by Justine Alley Dowsett
Crimson Winter, book one
The repeating Tuesdays are only the beginning...
When Japanese high school student Yukari Namikoya finds herself suddenly and inexplicably on another planet, she must quickly come to terms with the fact that she may never see Tokyo again. With a sun that never sets, the desert world of Crimson Winter is on the brink of extinction and day-to-day survival can be difficult; especially for someone used to the modern-day conveniences and comforts of Earth.
Following the only clue she has to a way home - a cryptic message from a woman long dead - Yukari heads into the desert searching for the Temple of Sapphire. There, she finds the temple in ruins, but what waits there for her is her destiny as a Chosen of the gem god Sapphiros.
Standed on this new world and hunted by the Vile Emperor and his vast forces simply for being what she is, Yukari has no choice but to the learn how to fulfill the role she's been cast into and become the long-awaited saviour of a dangerous world she doesn't yet understand.
YA, Science Fiction, Adventure, 346 pages
About the author:
Justine Alley Dowsett is the author of nine novels and counting, and one of the founders of Mirror World Publishing. Her books, which she often co-writes with her sister, Murandy Damodred, range from young adult science fiction to dark fantasy/romance. She earned a BA in Drama from the University of Windsor, honed her skills as an entrepreneur by tackling video game production, and now she dedicates her time to writing, publishing, and occasionally role-playing with her friends.
Directly across the playground from where the teenager stood there was a girl about his age dressed just as strangely as he was. She was wearing all black but in her case, that meant a tight fitting dress that flared out from her waist and nearly covered her ankles. That was strange enough, but she also had a red-jeweled necklace glowing around her neck that matched, what I assumed to be her companion’s, exactly. Her hair, which framed her face and fell almost to her waist, was the same fiery red as her eyes.
My fear spiked – this wasn’t normal. My first thought was that perhaps they were one of Tokyo’s numerous gangs. I immediately looked around for more of them and my logical leap was not proven wrong. There were two more, one to each side and the four of them had the four of us surrounded.
I took a step back towards Yue, “There are four of them and they are between the park’s entrances and us.” I announced to her, hoping the fear didn’t show through my voice, but at the same time willing her to understand the danger.
Rash, fiery Yue again did the unexpected and I saw her leap toward the gothic teenager nearest us. I knew instantly that this was not going to end well.
My instincts were proven right, but not in the way I expected. Yue made to grab for him, but he did not react, nor seem to care in the least. Her outstretched arms passed right through him as if he wasn’t even there at all.
I didn’t waste the time or effort in trying to reason out how that could be possible. I simply did the only thing I could and continued to follow my instincts. My cell phone was still in my hand from when I checked the time not long ago, though it felt like forever had passed since then. I lifted the phone and very audibly pressed 9-1-1 and braced myself should the four mysterious strangers try to knock my phone away from me.
If I expected them to act normally and care that I was calling the police, they didn’t seem to think that that was necessary. I watched them all as well as I was able and kept an eye on Yue, who recovered her balance and made to strike at him again.
“911, emergency service. What is your emergency?”
“My friends and I are being accosted by a gang in Hyuski Heights Park, Shinjuku district.” If I sounded panicked now, I had the police on the phone and did not care. I held onto my cell phone like a lifeline.
The spiky-haired Goth stepped forward, as did the other three, and they each lifted their crystal necklaces in what I assumed to be a ritual motion. This was it. Whatever they had come here for, it was going to happen now.
At the request of the dispatch lady I described the four people around us. They continued to ignore us; even Yue who had taken several swings at the blond one with no results. Amazingly, from their upheld crystals, red lights shot upwards like laser beams to connect in the air above us. I didn’t bother to explain this to the woman on the phone – she wouldn’t have believed me and I was beyond shock at this point – the police would see it when they arrived.
“The police are on their way,” she informed me. “Did you need me to contact your parents?”
“No,” I answered a little too quickly, stricken, “but can you please stay on the line with me?” I thought I might lose what grip on reality I had if I lost this woman’s voice – that’s how scared I was.
The glowing beams cast a red hue onto the park and us. Where they connected to each other pulsed brightly above our heads. Surely someone would see this and come looking? Hotaru and Kaji had stopped digging by now and were staring about them in surprise. They had been too preoccupied to notice our predicament before and I had not thought to warn them. Calling for help had seemed more prudent at the time, and so far the four gang members – if that’s what they were – hadn’t actually done anything to harm us.
The center point continued to pulse and we, in the midst of it all, stood almost riveted watching it as it grew and lengthened inexplicably until it was a column of red light reaching to the ground.
Yue was the first to snap out of the trance the odd phenomenon had put us all in. She changed her tactics abruptly on the gang member she was facing and weaved to dodge past him and make a break for the exit. I could hear the sirens in the distance now and I thanked providence that the local police station was not far away. There was a sharp crackling sound as Yue struck an invisible wall, seemingly created by the joining of the red beams of light. She cried out in pain and was flung backwards by the impact. The spiky blond teenager laughed and I ran forward to make sure Yue was okay – all the while dictating what was happening to the dispatch woman, no longer worrying how crazy or delusional I sounded.
“Hello? Hello, are you hearing me?” I demanded into the receiver. “Yue is hurt! You have to hurry.”
Yue was in pain, I could tell, but she climbed to her feet regardless, wincing as she did so.
“Um, Yukari, Yue…” Hotaru called in an uncertain voice and we turned to look over at her.
The pulsing light in the center of the red dome they had created was now in the shape of a pillar – no, a gateway – and something was coming out of it. I knew in that instant that I didn’t want to know what that something was.