Today we're excited to be a part of the blog tour for The Experiment, a new science fiction novel from the imaginations of Cindy C Bennett, Sherry Gammon, and Jeffery Moore! Check out the excerpt below!
“Time is running out for the Collaborative's oppressive rule of the remote world Senca One. The government attempts to suppress the escalating riots, even while seeking to further their experiments. When their parents are taken, triplets Juliet, Cilla, and Emiah Tripp set out to locate them, and soon discover they are at the center of a hunt to capture them.
Evading the Collaborative across Senca One’s harsh terrain, they’re confronted with the trials of survival. They also discover something that changes the very core of their reality: they’re morphs. Struggling to adapt to the strange new ability, they question what they really are . . . and why. Are the rumors of experiments done on children true? Did their scientist parents have anything to do with it?
Their quest brings them to the capitol city of Brighton, which is on the verge of revolt. While searching for information about their parents, the Tripps align themselves with the very people fueling the rebellion. They unwittingly spark the revolution they want no part of and discover something more dangerous than they suspected.”
Excerpt from The Experiment:1: Pulling the Thread
The thorn had a barbed end. Barb-thorns were nasty little buggers that sprang from the packed ground like weeds. “Don’t pull it, Juliet! Jeez, it’s like you can’t wait to hurt me.” I used her real name to stress my seriousness. I sat on my cot with my leg outstretched. Jules sat on the dirt floor, inspecting my foot.
“I bet it’s throbbing now. It’s only going to hurt worse if you wait,” Jules said, eyeing me from above my toes. She knew things, such as the pain barb-thorns caused. I remember her experiments with them, how she’d jabbed a thorn in her arm to study the reaction and intensity of pain to determine the maximum, tolerable time she could take before needing to pull it out. If I knew nothing else, I knew her tolerance for pain was magnitudes higher than mine.
“Can we wait for Dad?” I asked, and then my hiss answered my own question. Tears beaded on my lower eyelid, hanging there as if unable to decide to fall down my cheeks.“Okay, Emiah,” she said, using my full name like our parents did, as if to emphasize I was being a child. “I think it’s a mistake. If it was your arm then I would think otherwise, but you have to walk on this foot.” She turned her attention back to my foot. “Oh! There it goes.”
“What?” I asked in a near whimper. Jules seemed to enjoy my pain.
“Try to wiggle your toes now,” she said.
“Yup. The poison is moving quickly. We got to get it out.” I nodded. She gently gripped the extruding thorn and I squealed. “Jeez, we’re seventeen, Em. Get a grip, will you?” In a fluid motion, she swung off the floor and around to sit on my leg. She gripped the thorn again and yanked.From the pain, she could have degloved my foot. I screeched and clenched my teeth.
She turned and showed me the thorn with the barb still attached. “I got it all. Do you think Dad could have gotten it out without breaking it? I don’t think so,” Jules gloated, in complete disregard for my pain. She squinted at me. “You need to be a man, Em. You squeal like a girl.”
I held my tongue. I wanted to tell her to shut up and stop teasing me, but that would only fuel the enjoyment she seemed to get from tormenting me. The pain decreased. I lay back and took deep breaths. Drops of blood tapped against the ground. “Can you find me something to put over the wound to stop the bleeding?”
Jules laughed. “Wound?” she managed to ask between her laughing. She went to the chest, lifted the lid, and sorted through the clothing until she came up with an old shirt. “Nobody will miss this rag.” She ripped a strip off the shirt’s bottom and tossed it to me.I pressed the rag against the bottom of my foot. “Mom and Dad should have been home by now. It’s dark.”
Jules stepped to the window and studied the other huts in the Gluston community. “They’ve been gone this long before.”
Gluston consisted of sixty huts erected in ten rows of six tightly packed together in a scratched away patch of forest. We harvested mostly the hugnut that grew in the mammoth hugtrees. The thick and fibrous outer shell of the hugnut was used to make material such as clothing. Unfortunately, getting the hugnut from the tree was hard, involving surgery-like work to extract it from beneath the gray-blue bark. It wasn’t good to kill the trees, as they were thousands of years old and new trees didn’t produce the hugnuts for hundreds of years. Nobody in Gluston owned any clothing made from our labor. From what I heard they were incredibly desirable and valuable.
As the pain in my foot became more tolerable, I pressed the rag harder. “They’ve never gone this long without telling us.”
She nodded and kept quiet, which worried me. Jules keeping quiet was a cause for concern and meant that she worried too. The door creaking open drew both of our attention. My first reaction was relief that our parents had returned, but Cilla, my other sister, entered with a boy that nearly poured himself over her.Though we were triplets, we differed in many ways, and it seemed Cil matured the quickest. She looked and behaved more like a twenty-year-old than seventeen. Mom and Dad said triplets were rare and, on Earth, illegal. We would’ve been stripped away from our parents. The reason we believed our parents moved here to Senca One was to keep us together as a family. I think they were the only people in Gluston from Earth.
Cil took one look at us, lost her smile, turned to the boy and said, “Go home, Yazzen.”
“But I want you to come with me,” he whined. I don’t know what Cil saw in Yazzen. He was scrawny with patchy brown hair and eyebrows that joined together. I suppose for Gluston he was a catch, but standing next to Cil with her pretty oval face, full lips, and I guess what most people thought promised to become a beautiful woman, he simply looked pathetic. Even the scar on Cil’s leg seemed to add to her beauty.
“Not tonight,” Cil said, pushing him back outside and closing the door. She looked at me.
“Mom and Dad are not back. I think something happened,” I said.
“Don’t be a baby, Em. Mom and Dad probably just got held up by a storm or something. I meant what’s wrong with you?”
“He stepped on a barb-thorn,” Jules said. She turned her attention back out the window.Cil came over, took the cloth from my hand, and gently wiped my foot. “It looks really good.” She glanced up. “Did Jules pull it?”
“Yeah, and it hurt like you wouldn’t believe.”
Cil inspected my foot again. “I’ve seen enough of them in people to know they hurt. I don’t see the barb and the swelling is already going down.” She stood and went to the window beside Jules. “I think your calling is in medicine, Jules. Not even Doc Grant can get the barb-thorns out cleanly.”
I knew her calling wasn’t medicine since she was sometimes the reason people needed medicine. Jules was athletic and wickedly quick. She had sent many people to Doc Grant with busted lips, broken noses, and cracked heads. She always kept her sandy blond hair cut short. Her keen eyes never seemed to stop assessing people. She was fearless, much to the dismay of Mom and Dad.“Enough about the stinking barb-thorn. I think something happened to Mom and Dad,” I said. “Why am I the only one that sees the obvious?”
“It’s still too early to begin worrying, Em,” Jules said.
“Like I said,” Cil rolled her eyes, “it’s probably something that just held them up. No biggie. They probably ran into some old friends.”
“That’s a lot of ‘probably’s’ and Mom and Dad don’t have friends . . .” I stated.“That we know of,” Jules snapped.
“Maybe they found us . . . and they have Mom and Dad . . . and they’re torturing them right now.” My heart raced at all the fatalistic scenarios going through my mind. The more I thought the worse things my imagination invented.
“Easy, Em. It’s too early to be thinking that kind of stuff. Plus, Mom and Dad said they would never look for us in such a crappy place as this,” Cil said, trying to calm my fears.
“We’ll ready the packs just in case Em is right,” Jules said.“Okay, but it’s just an exercise,” Cil said.
“Yeah, but you know what Dad always says, ‘preparation is the key to thwarting surprises.’”
I’m sure Jules thought something was wrong also, but unlike me making my assertions based upon feeling, she trusted things she saw. “What is it, Jules?” I asked.
Cil tossed three backpacks on the cot and then went to the cabinets and gathered the meager supply of canned foods.
Jules pulled her attention away from the window and knelt by my foot. She ripped another piece of the rag shirt and wrapped it tightly around my foot.
“Ouch,” I protested.“Go ahead and stand.”
I did as she asked. The pain wasn’t bad as I limped around the hut. I thought I did quite well, but judging from Jules’s scowl, it wasn’t good enough. “We’re not going to get far if we have to run. Crappy timing stepping on the barb-thorn, Em.”
“What is it, Jules?” I asked again.
Jules helped Cil load the backpacks with more supplies. “Spill it, Jules. What has you worried?” Cil pressed.
“Hendricks didn’t start his round yet.”
The blood drained from Cil’s face. Jules’s lips pressed thin and her eyes went to slits. She eyed me and I looked away. “Now you spill it, Cil.”
“It’s nothing,” Cil said.
Jules fastened her gaze back on me. “What happened?”
“Hendricks cornered her yesterday,” I said. Hendricks had an appetite for teasing the girls and sometimes, when no one was around, his hands would wander. Hendricks was a Collaborative man or a Troll as most people referred to them. Trolls wore long khaki coats sporting epaulets with braids that covered their shoulders like ropy hair. We called them Trolls because their epaulets gave the appearance of two tiny heads of hair sprouting from each shoulder. Hendricks’ duty was to ensure nothing disrupted the harvesting of the hugnuts. His rounds through Gluston could be timed to the second. He was the authority that settled disputes and when he needed to resolve a quarrel between two people, both parties got bloodied. Needless to say, very rarely did people involve Hendricks in any disagreements.
“He didn’t do anything,” Cil said, planting her hands on her hips and glaring at me.
“The man’s pig snot, Cil. Don’t let him touch you.” Though Senca One didn’t have pigs, we saw enough pictures and streams on Dad’s tablet and read about them in stories to know what they were. Jules cupped her hands across her nose and mouth, took several deep breaths, and then smoothed her short hair. “Okay, I’ve got a bad feeling. Hendricks never misses the round. Something isn’t right. Let’s go just to be safe.”
I slipped on my boots and jacket. We each put on a backpack filled with clothes and supplies and quietly moved into the forest. Here, we dealt with sweltering heat during the day and near freezing at night, whereas on Earth the climate was much less extreme. Whatever name the founders of Senca One called the vast, stretching woodland, Gluston people called it The Forest.
Our hut bordered the forest, which made it easier to slip away unseen by others. The darkness didn’t hurt either. We got to the designated hugtree and scaled up it as deftly as ants. Even though night had come, we knew the tress better than we knew the lines on our palms. Gluston kids did most of the climbing to rig the pulleys for the harvesting platforms. We moved swiftly to the tree’s top and sat on a branch with a clear view into Gluston.
Torches lit some of the areas outside the huts. Lantern glow came from most of the huts.
“It’s too quiet,” I said.
“You’re not going to hear people from this far,” Cil said.
“No. Listen. There’s no noise. I’ve never heard the forest so quiet at night.”
Jules put a finger to her lips. “Shush.”I scanned Gluston. Jules’s gaze wandered the forest floor, Gluston, and the sky. The longer we sat, the harder my heart pounded. Jules pointed to the sky. I could make out three dark objects blotting the sky. They were as silent as the night as they hung above the trees. One of the crafts moved to a position only fifty yards from us. I counted twenty people in black clothing glide silently from the craft to the forest floor. At first they fell fast, but then seemed to hover just before reaching the ground.
I prayed they wouldn’t go for our hut, but my prayers went unanswered. A dozen of the black clad people converged on the hut and busted into it without as much as a breath of warning. When they were certain we were not in the hut, the people fanned toward the other huts like a cancer spreading rapidly through a body. People were dragged from their huts. The few Gluston people that voiced an objection were swiftly subdued with a shock stick, a stick that shot an electrical bolt.
“They’re looking for us,” Cil whispered. A tear ran down her cheek.
I forced myself to keep from crying. I wouldn’t voice my fear for Mom and Dad. “What are we going to do?”
Jules eyed us. “Mom and Dad said we’re supposed to hide in the forest. They taught us to live off what the forest produced.” She glanced back to Gluston. “But that was when we were younger.” She breathed deeply. “We’re going to find Mom and Dad.”
About the Authors:Jeffery Moore
Moore was born in Germany. As a military brat, much of his childhood was spent abroad, growing up in Germany on military installations. He subsequently enlisted in the military and served for ten years as an army pilot. While in the military, he lived in Italy and South Korea and deployed to many European countries. He has traveled to Australia, Japan, Singapore and most European countries. His experiences and contact with many different cultures helps form some of the elements in his stories. He currently works for a global IT company and lives in Massachusetts.
Find more about Jeffery and his work at www.jefferyemoore.com
Unlovable was Gammon's debut novel and quickly rose to many top seller lists on Amazon. She is pleased to announce that Unlovable is currently being made into a movie. She has added two more novels to her body of work. Not so Easy, book one of the Souls in Peril series, is the poignant story of Max Sanchez who is on a journey to help the struggling JD Miller survive high school, and Pete & Tink, a fun, light-hearted novella of a manga-loving geek and a five-and-a-half inch fairy. Gammon and her husband, along with their children and a couple of crazy dogs, call Upstate New York home. It is where she spends her nights writing instead of sleeping.
Find more about Sherry and her work at www.wordpaintingsunlimited.com
Bennett is the YA author of several books, including Geek Girl, Rapunzel Untangled, Enchanted Fairytales, and Heart on a Chain. She lives in Utah and has six kids (two of which are daughters in-law). She loves gooey cookies, dark chocolate, and cheese popcorn. She hates housework and cooking, and has no plans to become a domestic goddess. She occasionally co-hosts a geek podcast with her son, called Geek Revolution Radio. Her favorite pastime is riding her Harley.
Find more about Cindy and her work at www.cindycbennett.com
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