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Alice's Army

Alice's Army

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Alice's Army

Länge:
253 Seiten
3 Stunden
Freigegeben:
Feb 27, 2014
ISBN:
9781490726205
Format:
Buch

Beschreibung

Ten years have passed since the events of The Final Alice. While mourning the death of a team member, Alice Pleasance must come to terms with the sacrifices inherent in the job she accepted, one that does not allow vacations or weekends. A job which forces her to never age and never die, making friendships outside the team nearly impossible. Now a perfect hunter and tracker, Alice is emotionally isolated and haunted by a constant stream of nightmares involving twins, a screaming man, and a mysterious shack. When a serial killer embarks on a murder spree in Nigeria, Alice and her team prepare to eliminate the threat. They join forces with the heir of a petroleum dynasty gifted with a unique and powerful ability all his own. But before long, they realize the current murders involve an angry and vengeful old enemy. Gritty and atmospheric, Alices Army centers on the forces of good and evil in our modern world. It examines the powerful grip of emotional addictions as well as the psychology of fear. This middle chapter of the trilogy reflects on each team members beginnings and defines the concept of family as those who stand alongside us in the darkest of hours against the most terrible of threats.

Ripley's undeniable, infectious love for these characters is superpowered. Alice is back with her motley crew of supernatural karma commandos in tow. Battle-tested, wiser, and more complex as a team, the new dynamic serves as rocket fuel for the author's unmistakable voice to shine. Filled with wild imagery, fierce action, genuine emotion and pure whimsy, few authors can so effortlessly glide between a high-velocity narrative and complete phantasmagoria. I loved it!

-Michael Wandmacher, film composer: My Bloody Valentine, The Last Exorcism: Part II

Alycia Ripley writeswith grace and delicacy about the sometimes very violent fantasies of young women in a threatening world. The books in her Alice series come to life with their haunting imagery and lyrical prose. These fantasy stories about the adventures of the granddaughter of Alice in Wonderland explore a darker side of one young woman's response to life's challenges. With Alice's Army she continues the saga of a badass Alice who refuses to be undone. Her strange journey will surprise and delight readers with its many twists and turns.

-Nancy Jo Sales, author of The Bling Ring

Freigegeben:
Feb 27, 2014
ISBN:
9781490726205
Format:
Buch

Über den Autor

Alycia Ripley was born and raised in Buffalo, New York. She is a graduate of Syracuse University and received her MFA in creative writing from New York University. She is the author of Traveling with an Eggplant (2006) as well as The Final Alice (2011). She has written for numerous online and print publications, and more information can be found at www.alyciaripley.com.


Buchvorschau

Alice's Army - ALYCIA RIPLEY

Alice

Alice’s Army

by

Alycia Ripley

Order this book online at www.trafford.com

or email orders@trafford.com

Most Trafford titles are also available at major online book retailers.

© Copyright 2014 Alycia Ripley.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without the written prior permission of the author.

isbn: 978-1-4907-2619-9 (sc)

isbn: 978-1-4907-2618-2 (hc)

isbn: 978-1-4907-2620-5 (e)

Library of Congress Control Number: 2014901704

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

Any people depicted in stock imagery provided by Thinkstock are models,

and such images are being used for illustrative purposes only.

Certain stock imagery © Thinkstock.

Trafford rev. 02/21/2014

www.trafford.com

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toll-free: 1 888 232 4444 (USA & Canada)

fax: 812 355 4082

Contents

I. Drafted: The Game Begins

II. Re (Enlistment)

Lieutenants: Morgan And Adam

Captain: Rebecca

Major(S): Simmons + Fortune

Colonels: Taiwo And Kehinde

General: Alice

III. Devil In The Details: Month One

IV. Month Two: Smoke And Mirrors

V. Heads And Hearts

VI. Open Season

VII. The Curtain Falls

VIII. Calling All Freaks

About The Author

Many heartfelt thanks for the support, enthusiasm, and/or assistance of

My parents

Christopher May

The Kozacek and Benaglio families

Brian Van Buren and Lara Nedeltscheff

Michael Wandmacher

Stacey Levinson, Taj Greenlee, Patrick Ward, Alyssa Witka

Rebecca Lambert, Rachel Masecchia, Lee Morgenstern

Mark Grzybowski, Lynn Sanfilippo, Johanna Ruefli

Samantha Frodella, Tara Bazilian Chang, Alex Rende and

The Aussie Posse: Emma Ryan, Samantha Joice, Courtney Sullivan, and Larissa Craig

For

Emma Ryan,

my Australian friend and good luck charm,

who believes in the madness of storytelling

and reminds me that a story is only as good as its villain.

Life is a series of collisions with the future; it is not the sum of what we have been, but what we yearn to be.

—Jose Ortega y Gasset

Alice’s Army

On a tree-lined street in Decatur, Georgia, Mary Jane Willowsby planted tulips in her front yard as her daughter, Alexis, jumped rope with three of her friends. While the nine-year-olds took turns jumping, bits of conversation floated back to Mary Jane. Weeks earlier, Max Wilson, a bully infamous for stealing lunches, kicking kittens, humiliating middle school girls, starting fires, and burning a drawing from a girl’s beloved and deceased father, was found late one night on the side of a main road, victim of what Alexis’s daddy would call a serious whupping. One broken bone, a pencil through the cheek, and patches of skin that looked to be burned from the inside out. Max wouldn’t divulge who did it but hadn’t bullied anyone since. The story didn’t make the news, but the death of Jerry Huntsbury had. Everyone knew he beat his wife and kids, but no one stepped in because Jerry donated a great deal of money to Decatur politicians. Evidently someone felt passionate about the issue because a week after Max’s whupping, Jerry was found dead on his fishing boat with a broken neck and a note taped to his bare knee that said I was an asshole. Police were flabbergasted. No evidence, no prints, no sign that anyone else set foot on that boat. It was around the time of the two incidents that Alexis began to sing the nursery rhyme.

"One, two, Alice comes for you,

Three, four, with her bloody sword,

Five, six, giving slashes and licks,

Seven, eight, nowhere is safe,

Nine, ten, off… with… your… head."

Mary Jane asked Alexis to not sing the Helpful Alice song. Her daughter replied, But Helpful Alice looks out for kids. She gets rid of bad people.

She isn’t real, honey. She’s just a made-up story about, what? A girl who lives in the clouds somewhere?

Alexis’ eyes bugged out of her head. "She’s very real and very nice. And she’s not from the clouds. I think she’s from Florida."

Mary Jane gave up. How could her child consider a girl who went around killing people to be some sort of guardian angel? Each night, she heard Alexis end her prayers by pleading with Helpful Alice to protect her from monsters and bring her along on missions.

Missions, Mary Jane thought with a laugh. As if this make-believe girl had an army, a directive to uphold. But Alexis always included Alice in her prayers for she believed, she knew, that she was real.

Kids always do.

I. Drafted:

          The Game Begins

Death is not the greatest loss in life.

The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live.

—Norman Cousin

The young man’s satchel bounced against his side as he hurried down the sandy path. Nigeria’s Mambilla Plateau Valley called with a force he couldn’t explain. The rising steam lessened the fury of his heartbeat. The green trees bordering the valley’s sides were reminiscent of his home in America.

Mambilla was his quiet place away from the yellow mining suits his employees wore in the petroleum labs, away from memos screaming about environmental protection laws. Employees and coworkers could ignore these, drunk on worker camaraderie. They weren’t thousands of miles from home or left by a girlfriend for, what reason had Melinda given? You’re a dreamer without a stable job. A nervy criticism for a girl who worked a few days a week at a day care center. It couldn’t be helped that his two older brothers became executives for the family business and Rick’s career lay in painting, welding, and teaching. Instead of the architecture program his family suggested, he had chosen a visual arts career, not realizing that years could evaporate before a piece of art was worth real money in a sale. Mel would have left eventually. Her favorite things about him were his appearance and last name, neither of which eclipsed his lack of forward momentum. It wasn’t his dream to end up in Africa, running Charles Enterprises, the family mine, office, and laboratory. He’d rather be working on the cast-iron pieces people commissioned for their lawns. But his father needed someone to oversee day-to-day business. His brothers found him a logical choice because of his size, communication skills, and open schedule. He had little going on at home and hoped that by helping, his family wouldn’t consider him such a stranger. He’d spent time in Nigeria as a kid, his father doubling his work trips with safari vacations. Living in Nigeria alone, as an adult, was an entirely different business. When culture shock, loneliness, and politics enveloped his orange days and smoky-blue nights, he’d drive to Mambilla to feel the breeze and watch birds dart through the greenery.

Rick Charles held an apple between his jaws as he opened a sketch pad. Intimidating last name notwithstanding, he’d meshed easily with his employees, the same smile and almond eyes that had so attracted Mel having a similar effect on his staff. Men respected his size and quiet confidence while the female administrators took an extra minute to gather their thoughts when he’d walk into the office. It was flattering, and in different circumstances, the female attention might have amused or gotten him hot, but for now, he spent each day pretending to feel happy, accomplished, or complete.

When his eyes and lips felt forced into conversations, his mind envisioned the Mambilla Plateau Valley or the cliffs at Chappal Waddi. It was because of this calming effect that he drew its likeness now. He sketched the lines of the valley, the ripple of the water. As he unwrapped his sandwich, he thought, Paint a picture in which you start over and find the right woman. The right woman like the one from his dreams. As he’d drift off he’d watch himself turn a corner to see her: tall and athletic, with blondish-brown hair pulled back, a few tendrils falling into her face. Her eyes were so full and heavy, he doubted he could fit inside them. She was important, this beautiful girl with the heavy eyes. Something about this girl had everything to do with escape, and escaping was exactly what he hoped to do.

A loud rumble of thunder came from the west. There were no approaching clouds, no raindrops, just a deep groan and lash of wind. Wedging the pad and pen into his satchel, his fingertips rubbed the sharp ridge of a playing card. The king of hearts. Funny, he thought, I don’t remember a deck of cards being in here.

Dusting off his palms, he began the walk to his car. As Richard, Rick to everyone but his father, turned the key, he placed the playing card between the seats.

Her name is Alice, he said out loud. Alice Pleasance. And then immediately forgot he knew such a name or recognized the girl’s violet outlines from inside his scattered dreams.

II. Re (Enlistment)

Your worst enemy cannot harm you as much

as your unguarded thoughts.

—The Buddha

Lieutenants:

          Morgan and Adam

Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s Hey You blasted from the speakers and windows of their black sedan. Students strolled through the parking lot, tossing footballs and water balloons. Morgan thumped her hands on the steering wheel, whistling the chorus as her eyes searched for the ideal parking space.

"Push the gas, asshole," Morgan said and brought the car to a screeching halt.

Calm down, Adam said, annoyed that instead of riding to school with his baseball friends, he always drove with his older sister. He worried about Morgan and felt a need to watch her. They were unlike other teenagers at Lawrence High. They’d been different since the day they were murdered by a pedophilic ice cream truck driver ten years earlier. Neither remembered much of death but recalled Alice’s bringing them back to life and the Nigerians, Taiwo and Kehinde, erasing all evidence of their deaths. It was that day he and Morgan became telepaths—the harder they practiced, the larger and more complicated the items they could bend, lift, and throw with their minds. They became the Cannon of Alice’s army, orchestrating the aggressive offense and deliberate defense. He and Morgan spent as much time with this team as with their own family, fighting, fixing, and traveling the world to whomever needed help, and in doing so, Adam had battled more than a thousand murderers, rapists, thugs, and political assassins. Most children remember little from their fifth year, but Adam recalled with perfect clarity how Alice looked after being stabbed by the Red King, her body and face covered in blood, a quarter of her neck sawed through. Teenage hormones now raging, Adam knew he must control his firecracker sister. He wouldn’t put it past Morgan to burn down their school if angry enough. Like discomfort plaguing a teething baby, puberty plus telepathy was a volatile mix.

Regardless of how long he and Morgan were absent on each trip, Taiwo and Kehinde simply erased their absences from the minds of faculty and classmates. For years, they’d flown on Fortune, Alice’s shih tzu, to reach their destinations. The dog grew in size and shot through the sky like an invisible dragon. But for the last six months, Adam often found tears shining down his face at night, the moonlit window a traitor to his shame. For the first time, something bad happened that Alice couldn’t fix.

After a seizure caused Fortune to lose control of her legs and become plagued by dizziness and fatigue, a stronger seizure put her out of commission, and a difficult decision needed to be made. It was hard on them to see the twenty-year-old dog reach her end. For Alice, it was agony. She begged her invisible bosses to fix Fortune, demanded to know why her power to fix people wasn’t working on her own dog. She waited for Simmons the Deer, her trainer and conduit, to arrive, but he only did so on the day Fortune was scheduled to be put down. Alice pleaded with him to intervene, but his answer was no. Alice’s panic-filled eyes were unrecognizable, and before long, Fortune was dead and Alice announced she was leaving without a return date.

Morgan and Adam were told that Alice needed the pain to help with future events. But the teens couldn’t concentrate with everything in turmoil. Thinking of Fortune brought a lump to Adam’s throat, and he shook the thoughts from his head, knowing Morgan needed him calm.

Should we park? Morgan asked. No one’s looking.

The two focused on the Range Rover encroaching into their potential spot. Adam felt his mind shift and buckle and knew Morgan felt a similar sensation behind her blue eyes. With a flicker of warmth and a push of energy from their foreheads, the troublesome car skidded three feet into its proper slot.

Morgan’s mind picked up a Sharpie and scribbled onto a notepad: If you scratch or key my car, I’ll make you slice open your own wrists. Morgan slapped on a piece of scotch tape and reached outside to tape the note to her car.

For God’s sake, take that down. Alice wants us to lie low and be normal.

A hurt look moved over his sister’s face as she brought the note back inside and pulled on her apple-green boots, a bright contrast to her gray sweatshirt, black skirt, and fishnet tights. Alice was Morgan’s mentor, especially considering Morgan’s own mother had been only recently informed of her strange extracurricular activities. Alice belonged to Morgan in a way little else did.

You may as well dye your hair bright red, Alice, Morgan once said. It’s always full of blood. At least this’ll hide it.

I’ll make an appointment, Alice answered.

I’ll do it. I’m a teenage girl. If I’m not great with hair and makeup, what good am I?

Then do it. Wash these men right out of my hair.

If only people knew how funny you are, Alice.

I’d be a lot more popular.

Adam admired the girls but rarely understood them. A fire and fury existed in both Alice and Morgan. His own insides were calm and cool. He learned of Alice within the clues of her smiles and frowns or from stories others told. Adam didn’t need explanations. Alice was a mystery he accepted.

"Alice wants us to seem normal. Speaking of Alice, I saw the birthday card you chose to give her. It says ‘Happy 40th.’ What the hell?"

It’s her fortieth birthday.

"You never give women a card announcing their age. And she’s not really forty. You know she doesn’t age. She’s still thirty, she’ll always be thirty."

That’s just creepy.

We’ve killed people with forks, but staying thirty years old is creepy? She doesn’t need to be reminded that she’s a freak on her birthday.

The boy’s mouth twisted in frustration. Girls were always three steps ahead, and their language bounced like a twisty current. He knew what he meant to say; getting the words out was an entirely different beast. It would be normal to acknowledge her real age. Maybe it would take away the feeling that she has to be a savior to everyone on this planet. Friends remember birthdays and correct ages. I just wanted to do right by her.

I know what she’s been through, Adam. I want to do right by her too.

He could hear electrical synapses moving through Morgan’s body, each one able to manifest chaos: exploding cars, fires, blackouts. I need you to calm down before your crazy energy blows up this car. Even though it doesn’t feel like it now, everything will be okay.

Adam’s mind powered down the car. It attached also to Morgan’s insides and calmed her heart’s furious pace, extended the flow of oxygen into her brain, and returned her body to a normal basal metabolic rate. Once Morgan opened her eyes, her breathing calm, they stepped out and swung their backpacks over their shoulders: his was blue and unmarred with writing, hers green and covered in song lyrics. She didn’t leave us, you know, Adam said and held the door open for the sibling he died next to years earlier. Sooner or later, she’ll find what she’s looking for. When she does, she’ll be back.

They strolled to the lockers, smiling at kids who couldn’t float up to basketball nets or throw a car across a parking lot with mind power. Each day they spent in school felt pointless. But it dawned on Adam as he readied himself for biology class that even their make-believe life at Lawrence High was better than looking out the window, assured that never again would a giant shih tzu fly through the sky.

Captain:

          Rebecca

Bullets darted through the entryway. Rebecca dodged in reflex before realizing the silver glints came only from the sun’s reflection upon the shopping carts. The bright glare and scurrying bodies of the grocery store parking lot reminded her of battlefields. Alice may have brought her to life, but Rebecca still had the capabilities of a mechanical Compass. Wind rustled her golden hair and gray T-shirt as she pushed her cart through the lot. Her shiny maroon fingernails matched a woman’s jacket three parking lots over. Rebecca spotted her the same way she smelled the pear-scented lotion of a woman riding her bike a mile away. Sensory overload was normal for a girl whose surroundings were lined with a green grid of mathematical algorithms designating time, space, and the distance between two things. W 10 d, N 67 d. AP=180/10:xt/56 d meta. N34/E22/S67 flashed inside her brain.

After each heavy bag was placed into the hatchback of her truck, she sat on its edge, the raised door shielding away the sun. When she and Alice grocery shopped together, they would make a game of it, racing through their lists to see who could finish first. It had been a while since they rushed through the store, cursing each other as they rounded the aisles because Alice had left for Australia six months earlier. Rebecca did not enjoy thinking of that day, so she thought instead about the day at the Damakas’ farmhouse when Alice first learned to separate.

I’m going to the far side of the pond, Alice had said through gritted teeth, eyes fixed on the water’s edge, a starchy smell of static filling the air.

By jumping?

Not exactly.

Rebecca hadn’t gotten the chance to inquire further. Alice’s body stretched apart until millions of miniscule dots hovered where her body had been. White, red, brown, green, all making up bone, blood, intestines, bladder, skin. The dots flew across the pond, their shadows dotting the water’s surface and circling the edge like a swarm of bugs before disappearing. There was a moment of nothing

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