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DescriptionIf things keep going wrong, I think I might have a nervous breakdown. Oh wait, I did. I manage to gather my courage, or maybe stupidity, and venture into the Tall Forest. My only clue to finding my Dad lies on the other side, or so I've been told. Its emptiness is deceiving.
As I make my way within its darkness, I set off a trap. I might be fast, but not fast enough, and Ever has taken its toll on me. My search for Dad is put on hold when I get myself into some serious trouble. A boy and his shadow save me from certain death and come to my rescue. Or do they?
I remember all too well that most people are banished to Ever for a reason. Should I trust this Shadow Boy? After all, nothing in Ever is ever what it seems.
Reader Rating: (6 Ratings)
* * *
Welcome to Ever.
Ever, a deadly realm where feared, powerful and dangerous magical beings are banished. Though very large, it is not a world but a magically created prison. You can't break through its circular boundary. Who, or what, made Ever? I've no idea. They were powerful, and cruel. That is all I can tell you.
Ever is like and unlike every other world. Nothing is safe. Safety is a dream. Ever is a nightmare. Few survive their first day. Nothing is what it seems. If something appears safe, it isn't. If something appears dangerous, well it is, but probably more so than you think.
Ever has no sun, no moon, no stars at night. Time is told by the ever changing color of the sky where portals open, dropping new inhabitants, or new terrors. Time does pass. Don't worry, you won't get old. You won't live that long.
The landscape changes without reason from dessert to jungles. The flora isn't safe at any time. There is food, if you can find it without getting eaten yourself. Most plants and animals are poisonous. So is the water.
Are you afraid? You should be. This is the end. It gets worse of course. Remember the portals? Do think angels come through? Rarely the innocent do. Mostly, it is people of evil, people too powerful to kill. Their magic works here. The creatures are worse.
Do you understand? Well you will eventually, or you'll die. There is no escaping Ever. Ever.
* * *
The sky is blue. Usually this is my favorite part of the day. The rain has ended and everything smells crisp and clean. The color of the sky reminds me of home, of earth.
Right now I'm not thinking of the past as I tromp along the riverbank. The ground squishes under my feet, still wet from the three hours of pouring rain we just had. My runners are soon soaked through. I don't care. I have more important things on my mind.
Jadus is gone.
Tears threaten again and I clench my teeth. I'm resolved to deal with this and not break down. Crying won't help. It could get me killed.
I need to pay attention. I stop for a moment, looking more closely at my surroundings.
The fifteen foot wide wild river is roaring beside me. The waters are moving fast, making it too dangerous to swim or cross. They are also poisonous and filled with creatures all tooth and claw. That's how Ever is, everything is deadly.
On the other side of the river is the Rainbow Jungle where I have lived this past month since my uncle banished me to Ever. I know I only survived because of Jadus.
Thinking of him again makes my chest hurt. I spent almost every moment with him, learning to survive. Now he is gone. I want to blame him, but it's not his fault he can't cross the river. Still, I'm pissed he didn't even try to find a way. He just gave up and left me. Maybe he got tired of taking care of me. Maybe...
A piercing screech echoes from high above. I jerk my head up, my heart suddenly pounding.
The reason I'm on this side of the river is a giant hawk snatched me up to be its dinner. I managed to get free, but when I dropped, I landed over here.
Jadus and I had been searching for a way to cross the river. It's ironic how things work out. Actually, it just rather sucks.
Spotting the bird, I take off running. It saw me too and is coming in fast.
I sprint across the even ground into the rocks. Here I have to slow; they are slippery from the rain. I don't want to fall and break my ankle. There are no doctors here.
As if to remind me, my sides start to ache and burn. The bird's talons ripped me up good the first time it grabbed me. They even cut through my now lost sweater and my T-shirt.
I feel a breeze and drop, squishing myself between two large boulders. There is no wind in Ever. What I feel is from the bird's wings.
It swoops down, so close its talons scratch along the rocks.
My heart is pounding so hard I can almost hear it over the sound of the river. I jump up and quickly start moving again. I'm afraid the bird will land. The size of a small plane, I can't fight it, can't kill it.
It screeches again. Too close. I glance over my shoulder and see it's already swung around and is diving again. Crap!
I drop, banging my knee on a rock. Like I need more bruises. All of me aches, but my sides are really hurting now. I get as low to the ground as I can and place a hand on the worst side, the one with three cuts. It's sticky. The wounds have opened up again.
Gritting my teeth against the pain, I flinch when the bird passes over. Its talons grind against rock again. One of them snags some of my hair. I gasp as strands are ripped out.
I'm slower getting up this time. I look for the bird. It's ahead of me, swinging around for another go. I'm almost to safety. Just a little further is the crevasse-like cave in the largest of the rocks. I'm terrified I won't make it. Everything hurts and my body doesn't want to work. I'm falling more than I'm moving forward.
The giant bird dives. I lunge forward, hitting another rock. I roll in the open space by the entrance. Wind buffets me again. Claws spray dirt and rocks. They miss me...just. I struggle to my hands and knees, crawling for the entrance only a foot away.
The bird twists and beats its wings to rise. One of them catches me in the side, knocking me over and down. I hit the side of the entrance hard, half falling within.
The bird screeches its anger. I pull myself the rest of the way in and collapse. I'm exhausted, bruised and bleeding. But I'm alive, and for now, safe.
Shadow BoyBy: Jen Wylie