Author: T.S. Pettibone
Publisher: Chrysanthalix Press
Published: January 29th, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction, Horror
Source: I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.
Available for FREE with Kindle Unlimited
In the year 2052, it's not love but hate that unites the world.
Humanity is unified against the Inborns, an extraterrestrial species with godlike intelligence and abilities whose arrival on earth caused an environmental and biological crisis.
Enslaved and despised even by her own Inbornkind, 18-year-old Snofrid Yagami reawakens to the world after having her memories stolen and is certain of only one thing: she will do anything to ensure her freedom. But her resolution is soon tested when the son of a high-ranking human official is murdered and her home city becomes the center of the interspecies war, one that might see the Inborns purged. Desperate to find a way out of the city for herself and her family, Snofrid risks making a deal with the manipulative Inborn Commander, Hadrian, and his brutal cadre of soldiers. Her task is simple: take part in a historic hunt that will bring wealth and fame to all who survive. Unfortunately, Snofrid’s role is one in which survival is rarely seen—the bait.
A Girl and Her Ghost
The Empyrean City
I lived alone in a room without windows. It had one door that only opened on the last day of the month. There were giant chests of toys in the room. I kept my dolls in a wooden trunk with flower carvings, and my thirty books, I stacked in neat rows along the walls. All of my dresses were stored in a wardrobe beside my bed; if I left one on the floor, it was hung by the morning. Each time I woke, a tray of meat, fruits and vegetables, and a pitcher of water was on the table. Someone took care of me; I didn’t know who, but I think the person liked when I was neat. I named the person Ghost. I wanted to make Ghost happy, so I always made sure my toys, books and clothes were put away before I went to sleep. I used to stay awake, hiding my face with my covers, waiting to see Ghost when it came in, but nothing ever happened. Once I stayed awake for hours, and by the twenty-ninth hour, the food still hadn’t come. I stopped trying to see Ghost after that.
But I talked to Ghost every day.
I told it about the things I read; I sang for it; I told it stories; I told it when I was sad, or afraid, or when I felt lonely; and I asked it questions, even though it never answered back. Almost every time I did these things, the floor creaked on the other side of the wall, so I knew Ghost was listening. This usually made me happy, but sometimes it made me sad. I wanted Ghost to let me see it and play with me in the room.
I didn’t know where the room was. I’d stopped wondering a long time ago. I hadn’t seen sunlight, or beasts, or plants, or the stars; I only knew about these things from pictures in my books. My favorite pictures were ones of the sky, and of giant towers with windows, and of beasts with bright feathers and furry tails.
I had no idea what I looked like. I’d never seen my own face, only a blurry reflection in my food tray. I knew my eyes were large and that I was very small. I hoped I was pretty like the highborn women I read about.
The two tall, masked men who walked me to the library each month to choose thirty new books were the only people I’d seen. One of them was skinny and so white he looked sick. He wore a black robe and always tugged on the sleeves until strings fell on the floor. The other one was as big as a warrior. I’d learned by heart the House insignia on his breastplate—a cold blue wyvern head with seven silver horns above five golden keys. Around it were silver cypress leaves and golden anemone flowers; if I looked closely, I could see the soft outline of a solar eclipse behind the wyvern’s head. I liked the swishes his blue robe made as he moved; the clicking sounds his spurs made when he walked; the way the light made his silver pauldron shine; and even the slow way he breathed.
When the man in the black robe would lift me up to reach the books, he’d say in his raspy voice, “Don’t only choose science books. Some of the history books might have sweets behind them.” The man in the blue robe never let me stand close to him. I didn’t think he liked me. His silver eyes looked sad, sometimes mad, through his mask eyepieces. Every time I stared at him, he squeezed something in his pocket. It must’ve been sharp, because afterward his pocket would have blood on it.
Then one day I left the room forever.
I’d been drawing a picture of a beast for Ghost when the door opened. I was so afraid, I dropped my pencil. The man with the silver eyes picked me up and carried me down a passage for a long time. He didn’t talk to me or look at me, only held me in one arm, and kept the other one behind his back. I tried tickling his chin, but he didn’t smile. He had a big black Mohawk on his head and I touched it to see if it was sharp. It was poky and soft. When he didn’t talk to me, I told him about my friend Ghost. He stayed quiet. I fell asleep on his shoulder.
When I woke up, he was setting me down before a metal transport. I’d seen a picture of one in a book and knew the guns on the side were dangerous. The door in the transport opened and I moved back when a young man with short black hair came out, smiling at me. He was handsome like the highborns in the books I read, but his brown eyes were slanted funny, and he didn’t wear armor. He crouched in front of me, and said, “I’ve waited to meet you a long time, Snofrid. My name is Ryuki Yagami and I’m going to take you to a new home.”
I was afraid and hid behind the silver-eyed man’s leg. No one had ever spoken to me before—except for the raspy-voiced man behind the wall, who taught me about Inborn etiquette, and how to read and speak English. I didn’t want to go to a new home. I liked my room. I liked my books and my flower chest, and I didn’t want to leave Ghost. The silver-eyed man picked me up and put me inside the transport. Then, for the very first time, he talked to me, and said, “Daringly dared, half of it won, Snofrid.”
I didn’t know what these words meant. I wanted to ask him, but he’d already put his back to me was talking to Ryuki in a language I didn’t understand.
There was a little boy with golden brown eyes sitting in the back seat eating dried leaves. It was the first time I’d seen a person as small as me before. I wanted him to like me, but I was too afraid to sit close to him, so after I greeted him, I sat behind him. He stared over his seat with wide eyes, and said, “Stone me! You look just like my aunt Lorna.” His voice was loud, and I didn’t know how to answer, so I just nodded. The boy talked a lot more after that and I listened. He told me his name was Desya, and that we were going to live in a place called Hollowstone City, and that Ryuki was a good dad, and that we’d never have to be afraid with him, even though we were shamed. I didn’t know what he was talking about really, but after a while, I started saying things back.
We drove through the passage for a long, long time. When I first saw the sunlight, it happened so fast that I screamed. It was the brightest light I’d ever seen. It was brighter than all my candles and lamps, and it burned my eyes. Desya gave me a pair of black goggles. As soon as I put them on, I was able to see the mountains, the trees, and the flowers. I thought of Ghost right away and was sad I couldn’t tell it how happy I was.
About T.S. Pettibone:
T.S. Pettibone is the pen name of identical twins, Brittany and Nicole Pettibone. They were born in California, grew up in Kansas, and these days, live and write in California. On the rare occasion that they break from writing, they enjoy being outdoors, taking their dog on night walks, reading the classics, drinking too much coffee, traveling the world, making friends out of strangers and learning new things—especially when these things are in any way related to architecture, foreign languages and cultures, cars, motorcycles, weapons and martial arts.