Ward of New Dawn (probably to be changed)

Submitted by Brighid on Fri, 12/11/2015 - 02:17

Death was never something to fear for herself, she knew. For all of her kind, the embrace of eternity had almost appealed.

There were so many, though, who depended upon her. She knew that this, too, was a hollow concern, for all things were taken into account. The moment her heart ceased to beat, her charges were out of her hands and into another’s. One just as capable, one just as worthy. The Hand would never choose one less than able to protect the sacred world. She herself had been honored, once she learned to accept its existence.

Everything should have denied it.

She stared up at the pale sky, relishing the cool breeze upon her face, the damp grass beneath her back. The sun was setting, casting its brilliantly colored tendrils across the great expanse of the sky. It glowed across her peaceful face as she lay dying, gradually weakening as time carved away at her grievous wounds.

They were safe for now. Until her heir followed, they would have to fend for themselves. It would not be long.

She drew in a sharp breath as a violent wave of pain washed over her, leaving her one the edge of consciousness.

Right. It would not be long.

Every agonized breath was worth their lives.

It would not be long now.

Her breath stopped.

Soon. Very soon.

The Hand would usher in the next Ward of New Dawn.

Chapter 1

“And the electoral college was installed for-”

The bell rang. Mr. Pope sighed in relief, shoving his class outline away and rubbing his eyes beneath his glasses.

“Thank God. I really didn’t want to explain why we have an electoral college.”

The class laughed on cue. The professor waved a dismissive hand.

“Okay, guys, the homework is on the syllabus, and remember we’ve got midterms coming up in two weeks. I promise, I’ll make the electoral college sound appealing enough to master. Get out of here.”

The teens clattered to their feet, grabbing at notebooks and pencils and backpacks. Mr. Pope shuffled through the folders of multi-page essays and a familiar name caught his eye. He looked up at the congregation of students and picked out the owner of the name.

“Mr. Fletcher.”

The seventeen year old swung his backpack over his shoulder, trotting down the stairs to come to Mr. Pope’s desk. The professor felt a glow of pride in studying the young man. If any of his students had turned out right, it was John Fletcher. Tall and narrow with sinewy muscles beneath his characteristic dark jeans, grey Vans, purple t-shirt, and black leather hooded jacket. His dark hair was gelled and combed to perfection so that a bulldozer could not have disrupted it. His blue-hazel eyes were wide and alert and sparking with intelligence. Not only intelligent, but with the cool “in-crowds”, chief editor of yearbook, president of the mathletes, and first running-back for the football team.

He was the epitome of a model student.

“Yes, sir?” the boy prompted, eyebrows raised quizzically. Mr. Pope tapped his folder.

“I really enjoyed reading your essay. It’s clear you put a lot of thought into it.”

John smiled with a little shrug. “I try not to turn in anything that didn’t have any thought. I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

“I could see you with a future in some form of government. John, have you ever considered an internship?”

His smile slowly faded and he frowned thoughtfully. “Um...no, I haven’t. I guess I’ve been a little preoccupied with the SAT and college applications coming up.”

“That’s understandable, and if it would be too much on your plate don’t do it. I’d like you to consider it, though. Our Assemblymember always needs intelligent minds and willing hands.”

“I’ll keep that in mind, Mr. Pope. Thanks for mentioning it.”

“Anytime. Let me know what you end up deciding. I’ll see you later.”

John nodded and moved out the door into the frenzying hall as teens rushed for the doors and home. There was a football game the next day and everyone wanted to get their homework done in preparation. Two arms snaked around his middle as he moved to his locker and he jumped in shock, laughing as he spun around and wrapped his arms around Kelsey, quite possibly the most beautiful girl in school and his happy girlfriend all three years of high-school.

“I was worried you got in trouble,” she muttered in his ear. John scoffed, breathing in the light almond scent that somehow always accompanied her. Maybe it was the shampoo she used. Her waist length hickory hair was impossibly soft. “Why’d Mr. Pope ask you to stay behind?”

He looked down to meet her wonderful, azure blue eyes. “Apparently, he likes my government work. Wants me to go into government myself.”

Her fine eyebrows shot up. “Oh really? Do you have time for that?”

“Eh. I believe that, if it’s worth it, time will make itself.”

“You sounded all philosophical there.”

“I have my moments.”

She grinned and kissed his cheek. John closed his eyes briefly. They had never gone for those full-on lip locks that the rest of the school seemed to enjoy. Both John and Kelsey believed in the small displays of affection. If it was true love, they would be enough.

John knew he loved Kelsey. College would come and go, but he intended to ask her to marry him once he was able, once it made sense. Slow and steady won the race, and he was ready to run to the finish. Kelsey was worth it.

“Hey, man!”

Brody Seinz jerked his head in an unmistakable gesture.

“Coach is waiting for us.”

“Right.” John kissed Kelsey’s hand. “I’ll pick you up for the game tomorrow.”

“Cool. I’ll see you then. Love you.”

“Love you, too.” He sprinted to join his best friend at the end of the hall. The enormously built African-American shoved the wiry boy’s shoulder.

“You, boy, are a love machine.”

John made a face. “That is a gross term, you know. It implies a lot.”

“Yeah, don’t need any of that, do we? Get suited up; coach and everybody are waiting on the field.”

“Be out in a minute.”

John sprinted to the men’s locker room and hurriedly changed into gym shorts, his shoulder pads, jersey, and cleats. Football practice every single day, not to mention his extra-curricular martial arts and bouldering kept him in ship-shape. He liked exercising. He rarely felt so good about himself and everybody else as when he was moving. In every other situation, he could be lauded for exemplary behavior and performance, but it was only when he was struggling for something - fighting for something - that he felt real.

Something about this practice, though, seemed off. John watched the other players carefully as they ran drill after drill, attacking punching bags and tossing passes across yards. They all performed with as much dedication as ever. Coach O’Delancey barked as insistently as always, the whistle clenched between his perfectly squared teeth, hands on his hips, feet braced at least two feet apart. Even the assistant coach had his ever-present bag of hot cheetos in hand as he encouraged the Senior Varsity teens to bend lower in their push-ups. There was nothing wrong, nothing out of place as he usually felt throughout the rest of the day. This was supposed to be where everything was right, and it was. John pulled his helmet off and scrubbed a hand through his gelled hair. His skin was clammy. Why did he feel so wrong?


He glanced sidelong at Martin Vasquez as the kicker loped towards him, grinning.

“You totally missed Grant’s pass! He made that sixty yard pass, and you know what that means!”

“Yeah,” John sighed. “I owe you ten dollars.”

Martin cocked his head, his smile fading a little. “Um...you don’t look nearly as disappointed as I anticipated. You okay, man? You look a little...or really pale.”

“No, I’m okay.” He wiped his face with the collar of his jersey. He was sweating and could not seem to breath right. “You know what, I actually don’t feel so good.”

“You don’t look so good. Go talk to coach and go home. Isaac needs the scrimmage practice anyway.”

John nodded, swallowing as he crossed the field to O’Delancey. The coach flicked his chin at him as he approached.

“You look like you lost a bet.” he stated through teeth clenched around the prized whistle. “What’s up, chachi?”

His sight was blurring and John blinked hard. It didn’t help. “I’m not feeling so hot.”

Coach nodded emphatically with crinkled eyebrows, spitting out his whistle so it dangled on his chest. “You’re sweatin’ up a storm. Shower up and go home. I need you on top of your game for tomorrow night.”

“Sure thing, coach.” He tried to smile, but it made him feel sick. He settled with a half nod and trudged back towards the locker rooms. Something was very wrong.

He showered and dressed again, swinging his leather jacket around his shoulders and slinging his backpack over his shoulder as he moved out to his car. The sun was setting and the sky glowed an ethereal pink, contrasting sharply with the bright orange and musty brown of the leaves gently drifting from the oak trees lining the street. The street lights were just beginning to come on, doing little to permeate the dusk dimness. John drew his car keys out of his pocket and aimed the point into the door lock. His hand shook. He clenched his jaw and thrust it forward forcefully. It scratched an angry bolt across the new black paint.

John meant to release a sigh, but it erupted as a roar and his arm seemed to move of its own volition as he violently hurled the keys across the parking lot and into the bushes somewhere. He froze, staring at his still extended hand.

It was not often that he succumbed to frustration, but then it usually involved in writing a very strongly worded essay or breaking a pencil. This was something different.

Something he had certainly not planned out.

He straightened. The cool autumn breeze filled his jacket and riffled through his sweat slicked hair. He reached into his jeans pocket and pulled out his phone, dialing with a trembling thumb. He held it to his ear, listening to the ring. Four times. Five times.

“Hi, you’ve reached Mindy’s phone! I’m unable to answer now, but leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”


“Hey, Mom, it’s me.” John turned back to lean his elbows on the roof of his car, burying his forehead in his forearms. “There’s...there’s something wrong with me. I don’t know what. I mean, I might be sick, but it doesn’t feel like that. It’s like...I forgot something that I’m supposed to remember...and it’s something important and...and sad.” He drew in a sharp breath and leaned his chin on his wrist, staring back out over the street. Even as he stared, his eyes filmed with unbidden tears. Everything blurred. “Like I don’t belong here.” Too many emotions. Way too dramatic, especially for his mom. He cleared his throat. “Anyway, I know you’re out till late, you and your ladies getting your book club on,” He chuckled dryly. “So I’ll see you later. I’m coming home early. Love you. A lot.”

He hung up. The contact photo of his mother lingered for another second. A wide faced woman with full, dark hair and a smiling mouth. There was a poinsettia in her hair, as always. It reminded her of John’s father, she had always said. She never explained why.

The picture faded.

The street lights flared in enveloping fluorescence and John yelped in shock, dropping his phone and backpedaling violently into his car. He felt its solid presence vanish beneath him and he fell, down through a vacuum of light and nothing. Now, he did not scream.
Finally, everything felt right.

Author's age when written

This is a rough draft of the first chapter and a sort of prologue thing but it's not exactly a prologue...you'll see. This is also my first attempt at an action-y sort of story with fantastical and faith related themes. Point being: I am sure there will be lots to correct so please point out grammatical errors and anything of the sort :) I also have characters who have been dating since freshman year of highschool. While I personally do not believe in romantic relationships that young, it is a detail used to describe my main character's integrity and devotion to a cause. That's pretty much it. Enjoy!


Alright, you asked for me to point out grammatical mistakes or errors!

The second sentence: "For all of her kind, the embrace of eternity had almost appealed." I believe, though am not 100\% positive, that the comma is out of place. Second, the way the end is worded is confusing. I think it would be better worded, "...eternity almost had an appeal to it." But maybe that's just me. I tend to word things differently than most.

At the end of the prologue, right before the beginning of the chapter, your describing the thoughts of...this person. Then you declare that "her breath stopped." Then add two more sentences that seem as if she is still thinking.

"What?! But, but! The Electoral College is such an interesting topic!" Those were my thoughts when I read the beginning. Of course, Mr. Pope must not have been a philosopher...

"His dark hair was gelled and combed to perfection so that a bulldozer probably could not have disrupted it." The "probably" throws off the perfection.

I don't know why, but I really liked the way you described this, "...time carved away at her grievous wounds." Time carved away...it sounds almost poetic.

“That is a gross term, you know. It implies a lot.” That statement made me like John so much. He sounds like an amazing person.

Overall, it's a good beginning and it's piqued my interest!

"My greatest wish for my writing is that it would point you to the Savior."

Thanks, Arthur! Thank goodness for editors...I'll go back and fix those. Haha the electoral college is a fascinating subject but you kind of have to be prepared to sit through a lecture and this is not a government class ;) with the prologue, I do have those last thoughts after her last breath on purpose as sort of a final though before introducing the new character because it's super important, so they aren't really her thoughts, they're just "ushering" John into the story. Oh good, I'm glad you like him! Half of his description is to emphasize his integrity for future reasons ;) thanks for commenting!

When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.

By the way, feel free to ignore any of my suggestions. You're the author. :)

Also, I might as well share my views here, although I'm guessing most already know my views. You say you do not believe it wise to have such relationships when younger; I'm right there with you. But I'm guessing I'm beyond where you are. I don't think it wise to have such physical interactions whether your graduated from high school or not.

One last thing; the reason John gave for him and Kelsey not kissing on the lips was a very weak reason. "Small signs of affection" are enough for true love, yes, but that doesn't make kissing bad. I'd encourage you to ponder that subject out further.

Anyways, keep writing!

"My greatest wish for my writing is that it would point you to the Savior."

Ah but I posted this for suggestions so gracias!! Yes, thanks for the insight on that! I will definitely give stronger reasons for not kissing on the lips. Don't get me wrong in thinking that more passionate contact is always okay after highschool, that's not what I meant at all. It was meant more like I don't see the point in boyfriend/girlfriend relationships in the early years and often find fourteen year olds stating their love for their significant other almost laughable. Of course, many highschool relationships survive to marriage and some of them very successful, so I'm not one to judge. It's simply not for me or most of my characters. As for kissing on the lips, I'm not exactly OPPOSED to it, I guess, especially as they're older and more advanced in their relationship. I just happen to not be very good at typical highschool teenage romance. For me, I can feel true love in a genuine hug so I just tend to find kissing on the lips a little unnecessary for unmarried couples. That's just me :) I do enjoy talking about these kind of subjects, though, so if you have any more thoughts, please share!

When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.

I just skimmed comments, so forgive me if there's repetition here.

I disagree with Arthur (first comment) about the comma. I think it stays. But I agree with his re-wording.

A grammatical note of my own: when you're describing what John wears, Vans should be capitalized since it's a brand name.

As far as kissing goes, I think how far into an explanation you get is up to you, depending on your personal convictions as well as the place you want your (or any character's) convictions to have in the story. There doesn't always need to be an explanation for why in stories, nor do, as you've pointed out, our characters have to share our convictions. I think that's one of the shortcomings of Christian fiction. We (because this is one of the biggest things I'm tackling editing my novel right now!) feel like with fiction we draw people in by the story and then can use that opportunity to teach why we or characters believe what they do. And sometimes that is necessary, but there is a lot that can be said with just showing someone's lifestyle without explaining the why's.

I also really like the title you currently have, and love your writing style. Can't wait for more of this!

Hey! You commented inbetween my comments! :P

Yes, I inderstand why you'd not include an explanation of the electoral college in your story...but that was still my initial response! I probably enjoy the study of government too much.

That is one great key to writing stories: hide details that will be important later on. Your making me excited for the next part!

"My greatest wish for my writing is that it would point you to the Savior."

This is rather interesting...I'm looking forward to the next chapter to see what kind of story this really is. Fantasy (the beginning)?
I loved how you began the chapter. I laughed with the electoral college thing. You wrote in a really visual way, and I could see the classroom and students.
"John smiled with a little shrug. “I try not to turn in anything that didn’t have any thought. I’m glad you enjoyed it.” - when I read this, I thought, "How proud he is." Maybe I'm interpreting wrong though. :)
I agree that the kissing part made me stop and think for a few moments. I would disagree with the reason too, but you could have just been showing the character of the character. Haha.
I also did not quite understand why John was so angry - I had to read it again. So he had a problem with pride and high expectations for himself? And looks like he goes to another world in the end.
It's also interesting how he called his mom like that. I think you are setting up alot of foreshadowing that can be explained later. Good job.
" Two arms snaked around his middle as he moved to his locker and he jumped in shock, laughing as he spun around and wrapped his arms around Kelsey, quite possibly the most beautiful girl in school and his happy girlfriend all three years of high-school." - this part may have grammatical errors. Consider cutting the sentence because you have alot of phrases - three actually. For example - you write it like - apple, orange, banana. One could read it like my example and interpret it that way, or the way you wrote it. I could be wrong, though.

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson


@Megan: thanks for commenting! I am so glad for rough drafts ;) I apologize if things seemed a little confusing, but I guess that's sort of what I had in mind for the first chapter. As it progresses, I have plans for it to reveal a lot more and be almost suspenseful (hopefully). But please be honest: is this the kind of confusing that makes you kind of want to give up or want to find the answers? If it's too confusing I can go back and give more explanation. If not, than I'll continue with my plan of popping answers in all subtle and mystery like. Please let me know! Also, John is proud, but it's more of self-assured pride as opposed to narcissistic pride. He knows what he's capable of and likes to perform to the best of his ability. This is also crucial to his character in the future. As for the not kissing, it is by no means calling out those who do kiss in highschool relationships. It is simply meant to illustrate that those two characters have a patient regard for each other and a respect for each other's lives as individuals, not just as a couple. This is only to layer HIS character, not my views of the world.

When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.

I was coming on this site thinking - there's SOMEONE or SOMETHING I'm supposed to respond to, and finally I remember it was to you. I want to assure you that, no, I did not mean this was confusing in a discouraging way! But that there was intriguing events in the story - school setting, mysterious disappearance...so I was excited to read more to figure out the genre of the story. (Don't tell me!).
Yes, you are doing a good job with foreshadowing character traits.
And about the kissing, it is your choice. I trust that you, as a Christian writer, will re-approach the subject and are trying to say something about his actions.

"It is not the length of life, but the depth of life." Ralph Waldo Emerson

I like it!

I agree with Arthur about the kissing part, but I understand that sometimes there is not enough time and space to hash out your beliefs on a specific matter in your stories. :)

I don’t thrive off of chaos: chaos thrives off of me.

With the kissing part, I'm not quite sure I understand the concern. Do you guys think that there should NOT have been a kiss on the cheek at all? Or it just didn't make sense how I explained their reasons for not doing more?

When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.

Yeah, I didn't think so :) I just wanted to know what the main problem was. Now that I know I feel a little better. I personally don't believe in those kinds of signs of affection until marriage, but I'm a sheltered homeschooler...I don't know what public schoolers are like ;) guess that's me attempting to sound like I know what's going on haha! Thanks for the insight though!

When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.

Brighid and Damaris, people who are public schooled are not much different than most homeschoolers... The homeschool community tends to be more conservative, but there are plenty of exceptions! I don't think it's bad that you've given John a different worldview than yourself. I personally wouldn't do it unless I then correct the worldview later on in the story, but that's because I see worldview portrayed as the purpose of any story. I see stories as tools to edify with a Biblical worldview.

"My greatest wish for my writing is that it would point you to the Savior."

There are definitely exceptions to the rule. :) I know some extremely non-conservative homeschoolers.
I don't believe that there is anything wrong with writing about different worldviews. It's real life. If we only wrote about our own worldviews our stories would be pretty cheesy. :)

I don’t thrive off of chaos: chaos thrives off of me.

Thank you so much for saying that because most of the time my characters share my own world views unless I DO correct them later on! So yeah you kind of jumped story wise, but I was originally going to do some crazy thing that has to do with a lot what was going on in the prologue! Now I'm excited because John DOES go through a big character development. *whew* I was worried that I was going to become some moralistically questionable character on this website :/ but please always let me know if you see something of concern so I can either explain it or correct it. Thank you everyone!

When I worship, I would rather my heart be without words than my words be without heart.