Today Squeaky Books is featuring Resugo from Resugo Reads. She's hosting our giveaway today! An ARC of Pegasus by Robin McKinley! Are you drooling over a chance to win this book? Read on to figure out how to enter!
She wrote a very creepy short story about a birthday. *shivers* You should totally read it:
Chell looked around at the faces glowing in the halo of light cast by sixteen candles on her birthday cake. And smiled.
“Happy Birthday, dear Chelly-bell, happy Birthday to you!” they finished, obnoxiously loud and off-key.
With closed eyes and a deep breath, Chell wished silently, “I want to be beautiful.” One long blow, and all the candles extinguished, leaving the room in blackness.
“Lights on,” Mom said. The lights glowed immediately, leaving Chell and her family blinking in the sudden brightness.
“Chell,” said Dad, a slight upturn at the corner of his lips. “Sometimes wishes do come true.” And then he handed her an oversized, iridescent envelope. “Happy birthday.”
Chell was afraid to breath. She didn’t need to open the sparkling silver packet to know what it contained. An invitation to visit Glamour.
“Really?” It was barely a whisper, a pin dropping into the silence.
They all started laughing then, Chell’s excitement spreading. Mom, Dad, and their three younger daughters all nodded.
Squealing, Chell began to jump up and down, an impromptu dance in her parent’s kitchen. She would have her Moment, and it would last a lifetime. “I’m going to Glamour!”
The appointment was for the following Saturday. Mom wouldn’t let Chell go on the hoverbus alone, so Tessa tagged along for the two hour ride. Chell thought it rather silly since Tessa was two years younger, but she supposed that their parents thought of her as being more responsible because she was a better student. At the moment, Chell just thought of her as boring.
Tessa had her iUniverse out watching the news stream. Chell was at a bad angle, the anchor’s holographic face fuzzy at the edges. The sound was tuned just for Tessa, so Chell couldn’t even hear more then a few words. Didn’t matter, it was boring anyway. Something about Generation Linked, or whatever the new catch phrase was for kids their age. Who cared?
The lobby of Glamour was unlike anything Chell had ever seen. The vaulted ceiling soared at least four stories high, natural sunlight from the wall of windows illuminating the reception desk and waiting area. Water flowed in a fountain in the corner, cascading down ten feet over rocks and plants. An aquarium to the left was larger than Chell’s whole living room. She caught a fleeting shadow moving in the iridescent light. A shark?
Chell would never admit how nervous she was as she followed the receptionist down a long hallway. She’d read through her Glamour instructions at least four times a day, gleaning as much information as possible when there really wasn’t much offered. Chell had learned more from celebrity gossip feeds than from Glamour itself.
She was taken through one of the doors into a small doctor’s office. Medical bed, computer monitor, a bunch of machines with beeping lights.
“Sit down on the bed” said the receptionist in a sickly sweet voice. She smiled politely when Chell did as she was instructed. “Just a few tests, and then it’s time for your Moment.”
Tests? Chell had read that Glamour needed no questionnaire because they knew your inner desires and dreams without being told. This must be how.
An IV in her arm, sticky pads on her forehead, a breathing mask over her mouth and nose. Not exactly what she was expecting.
One moment Chell was staring at the spotted pattern of the ceiling tiles, the next she was spotlighted on stage. A long catwalk before her. Cheering crowds. She looked down at herself, reveling in the curves of her body wearing a vibrant red designer gown. This was her birthday wish come true. To be praised and adored. This is what she could aspire to.
Tessa was told that the appointment could last anywhere from three to five hours. She hadn’t minded spending her Saturday with Chell, if only because she was curious. Tessa had no desire to have her own Moment to discover what she wanted out of life. She suspected her parents had paid so much because they wanted to give Chell something to work for. Everyone who’d come to Glamour said that once they’d experienced their innermost wishes, they knew they could attain them. They were more confident and secure. It changed their lives.
Tessa didn’t need that.
Looking at the news feed on her iUniverse, Tessa knew exactly what her dream was. To be an investigative reporter. To seek out secrets of the powerful and expose them to the light. At the moment she just wanted to find out why Generation Linkers were acting so strangely. Only yesterday an eighteen-year-old-boy blew up a hotel with an estimated one hundred thirty people inside, his own body the bomb. A few months before, a college student opened fire on her history class, with perfect aim wounding twelve and killing twenty-five. The teacher was the governor’s daughter, the first one pronounced dead. The shooter’s parents hadn’t even known she knew how to hold a gun.
The holographic reporter admitted she was more worried about America’s youth than she was about terrorists. She blamed it on the over stimulation caused by their addiction to technology.
Suddenly Chell was standing before Tessa, an unfamiliar smile playing on her lips. She looked different, more confident. Taller?
“How was it?”
“The best birthday. Ever.”
The doctor sat down wearily in the break room. He’d already done three implants that morning and was expected to do another two before he could go home. The last girl he’d done hadn’t been a looker, but that wouldn’t matter. What did matter were the political connections her father had with China. With the computer chip imbedded in her brain, she’d do whatever she was told. Probably not soon, but someday she would be needed. Now she was ready.
It was amazing, the doctor mused, how much parents paid to have their children experience their Moment of bliss. How easy it was to have access to young one’s minds when parents chose not to investigate any further than the flashy appointment packet.
Click here to enter to win an ARC of Pegasus by Robin McKinley!
(Pegasus will be released November 2nd)
(Pegasus will be released November 2nd)