Anna Sheehan’s brilliant new book, A LONG, LONG SLEEP combines all you love about dystopian fiction with both a classic fairy tale twist and some sci fi thrown in to boot. Rosalinda wakes after 62 years of sleeping to a post-apocolyptic world and the dawning realisation that everything, and everyone, she thought she knew is gone. To make things worse, Rose is hailed upon her awakening as the long-lost heir to an interplanetary empire and is thrust alone into a future in which she is viewed as either a freak or a threat, with only the boy who kissed her awake to give her any hope…
Read the excellent first chapter here, and head over to our friends at Fierce Fiction to see how you might be able to get your hands on a copy.
I’d try to hold on to my stass dreams as long as I could. It’s a game I would play, struggling to keep track of those misty images that were always so easily lost. I’d try to keep myself in stasis, keep my heart beating too slow to feel, refuse to wake up my lungs. Once or twice I managed to hold on so long that Mom panicked and turned on the resuscitator.
So when the electric- blue seascape I was trying to hold on to was interrupted, not by a hand but by the feeling of lips on mine, I was startled. I sucked in a breath through my nose and sat bolt upright, knocking my head against my would-be rescuer.
I couldn’t see. Everything was dim and painful, as if I had just opened my eyes into a bright light after days in the dark. An unfamiliar voice shouted unfamiliar words: “Holy coit, you are alive!”
I felt utterly lost. All I could do was grope for what I knew.
“Where’s Mom?” My voice wasn’t mine; it sounded like a croak. I tried to take stock of my condition. My muscles ing to force air into the dormant passages. I tried to get to my feet. Piercing pains like knives shot through my legs and arms where I tried to lift myself. My very bones ached. I slid back down into the smooth, soft cushion of the stass tube.
My rescuer leaped toward me as I fell. Warm hands grabbed at me, and my muscles screamed with stiffness. “Don’t touch me!” I gasped. I didn’t understand why I was in such pain.
He let me go, but the pain didn’t diminish. “Coit, you scared me.” The voice sounded overly excited. “You weren’t breathing there — I was afraid I’d botched the system and exed you.”
I barely understood half of what he was saying. “How long?” I whispered.
“You only seemed dead for a minute,” he said as if to reassure me.
I’d meant how long had I been in stasis, but I abandoned that line of thought. It didn’t matter. I told myself that every time I woke up. It didn’t matter. “Who are you?” I asked instead.
“My name’s Brendan. I live in suite ﬁve. Do you know where you are?”
I frowned, or would have had my head not begun to ache. Suite ﬁve housed an elderly couple and their collection of tropical ﬁsh. At least that’s who had lived there the last time I’d been awake, but I had no idea how long I’d been stassed. “Unicorn Estates, of course. What are you doing here? Did you just move here?”
There was a long silence. “No, we’ve lived here all my life.” He sounded frightened now.
I blinked and directed my bleary eyes toward where I was sure he was. Brendan was a dark shadow, a blurry silhouette of a man. A young man, from his voice. I was confused. “Why did you wake me up?”
He started, as if surprised. “You wanted to stay in stasis?”
“No, I mean, why did you wake me up? Where’s Mom?”
There was a long silence. “Um . . .” He took a deep breath. “I don’t know where your mom is. Do . . . do you know who you are?”
“Of course I do!” I said, but my voice was still shaky and hoarse. I coughed again, ﬁghting the stass fatigue.
“Well, I don’t. I’m Brendan, and you are?”
“Rosalinda Samantha Fitzroy,” I said precisely. I was annoyed. Who was this boy? I’d never had to tell anyone who I was before.
He took a step backward and then vanished out of sight. Alarmed, I tried to force myself back into a sitting position. My arms screamed, and my back seemed almost too weak to hold me up. Whatever strength my initial surprise had lent me, it was gone now. I pulled myself upright on the edges of the stass tube and tried to ﬁnd my shadow man.
He was on the ﬂoor, less of a shadow now that I was sitting upright. He’d stumbled. His eyes were two white smudges in a dark circle of a head, opened wide to stare at me.
“What?” I croaked.
He scrambled backward, crablike, until he found purchase on a box and hauled himself back to his feet. A box? Where the hell was I? This was deﬁnitely not my own comfortable closet, carpeted in rose pink, with all the latest fashions neatly on their hangers. This was vast, echoing and cluttered at once, like a storehouse. Tall shelves full of dark shapes towered over our heads. “Did you say Fitzroy?” Brendan asked. “Rosalinda Fitzroy?”
“Yes,” I said. “What of it?”
“I need to go get some help.” He turned his back to go.
“No!” I yelled, or as close to a yell as my stagnant lungs and my parched throat could. I didn’t know why I’d cried out at ﬁrst. Stass chemicals did a number on your emotional state, so sometimes it was hard to put a ﬁnger on how you were feeling. After a moment I realized I was terriﬁed. Everything was wrong, nothing was what I expected, and I had a feeling that something truly terrible had happened.
He turned back to me. “I’ll be right back.”
“Don’t!” I breathed. “Don’t leave me alone here! I want my mom! What’s going on? Where’s Xavier?”
There was a moment of hesitant confusion, and then I felt his hand on my shoulder. This time it was gentle, and my muscles didn’t scream so loudly. “It’s okay. Really. Just… I can’t do this alone.”
“Do what alone? Tell me what’s going on! Where’s my mom?”
“Miss… ah… Fitzroy…”
“Rose,” I said automatically.
“Rose,” he repeated. “I came down here just… exploring. I didn’t know this place existed. I stumbled on your stass tube and accidentally started the revive sequence. No one has been
in this corner of the subbasement since the Dark Times.”
“Dark times?” I asked.
“The Dark Times?” he said as if it should be obvious. “When the… Oh, God.” His voice fell to a horriﬁed whisper. “That was sixty- some years ago.”
“I’m sorry…” I whispered, unable to grasp what he was saying. “Sixty… y- years?”
“Yeah,” Brendan said quietly. “And… if you’re really Rosalinda Fitzroy…” Whatever more he had to say would have to wait. The ocean from my dream returned in the form of a roaring surf, which blocked all sound and stopped my breath. Sixty years. Mom and Daddy, dead. Åsa, dead. Xavier… my Xavier…
I think I screamed. The last thing I felt as the shadows overcame my vision completely was Brendan’s strong arms catching me as I fell.