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The Proving by Ken Brosky
It’s been 100 years since the Specters invaded Earth. Like ghosts they haunt the planet, devouring any human being foolish enough to venture outside of the last remaining protected cities. For some humans, venturing out isn’t a choice–it’s an opportunity to prove yourself to your clan. But when a coterie of New Adults undertaking a mission deep in Specter territory discover a terrible secret, they quickly find that everything they’ve learned may be wrong … and Earth is in grave danger.
Suddenly, the area all around her began to glow, as if some hidden light behind her was slowly coming to life. Thin pine and tupelo trunks were painted in a fiery red light, bright enough that each tree cast a threatening shadow. The creature was near. She ran left, thinking about her family and blinking away stinging hot tears. She hoped to see them again. She hoped to tell her husband and her daughter how much she loved them both. Her body, numb, expected death at any moment but she refused to give in. Ahead, she could see an end to the forest. And something else …
A fence! An old fence whose links were being pulled earthward by heavy vines with thick stalks and fat, crescent-shaped leaves. And beyond the fence: a dim pool of white light illuminated a squat building at the far edge of a barren lot. The building must be an emergency supply depot, no doubt running solely on stored energy from the solar panels attached to the roof, slanted up at the sky. The depot would contain emergency equipment and maybe some kind of weapon. It would have a communication system, too.
She could jump the fence. She could take one step on the constrained chain links and reach the top and hop over. She could reach the building. She could survive. She’d carried a child in her womb for nine months, seven days and an additional fifteen excruciating hours of labor. Her back had endured. Her legs had endured. This pain she felt in her shins now? It was nothing. It was an annoyance.
She could do this. She could send a warning …