Dolmens

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Excerpt from Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra: Book 1 GuarinotDolmen of the Caucasus (1)

 

Dawn whispers near the Zhane River, and the Caucasus Mountains answer. Team Earth is short on darkness and long on dolmens to activate.

“Daniel?” Harrison’s voice crackles in my earpiece. “Before we move forward, I’d like you to try and spring one of the traps first. Let’s see what happens. We won’t be able to finish, so we’ll come back and complete the job tonight.”

“Okay.” I turn to the team. “Spread out and find something heavy I can drop through the dolmen’s floor.”

“I think this’ll work.” Bram emerges from the dense undergrowth with a big rock on his shoulder.

I extend both arms under the rock.

Elaina, Joost, and Bram form a triangle around the dolmen and place sensors by their feet.

With the rock in my arms, I stoop and focus on the inside of the dolmens’ main room. The musty smell of old air crinkles my nose. “Hey Joost! It smells like your feet in here.”

“I wouldn’t wish that smell on my worst enemy,” Joost responds.

“I would. It’ll knock ‘em dead.”

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Alyx

Excerpt from Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra

Daniel speaking:

I can just make out the halos hovering over four of the five fingers.

The one without a halo has a bunch of trees winding upward and around the summit. I want to know why that one doesn’t have a halo.

I reattach myself in bed and appear on the summit. This one is different. There’s a flat area, kinda like a meadow. A clump of trees, which hang off the edge, and in the middle there’s this one massive boulder shaped like a plump cow patty, with a couple of pint size babies next to it.

“Alo Siralam.”

I turn around so sharply, I nearly trip.

Perched cross-legged on the cow paddy stone, which hangs off the side of the mountain into nothing, is a skinny, wrinkled, bald-headed man in a white, nearly-transparent shirt and brown bottoms that look like sweats. He’s got to be chilled to the bone, cause it’s cold. “Do not be afraid. You have nothing to fear. Please, come and sit.” The man motions toward one of the smaller flat stones. “We have much to discuss.”

I don’t know whether to split out of here, or stay and see what this guy is about. I should be creeped out, but I’m not.

I slip onto the flat stone. “Who are you? How did you get way up here?”

“One question at a time please. I am called Alyx Gudron. On my planet, I am one of seven. We govern the people of our home world.”

“Your . . . planet? You’re . . . from Caterra?”

 

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Armageddon

Excerpt from Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra  Book 1: Guarinot

Daniel speaking:

 

A light flickers from my closet, and a tinny sound like jingle bells and fairies trickles from behind the closed door.

An itch crawls over my skin.

The doorknob starts to turn.

Then stops.

Seconds crawl into minutes. Minutes feel like hours. And. I. Can’t. Move.

The door handle spins like an NFL linebacker took his last turn on Wheel of Fortune—faster and faster until a high-pitched squeal belts my eardrums into submission.

Then it  stops, and my room turns dark like a cave.

“I’m going in,” I whisper to no one.

My phone vibrates.

And a text appears. I wouldn’t, if I were you.

I picture the others sitting in Harrison and Elaina’s living room, clueless that half of me is here. “What if I get them and bring them back?” I’m talking out loud again. I think the sound of my voice makes me feel less insane and less like this is a dream. “Together, we can—”

My phone vibrates again. Your friends can’t help. You’ll only get them . . .

I freeze. Sweat trickles off my temple.

The screen flares bright. Hurt.

That’s when a red light pierces through the center of the door into the room. The walls begin to shake. My bed starts to vibrate, and a high-pitched laugh fills my mind. The door bursts open, and I’m thrown across my bed and against the far wall by the winds of Armageddon.

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Blast through Door

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Fiery Orbs

Inside of Van finished-2 (1)I leave the warmth of my mom, and enter the furnace. Elaina. If she was a glacier last night, today she’s a burning beacon of resentment. Her anger-and-gasoline-soaked eyes follow me from my front door to the van, and I can almost feel my rib cage incinerate.

The drive to Barefoot Meadows is never-ending with Elaina’s kerosene stare in the flip-down mirror burning a hole in my heart.

Sometime in the next millennium, Harrison pulls beneath the same group of Elm trees, turns off the ignition, and swings his seat around. “Before we begin, let’s lay some ground rules—“

“What rules?” I ask, feeling like a coyote-cornered rabbit. Right now, everything in my life is controlled by something I don’t understand. The last thing I need is more rules.

A flash of pink fingernails whips through a fiery red mane, and Elaina swings her chair to face me. “Stop interrupting. Why do you have to be such a jerk?”

“Why do you have to be such a fake?” I know. But the words slither out before I can stop them.

Joost stifles a laugh.

“Fake?” Elaina’s emerald eyes squint at me, and the temperature in the van drops to sub-zero. “Dad, I refuse to work with anyone whose IQ is—“

 

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Wuzhi Mountain

 

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Excerpt from ‘Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra’

Elaina speaking: He says Tantalus was a real comfort when Mom disappeared.” She looks at her feet again, and her voice drops to a whisper. “I didn’t even know her. I was only four months old. All I have is a photograph.”

I don’t know what to say. “I’d love to see it.” I hope that was the right thing. Elaina’s eyes light up, and she smiles that million-watt smile I haven’t seen since before the dance. “Really? Let me get it.”

#

“Here.” Elaina holds out a wooden-framed picture.

A woman with long auburn hair the same color as Elaina’s stands on a rock ledge, pointing toward five tall mountain peaks.Sophie at Wuzhi (1)

“Wow, you and your mom could be twins.” I pause and look closer at the picture. There’s something about the background . . . “Where was this taken?”

“Wuzhi Mountain. It was the last picture of my Mom before she disappeared. She and Dad and Mr. Tantalus were exploring the area searching for symbols.”

“Arch Tantalus was there when your mom disappeared?” Joost asks.

“Yeah. He used to go with Dad, but not anymore. He fell on one of the trips and hurt his leg or something. I only know bits and pieces. When I ask about the past, Dad says not to look back.” She drops her voice to a lower pitch and points her right index finger upwards like Harrison does. “Always look to the future, Elaina.” She clears her throat. “But really, it’s only by looking back that he found the ancient sym—“ Elaina’s eyebrows raise to her hair line.

My mind’s buzzing like an overloaded car stereo. I fall off balance and take a seat on her front steps.

“Daniel, are you okay?” Elaina rushes toward me.

Joost squats down beside me. “Dude, you don’t look so good.”

I lean my shoulder against the corner post while the root beer spawns a hurricane in my gut. “My dad also disappeared on Wuzhi Mountain.”

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Passageways

Excerpts from ‘Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of CaterraPassageway (1).jpg

 

Harrison puts a hand on my shoulder. “Stay here. I’ve got something to show you.” He watches Joost and Bram through the window until they’re out of sight, then leads me back to the pool house, through the small kitchen, and to the storage room where he reaches to the back shelf and pulls a hidden lever. The wall behind the shelves swing in to reveal a passageway.

“Sweet.” I look into the dark shaft.

Harrison steps over a box and flips on a light switch. “Watch your step.” A metal circular staircase echoes with our footsteps as we wind down to a hidden basement, similar to Harrison’s second-story monitor room.

He punches the letters AURORA into one of the keypads, and the wall behind it rotates to reveal another passageway; this one looks and smells ancient. The walls are built of stacked rock, with solid stone slabs for the ceiling and packed dirt for the floor.

Harrison flips on a light switch and motions for me to follow him. “

He leads me to another door at the end of the passageway and pulls on a lever hanging from the ceiling.

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Boat Dumping

Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra

Daniel speaking-

Alyx leads me through a thick stand of trees that borders a lago, or lake with a quay, which means dock. Funny how some of their words are similar to Earth words.

“I want you to try moving something more substantial.” He looks across the quay at several anchored crafts.

“You want me to move a boat?” I ask.

“On Caterra, they are called ketches. Let us start small.” Alyx points to a one-man ketch.

I climb in, and it sways side to side. “Not very stable.”

“Or hefty. Can you move it across the quay?”

“I think so.”

“Make sure you reattach immediately, Siralam. If you leave half of yourself here, you’ll end up in the water.”

I think about that a minute. That makes sense.

I concentrate hard, and the ketch and I appear low in the water, on the other side of the quay. I reattach right away, but as it turns out, it doesn’t matter because I land the boat sideways. It capsizes, and I end up under it.

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Boat Dumping

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Moloch’s Moon

Moloch's moon (1)

Alex Gudron, one of seven councilors on Caterra speaks:

Alex points straight up. “And there is Moloch’s moon. “The moons orbit affects each skyland, the closer it comes. When Moloch is far, we feel peace. Relationships are restored, and wisdom rules. But when he is near, our thoughts are confused and jumbled. People become bitter and angry and do foolish things.”

After a dramatic pause, Alyx continues. “Because Moloch’s moon has an elliptical orbit, Caterra’s surface is almost free from its effect. But when the moon draws near, his presence is magnified, and we must retreat to the Aurora channels more often.”

 

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The Fight

The words of Daniel-

Joost and I are waiting for Elaina in the foyer when she comes running up with the news. “Fane and Bram,” she pants, doubling over to catch her breath. “By the baseball field.”

“Oh man!” Joost takes off in a sprint and disappears.

He’s not the only one. Students and faculty members push and shove their way outside to either watch or stop the fight like it’s Wal-Mart on Black Friday.

Elaina and I arrive in time to see Principal Owens drag what’s left of Fane off the ground. Bram doesn’t have a scratch on him.

By now, Joost has worked his way over to us. “I got to see Bram’s last punchfight shaded (1)

 

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The Pantry

“Harrison, are you home?” Arch Tantalus’s voice echoes through the thick, paneled door.

Without a sound, I tiptoe to the kitchen and slip into the pantry.

I hear the knob turn . . . the front door clicks open . . . the tap-tap-tap of a cane on the hardwood floor . . . Tantalus and his sidekick enter the Rhea’s home uninvited. My heart thuds in my chest, pounding so loud I’m certain the men will hear and come investigate.

“I bet he’s on a date with that Everhart woman,” The guys voice sounds like its been burned by a million cigarettes. “She’s a looker, I tell you.”

My body shakes all over. And I want to hurl.

“A distraction is what she is,” Tantalus replies.

My heart’s pounding in my throat, and I’m panting like an overheated dog. These are Moloch’s men! If only I could open the pantry door to see what this other guy looks like.

“What about those tests? Wasn’t this the final one to verify the detonator could be activated from Earth?” Cadmus asks.

A chair shifts. “Yes,” Mr. Tantalus answers. “I don’t know what happened. My instructions to Harrison were explicit. The boy was to leave the box and return. If all went as planned, a pit the size of this house should have been created.”

If I could just get the door opened for a quick peak. I turn to look, my shoulder bumps something hard on the shelf, and it crashes to the floor.

“What was that?” Cadmus’s voice carries over his rushing footsteps.

Daniel in pantry edited

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