Elena loves her family, hates homework, and likes all the same things her friends do. She’s a student, an athlete, and a dreamer, and she wants to do important things when she grows up. Most of all, she doesn’t want to grow up to be like her parents. They’re monsters.
Lockdown is the latest of my Rough Passages Tales, a collection of stories about life in a world where your life might change overnight just when you think you’ve got things figured out. Here’s a teeny snippet you won’t find in the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon:
The Test: An excerpt from Lockdown
Ms. Watkins took Elena’s hand, turning it over and pressing it between her soft palms. “I know what you’re doing, dear. Children whisper the same stories, year after year. You hear a rumor about a trick, and you think maybe. You think, it can’t hurt. You’re wrong.”Elena met the woman’s eyes and lied. “I don’t know what you mean.”
“Yes, you do. You’re anemic and underweight. Starving yourself won’t affect how your blood factor develops. That fairy tale has been around forever. Stupid girls starve themselves to death.” Ms. Watkins patted Elena’s hand. “You seem like a smart girl, so that’s all the nagging I’ll do. If you have any other questions about the test or rollover, chat with the outreach team from Mercury Battalion, or make an appointment to talk privately–with or without your parents. That’s why the soldiers are here.”
Elena pictured the pair of Marines in the office again. Her spirits rose. “I can ask them anything?”
Ms. Watkins pursed her lips. “If you ask Sergeant Coby if he’s a real troll, you’ll get a lecture on history and mythology. I wouldn’t recommend it.”
“I would never.” Elena couldn’t even imagine being that horrid. “But the other one is a C-N, isn’t he? Probably a one or a two, since he’s in Mercury.”
“Corporal Tillman is a N2C, that’s right. You know your designations. Are you a monster buff, then?” Ms. Watkins sounded disappointed.
“No, but my baby brother has a big book of charts that he likes me to read at bedtime. Knowing more helps him adjust, the therapist said. See, our papa hit onset a few months ago, and he’s C8A. I wanted to ask the soldier how—he—um.” Elena’s face heated with a blush. “Papa sheds. He only has a ruff on his neck and back, but it gets everywhere. Would it be rude to ask the corporal how he gets the fur out of his shirts?”
Ms. Watkins blinked several times before answering. “That question might make Tillman’s whole day. Please do ask. Ask Sergeant Coby about scales, too. I hear they’re equally hard on clothes.” She pointed at the main office door. “Now, scoot along.”
I invite you to read any (all!) of the stories below that take place in the same world: