The Dumpster

Excerpt from Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra: Guarinot


I push Joost down and concentrate harder than ever on the dumpster behind the school’s kitchen entrance. Instantly we’re—

“Eeeeaawwww . . . what have you done?” Joost asks between gagging sounds. “Aaaarg . . . gross! What’s on my . . .?” He slips backward into a steaming pile of wetness.

“That would be today’s leftovers.” I stand and bang my head on the closed lid. “Ouch!”

Joost tries to stand and flops in a pile of expired milk cartons. “Where are we?”

“The dumpster by the kitchen.”

“The kitchen? Geez! How’d we get here?” Joost scrambles to his feet and pushes the trash bin door open, trying to get out.

“Joost you’re freakin’ on me!” I grab his foot. “You can’t leave. I need you.” My other half’s still at the stadium. Laser-stunned.

The Trash Dumpster copy

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“Daniel! Hey, Daniel . . . wait up!” I hear Joost’s voice, but I ignore it until his sneakers screech to a halt in front of me, blocking my path.

Joost Collin Malay has been my best friend since I don’t even remember. He’s great. But he’s also an over-the-top, no-personal-space kind of extravert, and right now I just need some alone time.

“Where have you been, dude? Bram said you left school early. Your mom never lets you miss school. I thought, man, somethin’s not right here. I left you, like, a gazillion messages. Did Fane get a hold of you? Have you seen him? He’s steaming. He just stood there, watching you and Elaina on the dance floor popping his fist in his hand. I swear he’s gonna kill you.”

I plow through the outside doors, and leave the Elaina charade in my rear-view mirror.

“Where are you going?”

I feel tired just listening to Joost talk, but that’s nothing new. “Just shut up and follow me.”Joost (1)

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Excerpt from ‘Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra: Guarinot’

Joost speaking:

“Dude, you don’t look so good.”

“Don’t I?”

“What’s up?”

“I . . . can’t swim,” I mutter.

“What?” Joost leans closer.

“I can’t swim,” I say louder, just as Harrison stops talking.

Time freezes. Everyone stares as the grandfather clock ticks away my humility to a whole new low.

I don’t even want to talk about the rest of the meeting. I didn’t hear any of it anyway.


“Not doing it.” I’m standing on Caterra in my swim trunks at the edge of the biggest swimming pool I’ve ever seen.

“Hi-yah!” Skyjo yells behind me, like a cowboy on a trail ride.

Without further warning, I’m mauled—I’m not even kidding—by everybody I thought cared about me.

I feel everyone’s hands on me, and before I know it, I’m sailing into the air and straight for the water. I’m going to have serious trust issues after this. Who knows how many years of counseling it will take to undo.

swimming pool (2)

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The Book Cover

At long last, the final Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra: Guarinot book cover has been completed. In the picture, I’ve included the front and spine portion. Once the text is added for the back, I will post it as well. Let me know your thoughts.


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Excerpt from Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra: Guarinot


“Daniel, I want to show you something.” Mom motions to two chairs, and we sit. “After your father disappeared, our lawyer presented me with a key to a lockbox. He had been instructed to deliver it to me if anything were to happen to . . .” her voice trails off, and she takes a deep breath. “Inside the lockbox was this.” She fumbles in the oversized bag she calls a purse and pulls out a tiny black box.

“What is it?” I ask.

“You’ll see.” Mom sets the box on the coffee table between us and pushes a button on the side. A red 3D holographic image spins and stops. It’s Dad! I can’t stop the pressure growing in my chest, and for a minute everything in the world, no, the universe, converges right here in this room.

Hologram of Bruce trim (1)

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There’s something about the mountains that call to me. Here, I can unravel my thoughts and let the setting sun melt away the layers of my mind. If I don’t lose my mind first.

Sometimes I wish I could be someone other than myself. Maybe someone more like Bram. Strong, courageous, brave . . . But inside he’s like a big teddy bear. Everybody likes Bram. Most people I know want to be Bram.

Sometimes I want to be more like Joost. Confident, observant, trustworthy, energetic, and dedicated to a fault. Without all the blabber-talk though. That guy can make a jackrabbit cut off his own ears.

Skyjo’s personality is cool too—spontaneous, fearless daredevil, a one-man kamikaze show. On second thought, that might get me killed.

Daniel and his friends1

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All In The Presentation

Excerpt from ‘Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra: Guarinot’


Joost and Elaina are paired to demonstrate the differences between Karate and Judo throwing. Joost tries to be a gentleman and goes easy on Elaina. But Elaina has no intention of playing nice. She throws Joost to the ground not once, not twice, but three times. I’m pretty sure she’s paying Joost back for getting everyone into this mess.

Next, Bram invites me to join him in stick fighting. My favorite. And when I say favorite, I mean I’d rather eat maggots. Of course, he insists on a thorough presentation of grappling in hand-to-hand combat. After a series of takedowns and joint locks where he’s the bat and I’m the ball, Bram finishes the humiliation by throwing me over his shoulder. Even with the mats, the impact knocks my breath from here to Caterra. Every part of me feels like slush.

For the finale, Bram has everyone demonstrate different karate moves while he swings the punching bag back and forth to represent an opponent. At last we all take our bows, and I collapse on the mats.

Bram and the Punching Bag

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Team Earth, minus Joost who’s assisting Team Caterra, arrives around midnight at the dirt ruins of Arkaim in western Russia. There’s no moon to help us see or for us to be seen. Good thing Harrison sent night vision goggles.

“Okay team, all clear.” His voice is husky in our ears. “There’s an archeological team stationed to the south, but they look harmless. Remember, use the coordinates to find true center.”

We begin our climb up the one-acre mound.

“Wait,” Elaina whispers. “Something’s here.”

“Something or someone?” I whisper back.

“Something, I think, coming from the ruins.” Elaina points at the circular formation, then gasps. The end of her right index finger glows a soft red hue.

“What is it?” Harrison asks.

“My fingers are glowing. I think it’s a warning.”

Bram adjusts his night vision goggles. “I can see some hot spots on the ground. Let’s check it out.”

“All right, but stay together. At the first sign of danger, I want you all back here.” Harrison’s voice carries a nervous-father sound.

“Yes, sir,” Bram and I say at the same time.

Bram motions for us to get behind him, and we crawl like a bunch of slugs toward the ruins, silent and slow.

Easing up to the outer circle, Bram does another scan. “It looks like something’s buried below the surface. There’s one right in front of us.” He scoots in for a closer look.

I inch up beside him. “We better not step on it.”

“Look.” Elaina raises her hand again. What started only in her fingers has spread up both arms. Unconsciously, she tilts her palms down toward the ground. Within seconds, her whole body glows. Soon the entire area glows. A moment later, Arkaim darkens and Elaina’s skin returns to normal.



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Excerpt from ‘Daniel Everhart and the Skylands of Caterra: Guarinot’


Later that evening, we all gather in the Rhea’s living room.

“Tonight’s meeting may run long. We have a million details to work out,” Harrison says. “To begin, I’ve asked Lenny to share about his recent activities.”

Lenny walks to the center of the room, all nervous, like he’s about to give a book report on a book he forgot to read. “Well . . .” His ears turn red.

I feel sorry for him, because Niobe’s watching, and I know he wants to impress her. Then I remember Niobe can’t see him.

Lenny clears his throat. “As you know, my father was hurt pretty bad a few weeks ago. Progress is slow, but it looks like he’s gonna be okay.”

I’m not sure I care whether Arch Tantalus is better or not. Which makes me feel like a jerk.

Lenny keeps going. “I’ve spent hours hanging out with him while he talked about all kinds of stuff. Life, choices, money, power, . . . even death.” A tear slips down his cheek. “All in the name of Moloch. But I think my father’s changed. He failed to complete Moloch’s orders, and now he’s afraid for his life.” Lenny pauses and wipes his sleeve across his eyes. He tries to say something else, but it’s like he can’t get the words out.


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