by S.L. Wallace
Thank you S.L. Wallace for sharing your thoughts and a excerpt from your new book with my blog!
Guest post:Have you ever wondered what the world would be like if there were no middle class? What if the corporate elite were underhanded and ruthless? What... You're saying they already are? Well, what if it was even more extreme? And what if this led to a great divide between the haves and the have nots, with absolutely no middle class to help support society? What would that would look like? What would it feel like? These were my questions as I began to create Terene, a future dystopian society.
I decided to examine Terene on a very personal level by creating siblings who have taken different paths in life. Through their eyes, and from each point of view, readers catch a glimpse of a dark future world that seems eerily like our own.
The Maddock siblings became orphans at a young age, and were raised by their aunt. She cared for them only as long as necessary, and one at a time, she cast them out. Each had a difficult decision to make at age 16, the Age of Eligibility when citizens can leave school and join the military. This means food, clothing, and shelter will be provided for the rest of their life in exchange for their freedom. Scott Maddock takes that route in order to provide for himself and his sisters. Keira, reflects upon her brother's decision in Price of a Bounty. Scott tried to convince her to register as well, but she felt that freedom was too high a price. Instead, Keira ended up on the streets doing whatever was necessary to survive. As a result, she learned that it's best to rely on oneself and not to trust anyone. She also picked up skills that members of the Elite find valuable. In short, by the time we meet her, Keira has become a Freelancer: a hired killer, thief, and bounty hunter. April fares better, or so her siblings believe. When she turned 16, she moved in with Keira and finished high school. She now works as a maid at a wealthy estate. Each of the Maddock siblings have secrets that they keep even from each other. In a world like this, it's a challenge just to survive. Then we meet Guy. He is a member of the Elite, but he doesn't like the world that he sees. He's trying to make a difference, and he's smart enough to know that although one person can change the world, he can only do so with friends at his side.
The following excerpt is from the chapter “The Road Less Traveled” and is told from Guy's point of view.
I stood when I noticed Keira walking toward my table. I almost didn't recognize her. Short curly blond hair framed her face and dark blue jeans enhanced her curves. A lacy green shirt caused her emerald eyes to sparkle.
“Hello, I'm Guy Bensen, and you are?”
“Keira Maddock. It's a pleasure to meet you.” She held out her hand.
Instead of a handshake, I gently pressed my lips to the back of her hand. I looked up to see a genuine smile. I pulled out her chair, and Keira placed a black pack at her feet as she sat down.
The waiter arrived, and I ordered drinks, imported Chardonnay.
I leaned forward and spoke quietly. “Thank you for agreeing to see me.”
She nodded and responded just as quietly. “Thank you for inviting me to dinner. Elaine Ramsey, that was you?”
My smile disappeared. “Eberhardt. I wish he hadn't done that. It's not like him to take matters into his own hands. He usually follows orders. It does complicate things.”
She nodded. “I know. If she thought I was dead, she doesn't anymore. Even Scott thought the bomb was my doing. It's why I dyed my hair.” She reached up to toy with a few curls.
“You should change your name.”
She shook her head. “Not yet. I don't have a bank account anymore. My apartment is gone. Madeline Jones is gone. All my paperwork on her was in my apartment when... Anyway, as long as I continue to lay low, Ramsey shouldn't be able to track me.”
I nodded. I wouldn’t bring it up again, but I would get the process started, just in case.
The waiter returned with our drinks, and I placed identical orders: the house salad, tilapia and steamed vegetables. When he left, I noticed a question in Keira's eyes.
“Why did you want to see me?” she asked.
I picked up a thin book, opened it and began to recite:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair...
Keira concluded the poem:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
“The Road Not Taken, by Robert Frost. Where did you get that?”
I handed her the book. “It was your father's. Scott wanted you to have it. That poem means a lot to me too. I've never been one to take the popular route.” I hesitated, but only for a moment. “I hope I haven't missed the right road,” I finished in a rush.
She smiled. “But how can we know which is the right road?”
“I think I know.” I looked directly into her radiant eyes. She held my gaze.
Our food arrived then. I looked away and took a deep breath.