Published: August 7th, 2018
Born to... Fight?
Ike Rupert Hollingsberry is haunted by the past because complete strangers won’t let him forget that his famous father died on the set of The Fighting Dragons, a cult favorite that still has people talking. But when he’s attacked by a large locust, like the one that killed his dad, Ike is helped by the geekiest nerd of all, Elmira Hand. Killing the giant locust is only the beginning of the surprises in store for Ike as he is whisked away from New York City to an isolated Florida compound to assume his role as the next in line to lead the Royal Order of Fighting Dragons—that are NOT supposed to exist—and learns his dad’s death was a cover-up for a far greater purpose…
"…a fast-paced, entertaining story with appealing characters, a healthy dose of action, and a dash of humor." ―Publishers Weekly
And suddenly there they were, four statuesque dragons. Like any child, Ike had grown up seeing pictures of dragons in storybooks, giant scaly lizards with large, sloping backs, wings, and an extra wide mouth. And that description was largely true. But what the creators of The Fighting Dragons had added were the colors. Instead of plain greens and browns, these dragons’ skin was a rich blend of light lavenders, dark maroons, sea-greens, pale oranges, pinks, yellows, and blues. Even so, the creatures looked so real it was hard to believe they were no more than artistic creations of a TV studio. One by one, the beasts flapped their wings and breathed fire for the camera. Ike had always found it amusing how each had been named for a different English Park.
Then suddenly, there was Ike’s father again, climbing onto Dartmoor, the largest of them all, a beautiful, terrifying creature with a silver body, golden wings, and a red stripe down the middle of his forehead. As the music grew, they soared into the sky. With a gentle tug on the reins, Ike’s dad moved Dartmoor in a slow arc around the boat. It was a beautiful day, only a single cloud in the blue sky. Even though his father’s flight was with wires, computers, and green screens in a TV studio, he was thrilled. His dad’s bright smile filled the screen. This was the kind of day where nothing could possibly go wrong.
But then it did.
Ike had heard that it had happened fast, but he still wasn’t prepared for just how soon and quickly the giant locust thundered into view. It was a great black flying thing, fully twenty feet long with round yellow eyes. On its hard forehead, between its two swooping antennae, was a small blue splotch. Not wasting a second, the mighty locust dove straight for Ike’s father, who reacted immediately, pulling sharply on the reins. Dartmoor craned his neck in preparation. But when the dragon opened his mouth to deliver the death shot … there was no fire. Not a spark. Not even a wisp of smoke.
And the locust was still coming strong. If Ike’s dad was worried, he didn’t show it. Quickly, he reached to his waist and pulled a sword out of its sheath. Without a second’s hesitation, he parried for the locust’s body.
“Yes!” Ike shouted.
His father’s sword found its mark, plunging deep into the bug’s midsection. But unfortunately, the locust’s stinger was already rocketing forward. In its dying gasp, the giant insect caught Ike’s dad in the chest and pierced his armor. It happened just that fast. One second, Ike’s dad seemed to be in control of a perilous situation, the next he was mortally wounded, clawing at Dartmoor’s left wing, trying desperately to stay on. As the locust fell out of the sky, Dartmoor contorted himself, frantically trying to catch Ike’s father with his teeth. But Cameron Rupert Hollingsberry was unable to hang on and he fell, holding his sword, looking up to the sky.
Teary eyed, Ike watched his father fall down, down, down …
But then he heard it, the last thing he expected.
“Ikey,” his father called.
What? Had his father called his name?
But wait. There was more, but the words had gotten lost in the wind.
Copyright © 2018 by Dan Elish
About the author:
Dan Elish is the author of nine novels, including The School for the Insanely Gifted, The Worldwide Dessert Contest, and Born Too Short: Confessions of an 8th Grade Basket Case (Simon & Schuster), which was named a New York Public Library "Book for the Teenage" and a "Young Adult Choice for the International Reading Association.”
Dan co-wrote the book for the Broadway musical 13with music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown, which premiered on Broadway in 2008 and is slated to be a movie by CBS Films. Dan is also a TV writer who has worked on shows such as Cyberchase (PBS) and Jo-Jo’s Circus (Disney). Dan has received fellowships and scholarships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences and is represented by Matt Bialer at Greenburger Associates. He lives in New York with his wife and children.
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