Chase Freeman is a boy with a heart for adventure stuck living in dull Drifter Flats. The only exciting thing that ever happens in his small town is Eclipse Day and even that isn’t enough for Chase—until he sees the strange ball of light streaking across the sky. Enlisting his best friend Jordan, her little brother Luke, and Harlan the smartest boy in school, they follow the light to an American Indian medicine circle. Drawn into the middle of it, the four friends are suddenly teleported to the Battlementals dimension along with the school bully Brendan and his friend Lena.
Once there, they find an elemental people desperate for them to accept the grand quest to save the universe. A deadly alliance has pulled it out of balance and, soon, everything will vanish altogether. Friends and enemies will have to find a way to work together to assemble the Harmonicon, defeat the Salt Giant, and find their own undiscovered abilities that will help them complete their quest. But when dark secrets are put in the wrong hands, their mission unravels and time is quickly running out. As the universe systematically starts to disappear, Chase and his friends race to put all the elements they’ve gathered together, but will it be too late to save it?
A noise drifted out from the corner of the room, between the dresser and the closet. Chase looked over, saw nothing, and went back to getting dressed. Hitting the snooze button four times had put him in danger of being late for school—again.
There it was again. Soft. Quiet. Chase snapped his head up and studied the area around the dresser. It sounded more like a voice than a noise. Except, nobody was standing in the corner talking to him. It had to be wind blowing through a hole in the wall or a crack around the window. And that would be a perfectly good explanation if there were a hole in the wall, or a crack around the window, or even if there were any wind blowing outside.
He grabbed his shirt off the bed and out of the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of something small and white as it drifted out from behind his dresser, like a reflection off a car window as it passed the house. He whipped his head around to get a better look, but it was gone.
Chase ran over and pulled the dresser away from the corner, finding nothing behind it but a blank wall. And some dust. And the book report he was supposed to have turned in last month.
Weird! Strange whispering-lights didn’t normally visit his room. In fact, they hadn’t ever visited him, here or elsewhere. He shrugged and pushed the dresser back into place.
“Chase,” his mother yelled from downstairs. “You’re going to be late for school.”
His mother said that every morning. He didn’t know why. Show up tardy once, or twice, or even thirty-four times during the school year and everyone expected you to be late all of the time.
He snagged his backpack off his desk and put on his Drifter Flats Falcons ball cap. The hat worked better than a comb to keep his dirty-blond hair in place. Even when there wasn’t as much as a breeze, his hair looked as if he had just run a marathon through a hurricane. The hat served another purpose, too. It hid his big Dumbo ears and placed his freckles in shadow. That just left Chase with the problem of disguising his disgustingly scrawny arms.
Racing downstairs, his feet thudded loudly with each step, like a drum beating out the notes to a tribal war dance. Boom, boom, boom-boom.
“How many times do I have to tell you not to run down the stairs?” his mother hollered from the kitchen. “You could trip and break your neck.”
Why did it always have to be the neck? Why not break a leg? That way it’d be like how people in Hollywood wished each other good luck. And even though he would know what his parents really meant, he could pretend they were just cheering him on to have an excellent day.
“Mom, can we move?” Chase grabbed a couple pieces of toast from the table and stuffed one of them in his mouth. The toast was warm, dark-brown, and lightly buttered. He would rather have had it covered in cherry jelly, but it was good this way too.
“Where do you want to move now?” she asked. “Last week it was Arizona so you could look for the Lost Dutchman Mine.”
Gold. Indians. Hiking through rattlesnake-infested deserts with a pickaxe over his shoulder and pulling a pack mule behind him. He had loved the idea until one of the kids at school mentioned that during the summer the temperature reached 120 degrees in the shade. No thanks.
“Let’s move to Hawaii,” he said. “Then I can be a surfer and live on the beach.”
“Wouldn’t that be fun?”
Chase slapped his palm against his forehead. That’s what his mother always said right before she gave a long boring explanation of how the family needed to stay right here in Drifter Flats.
“Sorry, Mom,” he called over his shoulder as he bolted through the side entrance that led out to the driveway, letting the screen door slam behind him. “I don’t want to be late for school.”
He raced across the front lawn and found Jordan Rathburn and her little brother, Luke, passing by the house. Chase pulled alongside Jordan and said, “Hey-hey, J-J.”
“I hate when you call me that,” said Jordan. She flipped her hair and looked away.
“Yeah, but it rhymes,” said Chase.
“So does Chase and head-case,” Jordan’s tone warned Chase that he was on the verge of earning a permanent name change if he didn’t stop.
“Okay, Jordan. Is that better?”
“Much better, thank you,” she said.
Jordan had been his best friend since second grade. She had blue eyes which looked like the pools of ocean water he had seen in travel magazines and a lopsided smile that always made him feel better no matter what kind of mood he was in. Her dark-blond hair was pulled back into a ponytail that reminded him of a garden fountain, except it spouted hair instead of water.
“Hey-hey, Chase-Chase,” said Luke.
“That’s more like it,” said Chase. “What’s new, Mr. Rathburn?”
Luke must’ve decided to take after someone else in the family because he sure didn’t act like Jordan. Or look like her, for that matter. His hair was bleached nearly white from spending all summer outdoors and he had a dark tan. Luke had the biggest, brightest grin Chase had ever seen. If the kid wasn’t careful, he was going to blind someone with that smile.
“Did you tell your mom you want to move to Hawaii?” asked Jordan.
“Sure I did, but my parents just don’t get it,” said Chase. “I mean, how could they? Anyone who decides to live in Drifter Flats on purpose must have something broke in their head.”
“I like it here,” said Jordan.
“Me too,” said Luke.
Chase patted Luke on the back. He didn’t expect an eight-year-old to understand the problems with living in a town located in the middle of nowhere. Not that Drifter Flats was super small; it just wasn’t large enough to make up for its out-of-the-way location.
But Jordan, she was old enough and smart enough to know better. Chase tried to slap a serious expression on his face. “There’s definitely something wrong with you.”
“Do you mean something other than the fact that I’m friends with you?” Jordan asked with her trademark lopsided smile.
“That too, but I mean it in the best possible way,” said Chase. “You just seem to get along with everyone better than a normal person should. And you’re okay with all the stupid stuff that happens around here, like shortening summer vacation to make up for the snow days we had last winter.”
The three of them stopped at Bradbury Street and waited for a red pickup to drive past before they crossed. For a moment, Chase wondered if his comment had upset Jordan, but then he decided that wasn’t likely. The reason they were such good friends was because she had the ability to see past the words that came out of his mouth and guess at what was going on in his mind.
“Why is it so important for you to move someplace else?” she asked.
“There’s nothing special about Drifter Flats, and as long as I stay here there won’t be anything special about me.” Chase didn’t want to stay in the same place, doing the same things, for the rest of his life.
“That’s not true—”
“I don’t want to talk about it.” Chase reached into his back pocket and pulled out a stack of Powerz game cards. “These are for you, Luke.”
Luke snatched the cards from Chase’s hand. “Awesome. Hey, this is a Dark Touch. Did you know that it’s ultra-rare?”
Jordan looked alarmed. “Ultra-rare. Is it valuable?”
“Maybe.” Chase shrugged. “They’re only cards. Besides, I won most of them from Ryan Carter. He always attacks on the second round. I thought Luke would have more fun with them than I would.”
Jordan tapped Luke on the shoulder. “Aren’t you going to say something to Chase?”
“These are cool,” Luke said without looking up from the cards.
“That isn’t what I meant,” said Jordan.
Luke’s face scrunched together as he thought about it and then burst into a smile. “Oh, I forgot. Thanks, Chase-Chase.”
That was how Jordan acted all the time. She worried about hurting people’s feelings. She stopped to help whenever someone got hurt. It sort of reminded Chase of his mother on a good day, when she wasn’t in full bossy-parent mode. And mothers had to take care of their children; Jordan did it because she was nice.
“We’re going to the eclipse party this afternoon.” Luke hopped up and down.
“Sounds fun,” said Chase. “I better go along to make sure you don’t get into trouble.”
“I thought Ms. Torrance had you staying after school all this week,” said Jordan. “Filling her desk drawer with live frogs wasn’t your best idea.”
“Maybe not the absolute best of all time, but I think it made it to the top three. You should have seen the look on her face when she opened the drawer and they started jumping out.”
Chase laughed and Luke joined him.
“How about the look on your face when she figured out you did it and called you up to the front of the class? Was that funny too?” asked Jordan.
This time Luke laughed alone, really hard.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Chase. “Ms. Torrance wants to go to the eclipse party and she couldn’t do that if she stays in the class with me. Anyway, she made me promise to go and learn something at the party.”
First bell rang just as they arrived at school. Kids went from playing and making a lot of noise to making even more noise as they rushed to grab their backpacks and charge inside. Jordan and Luke waved to Chase as they headed for their classes.
Even though the noise from the playground was loud enough to cover up any sound short of cannon fire, Chase heard the small, quiet voice as clearly as if it had been whispered into his ear on a calm, silent evening.
He scanned the area around him, hoping to find whatever made the noise. But the only thing he saw was “Big” Brendan picking on Harlan Penderknack.
Brendan had been held back a year and seemed to have taken it as a sign that he should personally demonstrate the awesomeness of his big, but flabby, arms to all of the smaller boys in sixth grade. He had a large nose that resembled a bull’s snout and dark blond hair that stuck out every which way. The one feature that stood apart from everyone else was his red complexion. It made him look like he was continuously upset with the rest of the world. For some reason the name “Meat Face” had stayed in Chase’s mind.
Brendan finally let Harlan pass and the two of them made their way inside the school, Harlan hurrying and Brendan taking his time. That reminded Chase that if he didn’t hurry, he was going to be late.
Chase quickly turned in the direction of the voice and spotted something small and white bobbing in the air. As soon as he spotted the thing it zipped through the door leading to the cafeteria. Right through the closed metal door.
This was the same thing he’d seen in his room. It was the same voice that had whispered his name. The thing moved so fast that he still hadn’t gotten a good look at it. Chase wasn’t really sure he wanted to see the thing. Running around the school, talking to floating lights no one else could see probably wasn’t a good idea.
Then again, when had he ever bothered to think things out and do what made sense?
Chase dashed into the cafeteria and searched for the unidentified floating object. He smelled the normal kitchen odors; vinegar, cleaning solution, and corn dogs. Bright light reflected off the stainless steel of the serving line, but no strange talking lights.
The sound came from the direction of the door on the opposite side of the room; the one that opened into the main hallway. Chase didn’t see the floating light, but ran toward the door anyway. He needed to prove to himself that the talking, floating, mystery light really existed and that he wasn’t going crazy.
Chase burst through the door and slammed into an immovable wall of flesh. He bounced off the human barrier and flopped on the floor, landing hard on his butt just as the second bell rang. From his current position on the floor he had a good view of the brown leather dress shoes which belonged to Principal Jensen.
“Mr. Freeman.” Principal Jensen spoke in that slow, calm voice which meant Chase was in trouble. “Since you don’t seem to be interested in attending your class, perhaps you can join me in my office.”
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Randy Lindsay is a world traveler. Which sounds impressive until you realize the worlds he visits exist only in his mind and on the pages of his novels. He claims to prefer this method of sightseeing because he can stop at any time, go to the kitchen, and indulge his ice cream addiction. When he isn’t busy making things up he likes going to movies with his wife to watch what other people have made up and plays board games with his children who are in the habit of making up the rules as they go along.
Battlementals: Quest for the Harmonicon is Randy’s third published book and the first in a series of stories that take place in the Battlemental universe. He switched to writing full time in 2011 and has had two novels published through Bonneville Books.
His journey as an author has been an exciting one, full of unexpected discoveries. One of those being the decision to focus more of his writing on middle-grade fantasy. The fact that the style feels more natural to Randy might be an indication that he is really just a kid at heart.
The second unexpected discovery was that he enjoyed marketing. Book signings, writing workshops, and podcasts about storytelling all gave him opportunities to discuss what he loves with others who share the same interest. This combined with the decision to write middle-grade stories led to his development of C.A.S.T. (a program intended to show children and teens how to incorporate storytelling into their everyday lives).
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