THE CURSED GIRL
Book One of Lore: A New Scifi Fantasy Series
THE CURSED GIRL
A NEW SCI FI FANTASY EPIC!
In a galaxy torn apart by war, where lives fade into darkness like nebulae of dead stars, stands a lonely girl whose destiny will intertwine with the fate of the Universe. Her name is Jocelyn Dark, one of a few surviving humans, and she’s dying.
The Xaksu warlords want to enslave her, the Asrai sovereignty wants to wield her as a weapon of magic, and the gods wishes to use her for their own purposes–all while her rotten blood slowly kills her. All Jocelyn wants is to experience the one thing that’s alluded her all her life: the feeling of meaning something to someone.
Can Jocelyn find a way to save her own life, while surviving the threats of alien invasions, warring gods, and the monsters lying in wait?
Fans of Harry Potter and Star Wars will love this epic new sci fi fantasy series!
THE CURSED GIRL: EXCLUSIVE PREVIEW
In the end, it was all a crock of shit.
The destruction of the world wasn’t caused by rising sea levels due to global warming, nor was it caused by the rapture and the second coming of Christ (if religion was your cup of tea, which it wasn’t for a ten-year-old girl named Jocelyn).
No, the end of the world was a direct result of alien warships and eight foot monsters armed with guns and large blades.
It made Jocelyn wonder what other lies school had taught her. Did E really equal MC squared?
The chaos began while Jocelyn was having breakfast with her mother at a local diner. The server had just finished mentioning how Jocelyn was a splitting image of her mom, sharing the same dark hair that flowed like a river of ink, the same blue eyes that sparkled like crystals when reflected against the sun, and the same smooth skin the color of wild Lillies.
“She’s going to be a heartbreaker one day,” the server had said. “She’ll have her choice of any boy she wants.”
“Hopefully the selection improves down the road,” her mom replied. “Half the boys in her class belong in a zoo.”
“Spare the rod, spoil the child,” the server agreed. “Parents these days have become soft.”
Jocelyn rolled her eyes, Blah, blah, blah.
That was when everything went to hell. The first sonic boom erupted in the sky in between bites of her bagel. It was loud of enough to shatter the glass windows of the restaurant.
The other customers and servers scattered like ants caught in a spring shower while Jocelyn and her mother sat in stunned silence, too shocked to move.
The second boom knocked Jocelyn right out of her seat.
“Mom?” Jocelyn cried as she struggled back to her feet, searching for some kind of reassurance. Her mother was trembling.
“We need to go,” Jocelyn said.
“The sky…” her mother whispered.
Jocelyn’s eyes aligned with her mother’s gaze just as the cloudless blue sky tore open like frayed pieces of fabric ripping apart. Massive black objects drifted through the cracks in the atmosphere and filled the entire sky. They hovered like onyx-colored nimbus clouds that eclipsed the sun, casting long shadows on the Earth below.
By the time Jocelyn realized these monstrous skeletal behemoths were space ships, the boots of the first aliens had already hit the ground.
They were completely different from what Jocelyn imagined aliens to be. They were not little nor green. They did not have giant, oval heads on small, bloated bodies and they were not cute in any way.
They especially did not come in peace.
The aliens deployed were at least eight feet tall with smooth, gleaming heads and bright eyes filled with intelligence. Most had grey skin, the color of old stone. The bony structure of their faces reminded Jocelyn of hornless gargoyles found on gothic buildings.
Not all of them shared the same skin color, however. The ones barking orders in their surprisingly lyrical language had flesh the color of ivory. They were the most ferocious of the lot.
The aliens moved and spoke with an eerie calmness while slaughtering everyone around them. Beams of energy escaped from their large, black guns, disintegrating human flesh and bone like leaves in a furnace.
Jocelyn realized then how fragile the human body was.
“Run,” her mother shouted as she bolted through one of the large broken windows of the diner, not bothering to wait for her own daughter. Scattered glass crunched underneath the soles of her shoes as her feet hit the ground.
Jocelyn was still too stunned to react, all the muscles in her body rendered into a state of comatose. Jocelyn watched helplessly as her mom fled down the street without her.
Her mouth was the first part of her body to finally regain some life. “Mom, wait!” Jocelyn cried.
A few feet away, a man in t-shirt and shorts, who had made the ill-fated decision to go out for a morning run, collapsed onto the ground. There was a giant, crispy-edged hole where his chest once was.
Her mom was now legions away, leaping over debris and the bodies of the dead with relative ease. Her mom had always been the athletic type, a track and field star during her college years.
Jocelyn willed her adolescent body to move. One step at a time, she thought. You can do this. She escaped through the same window her mom did, though without the same deftness. Jocelyn was never an athlete.
She did her best to ignore the sounds of gunfire and people dying all around her, but failed. It was a cruel symphony of catastrophic chaos that menaced her ears.
Police officers had finally arrived on the scene and engaged in return fire. Their weapons were utterly useless and these brave men were shredded by the alien’s weapons in a matter of seconds.
In the midst of the carnage, Jocelyn tried to gain some ground on her mother, sprinting as hard as she could. It was no use. Her mom was too fast.
“I can’t keep up,” Jocelyn huffed.
The bronchitis she was just getting over didn’t help either. They had given her a blue puffer to help open up her airways, which she foolishly left at home. She desperately needed it now.
Her lungs were burning and her coughs were deep and from the chest. She struggled to dislodge the phlegm in her throat.
“Please…” she murmured weakly to her mom. “Why are you leaving me?”
And by some miracle, it seemed like her mother had heard her. She turned around. A sad look masked her face while sorrowful eyes focused on her only child. For a brief tranquil moment, time froze and the only people in the universe were Jocelyn and her mom.
“Wait for me,” Jocelyn begged.
Her mother bit her lip, closed her eyes, and then did the unthinkable. She turned her back on Jocelyn.
“No,” Jocelyn whispered through ragged breaths. “No, please don’t.”
Jocelyn had experienced heartbreak only once before, when Danny Fitch had ignored her texts. But compared to this, watching the person whom she loved above all else leave her behind, Danny Fitch was insignificant. Her mother’s abandonment of Jocelyn was crippling.
Jocelyn looked on with wide eyes as the woman who raised her rounded the corner of a grey-stoned building and disappeared from her life forever.
Jocelyn’s knees gave way and she collapsed to the ground, trembling. She was lost as to what to do next.
She was so consumed by her grief that she failed to notice the large shadow of an alien brute, methodically stalking her. His breaths were heavy but silent as he took long, even strides towards her.
He stopped a few paces short of Jocelyn and raised his gun, aiming his sight at the back of her head.
Salvation came in the form of screaming tires followed by a crash, loud enough to wake Jocelyn out of her trance. She turned around just in time to see the alien brute topple over the trunk of a police cruiser.
The vehicle ground to a halt and out of the wreckage emerged a police officer clutching a shot gun in one hand. He held his injured shoulder with the other.
“Run,” he cried. “I’ll hold him off—”
His speech was cut short by a long metal weapon, spearing through his belly like a skewer through a piece of meat. The alien had recovered from the impact of the collision and was taking pleasure in his revenge.
He had temporarily forgotten all about Jocelyn.
She whispered a silent prayer to whatever god was listening for the policeman, and began sprinting in the opposite direction.
More warships emerged from the atomic colored sky with loud booms that shattered the windows of the buildings around her.
She hadn’t gone more than a quarter mile before she gave in and collapsed to her knees once again.
It was getting harder to breathe.
Jocelyn lifted her head and observed her surroundings. It was a wonderland of death.
There was nowhere for her to run.
She closed her eyes and thought of her mother again, wondering if she was still alive.
Still images rotated through her memory like a carousel: her mom brushing her hair, making sock puppets for Jocelyn, pushing her on a swing, and reading her favorite bedtime stories.
Her mom was her entire world, especially since Jocelyn’s father had left them when she was still a baby.
And now her mom had left her too.
How could she have abandoned Jocelyn? Did no parent love her?
Her moment of self-misery was interrupted by the sounds of a rundown Honda Accord, screeching to a halt beside Jocelyn. A middle-aged man stepped out of the driver’s side. “Get in the car if you want to live. I know a place that’s safe.” He was a portly and bald, except for the tufts of hair on the sides of his head. His frayed sweater stretched over his large belly while sweat beaded down his forehead as he opened the passenger side door.
In the backseat were two children, a girl and a boy, similar in age to Jocelyn. From the look on their faces, they too were shocked by all that was happening.
“Come on, get in the front seat,” he urged.
Never get in the car with strangers, Jocelyn’s mother had warned her.
“Look, I have children as well. You’re alone and I’m only trying to help.” There was panic in his voice as he kept glancing over his shoulder. “I can’t wait here forever.”
Sure enough in the distance, a few of the aliens emerged out of the surrounding woods. They didn’t seem to notice them yet.
The sight of the stone-skinned aliens was enough motivation for Jocelyn to leap inside the car. She’d rather risk being in the company of strangers than with a murderous pack of aliens.
When the man finally felt they were a safe distance away, he turned to Jocelyn.
“Where’s your family?” he asked.
Jocelyn felt her heart bleed into her stomach. She swallowed hard, fighting back tears, and said, “It’s just me. I’m all alone.”
The man didn’t ask any further questions, allowing Jocelyn to cry an ocean’s worth of tears into the palm of her hands.
The portly man, who introduced himself as Mr. Ralph Leclair, had managed to get Jocelyn and his family out of ground zero of the invasion, bringing them to his private cottage on the outskirts of the city.
It was a good hiding spot as any, concealed deep within a thicket of dense trees.
Jocelyn had never been to a cottage before and thought the experience would have been pleasant, if it wasn’t for the fact that the world around them had gone to hell—literally.
It took only a matter of days for all the major cities across the globe to fall, as reported by the news.
On day one of World War X (the ‘X’ short for extraterrestrial) the combined armies of the United Nations were obliterated in a matter of hours. They simply couldn’t compete with the alien’s superior technology.
On the ground, soldiers were disintegrated like ants underneath a blow torch. They fared no better in the sky as the alien warships knocked fighter jets out of the stratosphere as an exterminator would to annoying wasps.
In the alien’s eyes, the humans were nothing more than insects.
Desperation called for weapons of mass destruction to be deployed (North Korea apparently had two). Nuclear missiles were launched in futile efforts to blow the warships out of the sky.
The collateral damage resulted in more harm to the humans than the aliens.
Rivers of blood flowed through the streets and the bodies of the dead were strung up like meat in a butcher shop’s window. It was the aliens’ way of instilling fear.
The human race fell like paper dolls in the wind and along with it, any remnants of their fighting spirit.
Luckily Jocelyn, who hated violence, was insulated from all the horrors of the alien war. Eventually the televisions stopped working and as they say, ignorance became bliss.
Jocelyn spent most of the time with Sandor and Danielle, Ralph Leclair’s children, salting meats from his hunts, building more insulation for the cottage, and gathering wood for the winter.
Winter would be their biggest challenge, Ralph warned them. If they were to survive the cold, they needed to be prepared.
Jocelyn had grown close to both Danielle and Sandor so when the latter was the first to die amongst them, she was devastated.
With a lack of medicine and antibiotics, Sandor didn’t stand a chance against pneumonia.
It was tragic because over time, Jocelyn had grown fond of him. The seeds of childhood love had blossomed.
Some nights, when Ralph and Danielle were asleep, Jocelyn and Sandor snuck out of bed and headed towards a neighboring cottage a quarter mile away.
The cottage was small in size—a modest six hundred square foot domicile—but the contents inside made it the wealthiest home Jocelyn ever knew. It housed collectables of all sorts—comics, bobble heads, baseball cards, and books (so many books)—which to Jocelyn, who didn’t have a dime growing up for hobbies of any sorts, was akin to buried treasure.
The most valued prize in Jocelyn’s eyes was the vintage record player in the corner of the cottage along with the milk crate full of records.
Jocelyn never had an appreciation for jazz before but listening to the fiery sounds of Miles Davis, which seemed to defy the norms of musical tradition, she grew to love it along with all music she was exposed to.
The cottage became their secret little place, one that only she and Sandor shared. Jocelyn felt guilty at first for not telling Danielle but Sandor convinced her otherwise.
“She’ll just hog everything for herself, like she always does,” he had said.
“Danielle’s not like that.”
“You don’t know my sister very well. She’d steal your left sock just because you had two. She thinks she deserves at least one of everything.”
Jocelyn allowed Sandor to keep this place a secret. After all, they could spend quality time alone together, at the expense of sleep of course.
They were having such a wonderful time that Jocelyn forgot that the world around them was ending.
And then Sandor caught pneumonia, hacked out blood and mucus for a week, and eventually died. He was so thin and pale when he drew his last breath that Jocelyn hardly recognized him.
His death was the first amongst those whom Jocelyn loved.
It wasn’t the last.
After Sandor’s death, Ralph Leclair seemed to give up on life altogether. He struggled to wake from his bed and do all the things he did to ensure everyone’s survival, such as hunting and ice fishing.
It was obvious, to Jocelyn, that Sandor had been his favorite of his two children.
It was left to Jocelyn and Danielle to carry on the heavy burden of keeping them all alive. By midwinter, Danielle and Jocelyn had become quite adept at ice fishing.
However, on one unusually warm day during the long winter, the ice beneath Danielle’s feet began to crack.
“Jocelyn?” Danielle asked with wide eyes as she stared at the ground breaking beneath her feet. The lake was ready to embrace her with deathly cold arms.
“Don’t move a single muscle.” Jocelyn wanted to sound calm but failed miserably. “Just stay where you are. I’ll find a branch or something that you can hold onto.”
“The ground doesn’t feel right. Maybe I should jump.”
Jocelyn shook her head. “No, don’t. Look, I see a branch a few feet away. Just let me get to it.”
Danielle held her arms out in an effort to maintain her balance. “I have to move, Jocelyn. I have to–” and then she was gone, swallowed up by the lake.
Sadness radiated from Jocelyn’s belly all the way to her tear ducts and she cried the entire way home.
Jocelyn felt guilty. She should have shared her and Sandor’s secret place with Danielle. It was a place that made them most happy and with the world in the state it was, didn’t happiness deserve to be shared with everyone?
Now, Danielle was dead and she’d never get the opportunity to listen to jazz or read comic books or play with bobbleheads.
The very next day, Ralph Leclair decided he needed to go for a walk. He never returned.
Jocelyn was abandoned once again—first by her father, then by her mother, and finally by Ralph.
It was only a matter of time before Jocelyn also caught pneumonia. She became a prisoner to her bed, buried underneath layers of blankets that Sandor, Danielle, and Ralph once used. Her coughs were violent and at times, specs of blood littered the sheets.
She was going to die, she concluded. Jocelyn wished she had the strength to visit the cottage full of treasures one last time, to fall asleep forever to the sounds of glorious music, but she just didn’t have it in her to move.
Jocelyn closed her eyes and waited for death to come, with his long, bony hands gripping his crescent moon scythe.
Moments after, the front door burst wide open. In strolled one of the aliens, just in time to hear Jocelyn go through one of her coughing fits. He headed to the bedroom, his face a mask of ambivalence.
Jocelyn’s heart leapt out of her chest when the alien appeared at the bedroom doorway. She was too tired to fight or even sit up in bed. Instead, she closed her eyes and hoped the pneumonia would put her out of her misery before the butcher could.
Much to her surprise the alien didn’t end up murdering her. Instead, he lifted her in his massive arms, cradling her as if she were a new born baby, and carried her out of the cottage and into a ship, smaller than the ones she had seen tearing open the sky.
He laid her in the passenger seat, covering her with a blanket, and then switched on the ignition.
The alien was silent the entire time.
As the ship made its ascension through the clouds, past the Earth’s atmosphere, and towards the mysteries of the star-speckled universe, Jocelyn managed to catch a final glimpse of Earth.
Fire, ash, and a mountain of bones—that was the last memory she’d ever have of her home planet.
Unlike its birth, the Earth did not go out with a bang.
It died with a whimper.