Skip to main content

Book excerpt - BROKEN ANGEL by Sigmund Brouwer

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Broken Angel


(WaterBrook Press (May 20, 2008)


by


Sigmund Brouwer



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Sigmund Brouwer is the author of eighteen best-selling novels for children and adults. His newest book is Fuse of Armageddon and his novel The Last Disciple was featured in Time magazine and on ABC’s Good Morning America. A champion of literacy, he teaches writing workshops for students in schools from the Arctic Circle to inner city Los Angeles. Sigmund is married to Christian recording artist Cindy Morgan, and they and their two daughters divide their time between homes in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada and Nashville, Tennessee.




ABOUT THE BOOK

Her birth was shrouded in mystery and tragedy.
Her destiny is beyond comprehension.
Her pursuers long to see her broken.
She fights to soar.

A father's love for his daughter…a decision that would change both their lives forever. But who is she really─and why must she now run for her life?

Caitlin's body has made her an outcast, a freak, and the target of vicious bounty hunters. As she begins a perilous journey, she is forced to seek answers for her father's betrayal in the only things she can carry with her─a letter he passes her before forcing her to run, and their shared memories together.

Being hunted forces Caitlyn to partner with two equally lonely companions, one longing to escape the horror of factory life in Appalachia and the others, an unexpected fugitive. Together the three will fight to reach a mysterious group that might be friend or foe, where Caitlyn hopes to uncover the secrets of her past...and the destiny she must fulfill.

In the rough, shadowy hills of Appalachia, a nation carved from the United States following years of government infighting, Caitlyn and her companions are the prey in a terrifying hunt. They must outwit the relentless bounty hunters, skirt an oppressive, ever-watchful society, and find passage over the walls of Appalachia to reveal the dark secrets behind Caitlyn’s existence–and understand her father’s betrayal.

Prepare yourself to experience a chilling America of the very near future, as you discover the unforgettable secret of the Broken Angel.

In this engrossing, lightning-paced story with a post-apocalyptic edge, best-selling author Sigmund Brouwer weaves a heroic, harrowing journey through the path of a treacherous culture only one or two steps removed from our own.

Excerpt of chapter one:

Day One

I am not a man that women look at twice.

Yet she did, the woman I loved. Caitlyn. The name I would give to you in honour of her memory.

She was a dark-haired beauty. She saw beyond my shy conversations, and saw something in my eyes perhaps, a loneliness of soul that touched her. At first, our eyes held contact longer than necessary. On my later visits, we exchanged smiles, our first tentative conversations. A touch of fingertip to fingertip.

Our love grew, until we pledged to seek a life beyond the prison that held her. She was six months pregnant when we escaped, became man and wife, pledging together to be parted by nothing short of death.

Our pledge lasted until the end of her pregnancy, when you were thrust into this world among the echoes of your mother’s death. You did not kill her, Caitlyn. By taking her away from any medical help, I was responsible.
And although I knew then that someday I would have to pay the price for my love for you, it has arrived far, far too soon...


Chapter One


With late sun spreading an orange glow, wind carried the chorus of baying bloodhounds to Jordan and Caitlyn. They had climbed to the top of the mountain and reached the barren and stunted scrub pines, which grew at awkward angles from crevices in the rock.

Jordan consulted his vidpod, and assured himself that the GPS coordinates were correct. He glanced around.

Below, on one side, was the valley where the bounty hunters followed their dogs. The trail that Jordan and Caitlyn had taken up the mountain from that valley was a snake of betrayal, with the bloodhounds roaming free, picking up their scent on bushes and across the long grasses.

Jordan had seen Appalachian bear hunts and knew this would be the same, the noise of hounds galvanizing the killing lust of the Rottweilers straining against leashes, waiting for the bounty hunters to release them once the prey had been sighted. To the Rottweilers, there was no difference between bear or human. Nor, probably, any difference for the bounty hunters.

The other side of the pinnacle was a drop of hundreds of feet where a waterfall fed an ancient rift of stone that widened into a valley, with the occasional bounce of sunlight off curves of the stream far below and a panoramic view of other mountain tops.

They were trapped.

Jordan put his arms around Caitlyn, as if protecting her from the noise of the hounds. He was a tall man in his fifties, thin and muscled from years of repetitive labour. The wind plucked at his untrimmed, greying hair.

“Papa,” Caitlyn said, leaning into his chest, the wind rocking them slightly.
Papa. One gentle word.

It had been three days since they had fled the collective, with bounty hunters in pursuit. Jordan had taken them half the length of Appalachia, and was exhausted. He knew he could contain the exhaustion enough to hide it from Caitlyn, and hold it off long enough to do what was needed. His sorrow, however, was so overwhelming that he didn’t know if he could trust his voice.

He stepped back and took her face in his hands, desperate for time to stop. Through the years, it had been too dangerous for the luxury of photographs. Jordan’s scrapbook of Caitlyn’s childhood was a series of different moments committed to memory, moments where he was far too aware that it would all be taken from him someday.

This day.

Without her coat, lying on the ground beside them, Caitlyn’s slenderness was striking. To Jordan, the beauty in her face gave her a dignity much greater than her lack of size. The pupils in her eyes were eerily large, her fingers like long claws. He had learned to love those fingers and hands, the unnatural thin delicacy of her legs and arms and torso. He’d long stopped noticing the coarse hair on the hunch centered between her shoulders.

Caitlyn smiled back at Jordan. A small, hesitant smile that betrayed the fear she tried to hide from him.

“This is my fault, Papa,” she said. “I am so sorry for what I’ve done to us. Whatever it is, I didn’t mean to do it. Tell them that. You don’t need to be punished. You’ve done enough, never leaving someone like me.”

Her words almost broke the last of his strength and composure. But Jordan knew what she meant. She wondered if she had inadvertently broken a law. If she had triggered something that the Elders needed to punish? Had she been seen without her coat, or said something that was reported?

“No,” Jordan told Caitlyn. “You did nothing wrong.”

He wanted to hold her again. But it would be a comfort of deception and shame. His shame. He should tell her that they were paying for his sins, not hers.
Hiding during the day, traveling the dangerous paths through the valleys at night, he’d been snatching moments to write the letter that would explain. Because she would despise him later, he wanted his final memories of her to be untainted by the horror of comprehension that would come with truth.

It was not the time to confess his sins. It was time instead to send her into the abyss.

Jordan could not hope for a sacrificial ram to appear, but understood what it must have been like for Abraham to climb Moriah to the place of sacrifice with trembling mixture of faith and hope and sadness that was a far heavier burden than any physical weight. Caitlyn, like Isaac, in her trust had been totally unaware of the purpose of their climb. Isaac’s ignorance could have only deepened Abraham’s sorrow, as Caitlyn’s did for Jordan.

Yet Abraham wouldn’t have seen in Isaac’s eyes what Jordan saw now in his daughter.
The wind and the height, as it always did, awakened an instinct in Caitlyn. On other days like this all through her childhood, Jordan had taken Caitlyn to places where they could be alone and quiet, often at the edge of a cliff to give them a view, with Jordan hiding from Caitlyn how badly he was trying to suck the marrow out of each second together.

That sweet poignancy of those picnics had always intensified as he observed little Caitlyn marvel at the hawks soaring below them, their shadows flashing across the tops of the pines of the valley. Caitlyn had watched with unknowing longing, the way God’s touch makes human souls instinctively yearn for a place unseen.
Despite the baying of hounds, a constant reminder of the danger, Jordan hoped that this same longing had returned to her.

In the last few months, triggered by puberty occurring far later than most girls, changes had rapidly forced themselves on Caitlyn’s body. She’d became voraciously hungry, especially for milk and meats. The hunch between her shoulders had grown like a cancer, spreading down her back in slow ripples, shiny and swollen until near bursting. The coarse hair draping her shoulders and upper back and arms became thicker than straw, and the outer layers of what had once been hair became dull with a sheath of dead, flaky skin. Fear from a first menstrual cycle Jordan had been able to explain. As for the growing bulge, he did little except assure her that it was what her body was meant to do. Anything more would have meant revealing the horror that he was too cowardly to expose, except by letter.

Jordan wore a hip pack. He unbuckled it and squatted as he reached inside. When he stood again, he offered Caitlyn a piece of clothing.

“You need to wear this.”

She frowned. To her, it was obviously far too small. Jordan knew better.

“A microfabric,” he said. “It will stretch.”

She ran the shiny smooth black material across her face. “Microfabric?”
All her life, her clothing had been rough cotton. She’d never seen material like this. “From Outside,” Jordan explained, although this answer alone would raise a dozen more questions. Before she could ask, Jordan spoke again.

“You’ll need to shed all your other clothing. Step into it, and pull it up your body.”

He faced the other way to give her privacy, although her thin body had few curves to suggest womanhood. Perhaps the microfabric wasn’t needed, but he wasn’t going to send her into the abyss naked, like an animal.

“Papa,” she said, “at the back. I can’t reach.”

He turned to her.

The microfabric emphasized her sleekness. It was sleeveless and would not restrict her arms. She spun to show him her back. The shiny black suit was open in a long slit, and the monstrous bulge of her back protruded part way through.
Jordan was satisfied with the tailoring. The suit was worth the money and risk of getting it smuggled into Appalachia. “Leave me your blouse,” Jordan said. “Put the rest of your clothes on. The coat too.”

He didn’t have to tell her why she needed the coat. To hide the bulge.

“Remember everything I’ve taught you about Outside.” He’d always let her believe they would be escaping together.

He took a shoelace from his pocket that he’d kept in preparation, and tied it through a button hole of the blouse.

“Papa, what is happening?”

Through the years, he’d suffered her anguish at any reminder that she was so different. How much easier it would have been to show her a cocoon discarded by a butterfly, explaining the purpose of her hideous hump and what joy could be ahead of her? But it would have led to the other questions that he had never wanted to answer. So again and continuously, he’d been a coward. Not explaining.

He placed the vidpod in her hands. “Unregistered. Use it for navigation. I have one too.”

“Unregistered!” All Appalachians knew the sentence was five years in the factory for anyone caught in possession of an unregistered vidpod.

“That’s not important,” Jordan uncoiled a rope from the hip pack. Thin, nylon, lightweight. “Below us is stream. Follow it upstream to a cave behind a waterfall. Inside, you’ll find instructions. Hurry out of the valley. Travel tonight. I don’t know how long I can delay them. ”

She blinked hard. “No, Papa!”

“You have to make it Outside.” Jordan spoke as he tied one end of the rope to the trunk of a stunted tree.

“Nobody makes it Outside. Please, don’t leave me.”

“There is a man named Brij. Among the Clan. He’s waiting for you.”

“The Clan!”

“Caitlyn, you’ve been taught not to fear the legends.”

“I can’t go without you.”

“We can’t both make it.” Jordan threw the loose end of the rope over the edge of the cliff. He had full confidence she could climb down with ease. She was light-boned. Muscle and sinew. Unnaturally so, and unnaturally strong. “This will get you to a ledge below. You’ll find more rope to help you climb down.”

“Not without you.” She wept.

“Listen to the hounds,” he said. “We don’t have much time.”

“Why didn’t you tell me earlier this was your plan?”

He tested the rope again, looked over the edge and swallowed back the feeling of vertigo. He knew Caitlyn didn’t share that fear. “I can only ask that you trust me.”

“I won’t leave you.”

“You have no choice, he said, shaking off the spinning sensation. “You can’t be taken, dead or alive. You must not fall into their hands.”

“Who are they?” She reached for him. “Tell me what this means! Papa, I’m afraid.”

He stepped back. It hurt, not to reach for her. “Trust me, Caitlyn.”

“Papa!” He’d never rejected her before. But if he held her now, he would lose his resolve and keep her in his arms until the dogs arrived.

“Caitlyn. I love you as big and forever as the sky.” That had been their game.

Caitlyn, how much does Papa love you?

As big and forever as the sky, Papa.

He squatted and reached into the hip pack again. The letter. His confession. He walked around her again, and slid it between the microfabric and her body.

“Take the rope,” he said. He spoke in such a way that she wouldn’t fight him any longer. “Now.”

He helped her over the edge of the cliff.

“Papa,” she cried. “Papa!”

He steeled himself to ignore her, acutely aware at how little her delicate body weighed. He waited until her weight was no longer on the rope, then untied it and eased it down the cliff.

“Papa!” Wind brought her plaintive cry up to him.

Jordan leaned forward and whispered it again. “I love you as big and as forever as the sky.”

Then he took the lace that he’d tied to her blouse. He began to walk quickly, dragging the blouse behind him. The longer he could keep the hounds pursuing her scent, the better the chances that Caitlyn would make it Outside.

At best, he’d stay ahead of the hounds another half hour. Long enough to make it difficult, if not impossible, to backtrack and discover where Caitlyn had escaped.
The dark of night would be a mercy of sorts. He’d hear the hounds, but in the final moments, they’d only be a frenzy of shadows, throwing themselves upon him.

Then, finally, his guilt and grief would end.

Comments

Popular Posts

Lady Wynwood's Spies 4 vignette - Lady Stoude

This is a really random scene I wrote that occurs in Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer right after chapter 23, after Keriah returns home and before Phoebe comes to pick her up later that night. The team has finished making all preparations for the trade for Michael at Vauxhall Gardens. *** “Oh! I have no wish to go to the ball tonight!” Lady Stoude stood in the open doorway to the drawing room of her husband’s townhouse, hands on hips, with a disgruntled expression that looked faintly like a drowned cat. Her husband, Jeremy, Lord Stoude, glanced up at her from where he was leaning against the mantle of the fireplace, drinking something amber-colored and peaty-smelling. He merely gave her a mild, inquiring look. “Why not, my dear?” “I have just heard from my maid, who heard from Mrs. Butterworth’s maid, who heard from Miss Farrimond’s maid, that Miss Farrimond will not attend the ball tonight, because an unfortunate accident with hair dye caused her to now sport a gia

What are you crafting today?

I always have multiple knitting projects, and over Christmas I started a new one. I’m working on developing a pattern for the arm-warmers (called muffatees or manchettes in Regency and Victorian England) that are mentioned a few times in Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer and Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 5: Prisoner . My character, Phoebe, has a rather deadly pointy thing hidden in hers. :) The pattern is based off of antique knitting books which are scanned by Archive.org. (You can download .pdfs of the books, which I think is really rather cool.) The book the pattern is from was published after the Regency era, but I’m reasonably sure the pattern was in use in the Regency, just passed down by word of mouth. Are you crafting anything today?

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year! This year is the Year of the Rabbit. The Chinese zodiac is split into 12 animals, and their years are 12 years apart. My mom was born in the Year of the Rabbit, so you could calculate her age if you wanted to. :) My humorous Christian romantic suspense serial novel, Year of the Dog , is a reference to the Chinese zodiac because the heroine is a dog trainer. It’s a prequel to my Warubozu Spa Chronicles series, which is set in my birth state of Hawaii. Here’s the book description: Year of the Dog serial novel by Camy Tang Marisol Mutou, a professional dog trainer, is having a bad year. While renovating her new dog kenneling and training facility, she needs to move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate—according to them, a job requiring her to be covered in dog hair and slobber is an embarrassment to the family. She convinces her ex-boyfriend to take her dog for a few months … but discovers that his brother is the irat

Camille Elliot's January newsletter

My Camille Elliot (Christian Regency Romantic Suspense) newsletter went out last week, but in case you missed it, the link is below. In my newsletter this month, I posted a link to a special extra scene from Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer , information about an experiment with my current Facebook group, and the date for an upcoming sale on Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 2: Berserker . I also mentioned a sweet Traditional Regency Romance that I’m reading. Click here to read my Camille Elliot newsletter for January.

Talk of the Town by Joan Smith

Talk of the Town by Joan Smith Daphne Ingleside’s visit to her Aunt Effie in London was meant to add a little spark to her placid country life. And it did—once the two women decided to write Effie’s memoirs. For Effie, a faded divorcée, had been the beauty of London in her day, and many of the ton feared their misbehavior would be disclosed. The Duke of St. Felix, misinterpreting their project as a means of blackmailing his family, antagonized the sharp-witted, beautiful Daphne to his peril. Regency Romance by Joan Smith; originally published by Fawcett *** I first read this Regency romance years ago in mass market paperback and remember liking it. But when I saw that the author released it on ebook, I found that I didn’t remember the story at all, so I decided to re-read it. It was just as enjoyable the second time around. This story is full of witty banter and is a light, cute comedy of manners. I like how forthright the heroine is, although her tongue is at times a trifle

ひとり寿司第28章パート1

「ひとり寿司」をブログに連載します! ひとり寿司 寿司シリーズの第一作 キャミー・タング 西島美幸 訳 スポーツ狂のレックス・坂井 —— いとこのマリコが数ヶ月後に結婚することにより、「いとこの中で一番年上の独身女性」という内輪の肩書を「勝ち取る」ことについては、あまり気にしていない。コントロールフリークの祖母を無視するのは容易だ —— しかし、祖母は最終通告を出した —— マリコの結婚式までにデート相手を見つけなければ、無慈悲な祖母は、レックスがコーチをしている女子バレーボールチームへの資金供給を切ると言う。 ダグアウトにいる選手全員とデートに出かけるほど絶望的なわけではない。レックスは、バイブルスタディで読んだ「エペソの手紙」をもとに「最高の男性」の条件の厳しいリストを作った。バレーボールではいつも勝つ —— ゲームを有利に進めれば、必ず成功するはずだ。 そのとき兄は、クリスチャンではなく、アスリートでもなく、一見何の魅力もないエイデンを彼女に引き合わせる。 エイデンは、クリスチャンではないという理由で離れていったトリッシュという女の子から受けた痛手から立ち直ろうとしている。そして、レックスが(1)彼に全く興味がないこと、(2)クリスチャンであること、(3)トリッシュのいとこであることを知る。あの狂った家族とまた付き合うのはごめんだ。まして、偽善的なクリスチャンの女の子など、お断り。彼はマゾヒストじゃない。 レックスは時間がなくなってきた。いくら頑張っても、いい人は現れない。それに、どこへ行ってもエイデンに遭遇する。あのリストはどんどん長くなっていくばかり —— 過去に掲載済みのストーリーのリンクはこちらです。 *** 28 「ねえビーナス、お願い」装具をもっとしっかり脚に巻きつけようともがきながら、レックスは肩で携帯を持とうとした。 「ごめん、すごく仕事が忙しいの。トリッシュに行ってもらうように電話したから」 「トリッシュ? いつから彼女が私のお気に入りになったの?」立ち上がり、段ボール箱の間を通って、トイレにたどり着いた。 「ジェン、今週末は出かけてるの——ほんと、都合がいいわよね。だから、トリッシュかマリコのどっちかなのよ」 (うわっ)「分かった。何時に来てくれるの?」 「あの子

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! Did you do anything special to honor today?

A List of my Free Blog Reads

Curious about what my writing is like? Here’s a list of all my free books and the free short stories, novellas, and novels that you can read here on my blog. I’ll update this post as I add more free reads. Christian Humorous Romantic Suspense: Year of the Dog (Warubozu Spa Chronicles series, Prequel novel) (Currently being posted monthly on my blog as a serial novel) Marisol Mutou, a professional dog trainer, finally has a chance to buy a facility for her business, but her world is upended when she must move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate. When she stumbles upon a three-year-old missing persons case, security expert Ashwin Keitou, whose car she accidentally rear-ended a few weeks earlier, is tasked with protecting her. However, danger begins to circle around them from people who want the past to remain there. Can they shed light on the secrets moving in the shadows? Christian Romantic Suspense: Necessary Proof (Sonoma series #4.1, n

Year of the Dog serial novel

About Year of the Dog : A month or two ago, I remembered an old manuscript I had completed but which hadn’t sold. It was a contemporary romance meant for Zondervan, titled Year of the Dog . The book had gone into the pipeline and I even got another title ( Bad Dog ) and a cover for it, but eventually my editor at the time decided she didn’t want to publish it, for various reasons. She instead requested a romantic suspense, and so I cannibalized some of the characters from Year of the Dog and thrust them into the next book I wrote, which was Protection for Hire . Honestly, I didn’t take a lot from Year of the Dog to put in Protection for Hire , aside from character names and a few relationship ties. I was originally thinking I’d post Year of the Dog as-is on my blog as a free read, but then it occurred to me that I could revamp it into a romantic suspense and change the setting to Hawaii. It would work out perfectly as (yet another) prequel to the Warubozu series and introduce