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I'm Suzanne Lazear, I write the Aether Chronicles series, which is about steampunk faeries. Welcome, have a cupcake. You can start the hunt here or you can go to the YA Scavenger Hunt homepage to find out more or if you're stuck. I'm part of the BLUE TEAM--but there are other teams, all with lots of prizes to win.
Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the blue team, and then add them up.Hint: the secret number is highlighted RED. Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify. Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 5, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
And now on to the author I'm hosting today:
IntroHello, Book Hunters! Expiration Day isn't an action novel. Sorry. On the other hand, it does have serious levels of Rock'n'Roll and a dramatic court scene. Tania isn't an athletic heroine, either, preferring to play bass with her band, or else to curl up in the big reading chair in the spare room, reading a treasured book. But I did wonder what would happen if she ended up in physical danger. After all, the world of 2049 isn't a nice place, though she's living in one of the more civilised spots. It's definitely not all sweetness beyond her village, though, and in England there are many places that the rule of law doesn't reach. These are the Red Zones, and in the earlier drafts of the novel, back when it was still called 'A Child Alone', I had Tania visit a Red Zone twice. The first time she made contact with an 'underground' organisation, that she hoped might give her refuge. That scene got re-worked quite a bit, moving from London to Oxford in the process, and re-surfaced here , where you'll find other bonus content. This second scene is unique to the YA Scavenger Hunt, and fits around that court scene, where Tania sees that the case is going against her, and decides to flee. She contacts the 'underground' and arranges to meet the woman she knows as Marla ...
I'm just going for a stroll. What could be more natural than going for a stroll in the twilight? So I resist the urge to check if I’m being followed.
It’s a bit of a hike, it turns out. My faithful AllInFone tells me I can still get there in time, but I can’t hang about. It’s all Green Zone, at least, past the Tower of London and as far as Tower Bridge.
Beyond, though, is another matter…
Am I really ready to run away to the Red Zone? I have no idea. I love life – who doesn’t – but life at any price? Maybe I will find more than just food and shelter in the Red Zone. Maybe I will find friends too. Some way of making music. Drama. It mightn’t be too bad. If I don’t fall ill and die, or get raped or killed by marauders from another gang…
Do I really want to live in the Middle Ages? Is that really a choice? Or, as Mrs Hanson might have said, is that Death trying to convince me there are no better choices?
* * *I can see the Tower of London now, which takes me back to where this journey began. A game of hide-and-seek with Siân. If not for that, I might never have learned of my true nature. No, I can’t believe that. Something would have happened sooner or later – I couldn’t be so dumb as not to notice something non-human about myself, could I? But would I be here now? Would I be happier?
For nostalgia’s sake, I detour down towards the river, past the entrance and then turning left at the bank walkway. Passing over Traitor’s Gate, I shudder, briefly. I really thought I had been about to drown.
Tower Bridge is close, now.
Up the steps and onto the bridge. I emerge beneath a huge arch, and look down the ramp. Deserted. Forty years ago, you’d have been trampled by tourists. It’s a long way to the end, to my meeting point – I should have gone where my AllInFone told me, instead of sightseeing. Stupid Tania. Oh well.
As I draw nearer, the shadows divide and I can make out trees and shrubs, benches and tables of the Boleyn New Park. Is that somebody waiting? In the shadows beneath the trees, a darker shadow in shapeless clothing. The shadow moves, faces me. A woman.
“If you like. I was wondering if you were going to turn up. I was getting ready to leave.”
“Thanks for staying. I came here as quick as I could.”
“Yeah, well, I’m still here. You said you were in trouble.”
“Somewhat. Fighting a lawsuit with Oxted for my life.”
“Yeah, you are in trouble. Come on, then. We need to move. It’s not far to Whitechapel, after which it’s all Red Zone.”
“Wait. I’m not sure. I need to …”
“What can you possibly need to do? Don’t be stupid. You’re here; this is your way out. This is your only choice.”
My only choice? Then, by Hanson’s Law, it must be death that’s on offer. Does that make sense?
“In that case… Thanks, but no. I’m going back. Sorry, Marla.”
“You what? Didn’t you hear me? This is your only…”
But then there’s a flash, a flare of light, and Marla and I are caught in the beam of a searchlight.
“This is the police. Do not move. You are under arrest. Put your hands up and keep them where we can see them.”
Marla curses: “Did you bring them here? Did you bring a AllInFone? Oh, you stupid f…”
But then she breaks, and the searchlight follows. For a moment, I am in shadow, and for the first time in my life I make a good decision, and scramble over the low railings into the hedge behind the trees.
For a moment, I lie flat, able to see beneath the bushes.
Marla is down, quivering. A Taser? Night-visioned troopers converge, hyena-like.
Nothing I can do.
I crawl back towards the river. Behind me, a single searchlight swoops and arcs wildly.
* * *One moment I was crawling on hands and knees; the next, my outstretched hand met empty air and I tumbled through space, landing hard and rolling, to finish up in a patch of … nettles. Stinging nettles, Mister Zog. But my skin chemistry is inert to histamines, so thanks to a lazy gardener, I had myself a briar patch that Brer Rabbit would have loved, extending all the way back to the river, alongside the moat.
From the noises behind me, it sounded as though the police had followed some false trail, maybe some town fox, or unlucky pedestrian. A few minutes later, though, I heard a more systematic search begin, with a couple of police officers walking back up the ramp to the bridge, shining torches down onto the path below.
By that time, though, I’d just about reached the waterfront, where I turned right, moving briefly across open space before finding safety again by the outer walls of the Tower of London. It didn’t feel right, though. I decided I couldn’t afford to look like a fugitive. So I found a park bench and sat down, and watched the river flow, wondering if I’d have the nerve to stay seated if any officers actually came my way.
After a while, two rather stout officers strolled towards me, so I took out my AllInFone and started taking photographs of HMS Belfast across the river. They walked past.
That was my worst moment. After that, well, the frontage is long, but as I drew near to the main entrance, I began to meet other pedestrians, and felt I could just mingle.
It was still a long walk back to the hotel, and my nerves were on edge the whole way.
* * *When I reached the hotel, it was eleven o’clock, but the bar was still open. No calls on my AllInFone, so I reckoned Dad was still hard at work on his spreadsheets. With a coffee from the bar in front of me, I felt able to think. So I called him.
“In the hotel bar, now. Just sitting and thinking over a coffee. Are you still working on the spreadsheets?”
Which meant an hour, if I knew Dad. He’d be working till midnight.
I was right. At least I think I was right, but I’d showered and was in bed before he was done, sleeping the deep sleep of the guilty-but-exhausted.
Thank you so much for visiting me. There's a special short story from the Aether Chronicles world hidden someplace. (Hit hint, it's about love, and it's not about Noli and V.) The books in my Aether Chronicle's series -- INNOCENT DARKNESS, CHARMED VENGEANCE, and FRAGILE DESTINY are all available from Flux. Please enter my bonus contest where I have 6 prizes up for grabs.
All done? Time to move on to Kady Cross. Don't forget to bring her a cupcake.