Friday, February 27, 2015

Excerpt From Kid Sensation #4

I am still working hard on Revelation - the next Kid Sensation book - but haven't managed to finish it yet, despite my best intentions.  Between family obligations, travel for the day job (e.g., I was in 3 states over a four-day period recently), and other issues, I just haven't been able to write as much as I'd planned.  That said, I'm close to wrapping it up. (In my own opinion, all I need is five good writing days to get it done.) Right now, assuming no other hiccups, I'm hopeful I can get it published in March (although it may be towards the latter part of the month).

In the meantime, since I know fans of the series have been waiting a long time, I thought it might be fun to publish an excerpt from the book.  (One caveat: my editor hasn't gotten her hands on this yet, so you're getting a rare glimpse of the sausage-making process.) Hopefully it will whet everyone's appetite for the upcoming release:


“Alpha Prime’s cell phone stopped functioning two days ago,” Mouse said. “Somewhere in the Midwest.”
“What does that mean, ‘stopped functioning?’” I asked.
“It means the battery died,” Mouse said in exasperation. “Or he dropped it in the ocean, or it got run over by a tank, or a million other things that would make it stop working.”
I looked at Megaton. “In that case, I guess it’s okay that we didn’t bother leaving him a message this afternoon.”
“Hold on,” Electra said. “You called Alpha Prime this afternoon? How’s that possible if his phone stopped working two days ago?”
Mouse wagged a finger at her. “You’re confusing the phone with the phone line, for lack of a better term. If someone turns their phone off or their battery dies, a caller will still hear the phone ring, be able to leave a message, and so on. Basically, the rest of the phone network will still work properly; it’s just the end device that’s not functioning.”
“Well, what about his communicator?” my uncle asked.
“This is where it gets weird,” Mouse said. “It’s not on the planet.”
“If it’s not on the planet, then where is it?” Electra asked.
“Outer space is a good guess,” Mouse replied.
Megaton’s face was a textbook example of incredulity. “Outer space?? Where in outer space?!” he practically demanded.
“The Crab Nebula, man – I don’t know,” Mouse replied with a shrug. “All I can tell you is that right around the time AP’s cell phone stopped working, his communicator went arcing into the upper atmosphere from the same geographic area.  Within thirty minutes it was in outer space. A few hours later it went beyond our ability to track.”
“Are you saying that Alpha Prime is somewhere in outer space?” asked Megaton.
“I don’t know,” Mouse answered, shaking his head. “But he’s had off-planet missions before. Still, he wouldn’t take off on something like that without telling people.”
            Mouse glanced in my direction as he finished speaking, and I knew what he was implying. My father was so dedicated to our building a relationship that he’d never have simply disappeared without getting word to me.
            “So, could he have been kidnapped by aliens or something?” Electra asked.
            Mouse rubbed his chin in thought. “It wouldn’t be the first instance of an alien race trying something like that, but if they did I’d expect there to be news coverage of an interstellar spaceship being ripped to shreds.”
            Megaton chuckled at the thought. “Yeah, that’s what happened last time.”
            “Assuming we can rule out extraterrestrial intervention,” Li said, “perhaps we should consider the forces already established as inimical to Alpha Prime.”
            “If you’re asking what can hurt him,” I said. “the answer is very little.  That said, he’s been known to be susceptible to magic.”
            “Also time dilation,” Megaton volunteered.
            “There are also certain natural phenomena that could, theoretically, harm him,” Mouse added, “but I don’t think he’s had exposure to any of those.”
            “Any chance he just took off for some R and R?” Electra suggested hopefully. “Maybe a few days of downtime to recharge his batteries?”
            To the general public, her question would have been perceived as ludicrous.  Physically, Alpha Prime was inexhaustible; he didn’t get tired, drained, fatigued, what have you.  However, what very few knew was that, emotionally and mentally, my father had grown incredibly weary of being a cape.  Maybe it was the stress of being held up as the world’s greatest superhero, the gold standard, but he’d told me on more than one occasion that he was ready to give it all up.
Perhaps Megaton and Mouse knew this about my father as well, because they took Electra’s question seriously, staring at one another as each silently contemplated what she had said.
            “What do you think?” Megaton asked after a few seconds.
            Mouse seemed to physically waver, heading bobbing from side to side, as he tossed the question around in his brain.
            “Well,” Mouse finally said, “he does have that little hideaway.”
            I didn’t say anything, but I knew what they were talking about. My father had a secret base that served as his retreat from the world whenever he needed a little time to himself.
            “If you’re talking about AP’s little clandestine stronghold,” Electra said, “he might be there, but nobody knows where it is.”
            “I do,” said Megaton.
            “Me, too,” said Mouse.
            Frankly speaking, I was a little surprised (and maybe a little jealous). My father hadn’t even told me where his secret base was, and he was desperate for us to develop a normal father-son bond.
            “So if we know where it is, what are we waiting for?” Electra asked in agitation.
            Any anxiety on her part was understandable. Electra was an orphan who had been raised by the Alpha League since infancy; AP was a father-figure to her. (One of several, in fact.) Our dating had made things a little awkward for Alpha Prime, but he had dealt with it admirably. The fact that he might be missing made any distress Electra was feeling justifiable.
            “It’s not that easy, Electra” Mouse said. “On those few occasions when he’s actually been injured, that stronghold, as you put it, has been the place that Alpha Prime usually retreated to.”
            “Why is that?” asked Li.
            “Because the place is equipped with formidable automatic defenses,” Megaton answered. “And by ‘formidable,’ I mean lethal.”
“It’s beyond lethal,” Mouse countered. “We’re talking weapons and technology capable of roasting a planet, and not all of it terrestrial in origin. After all, it would be intended to stop something or someone capable of injuring Alpha Prime.”
            “So basically, no one’s getting in there without an invitation,” Electra summarized.
            “More or less,” Mouse said, drumming his fingers on the worktable. “However, I’m betting there’s one person Alpha Prime would definitely have given access to. Someone he would have allowed to come and go as they pleased.”
            “Someone whose biometrics he would have fed into his defense system so they could enter in safety,” Megaton added, catching on.
I felt a hollow pit in my stomach, plainly seeing where this conversation was going.
            “Who?” Electra asked, her brow furrowed. “Who?”
            Mouse hesitated for a second, then said, “His son.”
            “You mean Paramount?” asked Electra, her tone making it clear that this was something of an anticlimactic revelation. “He’s still locked up who-knows-where, with no chance of ever getting out.”
            “No, not Paramount,” Mouse said. “His other son.”
            Shock and confusion fought for supremacy on Electra’s face, as well as on an emotional level within her. This was plainly news to her, and it wasn’t immediately clear how she would react.
            “What other son?” she muttered after a few seconds, obviously still processing what she had just heard.
            There was dead silence as Mouse and Megaton both looked in my direction.
            “Me,” I said flatly.

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