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Title: Seven Years Gone: Undefinable
Author: Liz Iavorschi-Braun
Release Date: June 15th 2017
The Choices we make define us, but they have consequences. Ginger must come to grips with the ramifications of her actions, even as she comes into her own. While war looms on the horizon, Ginger learns that freedom, family and love are worth fighting for, regardless of the costs.
Author Liz Iavorschi-Braun’s much-anticipated second book of the Seven Years Gone series is a gripping story you won’t want to put down.
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Seven Years Gone: Undesirable
Five generations after world leaders engineer a virus to decimate the population and keep it under control, life continues as normal for those living in The Society. They are divided into classes and go about their lives because it is all they know. The genetically fortunate become rulers, while those labeled undesirable are never seen again. Torn between her obligation to The Society that she was raised in and a desire to choose her own fate, Ginger takes a chance and risks it all to cross a vast wilderness alone for a chance to be free.
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I don’t know how to say goodbye. I can’t tell anyone where I am going. It would be too dangerous for me and it would be too dangerous for them. I decide to leave a note for my parents in the freezer under this week’s meal delivery. At least that way I know they will find it after I am hopefully far enough away not to be found. I am leaving a second note on my bed telling them I wanted to walk to the selection instead of waiting for the bus because saying goodbye to them would be too hard, and to let them know that I am thankful for all they did for me and that I will remember all that they taught me. It feels like the coward’s way out, but what choice do I have? I pull out a second piece of paper to leave in the freezer.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I am sorry to have left you without saying goodbye, and I am sorry to have had to deceive you. I am not going to my selection. I already know that the results will be undesirable. I would rather meet my fate on my own terms than to have it chosen for me. At least this way, when my end eventually comes, I will know that, for however short the rest of my life my life might be, it is mine to live and mine to choose.
The house is quiet now. I check the hall outside my parents’ room and they are sleeping. With my backpack on my shoulders, I walk quietly down the stairs, carefully placing each foot to avoid making noise. I tiptoe through the kitchen and open the freezer to slide the note under the last meal for the week ahead. Wednesday night next week. That is when they will know. I hold my breath, waiting to make sure I am not heard and then I slide out the back door, careful to close it quietly. After a brief final look back at the place that was home, I slide around the side of the house to the service road that runs behind the houses all the way to the riverside park.
The park and the river beyond are not far– only a few blocks. It is after curfew, so the streets are quiet, though I am aware of every small sound, from the crunch of gravel under my feet to the rustling of the leaves in the breeze. Security only passes through at curfew to make sure everyone is at home. They usually stay around the capitol or random patrols around the eastern and western edges of town, or at least that is where I have seen them during the day. I have never been out this late at night; it’s not allowed. The city seems different in the still darkness – sterile and empty. I stay in the shadows, but I don’t see anyone. I have to cross the street to get to the park that flanks the river, but the streetlights are off and the park is heavily treed. Peeking my head around the corner, looking both ways, I release my held breath with a sigh and then I run for it. I make it to the cover of the trees and stop for a moment, my back pressed against the rough bark. I only had to run about 50 yards, but the adrenaline has left my heart pounding out of my chest and my breath burning in my throat.
I take a moment to get my breath and my bearings. Part of me wants to turn around and run home, but I know that is not an option. There is only one way to go. Forward. I move from tree to tree, stopping each time to check my surroundings and pray I haven’t been seen. It seems like hours before I reach the cement banks of the river, though my watch tells me it has only been a matter of minutes.
I stop to slip my clothes off, wearing nothing but a t-shirt and my sports shoes. I put my pants in the plastic bag in my pack and I slide down the slanted banks to the water. It is colder than I expected. In the summer the waist-deep water is warm from the hot summer sun, but it is early spring and the water from the lakes that flows through it is straight from the glacier melt from high in the mountains. I can feel it pulling against my legs and it brings me back to my selection test, choking me with fear. This is different, I tell myself, over and over – willing myself to keep moving. I focus on one foot in front of the other to keep my mind focused, intent on my goal. There are no lights here and only the pale glow from the moon shows me where I am. I can see the moon reflecting on the water and the beach ahead and I want to run to it, but I keep my pace slow and intentional, focusing on placing my feet one at a time on the slippery bottom. After five minutes I can’t feel my legs anymore, but I don’t stop.
My foot lands on a slimy rock and slips off, plunging me chest-deep into the cold of the water. I managed to stop the scream before it made its way up my throat. Gasping, I struggle to get back up, looking frantically from side to side to make sure I haven’t been seen. Assured that I am alone, I keep moving. Feel with my foot, step, feel, step, over and over, freezing at each perceived sound. There is a tunnel ahead, a short drainage pipe that allows the water to flow under the road that runs along the lake. It is tall enough to stand up in, but the bottom is moss-covered and slippery. Unable to feel my feet, I must stay focused to avoid slipping on the dangerously slick surface. On the other side is the stretch of sand and the lake.
I stop for a moment to prepare myself before stepping out onto the exposed beach, my hands on the wall of the cement pipe for support. My body stiffens as I feel a vibration through the wall, and a rumbling sound follows. I crouch down in the water, making myself as small as possible as the sound gets closer and closer, until it stops, directly above me. I hear a car door open and boots step out on the gravel on the road above me. Another door opens. Another set of boots. The only people allowed to be out this late are the police, who keep our city safe, though from what I don’t know. Even my heartbeat is thunderously loud and I am sure they must hear my ragged breath echoing off the walls of the tunnel. Every muscle in my body freezes, afraid even the slightest ripple in the water will alert them to my presence.
I hear a voice above, annoyed.
“You have the bladder of a toddler. This is the third time tonight we’ve had to stop. I think you just like peeing over the bridge.”
“Well, I have to do it somewhere. I might as well amuse myself in the process, right?”
The first man laughs and I hear boots coming closer to the edge. I hold my breath and then I hear the tinkling sound of liquid hitting water directly in front of me, and then a second stream. I try not to gag and tell myself it is just my imagination when the water around me seems to get slightly warmer. I want to get away. I want to scrub my skin with hot water and plenty of soap, but I can’t move. Hot tears run down my face and I know this has to be the end. There is no way they won’t find me here. Finally the noise stops and I hear the sound of zippers and the crunching of boots again, then a door closing, and a second. The vibrations start again as the engine come back to life and drives off.
I still don’t move. I wait several minutes to make sure they are gone before I venture forward and peer out from under the edge of the tunnel. I lift my head to look in both directions along the road, but I see nothing and sigh with relief. The beach opens up in front of me, stretching left and right to the rocky banks and cliffs on either side. I see where I need to go. The cliffs are almost vertical to one side, but to the other, the sheer rocks jut out for a bit, then becoming more gradual around the bend where steeply rolling hills covered with trees rise continuously to the mountains. It will be difficult, but not impossible.
I stay as close as I can to the trees that line the beach, trusting the darkness to keep me hidden. The lake is long and narrow with the only easy access at the north and south ends, which are each only a few hundred meters across. I come out from the river almost exactly in the middle. It doesn’t take long to get to the edge, but this is where I am most vulnerable. The road that runs along the lake ends here. It turns back to run along the edge of the city, surrounding it like a square. This is our border and the area where I am most likely to run into a patrol. I look carefully in the distance, but see nothing along the road. I look out into the water, but see no lights that would indicate that there is a boat patrolling the water.
There is no other choice. I have to get in the water and swim along the edge and then out around the point and back to where I can safely come ashore. I will be in the water with nowhere to hide if anyone should come. Hiding behind a clump of bushes, I open my pack and untie the knot on the top of the plastic bag holding my belongings. I blow into it, filling it with air before tying it closed again. I pull out another empty plastic bag and fill it as well, tying it to my pack to keep it afloat. I put my already-wet running shoes in my pack and use the laces to tie the pack to my waist, allowing me the use of my hands and legs while my pack tows along behind me. I know there is no way I could swim with my pack on my back. My pack is dark brown and in the water it shouldn’t easily be seen. I really hope this will work. I take one last deep breath and step into the water at the edge of the beach. It’s like ice, colder than the river, and I can feel goose bumps breaking out along my skin. When the water reaches my chest, I gasp, my muscles clenching so tight I am unable to catch a breath. I force myself to relax the muscles and breathe. I slide in to my neck and begin to swim in the dark along the edge of the rocks. The cold sends pins and needles through my hands and feet, and they don’t go away. Even after a few minutes of swimming, the pain is almost unbearable. I practiced swimming in the pool at school many times and even swam in the lake a few times on a class trip, but it is much different in the dark. I try not to let my mind think of what might be in the water with me.
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