I am in the revision cave with THE DANGEROUS SCHOOL, CLASS OF 2030, and oh, a smelly, skanky, nasty cave it is.
I’ll be honest. I’m not loving writing this right now. I’m distracted, I’m restless, and I really want a co-writer so I can say, “you know what – you take this damn game scene that’s eating me for lunch!” But there is no one to say that to (or at least no one to respond the way I want, which is by saying, “okay, I’ll get right on that while you book yourself a well-deserved vacation. I’ll call you when we have a book deal.”)
But despite the pain, I love this book so hard. I really do. I love the characters, and I love the battles they have to fight, and I just want to do it justice. So to help motivate me, because this revision cave is really lonely and echo-chamber-y, I’m kicking it old school and posting a Tuesday tease. Here we go:
From Chapter One
The Danger Awareness Buzzer at the bus station droned with a steady annoying beep. Hill glanced up at the vidscreen projected above it. There was nothing new in the scrolling list of dangers: eco-terrorists in Nueva York had halted the subway lines but no one was injured, Boston curfew was starting an hour earlier due to shorter daylight hours, contamination at the Protmeat plant had slowed production and moderate food shortages were expected. Nothing unusual. Hill’s aunt Denise frowned at is as though it personally offended her.
“The noise on that stupid DAB…I don’t know if I’ll ever get used to it. Hopefully you’ll have an older bus, Hill, and without one of those miserable things.” She smiled brightly, as though his five hour bus ride into backcountry Maine would be so much better if it didn’t have a DAB installed.
Hill just shrugged.There was a beat of panic rising in his chest. He was leaving. He was actually leaving what was left of his life, what little bit might have still been normal. He had a sudden desperate desire to change his mind; to tell Denise and his uncle Stu to take him back to their house, that he didn’t want to go, that he had no interest in this strange school, even if it was better than the last one. But he didn’t say anything. In five hours and ten minutes he would be in Bathel, home of the Outdoor Academy of Maine.
Stu was off trying to make sure Hill’s pass was loaded up with enough travpoints, and that all his identification scans had gone through. At fourteen Hill wasn’t officially a minor––the cadet corps had a pre-military program that started at fourteen––but he still needed an adult to authorize his travel. Hill hadn’t traveled since his parents––well, they had always taken care of this stuff. Hill didn’t let himself think of it. His massive old pack was digging into his shoulders, but he didn’t want to take it off. There was no point in getting comfortable. The sooner he could get on the bus the sooner this whole miserable goodbye scene would be over. He looked up to see his uncle gesturing them over, a relieved smile on his face. Clearly everything was set.
As he hugged them goodbye, Hill bit down hard on the inside of his lip so he would do anything pathetic like cry. He had cried at his mother’s funeral, plenty. And everyone had cried when they sat shivah, the Jewish week of mourning for the dead. Then, when everyone else left he and his dad had both cried for what felt like months afterwards, all last horrible summer. But when his dad told him he would be returning to Syria, to the war that killed his mom, Hill didn’t cry. He didn’t beg him to stay. And now it was his turn to leave. Hugging his cousin Eli, Hill could see tears in the younger boy’s eyes.
“Will you mail us? Soon?” he asked, his bony arms barely reaching around Hill and the backpack. “Right away? And will you tell me if there are actual animals there? And, like, if there’s farm stuff?”
Hill smiled at him. “Of course, E-man. You’ll get all the news as fast as I can dict it. And you take care of Oscar. Don’t let him barf in my bed again!”
Eli giggled, and Hill let go, stepping back to hug his aunt and uncle. Mercifully, they seemed to know this wasn’t the time for a big emotional goodbye.
“We’ll get the scan when you arrive, but mail us soon and let us know how its going,” Stu said. He looked so much like Hill’s dad that for a minute Hill wanted to stay with him. But it wasn’t his dad. If his dad were here to say goodbye, Hill wouldn’t even be leaving.
“Be careful, Hillel!” Denise said, hugging him fiercely before pushing him towards the waiting bus, which was nearly obscured behind the air-scrubbing tanks. “Have fun, and remember, you can always come home!”
Hill stepped on the bus, away from what was left of his family. It was nice of Denise to say so, but home was long gone.