Forsaken Dreamscape – First Look – The Asylum

Ahhh October. Since I’ve got my eye on February 11th as a release date, that means there’s only 4 months to go!

So I’m pleased to announce the first excerpt of Forsaken Dreamscape!  I chose this one for the first look a while ago. I wanted to reveal something that was completely new, and yet wanted to do something close to the beginning of the story.

If you’ve read it before, or if you’ve read the description, you know about the turn Wren’s life took when she left Nevermor at the end of the first book. She’s spent a bit of time in a London asylum, much like Bedlam. If you’ve read it before, you know that the asylum scene was only about a chapter long. Well I’ve changed that, extending it to be much more involved to give a better glimpse of what Wren’s life there has really been like.   As with the factory and orphanage in the last book, I did some research and tried to give it an accurate historical feeling.

Here’s your first glimpse of what’s in store! This excerpt comes from Chapter Two.  Enjoy!

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Wren peered into the cage, watching the birds hop from perch to perch.  They seemed content enough, even though they were locked away behind steel bars that would not let them soar.

Yet if they were free, there would be dangers for them, Wren knew.  Perhaps it is best that they are caged.  Behind these bars, they are protected.

The inmates were allowed to enjoy the birds, but were quickly chastised if they tried to open the cage doors.  Still, Wren often reached her fingers through the bars to feel the soft feathers as their warm little bodies darted past.  They were flickers of life in this colorless place.  The birds talked happily together and none of it was directed at her.  She didn’t have to respond.

Two years, she reflected.  Two years in this cage.  The irony of her name had made her sigh helplessly on more than one occasion.

Wren stared at the birds now, absently watching the blur of their colors as they swooped by.  Across the room, a few female patients were staring into adjacent cages – some muttering quietly, some licking their chapped lips.  Sometimes they tried to open the doors and grab the birds inside, but there were always nurses nearby to scold them.  They were constantly supervised as if they were children.

We are not children.  We are like the birds, Wren mused.  All of us are birds, cooped up together.

Wren lifted her eyes through the cage to peer across the room, observing those who shared the ward with her.  The girls housed at the asylum were of different kinds and from different places, with assorted coloring and breeding.

Some of them had been normal in the beginning, but years of confinement had broken them, and even the improvements to treatment had not been able to fix their tangled minds.  Others were just on the verge of slipping away – like herself – while a handful or two were complete, raving lunatics.

There was Trudy, for example, who screamed every night about the wolves in the walls – who had tried to cut into another girl with a razor to expose the secret monster inside her.  Trudy had always been that way, since her first day here.  She was no worse, but not yet improved.  There were a few others like Trudy, but there were also more docile types that had never been meant for a place like this.

Clea, with her lovely red hair, had been married to an older man who’d been very jealous of her and had eventually become so paranoid of her flirting that he’d sent her here as punishment, claiming incurable promiscuity – at least, that was what Wren had heard the nurses say.

Yes, we are exactly like the birds.

Wren rested near the cage, her head on her arm and fingers outstretched through the bars.  A young cardinal hopped down and pecked at her finger before retreating.  She was languid now, wishing to drift away.  Through a dream fog in her mind, she saw the face of a boy, distant but emerging slowly in her memory.  She reached for him –

With a short gasp, Wren snapped awake, suddenly aware of a presence nearby.  She lifted her eyes to see that another girl had approached her, looming now like a crooked gargoyle on the eave of a cathedral.  Wren knew the girl’s face – pale and homely with the sunken eyes of the abused.  Her name was Adele, and though Wren had never spoken to her much, she knew something of the girl’s behavior.

Adele was of the sort that needed constant attention, and when she’d chosen a target, she would not relent until she got the acknowledgment she desired.  She often added the other patients’ problems to her own just for sport, and was an annoyance to most who dealt with her.

Seeing that she was being focused on, Wren tried to appease the girl with a short smile before averting her eyes, but she had known it would not work to send Adele away.

“You talk to the fairies,” Adele said, chirping as happily as the birds.  “I saw a fairy.”

Wren didn’t respond, unsure how she felt about the comment.  She had already talked about this once today for the sake of appearances, and she didn’t want to go into it again, yet Adele kept staring at her relentlessly with large, hollow eyes.

“It was in my room, the fairy was,” Adele went on, nodding furiously to confirm her tale. “It was black like a shadow, but it wasn’t.  It moved on its own.  It was a boy!”

She giggled deliriously at that, covering her mouth and looking about to see if a nurse had heard her, but Wren only wanted to tell her that it wasn’t a fairy she had seen.  She wanted to turn her face away and ignore the other girl, annoyed that she was being mocked.

But wait…  A shadow?  A boy?  Could Adele’s conversation be more than a cry for attention?  If she did see what she claimed, then…

“What did it look like exactly?” Wren asked lowly.  Adele seemed nearly overwhelmed to have gotten a reaction.  She was positively quivering with excitement.

“It was a boy,” Adele confirmed again, sticking a finger in her ear absently.  “He was hovering over my bed.  I watched him for a long time, but he didn’t move much.  Eventually, he went away.”

Wren rose up, interested now.  She moved closer to Adele, lowering her voice to a whisper in hopes that the nurses would not hear their conversation.

“And it was like a shadow?” Wren asked quietly, her heart beating faster.  “Did he say anything to you – this fairy?”

“No,” Adele said hesitantly, ashamed that she had to admit it, but she perked up again directly after, “but it did remind me of my dream!”

Wren felt her face grow hot, wondering what had brought on the flare until she realized that she was feeling the heat of jealousy.  Did this girl deserve to dream more than she did?  Was it possible that Adele had seen Nevermor when Wren could not find it?

“What dream?” she asked firmly, trying to keep her focus on the girl’s darting eyes.

Adele’s face lit with pleasure.  “I saw an ocean – it was a black ocean! – and I was walking along the shore.  I was alone, but then I saw someone and I went toward him…”

Adele hesitated, looking past Wren as a distant look came into her eyes.  Her chest began to heave with short, rapid breaths as she recalled it.

“He looked at me,” she said with a shuddering breath.  “His eyes were on fire!  They were on fire!”

The girl had become irate, a look of horror in her eyes as she professed this truth.  Before Wren could step away, Adele had gripped her arms, shaking her as if to punish her lack of understanding.

Burning!” she screamed, her eyes like deep pools.  “They were burning!”

Wren tried to push Adele away from her, but the girl’s grip was viselike, her jagged nails scraping her flesh.  She did not find relief until a nurse and orderly came forward, taking the girl by the arms, talking her down.  Their voices managed to soothe her enough that Adele simply reverted to a state of bewilderment, as if she’d not remembered her outburst.  Wren, however, wanted no part of it.

She slipped away behind the cage, waiting for her heart to slow as Adele was led back to her cell.  What the girl had said troubled Wren more than the violent outburst.  Had she truly seen a shadow that was not attached to anything?  Was it the truth, or could she cast it off as the ranting of a lunatic?  Sadly, there was no way to know.  There never was here, but today Wren was left with a feeling that she’d never been willing to accommodate before.

Is that what I sound like to them? she wondered.

Everything she thought she had known about her life came back to her now and settled in her stomach, making her feel sick.  Around her, the birds continued to chirp, their lives undisturbed by the incident.  They were without care or concern.  Wren envied them.

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Well, there it was. :p  I’ve got a couple of friends currently beta-reading the new version, and one thing that I’ve been told more than once is that the new asylum beginning is entertaining and is one of their favorites parts as far as the changes. I plan to have some testimonials from them soon, and within the next couple of months, I will likely produce a preview of the first few chapters on Wattpad, but for now, I hope you enjoyed this little taste!

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