Symbols on the Ceiling

I split back to the camper for a flashlight, then appear at the crevice entrance. Thank goodness no one’s around. I slip and slide downward, bumping into walls, whacking my head on a stalagmite.

I trip over a rock and end up with one bloody knee and the skin in shreds on both elbows before I reach the overhead ledge. Sure enough, high on the Big Room ceiling, I locate the strange markings. “Caterra,” I whisper.

To one side, there’s a scary thin rock shelf I can lie on. It’s a suicide stunt, but stupid me, I have to try. I’ve got to get closer. Seconds later, I’m dangling like a drop of water clinging to a stalactite. I reach into my pocket, pull out my phone, and snap a couple of pictures.

That’s when I hear this C-R-R-R-R-A-A-A-A-C-K.

As soon as my other half hits the cave floor, my hiking half drops to the ground. I’m in the worst pain you don’t ever want to imagine. “Mom!” I yell.

“Don’t stop now. We’re almost done.” Mom turns, wipes her brow, and squats beside me. “What’s wrong?”

“I’m hurt. Real bad.” I touch my legs and arms to see if they’re still in one piece. “My other half’s in Gorman Cave. I found the symbol of Caterra up high on the ceiling in the Big Room. I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.” It’s so much funnier on the commercials. In real life, it sucks.

 

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Cypress

Our main illustrator, Elise Church has compiled a series of portraits highlighting the main characters in Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra: Book 1 Guarinot. Below is Cypress, one of the warriors from the planet Caterra.Cypress Protrait (1)

 

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Arch Tantalus

Our main illustrator Elise Church has generated a portrait of each main character in book one of the Daniel Everhart series. Below is Arch Tantalus, one of Moloch’s evil followers.

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Our main illustrator Elise Church has generated a portrait of each main character in book one of the Daniel Everhart series. Below is Alyx, one of seven council leaders from the planet Caterra. #scifidaily, #reader, #readers,#fantasyreaders, #reading, #HarryPotter #sciencefictionreaders, #hungergames, https://www.facebook.com/ArmoniaPublishing/ https://www.facebook.com/groups/510152716013601/ https://www.facebook.com/ArmoniaPublishing.Rickmgreen/

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Brynlin

Our main illustrator Elise Church has generated a portrait of each main character in book one of the Daniel Everhart series. Below is Brynlin, one of the two warriors from the planet Caterra.

 

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Arch Tantalus

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Excerpt from Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra

“Daniel, Arch Tantalus is missing from his cell.” Alyx’s voice barely fades when some kind of stick presses hard on my back.arch (2)

Crap. It’s a walking cane. I’m smushed against the floor and can’t move. “Uh, I know where he is.”

“You little freak-eyed maggot. I haven’t spent years working toward the new alignment just to have some pint-sized peon stand in my way.” Arch Tantalus pushes his cane down and twists it deeper into my spine.

Electricity jolts through me.

“Didn’t like that, did you boy?”

Through the pain, I somehow keep it together. I can’t let Tantalus get the best of me. “In your way? How is this about you? Aren’t you Moloch’s servant? Isn’t it his glory you’re working for?”

Another gut-searing shock, and my toes and fingers stick straight out. “Ow, ow, oooooooooow!” I try not to whimper, but that’s like telling a blowfish not to inflate.

“Shut your trap. Next time, I might not stop.” Tantalus removes his cane from my back. “Now, stand up. The Master awaits.” His words send icicles through my pulse.

 

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The Dance

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Excerpt from Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra

Daniel speaking:

I nod like a codfish. Then I get a good look at her, and my jaw hinge stops working.

Elaina’s wearing a full-length pink gown with a lacy belt tied in a bow, and her auburn hair is pinned up in little swirls with sparkly diamond things stuck in there. One loose curl sweeps across her neck.

I swear it takes a million pounds of self- control for me not to reach out and touch it. “Whoa. You’re gorgeous,” I think, then I realize I said it out loud. And I don’t even care. I’ve never seen anyone look so glamorous. Not even on a billboard. And I feel awkward and awesome at the same time.

“Thank you,” she says.

#

Mom finds a parking spot right in front—of course—and I let myself out. I walk to the front of the car, stand on the curb, and wait for Elaina. But she just sits there and looks at me, then at her door, then back at me, and I figure out she’s trying to telemessage me to be a gentleman and open it for her.

Geez.

I grab the handle, and Elaina takes it from there. In what can only be described as a slow-mo movie scene, she emerges like a star on Oscar night. She cocks out her arm, and I figure out I’m supposed to take it, and next thing I know we’re walking into the school-cafeteria-turned-red-carpet-showroom, and everyone’s staring like Elaina’s a shooting star and I’m a fizzled-out comet.

The slow-mo screeches to a halt as Fane steps into view. I swear his face is an angry anime with steam billowing out his ears.

I’m toast. Burnt can’t-even-scrape-it-clean toast.

I lose track of where Elaina’s leading because, yeah, she’s totally running this show, and all of a sudden the lights drop, and I realize we’re dead center on the dance floor.

“Put your hand around my waist,” she whispers.

I obey. And I realize there’s only one explanation for this entire night. Divine humiliation. God hates me. “Look, Elai-   na . . . I don’t know how to—”The music starts, one of those slow-kissing songs, and I wonder what will happen to Elaina’s pretty dress when I spontaneously combust. And if the janitor will sweep me up with the same powder they use to clean up vomit.

 

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Bouquet

Excerpt from Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra

Daniel speaking:

“We were wondering where Niobe might be.”

“You don’t say.” Cypress cuts her gaze to Joost. A little smirk creases her cheeks. “She’s something special.” She pauses and examines the expression on Joost’s face. “The council was most impressed with her story. Rumor is, they’ve offered her a place here in the Nacionalan—the capitol—for as long as she wishes to stay.”

“Sweet.” I catch a scalding side-glance from Joost. “I mean, do you think that’s in her best interest?”

Brynlin sits on the edge of the portum. “She has no family or home. Her job’s finished. Why stay on Earth?”

“We could find a place for her in Bowman Ridge,” Joost says.

“And then what?” Cypress asks.

“I don’t know,” Joost responds.

“Maybe we could”—I look at Brynlin and tilt my head toward Joost—“talk to Niobe about it.”

“That seems fair enough.” Brynlin smiles. “What do you think, Niobe?”

Joost shoots up faster than a bottle rocket with its tail lit and turns to see Niobe standing in the doorway. “Hey . . . I uh . . . didn’t know you were here.”

Niobe maneuvers her way across the room with the aid of a walking stick. “Brynlin and Cypress have been generous enough to offer me a place to stay while I make my decision.”

“Wow, that’s great. Do you like it here?” Joost asks.

“Yes, it is very nice. And the presence of the Aurora brings me inner peace.”

“Wow, that’s great,” Joost repeats himself, shifting uncomfortably. “When we’re done on Earth, we’ll have the same, uh . . . inner peace.”

“Perhaps,” Niobe replies.

Knock. Knock. Knock.

Cypress and Brynlin steal a quick look at the front door, then each other. “I’ll get it,” Cypress says.

“No.” Niobe turns and makes her way across the room. “It’s for me.”

She opens the door. “Hello, Lenny.”

“I brought you some flowers.” Lenny holds out a small bouquet.

“Oh, they smell wonderful.” She runs her fingers around the petals, like she’s seeing them with her hands, and steps aside to let him pass. “Please come in. I think you know everyone.”

Joost stiffens.

“I couldn’t find a vase to put the — hey guys.” Lenny gives me and Joost an embarrassed smile. “It’s good to see you. I heard about the staids and dolmens. Scary stuff.”

“What are you doing here?” Joost’s words are as tight as his shoulders—and they’re riding up to his neck.

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Skeletons

 

Excerpt from Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra

Skyjo whoops. “Here comes another bone buffet.”

More than a dozen disfigured skeletons emerge, military style, armed with laser rifles and attached bayonet swords. They disperse left and right to surround us.

I glance at my baseball bat. Geez, I need a better weapon. Two shots ricochet off a boulder above my head, and I duck.

Cypress fells one skeleton with a blast to the chest.

A group of zombie-bones scrambles over boulders and forces the attack.

Skyjo and Brynlin drop to the floor and fire multiple shots. Brynlin rises with her sword and blocks the lethal plunge of a bayonet. The skeleton dude is good, and blades slash and clang as they try to destroy each other.

Three skeletons leap off the cliff above and surround Skyjo, but his lasers blaze with fire.

I run to help, when another skeleton grabs my shoulder. I break free, step sideways to miss his bayonet, swing my bat against the boney rib cage, and pulverize the old bag into splinters.

 

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Falling

Excerpt from Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra

www.rickmgreen.comfalling (2)

 

The ropes rip from our hands, a stream of laser shots pierce the creature from Lenny and Joost’s guns, and they disappear out of sight.

“Daniel, they’re falling!” Harrison screams.

I run and leap. Below me, Joost and Lenny race toward Caterra’s surface, ropes trailing behind them. I streamline my body to increase speed and yell, “Spread your arms and legs!” I hope they hear me.

God, please, please let them hear me.

Precious seconds pass.

I close the distance.

Dots on the ground become vehicles and houses.

I have one chance to get this right. I pray . . . and split.

 

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