Outcast Online - Adrienne Kress Page 0,1

worse. But then you also had the volunteers, the ones who wanted the Glory. Saints and sinners you could say, but I couldn’t quite understand why, when we with a shotgun.” ak’d decided that the angels were taking folks to their Glory, why you’d be sending up the sinners. I didn’t think they’d much want that side of the stage.

They didn’t.

Didn’t want the saints either for that matter. They took whomever they pleased from the crowd and left.

We decided after that to just to go back to the celebration idea. Try just to have a good time. Pretty hard, really. Though we gave a good show of it.

Fifth year they took Chris, my best friend since we were little and who I’d just had my first kiss with the week before.

Sixth

2.

“I’m not going to the celebration. I don’t know how I can be more clear about that.”

My mother looked at me with those wide eyes of hers. Those big blue eyes that I did not inherit.

“Riley…”

“They’re not coming for me.” In my mind, nobody’s ever interested in me. Then: okay can you be any more pathetic? In an attempt to make her feel better, I stood up and walked over to her. “You aren’t losing your daughter tonight. You don’t need to spend any precious last few moments with me.” Obviously there was no way I could know that really, still…

“Your mother’s just scared for you.” My daddy. Always palming off fear onto my mother. Thing is, he’s just about as freaked out as both of us. Poor pragmatic physics professor.

“It’s not just about her,” replied Mother. “What if one of us gets taken, what then?”

Daddy laughed. “You are the most gorgeous woman in Hartwich and definitely don’t look your age, but, sweet pea, they aren’t coming for you.”

It was the truth. The angels didn’t much seem to like anyone over the age of 35. And also the thing about my mother not looking her age and being the most beautiful woman in Hartwich.

I suppose from a distance we kind of looked the same, but up close you’d figure out fast that you’d made a mistake. We both had naturally pale yellow, wavy hair, but that’s really where the comparison ended. She was long, lean, slender, and graceful. I was…not. I was, I guess, average height, more…rounded. Mother always said it was curvaceous, like the glamorous Hollywood actresses in black and white movies. I’d seen them. Those actresses always looked big compared to today’s standard. Okay, and logically I knew that today’s standard was stupid skinny, but emotionally…look I was a teenage girl dealing with insecurities as much as the next person.

As a kid I’d been a lot like my dad—kind of scrawny in build. And then puberty happened, and that just messed everything up. I didn’t look anything like Daddy anymore. I’d kind of always wanted his deep brown hair, so rich looking, even now flecked with gray at the temples. But no, I seemed to be this creature of my own creation. Heck, they bo tell me thated probablyllth had blue eyes. Mine were brown.

“Well,” replied Mother, playfully punching Daddy in the shoulder, “then they definitely aren’t coming for you either.”

“Oh, absolutely not.” And he kissed her on the nose.

It was nice that my parents liked each other so much. But did they have to be so adorable about it all the time? Especially today? I knew they weren’t doing it on purpose, but watching them made my stomach feel even more hollow than it already was. I’d had that kind of relationship with Chris. That was us. Except we weren’t married. Or even dating. But just about. Just about.

“I’m not going,” I said again, now desperately fighting back the tears.

“Then you’re not going,” said Daddy before Mother could say anything. “Maybe we shouldn’t either.”

“We have to go.” Mother’s voice sounded thin, panicked. “It’s a rule.”

“Actually it’s not,” I replied. “There’s no rule stating you have to go to the Taking. You just can’t be out of town.”

Mother glared at me. I knew there was more to it than some stupid town law. My mother was pretty cool, but she did care a little too much about family reputation. I’d always assumed it was a Southern thing, an excuse she gave me a lot, like I didn’t know, like I hadn’t lived here almost my entire life. Her family had been here ages, and her moving away and marrying some scientist from the north had been a pretty