It’s “Friday Fact or Fiction”, where I write a little something for the weekend for you to read, be it fact or, um, fiction. This week, it’s ‘fiction’, with part one of a 1st chapter competition entry – this time it’s young adult fiction.
The Journey (The Dakota Duels Trilogy) – Part 1
Earlier, life had been lighter. Getting on the train at Fargo was fraught, but then it always was when the sun hit 34 degrees and your skirt stuck to your legs like glue after you’d been sat squashed on a bus with no air conditioning for five hours. Peeling a hair from her mouth, she yawned and flipped open her cell. No messages. She sighed and gazed out of the window. The Empire Builder. What a strange name for a train. Stretching out her hand she patted the seat to check if the parcel was still there. The envelope rustled under her palm and, reassured, she resumed her gazing. South Dakota was the only state in North America without an Amtrak train service, and for the life of her she couldn’t understand why.
‘It is the way it is, Hannah,’ her mother had said to her at the roadside as she prepared to board. ‘After the bus, the train will take you on to North Dakota.’
Hannah frowned. ‘But why me? Why now?’
Her mother, a whisper of a woman, reached up and adjusted Hannah’s collar so the white starch circled her neck in the way it was expected. ‘Now, now. We’ve been over this. Your father needs you. You are 18 now, a woman, and as such The Order requires you to make the journey to the annual pilgrimage early, cast your eye on the eligible men.’ Hannah blushed. ‘And besides,’ her mother continued, picking a speck of dust from her daughter’s skirt, ‘you need to deliver the parcel from your father to the Pilgrim Director. Remember your name, Hannah. Remember what it means.’
‘Grace of God, mama.’
Hannah chewed on her lip. ‘Why can’t he mail it?’
Her mother smiled. ‘Because it is too important.’
‘And he trusts me?’
She nodded. ‘He trusts you.’
As the train sped forward, Hannah let her eyelids droop, the jostle of the carriage and the crank of the air-conditioning lulling her to sleep. Around 3p.m. her cell shrilled. Waking with a start, Hannah blinked, then grabbing the phone, she picked up.
‘My name is Noah…I’m your-’
The line crackled. ‘I’m sorry,’ said Hannah, one finger in her ear, ‘you’re breaking up.’
‘I’m Noah,’ came the voice again.
Noah? Hannah frowned. ‘I’m sorry, but, I don’t know a-’
Without warning, what sounded like a gunshot blasted through the line. Hannah jerked up. ‘Hello?’
‘Hannah, listen!’ tore the voice. ‘I’m your brother. They’re coming for us. You’ve got to-’
The carriage suddenly went black and the signal cut. Overhead the lights flickered as the train shot through a tunnel. Hannah’s heart banged against her chest. Brother? He said brother. But why? She had no brothers, church colleagues, yes, families she had grown up with since birth, but no brothers.
Copyright © Nikki Owen 2012
Thanks for reading! Part two is out next Friday. Have a great weekend!