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Exclusive preview of Sean for Book Club members! 

Sean felt the heavy cloak of grogginess weighing on him as he struggled to reach consciousness. His eyes slowly fluttered open. He was lying on a damp dirt floor. A cockroach skittered across his bare arm. Sean brushed it off as he strained to sit up and was immediately hit with a splitting headache. He rubbed his head and found a large knot. Hmmm. When did that happen? He shivered. His cell was cold and clammy, made of rough block walls. The only light came from the light in the hall through a small window in the door. The sound of slowly dripping water from a distant faucet sounded like an orchestra of snare drums pounding on his brain. The door was made of steel and the only openings were the small window and a short, wide rectangular slot near the bottom which he assumed was for meals.

What happened? The last thing he remembered was changing a flat for his mom while a young man got the tire out of the trunk. He and his mom, Sara, had been to the mall, shopping for new clothes for him. It was his birthday. His whole family was going to celebrate by going out to dinner. Now, he was here. Where’s Mom?

The fear coursed through him as he rose to his knees and frantically looked around the cell for any sign of his mom. His voice quivered as he began yelling. 

“Mom! Mom! Answer me!”

The steel door vibrated when someone banged on it and yelled, “Shut up!” It was not a friendly voice.

“Help me!” Sean cried.

“No help for you now,  kid,” the voice said.

Sean collapsed onto the floor, and stared into the darkness. His cell was dark and the dampness was the kind that sank into your bones so deep it would never go away. The floor was muddy from ground water sweating through the concrete block walls which were so poorly constructed that the mortar had oozed out and dribbled down the wall, making the surface anything but smooth. The rough blocks made tiny cuts all over his hands as he ran them over the wall, looking for any exit possibilities. The light filtering through the small window in the door was too dim to illuminate the entire room.

There was no toilet facilities. He did discover a 5-gallon bucket which he assumed had been provided for that exact purpose. It had not been emptied since the last occupant of the cell. Never.

He settled into the far corner of the cell to wait. It, too, stank of urine and feces. Obviously, the last tenant had used that corner whenever the bucket was full.

Time crept by at a snail’s pace, as he waited for something, anything, to happen. He didn’t even realize he had fallen asleep until a clanking at the door jarred him awake. He scurried over to the door, waiting for it to open. When it did, he intended to overpower whomever opened the door and escape this wretched place.

But the door didn’t open. A filthy food tray was pushed through the slot at the bottom of the door. Starving, Sean grabbed the tray, excited to eat. He could see remnants of other meals, served long ago to another prisoner. In the larger compartment was a small pile of miserable looking gruel of some sort. Couscous? Oatmeal? A large glob of ketchup floated on top, dissolving in the water, which made it look like a bloody mess. In the smaller compartment was a small biscuit. When he picked it up,  he realized it was hard as a rock. Even dipping it in the ketchup water didn’t soften it. He was hungry, but he couldn’t eat this. He shoved it aside.

A few minutes later, there was a loud knocking on his door. The guard, he assumed, yelled, “Your tray, boy! Push it out the slot! Now!”

Sean began begging with the guard to let him go when he shoved the tray out. The guard ignored his pleas and chuckled when he saw the still full tray.

“Humpf! You’ll be sorry you didn’t eat this, boy. You only get one a day,” he growled and walked away.

Sean lay on the wet floor, trying to get comfortable. He needed his sleep to reenergize his body. He had to be ready.

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