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A Dark City Survival Guide

SarahFineSarah Fine is the author of Sanctum, the first book in the Guards of the Shadowlands series. In this exhilarating adventure, a seventeen-year-old girl has one chance to rescue her best friend's soul from hell. Here’s Sarah’s survival guide for the dark city. Happy Halloween!

If you want to stage a rescue mission in the afterlife, you really need to think ahead. The dark city especially is not a place to enter lightly. Here’s a handy list of supplies to help you out:

1. A snack or three. Unless you enjoy moldy bread, mushy apples, and soup that smells like feet, you may want to pack some rations, because the food in the dark city absolutely sucks. You can have as much as you want, and all of its free, but do you really want to deal with the stomachache from hell?

Sanctum2. A translator. The dark city houses people from every country in the world. Your chances of finding someone who speaks English are fair, but you’re more likely to run into folks who speak Mandarin, Russian, Portuguese, Spanish, or Hindustani. Apparently Siri has a language hack, though. You should probably look into that.

3. A compass. There’s only one person in this city who has a map, and he’s not going to share it with you. It’s easy to get lost, especially since the buildings grow like fungus and occasionally move around. So if you want to keep your bearings, you probably want to bring a compass—because the city is over fifty miles from wall to wall in every direction.

4. Night-vision goggles. The dark city is … dark. There are streetlamps, but the light is pretty weak, and the shadows are thick, concealing a few individuals who will see you before you see them. Give yourself a fighting chance, okay?

5. Appropriate footgear. This is part of that whole ‘fighting chance’ thing. If you happen to find a Mazikin (okay, let’s be honest, it’s going to find you first), you’re going to need to run. Fast. Over slippery, uneven terrain. The Mazikin look like ordinary people—until they start bounding toward you on all fours. Picture a lion chasing after a fleeing gazelle … and make like the gazelle. A gazelle wearing the best running shoes money can buy.

6. Weaponry. Now, Mazikin are fast, so unless you're some kind of track star, assume you're going to have to fight. A knife wouldn’t be a bad idea. A scimitar might be a better one—if you know how to use it without slicing yourself to ribbons in the process. Really, you can improvise. Broken bottle, random crowbar … there’s lots of debris lying around. I hope you can be creative under pressure. The Mazikin certainly are.

7. Ink. Your chances of finding your friend or loved one will go up if you happen to have a picture handy, so you can ask people if they’ve seen him/her. But with all the running and fighting you’re going to be doing, you’d probably lose a picture, so I suggest having the person’s face tattooed on your arm. The only way you could lose the tattoo is if a Mazikin chewed off your arm or something. And how likely is that? (That may depend on whether you took me seriously about #4-7.)

8. A major sense of irony. So that’s it! You’re prepared! Congrats! Except … I hate to break this to you, but your food is going to rot as soon as you enter the city. The needle on your compass will start spinning as soon as you sneak through the Suicide Gates. Siri is going to laugh at you in this unhinged voice every time you ask her a question. And the night-vision goggles might as well be deadweight on your head. Not that you can actually bring any of that stuff to the afterlife anyway. What were you thinking? All you can bring is your courage, your craftiness, and your loyalty. I hope they serve you well. Good luck! You’re going to need it!

Find out if this survival guide really helps in the dark city in Sanctum, now available on Kindle and in hardcover.


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