What if you were to die before your time?
The Realm of the Lost tells the story of thirteen-year-old Kathleen "Kat" Gallagher. After a tragic accident, Kat finds herself stuck in the place where people go when they have died before their time. Upon her arrival, Kat meets two young inhabitants of The Realm of the Lost. Will she learn to embrace her new surroundings? Little does Kat know, the relationships she builds in death will teach her to appreciate the ones she had in life.
It was warm when I came to, and I felt no pain. Standing with ease, I bent over and inspected my pant-legs, searching for some remnant of dirt or ice. Nothing. Could this be a dream?
Then I noticed a bright orange ray reflecting off my necklace. The glare almost blinded me. I surveyed my surroundings.
Positioned atop solid dirt ground, I gasped in awe. Pine trees stood skyscraper high, haloed by dusty golden light. The sound of chirping birds echoed all around, and I spotted, to my left, what looked like a duck, but with a sharper and more pronounced beak. Bending down to inspect the creature as it waddled past, I heard a small voice from behind me.
"If you're a poacher, you belong in the under realm."
"What?" I asked, turning to face a boy who couldn't be more than eight. He wore navy blue shorts that folded at the tips of his scrawny knees. His white-collared shirt, grey vest and checkered cap reminded me of something out of an old movie. I couldn't help smiling as he stood, arms crossed, with an air of authority.
"If you're a poacher, you are in the wrong realm," the boy said.
"I'm not a poacher. I've been in an accident and—wrong realm?"
The boy sighed, twiddling his thumbs in a way that made me think of my brother.
"Okay," he continued, after an awkward pause. "Well, first, do you know where you are?"
"Like I said, I was in an accident. I guess I passed out. I don't—I'm not sure if my mother knows—"
"Oh. No. She wouldn't know a thing like this."
"A thing like what?" I demanded, stomping my foot.
"That you've come to the Realm of the Lost."
I opened my mouth to respond, to tell the odd boy I wasn't in the mood for fantasy and games but I was cut off by a more grown-up sounding female voice. "Mikey! Mikey, how many times has Miss A told you? You're not to explain anything to the newcomers!"
"She asked," Mikey protested, fidgeting with his hands. "I can't help if people ask me. And you can't blame me this time because I was the first one here."
"Shush!" the voice snapped, its owner walking out from behind one of the tall trees. She was in her mid-teens and had beautiful olive skin. Her thick black hair fell past her waist, and I immediately felt captivated by her deep-set brown eyes. "You can be such a pest." She glared at Mikey. "And she didn't ask. I know that be—"
"Excuse me," I interrupted. "My mother is home with my brother. I should be with my sister Ellie. We were supposed to walk to school together, but we had a fight and Ellie—"
Mikey’s eyes bulged. "Your own sister killed you?"
The Realm of the Lost comes out from MuseItUp publishing on September 14th.
Emma Eden Ramos is a writer and student from New York City. For more information, please visit Ramos' website.