Absolutely Almost Human (The Bot Trials #1)

It’s been a blast jumping into the fun-filled world of middle grade writing. I’m super excited to introduce Bot to you all.

Here’s the blurb and a sneak peak into the first few lines of the story….

Eleven-year-old Robert “Bot” Trials comes to terms with becoming a cyborg—the very thing that has turned his friends and their families against him.

His desperate need to prove he can be a normal human boy pairs him with an unlikely friend: the mysterious girl who just moved into the Haunted House on the Hill. The bullies, haters, and frightening urban legends won’t stand in their way of finding a talking dog that showed up the same time mystery girl did.

With his wacky new friend and his long time best friend at his side, they set out on an adventure that leads them into a world of secret societies and technology warfare. Everything spirals out of control when deadly family secrets are exposed.

Secrets that could kill them all.

 

~~~~~~~

THE DAY I DIDN’T DIE

Lightning flashed, and the entire, beaten-down house on the hill was visible in the blast of yellow. The shattered windows on the main floor morphed into dark mouths with jagged glass teeth. Ones that could chomp anything to shreds.

Thunder clapped. My tree house roof rattled. I stepped away from the telescope and held my breath to listen.

Wind howled, moaning through the gaps in the walls of my little hideaway. Branches scraped along the wooden roof.

Like a monster clawing its way in.

A monster sent by The House.

Watcher of the Realms Chapter 33

Watcher of the Realms Banner

You’ve entered the world of The Realm Jumpers. The adventure with Riley and his trusty gang continues…

Chapter 33

“I feel like I’ve fallen into a fantasy novel,” Janet said as she looked at the table filled with food.

“I think we did.” Jeff sat next to her.

“This feels like the Fairy Realm.” I stood behind my chair, not so sure we should stay. “Exactly what is this place? I mean, if he’s The King, does he have his own Realm? Or does he just live on one and rule them all?”

“He has his own Realm.”

A tall, muscular guy strode into the dining area. For the most part, he looked human. But his jet-black hair, unearthly purple eyes, and his glowing brown skin screamed alien. It wasn’t a bright glow, no it almost looked like armor instead of skin.

“You mustn’t worry, Riley, the food is not tainted.” He grinned.

“No offense, sir, but I’m going to hold off eating.” Even though I was starving.

“None taken.” The guy laughed as he sat at the head of the table. “But don’t mind if I eat. I’m famished.”

This room was different than the throne room. Still huge, but not so much gold and marble. The floor was shiny, but dark blue. Doors lined three of the four walls, at least two per wall. They were all closed.

The main entrance was an archway. No door. We’d walked in that way from the throne room, but it was just a long hallway. Paintings of fields, castles, and some people decorated the walls. The ceilings in this place were as high as the sky.

“Who are you?” Hope asked, then bit into the chicken leg. At least it might be chicken. Did they even have chickens here?

“My name is Labbiel, I am your liaison.”

“For…?” Jeff asked.

“Training. I will handle some of course, considering my combat skills; however, first and foremost, training on Realm Jumping.”

“Are you a Jumper, too?” Tish asked.

He dipped his head. “The only one besides The King and you, Riley. But that will be addressed later. First. We should get you fed and rested then home, straight away.”

“Wait, you’re the only Jumper? I figured The King would have tons!”

“He may be The King, but he has rules as well. Only those who are genetically chosen can Jump.” Labbiel grinned. “So, to find you, another Jumper, worthy to watch the Realms—very exciting.”

“You’ve been watching the Realms alone?” Janet asked.

“We have a team. They travel with me. But you are correct, it’s difficult to stay on top of things.” He looked at me. “Until you came along, and little Tish.”

She giggled. “I’m a Jumper, too, right?”

“We’ll have to see what becomes of you, little one.” He popped a grape into his mouth.

“So when we return to Earth, what are we going to find?” Jeff asked. “The destruction didn’t go unnoticed.”

“The King has restored everything to before our arrival to your home Realm.”

“Restored?” Janet dished up some food for Tish.

“Reset might be a better word. We never arrived. When you return, everything will be as it was. I believe you and Hope have a soccer game tomorrow? Championship?”

I know I must have looked like the world’s biggest dork, but my bottom jaw dropped open on its own.

Labbiel grinned. “The King runs a tight ship. He debriefed me so I’m up to speed on your comings and goings.”

“It’s like he knows everything. How’s that work?” I asked.

“He has his ways.” Labbiel dipped his head a little toward me. “You must be very special, young Jumper, to get an offer to help watch his Realms.”

“Why us? We’re just a bunch of kids,” Hope asked.

“Untainted by the rules, traditions, and rigid beliefs of adults. Other than the adults in this room and involved with the Kurators, most would not believe nor could they comprehend what you all have seen and experienced. We need those who have the faith of a child.” He grinned at Tish.

“What do we tell The Council Triad?” Jeff asked.

“They will try their best to wrap their human minds around this. But ultimately, The King, through Tish, is who you take orders from. The Council will understand.”

“Have you met The Council?” Braeden snickered. “They’re all with the forbid you to do this, go do that, wait to hear from us.”

“I’m sure you’ll see some changes in them.” Labbiel drank from a gold cup embedded with gems around the base. He wore a ring on his pinky finger with the Srupiso symbol etched into it.

“What’s this mean?” I showed him the symbol on my palm. “It was on the caves in the Barbarian Realm. Obviously it’s on my and Tish’s hands, but it’s all over here.”

“As you know, it’s the Mark of Srupiso. The King’s symbol. As Ultimate ruler, he is to be acknowledged on all Realms. Some are not so willing to identify him as the ruler. His people have free will, as you’ve seen, Riley. And with that, choices are made that negatively affect everyone. We, as Watchers of the Realms, are charged with preserving all that is good in the Realms. Protecting them—and the creatures residing in them—from danger. You fight for a higher cause.”

“Higher cause,” I whispered.

“You’re marked for it,” Labbiel said. “Created for it.”

“What about school and soccer?” I asked, finally sitting down before my plate of food. My hunger won out.

“Life as usual.” He grinned.

“Only, not.” Hope flicked my shoulder.

Labbiel laughed. “You’ll be called upon as needed. But until you’re trained, we’ll handle things that arise.”

“Exactly what are you, then?” I asked.

“Servant to The King.”

“That’s not an answer,” Tish said.

“What do you think I am?”

“An Angel?”

“I am a warrior. Created by The King himself, my one purpose is to serve him and protect what’s his.” He winked at me. “As you have now vowed to do.”

Yep. I gulped again. There was something so intense about his purple eyes. It made my stomach turn into knots. He was wicked-focused. Someone who could, in the blink of an eye, break you in half. But yet he seemed good. Yes. He was a good guy.

Then again, he was just about to annihilate Earth at The King’s command.

“Are we able to leave?” I asked. “You know I have soccer.”

Janet laughed, then covered her mouth.

I was anxious to get back to ‘life as usual’ as Labbiel called it. Because I had a feeling things were going to get interesting soon enough.

“Get ready.” Labbiel stood and raised his hand. It was fisted. “I will send you home.”

“You can do that?” I asked.

Labbiel grinned. “There’s much you will learn, young Jumper.”

~~~~~~

Join us Wednesday for the FINAL chapter in the Watcher of the Realms story!

A big thank you to Sizzling PR for the Realm Jumper graphics.

CLICK HERE to ALL the chapter links.

See you soon….

Watcher of the Realms Chapter 25

Watcher of the Realms BannerYou’ve entered the world of The Realm Jumpers. The adventure with Riley and his trusty gang continues…

Chapter 25

My back smacked into something hard. Three bodies landed on top of me. An elbow to my forehead, my gut. A knee to my thigh.

That one hurt the most.

Probably because it was Nick’s. The big jerk probably tried to do it.

“What the heck?” He pushed off me and hopped to his feet.

“You sadmonkey!” Hope yelled.

“Quiet!” Braeden squatted and looked around, his gun up.

Oh, yeah, we’d Jumped.

I grabbed Nick’s shirt at the collar and hauled him to me then slapped my hand over his mouth. He struggled for about two seconds until he took in his surroundings.

Or, I might have been holding him a little tight.

We’d stepped into a world of white. The walls, the floor, even the ceiling. It was all slick-looking, too, like super polished the way the bright overhead lights beamed on them.

Papers floated through the air. Short walls surrounded us and a small desk propped against one of them. I peeked over and the one next to me looked the same. There were some random papers on the desk, but not much else.

There were two more cubicles to my left.

The light above us flickered. Shuffling behind me had me whirling around. Just more paper floating to the floor.

The rest of the space was empty. Open with a couple of tables in the middle, much like The Cave beneath our house back home.

Black top with microscopes. One of the tables had a sink. The other had clamps, like an exam table. Crap.

Nick struggled beneath my grip again, and I said, “No sound, you got it?”

He nodded and wrenched away from me. And then he screamed like a girl!

Braeden tackled him at the waist, just before he bolted out of the cubicle. Nick continued to wail. “I knew you were from another planet. Freak. I knew it! What’d you do to me? Where are we? You—”

Braeden smacked him in the jaw. “You wanna die?”

Nick stilled.

“That’s right. Shut up and we might let you live.”

“Wow,” Hope said. “What a sissy.”

“Watch him.” Braeden stood up and scanned the room again then examined the ceilings. “Can’t see any cameras. But we have to assume this place is watched. Wherever we are.”

I followed him out of the cubie, pushing Nick ahead of me.

What the heck were we going to do with him? What was he even doing near us?

“What happened?” he whispered. “What—”

Braeden whirled around and pointed his finger at Nick. “We’ll tell you everything. Later. Shut up or you’ll get us killed.”

Nick gulped.

“You gonna be able to make him forget this?” I asked.

“Wait, What?” Nick whispered so loudly yelling would have been quieter.

“It’ll be a big one, we’ll see.” Braeden pushed Nick forward. “What the heck were you doing there?”

“Saw you guys sneaking around campus.”

“And what were you doing there?” Hope asked.

“Waiting for Anthony. Saw you freaks and followed you. Where are we and how’d we get here?” His voice was rising again.

I squeezed his arm to shut him up then held up The Coin. “Magic. And I have no clue.”

“Are you freaking kidding me right now?” He pushed off me. “You guys are crazy. Wait ‘til Coach finds out. You’re as good as off the team.”

“Shut up,” Hope whispered.

Nick scrambled away. I ran after him, but he beat me to the door on the far side of the room.

He wrenched it open. Something hissed.

Yeah, like a snake hissed.

“Get back.” Braeden yanked him out of the doorway and tossed him to the side.

Gun at the ready, Braeden peeked in super fast. “Too dark.”

I pulled out my phone. “Got an App for that.”

“Or a flashlight.” Braeden held a tiny mag light up. “Keep him under control, would you?”

Hope backed away.

Braeden nodded to her. “Open every drawer in the desks. Grab anything that looks like it might have information. Hurry. We leave in three minutes.”

“Why three?” Nick asked.

“Because I like that number. Shut up.”

“What am I looking for?” Hope asked.

“Anything about science experiments, genetics, anything computery like thumb drives, discs. Go!”

Braeden flashed the light into the room. I kept Nick pinned to the wall with my hand to his chest. Everything was quiet. Still. Eerie. My gut sunk to my feet. Like I’d been caught eating the last cupcake or something.

“Crate in the back corner. Animal in it.”

“The thing hissed. Is it giant snake?” I asked.

“Can’t see good enough. The crate’s big, though.”

Hope darted back to us, holding up a manila folder. “Drawers all empty except this. Says Subject 41122.”

Oh great. More subjects. My number was 47321. And there was a crate with an animal in that room. No scientists. Dang it something felt off.

Braeden looked again. “Clear. Come on.”

We filed in, well, Hope and I did, but I had to yank Nick in.

“Get off me,” he yelled.

“Can I hit him?” Hope stepped up to Nick. “I’ve always wanted to. Maybe knock him out?”

“You an alien, too?” Nick lunged at Hope. “Wouldn’t doubt it, freak.”

“Shut up,” Braeden said and pointed his light at the cage.

Taloned fingers curled through the wires. The nails weren’t black or anything. But from what I could tell by the way the creature was folded up into that large crate, it was tall. It had red eyes and long, white hair.

Even Nick stopped fussing.

“What the craptastic is that?” Hoped asked.

“Subject 41122,” Braeden said as he touched a small plaque above the door to the wire prison.

The creature swiped its fingers through the openings and let out a menacing growl. He had really long fingers and he almost got a piece of Braeden.

He rattled the cage and hissed, red eyes glaring at Braeden, then Hope and Nick. I stepped forward, wondering if I’d lived in a cage like this. Possible, I guess.

The creature cocked its head and sniffed then clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. The noise was loud, and the creature did that for a few seconds then tilted his head again.

More clicking—it sounded like a cluck almost. He shook the cage again and clucked some more.

Then it dawned on me. “Are you talking?”

The creature stopped. He closed his eyes and let out a few more clucks. A subtle glow along his throat zipped to his mouth and eyes, and he gasped.

“Out. Me out.” He spoke English.

His voice was deep, yet quiet. And there was a little accent to it. It didn’t sound familiar, but it was there.

“Please. Out.” His eyes went wide. “Sir.”

“Sounds like you,” Hope said, “I mean the please and sir thing.”

I looked at Braeden. “What do you think?”

“Can you understand me?” Braeden asked the creature.

He nodded. “Please. Out. No hurt. No hurt.”

“You won’t hurt us?” I asked.

“No. Sir. Out please.”

I reached for the lock. “Do you know where the key is?”

“Crap,” Hope said. “I didn’t see anything in the desk.”

“Don’t let that thing out!” Nick shoved me. “You’re crazy! It’s a monster. You can’t—”

“Shut up, jerkwad,” Hope said.

I leaned toward the cage. “Ease back, please.”

The creature did as I said, and I grabbed hold of the padlock. The metal was cold. Hard corners. I widened my stance and squeezed like crazy.

And it crumbled.

I pulled open the door, and the creature crawled out with a groan. I swear I heard bones cracking as he rose to full height.

“Holy cow. How’d he break that?” Nick asked.

The creature stood eye to eye with me. He was thin like me.

“Thank you.” He bowed slightly. “Brother.”

“Oh my gosh,” Hope said. “You’re a fairy.”

He nodded then looked at me. “As are you.”

“You’re talking English,” Hope said.

The Fairy growled. Black lines crept along his temple. A flash of dark red blasted through his already red eyes.

“She’s not a bad human,” I said. “We’re here to help.”

“Realm of the Humans. Bad.” He glanced around and pointed at Nick. “Bad human.”

Nick, Braeden, me, and Hope surrounded him. He was tall as me and as skinny, but his white flesh and wicked-looking eyes did the trick for tripping my scared button. Despite how skinny he was, I didn’t doubt he had some power at the end of his fists.

“Where’d all the lab coats go?” Braeden asked.

He quirked an eyebrow at Braeden.

“Scientists? The bad people in white coats? And yeah, how are you speaking English all of a sudden?”

His fists tightened.

“Talk later, get home now,” I said. “Well, my home. I’m not sure where we are, actually.”

“I heard them say desert. I am familiar with that word. Sand. Isolated.”

“America?” I asked. “There are deserts all over the world.

“Do not know,” he said, stepped toward me. “What are you, exactly?”

“Tell you later.” I held up The Coin. “Let’s get you out of here.”

“Coin of Srupiso.” He stepped back. “You Jumper.”

“Evidently.”

“Get home? My mother. It’s been so long.”

“How long?” Hope asked.

“Many moons. Lost track.” He held up his hands and a glow encompassed them again.

“What is that?” I asked.

“My power. It weak. They did something to me.” He scratched the back of his head.

“Come on,” I said, reaching for Hope as I gripped The Coin. “We should go.”

“But, we need the scientists!” She looked at the Fairy. “Where’d they go?”

He hissed as he towered over Hope. To her credit she didn’t back down a bit.

“Hiss all you want at me, buddy. But if you know something, you better tell because in less than 48 hours, Earth will be vaporized by the King-type-dude of the Realms. So you better—”

“What?” Nick screamed.

I shoved him against the wall beside the door. “Shut up!”

“The Realm King?” The Fairy grabbed Hope’s shoulders. “Tell me what you know.”

“Hey, now.” I pried his fingers from her. “Back off.”

“You’re strong.” He shook out his hand. “But—”

The door behind us burst open. “Freeze!”

“Help me!” Nick darted toward the three army guys aiming guns at us. “They kidnapped me. Help me!”

The guy in front grabbed Nick and snaked his arm around his throat. Nick clawed at the arm and kicked up. “Hey. What are you doing?”

“Dang it, Nick,” Hope yelled.

A guy with black-rimmed glasses, wearing a white coat stepped through the wall of warriors. “You will give us the creature. Or I will take your friend.”

Hope laughed. “He’s not our friend. You can have him.”

Nick squirmed. “You can’t do this. You—”

Army Guy jostled Nick and said, “Step away from the creature.”

“Get ready to run,” Braeden whispered.

The Fairy looked at my foster brother, and he tilted his head slightly to the side. Then nodded as if he’d heard something more than what Braeden had just said.

Braeden waved his hand. Two of the three army guys flew to the side.

The third one’s gun flashed.

The fairy lifted his glowing hands toward the door. Bullets froze. Mid-air.

“Can’t. Hold. Long,” the fairy gasped. Black lines formed along his temple from his eyes. Veins bulged in his neck.

“How do we get out of here?” I yelled.

“Door. Behind them,” the fairy gasped.

Braeden batted the remaining guy to the side. “Grab Nick, let’s—”

“He’s gone!” Hope yelled.

“Run!”

~~~~~~

Join us Friday for Chapter 26 of Watcher of the Realms. Be sure to subscribe to the site to not miss a single chapter of Riley’s adventures.

A big thank you to Sizzling PR for the Realm Jumper graphics.

CLICK HERE to see previous chapters.

See you soon….

Watcher of the Realms Chapter 24

Watcher of the Realms BannerYou’ve entered the world of The Realm Jumpers. The adventure with Riley and his trusty gang continues…

Chapter 24

“No. No. No. No way.” Braeden put his hands up and stomped back toward his bed. “Absolutely not.”

“We have to try it. The Kurators busted up another science lab today and found nothing,” I said.

“They will. Or Tish will do her thing. Like she said she would.”

“And if it’s not in time?” We needed to have a back-up plan.

“It will be.”

“You want to take that chance?” I sat on his bed. “Risk Earth?”

He jammed his hands into his hair. There wasn’t much to grab since it was nearly shaved. “I say we try and plug you in again. That might—”

“We’ve tried twice.” And it felt like they’d jammed an ice pick into my skull. Not to mention we only got a blank screen. Pretty much like how they found me. Nothing. Empty.

“But I could try another hack. You know—”

“And mess me up more? No thanks.” Last thing I needed was brain matter dribbling out of my ears.

“I should have grabbed more equipment from the place we found you. I could have figured it out.” Braeden stomped to his closet. “Fine. But…we’re going prepared this time.”

I hopped up. “You’ll do it?”

“Look, kid, I didn’t want to hack your brain any more than you wanted it hacked. And I sure as heck don’t want the world to vaporize. I have a date this Friday.” He dragged a duffel bag from the back of his closet and pulled out a small handgun. “Let me show you a few things. Just in case.”

After a quick weapons training session, Braeden, Hope and I hopped our bikes and took off toward the school soccer field. Tish was with J2 on their way back from Texas so we were in the clear.

“Okay, this is how it’s gonna go down.” Braeden tipped his bike against a tree trunk. Hope and I did the same. “I’m in charge. What I say goes.” He patted his thighs and chest.

Since I didn’t have any army fatigues, and his didn’t fit me, I borrowed Jeff’s shirt and wore it with my own black jeans.

Hope showed up to the house looking more like a burglar than anything else. Black pants and shirt. She wore a black skullcap, too. I had to laugh, but that changed when she punched me.

Strong girl.

“Here under the cover of trees.” Braeden nodded toward me. “You got The Coin?”

I held it up.

“Memorize this area. The trees. Our bikes. So you can be sure to Jump us right back here.”

The moon wasn’t quite up, but I could see enough to remember. Plus, I’d spent tons of time at the soccer fields.

“Okay. I think I got it.”

“Gun?” he asked.

I patted both thighs and my ankle. “Secure.”

“Knife?”

I tapped my forearm. The blade bulged beneath my thin long sleeved shirt. I sure hoped I didn’t have to use anything strapped to my body.

Then again, if I didn’t do this right, the world might end.

No pressure or anything.

“You gonna puke?” Hope grinned.

“You try carrying three guns and a knife. See how good you feel.”

“You won’t need them. Snatch and grab. Super fast.”

Like anything went that smoothly for us.

“Ready?” Braeden asked.

I nodded.

Hope and Braeden grabbed a hold of my hand and arm. “You got this, man,” he said.

I didn’t know what the scientists looked like or anything, but I just started thinking about them. Scientists who made me. I want to go to them. Land right beside them.

“It’s working,” Hope whispered.

I cracked open my eyes, still repeating the thoughts in my head. A ball of swirling darkness erupted in front of us. The size of a golf ball.

It quickly morphed into the size of the softball.

Then a soccer ball.

Wind whipped around us. Leaves slapped my face. Oh crap. Didn’t think about the things nearby. They might get sucked in with us.

And then the pull began. The bikes rattled. They were too close. What if—

“Oh my gosh!” someone yelled. “I knew it. You guys are—”

“Nick. No!” Hope yelled.

He tumbled toward us. His eyes were wide and his arms out trying to keep balanced.

But it was too late. The black hole opened and there was no way to escape the pull.

We just had an unplanned guest.

~~~~~~

Join us Wednesday for Chapter 25 of Watcher of the Realms. Be sure to subscribe to the site to not miss a single chapter of Riley’s adventures.

A big thank you to Sizzling PR for the Realm Jumper graphics.

CLICK HERE to see previous chapters.

See you soon….