TITLE: Freedom's Chains
GENRE: YA Speculative - Fantasy
Today is special. Today we get apple slices. It always gets kind of crazy around here on an apple slice day. Rule number one of this rare treat-of-a-day: once the fruit is placed in your hand, immediately shove it into your mouth and chew as quickly as possible. Rule number two on apple slice day: do not, for any reason, drop your fruit—if you want to keep all your fingers. I saw rule number two broken twice during my fifteen years of life, all of those years lived here inside Wormwood Tower. I plan to never, ever, break rule number two. Three months is a long time to wait for a chance at another apple slice and all their sweet and delicious goodness.
“Line up,” shouts the orange-uniformed guard, breaking my gaze from a tiny cockroach scurrying across the floor. “Hurry. Or else don’t plan on eating anything—even cabbage—until tomorrow morning. Or if that threat doesn’t work, I’ll kick you out into the wild, where you can expect to be dinner.” He repeatedly pokes his wooden club into every drab, gray linen-gowned child and adult, forcing us to scoot and scamper faster, just like the cockroach, while lining up in the usual order to accept our apple slice. I hate the orange guard. The green guard is much nicer.
We hurry to our positions in line with all the wee children first, those after progressing in age and last but not least, the caboose: Nan. Scar-riddled Nan is always last.