Chasing Shadow: Shadow Puppeteer Book 1 First Segment: CLICK HERE for more sample chapters
Shadows writhed an unnatural dance in my peripheral vision. When I turned to look at them head on, they disappeared, replaced by the solid images of the Ravers on the dance floor. The music and the laser lights only added to my paranoia.
I squeezed my fingers into my thighs to keep them from shaking. No matter how big the crowd or how loud the situation, fears and unwanted memories found me. I sank further into the beanbag, determined to ward off the oncoming depression as I waited for the two tiny pills I swallowed to take effect.
The only high I felt, so far, was a contact high from the many people crammed into the tin walls of the junkyard warehouse, enjoying the rave. The dancers shimmered through glitter and glow sticks. I wanted to be more like them, not just the way they dressed, but their attitudes. They looked so liberated with their bright makeup and dyed hair. I bet they didn’t fear World Congress or maybe it was the island that encouraged them.
Xyla was run by convicts and anarchists. The island was ungoverned. Unlike the rest of the world, they were free to drink, smoke, do drugs and party. I craved this freedom, but I didn’t see future happiness on an island surrounded by electric fences built to keep people trapped.
Starr bounced onto the side of the beanbag, jolting me. “Belen, why are you pouting in the corner? I’ll buy you a drink.”
“It’s getting late.” I wanted to add that we were taking a huge risk staying this long on the island, but the words barely formed on my numb lips.
“Are you training to be an agent for World Congress? Until I see a badge, Miss McKnight, I’m not going anywhere with you just yet!” she said.
I yelled after her. “I’m serious.”
She was already mingling within the crowd. I had to go after her. It took a great deal of energy to lift myself from the beanbag. My hands sank, giving me no solid surface to balance my unsteady body. Once up, I started through the crowd, stepping on toes and fending off elbow jabs.
One group stood so close, it was impossible to weasel in, but time was slipping away. The longer we stayed on the island, the greater our chance the boat running illegally between the islands would stop for the night. I didn’t want to touch anyone, but I didn’t have a choice.
I tapped the shoulder of the young man ahead of me and he turned disarming any qualms I had about the group. His eyes were stunning; flame yellow with a black slit down the middle. He took me in with a promising smile.
He was taller than me and a few years older, which I liked. His hair was as black as mine; cut short and spiked. Unlike most inhabitants of either island, his skin had a bronze tint, but it was his eyes that had my heart fluttering.
One touch and I could push my influence onto him. I knew my wants were selfish and the power of persuasion I possessed often blew up in my face, but my desire was strong. It worked both ways. I could sense people’s feelings and knew when to avoid a potentially violent moment, but sometimes their ambiance lingered on me like smoke clinging to clothes. Strong emotions were the hardest to get rid of. I could carry someone’s anger or remorse for days.
A hand on his shoulder drew his attention to an elegant woman with feathery wings. She had a great costume. I couldn’t tell where the wings were connected, but with both their attention diverted, I felt awkward standing around like a third wheel, so I pushed on through and headed towards the bar. The sooner we got back to our home island, the better. The penalty for getting caught crossing between the islands without a permit was steep. I couldn’t afford reform school with only two years left under the watchful eye of World Congress in their foster program. I saved my lunch money for years so I could afford the permit off Ardent to the mainland.