So, let's celebrate with a book excerpt, shall we?
It’s bad enough when her father pawns her to Family Trade and Loan for a huge cash advance. But when the Tilly Breedlove is forced to headline an act as an exotic dancer for filthy, but filthy rich ore miners at Tranquility Harbor, she feels like stepping out of an airlock and sucking vacuum. Then there’s the jealous superstar who wants to sabotage her on stage, and the pink slips for breaking the fraternization rules. It all pales in comparison to a catastrophe that leaves her surrounded by death and a massive cover-up, making her wish she would have never boarded that shuttle to end up 240,000 miles from home.
“I’m Reginald Breedlove. I’m here to pawn my daughter.”
I’m here to pawn my daughter. Tilly Breedlove knew they had another word for it—they called them “kickouts”, people who were sold to the establishment to cover debts. She and her girlfriends used to laugh at the K-Span commercial on late night Holoview. She wasn’t laughing now. She’d never seen so many kids gathered in one spot, except at a school assembly.
The first floor of the auditorium-sized building had at least twenty standing lines and a waiting area filled to capacity. This building area was reserved for the Sunflowers, teenagers who ranged in age from 13 to 19 years-old. At 17, Till fit right in. Sure, there were sniffles and tearful goodbyes, with an occasional knock-down-drag-out, but the worst scenes were reserved for the six to twelve-year-old kids, the next wing over.
Those kids were on the Daffodil Plan, commonly called Daffys, and their screams pierced through the air conditioning vents. She’d seen the entrance door for the Daffys on the outside of the building, next to the Sunflower entrance, which was her admission portal. The Daffys were hardly equipped to handle the emotions of severing bonds with their parents, and Tilly couldn’t even begin to understand what kind of jobs assignments those kids would have in order to work off a debt for their parents.
“Pawn is a term reserved for the intercity establishments, Mr. Breedlove, most notably found in the vicinity of Forty-Second Street, “ said the check-in receptionist, who didn’t crack a smile when in a husky contralto, she added, “You cede, or relinquish custodianship of your ward here at Family Trade and Loan, for a specific time period. Do you have your identification wafer and DNA cube, sir? I don’t want your hard-card identification.”
Reginald unsnapped the lid on his wrist-held Omnicomp and handed a small wafer diskette and cube to the woman. “Pawn, sell, loan, trade, it’s all the same,” he said. “I’ve already been through the psychogram and background check. So I’d appreciate it all to h*** if I was not held up any longer.”
The receptionist, whose name tag read Aurora slipped the wafer and cube into a console and adjusted her monitor. “Bear with me while I double-check the contract-application.”
“Mother Mary on a wagon wheel,” muttered Reginald. “It’s taken me three hours to get to this counter. I’ve got varicose veins as thick as rope, ready to burst from standing in this line.”
Tilly chanced a look around and saw a few eye rolls, mixed with a few sympathetic smiles from the other kids. This place was drama central. Her father wasn’t helping any with his over-the-top exaggeration. The man had always been brutally impatient.
Aurora remained calm, steadfast. “I’ve already had microsurgery for such an affliction, sir, so you are not alone…and…I think we have a winner.” She pulled down a headset magnifier and grimaced. “There seems to be one discrepancy here…I cannot make out the residence location. Is it Sealand Condominiums or the Sealand Community Housing Authority?”
Reginald raised his voice above the din. “Neither of the above. I’m housed at the Pier J Settlement on Long Island. I live in a converted Sealand transport container.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “Oh, my mistake. You mean the projects.”
“Used to call ‘em steel deals without the wheels,” boomed someone behind Tilly. “They became low-income housing for the financially impaired in 2019 during Palin’s administration.”
Tilly heard a few gasps and guffaws behind her. Way to f***ing go, Dad, another cringe-worthy statement. If she could find a crack in the floor, she’d cram her shamed self inside it. She could feel the stares burning holes in the back of her head. But she had vowed from the start she would get through this and hold her temper.
“And you must be Tilly Breedlove,” said Aurora, locking eyes with her. “What a bright-looking, attractive young lady! May I have your identification wafer and DNA cube?”
And you must be Aurora Borealis, as in Bore-me-Alice, with your smile ready to bust collagen bags in your face, and your head stuck firmly up your liposuctioned a**. Tilly bit her lip and handed the items over. “Thank you very much, Miss Aurora. I’m looking forward to a pleasant stay at my Eff-TALC assignment.” She implied a bit more meaning in the company acronym than intended. The whole place could eff-off as far as she was concerned.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Chris Stevenson , originally born and raised on the beaches of southern California, moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009 and settled in with his twin sister. His occupations have included newspaper reporter, front-line mechanic and federal police officer. He has been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988. Today he writes science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, young adult, adult thrillers and horror. He has a total of nine titles appearing on Amazon. He was a finalist in the L. Ron. Hubbard Writers of the Future contest, and just recently took first place grand prize in a YA novel writing contest for The Girl They Sold to the Moon. He writes the popular blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers (special weapons and tactics), hoping to inform and educate writers all over the world about the high points and pitfalls of publishing.