Publisher: Prism Valley Press
Number of pages: 318
Word Count: 79000
Cover Artist: Purnima Prasad
Joel Suzuki is a gifted teenage guitarist with Asperger's Syndrome who gets transported to a world where his unique brain waves can be combined with the sound waves of music to create magical effects. Once there, he must use his newfound abilities to locate the Songshell, a powerful artifact that will help him stop a mysterious evil entity from destroying the alternate world as well as the Earth.
Chapter 1: a bad day
hy why why did I promise to do this?
Joel calculated in his head that he had three minutes and thirty-five seconds to pull this off. The next class started in six and a half minutes. He wanted to give himself a buffer.
Three minutes and thirty-five seconds — the exact same duration as Hang on Darkness, the sixth song on Biledriver’s first album.
Joel blinked a few times as he tried to refocus his thoughts.
A high-pitched warbling sound squealed in his ears, accompanied by a brief, sharp pain that shot through his head from left to right. The sound lasted for two seconds, and then it was over. He looked around. No one else seemed to have heard it.
Joel rubbed his temples, closed his eyes and exhaled. It was the second time today that he had heard the strange noise, but there was no time to worry about it now.
He opened his eyes and caught a glimpse of his target: a head of long, shiny black hair cascading over a blood-red blouse. A cold, empty feeling gripped his stomach.
I can’t do this. I can’t even pass a stupid reading comprehension test. What makes me think I can do this?
Joel scanned the hall of his high school and saw that the other students were blocking off all possible avenues of exit. He replayed a vision of his sister in his mind.
“You promise, right?” Taylor’s button-shaped ten-year-old face said to him.
With that, he took a deep breath and strode forward.
Three minutes exactly.
Sometimes, you just gotta say, what the heck.
And go with it.
The head of shiny black hair turned away from the locker it was facing, revealing a soft, pale face with deep brown eyes and bright red lips. The eyes regarded Joel with an air of bemused expectation.
“Um, hi,” Joel whispered at his shoes.
“Sorry?” the lips said as the head leaned in a little closer.
Joel cleared his throat. He had only learned two weeks ago that “sorry” in this context meant that the other person did not hear you. “Hi, um, Suzi, right?”
“Right,” Suzi said. “And you are —?”
Joel could almost feel his synapses firing. “Um, Joel — I’m Joel. Joel Suzuki. We’re in, uh, the same chemistry class. Honors chemistry.”
Suzi’s eyes widened with recognition. “Oh yeah, second period, right? Sorry I didn’t recognize you — don’t you sit way in the back?”
Joel searched his brain for an appropriate response. The script was not going quite as he had planned. A large Junior Prom poster announcing a day of the week that was mismatched to the actual date distracted him for a moment. He shook his head to refocus once again. “No, I mean, yeah, I guess. It’s not really way in the back, actually, it’s the third desk from the back, and, uh . . .”
“Okay,” Suzi chuckled. “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Joel.”
“Um, nice to meet you too,” Joel replied. His mind started to drown in a pool of his own jumbled thoughts, one of which cried out now what was I supposed to say next? “Oh, well, the third desk from the back — in the second row on the right side of the room — if you’re facing the class from the front, um, you know, from the teacher’s perspective.”
“Uh, okay,” Suzi said.
Joel clenched his teeth. Faced with internal panic, he retreated to safer, familiar ground. “Um, speaking of chemistry, that’s like science, right? And, um, did you know that Newton was the first person to come up with the theory of air resistance? It’s like, for low flow speeds, drag is due to the dimensions of a body, the density of the fluid, and the —”
A hand with long red-painted nails closed a locker door. “Hey, um, Joel, I really have to get to class, but it’s been nice talking to you, okay?”
“Oh — uh, yeah, okay,” Joel stammered. He wanted to tell her that they had one hundred and thirty seconds left to get to class, but she had already turned to leave.
About the Author:
Brian Tashima was born and raised in Hawaii and has been a resident of Vancouver, Washington since 2000. In addition to being an author, he is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who has won a Hoku award (Hawaii’s version of the Grammys) and has had his music featured in short films, international compilations, and numerous other forms of media. He is currently a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators), Willamette Writers, Northwest Independent Writers Association, and three Vancouver/Portland-based rock bands.
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