It's finally here! The Sentinel Archives: Through the Portal will go live on Amazon.
I'm so excited about this new series and think you'll enjoy it as well, no matter what age you are.
I've decided to extend my .99¢ sale until October 12th to allow for some promo spots. After that, the price goes up to $2.99.
If you haven't had a chance to check out the free previews I've posted in my newsletter and had up on Wattpad,, you can still read Through the Portal for free if you are a Kindle Unlimited subscriber.
For now, here's a bit more on what the story is about, and a sample chapter. Enjoy!
Thirteen-year-old Malakai Ian LeCrue wants to someday perform with his bike at Xtreme sports events around the world. He dreams of cheering fans, trophies lining his room and being someone special.
What he doesn't want are the talking rabbits, snakes threatening to kill him, and the little winged beings that visit his room in the night.
But ever since his dad disappeared and his family moved in with Crazy Pops, his life has taken an alarming turn into Weirdsville.
Malakai LeCrue pedaled his battered BMX Mongoose faster, flying along the road’s shoulder like a hawk after a mouse.
A faded blue van whizzed past. The rush of air wobbled Kai’s handlebars. The wind, filled with the scent of pines and damp earth, cooled his sweat-drenched face. He slowed his speed. Nervous tingles crept up his chest to his armpits. That was too close. Kai stopped to reposition his helmet. Why couldn’t they make decent roads here in Hicksville?
He glanced at his watch and gasped. Somehow he had to beat Mom home before the phone call came and completely ruined his birthday weekend. Maybe he should go back to the bridge and take the trail through the woods. Checking the narrow two-lane road for any more cars, he placed his foot on the pedal, when he saw it.
“Hey, what’s that?” He stood on his tippy toes to get a better look at the patch of red-brown earth across the road. Formerly occupied by a Christmas tree farm, the land was now covered in yellow bulldozers, diggers, and dump trucks clearing a patch next to a pile of massacred trees.
Kai squinted at the blue sign planted in the raw earth. Harksdale City Builders shown in white across the top. He leaned forward, looking at the sketch.
A couple of the tractors off to the side were at a stand-still. It would be so cool to sit in one of those bulldozers, just for a few minutes.
Mom’s voice bellowed inside his head, Malakai Ian LeCrue, why can’t you simply do what you’re told? That would not include checking out the awesome big trucks.
Besides, if Mr. Griggs went through on his threat to call Mom about that unfinished science report, Kai might face being grounded at least until Christmas, if not until next summer. For sure, he could kiss goodbye the new Mongoose bike Mom promised to buy him for his thirteenth birthday. All he wanted was the bike. With his friends left back in Colorado, it wouldn’t be much of a celebration anyway.
He sighed. Maybe they’d build a strip mall across the street. That’d be awesome. Kai looked around at the surrounding ranches and woods. Hope dissolved like melted ice-cream. As if a real shopping center would fit here in the piney woods of Texas, where the biggest-selling items were lumber, livestock feed, and tractors.
A horn blared. Kai’s head snapped up. In the oncoming lane, a small, yellow sports car swerved back and forth, brakes squealing, before blowing past.
He pulled his bike closer to the road’s edge. That’s when Kai saw why the car had nearly lost control. A group of about six rabbits sat in the road, looking down one side. Then they turned and looked up his side, as if checking to see if it was safe to cross.
Kai squeezed his eyes shut. No, rabbits don’t check before crossing the road!
Slowly, he peered through his lashes. They were still there, as if waiting for a chance to cross.
“Not my problem.” Kai started to turn his bike in the opposite direction. If he hurried home and found the missing project, maybe he’d have time to get it done before Mom blew her top.
As he set his foot on the pedal, Dad’s voice broke into his head. We’re their caregivers, Malakai. It’s our responsibility to help those in need when we can, to take care of this earth, to… disappear and leave your family hanging? Kai shook away the voice.
A large brown rabbit with a white circle around one eye hopped toward the blacktop, stopped, then lifted its front paw and waved.
It didn’t just wave, but rather motioned for him to come across the street. Impossible!
Kai squeezed his eyes shut again. Stop, stop, stop. I’m not seeing a waving rabbit! I’m not dreaming. I’m on my way home from school. I’m on the highway. I need to get home.
Then why was he seeing these… no. He refused to believe what he was seeing. Rabbits. Don’t. Wave.
Before he could ride away, a rumbling semi appeared around the bend, letting off two short blasts of its horn.
The brown rabbit moved farther onto the blacktop.
The truck wouldn’t swerve to miss it like the sports car had. “No! Shoo!” Kai flapped his arms, hoping to scare rabbit away.
It waved more excitedly, nodding its head.
The semi’s horn blared as it bore down on all of them. The noise shook Kai all the way to his churning stomach.
Kai leaped onto the pedals.
The semi blasted another warning.
The rabbit froze, ears laid back, paw hung in mid-wave, the huge truck coming right for it.
Bike tires skidded over gravel, gripped, and shot him forward. Kai tilted his bike and body, going into a slide as he reached the other side.
The rabbit family scattered into the tall grass. Brown leapt straight into the air.
Kai kept sliding.
The rabbit landed between Kai’s arms. He gripped the bars tight to avoid flipping over. The momentum pushed them across the dirt shoulder and down an embankment.
Splash! He landed in a muddy ditch.
The brown rabbit scrambled away, its back legs pounding Kai’s chest in its escape. It joined the others who hid in the reeds.
“Ahhhh!” Water and mud dripped from his face, hair and back. “Now look!” He yanked at his bike, caked with dirt and weeds. “See what I get for trying to help?”
The brown peered out from between the stalks, his head tilted a bit to the side.
Despite his irritation, Kai laughed at how the circle around its left eye reminded him of one of those monocles cartoon characters wear. Its ears twitched as it watched Kai with a most curious expression. Who even knew rabbits had expressions? The bunnies in the pet store seemed no more concerned about anything other than their last carrot.
After pulling his bike free of the gully, Kai waved his hands at them. “Go on, you can’t cross the road, you silly wabbits.” He stomped his foot, hoping to scare them away from the asphalt, but the animals remained frozen. The other bunnies peeked from between the tall grasses. What was their deal? And why so many? His gaze returned to the towering blue sign.
Harksdale City Builders
U Store It!
Of course, Kai sighed. “Another place for people to put their junk.” He shook his head and faced the rabbit family. “You’ve lost your home, haven’t you?”
Strangely, the brown nodded. Or seemed to nod. Of course it didn’t nod. Get a grip, dude!
Kai swiped away his long, wet bangs. Rabbits don’t have expressions. Rabbits don’t wave. Rabbits most definitely do not nod!
He took a deep breath, steadying the anger boiling up inside. Before he could stop himself, he blurted, “Well, it happens. To people and rabbits. Things change. People leave. You just deal with it and find a new home.” He pulled grass from the wheel spokes, feeling stupid for his outburst.
Looking across the field at the construction site, Kai saw a battered pick-up with faded black letters that read: Hosspupper Pest Exterminators.
Oh, but he despised that name.
Yet not any more than Crazy Pops, though for different reasons. Pops, one of those tree-hugging types, resented anyone who harmed any kind of wildlife. Kai, on the other hand, simply hated that the exterminator’s nephew was a big, dough-headed, bully thug.
Kai glanced down at the rabbits, wondering what had happened to all the other animals who’d called that patch of forest their home.
The rabbit family seemed to be waiting patiently to see what he’d do. What could he do? This was all too weird. Another reason he hated that they’d moved here to live with Pops. Or Crazy Pops, as Kai usually referred to the old man who smelled like damp earth and mold.
All the strange dreams and… other things… were happening again.
More rabbits came out of the reeds and gathered around the brown as they kept looking across the road, then back to Kai. Several babies huddled close to their moms. They were definitely intent on getting to the other side.
He looked both ways down the road, wondering if he could herd them across fast enough. In the direction toward town, Kai caught sight of a blue jeep about a quarter mile from the bridge.
Kai dove into to the ditch. Water flooded his shoes and reminded him of the nearby creek that went beneath the highway. He’d considered taking that route home anyway. It was quicker.
“Let’s go, bunnies.” Shoes filled with sludge, he waded through the reeds toward the rocky embankment that led to a stream below. Kai hunched down in the tall grasses until the jeep passed, then continued to push his bike along the muddy rut. The rabbits, frightened of it, moved toward the creek. Yes, his plan was working!
The brown stayed at the rear of the group, and kept one eye on him and the other on its family. What a weird animal.
“Yiah-yiah-yiah! Go on, Bugs! Move it. Yiah-yiah!” He lifted the front wheel and jerked it side to side.
The rabbit herd sped up.
As if finally understanding Kai’s plan, the rabbits raced along the gully, following the flow of water until it poured into the stream beneath the highway. The brown hesitated a moment, its beady black eyes and monocle patch staring intently at Kai.
“What?” Kai asked. Before things could get any more bizarre, he flapped his arms and stamped his foot. “Go. It’s safe.”
With a twitch of its ears, it offered a bowing type nod. “Thank you, young Sentinel.” It had spoken loud and clear, then turned and darted toward the creek.
THANKS for reading and hope to hear what you think. Please consider leaving a review on amazon, goodreads, or other favorite social networking sites.
Jackie Castle is an author, artist and dreamer. She lives in Texas with her husband, two grown children and her dog, Banjo. She looks for the extraordinary in the ordinary in everything she experiences.