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Synopsis: Olson lives in a city that has been sealed from the outside world. He’s an Eleven Year and close to citizenship. His life is upended when one of the few adults who cares about him commits suicide – or so it appears at first. While investigating, Olson meets a girl named Natalie snooping around his school. He soon learns that one of her friends died under similarly mysterious circumstances. Together, they start looking for answers, and end up discovering the city’s darkest secrets.
Publication Date: 2016-4-9
Genre: Science Fiction
Where to buy: Amazon
Current Goodreads Rating: Unrated. C’mon, folks, support an indie author! He’s given me permission to share the first few pages with you guys.
First Few Pages:
A fluorescent bulb wheezed and flickered during its dying breaths. Because of the power emergency, the lights were not at full capacity. Every third dimly glowing panel offered little to illuminate the dark hallway where Olson waited. He sank lower into his seat, imagining the OPS authorities dragging him away like the boy who had disappeared. He banished the thought and tried to delude himself. Maybe Instructor Duncan would take away his touchlite privileges or something simple.
Olson knew he was lying to himself. Violence was an inexcusable act regardless of circumstance. He shouldn’t have punched Eckelston, but the guy had deserved it. He’d been picking on Hanson, and Olson didn’t really know what had come over him. He’d felt this urge to protect her like she was more than just a classmate.
Olson had never infracted on the rules before today. He woke up after the allotted sleep hours. He reported to the classroom floor every morning. He only played in designated areas, installed designated apps on his touchlite, and only downloaded books for his designated grade level. The worst Olson had done was ask too many questions during class. Most of the teachers would scold Olson for not reading the book, but not Instructor Duncan. He’d actually answer the questions. When they got started, the whole class would roll their eyes, as the session usually ended up getting out late.
An office down the hall opened, and a female figure stepped into the hallway. Because she was located in the shadow between lights, he couldn’t see her face. However, he could see a pencil skirt and frilly collar outlined in the dark. The figure was his Two Year teacher, Instructor Simone. Olson gulped as she walked towards him. He brushed his ginger hair out of his eyes, so his baby blues would show. She was the nicest teacher and would always help him when he struggled with his studies. He didn’t want her to see him in here. Only the really bad ones ended up in the hallway after school hours. He tried to shift so she wouldn’t notice him but was unsuccessful.
“Olson?” Instructor Simone said. “What are you doing here?”
“I don’t know, Instructor,” he mumbled.
“Instructor? I haven’t been your instructor for nine years. You can call me Simone.”
“Cheer up. Whatever it is, it can’t be that bad. Let me let you in on a little secret. We all infract sometimes… I infracted last year.”
“You have rules?”
“We all have rules. You just can’t let that credit rating slip.”
“You’ll find out after Twelve Year. Don’t let Duncan keep you much later. It’ll be Dinner Hour soon.”
“Yes, Instruct… Simone.”
Her shoes thumped on the carpet as she walked away. Once she turned the corner, the hallway felt even lonelier. Olson was pretty sure all the instructors had gone home except for his.
Simone was right about one thing: he was getting hungry. Dinner Hour was close. He pulled his touchlite from his backpack, and it gave him a “connect to your charger” symbol. So much for passing the time. He had nothing to do but wait.
After what felt like hours but was probably only minutes, his instructor’s door opened.
“Come in,” Duncan said from beyond Olson’s sight.
Olson stepped into the office. His heart pounded. Not only was he unsure of what punishment awaited, but he was also about to go into a personal space with a door. All of his life, he had never been in a personal space closed off by a door. He slept in the Nine through Twelve Year Hall on floor ten in a small cubicle space that didn’t give him much privacy. Before the cubicle, he was in a bunk in the Six through Eight Year Hall. In the One through Five Year Hall, it was a room full of cots packed together. His friends would call him a liar if he made memory claims before One Year. He did remember a lot of One Year though. Most boys would cry themselves to sleep.
Sometimes he would dream about a bed that felt safe. It had white bars around the side. A woman in a white coat would sing to him. Sometimes she would pull him out of the bed with the bars and walk him around. He could sometimes hear her voice if he concentrated during his waking hours. The dreams would always end in the same way. Another man and woman would come into the room. The woman was short, with a pear-shaped figure and brown hair. The man was tall and stern. She would cry over Olson’s bed. The man would pull her away, and she would scream. Olson would wake from the screaming, not quite sure if it was his or the woman’s.
Aaron Frale is an independent author with 25 works under his belt.
He says: “Atmospheric Pressure is the first in a trilogy that follows Olson while he discovers his origins and what happened to Earth. It’s set in a dystopian future where all aspects of his life are carefully monitored and controlled, and people are living with only the illusion of freedom. The idea came when I worked in an office in a building that was connected via skyway to many other buildings. I could walk for miles through different structures without ever stepping foot outside. This dystopian narrative formed from a simple question: what would society be like if a person could never leave?”
His overall rating on Goodreads is 3.65 (out of 55 ratings.)
His Facebook page is here.
His Twitter name is: @aaronfrale .