Read Heartless Online

Authors: Leah Rhyne

Tags: #General Fiction

Heartless

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this modern-day take on the classic Frankenstein tale, as told from the monster’s perspective, Jolene Hall is dead – sort of. She can walk, think and talk, but her heart doesn’t beat and her lungs stopped breathing ages ago. Her body’s a mosaic of jagged wounds and stapled flesh. Jolene Hall has a choice: turn herself in to the authorities, led by a suspiciously handsome police officer, or team up with her roommate Lucy and her boyfriend Eli to find a way to save herself. To Jo, the choice is clear.

 

She’d like to know who turned her into a monster, and she’d like to live to see another sunrise. But that choice has drastic repercussions. On a trip deep into the snowy White Mountains, to a hidden laboratory filled with danger and cadavers, Jo and Lucy find more reanimated girls. Part body, part machine, run by batteries and electricity, these girls are killers, created by a shadowy Order with a penchant for chaos…and murder. To make matters worse, a photo on a wall of victims reveals Lucy is next in line to be “recruited” into this army of beautiful, walking corpses. When Jo’s physical condition takes a turn for the irreparable, and the Order kidnaps those she loves most, she must sacrifice herself to save them all.

Dedication

tk

 
 

 

I’
m dead.

Sort of.

I thought you should know that right away, because this story won’t end well for me. I don’t have much longer. The battery that’s powering my brain is shutting down.

I’m sitting in my dorm room in the middle of the night. My mother’s asleep on the bed, and she’s snoring. It’s not a loud snore, not by any means, but it’s soft and it’s nasal and it’s there. I hear it. It transports me back in time, back to the days before things went sour and I had all the time in the world. Back then, sometimes, when I was very small, my mother and I had sleepovers in my bedroom, pretending we were girlfriends. We’d paint our nails and eat ice cream and giggle for hours.

Then my mother would fall asleep on the bottom bunk, and she’d snore like she’s snoring right now. So soft, so gentle. I’d lie in the top bunk and listen to her for hours. I loved feeling so close, so intimate, like I was the only one in the world who got to be with her like that. I felt so safe, those nights in my room so far away from here.

Right now, I wish I felt safe. I wish I could fall asleep to the sound of my mother’s snores, like when I was a little girl. I’m so tired. But I won’t let myself sleep yet. Because if I do, I won’t wake up, and I haven’t told you my story. I want you to hear it. I
need
you to hear it. Are you ready?

First, and most important, I’m not almost-dead by choice. I didn’t
choose
to be this way. I didn’t
choose
to become a monster.

That choice was made for me.

And second. Second is this: the smallest decisions, the smallest choices in your life, can sometimes have the biggest impact. You never know where you’re going to end up, and who you’re going to hurt in the process of living your life carelessly.

Me? I made a series of choices that tangled me up with some of the ugliest sort of people I could have imagined. I got my best friend, my boyfriend, even my parents involved. It’s been a disaster, and though the end has come for me, it hasn’t for everyone else. These bad guys won’t stop. No. They have big plans, regardless of the outcome of my little story.

So that’s why I need to share it with you. Maybe if you listen, if you hear, you can help stop them.

A
blizzard raged outside Eli Peterson’s apartment, and I ran back to his bed and pulled his tattered, stained comforter tighter around my shoulders, shivering against the idea of the snow outside. He, in turn, pulled me in closer to his bare chest, the warmth of his body soothing and comfortable. Slowly I stopped shivering.

“Why’d you get up?” he asked, his voice thick and sleepy.

“I had to pee.”

He laughed and wrapped his body around me, turning me to my side, sliding his legs through mine until we were as tangled as a pretzel.

I couldn’t get used to sleeping that way. I always waited for him to fall asleep, and then I’d wriggle out from his grasp and over to the far side of the bed, where sometimes, if I was lucky, I’d manage to catch a few hours of rest before the next morning’s classes.

Wind howled outside, slamming a tree branch into Eli’s window. I jumped. “Stupid storm,” I said. “I’ll never fall asleep with all that noise. I’ll be late for Price’s class, and he’ll dock my grade, and when my father sees my report card he’ll kill me.” I groaned and pulled away.

Eli wasn’t bothered. Still half-asleep, his voice was a mumble. “Maybe it’ll be so bad they’ll shut down campus tomorrow. Maybe we’ll have the day off.”

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