Excerpt from Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra: Guarinot

By now, the line has shrunk to three. A middle-aged couple oozing enough PDA to get a month of detention—but hey, go old people—and an older man wearing dark glasses and a hat, leaning on a cane.

“Last tour of the day,” the older guy says. “Looks like you four make us a group of seven. First time here?”

“Um, yes sir.” Cypress nods, and the little braids on either side of her face swing. “We’re hoping to see the view from up top.”

“Yes, quite extraordinary.” The old man sounds hoarse and weak, like he’d be better off in a wheelchair. How on Earth—or Caterra—does he expect to make it to the top of the tower without a wrench?

“I’ve seen it before,” the man continues, “and my old legs aren’t what they used to be. I’ll sit this one out. You can join those two lovebirds up there. I’ll come another day.” He turns and hobbles off.

“Something’s wrong,” Cypress whispers.

“What do you mean?” I ask.

“We don’t use the word “lovebirds” on Caterra. That’s an Earth term.”

I watch the man walk away, and my spine gets the tingles. “I recognize that walk. Alyx, has Arch Tantalus escaped?”

“Impossible,” comes Alyx’s voice through the headpiece. “But I will check.”

“What’s with those two?” Brynlin whispers, nodding to the PDA couple making out. “Something doesn’t look . . . normal to me.”

“It could be your new normal, if you’d give me a chance,” Skyjo tells her.


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The tower scene (1)

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