COVER REVEAL OF RETURNED BY AUTHOR KEELEY SMITH
A terrifying thud of feet struck the hard ground behind her. The sharp crack of frozen branches echoed in the vast wooded area, she ran each snap sent her heart into overdrive, she knew they were gaining ground but she couldn’t run any quicker.
Her heart jack hammered as it fought against her crushing fear. She feared that her lungs would give out and she would stop running, she feared who she would meet when her legs, which were as strong as jelly, finally crumbled beneath her. Her biggest fear ripped the little breath that her lungs had managed to grasp. That fear, would it hurt when she died? Her lungs struggled to inhale the oxygen she needed. They wheezed pathetically. The combination of running, something she didn’t do, the fear and…running, yes, she’d already thought of this, made sure her lungs didn’t function properly. She hissed as a sharp pain tightened in her ribs. She wasn’t fit, she never exercised which was ironic really, the only time she ever runs in her life is when it makes the difference between life and death. Although she was sure most people would run at those moments.
The night was silent other than the pounding of their feet and her harsh, panicked breath. She tried rather unsuccessfully to wheeze in enough oxygen to keep going. She pushed past the burning frenzy that was alight in her chest and her legs, and dug her feet into the ground. It was hard enough that chunks of dirt broke free, it helped to push her body further, she was, for once, thankful the night was freezing cold. Sludge would have made this a million times harder.
Why was the person chasing her being so silent? She had expected curses or name calling, that she could feed off. She knew that they would push her further, faster but this silence made it more daunting, more terrifying, if that was possible, especially when someone was hunting you with only one thing on their mind. To kill.
She gasped, sucking cold air into her stalling lungs and realised that the somewhat blurred line that separated life and death was, at this precise moment, nonexistent. She felt the great big wallop up the side of her head as the thought became more real. One minute you lived, breathed, laughed…loved, the next minute you were greeted by eternal blackness. Was there something after this life? Would she see the ones she loved again or was this it? Why had she never given this much thought before now? She knew the answer even as her head asked the question, seventeen year olds didn’t usually give death much thought. With a full life ahead of them, why should they worry about death?
Regret, a huge ball of it formed and tightened in the pit of her stomach. She desperately hoped she would see them again because she didn’t want eternal blackness. She couldn’t handle the possibility that the last time she’d seen the ones she loved was actually thelast time. She hadn’t really said her goodbyes, she’d sat on the sofa, numb with shock, believing this wasn’t happening.
Her fate was laid out in front of her, one never had the opportunity to see this fate. It wasn’t exactly sat on a pretty silver platter but it was here, banging on the door whilst grinning menacingly at her meek attempt to escape.
Was her name on some list along with the method of her death? Or was it like a sick sort of lucky dip; run over by a bus, stabbed or shot. Did the boss of fate make sure there was a set date, a set time for you to die? If her name was on some sort of stupid death list what could she do other than tell it to take a good long jump off a cliff because she wasn’t ready? A person could change their fate, right? Well, she hoped so, otherwise what would be the point of all of this? They would all die and it wouldn’t change anything, it would add nothing. That was the worst kind of death in her opinion, one that lacked a reason, a purpose. Not that death as a whole was acceptable. It wasn’t.