Chapter 1: Outside (Word Count: 2,262) I stand in a forest, surrounded by trees taller than I could’ve ever imagined. The sun is streaming through the branches, bathing everything in a gold tint. The sun warms my pale skin for the first time. The air has an aroma I’ve never smelt before; I can only describe it as earthy. I hear a chirping sound; turning to look up into a tree I see a little brown bird. I immediately classify the bird as a Flycatcher, I can tell because of the beak shape, color, and size. Though we are underground, we still learn about the above ground world. That’s my favorite part of the day,
learning about the outside world. None of my teachers can explain what it feels like to be outside; they were just babies when our race moved underground. I bend to pick a Wild Carnation. Holding the tiny flower in my hand, I admire its beauty. I’ve never seen a flower in person, just in books. It is so delicate; I’ve never seen anything like it before. I’m so wrapped up in studying the flower I almost don’t hear the distant voices. Immediately, I drop the flower and crouch low to the ground. Quickly and quietly, I move behind a tree. I pick up handfuls of damp soil and start rubbing the dirt on myself. The Starks have heightened senses of smell, and apparently they can smell Matalinos. I smother soil over my face, clothes, arms, legs, and even in my hair. I stay as quiet as I can, because in addition to smell, they also have enhanced sight and hearing. From my vantage point I can see two male Starks headed my way. They are both huge, one standing at what has to be 6’ 11” and the other at around 6’ 8”. The taller one is skinnier than the shorter one, but by no means scrawny. The taller one seems to be younger. They are still too far away for me to clearly make out anything they are saying. I stay behind the tree, covered in dirt. As they get closer, my heart beats faster with each step they take, I’m afraid that they will be able to hear my heart hammering in my chest. They continue walking, and soon pass my tree; I hold my breath as they go. They don’t seem to have a clue I’m hiding from them. It has been drilled into my head from birth that I will be killed if I ever step foot above ground. The Starks let us live as long as we stay in hiding, but if they ever see us above ground they will kill us. It’s fear that propels me to follow them. I need to find out for myself what the Starks are really like.
Carefully and quietly, I get up from my squatted position behind the tree once the two men are a safe distance from me. Slowly walk from tree to tree, I follow the two men. They seem to be good friends. They have similar mannerisms and facial features from the quick glimpses I caught of their faces, so I’m guessing that are related, maybe cousins. They seem to be bantering back in forth, laughing a lot. Their voices are deep and their language is the same as mine, but different at the same time. They say their words with a different accent and don’t pronounce every syllable as they should. The only thing that would make me think they could be deadly predators to my species is their impressive size. Matalinos are very small, skinny, pale people. I only stand at five foot, and even then I’m one of the tallest. The Starks, however, are tall, muscular, and have very tan skin. They have a natural grace about them, something I don’t have. I follow them for a long period of time, three hours according to the distance the sun has moved across the sky. I start to grow tired, my muscles aren’t used to walking this much, especially this carefully and quietly. They have kept up their talking and laughing, but I keep my distance which means I still can’t clearly make out their words. The two men stop and take off the packs they have been carrying on their backs. They both sit down on the ground and take out their canteens. I assume they are going to stay there for a little while, maybe even set up camp because the sun is about to set. I walk back the way I came because I saw a stream a little while back. Once I reach the stream I drink greedily, and then wash the dried dirt off my face and arms. I’ve been keeping a good distance and the wind is blowing towards me, which means they won’t be able to smell me. I also wash my hair trying to finger-comb the knots and clumps of dirt out. Suddenly, hands wrap around my arms, yanking me up. I’m then thrown back into the stream, face first. Quickly, I flip to my back and
see the taller of the two Starks above me. There is ferocity to his face now that was not there when he was with his companion. “What are you doing out here?” He drawls out with his strange use of our language. “Please I will go back, just let me go,” I plead with this Stark. I have to find a way to get away from him, I can’t outrun him, but I can outsmart him. He advances towards me and I coward away, curling into a tight ball. He picks me up anyways, halfway dragging, halfway carrying me out of the stream and back to where he and his companion stopped. “Please, just let me go, please.” I beg him, but he has a stoic look on his face. He continues to drag me. My pants rip and along with them, my skin. Drops of blood run down my shins. His hand is biting into the flesh of my upper arm, no doubt bruising my skin. We come into view of his companion. The shorter Stark looks up from his pack and stares at us. When we reach him, my captor throws me down onto the ground. “Zander, what is this?” The shorter, confused Stark asks as he shifts his gaze from me to Zander from his seated position. “I found it by the stream,” Zander bites out. The other unnamed Stark stands and paces over to get a closer look at me. He studies me intently. “I’ve never seen one, a live one at least.” The other Stark says as he lets out a chuckle. Zander moves away from me and drags his hand over his short hair in a frustrated way. He turns his back away from me. I still lay on the floor while the other Stark returns to his seated position next to their packs. I slowly make my way to my knees, trying to keep quiet so my movement goes unnoticed by both Starks. I keep an eye on both Starks. I am now in a squatted position. If I
can make it to a thicket of trees I could maybe lose the Starks if they chase me. I need to run to the north, back towards my home. Deciding to go for it, I jump to my feet and kick off, using every bit of power I have. I pump my legs as fast as they will allow. I dodge trees and continue to run as fast as I can. I don’t look back for fear of what’s behind me. I can’t seem to fill my lungs with enough oxygen; my breaths are coming too hard and too fast for me to be able to keep this pace up for much longer. Out of nowhere, the unnamed Stark runs up beside me. “Hey, there is no point in trying to run anymore because we both know I will catch you without even breaking a sweat. You are lucky I came after you and not Zander. That guy would have probably knocked you out. So you better be grateful I’m here and not him. Now please, little munchkin, stop running and come back with me.” He says, without sounding even a little winded. I decide to stop and go back with him. Obviously I can’t outrun him; it was dumb of me to think I could escape like this. “So, little one, what is your name?” The Stark asks. I decide I like this Stark, even though I shouldn’t. He has a certain carefree, happy attitude about him. He makes me feel safe, even though in no way, am I even remotely safe. “Olivia.” I say. “A woman of few words, Olivia.” He says my name with his funny accent. “Well I’m Dixon. Me and Zander are cousins.” He uses the wrong grammar, but I refrain from saying anything. “I’m sorry Zander threw you around. And I’m sorry we have sort of taken you hostage, but we have to. If we ever find a Matalino we are supposed to kill them. We aren’t going to kill you though. We are going to take you back to our settlement and the elders will decide what to do with you. It’s about a ten day trip, so I guess you’re stuck with us for a while.” He looks down
at me and I look up at him. He towers over me; our height difference is more than a foot and a half. By now the sun is almost set; I’m guessing we have maybe ten minutes left of light. There is absolutely no way I will be able to make it home in the dark. I don’t have any clue of what I’m going to do. The way I see it, I have two choices. I can either stick with these men and let them take me to their settlement, or I can risk escaping and try to find my way home and hope I don’t run into any other Starks, Starks who wouldn’t think twice about killing me. Realizing my clothes are still wet from the steam, I shiver. Blood is still running down my leg from the cuts on my knee and shin. When we finally make it to Zander, I see he has built a fire and is now eating something I cannot identify. Sitting down in front of the fire, opposite of Zander, I examine my leg. The cuts aren’t too deep, but they need to be cleaned out. Tiny bits of rocks are lodged in my skin and dirt is mixed with my blood. I scoot closer to the fire, needing to be warmed even more. Dixon has now also started eating whatever Zander has. “Here, Olivia,” Dixon holds out the strange food to me and I take it. It is two pieces of some sort of soft fluffy stuff and a slab of brown stuff in the middle. I continue to examine it, trying to figure out what it is. “It’s a sandwich; you know two pieces of bread and a piece of meat in between. Haven’t you ever had one?” Dixon asks. I shake my head. “Well what do you people eat down there?” “We only eat what our body needs. Usually it is just mush, but it has all the nutrients our bodies need to function properly.” I explain to Dixon. Zander doesn’t seem to care about anything I’m saying. He is staring off into the distance, eating his third sandwich. I take my first
bite of the sandwich and it is like pure bliss. Never in my life has anything tasted so good. The bread is soft while the meat is chewier and saltier. Dixon chuckles, “If you think that’s good wait ‘til you try my sister’s turkey.” I continue to eat my sandwich, but my stomach is quickly filled. I stuff the last bite in my mouth, hoping my stomach doesn’t explode from the pressure. Dixon hands me a canteen of water and I drink from it, then use the rest of the water. First, I use a little bit of water to wash away some of the dirt. It stings badly, but I bite my lip and fight through it. I then start digging out the tiny rocks embedded in my flesh. Dixon rummages around in his pack and pulls out some bandages and hands them to me. I clean my leg the best I can and wrap it up in the bandages Dixon gave me. I sit for the rest of the night, watching the fire and listen to Zander and Dixon talk. I lay on my side and soon sleep consumes me. I wake up after what seems like 5 minutes, but it has to be more than that judging on how much the fire has burned out. I hear Zander and Dixon talking in hushed tones. “We should just kill her. If anyone sees us with her they will kill us, along with her. We can figure out something else to do.” Zander says. “She is our best chance. We can travel at night and hide out during the day. You and I both know she is the only one who can do it.” Dixon says. I have no idea what they are referring to. I want to keep listening, but sleep is reaching for me. I try to fight through my exhaustion, but sleep wins the battle and I pass out again.
Pdf Entry Information Exhibitor Name: Mckailee Beck WEN: BD0016 Division: FA - 351 - Genre Novelist First Ch Class: 01 Genre Novelist First Chapter Title: Above Ground Description:
Above Ground a novel Genre: Science-Fiction Elevator Pitch: 5,000 years in the future, a plaque has killed 99% of earth’s inhabitants. Those who survived evolved into two subspecies of humans. One a physically strong race, developing physical traits beyond what any ordinary human could do, the Starks. The second race has extraordinary mental capabilities, the Matalinos. The Matalinos wanted to share the world with the Starks, but the Starks wanted to inhabit the earth alone. The Starks started to hunt the Matalinos, forcing the Matalinos to move into underground cities to hide. Olivia is a Matalino. She wishes to see the world, feel the sun on her face, the wind in her hair, and to breathe fresh air for the first time. One day, she sneaks above ground and realizes for herself why her kind has been hiding for so long. She may not be able to make it home before she is killed.