Author: Shanae Branham
Clean YA Suspense/ Fantasy
The external drive containing the information for building a hologram machine is stolen and sold on the black market. Now someone has connected a new hologram machine to the Internet, forcing people to fight for their lives in an online fantasy game. Trapped inside this deadly scenario, seventeen-year-old Boston Manning learns that her weakness for tolerating abuse is stopping her from unlocking her elven powers. Can she overcome her character flaw or will she die trying?
In book 2 of the Holoquest Fantasy Series, Boston and Jason return with another action-packed, romantic adventure. Boston’s Questwill electrify your imagination as you experience elves, dwarfs, trolls, priests, vampires, and demons as you’ve never experienced them before.
This excerpt is from the middle of Boston’s Quest and comes from the first time she is forced inside the hologram machine. It’s from Boston’s point of view.
For a long time I’m hooked up to an IV in the hospital room, pondering my situation. My captors have thought of everything. Not only am I handcuffed, with an armed guard, but someone is constantly monitoring me. With this type of extreme security, how will I ever escape? I tremble. There’s nothing I can do but play along with this malicious experiment.
Finally I’m well enough for the nurse to release me from the IV and my guard escorts me back to the unusual room where Isaac found me. Once there, I see a different officer sitting behind the desk in front of the strange metal hatch. The officer hands my guard a pink harness that looks similar to a lifejacket. It’s made of strips of metallic fabric with three large buckles that fasten in front.
“Put it on,” my guard says in an authoritative tone as he uncuffs me.
Reaching my hands through the armholes, I slip the bodice around my ribs and fasten the clasps across my chest. The guard checks to see that the buckles are secure and I whisper, “You don’t have to do this.”
He averts his gaze, saying, “Next,” and the officer hands him a large syringe.
“No drugs!” I slap the syringe out of his hand.
He shakes his hand, cursing, as the instrument hits the ground and rolls. “These aren’t drugs!” His arm trembles as he struggles to keep from hitting me. Then he growls something obscene as he picks the syringe up and dusts it off.
“Then what is it?”
“Special nutrients to keep you alive.” He grabs my arm and roughly squeezes it while he injects me. “You’ll need a shot every four hours until your body acclimates to the atmosphere inside the machine.”
I hate how he’s overpowered me, but I hold still, allowing the green liquid to enter my body. At first, the prick of the needle stings, but the pain soon dissipates, leaving my skin electrified. My senses become heightened. I feel the tickle of the soft fabric of the harness against my bare back and the cool touch of the dust particles in the air. An exhilarating charge runs through my nervous system from my heart to my outer extremities, leaving a strange tingling.
Suddenly a wave of nausea strikes. I grab the garbage can and hurl.
The officer smiles. “She’s ready.”
“Wait.” I wipe my mouth off with the back of my hand. “Please, tell me something more about where I’m headed.”
The officer relaxes back in his seat. “No need. The program chooses someone you trust from your memory to guide you. Now go!”
A whoosh of air hits us as the guard opens the hatch. I jump back, but the man has anticipated my resistance. Catching my arm, he picks me up and throws me across the threshold. I fly into the machine, limbs flailing, grasping at empty space.
A surge of energy heightens my senses. The nausea subsides. Frantically, I search for the door out, but flashing multicolored lights blind me from seeing more than a foot in front of me. I’m sliding down the side of a rainbow. Shades of bright color wash over and around me as my body transforms into something new.
First, the color of my skin darkens into a rich, glistening brown. Second, the rubber bands holding my braids rupture. My hair comes alive. Shifting and twisting, the long strands undo themselves into a curly mass as their blond color turns into a swirled mixture of various tones of pink. Third, my extremities lengthen. My fingers become long and thin. Next, my ears tickle. I put my hands over them, and am amazed as their circular shape changes into points beneath my touch.
I’m an elf.
My mind accepts this fact, expanding with new ideas and concepts. I understand the anatomy of molecules, cells, plants, and animals and wonder if this is normal for elves. I contemplate how tentative the life force pulsating through every living being is and am filled with reverence and awe for Mother Nature and her intricate workings.
These thoughts race through my mind like cars speeding along a freeway. Then everything stops. I look around, feeling like I’m having an out-of-body experience. I’m seated cross-legged, alone, in the middle of what looks like the indoor horse arena at Dwight’s Dude Ranch. I realize that I’m linked with the powerful life source that runs through every living thing. The soil is ready to respond to the desire of my heart. At the same time, I experience the purr of satisfaction from the wood in the building’s dome-like structure. It’s happy to have a purpose. Being connected with the objects around me is wonderful, and comforting.
My senses are changing. My hearing and sight have been linked in such a way that when I hear a sound a great distance away, my sight becomes binocular-like and zeros in on the object without prior thought on my part.
I hear a slight squeak behind me and turn my head. My eyes immediately focus on a point over fifty yards across the arena. The vivid details of a small, furry nose become clear. It’s sticking out of a tiny hole in the earth.
Defining the object refocuses my vision and the mouse disappears as I see the side of the stable with its wooden planked wall. My sense of touch is also different. I hold my hands palm down several inches above the earth and the dirt below my fingertips pulsates. I realize I don’t have to have physical contact with an object to experience its substance. Instantly, I feel the energy of the object as if I’m linked with it. The object is waiting for me to command it.
“I’m Pete. I’ll be your transformation guide.”
I turn my head to see my shooting instructor standing by my side. “How did you get here? I didn’t hear you come.”
“I’m a projection from your memory.” He kneels down beside me. Sticking his hand out to stroke my hair, his fingers disappear instead of touching the long pink strands. “I’m not really here.”
He stands, taking off his black cowboy hat. His brown hair is scrunched with sweat. I smile with the delight of familiar companionship. He’s just the way I remember him—short, stocky, and muscular.
He smiles back at me, raising both sides of his thick mustache. “Watch this.” He throws the hat. It disappears as it hits the dirt and a bow-and-arrow set appears on the ground in its place. “Let’s get started. You don’t have much time.”
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