Title: The Coterie-Domination
Author: Richard C. McClain
Genre: Young Adult/Dystopian
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 3
Buy at: Rogue Phoenix Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble
Murder, mayhem, and misgivings threaten seventeen-year-old Dakarai Holt’s resolve. With the help of six capable students, he must squelch The Coterie’s conquest of the world.
Convinced he can find the person(s) responsible for murdering his roommate while blocking The Coterie, who have effectively destabilized the world’s economies, seventeen-year-old loner, Dakarai Holt, will need the help of six other skilled students. Together, they form the clandestine group TRC.
Dak’s emotional inquietude makes him vulnerable to others. Pursuit of concurrent romantic interests Tasi and Lilac decelerates when he counteracts TRC’s wishes and hounds The Coterie to accept him into their clique. His excitement changes to fear when he’s obliged to execute a directive that includes eliminating Tasi. To ensure Dak’s compliance, The Coterie hold Dak’s parents hostage and torture Lilac.
Hope that his ingenious hacking abilities will obstruct The Coterie while saving everyone in the process backfires altering his perception of life.
Lilac takes the board from me. The tremor in her right hand loses control. Starved of forethought, I reach over and steady it. Rivers of tears stream from both eyes wetting our hands and the board.
“Brody…”she struggles to write.
I turn my head, but hers is lowered, staring at the board. I wince at the words.
“He took advantage of me….”another pause.
My mind wanders, conjuring its own scenarios, nothing more horrible than what Lilac must’ve lived through. A perilous transformation takes place as she confirms my suspicions.
Inside, a rage I never knew existed roars violent. Visons of death preoccupy my thoughts. I don’t want to hurt Brody. I want him removed from this earth. If fate would allow, I want to be the person who signs his death warrant, administers justice, and hammers the first nail in his coffin.
Her hand scoots across the board, smearing the words. Gut wrenching sighs now spasm her body.
“It’s okay,” I mouth, lifting her chin, forcing her to look at me. “We’ll get through this. I promise you.”
We sit in quiet, attempting to enjoy the rest of the ride.
Unlike my first drive to Ossipee, I see none of the flowing magnificence that captured my attention. Our bus stops at a designated bus bay. The R.A.T. SQUAD bus supposed to be following us is conspicuously absent.
Ten minutes of twiddling my thumbs in these claustrophobic conditions is as much as I can take. I stand and, to the amazement of the others, leave the bus. It’s not long before they follow. At Lilac’s urging we step back from the group and surreptitiously disappear amongst the smattering of cafes, bookstores, art studios and high-end shops...
“You’re flirting with fire,”I mouth after Lilac touches my arm for a second time.
“Need to get rid of this com unit. Come on,”she mouths back.
Using two fingers, Lilac’s train blasting whistle solicits the appearance of three taxis. We take the first to arrive and wait as the driver deciphers the message she’s written on my board. He whisks us off to a bantam airfield. Even up close, the small planes are tiny.
A dilapidated building appears before us. Blanched in red writing on the side are the words ‘skydiving school’. I understand now what Lilac has in mind. Queasy at the prospect of jumping, I applaud the wisdom of considering other options. My silent plea is disregarded.
Fifty jumps have been credited to Lilac. In quick order, she schedules us for a tandem jump, promising I’ll be fine without the compulsory lessons. The idea of taking a small plane in the air and parachuting fifteen thousand feet screams ludicrous. Take your hand, stick it to your ear, remove the earpiece, throw it on the ground, stomp on it; simple if you ask me. Unfortunately, no one did.
Lilac dons her gear, careful to assist me with mine. Confidence I may have displayed before donning my gear no longer sits in my camp. Any halfwit can do something as simple as jump from a plane. That’s what I tell myself. I believe the lie up till the moment the rickety plane lifts off. At that moment, I learn a powerful truth about Dakarai Holt. I’m yellow through and through. Lilac tosses me a glance.
Rapid successive nods followed by a fake a smile does an injustice to the full-blown terror burgeoning throughout my body. The cross-country snow skiing and flag football activities I pooh-poohed weeks ago, in retrospect, seem thrilling options.
The plane levels off at fourteen thousand feet. Lilac and I prepare to exit the plane. My eyes widen in fear as she opens the door. An arctic cyclone invades the plane. I stand near the edge of the door, my knees shaking while I grip the handle. The cold numbs my body, and the flow of blood stops. Wishing away the world below only works with closed eyes.
If I can’t see it, then it can’t be real. If I can’t see it, then it can’t be real. If I can’t see it, then it can’t be real.
It took Dorothy three clicks of her heels to return home. Is it possible her mantra will work for me? When nothing happens, I give it a fourth try. If I can’t see it, then it can’t be real. Jelly knees, and I realize I’ve no choice except to wimp out. I turn to face Lilac and inform her of my decision.
“It’s not for everybody,” she says smiling She unhooks straps freeing me. I take a deep breath, grateful for the stay of execution. “I’ll tell the pilot to land.”
“Thanks.”I mouth and move toward her. Her gentle hands encircle my body. Breathless, I reach my hands out to hold her when the plane tilts and her body leans into mine. Powerless to brace myself, I convulse with terror as I fall through the open door into obscurity.
Millions of tiny air pellets pummel me at once. Around Lilac’s waist my legs grip hard as my hands flail like a bird on takeoff. Lilac forces her arms inside my legs and in a violent move extricates from my deadlock hold. I drown in a sea of air.
An obtrusion of wind pressures my body into a debilitating spin. My body twirls out of control and I know I’m going to lose consciousness. The blur of green, brown, blue, and white combine into a single nebulous shade.
My heart races so fast it becomes a steady elongated tempo. I resist the urge to vomit because I don’t relish the thought of the fetid slime caking to my face and hair. I yell for Lilac to help me. She will never hear my unspoken screams. It is at this moment as I plunge to my death I realize my mistake in trusting her. I should have listened to Tasi and the others. How could I have been so stupid? These are my last thoughts before I die.
KEYWORDS Dystopian, hacker, torture, hostage, young adult
Website URL: richardcmcclain.com
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