Defenders International: Chapter 1-01

17 March 2067 (Log b#6945)

It was too early to be awake, the neighborhood was rough, and it was pouring rain so hard it was hard to see three feet away – but little things like physical comfort and imminent danger never kept Canaan Matthews away from training.

The rain, in fact, was something of a comfort as she jogged through what she was assuming was a brick road.  She was regretting her choice in clothes: black sweatpants, a blue t-shirt, and a white hoodie.  The jersey material was drenched and clung to her skin in the worst way, weighing her down as she ran.

Never gonna beat my time like this, she thought almost menacingly.  Drops of water on her bare hands shuddered.

But, annoyed as she was for choosing such cumbersome running clothes, she was still satisfied when the clouds above opened.  It had been a rather uneventful 4 a.m. otherwise.

She’d been running for more than 45 minutes, 35 of them in the rain, when the downpour let up enough for her to take a look at her surroundings.  She was running through a tree-lined residential street towards a small park.

“Not that bad,” she mused, grinning.  With a swipe of her hand, Canaan curled some raindrops into a small circlet of water.  “Maybe I’ll get some practice in, too.”

Trotting over towards the playground, she dismissed the circlet with a wave of her hand and hopped up on the rain-slick swing set.  Her sneakers skidded a bit on the surface, but with a few twitches of her fingers, the water solidified and held her in place as she grabbed the chains of the swing.

The rain had reduced to a brief drizzle, and a hazy pre-dawn light was spreading through the streets.  Canaan swung back and forth gently, muscles lightly flexing.  She had slept only about five hours the night before, but she didn’t feel tired.  She could never be quite sure, though, if it was because of her training or because of her abilities.

She had only a few months left until her eighteenth birthday, meaning there were only a few months left until Canaan could take the examination for Defenders International.

Canaan had spent her entire life counting down to her DI examination.  Her parents, God rest them, were part of DI until the day they were killed when Canaan was four years old.  She could hardly remember much about her parents, but she knew they died defending someone who needed to be protected.  There was hardly a nobler cause.

She’d spent so much time training lately that she felt sure she would do well on the exam.  Grinning to herself, she flexed her arm muscles as she swung.

Down the street, she heard a loud clang.  Canaan halted the swing, jumping down from the seat.  There was someone walking down the residential street she had just been on, kicking over metal garbage cans.

Gross, she thought.  She started towards the street, in a mind to confront the person, but stopped when she felt the water droplets on her forearms trembling.  Something else was nearby, though the dim predawn still kept that something hidden from her view.

What should Canaan check out?

  1. She should go with her first instinct and stop the person from knocking over garbage cans.  That’s really inconvenient for homeowners.
  2. She should figure out what the other thing is first.  It sounds super creepy.
  3. She should just stay where she is and let the other two come to her.
  4. She should run away.

2011 Summer Reading List, Part 1

We are about midway through June and about one third of the way through what could be considered my “summer break,” meaning the break between spring semester and fall semester during which I work part-time.

I’ve started working my way through my summer reading list, which is much more extensive and broad than that of other years, since I’m aiming for graduate school after I graduate in May 2012.  So far, I’ve actually made decent progress.  Below, I’ve listed a selection of books I’ve finished reading as well as my recommendations for each.

  • The Kingdom of Ohio by Matthew Flaming – While I had high hopes for this book, which prominently featured a woman who is technically the Princess of Toledo (my hometown), I was disappointed to discover that the book was not exactly my cup of tea.  Granted, it was fantastically written, and as an alternative history it was spectacular, but the style did not necessarily agree with my tastes as a reader.  As an English student, though, I can certainly see the charm of the book, and encourage those interested in historical fiction or steampunk fiction to check this out.
  • America Pacifica by Anna North – This book, on the other hand, certainly went above and beyond what I expected.  Though I knew it was a futuristic, post-apocalyptic story, a genre I sometimes have difficulty with in adult fiction, the writing was still clear and accessible to an average reader.  Though the ending dragged out a little longer than I would have liked, the mysteries unraveled in the novel are curious enough to keep a reader interested.  It’s not exactly for the optimistic, happy-ending type, but sci-fi and post-apocalyptic fans will enjoy this story about an eighteen-year-old girl who will do anything to save her mother in a tyrannical island society.
  • Vaclav and Lena by Haley Tanner – What else can be expected from a book given a great review by the New York Times?  I loved Vaclav and Lena, a novel about two young people whose friendship and love stays alive no matter what.  Though the book has its sad moments, it is truly a beautiful story, despite the horrific topic it addresses.  My favorite is Vaclav, though I love Lena as well.  Each important character is given depth and roundness that shows great care.  And, of course, I have a natural affinity for anything regarding immigrants to America.  I would encourage everyone to at least take a look at Vaclav and Lena, if for no other reason than to see the spectacular accomplishment of debut author Haley Tanner.

Those are just three of the books on my list.  In the future, look forward to other small reviews of books including Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin.