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Rebecca Sky

Author

740

8

Rebecca Sky's class project!

 

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Target primary audience: YA Horror/Fantasy lovers, ages 15-25. My Primary audience would most likely be fans of Tim Burton and Quentin Tarantino films, TV shows like Sherlock, The Walking Dead, and Hannibal. They would also be fans of dark romance like Romeo and Juliet. 

One Line: A 16-year-old girl, suffering guilt from the death of her sister, is given 12 hours to live when pieces of her lifetime are stolen. Determined to repay her debt before she dies, she makes a deal with the Time Keeper to travel to hell to take back the stolen pieces of her soul.

Blurb: In his clockwork palace, the Father of murderers stews over his dwindling supply of soul powered parts. And in small town Echo Lake, the daughter of an atheist taxidermist and a Hindu yogi, recovers from the suspected murder of her sister by forming an unlikely friendship with a boy in a coma. Through the boy she learns that the dead still exist, and that bad souls have been coming back and stealing parts of people’s lifetimes—hers included—leaving her with a strange heart shaped clock, that’s counting down the hours she has to live. But, because she can see the clock, she can fix it. Together they travel to the place bad souls go when they die in search of a replacement part. There she learns that the boy in a coma is somehow involved with the murder of his father, and the Father of all murderers. She must put aside her fears and work together on an adventure of a lifetime, against the enemy of all lifetimes, to find her missing piece, the truth, and possibly a little love. Will they find her part? Or will her last second run out?

 

Sample Pages:

A LIFETIME ACCORDING TO KARMA ROSE

It's a strange thing to measure the dead. I should know, my mom's a taxidermist and I've seen her do it more times than I'd like. It's the same barbaric act with every animal--she slices open the stomach, slops  the entrails into a plastic bucket, and weighs them with a kitchen counter scale.

I was eight the first time I watched her work. A hunter  brought over a Grizzly to embalm and I snuck out of my room and  peered through the shop doors, watching his large form deflate as she emptied bucket after bucket of his insides. She used her entire stock of  stuffing rags filling it back up, and even  took the blankets off our bed.

Now, somewhere in Washington there's a Grizzly with a My Little Pony  sheet in its left arm--and sometimes I wonder how many rags it would take  to fill me.

It wasn't always this way. When I was younger, seeing dead animals  made me cry. But if you're around something enough it  becomes normal. No one cries over normal.

Unfortunately, the type of normal that comes with years of Mom's  embalmed animals did nothing to prepare me for my first dead person.  This however, is not my first dead person. It's my second. And nothing could prepare me for this...

There's weight. In the far corner of the unfamiliar  room a fluorescent light blinks over a thin sheet, a second skin,  covering the corpse and gurney. The cloth suffocates the body, shadows  form in strange places--a dark screaming circle where the mouth should  be, a large teardrop for an eye.

I take a deep breath.

Two men, one with wild grey hair and the other neat red curls, stand  on either end. The light silhouettes their forms, making them  nightmarish creatures--dark Butchers, robed in black plastic gloves,  aprons, boots. Silence passes between them, then a nod so slight I  almost miss it. They lift the blanketed corpse by its head and feet. The  center sags, the sheet dangles like ghost tentacles over the table.

They heave the body onto a brass industrial scale big enough to hold  several of Mom's buckets. The corpse bends over the register to form a  frown.

I know how it feels. I'm no stranger to death--animals, or people. I  was ten when my sister Gracie got sick. The naive, childish, part of me  thought we were invincible. That everyone I loved was invincible. I sat  beside her and held her hand, rubbed her arms to keep her warm. I  watched as her rose lips faded to white, and her eyes turned to marbles,  shiny and lifelike, but stone. Until that moment we'd been inseparable. Gracie was my first dead person. As her color left I felt a gaping hole grow in my heart. Like her  soul clung to a section of mine, and dragged it with her, unraveling me  from the inside out. She was my best friend. I couldn't imagine a life  without her.

I'd asked to go with her body to the morgue. I didn't want her to be  alone, waiting in an unfamiliar place until we could be together again.  They told me a morgue wasn't somewhere a child should be--Gracie was ten  months older than me.

All these years later I'm finally seeing what happened to her once she left. She wasn't alone. It's far worse than that.

She was getting measured.

"One hundred and twenty three pounds," the red-haired man says.

My mom clears her throat. "Did you get that, Karma?"

I turn to find her hazel eyes, the same earthy shade as mine, are  like ice, and they're staring at me. She blinks slow and hard. "Mr.  Godfrey suggested tulips for the arrangement." When I don't respond she  arches a brow and tilts her ballerina bun toward an elderly gentleman  dressed in a tailored brown suit. "The funeral director." Her lips clap  each syllable, that's how I know she's mad, real mad.

I scribble random words on my clipboard, hoping it will cover the shake in my hands. "Yes, tulips. Got it."

Her eyes don't soften.

I look away, pushing the toe of my boot across the polished cement  floor. My uniform, a gothic pink and black striped dress--something you'd  put on an antique doll--seems cartoonish as it swishes around my knees.

Mom continues her conversation, and my attention sweeps across the room, to the men, and to the corpse.

There's height. They lift a corner of the sheet,  exposing an aged powder-blue foot. The older of the two yanks on the  stiff big toe as he ties a red string to it. He hands the spool to his  red haired assistant, who wretches it across the body.

"A five and a half footer will suit her just fine," the assistant says.

There's a soft pressure on my shoulder. I spin, my ponytail mopping my porcelain cheek with its dark wave.

"What do you think, Karma?" It's my mom. "White or pink?" She motions to Mr. Godfrey.

"I, uh?" My eyes wander between her and the corpse.

Before I can answer she grabs my chin and twists me to face her--her eyes staring back  like I'm a stranger. After a few moments she lets go with a final pinch.  "The tulips for the funeral," she says.

I glance at my hands, specters that grip the clipboard and blend with the paper. "Oh. Uh-white."

"White it is."

Mr. Godfrey watches me as he blows his nose into a hanky. "A most  excellent choice, Ms. Rose." He inspects the contents, then folds it,  and sticks it in his jacket pocket.

I hold back a gag. And somehow, Mom manages to keep a smile, though her fingers knot over her  midsection. "Please, call me Nicole." She motions to me. "And my  daughter, Karma." Her heels find their natural place, resting together  in a dancer's first position, her back's ramrod straight. She hasn't  danced in years but her body refuses to forget.

There's time. I watch over her shoulder as the  assistant's grip encircles a frail, wrinkled hand with long unkempt  nails. He grunts, struggling to pry a ring off the index finger. Its  absence leaves a thin white line of oxygen-deprived skin.

"One gold colored wedding band," he says, placing it in a plastic  bag. He removes other items. A bracelet. A golden locket. Earrings. Each  time he puts them in individual plastic bags.

I rub my thumb over the black jade bracelet my father brought back  from India. A memory of our time apart preserved inside something  beautiful. The old lady had many memories--her necklace, the earrings,  the ring. I can't help wondering if she was loved how I loved my sister?  Does her family wonder what's happening to her too?

"What's her name?" I ask.

My mom chokes, her mouth dangles, frozen mid word. Across the room, stillness falls as the men stop measuring to watch.

Mr. Godfrey runs his hand down his jacket and takes a step forward. "What was that?"

"I..." My eyes wander to the mass hidden beneath the thin sheet. I take a deep breath. "What was her name?"

"The deceased?" His voice rises.

I nod, afraid to look at my mother.

He smiles, polite yet snub, and pats his jacket pocket. "I couldn't  say. Besides, a young lady shouldn't concern herself with such matters."

My hands shake. The clipboard slips through my fingers, falls to the ground, rocking painfully before settling with a slap.

Mom let's out an airy breath and bows to pick it up. As she rights  herself she shoves it into my stomach. "What do you say to Mr. Godfrey?"

I haven't heard her use that tone since she made me apologize to the  elementary school janitor for coloring on my locker. I want to say that  it's not right how people's lifetimes are reduced to a series of  numbers. That this lady was so much more, my sister was so much more.

Mr. Godfrey watches me over his large nose.

I fumble to take the clipboard. "Right... sorry," I say.

He nods once, and swings back to my mom, teeth clacking as he  finishes instructions. "You'll have access to the venue an hour  before..."

I'm thankful when mother and Mr. Godfrey forget about me, more so  that the black-robed men's attention shifts back to the lady. It allows  me the chance to watch.

The assistant releases her arm. It topples over her covered chest,  presenting the faded skin on her ring finger. The men, even my mom, are  so casual about the whole thing. It's like they've forgotten she meant  something to someone.

Mom clears her throat. Her hands stretch to Mr. Godfrey with both  caution and determination. "Rose & Daughters Florists are thankful  for this opportunity." She steers the old man to the door, and motions  behind his back for me to join her.

I smile as if to say, I'll be right there.

The door closes after them, stopping with a grunt. I'm alone with the two men, and the old lady hidden beneath the sheet.

One hundred and twenty three pounds. Five and a half feet. A lifetime of memories.

"Excuse me, Miss?" the assistant says. He pauses with the lady's arm  in his hands. "Miss," he repeats, waving the arm in my direction.

I point to my chest and shift my stance. "Me?"

"The tour's over." He sets the arm down and adjusts his glove. "We're  about to start embalming. You should go after your mother."

I don't move--I need to know how this ends, to know everything that happened to my sister.

The men watch me, paused mid task. After many wasted minutes, the older man nods and they  continue their work. First they unveil the body, fold the sheet with  army-like precision and place it on the counter. The lady lays exposed.  Something deep inside urges me to run to her, and cover her, rip the  ring free from the plastic and place it back on her finger. But I don't  move.

They pour buckets of yellow fluid over her naked form. The room fills  with the scent of sweet mothballs as the red haired man scrubs her with  a wire brush, and the other man showers off the chemicals. I expect her  skin to be raw and red but it never changes its bluish hue.

They turn her to the side facing me and clean her back. Hanging skin  pulls at the corners of her eyes, but they stay shut, her mouth stays  shut too.

"You best be on your way now, Miss," says the man with the unruly grey hair as he polishes a tool with his apron.

I pretend I don't hear him. Instead I focus on the wall clock's  unhurried tick, the fluorescent's electric hum, feet scraping on the  ground, my heavy breathing. He slices the silence with a sigh, his grey  tresses flapping as he nods for his assistant to continue. Without  hesitation, the man with red hair pulls a large blade from the shelf and  sets to work sharpening its edge, drowning the room in the screech of  steel on stone.

The overhead lighting plays with his curls, creating an illusion of  twirling flames. He turns up his nose, and the side of his mouth twists  into a strange smile. Our eyes meet at the frightful moment he presses  the blade into the flesh above of the lady's vein. Bile flips and spins  in my stomach, threatening to push out the toast I had this morning.

Gracie went through this.

He watches me with a dark curiosity as the old lady's tar-like liquid  covers the blade. He's cutting into human flesh like a taxidermist  disemboweling some poor creature. It's routine, there's no concern for  the lady. She's just a piece of meat.

I want to scream, to say that she's so much more, but I choke on my own voice.

There's capacity. He drags the blade across the  lady's forearm. Her life pours out and fills the lip of the gurney,  surrounding her, one last hug, before it bleeds through the side of the  table and plummets into a drain in the ground.

My lungs stop. The pressure seeps into my head. I falter back, one step, and another, until I'm against the wall.

"Stop!" someone shouts.

A young man, not much older than I am, runs across the room. The way  his dark hair flips across his face, and hangs in choppy waves past his  jaw, makes me think of wild moonlight twisting through oak branches--and  he's as striking too.

He throws a worn leather coat over the lady, and pulls her into his  tattooed arms. They collapse to the ground, blocking the liquid from  exiting the drain. Her life stains his shirt, his jeans, it forms a pool  around him.

He hides his face in her neck, holds the jacket over her--all the  while the red tar, the blood, so much blood, pours from her and covers  him.

"Gran, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." His voice is low and raspy, with a  hint of an accent, and it seems to come all at once, from every corner  of the room. He pulls back and runs a hand through his dark raven hair,  wipes his cheek. Bloody fingerprints muddy his olive skin.

The red-haired man rounds the table with long determined steps. "We told you to stay away."

Teardrops faint over my lashes, a warning cry forms its ghost in my  mouth. I want to tell him to leave the boy alone, to give them their  goodbye, but my words catch in my throat and choke me.

The dark butcher nears the boy, his hair aflame and his hands swinging wide. "Look at this mess!"

Before he can reach him, the older man jumps to his feet. He grabs the arm of the assistant, and nods in my direction.

I gasp out an exhale--which causes the boy, and his sepia eyes containing a universe of emotion, to notice me.

"Who are you?" He asks it soft, a whisper, yet it surrounds me in a  sorrowful embrace, and hangs in the air long after his words fade. I  hold the clipboard in front of me, clinging to it like a lifeline.

"Karma...Karma Rose."

At the mention of my name he retracts, his shoulders and head folding  in, like he's protecting himself from me. I'm used to all sorts of  reactions to my name, but this one, this one sinks like a weight to the  bottom of my heart.

"I, uh. I'm doing the flowers for your Grandma's funeral."

His head snaps up, a tear escapes over his cheek, across the dried red fingerprints, and stops just before his jaw.

He rubs it away and returns to his grandmother. I feel like an intruder now more than ever.

"Briar roses," he says, lifting his haunted eyes back to mine. "She loved those."

I stare at my doodle of a tulip on the clipboard, trace my finger over it.

"Miss?" the older man asks. "Are you all right?"

I look up to see the red haired man unfolding the sheet, and laying  it over the body. The mysterious boy blocks his arm, keeping it from  covering her fully. Unspoken words pass through the way his touch  lingers on her face. His love for her is undeniable and I can't help but  feel guilt for not being there for Gracie, like he is for his gran. In  that moment, I imagine his tattooed arms encircling my sister,  comforting her when she needed it most.

"Miss?"

The men are looking, waiting for an answer.

"Are you all right?"

I give them the only answer I know. "I-I'm not sure." But what I  don't say is that I may never be all right. Not now, not after seeing  what my sister went through. How she was stripped from her soul and  reduced to a pile of measurable flesh, just like the old lady. But  unlike the lady, Gracie had to go through it alone.

And I certainly don't say that the worst thing about it is, it's my fault.

I'm the reason she died.

*this project is now available on wattpad Wattpad.

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