All Three Books in One
(ebook only) Available at:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple iTunes
Smashwords

Book One
Available FREE (ebook) at:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple iTunes
Smashwords

Book Two
Available at
:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple iTunes
Smashwords

Book Three
Available at:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Apple iTunes
Smashwords

Sample Chapters

A Cure for Chaos (Book Two)

by Alan Tucker, ©2011

Chapter Two

Crank stared at the page in frustration.

He had picked up on the written language in short order, but this “algebra” confounded him.

Crank attempted to follow along in the textbook while his instructor, Mr. Henderson, worked through a problem on the board, his back to the class. Crank understood the basics of arithmetic — adding, subtracting and so on — but the idea of substituting letters for numbers had him baffled.

A boy on his right snored softly, using his open book for a pillow, while Mr. Henderson continued writing on the board.

A piece of tightly folded paper landed on Crank’s book. He glanced behind him, and met the anxious, smiling face of Kendra — no, Kenzie — Miller. She nodded eagerly and gestured toward the paper.

Crank smiled uncertainly and turned back to unravel the complex origami. Inside was a simple note that read, “Will you take me to the dance on Friday?” The “i’s” were dotted with hearts.

He closed his eyes and sighed. He felt so awkward and clumsy in this enormous new body, yet so many of the girls in the school seemed utterly fascinated with him. Jenni had called it the “mysterious foreigner effect”.

Turning to Kenzie again, he shook his head and whispered, “I’m sorry.”

The light in her eyes died. She nodded and slumped back in her seat. Crank felt awful for hurting her feelings, but none of them understood there was only one girl he wanted to go to a dance with — or do anything with for that matter.

The bell sounded, startling Crank’s sleepy neighbor awake. Mr. Henderson listed problems for their homework and everyone packed up and moved to the crowded hallway.

Crank shuffled to his locker and put his books inside. His stomach reminded him it was time for lunch. He still couldn’t believe how much food his body required. Times like this made him long for Tolenton’naie — if nothing but for the feeling of being full after just a single fruit.

Passing by the gym on his way to lunch, Crank noticed several men hustling out the rear doors. His growling stomach and the press of the hallway crowd forced his attention elsewhere.

Jenni didn’t meet him in the cafeteria, which troubled him. He ate his lunch mechanically, constantly glancing around in search of her. He could recall only one other time she hadn’t met him for lunch: Jenni had been late on an assignment for English and had to spend her lunch time finishing it. Perhaps it happened again. Crank, however, didn’t remember her having any homework the night before.

He discarded his trash and returned his tray, focusing himself on his afternoon classes. His favorite, Mythology, came right after lunch and that brought a small smile to his face. Crank had become fascinated by the old stories and fables of Earth. So many of the creatures described were familiar to him, it made him homesick at times. But realizing that almost every story has a kernel of truth, he began to see patterns. The stories of fairies, dragons and goblins originated, for the most part, a thousand years or more in the past. Even the names for these creatures bore a striking resemblance to those of his home. Nomenstrastenai were called gnomes, and fairies and goblins seemed rooted in Faerstrastenai and Gobinstratstorai. There were too many coincidences for Crank to ignore.

The fact most of the stories originated in Europe fascinated him even more. It meant the world was much larger than he’d understood before. The Mother he was familiar with was likely only part of something much bigger.

Anxiety flared anew when he couldn’t find Jenni anywhere after school. He got off their bus when it was clear she wasn’t coming and asked around in the school.

There was no record of her leaving the school in the office, but none of her afternoon teachers recalled seeing her. One of the counselors, Mrs. Wrightson, vaguely remembered talking with Jenni before lunch, but that was the only clue Crank could come up with.

He asked to borrow the phone and dialed Jenni’s cell, then the home number. No answer. He left messages and exited the office.

Dejected and worried, he began the long walk home.

He trudged through slushy sidewalks under gray clouds that reflected his mood. Much as he tried, he couldn’t come up with a scenario where Jenni wouldn’t have gotten word to him somehow that she had to leave. His hopes lay solely with Jenni’s mother — that she had some simple explanation he had missed. Crank picked up his pace.

He was still several blocks from Jenni’s house when a gray van with no windows pulled along side him. Its sliding door opened to reveal men in cool gray suits and dark glasses, surrounding a familiar looking, blonde-haired girl.

“Crank, is that you?”

“Alisha! What are you doing here?”

“I know where Jenni is. Get in.”

Crank hesitated only a moment before climbing in the van. One of the suited men offered a hand, then twisted Crank’s arm behind him and bound his wrists, forcing him onto a bench despite his struggles. Looking up, Crank saw Jenni’s mother, similarly bound but gagged as well. The panel door closed and the van sped down the street.

Crank found Alisha’s eyes, then nervously averted his gaze, remembering what Mr. Kain had told them about her powers.

“You turned into quite the hunk, Crank.”

“What’s going on Alisha? Who are these people?”

Alisha sighed. “They’re with the government. Just be a good boy and everything will be okay, you’ll see.”

Crank doubted that very much, but didn’t see many choices.

He looked back to Jenni’s mother, Nadine. Her dark, disheveled hair shrouded her eyes, wide in fear, and she fiercely bit into her gag. Men in sunglasses sat on either side of her. Crank didn’t understand how they could see in the gloom of the van; nevertheless, they seemed calmly alert. Another man sat on Crank’s right.

Sitting on the floor, Alisha steadied herself with one arm while the van swerved through the streets of Boise.

Jenni’s father, Dan, was away on business. He sold supplies to hotels all across the Northwest and was on the road more often than not. Crank wondered how long it would be before Jenni and her mother would be missed.

After careening around a final corner, the van straightened out and gained speed. Crank did his best to collect the pieces of his stomach and put them back in some semblance of order. Perhaps a minute later, they screeched to a stop and their guards guided them outside with firm hands.

The drone of several massive engines assaulted his ears while his eyes fought to adjust to unexpected brightness, despite the cloud cover. Crank blinked away tears and saw they were being led to an enormous airplane, idling on a vast field of concrete.

Though he had flown dragonback with both Jenni and Brandon, Crank was apprehensive about flying in a machine, and tried to slow his steps.

“C’mon,” his captor growled next to him.

“Wait!” Alisha shouted behind Crank. “Where are you taking me? I’m supposed to be going home!”

“Take it up with the Colonel,” one of the men replied.

 The back end of the mechanical beast had been lowered, forming a ramp. A group of people, dressed in the mottled greens and browns Jenni had once termed “camouflage,” pushed a large metallic object up the ramp. Eight or ten feet long and cylindrical in shape, a number of hoses and wires stretched from one end. The middle portion was clear and Crank saw a shape lying inside.

It was Jenni!

Crank fought his guard who tightened his grip painfully on Crank’s arm. “Easy there, Cowboy. Don’t make me put you down.”

Crank relented and watched Jenni disappear into the back of the plane.

They mounted a set of steps at the side of the green monster and were forced into seats and strapped down. Jenni’s mother sat next to Crank while Alisha was secured beside two of the guards in the next row.

A short time later, the door closed and they rumbled down the runway. Crank’s innards scrambled once again on take off and he struggled to keep his lunch to himself. Thankfully, his nausea eased once they leveled off.

The guards seemed to relax a bit after they were airborne, and they released the bonds on Crank and Mrs. Kershaw.

“What is this about?” Jenni’s mother asked after her gag was removed.

“We’re not at liberty to discuss it ma’am,” one of the suits said from behind his shades.

The guards refused to say anything more and Crank spent the next several hours in frustrated silence.

 

— — —

 

When the plane finally touched down, they were bound again, and escorted in darkness to a van identical to the one they’d left in Boise. Crank wished for a heavier coat and looked up at a sky full of stars before having to duck his head inside the van. Despite his best efforts, Crank dozed off once or twice during the ride.

They exited the van after passing two different checkpoints, and stopped in front of a concrete and stone building with a single metal door. A placard next to it read, “USAMRIID, Building 4.”

“Where are we?” Jenni’s mother asked.

Her question went unanswered, and they were led through a maze of white corridors and stairwells within the sterile smelling building. Eventually, they came to a gray door and one of their captors swiped a card and punched a string of buttons on a keypad. The door buzzed and Crank, Alisha, and Jenni’s mother were herded through, into a hallway with many more such doors along the walls. Each of them were guided to separate rooms, Crank’s being one of the last in the hall.

One of the suited men gave Crank a shove into the small room and the door buzzed shut behind him. Inside was a simple cot, a white porcelain sink, and a toilet in the far corner. Crank only had a moment to gape at his surroundings when the lights overhead shut off, leaving him in darkness. He fumbled his way to the cot and sat, head in hands, feeling more isolated and alone than ever had in his life.