TITLE: The Decretum
GENRE: YA Dystopian
Generations after a plague almost eradicated society, sixteen-year-old Aura lives by three rules: Stay within your quarter; touch is illegal; love is forbidden. But in the search for her missing brother, Aura is about to break them all.
I shouldn't be walking alone in the Lower Quarters.
If they knew I was here, they'd kill me.
I'd heard the stories. We all had. About the girl who'd swapped her blue gown for the red smock of the LQ and headed out. She never came back -- her body had been discovered at the borderland three days later. They said people from the Beyond killed her.
It wouldn't surprise me. My Guardians say the people there are animals.
Which is why it isn’t smart being out here. A daughter of The Decretum shouldn't leave her Quarter. It's forbidden.
Screw that. A dare's a dare.
I tighten my grip around the handle of the bucket. All I have to do is get the proof home. Show Salina. I won’t get another chance. She’ll be gone soon and… Silence whistles through the empty street -- the hustle of daily life still almost an hour away.
The breeze whips up particles of dirt. They scratch and claw at my skin, but I can’t stop. I’ve already been here too long. I inhale the heady aroma of wood chips and smoldering cinder -- the remnants of a dying fire -- that marks my entrance to the Upper Quarter. Home.
The sun pokes above the clouds, casting its amber shadow across me, bathing my skin with color. I scan my surroundings. The street seems to close in. Trapping me. I shake my head.
Grow up, Aura. You wanted to come here.
With each step I take, the water I’m carrying splashes on the fabric of my shoes and pools between my toes. A chill travels along my spine.
I hear the scuffle of footsteps behind me.
Out of the corner of my eye, a figure leaps behind the crumpled metal frame of a factory. Straightening up, I draw in a deep breath. Move or die, Aura.