Home > The Fallen Star (Fallen Star #1)

The Fallen Star (Fallen Star #1)
Author: Jessica Sorensen

Chapter 1

In the midst of a dark forest, haunted by the winters chill, I ran for my life. My feet thudded heavily against the snow as the thunderous roar of the glowing-eyed, black-cloaked monsters chased after me.

I shoved helplessly through the brittle pine trees, leafless branches clawing at my flesh.  Snow flooded my sneakers, soaking higher and higher on my jeans with every step I took. My heart pounded furiously. My lungs grew tight, about to collapse from exhaustion. The air dipped colder. Fog swirled everywhere. They were close. Way too close. That’s what these things did—they dropped the temperature so drastically the air instantly bruised over with ice. And if they caught me, I was a goner. Their chill would strangle me to a hypothermic death in a heartbeat.

I threw a frantic glance over my shoulder, struggling to keep my numb legs moving. Flickers of yellow flooded through trees. A sheet of ice crackled over the ground, nipping at my heels.  I tore my gaze away, forcing myself to run faster.

“Gemma, there’s no use running.” The man’s voice rumbled through the night. It was the same voice that always showed up right before the monsters captured me. “No matter what you do, you’ll never escape.”

The sound of snapping twigs and crunching footsteps echoed nearer.  My muscles seized up, leaving me no choice but to slow to a lethargic jog. A cool breeze swept my skin as ice-cold fingers wrapped around the back of my neck and yanked me backward, my bones popping in protest.

I let out an uncontrollable whimper and opened my mouth to scream, but only a whisper escaped. I flung my weight forward, squirming and kicking and fighting to break free with every ounce of strength I had in me. But it was useless. My arms and legs moved in slow motion. My blood rushed deathly cold, my veins darkening, mapping my skin with bluish-purple lines.

“I told you there was no point.” A tall, husky man appeared in front of me. The black-hooded monster’s bony fingers dug deeper into my skin. “Like I said, you wouldn’t escape.” He grinned the kind of grin that would’ve sent chills down my spine if I hadn’t already been freezing to death.

The golden moonlight spotlighted down from the night sky, highlighting a white scar scuffing his left cheek. His black hair matched his dark, hollow eyes. “Finish her off,” he commanded.

The black-cloaked monsters crept out from the trees, their yellow eyes gleaming hungrily. I tried to scream again as ice whipped through my body. I heard a deep laugh and felt myself falling. Then everything went black.

Chapter 2

I woke up, gasping for air, my disoriented mind still thinking I was sprawled out on the forest ground, freezing to death from the monsters deathly touch. That the tan walls forming my room were just an illusion I’d conjured up to comfort me while I died.

I bolted upright in my bed, my pulse racing as I untangled myself from my sheets. Beads of sweat trickled down my skin, sticking my t-shirt to my back. I rubbed my eyes and blinked a few times, seeing if my room stayed in place. Nothing budged and I relaxed. It had been a dream, just like it had the night before and the night before that.

I inhaled slowly, letting my racing heart settle, and climbed out of bed, the carpet feeling cold against the soles of my bare feet. I wrapped myself with a blanket and treaded softly over to the window. The soft pink glow of the sunlight spilled over the snowy mountains, kissing at the tips of the pine trees. The pine trees that I’d just been running through, and where I’d keep running every night after I fell asleep because, no matter what I did, I could never break away from my nightmares.

Of course, my nightmares were just the tip of the iceberg in the madness that had overtaken my life. When I was awake, I had much bigger problems to deal with. Real problems. Ones I couldn’t just blink away.

It had all began right before I started having my way too realistic dreams. Back before I’d been able to dream at all. Yep, you heard me right. I used to not be able to dream.

Okay, so you’re probably thinking I’m a total nut job. But before you go jumping to any conclusions, let me explain. See, I wasn’t always the girl that I am now. Terrified—the word meant absolutely nothing to me. In fact, almost everything meant nothing to me. My mind used to be as blank as a sheet of paper—there was zero going on inside. Don’t get me wrong, I could still walk, talk, breathe, and function, I just couldn’t feel anything. Ever. Crazy, I know. But at the time, I could have cared less.

Then about a month ago, something inside me changed. The day had started out just like any other day. I’d been going through my morning routine of getting dressed for school when, out of nowhere, I felt this prickling sensation on the back of my neck. Confused, I ran over to the mirror to check for any bumps or marks on my pale skin. But there was zilch there except my normal specks of freckles.

Chalking it up to my imagination, I grabbed my backpack and headed downstairs to get some breakfast. That’s when I felt the strangest thing I had ever felt—this overwhelming sadness building up inside me. Seconds later, I was crying, real tears and everything.

It was weird.

Up until then, at least as far back as I could remember, I’d never experienced anything like it before.  From then on, my life was never the same. The prickle would show up and bam, I’d be bouncing with happiness. Or boiling with anger. Or…well, you get the picture. And once I felt an emotion, it never left me. In the beginning, I’d really struggled to keep all of my new found feelings under control. There was this one awful incident at school where I had this sudden outburst and started bawling right in the middle of Mr. Belford’s lecture on Plate Tectonics. People stared at me like I was a freak, which is totally understandable. I mean, only a freak would cry over shifting plates.

But anyways…

I had done quite a few searches on the internet, trying to figure out what was happening to me, but I found nothing remotely related to what I was going through. Apparently, whatever “it” was was one hundred percent original. Which was great. Just great. My life would be so much easier if—

My alarm shrieked, startling me so badly I actually jumped and spun around.

Man, my nightmares were making me jumpy.

I hit the off button. Time for school. Ugh. School was so my least favorite part of the day. My past inability to experience emotions had kept me detached from everyone and everything, which resulted in my current life being a friendless one. This had been fine when I couldn’t feel, because I’d had no idea what I was missing out on. But now…well, let’s just say that for someone who has no friends going to school is like dangling a piece of bacon in front of a dog’s face—pure and utter torture. I hated watching everyone walk around in their little cliques while I stood on the sidelines alone.

I tossed my blanket on the bed and threw on a pair of jeans and a black t-shirt. I ran a brush through my long, tangled brown hair and pulled it back into a ponytail. Then I went over to the full length mirror on the back of my bedroom door and did a quick glance over. My legs were way too long, my skin far too pale, and my eyes…they were violet. Yes weird, I know. But it fit right in with everything else that had to do with me.

Downstairs in the kitchen, Marco and Sophia—my grandparents who insist I call them by their first names—were already there. Sophia stood over the oven, pans hissing, as the smell of bacon filled the air. Marco sat at the table, the morning newspaper opened up in front of him.

The room was small and brightly lit, making the yellow walls nearly blinding. Add that to the teal cupboards—which Sophia insisted were sky blue, but who was she trying to kid—and the room had this sort of funhouse effect going on.

I grabbed a bowl from the cupboard and took a seat at the kitchen table.

Marco peered over the newspaper at me, his black oval rimmed glasses sliding down the brim of his slightly crooked nose.  “Gemma,” he mumbled with a subtle nod.

I strained a smile.

I’ve lived with Marco and Sophia since I was one, after my parent’s passed away in a tragic car accident. That’s all I know about my parents—how they died. I’d asked Marco and Sophia about them a few weeks ago after the crazy prickle thing had traced its way down my neck. To say they’d freaked out was putting it mildly.  They’d gone full on ballistic, yelling that I was never to ask about my parents again. And when I’d shed tears and screamed back, things got even worse. Finally, I ended up storming off to my room. Ever since then, our already strained relationship worsened. We barely talked to each other, which I guess isn’t that big of a change since we’d barely talked before.

Over the last few weeks, I’d been trying to make some sense out of why they refused to speak about my parents. All I could come up with was that maybe talking about my parents was too painful for them. Either that or they didn’t like me.

And it wasn’t just my asking about my parents that had Marco and Sophia acting crazy. Every time I was near them, I could sense them cringing, and the atmosphere would weigh down like the air taken on an abrupt case of humidity.  One day I’d come down to breakfast smiling, and when Sophia saw me, she dropped a cup. Marco had stormed off outside, slamming the back door behind him. Evidently, they preferred the old hollow me. I don’t know why, though. I didn’t. They never even asked me about my sudden ability to feel either. I mean, if you had a child that had been an emotionless zombie for most of her life, then suddenly she did a complete 180 in the emotional department, wouldn’t you celebrate and talk about it instead of getting pissed off.

I know I would.

But since Marco and Sophia chose to say nothing about it, I opted to keep the prickly sensation to myself. Besides, I had a gut wrenching feeling that if I did mention it to them, I’d be buying myself a one-way a ticket to the Psych Ward.

“Do you want some bacon?” Sophia’s voice yanked me out of my thoughts.

The bacon sizzled as she tapped her foot on the tile floor. She reminded me a lot of one of those women in a 1950’s TV series; her auburn hair pulled back into a bun, a crisp white apron tied over her floral dress.

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