Year of the Snake


The Year of the Snake Blog Hop is dedicated to excerpts that feature deception, delusion, opportunism, and perhaps simply snakes. Here’s mine. Enjoy.

Leading into this scene, Matty has come home to talk to his father about something that is bothering him. A few weeks earlier, Matty and his girlfriend Iris were out of town and witnessed an act of public protest become a riot. It sparked Matty’s curiosity, and when he got his hands on some illicit crime statistics, Iris freaked out on him. To appease her, he destroyed the chip that held the data. The first line below is Matty’s father’s, and he’s explaining who the protester in the park was. (Note: “Kitsune” are the king’s guardians.)

“Lawrence Billings was Kitsune, one of [Steer Industry’s] until he dedicated his life to getting arrested.”

“He picked me out of the crowd, dad. He knew my name, and he told me to ask you about ‘brites’.”

“What do you want to know?” his father asked.

“Wait. I just told you a crazy ex-Kitsune knew me and that doesn’t concern you?”Matty asked.

“Not really. Larry’s most recent arrest was March sixteenth. You were all over SteerNews in the king’s birthday party coverage.”

Right. Matty asked, “Is he right? Do our netlink memory chips upload to SI?”

Plainly, the man replied, “Yes. Have for a few years now.”

A knot formed in Matty’s stomach. Feeling hollow, he asked, “Without our knowledge? Without our consent?”

“Like most things affecting lives of citizens.”

Matty stared at his father with disbelief, who continued by asking, “Did you know that our law, were it printed, bound, and stacked floor to ceiling, would fill this house?”

Looking around him, Matty began calculating the home’s volume from the square footage. A hand on his shoulder, disturbing the math.

“It’s not just that we’re used to it, son,” his father said. “Our law is three hundred years of sand and silt settled on top of us. There’s no knowing all of it”

Matty didn’t care about that. “Dad! The crowd blew up when Larry told them. Riot agents arrested them all!”

His father asked, “You would prefer they stood by and let people beat each other bloody?”

“No, but—”

“What is it that’s really bothering you?”

“I lied to Iris,” Matty admitted.

With a heavy exhale, his father said, “You said this wasn’t about her.”

Pulling a data chip case from his pocket, identical to the one he broke in the alley, Matty held it out and said, “She thinks I destroyed it.”

The commandant took the case and studied it for a moment. “What’s on it?”

“Protest data.”

“Matthias.” It was the same concerned tone that had been in Iris’ voice. “Where did you get it?”

“Does it matter?” he asked. “I haven’t looked at it.”

His father considered the case for a moment, then opened it and slipped the chip into the tablet for the netscreen. A few moments later, the wall-length device became full of numbers and images.

“Go ahead. Take a look.”

Matty stood before the wall and letting his eyes skip over the numbers. He didn’t focus on any one set, just let the volume of information overwhelm him. It’s message turned him cold and anxious. Riot agents weren’t fiction. Alice Glass didn’t create them. They had been in the kingdom’s service for a century, putting down dissidence and containing the damage. And not every so often, as Iris had said, but frequently.

“Is this what the Regency does?” Matty asked. “Pick and choose what it wants history to say?”

“There was a man in the Old World named Winston Churchill.”

Matty turned around to give his father his attention and found the man with one leg was crossed over the other, arms stretched out over the back of the couch. It was as relaxed as he had ever seen him.

“He was born to privilege, served his king, and was elected by his peers to his kingdom’s highest executive office, twice. He got his people through a devastating war with courageous leadership and by simply saying the right thing at the right time.

“Inside of a few decades, what most people knew Winston for was witty quotes. Among the most famous was this: ‘History is written by the victors’.”

“What did the Regency win?” Matty asked.

“An election, by a landslide.”

Thank you for checking out my Year of the Snake excerpt. Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a signed copy of January Black, and then check out these other awesome excerpts.

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