Chapter 1

Chapter 1

A Chapter by CL.Tuvey

Chapter one (well, technically it's a prologue), set seven years before the real story begins.


July 6, 2236

Atlantic Ocean


 We’re under attack!  Everybody up and on deck!” 

The air is thick with screams.  Cries.  Desperate shouts.  I long to cover my ears, to block out the sounds of utter pain, but I need to keep my hands free, ready at any second.  Mixed in with the cries of the ship’s passengers are the horrible, inhuman shrieks and hisses of the seekers.  I can’t see them, but I know they’ll overpower the deck soon.  It’s only a matter of time. 

Everything is on fire.  Flames lick the night sky, sparks swirling upwards as if to join the stars.  By the light of the fire, I begin to catch glimpses of our attackers around us--seekers, their claws the only weapons they need as they grab fleeing passengers, sinking their claws or teeth into them--

“To the lifeboats!  Everyone to the lifeboats!” 

People press against me on every side, the deck jammed with frantic, fleeing passengers.  I don’t remember the Exodus being this full before, but the ship is small, and our numbers are great.  I’m jostled and elbowed and shoved until I’ve completely lost my sense of direction.  My heart is pounding and there’s a dim, rushing sound in my ears.  There’s too much information all at once--the screams, the pushing, the tart smell of blood and metal.  I feel myself growing dizzy, my hands growing cold from fear. 

Someone takes my elbow with a gentle hand.  “Little girl,” he says urgently, his voice strange and foreign to me, “come on, hurry.” 

I follow instinctively, guided by my unfamiliar savior.  I reach out with my other hand and secure my fingers in the folds of his shirt, holding on like a lifeline.  In turn, he wraps an arm around my shoulders, hurrying me along at a brisk but gentle pace.  “Keep moving,” he says quietly, somehow making his voice heard above the ruckus surrounding us.  “Don’t stop, don’t look behind you.” 

Out of nowhere, a seeker pops out of the shadows, making a grab for me, the weakest of our pair.  I scream as my hand is torn from the stranger’s.  The seeker’s hands are rough and unwelcome on my bare arms.  I feel its sticky, disgusting breath on the back of my neck.  I’m too shocked to do more than shriek and kick and flail as its teeth graze my throat--

The seeker drops me abruptly, stunned.  I gasp as I throw my hands out to catch myself, the heels of my palms striking the cold metal floor sharply.  I roll over, scrambling to my feet in time to see the man swing a lead pipe at my attacker a second time.  The makeshift weapon collides with its head.  One more hit and it’s down for good. 

He turns to me, out of breath.  In our delay, we’ve fallen back from the crowd.  The flames are dying and the night is dark--I can barely see the stranger standing in front of me.  “Are you-?” he begins to ask, presumably checking up on me, but the words are barely out of his mouth before a second seeker jumps out of the darkness, lunging at him.  I scream, my voice cutting through my throat, as he goes down with a shout. 

I’m completely useless.  I stand there, numb with shock, and he has time to gasp out “Run!” before the seekers tears out his throat.  His blood splatters the front of my shirt.  He was the first man I ever saw die in front of me.  Pure icy dread floods my veins as I stare, disgustedly transfixed at the seeker.  I find myself having trouble processing a single, coherent thought.  I tell myself Run, now, while you still have a chance!  But my legs don’t seem to want to work properly. 

The seeker raises its head, fixing its chilling, haunting gaze on me.  Its face is painted red with the blood of the dead man.  It twists its horribly disfigured face into a gruesome grin, instilling a cold, weighted fear into my chest.  I can’t breathe, can’t think, can’t feel a thing but utter panic.  The feeling is absolutely terrifying. 

“Poor little girl,” it hisses softly, taking a step toward me, “all alone with no one to save her…  What a shame, to die so young…” 

I falter backwards, a small noise of fear escaping my mouth, and I stumble into the railing of the ship.  The icy metal presses against my back, sharply contrasting the heat of the flames around me.  My hands tighten around the bars, clenching in fear.  Behind me, the churning sounds of water reach me above the din. 

The seeker flexes its hand, the claws glinting red in the flickering light"from the flames, and from the blood.  “Will anybody cry over your death?” it taunts icily, slowly hobbling forward, cornering me inch by inch.  “Will anybody mourn if I tear out your heart?  I hardly think so…” 

My face is damp--I’m crying silently, unable to stop as the tears wet my cheeks, stinging in the cold night air.  Another noise slips past my lips, this one more of desperation and lost hope.  The coppery stench of blood reaches my senses, churning my stomach sickeningly. 

From below, a spray of ocean water tickles my arms.  My mind suddenly snaps to attention--I throw a look over my shoulder, to the dark, roiling water below.  Anything is better than my immediate option, I decide.  I glance back at the seeker--it’s almost as if he can tell what I’m thinking, for his revolting grin fades in a mere second as soon as it realizes my plan. 

Before I can do more than boost myself up onto the first bar of the railing, the seeker lunges forward, looping its rough, unwelcome arms around my waist.  I suck in my breath to scream, but it crams its hand over my mouth, making me cringe.  Acting purely on instinct and adrenaline, I wrench my teeth apart and bite down on its hand, clenching my teeth until I feel its skin break and taste revolting, bitter blood erupt in my mouth, and I gag.  The seeker shrieks in rage and drops me in surprise. 

I hit the floor sharply, banging my elbows and head on the metal.  The jolt wakes me up inside, unsticking my slow, mental processes.  Now, a burning determination takes over, gripping me and tunneling my vision towards my single goal--escape.  I push down the stinging pain in my elbows from the harsh impact; I ignore the seeker looming behind me, making a grab for me again.  I propel myself forward, clambering over the railing as fast as my small, scrawny body can manage and fling myself through the air, fleeing to the one place I should have all along"overboard and into the ocean.  I have a few seconds of nothing--nothing but the screams and cries, fresh in the air rushing past me"and then there’s the impact. 

I hit, feet first, and cut into the water like a spear.  Immediately, all sounds cease, all senses cease.  The icy water presses around me, sudden and fierce.  My body freezes in its grip, more intense than I had anticipated.  My eyes, previously stinging from the smoke and now from the water, are wide open, but I can’t see a thing.  This far out in the ocean, the water is pitch-black. 

Suddenly, inexplicably, panic shoots through me, making my heart painfully skip a beat.  I feel my head grow dizzy, my face heat up despite the freezing water, my arms and hands grow chill and clammy, I can’t see a thing around me--can’t see, can’t feel, can’t breathe…  Oh, God, oh, God, I’m going to drown, I can’t breathe…  Panic clouds my thoughts, preventing me from accomplishing the simple feat of kicking for the surface.  My lungs strain in my chest with a more urgent agony as I come to this realization.  Instinct tells me to kick for the surface, but the intense fear mixed with the cold water freezes my legs and arms, rendering me completely useless. 

My lungs, constricted by the water, ache with the need to take in air, but something tells me I’m not going to reach the surface--and as easily as I accept that fate, I let the panic take over and I gasp in a mouthful of water in a fruitless, desperate attempt to acquire air, to breathe.  I want to scream, I want to cry, to block out the endless stream of frantic thoughts running through my head, but I can only flail blindly in the water, choking on the freezing water--

Something--a hand--grabs my arm and I feel myself being pulled upward.  I think, or rather hope, for a moment that it’s the hand of God finally yanking me from this earth, but my head breaks the surface of the water and I suck in blessedly fresh air, gulping in mouthful after mouthful. 

I still can’t see a thing--my eyes are blinded by the remains of the water--but my arms have regained the ability to move, and my hands find the hard, firm side of what appears to be a lifeboat.  With the help of the gentle hands on my shoulders--multiple pairs, all helping me--I clamber into the boat, sliding to the floor.  I blink and rub at my eyes, and as I slowly regain my senses, I begin to pick up on the soft voices around me. 

“Did you see them, the seekers…?” 

“Killed half the passengers, they did.” 

“More than half…  We’re the only survivors…” 

Above the other whispered tones, I hear a distinctly younger, gentle voice say, “Are you alright?” 

I blink again and look up to meet a pair of tender, grey eyes.  They belong to a young boy, maybe two years older than me.  He looks at me with unmasked concern, still holding on to my shoulders with small, but strong, capable hands.  “I was worried I didn’t get to you in time,” he says, his voice calming and soft.  “But you’re alright?”  His worn blue shirt is partially darkened with water--he helped pull me into the boat. 

I wipe away more of the water from my face, trying to clear my mind of the memory of complete and total submersion in panic and water.  “Yeah,” I say hurriedly, shivering in the chill night air.  “I’m fine.” 

As our lifeboat makes its steady progression through the water to the nearest, floating survivor, another horrifying shriek from a seeker on board cuts through the air: “Death to the imperfects!  The cry is met with others of triumph and glee.  Their inhuman voices rise up, above those of the doomed passengers stuck on board, at the mercy of the seekers. 

The ship gives a great groaning noise, louder than even the sounds of chaos on board.  I know soon, perhaps within the hour, the ship--old, beaten, and broken--will sink, with the seekers still on it.  My heart twists uncomfortably. 

I tear my eyes away from the ship--the Exodus, the name proudly emblazoned on the side, our sanctuary for the past week.  While the scarring events of tonight will no doubt lower their numbers, I know this isn’t the end of the seekers.  They’re utterly devoted to their cause, and they’ll never give up--whatever it takes to erase the imperfects, once and for all.  I shiver, only partly from the cold. 

The grey-eyed boy notices and wraps an arm around my shoulder for comfort and warmth.  After only a second of hesitation, I scoot closer, resting my head against his chest.  “It’s okay,” he whispers, his breath tickling my wet hair.  “We’re safe now.” 

But I know we’re not.  We’re not out of danger yet.  Even if we make it to our destination, to Europe, there’s no telling what awaits us there--friends, or enemies, or nothing at all.  I suppose the great mystery of it all is the most terrifying part. 

“I’m Byron.”  His voice is mild and calm, but I know I’ll be able to recognize it anyway in a sea of voices.  “What’s your name?” 

I stifle a yawn and say, “Abby.”  I feel his arms tighten around me protectively and I welcome the embrace, leaning further into him as my eyelids slowly drift shut.  “My name’s Abby.” 

© 2013 CL.Tuvey

Author's Note

I'm trying to pick the pace up and make the reader feel more involved and caught up in the panic. How am I doing?

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Added on August 11, 2013
Last Updated on August 11, 2013
Tags: dystopian, imperfect, novel, war, post-apocalyptic, teen, sci-fi, prologue



Denver, CO

Average female writer, with big hopes of publishing one day and touching people's lives with my writing. :) I like to illustrate my own books/characters (proof being my icon) and I also like photogr.. more..

Imperfect Imperfect

A Book by CL.Tuvey