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       Chosen - A Children of the Gods Short Story, p.1

           Monica Millard
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Chosen - A Children of the Gods Short Story

  A Children of the Gods Short Story

  By Monica Millard


  Copyright 2011 Monica Millard All rights reserved.

  Discover titles coming soon from Monica Millard

  Children of the Gods – A Chosen Novel –

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Chosen – Short Story

  About the Author


  “Are you coming into the forest tonight, Reka?” Niko’s lips were close to my ear as he whispered of secret gatherings. My skin danced with the tingles of excitement, not just at the prospect of freedom from the eyes that always watched, but also from the sensation his breath caused as it spilled down my back.

  I looked at him as I reached my arm back and lobbed the rock at my target. He looked away to confirm if I had hit my mark. He shook his head and his eyes held wonder.

  “How do you do that? You were not even looking that time.”

  “They are rats. If I relied on my eyes I would never hit one. They make horrid noises with their little claws. Makes my skin crawl.”

  Still standing with his hands behind his back, careful not to actually touch me, he laughed. “So you are saying you hear your targets?” He shook his head again and the humor drained from his eyes. The look he gave me made my mouth feel dry. I swallowed trying to wet my tongue. “You never answered my question.” His voice was very low. I almost leaned in to hear him.

  I swallowed again before answering. “If you are going, so am I.”

  He spun in a full circle on his heel. “Good,” he said, and pegged another rat with the rock he hid behind his back.

  “Good,” I repeated, looking at the dead rats against the fence.

  Lizanne hobbled up and scowled. “You started without me?”

  “Rats wait for no one, Lizzy,” Niko said, pushing his face near to hers. She squeaked and stumbled back, pulling away from him, rolling her eyes.

  “You are in a mood.”

  Her comment stopped me as I drew my arm back. I looked at Niko. He did seem lighter than normal. I held in my smile and launched my projectile at the little scurrying creature across the yard, nailing it dead on.


  I stared at the ceiling in the darkness, listening, waiting. The house was quiet. There had not been a single sound in what could have been minutes, but felt like hours. My stomach was tied in knots as I thought of Niko’s face. I tried not to think too much about the rest of it, of what I was going to do. I did not want doubts. I had decided, no turning back. Fear ruled everything I did. Just this one night I would not let it dictate my actions. Just one dance, a moment in time to feel normal, to be free.

  I opened the door, slowly. The usual creak that accompanied my door was quiet. It was not my first time sneaking out to join the bonfires held deep in the forest. It was the first time though that I meant to participate, to leave my spectator role behind.

  “Where are you going?” Lizanne whispered, her voice so soft, if she were not standing before me I might have believed I had imagined it. The look on her face however was not soft. The disapproval was stark and I took a small step back.

  I raised my chin, unwilling to be intimidated by my younger sister. “I am going into the forest.”

  Her eyes traced over my face. She looked so much like our mother it made me ache to think of her sleeping in the next room, the worry I would cause her if she woke and found me missing.

  “You are going to see Niko.” It was a statement and one I would not deny.

  “Yes, I am. It may be the last chance I ever have. Tomorrow—”

  “I am aware of what tomorrow is, what it holds. You have been his closest friend forever, Reka. He will not forget you when the time comes.”

  She did not say he would wait though. We both knew it was not true. No one ever waited. The fear of tempting a God was too great.

  “I just want to dance with him, Lizanne. I want him to see me. Just once.”

  The look she gave me was sharp. “You are going to make him see you?” Her voice had risen enough that I glanced at mother’s door, waiting for it to open or for a sound to indicate she had awaken. None came.

  I pressed my lips together to hold in my surprise at her words. I had never even imagined using my gift but the idea was planted and though I tried to tamp it down, the thought spread.

  “I had not even considered it,” I said.

  Lizanne put her hand over her mouth and looked at me. There was guilt in her eyes that I did not understand. “You are now, though.”

  “Why have this gift if I cannot use it?” I asked.

  “You will draw attention to yourself, Reka.”

  “That is what I want. Niko’s attention.” I knew that was not what she meant but I suddenly felt desperate that she agree with me.

  “You know it will not only be Niko’s eye that you catch.”

  “I cannot live in fear forever. This is not living, Lizanne. We are prisoners, no matter what they tell us, what luxuries they promise.”

  “The attention you draw will not be limited to yourself, Reka. What of Mom or myself? What will happen if one of them sees you?”

  “I risk them seeing me every day, Lizanne. It is why I hide with you and Niko in the fields, why I do not sell my blankets at market and only trade them with trusted friends. I have never once danced, not even during approved musical performances. Besides, it is safer in the forest. The Halorans cannot control the forest at night. It is too dangerous. They stay away.”

  “And if Niko is Chosen tomorrow? What argument can you have for that? Will you add to things he has lost when they take him and make him a prisoner in his own body? Doomed to remember the love he will never have for as long as his body lasts?”

  Her words stung. The thought of losing him, of having him unreachable, aching for me the way I ache for him with no hope of ever being together was agonizing. But would I rather have never known love for him?

  “Is it better to live the rest of his tortured life never having known love? Would the memories not give him strength?”

  “Would strength be a kindness, Reka? Have you not always said it was better, more humane for those that have gone quickly, expired earlier than the rest?”

  I turned away from her. Unable to look at her face and the judgment I saw there. It was her words that had even brought about the idea. I could see the fear, the question she was not asking. What if it was me Chosen the next day? What would my selfishness do to Niko then?

  As if she could read my mind she said, “You cannot use your gift for selfish reasons. You will be punished.”

  I spun on her. “You would tell Mother?”

  She shook her head. That guilt I did not understand was back, gleaming bright and ugly in her eyes.

  “Who then, will punish me?”

  “Whatever force it is out there that balances the scales of justice.”

  I almost laughed. “You see injustice every day. Where is the punishment for the Halorans? How can you believe in such a thing anymore?”

  She looked ruefully at her leg. “I know you and Mother believe I did not inherit her gift.” She closed her eyes and swallowed, hard. “I was too ashamed to tell you. I had just turned thirteen when I discovered it. Such gifts should never be given to children. The temptation was too great. I fought it, but like you, I had fallen for someone.

  I could not hide my surprise. A sad smile shaped her lips. It struck me that she was far too young at fourteen to have such a grown up expression. I did not want to hear the rest of her story and what made her the mature creature in front of me. She was going to share it with me anyway.

  “I never told you. I never spoke of it to anyone,” Lizanne continued but the pain in her eyes was unmistakable. She did not want to relate this to me. I grabbed her and hugged her close, realizing the way she had looked at her leg. The accident that she barely survived, it left her with a permanent limp. She blamed herself for it. And the boy that came to find us after her fall. He was Chosen last year shortly after he turned sixteen, while Lizanne recovered.

  “Lizanne, it was not your fault. You of all people should know that terrible things happen for no reason.”

  “Maybe, but I cannot bear the thought of anything happening to you, Reka. What if it was punishment?”

  “Is it possible that things happen for a reason? That if we let ourselves see them, learn from them then maybe we can take the bad things and make something good out of them? Maybe all of this will make sense one day?”

  “Be careful,” she said, ignoring my question. I watched her move back toward her bedroom and stood there a long time after her door shut.

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