SCREAMERS - CHARACTER INTRO #4
The bracelet isn’t the first clue.
The first clue is that first scream – no, not that first scream, the one before that, before Brandon goes all Rambo on the monster trying to chew Freddy’s face off – echoing through the early morning fog, piercing and shrill and bone-deep familiar. Because of course Lila can recognize her own voice, her own panic, even if it doesn’t make any fucking sense for her to be hearing it. She files away that knowledge, though, that certainty, like a puzzle piece that doesn’t fit anywhere yet, and she mulls over it, tossing and turning it around, while other clues begin to manifest.
Begin to creep up on her.
The zombies are all strangers. She studies them thoroughly after they’re rounded up, carefully compartmentalizing her knock-down drag-out squeamishness, the nausea and the horror and the discomfort and the guilt she can’t quite swallow – but she doesn’t recognize any of them. There are no names that spring to mind, no carbon-fuzzy memories of teachers or classmates or coaches or security guards. The bodies are all varying degrees of decomposed, some much farther along in the process than others, and most are wearing clothes that seem odd. Outdated. Anachronistic. Fabrics that aren’t common, cuts that aren’t machine-perfect, trends that aren’t fast-fashion. School uniforms, maybe, but not from this decade.
It’s all just more knowledge, more certainty, more puzzle pieces that don’t fit anywhere yet.
And then there’s the bracelet.
A sixteenth birthday present from her dad, one of a kind, bought from a very specific jewelry store in Macau – she never wore it, never took it out of its lacquered ebony box, never brought it with her to school. Especially not after last summer. After the fight. The announcement. The ultimatum.
Improbably, impossibly, the bracelet is on some other girl's wrist.
The puzzle pieces finally slot into place.
SCREAMERS is a Young Adult horror/fantasy novel that I'll be finishing a first draft of for NaNoWriMo this year. It features a motley crew of irreverent teenagers, several reminders that the concept of "survival" is always relative, and a century-old murder mystery that ultimately matters a lot more to the story than the zombies do. I will be posting six character intros prior to November 1st, as well as a weekly excerpt/progress update once NaNoWriMo begins. Thanks for reading!