Genre: YA Contemporary Fantasy Published April 15th, 2015
Sixteen-year-old Alexis Stone is used to getting away from life’s frustration with Dreamscape, a video game she’s loved since childhood. As her family prepares to move, a sleepy night of gaming pulls her into the world like never before.
Trapped in Dreamscape’s realm, Alex is about to learn that being a hero has consequences… and this time, the stakes are deadly. Will helping the rebellion cost her everything she knows and loves? Or will she betray them to save her own life?
Win a $25 gift card to Amazon! Click Here to Enter!
I cracked my knuckles and tightened my ponytail. It was time to play the game.
A parade of puff birds that had inched closer to me with each repetition of the song were now within reach. I barely recognized them. On screen, they were nothing but rolling yellow balls. Here, they reminded me of wobbling puffer fish with needle-tipped feathers and inflated bodies. The rhythmic stabbing of their spiked beaks into the ground interrupted their slow walk. I saw a bird with a bloody beak and pulled my feet in, covering the fresh wound on top of my foot.
“Stupid bird,” I mumbled, standing and brushing the dirt off myself as I watched the strange creatures. They moved in a pattern, shuffling from the edge of the forest towards the field to my left.
I started a countdown—three, two, one, jump.
As I landed, a shrill scream echoed beneath me. The bones of the bird crushed easily, like cracking knuckles, when I flattened its body to the ground. A pool of red surrounded me, turning the golden feathers dark. I shrieked and jumped back, flailing my arms until I hit a tree. The rough bark grabbed at my hair and scratched my back. The other birds squawked a warning before puffing into balls and rolling away down the hill. I covered my hurt hand and looked around nervously.
This wasn’t real, this was a game; it couldn’t be real. But the knot in my stomach and tears falling down my cheeks told me otherwise. This was real, too real. I was losing it.
Only a few minutes in, and I had killed an innocent creature. I felt sick. Did I really expect it to burst into a puff of feathers, disappear, and deposit golden coins in my pockets like in the game?
I looked over at the lifeless bird with the sick feeling of guilt in my chest. How was I going to survive in this world? I thought about the most dangerous levels. Any advantage I’d thought I had just disappeared.