face was solemn. “It’s just . . . you’re all I have left.”
That was the crux of the matter. She couldn’t go. Genetic breakdown and all that. And we couldn’t stay. Failing Earth and all that.
“You have to go,” I said. “The other relatives have already left.” I longed to give her a big hug, but her body was frail. Pasting a bright smile on my face, I touched her arm instead.
She sighed and turned to Joe, shaking a finger at him. “Keep hold of your sister’s hand when you board.”
He squirmed. “I don’t want to hold her hand. That’s for babies.”
“What’s this?” she asked, reaching inside his shirt. She plucked a mouse out by the tail. Maurice joined the jumbled contents of her purse. “I told you I’d take care of your pets.”
“Can’t I just bring one?”
She grinned and tousled his hair. “Sorry. I’ll miss you, little man.” Teetering down the stairs, she shuffled toward the secure area near the gate.
My eyes were drawn past her, beyond the fence, to the thousands of spectators crowding the streets, faces peering through the slats. Protestors had signs waving above their heads with the slogans-
Our children belong on Earth
Don’t abandon us
Lovely. There was no escaping Earth’s Eden. I was glad to see them locked out beyond the fence. Security had been high since the onset, but fanatical groups like theirs had infiltrated our project. Once our liftoff had been delayed for weeks and another time someone had assassinated our lead scientist.
But launch day was here. No more running past the picket lines and shrill screams to get to orientation. I turned my back on them for good and focused on the speech.
I baked in the hazy sunshine. My skin was turning an unbecoming shade of pink that matched my strawberry-blond hair and peach durasuit, despite an extra layer of sunblock. I itched from smog dust but resisted the urge to yank my sleeves up and scratch.
I peeked at my watch. Thirty minutes to go. I could make it. I could. As long as I didn’t dwell on what came next, leap off the platform and shove through the crowd, screaming about becoming a space icicle. Yup, gotta wipe that image from my head.
Catching myself nibbling a fingernail, I yanked it away. Joe fidgeted beside me with the energy of a two-year old.
“You’re not a baby,” I hissed. “Pay attention. It’s almost time to board.”
He threw me a sulky look, so I grabbed his arm and held him still. Yanking away, he snarled like the little beast he was and settled onto the platform. He picked up a stick and dragged it across the grate.
A hand touched my back. “Lia.” The whispered voice sent tingles up my spine. I knew who it was before I turned around. Malik.
“Where have you been? I didn’t see you on the other platform. I was afraid you’d backed out.”
He gave me his best are you kidding me? expression. “I snuck away.” His brown eyes danced with mischief, alight in his dark olive face.
I shook my head in exasperation and grinned. “All this security and you jump off your platform and stroll over to mine? What did you do, bribe someone?”
He looked down and dragged his sneaker on the grate, making a squeaky-screechy sound before meeting my eyes. “I had to say goodbye one more time.”
I stroked the silky hair away from his eyes. “That’s sweet, but we’re boarding soon. You should be with the others.” I peeked around him, grateful to see Auntie busy with friends. “What if we’re caught? She’ll kill me.”
“Your aunt? What can she do? I’ll be through the gate and back on the platform before she notices me. Relax. It’s cool.”
I glanced at Joe. He was shredding the stick, shoving pieces between the grates. Leaning into Malik, I locked my fingers through his. “We saw each other last night.”
“That was hours ago,” he said as our lips met. Reaching up, I tangled my fingers in his hair, losing myself in the heat of his kiss.
“Oh, yuck,” said Joe. “Do you have to keep doing that?”
My back stiffened and I looked down at him. “What do you mean by that?”
“I followed you when you snuck out. I wouldn’t have if I knew you were going to sit around kissing.” He scrunched his face like he was in terrible pain.
“You watched us?” Now I was the one in pain. My little brother had peeped? Could my life get any worse?
“Not for long. It was boring.”
Malik’s lips twitched. His expression was so cute I stole another kiss.
“Take your hands off my niece, Malik Salvaje.”
Yup, my life could get worse.
Auntie spun me away. I opened my mouth in protest, but the disappointment in her eyes held me still. “And you.” Her infamous finger waggled in my face. “I barely turn my back and you’re kissing this boy on the big screen.”
I looked down at the platform, wishing I had my own stick to shred.
Auntie whirled on Malik, scrutinizing him like a bug in her tea. “I don’t like you. You’re a wild boy, from a wild family.”
My breath blew out, fluffing my bangs. Here it comes. They were at each other in seconds.
“You’ve been trouble since the moment you got here. I know I speak for everyone when I say I’ll be delighted to watch the door slam behind you when you board that ship.”
I grabbed his hand, hoping to hold back the words I knew he longed to shout. Nothing slowed Auntie, however.