All her life, Lara Rae Brecken has dreamed of Old Ireland and the world below, where the fey folk were exiled after the land above was taken. But in Logan County, West Virginia the only world below is the mine. The churches, the houses, the schools, even the police belong to the coal company. So, when Lara's childhood friend, Barrow, starts going to union meetings, his family is thrown out of their home.
With nothing to lose, Lara and Barrow spend their last dime to get to New York City. But when Barrow leaves to fight in the World War and factory work turns out to be no better than the mine, Lara wonders if she's escaped anything at all or just gone tumbling down an even darker underworld. Spirited away to Boston by an Irish rebel, it seems her luck may have finally improved. That is, until she finds herself face to face with the fey folk one cold October night. Show Less
October 30th, 1919, Boston
They'd long since stopped chasing me, of that I was sure. But what else was I supposed to do? I had nowhere to go and no one in the world left to call my own. Cavan was in the back of a paddywagon somewhere, Katie was six feet underground (or would have been if there was room enough in the cramped graveyards of New York City), Barrow was likely just a scattering of anonymous buttons and bones left on some godforsaken battlefield a world away, and God only knew what had become of my family.
And if he did, it would certainly be the first time God had taken any notice of the Breckens, or any of the poor souls in Logan County.
A man stopped cursing at his broken down automobile long enough to call out to me as I ran by. Perhaps he did really want to make sure I was okay, but I'd learned long ago not to trust anyone I didn't know (and to keep a weather eye on the ones I did, just to be sure).
I tore past him, bumping into an Italian man who seemed to speak no word of English but "Chicago?", as if by repeating it enough he could will himself there. A woman screamed at her children from behind a small, broken window, filmed over with so much grime that the broken glass seemed an improvement.
Four blocks over my searing ribs made me stop. My lungs were raw with cold and near ten years of soot and smoke. It felt like a hand was gripping my chest and squeezing the life from me.
I put a hand out to let a brick facade support me for a moment. I panted. A man in dark clothes seemed to be eyeing me from across the street. He saw me looking back and mouthed something.
It was just in my head, I knew. No one was after me. Who was I to anyone anyway? Did the coppers really think Cavan had told me anything of use?
The man was moving towards me.
"You!" he cried out.
My eyes darted about a moment ahead of my feet, searching for any escape. I could barely breathe, let alone outrun an able-bodied man. A barred entrance to the T caught my eye. It was boarded up, allegedly awaiting maintenance, but the thick layer of dust over the sign spoke of a long wait.
"You! It's you," The man cried again. "Wait. I know you. Stop!"
I flew to the barred gateway underground and leapt through a space between the boards. It was longer down than through and my balance was off, sending me tumbling down stone stair after stone stair. I hit my shoulder landing and my legs, hip, and ribs on the way down. Broken bottles no doubt thrown through by passing drunks tore at me like briars as I fell.
I hit my head at the bottom. For a moment I saw lights in the darkness, bursts of green dancing across my eyes. My head swam and I feared the dark would take me. Instead, I managed to half-turn myself to the side and wretch. My bones protested as I pulled myself up to a sitting position. I could feel the bruises that would flower tomorrow, but I had long ago stopped counting on tomorrow.
Thin as I was, I had barely made it through, so unless the man could pull the boards loose, there was no chance of him following me down, even if he had seen me go in. Still, that cut off the only way out for now. Who knew if there was another, let alone another I could find in the dark before tripping or walking off the subway platform. And it was colder down here.
Even if I managed to explore the place in my sorry, battered state without breaking my neck, I might freeze to death before finding my way out. Boston falls were more like West Virginia winters and I hadn't a patched coat to my name. I hadn't anything to my name now, though that was far from a first. I wrapped my arms around my chest, my thin, torn sleeves wet with blood from the bottles' unexpected wrath. The blood felt warm on my skin. For now, at least.
I took a breath, trying to quell the panic that had been pumping through my veins since they'd come for Cavan. However, that only left a sinking feeling that threatened to overwhelm me. I was going to die down here. I could push back the fear all I liked, but that didn't make it any less likely that this abandoned T station could very well be my tomb.
Still, it's not like I'd be the first Brecken to be swallowed up by the earth.