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I am currently working on a new Thriller, Wynter's War, which is temporarily available on Amazon's Kindle VellaHere's part of the first chapter, GULAG.




      I’m gonna die here.

     Wynter Knight stared at the distant mountaintops dancing in the waves of summer heat—the palms of her hands touching the razor-wire topped chain-link fence enclosing North Carolina Re-education Center One. (NCRC-1).

     She looked at the ground, closed her eyes, took a deep breath of the honeysuckle scented air, shook her head slowly, and then looked up. The fresh, clean smell of the wilderness, the sunshine's warmth seeping into her pasty white skin, and dreaming of escape was the only part of her day that she felt human.

     Moments later, the klaxon blared, ending the hour-long exercise period. Wynter broke from her fantasy, turned, and stood to watch as the other female prisoners formed a line to re-enter the prison. They disgusted her. All of them had accepted their confinement. They sounded like a gaggle of geese, chattering endlessly about anything that didn’t have the word escape in it. For that reason, she had intentionally separated herself from them.

     Always the last in line, Wynter kept her eyes focused on the mountains, hoping to see something besides the endless wilderness as she shuffled slowly toward the gaping maw of her nightmare.  

     After being herded to her cell, she would stand stoically in front of it until the headcount ended. Then the doors would slide open, and she would move to stand inside the drab, claustrophobic cubicle—until, with an ominous clang—it closed, imprisoning her with her thoughts.

     On this day, after plopping down on the thin, vinyl-coated mattress pad, she leaned back against the cold, hard wall. Her head slumped; her slender body shuddered.

     Am I going insane? Of late, that thought had occurred to her often. She had been sticking to the same routine day after day for nearly a year with nothing to show for it. The only positive was that the guards and inmates paid no attention to her—which was her intent. To them, she was just another nutcase who had lost it.

     She laid on her back, staring at the raw grey concrete ceiling. She grimaced, recalling the day she first displayed the code on her palms with the black magic marker she swiped from the prison laundry. If anyone was watching, would they understand the messages? She paused in her reverie and thought about the only book she'd read since being arrested—George Orwell’s 1984. It had been left on a table by one of the guards. In defiance, she'd stolen it when his back was turned. She was surprised to see a guard reading it because it had been banned. One passage had resonated with her, and she remembered it verbatim. He who controls the past controls the future. He who controls the present controls the past.

     Those two sentences simultaneously horrified and inspired her, but she was optimistic the regime couldn’t capture and imprison everyone who didn’t march in lockstep with their socialist agenda. That would be impossible, so she decided to find a way to signal anyone who might be in the mountains watching the prison. She needed something to believe in—a hero—so she invented one.

     Sighing deeply, Wynter shook her head, acknowledging that it wasn’t much of a plan, but it was all she had, and it was better than nothing.

     As the days became weeks and the weeks slid into months, her morale began to dissolve.

     Shaking her head, she broke from the daydream.

     How much longer could she fantasize about being free?

     She'd never been one to give up, but today her willpower deserted her.

     Succumbing to the feeling of despair, she pulled 1984 from under the pillow, stared at it momentarily, and then threw it across the cell. It slammed against the cement block wall with a loud thud and bounced back to land unceremoniously on the cold cement floor at her feet.

     Tomorrow will be just like today; I'll never be free.

    She resisted the urge to cry as she ran her fingers over her bald head.

    Feeling what they took from her was all she needed to rekindle her desire to escape. Her jaws clenched. Her temples throbbed as the fire of vengeance coursed through her arteries and burned its way into her brain.

     One day I’ll escape this Orwellian nightmare. One day, I’ll destroy them.

     Standing, she squared her shoulders, picked up the book, and put it back under the pillow.