Last week we announced that Kate Mathis‘ MOON OVER MONSTERS (CHRISTINA’S CHRONICLES) is our new Kids Corner Book of the Week and the sponsor of thousands of great bargains in the Kids Book category: over 250 free titles, over 500 quality 99-centers, and hundreds more that you can read for free through the Kindle Lending Library if you have Amazon Prime!
Now we’re back to offer a free Kids Corner excerpt, and if you aren’t among those who have downloaded this one already, you’re in for a treat!
by Kate Mathis
A modern day fantasy, about a girl, a dragon and an elfin prince –
Christina Casey, a sixteen year old girl, lives in Los Angeles, but she finds herself caught in the turmoil of a fantasy world, where elves rule and Dragons roam. Is it real, or is it the effects of a self-diagnosed brain tumor? When she closes her eyes, Christina is transported to another realm and becomes a silent voyeur, where she witnesses the bravery of a boy as he fights a Dragon. Consumed by the events she sees and concerned for the boy’s safety, Christina soon realizes that she alone may hold the key to this world’s secrecy and existence.
And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:
Moon Over Monsters (excerpt) by Kate Mathis PROLOGUE
It was after the scars from Earth’s violent birth were covered, hidden by abundant flora and mighty oceans, that the true magic of life was sparked. It was the moment of conception. Magic strong enough to weave its presence into the foundation of the planet’s core. The enchantments taking root, embedding into the mountains and valleys, igniting a new era.
It was time for the creation of higher intelligence and the dawn of the Age of Magic.
The soil was rich and the food plentiful. The populace was sparse and the land copious. Harmony was the only state of mind. Humans had not yet been expelled from the garden and the world was at peace.
For millions of years the planet evolved in unity with its inhabitants.
Then the silence was broken by a piercing wail, and all the creatures of the world came to investigate. They stood in wonderment over the pink newling with its red face. The fragility of this first human brought out compassion in the other species.
A summit was assembled to decide what to do with this new creature with its thin skin and no form of defense. It was the first of such gatherings, and the leaders of each tribe were in attendance.
During the forum the centaur acted as arbitrator, leading the dialogue that established the terms of action.
Unicorns were ill equipped to handle a baby, dragons were uninterested. Self-absorbed fairies were small but could watch over him at night while he slept. Dwarves, trolls, goblins and ogres could not be trusted due to their bad temper and insatiable hunger. That left the infant in the care of the fairies at night, elves and centaurs during the day.
The boy grew slowly but he was strong, kind and smart. When the second and third children were found they, too, were welcomed and cared for. By comparison, human life spans were short but they populated quickly. For two generations the species flourished until humans were capable of living on their own. The leaders of this first wave migrated to a warm, arid climate and thrived, growing in numbers. They passed on stories of the gentleness of their fellow beings to their children, but as humans developed, their true nature was exposed. Conquering lands and acquiring riches became mankind’s obsession and thus eroding the memory of their caring hosts. Gratitude gave way to jealousy. Wars broke out. Species were annihilated.
The abhorrent behavior of massacre and the obliteration of life was excused and even denied. A slight bending of the truths, rewriting history and finally with the passage of time the bloody events were manipulated and turned into legends.
Walking down the marble steps of The Los Angeles High School for the Gifted for the last time was bittersweet for Christina Casey. She was graduating as a nobody in a school of outcasts, and her stomach twisted at the thought of starting at the University of California, Los Angeles in September.
She was a week from her 16th birthday and academically she’d been ready to graduate for over a year. But her teachers and parents felt it was in Christina’s best interest to keep her back. At 4’10” and 72 pounds fully dressed Christina still had to battle for admission into a PG-13 movie and shop for clothes in the children’s department.
Recently she couldn’t shake off the incensed feeling that had roosted in her general mood. Frustration with her ‘petite’ size had given way to out right anger. She couldn’t hide her height, her childlike appearance or the fact that she didn’t have control over anything. She’d hoped graduating would be the turning point but gloom had set in.
“Bye, Christina, see you tonight.”
“Yeah, bye, Jess.” Christina waved. Sighing, she squinted out at all the other nobodies who were excited about the start of their summer vacation and aimed her dark mood at her school.
What kind of school doesn’t have a gymnasium or a school newspaper? There were no sporting events at the HSG, unless you counted chess, and who did? Without a cafeteria, everyone was required to bring lunch. No assembly hall meant that every ceremony took place in the patio or, on the rare occasions that it rained, in the math lab, the largest and least breakable classroom in the building.
She looked around campus and what had never mattered before was suddenly indefensible. She hated that there was no field for a football team or a court for basketball. There was zero support in anything outside of science. Forget drama, home economics or auto shop. There were no cheerleaders or pom-poms. And the trophy case was filled with academic or science achievements. Christina gritted her teeth, her blood boiling as she glared at the grounds. Over the past three months her list of ‘Things I Hate’ had grown exponentially.
She pulled her UV-protected hat low on her head, covering the top of her straight, shoulder-length blonde hair and shading her sensitive skin. The summer heat was sweltering as she tugged her rolling backpack the half-block along a six-lane boulevard that, depending on the time of day, was either bumper-to-bumper or a raceway. The wheels caught each crack in the broken concrete and exhaust fumes from the heavy traffic swirled around her as she made her way to the shelter of the covered bus stop.
Giant movie ads plastered both sides of the kiosk, and more than a small piece of her took pleasure in the blackened-out teeth of a formally perfect Selena Gomez.
Christina dropped to the plastic-coated bench. The stink was getting to her and the headache she’d been ignoring was beginning to rally as she closed her eyes.
The pine scent rode in on a cool breeze that turned up the ends of her hair and blew away the harsh smells of the city. Not again! She thought, keeping her eyes sealed but listened intently for the sound of rubber tires on gritty asphalt or the blare of horns honking. Her breathing came rapidly as the only sound she could hear was the rustling of the wind through leaves and a distant caw of a disturbed bird. Cautiously, opening her eyes a slit she saw trees. Big and tall. Exactly like the ones she had dreamed about last night and the night before.
The voice, familiar and out of place in this untouched wilderness, pulled her out of unconsciousness. Blinking away the sudden brightness, she stared up at the bus driver … whose bus was directly in line with her, the doors open, his face knitted with concern.
“Victor?” she asked, shaken by the contrast. She was back sitting on her bench in the heart of L.A., breathing heavily and sweating profusely.
“You okay?” Victor asked from behind the big steering wheel.
“Yeah.” She looked around, embarrassed at the line of cars backed up behind Victor’s accordion bus.
“You worried me there for a sec.” He smiled, his untamed brows nearly touching. “I thought something had happened to you.”
She rolled her eyes in an effort to appear normal but her knees trembled as she climbed the narrow steps, dragging her bag behind her. “Like I migrated to the bus stop to drop dead?”
“I’ve seen weirder stuff. You don’t want to know.” He laughed as he checked the giant rear view mirror. “Today your last day?”
“Yeah.” She flashed her L.A. Transit monthly pass. It was habit. She’d ridden Victor’s bus every day for four years. “Do you ever want to just leave them?” she asked, looking over her shoulder at the woman, yelling and waving for him to wait as she ran to catch the bus.
“Never,” he winked. “Whatcha got planned for summer?” he asked, his attention turned back to her.
Christina shrugged. “Nothing much. A college prep course in August. You know, just a warm up for us freaks before the regular students arrive.” Victor pursed his lips, gave her a disapproving look as the woman thanked him and dropped coins in the slot. Adults didn’t like the word freak, which was partly why she used it. “I mean, they want us exceptionally bright children to be familiar with the many facilities UCLA has to offer,” she amended, reciting the propaganda pamphlet. Grinning, she moved to a seat further back and leaned her head against the scratched plexi-glass window, letting the air-conditioning blow into her face. The chemically altered but deliciously normal air felt good in her lungs.
Christina wanted so badly to be normal. She clung to normalcy, but something very strange was happening to her. She was having vivid dreams, so realistic that she woke as if she hadn’t slept at all. When they started in April they were novel – quick, sweet glimpses of a snowcapped forest. As the months passed the dreams lengthened, the climate warmed, flowers bloomed and she even caught sight of a deer or two. Never having been much of a dreamer, the experience was exciting. She preferred the scenery of the forest to her usual dreams of tripping in the mud, arriving late to a test or, her least favorite, dropping her books only to notice that she’s completely naked and everyone is staring. But lately, she was nostalgic for those innocuous horrors.
The nightly adventures were taking their toll – and they had changed. Now it was as if she were actually being transported. They were so foreign and strange that she told no one. She kept the dreams to herself and hoped they’d stop.
Christina swallowed, pushing past her will to shut out what she didn’t understand. But … she chewed on her thumb nail … there had been people. No one she recognized and they spoke oddly, wore strange clothing and talked about war.
Her headache sliced into her right eyeball and she bit her lip to stop it from quivering. What happened at the bus stop meant she wasn’t safe anywhere. She couldn’t even close her eyes without the fear of falling asleep.
“I’m so tired,” she mumbled, her mind groggy and her eyelids heavy. And the cool, comfortable cradle of the bus rocked her into a doze she couldn’t fight. You can’t fall asleep. Wake up! Her inner voice commanded and her eyes snapped open, but it was too late.
Her cheap tennis shoes were already squishing into a floor of pine needles.
Christina found herself standing between tree trunks the size of pillars at the edge of a gleaming, grassy clearing. The stifling summer heat vanished, along with the pollution. It wasn’t just Christina’s knotted stomach that prevented her from running away. Like in all of her other dreams, she was at the mercy of an unseen, unknown director. Unable to move but for a slight swivel of her head and shifting of her eyes, she was forced to witness the scene set before her. She felt trapped.
Please, she silently begged, I don’t want to be here! Clamping her eyelids, she refused to participate. But the harsh cry of a nearby bird startled her out of her silent tantrum. Her heart flipped cartwheels in her chest and shot up to her throat. She scanned what she could of her surroundings with one thought … Could I get lost in a dream? There was only one true answer … Maybe. No, she fought back; it’s just a dream.
The clearing before her was circular, about the size of the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. But instead of stadium seating, this field was guarded by the most massive conifer trees Christina had ever seen. Though to be fair, the only mountain I’ve ever been to was Big Bear, she considered, and I was six.
Wanting to see the tops of these trees, she tilted her head back, the few inches that she was allowed, and still all she saw were more branches. The trees stood majestically, encircling the bright green field, protecting it from what? … King Kong? A shudder ran through her body, she’d seen the movie. She’d also seen her share of horror films that took place in seemingly pleasant forests. Every muscle flexed in her tense, rigid body as she waited for the masked man to leap out from the bushes.
Movement on the field caught her eye. The boy. She’d seen him before – he looked about her age. The first time she saw him he’d been plodding over a snowdrift wearing a cape and the same all black outfit he wore now. His long, jet-black hair was tied with leather strips down his back and his skin was as pale as hers.
Today he looked older. Maybe it was the long, steel blade he was wielding as he walked briskly through the clearing. Everything about his demeanor was odd and distinctive – like he had just stepped out of King Arthur’s court. Along with the sword, the fierce look in his dark blue eyes gave him a menacing quality but Christina didn’t feel he was the one she should be wary of. Though, he was clearly capable with the weapon – the ease and speed of his movements were refined, even to her untrained eye. He was breathtaking and she couldn’t tear her eyes off his graceful dance. She’d seen gladiators use weapons in movies but this was different. Beautiful. She felt herself being drawn to him. Mesmerized.
Without reason, at least none that she could see, he ran, chasing nothing as the grass beneath his over-the-knee boots barely swayed with the motion. His sword raised, he stood in the center of the circle and began shouting at the heavens.
“Coket!” he bellowed, his arms outstretched, his chest puffed out like a peacock and his face lit by the sun. “Stop him, Coket, or I swear I will run him through!”
I’m not really here, Christina’s mind repeated in a failed attempt to calm her nerves. Fear clogged her throat, making it difficult to breathe. Her eyes were glued on the boy as he paced the clearing, his words bouncing off the trees as if he were using a bullhorn.
Because her attention was fixed on him, she missed the incoming, deafening whoosh that drowned out the symphony playing in the highest branches of the trees. Before she could blink, whatever had made the sound was gone. Though the boy hadn’t flinched, her insides were vibrating, her heart palpitating and blood coursing.
Its second time around, she saw it. Her chin fell as her jaw dropped and her eyes burned from the rush of wind. It’s, it’s … a great red beast sparkled with gold flecks, flying above the trees. She heard the boy yelling, taunting, but she was suspended in time – her heart ready to burst – It’s a dragon!
Faster than an animal of that size should be able to travel it dominated the clearing. Blowing past her, she gaped at the … rider! In the moment that she blinked the beast lunged. It’s heading for the boy! Her breathing stopped as the saffron-colored talons slashed the air above the boy’s head.
It’s going to kill him!! Oh My God! Christina couldn’t hold it in, her scream came from the core of her soul and echoed throughout the clearing. For that instant, her fear reverberated through time and space. The boy turned and their eyes met.
The dragon was still diving and…
“Hey, Christina. This is your stop.”
Christina’s eyes flew open. Sweating and panting she looked around, dazed. The glare off the window magnified the radiance of the sun. She blinked, her heart doing acrobatics in her chest. She tried to lick her lips but her mouth was dry as if all moisture had evaporated from her body.