Excerpt for Lights Out - Book 2 by , available in its entirety at Smashwords


LIGHTS OUT

Book 2
































By Nathan Reese Maher

1st Edition, February 2017


Copyright © 2017, Nathan Reese Maher


Cover Artist: Tobias White

Editor: Sarah Strege


LIGHTS OUT, BOOK 2, All Rights Reserved


No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner without explicit written permission, except in the case of brief quotations in critical articles or reviews, from the author.


Printed in the United States.


ISBN – 978-1542680387


All characters, places and monsters are a work of fiction and any resemblance to real life is purely coincidental. This book is intended for entertainment and reading pleasure, none of it is real. Please do not investigate a store or home that appears to have been broken into, call the police and keep your distance.


This book is published in physical form in Open Dyslexic Font provided commercially free from https://opendyslexic.org


This book was made possible by the generous donations of the backers from the September 2016, “Lights Out – The Tabletop RPG” Kickstarter Campaign. Thank you all for your giving spirit and encouraging words.
















Chapter 1

“On your marks!” Abby shouted from the side walk.

All the kids had cleared off from the street and observed from a safe distance. No one knew what to expect.

Lydia edged closer to the starting line. The child who could control her long blonde hair like hands had drawn a crude line across the pavement with chalk.

Shelly checked the bottom of her shoes quickly for any rocks that could slow her down. Just like her coach had instructed her, she kneeled down so she could push off the pavement as soon as the signal was given.

“Get set…” Abby called out.

Thomas was nervous. He kept close to Abby, clutching Percy, his rabbit, tightly to his chest. Percy worried about how the outcome of the race would affect his child.

Shelly steadied her breathing so that the moment Abby gave the word she would explode into a sprint.

Lydia revved her engine just to intimidate Shelly. “Be prepared to lose, Whinny.” She taunted from her grill.

Shelly was irritated, especially now since Lydia had swallowed a car and transformed into one. Lydia was much louder and obnoxious.

“GO!”

Shelly launched herself into a sprint as Lydia tore down the street, zooming by Shelly immediately.

Lydia laughed at how quickly she got ahead and shouted back, “So long – LOSER!”

Not about to give up so easily, Shelly kept running. Just as she had several times before, the more her shoes hit the pavement the brighter her feet became. As they glowed, she felt the world as it pushed beneath her; it was a feeling as if the heated air created a pocket for her to run on. She knew her speed would only increase.

As soon as Lydia made her first turn at the end of the street, Shelly was already catching up.

Abby shouted ecstatically, “Get her, Shell!”

Thomas could not help but be caught in the excitement. “Go! Go!” He yelled, but he wasn’t sure who he was rooting for. Maybe he would get lucky and the race would end in a tie and he could remain friends with everyone. He was shocked when Lydia had used him as part of a bet – whoever won would get Thomas and the other person had to stop being his friend. He didn’t think it was fair at all, and it bothered him a lot.

As Shelly reached the turn, she pivoted on her heel without missing a beat. Meanwhile, Lydia had to slow down in order to make the turn safely.

While Lydia kept one eye focused on the road, she tried to keep her other eye on her rearview mirror. She hadn’t realized that Shelly could keep building up speed and there didn’t seem to be a limit. On foot, Lydia knew she could beat Shelly, but Shelly’s patch prevented her from claiming victory.

It just isn’t fair! Lydia thought. Shelly was gaining on her and it wouldn’t be long before she’d reach the other turn. She has to be cheating.

The sole remaining Gaines knew she had to do whatever it took to win.

Turning the corner, Lydia lost a few additional seconds to Shelly, just as before. As soon as Lydia was in the clear, she boosted her speed, causing her engine to roar. The sound echoed loudly across the neighborhood.

To Shelly, the houses passed by in a blur and the lines on the street became one solid streak of white. Shelly made the turn perfectly, but as she was about to hit the new street, she stumbled slightly; enough where it caused the pavement to crack. Her foot skidded and ripped up concrete, which built in a pile around her heel. Shelly used it to kick off from to ensure she was able to stay in the race. Her feet now glowed so brightly that they burst into bluish flames that flickered wildly behind her.

Shelly came up to Lydia’s bumper in seconds but when she attempted to pass, Lydia veered into her to cut her off.

“Woah! Watch it—!“ Shelly cried out.

Her heart leapt into her throat, her feet landed wrong and immediately Shelly’s shoes skipping down the street like a rock across a pond. Shelly didn’t know how to stop herself; she was certain she’d fall and worse – with her shoes the way they were – she knew she was going to crash into something or someone! Desperate, she tried to correct herself, but instead her feet kicked up from under her and the pavement came up fast. Shelly closed her eyes and braced for impact.


Chapter 2

When there wasn’t a crash, Shelly cautiously opened her eyes. Her body was still, she was no longer running or even on the street for that matter. She was surrounded by branches and leaves.

Somehow, she had landed in a tree!

Lydia saw that Shelly had lost her footing, possibly even crashed, as she could no longer see her. Good riddance, Lydia thought as she breathed a sigh of relief. She grinned as best as a car could. I’ve finally knock that smirk off Shelly’s face. Now everyone will know I’m the fastest.

Upon nearing the third turn, something big and yellow appeared directly in front of Lydia. It was a person and they were going to collide! Lydia turned sharply to the right. She skidded across the road and spun out into someone’s front yard. In all the chaos, Lydia lost control of her stomach and she threw up the car. The vehicle landed unharmed near her as she planted face first onto the grass.

Confused on how she got there to begin with, Shelly adjusted herself and climbed down the tree. Thomas spotted her first, as he was only a few houses away.

“Hey! What were you doing in a tree? You’re supposed to be racing.” He laughed loud enough that it captured everyone’s attention.

Shelly took another glance at the tree, trying to figure out the answer herself, before she began her brief trek towards the awaiting children. Suddenly someone grabbed her shoulder and she was jerked instantly to them.

She cried out in surprise and, for a moment, she felt as if she was going to fall over.

“Whoa! Who is she?” Abby asked.

The person was just lifting their hand off Shelly when she was able to identify who it was.

“Aloha Oukou. It looked like your soul was escaping so I put you in a tree. My name is Haukea, in case you forgot.”

Nervous, Shelly replied, “I-I remember you, Haukea. YOU put me in that tree?” She asked in disbelief.

“Yes – and here you are whole again, ku’u momi makamae.”

“How did you do that?” Abby asked excitedly.

One of the gawking children, the six-year old with the long hair, echoed Abby. “Yes! How did you do that?”

“I just step and the world moves beneath my feet, which is very kind of it. I sometimes fear I’d fall off of it if it didn’t.”

“So…” Shelly was a bit confused. “Do you teleport, like Felicity Bell of the Wonderkins?” The Wonderkins was one of the few TV shows she watched religiously.

“No. I step. The Earth moves. That’s it.”

“That’s like me!” Said the smaller Mendoza boy. “I open a door and I can go to any other door that I know.”

Haukea blinked a few times. “That sounds different. I can see it as very important though.”

A voice erupted over their conversation. “You nearly killed me!” Lydia accused as she stomped in their direction. Her clothes were covered in grass stains. Her face was red and her eyes narrowed at Haukea.

“What happened, Leedee?” Percy asked as he leapt to the ground from Thomas’ arms.

Lydia Gaines pointed her finger with rage at Haukea. “You stood in the middle of the street on purpose! You made me crash!”

The older Mendoza sister spoke up. “Sounds like you almost killed her. Do you even have a driver’s license?”

“What?! Don’t be ridiculous! I’m not old enough to have a driver’s license. Why would I have one?”

The smaller girl in the purple dress and the bubble parasol snottily remarked, “Well you shouldn’t be driving if you don’t have a license.”

“I wasn’t driving a car. I was the car! I don’t need a license to drive myself!”

“You were still driving.” The boy taunted; his dark hair hidden beneath his baseball hat.

“Ugh!” The rich blonde roared. “You’re all so frustrating! I hate you.” She pointed at Shelly. “Don’t think this is over! I’m the fastest and everyone knows it!” She stalked away. “Come on, Thomas! We’re leaving!”

Thomas picked Percy back up and squeezed him tightly. He didn’t budge.

His cousin briefly halted her tantrum. “Thomas! We’re going!” She repeated harshly.

He finally shook his head. “I want to stay here.” He said in a small whisper.

“What did you say!?” Lydia shouted more out of disbelief than out of hearing him.

Thomas shrank into himself and started to cry.

Percy spoke for him. “Sir Thomas doesn’t wish to go with you, Lydia.”

Her eyes narrowed as if her little cousin had betrayed her. “Fine! I’m better off without you anyways.” She turned away and kept walking without looking back.

Shelly went down on her knee to look Thomas in the eyes. “Are you okay?”

Abby quickly joined them too, wanting to show him that she was there for him if he needed her.

Thomas sniffed to hold back his tears. “Something’s wrong.” He inhaled. “Leedee is never this mean.”

“Lydia has been nothing but mean to us, Shell, but I think Thomas is right. She was way meaner than usual. She even bet Thomas in a race. Who would do that?” Abby asked as she fidgeted with one of her braids.

“You may both be right.” Shelly contemplated. “I should go back and have a talk with Arthur and Mindy. They may know more about that patch Mindy sewed onto Lydia’s soul.”

“Patch?” The girl in the purple dress asked.

“Oh – Um…” Shelly paused in realization that most everyone didn’t know. “The reason we have these powers is because there are patches stitched on to our souls. We found one and Lydia had it sewn on by a girl who works at the SOK Market.”

“So… You think there’s something bad with these patches?” The girl let go of her parasol that she had copied from the Mendoza sister. The parasol changed back into a string of bubbles and they all popped at once.

“I’m not sure.” Shelly shrugged. “What I do know is that anyone who has their eighteenth birthday turns into a monster. That’s what happened to Lydia brother. He tried to eat us.”

The long-haired first-grader began to shake. She hugged her teddy bear tightly. “Monsters?! How did you get away?”

Shelly looked back at Thomas and decided it wasn’t the best time to talk about it. “I’ll tell you all later, okay?” She stood back up once she noticed that Thomas was in better spirits.

“Okay!” The little tike smiled widely. “My name is Clarissa Betterman. What’s yours?”

“Shelly Wynn.” She replied.

“I’m Ximena Mendoza and this is my brother Javier Maximiliano Mendoza.” Offered the girl in the fluffy black dress with the white trim.

“Don’t call me Javier.” He petitioned his sister. “Call me Max, okay?”

The girl with the ebony skin smoothed out her purple dress. “I’m Jasmine King.”

“I’m Fang Gan.” Said the boy in the baseball cap who had whistled for them earlier.

“I’m Abby McMullen. This is Thomas LeRue and Sir Percy Rabbit.” She laughed.

Clarissa wrapped her hair around her like a blanket. “Shelly?”

“Yeah?” Shelly replied after Thomas wiped his eyes on his sleeve and gave a small smile.

“I’m hungry.”

Shelly looked to Thomas and then to everyone else before settling on Abby. “Can you help Clarissa? I should take Thomas back to the SOK Market to get some answers about his cousin.”

“No sweat!” Abby stated. “Everyone can come to my place for some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.” Abby took Clarissa by the hand. “And Shell… please be careful. That place gives me the creeps.”

Shelly gave Abby a thumbs up. “I’ll do my best.” Shelly remembered that she should thank Haukea for saving her but realized she vanished.

“Well Thomas,” Shelly asked as she took one last look around for the girl in the yellow dress. “Are you and Percy ready to go?”

Percy nodded and Thomas managed a thumbs up.


Chapter 3

“Are you doing any better?” Shelly asked as she walked with Thomas while they pushed their bicycles along the side of the street.

“I guess so.” His voice was glum, and he kept his eyes to the sidewalk.

Percy rode in the front basket of Thomas’ bike. He faced both of them; one ear drooped but the other was perked.

Thomas took a few moments before he looked up at Shelly. “Do you think there’s something wrong with the Leedee’s patch?”

“I don’t know.” Shelly replied, unsure of what to say. She adjusted her hula hoop on her shoulder. “I mean… she’s not the friendliest person at school.”

Percy joined in. “Leedee has always been the best to us. She’s kind, considerate and has never let us down. Well…” His ears twitched. “At least not until today. Circumstances being as they are.”

Thomas nodded his head. “You’re right, Percy. She’s always been nice to us.”

“Oh—” Shelly stopped for a moment and realized that perhaps it was best not to sour his perception of his cousin. “Well… that’s probably because you’re such a great cousin. I can’t imagine anyone being mean to you, even Lydia for that matter.”

Thomas smiled widely. “You really think so?”

“Of course – you are great!” The rabbit exclaimed as he leaned against the wall of the basket. “You are a wondrous child with many fantastic traits. You should be proud of who you are.”

Thomas couldn’t contain his happiness and he giggled. “Thanks you two!” He took a moment to allow his laughter to wear itself out before speaking again. “For a little while, I thought there was something wrong with me.”

“No!” Shelly blurted out. It frustrated her that Lydia had made him think that about himself. “There’s nothing wrong with you at all. Sometimes people say or do things that are mean because there's something the matter with them. With Lydia, it seems there’s always something wrong with her.”

“Like what?” Thomas asked with concern.

Shelly worried that she may have said too much. “I-I’m not sure exactly.”

The truth was, Shelly had never thought about it. Lydia had always come across as someone who was constantly aimed at distressing others. In fact, hearing that she’s been nice to others was really surprising to her.

“Maybe I should find out.” She thought out loud.

“That’s a very brave thing to do, Lady Shelly.” Percy commended.

“Brave? How so?”

“You’re seeking to understand the root of her misgivings. Perhaps recognizing the cause, you two can find a way to mend the rift between you. That’s being brave.”

“I’ll be honest, Percy. I’ve never really considered it until just now.”

“You obviously care about her.” Thomas jumped in. “Why else would you go through all this trouble to help her?”

Care about Lydia Gaines? Shelly thought. “Maybe I do.” She admitted openly. The idea of sitting around when someone was in pain, especially if there was something she could do about it, just didn’t sit well with her.

They came across the location where the SOK Market had been earlier that morning. The neon sign still shone brightly, despite it being early in the afternoon. The house looked as dilapidated as ever, and felt far more sinister than it had the first time they encountered it.

“Do you think they’ll let us in?” Thomas asked as he looked the house over.

“I don’t see why not.” Shelly affirmed. “They let us in last time.”

“Last time we had an invitation.” Percy reminded them.

Shelly put up the kickstand to her bike and unslung her hoop she had been carrying with her the entire way.

“I’m sure it’ll be okay. I don’t see much of a line, do you?” Shelly jokingly pointed out.

“Nope!” Thomas concluded with joy.

Cautiously, Shelly approached the front door. Just as Lydia had, she let herself in. The door knocked into a bell to announce their arrival. Shelly was careful to hold the door open so that Thomas and Percy could easily follow her inside.

The lobby was empty. The front desk was vacant.

“Hello?” Shelly called out awkwardly. After no answer she asked, “I wonder where he is.”

“Maybe he’s in the bathroom.” Thomas exclaimed.

Shelly chuckled. “Why do you say that?”

“I kind of need to go.” He giggled.

Percy looked around. “I don’t know where they would keep one. It may be impolite to use it without asking.”

Shelly examined some of the adjoining doors in the foyer. She attempted the knobs but found that the doors were locked.

“No luck there.” She tried a few others and encountered the same problem. “That’s strange. Why was the front door unlocked and the sign still on if no one is here?”

Percy’s ears twitched and he looked up to where the stairs led up to the higher floors. “Maybe that Arthur fellow is upstairs.”

Thomas and Shelly both glanced up to where the rabbit had suggested. The velvet rope that previously blocked it off was unhooked and dangled to the floor. A red carpet ran up the stairs like a giant tongue.

“Well, the rope is down, so it must be okay, right?” Thomas asked.

Shelly shrugged her shoulders with a reassuring smile. “I don’t see a sign that says otherwise, so it must be. Let’s try upstairs. Maybe we can find Arthur that way.”

“And a bathroom!” Thomas asserted happily.

“That too!” Shelly agreed. She wandered to the base of the stairs. She adjusted the hula hoop on her shoulder and stared up at the shadows of the upper floor.

The walls were plastered with a faded floral wallpaper with square spots on the wall where picture frames once hung. There were gas-fed wall sconces that reached out to grab anyone who strayed too close to the wall. Shelly only knew about them because she went on the 7th grade field trip to Laliz Pouce’s mansion on the bluffs on the east side of town.


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