I’m writing a series of novels: the Seeking Scylla series. Some characters dance on the edges of the narratives. Some never make it in. In Beyond Scylla blogs, I share stories and vignettes about these characters.

This helps.

—And you think this helps, how?

—We can’t do anything from here. I have to get inside.

—You can’t get in…

—Not into the Academy. But in, back there. I still have my papers. I can go back to our place, back to work…

—Back? Are you kidding me? How will you explain the last six weeks?

—Last month was a lot. For them too. Lots of families scattered…

—Or died.

—I’ve already reached out to Harper. He never left.

—How do you know you can trust him?

—I don’t. I mean, odds are good I can, but…

—And then what? Say the National Guards don’t detain you or gun you down on the spot…

—They won’t gun me…

—Right, because they need info. You’ll sit in the special chair while they extract teeth and nails and details. What if they give you one of those serums and ask about us?

—That’s why I’m doing this now, before we finalize any plans. I need you to go. Don’t tell me anything. Not where, not how. You have the list. At least ten camps on the other side of the lake, more in the valley over those hills. And the Center, west of here, the big…

—I’m not going to the Center. I hear it’s organized, fenced in… like a prison. It’s probably a trap.

The Prison Within

—No, Lana, it’s not a trap. It’s not a prison.

—How do you know that for sure?

—I don’t.

—You don’t know anything.

—I know this. Not trying is a prison. An emotional paralysis. I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you and the children safe, out of their hands. And whatever it takes to rescue Analee from their Academy.

—What if it’s too late?

—I have to try. Doing something helps.

—This helps? Leaving us out here…

—Just get to a camp, rest, then keep going. Mix it up.

—How will I know you’re okay?

—You won’t. Not until Analee and I come back to find you.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2023.