Sneak Peek of Inner Strength!

book cover

I thought to help everyone else get as excited for the release of Inner Strength tomorrow as much as I am, that I would post the prologue and first chapter of the book for y’all!
Enjoy! 😀

Prologue: A Beginning of Sorts

My name is Jinger Mary Andrews. I used to be a normal twenty-one year old girl going to college somewhere on Earth. I really never thought that my life would change other than the usual growing up and graduating and job searching and normal stuff like that.
However, if that were the case I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this at this moment. Things have changed in ways I would never have dreamed possible.
I am currently sitting in a cell awaiting my evaluation, more like trial, from The Institution. I’ve been labeled with wrongdoings such as treason, inciting rebellion, vandalism, and that’s just to name a few.
I’ll admit that some of them are true, but others are complete lies and anything that does have some semblance to truth has been twisted into something bigger than what they were. After all The Institution wouldn’t be able to convict me if I didn’t sound like the most horrible person imaginable.
But here I am getting ahead of myself. I thought that I would write down everything from when it started up until the events that brought me to this point so that way if something goes awry maybe my name will one day be cleared, and maybe, just maybe, this tale will also get back to everyone on Earth so that they can be aware of this world called Ferrum.

Chapter 1: Exams

The alarm blared loudly, chirping its annoying melody. I groaned and rolled over, fumbling around on the nightstand as I tried to turn the alarm off.
I pulled the blankets over my head and burrowed deeper into the warmth of my bed. I didn’t want to get up and I definitely didn’t want to go to class. I just wanted to sleep all day and not think about all of the midterm tests that I was sure to fail.
A cheery voice pierced through the sleepy haze fogging my brain. “Wakey, wakey! It’s time to get up!”
I felt the shaking on my shoulders and tried to mutter something as I pushed my head under the pillow.
I felt my blankets being pulled away and I grumpily sat up, shoving my long, red hair out of my eyes. I glared over at my roommate as I snatched my blanket back from her hands.
She smiled widely and plopped down on the foot of my bed, bouncing up and down in her overly happy state.
Her name was Eloise. She was only about four and a half feet tall with very tanned skin. Her shiny, black hair was cropped close to her head and was styled in spiky waves. Her green eyes glittered in amusement. I had never been able to figure out what nationality she was and she had never offered the information.
“How can you always be so chipper?” I growled as I ran my fingers through my hair, grimacing at the tangles. I never could understand how my hair could get so tangled just from sleeping on it. It had become almost a ritual for me to brush through my hair every night before I went to sleep till I was sure that there wasn’t a single snarl or tangle left in it. I sighed as I thought that maybe it was time to get it cut. It was extremely thick and hung almost to my waist and it really had become quite unruly.
“Oh come on, Jinger! You’ll be late for class.”
The words reached my brain and I looked over at my roommate, pushing the thoughts of my hair into the back of my brain. I smiled like I had been listening to her and stretched as I threw my legs over the edge of the bed. “Okay, okay. I’ll go to class.” I stood up and walked over to my closet and started rummaging around for some clean clothes. I really needed to do my laundry. I just hated having to walk to the basement of the dorm building to the tiny laundry room. It was dark, cold, and just plain creepy down there.
“Well, I’ll see you later. I have to get to class!” Eloise said as she grabbed her backpack and bounced out of the room.
I breathed a sigh of relief. I loved Eloise like my own sister, but sometimes she was just too happy. I finally settled on a mostly clean, and unwrinkled, frilly tank top and jeans. I walked into the bathroom we shared and finished getting ready. Re-entering my room I shoved some books that I thought I might need into my backpack and slung it over my shoulder. I checked my cell phone for any messages, seeing nothing new I shoved it in my pocket. Walking through the tiny living room and kitchen combo I grabbed a granola bar and bottle of Mountain Dew. The breakfast of a college student.
I was just about to leave the room when I realized that I didn’t have my keys. I hurried back to my room and grabbed them off of my desk and took a quick last look around. Satisfied that I had everything I needed, I hurried from the room and jogged all the way to class.
The morning was a bit chilly and overcast. I hoped that it would clear up before the evening. It was Friday and Eloise and I were planning on going to the movies. I especially wanted the weather to clear up since we had to walk since neither of us owned a car. It wasn’t that far of a walk, but it would just be nicer if we didn’t have to freeze or take umbrellas with us.
I slid into the classroom without only a second to spare. Professor Humberts looked at me over his glasses with a stern expression. “I’m glad you could make it, Miss Andrews,” he said in a terse voice.
I grinned, “I wouldn’t want to miss today’s test!” I tried to sound as chipper as possible as I found a seat in the back of the room. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me as I walked down the rows of desks and took my place. Not only being the last person to arrive, but also a six foot girl with flaming red hair always drew unwanted attention to me. I sat down, shoving my backpack under my feet as I pulled a pencil out of the front pocket.
Professor Humberts didn’t take long to start handing out the exams. All too soon I had mine and I stared blankly at the questions. They all jumbled together in a mess of printed letters. I shook my head, trying to clear the haze.
It should be illegal to make someone take a test, especially a major exam, this early in the morning, I thought as I absently chewed on the end of my pencil.
My mouth filled with the rubbery taste of the eraser and I wrinkled my nose as I accidentally bit off a piece of it. I discreetly spit it into my hand and wiped it off on my jeans. I kept one eye on it and saw it fall to the floor. Satisfied, I glanced at the clock and noticed that fifteen minutes had already passed.
Crap. How did time fly so fast?
I shook my head and looked at the test trying to read the first question. I quickly wrote down answers to the questions, not even trying to think if they were correct or not. I knew I was probably going to fail the class anyway so I didn’t waste my time trying to figure everything out. I just scribbled in whatever was the first thing that popped into my mind. I looked at the clock and saw there were ten minutes left. Most of the class was already turning in their tests and leaving the classroom. I swallowed, feeling a bit nervous, and picked up my backpack as I walked forward, depositing my test on the pile that was gathering on the professor’s desk.
He stared at me and said in a hushed voice as I started to walk away, “I hope you improved since the last test, Miss Andrews.”
I kept my back to him as I grimaced. I hated the way he always emphasized my last name. NO one did that unless they had some dislike for me or if I was in some kind of trouble.
I cast a cheeky grin over my shoulder as I replied, “I’m sure you’ll be surprised!” I hurriedly left the room. He would be surprised alright, but I was sure not in a good way.
I just couldn’t get interested in his class; trigonometry wasn’t my cup of tea. To be honest there wasn’t a single math class that was interested in. I hated numbers and trying to remember formulas and everything else they thought was so necessary for us. Probably ninety percent of us students wouldn’t even use the stuff we learn in those classes. It was just a waste of time in my opinion.
I walked through the hall, headed towards to the computer lab where I planned on killing the half hour I had till my next class. I had another midterm and it was another class I did not enjoy – economics. Why were all the horrible classes early in the day? I wasn’t awake enough to go through such torture.
My feet echoed hollowly off the grungy white tiles flecked with dots of robin egg blue. I knew that the floors got cleaned, at least I assumed they did from the wet floor signs that were continuously placed through the halls, but I doubted that any amount of scrubbing or waxing would make them pure white again.
I walked into the lab which was completely empty. Even the monitor wasn’t there. I was glad for the peace and quiet. I found a computer in the very back of the room and logged in. I checked my email and found only spam. Facebook had nothing, and none of my other favorite sites had been updated. I logged onto tumblr and started scrolling through the random posts, but nothing caught my interest.
I glanced at the clock, only five minutes had passed. Why did time go so fast when I needed to take an exam but drag when I just wanted to get my next class over with?
I leaned back in the chair and stared absently at the screen. My mind was drifting away into its dream world. I really never knew where my mind went. I never could remember anything but I knew that I just became completely lost; that I didn’t comprehend anything going on around me. Eloise said it was like I was asleep, just with my eyes open. I suppose that was the best way to describe it.
It was something that had happened to me ever since I was a kid but it seemed to happen more frequently the older I got. My parents had been scared when I was kid and thought that I was having a stroke or going into some sort of trance, but the doctors never had any clue as to what it could be and since it wasn’t making me sick or threatening my safety they decided to just ignore it.
I never really minded it and sometimes even enjoyed it since it got me out of having to talk to annoying relatives or listen to boring lectures. I couldn’t really force myself into the place, it just happened. It had taken me awhile but I had finally become rather good at being able to tell when I was falling into the world. I still didn’t know a way to snap myself out of it, but I thought that might come eventually.
This time I was snapped out of my “dreaming” by rather rough shaking. I looked over my shoulder and saw Eloise’s worried face.
“Huh? What are you doing here?” I asked giving her a smile and turning back to my computer screen which had gone to sleep.
Wait, if the computer had gone to sleep that meant…
“You’re supposed to be taking your economics exam right now!” Eloise hissed, giving voice to the thought that had just popped into my mind.
I groaned and slumped forward over the desk, knocking the computer mouse in my process making it wake up and shower its glaring light over my red hair.
Eloise took the seat next to me, laying her neatly arranged pile of books and notebooks on the desk beside her. “Dazed out again, huh.” She commented and looked at me sadly. It wasn’t a question, just a statement.
I nodded my head and looked at the time on the computer. I was already twenty minutes late and it would take me at least another five minutes to walk to the class. I doubted my teacher would let me in to take the exam now. She was very strict about being on time. If anyone was even a minute late to class she wouldn’t let them turn in the homework. I highly doubted that she would let someone come in to take an exam thirty minutes late.
“Well, I’ll help you think of something to email to her. Maybe she’ll let you make it up,” Eloise said in a kind voice.
“I doubt it. She’s the grouchiest teacher on campus.”
“Why is that you only have the ‘grouchy’ teachers?” Eloise giggled. “I have yet to meet a truly grouchy teacher here.”
“Well maybe that’s because you get everything done on time and are always punctual and have straight A’s.” I folded my arms over my chest in annoyance.
“Jinger, you can’t blame the teachers when you don’t try your hardest,” she chided.
I sighed and relaxed my tense muscles. She was right. The problem was I didn’t want to be here. I hadn’t wanted to attend this college, and I definitely didn’t want to be going for a business degree. My parents had insisted on it though. I didn’t want to disappoint them, but I couldn’t convince them to let me attend college for only an art degree. We had come to a compromise that as long as I went for the business degree then I could take as many art classes as I wanted, as long as they weren’t interfering with the classes I needed for my degree. Of course, it had worked out that I couldn’t take any art classes this semester, so I was even more uninspired to work on any classes that I currently had to take.
“Do you have any other classes?” she asked as she logged into the computer in front of her.
“Nope… I’ll probably head back to the dorms and procrastinate on the homework that’s due Monday.” I didn’t need to look at her to know she was rolling her eyes.
“How ‘bout you?” I asked as I started logging out of the computer.
“One more test in an hour, then I’m free for the weekend. I was going to work on my homework now so I don’t have as much to do this weekend.” She was reprimanding me again.
I picked up my backpack and stood up, “Well I’ll see you then!”
She nodded and I walked away. The day had warmed up a little bit, though it still looked like the clouds were ready to burst open with rain. I walked slowly to the dorms, not paying attention to anyone around me. I just wanted to get back to the dorms and relax for the rest of the time I had before going out. The wind ruffled through my hair and brought with it the smell of autumn.
I don’t know how to describe that scent, but it’s one of the best one’s in the world. It makes you think of chilly nights with hot cocoa and wrapped in a blanket with a plate of pumpkin pie and watching old movies or getting lost in the latest novel. Fall was for sure one of my favorite times of the year.
I finally made it to the sidewalk that wound its way up to the dorms. It was a four story, brick building. Inside the front doors was a tiny lobby that held the mailboxes and a sofa available for anyone to wait on. A door that required a key card separated the lobby from the first floor rooms and elevators. An intercom was right beside it so a room could be paged if there were visitors or just the pizza delivery guy.
Attending a prestigious school did have its benefits. One was that the dorms were more like apartments. They all consisted of large, two person bedrooms with a bathroom and the living room and kitchen combo. It was also completely furnished and was actually done so in rather good taste. The carpets were new and clean, the walls were beige and had no cracks or holes in them, and there was complete soundproofing through the walls and ceilings. My favorite thing was probably being able to cook my own food and not have to share the bathroom with the entire floor.
Eloise was also the perfect roommate. We got along great and she didn’t mind that I couldn’t keep my part of the place clean. I always had homework and empty soda cans sitting around the place. We also liked a lot of the same things so we got along perfectly. I could blast my music and she’d just sing along or I could watch a show on tv, also provided with the room, and she’d just curl up on the sofa and watch it with me. The food we had no problem sharing since we both had very similar tastes and we loved to bake together. She was the sister I had always longed for and she felt the same way about me. It was definitely the perfect setup.
I reached my room and unlocked the door. I threw my backpack on the floor by my bed and kicked my sneakers off. I fell down on the mattress, hearing the springs squeak in protest. I stretched out and stared up at the ceiling. I didn’t want to do my homework. Maybe if I failed all of my classes this semester my parents would agree to let me quit the business degree.
I rolled onto my side and huffed, there was no way they would. If anything they would claim the teachers were ganging up against me – I was too smart to fail a class. Which was mostly true. I was smart. I could do the work and get good grades if I applied myself, but only if I actually enjoyed it. I couldn’t make my mind focus on these boring classes. Maybe if I had only one boring class a semester I could force myself to work on it, but when I had nothing but classes I hated I couldn’t get myself to settle down.
I tossed around on the bed trying to think of something I would tell my parents when they made their weekly check-in phone calls.
Sorry Mom and Dad, I failed all my tests because these classes suck and I didn’t want to do the work.
Yep, that was the truth, but not what they would want to hear or probably even believe. Plus I needed to think of something to tell my economics teacher. Hopefully Eloise would come up with something smart that I could tell her.
I stared up at the ceiling and felt myself slowly drift into my dream world. I didn’t try to fight it. There was nothing that I wanted to do so it sounded like a decent way to relax. I wasn’t sure how long I was lost in the world, but as soon as I regained my thoughts I rolled over and fell instantly asleep. For some reason I felt completely exhausted, almost like my mind had been working extremely hard on something.

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