The Deep Beneath
by Natalie Wright
(H.A.L.F #1)Publication date: January 7th 2015
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
H.A.L.F. 9 has taken his first breath of desert air and his first steps in the human world. Created to be a weapon, he proved too powerful for his makers and has lived a sedated life hidden from humans. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the underground lab he called home, and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.
Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement meets shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll say adios to the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined.
Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill?
The two may need to forget their rules and training and if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.
Erika handed Ian a large plastic cup that said ’32 oz. Super Guzzler’ on the side as well as a bag filled with long, red candy. “I suggest you get us out of here. Fast,” she said.
“What happened?” Ian asked.
“Tex caused a scene. I covered as best I could, but I don’t know how long it will hold them off.”
Ian started the car and pulled out and back onto the road. He opened the bag of candy with his teeth and spit out a piece of the bag. The car was instantly filled with an odor that smelled like sugary plastic.
“Want one?” Ian asked. He held the bag out to Tex.
Tex took one of the long, thin candy ropes and sniffed it. “This does not smell as though it would provide proper nutrition for your body. Are you certain that this is food?”
Ian laughed as he eased the car onto the on-ramp. “It’s not meant to be nutritious.”
“Then why ingest it?”
“Because it tastes good. Haven’t you ever had sweets?”
“A.H.D.N.A. supplied balanced nutrition three times daily. My body does not require ‘sweets’ so they did not provide it. I do not know ‘sweet’.”
“It’s time you live a little. Go ahead. Try it.” Ian bit off a large chunk of the chewy substance and smiled as he ate it.
Tex bit into the candy and chewed it as Ian had. It was goopy in his mouth and at first unpleasant. He considered spitting it out, but then a sensation overwhelmed him. The sugary tasted filled his mouth and became like a liquid. It was a pleasant taste that made him happy. Tex quickly downed the entire rope of candy. “More?” he asked.
Ian chuckled and held out the bag for him. “I think I’ve created a monster. Here. Take it.”
Erika gave Jack something that she called a ‘hot dog’, a sports drink and a bag of chips.
“Sorry, it’s not what you ordered. But it’s the best I could do in there.”
The smell of the nutrition that Erika handed Jack made Tex’s stomach feel queasy. The odor was unlike anything that he had ever experienced, as he had never eaten charred animal flesh. “Are you eating a canine?”
Jack laughed despite the fact that his mouth was full. “It’s not a real dog. We don’t eat dogs. It’s other meat.”
“If you can call it that,” Erika said.
“Don’t confuse him,” said Jack. “It’s like pork and beef mixed together with spices.” Jack chewed loudly. “Might even have been good if it hadn’t been rolling on heat rollers for like a week. Wanna try it?”
Tex nodded. He had never had animal flesh, and though it did not smell as though it would provide sound nutrition for his body, he was curious. The sweet food had not smelled appetizing either, but it had been enjoyable.
Jack broke off a piece and handed it to him. Tex chewed and allowed the full flavor of the hot dog to fill his mouth. It did not have a sweet, happy taste like the candy. It was, Tex decided, disgusting.
“What a face,” Jack said. “I guess you don’t like it.”
“It is not enjoyable to eat a dog.”
About the author
Natalie is the author of H.A.L.F., a young adult science fiction series, and The Akasha Chronicles, a young adult fantasy trilogy. She lives in the high desert of Tucson, Arizona with her husband, tween daughter, and two young cats.
Natalie spends her time writing, reading, gaming, geeking out over nerd culture and cool science, hanging out on social media, and meeting readers and fans at festivals and comic cons throughout the western United States. She likes to walk in the desert, snorkel in warm waters, travel, and share excellent food and conversation with awesome people. She was raised an Ohio farm girl, lives in the desert Southwest, and dreams of living in a big city high rise
One eBook copy of Emily's House (the author's first series).
Ends 18 September.
A boxed set of the Akasha Chronicles + a $25 Amazon gift card.