by David Simms
Does music have the power to invade the soul?
Beware of the Dark Muse...
Sixteen year old Muddy Rivers has always wanted to fit in with the "regular" crowd. He aches for a romance with his blind friend, Poe, but knows he doesn't stand a chance. He hopes that his life as the guitarist for his band, the Accidentals, will help him accomplish gaining her attention and acceptance from others.. But then his older brother disappears playing a mysterious song and Muddy is plunged into a world of music where songs come to life. He learns where musicians get their ideas and at what price. He must learn to harness the power of the legendary crossroads and what lies on the other side if they are to conquer a series of trials which no one expects "special" or "different" teens to even survive.
Along with drummer Otis, singer Poe, and saxophonist Corey, each battling their own disabilities or demons, Muddy must cross the river that is the source for all creativity. Once there, the band fights a world alive with horrors none can imagine and realize their path to redemption is hindered by two obstacles that may trap them there forever, if not destroy them: the Tritons, vicious inhuman leaders of the strange world, and the Dark Muse, something, or someone who wields the full power of the River. Their fight to survive and retrieve his brother calls for them to build a stairway to heaven, sail smoke on the water, become iron men, and walk this way across the abyss. But their ultimate battle may prove in vain--it might not save Muddy's brother from the darkness, and may awaken something far more deadly.
BUY THE BOOK
|Pre-Teens / Teens|
Edgar “Muddy” Rivers lay flush to the edge of the hill overlooking the train tracks, the wasteland of garbage and the two narrow roads that met right in the middle of it all—the crossroads that predated the town of Carter Hills, New Jersey.
He dug his fingers into the dirt and weeds to keep himself from shouting to his brother, Zack, who stood dead center in the crossroads, illuminated by moonbeams piercing the clouds on a starless night. The teen was caught up in a frenzy, entranced by the music he was playing. The eighteen-year-old stood his ground, tall and lean, muscles taut beneath his Led Zeppelin T-shirt, a stark contrast to Muddy, who was almost three years younger, four inches shorter and rail thin.
Beneath his brother’s caressing fingers, his Les Paul guitar screamed and howled. He played notes that whined, cried and pleaded for resolution. Yet his brother kept pushing.
What was he doing? Muddy opened his mouth to scream for Zack to stop, yet no voice sounded.
As Zack lost himself in his music, thunder boomed and lightning illuminated the smile on his face. No rain followed, but the air pressed down on them like a soaked woolen blanket. Each shaky breath Muddy took felt as if both lungs were drowning. Something sinister added to the weight of the air. He wished to shake his brother free from the hold the music had on him, but found himself fixed to the ground.
The earth beneath the teen began to tremble with the next smash of thunder. Zack kept playing, fingers dancing in mad passion along the frets, completely oblivious to what was happening around him. He was fading into the night, dissolving into the darkest song he had ever heard.
Muddy didn’t want to be there. He wanted to be home in bed, tucked in nice and warm, but earlier that night, he’d followed his brother Zack out of their house, guitar in hand. By the time he’d reached the top of the hill and spied Zack below at the desolate crossroads, he was doused in sweat. Zack simply started playing his guitar. He carried with him a tiny, portable amplifier powered by batteries. Jacked up to ten, the amp sounded much louder on this crazy night.
In the shattered moonlight, Muddy saw dark streaks of blood from the slices in his brother’s fingers. They ran the tightropes of the strings down to the pickups where his right hand strummed and plucked, and twisted out violent cries of emotion.
A crescendo ended in a smash of thunder. An explosion of light began another flurry of notes and screaming bends. Zack fed off the storm, and maybe, just maybe, the storm was feeding off him.
Then the ground shook so much Muddy nearly slipped over the edge, tumbling down the hill. Muddy’s fear of this bad section of town gave way to another, more pressing fear.
Zack’s face broke into an even bigger expression of joy, yet tears streamed down his cheeks. The crossroads shimmered in the moonlight under his sneakers. Still, he played like his life depended on it. Like the music was his life.
Just before it happened, Muddy sensed a feeling of foreboding, like something bad was about to break through. Not from the ground. Not from the sky either. From somewhere else, somewhere he doubted either of them had ever imagined.
Finally, the night opened, like those thick velvet curtains hung in vintage theaters. It sucked Zack’s music into whatever lay behind it.
Muddy managed to stand on wobbly legs and was about to run down the hill to stop him, save him, but something obstructed him before he could start and he fell to the ground.
The curtains wrapped around his brother in an otherworldly embrace, taking the older boy and his music away.
When the moonlight returned moments later, the crossroads stood deserted.