Of course, you can always read the sample chapter on Amazon, but I would love for you to read it here if you want.
“Stop worrying, Chris,” my cousin Julie insisted. The two of us stood at the end of Aunt Sally’s driveway, waiting in a signature thick, Orangeboro Kentucky fog for the school bus. “You won’t be picked on, I promise.”
I didn’t like having a fourteen-year-old talk to me like that. After all, I was going on eighteen. But I did need the reassurance. I’d always been homeschooled before Mom and Dad died and I imagined I’d be one to get bullied in a public school.
“Aren’t you a little worried about your first day of high school?” I thought she looked it, standing with her arms crossed, shifting her weight from one foot to the other.
“No.” She rushed to defend herself. “And I’m not scared of him either.”
“Who’s him?” I couldn’t help teasing her about what I expected to be her crush.
“Nobody. Just a kid at school.”
I shrugged my shoulders, going back to listening to the bears moaning around in the woods behind us. I knew even then Julie was wrong, but I didn’t care about asking her more.
I took a deep breath as the enormous, yellow machine emerged from the fog, stopping three feet from us. Aunt Sally had better be right about the school kids here, I didn’t feel like using my rusty karate on them.
“Good morning,” a short, sandy-haired driver sang out as I climbed on behind Julie. He reminded me of an old crab I’d found on the beach near my Florida home. “Welcome to Orangeboro High.”
“Thanks,” I said, following Julie to an empty seat.
More kids than I thought existed around the town pleasantly smiled and greeted me. A couple even shook my hand. Surrounded by this much cheerful chatter, I began to feel that maybe I wouldn’t have any trouble in school.
That only lasted until he got on the bus.
The driver stopped in front of an overgrown driveway, with a broken gate and smashed-up mailbox. An old, semi-Victorian style house was only just visible through the trees and fog. It looked like it must have been a grand mansion, but boarded windows and fallen chimneys made it look uninhabited.
The bus door slid open, grinding reluctantly. My observation of the house shattered by the horrible noise, I noticed that everyone had suddenly fallen silent and now sat still in their seats.
Hardly daring, I turned my head the slightest bit towards the door.
A thin kid, who looked younger than me despite his extreme height, pulled himself onto the bus. He wore a t-shirt, ripped up jeans, and a hooded jacket that must’ve been at least three sizes too big, all black. His face, partly hidden by glasses and long dark hair, seemed like it had once been perpetually happy, but was now shut hard. I couldn’t see his eyes through the thick-lensed glasses, but knew they had to be strange.
He mumbled a greeting to the driver, without answer. It almost seemed like the latter was trying to hide behind the steering wheel.
Then the boy turned, gripping the backs of two seats with his oversized, gnarly hands, swinging himself forward like I’d been told not to do so many times over the summer in Aunt Sally’s kitchen.
All the other kids turned away, terrified expressions on their faces. Julie glared at him for half a second and then inched closer to me with her eyes on the floor.
He kept coming closer the same way, grabbing the backs of seats and hauling himself forward. A pained look creased his face each time he moved. When he was about halfway to my seat, I saw why. His right leg was twisted almost backwards and unable to bend at the knee.
Startled, my eyes shot to his face. He caught my gaze and held it motionless. The eyes I had expected to see behind the glasses were still not visible as he stared straight at me, so strongly that it seemed more like through me.
The only thing I could feel was desperation. Whether I was desperate to break away so that I could breathe again or if it came from him, I couldn’t tell.
After what seemed like an eternal stare, he flashed a strange half smile like light beaming through cloud and mercifully moved on to the back seat.
I had expected—more like hoped—that the buzz of conversation would pick up once he was seated, but it didn’t. The silence that he brought on the bus stayed, suffocating all the friendliness and warmth that I felt before.
That bus ride seemed to last forever, but was probably less than an hour. When it finally ended, I found myself rushing for the door, gasping for breath and feeling as if I’d just come out of a long, dark, airless tunnel.
“Chris?” Julie’s voice shattered my relief.
“You stay away from him,” she said, nodding at the bus, then turned and ran into the brick school building with the rush of kids.
I glanced back at the bus and saw the kid with the limp staring at me through the windows as he made his way towards the door.
As curious as I was, I fully intended to stay away from him.
Elfboy is the first book of The Pizza Shop Chronicles, taking place in the rural small town of Orangeboro, Kentucky, the fall of 2018. It can be purchased here and is also available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.
Thank you for reading, I look forward to seeing you around Orangeboro, where I can often be found hanging around Benny’s Pizza or wherever I think I might find a good story, and there are many of them around here! The next one, though it doesn’t happen for a few years after Elfboy, I assure you it is a grand story, perhaps even better written as I find that my writing grows better everyday. You can find a sample of the sequel, Goblinprince, here.
Come back soon! 🙂