I have quite a few different books on the go at the moment which I am happy to share with you. Some are in the first draft stage and only edited once, so please allow for spelling mistakes or grammar issues. The purpose is to gage audience reaction and feedback.
Dreamasters is part 1 of my YA dystopian novel. I have approximately 30,000 words down but I want to put up that first draft chapter for you to read. Its a long first chapter, so happy reading
I hate this jail! I hate numbers! I am not a number even though I am referred to as specimen 541. My name is Mila. I don’t have a surname. None of us do. They tell me I am sixteen but I have no idea when my birthday is. I am five foot eight. I have eyes the colour of a dolphin, or so I’ve been told, and blond hair that hangs down to the middle of my back. It’s the same length of the girl’s hair standing in front of me, to the side of me, and behind me, not that you can tell from the way it is wound into a tight ball and pinned to our heads in a skeleton of plastic. I would give almost anything to feel the soft strands loose against my face just so that I could brush them out of my eyes as I turn my head. I would love to feel the weight of it on my back and shoulders for one whole day instead of having it scraped up and imprisoned for twelve hours straight. These goals are out of my reach … for now. But one day … I will be free of this place. Someday … this will all be a distant memory. But what I hate the most is not having the courage to find a way out of here … now.
This white, featureless room, like most of the rooms in the Filo Pilgrim Institute have been designed with one reason in mind – to curtail stimulation. Stimulation equals imagination and imagination (in the old world) had led to nothing but trouble. The room I’m in is as wide and as long as it is tall and I stand in line, mesmerized by the wardrobe of olive green outfits that surround me. They remind me of grass swaying on a hillside though I’ve never actually seen grass or felt the delicate blades beneath my bare feet. I have seen it in digital books and I’ve seen it in my dreams, but nobody is allowed to know that either. Oh, that’s right. We’re not allowed to dream here. Dreaming is my secret and like most things I have a particular proclivity for, they are prohibited. A mechanical voice spits out its orders from the massive speakers positioned above my head. ‘Specimen 541, step forward.’ The thick, red line painted on the floor in front of me beckons me closer. I take a cautious step, ensuring the tips of my toes are behind it and wait for the scanner to light up. It’s just within my reach. I stretch my arm forward, watching and waiting for the light to turn from yellow to red and then to green as I place my hand over it. The four dotted wavy lines tattooed to the inside of my wrist register with the machine. It beeps twice and less than a second later, a white hatch opens in the wall and my rations appear. I pick up the small pewter coloured tray with its two hollowed out holdings. I gaze hatefully at the three white tablets and a metal drinking vessel containing a thick syrupy liquid that taste nothing like sugar, even if I knew what sugar tastes like. Sugar is forbidden, as is salt, although we have used both for experiments in science, which is why I know what they are. According to the institute, they are luxuries that please the palate and food is not a pleasure. It is a necessity. ‘Thank you,’ I say without thinking. The sound of someone sucking in a breath behind me makes me wince, and only then do I realise I’ve done it again. At first I recoil at the sudden unexplainable impulse that nobody else here seems to have a problem with. The words: please, sorry, forgive me, pardon, excuse me, thank-you and a stream of other expressions are forbidden here. I can’t give any reasons why these words are off-limits because we are not allowed to question the rules. All I know it that it comes so naturally to me to say them, and I have no idea what continually makes me do it. This, and controlling my emotions is what lands me in the most trouble and I seem to get into trouble … a lot. I don’t necessarily go looking for it. It just seems to find me. The high-pitched siren that I brace for infiltrates every molecule in the air and those who don’t cover their ears, bear the brunt of its piercing whine by closing their eyes. A dark crimson glow smothers the room as the familiar red light flashes above my head. ‘Move to the left specimen 541,’ says the same robotic voice. I step sideways and stand on the painted red square on the floor. A woman dressed in a long-sleeved white tunic and white pants appears from the ‘reform door’ as we call it. Today, it is Educator Swan. Her blond hair is pulled back with such force her skin looks stretched beyond capacity making her cheekbones protrude in an unhealthy way. In fact, her face is so shiny and clean I can almost see through it. Her perfectly tweezed eyebrows are raised in a questioningly manner and although she doesn’t look much older than I am, I was told by a girl that graduated a year ago she was in her late twenties. I’ve no idea how she knew that. ‘How … many … times do we have to go through this, 541?’ Her voice has an edge of cold steel to it that my lips freeze from her breath. My teeth bite down hard when she refers to me by number and not name and I shrug my shoulders once in deliberate defiance. Such a slight and yet insignificant gesture has tested her patience. Her hawk-like eyes narrow. ‘And we don’t shrug. There are thousands of words in the dictionary that convey our thoughts ... find one.’ She waits. Only one word comes to mind. ‘Frustrated,’ I growl between my teeth. There’s no need for me to turn around and check that every face in the room is searing holes into my back. I feel them. Hot. Questioning. Disapproval. Appalled. They are the same looks I had last week and the week before that. ‘I see,’ says the woman, opening her ledger. ‘Then I suggest we increase your Modification Classes to three times a week instead of one.’ She types one-handed, balancing the laptop against her arm. I try to peer over the top of the screen to see what she’s writing but she angles it away from me before closing the lid. ‘Now, repeat after me.’ I hate this part. ‘I do not need to thank anybody for the sustenance my body requires. It is my right as a human.’ I mumble out the words and she ushers me away with the flick of her hand. I take my meal over to a waist high counter top that runs the full length of the room. Up until five years ago the entire institute gathered at the same time for rations, squeezing in a total of nearly seven hundred students into this room. Now there are only five hundred and eighty six of us, and out of that number we have been divided into two separate sectors. The Green Sector houses the Fledglings (those from the ages of five to eleven) and whom we don’t see around the institute at all anymore. And then there’s us ... categorised by age groups and segregated into units named after famous scientists. I slide the tray onto the counter. There are no stools to sit on because technically that would also give way to enjoyment. Nothing in this place has an element of joy or luxury to it. I place the three tablets on my tongue and sluice it down with half of the liquid. I gag, raising my hand to my mouth. It’s more bitter than usual. Half a cup is all I’ve ever seen anyone manage in one hit, and I steal a peak at a few either side of me, copying my actions. I pause for a second before downing the rest, and return the cup to its place on the tray. Ten to twenty seconds are all that is allocated for the consummation of rations, and I pick up my tray, drop it into the designated receptacles and leave.