THE TURNING

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                                                                                   PROLOGUE
 
 
“No! Please don’t take Robbie away. He hasn’t done anything. Get your hands off him,” I scream, summer’s humidity causing my hair to cling to my tear soaked face. The half dozen, hulking men, dressed in dark combat fatigues, either don’t hear me or don’t care. Through my sobs, I struggle to formulate more words to express my anguish, but nothing but garbled sounds will come out. My family and I knew this day was rapidly approaching, but none of us were prepared for the moment it became reality.
            Speaking gently, as is her natural way, mom replies, “Zayda, you must let The Healers take Robinson to the safe zone. We are running out of time.” Although her soft, velvety voice suggests calm, the perspiration on her brow and her stiff shoulders betray her. 
            Becoming unhinged, I say, “How could you just give up on him like this, Mom? He can beat this. I can help.” In a frantic attempt to free my brother, I begin clawing at the Officers’ arms. Sensing my opportunity rapidly passing, I desperately try to tear their hands off Robbie.
“Zayda, stop,” my dad abruptly interjects, roughly grabbing my hands and cutting off my next plea.
Dad has always been the strong one in the family, but even I can see he is on the verge of breaking in two. The sadness in his eyes makes me suck in a sharp breath. Foolishly, over the past year, I have allowed pity only for myself. Faced with the reality at hand, I am forced to recognize everyone is hurting.
“He must go. We all know what will happen if he does not,” dad says, still clutching me gently, yet firmly enough to hold me in my place.
            “It’s okay, Zay. I don’t want to hurt you or anyone else. I’ve made my peace, and you have to as well,” Robinson says. Throughout this ordeal, he has been the most calm-a testament to his entire existence and kind heart.
Looking at my brother for the first time since the men showed up, I cannot help but focus on the drastic change the last year has produced in him. His once beautiful, blue eyes-the same shade as mine-have been replaced by the monstrous yellow ones we are all too familiar with. Blemishes and festering sores mar his previously flawless complexion, and his sparse, platinum-blonde hair does little to conceal the unusually pale skin and the large, bulging veins on his frail head. Where has my brother gone?
None of those things matter, he is still my brother. As I turn to him and speak, my voice quivering with each syllable, “I can’t be okay without you. It has always been you and me, Robbie. Who will play chess with me? Mom and dad don’t know how. Who will laugh at my stupid jokes? You are the only one who understands me. I love you. Please stay. We can fight it together. Please. Don’t. Leave. Me.”
            Tears well up in Robinson’s eyes, and he turns hastily away from me. Facing his escorts, his face grimacing in a combination of pain and sadness, he shouts, “I need to leave here now. I can feel the change speeding up. Get me out! Now!”
Hysteria peaking inside me, and fear over the very real possibility I will lose my brother welling up, I plead once more, “No! Please don’t go?”
Robinson just looks at me sadly and smiles. “No matter what, I will always love you.” Doubling over in pain and emitting a low growl, Robinson yells once more, his voice much raspier and harsher this time, “Please, take me NOW!” 
Grabbing him by both arms, the men escort him outside, where at least ten more Officers wait. My parents and I stand in shock, sadness cascading freely down our faces, none of us daring to move just yet. Knowing it will be the last time I ever see my brother, I wish I could think of something better to say while he is being shoved into the back of the reinforced truck. Instead, I just run to the door and yell, “Happy birthday!”
                                                                                   ***
 
In the year 2019, a plague ravaged the world wiping out all but one percent of the entire population. In the year 2020, The Cure was given to the survivors. Every great accomplishment comes with consequences; however, no one could have imagined that a cure for all disease would lead to such dark days. It has. For every living being over the age of eighteen it was a blessing, for the rest, a curse.
Welcome to my world; the time of The Turning.
  

 The Cure is just the
beginning...
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