Today I’d like to introduce author HJ (Helen) Daly, whose debut novel, Pulse, is getting some rave reviews on Amazon UK and Goodreads. The book is a YA story set in a post-apocalyptic world with both futuristic and magical/fantasy elements, and today Helen has very kindly agreed to let me post an excerpt from it. So, without further ado, here it is!
The searing pain in her arms told her she was still tied to the tree, yet she felt very little from her shoulders down. As her head still fought against the fog she couldn’t think straight enough to worry about the absence of pain. Hearing the groan at her feet she forced her eyes open. Terry had been dragged to one side, but still in touching distance. Blood from her broken nose was smeared across her face.
Scanning the line of prisoners she noted Rootu, on his knees, blood pouring from a cut over his eye. Flo’s eyes were red; one half closed the bruising taking its time to show, and Ryan struggling to stay up right, blood matting his hair to his head. All those people injured, in pain because of her. If she could only concentrate long enough to put an end to this madness.
A deadly hush had settled over the clearing, black clouds covering the afternoon sky, spots of rain scattered over the bare branches.
“Ah, back with us I see.” Amy turned to face Esa. “Keep the others in line. If they move kill them.” A large number of guards had appeared and positioned themselves along the line, weapons in hand.
Esa met Flo’s eyes; all she saw was panic, which was no doubt mirrored in her own. It was easy to guess what Amy would do next, cause her as much pain as she could before finishing her off. If she could distract Amy long enough she would help the others escape, it was the least she could do.
“Let’s get on with this.” Esa whispered, “Just promise to leave them alone.”
“Let’s see what you have to say and I might consider it,” Amy breathed as her eyes flicked to the flames dancing across her blade in the stirring fire. “Now Ugarth here,” she gestured to the goblin “says you know more than you’re telling.”
“What more do you want to know?” Esa felt a dull ache in her side as Amy leaned in.
“Where to begin?” she whispered in her ear. “How about telling me the name of this famed mage, what she looks like, or where she is now?”
“I don’t know, she kept to herself, barely talked to anyone and left after crossing the boundary.”
Esa tasted the blood in her mouth and the sting across her face. Fog clung to her mind and she tried to concentrate.
“Let’s try again. What does she look like?”
“Me, only not as pretty.” Spitting blood from her mouth Esa managed a smirk.
“Now that’s the girl I remember, pity Thomas isn’t here to see this. Wonder where he’s hiding?”
“I don’t know.” Her tone was full of bitterness as she let numerous images pop into her head. She would die here and he would never know, would never care.
“Oh, this just gets better.” Amy broke into Esa’s thoughts. “He dumped you here with this lot, it’s a shame I don’t have time for some real fun.” The tip of the dagger glowed when she pulled it from the fire and watched the prisoners heave at their bindings. “Tell you what,” she whispered in Esa’s ear, “once I’m through here, I’ll find Thomas tell him how you begged and screamed his name before Urgath had a little fun and then I’ll have great pleasure in watching him die.” She watched the pain fill Esa’s eyes and smiled. “Now where were we … ah yes, tell me where she is.”
Amy grabbed Esa’s bound hand, pulling her fingers forward. She braced herself as the blade touched her skin, the heat searing her knuckles. This time only a moan escaped her lips. She was too exhausted for anything else.
“I said where is she?”
The blade continued down her already bloody arm. Heat rose together with the scream that had been building in her throat. The prisoners moved as one, twisting and turning as they fought with the guards as best they could.
Ignoring her own pain Esa watched the other prisoners as the guards started to push them back. Even bound they gave all they could and in return the guards had drawn weapons and were hacking at those closest to them. She couldn’t let these people die for her, she didn’t deserve it. “Stop!” the shout carried over the clearing. “Enough, I’ll tell you everything just stop this. Please.”
“Esa no, don’t say a word, we’re not worth it,” Flo yelled as the guards continued to slash away.
“Stop!” Amy’s shout resounded around the clearing and the guards backed off. “Is this going to be something special?” Amy’s blade rested playfully on Esa’s throat and she could smell the burning of her own skin. “This will make a nice addition to the others,” Amy continued as she swiped Esa’s hair to the side and indicated to the snaking scar twisting around her neck. “That must have been a mighty beating. You’re always in the wrong place at the wrong time, aren’t you?”
Well, that was a good way to whet the appetite, wasn’t it? Thanks again to Helen for the excerpt, and if you want to find more you can find Pulse at Amazon UK, or Helen on her blog, Facebook and YouTube.
HJ Daly is a first-time novelist who used to make up stories and poems for her kids, and then started taking writing more seriously when they went to school full time. Pulse was written very quickly but then sat in a drawer for some time before she pulled it out again and decided to send it out to make its way in the world.