We Are Savages
by Jessie Atkin
We Are Savages is the story of 12 year old Tris and what she finds when she runs from the responsibility of her household and descends through a rain grate into the child run world of Nowhere. "You go to bed angry or sad enough you can wake up just about anywhere," the Savages tell her. It is a brick utopia hidden in the sewers; made up of sweets, sports, hammocks, and fireflies. But even this haven, free of parents and protocol, is not everything it seems. Haunted by dark specters known only as Phocydes, feared for their reputation of consuming children whole, Tris works both to hunt and to hide from these hooded shadows. But something about them is familiar; something about them fires her curiosity more than her fear. And Tris slowly begins to realize that, no matter where you go, fear and responsibility are not things you can escape, the only thing to do is face them.
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Jessie Atkin lives in Upstate, NY, and attended Washington University in St. Louis. She received a B.A. in English Literature. Besides reading, she was also involved in theater during college, working as an assistant stage manager and even trying her hand at acting in a single show.
Jessie learned to read later than most, but her sudden ability coincided with the release of the first Harry Potter book in 1998, and an obsession was born. Aside from Harry Potter, she also learned to love comic books, with a particular affinity for superheroes. Other than young adult fiction, Jessie also writes plays in her free time. We Are Savages is her debut novel.
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Tiptoeing, as only children seem capable of doing, Tris placed the collection of dolls, accessories, and magazines at the threshold of her parents’ room at the other end of the hall. She couldn’t face them, but she would leave her mark. To further emphasize the statement she intended the pile to make, Tris pulled off her name bracelet, a gift from her mother a long time before Tris would have any memory of being given it, and placed it atop the pile. Perhaps if her mother returned it to whatever store she’d bought it from, she could then use that money to pay for the light in the hallway she so desperately wanted repaired.
Mars neither barked nor begged as the pair made their well-practiced way down the stairs. The hallway was once again empty and free of glass. Nighttime excursions were no novelty where Tris and Mars were concerned. Spies work better in the dark, and, if you set the volume right, you can watch whatever you like on TV. It was the front door that the pair had never needed to work with before, and Tris struggled to find the right key on her father’s ring. But Mr. Simon only had so many keys, and eventually the door had to click.
Tris let Mars out first and followed without so much as a second glance at the hallway behind her. The door snapped shut. It didn’t sound loud or disturbing, but resolute and final. The air outside was still as death, and silent as it too. The rain hovered above, unable at this late hour to free itself once more. There was not a star in sight. The ground remained slick underfoot as Tris and Mars headed together toward the end of the driveway, Mars stopping every few paces to make sure Tris was still behind him.
The neighborhood was dark, as any obedient suburban street should be at such an hour. There wasn’t a lighted window or car in sight. It was only by the streetlight that Tris could be sure to step on every crack in the sidewalk as she went along. Every good memory Tris possessed seemed to have taken place within five miles of her home address. Her first day of school, bike riding, learning to swim, birthday parties, finding Mars—everything existed in the bubble that was five miles around. Outside of that bubble lurked Mr. Simon’s bank, Mrs. Simon’s lunches, the doctor’s office, and the department store. Tris could tell the bubble was slowly beginning to burst, and she was prepared to move both herself and Mars out of its path.
Tris turned onto the main road leading toward her school, continuing to stretch for each sidewalk break. Mars seemed to be stretching for every puddle. Tris could feel the tops of her socks slowly soaking through to her skin. The splash of the puddles and the click of Tris’s sneakers created a comforting rhythm among the dead night air, so it was a few moments before Tris heard the trickling of water clearly.
Spotlighted in the streetlight ahead was a large drainage grate that sparkled and gurgled through its round, covered mouth. Mars trotted ahead to take a sniff. His fur seemed to glow in the spotlight and the watery mist that hung in the air. Tris stood mesmerized by the great breaks in the lid, opening purposefully into the gutter below. She began to skip toward her target.
“Don’t step on a crack or you’ll break your mother’s—”
Tris pounced for ultimate effect and felt the ground disappear. There was nothing but air around her feet, no solid substance of any kind. The grate had given way beneath her, seeming to swallow the street and the lamppost with it ...