Phantom UniverseLaura Kreitzer / Fantasy / Science Fiction
Revolution Publishing Inc.
Copyright © 2011 by Laura Kreitzer
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This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations, and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
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Phantom Universe (Summer Chronicles, #1)
Library of Congress Control Number: 2011920056
ISBN 13: 9781937790028 (ebook)
Dedicated to Lisa Langdale.
Without you no one would ever see
my writing come to fruition.
This is for you, bb.
I would like to alert everyone of a colossal crisis that’s gone unnoticed in the world: human trafficking. Did you know the U.S.A. is reported to be the host to two million slaves? I didn’t—not until I was preparing to write this novel. The main character, Summer Waverly, was stolen as a child and sold as a slave to the captain of a modern-day pirate ship. From a loved child who only knew “time-out” as punishment, to being whipped into silence was something I knew nothing about. So I researched deeply into human trafficking and the psychological effects of torture of various types that one would endure in these circumstances. I felt shaken at my findings and knew I had to tell Summer’s story, including some of the more gruesome details (This is a warning for those who are disturbed by torture. Though it’s only briefly covered at the beginning, the scenes are raw and brutal).
A storm began brewing in my mind, transforming, morphing, twisting, and expanding into this massive, black cloud. I had to bring this tragic atrocity to the forefront. My own emotional experiences, mixed with the research I did on human trafficking, made me feel an intense connection with Summer, and to all women who’ve been through this kind of brutality. The cloud ruptured and rained all over my computer one day. It took one month to write Phantom Universe, the first in the Summer Chronicles. I was so consumed by the story that I wrote nearly nonstop, only breaking for necessary tasks like eating, showering, and occasionally—very occasionally—sleeping.
Though the book I’ve written would be classified as science fiction, or as I’d like to call it, dystopian, the emotions and psychological aspects are not science fiction—they’re real. Through Summer’s overwhelmingly horrendous past, she goes on more than just a physical journey in Phantom Universe, she goes on a psychological one as well—growing beyond her mute state to persevere and survive in a new world beyond the whip she’s so frightened of.
I’m excited and terrified to share this story. I’m emotionally tied in every way to the words I’ve written, because they’re more than words. More than just a story on a page. Beyond the fictional aspects, there’s a real issue that needs to be addressed: human trafficking must be stopped. We shouldn’t sit idly by while this continues to plague us. Our world’s children—our nation’s children—are being affected. It’s time we take action!
I ask that you spread the word to everyone you know. Look up ways you can help and find a way to get involved in ending human trafficking. Take action today. Everyone has a voice—you have a voice. Will you have the courage to use it?
Doctor Mindy Waverly sprints up the stairs to her apartment near the University of Oxford. She constantly glances over her shoulder as terror bleeds into her every pore like an inferno of all seven hells synthesized. She knows it will happen this Sunday—the termination of the experiment. Overheard it, actually. And now she has to hide because they’ll kill to protect their secret. The same secret Mindy will desperately try to protect against them. Termination isn’t an option anymore; not after four years.
She slams her key into the door’s deadbolt and twists the knob frantically. The door has jammed so often that she knows to hammer her shoulder into it. When it flies open, the alarmed babysitter, Amy, jumps to her feet.
“Jesus, Mindy! You scared me half to death. Why are you—” Amy’s words are cut off by the frantic look in Mindy Waverly’s dilated eyes.
“Where’s Summer?” Her breath is short, and her tone’s laced with panic.
Amy approaches her, uncertain. “She’s taking a nap. Is everything all right?” Her eyebrows crease in concern.
Mindy’s eyes are still wide in terror from overhearing the dreadful news, though relief washes over her in a cooling wave. She’s okay! “Wake her!” she insists. When Amy doesn’t move she shouts, “Now!”
Amy shoots down the hallway to little Summer’s bedroom like the proverbial wildfires of hell are on her heels. She doesn’t know why Mindy sounds and looks so panicked, but it rubs off on Amy as she shakes the sleeping child.
Mindy, on the other hand, becomes a frantic tornado through the house, sucking up what she needs and throwing back what she doesn’t. She shoves random clothes into suitcases, snatches precious jewelry out of her bedroom, and opens her safe to seize the money she has saved through the years. She also grabs Summer’s blanket and a few of her favorite books and stuffed animals. They said Sunday. That will give me two days to run and hide before they realize we’re gone, she rationalizes. Amy returns with Summer who is sleepy-eyed and snuggled into Amy’s shoulder. Before the babysitter understands what’s happening, she’s standing alone in the Waverly’s apartment with her mouth ajar in the aftermath of the storm that is Mindy Waverly.
Mindy’s long, brown hair twists wildly as she speeds away, the windows down to help calm her strained nerves. Summer, oblivious, giggles at her mum’s peculiar haste but is excited to be leaving the house to go on some adventure. It isn’t like her mum to take her out during the day. But what Summer doesn’t know is that her life’s in danger, and her mother’s vigor is to save and protect her.
How can they even flirt with the idea of termination? Mindy wonders as she speeds south towards Portsmouth where she has friends they can stay with for the night while she tries to figure out what she’ll do. She’s just a child. Mindy glances in the rearview to see Summer’s huge smile, one of her front teeth loose and crooked. An innocent.
As they drive along the coast, Summer sings out gleefully, unaware of the seriousness of the situation. She sings the Happy Birthday song over and over as she recalls her fourth birthday party the previous week. She makes her stuffed bunny dance on her lap as the scent of the ocean fills the car the closer they drive to the water—warm and inviting. It’s been so long since she’s seen the ocean and remembers the salty feel of the water along her skin. She loves it, but her belly rumbles. Hunger starts to show its ugly face, and the singing and ocean view loses its luster.
“Mummy, I’m hungry!” Summer whines.
Mindy tries to keep the panic from her voice so she won’t scare Summer. “Sweetie, can it wait?” she asks and glances in the rearview mirror, silently cursing herself for not throwing some snacks in her purse. It isn’t like her to be so careless of Summer’s needs.
“Please?” Summer almost cries. She learned how to manipulate her mum at a young age, and polite manners always make Mindy crumple. Even today, when they are running for their lives, the added “please” breaks her.
“Okay sweetie, but we have to make it quick.” Mindy pulls into a small bistro’s parking lot near a shipyard.
On the veranda, Mindy shoots furtive glances in every direction as she bites her nails, unable to eat. Summer, on the other hand, has the freshest fish and chips ever and pats her stomach contentedly. This is also strange—her mother normally doesn’t let her eat such greasy food. They are quick to pay and exit the small bistro. Mindy holds her hand as the salty air assaults their noses on the way to the small black car. A man with oily, charcoal-black hair stops them on their way in an attempt to sell some freshly cut fish.
“Fifty percent off for you, pretty lady,” he entices, his black, beady eyes glowing.
Mindy, distracted, looks up and says, “What?” Her voice is startled, and she becomes suspicious as she takes in his scarred face. She pushes Summer behind her.
The man repeats what he said with a wink, and in that small space of time, the few seconds that the wink draws Mindy’s attention away from Summer, everything changes.
“No thanks,” she says and reaches behind her to take Summer’s hand again, but she’s gone. She looks back at the man, but he’s nowhere in sight, like a giant hook in the sky came down and yanked him into the air. The fish market is mysteriously empty of people. Her heart picks up pace as she circles around and around in fear at the vacant scene. The world spins but is devoid of Summer. The afternoon’s air fills with Mindy’s cries and screams of desperation, each sound tearing and ripping from her throat. But Summer is nowhere that she can see.
Realization seeps into her like a fast-acting poison. They found her—the Secret Clock Society. And there is no competing with them. They are law.
That isn’t going to stop Mindy, though. Her blue eyes narrow as she wipes the tears away. Termination isn’t an option. It’s war.
He who does not understand your silence
will probably not understand your words.