If you're here, it's because you probably already finished Darken the Stars. Thank you for reading the Kricket series. You're awesome and I'm grateful. If you haven't read the series, the next bit will contain spoilers.
Now, you're probably either trying to find a link to a fourth Kricket book or plans for a fourth book. Many of you have resorted to leaving comments on my website's Darken the Stars release post from 2015. I've read all of your comments there, even the ones I didn't allow to post for various reasons. I've been reluctant to answer your questions and comments on my website for a few reasons, although I have talked about the ending of my series in several places, which includes: Facebook groups, Facebook comments, blog interviews, podcasts, Instagram comments, Goodreads questions, book signings, and in private emails. The reasons for my reluctance are many. Here are some of them:
But, I have been exploring my options with this series. I've written more in my spare time to see where it will lead. Here's a peek:
(Please be aware that this is copyrighted. You are not allowed to use any of this material in any way.)
Also be aware that this has never been professionally edited. It's raw. This is how I write a first draft. Ugly.
Fulton is a blurry figure on the other side of the medical tank's transparent wall. I blink a few times, trying to clear my vision. It’s no use. Everything is still out of focus, but I’d recognize my mentor anywhere, even half-blind. His perfect posture is his hallmark. It doesn’t matter how old he gets. His three thousand years hasn’t changed that. I turn my head. It aches with shooting pains. My wet hair waves in front of me, floating—weightless in the water. Chin up, my back arches. The mask covering my nose and mouth forces air into my lungs in a deep inhalation. Bubbles in the water travel to the surface of the tank. Machines exhale for me. Bright, halo-light from above makes me squint and turn away.
Fulton touches a holographic field on the other side of the glass. It activates a speaker inside of my medical tank. His voice is deep and stately. “You are being discharged from stasis. Try to relax, Kyon.”
My eyes narrow to mere slits.
His hand moves through the ghostly light of the hologram again. “Yes, good point,” he replies. “You never relax. Fine. Try not to fight us then.”
The heavy lid of the tank slides open. A steely claw enters from above, forming a head of a snake. Its silver torso slides through the water like an anaconda. Coiling around my body, the mechanical beast grips me against its metallic scales. The liquid drains through the open valve in the floor. No longer weightless, I’ve become a thousand-pound shark. The pain of gravity is fierce. I groan. The mask covering my face has amphibian tubes that tentacle from it and force air into my lungs.
The snake-headed claw slithers near my mouth. It snaps forward—its serpentine jaws clamp onto the nozzle covering my nose and lips. Yanking the mask away, the hoses attached to the breathing apparatus embedded in my nose, throat, and bronchial passages rips free. My gag reflex is triggered. I vomit, expelling liquid akin to embryotic fluid. Snot drips from my nostrils. All the ways that I can smash this machine into a thousand pieces color my mind.
Naked, I’m drawn out of the tank, dripping wet, and deposited onto a wide, cushioned table. Warming lamps trigger. The ferocity of my trembling enrages me. I despise weakness, especially in myself. A shadow dims the light. Fulton covers me with a soft blanket. My jaw is rigid; I can’t open it wider than the chattering of teeth can produce.
Kricket, it’s the name I’d force from my lips if I were able. My eyes follow Fulton’s, willing him to look at me. He keeps his expressive features averted, arranging the fabric to cover more skin. The shaking in my bones is less desperate than the cauterized feeling of my veins. It’s as if my heart has gone missing from my chest.
Kricket, her name screams in my mind again. The echoes of an awful dream compete with thoughts of the silkiness of her skin, the way she smiles when she thinks she’s right, the soft shapes she takes when she cuddles into my side at night… Memories of…of torture—cuts that tear deep into my flesh—of bleeding in torrents—unbearable fear.
Excelsior has Kricket.
A thorny ache bristles in my chest. Strength wiles its way through my arm. I lift it despite the pain, groping for Fulton’s sleeve. My hand brushes it. His eyes shift to my gnarled fingers struggling to get his attention. A jagged exhale comes from Fulton. He gently takes my hand in his, holding it. His focus falls on my face.
“She’s alive,” Fulton murmurs. Those two words allow me to take a breath, and then another. “Kricket fulfilled the prophecy. Your father is dead.”
CHAPTER 1 – IN A BLACKOUT
Six Months Earlier
One hand waves free—my other grips the hoverboard’s deck. I crouch down to make a sharp turn. Soft lavender light glows beneath my feet, illuminating the pavement. Long blond hair streams behind me, drying in the warm autumn breeze. Stars twinkle through the branches of ash trees. The trunks are ghostly white beside the winding blacktop. Phlix rides her flipcart next to mine. The double yellow lines lead to a green traffic sign. CHICAGO. The white arrow points to an expressway heading south.
My heartstrings tug me—my belly clenches. The call to diverge in that direction is almost overwhelming. I resist. Chicago isn't home anymore. It can’t be. I know parts of it better than I know myself. So does Giffen. He watched me grow up there.
And I know my enemy is coming. Giffen isn’t walking. He’s running.
I look over my shoulder, half-expecting to see him behind me in the moonlight. The man can’t let me go. Neither can the rest of the “lost boys.” My father won’t allow it—for Astrid’s sake. When Giffen finds us, he’ll crush me before I can slip away from him again, ensuring that I never return to Ethar. They’ll make my sister the empress in my place. I’ll be just a memory--
The dizzying flash of a future event parades before my eyes. It’s a swirl of colors and faces. A nagging sensation in the back of my mind urges me to trade my body for a spirit form that will show me the future. My consciousness teeters on a tightrope, almost slipping away. I force my focus to remain in the present by sheer will alone. The vision of the future careens away. The hoverboard above the street wobbles and my thighs burn trying to steady it.
“Do you need to rest?” Phlix calls to me. Worry is a mask she wears now.
Gnashing my teeth, I shake my head. We need to get as far away from the cave and the inter-dimensional channel that we traveled through before daybreak. Phlix and I are too conspicuous, and it’s not just the Etharian technology of our flipcarts that makes us stand out. It’s in the way Phlix speaks—her Etharian accent sounds foreign when she says the English phrases she knows, which aren’t that many. No one will be able to pinpoint just where she’s from, of course, but they’ll notice it all the same. She looks different, too: ethereal with an otherworldly pair of blue eyes. There can be no trail for Giffen to follow if we want to live.
I veer in the direction of the white arrow that points toward ANN ARBOR. Phlix doesn’t miss a beat, following me into the darkness.
Hi again. I just want to reiterate that this doesn't mean that there will be a fourth book. It means that, like you, I'm curious to see what happens next. I'm enabling the comments here. If you want to leave a comment, you can.