How beautiful is this cover?
My entry for THE BEAUTY OF DESTRUCTION
A fifteen-year-old dead girl wakes up in Afterlife with no memory of her friends, her family, or her name. All she knows is that she’s too young to die, and she absolutely hates Afterlife’s suffocating serenity. She’ll do anything to escape – even agree to serve as Guardian to the lip-glossed and venomous Valerie Wittier in a North Shore Chicago suburb. Unseen and unheard, she must prevent Valerie from making fatal errors that, if not amended, will lead to a school shooting that kills six freshmen. But though Valerie holds the power to prevent – not cause – others to die, she’s too selfish and headstrong to care.
Feeling helpless and incompetent, the Guardian watches the week spin out of control in a kaleidoscope of rumors, fights, rivalry, and romance. She tries to redirect Valerie and save those in jeopardy of dying, but seems continually distracted by Valerie’s best friend, Grace Hewitt, aka Miss Perpetual Bystander. It’s Grace’s ambivalence towards wrongdoing (and blatant denial about her feelings for the reckless Will Pendergrass, who clearly adores her) that infuriates her to the point of obsession. By the time this amnesiac protagonist realizes she’s presiding over the last week of her life, it may be too late to save everyone involved.
THE BEAUTY OF DESTRUCTION is a YA thriller with paranormal elements in the vein of LOVELY BONES meets NINETEEN MINUTES. It is complete at 105,000 words.
Valerie Wittier’s Awakening
Any minute now, Valerie Wittier will wake up, and I’ll remind her of what she’s done. I keep trying to picture her reaction: defiant, affronted, belligerent. Remorseful crosses my mind, but I don’t consider it seriously. Remorse doesn’t fit Valerie Wittier. While I’d like to think death has changed that, I’m not counting on it.
Open your eyes. The Lights’ unspoken demand rattles through me like a booming crack of thunder. My heart races a little as Valerie begins to twitch beneath the spotlight.
Three Lights shine down from an impossibly high ceiling in a pitch-black room. They form a single cone-shaped beam and a perfect circle around Valerie’s body where she sleeps. Her face is wiped clean of her usual mascara, lip gloss, and manipulative smile. Her breathing is even and rhythmic. She looks so peaceful and innocent lying there. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think we were alike. I might even feel sorry for her. But I know too much about this girl to fall for that.
Valerie rubs her lids and stretches her arms like this is some lazy Saturday morning. I could see Valerie being the kind of girl that likes to keep people waiting just because she can. If that’s what she’s doing, I can’t imagine the Lights tolerating that for long.
Open your eyes, the Lights command again.
I smirk, just a little. Thought so.
Valerie finally opens her eyes. As she does, a blinding white light floods them. She jolts upright and blinks hysterically. Her hands fly towards her face to block the brightness. When she opens her eyes again, she sees the glaring light shining down in a circle around her body, and only her body. Beyond that, complete darkness surrounds her like a cloak of black velvet. She gasps. Her arms and legs flail as she scrambles to stand. She jerks and spins beneath the cone of light like a caged rat desperate to escape.
The Lights twinkle signaling me to begin. I take a deep breath. I bite my lip, and I step forward. Valerie jumps back as the darkness fades to a white milky haze like a leftover fog on an early winter morning. Tiny dots of mist reflect the Lights above. Everything around us is cast in shades of white like an old photograph bleached by sunlight.
Valerie’s eyes widen when she sees me. I walk towards her regretting that I didn’t plan what to say. I might not like that she’s about to get a second chance at life – something I was never offered. But the least I could have done was think of a good opening line. “You’re not alone,” I stammer. It’s the only thing I can think to say.
A calming aura drifts over her like a protective security blanket making her feel suddenly comforted. Valerie’s eyes no longer burn. Her body no longer aches. For an unknown reason, I bring comfort and release, which she willingly accepts.
Valerie looks up to the Lights, and then back at me. “Where am I?”
Thank you Sharon Bayliss for this fun opportunity! Good luck to all contestants! I look forward to reading your entries!