I've been working on a young adult novel for a while now. I thought I'd post an excerpt. Let me know what you think. If you're an evil-no-good-copy-paste-copyright infringer, please leave my work alone, it's mine.
Sprawled across his bed, with his arms folded behind his head, Jake stared up at the tin tiles set into the ceiling of his new room. They were part of the “old world” character his mother so loved about the new apartment. The way the light from the windows played across the ceiling made the inset designs in the tiles look like an army of alien spacecraft he decided.
With a sigh he sat up and looked around the room. It wasn’t very big, but it would work. Certainly not like his room in Texas. But it was on the 4th floor, and through the arched windows he could see some of the taller buildings of the famous Manhattan skyline to the south above the buildings across the street. His room was level with the tops of the trees that lined their street. The realtor had said it was a quiet street, and maybe it was by New York standards. They may as well be in the middle of a bus station though, when compared to the silence of the wide corn fields that had unfurled themselves in the view from the windows of his room in Texas.
No use thinking about that now though. Getting lost in memories certainly wasn’t going to make his current situation any better. Besides, he grudgingly admitted to himself, his new room was pretty cool. He got up and crossed the room to the stack of moving boxes that held his entire life. 4 large cardboard boxes. That’s all it took to encompass his life. What did that say about him?
He tried to split the packing tape with his thumbnail. There wasn’t enough nail left to cut into the tape. He inspected each of his fingernails. All of them were bitten down to the quick, a couple bloody. He really needed to stop doing that, he decided. His mom hated the habit, and as long as he could remember she had constantly been on his case to stop until… Well, until. Now that he thought about it, she had hardly griped at him about anything since the funeral. Kind of nice he supposed, but whatever.
Back to the task at hand, his eyes roved around the room, looking for something to split the tape. Scissors would be great, but they were of course taped up in one of the boxes with his other school stuff. He tried the stiff end of a shoelace, but that didn’t even dent the tape. Strongest stuff on Earth he mused. His eyes fell on his closet door. Maybe the previous owner had left a wire clothes hanger—that should do the trick.
Twisting the knob, he tried to pull it open. It didn’t budge. The old iron doorknob turned freely, but the door was stuck solidly in place. He took a better grip on the knob with both hands and pulled much harder. There—it was moving, inch by bit. He realized half a second too late that the door wasn’t moving—the knob was. He fell backward, landing hard on his backside, doorknob in hand. There was hole left in the door where the knob had previously resided. Not ready to concede defeat, Jake hooked his fingers inside the hole and pulled, hard.
The door shifted ever so slightly before he let go, fingers burning where the sharp wood edges had dug in. To wipe away the pain, he rubbed his hands briskly together. He repositioned his fingers, and this time braced his foot against the wall. Using the muscles in his back and legs, he pulled with all his might. The door sprang open, and he was treated to another quick trip to the floor on his backside, this time smacking the back of his head on the post of the footboard of the bed. Pain crashed into his brain—he saw stars and there was a roaring in his ears.
Jake closed his eyes--wow that smarted. After a minute, the roaring in his ears started subside, and as the sounds of the city crept back in, he became aware of another noise. A dish clattered in the kitchen—probably his mom unpacking the dishes or something. He sat bolt upright. His mom had gone into the office for the morning, waking him to say goodbye. She wouldn’t be back for several hours.
Less than 24 hours of city life, and their house already being broken into—he knew it was going to be like this! He jumped to his feet, scooping up his Louisville slugger on his way to the stairs, silently thanking the heavens above it hadn’t fit into any of his cardboard boxes. He took the stairs to the second floor two at a time, adrenaline surging. By the time he made it to the landing, his brain started to catch up. What if there was more than one? He paused. What if they had a gun? Another clatter from the kitchen mobilized him, but he moved cautiously now. One stair at a time, bat held up at the ready. The third stair from the bottom creaked badly when he stepped on it. He froze, holding his breath. The noise from the kitchen stopped for a moment, but soon started again. It sounded exactly like an armadillo rooting through a trash can on their back porch in Texas. Somehow he didn’t think there was an armadillo hanging out in New York City.
Jake became aware of another sensation—there was a wonderful scent emanating from the kitchen. It smelled exactly like sugar cookies baking. Just like on cookie nights when he and Mom and Dad would bake cookies to celebrate. Any time someone had good news, or a holiday, or even a really bad day—they’d roll the dough out on the counter, and cut it into perfect circles with the tops of coffee mugs. But it wasn’t just about the cookies. Anything could be said over the mixing bowl; any topic addressed while the cookies turned golden in the oven. He missed those happy nights. And the cookies.
“Snap out of it!” he whispered to himself. “A vicious intruder in the house, and you’re day dreaming about cookies!” He crept down the last two steps as quietly as he could, but he needn’t bother. The noises in the kitchen had grown to a series of small bangs and clatters. At the edge of the door frame Jake took several quick deep breaths. He spun around the corner, baseball bat raised over his head, and a kamikaze yell.
5 weeks ago