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The Karma Chronicles - Book Excerpt

The Karma Chronicles - Book Excerpt

This is a piece of a completed manuscript I have written, called 'The Karma Chronicles.' It follows the story of these powerful women, called Karmalinas, who have the power to control the balance of good and evil, through karma. The story centers around Olivia, a young girl who is not aware she has the power to control karma. Her world is turned upside-down, after the death of a fellow Karmalina, called Selina. Olivia is forced to accept a destiny she never asked for, and take Selinas place, to protect the hard work of the generations of Karmalinas before her. However, Olivia does not know that Selina's killer is coming after all Karmalinas, and that she is his next target.This piece of writing is Selina's final scene before she is killed. *Please note, the manuscript is written in American English.

126

Fantasy / Sci-fi


author-small

Stephanie Allwright (Australia)


She kept running further away from the warehouse entrance, darting into an ocean of shipping crates. At the end of an aisle she noticed a crevice between two crates, about a foot wide. She turned to look behind her, making sure she was not spotted, and then eased herself into the gap, until the darkness hid her silhouette. She froze in this position, praying that Antonio and his men would not find her.
As time passed and the adrenaline subsided, she took notice of her surroundings and started plotting a new escape. She looked around and spotted a mid-sized crate to her left, which offered a possible solution. According to the label, it contained glass jewelry and would be shipped out to New Hope, Pennsylvania tomorrow.
An idea started to form in her mind. If her necklace and the magic within was really the reason why she was being hunted, then maybe she needed to hide it for a little while. She could conceal her necklace inside this box, and then find another way to escape herself. Maybe she could find another crate also headed for Pennsylvania, and hide within it during the initial departure off Murano Island, retrieving the necklace before they were put on the flight to America.
This gave her hope. After all, the necklace was her symbol to show she was a keeper of karma, who had the power to affect the balance of good and evil. As long as it was on her, Antonio or his men could recognize it.
She pulled off the necklace and carefully placed in it in the box with the other necklaces. Replacing the heavy wooden lid to its original position, she started to back away from the box. A noise of a door slamming and several pairs of footsteps made her jump in surprise. She froze instantly as she heard loud yelling in Italian. She could not understand what was said, but their tones sounded angry. She tiptoed to the end of her hiding place to sneak a look to see who the men were. Once she had them in her sights, she had to force herself to hold in a shriek, for what she saw sent terror through every inch of her body.
There was not one, but almost two-dozen men. All in black suits, which was not a good sign. Some had guns in hand, others knives. One or two she could probably take, but not this many. She watched them from her hiding place, staying out of sight. She noticed them searching the shelves and in the gaps around the crates. A few men had flashlights, so her spot in the dark would not be a sanctuary for long.
She looked down the row of crates behind her and noticed a few that appeared to be empty, with their lids resting on the side. They were only 20 feet away. If she could sneak into one of them and close the lid, then maybe she could still get out of here alive. She started to feel like her chances of surviving this nightmare were dwindling. Still this game was not over yet.
She withdrew back into her small gap and looked at the boxes around her. One was destined for New York and had a stamp on the box, marked ‘Fragile Glass Baubles Inside’. She carefully opened the lid so no one would hear her and removed one from its packaging. No larger than a baseball, this one was red in color with yellow and orange weaved through in a pattern that resembled fire. She hated to destroy something so beautiful, but it was either her life or the glass bauble. She aimed to throw it over the shelf opposite her so it would smash in the next aisle. This would hopefully give enough distraction for her to dart to her next hiding place.
Using all the force in her arm, she tossed the bauble in the air, clear over the shelf and heard a distinctive smash in the next aisle. Like she had hoped, all the men started to run towards the noise, hence the time to move had arrived. She leaped out of her gap and started running for the next box. She thought she moved quickly, but she was not quick enough.
Suddenly he walked around the corner. His beady eyes stared at her just as she had her hand on the new box. His black hair was slicked back with way too much gel and he now had a small cut above his left eye. It was no other than Antonio himself. He looked furious.
‘YOU!’ he yelled. He ripped the gun from his holster and pointed it at her head in one fluid motion.
Selina froze. She could not run up the aisle away from him, he would shoot her down for sure. She could not run towards him either, that would get her shot too. Her mind raced, searching for a way out of this, but she found none. He lurched forward and seized her right arm, thrusting the gun into the middle of her back.
‘Found Her!’ He bellowed at the top of his voice. Selina tried to struggle, but he just shoved the gun deeper between her shoulder blades. It was so painful she was forced to move forward. He marched her to the end of the aisle and soon she was surrounded. Close to a dozen guns were pointed at her from every angle, with Antonio in front staring into her eyes once again.
Thinking she had nothing left to lose, she threw her right foot into the air as high as she could, attempting to kick the gun out of his hands. Antonio’s gun flew up into the air, but he ignored the flying weapon, pulled a knife out of his belt and aimed it at her heart. All the men started yelling and the cocking sound of a dozen guns echoed around.
‘ENOUGH!’ He bellowed at her, but she felt like the message was for his men too. The room grew immediately silent. It was so quiet, you could hear factory workers in the next building.
‘Try that again and your death will come even slower. No one makes a mockery of me and lives to tell the story.’
Selina gulped in fear. She remained speechless as her mind raced with panic. She attempted to find any solution that could free her from this predicament, but her mind kept giving her back blanks.
‘You have two options here, wench!’ snarled Antonio. ‘Tell me where your necklace is and where I can find the other karma wenches, and I will kill you quickly. If not I will torture you and make you scream all the way to your death. What would you prefer?’ Antonio smiled, as if he enjoyed the thought of causing her pain.
Selina was running out of options. It would take a miracle to save her now and she simply did not believe in them. She could not give up her fellow karmalinas, they were like her family, and even if she did she would still die. Her heart raced in her chest, as fear and panic filled every inch of her body.
‘You have three seconds to decide. If you try to run again, Ernesto here will shoot you, but do not worry it will only be a flesh wound. You will still have to talk either way,’ said Antonio.
Selina turned to look at Ernesto. She could tell by the look in his eyes that he was excited for this opportunity. Her eyes returned to Antonio’s as he started the count.
‘… One … Two … Three … What is your answer wench?’
Selina knew in her heart that this was the end. She looked at her feet in despair. There was nothing she could do. She knew she could not escape, but she could not sell out her coven either. A realization started to bloom in her mind and she knew she had the answer. It would be one that Antonio would not see coming.
All the fear and panic started to ebb away as the solution to her problems stared her in the face. She knew what she had to do now. She felt a wave of calm and peace replace the chilling fear as she faced the knife pointed at her chest.
She looked up at Antonio, relaxed the muscles in her face, and spoke her last words.
‘I will not choose either. I am a Karmalina and what I protect is larger than you and I, so you lose.’
With that she plunged herself forward. The cold metal blade pieced her sternum as the knife slid into her rapidly beating heart. She fell to the ground and released her last breath. Antonio’s shrieks of anger filled her ears but nothing mattered anymore. She felt no pain, just freedom and peace as she slipped into the forever darkness.


Competition: The Pen Factor 2016, Round 1

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Review 1:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Attention to mechanics
  • You demonstrate a professional quality of writing throughout the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • There needs to be more balance between narration and dialogue. Avoid overdoing the narrative and remember that dialogue can diffuse long claustrophobic text.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Characterization
  • Make sure your characters are multidimensional. Do they have strengths and weaknesses? Mere mortals make the most interesting stories because they are like you and me and we are able to empathize with their journey. That’s how the connection with a character is formed.
Main character
  • Your protagonist exhibited a unique voice and had original characteristics. Their actions and dialogue were convincing!
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot.
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. Your story makes compelling reading.
Technique and tight writing
  • The writing was tight and economical and each word had purpose. This enabled the plot to unravel clearly. Your writing exhibits technical proficiency.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • I loved your fresh approach. Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose requires both skill and practice.
Atmosphere and description
  • A writer’s ability to create mood and atmosphere through evocative description is vital to the reader’s experience. It’s a real skill to craft out how the characters react to the setting and atmosphere and perhaps your story could go further in its description. The reader wants to experience the same sensory and poignant journey as the characters.
Authentic and vivid setting
  • The setting was realistic and vivid. The characters’ mood and emotions were conveyed successfully through the believable setting.
Opening line and hook
  • Your strong opening and compelling hook was a promise of wonderful things to come!
General comments from your fellow writer 1:
This was a great read and I would totally love to read the entire story!

Review 2:


Compelling hook?

Fresh?

Strong characters?

Entertaining?

Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
Character conflict
  • Your characters drew me into their world from the very beginning. Their goals, conflicts and purpose were clearly introduced and I wanted to find out more about them.
Atmosphere and description
  • Your story was a feast for the senses. The atmosphere wrapped itself around me and transported me onto the page alongside your characters.
General comments from your fellow writer 2:
Wow! This is a great story with strong characters and you clearly show writing talent on different levels. Your story's pace was masterful, which is why the reader ends the chapter wanting to read on. Congratulations, it's one of the hardest elements to achieve as a writer. Keep your narrative and plot fresh and you're bound to succeed. Keep writing - I'd love to read more!