Monday, June 23, 2014

Release-Eve and a Sneak Peek!

Well hello everybody!

I'm sure all of you have been more than ready to start reading all about Devon and his friends' exciting adventures. Well, the wait is almost over! Lucid hits the e-shelves TOMORROW! I'm sure you all knew that, right?


Anyway, for those of you who simply can't wait another day to start reading, I've got a wonderful treat for you. Below, I'll post the entire first chapter of Lucid. Not a little snippet, and teeny excerpts are for wimps. No, dear readers, I'm giving you the entire first chapter! Lucky you! All I ask in return is that you give it a read and SPREAD THE WORD! Devon would love to get his story out to as many people as possible, and it couldn't happen without the support of his friends and fans.

So, enjoy the first chapter tonight, go buy the book tomorrow, and tell all of your friends about Lucid! 

Until then, keep readin' and dreamin',



            I know that most adventure/fantasy/whatever you would like to call these stories start with something magical, but my story starts with something ordinary: dreams. I’m talking about the “I’m taking a test and don’t realize I’m in my underwear” kind of dreams. We have them every night, whether we remember them or not. Sometimes they leave us waking up with excitement or inspiration. Sometimes they cause us to wake with a shriek and to look around our rooms expecting a murderer to be standing at our bedsides; sometimes they leave us waking up confused or ashamed. These experiences are probably commonplace for most people, but I doubt any of you could ever say your dreams caused you to stay asleep for a long period of time.
            What if your dreams made you disappear?

Day 1:
            Sometimes I feel like denying the morning exists and staying asleep forever.  Waking up in my dark, frigid room isn’t exactly my idea of a great way to start the day.  I rolled over on my side to check my clock.
9:30; time to get up for summer camp.
As I tumbled out of bed and pulled on my socks, I recounted the dream I had last night. Normally, I’m not one for remembering my dreams, but this time I don’t think I could’ve forgotten it even if I wanted to. It was so real. I remembered it started with me sitting in a spaceship. I could tell I was in space, not because of the stars outside my window but because of the darkness around the stars. I couldn’t recall any other time I had seen such a deep emptiness except for the time we watched a video on space in physical science.
            There were other people on the spaceship with me; it was sort of like a galactic school bus. I remember having a conversation with an elderly man sitting next to me.  He repeated at least seven times that he must’ve been dreaming. Finally, I realized that I, too, was dreaming. I voiced my thoughts to the man, and he said that even though it felt like a dream, he doubted we were both dreaming. 
            How could you be conscious in a dream, anyway? 
            And since when did more than one person dream the exact same thing? 
            This seemed to be the topic of conversation on the ship; everyone sounded confused and most felt like they were transported from their bed to this alien place. The idea of abductions was slowly becoming a possibility, and the atmosphere in the spaceship became extremely tense.  
            Although the other people on the ship were partaking in nervous chatter, I remained silent. I knew that I was merely dreaming, and that this was not an alien abduction. There was no other explanation for why I remained calm. Also, I had always pictured an alien invasion being a lot cooler than something eerily similar to my morning bus ride. After 20 minutes of dream time, the ship landed on a dock. We had reached our destination.
The doors of the ship slid open, and almost automatically, the people started filing out. I thought this was a rather stupid move on their part; if this was an alien invasion, why would they willingly walk out to meet their captors? I do remember feeling a sort of sensation pulling me outside along with the other people, but I was able to fight it off. I figured it was the change in atmospheric pressure or something.

I know better, now.
            As I was walking out of the ship, I saw something glittering underneath one of the seats. Maybe one of the passengers dropped a watch, I thought. I bent down to figure out what the source of the light was, and I found…nothing.
The light continued to shine from underneath the chrome seat, but there was nothing causing the incandescent light. It was strong, and for the first time on my voyage, I felt heat. I think that was when I was sure I was dreaming; everything other than this light was simply not real. I knew the light represented the only fragment of reality in the bus (other than me,) so I did the only thing I could; I reached out and grabbed the burning ball of light.

            As soon as I touched the light, I woke up. I untangled myself from my sheets and stumbled to my mirror. Staring back at me was my reflection of a 15 year-old, brown haired and hazel eyed boy. I’ll admit I was a bit paler than usual. The dream of the space ship was causing goose bumps to emerge all over my arms and on the back of my neck. Even though I knew it was an illusion the entire time, I didn’t like how the other people in the dream thought that it was real. As I was sorting through the confusion in my brain, my mom came into the room.
            “It’s time for work, Devon.” She said with a no-nonsense look on her face. She dropped me of to camp on her way to work, and she was never late. “You’ve got five minutes to get ready. Just grab a granola bar on your way out.” She closed the door with a snap.
I shook myself from the silly dream. It was just a dream after all. There were more pressing matters at hand, like getting to camp before the Senior Counselor did. The jerk would fire a C.I.T. like me for showing up two minutes late. I dressed with haste and ran down the stairs. As I climbed into the back seat of my mom’s van, I still couldn’t stop dwelling on my spaceship bus ride. It spooked me so much, it even made me forget my granola bar.

Day 1:
            Summer camp was terrible. I hated being stuck in the musty, old community center as a camper, and I hated it even more as a C.I.T. At least when my mom was paying for me to go there I could play games and talk to the other kids. As a C.I.T., I was forced to do all of the nasty jobs the real counselors didn’t feel like doing. I didn’t even get paid for it! Thinking about how I might have a license and a car next summer usually got me through the day. If I stuck with summer camp, I could also get paid next summer. I doubted even a paycheck would tempt me into working there again. 
            Anyway, I was sort of glad I had something on my mind while I completed the lovely jobs of cleaning up the 7 year olds’ accidents, sweeping after lunch, and unclogging a boys’ toilet after Bobby (more commonly known as Big Bob) had gotten sick from his roast sandwich. The spaceship from my dream kept intruding my thoughts, but try as I might, I just couldn’t make any sense of it. Why would I dream something like that, and why were other people in my dream? For some reason, I had a hunch the people on the spaceship with me were actual people. Well, they weren’t really people; they were parts of real people. I guess they were sort of like souls, if I had to think up a word for it. For some reason, I felt myself feeling sorry for these souls. They had no idea what was going on, and yet they got out of the bus.
If they only stopped to check under the seats…
            “Devon, stop blanking out, and get into the car!” The dulcet tones of my mom yanked me out of the spaceship and back down to Earth. A few of the younger campers snickered at me as I walked to my mom’s van. Well, that was no surprise.
Ever since I was a camper myself, other kids made fun of me. I didn’t mind; I didn’t want to listen to anything they had to say, anyway. My spaceship dream was more interesting.
            The ride home was, as usual, quiet. Mom was yakking away on the phone to one of her friends about how terrible her day at work was, and I would normally be playing one of my newest handheld games, but not today. Instead, I couldn’t help but continue to question why the souls got off of the bus. I didn’t remember the land outside of the bus as vividly as the inside, but I remembered thinking it didn’t look too nice. Plus, how did they know there was oxygen for them to breathe? I mean, I knew it was a dream, but the other souls like the old man thought that it was actually happening. I was sort of curious about where they went, though. I wish someone I knew was on the bus. I could’ve asked them if they had the dream, as well. 
            “I have to run back to the office for some more paperwork,” Mom informed me as she pulled into the driveway. “Kyle knows you’re coming home, and I left him money to order a pizza. I shouldn’t be any later than 8:30.”
 I merely nodded as I got out of the van. I waved back at my mom as she pulled out of the driveway. It didn’t really upset me that she never talked to me on the way home from work, but it would be nice for her to at least ask me how my day went.
            The door was already unlocked, which meant Kyle was home. Really, I wasn’t surprised. I was convinced Kyle was nocturnal; he slept all day in his room and would only emerge after 6 PM for food and to go out with his friends. Mom was convinced he was busy applying to colleges all day, but I wasn’t fooled.
Kyle was pushing 20; he should’ve found a school or at least a job by now. If you haven’t guessed from his description, my big brother was a lousy babysitter. I really didn’t need a babysitter anymore, but Mom didn’t trust me enough to order or make food for myself when she had to work late. It didn’t really matter to me. Kyle would amble down sometime this evening and find the pizza money. He’d order the food for us, take half of the pizza for himself, and go back up to his room. Three hours later, he’d come down in a grungy pair of jeans and an unwashed shirt to go meet his equally grungy friends. Kyle never got a job to pay for a car, so he relied on his friends picking him up. I was greeted each evening by loud metal music blaring from a beat up SUV that looked like it was highly flammable.
             Anyway, 6:00 was a good 2 hours away, which gave me some personal time. I felt pretty exhausted from the admirable task of being a C.I.T., so I grabbed my private bag of chips (which I hid from Kyle inside of the aquarium we never use,) turned on the TV, and sat my butt down on our super comfortable couch.
Now, this was what a good afternoon meant to me. I could sink into that couch and feel my mind melt away as I watched cartoons. All of the frustration of work would dissolve as I sat there until nothing remained. My brain would enter a state of nirvana, and I would feel so perfectly numb and at peace.
Not today.
My dream still haunted me, even as I hummed the intro to my favorite show. I started getting a little concerned. What if that wasn’t a dream at all? What if I somehow saw into the future? Would the light be there to save me again, or would I be probed by aliens with the rest of the people on the bus?
 I calmed myself down by realizing how stupid that would be. I did not see into the future, and there would be no alien invasions any time soon. With a little more effort than needed, I convinced myself enough to enjoy the rest of my cartoon ritual.
            At around 5:30, Kyle surprised me with his presence. I was pretty shocked when I heard his pounding footsteps descending the staircase.
            “To what do I owe this honor?” I asked him as his untidy figure appeared in the living room.
            “Give me the remote,” Kyle ordered with his hand outstretched.
            “What’s up?” I could tell Kyle looked pretty concerned.
            “I just read this wicked article on the Internet, and there’s a show about it right now!” Kyle snatched the remote off of my lap and began scrolling down the guide. I really wasn’t ticked off. If I wanted to finish my show, I could just go up to my room. I was somewhat curious about what Kyle wanted to watch. Plus, I was watching a rerun.
            “What’s it about?” I asked as Kyle shuffled through the channels. His eyes glinted, which usually meant something stupid, gruesome, or gruesomely stupid.
            “It’s about zombies and how they really exist.” Of course it was about something like that. Kyle had a pretty irrational obsession with vampires, zombies, and grotesque things that didn’t really exist. Oh, but I was the weird one for being afraid of dinosaurs trampling over our house. At least dinosaurs existed…at one point in time.
            Anyway, apparently Kyle had reached his televised destination, because he had stopped searching and sat down next to me.
            “This is about the living dead,” Kyle gave me the definition of zombies as he grabbed for some of my prized chips. I didn’t care; he could have them. The image on the TV made me forget everything else. Sure enough, the reporter on the screen was talking about a man who had been in a deep sleep for an entire day, and it was proven to not technically be a coma. The man had fallen asleep last night and never woke up. His wife was convinced he was dead until she felt a very faint pulse. A doctor appeared on the screen saying that the body seemed to be functioning at the lowest possible level, but most of the brain was working properly. They said the man was almost like a living shell, except for his eyes. The camera zoomed in on the old man so viewers could see his eyes moving rapidly. But these things didn’t matter; the actual man on the screen is what made me stop thinking about everything. The man, whom Kyle thought was a zombie and whom the doctor said was a living shell, was the same old man who sat next to me on the bus.

Day 1:


            You have no idea how hard I tried to forget the picture of the old man’s face on my TV. Also, forgetting how I reacted would help, too. As soon as I recognized the old man as my seatmate in my dream, I screamed loudly. Kyle bellowed with laughter, told me that he knew I’d freak out, and kept teasing me about it until his friends came to get him.
Apparently he wasn’t the only one who noticed. When my mom finally came home, she asked me what was wrong. I told her Kyle showed me a horror film on TV, and she took me out for a fast food sundae. Even the chocolate syrup and whipped cream couldn’t help me to calm down. I never touched the pizza that was delivered, either.
            At first, I thought that maybe my dream was a symbolic premonition. You know, like the kind the psychics on late-night TV talk about? Resorting to psychic premonitions was pretty desperate for me. If you hadn’t figured it out by now, I’m a pretty scientific person. I’m one of those smart kids who dominate science fairs, graduate with top honors, and go to private high school on a scholarship.
You can call me a nerd, it’s all right. It won’t be the first time I’ve heard that, but I’m not that weird. My brain just works differently. My mind works in numbers, and usually everything can fit into some sort of formula. The dream and the old man threw me completely off balance. Perhaps there was a weird virus going around, and the old man had been infected. What if the other people were infected, too? Maybe the light was the antidote. How would I explain that to the doctors looking for a miracle cure? No, that theory didn’t seem to work. If the light was a medicine, it would actually have substance. Heat only worked for tense muscles.
            Naturally, all this hype made it pretty scary to go to sleep. I tried staying up by talking to my best friends online. Only one of them, Tiffany, was awake. Tiff was always online; her passion in life was surfing the Web. You could tell by her appearance, if you were lucky enough to actually see her in public. Short, mousy, and pale with big, blue eyes, Tiff argued that sitting at her desk with her face glued to the computer was the habitat for which her body was best-adapted.
Tiff, like me, was a brainiac. Her extensive knowledge on the most random subjects could impress anyone. Seriously, our cheese-loving 7th grade English teacher gave her 50 extra points for her knowledge of designer Swiss fondues. I think it’s safe to say that I could rely on Tiff to know all about the human shell episode.
            “Apparently it’s not some sensational hoax, either,” Tiff typed to me. Instant messaging was her favorite form of communication. She was pretty soft-spoken and timid in person. Her bold, matter-of-fact personality really did shine when she let her fingers do the talking.
            “So this old guy really does exist?” I typed a little harder than intended.
            “Of course! What, did you think they had some dummy on the show?” Tiff paused in her typing. I could tell, because there was no star blinking next to her screen name. (P.S. her’s is Star_Hax42. Mine’s DevonXander which is just my name, Devon Alexander. I’m not that creative.) “I did some more research after the show. Apparently the old man was a retired school teacher named Henry Allen who lives in West Palm Beach, Florida. The plot thickens, though. About a dozen other instances have been reported all over the country. Henry‘s wife was the first one to report anything, which explains why he‘s getting all the publicity. I bet there‘ll be more tomorrow.”
            So, the old man I saw existed. He also lived on the other side of the country. The other reports were probably the others on the bus, too. It seemed my dream actually had some basis in reality, and it started spooking me big time.
            “You there?” Tiff typed after a 5 minute pause. Usually I answered her IM quickly. I didn’t do much else on the computer for fun.
            “Are there pictures of any of the other victims?” I typed the last word with a little dread. I had a feeling these people were not suffering from some weird illness but they were staying asleep because someone wanted it that way.
            “Um…a few. Hang on,” Tiff paused as she searched for some links.
            I clicked on them as she posted. To my horror, I remembered a few from my dream. I recognized a little woman who appeared to be in her 30s, a middle-aged man with spiky blonde hair, and a dark, bald body-building dude. My heart began beating much too quickly.
            “OK, what’s up?” Tiff was always on the ball. She was hyper-sensitive to people’s emotions, even through a computer. “Do you know anything about this weird stuff?”
            I hesitated for about 10 minutes (a new IM record for me) before responding.
            “Promise not to be too skeptical when I finish?”
            Surprisingly, Tiff didn’t respond by typing “LOLOLOLOL OK” after I finished telling her about my dream. She didn’t even interrupt, which she normally did to make it seem like a real conversation. I could almost picture her on the other end, inching closer to her monitor while she analyzed my story.
            “Well?” I typed after giving her about 20 minutes to read my dream. It probably only took her 3 minutes to read the entire thing, but I knew she would want time to do some researching and to collect her thoughts.
            “It does seem like a weird coincidence,” Tiff typed a little slower than usual. “But I don’t think you should jump to conclusions too soon. Maybe you had some weird connection with the universe and you’re just experiencing déjà vu. My great grandma apparently used to dream about things that happened the next day all the time. And I mean, obviously, these people haven’t been abducted. They’re all asleep in hospitals. Still, just let me know if you have any more of these spaceship dreams.”
            “I will,” I replied. Tiff’s IMs of wisdom made me feel a little more relaxed. “You’ll be the first one to know, for sure. Thanks, Tiff.”
            “Sweet dreams.” Tiff added that last line with a wink before signing off.

            I didn’t think it was funny.

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