Excerpt from the novel I’ve been working on, Control, the first part of the Iron Gates Series.
The cool air whips past me as I push my body further and further into the darkness. The sound of my feet pounding the pavement and my panting are the only noises breaking the silence of the night. Crunch. Okay, maybe not.
My first instinct is to run faster. My second is to turn around and face whoever it is. Instinct takes over. As I run through the familiar track, I build up the courage to sneak a peek but it’s just the darkness swallowing up the area.
Crunch. Crunch. Crunch. Great, this is how I die I think as my breathing gets shallow, my legs get heavy and the crunching gets closer. Glancing over my shoulder again, I suddenly hit something, hard and land on the ground. How graceful.
I look up to see a large silhouette towering over me. Then, a light blinds me. ‘Kass?’ the voice chuckles. I let out a sigh of relief as he pulls me to my feet, phone in hand.
“SWEET MOTHER. YOU SCARED THE BEJEEZUS OUT OF ME,” I yell as I hit him in the arm, although his strength means he doesn’t budge.
“You really are a princess,” he laughs.
“Shut up! I thought you were going to kill me,” I whine as he pulls me in the direction of the iron gates.
“I thought I trained you better,” he says in mock exasperation. That’s Alex for you.
“So what? You were testing me?’ I ask as I duck under a branch, following the trail back.
“No, actually I was checking on the cabin,” he says his voice shaking. Which is understandable given that was the last place he saw his best friend alive.
“Maybe his ghost was chasing me,” I joke, just as I realise I’ve put my foot in my mouth. But Alex registered something else.
“Chasing you?” he asks.
“Well, yeah. I wasn’t running that fast for my health and I know it wasn’t you because I ran into you while running away,” I shrug.
Alex’s stance changes, I know that look, he’s in guard mode. ‘It’s fine,’ I say as he pushes me through the gates. I can tell he’s not convinced because he stops to give the area a quick scan.
As I enter the large open field I notice the blood on my hands from when I fell. Without hesitation my mind goes back to that night. The blood dripping from my hands and soaking into the ground, the flashing of the sirens, the screaming, it all swirls in my mind like an endless loop of torment.
Alex does a little jog to catch up to me and I can tell he’s no longer worried because he ends up almost skipping across the field, oblivious to my change in mood. “Didn’t you hear?” he says in a singsong voice. Before I can answer he starts doing a happy dance and chanting, “WE GET TO GO OUT TONIGHT, WE GET TO GO OUT TONIGHT.”
That is cause for celebration. We’ve been kept here for almost 3 months; it’ll be nice to return to normal society for a little bit.
“Wait. Like out to the shops or like out to a club?” I try not to let any sign of excitement leak into my voice. Clubbing used to be a weekly occurrence; it’d be nice to have a small piece of my old life back. Alex still doesn’t know why I’m here. As far as he’s concerned I’m an uptight spoiled little rich kid who needed to get off her high horse. If he really knew, he wouldn’t look at me the same.
“A club, of course!” he says rolling his eyes. One good thing is that we don’t have to have ID’s or anything of that nature. Only Central City requires those and most of the time they just let you in anyway.
Weaving through the tall brick buildings covered in array of colourful flora, my mind jumps to tonight’s festivities. Oh no. “Oh, no, no, no,” I mutter under my breath.
“What’s wrong?” Alex says, opening the door to our dorm building. Lucky for us, the one luxury we have here is where we sleep. Sleep makes us stronger, according to our Sargent. As we make our way through the foyer, yes there is a freaking foyer; I should explain- it used to be a hotel until they built the academy. Okay more like a prison.
As we make our way through the marble floored hotel that smells like vanilla, I toy with the idea of telling Alex what’s really wrong. It’s so girly and superficial, which he mocked me for being from day one.
I remember the day I arrived. The icy air piercing the back of my neck, the monstrous trees, the iron gates towering over me while I just stood there with my brightly coloured suitcases.
I remember twirling my platinum blonde hair, which looked as Hollywood as possible with the matching juicy couture sweatpants and jacket I was wearing. What have I gotten myself into, I thought. I’d never seen anything like it. It looked like the beginning of a horror movie and I was the dumb blonde girl who yelled ‘hello’, like the murderer would actually answer, and ends up killed in the first 5 minutes.
The gates squeaked open as a tall guy wearing a black hoodie and black track pants walked towards me. “Uh hi?” I said, popping my hip to the side and trying to look under his hood. Flipping his hood back I was met with bright green eyes, brown tousled hair and a scowl. Well, that’s welcoming.
“Come on,” he said impatiently, gesturing for me to come in.
“A little help?” I huffed as I tried grabbing all of my purple bedazzled suitcases. “Oh, you won’t get to bring those here princess,” he smirked as the ridiculously giant iron gates squeaked again when he opened them further.
“Welcome to Steel Academy, it sucks, you’re going to love it,” he said with the lift of his eyebrows. And right then I knew I’d get along with him.
“Huh, original,” I said recognising the FRIENDS reference while glancing back at all of my stuff.
“Don’t worry, they’ll keep them somewhere safe,” he said pulling me into the academy. I doubted that. Little did I know that at that very moment, I was saying goodbye to everything I thought I loved, everything I thought I needed and the person I thought I was.
“Kass, what’s wrong?” Alex’s voice jolted me back where I was standing, which was in the mirrored elevators. Looking at my reflection, my dark brown hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail and I was in the standard black tank and yoga pants with a jacket tied around my waist. I definitely wasn’t the same person who arrived at the gates that day.
“This is going to sound so day 1 Kassie of me but I uh, have nothing to wear,” I say, staring at the impeccably clean floor. DING! The elevator rings and slightly startles me. I feel something is off but I don’t know what. “I’ll figure something out,” I say as I walk into the fluffy white-carpeted hallway.
“I have a feeling it will work out,” Alex winks as the elevator doors close and take him to the floor above.
Forgetting my fears I skip down the white hallway. Reaching my door, number 36, I scan my finger on the keypad and the door swings open. Home sweet home.
As the lights turn on, I begin to hum to get myself into the party mood. That is until I look up. I can feel the thumping of my heart in my ears as I jump back and let out a squeal. Oh god, did I really just squeal?
“Lord have mercy, WHAT is with everyone scaring me today,” I complain as I look at the tall, slim and incredibly beautiful brunette leaning against my headboard.
“Now now kitten, is that any way to talk to your favourite aunt?” she laughs as I crash tackle her. God I missed her. She is the only one that is actually on my side.
Sitting up on the bed, I can’t stop smiling looking at the familiar bright blue eyes and cheeky smile I had grown up with. Truth be told, we were always more like sisters.
“I heard about your taste of freedom and knowing you, I brought you some things,” she gestures to my desk which now has a large white box, what looks like a pink makeup case and a ton of jewellery scattered on it. OH MY GOD. I scream with delight as I jump up to inspect, but Sarah grabs my wrist.
“Before you get into all of that, I have something I think you will want before you put makeup on,” she releases my arm and digs into her leather jacket pocket. She lifts the necklace up in front of me and immediately I lose the ability to stand, sitting, well falling onto the bed. I cup my hand to inspect the charm on it. A moon and a star, a necklace I was given a while ago.
“But how, I don’t understand, you couldn’t have, that night, I lost it,” I ramble. Staring at the diamanté star, my heart feels heavy and I feel my eyes start to water. I remember the strong hands wrapped around my neck, pinning me to the wall. I remember so clearly, because it plays on a loop in my head every night, the pounding of a fist against my face and most of all, the ripping of the necklace off of my neck, landing on the wet concrete, soaked in blood, his blood.
© Kristy Lee