The Weeping of Adren (a Hunter and Prey excerpt)
In celebration of the first draft reaching 30,000 words, here's an excerpt (Tareh's name subject to change in subsequent drafts. As is everything else, as it is a first draft):

Another nod. It was real. It was real. It was real.

A tightness in Adren’s abdomen burned up her throat, pressed against her eyes. She took a deep breath. And another. Tareh put a hand on Adren’s back, and Adren shuddered at how that touch met what was opening inside her.

A deep, ragged breath. Tears turned her eyes wet, but did not yet escape.

A voice from the past.

‘Adren, hold on.’

The flood.

Adren barely recognized her own voice in the weeping. It was open, ugly, raw as the unicorn’s wounds. And the pit it poured out from showed no signs of emptying. Wave after wave after wave, every nerve ending overloaded to the point of either numbness or fire. The sweat of the unicorn as she clung to its neck so that the strangers wouldn’t know she could barely stand. The exhaustion of living on overdrive for days, days that all blended together into one kaleidescope of blood pounding, lungs aching, and the white, white, white of the unicorn.

The same chapter, a few paragraphs later:

But she couldn’t get rid of the sense that it was real, and now she knew why.

She wished she didn’t.

Oh, gods, she wished she didn’t, and her voice was naked with it.

And though the swell rose with agonizing slowness, the peak passed through her and out. Her throat still burned, but she had emptied something. Like a boil lanced. And as the sobs shrank to eruptions from harsh breathing, Adren found words to give her friend who loved words. Perhaps now that the emotion had passed, they could turn to reasonable discourse instead of this animal sound. In the first moment her shaky lungs allowed for it, she gave the sentence she had pieced together to say all that needed to be said.

“There was a moment, today, where I knew everything,” her voice came high and thin, but steady, “and then I lost it all again.” Another part of her heart broke open with those words, tightening her throat and spiraling her voice upward as another pit threatened to drown her with true unending emptying. So she put a clamp on the words, holding tight to herself until the feeling passed.

“You’ve been remembering things,” said Tareh.

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