by Norma Hinkens
I slither backward into the Crematauto, and twist my head around to peek through the half-open driver’s door. The third guard is kneeling behind the checkpoint, gun trained on the back of the Crematauto, waiting for us to emerge. I weigh my odds. It’s an awkward shot, straining from a semi-prone position, wedged sideways between the seats. I count to three and take it anyway.
The Schutz Clone quivers for a second and then topples to the ground. I swallow hard. There wasn’t a better option than to take him out, but it doesn’t change how I feel inside, like I’m icing over. I exhale slowly, and then flick the switch on my gun to safety.
“Quick!” Sven reaches a hand into the Crematauto to pull me out. “He called for backup. We gotta go.”
I shove Tucker out of the vehicle first, then place my hand in Sven’s. A shiver runs up my arm when his huge hand closes over mine. So different to Jakob’s touch.
“Why can’t we take the Crematauto?” I ask.
“Once the Sweepers pinpoint the tracker on it, they’ll implode it,” Sven replies.
Mason drags Rummy out next, and tosses him over his shoulder. Sven pokes Lyong in the ribs with his M16. “Out!”
The doctor mutters something unintelligible and scoots himself forward a few inches. Sven grabs him by the scruff of the neck and hauls him out. I wish we could leave him behind, but we might need him as collateral.
“Which way?” I ask, glancing in both directions.
Sven motions in front of him with his weapon. He moves off down the corridor, hauling the disgruntled doctor after him with his free hand. Mason falls in behind, Rummy draped across his shoulders. I take up the rear, glancing behind me every few feet. At least my hands are free so one of us can get a round off quickly if we come under attack. Mason’s at a huge disadvantage with Rummy’s dead weight on his shoulders. Reluctantly, I send Tucker up to flank him. If nothing else, he can alert him to any ambush from a side tunnel.
Alone with my dark thoughts, I question what I’ve done. The stench of death is on me now, and nothing will ever be the same.
The crushing words sear my conscience. I’ve taken a life, no matter how I define that life, or how many units that life was destined to be.
The dimly lit tunnel stretches out in front like a black hole winding its way to the earth’s core. There’s no sign of movement up ahead, but I’m afraid even to blink in case the Schutz Clones attack. I’ve been counting on Tucker to forewarn us, but I’m still not sure clones have a scent he can pick up on.
I open my mouth to ask Mason about it. It’s the last thought I have before a calloused hand closes over my lips.
GRAND PRIZE WINNER of the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Award for fiction
WINNER of the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Young Adult fiction
The Sweepers are coming. They hunt the young. Earth's end is her beginning.
Sixteen-year-old Derry and her brother live in perpetual fear of capture. They survive underground on a scorched earth overrun by gangs, clones, and mysterious hoverships. When her brother goes missing, Derry’s only hope of finding him is to strike a deal with a group of cutthroat subversives. Desperate to save her brother, she leads a daring raid to uncover the secrets behind the Sweepers’ hoverships, but she soon finds out the world she knows is a lie.
Keeping her brother alive may require trusting her enemy and opening her heart to something she never thought possible.
Immurement is the first book in The Undergrounders Series, a sci-fi dystopian thriller trilogy. If you like captivating apocalyptic tales, gritty complex heroines, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love this fast-paced, end-of-the-world adventure!
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ABOUT NORMA HINKENS
Award-winning Indie author Norma Hinkens writes Pretty Gritty YA at a pace that will leave you slack-jawed! A self-professed travel junkie, legend lover, idea wrangler, Norma grew up among rich storytelling traditions in her native Ireland, land of make-believe and the original little green man. After abandoning globetrotting as a career choice, she settled in California and began scribbling down the yarns that have been brewing in her head for years. In her spare time she retreats to rural Idaho to hike, bike and boat, but mostly to eavesdrop on mountain men and prepare for the apocalypse. If you like dystopian sagas, gritty heroines, and twists you won’t see coming, then you’ll love her turbo-paced thrill-rides!