“Aversion” Excerpt: Chapter One
It’s been one week since Aversion’s launch date and I’m still pretty pumped. I thought I’d share Chapter One on here as a taster for those who haven’t had a chance to read the excerpts on Amazon and Smashwords yet. Enjoy!
My name is Gemma Green and I am an Averter. You’re probably wondering what that means and why it is important for me to state that I am one. On the surface there is not much difference between me and most other fifteen year old girls, except for the fact that I have the ability to alter people’s minds and stop them from carrying out actions that will unhinge their predestined life paths. I know it sounds impossible but trust me, it’s true. Only another Averter will be able to tell what I am from sight. Well, not really sight. We have the ability to sense things that others overlook. For example, I always know when I’m being lied to. I can’t tell what the exact lie is but I get a knot in my stomach every time I hear one; the bigger the lie, the tighter the knot. It’s clearly not the most enjoyable ability for anyone to have but the older we get, the easier it becomes to tune the feelings out. You eventually get to a point where the only person’s emotions you can tune into is the person you are assigned to. But I’ll get to that later.
I live in a town called Sandes where my Dad works as a handyman and I go to school with all the normal kids. Dad’s job is convenient because he is his own boss and we can leave town whenever we have to without raising too much suspicion. You can only stay in a town for four years, tailing the people you are assigned to, before you have to move on to another location. That way we don’t get too attached to anyone and people also don’t figure out what is happening to them. All Averters with young children have to live in small towns so that they can teach their children to master their abilities in a controlled environment. Imagine having to grow up in a city with millions of people throwing out millions of vibes all the time. Only adults who have mastered their craft could survive the surge.
The other tiny little thing is, according to my Dad, I am a bit of an anomaly as I am the only known female Averter that exists. I don’t know why but our kind have always been men. Our lives are pretty much dictated from the start; a male baby is born from a union between a chosen woman and an Averter. The child is cared for by his mother for a year then handed over to the father, never to see his mother again. The father teaches him his responsibilities and at the age of twenty one, the son must carry on the tradition of our kind by creating a child with a chosen woman. That’s our circle of life. Son begets son begets son, until there was me. Dad knew being a girl would make my future as an Averter different but as he wasn’t sure how things would work out for me, he decided to bring me up exactly as his father brought him up. Study, study, study.
Once I had accepted all that I was meant to be, I realised that frivolous fancies and silly romantic notions were for the girls in my school and not for me. Why think about make-up and boys and all that nonsense when I knew that I had only four years to live in a town and that the clock to my age of motherhood was ticking? The way I saw it, if I couldn’t have the life that they had, the freedom to choose what to do with my life, there was no point pining for it. It would have been as dumb as craving chocolate milkshake when you’re allergic to cocoa. Plain stupid when my future was practically set in stone.
But then I had my first real jolt. Not the sensation I already mentioned that we feel when people are being dishonest. No, the jolts are much more than that. They are what you get when you sense that someone is going to do something really bad pretty soon. Like drink driving their father’s car into the path of a truck, killing two passenger friends and ending a very promising tennis career. I had never felt anything so strong and so horrible before but that was what I sensed when I walked past Russ that Friday afternoon after our English lesson. Dad said that you know the people you are assigned to by the fact that you get these jolts from them. Everyone else is white noise, that person becomes real to you. Russ was my first.
Internally, I felt sick but somehow I barely flinched at the visual I had. Dad had prepared me well for that day. I was to let him know once I felt it and we would perform my first Aversion. Once I stopped Russ from going to the party, our bond would be sealed and I would be able to sense his irrational decisions without being in the same room as him. Most of Dad’s people were his handyman job clients and so it was easy for him to avert them without anyone thinking that their meetings were out of the ordinary. Fortunately, we are not obliged to avert every single bad decision people make, only the ones that call out to us. If you’re lucky, you only get to carry out an Aversion on someone once in your time with them.
That night, Dad and I waited on a bench across the street from Russ’s family home. Dad was assigned to a couple of people on the same street so he knew exactly where to sit to not get noticed. Russ’s parents were away on business trips and he had agreed to be the designated driver for his friends. It was some popular girl’s house party and everyone was going to be there, even though it was a school night. Everyone but me, of course. At fifteen Russ was too young to be driving but that never stopped anyone in our town. Rules applied only to people who cared about the rules.
“Ready, Gem?” Dad said when the light in the hallway went out and the front door swung open.
“As I’ll ever be,” I replied, trying to sound confident about my task. I was so nervous that I could have been sick at any moment but I held my head up high and rose with Dad. I had been waiting for this moment all my life and I knew exactly what was expected of me.
At first Russ didn’t notice us as he got into the car and prepared to reverse out of the driveway. Dad and I positioned ourselves in the path of his car and he finally spotted us. I saw him frown in his rear-view mirror reflection and I wondered what he was thinking at that moment. He probably had no clue who I was, even though we sat in a few classes together at school. I had perfected the art of remaining inconspicuous. No friends meant no questions about my alternative life. Easier than having to lie about it to people.
“It’s all you, Gem,” Dad smiled at me for a brief second then turned to wave at Russ who carried on looking at us in the mirror, probably curious as to why we weren’t moving out of the way.
I took a deep breath and walked over to Russ’s window, lowering my head to the same level as his face. Despite my common sense, I could see what half the girls in my year went on about when I overheard them going on about how cute he was. He had an appealing mix of his mother’s Persian features and his father’s athletic build. His dark eyes were wide and expressed his confusion, yet he said nothing. Funny how I had never noticed his eyes before; right then it felt like they were trying to bore holes through me. At least he was cautious enough not to wind down the window. But the glass only protected him physically. I didn’t need to touch him for this to work. All I needed was eye contact and I had it.
Hello Russ. You will start to forget every word I say even as I speak. You will also forget that I was here tonight. There’s no need to panic, going to the party is not an option. Do what you have to do to get out of it. Whatever happens tonight, do not get into this car again.
That should do it, I thought as I saw his pupils dilate ever so slightly and flash a pale blue shade before clearing up again. But then I remembered something else that I had thought about earlier on that afternoon after I had felt the jolt and realised that I’d have to see him again that night.
Oh and stop that filthy habit of smoking with Dean and those idiots at break. Seriously, tennis pro with tar coated lungs?
I stepped away from the car and walked back to where Dad was waiting behind the car. It was time to see if it had worked, if I had finally crossed the threshold between exceptionally perceptive human and Averter. At first nothing happened as Russ remained in the car with his head bent low.
“I blew it, didn’t I?” I said with a sigh.
“Patience. You’ve just attempted to alter his psyche, give it a moment.”
Almost on cue, the car door flew open and Russ got out. He didn’t turn back to acknowledge us. Instead he walked into the house and shut the door. Lights went on inside as he found his way round the house and Dad motioned for us to return to our waiting area. We had to make sure that he wasn’t going to convince himself that the party was still a good place to be at. Dad said that sometimes it didn’t matter what we tried to achieve, strong will power had been known to be the cause of failed Aversion attempts, especially when the subject was young and feisty. But the front door remained shut and after about an hour, Dad indicated that it was time to go.
That was it. My first Aversion. It was that easy. I was finally going to receive my Orb, a vessel that helped channel the emotions of our assignees to us from a great distance. Receiving it would truly mark my graduation into the big leagues.
I was certain things had gone smoothly until the next day at school when I walked past Russ in the cafeteria. I usually kept my head down when there were a lot of people around but I couldn’t help sneaking a peek at him. I was still slightly fascinated by the fact that I had altered his mind and he was supposed to have no recollection of it. He was sitting with his usual group of noisy friends, probably the same ones who would have died last night if it hadn’t been for my little stunt, so I expected him to be engrossed in whatever they were saying. But when I looked up, he was staring at me. Not just a quick glance like I was attempting, but outright staring. I was so shocked by this that I looked away really quickly. Something didn’t feel right. I thought I had detected a flicker of recognition in his eyes. But it couldn’t be. He had no reason to stare at me. It could only mean one thing.
I ate my lunch as hurriedly as I could, left the cafeteria and headed for the girls’ toilets where I locked myself in a cubicle and tried not to hyperventilate. Maybe I was overreacting. Maybe he hadn’t even been looking at me. I suppressed the urge to ring Dad and tell him that I might have botched the Aversion. What could I have done wrong? He hadn’t gone to the party so that part had clearly worked. Maybe I hadn’t been strong enough when I told him not to remember anything about me being there. That could be why he thought he recognised me.
I couldn’t hide in there for long, I had classes to attend and our school toilets didn’t smell good enough to hang about in for more than a few minutes. When I emerged from the cubicle, I caught sight of my reflection in the large mirror above the washbasins and gasped. I looked like someone had smacked me across the face and was coming back to finish the job off. I wasn’t usually superficial enough to notice what I looked like so for me to say that I looked bad, I really did look awful.
I had left the toilets and was walking to my next class when the sound of my name hit me in the gut. Please let this not be happening, I prayed silently as I turned round to face my addresser.
Sure enough it was Russ standing behind me, frowning like he had done last night and still looking incredibly cute. I had never let myself consider what the boys in my school looked like and yet for the second time in less than twenty four hours, I was struck by Russ’s large dark eyes. Urgh, what was wrong with me? Think cocoa allergy, I scolded myself.
Even worse than that was the thought that I had definitely messed up my first Aversion. I had to have. Russ Tanner had never spoken to me before today and suddenly, there he was, calling my name right in front of everyone. Damn it. That probably meant that I was not going to receive my Orb today.