The Half-Life of Love by Brianna Bourne

The Half-Life of Love by Brianna Bourne

Author:Brianna Bourne
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.

FROM THE OUTSIDE, the Castle looks foreboding and silent, but if you strain your ears, you can hear a beat. A pulse, thumping through the ground. Music. I stick close to September, and we pick our way through grasses that have grown winter dry and brittle. I feel metal shapes underneath my boots: bolts, rails, pieces of long-lost broken machinery, who knows. We follow some others to an iron-plated door around the back of the power plant. A guy wearing a Carbon Junction University sweatshirt pops out, waving us in frantically. “In, in, quick.”

We pile inside in a chaotic crush. Once we’re all crammed into the tiny hallway, he pulls the door shut with a bang. The room we’re in looks straight out of a horror movie, but before I can worry too much about how dangerous this is, September snags my hand and pulls me down a winding cinder-block corridor. Someone’s laid rope lights on the floor, running down each side, and it feels so much like a Halloween haunted house that I shudder. But then the first corridor empties into a vast room with exposed beams and iron braces holding up the ceiling. The unsettling, creepy feeling blooms into awe.

Suddenly I want to explore every inch of this place, get lost in the maze of it. It smells like cold and rust. There are rows and rows of colossal machines, squat tanklike things for god knows what, with chutes winding around them that look like metal tube slides at playgrounds. The tanks are mounted on cracking cement slabs, and safety railings that used to be coated in bright colors are now peeling and rusted. There are bolts and rivets bigger than my wrist holding the machines together.

As we navigate through the Castle, September touches me in a dozen small ways, directing me. I’ve been touch starved for so long, I think I’m addicted to the way she moves when she’s around me, how we knock together in time and space.

As we follow the rope light trail, the music gets louder and louder until we emerge into a cavernous room. The ceiling is so far above my head I wonder if it’s even there. In the middle of the room, there’s a gigantic metal turbine sunk half into the floor. Around it, students from CJU and the high school are talking, dancing, flirting, and drinking. Strobing lights pulse over the crowd.

As we weave through, dozens of people call out to September. We’re connected by that invisible something again. When we’re not holding hands, her fingers skim at my elbow, or my hand hovers at the small of her back. My blood is heating up, liquid pleasure with each graze of her fingertips.

“September!” It’s Dottie, screaming over the music.

We make our way to her. “What’s shakin’, Tall, Dark, and Sullen?” she says.

“Not much,” I say. “I’d smile, but then I’d be a traitor to the nickname.”

Dottie laughs, a bright peal of bells. “Hey, listen—I found some incredible shirts for you at Rag House.


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