Novel I ::: Escape into Darkness

[updated March 10, 2011]

As of August 2010, Escape into Darkness became my first completed novel.

As of sometime later on, I realized just how much work it really needs. When I think about how I actually gave it to people to read in its current state...I tend to start feeling like a five year old, running around with three peices of purple constuction paper stapled together (not neatly, I might add) -- "Look Mommy! I've got a story!" Isn't it gooood??"

So, I’m rewriting pretty much most of it. The POV will be switched from Keilah’s first person, to a third person combination of Keilah, Rylen, and Mera. Crucial plot points will be emphasized, scenes and details will be added, the story world and characters fleshed out, and the heart of the story will be brought to the surface. I’m not entirely sure what all these things will involve (there is a LONG list), so I will be learning about them along with the characters.

It’s exciting and daunting at the same time. If I do this, will it ever be finished? Will I ever be “satisfied” with it? Probably not. But isn’t that how it goes? We tend to think of the “right” thing to say after it’s all been said and done. That’s one good thing about writing. You can go back and change it.

Anyway, I’m kind of rambling now. Suffice it to say, I’m not working on the rewrite very consistently at the moment. I’m working on another book, A Name Worth Carrying, in preparation for the next OYAN student contest. Have to get that done before I come back around.

Below is the basic (reworked) synopsis for Escape into Darkness, an excerpt from the new beginning, and links to all previous excerpts posted on the main page.

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Escape into Darkness 


In the land of Teremin, raiders have been burning and destroying villages. The victims are killed, taken to become slaves, or forced into service with the raiders themselves.
            Rylen and Merabelle come from a village called Saren. When their home was raided, Rylen and his father managed to escape without being caught. Mera was taken as a personal prisoner of the raiders’ leader, Durevar.
            Keilah and her family were ripped apart by the raid. Her mother is dead, her father is missing, and she and both her siblings were taken by the captors, then sold as slaves.
            All victims of the raids, all with different outcomes.
            After a strange turn of events the three are thrust together into the midst of a strange web of secrets centering on the raids and the slavery. They discover a secret that could bring the whole organization to its knees. But will they take hold of their advantage? One must face the past, one the future, and one the present if any of the desperately needed changes are to be made.  But they can’t do it alone. Will their histories and own personal goals get in the way of what they must do for the sake of their country?

(synopsis is still a work-in-progress...)


excerpt from beginning of chapter one

Rylen squinted toward the field, fingering the rough papers in his trouser pocket. Stupid protocol, he thought, scowling as he watched the field overseer pick his way through the slaves to a dark-haired girl crouched among the ripeing wheat. He cringed as he saw the overseer reach for his short whip, and gritted his teeth when the whip snapped down. The girl jumped up and spun around, her eyes wide with shock. 

Why did he have to do that? Ugh, I should have just gone out there myself. So what what other people would think? This is just dirty old Ridefel, not some high noble township anyway
Tugging his hand from his pocket, Rylen shifted and stared up into the boughs of the tree he stood under, immediately feeling guilty. He stepped out from the shade and into the harsh July sun, closer to where the girl and the overseer where approaching. At the edge of the field, the master snaked a hand around her wrist and said a few words to her, then gave her a red handkerchief, a sign that she was only on brief leave. She nodded, tied it around her hair, then bowed to the field master and spun, hurrying toward the tree. She came to a quick halt, dropping into a respectful stance and gazing at her bare feet. "Yes, Master Rylen?"

Rylen grunted and rolled his eyes. "Keilah, how many times--oh, never mind. I've got something for you." He reached toward his pocket, but stopped as Keilah quickly said,

"Do you require my services in some way, Master Rylen?"

"Honestly, Keil, cut it out. I'm just Rylen. You can stop." 

Keilah glanced up then over to where the overseer stood, watching them. Sighing, Rylen nodded and whispered, "Oh. Right. Well, just...follow me and act like I need you for something at the house. Come on."

Keilah furrowed her brow and frowned, but followed along as Rylen turned and took of at a brisk pace in the opposite direction. He led her away from the field, and she finally stepped a little closer to him after they left earshot of the field master. "Where are we going?" she whispered, tugging at the red cloth tying her hair back. "I can't be gone very long."

"I know. How about there, behind the cowshed?"

Keilah raised an eyebrow and Rylen could see a hint of apprehension in her eyes. "Sure...what's going on?"

"Just come on!" Rylen broke into a trot and stopped behind the tumbled down shack at the edge of a line of trees, near to the slaves' common house. Really, can't tell much difference between the two, Rylen thought. Except for the fact that there're locked in there tight as a treasure house is. 

Keilah caught up to him and stopped, waiting and looking expectantly. Rylen stuck his hand in the pocket and drew out the wrinkled piece of parchment. "Here," he said. "This is for you."
She jerked her head back, eyes wide. "What? For me? But...a letter! It's forbidden! What is it? And how did you get it?"

Rylen shrugged. "I was out behind Father;s livery and a kid about my age came out of the trees and gave it to me. He said it was for you and that he had been watching a little and figured I would be able to give it to you better than he could. Without being noticed. Then, he left." He held the letter out further, urging her to take it.

Keilah pinched the corner and then turned it over in her hands. "What is it?"

"I didn't read it." 

She frowned and slid her finger under the sloppy wax seal and it crumbled off to the ground. Staring at it, she started to open it, then seemed to change her mind. "I...I better get back. I'll read it later."

Nodding, Rylen craned his neck to try and see the field. "Yeah, you'd better hurry. See you tonight?"

Keilah grinned. "Yes. You wouldn't get supper otherwise." She stuck the letter under her smock, probably into an inside pocket. "Thanks," she said, then turned and ran back toward the field. 
With her hand underneath the corner of her pallet, Keilah traced the outline of the parchment hidden underneath the thin, straw-filled mat. She ached to read it, to figure what was going on, but the dark of night closed in around her with no light to see the letters by. And if she stood up to read it by the window Tamera would surely scold her for getting out of bed. 
No, best just to wait for the light of day.

But...Keilah sighed. A slave's day never gave time for the leisure of reading. She had found that out quickly. 

Keilah rolled over, pulling her hand out, and stared into the darkness of the quarters remembering the days before the raid. Then, reading the books Uncle Israel brought over was an everyday occurrence. I took it for granted. 

I took a lot of things for granted back then. 

Flipping onto her back, Keilah winced as a burn seared along her flesh, the pressure aggravating the welts that laced back and forth. After wriggling a little more and trying to get comfortable, she ended up on her side again. 

Keilah slipped her hand back under the pallet. Her fingers brushed the parchment.

I have to read it. Now. Who knows when I will get a chance tomorrow? If I will ever get a chance! Besides...Tamera is probably asleep anyway. 

Sitting up, she reached under and pulled out the papers. For a moment, she just sat there, afraid to hope, afraid to think. 

Maybe it's from Papa. Maybe the raiders never got to San-Drae. Maybe he got away before they found him. 

No. No, no, no. Can't think like that. Can't let the hopes rise...they'll just fall back down harder.

 Keilah pushed up to her feet and padded down the center aisle between the other sleeping girls, bare feet scuffing against the hard packed dirt. When she reached the secured front door of the commune, Keilah leaned against the wood, holding her letter up to the small window near the top. Shadows of the iron bars fell across the page, blocking out slivers of the pale moonlight that reached through the opening. She squinted, shifting the paper as she read to catch the most light. 

I have to hurry because Captain will be here soon. I have found you, and I want to meet and get you out of there. Once we leave, I was going to go back to San-Drae and I want you to come with me. I am tired of waiting--I have to know if Father got out of there. Besides, I know something not many people do. It could make the difference we have been waiting for.  

Keilah stopped reading and squinted at the paper. Some words had been blacked out from the beginning of the next paragraph and a new phrase, in a different hand, scrawled above it. That's odd...

Tomorrow night, I need you to meet me at that willow tree across from the second field on the outskirts of Ridefel, around midnight. I will not be able to have horses, so if you can get them, do. See you soon. It has been too long. 

Keilah's jaw dropped and she stared at the page. With a gasp, she remembered that she was supposed to be breathing. A slow smile tugged at the corners of her lips and she brushed a fingertip across the signature. 

Darrin! He's alive! And he is coming to get me, so we can go home! 

The smile started to droop. If...if home is still there. 

Wait...was that Dar who gave Rylen the letter? 

Keilah slipped back to her pallet, so many thoughts jumping around in her mind. 

How am I going to get to the willow? What if I get caught? 

And Darrin wants horses. How in the land of Teremin am I foing to pull that off?

Sinking down onto her mat, she stuck the papers in the pocket of my skirt, then laid her head down on top of it as a pillow. 

Well, Rylen might help with that. He’s said before that his father has too many in the stables...but should I even tell him about this? 

She continued asking questions and then answering them herself, finally drifting off with every thought muddled except for one. 

Tomorrow I see my brother again! 

[All text ©MacKenzie Pauline, 2011]