From Imagination To Publication

Monday, February 8, 2016

Monday Morning Sneak Peek: EL AWAKE by Jordan Sala Tenna

Did a weekend of reading leave you wanting more? 
Sneaking peeks of your newest novel from under
your desk at work? 

For the eternal is your 
Monday Morning Sneak Peek!


Congrats to Acorn Publishing author, Jordan Sala Tenna, on the upcoming release of his debut novel, EL AWAKE. Below you will find the first chapter of his book! If you like it, please add it to your to-be-read list on GoodReads! :)

EL AWAKE by Jordan Sala Tenna

In the year 2115, Eleutherius (El) is struggling to find meaning in a city where most are strangely submissive and unquestioning towards the absolute rule of the merciless authorities. But after discovering the dark truth behind the white city, El ventures on a fast paced and thrilling journey to fight for the freedom of a people he once resented. 

Guided by his now-deceased grandfather's poems, El must face great suffering in order to grow stronger and accomplish the work his Grandfather began, all the while struggling against questions of morality and discerning who is friend and who is foe.


~ 5.16.16 ~


"HEY HAMPSTER!" BOOMS the haughty voice of Derrius, the 6'3" heavy set monster who is bent on making me eat the floor in gridball.
His flaring dark black hair that opposes gravity, along with shaved sides, seems to be the trending style this year. A small vertical line tattoo under his right eye pulses with blue electricity, a telling sign of his parents wealth. My name is El Hanheim, which somehow equates to hamster in his puzzled mind.
“I’ll see you out there,” he says with a wink, before placing his fluorescent red helmet over his head and leaving the change rooms.
He clearly wants to get in my head before the game begins. I know how his animalistic brain works, and I can't let him get the jump on me. Showing I'm not intimidated, I welcome his invitation, slip on my black Ballistic catch gloves and slide my thin, black glossed helmet over my blonde hair before jogging towards the bowl, giving him a nudge of my shoulder as I slide on by.
Jumping into the arena, the magnetic force underneath exerts itself on my boots and armour, forcing me to hover as I glide down the steep edge of the bowl.

The bowl is where the action transpires. The rectangular flooring is sixty-one metres long and thirty-one metres wide. From there, the floor curves steadily to extend four metres high and a further five metres wide and long, effectively making a large rectangular bowl. A thick plastic cover mirrors the arena on top, making sure the game ball never escapes.
People are always a little nervous before playing gridball. There’s no going half-hearted. Every moment you must be on your guard, every throw your best, every hit your hardest, no holding back. Or you may become one with the floor.
I hover freely around the bowl, gliding and dipping around the curved banked walls, practising my cut turns. The feeling is exhilarating. Here I feel at home. In class focussing is difficult, but in the bowl everything is clear. I can see the game unfolding before it does, predict what interference the opponent’s operator is planning on using, and slip through the opposition’s defence like wind through trees. I practise throwing the 200 gram, ten centimetre diameter metal game ball into the air and catching it while sliding backwards over the air gap between my boots and the floor.
We are separated into our teams, seven a side, one goal tender, one operator, and five skaters. By the sound of the boastful talk and dominance-asserting shoving, it is clear the game is about to be under way. We embrace our positions. I stand two metres from the centre of the court, where the ground will soon give birth to the ball which will shoot vertically upwards to start the game. Behind me, my team mates are in a staggered formation, ready for me to pass back the ball. I can see Derrius in the back line of his team, his eyes glued on mine, those eyes that not long ago winked boyishly at me, now seem intent on seeing me know pain.
The bowl is eerily quiet. My eyes now glued on the centre of the field. The buzzer sounds, sometime within the next ten seconds, the ball will shoot forth.
It’s no more than three seconds before my eyes catch the metal fire upwards from below. My opposing attacker is my height with a little more weight. He jumps to reach the ball, but I can see he has launched too early. I wait - then spring upwards towards it, with my right hand in the air, I begin to close my hand and suck the ball in. As soon as I feel it reach my palm, I turn my hand and open it back up, the magnet-riddled glove projecting the ball towards the team-mates behind me.  
I land and turn to see that Glasgow has caught the ball on the left side of the bowl, on our half. Glasgow is strong, but slow, the kind who can make a big hit without having to move. I skate to the left side of the bowl at full pace in an attempt to create an opening to receive the metal sphere. I make a mental note that on the right side of the bowl is Maximus, who is highly intelligent, yet no so apt at the game of gridball. Nevertheless, he is open, and an open player is always useful.
“Glasgow!” I call as I am speeding towards the left side of the field.
With an opponent bearing down, he releases his hand and the ball shoots towards me. I catch it as I enter the ramp. I gain air, turn to see Maximus still open on the right side, and throw my arm while releasing my hand, projecting the ball quickly to Maximus. I know immediately I have thrown it too hard for someone of his capabilities.
His eyes widen as he sees the silver metal speeding towards him. My gut sinks as I land back down the ramp, eluding an opponent and diagonally heading towards the goal. But before I am able to call for the ball back, I see Maximus make an amateur mistake. He has drawn his hand in too fast, and the ball has sucked onto his palm, crushing his fingers and making him completely unable to open his hand to project the ball. He yelps in pain and follows one bad mistake with one even worse – he stops.
Desperately he tries to lift his fingers from the weight of the 200 gram metal ball. Knowing the sense of urgency, he shifts his view up to see who’s approaching. An opposing player is bearing down, but our operator takes charge, using one of his five magnetic interferences he is able to create a sudden downwards force that pulls the oncoming attacker to the ground, rendering him stuck. But it's not enough. Derrius has moved from his back line and at speed, smashes into Maximus with both forearms extending as he impacts, sending Maximus hurling three metres back. He lands hard on the floor, ball still in hand. The sound of sympathetic “oohs” emanate from the onlookers.
The opposing team is awarded an obvious penalty shot, though for Maximus, this is the least of his worries. The medic and Coach Farris rush into the bowl and, on a stretcher, carry out the beaten and barely conscious Maximus, who likely has broken fingers and some bruised, if not broken ribs. They pry the ball from his fingers and throw it back into the bowl. In an ideal world, people would condemn Derrius’ overzealous actions, but this is no ideal world. Even my own team mates are congratulating Derrius on what was apparently a perfect hit.
I should have known better when I threw that ball. And the thought of what I have done has left me wanting to press rewind. We all stand still and watch as Maximus is lifted over the lip of the bowl and out of the plastic dome. Maximus gingerly stands up, gives a thumbs up to everyone in the bowl with his good hand, and walks off with the medic nursing his injured hand.
Emphatic shouts and laughter echo around the dome at the sight of the thumbs up. Coach Farris congratulates Derrius on the hit and we get back to the game, one man down. Son of a bitch, I think as I lock eyes with Derrius. I play well usually, but I play especially well when I’m angry, so I choose to foster the anger, keeping it ready to release as soon as I can make a hit on Derrius. 

The game comes to a close, with the final score at five to three in our favour. We managed to come back with one man down, and although I scored three of the five goals, I enter the brightly illuminated change rooms feeling unsatisfied at not making solid contact on Derrius. The normal cheap talk circulates and I change quickly to get out of there. Sitting and watching the girls play for a few minutes, I realise I’m parched and head outside to the water fountain. I patiently wait my turn in the line of sweat-drenched sixteen year old guys and eventually get my chance. But as I go to put my hand in front of the sensor to start the cold flow of water, Derrius jumps in front of me.
“Not so fast, Hamster,” he says as he puts his head down to drink.
Anger rises and spills over into every cell of my body. A combination of my unresolved ire from the game and the irritation from his bald rudeness, I lose it. I push the back of his head hard into the fountain, grab him by his collar and throw him onto his back. Blood flows from his bottom lip. Oh no, this is what mum didn’t want. I can see he hasn’t taken this well as his eyes narrow with aggression.
Either I kick him in the face and end this fight before it starts, or I run. Really there’s only one option. Running would only delay things. I go with the former and as he begins to rise to his feet, I smash my right foot into his face. His body goes limp. This isn’t good. I turn to see everyone’s face and mouths wide open, eyes not quite sure what they have seen. It’s now I should walk away, but instead, I get a handful of water and drop it on Derrius’ crotch. I am already in serious trouble so I may as well get a few laughs from my audience and further humiliate this jerk. I know my next best move is to tell the coach what happened. At least that way it might seem that I'm regretful.
I do so and soon gentle piano music signals the days end. Principle Martin has assured me that tomorrow I will face serious consequences; probably a good whipping in front of the school.
I begin to leave the perfectly manicured school grounds that surround the seamless pearl white panelled buildings, but there is still no sight of Ace, my best friend. Strange, given every day since high school began we have met by the ivory coloured Lion of Justice statue before taking the train home. Something is different today, usually as I am leaving, this particular area is crawling with teachers and juniors, but today there is no one. I walk around a corner and find my answer. A group of five seventeen-year-old, growth injected boys are waiting for me. It's not long before I discover the reason. At the head of the pack is Finn Brownly, brother of the well-known recent victim, Derrius Brownly. Is this what Principle Martin meant by serious consequences? Would he really condone this? My gut tells me yes and the lack of teachers affirms my feeling.
“You really shouldn’t have hurt my brother, El,” Finn says, his head tilted up, eyes peering down at me.
Before I can reply with a smart-ass comment, I hear a voice come from behind Finn.
“And you really shouldn’t have hit me,” comes the voice of an old rival I have been purposely avoiding for some time.
Ace aptly named him the Captain, derived from his outstanding primal leadership qualities. I guess he never forgot that incident a few months back when I had to defend Ace from an all-out war after he lunged onto the Captain’s girl and forced his lips onto hers for one of his social experiments. Chief ape protecting mating partner type stuff. Standard social etiquette has never been one of Ace's strong suits.
I need to come up with an intelligent response, but nothing comes to mind, so I just stare unflinchingly into Finn’s eyes, straightening my neck, with my hands in pants pockets. He walks steadily towards me. I don’t react. He stands inches from my face, and without notice, his hands shoot to my collar and he thrusts me up against the wall, lifting me so I am only on my toes, my eyes in line with his.
“This is going to hurt you a lot more than you hurt Derrius,” Finn says.
He looks even bigger up close, and older. I can see the stubble on his face and smell the stench of his breath. I contemplate playing submissive and letting him beat me. Maybe Principal Martin would consider that justice and relieve me from being whipped. But I am far too prideful and right now, he is far too vulnerable. In fact, I was hoping he would put me in this situation. I need to act quickly and make my strikes decisive. I pull my head back and slam it forward into his nose. Immediately blood streams down his face and he releases me, cupping his hands over his face. I drop low and strike my fist hard into his testicles. He buckles over and I throw him onto the ground. The group who once stood so confident is now hesitating in disbelief, giving me time to run. But I’m not running away from the school, instead I’m running deeper into it.
“Kill him!” is all I hear behind me, the voice of a deranged, blood-raged murderer.
The stampede of pounding footsteps is close behind me, but I arrive at somewhat of a plan as I forge my way down the immaculate and unblemished hallways. My chances of victory in the open are slim, but in a confined space with a weapon, I have better odds.
I dart left into the class I have math in. It’s no accident. In this class I know there is a one metre solid plastic ruler behind the teacher’s desk. The three remaining brutes enter the class as I back up into the corner, one side protected by the teacher’s desk, the ruler hidden in my hand behind my back. One of the brutes must have stayed with Finn. My position forces my enemies into a funnel. It seems we drew attention running across the school as now there are faces plastered to every window of the room, eyes wide, hoping to see a fight. I have a feeling they will get their fill. As expected, it’s the Captain who wants the first piece of action. His artificially enhanced pale skin brings out the red on his cheeks from the chase. His shaved head and gold band neck tattoo give an almost ancient Egyptian appearance.
“You ran the wrong way, little man. I’m going to enjoy seeing your blood paint this floor.”
His fists rise, ready to strike. He charges forward, but before he reaches me I swiftly pull the ruler from behind my back. I bend my knees, lowering my body and swing from my right side, hitting the side of his left knee with the edge of the ruler. He buckles which gives me time to raise my body and swing a fierce blow to his head. The corner of the ruler catches the temple of his forehead, right where the flashing red light of the stimulation chip lies buried beneath the skin. Blood squirts out, but for some reason, a moment after I hit, he strains for his chest and drops to the ground. The light in his stim chip switches off. This makes no sense, though I have little time to analyse this as the next brute is charging towards me from my right side. I swing for his head, not trying to make contact but to keep distance between us. I don’t know who this one is. We hold distance for a few seconds, and I can see he is shaking. The confidence that once was, is no more.
“Enough,” is all he manages to get out.
Together the remaining two attackers drag the barely conscious Captain out of the room, leaving me standing there with the wide-eyed faces peering in at me through the windows. I wipe the blood off the ruler with a nearby tissue and move quickly to exit the room and get off the school grounds. I don’t know what awaits me tomorrow, but I know right now I need to get out of here.
I realise that I am running late for my train home, so I begin to run to make up for lost time. As I leave the school grounds, I glance up to see the usual bright Sojourn sun, its warm rays beaming down as my one-piece school uniform keeps me cool by circulating gel throughout. After running across manicured white streets and past glistening white and red city buildings, I arrive at the station to see Kaiya standing at terminal three. I’m not too late.
“Where have you been? And why is there blood on your sleeve?” she asks, the high pitch of her voice showing her concern.
I didn’t notice the blood. It must have landed on me after I head butted Finn. It’s not exactly hard to see against the snow-coloured school uniform.
“I got into a fight,” I say without making eye contact.
“What! With who? And how bad?”
I pace her through the story starting with the incident in gridball. The look on her 17 year old face goes from distressed to horrified, back to distressed, and finally to relief as I recount getting away unharmed.
“Jeez, El, mum is going to be so angry with you.”
“Mum’s the least of my worries right now,” I exclaim, boarding the train.
I really don’t know what tomorrow holds for me. Surely there is a public flogging for what I did to Derrius at the fountain, but I'm not so sure if there will be consequences for fighting the others. After all, I was only acting in self-defence, wasn’t I?
“I guess we'll be standing,” Kaiya says, grabbing a hold of the overhead bar as she shifts her view from one end of the crowded train to the other before sighing. “Did you hear about Ace?” she asks.
I had completely forgotten about him. It's been so odd not to see him after arriving at school in the morning.
“No, what happened?”

“Two overseers escorted him into their car.”


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