Fans are going to have a great time with this week's YA Indie Carnival topic. Several of the authors pulled the first paragraph from one of their books or works in progress and passed it along to the other authors for them to write the next 1-3 paragraphs. It's amazing how different a story can become with the input...talent...vision of others. I have to admit I really enjoyed this exercise and hope everyone appreciates our efforts.
For my submission, I used the first paragraph from Guardians of the Cross. Below, I've started off with the Round Robin's version which includes the unique and exciting additions from the YA Indie Carnival authors. Underneath that, you'll see the second version or the actual - and very different - Prologue from Guardians of the Cross. At the bottom of the page, you will find other authors who participated in the Round Robin. Take a few minutes to visit these authors' sites and watch their stories' amazing transformations.
ROUND ROBIN VERSION FOR THE PROLOGUE OF
Julia strolled along the beach with James, enjoying the beautiful orange and yellow shades of the sunset. The way the scene mirrored off the ocean’s glass horizon made for a spectacular sight. The serenity of the setting - along with the calming, salt-infused breeze - camouflaged the danger speeding toward her and her unborn baby faster than a just fired bullet.
Before she could even comprehend what was going on, the impact of hitting the sand sapped the air from her lungs. As Julia struggled to get her breath back, her gaze touched on James’ before darting past his shoulder to see if it was still there. As the aromas of cologne and shaving cream joined the tang of salt surrounding her, she wondered if they were alone again and how James knew to shove her to safety. Biting her lip now, Julia again met his concerned expression. Sensing the many questions likely consuming his thoughts, Julia couldn’t stop her gaze from escaping to the sunset. She pinched her eyes shut and swallowed hard—it wasn’t as comforting to look at now.
"How did they find us?" Julia's throat tightened, her words emerging thick and unnatural.
"They must have a lock on your biopulse after all." James crouched and offered her his hand, gently guiding her back to her feet. Her eyes found the crushed and twisted metal object smoking at his feet, then the stripped flesh of his fingers where his shell was damaged destroying it. His steel bones were the same shade as the fallen seeker.
When she looked up and caught his gaze, Julia could clearly see his fear, her hands curving protectively around her swollen belly as he spoke. "I'm sorry," he said. "I don't think I was fast enough. There's a good chance the seeker sent a signal back to the tracker and they know exactly where you are."
Julia didn't hesitate. She couldn't even if she wanted to. Her unborn son and their small corner of the galaxy depended on it. Hands moving with practiced perfection opened a bubble of protection around them.
"I'll make sure they don't follow," James whispered. Julia nodded, clenching her betraying, quivering lips. She would stay and argue with him for all time, but it would be of no use. Only she could make this journey. His body of steel was not built for time travel.
After a last lingering look at the man she would always love, she took a few steps forward and was gone.
Time travel didn't exactly feel good when you were pregnant. Under the best of circumstances, it made her feel pulled apart and reassembled. Now, it also made her feel like she was going to puke. Tears pricked the backs of her eyes as she thought about James. If only she could have taken him with her. Within seconds, the trip ended. The bright light of the Traveling Corridor died. She was plunged into complete darkness.
She gasped. Where was she? Somehow, she'd ended up in the wrong place.
But Julia wouldn’t know for quite some time because the seekers were just that good at setting their traps. As Julia had never been tracked before, she was unfamiliar with the seekers’cunning ways. Legend boasts how the trackers would in fact be Julia’s champions. But first she would suffer unlike any Prefect before or since. The seekers would do anything to capture the baby.
Stumbling in the darkness, she found her balance and moved forward with slow, cautious steps.
A distant echo mirrored her words.
Inching forward, she stretched her hands in front of her and found her palms meeting ice cold, stone. She ran her fingers over the bumpy surface and felt her womb jolt. Her son could feel her fear. She rubbed her belly and murmured words of comfort as she kept her hand on the wall and continued her arduous journey.
"Julia." The word bounced around her and she turned back to try and find its origin. "Ju-li-a." Her name came out in a song this time followed by an evil cackle.
She gripped her belly and tried to slow her breathing.
"I see you." The laugh continued. "I know where you are." She felt the words whispered into her ear, the breath tickling her earlobe. Letting out a scream, she held her belly and ran.
ACTUAL VERSION FOR THE PROLOGUE OF
Julia strolled along the beach with James, enjoying the beautiful orange and yellow shades of the sunset. The way the scene mirrored off the ocean’s glass horizon made for a spectacular sight. The serenity of the setting - along with the calming, salt-infused breeze-camouflaged the danger speeding toward her and her unborn baby faster than a just fired bullet.
To Julia’s surprise and as if they had not been married for ten years, James pulled her to his chest and gave her a memorable kiss. When he finally released her, she, breathless, asked, “What was that for?”
Pleased with himself, he chuckled. “I don’t need an excuse to kiss the mother of my child.” With his reminder, he reached down and stroked her protruding belly. She, watching him and the way he admired her pregnant tummy, felt a warm squeeze of her heart.
For a second, she thought about telling him she knew of his nightly ritual. It had become routine for him to lay awake and talk to their unborn child. During those private moments, he would stare at her stomach like he had x-ray vision and mumble promises to guard over them for his entire life. Remembering how he waited until he thought she was asleep, she decided his secrets were best left unspoken.
No matter what, James’ innocent secrets would never be compared to Julia’s frightening ones. At most, James’ would stir up a little embarrassment. Hers, on the other hand, were life threatening.
James was intimately familiar with Julia’s power to save the dying. Her gift was almost too powerful to be hidden. It would have been impossible to conceal from the man she loved more than anyone…except her unborn baby. James did not know that her debilitating episodes were now being controlled by their bundle of joy who apparently exhibited abilities from the womb.
After the first episode, Julia researched The Warriors’ heritage. She was desperate to find another soul who exhibited the talent before birth. There were no documented cases. Not even with the most powerful of The Warriors. Julia shivered, wondering what this could possibly mean for her baby.
Shocked out of her world of worry, she heard the anxious and frightened calls of a woman running down the almost deserted beach.
“CLARK…CLARK…CLARK,” the stranger bellowed, using her hands as a horn right before her knees buckled and she fell to the ground.
The lady was only down seconds before she popped back up onto her feet and began calling the boy’s name again.
Realizing the ocean’s strong currents and their danger for small children, James and Julia’s instincts were to join in the search. They scanned the surface of the gulf. The body of water appearing beautiful and benign just minutes ago now felt violent and malignant.
“Oh my God,” James shouted.
Before Julia knew what was happening, he bolted toward the waves as if running for his own life. Staring in the direction of his sprinting and then his swimming, Julia noticed a lifeless toddler floating with his face down. The tiny boy’s body made an ominous five-point star, and he passively swayed with each wave carrying him farther out to sea.
The woman saw what Julia saw and instantly fell back onto her knees. She began crying and praying in such an agonizing manner that her suffering brought tears to Julia’s eyes.
“God, please take me instead! God, save my precious grand baby! God, give me the power to heal him,” the woman next to Julia wailed.
James’ water rescue was going fast, but the passing of time flipped into a movie-like slow motion which almost drove Julia insane. Feeling useless, she knelt at the edge of the waves with the woman whose horrified focus never strayed from the child in James’ arms.
The intensity of the grandmother’s grief caused the familiar stirring of Julia’s belly. The first time, Julia had been blind-sided by the baby’s abilities. This time, she reminded herself to stay in control of the situation.
‘I got this, sweetie. I’ll save him,’Julia telepathically assured her baby.
‘They told me I had to save him, Mommy. Not you,’ the infant debated using her special means of communication while working hard to take over Julia’s free will.
‘Don’t you do anything, and I mean it,’ Julia mentally responded.
‘Dammit!’Julia thought when without intending to, she grabbed the grandmother’s hand.
“I’ve been blessed by God. I’ll take care of him,” Julia said with a confidence she did not feel.
The words and feelings of assurance were the baby’s and not her own. The boy being cradled by James was dead and looked worse than any other drowning victim Julia had ever seen. Since she worked as one of the island’s emergency room physicians, this observation was significant.
The second the toddler’s grey and lifeless body came to rest on the beach, Julia’s examination began. On cue, the compassionate baby inside of her sprang into action. The infant’s hands and feet were visibly protruding and rolling underneath her balloon-like belly. Julia tried to hide the baby’s actions from James, who focused solely on the boy. Soon, the battle was more than Julia could manage.
Last time, Julia’s fetus had allowed her to place her hand on the dying boy while performing the miraculous save. It was as if Julia was the vessel through which the infant’s gift traveled. This time, the baby commanded that Julia put the boy’s hand to her stomach…directly over the infant’s hand. Julia recognized the look of pure horror on James’ face when he realized what was happening and who was in charge.
Unable to do anything more than obey the fetus’ demands, Julia lifted the boy’s cold, wet hand to her tumultuous and shifting stomach. It was the exact spot of a jutting appendage. A hand.
The second their hands met, the boy violently convulsed up and off the ground. Then, he crashed back down and began coughing and spewing water. The sight of him reminded Julia of an air-filled water hose spewing air pockets along with the flowing water.
James was pale white and rendered speechless. Julia saw his flash of helplessness the second her pain became excruciating to the point where she was no longer able to endure it. A blackout was certain. As the darkness consumed her, Julia heard James’ word of terror, “JULES, WHAT CAN I DO?”