This is the cover of the first book in the Poppy Series,
an upcoming project after Oddily.
Here is a sneak peek at a few pages from CHAPTER 1.
WARNING!...THIS IS THE FIRST DRAFT .
(An Unedited Version)
The crisp morning air causes me to shiver as I run through the forest. The woods are silent and still, the hush almost expectant.
I’m fast—impossibly fast. My reflexes are sharp. I can maneuver through the towering pines with ease. This morning, I plan to enter the forbidden zone. Just one glimpse of a real human is all I need to satisfy my curiosity.
But I’m distracted! I stop after entering a small clearing when I feel the warmth of the sun touch my skin.
I look up and see scattered clouds.
“What do you think of the sky?” I speak to the surrounding trees—my tree friends. “Can anything be more vast and magnificent?”
Impulsively, I catch hold of my tail so I can pirouette in circles without it whipping around me like a lethal weapon. I begin to laugh at the sensation of dizziness until I hear an unexpected noise that stops me from my childish play.
Suddenly, prickles run up my spine. I am not alone! I can smell it coming from above the woods on the ridge. The odor is distinctly human!
Hastily, I climb the nearest tree and wait. Through the firs, I can see the human approach. I am curious about the puny male with soft brown eyes and dark brown hair. His beady little eyes fascinate me, and I wonder if he’s considered handsome among his species. How revolting to think that, this time tomorrow, I will inhabit a human body like his, except I will be female.
I watch him as he stops to urinate on a tree, but then the strangest thing happens. He looks up at my hiding place. Does he know I’m here? His brown eyes search the shadowy treetop, and then he exposes his teeth resembling small white pearls. If I am correct, he is smiling!
“I know you’re up there!” He calls out.
I can decipher his guttural sounds and I don’t like what I hear.
“Poke your head out so I can see you!”
How weird! He speaks again without any traces of fear. Instead, his voice portrays a hint of amusement. What is wrong with him? He is flirting with death!
Then the metal band attached to his wrist draws his attention and he turns away to resume his walk, except at a faster pace. He disappears beyond the thick foliage of the woods.
He is lucky today. Diet restrictions prevent me from the pleasure of eating him. What a shame, but an empty stomach is best during the transformation. Who would believe that my consciousness is going to be transferred inside a human form?
I wince, knowing there is only one person who would follow me. I spot her large sky blue eyes blinking up at me through the foliage. She is my older, overprotective sister Nonie. She is also a pest!
“What are you doing?” she complains. “This zone is forbidden territory!”
I smirk because I'd never been one for following the rules.
“I was having one last run through the woods without thought to where I was headed,” I lied. “Soon after, I sensed danger and hid up here. It was a human, and his sudden presence caught me off guard. He saw me Nonie!”
“Are you sure?” Her eyes widened. “If he did, we better return home before he comes back with reinforcements.”
I know my sister well. When she begins to fuss with her tail, it’s a sure sign that she’s frightened. I rolled my eyes at her, but she did have a point.
“Are you nervous about tomorrow?” I ask.
For just a moment, I can see how uncertain she was of the future and what may lie ahead. She had a right to be. After all, she too was one of the recruits to become human.
“I believe my big sister is curious about tomorrow?” I say in a joking manner.
“Yes I am.”
I grin sheepishly. “What? Are you wondering what it will be like without a tail? Maybe you should have asked for a male body instead.”
“Wait!” I climb down from the tree to catch up with my brooding sister. My teasing worked. Nonie’s fear disappeared, replaced by aggravation. I knew it would get to her because tails are very important to our people. I guess I shouldn’t have acted so juvenile with her. After all, she’s the one who can keep my impulsive nature under check, or at least warn me when my course of action seems a little…careless.
I try to make amends. “So,” I nudge her in the side. Of course, when poking Nonie, one has to proceed with caution. “You’re not going to begrudge me a little fun, are you?”
“No, but sometimes I think you’re stupid.”
“Ouch, I’m hurt! How can you say that about your charming little sister? Don’t you appreciate my adventuresome spirit?”
“I didn’t mean to offend you, but it’s true. You not only risk your life with unending curiosity—you risk mine as well!”
“Have I ever asked you to follow me?”
“Well, I guess, given your boring nature, I can’t blame you when you do.”
Nonie turned to glare at me. “I am not boring! I’m sensible!”
I’m reluctant to speak, but I do anyway. “Talk to me Nonie. You usually tolerate my teasing, so what’s really bothering you?”
She glared at me a moment longer, then said, “How can you be joking around when we’re about to…die?”
I can always catch a glimpse of her tears, no matter how well she tries to hide them. It almost makes me feel sorry for her. “Die! Is that what you truly think is going to happen to us?”
“Well then, explain what happened to the chosen ones who acquired human bodies before us? The human state is supposed to be an alternating, short-lived situation. Don’t you think it’s weird that not one has returned to share their experience?”
“Yes I do, and I’ve already begun to snoop around.”
“See! There you go again with your inquisitive ways.”
“Well, then,” I fold my arms over my chest—a gesture I do when I’m frustrated. “If you have a better suggestion, please…let me know.”
Before she could answer, a ripple of noise shivered through the air.
More humans—a male, and female appeared this time. Nonie and I froze, but they were unaware of our presence, too busy with conversation to catch sight of us crouched in the foliage. My mouth begins to salivate.
Nonie gives me a, ‘don’t you dare eat them’ look, as we silently watched them pass by.
"Thanks for the warning," I say sarcastically after they left.