My latest fun listen is a light-hearted romp. Comedians Craig and Rebecca take a look at movies and television from the villain’s perspective and dare to ask if they were really all that bad. The hosts go into detail about movie or series characters and their motivations, and theorize whether or not they deserve to be the hero or villain.
Was Ariel really innocent? Or was Ursula just trying to run a small business?
What I find especially fun is that Craig and Rebecca don’t just review the obvious movies. They look into Father of the Bride, Legally Blonde, Bridget Jones’ Diary, the Magic School Bus, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Friends, Mary Poppins and many, many more. I recommend you start with Ferris Buller’s Day Off, Jurassic Park or the Incredibles.
I whole-heartedly recommend this recent read. If you like science fiction with actual science, this is for you. If you like stories with interesting, well developed characters, this also has that. If you want excitement and a thrilling plot, here you go. If you want romance and sex, well, there you’re completely out of luck.
I challenge you to read the first five pages and NOT want to keep reading. What an opening! Ryland Grace wakes up alone with no clue where he is or how he got there. His body isn’t responding the way it should and he struggles with the fog that is keeping rational thoughts at bay. He slowly comes to the realization that he’s hurtling through space and his crew mates are dead. While that opening alone is enough to keep me turning pages, Weir infuses Ryland with unique wit and humor that elevates the story beyond the run of the mill science fiction thriller.
As Ryland’s memory returns, he flashes back to the past and slowly reveals how he ended up as the sole-survivor of this last-chance mission to save Earth. And as things seem hopeless, he finds glimmers of hope in unexpected places. He also just might be the perfect person for the job.
This well-written novel is a mix of things: science fiction, mystery, fantasy, thriller. There’s a diverse cast as the entire planet comes together to save humanity. And I can only hope Hollywood takes notice.
Okay, so this one hasn’t completely been released yet, but I am eagerly awaiting it. And fortunately, I have heard a couple early release tracks, so I think it’s fair to add to my line up list.
The album is set to drop October 29. It’s been 4 long years since we last heard songs featuring solo artist Ed Sheeran playing and singing all by himself (no collaborations). I have read interviews about this release and it appears the songs are all personal to him as a recently married man and father who has experienced loss. Sheeran says the album is a reflection of those experiences. For a man to state that this is a coming of age album, I feel it should be chocked full of nostalgia, eye awakening moments and experiences that make us who we are. Bad Habits, one of the early release titles is dance music story of late night bad choices while Visiting Hours is a heartfelt, personal sort of song you play in the bluest hours. It’s raw and emotional.
*I believe the library will be purchasing and adding this title to the catalog for checkout. I don’t see it there yet, but all the other Sheeran albums are, so it’s a good guess it’s coming soon.
Television:Below Deck Mediterranean
In another year, where I haven’t been able to travel abroad like I planned, I am “escaping” via my television and “reality” TV.
What I like? No dull waiting period–this is entertaining IMMEDIATELY.
This show has it all: attractive people, vastly different personalities, relatable protagonists, loathsome antagonists, money and a BIG yacht. It’s fun, interesting, and has changing locals (Greece, Croatia, Italy, South of France and Mallorca). The guests are interesting. There’s TIGHT quarters (GREAT for drama), a social element and very merit-based workplace element.
I think the two most important components of any reality show are the “characters” and the editing. The characters here are in spades, but the editing brings us the stories, and man do they make the stories POP! Hats off to the editing staff. I think we all like to see justice because we so rarely get it in real life, and the editors don’t let anyone get away with ANYTHING. When someone does something stupid, we get to see the consequences, which is a great little respite from real life. I also love the insight you get, to see all that goes on under the surface of a luxury yacht.
This one I am super excited to get out and see for myself. Recently, when I volunteered at the Zoo for Zoobilee and the new Asian Big Cat exhibit grand opening, I discovered that Sedgwick County Zoo has a new “Wild Lights” exhibit in the works. Think Asian lantern sculptures illuminating paths throughout the zoo.
The company who has provided and set up the exhibit brought in 13 semi-truck loads of giant animal lanterns. These creatures are spread out throughout the zoo. They are everywhere! Installation began in early September. The exhibit has filled the zoo with 47 glowing Asian lanterns, most of them larger than life.
They’re in the shapes of animals. Guests will find pandas, elephants, turtles, rhinos as well as other displays in the shapes of flowers, bugs, fish, butterflies, and plants. Many of them are animated: A peacock’s plume of feathers goes up and down every five minutes. A baby panda spins with a ball on his head. A massive crocodile opens and closes his giant jaw. About six people accompanying the tour, which travels to zoos all over the world, spent a month erecting the wire frames that form each sculpture’s “bones” then covering them with translucent fabric and filling them with colorful lights. It will take visitors about an hour to walk the path where the sculptures are set up, which stretches from the zoo entrance to the gorilla exhibit and back to the exit. Not only do they set up the lights, but they stay here in Wichita throughout the show to maintain the exhibit.
I plan to enjoy the zoo like never before with this larger-than-life Chinese lantern festival!
*Wild Lights will light up the zoo Wednesday through Sunday nights 6:00-9:00 p.m. through December 5, 2021. Tickets are on sale now at scz.org/event/wild-lights.
Food: Seasonal Soups and Stews
It’s that time of year – fall (or maybe the fringe of fall with our ever changing Kansas weather). Maybe you’ve noticed the chill in the air, or that the leaves are starting to turn shades of orange and red. The first pumpkin spice lattes of the season have already been sipped, and perhaps you’ve taken out the sweaters that make you feel like Cameron Diaz courting Jude Law in a cozy cottage in the English countryside. But is it really sweater season without a pot of soup bubbling away? Or a hearty stew on the table, served with a fistful of crusty bread? A few veggies, possibly some beans, aromatics and broth are just about all you need for a satisfying meal.
So let this be my reminder to you. If you have yet to avail yourself of all the ways your local library can help you be a better, more inquisitive cook (or simply save you some money) there’s no better time than now. With many of us cooking at home more than ever, we could all use a little jolt of inspiration and novelty. Or just some escapist reading. Take a look at our KanShare catalog for in print cook books, Sunflower eLibrary (Libby app) for eCookbooks and magazines, Pinterest and the good ole internet for general browsing! You are sure to find something new to try.
I’m sharing my easy-peasy Taco Soup recipe. It’s a go to my family always loves. Hope you will too!
Slow Cooking Taco Soup – 6 to 8 servings
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, chopped
16 oz can Mexican-style tomatoes
16 oz can whole-kernel corn, undrained
16 oz can red beans, undrained
16 oz can black beans, undrained
16 oz can ranch beans
16 oz jar picante sauce (your choice on mild, medium or hot)
Optional additions when serving:
Shredded cheddar cheese
Corn or tortilla chips
Brown meat and onions in skillet. Drain.
Combine with all other vegetables and picante sauce in slow cooker.
Cover. Cook on low 4-6 hours
Serve with corn or tortilla chips, sour cream and shredded cheese as toppings.
Olivia is a 15 year old writer who has participated in many of the library’s writing challenges, including last summer’s Voyager Writing Challenge and this spring’s Bad Guy Writing Challenge. Red Strings is the sequel to Olivia’s first short story, Neutral Zone, and dives deeper into the motivations of the tormented villain, Vic!
Vick can admit that he is not the best person,
but he certainly is not stupid. He knew the oblivious, helpless person he and
Terrace quite literally stumbled upon was not to be killed. He may want the end
of the AWs, Alternate Worlds, but he is not that evil.
“You brought us here anyway,” Vick accused. The
first AW was not his ideal battle terrain, mostly because anything multiverse
travelers, like himself, killed there killed its counterpart everywhere else.
“No I didn’t! You did!” Terrace yelled back up
at Vick. Vick smirked. Even if he was not suspended on a swing, he was still
taller than the short creator.
recall ever thinking to put myself at a disadvantage.” Vick was not happy. He
lowered himself to the ground. He stared directly into Terrace’s ever changing
“It’s not like you don’t make mistakes,” Terrace
said. “We’re both human, Vick.”
“Human, huh?” Vick spat at him. The red markings
wrapped around his arms glowed with a fiery intensity. Vick scowled at Terrace.
He felt his familiar red strings flow down from the marks to his hands. He shot
them toward part of the back porch. The strings wrapped themselves around the
poor porch and paused. He shot Terrace a crazed grin. “What part of me is
He gripped his hand into a fist. He swung his
arm at Terrace as if he was throwing a shot-put. The strings strained and
yanked the porch out of the ground. In a blur of wood, the porch was on a
direct course toward Terrace. It landed with a huge Crash!and…
Terrace. Vick knew that would happen, but was not in the mood. Terrace had
teleported over to the fence gate.
Terrace teased. Vick was fuming. He angrily directed his strings toward the
nearest fence post, tore it out of the ground, and threw it at Terrace. He
could not care less if he killed anyone else, he just wanted to wipe off
Terrace’s smug grin.
He retreated his strings. Though he really
wanted to make sure Terrace was at least scared, he did not want to stick
around longer. Let Terrace take care of his ownbusinesshe
thought, teleporting away from the destroyed yard.
Now, one may expect Vick to have some sort of huge base where he would
monitor the whole multiverse. That is not the case. Because of the
stereotypical villain, Vick’s “base” is in a small cabin in AW 27, another
“magic filled” AW.
Vick’s teleportation destination landed him in
the kitchen of said cabin. He took a peek in the fridge for anything that
looked edible. Believe it or not, destroying useless worlds worked up an
appetite. Vick took the leftover pancakes from breakfast and closed the fridge.
“Back already?” Vick heard someone say from the
“Not like you’ve been anywhere,” Vick grumbled.
“Dumb creator teleported the both of us to the original. I gave him a bit of a
job to fix.” Vick heard laughter. He made his way to the living room and found
the new(ish) recruit, dressed in all black, playing with a knife.
“The original’s found out, huh?” Blood laughed.
“Yep. Scared the kid out of his skin. You should
have seen it, turned him white on the spot.” Vick started gnawing on one of the
“My turn?” Blood asked excitedly, his eyes
flashing red as if to seal his intentions.
“Go aheath,” Vick said, half a pancake dangling
out of his mouth. “Whehe’s Lethon?”
“Lendon’s probably in his room,” Blood answered.
“Later!” Blood teleported out of the room.
Vick finished his pancakes and sighed. Blood
joined them —that is, the team— about two years ago. Vick never thought about
time because it did not mean much for a multiverse traveler like himself. It
changes too much from AW to AW that Vick just stopped caring.
Vick never asked Blood why he joined the team,
but Blood always seemed to know where Terrace and Cerulean were. Vick just went
with it. He was sure Lendon knew —he was the head of the team and he knew just
about everything about each of them.
Lendon was originally from AW 17, which also had
magic. Vick does not know much about his origin either, but does know Lendon is
pretty powerful. Vick has seen him
level a city in seconds. He has also fought
Terrace and Cerulean to a stalemate, which Vick has yet to do. Vick is not
patient enough for it.
“Yo, Vick!” yelled someone. Vick snapped himself
out of his thoughts and looked up. He saw another member of the team. He wore a
blood red sweater and black jeans. He stared at Vick with his cyan eyes burning
through his shaggy black hair.
“What do you want, Dultin?” Vick grumbled.
Dultin took playful offense as he flopped on the
couch next to Vick. “Why do you always assume I want something whenever I talk
do.” The day before, Dultin asked Vick to help him find one of his guns. Dultin
claimed it was his “favorite” and “couldn’t live without it.” They almost got
caught by the police in five different AWs and Vick came home sore.
Dultin came from AW 30. His father was a police
officer and taught Dultin everything about guns. Dultin said it was his
“calling” whenever he told the story. He claimed he brought a gun to “show and
tell” in Kindergarten and accidentally shot and killed one of his classmates.
Vick was wary about the credibility of the story, but did not put it past him
to do so.
“Okay, you got me,” Dultin said, raising his
hands up as if he was getting arrested. “I only want to know where Blood is.”
Vick forgot that Blood and Dultin had bonded over the past two years.
“Fine.” Vick closed his eyes and searched the
entire multiverse for Blood. Luckily, he had a good idea about where he was.
“Upmost. AW 10.” Dultin was stood up to leave. Vick grabbed his arm. “Let him
be for a bit. He’s playing with the original.”
Dultin seemed to understand and sat back down.
Blood did not come back in the next hours.
assuming the worst. He could barely think, mostly because Dultin was constantly
assembling and taking apart one of his handguns. Vick grew tired of the
constant clinking of metal. He stood up.
“Fine!” he groaned. “We’ll look for him. Get
your things. I have a trap.”
Dultin shot up, giddy to leave. “You think it’ll
work? It’s about 11 pm original time.”
“It definitely will. Terrace wouldn’t miss.”
Vick opened a portal. “Come on.” Dultin hopped into the portal as Vick
followed, sealing the portal after entering the location.
They ended up in a field surrounded by forest.
The clearing was almost miraculous.
Occasional dandelions popped up every once and
awhile. It was about noon in that AW.
“You’ve never seen me destroy an entire world,
have you?” Vick asked Dultin. Dultin shook his head no. “Well, today’s your
lucky day.” Vick’s markings glowed blood red. Vick knelt on the ground and put
both hands on the grassy field. He again felt his strings flow into his hands,
but this time they slipped out and into the ground like worms. Vick got up.
“The trap’s set.”
“What did you do?” Dultin asked with genuine
“Each world has a ‘soul,’ so to speak,” Vick
explained. “My strings can locate and destroy that ‘soul,’ leaving the world to
rot and disappear. The process takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Quick and
efficient. The only flaw is that Terrace can sense when my strings are close to
the ‘soul’ and can get rid of them the same way I distribute them. That is our
“Which world is this, anyway?” Dultin asked,
loading a pistol with one of his homemade bullets.
“AW 2,102,” Vick replied. He rolled his eyes.
“There’s too much of the same trash.”
“Darn right.” Dultin laughed.
The pair of delinquents were treated to a bright
flash of light. When the light diminished, Vick saw four silhouettes. Two
obviously belonged to Terrace and Cerulean. The third was the original, Vick
figured. Vick could not figure out who the fourth was. He seemed to be part of
Cerulean’s shadow, dressed in all black as he was.
Then he caught sight of his face. Vick stared at
him, a spike of disbelief shooting through his insides. He wondered what
happened in the last few hours that caused this.
Dultin started laughing. The laugh turned dry,
shooting imaginary daggers into their adversaries. “Yes, Vick, the trap
worked,” he said. He directed his now loaded gun at the “shadow.” “Alas, it
worked too well. We caught a ghost, and now it’s time to dispose of him.”
Dultin’s smile turned toxic. “Goodbye Blood.”
Dultin loaded and fired his pistol in half a second, aiming it directly at
Blood. There was no time for Blood to dodge. Better
A mind-numbing screech of metal was heard. Blood
had decided to deflect the bullet, using a knife to cut the bullet before it
hit him. The two pieces of the bullet fell harmlessly on either side of him.
Sadly, the pieces did not hit anyone else.
did not waste time. Arms glowing, he sent his strings toward Terrace and
Cerulean. They wrapped around their necks, daring to choke them to death. Vick
pulled and their eyes grew wide with fear. They started choking and clawed at
the strings to try to get air.
They were cut free soon after. Vick glared at
Blood, who had freed them. Vick redirected his attention to Terrace. The short
creator had eyed him and was holding his paintbrushes. “You got the other
three?” Vick half asked Dultin.
“Can’t wait to kill that traitor,” Dultin
“Just don’t kill Derick.” Dultin scoffed. Vick
could not worry about that. He had to keep Terrace from saving the AW. And he
had a great idea. In the long time that he and Terrace have been fighting, he
knew he put others as more important than himself. That was his flaw. Vick
wondered if Terrace would ever learn after being exploited so much.
strings shot toward Derick. The “poor kid” did not know what hit him. Vick
pinned Derick’s arms to his sides and suspended him in the air. Vick shot
Dultin a look. Dultin smiled, pointed another one of his “special” guns at
Derick, and fired.
Terrace looked terrified. He froze and looked up
at Derick in disbelief. Cerulean displayed similar emotions —even crying, to
Vick’s delight. Blood just stared at Dultin. The gaze held back a hurricane of
emotions, ready to be unleashed.
Vick watched as Blood almost doubled over,
clutching his side as if he had taken the bullet. Vick smirked. “Dultin, what
was in the bullet?” he asked playfully, getting everyone’s attention.
“Well!” Dultin responded excitedly. “That was
one of my special concoctions! It locates magical bonds in the recipient and
exploits the connection!” Dultin stared at Blood. “I wanted to use it on
Cerulean, but you —you lying traitor— deserved it more.”
Derick started coughing. He was struggling to
get out of the strings, but to no avail. Vick only tightened his bindings.
Derick was staring at the ground in fear. “C-Cerulean? Why’s the ground red?”
Cerulean and Terrace gave him a terrified look.
Vick smirked. “Looks like someone forgot why
they were here. Forgetful creator,” he teased Terrace while shaking his head.
Vick turned his attention to Derick and shot him a crazed smile. “That’s what a
world looks like before it’s destroyed. Terrace was being slow, as always.” He
nodded at Dultin. “Hope you all enjoyed your little late night expedition. I
“Burn…in…hell,” Blood said, still holding
his side in pain. “You know…you didn’t.”
Dultin’s instinctual course of action was to
shoot Blood with another one of the special bullets. The bullet passed through
Blood’s head without spilling any blood. Derick let out a strained yelp in
pain. Vick dropped the now passed out kid from his strings. Terrace ran to
catch the kid in time and, unfortunately, did. Vick almost signaled Dultin to
leave when Cerulean also dropped. This shocked Vick. Any new connections like
that shine like a beacon to Vick. That
connection is nowhere near newhe
He motioned at Dultin that it was time to leave.
They both teleported out of there, just as the ground started collapsing. They
arrived back at their base and just… stood in the living room.
“That traitor!” Dultin yelled, kicking over the
living room couch. “I swear, I’m going to kill him after ghosting us like
Vick was also mad. Blood was the last person he
saw deserting and flipping sides. Honestly, he thought that if Dultin ever had
therapy, he would be first. Dultin did what he did because he thought it was
fun. Vick always saw that as a poor reason, so he always thought Dultin would
He, Lendon, and Blood all had solid reasons, he
assumed. As already mentioned, he did not know much about either of the two,
but he pieced together that Blood has something against Cerulean. Vick did not
know what, but after what happened with the bullets, he knew it was deep.
Lendon was still a mystery. Vick had no idea of
how he even got so powerful in the first place. He just remembers when Lendon
recruited him to his team. Vick could feel his power. It emanated from him like
a radio signal that Vick could pick up and listen to. He remembered feeling
uneasy as his fierce orange eyes stared into him as he spoke.
snapped back into reality as Dultin toppled the couch again. He was still angry
about Blood. Dultin stormed off to his room. Vick figured he should go to his
room also. He thought about telling Lendon, but Vick had a feeling he already
Vick went up the staircase in the back of the
room toward his room. It was the first door on the right. He opened the door to
his bland room. He never bothered to decorate. He didn’t like clutter, and
didn’t see any reason in doing so. He wasn’t in his room much anyway.
He was, however, exhausted. He plopped on his
bed and went out like a light.
was in a white and black area. He didn’t bother looking around. He knew where
he was. The landscape swirled with the white and black colors, but nothing else
could be seen. He also knew that. He did not know why he tried every time.
Where was he? Well, he was home. His AW.
There was nothing. Vick did not know what
happened, but what was supposed to be an actually livable space with other
people only turned out to be him. He could not count the number of times he had
false hopes about someone being out there and disappointed when there was not.
Sometimes, the area would play tricks on him and the blackness would shape like
a person and then disappear.
He always dreams of being here. He cannot
remember ever having a “good” dream. He always looked at the other AWs in
disgust. They had so much when he had nothing. That is why he is so numb.
He simply does not care.
He did not always have the marks, either. They
were blood. When he was stuck there, he would often think and dream about
death. That was the only way out he saw. He would constantly dream of killing
himself and the like. One time, his dream did not go away and he found the
markings on his arms. The strings were painful at first, it was like shaping
his own blood, but he grew numb to it.
Leaving was a complete accident. Vick remembered
wishing to be somewhere better and he was instantly in a forest. He instantly
knew he was not home. He heard birds and excited shouts. He followed them to a
campsite with about five tents. Kids were running about as parents watched
loosely while conversing with each other.
Vick was mad. He did not know that was out
there. Why did he not get any of that? Why did he have to live in that
nightmarish landscape while they had everything? His markings glowed blood red
Vick stared up at his ceiling. That was the
first world he destroyed. It was the 3,979th AW. He never regretted destroying
it. He knew it had only been an hour. He could never sleep for long and hunger
was never a concern for him. He could go a very long time without eating and be
fine. Eating was more of a “hobby” to him, so to speak. He did not care if it
was abnormal. Nothing about him was normal anyway.
He really only joined because he was tired of
his place and he thought it would be interesting. He doesn’t mind working for
Lendon but made sure to tell Lendon that it would be no deal if he could not do
as he pleased at times. Lendon agreed to it and welcomed him aboard. Vick made
a point to destroy the world they were in before following Lendon. That was AW
Terrace was an almost immediate acquaintance
after he left his AW, but before Lendon (which was almost one and a half years
after he started). Terrace was very confusing to him. He did not try to kill
Vick, but also reversed the destruction of the AW. Confusion turned to anger
and Vick decked Terrace before teleporting away. He hit a few other AWs before
going back to his home.
Vick was not patient. He was, however, very
easily distracted by his thoughts. A few days could go by and he would not have
noticed unless something happened to or near him. He called this one of his
“trances.” He blamed it on his sociopathic behavior. He luckily never did this
during a fight. Plus, he never liked patience. He saw it as useless and
wasteful. If he wanted to wait around, he would not have left.
Terrace also lacked patience, in his eyes. Their
fights never lasted long and he could tell by the way Terrace used his attacks.
Surprisingly, Vick found that attacks say a lot about a person. Vick deduced
that Terrace was an outgoing person and would never kill anyone.
Someone was saying his name. He got off his bed
and sauntered down the stairs to the living room. “Look who decided to show
up!” Dultin smirked. Vick saw both Dultin and Lendon looking at him. Lendon
looked like he had a plan. He was wearing his normal green shirt, grey pants,
brown boots, and orange gloves. His aura hung around him like a magnetic field.
Vick took his seat on the fixed couch. “What’s
the plan?” he asked.
“Thanks to Dultin’s… experiment,” Lendon started.
“We know three of our four adversaries have a magic bond of varying magnitude.
Any magic bonds strengthen both/all participants, thus decreasing our chances
of defeating them. If we single out the one without any magic ties to the
others, we should be able to lure the rest into any trap we may set. For
instance, if we kept Terrace locked up here, we could count on the other three
coming to us. But, we would have to keep Derick out of it.”
though?” Dultin asked. “He’s weak and inexperienced.” He pointed a finger gun
at Vick’s head. “Just one well placed shot and—” He jerked his hand back in
recoil as if he shot Vick. “Well, no more problem.”
“Dultin, he’s the original!” Vick hissed. “We
can’t kill him.”
know what he may be capable of,” Lendon continued. “I intend on finding out one
way or another. After we successfully capture Terrace, we will be able to ‘take
out’ Derick. I’m thinking of the Prison. Thoughts?”
The Prison was an abandoned military base near
their cabin. Each holding cell had soundproof walls and security cameras. It
was easy to monitor and there was no way to know if anyone else was in there
with you. Vick saw it as perfect. He nodded his head in approval.
“Finally!” Dultin said.
“Very well,” Lendon said, looking between the
two killers. “The plan will start as soon as possible. Places, everyone.”
Vick was out again. He had the task of luring
out Terrace, which would be very easy.
Another AW, another seed planted. Vick waited.
Terrace came alone. PerfectVick
thought. Terrace did not have time to react when Vick strangled him enough to
make him pass out. Vick dropped Terrace off in one of the cells in the Prison.
Not even a second later, Dultin came back with a
passed out Derick. Dultin paraded him around down to his cell like a hunter
carrying a deer he killed home. Vick thought for a second that Derick was dead,
but they were all still there so it was not the case. Now,we wait, Vick
thought. And wait they did. An almost 40 minutes.
Cerulean and Blood turned up near their base—
glorified house. Vick could feel them coming in the Prison’s direction. He told
Dultin to get ready. “This is exciting!” Dultin replied, playing with a switch
in the control room of the Prison. The two entered the complex. Dultin and Vick
watched them through the various security cameras placed in the maze-like
The moment came. “Now!” Vick shouted at Dultin.
Dultin slammed the switch down and a sliding steel door slid between the two.
The now separated pair tried to open/destroy the door, but nothing happened.
They continued on their separate ways. Vick radioed Lendon: “He’s all yours.”
Lendon was waiting for Cerulean. He did not give
any details on what he would do, so Vick and Dultin watched the security tapes
intriguingly. Cerulean walked back the way he came. He took a left near the
entrance and stopped at another crossroad. He took another left and a right at
another crossroad. All along the walls are doors leading to cell after cell after
cell. “Close the left door,” Vick told Dultin. At the upcoming intersection,
the left door closed. Cerulean’s only options were right or backtrack. Cerulean
took the right.
That was where Lendon was. Cerulean stopped and
started backing away from him. Dultin was about to close the door behind him,
but Lendon made a magical barrier, blocking Cerulean’s escape. Vick heard
Dultin snicker. To be honest, Cerulean’s terrified face was hilarious, but Vick
shut him up.
“Poor Cerulean,” Lendon sneered. “A weak shell
of a human that wanted too much. Now look where that got you. Your so-called
‘friends’ are gone and it’s all your fault.”
“No, no!” Cerulean said, still deathly afraid.
“I couldn’t have known!”
“Maybe,” Lendon smiled. “But, think about it. If
you didn’t split yourself, maybe you could’ve found them and left by now.
That’s not done by now because you’re weak and pathetic.”
“No… no!” Cerulean shook his head. Cerulean
was frozen still by an orange glow around him. “That’s not true!”
“Oh, quit lying to yourself. It’s tiring,
really.” Lendon walked toward Cerulean. Cerulean tried moving away, but the
orange magic held him in place. Lendon tilted Cerulean’s head toward him so
they made eye contact.
“No!” Cerulean tried looking away, but couldn’t.
A blinding orange light filled the security camera. After blinking away the
after effects, Vick saw only Cerulean in the corridor. He walked over to the
dropped radio and radioed the duo in the control center. “Open the doors,” he
said. He stared directly at the security camera.
They saw his
eyes and immediately opened the doors. His eyes glowed the same orange as
Lendon’s. Well, he can possess people nowVick thought. He cracked a
smile. “He’s certainly full of surprises,” Vick said aloud.
“You bet!” Dultin said. “This just got better!”
“It sure did,” Vick said as they continually
stared at the cameras. One more to gohe
kept to himself.
Lendon was approaching Blood. Blood must have
sensed him because he said: “What do you want, Lendon?”
“Blood!” Lendon said as Cerulean. “I found the
switches to the doors and opened them. We should continue looking together.”
“I’m not a naive fool, Lendon!” Blood continued
without turning around. “Leave me alone! I’m not going to be part of your team
Lendon laughed. “That’s crazy Blood!” Cerulean’s
voice said. “Why would I want you back? You obviously can’t be trusted.” Blood
finally turned around.
“Cerulean?!” Blood shouted in surprise. Lendon
stared at Blood.
“It would be easier to kill you now!” Cerulean’s
voice took a dark turn as Lendon lunged for Blood’s throat. Blood sidestepped
Lendon. He threw a knife in his direction. Lendon latched onto it with magic
and used its momentum to fling it back at Blood. The knife destroyed the door
“No way!” Dultin yelled.
“What?” Vick asked.
“That’s where I put Derick! How did he know?!”
Cerulean did not convey any emotional reaction.
Blood helped Derick out of the wreckage. “ ‘Really accurate hunches’, huh?”
“Hey, I got you out, didn’t I?” Blood responded.
Blood shoved Derick behind himself. “Go find Terrace. I’ll deal with Lendon.”
“Who’s—?” Derick began to ask before he started
glowing orange. He was struggling against the translucent bindings.
Lendon smirked. “You’re not going anywhere,”
Cerulean’s voice said.
“Let him go, Lendon!” Blood threatened.
“Sure.” Lendon threw Derick against a wall. The
wall was damaged on impact and debris went everywhere. Blood tried to protect
himself from the blast, but Vick could see clear cuts in his sweats.
Derick was not unscathed. He had a huge cut on
his cheek and Vick bet that he had popped his arm out of socket. He had many
other minor cuts everywhere. He struggled to get up, using the wall as some
sort of crutch. He looked at Lendon. “Why?” he asked. “Why Cerulean?”
“Cerulean’s not here,” Lendon smirked. Blood
walked up behind Lendon and tried to hit him with the blunt end of his knife.
Lendon froze him and sent him flying into one of the
other cells. “You’re very annoying, Blood.” He
sighed. “It’s not like you’ll actually try to kill me. Though you might’ve
wanted to kill him, you can’t kill Cerulean.”
The dust cleared and Blood was staring Lendon
down. “… heh heh…” he laughed. “Who said I was trying to kill you?” Blood
looked like he would drop down any moment. He threateningly raised a glowing
red knife at Lendon. “By now, Derick’s been looking for Terrace. You really are
unobservant idiots.” He eyed the security camera on the wall, which was
directly at Vick and Dultin.
Vick was mad. He did not like that he was that
easily distracted. “Where is he?” he wondered aloud while searching the
“There he is!” Dultin pointed at one of the
screens. Derick was walking quickly; it seemed as if he already knew where
Terrace was. Vick realized he was heading in the right direction.
“I’ll go stop him,” Vick told Dultin. “Keep
watching Lendon, just in case something goes wrong.” Dultin puffed up in
resistance, but did not make any moves to challenge Vick.
Vick teleported to where Derick was last seen.
He did not want to accidentally hit Terrace’s cell while he tried to stop
Derick, so he concocted a plan. His arms glowed red as he pursues Derick, who
was getting dangerously close to the cell. He shot his arm forward, his strings
lashing out toward their target. They grabbed onto Derick, promptly stopping
his progress and incapacitating him.
out a surprised shout as he was yanked backward. Vick’s strings pulled him back
like a fishing rod being reeled in. Vick grabbed Derick and teleported the both
of them to the one place that Vick knew would do nicely.
The landscape swirled around their arrival.
Nothing made a sound. The endlessness was welcoming Vick home. “Home sweet
home,” he said.
Derick tried asking before a tight squeeze from his bindings shut him up. He
seemed to be shaking from pain. Vick has almost forgotten about his injury
Vick laughed. “You’re lucky,” he said. “You’re
the first to see this place. There is nothing here. This AW has no number
anymore. Such a fitting place for someone like me.” Vick’s strings let go of
Derick. It’s not like he can do anythinghe
Derick hit the floor immediately. He used his
right arm to help himself up as his left hung limp. He managed to get himself
into a sitting position. “This… is where you’re from?” he asked. Vick
shrugged, not interested in the slightest. “Do you have any family? Friends?”
“What part of ‘there is nothing here’ do you not
understand?” Vick snapped. His markings glowed in his anger.
Derick flinched at the retribution. “So, you’re
really alone here? That’s—”
“I don’t want your pity. I don’t care anymore.”
Derick looked a bit annoyed at Vick’s
interruption, but thought a bit before talking again. “It hurts, doesn’t it?
Being alone like this?”
“What did I say about pity?” Vick spat daggers.
“And what would you know?”
“Nothing,” Derick shrugged. “I’ve never been
secluded like this. As for my knowledge, only you have. Only you can find a way
to deal with it.”
“It doesn’t affect me anymore.”
Derick laughed. “That’s like saying history is
nonessential. Vick, being numb is not coping. It’s blatant ignorance. You can’t
say you’ve moved on without, well, ‘moving on.’ It’s obvious you haven’t.”
Vick laughed. The longer it went on, the crazier
it was. “That’s what Terrace has been saying all this time. I don’t need two of
him.” Vick’s strings reattached themselves around Derick and lifted him into
the air. Vick opened a portal back to the Prison underneath him. He slammed
Derick down through it and jumped in after. Vick’s strings receded.
Derick hit the floor with the satisfying sound
of bones breaking. Derick shakingly stood up and trudged over to one of the
cells. Vick was about to follow when he saw Lendon, the real him, get flung
into the cell Derick passed. The door cracked open and, well, curse their luck,
Terrace jumped out of the cell. He caught notice of Derick and immediately
generated his paintbrushes and painted him into some state of health. Derick
looked surprised, but didn’t say anything.
Blood walked toward them with a limp. He had
with him a non possessed Cerulean looking emotionally unstable. Blood devil
stared at Lendon. “Don’t you dare mess with Cerulean like that again!” Lendon
only hissed his denial.
Terrace looked between Vick and Lendon. “Your
plan didn’t work,” he said. “Good job! Bravo!” he teased.
“Terrace,” Cerulean rolled his eyes. Terrace
shrugged and teleported out of the Prison.
Cerulean and Derick followed, leaving Blood
Blood stared at an overhead security camera.
“You’re so lazy, Dultin,” he said shaking his head. He left promptly.
Vick sighed. He knew they lost. He caught
Vick knew it was not over yet. Not as long as
they three were there would it ever be over. Vick also smiled. He would be
seeing them soon.
Olivia is a 15 year old writer who has participated in many of the library’s writing challenges, including last summer’s Voyager Writing Challenge and this spring’s Bad Guy Writing Challenge. Neutral Zone is a science fiction story that leads the main character through multiple universes to battle against his alternate self!
Check it out below!
Derick slouched in his chair. The seemingly endless babble of his History teacher discouraged any interest he had in the Industrial Revolution, which was none in the first place. He just wanted the class to be over and the weekend to start. He stared blankly at his History book, trying to make sense of it. His teacher was not even talking about the Industrial Revolution at this point, instead about a bet that he made with one of Derick’s classmates. It was something about a race around the school with Derick’s fastest classmate.
Derick shrugged and tried to fill out notes for
the section. He hurried through them, barely reading the section, so he could
finish before the bell, which was supposed to go off in five minutes.
When the clock was in the last minute, Derick
could hear the sea of eager children quickly stacking all the stuff they had in
messy piles on their desks. He was doing it too, so he had no room to judge.
The bell rang and Derick almost had to run out
of the classroom to get to his locker before the hallway became too crowded. He
shoved his stuff in his backpack, closed his locker, and was out the door
before someone could count to ten.
“Hey, dude!” called someone from behind him.
Derick looked over his shoulder to find his friend Chris running after him.
“You’re taking me home today, remember? And what’s got you hurrying?”
“Sorry, I forgot,” Derick answered as he slowed
down a bit for Chris to catch up. “And Mom’s got to go for her yearly check up
today. I didn’t want to miss my chance.”
“You knew I was coming you dumb nut, and okay.”
They both continued to run to Derick’s mom’s car. The red minivan was not hard
to miss. Sprinting across the parking lot was not their best idea, Derick
admitted, but they did get there faster than they would have any other way.
“Boys!” Derick’s mom exclaimed once they got in
“Sorry for Sprinting,” Derick apologized. “But
the car was over the Verizon.” He added gun fingers.
“Derick no!” Chris said, threatening to get out
of his seat and leave.
“Derick yes!” Derick
retorted. He loved to mess with Chris like that.
His mom sighed. “Can we not have one moment of
peace?” she asked wishfully.
“Nope,” Derick and Chris said at the same time.
The drive home was a quick three minutes. Derick’s
mom dropped them at the front door and drove off. Derick walked up to the door
and rummaged around in his pocket to find the key to the house…
Of which he accidentally left in the long gone
red minivan that belongs to his mom. He face palmed.
“You left the key in the car, didn’t you?” Chris
asked, already knowing the answer.
“Yep,” Derick said.
“Dude, you have a problem. That’s the third time
“And your mom’s going to kill you next time you
“Just saying.” Chris sat down on the front step.
“You know, that cloud looks like a dragon.”
Derick joined him. “No, it looks like a Star
Destroyer from Star Wars.”
“You and your Star Wars.” Chris said, shaking
something that sounded like a bomb went off in his backyard. He noticed Chris
was not put off by it. Derick wondered if he was hearing things, but he figured
it would be safe to check anyway.
“Hey, I’m gonna go check on something,” he told
Chris while trying to strain his neck around to see his backyard.
“Sure dude,” Chris shrugged and went back to
stabbing the ground with sticks he found laying in the grass. Derick rolled his
Derick quickly climbed over his fence to see
what was going on. He could not believe what he saw. There was a huge crater in
the middle of his backyard. In the center was a short person, about a head
shorter than Derick. He wore a tan short-sleeve shirt with one light green
triangle in the center of the sleeve. The tan color matched the color of his
skin pretty well, but his skin was a tad bit lighter. Under it was an orange
shirt with sleeves that reached his elbows. It was matched with dark brown
cargo shorts. He had light blue shoes on and a sash that contained little
containers full of paint that was pretty much every color of the rainbow. He
had dark brown hair, the color matched Derick’s, and different colored eyes
which seemed to change every few seconds. Some black paint was splatted near
where his nose was, but he did not seem to notice.
only had about a thousand questions for him, but another person was hovering in
the air. Derick looked again and realized that he was not hovering, but sitting
on a swing made of blood red strings. The strings seemed to be coming from
markings on his arms. He wore a black t-shirt with grey sweats. He had on black
shoes. His skin was a dark brown and his hair pitch black. His crazed grin sent
a shiver down Derick’s spine. He had a bad feeling about this.
“It’s all your fault, Terrace,” the person on the
swing said. “If you let me do my job, we wouldn’t be here, would we?”
“If I let you do your ‘job,’ Vick,” Terrace
said. Derick assumed that was his name because the other person said so. “There
wouldn’t be anything left!”
glad both of them had not noticed him yet. They both looked piping mad at each
other and he wanted no part in that. He tried sneaking back over the fence. It
was going well, he almost made it over.
Another chill went down his spine. He felt like
he was being watched. He froze, not daring to move.
“Well, what do we have here?” sneered Vick.
Derick could tell it was him because his voice was a lot harsher than
“Gosh darn it,” Derick mumbled to himself. He
turned his head back around. He saw both of them now staring at him.
Terrace had a terrified look on his face while
Vick continued to smile. Vick pointed his hand at Derick and his markings
started to glow.
“Don’t do it Vick!” Terrace yelled. “You can’t
kill him! This is the original AW, don’t you know that?” He pronounced ‘AW’ as
two individual letters.
Derick was confused. He had no idea what was
Vick lowered his hand and his markings stopped
glowing. “What makes you think I was gonna kill him?” he asked Terrace. “You
brought us here anyway.”
“No I didn’t!” Terrace yelled back. “You did!”
Derick noticed that, at this point, their battle
had been forgotten and they now resorted to bickering with each other. Derick
used this time to finish making his way over the fence. He could not leave them
like that in his backyard, so he used a crack in the fence to watch them.
“Hi!” someone exclaimed next to Derick. He
jumped back and turned to look at the person. He was wearing a light grey
t-shirt and dark blue basketball shorts. He had on light blue shoes, which
matched the color of the scarf he had around his neck. His skin tone was the
same as Derick’s, a tan color, light brown hair, and, to Derick’s surprise,
green eyes. He had on a big smile.
“What are you doing here?” Derick asked. He had
no idea who this person was. “It isn’t safe!”
“You mean them?” The person pointed at the
fence, but Derick knew what he meant. “They always do that! That’ll be over
soon!” He giggled. “I’m Cerulean by the way!”
Derick shook Cerulean’s outstretched hand.
“You know them?”
“Of course I do! Terrace is my friend! He helped
create the multiverse and the AWs! Vick destroys the AWs.”
“Hold up, what multiverse?
That’s just a dumb theory. It’s not real!”
“You better believe it! Where you live is called
an Alternate World, or AW for short! Your AW is the first one and mine’s the
“Nope! Derick, everything I said was true!”
“How do you know my name?” Cerulean did not
answer. “I don’t remember telling you.”
Cerulean took a deep breath in and out. “Derick,
Something blasted the fence gate and destroyed
it. Cerulean and Derick ducked for cover. When he looked up, Derick saw Terrace
run over towards them. “Cerulean!?” he called frantically.
“I’m here!” Cerulean called back from behind a
bush. Terrace looked relieved. “So is Derick!” Cerulean added.
“I’m over here!” Derick
called. He and Cerulean got up from behind the bushes. Derick quickly looked at
the damage to the fence gate. He could not even recognize that there was a
fence there. He further looked around the wreckage into his backyard to check
“What happened?” He heard Cerulean ask Terrace
“Well, Vick and I were arguing for a bit and,
well, you know how unstable he is,
he…uh…” Terrace stumbled around for words to
describe it. “Kinda wrapped his strings around part of the porch and threw it
at me. I dodged and it hit the gate. Then I laughed at him for missing me and
he tried to hit me with a fence post. He stormed off to who-knows-where.”
“Man! How am
I going to explain this!” Derick exclaimed. “I’m home for ten minutes and my
backyard looks like I was experimenting with nukes and accidentally exploded
one!” Derick was freaking out.
“Derick!” Terrace yelled. Derick stopped. “I can
fix this, just give me a sec!”
“Really?” Derick scoffed. “This is not a one man jo—” Terrace generated
two paint brushes out of thin air and, with a determined look in his eyes,
proceeded to draw Derick’s backyard back to its original state.
“How?” Derick gaped. He was in shock.
“Terrace is the god of Creativity,” Cerulean
“Oh.” Derick recalled Cerulean saying something
like that earlier.
“Oh yeah! I was going to tell you how I knew
“I would still like to know.”
“Well, so, basically, I’M YOU IN MY AW!”
Derick was surprised. He did not see the
connection until then. “So are Terrace and Vick?”
“Yes,” Cerulean said, with less enthusiasm.
“What’s with the nicknames then?”
“Derick, you are more important than you
Terrace started laughing, much to both of their
surprise. They both looked at him weirdly. “What?” Terrace asked.
“Does he always do that?” Derick asked Cerulean
“Yes, but sometimes it’s a bit different. The
other day, he got really mad at me for no reason. A second later, he apologized
to me for it and claimed he didn’t know what got over him. I think he’s keeping
something from me.” Cerulean whispered back.
“ ‘I got a bad feeling about this,’ ” Derick
said in his best impersonation of Han Solo. Cerulean laughed.
“You want to see something cool?” Cerulean asked
“Sure,” Derick said, winking
one eye and smiling.
Cerulean bounded over to Terrace. “Terrace!! Can
we show him the place??” he asked.
“Which place?” Terrace asked playfully. Derick
could tell Terrace knew which place Cerulean was talking about.
“You know what place, silly!” Cerulean smiled.
“Okay,” Terrace said. “I guess I can do that.”
“Yay!” Cerulean cheered. “Come on, Derick!”
Terrace drew a big portal-like thing with his paint brushes, stepped in, and
disappeared. Cerulean did the same.
Derick did not know if he wanted to go with some
strangers to some place. Scratch that, he wanted to go, he just did not know if
he should. He figured a few moments could not hurt, so he walked through the
portal. Gotta trust myself at some pointhe
Derick had to take a step back. The
teleportation made him a bit queasy, but Terrace reassured him that it was only
because it was his first time.
“Derick, welcome to AW 10,” Terrace said. “Or,
specifically, to Upmost, Earth satellite and a hospitable place for humans.”
At the moment, Derick realized…
He was in space.
Derick had to step back to take in the
breathtaking view of the Earth from space. He could see the sun peaking out
from just over the horizon the Earth made.
“Wait, how can we breathe up here?” Derick
“This place is covered by a sort of force
field,” Cerulean explained. “I’m not sure exactly how it works, but in the
building over there is a generator that generates oxygen.” Cerulean gestured
toward a whitish-grey covered building in the distance. The building seemed to
be laid out in sections and each section was connected by some sort of
“Here comes the head man,” Terrace announced.
Derick saw someone emerge from the building. He was taller than all of them and
wore a white lab coat over a dark gray shirt. “Derick, this is Astro. He’s a
future you that’s a scientist. He also runs things around here.”
“Hello,” Astro said. Derick gave him a small
wave. Astro turned his attention towards Terrace. “Terrace, I don’t mind that
you come here, but you have to tell me beforehand, got it?”
“Sorry,” Terrace apologized. “But I had to show
Derick around, Cerulean begged me.”
“This is your one pass,” Astro said.
“Hey Derick!” Cerulean pulled on Derick’s shirt.
“How about I show you around?”
“Okay.” Derick followed Cerulean inside the
barely paid attention to Cerulean giving him a tour. He really was fascinated
by the structure, but he was not feeling well. Shortly after entering the
building, he heard a ringing sound in his ears. After a while, he also felt
“Hey, Cerulean?” Derick started to ask. “Is it
hot in here or what?”
“Derick, are you okay?” Cerulean asked. “This
room is practically a big freezer for all the food here.”
“Nah, I’m fine,” Derick lied. His vision started
to blur. His knees buckled and he fell forward.
“Derick!” Cerulean screamed, but Derick did not
hear him. He had blacked out.
Derick opened his eyes. He seemed to still be in
the building. The air was musty with the smell of blood. A strange fog covered
the area, giving it an eerie feel. Derick started walking around. He saw a
shadowy outline in the fog. After getting a bit closer, he identified the
outline as Cerulean.
Cerulean was really beat up. He had generated
some sort of weapon that hung loosely in his right hand. Derick made a mental
note to ask about it later.
Cerulean noticed Derick. “What are you doing
here? It’s not safe!” Derick heard laughter behind him. “Watch out!” Cerulean
yelled. Derick turned around to try and identify what the threat was. He tried
to move, but he was not fast enough.
could feel the terrible pain of a knife piercing his side. His hands flew to
the place where the knife was. He could feel his blood on it. In front of him,
he saw another outline in the fog.
“Who—” Derick started to say but was interrupted
by a coughing fit. He could feel blood trickling down from his mouth. “Who are
you?” he rasped.
“Who am I?” The person stepped out of the fog.
He was wearing a black hoodie and black sweatpants. His hood was pulled over
his eye line and he held another knife. “I’m you, but everyone calls me Blood.”
closer to Derick. “It’s so nice to haunt your dreams. Too bad you’re not
actually here. This would have been so much more fun if so.” Derick only
stared. He knew he did not have the strength to run.
Blood stood in front of Derick. He smiled. “You
must have thought Vick was the only one.” Blood pulled out the knife that was
wedged in Derick. The ripping motion reopened the wound and blood flowed out of
it. Derick desperately tried to stop the blood flow with his hands and, while
doing so, sank to his knees. He felt a hand grip his hair, forcing his head to
tilt upward. He saw Blood’s merciless eyes staring back.
“Silly,” he laughed. “There are a lot of us.”
Blood stabbed Derick again. “Goodbye, for now.”
Derick jolted awake. He saw Terrace and Cerulean
staring at him. He grew a little uncomfortable. He seemed to be in some sort of
infirmary. “Welcome back, Derick,” he heard Astro say. Derick got up from what
resembled a hospital bed. He felt a weird pain from his side.
The pain was
close to nothing, but it was enough to remind Derick about his dream, if it
could even be called that. He could still perfectly picture the knife in his
side and Blood laughing at him. He all of a sudden wanted to get out of the
Derick walked out of the room before anyone
could say anything. Somehow, his feet remembered which way he entered from. He
could hear Cerulean following him; Derick knew it was him because he was
calling Derick’s name. He continued on.
found his way to the exit. He was going to open the door, but his side started
hurting more. He figured it was because he had been running, so he casted it
aside. He tried to open the door again, but Cerulean caught up with him.
“Derick!” Cerulean yelled. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” Derick said. “I just need some fresh
air.” He reached again for the handle.
“That’s not a good reason why you bolted off!”
At this point, Derick’s side was throbbing
with pain. Derick opened the door.
planning on going through the door, but he did not. He took a step back and
stared forward. Speak of the devilDerick
“What’s wrong?” Cerulean asked. He also looked
forward and flinched.
“Aww, this is so cute,” Blood said. “I actually
get to kill someone.”
“When you said ‘for now,’ I didn’t think you
meant in five minutes,” Derick said, trying to be funny for his own sake.
Blood was obviously not amused. “Your humor is
stupid,” he said. He took a step forward. Out of the corner of his eye Derick
saw Cerulean generate a slingshot. That’swhat that wasDerick
“Don’t come any closer!” Cerulean warned.
“Or what? You’re going to hit me with that?”
Blood laughed. “You can’t aim!”
“Yes I can!” To prove his point, Cerulean flung
a rock like object at Blood. It hit him in the face. It did not seem to hurt
him, but it did surprise him.
Blood was furious. He generated a knife. “This
has your name on it Cerulean.”
“Get behind me, Derick,” Cerulean ordered “So he
can’t hit you.” Derick did what he was told.
did,” Blood smiled. He snapped his fingers. Derick’s side started hurting as
much as it did in his dream. Again, he imagined a knife in his side. He grabbed
onto Cerulean’s shirt to try to stay standing.
“Derick!” Cerulean shrieked. He put his arms
around Derick to steady him. Cerulean looked back at Blood “What did you do?!”
“No, Cerulean,” Blood shook his head “It’s ‘what
did you do?’” Cerulean flinched. “You’ve kept the truth long enough. Heck,
you’ve lied to keep the truth. Now what kind of friend is that?”
“Cerulean, what is he talking about?” Derick
asked. He was skeptical about what Blood was saying but Cerulean’s reaction
made it seem like it was true. “What truth?”
“It’s nothing,” Cerulean said. Cerulean did not
make eye contact with Derick.
“‘Nothing’? I’ve been living ‘nothing’ my whole
life?!” Blood spat. “I’m only here because of you! Do you know what it’s like
to be made of someone’s insecurities? Huh?”
“I didn’t know it would turn out like this!”
“Oh, so you ‘didn’t know’ you were lying about
Terrace? Is that how this is going? And now you’re pulling not just another
person, but the original into this?”
Derick was completely lost. The pain in his side
subsided, finally, but Cerulean would not let go of him. Somehow, he felt like
he needed to be strong for Cerulean. “I don’t get it,” Derick asked. “Who are
you?” He directed the question at Blood.
Cerulean answered. “He’s me, Derick.” Derick
just stared at him. “In my… our AW, people are born with the natural ability to
do magic. Some are better than others. And you can be whatever you want to be!”
“But that’s true for everyone…?” Derick half
“Well, I took it more literal than everyone else. I wanted to be the
best me I could be by locking away almost all of my negative traits. It took
almost all of my magic to do, but I was a better person. I loved it!
“Over time, all those negative feelings grew a
literal mind of their own. First, it was just nightmares. Those nightmares gave
me back my regret. And then, after a while, they had a body that followed me
around like a ghost. He was stable at first. He gave me criticism, but I mostly
“You actually heard me?” Blood looked surprised.
“Yes,” Cerulean answered. “Anyway, I met at Terrace
one day. I showed Terrace around my home, and we became friends. When he asked
if I wanted to go with him, I immediately said yes. He showed me his favorite
places in the AWs, and we had fun. During this, I didn’t realize my negative
ghost was gone. When I finally did, I was concerned, actually.
“Yeah right,” Blood scoffed.
”I’m not kidding. I was so used to the constant
commentary that I felt weird without it. Well, the days went on and I met
Blood, he was calling himself that, truly on accident. I recognized him
“So you’ve lied about this instead of telling
the truth?” Derick pieced together. “I know the truth is very important. While
you were telling the story, did you realize Blood lost the insane look he had
before?” Cerulean was stunned. So was Blood. “The more you lied, the more piled
on Blood, the more crazy he seemed, and the more positive you were.” As a joke,
he added. “Come on, you guys do magic. You’re, like, ten times more powerful
than me.” Cerulean laughed. Blood chuckled a bit too.
“You are going to explain to him this one,”
Cerulean said to Blood.
“Fine,” Blood took a deep breath. “Derick, you
know you are the original, right?”
“Yes?” Derick said. He did not know why that
“You get certain powers because of that. The
most important one is that if you die outside your AW, all other yous die and
all AWs collapse and there goes the multiverse. You can traverse the multiverse
without help and…um…”
“We don’t know all of those powers,” Cerulean finished.
“Wow,” Derick said. “That’s awesome! I have one
“Shoot for it,” Cerulean said.
“Are you ready to tell Terrace?”
“I don’t know. I’ll need time. I’ve known him
longer and I don’t know if he’ll take it well.”
“We’ll tell him together, all three of us,”
Derick assured Cerulean. “In about five seconds.”
“What?!” Cerulean and Blood said at the same
The door slammed open. “Oh my gosh! Did someone
die?” Terrace demanded. Derick saw that he had his paintbrushes out.
“Everyone is alive!” Derick yelled back.
“Not while he’s here!” Terrace started at Blood.
Cerulean stepped in between them.
“We have something to tell you,” Cerulean said.
It took a while, but the three of them told
Terrace the whole story. Terrace took it surprisingly well.
“Do we have to tell Astro that Terrace broke the
door?” Derick asked.
“Nah, Terrace will fix it,” Cerulean assured
“He was you the whole time?!” Terrace asked.
Cerulean nodded. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to think less of me,” Cerulean
admitted. “And I was ashamed of it.” “Cerulean, you’re my friend. I would
never.” Terrace gave Cerulean a reassuring smile.
Derick was happy for the two. He could not help
but glance in Blood’s direction. “So,” Derick started. “What will you do now? I
mean, you have things sorted out with Cerulean, and you’re done with that knife
trick of yours.”
“Who said I was?” Blood smirked. Derick felt a
bit of pain from his side. He elbowed Blood. “Hey, I was kidding.”
“How do you do that anyway?” Derick asked.
“Magic.” Blood grinned. Derick glared at him.
“Well, I don’t know what I’m going to do now.”
“This may seem stupid, but what if you helped
“Me?” Blood laughed. “I’m the literal opposite
of the hero type.”
“Cerulean just admitted to being ashamed. Maybe
you two share some emotions instead of trade them off.”
“Derick, I’ve killed a lot of people. How am I
going to come back from that?”
“One step at a time. You’ll have to give
yourself some sort of chance at redemption.”
“You are very hopeful.” Blood stared up at the
stars. “I’ll consider it.”
Derick smiled. He noticed that Astro was coming
out of the building. “Terrace! The door!” Derick shouted.
“Shoot!” Terrace exclaimed. He quickly repainted
the door. It reminded Derick about his yard. For the first time during the
trip, Derick felt homesick.
He chuckled to himself. “Man, my life will never
be the same after this,” he said.
“Welcome to the club,” Blood said. “If Cerulean
doesn’t throw off any more negativity, I can finally act sane for once. It’ll
be nice.” He smiled.
“Derick! Are you ready to go home?” Terrace
“Not yet!” Derick called back. He looked at
Blood. “After all you put me through, I’m going to miss you.”
“Heh, me too,” Blood said. “I might just have to
invade your dreams again.”
“If you do, pick somewhere less creepy, okay?”
Derick and Blood both laughed. Derick had a feeling that, deep down, something
sparked in Blood.
“In that case, see you on the flip side,” Blood said.
“Make sure you talk to Cerulean, it looks like he has something for you.”
“Okay,” Derick waved back at Blood before
walking over to Cerulean.
“Oh, Derick!” Cerulean said. “Thank you for
giving me another chance! I did a terrible thing and I told big lies to cover
it up and I just went about it the wrong way and I really should have known
better and—” Cerulean was almost in tears.
“Cerulean,” Derick said, cutting Cerulean off.
He looked Cerulean in the eyes. “It’s okay. Making mistakes is what makes us
human. It’s not healthy to beat yourself up about it. You have to accept that
you did something wrong so you can move on.”
“I don’t think Blood will let me.”
“Yes he will. He’s as done with the lies as you
Cerulean grinned. “Thank you, again, Derick.”
“That reminds me!” Cerulean held out a piece of
paper. “It’s my number. If you need anything, just ask!”
“Okay, give me a quick second,” Terrace created
a portal. “See you, Derick.”
“Come by anytime, Terrace!” Derick smiled. He went through the portal
and ended up back in his backyard. He waved at his new friends through the
portal before it closed. He climbed back over his fence.
“Hey dude,” Chris said. “Did you see something?”
“Well,” Derick looked back at his backyard. “I
guess you could say that.”
Derick’s mom was disappointed with Derick. After
she dropped Chris back at his house, she talked to Derick about being
responsible with things that were not his. Derick promised to do better.
After dinner, when Derick had enough time to
himself, he whipped out his phone. He took out the slip of paper in his pocket.
He entered in Cerulean’s phone number. He was about to close the contact when
he saw the words “dial (-) first” scribbled on the back of the slip. He
completed the contact. He took a deep breath. He hoped it worked and he would
not accidentally text some random person instead. He texted “Heya, it’s Derick.”
The response was almost instant. “Hi Derick!
It’s Cerulean!” Derick smiled. He had a feeling he would see him again soon.
Above everything, he was really tired. He had had too much excitement for one
day. He said good night to his parents and went to bed.
It did not last long. Derick woke up to a
crashing sound. He reached over to his light switch and flicked it on. He saw
Cerulean tangled up in a cord. Derick was not sure what it was to. “Why are you
here, Cerulean?” he said groggily. “It’s probably midnight.”
“It’s eleven,” Cerulean said. “And we need your
“Why didn’t you call me?” Derick was not fully
awake. He was not thinking straight.
“This calls for drastic measures!” Cerulean gave
someone behind Derick a thumbs up.
In an instant, Derick felt a cold liquid poor
down his shirt. That woke him up.
“What the—” Derick started to say. He looked
behind him. He saw Blood laughing his head off. “Guys, my parents!”
First line: Scott Carey knocked on the door of the Ellis condo
unit, and Bob Ellis (everyone in Highland Acres still called him Doctor
Bob, although he was five years retired) let him in.
One day Scott Carey noticed that he was losing weight but that his body
was not changing. Each day brought on another weight loss. Even when he
was holding something the weight was the same or less each day. There
is no explanation for this strange occurrence. He has no interest in
being a science experiment.
And this is not the only troubling
part of Scott’s life. He has a small feud with his neighbors. They keep
letting their dogs use his yard as a bathroom. While Scott tries to mend
fences he learns that sometimes it takes more than just a kind word or
My Thoughts: This is such a sweet little book.
The story is creative and uplifting. It is unlike most of King’s other
works. It shows that he has a range of talents in writing. I sped
through it in just a few hours. At the end I had to sit and reflect on
the story for a bit to completely appreciate the story. I was not sure
how it was going to end. I was a little shocked, saddened and happy with
the ending. It was not what I was expecting at all.
I loved how
the relationships changed in the story. How the characters evolved as
the tale progressed even changing their prejudices. This is a wonderful
read for anyone who likes a good story. If you need a quick book to
finish off your reading goal for 2019 this should be it!
First line: Barry Sutton pulls into the fire lane at the main
entrance of the Poe Building, an Art Deco tower glowing white in the
illumination of its exterior sconces.
Sutton is a New York cop who witnesses the tragic effects of False
Memory Syndrome when a woman jumps from the forty first floor of a
Helena Smith is a researcher looking for a way to save and record memories to help Alzheimer patients.
the world around them begins to unravel because of the mysterious FMS,
they must team up to try and learn how to stop the phenomenon from
continuing to plague the world. If they cannot not it can lead to the
possible end of the world.
My Thoughts: From the very
first page this story is off and running. There is no build up or major
character development in the first twenty pages like most novels. Crouch
puts us immediately into the story. This is by far one of my favorite
parts of his writing. It is very easy to lose interest in a book that
drags its story out too long.
When we meet Barry we also hear
about False Memory Syndrome but it is not really explained. For a while
it was difficult to understand what is happening to those that are
affected. However, once I understood what the disease entailed it became
obvious why it could be terrifying to contract.
There are several time hops which makes it very important to pay attention to the dates at the beginning of each new section.
I love how fast paced his story telling is. I was on the edge of my seat throughout.
I was never very good with science. Give me history or literature any day. Even though Recursion is very much a science fiction thriller it was not bogged down by the technicalities. When I tried reading The Martian by Andy Weir, the science is what killed the book for me. I just did not get it. But Crouch does a great job of having it as part of the story but not making it overwhelming for the everyday reader.
I cannot say enough good things about this book. Just give it a try. It is worth every minute you spend reading it.
FYI: Pick up Dark Matter by Blake Crouch. It is just as thrilling!
Both readers and writers can agree that one of the best parts of stepping into an imaginative story is the immersive world building. From Tolkien’s Middle Earth to Rowling’s Wizarding World, the intricacies of creating an entire world are addictive. For genres like fantasy and science fiction that rely on otherworldly elements, it’s a writer’s ability to engage the five senses which hooks us into a story even more than writing plot or characters.
But when it comes to world building, the pressures of playing god can sometimes get really overwhelming. How do you keep it all straight? How do you determine the origins of your world, the climate, the geography, not to mention the cultures, races, plants, and animals that make your world not only believable, but habitable? How do you even know what questions to ask or what information is most important in your story?
As I’m working through my own writing, I’ve found that world building can be both a blessing and a curse. It’s immensely enjoyable to get lost in a world so different from my own, but world building is also an excellent excuse to create and create without really writing anything. I want to be careful not to risk getting “world builder’s disease,” an affliction that plagued even Tolkien where a writer creates every tiny, little detail of a world, inevitably running themselves into the ground and burning out.
To keep my thoughts organized, I’ve discovered this incredible resource. WorldAnvil is a free website that lets a writer, artist, or role-playing gamemaster organize an entire world in an encyclopedia format. The website has an article for various types of entries, and the articles prompt a range of questions that guide you through construction. WorldAnvil also has paid subscription options that offer access to more resources and functions in the website, but you can use the website without having to pay a thing.
I also found WorldAnvil’s YouTube channel and this video on tips for worldbuilding helpful. Beyond WorldAnvil, there are some great videos featuring advice from both seasoned writers and RPG game developers. This video on fantasy map construction is awesome!
Another amazing resource is best-selling author Brandon Sanderson’s lectures on writing. Many of his classes are available on YouTube including this one on worldbuilding.
When writing a story or even developing a world for a
role-playing game, there are many elements and decisions to make. It’s intense
and rewarding. Use this phase of your creative journey as an outlet to be
eccentric and try things. When the real plotting begins, you’ll be so immersed
in your story that much of the work will already be done.
First line: Almost a year has passes since we overthrew the wicked tyrant, Queen Levana, and crowned my best friend, Cinder—AKA Princess Selene Blackburn—as the true queen of Luna.
Summary: In the second installment of the Wires and Nerve graphic novels by Marissa Meyer we see Iko and Steele continue to hunt the blood thirsty genetically altered soldiers of Queen Levana. The soldiers have refused to return to Luna and accept that the war is over. With the planned trip to Earth, Cinder and her friends are worried about being attacked while celebrating the new peace treaty between the two nations. It is up to Iko and Steele to prevent this from happening.
Highlights: I loved the Lunar Chronicles. The fairytales intermixed with science fiction/fantasy were fun and exciting. I was happy to see that Meyer was going to continue and expand her universe with the Wires and Nerve stories. I am not much of a graphic novel reader but these were fun. The drawings were simple and monotone but still fit perfectly into the Lunar universe.
Lowlights: With graphic novels, the stories are usually short and very basic. I wanted more. I wanted to see more of my favorite characters. This is why I cannot read too many graphic novels. I like a fuller story.
FYI: Second in the series. However, you need to read the Lunar Chronicles before reading these!
First line: We were all villains in the beginning.
Summary: Nova is a villain. Adrian is a super hero. Nova was orphaned as a child when the group called the Renegades failed to save her parents from an assassin. Fueled by hate for the group of super heroes she joins a group called the Anarchists. When the plan to kill the leader of the Renegades fails Nova devises a plan to join the super hero force in order to bring them all down from the inside. But she did not intend to like the people she is meant to hate. Or even fall in love with the son of leaders of the Renegades. Highlights: The cover is amazing. It is truly a cover for a super hero book. The bold colors and design are perfect for the story. This book falls in during the perfect time. Super hero movies and books are on the rise and this one great for readers of this genre. I liked that the characters. My favorite was a minor character, Winston (the Puppeteer). He is creepy and funny at the same time.
Lowlights: Most of the book is an introduction to the world and characters. The beginning is slower moving with most of the action happening at the end of the book.
FYI: This is the first of a trilogy. If you like this check out the author’s series, The Lunar Chronicles, a sci-fi fairy tale adventure.
I was lucky enough to attend an event at Watermark Books in Wichita when Marissa Meyer was promoting this book. She was wonderful! I loved listening to her talk about her ideas and plans for the book. She has a great sense of humor and can tell a great story. I laughed a lot while listening to her stories about writing. I was really excited to get her to sign Cress, the third book in The Lunar Chronicles series.
There’s definitely a chill in the air and we’ve seen our first forecast for possible snow (already?! it’s far too early for snow!). Break out the hot cocoa and some marshmallows, find a soft blanket to curl up in, and grab a good book! If you’re looking for something new, here are a few books scheduled for release this month (all of them before Thanksgiving!) that we recommend.
Nov. 7: Now is Everything by Amy Giles (young adult)
Hadley Macauley is at the center of this debut novel, told in alternating then and now chapters. Hadley’s family may look like a perfect family from the outside, but they are hiding a dark secret. Hadley is doing everything she can to keep her sister safe from their father, but after Hadley’s relationship with Charlie deepens, a violent incident at home changes everything. After Hadley attempts suicide, everyone wants to know what happened that day at home, and Hadley’s not saying a word.
Nov. 7: Renegades by Marissa Meyer (young adult)
From the author of the Lunar Chronicles comes the first in a new series about a syndicate of good guys who rose after society crumbled and chaos ruled—the Renegades. As champions of justice, they’ve brought about peace and order, which is appreciated by everyone but the villains they’ve vanquished. Nova is on a mission of vengeance for a villain who has the power to crush her, and when she meets Adrian, they both end up in danger.
Nov. 14: Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (The Stormlight Archive #3)
Brandon Sanderson does epic fantasy with the best of them, and the third installment in The Stormlight Archive series is no different. Humanity is facing a new Desolation in the Voidbringers. The violent Everstorm is sweeping the world with destruction. But nestled in the mountains above the storms, Shallan Davar unearths dark secrets in the ancient stronghold of the Knights Radiant. Previous books in The Stormlight Archive: The Way of Kings (#1), Words of Radiance (#2), and Edgedancer (#2.5).
Nov. 14: Artemis by Andy Weir
New science fiction from the bestselling author the The Martian is set in the near future in a city on the moon. Life in Artemis is pretty rough if you aren’t one of the rich tourists, so a little smuggling won’t hurt anything and certainly helps pay the bills. But when Jazz gets the chance to pull of a perfect crime, what could go wrong? Until she finds herself in the middle of a conspiracy for control of the city itself.
Nov. 21: The Magic Misfits by Neil Patrick Harris (middle grades)—this book is on order so is not available yet on the catalog
Carter is a street magician. When he runs away to a sleepy New England town, he finds friends and more magic. After a greedy boss and some crooked carnies move into town, Carter teams up with five more kids who think like he does. They set out to rid the town of the bad guys, using magic and teamwork, and in the meantime, find friendship, adventure and their own self-worth.
Nov. 21: The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg
From Goodreads: “A moving novel about three people who find their way back from loss and loneliness to a different kind of happiness. Arthur, a widow, meets Maddy, a troubled teenage girl who is avoiding school by hiding out at the cemetery, where Arthur goes every day for lunch to have imaginary conversations with his late wife, and think about the lives of others. The two strike up a friendship that draws them out of isolation. Maddy gives Arthur the name Truluv, for his loving and positive responses to every outrageous thing she says or does. With Arthur’s nosy neighbor Lucille, they create a loving and unconventional family, proving that life’s most precious moments are sweeter when shared.”
First line: When Alex Benedict graduated high school, his uncle Gabe, the only parent he’d ever known, provided the ultimate gift: a flight to Earth, the home world, the place where everything had started.
Summary: The year is 11,256 C.E. Earth is no longer the only inhabited planet in our galaxy. Thousands of years have passed and new worlds have been discovered but the artifacts from the Golden Age (early space travel) are rare and valuable. Many items have been destroyed or lost as Earth has dealt with flooding and other disasters. When an artifact is brought to Alex and his assistant, Chase, they begin to search how the item was just discovered and where it may have come from.
At the same time, a ship has been missing for 11 years. The passengers are believed to be dead. However, when the ship appears it is only available for a few short hours. For the passengers aboard they believe it has only been 3 days. How are all the people off the ship in such a short time?
Highlights: A very imaginative science fiction novel with a very intriguing plot. This was recommended to me and I was immediately interested. The idea of space travel and that items from our lives are considered ancient artifacts is fascinating. The science is not overwhelming which is perfect for me who has very little scientific knowledge. I liked the mysteries intertwining. I kept trying to think what I would do in the situation if I were stuck on a ship not realizing that 11 years had passed by in the blink of an eye. What would I be willing to do to get back to my family who have moved on? Highly enjoyable novel.
Lowlights: The book is part of the Alex Benedict series but he was in the story very little. It mainly followed the assistant, Chase. We never found out too much about him but those details may have been included in other books in the series.
FYI: Part of a series but can be read as a standalone. It has references to other books in the series but not enough to hinder the reading of this one.