Edited by Ellen Brock ellenbrockediting.com
Twelve-year-old Kate Li has been stuck in small-town Minnesota with her mad scientist uncle ever since her dad's unexpected death. She can't relate to the gun-toting locals or to the pesky boy who follows her around. But she doesn't need friends. She has the woods. She seeks refuge among the trees saving trapped animals, her one link to Dad. Meanwhile, Uncle is too busy punching holes in the universe to notice when she's around.
Then a hulking, color-changing creature comes through one of the holes.
Kate grows to love the alien creature almost as much as Dad. But even the woods aren't big enough to hide a giant. When a local farmer mistakes the creature for a dangerous bear, he aims to put it down. And if Uncle catches it, he'll dissect it—all in the name of science. The only way Kate can protect the creature is to send it back through Uncle's rift. Except then she'll lose her friend forever. And Kate isn't ready to let go.
LOST is an upper middle grade, science fiction novel, complete at 49,000 words. It will appeal to fans of Leila Sales' Once Was a Time and Peter Brown's The Wild Robot.
My children's plays have been published by Pioneer Drama Service, Playscripts, Inc., Eldridge Plays, Heuer Publishing, and Green Room Press. A former mad scientist myself, I am now a member of SCBWI and lead the Jacksonville, FL, area critique group.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
T. James Belich
First Five Pages:
The rabbit screamed.
Kate gripped it around its torso. Who would believe a creature this small could make such a horrific noise? Like a child torn from its mother—or father.
Bam. Crash. Thud.
She sucked in a breath. She hadn't been there. She hadn't been able to help Dad, but that didn't stop her from imagining the accident and replaying it over and over in her head.
Bam. Crash. Thud.
Kate sat cross-legged in the dirt and cradled the rabbit in her lap. The snare, meant for a wolf, cut into the animal's leg and blood oozed into its brown-grey fur.
She couldn't help Dad, but she could help the rabbit. Kate grabbed its hind ankles.
"Watch it!" She rubbed the fresh scratches on her arm. "I'm just trying to help, OK?"
She turned the rabbit to point its legs in a safer direction and pressed her forearm against its chest. The beat of the animal's tiny heart fluttered against her wrist. When she slid a finger under the wire of the snare, the rabbit screamed again.
"Shhh." Kate hummed a few notes of something, something someone had once sung to her probably.
The rabbit grunted and jerked.
She covered its eyes and stroked its forehead with her thumb. If it kicked too much, it would hurt itself more.
Did it think she was a wolf? Right, because a lot of wolves have knowledge of basic first aid. Dad taught her how to tend to animals back in Saint Paul, before Uncle, before the accident, the first time she heard a rabbit scream. A dog had caught it. She'd chased the dog away, but the rabbit was too far gone. Dad helped her bury it. Pretty soon they spent every Saturday searching Como Park for injured animals. Dad smiled with her whenever they released one into the wild and cried with her whenever another one joined the first rabbit in the backyard.
The rabbit in her lap shivered.
Kate wiggled her finger to loosen the snare and looped it up and over the rabbit's foot. After it came off, the animal stilled, eyes bulging and chest pulsing.
Out came the first aid kit. She dabbed at the blood with a fresh cloth, holding the rabbit's legs so it couldn't kick, and cleaned the cut with alcohol.
The fumes stung her nose. She coughed. "Almost done."
Kate wound the bandage around the rabbit's leg, pulled it taut, and tucked in the loose end. She ran a hand over the animal's rough fur, and once its wild heartbeat calmed, she set it down.
Then she let go.
The rabbit stared at her, its ears twitching to the jabber of the blue jays.
Kate scooted back. "Go on."
The rabbit bolted.
She hopped up and jogged after it until it disappeared under the honeysuckle. The bandage would fall off in a few days. Enough time to keep the rabbit's leg from getting infected.
Or enough time for a coyote to catch the scent of blood. She couldn't protect the rabbit from everything.
Do what you can and don't worry about the rest.
Dad taught her that, too. He'd left a vacuum behind, one so big and so empty nothing could fill it. He'd understood her. No one else ever would.
Two chattering squirrels chased each other over the blanket of leaves. A low-hanging branch dipped in the wind and brushed against Kate's back.
She didn't turn around. The touch reminded her of Dad's arm around her shoulders after they'd bandaged the broken wing of a cardinal or fed an orphaned raccoon. Here in the woods she could forget he was gone. She could forget about the people in town who asked how she was about a hundred times a day and didn't really care about the answer. In the woods she felt as if Dad was standing right next to her, like he'd never left.
The ground shook, and the blue jays flew away. Patches of sky waved at Kate from between the leaves. The sun cast irregular shapes on the path.
No clouds, which meant the sound wasn't thunder, although the humidity hinted at a summer storm. Once she and Dad had been caught in the park during one. The buzz of lightning, the electricity in the air, had crackled all around them. She didn't feel that now. The boom wasn't a natural one.
Kate returned to her backpack. She rinsed her hands with the alcohol before stuffing the first aid kit inside. The sound, whatever it was, came from deeper in, so she hoisted her bag onto her shoulder and crept toward the clearing in the center of the woods.
The oaks and maples crowded closer together, their branches reaching down to protect her. A dead oak tree stood guard over the entrance to the clearing. A clump of wildflowers—orange and yellow—bloomed at the base of its trunk.
Kate knelt down. Even though its own life had ended, the dead tree still provided shelter for other living things. For the flowers, for her. She came here whenever she needed the empty and the quiet.
She scurried past the tree and kicked at a patch of freshly dug dirt. Someone was messing around in here the other day, setting off some kind of purple-blue lights. Probably Mr. Stendahl or one of the other hunters. Here in small-town Minnesota people cared more about their cows and corn than trees or rabbits or illegal traps.
Today, however, the clearing was empty. No weird glow. No birds or squirrels or rabbits either. Not a sound. So where had that boom come from?
An unfamiliar sensation tickled Kate's brain.
A feeling rippled outward and rolled over her like a wave with longing in the current.
Kate stopped in the middle of the clearing, at least ten feet from the nearest tree. Every movement—the flick of a leaf, the ants crawling in the dirt—was magnified. The smell of rabbit blood clung to her. Maybe she had attracted a fox or a coyote.
A large lumpy shape—a pile of rocks, maybe—sat in the shadow of the dead oak.
Those hadn't been there the other day. If Mr. Stendahl dumped them here, then that would explain the boom. Kate tightened the straps of her backpack. Mr. Stendahl set more traps in the woods than anyone. She always went after his first.
The shade made the rocks look dark, so dark they appeared to be a deep, deep blue.
Kate knew that blue—she was drowning in it—the blue of having lost something she could never, ever get back. She pushed the feeling away.
The color of the rocks brightened.
The sun must have been behind a cloud because now the rocks were a pale grey. Funny, though, how there didn't seem to be any cracks or gaps or anything between them.
The pile heaved. It expanded and contracted like something alive. Something breathing.
Kate jumped backward and squeezed her fists. Rocks didn't move on their own, and they certainly didn't breathe.
The branches swayed above her, and thin wisps of sunlight slid over the rocks.
She relaxed her hands. Relativity. There was no fixed reference frame. She'd read that in one of Uncle's books. The rocks only looked like they were moving. They moved in relation to the branches, Uncle would tell her, or the branches moved in relation to the rocks. Either description was equally valid. Unless...
The rock—if it was one—on top of the pile shifted, catching the light. Lines of bright blue, like eddies in the water, ran across its surface.
Instinct demanded Kate run, but she resisted. That rock had been grey before. So why did it suddenly look blue?
Two glittering sapphires stared at her from one side of the rock. A thin fracture zigzagged underneath, a long, squat shape stuck in-between.
The rock had a face.
And a body. With arms and legs and a shape like a human being only this thing was anything but.
The whatever-it-was stood—its legs like stone pillars—and stepped toward her.
That was what she had heard, the footsteps of this thing, this creature. Blood pounded at the back of Kate's eyes. Her legs felt like they were made of paper.
Bumps and crevices covered the creature like the surface of some alien world. A swirl of deep orange, the color of fall leaves, rushed across its rock-like skin.
It changed colors. Like a chameleon. Like a giant, Hulk-like chameleon.
Run, Kate told her feet, but they wouldn't listen. Her body seemed to have stopped working. Run!
The creature took another step.
Ten, twelve feet tall at least, it loomed over her like she had the rabbit. No wonder the rabbit had kicked her. She'd kick too if she were caught by a giant.
The creature or alien or whatever it was changed color again. A vein of yellowish-green, the color of plants without sunlight, took root on its chest. It reached out a hand.
Any moment now it would smash her. Or eat her. Kate forgot how to scream.
The pale yellow-green spread all over the creature's body. It lurched and grabbed the dead oak. The tree groaned. It leaned, then tipped, and gravity pulled it down, down toward the clearing.
Add a comment
I'd be open to a full MS query for Multifarious. Submissions info: http://multifariouspress.com/?ref=submissions
Written on Mon, 22 May 2017 19:46:35 by Kaelan Rhywiol