Hair color: Black
Eye color: Brown
(The following takes place before the start of Escape from Harrizel. Note – due to an unforseen Netflix-binging incident, this has not been given the time it needs. I do apologize! Enjoy!)
Raj didn’t know what to do.
Marshall was late.
And Marshall was never late, especially when they’d made plans to meet up during Leisure Time. It was the only time they could be close to one another, the only hours they didn’t have to stand shoulder to shoulder, silently digging out a clay-like texture from the trenches where they worked. It was all to make room for the Arrivals, the newest survivors found on Earth. And every day it was the same: dig the gibb, load it into the bucket, drop off at the Gollop. Over and over and over again. Never changing. Never ending. But once the Rebuilding was done—when they were allowed to relax during a supervised social hour—every moment was dedicated to forgetting about all that, forgetting about everything to do with Harrizel. Except him.
And he was nowhere to be found.
A queasy feeling grew in her stomach. Raj pushed it down and glanced at her bare, olive-toned wrist. If only she had a watch. It would ease her mind knowing he was five minutes late. But he wasn’t. It had been longer than that. Leisure Time was already in full swing—couples dancing and grinding on one another, making out all around her in the dark auditorium-sized room.
Tucking a black strand behind her ear, she checked the symbol on the wall to her left. “W” for West. She was in the right place.
So where was he?
It had to do with the Market.
She knew it.
Because Marshall was a Client, he worked for one of the two Clans—the Kings or the Rogues—but Raj didn’t really know the difference. She only knew that he was given assignments and once completed, he was rewarded with food. Real food. Not the kind the Dofinikes provided. But it cost something. She would see it in his sunken eyes, too afraid to meet hers. And his hands, always shaking, never steady and relaxed. Like he couldn’t sit still. Like he couldn’t reconcile what he’d done. She’d tried asking about his assignments, if only to help him, but Marshall never said a word. He didn’t want her concerned by it.
Biting her thumb, she studied the moving bodies around her. Maybe she should go look for him. Maybe he got caught up with someone and was right around the corner.
Another ten minutes passed and Raj decided to do a lap. She knew better than to start asking around, but the situation was getting desperate. Passing a bundle of tightly-knit bodies, she spotted a familiar-looking boy, one she’d occasionally seen with Marshall. She wasn’t supposed to talk to him. She knew that. But he might be some help. Raj walked toward him. “I think you know my—”
He shuffled past, knocking into her shoulder.
Raj stumbled back, pressing her palm to the swollen area. She’d barely gotten the question out and that was his reaction? How was she going to find Marshall if no one would talk to her? Still cupping her shoulder, Raj debated following the boy. Then hesitated. There must be someone else she could ask—someone else who would be willing to help. She scanned the crowd, searching. Searching for any glimmer of hope. Any possibility of—
Her eyes fell on another face. And with it, a fresh cloud of fear blossomed.
Blonde hair. Long, pointy nose. Flame tattoo crawling up the neck.
Her body stiffened.
Everything inside it told her to turn, to get as far away as possible. There was something cold in his eyes, something empty and dark. She felt it every time she looked at the boy, every time she saw him interact with Marshall. Raj hated him. On pure fear alone. She’d asked why Marshall had to deal with him, but his answer was always the same.
The less you know, the better.
Gathering her courage, Raj walked over. He saw her the instant she moved, his eyes tracking her until she stopped a foot away. For a moment, she simply stared at him, willing her voice to work, pleading with herself not to crumble under his palpable intensity.
This is for Marshall.
“M-my name is Raj,” she stammered, glad to have gotten that part out. The boy didn’t move. Not even a flicker. The fear in her stomach grew. “You don’t know me. And I know I’m not supposed to talk to—I mean, I know you’re a—” she gestured to him, suddenly terrified she’d given away information she shouldn’t have. Would there be repercussions to her knowing what he was? Still, the boy didn’t stir. Raj shook her head and started over. She needed to get it out. “Marshall—he’s my boyfriend. And he’s missing.”
The Clan member stared, his eyes void of anything friendly, anything warm. It was as if the information bored him, as if it was nothing new to hear. Then his expression changed. It grew dark. Dangerous. But it didn’t matter. Raj needed to find Marshall; she needed to know that he was okay. About to try again, the boy leaned in, aligning his mouth with her ear. Raj froze, chilled by his nearness as his whispered words bled into her, choking her.
“Approach me again and you’ll find out why. But with you,” he inched closer, promise in his tone, “I’ll take my time.”
Now, if I was allowed to cast this character, I would choose Dilshad Vadsaria.
What do you think? Who would you cast to play Raj? And are there any scenes from the first book that you’d like to see?