More Details About Book II (scroll down for teaser):
- Five years after Don Vargas’ disappearance in the alternate reality of the Valle Abajo after he brought down The Tower of Il Serrohe, his sixteen-year-old cousin, Esther, living in the Rio Grande Valley, suffers a mysterious accident and begins having strange dreams.
- Nightwing—the wily bat who brought Don to the Valle Abajo—tells Esther of the return of the evil Soreyes. After sharing these details with her best friend, Markey, they both wonder if she is losing her mind.
- Astounding news upon her return from visiting the Valle Abajo through the portal in Don’s casita convinces her to take on the new quest using her intelligence and resourcefulness against the Soreyes.
- New dangers threaten with rumors of evil in the far away Mountains of Sky and beyond the western horizon. Meanwhile, a mysterious presence makes itself known.!
- Extreme Dust Storms May Exist is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Page Foundry/Inktera, Scribd, 24symbols, and my publisher Black Rose Writing. Of course signed copies can be ordered directly from me, email@example.com.
Now… for a teaser from my promo flyer to entice current readers while encouraging new readers to complete Book I, so they can jump right into Extreme Dust Storms May Exist when you get your hands on a copy.
Extreme Dust Storms May Exist
one (Monday, May 7, Rio Grande Valley)
Esther scanned the western horizon of Luna Mesa trying to catch sight of her father’s missing cattle when a turbulent cloud of heat and fine dust washed over her from behind. Turning to look for the source she was struck full body—as if by a huge fist—and collapsed to the ground, unconscious.
Not the best way to get ready for softball practice.
Esther hadn’t wanted to be up on the mesa in the first place. Throwing on her practice uniform, she had grabbed her duffel bag and rushed out the door when her father, John, called out to her.
“Esther, where the hell are you going?” he asked, wiping his hands as he entered from a back room. “You have to take hay up to the cattle before you leave.”
“I’ll be late, Dad. Got a big practice for the district playoffs on Friday. Besides,” she said, “it’s Joshua’s turn! Coach will kill me if I’m not there in twenty minutes!”
“It’s not my fault you put off getting ready for practice until you barely have time to get there. Joshua had to stay after school, so—”
“Right. That little turd’s probably doing detention again for being late five times—”
“The cows can’t wait while you work out your schedules or personal problems,” he added, tossing the towel on the table.
“I’ve worked all afternoon on the front ten acres,” John continued, “and it’s time for me to pick up a load to take to Amarillo. You have to do it. Joshua can do the next four days in a row so you’ll have time to get ready for the big game.
“Satisfied?” he asked, flashing his bashful little boy grin despite his forty-five years.
Resisting an urge to smile back, Esther turned on her heel and dashed out the door, throwing her duffel on the bales of hay in the back of the old Ford pickup. Once it groaned to a start, she floored it, leaving her father laughing in a fury of dirt and wounded teenage pride.
The old F-150 bounced and rattled its way up the rocky road to the mesa where they had a small herd of Angus cattle on a hundred acres of range land. Fortunately, it was only a mile and a half north of the high school baseball field. Esther could run across the field, jump the fence, and still be on time, provided she wasn’t delayed unloading the hay.
But when she topped the mesa, her hope faded. The cattle should have all been there waiting for their daily feeding, but the water bin sat forlorn on the empty plain. The little herd always passed the time filling up on cool water from the old earth-mover tire embedded in a pad of cement.
“Dammit,” she muttered, as if her parents were sitting beside her. She left the truck to walk around, searching the horizon for her favorite cows and their spring calves. They were nowhere to be seen.
It was odd the cattle weren’t there, but Esther began to think they might have good reason to avoid the place. She could feel a strange sensation in the air, as if static were building up before a lightning strike. But the deep blue sky was clear of all but a few puffy clouds to the south.
She had just started scanning the western horizon toward the busy Interstate traffic, a half mile away when a ferocious dust devil crept up and struck her down.
It seemed hours, but it had been less than ten minutes when Esther began to come around. She lay on her side, her upper body aching fiercely. Spitting dirt, she sat up and almost blacked out again.
What in the hell was that? She wondered, only vaguely recalling what had happened.
Looking around for “Piss-Ant,” the young bull who feigned attacks whenever Esther or her mother looked him in the eye, she again saw she was alone on the mesa. So she couldn’t blame that little devil for a sneak attack.
Great, now I’ll have to take a shower before practice!
Esther could barely move her throbbing head, neck, and back as she dropped the beat-up tailgate and winced when its rusty hinges shrieked in protest. Grabbing the bale hook, Esther began pulling the bales off the bed onto the ground. She cut the baling wire and kicked the tightly packed hay loose so the cows could get big mouthfuls when they got around to coming for dinner.
The back of her head felt like it was splitting open as she dragged herself back into the truck, started it up, and swung around to head back down to the house.
Somehow, no matter how important, she didn’t feel like going to practice today.
Intrigued? I hope so. What do you think about this new character Esther? Here’s another chapter from later in the story:
nineteen (Rio Luna, Saturday May 12, after 9 pm)
“Hello,” he said in a monotone.
“What? Like you don’t know it’s me?”
“I know it’s you,” Markey said. “I also know you’re all emotional. What do you want?”
“Can you come over? I don’t want to talk about this on the phone,” Esther said.
“I don’t know. I’m kind of busy—”
“Maybe that’s OK when I’m just being needy. But this has nothing to do with what we’ve been through and… and, like I said, I don’t want to talk about it on the phone! We can meet somewhere since you don’t want to see my parents.”
“It’s not your parents… No, that didn’t sound right. I don’t mind seeing you, but you’re all bent out of shape—”
“Sorry, I’m not much fun right now. I need you, Markey. Desperately!”
Markey sighed, his cover melting. “OK…” he choked “…girl. I’ll meet you at the Sonic. I really am busy sorting out my car. But it’s still running and a coke would go good about now.”
“Thank you,” she said, exasperated. “Fifteen minutes. Bye.”
The Rio Luna Sonic east of the river was about half way between their homes, so it was their semi-regular meeting spot. Her parents were annoyed about her going out after 9:00 at night, but since it was with Markey, they grudgingly allowed it.
Esther parked the old Ford pickup and walked over to Markey’s car, which was pulled up to one of the ordering stations. She plopped into the passenger seat.
He turned to her too casually. “Want anything?”
“I’m not hungry. A coke sounds good.”
He pressed the order button and chatted with Pete, his buddy with the camcorder who worked on cars with him.
“So, what’s up?” Markey asked, facing her and trying to sound off-handed.
“This sounds crazy to me, so I can only imagine what it will sound like to you, but I took a little excursion earlier tonight.”
“Yeah?” Markey said, suspicious.
“You see, that thing I thought was fluttering around in that old Casita of Don’s…?”
She struggled to find the words that could convince her best friend in the entire world that she was stark raving mad.
She told him about passing through the Portal to a different place or something… about a long walk up a mountain trail with a bat that talked… meeting Raquela and hearing a story about Don the Crazy—which is what they’d called her cousin—and how he had died when he made some kind of horrible tower collapse… and how they needed her help because the bad people had come back after all that!
She figured she had burned out because of too many AP classes, suffered over-exposure to radiation from endless hours on her cellphone and taken too many blows to the head in sports. Now she knew how Cousin Don must have felt.
But she told Markey anyway, trying not to leave anything out. He needed to know about Teresa, Don, the Valle Abajo, and now the proposal put to her by Nightwing, Raquela, Nersite, and the clanspeople.
Markey had been so quiet she had glanced at him occasionally while she spoke to make sure he was alive and present. Though he appeared catatonic, she knew he wasn’t.
In fact, Markey’s mind was awhirl. My God! My little friend has lost it. That doctor needs to examine her head again. I mean, how can any of this be real?
Nudging him, she wondered if he had zoned out.
“Well?” she asked. “Tell me what you think. I can take it… Maybe.”
“Uh, wow!” he laughed artificially. “I didn’t know you could be so creative—”
“Creative? I wish! This is true. It all happened to me and it’s what that little old man, Nersey-tite, or whatever his name is, told me. What am I supposed to do? I’m almost a senior in high school, not some Amazon ready to set out to save a civilization especially in some, some world or realm that—oh God, it shouldn’t be, but it’s real to me!”
“OK, sorry. I didn’t mean you made it up. It’s just, the, uh, details. You remember it all so well. No really, you should write this down. Maybe then I can look at it. And let you know—”
“Know what? How crazy you think I am?”
“No, just how you can… deal with this… this whole thing,” he floundered.
He thought about his counselor, Mr. Roderick. He didn’t know Esther’s counselor, but Mr. Roderick could talk to her after Markey explained. But could he tell anyone about this without Esther going postal on him?
It must be the pressure she’s under with AP exams, the disappointing end to softball season with Coach maybe taking her off first base next year, and wait—of course!—her injury. That’s it! There’s pressure on her brain. Or maybe it’s me. I’m not helping much. She’s my dearly beloved and here I am basically calling her a liar.
“Please, Esther,” he said. “I’m not saying you’re nuts or making up anything. It’s just so much to take in. We need to go slow on this. Think it out. Talk about it more… later. You know, girl, just think about how it sounds.”
“Jesus, don’t you think I know that? I’m the one saying all this and I know how it sounds. But I trusted you. I told you anyway.”
“You can still trust me. Just give yourself a breather. Sleep on it. We’ll talk more, sure. Just take it easy.”
“Take it easy? How the hell can I do that with all this on my mind? Either it’s real and I’m being asked to go save these people from a nasty enemy or I’m nuts and should be locked up!”
“No, of course not. You’re not nuts. Come here,” he reached for her, trying to pull her close, but the storage bin on his center console made snuggling impossible.
“Let go! I don’t want you touching me unless you’ll help.”
“I will. I am… it’s just that…”
You’re nuts, he thought. God, can it be true? My girl is going crazy? If she could just stand back and see it like I do—
Esther’s eyes flashed red. She put her face close to his.
“You don’t believe me! But it’s all real! You saw when I disappeared outside the Casita.”
“You’re right,” Markey said. “I’ve been thinking about that every spare moment since Thursday night and I still can’t come up with a rational explanation. I was so freaked out I forgot to take video of it! Damn! Look, Pete is working here tonight. Let me see if we can borrow his camcorder like I said before. With that, we could see if what we were experiencing really happened.”
“Of course it happened, but why?” She pulled away from him with savage abruptness.
What is happening to me?
“You need to watch me pass through the Portal,” she barked. “You can video that and put it up your butt so you can take your time looking at it and try to explain it away!” she raged.
She wiped away hot tears, angry to be showing girly weakness. Look at him, he isn’t crying. Damn it!
She knew Markey was staggered seeing her cry. Sure, she’d shed a few tears for a silly chick flick, but she was determined he would see these tears as a sign of what was to come. Very quickly.
“OK, OK. I’m not trying to explain away anything. Just to explain things,” he said. “We’ve both had enough science classes to know the world works according to logic. Never mind that quantum stuff. That’s on a sub-atomic level, in dimensions beyond our reality, not in the here-and-now with things we can observe. I think this is all a matter of perception. It’s how you—we are seeing and experiencing it. I’ll gladly go back to the Casita with you. We have to help you get a handle on this—”
“What about you getting a handle on what’s happening to me?” she bawled.
That did it. Tears coursed down her cheeks into her mouth, their salty taste like a rebuke proving how she had lost control.
Crying like a bullied kid on a playground, she struggled with the door handle, trying to get out of the car.
Markey gripped her left arm, pulling her back against the seat. “No, Esther. Don’t run away,” he said trying to calm his voice. “I’m sorry. I’m saying this all wrong. I don’t want you to run off. I don’t doubt you. I do want to understand what’s happening.”
They paused while she continued trying to pull free of his grip.
“I want to help, Esther. I’m the last person to doubt you or let you down. Please. You’re the world to me… my best friend. Just stay.”
As he tried to put his arm around her again, she leaned forward to avoid his touch. But she didn’t continue trying to get out the door.
They sat in silence for two excruciating minutes.
“I’m fine,” Esther said at last. “I want to go home.”
“When do you want to go back to Don’s shack with me?”
She shot him a deadly look. “Not. Now. Just let me go. I’ll text you later, but I don’t want to hear from you right now.”
He patted her hands, saddened when they were motionless under his touch.
“Fine,” he said. “I’ll follow to make sure you get home all right, and then I’ll wait for you to get in touch.”
She almost slapped him, forcing herself to remain immobile.
“I don’t need some guy following the ‘little lady’ home. Damn you!”
She exploded out of his car, stomped across the parking lot, slammed the old pickup door so hard Markey was surprised it didn’t fall off its hinges, and peeled out of the lot leaving about 20,000 miles of rubber on the pavement.
Markey kept his eye on the Ford’s broken taillights as they receded, and then followed at a discrete distance with only his parking lights on. Fortunately, traffic was light and no one ran into him. As he watched the pickup move up the dirt driveway to her house, he noted her restrained speed. She got out of the truck in a calm manner.
In the dimness of the outdoor light from the nearby barn, he saw her look his way and walk back down the dirt road. He was tempted to race off, but his male pride checked that coward’s reaction.
When she got to the car, he rolled down the window. “I couldn’t let you go off without—”
“Save it,” she said between her teeth. “I only want to thank you for being such a ‘man.’” she said in a voice that could cut steel.
Without a word, he rolled his window up and drove off slowly.
She watched him move down the highway to be sure he wouldn’t be lurking about.
Once in her room, Esther cried herself to sleep, afraid she would dream about the Valle Abajo again.
Esther may be afraid to dream of the Valle Abajo, but you’re probably ready to go there right now to catch up on the latest action. Buy now or see me at one of my signing events! RJ 😉