I’m getting a dystopian young adult proposal together for my agent, so I will be writing like crazy the next couple of weeks. Not only do I plan to turn in a proposal, but I’m starting an official word count for this book. This means I’m writing through to the end. I have more written on the book-later scenes, etc. But this is the official beginning number. Plan to see this number on the move. Oh yeah. 😉
If you missed the opening snippet the first time around when I posted it for the Deadline Dames anniversary, here ’tis again.
(A Surviving Scrap City novel)
The greasy pall that settled over Scrap City thickened at dusk.
My eyes burned. Blinking, I let the tears fall. They’d leave crazy tracks in the dirt-caked oil on my cheeks, but I couldn’t care less. Besides, losing my death grip on this sweet piece of sheet metal wasn’t happening. It was longer than my legs! I’d fought two other Scavs for the prize and had a bloody gash on my arm to show for it.
They looked worse.
Tugging on the metal, I propped my boot against the brick wall. The grungy piece of tooth lodged in the tip cheered me. Scavs have to be a helluva lot quicker to make it in the warehouse sector. My smirk slid into a grimace as the blood dripping down my wrist made my fingers slippery. Sharp steel sliced that tender, webbed skin between my finger and thumb.
Maybe today’s take would be enough for another pair of gloves.
The gnawing hunger in my little brother’s expression this morning flashed through my mind. Gritting my teeth, I tightened my grip and heaved, trying to tear the metal from the wall. Stupid kid who’d attacked me had run off with my cutters. It had taken me a good week to clear the brick and old newspapers piled in front of this find and now I couldn’t let go—not even when I heard the first warning siren.
Sweat poured down my temples as a cry of frustration built in my chest. The Salvager’s doors would be barred in an hour!
Floor grit crackled as someone stepped behind me. I sucked in a breath, let go of the metal, bent and kicked my left leg back. Hard. A surprised male grunt sounded, followed by the crunch of a body hitting the piles of trash. Most Scavs hunted in packs, so I palmed my knife and spun around to fight.
But there was only one.
Squinting, I took in the long, lanky legs sticking out of the rubbish, the short, black hair with the splash of purple in the bangs. “I know you. War or Bomb—something ridiculous like that.” I tightened my grip on the knife because it kept slipping in the blood. “The metal is mine.”
“Bomb?” He lifted one dark eyebrow.
I shrugged, eyed the tall piles of debris for his friends. I always saw this guy with one or more of his team. It was a cool deal—two to pull the sheets and dig for remnants, two to keep lookout. “Don’t all the kids in your tribe have bad ass nicknames?”
“Tribe?” He winced and put one gloved hand on his ratty shirt. It had a wicked boot-shaped smudge across the red. He climbed out of the pile of brick, broken furniture and newspaper. Most of the paper was brittle, yellow and it stunk to Mount High from years soaking up the burning oil fumes. All the metal from the printing presses had been salvaged long ago.
“Are you capable of more than one syllable at a time?”
“Some call me Chaos, but I don’t answer to it. The name is Kerr, Rae.” He took a step toward me.
I brought up the knife, tensed my legs. I wore heavy, black boots for a reason. Scavenging built muscle, but I was still skinny. I’d taken down many a Scav with these clunkers. “How do you know my name?”
“I asked.” He reached into his pocket.
I flipped my knife into a reverse grip.
“Take it easy.” He held up a piece of blue material. “It’s for your arm. Keep bleeding like that and you’ll attract the cats.”
Fear skittered down my spine. Can’t believe I hadn’t thought of that. We called the creatures cats, but they weren’t, not really. Heart pounding, I stilled the urge to scan the trash and looked at the scrap he held out. It seemed clean, so I snatched it. “I won’t put the knife down until you back up.”
Kerr held up his hands, took a few steps back. “Why don’t you let me help get that piece off the wall so you’ll get to the Salvager in time?”
I leaned against the brick, slid my knife into its holder and quickly wrapped my arm. “Don’t trust you, Chaos.” I couldn’t help the slight sneer that slipped into my tone with that name.
“Fair enough. I’ll leave so you’ll finish. Don’t want to get caught out after curfew, do you?” As he talked, he tugged off his gloves and tossed them toward me. “Be seeing you around, Rae.”