Why, hello there!
As promised (teased), it’s time for a sneak peek of UPRISING. I’m posting chapter one here, but if you sign up for my newsletter before midnight central time (US) today, you’ll receive chapters one and two in an email from me tomorrow! The sign-up is over on that left sidebar, you know, in case you wanna.
So…about that sneak peek. WARNING: If you haven’t read/finished UNSTRUNG, there are significant spoilers, so turn back now. Anybody? Okay, let’s do this!
* * *
Jail isn’t as bad as I expect. I have a single room with a screened-in bathroom, a cot, and a chair. This is where the police dumped me after my mug shots. Those will surely make the news feeds. What the humans have to say about me is anyone’s guess. A deranged, murderous girl? A master thief? A rogue artificial human? Or will they use the word Bolt, instead? Probably, just to rub in the fact that I’m not a “real” human. Oh, I’m flesh and blood, but I wasn’t born, I was made.
And that bugs some people.
Whatever they say, I know what the artificial humans living in Triarch City call me: Hero.
Exhausted and filthy when I first arrived here, I gladly accepted the baggy pants and shirt prisoners wear in exchange for my battered jumpsuit. It had taken a real beating during my infiltration of Precipice headquarters. After being led to my cell, I promptly crashed. The worry was over—I’d been caught, so why not sleep it off?
The sound of a tray sliding under my door wakes me on my first day of incarceration. I eat the stale pastry and drink the sour orange juice without thinking about how bad it tastes. Someone comes back for the tray, and nothing happens for a while. Eventually I get tired from being up most of last night and fall asleep. My lunch tray wakes me from my nap. Wilted salad, a cold beef patty and congealed stuff that I think was pudding at one time isn’t what I’d call a decent meal, but I eat it anyway.
The pudding is banana. I hate banana.
Not long after, the shakes start. I’m coming down from Exeprin, my performance enhancer for the raid on Precipice, and I keep seeing shadows come to life on the walls. I don’t have any more Exeprin—not in jail, or anywhere else—so it looks like I’m in for a few really long days of withdrawal as it works itself out of my system. I clench my fists and try to breathe. How long before I get out of here? How long before Quinn, or Doc, or Jole come for me?
Is Turpin okay? My adopted father/crime boss was so beat up when I left. What if during our mission, Sector Q was raided and he was captured? What if he’s dead? What if they all are?
What if, what if, what if?
No…no, I can’t let the doubts take me. Not yet. Prison isn’t going to break me. The cell is small, but there’s plenty of room for me to train, because when the guys come to break me out, I need to be sharp. The best way to shake off doubt and sweat out the Exeprin is to stay active. I make a plan to do close-quarter cardio exercises in the mornings and bodyweight strength training in the afternoon.
That first evening, after the withdrawal shakes subside, I’m braced in the top corner of my room, using my arms and legs to stay up there, when a dark-haired guard peeks in through the meal tray slot. He’s slender, wiry. Not what I’d expect for a prison guard.
Then again, I’m not what you’d expect for a master thief, either.
“What the hell are you doing up there?” he asks, sounding partly pissed, partly impressed.
“The better question is long I can stay,” I say back, raising an eyebrow at him. “I’ve been up here at least ten minutes already.”
He shakes his head. “We’ll see how long you last. This place will wear you down, just like all the others.”
“Doubtful,” I say, and he slides the meal tray door back into place, leaving me to my thoughts.
I stay defiant for three days, saying nothing to anyone who passes by my cell, even when they jeer at me for doing handstand pushups or hanging out up by the ceiling. On day four, though, I start to get antsy. A spot on my forearm itches like crazy, and I can’t keep from scratching, not until the skin is raw and red. My thoughts feel the same way: itchy and unceasing. Has Quinn gotten away, or is he in a cell on another floor? Is Jole okay? What about all the artificials we freed? The plan was to herd everyone out of town and into the outlands before Precipice Corporation captured them and put them back to work…but were we successful? Or is every one of them enslaved again?
Not knowing grates on my nerves and I take up pacing into addition to my exercises. I pace until I’m exhausted or meal time, then rest and pace again.
How long am I going to be here, in solitary?
The answer comes slowly. My time alone continues on for another full week. Have I been totally abandoned? Will I ever see sunlight again? Or, even now, are Quinn, Jole, Turpin and Doc concocting a scheme to break me out?
Has the world ended?
I wouldn’t know—my cell has no windows and they haven’t let me out for even one second. The next time a guard passes, I yell, “Hey! Aren’t I supposed to get time in the yard?”
He just laughs and walks away.
I stop exercising and spend the next two days lying on my bed, staring at the ceiling.
* * *
Well, there you have it! The book will be out on November 21st (or sooner, if the final edits go quickly). I can’t wait to see it go live!