“I’m not crazy,” Eric Stark shouted at the crowd of seventh graders as they surrounded him. He looked up from the ground, which consisted of patches of grass and dirt, to see the sunlight glinting off of the metal braces of a girl with pigtails as she pointed and laughed with the rest of them. Another boy kicked him in the stomach, causing him to retreat into a fetal position to guard against another blow. “Oh yeah?” Greg Coffey asked as he towered over Eric. His lip was curled, showing his crooked, heavily stained teeth. “What happened last week in class? You said, ‘They’re watching me.’ Remember that, loser?”
“I didn’t say that.” Eric tried to get up, but Greg pushed him back down and kicked dirt in his face. Eric rubbed his burning eyes with both hands. When he opened them he saw four more kids sneering over him, all laughing at his expense. Where was a teacher when you needed one? The hot Texas sun was high on the horizon, almost blinding him as he stared back at his tormentors. Sweat was pouring from his brow, mixing with the tears that streamed down his face.
“Yeah you did,” Adam Marshall said with a smirk. “You’re going off the rails, crazy train.”
“I like that—crazy train. Just like the song,” Greg said. He laughed and gave Adam a high five. “That’s your new name. Like it?” Greg kicked another pile of dirt at Eric. Eric tried to spit it out, but his entire face was covered in a muddy film. He wished that he’d just kept his mouth shut about it, but it was too late now. News traveled fast in a small town, and he was sure everyone thought he was insane by now.
He didn’t know what he was.
“Leave him alone,” a kid said. He leaned over to help Eric to his feet. “I don’t like bullies.”
“Stay out of it, new kid.” Greg said and gave him a scowling stare. “Or what?” The kid got closer.
“Let’s go,” Adam said. “There’s a teacher coming.” He slapped Greg on the shoulder. “This ain’t over,” Greg said as he walked away.
“Thanks,” Eric said.
“I’m Kyle Barrett,” the kid said, extending his hand. Eric shook it. “Did you just move here?”
“Yeah, this is my first day,” Kyle said. “It’s hard being the new kid. No one talks to you.”
“No one talks to me either, except to make fun of me,” Eric said.
Six months after the dirt-kicking incident, Eric and Kyle had turned from strangers into fast friends. But everyone else still thought Eric was crazy. Even now, he couldn’t be sure if they were right or wrong.
He only knew one thing—he hadn’t actually seen them in several months. So was it all in his head? His mom always told him time heals all wounds. But this wound was more like a cut that never healed. It festered in the eyes of everyone in Dust, Texas. He was just a mentally defective kid who barely deserved their pity.
He was in the eighth grade now, and he tried to put those troubled years behind him. It seemed that most of his classmates felt the same way, but a select few never grew tired of reminding him of his sanity (or lack thereof) and demeaning nickname from time to time.
Title: Vanished From Dust
Author: Shea Norwood
Genre: YA Paranormal Mystery
This book is the first in a series.
A CHILL RUNS THROUGH HIS SKIN AS THE PHANTOM APPEARS.
HE SEES THEM EVERYWHERE . . .
Eric Stark is not insane. Or at least he doesn’t think so. He wishes everyone in Dust, Texas, felt the same way. But that’s not going to happen since the whole town thinks he’s crazy. Why didn’t he keep his mouth shut?
No one understands. Eric is alone as he battles his sanity in a town of tormenters. Suddenly a new friendship emerges after the new kid, Kyle Barrett, moves to town.
Eric reluctantly reveals his secret. Is it a curse or a gift? He isn’t certain, but with Kyle by his side he finds the courage to seek the truth.
They soon realize that something sinister is descending on the residents of Dust.
Is it caused by Eric’s phantoms or is it something else? Is it connected to the mysterious death of hundreds of townspeople over sixty years ago? One thing is certain—only Eric and Kyle can save them.
They set out on a heart-pounding adventure and find themselves transported to a disturbed and deserted version of their small southern town. They quickly discover that this new world has mysteries of its own to uncover. What they find could prove more than they bargained for, and it only leads to more questions. Eric and Kyle must face a horrifying fact—they may never get out alive.
“We’re gonna die here,” Kyle muttered.
“I don’t believe that,” Eric said. “And neither do you.”
Will they survive their encounter with these dark and mysterious beings?
Will they find a way back home?
Or will they be lost forever?
The Vanished from Dust series is perfect for anyone who craves a hair-raising thriller packed with mystery and suspense. This paranormal story for young adults can be compared to Stand by Me, mixed with Odd Thomas, and a twist of The Dark Tower.
Shea Norwood is a West Texas native that currently lives in the DFW area with his wife and son. He’s an avid reader and enjoys the craft of writing. The fictional town of Dust is loosely based on a small town south of Odessa, TX.