The Poison Sky
By K.C. Finn
Series: The SYNSK Series
Published: February 24th, 2015
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Genre: YA Psychic Historical Romance
Content Warning: Mild Violence
Recommended Age: 13+
He delivered my sentence with the gusto of a father revealing a special birthday treat to his child. I received the news as swiftly as a guillotine dropping towards a damned man’s neck.
In 1959, a heavily pregnant Kit Haugen seeks refuge in a bedroom at her grandmother’s old hotel, The Sand Drifts Inn. There, she finds a battered, old diary, containing a story long forgotten. It is the tale of her grandfather, Reggie Arkwright, a psychic soldier whose talents were put to use in the First World War. Though Kit has always thought of her grandfather as a hero, she is about to discover the horrifying truth of life and war in 1915.
Set during the battles of Ypres on the Belgian front lines, this novella contributes an extra slice of family history to K.C. Finn’s best-selling Synsk saga. The unspoken truth of the Great War waits for those who, like Kit, are brave enough to discover it.
From The Poison Sky
by K.C. Finn
I was certain that something had gone terribly wrong, because the first thing I heard was a deafening, thunderous bang. Flashes of brown and black shot past my vision that convinced me I must have simply fallen off my bed in the barracks, but after I tried to move, I realised that I didn’t have the ability to do so. The hands in front of my eyes confirmed that I had successfully travelled to someone else’s head; they were hands coated in skin as black as coal. The man whose head I occupied spoke in French when he looked up, but I didn’t miss the urgency and strain in his tone. His vision was obscured by mud and tears, which he began to wipe away with the mustard-coloured sleeve of his uniform.
So this was a trench. It was a deep furrow in the earth that was wet from an unseasonably damp autumn, and I was thankful that I couldn’t smell whatever it was that was making my soldier’s nose twitch violently every now and then. Another hideous bang went off overhead, its echo rolling like thunder, and my man dropped to the floor, covering his head with his thickset arms. Mud and debris flew everywhere, slapping him hard on the back with a heavy, wet slop. His gaze travelled down the length of the ditch in the ground, where I could make out six other figures huddled down in similar states of shock.
“What are they?”
A British voice rang out among the men. A mud-caked youth with a scar on his face raced up to my man, his face a picture of panic as he crouched in the dirt.
“What are they throwing at us, Abdul?” he urged. “I’ve never seen the like of it before!”
Abdul just shook his head as another explosion rocked the very earth beneath his feet. Flashes of white light were visible in the right-hand field of his vision. He turned my view away from them, edging closer to the British man as he wet his trembling lips to speak.
“Incendiaire, Capitaine,” he answered. “Feu de l’enfer!”
I had spent a lot of time learning German at the Major’s request, and I reckoned that feu meant something like feuer, the German word for fire. The rest was easy to guess. Incendiary weapons. Fire from the inferno, which Abdul probably meant to mean Hell. I hadn’t realised that the French Africans were defending the homeland, too, but I felt the patriotic flame rise in the dark man’s chest even as he quaked with fear. I was proud of his bravery. As the British captain patted him on the shoulder, I felt him smile.
“We’ll be all right, Abdul,” the captain told him. “We’ll wait it out ‘til the fire dies.”
They didn’t have long to wait. When the last echoes had faded, I watched through Abdul’s eyes as he glanced into the clearing sky above. It was dull and grey from the recent fall of rain, with wisps of black smoke creeping across it like webs spun by a locomotive spider. The soldier and the captain panted heavily, two nations united by their patience as they let the tense, silent moments pass by. Soon, the British captain got to his feet and moved towards a ladder half-buried by mud in the wall. He shoved his feet onto the bottom rung and crept up the first step.
“Well,” he whispered, peeping over the muddy rise of the trench wall, “it looks like the barrage is at its end.”
Something small and bright suddenly flew past Abdul’s vision. Before he could even glance at it, there was a terrible bang—a louder sound than I had ever heard in my life. In a matter of seconds, a huge flash of white light filled the trench, leaving me blind to whatever had caused the explosion. I winced at the sudden burst of intense pain in Abdul’s chest, a searing, white heat passing over every part of his skin, burning into his body with wild abandon.
Then, everything was dark. Abdul and the trench were gone.
Born in South Wales to Raymond and Jennifer Finn, Kimberley Charlotte Elisabeth Finn (known to readers as K.C., otherwise it’d be too much of a mouthful) was one of those corny little kids who always wanted to be a writer. She was also incredibly stubborn, and so has finally achieved that dream in 2013 with the release of her first three novellas in the four-part Caecilius Rex saga, the time travel adventure The Secret Star and her new urban fantasy epic The Book Of Shade.
As a sufferer with the medical condition M.E./C.F.S., Kim works part time as a private tutor and a teacher of creative writing, devoting the remainder of her time to writing novels and studying for an MA in Education and Linguistics.
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