Four hours after the attack, Riya opened her eyes. A strange pressure pushed against her head. This wasn’t like being underground—this place was more suffocating. When she moved, the water pushed around her and her lungs seized. Panic rushed in. She tried to kick for the surface, but her ankles were bound and weighed down. The iron around her wrists gave very little room to try to work herself free. She trashed wildly, but failed to free herself even a little. She waited for the inevitable final burn of her lungs and then death, but it never came. She opened her mouth and breathed in. The pressure in her lungs released, and she realized she was already dead.

She let herself relax and sank down until her bottom touched the solid, silty ground. The darkness and the pressure became a kind of peace then. So this is death, she thought. She let her body relax and took another deep breath. In her stillness, she felt something light pecking at the bindings of her wrist and then a voice.

“If I focus hard enough,” he said, “I can get a little bit off at a time.”

–Excerpt from THE BONE DANCER