Title: WHERE THERE IS DARK
Genre: YA Fantasy
The twenty-four hour incense stick releases a continuous thread of fragrant smoke. Vanilla. Saturdays are always vanilla. The scent mixes with the pungent odor of mushrooms boiling in a pot over the hearth’s open flames. Mushrooms thrive in the dark, so they are the only food that isn’t rationed. And like the incense clock, they remind me of everything the darkness has stolen.
Across the kitchen, Mother flashes me a smile. Firelight brings out the red in her hair, which she wears twisted into a braid over one thin shoulder. Desperation shoots through me. If the light doesn’t return soon, we won’t last much longer. She’s humming some upbeat tune I don’t recognize, and her outright cheeriness evokes an urge to scream, what’s wrong with you? She’s oblivious to the multifaceted wrongness that is Creperi. But then I think, no, it’s worse than that. She’s outright ignoring it.
I focus on the clock. Weighted disks hang from dual strings stretched across the smoldering stick of incense. A red-hot glow sizzles through the first string. It snaps, and the disks crash onto the bronze plate below with a resounding gong. A heartbeat passes. The second string breaks.
Two gongs. Twelve o’clock. Tristan should be here by now.
Worry gnaws at my insides, but Mother doesn’t seem to notice that either. “I have a council meeting tonight,” she says.
I grab a spoon off the counter and stir the murky liquid inside the pot. The grayish bits of mushroom scatter.