Excerpt from The Backyard Heroes:
At precisely 11:56pm Mr. Archibald rolled over, set his Stephen King novel down on the bedside table and shut off the light, officially signaling the end of the day for Stillmoore Lane. A typical ending to a typical day on an inconsequential, dead-end street. It had started unremarkably and, aside from the slight commotion caused by the new family moving into the old Kesterson home, had ended unremarkably. Now it looked to be an unremarkable, inconsequential, typical night.
But as we all know, looks can be deceiving.
A slight breeze slipped across the cooling pavement as the Zwiercans’ cat roamed past the slumbering households. Over the last few months this had become the cat’s nightly ritual, a stealthy pilgrimage to the dumpster in the construction site a short way from the neighborhood.
Streetlights illuminated its progress as it followed its nightly route. It trotted past the tricycle sitting on the Beals’ lawn, scooted under the large moving van in front of the old Kesterson house, and leaped onto the fence next to the Mooneys’ place. From here, it was just a short trek though Smith Park before reaching the bountiful treasure trove of goodies that had surely been left behind by the day’s construction crew. Fantasies of half-eaten fish sticks and chicken salad flitted through its mind as the cat tensed and prepared to jump, just as it had done dozens of nights before.
But this night something different happened. This night the cat hesitated, stalled its leap, and looked back at Stillmore Lane.
This night, something was not as it should be.
The cat knew, instinctively, that Mr. Archibald was always the last to bed and that after his light was out, Stillmoore Lane became the cat’s territory. It alone walked the sidewalks, roamed the lawns, and slunk through the shadows seeking discarded meals, but tonight the cat was not alone. It sensed someone else out on the street, someone who was not supposed to be there.
Quite often immensely important events go unwitnessed, those small moments that set life-changing events into motion pass either unseen or simply unnoticed. Tonight was no exception. The cat sat, waited, and watched, trying to decipher what it was that seemed off. Before long, however, its hunger won out over its curiosity. It turned and jumped into Smith Park, completely unaware that on this very unremarkable, inconsequential, typical night something unprecedented in the history of Stillmoore Lane was about to begin.
The cat had failed to notice that a window was open on the second floor of one of the houses and it completely missed seeing a figure step through it and out onto the roof. The figure raced along the rooftop, shimmed down a drainpipe, and dropped the last few feet to the ground. It paused for a moment, waiting to see if the fall had betrayed its presence, then, satisfied it had gone unnoticed, darted down the street.
The figure slipped through the shadows that draped the slumbering street. Dark as night itself and dressed all in black, the figure’s large cloak billowed so shapelessly that it was impossible to get a sense of its size. The shape appeared to be made from shadows with nothing to reveal it as human except for a pair of eyes peering out into the gloom.
The figure slipped from shadow to shadow, moving with unnatural speed. It reached the woodland path at the end of the cul-de-sac and entered the nearby forest. Pale blue shafts of moonlight pierced the canopy of trees overhead and occasionally played upon the surface of the figure as it raced onward with barely a sound, seeming to float like a wraith through the dense foliage.
Reaching an old stump, it turned right off the path and headed deeper into the woods. The ground sloped downward and the wraith had to slow its progress to keep from tumbling end over end down the decline. After a minute or so the ground leveled off and the figure slowed its momentum even more, creeping forward cautiously.
A clearing appeared ahead and in the middle of it, fully illuminated by the sickly moonlight, stood the skeletal structure of a fort.
The figure paused for a moment inside the tree line, wanting to ensure its solitude before venturing out into the open. Finally satisfied, it stepped into the moonlight and swiftly covered the fifty feet of open ground that stood between the trees and the fort. It listened once more for hidden spies, then opened a large duffel bag it had strapped over its shoulder. The bag was filled with tools of every kind. The figure looked through them critically before settling on a run-of-the-mill hammer. It pulled it from the bag, flipped it around, and slid the claw on the backside beneath the head of a nail that stuck out slightly from the fort. Muscles tensed and the nail gave way to the wraith’s superior strength. It repeated this process till a small pile of nails lay at its feet. The figure tugged a now unsecured, but extremely heavy, board loose and tossed it aside with ease.
It continued its work in the dreary light for another two hours then slipped back to the woodland path, returned to Stillmoore Lane, shimmied up the drainpipe, and crawled back through the window, unseen by anyone, including the now well-fed cat.
And thus ended a not-so-typical, quite remarkable, highly consequential day.
Title: The Backyard Heroes
Summary: When Sherlock moves into his new house on Stillmoore Lane, he expects to make new friends, explore the nearby forest and begin a summer filled with make-believe exploits. Instead, he discovers a neighborhood under the oppressive rule of an evil genius named Orwell who has set a plan in motion that will allow him to spread his control beyond the boundaries of their neighborhood. Sherlock soon finds himself leading his ragtag band of new friends into a confrontation with Orwell that will decide the future of Stillmoore Lane.
Style: A light fantasy twist on the classic summertime adventure story. Deals with real world issues facing children such as abuse and terminal illness.
Genre: Young Adult Adventure
Series?: Standalone story with characters that could continue into future novels.
Status: Completed / Unpublished (Available)
Length: 94,485 words