My working title for it has always been "The Dead Dream," but for this assignment I changed the title to "Fears and Flare," which may very well be changed again in the future. I also gave the people the name of "Firelights," which I had not previously included in the novel but I will probably go back and work in. This synopsis had a certain length it had to be, meaning I had to leave out a lot of information that I wanted desperately to put in. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope it helps you understand all my excerpts a little bit more.
Fears and Flare
By Emily Gallaher
Pitch line: After becoming trapped in an underground chamber with nine others who are dead-but-not-dead, a teenage girl must examine their memories to learn why they are being confined to such a torturous afterlife and how she can help them escape, all the while discovering secrets regarding her own past.
Riley had encountered death twice before: her father was murdered and her mother committed suicide, both before Riley’s ninth birthday. Because of this, she is sent to live with her uncle Jonathan, who lives alone in his lonely, run-down mansion. After facing a rather atrocious incident of bullying during her first years in high school, it is decided that Riley will be home-schooled. She does, however, have one friend: Cameron Castle, who still visits her quite often, though Riley does not return the romantic feelings that he often tries to bestow upon her.
After finding a mysterious diary in her uncle’s library, Riley and Cameron set out to find the whereabouts of its owner, whom Riley thinks might be found near a creek at the local park. While searching at the creek, Riley sees a strange round building with people standing frozen all around it, but each looking a different direction. After entering the building, Cameron becomes entranced by moving skeletons that align the walls. Riley, backing away from the skeletons, trips backwards and falls through what had appeared to be a wall and lands on the opposite side of a thick, metal door in a room shaped like a triangle. The eyes of nine people and two dogs stare back at her, all of whom possess the pale, skeletal appearance of corpses.
A meeting is held and Riley learns that everyone there has died and that they are referred to as “Firelights,” though they are reluctant to answer many of Riley’s other questions. They ask Riley how long she plans to stay, and Riley, after spotting a particularly handsome boy on the other side of the table, finds herself saying that she has no intention to leave. Everyone introduces themselves and afterwards Riley is shown how they have the ability to manipulate memories in order to make food appear on the table before them, which is possible through the mysterious glass orb that sits in the corner of every room. After the meal, Riley is led down the long hallway to Sierrah’s room, in which she will be staying.
That night, Riley awakens to distant screams that sound like Cameron. Arising, she finds that Sierrah is missing from her bed, and Riley creeps down the hallway towards the Triangle Room, where she observes all nine Firelights scattered around, closing their hands around their ears in fright as horrible cries echo from behind the metal door, but before she could learn the identity of the voices, Anthony, one of the teenagers, spots Riley peeking around the corner. Riley, not wanting to be seen as an eavesdropper, hurriedly sprints back to her room.
The next morning, Sierrah takes Riley to breakfast, where Riley learns that the Firelights no longer have the desire to eat, as they cannot taste food. She also learns from Anthony, who Riley comes to strongly dislike, that the screams she heard the night before had not belonged to Cameron.
After this conversation, Shanely, the youngest of the Firelights at the age of six, teaches Riley about sharing memories, during which Riley is shown how the young girl died after a life of horrendous child abuse. After seeing Shanely’s whole story, Riley finds that the voices the Firelights are forced to hear every night are people from their past, subjecting them to a form of mental torture. She decides that it is her responsibility to help them escape from this. Riley’s first step is to learn the stories from all nine through memory-sharing, convinced that it will help her uncover why the Firelights are unable to have peace in their death.
As she goes through each memory of the lives and deaths of the Firelights, Riley learns that each had a choice upon coming to the underground chamber—to stay or to leave—and each chose to stay, though Riley believes that they did not know the consequences of this decision. During this process, Riley finds that the food she eats is becoming tasteless and is told by Sierrah that the longer she stays there, the more she will become like them. Riley knows she must hurry to find a solution to their confinement, because after she becomes a Firelight, she will no longer have the opportunity to leave.
Nearing the end of the memory-sharing sequence, Riley discovers that her own mother had come to the same chamber after her suicide, but chose instead to go to “the dark place,” where fear and the unknown dwell. This is where Riley will be forced to go if she chooses to go back, but does so with the wrong intentions. Finally, Riley comes to the last of the nine, but learns from him that it is impossible to free the Firelights; their sentence is permanent and everlasting. Instead, the purpose of their dwelling is to save Riley from death and offer her a second chance to live the life she was created for.Riley must make a decision: stay in the torture chamber with the Firelights, whom she has come to love dearly, or go back to the life she knew before, but with a new sense of purpose.