In the Beginning There Was Us
Author: Ingrid Jonach
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Synopsis: What would you do if you were God? If you had the power to not only give life, but take it away in the blink of an eye? These are the questions that plague fifteen-year-old Abbey Baxter after she resurrects a boy, long lost to the ages.
The achingly beautiful and eternally melancholy Cole not only serves as a welcome distraction from her long-time crush, Elwin, but also eases the heartache that persists since the sudden passing of her younger brother, Junior, four years earlier.
As the intrigue of her relationship with Cole deepens, so too does the mystery that surrounds a growing phenomenon sweeping through her small West Virginian town, transforming the lives of its residents. Around her, two bedroom cottages are transforming into mansions without explanation and residents are waking up to bank balances that have tripled overnight, all under the watchful gaze of the sinister American Laboratory for Particle Physics, located on the outskirts of town.
As Abbey searches for answers in a bid to solve the mystery in partnership with Elwin, she’s forced into a realization that that some things are better left buried, including her newfound love, Cole.
This cautionary tale of heartache and obsession explores the endless possibilities of the universe and its devastating impact on two young lovers from different worlds.
I WAKE TO the sound of sirens and a bedroom lit up, as if by fireworks on the Fourth of July.
I blink owlishly at the ceiling for a moment or two, before I throw back the covers and crawl across my bed to peer through my window at the blue and red flashing lights of a police car and a fire engine. They’re followed moments later by an ambulance and two more police cars.
The five vehicles careen around the corner, like clown cars off to throw confetti on a fake fire, and I realize that they’re headed in the direction of the Lab.
The American Laboratory for Particle Physics—as it’s officially called—is located on the outskirts of our small town and employs at least a third of the population, including my dad.
The Lab has also put our town on the map as the least visited town in the country, unless you count the protesters that camp on the outskirts of Albert Falls. No one else wants to be within a hundred mile radius of the largest particle accelerator in the United States.
I watch through my window as the surrounding houses light up one by one, like fireflies at dusk. It’s more like dawn though. I glance over at the digital clock that sits on my chest of drawers. Yep. 3.46am.
I open the sash and a warm breeze ruffles my curtains as I strain to hear the now distant sirens, which intermingle with the sound of screen doors slamming and neighbors yelling at barking dogs.
I’m suddenly blinded by the bedroom light above my head.
“Pack your bags, Abbey.”
“What?” I ask, turning and rubbing one of my eyes with the heel of my hand.
“Now,” my dad says. I hear his shoes clomp down the hallway and it registers that he’s already dressed.
I remember to place my right foot on the floorboards before my left as I climb out of bed. I may as well go back to bed and pull the covers over my head if I start the day on the wrong foot—so to speak.
It’s just one of many symptoms of my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which my best friend Mali Kendrick had helpfully diagnosed via Google three years ago.
I have a couple of other rituals—including one for walking through doorways and another for putting on seatbelts.
There are others that I make up on the spot. For example, deciding that if I close my eyes for two minutes and thirty seconds I’ll pass an exam, or if I hold my breath through a television commercial my mom won’t need her medication anymore.
I rummage through my wardrobe for my overnight bag and start filling it, not knowing how many pairs of underwear to pack, or whether I need to take my swimsuit.
I shake my head as I stuff it back into my drawer. This isn’t a holiday. It’s an evacuation, I remind myself and the hairs on the back of my neck prickle at the realization.
We’ve been through the drill a thousand times at school. We’re supposed to pack clothes and toiletries only and then await further instruction from the authorities.
Like everyone else in town, we already have a container of food and water stored in the trunk of our station wagon. No one’s supposed to take valuables like jewelry, or non-essential items like photographs and pets. A few kids had cried when we were told about the policy on pets, but they’re not permitted at the shelter in Charleston. Yep. Charleston. They may as well evacuate us to the Lab.
My ears pick up the sound of a public announcement and I rush to my window again.
“—in your homes,” a recorded voice is saying through a megaphone mounted to the top of a black sedan emblazoned with the acronym A.L.P.P. “I repeat: stay in your homes. Albert Falls is currently in lockdown by order of the United States Government. You are ordered to stay in your homes. I repeat—”
“Hurry up, Abbey.”
I turn to see my dad standing in the doorway again. “I think we’re supposed to stay indoors,” I tell him, gesturing to the window.
“You have two minutes,” he says dismissively and I can only assume that the lockdown doesn’t apply to employees of the Lab.
“We have to get Mali and Elwin,” I say, as I realize that my best friend and her brother aren’t in that category.
My dad grimaces and shakes his head. “Sorry.”
My forehead creases. “What’s going on, Dad?”
He hesitates and I wonder whether I need to remind him that I’m not a kid anymore, even though I do occasionally sleep with a nightlight.
“There was an accident at the Lab,” he finally confirms.
My stomach flip-flops. It looks like the protestors will soon be saying I-told-you-so—if anyone actually lives to tell the tale.
The Lab’s been experimenting with the God Particle, despite a ban by the United Nations.
I know about the God Particle and its role in the European Apocalypse from Middle School. It’s part of the school curriculum, just like the three World Wars. It had wiped out Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and half of Italy, France, Germany and Austria—and now maybe Albert Falls.
I grab my cell from my side table. “I’ll just call Mali and—”
“No,” my dad says sternly, confiscating my cell.
My chin wobbles as I think about the news articles I’ve studied from the European Apocalypse: Two hundred million dead!; Half of Europe wiped-out!; and Worse than World War III!
“But—” I start and then burst into tears.
My dad holds out his arms, like a ground controller guiding a taxiing airplane. “Come here, Abbey,” he says, his tone softening as he draws me into his chest.
He strokes my hair and suddenly I’m eight years old again instead of fifteen, curled up on the couch next to him as we watch back-to-back episodes of Star Trek. “This isn’t like the European Apocalypse,” he reassures me. “Your friends will be OK.”
I sniffle into his shirt. “Promise?”
“I swear on the Principia,” he says solemnly and I have to smile at his equivalent of the Bible. He squeezes my shoulders. “OK?”
“OK,” I confirm. I grab a tissue from the box beside my bed and wipe my nose.
About the Author
Ingrid Jonach writes books for kids and teens. Her debut young adult novel When the World was Flat (and we were in love) is due out in September 2013 by global imprint Strange Chemistry.
She is also the author of the picture book A Lot of Things and the chapter books The Frank Frankie and Frankie goes to France published by Pan Macmillan Australia.
Ingrid has worked as a journalist and public relations consultant, and has a Bachelor of Arts in Professional Writing with Honors in Communications.
She lives down under — in Canberra, Australia — with her husband Craig and their pug dog Mooshi.
**Ingrid is giving away an ebook copy of IN THE BEGINNING THERE WAS US and WHEN THE WORLD WAS FLAT (AND WE WERE IN LOVE)! Open internationally.**
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