The Specific Heat of Water Book 1

A story about young teenagers forced into war and the concept of luck.

Kalyah and the young soldier have met before in a more innocent time. They could have been sweethearts, but now they are facing life, death, and tough decisions.

This short audiobook is the first in a three part series.

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Excerpt from Lightning in the Desert © Copyright 2024 Jan Ferrigan

Dry. Everything was so damn dry – the red dust swirling, dancing between them, the specks of desert lodged in her hair, and the grit caked on her face. Not to mention her parched tongue inside her surely dehydrated mouth. And Kalyah’s life, once so green and full, now felt not so much numb, as dry. Drier than the bones of her family members that she would never find because she was now herself about to be killed.

The teenage boy soldier’s battered gun glinted in the sun as he rolled it over his hand, avoiding eye contact. Kalyah wondered why he hesitated. When he bound her, threw her in his shabby truck and drove out to this spot on an almost non-existent road, she assumed his intent was to rape her under the privacy of an open sky. But now, she was not so sure about the rape. She was sure he would kill. A uniform and obedient violence were his only protection from being killed himself. The fact that he was driving a vehicle alone meant he had been very obedient.

Kalyah’s stomach tightened as she told herself she wouldn’t be lucky like last time. She couldn’t help laughing quietly as the word lucky passed through her brain. Luck was such a real thing, only months ago, now a world away. Before the fighting started, Kalyah was a schoolgirl. She worried about getting her homework done. Back then, luck was free for the taking. All you needed was enough hope.

The last time, Kalyah waited until she thought the soldiers were gone to climb out of her filthy hiding spot beneath the cattle trough. Her father had told her to go there, demanded it, when he saw the soldiers approaching and laughing as if they were headed to a football match. Her sister and brother also had hiding spots, outside ones. Their spots should have been better than hers. Kalyah didn’t need to see what happened. She heard their anguished screams, the crack of bullets and her father’s increasingly strained voice insisting that there was no one else to be found, even as they threatened to hit him again, rape his daughter and kill his wife. Kalyah’s father was a wise man. He knew the boys playing soldiers would do those things anyway. She could do nothing but remain hidden. In Kalyah’s family’s final moments, that was all she could give them – the belief that one of them would make it out untouched and alive. That gift from her to them was what kept her going until now.

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