In the Wishing World, dreams are real. You can transform into your own hero, find wild and whimsical friends, and wield power as great as your imagination. But Lorelei doesn’t know about any of that. All she knows is that a monster took her family.
It happened during a camping trip one year ago. Hiding inside the tent, she saw shadows, tentacles and a strange creature. By the time she got up the courage to crawl outside, the monster–and Lorelei’s mom, dad, and brother–were gone.
Lorelei is determined to find her family. When she accidentally breaks into the Wishing World, she discovers a way. It’s a land more wonderful than she could have imagined, a land of talking griffons, water princesses, and cities made of sand, where Lorelei is a Doolivanti–a wish-maker–who can write her dreams into existence.
There’s only one problem: the monster is a Doolivanti, too. What he wishes also comes true, and he’s determined to shove Lorelei out, keep her family, and make the whole Wishing World his. To save them, Lorelei must find the courage to face him, or her next wish may be her last.
Award-winning author Todd Fahnestock makes his middle grade debut in this charming and whimsical adventure. The Wishing World will become available October 25th. Please enjoy this excerpt.
I ran like there was a monster behind me. Because one year ago today, there had been. Black tentacles slithered right out of the rain and snatched my little brother. Snatched my parents, too. That’s the way it happened. Freaky truth, right? Bright like a neon sign in your face.
Too bad nobody believed me.
The clouds were low and dark, bellies full of water, so I didn’t stop running until I got to my house. By then my legs were jelly. Lungs burning. I had that metal taste in my mouth that you get when you run too hard. Florid Flecks of Phlegm. Gick.
The towering streetlight made a bright circle on the blacktop, the sidewalk, and the sloped lawn. The first rain droplets speckled my face lightly like they were innocent. Like they hadn’t snatched my whole childhood away. But I was done being afraid. I was done flinching. I stood still with my fists clenched and let the drops hit me. I wanted my family back.
I spat out the nasty acid taste and tried the purple front door. Locked. And I didn’t have a key anymore. Auntie Carrie and Uncle Jone had sold my house last week and sent me to a sleepover in the old neighborhood to make me feel better. Like that works. Have a pillow fight and a cup of hot chocolate, and you’ll forget they’re selling your house. You’ll forget you ever had a brother or a mom or a dad. Welcome to the new normal. You get with the program yet, Lorelei?
No. Double no with a forget-you on top.
So I’d slipped past my best friend’s parents. They thought I was tucked deep in my sleeping bag. Turns out five big stuffed animals look a lot like a Lorelei lump. But they would notice I was gone soon. They would check on me. Auntie Carrie and Uncle Jone would have asked them to. My aunt and uncle were trying to be “good parents,” trying everything to make “the transition” easier on me. Auntie Carrie cried sometimes because I wouldn’t respond to the nice things she did, wouldn’t listen to her advice. They just didn’t get it. I didn’t need a replacement family; I didn’t want a replacement family. I needed my brother and my mother and my father back. Nothing else even mattered. Nothing.
This last year I had been searching, doing everything I could to find my missing family. And wow, nobody liked that. Adults hate it when girls hitchhike, or go camping in the woods by themselves without telling anyone, or do Internet searches on kidnappers, then e-mail them questions.
When you do things like that, they use words like “trauma” and “delusions.” They talk to you slowly, say everything twice, like you can’t understand them the first time.
They used to call me imaginative, decisive. A good student and a better friend. But since the rain and the tentacles, since Narolev’s Comet streaked the sky, it was Loopy Lorelei and her not-so-cute delusions. My replacement parents didn’t know what to do with me, so they sent me to the creepy shrink, Mr. Schmindly.
Adults don’t have a snappy solution for tentacles in the rain. Can we focus on the tentacles, adults?
No. Double no with a sit-down-and-be-quiet on top.
So I stopped pleading with them. Now my caring replacement family was afraid I was some kind of mute because I didn’t cry anymore. But I stopped crying because it didn’t do anything. Crying was really just waiting. Except with tears.
I was done waiting.
Dad said that life is like a story, and we get to fill it with what we want. Well, this last year of my story sucked, and I was going to rewrite it.
Then last week I got the Big Idea: Dad’s comet stone. Dippy Lorelei. That was the first thing I should have thought of after the rainstorm. Narolev’s Comet had been in the air when all the bad stuff happened; it was why we had been in the mountains in the first place. What if it was linked to what had happened? It had to be. Dad said he’d had a chunk of it in the basement, back in the crawl space. And the skeezoids who bought my house were moving in tomorrow. I couldn’t wait one second longer.
I shook the thoughts away. I had to get going. My replacement family could be on their way right now. I looked up at the dark, overcast sky. I couldn’t see Narolev’s Comet, but it was up there somewhere, past those heavy clouds, streaking across the sky. I could feel it, looking down with its white eye.
I walked past the FOR SALE: SOLD sign stuck in my lawn, past the giant green bush to the backyard fence, and I thought of my brother Theron. He was always climbing this fence because the gate didn’t work. He was always climbing everything.
Without Mom and Dad, I woke up most nights feeling like I was falling with no one to catch me. But without Theron, I felt like I’d lost my arm. Awake or asleep, I felt like I was missing something because he and I had almost always been together. The first memory of my life was when he was born. He showed up early. The midwife didn’t get there in time. So I stood right there in the upstairs bathroom watching him take his first breath, squalling in a half-filled tub of water.
Theron was a protector. He fought that mean girl Shandra when she pushed me down and punched me. He leapt from the monkey bars and collared Danny Brogue when that bully stole my Halloween candy. Last year, he even stood between me and the fourth grade substitute teacher, Mrs. Coswell, when she blamed me for something Shandra had done. Theron threw a chair that time. He couldn’t be still when something wasn’t fair, or when someone he loved was threatened. He didn’t know what else to do but fight.
And I protected him, too. Theron had nightmares every night. When he woke up thrashing and huffing like he’d run a mile, I would tell him good stories to calm him down. I would send him back to sleep and save him from the monsters in his head.
I jumped up, grabbed the top of the fence, and swung a leg over. It was up to me to find out where he had gone. Where they had all gone. Nothing else mattered.
I’m just like Theron, I thought. Strong as a gorilla. I can do four pull-ups.
I could really only do three. But imagining what I couldn’t do never helped.
See it real, make it real. Do it real. One practice pull-up at a time.
I hoisted myself up, twisted, and balanced on top of the fence, letting my breath out.
I stretched, reached for the rain gutter, and caught it with my fingertips. Slowly, I pulled myself up. I hooked my heel into the rain gutter and leaned forward. It groaned, but I ignored it. It wasn’t going to fall.
I rolled my body onto the sloped roof. Dark rain dots marked the shingles.
I am an Olympic gymnast, I thought, standing up. I can balance on anything.
I leaned into the roof and walked toward the upstairs window. Each step was tricky. My backpack was heavy, jammed with food instead of stuffed animals for the sleepover, and kept pulling me to the side—
My foot slipped and I went down so fast I cried out. I hit the shingles and slid to the edge of the roof.
“No!” I shouted and jammed my heel into the rain gutter.
It clanged loudly and shook …
I drew a sharp breath, pushing hard on it, trying to get higher up as I stared at the drop below.
The gutter gave way with a sharp crunk.
Double suck with a yikes on top.
I shrieked and went over the edge, falling to the wood chips in the yard below.
Copyright © 2016 by Todd Fahnestock
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