Friday, 20 November 2015

Five-Seven-Five (The Boy with Words #1) by C.E. Wilson


When an accident threatens White Frost’s only chance of learning the truth about her rigid society, she knows that she has to take a risk. Putting her faith in someone she barely knows, White discovers a world above her own – and bigger than she could have ever imagined. It is in this strange new world that she finds out there is so much more to life than darkness and candlelight. There are colors and light that match the mysterious collections of words that have been tantalizing her for months. Blue skies that leak tears. Green grass that expands to a horizon she can’t comprehend. Everything she’s ever wanted is right in front of her, but at what cost? Nothing is free and she begins to realize too late that all information comes at a price.

Excerpt #1

There it was. That faint sound at the edge of my hearing that meant my boredom was over. The sound itself was very familiar – it was the step of one who braved the Unknown and there were very few who had that honor. These steps, though, were unique. I knew the sound of my older cousin all too well after my many years of these visits. Even before he had been chosen he had loved to explore and find interesting objects to show me. It had been a long time since he could sneak quietly enough to truly surprise me, but I loved that he made that effort.

I counted the steps as he rounded the corner to my hallway. His arrival was like a broom rustling on the floor – quiet, but stirring up a breeze of new information.

He pushed open the heavy patterned pink curtain to my quarters and smiled wide as his dark eyes settled on me.

“Don't you know how to knock?” I asked in a childish voice as he stood there.

Shade Frost was sturdy and solid. An obvious Chosen One. He was several inches taller than six feet and his shoulders were broad, barely able to be contained by his khaki jacket. And while a lot of girls claimed they were attracted to my older cousin, they were also intimidated by him. I couldn't say I blamed them. Shade had white blond hair like mine which he kept short other than the bangs which hung carelessly on his forehead. His eyes were a deep chocolate brown. His smile was warm and his words always matched when he spoke to me. I sat up straighter in bed as he slung his heavy pack to the front of his chest and reached a large, calloused hand inside. “Got another one for you,” he said jovially before he arched a brow. “You know, White, it wouldn't kill you to sound a little happier to see me and not just what I've brought you.”

“I am excited to see you!” I pushed my slender frame off the bed so I could jog to his side. The top of my head barely reached his shoulder and he looked down with a wide and crooked grin. “Don't tease me, Shade,” I grumbled. “You said you found something?”

He nodded. “I did, but I've been gone a week and that's all you have to say to me? 'Did I find something'?” He shook his head and stopped looking through his bag. “I might have risked my life to get the supplies for the month and all you want to know is if I got you a new collection of words? Tsk, tsk, cousin.”

I took a step back and crossed my arms. “Fine. So how was it, then?”

He waggled his pale brows. “You know I can't tell you.”

“So why would you make me ask?”

“To remind you I can't tell.” He snickered again before he reached into his bag and pulled out a crinkled and worn large slip of paper which I promptly swiped away with greedy hands and dove towards the bed so I could start to unfold it.

“Shut the curtain!” I called. “I need to concentrate.”

“You're obsessed, you know that?” Shade said with another snicker. Just the same, he pulled the pink curtain shut and sealed us both inside my room.

My tiny living quarters wasn't much, but it was my own and, in that regard, it was special. My room was similar to most of the girl's quarters in that there was a bed, a desk, a place to store clothing, and a chair. However, what made my room special was the exact thing Shade had brought back with him. As I unfolded the paper, I couldn't help myself and lifted the heavy slip up to my nose and inhaled greedily.

“You always have to smell it,” Shade said as he took a seat. “You know that's kind of weird, right?”

“It always smells different!” I squealed. And the new paper certainly wasn't a letdown. “What is that?” I whispered, inhaling the paper again. “Smells sweet... like sugar, but not like carrots. I don't know it.”

“The scent doesn't mean anything,” Shade said. “Go on. What does it say?”

I lowered the paper. “You mean you haven't read it yourself yet?”

“I didn't exactly have time, White.” He looked towards the curtains as a few voices and footsteps shuffled by. “If any of the others found out I swiped things for you with no purpose—”

“They're all taking stuff back and you know it,” I said. “Times aren't the same. Chosen Ones don't follow the laws like they used to.”

“You're too young to remember how it used to be,” Shade said.

“I remember enough.” I lowered my eyes. “I still have flashes of mom and dad... your mom and dad...”

“White. You shouldn't think about that—”

“You're all disobeyers,” I tacked on quickly. I didn't want to get into a discussion about our parents. Not again. Shade was my family and nothing else mattered. He arched a brow at my dismissal, but didn't bother to change the subject as I rambled on. “I bet Flicker brings back something for his younger sister every time he goes out. I saw her room once when she left the curtain open. She has a bunch of things that don't exactly look useful.”

“But you don't need to talk about it,” Shade said. “Lower your voice. Despite what you think, I take a great risk bringing you back anything. I know the rules. I swore an oath when I became a Chosen. Take only what can be used—”

“Yes, yes,” I interrupted him with a roll of my eyes. “Take only what can be used. Take only what won't be missed. The Creators are watching all of us.

The Author

C.E. Wilson is currently living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband, beautiful daughter, a chubby beagle and two cats. They are all the loves of her life. When she’s not writing young adult fantasy novels, she enjoys writing short stories on her Deviant Art page. She loves to write stories involving giants and little people (also known as GT) and she can't decide what she loves more: horror movies or shoujo manga. She has a bachelor's degree in English Education so she has a soft spot for older literature authors including John Milton, William Shakespeare, and stories such as Paradise Lost and Beowolf. On a side note, nothing helps her to write more than drinking good beer and watching The Twilight Zone.

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Excerpt #2

The Creators. Entities in the Unknown. No one but the Chosen Ones knew if they were real beings or simply legends to be worshiped and feared. Only the Chosen Ones got to see what existed in the Unknown. For the rest of us, all we knew was black and gray. Candlelight and the crack of white in Zone Five. The Chosen Ones were the strongest of our people and they were the ones who went out once a month for an entire week to gather supplies from the Unknown.

The Creators were always watching us.

The Creators were always to be feared.

They created us and they could easily destroy us if we drew attention to ourselves.

I huffed because none of that vague information mattered. All that mattered was Shade had finally come back from his week-long journey and he hadn't had time to recover. Whoever Penny Lincoln thought she was, she ticked me off. My cousin needed to rest. He and twenty or so others were the ones who had to risk their lives once a month to venture out and gather supplies. Usually they all came back, but we lost two or three people a year from those journeys. Sometimes more. A few years ago there was the massacre... but Shade doesn't like when I talk about it.

When Shade and the others ventured out into the Unknown, they were only allowed to gather what could be used and what was needed. Anything gathered and brought back needed a purpose and had to go unnoticed by the Creators – they were always watching. Papers with hidden messages served no purpose, but I loved when my cousin brought them back. They were the only clues I had to what was in the Unknown. That and the crack in Zone Five.

I still had so long to wait before I could have a chance to become a Chosen One. I wasn't turning nineteen for another month and the youngest Chosen ever selected had been twenty-two. The standard age requirement was twenty-six to thirty-six and while there were exceptions, a nineteen-year-old girl probably wasn't going to be one of them. Shade trained me to be strong – one of the strongest girls in the colony – but that wasn't enough to become a Chosen.

I bit my lip hard as I collapsed back in bed and looked up at the ceiling.

So many words. So many messages. Occasionally I would recognize familiar terms from the Documentation of our Creation, but most were fantastical. I knew blue and I knew skies, but I didn't know a blue sky. I knew pink and I knew black, but I didn't know how a sky could look pink. And I had no idea what a rainbow was. I knew what a bow was because I wore one on my head sometimes, but as far as rain... I drew a blank.

And it killed me because Shade knew. He knew the secrets because he was a Chosen.

“Red horizons,” I whispered, as my dark eyes scanned over the texts of the paper above my head. “Heavy rains. Corn fields and freckled dogs.” My brow furrowed. Nothing. I wanted to know what the words meant, but since I was not a Chosen, there was no way I could obtain the knowledge.

Excerpt #3

I was so desperate for the knowledge he so obviously had, but didn't so readily divulge.

“Please,” I tried one last time. “What are the Creators? What are they really? Did they actually write the Documentation of our Creation or did someone like President Copper write it? One of our own? Someone who wanted us to be afraid—you must at least know the true answer to that, Shade.”

He swallowed. “The scriptures...” his eyes searched mine. He wanted me to back down, but that was not going to happen. I leaned towards him and his shoulders seemed to slump. “It is a combination of the two.”

My face blanched. “Seriously?”

“I have to go,” he said. “Please... tell no one. I don't want... just... tell no one.”

“My lips are sealed,” I promised. I lunged forward and embraced my cousin tightly. He stiffened at first, but eventually his long and thick arms wound around my slender frame. “Be careful,” I whispered into his chest. “You're my only family. You're all I have now. Come back in a few days, you hear me?” I pushed away so I could look at him. “Come home... and tell me more.”

I expected him to put up a fight, but he only pulled me closer. The fear he felt about going back out was palpable. I suddenly realized that he must feel this way every time. My ribs cried out in agony from his tight embrace, but I held onto him like my life and his depended on it. And then he nodded, squeezing harder.

“I'll tell you,” he muttered. He was broken at last. “I'll tell you everything when I get back.”

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