Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with J.A. Souders’ Evelyn Winters from Renegade.
“MY LIFE IS JUST ABOUT PERFECT.”
Since the age of three, sixteen-year-old Evelyn Winters has been trained to be Daughter of the People in the underwater utopia known as Elysium. Selected from hundreds of children for her ideal genes, all her life she’s thought that everything was perfect; her world. Her people. The Law.
But when Gavin Hunter, a Surface Dweller, accidentally stumbles into their secluded little world, she’s forced to come to a startling realization: everything she knows is a lie. Her memories have been altered. Her mind and body aren’t under her own control. And the person she knows as Mother is a monster.
Together with Gavin she plans her escape, only to learn that her own mind is a ticking time bomb… and Mother has one last secret that will destroy them all.
Evelyn Experiences Black Friday
I stare around at the crowds whirling and bustling past me. My eyes are wide and my mouth hangs open in shock. I have to force it closed. This place is wondrous! Shops as far as the eye can see. Signs shout about the “Black Friday deals.” Others talk about “Cyber Monday.” The walls and windows are all decorated in red and green. A huge tree rises up in the middle of the center, decorated in large glass balls. There’s some kind of winged girl at the very top. Restaurants are selling so many delicious smelling things my stomach grumbles just smelling it.
With a smile, I take a step forward only to be shoved back when a couple races by pushing a child in some kind of wheeled chair, bags hanging from the curved handles.
That’s when I realize just how many people there are. There have to be hundreds. Just in the tiny space around me as they bump into me. I’d bet there’s even more people here than in Elysium! The place is packed! And not a one of them have wished me good day or even apologized when they run into me. That would not be tolerated in Elysium. The Enforcers would not have tolerated the lack of manners. Or the amount of people touching each other.
Men with their arms slung around the shoulders of the women they’re with. Women with their hands in the men’s pockets. Some are even kissing! Right there in front of everyone! Where are the authorities? Why are they not stopped?
My heart races as I spin around in circles, completely overwhelmed by the lack of propriety and manners and… and…
I stop and close my eyes, drawing in large breaths through my nose — calming lavender in. Green, poisonous anger and fear out—before opening my eyes.
This is not my world. The rules are different here. I’m only here so Mother can show me what the Surface was like before the War. Before our exile to the sea.
“Hey! Get out of the way!”
I turn around to see a woman with three children running around her, one gripping tightly to her left hand and another in some kind of contraption strapped to her chest. On top of all that she’s carrying several large bags almost bursting with items.
Why does she have so many children?
“Come on, lady! Get out of the way!” She glares at me and shoos me away.
I quickly sidestep out of the way and she shoves past me mumbling about rude teenagers.
My anger spurts up again and I clench my hands into fists at my side. Me? Rude? She’s the one who…Relax, Evelyn. Anger is a poison and will eat away at your beauty.
I force another calming breath and force myself to move with the crowd, finally turning into a store filled jewelry. All different kinds of pretty necklaces. Rings. Earrings. That feeling of glee and wonder I had when I first arrived here burns in me. Something red catches my eye and I reach out to grab a red and silver necklace, but just as my fingers brush it, it’s ripped away from me. I quickly turn to see what happened and see a woman gloating at me.
“My daughter is going to love this!” She glances over at the display and smiles. “Oh, lucky me! I got the last one.” She walks away before I can even open my mouth to protest.
Disappointed and fighting the urge to rip it back from her, I leave the store, not even stopping to look at anything else that catches my eye. As I continue to wander the shopping area, I hear shouting as people fight over items or yell at their children to behave. When I pass a store filled with clothing items, I see two women with gray hair tugging on a beautiful sapphire blue long sleeved shirt. It rips down the middle and they both stare at the half in their hands as if they’re not sure what happened.
Lost and confused at the insane behavior around me, I just wander around the shopping center, holding the paper credits in my hand. When yet another person bumps into me, anger tints my vision red and I open my mouth to give him a lecture on manners, but I can’t even get a word out before the man who bumped into me yanks the money from my hand and bolts.
“Hey!” I yell and chase after him, but it’s too late, he’s already lost in the crowd.
My anger makes my heart race and I can see now why so many of these strangers look like if anyone so much as says hi to them, they’ll hit me. When I start to pass a store filled with old-fashioned televisions, I stop in my tracks again. And stare at the lady on the screen who’s reporting about a shooting that took place “over-night at a local residence, killing two people and leaving one in critical condition” at a local medical center.
Shaking and with tears stinging my eyes, I slap my hands over my ears and shout, “Hologram off! Hologram off! For the love of Mother, shut it all off!”
The scene around me changes, leaving me standing in the middle of an empty room. Mother makes her way to me from the door, her heels clicking on the glass tiles beneath our feet.
“Did you see enough, Evelyn. Are you still curious about the past?”
I shake my head. “It was horrible! How…how could they be that way?”
“No one to enforce the rules, Evelyn. Do you see now why we must continue the Enforcer program?”
I close my eyes, but nod. “Yes, Mother. The Enforcer program must continue. No matter the costs.”
Meet J.A. Souders!
J.A. Souders was born in the heartland with an overactive imagination and an over abundance of curiosity that was always getting her into trouble. She first began writing at the age of 13, when she moved to Florida and not only befriended the monsters under the bed, but created worlds for them to play together.
Because she never grew up, she decided she’d put her imaginary friends to work and started writing. She still lives in the land of sunshine and palm trees with her husband and their two children and is an active member of the RWA, CFRW, YARWA and SCBWI.
Want to purchase J.A. Souders’ novels?
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