Read an Excerpt
The Elder’s Diary
August 5, 8 p.m.
No. I’m not doing this.
August 6, 8 p.m.
Seriously. Not gonna.
August 7, 8 p.m.
Mom, Dad: you can shove this blank book and a pen in my face every evening for the next fifty years, and I’ll never write more than twenty words. Okay, thirty.
Also, we’re out of milk. Also also, I hate how powdered milk tastes. I know we’ve got to make sacrifices. But I dislike milk in powder form. Just sayin’.
August 8, 8:30 p.m.
August 9, 1 p.m.
Honey—this isn’t entirely about you. As your father has told you, it’s important to tell your story. People are counting on you. Not just now, but in the future. They need to see what you’ve seen, learn the lessons you’ve learned. It may not seem fair, but you owe them that.
August 9, 8 p.m.
MOM!!! YOU READ MY DIARY! AND YOU’RE WRITING IN IT! WHAT KIND OF MOTHER DOES THAT?!? DO YOU EVEN UNDERSTAND HOW COMPLETELY TWISTED THAT IS, OR ARE YOU TOO BUSY BEING A PSYCHO TO GET IT?
August 10, noon
Hey, ace. Don’t be mad at your mother. She knows this is important to me—to all of us, really—and she volunteered to sneak a peek at what you’ve done so far. Can’t say either of us are totally impressed; but we’re still hoping you’ll come around. You know, almost better than any of us, how deep the abyss is that we’re all staring down. (This isn’t Seventeen magazine, ace, and your privacy isn’t more important than our survival.) I don’t believe this town can last through another winter. What may be left of us is on these pages. So what say you crank it up a notch and write a note or two for posterity?
August 10, 12:30 p.m.
Ugh, I knew I should have moved this thing to another hiding place after Mom invaded my privacy. (’Scuze me, the privacy that isn’t as important as our survival, vomit vomit vomit.) No point now—both parental slugs have left their eternal slime in this journal, and now there’s nothing to be done.
I’d burn this thing tonight if I didn’t think we’d need to save every bit of paper to make it through another winter.
August 11, noon
Jennifer, I guess you’re going to be totally annoyed that I’m writing in here; but your parents begged me so I’m writing this while Gautierre and I came to visit you today. You just stepped out of your room to take a pee break. Did you know you take forever? (How long can it take, Jenn? I mean, geez.) Gautierre thought it was weird, but I said it was a girl thing, so he dropped the whole thing. They have a point. Your folks, I mean. You gotta do this. Gautierre agrees. Okay, you flushed so I gotta go; good-bye!
August 11, 12:03 p.m.
Having thrown Susan, the artist formerly known as my best friend, and her boyfriend out of my room for conspiracy to commit phenomenal embarrassment, I would like to state for the record that I, the Ancient Furnace, do NOT pee or flush. I am more powerful than that. I can simply will my urine away.
Away, urine! See? (I’m no longer pretending this is any sort of a private document.)
Okay, everyone, I’ll make you a deal. If you can all go twenty-four hours without molesting my journal, I will start serious entries tomorrow. Deal?
August 12, 12:04 p.m.
All right. Thanks, everyone, for refraining from sharing further tales of my bathroom habits. Guess I should keep my end of the deal.
My name is Jennifer Caroline Scales. I live in a town called Winoka with three major problems.
First, those of us who turn into dragons don’t call it Winoka. We call it Pinegrove, because that was the name it had before a woman named Glorianna Seabright led an army of beaststalkers here, wiped out the inhabitants, and renamed it. That was about forty years ago.
Second, last November Mayor Seabright died, and on that night a barrier rose that blocks off this town from everything else around it. It’s enormous and translucent and blue and round, like my ass when I’m in dragon form. The only thing that makes it through is weather—snow, rain, sun, wind, okay you probably know what weather is! For a while, electricity made it through fine, too—but then a bad January storm knocked out more of the grid than we could repair with what we had. The town began rationing fuel. Since then, it’s gotten harder.
Third, everyone outside this barrier appears content to wait for us to die. More on that tomorrow.