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Author of books. Creator of enchanting worlds. Wild-hearted poet. EARTH KEEPERS, THE SECRET TRAIL - A new children’s fantasy adventure story is out soon …

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EARTH KEEPERS LEGEND

The Secret Trail

You are not ordinary.

You are not meant for an ordinary world.

There are other lands …

more incredible than you can imagine.

But I cannot tell you about them.

 Instead, I will show you.

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

Different

 

 

You told me to stay, but I can’t.

It’s getting worse.

I don’t know what to do!

I don’t know where to go.

I don’t know who to tell.

I don’t belong here.

I don’t belong anywhere.

I wish I could disappear, like you.

I wish I could make this whole place disappear.

Maybe if I try hard enough, it will.

Why did you have to leave?

Please come back.

Please come back and take me with you.

P l e a s e!

This is a story about 12-year-old Aria Wilder. Aria is the kind of girl that nobody notices. She doesn’t have many friends and isn’t part of any clubs. In fact, socialising in large groups makes her palms sweat at the mere thought of it. And before you go thinking she would fit in perfectly with the nerdy brainy kids, that’s not for her either, because she’s terrible at school work too. She can’t add for toffee. Her handwriting is large and messy. And she struggles to sit through an entire lesson without sinking into a sea of visible boredom or clouds of pencil flicking distraction. As you can imagine, this usually gets her into trouble, most days. If she had been given even a small amount of money for each time she had been told that she “lacks concentration” then she would be very rich indeed. But she’s not. Her long goldish-brown hair hasn’t been cut in nearly a year, and her dull grey uniform is tatty.

    It wasn’t always this bad, but a year ago things took a turn for the worst. And since then, her dad had been forced to buy all her clothes, and he’s not very good at it. Not at shopping anyway.

    Aria is what some people would call different, and she’s been that way since the day she was born. And until this fateful year, it had never occurred to her that being different could be a good thing. Perhaps, even the best thing about her. Or even the thing that would prepare her for everything that was yet to come.

    But before we get to that part, there is something you should know. Try to listen closely, because it’s very important.

    You see, Aria Wilder has a secret.

    It's a secret that she promised not to tell anyone, not even her father. A secret that explains how she knows which direction the wind is blowing in, or even if it’s about to rain simply by closing her eyes, but struggles to remember ordinary facts like the origins of the steam train in class (George Stephenson in 1825 in case you were wondering). And why she's happiest outdoors in the fresh air. And why her senses are so finely tuned, that she notices every tiny detail in a room, from the soft sound of a breeze blowing through the window, to the smallest particles of dust floating in the sunlight.   

     Sometime in the future (though she doesn’t yet know it), she will lead other children who like her, and perhaps even you were born to be different too.

    This story tells the tale of how it all began.

   

 

It had happened again. Over a dozen times during the end of primary school and now during her first year of secondary school. The last time, Aria tried to run away, but her mother brought her back. How her mother had been there at precisely the right moment, was still a mystery. But that was the day her mother had told her the secret. A secret that had burned inside her like a red-hot fire, desperate for air ever since. This is what her mother said:

 

You are not ordinary.

You are not meant for an ordinary world.

There are other lands,

more incredible than you can imagine.

But I cannot tell you about them.

Instead, I will show you.

Wait for me and be ready!

It’s time for you to know who you really are.

 

    Her mother’s words had stirred something deep inside. There was something captivating about the way she spoke, and the way her long brown hair moved in the light and her eyes glowed. She had an aura about her. But what followed, left Aria broken. Her mother was going away. She didn’t say where but had promised she’d be back in a few weeks. Aria had sensed from the look in her eyes that it would be longer. Her mother wouldn’t have lied, she was sure of that. But a whole year had now passed, and there was still no word.

    Each day since Aria had felt herself changing. More and more, things were happening around her that she couldn’t control. And she knew it was only a matter of time before someone else noticed.

 

 

Mrs Ramsbottom, the head teacher of Blandstrand Secondary School, was sat in her office behind her thick mahogany desk. She unravelled the crumpled note with Aria’s messy handwriting on it and read it aloud:

 

‘You told me to stay, but I can’t.

It’s getting worse.

I wish I could make this whole place disappear.

Maybe if I try hard enough, it will …

 

    I’ll ask you one more time. To whom is this note written?’

    Aria looked at Mrs Ramsbottom and shrugged.

    ‘You were plotting something, weren’t you? Is that why you attacked young Miss Lewis? Did she threaten to tell someone your plans?’

    ‘I’ve told you, I don’t know what happened to Amber. She just flew off the chair. It was just an accident –’

    The head teacher glared at Aria, her dry lips pursed and eyes unblinking. ‘And what do you have to say about last week’s incident on the playground? Poor Simon Tufnut has scrapes all down his arm from crashing into that wall. Not to mention the incident of the science lab windows. All accidents too, I presume?’ she said sternly.

    ‘I didn’t do anything. It was him! He was calling me names and then, it just happened!’ Aria protested.

    ‘Children don’t just throw themselves into the air, or against walls. And since you were the only one there, it’s your word against his. You should know, because of his injuries, his mother wants you suspended!’

    ‘Why don’t you then?’

    ‘Believe me, it has crossed my mind. It's not a very good start to secondary school, is it? After seeing your previous reports, I had hoped that a more disciplined environment, would do you some good. But whilst the other teachers may not suspect anything, I can sense that something bigger is going on here, and I am determined to get to the bottom of it. You know, I am the head teacher, whatever is going on, you can trust me.’

    Aria felt her stomach twist into knots. Mrs Ramsbottom was the last person on the entire Earth that she would ever tell her secret to. In the last few weeks alone, she had given her ten detentions, mostly for trivial things. It was obvious that Mrs Ramsbottom didn’t like her, and the feeling was mutual. After an uncomfortable pause, Aria pulled her lips together tightly and refused to answer.

    The head teacher raised her large straggly eyebrows and leaned in closer. ‘Have it your way then. We shall just have to wait until your father arrives. Perhaps then, you will be more co-operative. But let me tell you, Aria Wilder, I am on to you. I know you are up to something. And no amount of sob stories about your mother’s death will get you out of trouble this time.’

    Aria’s heart sank. ‘She’s not dead –'

    ‘What did you say?’

    ‘I SAID … she’s not dead! You keep saying that. But she isn’t. I know she isn’t –’

    ‘Is that who this letter was written to?’

    Aria stared at the head teacher silently.

    ‘It is, isn’t it? If you ask me, there’s something very fishy about your mother’s absence and this whole peculiar business. Sooner or later, you are going to have to face the fact that she is NOT coming back! And pushing other students and breaking windows is not going to change that. You’re obviously more disturbed by this than we realised –’

    ‘Disturbed! Course I’m disturbed. My mother is missing! Urgh! She was right,’ cried Aria.

    ‘Right about what? Now look here child, you either tell me the truth or you can find yourself another school!’

    ‘Do what you want. I don’t care anymore. This is a stupid school, with stupid teachers and you’re a STUPID …’

    ‘WELL! NEVER IN ALL MY YEARS … That’s it!’ puffed the head teacher, rising from her chair and thumping her hands on the desk. ‘You’ve had plenty of chances. I’ve done my best to be reasonable. Consider yourself expelled, immediately!’

    Aria was half delighted, half in shock. She had never spoken to anyone like that before. And never to a teacher! She was sure that she could see actual steam escaping from Mrs Ramsbottom’s ears. She jumped up, ready to leave. Her heart was pounding, her palms sweating. Did the head teacher really say she’d been expelled or had she imagined it? She froze for a second, then ran out of the head’s office as fast as she could and slammed the heavy door behind her.

    The deep dull tone of Mrs Ramsbottom’s voice echoed from behind the glass.

    Aria kept running. In a blur, she shoved open the double doors at the end of the corridor and fled into the fresh air. Her mind was racing so fast, that she didn’t notice the man standing on the other side and ploughed straight into him. Thankfully, it was her father.

    ‘Aria? Where are you going? Wait! What’s the matter?’

    He attempted to grab her bag, but she pulled away. When he finally caught up to her, she was waiting by his car.

    Her father was a rugged man, with dark brown hair and eyes and an outdoorsy appearance. His face was wrinkled with worry.

    ‘What’s happened now? Aria please, talk to me –’

    By now she was sobbing uncontrollably and could barely catch her breath.

    ‘I, I … can’t …’

    ‘Can’t what? Breathe Aria, breathe. Tell me what’s going on?’

    ‘I can’t … I can’t go back! She’s expelled me!’

    ‘Who has?’

    ‘Mrs Ramsbottom!’

    ‘What? No, that can’t be right. I’ll go speak to her and sort this out –’

    ‘NO!’

    ‘Look, this has gone on long enough. I’ve never warmed to that woman. And she’s never liked you, that’s for sure.’

    ‘Dad, NO! LISTEN! I don’t want to go back there. I can’t. Please don’t make me. Please!

    More tears fell from Aria’s reddened eyes.

    Her father looked at her mournfully, and then back at the school. By now, a gaggle of teachers had gathered by the entrance and were pointing at them. He stretched out his arms and pulled Aria towards him.

    As her face pressed into his chest, her body stiffened. She had barely cried since her mother went missing. To her, crying meant that she was ready to say her goodbyes. She was afraid that if her real emotions escaped, she wouldn’t be able to control them. But it hurt to keep them in – like a pressure cooker with too much steam inside that might explode at any minute. After a few seconds, she pulled away.

    ‘Come on, jump in,’ said her father. ‘Well, do you want to get away from this place or not?’

    Aria walked around the old silver Land Rover parked next to them, opened the door and climbed up onto the passenger seat. Her father climbed in next to her.

    ‘Don’t you want to speak to Mrs Ramsbottom?’ she asked.

    ‘No point now, I reckon. And, I guess I should apologise –’

    ‘What for?’

    ‘For not coming sooner. The thing is, I got a call from work just before I left. It’s that job I’ve been telling you about. You know, the one with the ruins. Well, I got the go-ahead today. It’s all arranged, you’re going to stay in the valley for the summer. Aria? That is okay, isn’t it?’

    The rush of adrenaline that had pumped through her veins in the head teacher’s office had now gone. Instead, she felt numb.

    ‘Anywhere is better than here,’ she sighed.

    Her father patted her gently on the arm, before starting up the car and driving away. 

    Aria watched in the wing mirror as Blandstrand School grew smaller and smaller in the distance. At least for a while, she’d be able to forget about her terrible year. She wouldn’t have to worry about fitting in, or someone finding out about her secret and how different she really was. Or so, she thought.

 

 

 

 

 

SAMPLE CHAPTER

 

To purchase the book, please visit www.atalinawright.com/earth-keepers-1

EARTH KEEPERS LEGEND

The Secret Trail is Book 1 in the

EARTH KEEPERS LEGEND SERIES

Other titles in the series will be available soon

 

 

Copyright © 2019 Atalina Wright