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  • Writer's pictureShanti Hershenson

The God's Right Hand - read the first chapter here!

Below you will find a sneak-peak of my next novel, The God's Right Hand, releasing in early 2022!

My name is Eris Andraste, I’m nineteen, and I think I’m going to die today.

I’m walking home alone, and I turn down an alleyway—it’s dark and dreary and my absolute worst nightmare. There’s a puddle of sewage water spilling in from the pipes of a brick building, and it drenches my shoes. This is the only route home that is safe, though, and that isn’t even my biggest problem.

There’s a man following me.

My heart throbs and races as I peer behind me and see the worst. He’s closer now, his footsteps hardly audible in the loud evening. I can hear cars rushing and I see the light at the end of the alley. It shines in my eyes, though I want to run towards it—I try to, at least. I pick up the pace, and I don’t look back. I nearly slip more times than I can count, but it hardly concerns me. The water trickling into my shoes is only uncomfortable; it won’t result in death. I don’t know who the man following me is, and I’m almost certain that he will be the death of me.

I can already imagine what my gravestone will look like—the gray, chiseled stone, and the words. Oh, I can picture them too well.


As I run, my pace starts to slow. I try to remember if I’ve seen him before. I try to figure out how long he’s been following me. I can’t figure out what the man looks like, but I do know that he wears a dark hoodie and dark pants. I don’t want to look back.

And then I realize it—I saw the man lurking near the military recruitment center.

There are plenty of those, now, and I pass by a different—or newly posted—one each time I walk to the bus stop on the way home from school.

I start to panic when I realize something—the man could very well be a spy. There’s a chance, and while it’s only a sliver, it isn’t impossible. The more I think about it, the more the possibility grows—almost to the point where I’m certain that the man chasing me is going to kill me.

He probably thinks I’m going to enlist in the West American Military, assuming he’s from the East. He should know that I want nothing to do with a civil war, but that’s not something I can scream as the distance between us decreases.

I hear the sound of his boots grow closer and I feel my chest tighten. My whole body feels heavy, like a weight I can’t lift. And I don’t think I can go on for much longer. I’m so close though, that I try to stumble forward—I try to leap like a rabbit or another, faster and luckier animal—but instead of jumping high, I slip, and the next thing I know, I’m drenched with foul water. My elbows ache and I can feel the scrape that tears across my bare elbows. The sewage, or whatever it is, makes them sting and burn at the very same time. It feels like a fire made of poison.

My whole body aches, and the short-sleeve shirt I’m wearing feels miserable. It was originally bright like a lemon, and knitted with silky fabric. Now it feels cold and soaked. It does not look too lemony anymore. My whole body aches, but it’s mostly my heart that races.

A shadow passes over me—the shadow of the man. I can see his face now—he looks like he’s in his mid-twenties, he has murky blond hair, eyes of a color I can’t see, and he has a gun clipped to his waist. I’m certain now that he followed me from the recruitment center, even though I only stopped to look at war updates.

He’s going to kill me either way.

He’s going to kill me because he thinks I’m going to enlist, and he can’t have that happen. East America can’t let the West win. And West America can’t let the East win. It’s an impractical civil war that split our country into two, and for what? Disagreements over things that don’t matter. Things like money, land, and supplies. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the only person left here with any common sense, and my point is further proved with one thought—this man is about to shoot a nineteen-year-old woman. And if he is, then I can try to fight back.

I quickly sit up and glare at the man, balling my fists. My entire body feels as though it’s made of ice that can’t melt. I’m a statue—an ice statue about to be abolished by an enemy force.

I push myself away, trying to get to my feet. My hands are submerged in the disgusting water, if it is even considered water, at this point. The smell and feel of it make me want to vomit. The world spins around me, but at the same time, feels like it’s moving in total slow motion.

I jump to my feet and trip from the fear. My legs feel like jelly, and I’m convinced that they are going to buckle. My breath hitches when I see it—the man is pointing his gun at me, hand flexed on the trigger. I know how commonly guns are used, and I know that they are deadly.

Again, the realization floods through me and makes me feel sick. I’m going to die how people fighting in the war die—from the fatal wound of a shiny bullet.

“Who are you?” the man asks in a rough and threatening voice. “Were you going to join?”

That confirms it—he’s definitely a spy, and definitely about to kill me. I can feel my heart sink low, practically to my churning stomach. I can’t breathe as my chest feels heavy and I’m out of breath.

But I’m going to die.

“I’m Eris Andraste, and I swear to God, I wasn’t going to join!” I feel the tears in the corners of my eyes and I don’t wipe them away. Instead, I whisper to myself, “Be strong.” I do not face the man, as I don’t want to see the gun held firmly in his hand.

I try to be brave and look back up—I need to see him. I need to be brave, and that means not hiding like a child. But at the same time, I don’t know if I can do that. I finally gather up all the courage I have, which isn’t a lot, and I look up. I face the man, who still has his gun pointed at me, and he doesn’t back down.

“W-who are you?” I decide to question. “Are you from the East?”

I believe that I’ve made a terrible choice, however, as the man only seems to be angered by my remark. He raises his eyebrows, and the furious look on his face does not shift. He is still unchanging like a robot.

“Is that sass, I sense? Would you really wish to be rude to the man pointing a gun at you?” I’m certain that the man is about to shoot me now, for real, this time. I no longer think that I can make it out alive as he adjusts his grip on the weapon, and his finger squeezes on the trigger.

“You should know, I think this whole war is stupid. I mean, we’re fighting over what?” I try to do anything I can to defend myself. “If anything, I’d wish to remain—”

The man interrupts me with one word. “Liar.”

I then hear a loud boom, and I see a flash of light. I really am about to die.

I raise my hands to protect myself even though I know that won’t work. It isn’t worth a shot, or even possible. It’s only instinct really. And I feel as though time has slowed, almost as though I could catch the bullet. I know I’m only thinking hopefully, despite how stupid that sounds. And I feel a rush of adrenaline inside of me, the voice of a liar telling me, you aren’t going to die yet.

My eyes fly open to the sight of the horrified man in front of me. He’s staring, still pointing his gun. I can see the smoke hovering from it, escaping into the evening air. The next thing I notice is the excruciating pain building up from the palm of my right hand. I’m certain now that I was lucky—that the man missed his shot.

Trembling, I lower my hand and open it to another shock. A silver, scorching bullet rolls from my palm, landing with a ring on the floor. I gasp, stumbling back. The man does the same, clearly in just as much shock as I am.

What just happened? No matter how hard I try, I can’t wrap my head around the thought of what occurred. My gaze drifts down to my feet, and the bullet sitting beside them. The man still stands, but he only stares. I don’t think he wants to mess with me again. Though for me, I don’t want to mess with him, either. For all I know, I was just lucky.

But it doesn’t seem that way.

I bend down to pick up the bullet—a souvenir, perhaps. My hand trembles as I hold it, and then I turn to bravely face the man. He hasn’t shot me again. He’s afraid of me. This man, who obviously works for the East American Military, fears me.

And he makes it even clearer when he speaks.

“W-what a-are you?” he stammers. His eyes are wide and I can see the bright blue in their center.

I want to run; I don’t want to stay. I don’t want to stare at him for any longer and pretend to be feared. For so long I feared a war that consisted of two bad sides—I thought it would never be this close to me. But now it is, and I don’t even know what happened.

So truthfully, I answer the man’s question.

“I don’t know.”

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