What if you were forced to face your worst nightmares?
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Loud hissing fills the room. I snap my head toward Darian and notice his eyes are as wide as mine must be. I don’t know what he’s seeing and if there’s something crawling on him, too.
The unknown creature bolts upward with lightning speed. It stretches the elastic band at the waist of my pants and shoots out, its head pitching toward me with a hiss.
The serpent’s fangs ooze with venomous saliva. The scales on one side of its neck ripple, and I slam the back of my head against the stretcher, desperate for escape. But then the snake’s head flops to the side, as if it’s about to break off. Its crusty skin bulges where moments before it rippled. I gasp as its scales burst open at the side of its neck.
I stare at the repulsive creature, feeling like everything good in me is draining out of my body, replaced with only fear. I’m as fragile as a bird in a cage, held hostage to the evil pressing in all around.
I gawk as a second cobra head sprouts out from the side of the serpent’s neck. Both creatures stare at me with dark, swamp-green eyes. I shake my head, my body trembling, fear coiled around me so tightly I can barely breathe.
It’s not real. I try to remind myself of Darian’s words, unable to connect those thoughts with the very real creatures in front of my face.
The snake’s heads sway as if assessing me, and they hiss their forked tongues toward me, trying to taste me.
Then, in unison, they lunge their sharp fangs toward me, one snake’s head at either side of my neck.
A blood-curdling scream rips from my throat as their teeth sink into my skin. A burning pain tears through me, stinging, and halting my breath. From deep inside, horror explodes, taking away any remaining childhood innocence.
A loud sound cracks into the room like a roar of a jet engine.
The cobras shift to mist and disappear. A subtle click, and my handcuffs snap open, releasing the firm pressure on my wrists.
And somewhere in the back of my head, one word resonates.
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A thrilling, futuristic sci-fi novel set in a unique and thought-provoking world, from author Shannon Duffy.
Desiree Six (because she was born on a Friday) believes in everything the Protectorate stands for. She likes the safety and security of having her entire life planned out—her career, her mate, even the date of her death. She doesn’t even think to question when Darian, her childhood friend and neighbor, is convicted of murdering his parents. They had seemed like such a loving family. But if he was convicted, then he must have done it.
Then Darian shows up in her room late one night. He has escaped from the Terrorscape—a nightmare machine used to punish all Noncompliants—and needs Desiree’s help. What he tells her rocks her world to its core and makes her doubt everything she’s ever been told. With this new information, will Desiree and Darian be able to escape the Protectorate before it’s too late?
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