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As Damara’s powers sweep like a wildfire through the town, her ...
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As Damara’s powers sweep like a wildfire through the town, her neighbors’ long-hidden desires and secret wishes are dragged out into the open -- and given life. But as the old saying goes, be careful what you wish for, because in this case -- it could kill you.
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A small dark form darted above Damara's head, dipping and
darting in a zig-zag pattern. But she wasn't afraid. She
loved bats, thought they were cool ... at a distance,
anyway. As she watched the bat - at least she assumed it was a
bat; she couldn't really tell for sure in the dark - a
delicious shiver ran though her body. She couldn't believe
that she'd really done it, that she really was here. Tristan
and she had talked about sneaking into Riverfork in the middle
of the night at least a million times. But neither of them had
ever done anything about it. Until now.
You'd never do it, Mara, so don't pretend like you would.You
don't even like to go any farther than your backyard if you
don't have to. You'd never really go into a deserted amusement
park at night. Never-ever.
That's what Tristan had said this afternoon on the school bus
when she'd started talking about visiting Riverfork again. She
wasn't certain why he'd suddenly become such a butt-head about
it and refused to play along like he always had. Maybe it was
because he was a year older than her and would be thirteen
next year. Maybe he'd decided to get a head start on being a
stuck-up, obnoxious teenager. Whatever the reason, she was
looking forward to seeing Tristan tomorrow and telling him
about her adventure - and showing him some souvenir that she'd
bring back. A sign, maybe, or some piece of abandoned
equipment. Anything would do, as long as it was proof.
She could hear Tristan now.
No freakin' way!
Tristan always replaced swear words with less-harsh
substitutes, as if he wanted to talk like an adult but
couldn't quite bring himself to.
You gotta be shishin' me! You really did it ... snuck out
and went down to Riverfork - in the middle of the night - all
by yourself. No-freakin'-way!
And then, best of all: Geez, Mara, I'm really sorry for what I
said yesterday. I guess I was wrong about you.
Damara giggled at the thought of Tristan's grudging apology,
her laughter sounding louder than it would've during the day,
brittle, echoing, and with the slightest edge of hysteria to
Okay, so maybe she was afraid of being here ... in the dark.
Just a little, anyway.
Framed against the night sky, the silhouettes of Riverfork's
ghosts surrounded her: the dark circle of a Ferris wheel, the
twisting artificial canals of a log ride, the support beams
and undulating track of a roller coaster, and many more.
Surely they had once had names ... Round-and-Around,
Lumberjack Falls, the Whipcrack ... But whatever they had
once been called, whatever names had been used to thrill and
entice kids both young and old to buy a ticket they could
exchange for a five-minute thrill had long ago been lost.
Riverfork - so named because it was built on the western bank
of the Clearwater River that flowed through town, a river that
forked into two smaller branches just south of the park - had
been closed since before Damara was born. And since she, like
any eleven-year-old, couldn't conceive of a world that had
existed without her, that meant the park had been closed
always and forever.
No one knew why Riverfork had been shut down. At least, none
of the kids she knew, which to her young girl's mind was
pretty much everyone in the world. Some said it was because
the river overflowed its banks one exceptionally rainy spring
and flooded the park. The water damage had been so severe that
the owner couldn't afford to fix it and had instead shut the
park down. Other kids said it was because Riverfork couldn't
compete with Kings Island once it was built in the late
sixties (right after the dinosaurs went extinct). Kings Island
was only a forty-minute drive away, if that, and it was like a
zillion times better than Riverfork, which mostly had a bunch
of kiddie rides anyway. But Damara's favorite story, one that
Tristan and she told each other often, was that Riverfork had
been the scene of a grisly roller-coaster accident that had
forced the park's closure. An entire set of cars had jumped
the track, sailed through the air, their riders' screams
changing from cries of delight to shrieks of pure terror as
the cars plunged down toward the fully occupied Ferris wheel.
The crash of course had been spectacular, and the causalities
Whatever the reason, mundane or sensational, Riverfork was
closed and had stayed closed, its only visitors teenagers
looking for a place to get drunk, get stoned, and get laid
(though not necessarily in that order). Unless the spirits of
all those people who died on the roller-coaster accident still
wandered the park in a ghostly daze, trying to figure out how
their day of fun had turned so bad so fast.
Stop it! she told herself. You know you shouldn't think things
Damara wished she'd brought a different flashlight than the
one she carried stuck handle-first in the back pocket of her
shorts. She'd gotten it out of the junk drawer in the kitchen
before going to bed, and she'd hid it under her pillow while
she'd waited for her mom and dad to finish watching the
evening news, brush their teeth, and go to bed. She'd waited a
whole other hour, lying in the dark, staring up at her ceiling
and glancing at the digital alarm clock on her dresser every
few minutes. When she couldn't stand waiting any longer she
got up - still dressed in T-shirt and shorts - slipped on her
sandals, grabbed the flashlight, and opened her bedroom window
just high enough for her to squeeze through.
The flashlight had worked just fine at first, but soon after
she'd crawled over the chain-link fence that enclosed their
backyard, the light had begun to flicker, and it continued
flickering as she made her way through the short stretch of
woods that sloped downhill from her house toward the river - and
Riverfork. By the time she reached the rusty locked gate
that closed off the entrance to the park, she was smacking the
flashlight every few seconds to keep it illuminated, and after
she found the loose board in the wooden wall that surrounded
the park - a board Tristan and she had tugged on
experimentally many times, though always during the day, and
never had they gone further than prying the board back and
peeking inside - the stupid flashlight had died on her. She
didn't know if the batteries were weak or if there was some
kind of loose connection, or if she'd broken the little bulb
inside by smacking the flashlight so hard in her attempts to
keep it lit. It didn't really matter, though. She'd made it
inside Riverfork. So she'd stuck the useless flashlight in her
pocket and began exploring the park by starlight, the
flashlight handle bumping into her right butt cheek as she
walked. She hoped that if she left it off long enough, maybe
the batteries would recharge of something, and she'd have some
light to see by so she could make her way home. She knew she
was bullshitting herself (bullshishing, Tristan would say),
that batteries didn't work like that, but the thought made her
feel a little better nevertheless.
A breeze blew through the park, and Damara folded her arms
over her chest. Though she was only eleven, she was already
beginning to develop breast buds, and the cold night air had
hardened her nipples. So when she brushed them while folding
her arms, the sensation was so tickley-shivery that she yelped
as if she'd been pinched. She wished she'd brought a jacket or
even a light sweater. Though late August in Southwestern Ohio
could be (and often was) hot and humid as a motherbucket, as
Tristan would say, the nights could feel more like September
or even October. For all the warmth provided by her Wonder
Woman T-shirt, shorts, and sandals, she might as well be
wandering around the park naked.
The thought made her giggle and this time her nipples felt
tingly-warm. For a moment, she was tempted to really do it, to
take off her clothes, toss them to the ground, and let the
night air caress her skin. She imagined the air's kiss making
her nipples so swollen that they ached. She felt heat
spreading through her vagina (her virginia, Tristan might
say), burrowing inside her as if something warm and furry were
exploring the hidden recesses of her body. She got as far as
lifting her T-shirt up over her taut belly before a piece of
the night swooped down toward her.
She squealed, let her shirt drop back down, and ducked. She
could feel a swoosh of air as the bat traced the course of her
spine, arced upward, and soared off to rejoin the darkness.
Except maybe it wasn't a bat. Maybe it was something else,
She straightened and looked up at the sky, trying to find the
bat (or whatever it was), flying somewhere above her. After a
moment's searching, she saw a shadowy form circling in the
air, but the bat seemed larger, its flight slower, its wings - were
there four of them now? - beating the humid air more
heavily. And it was making a noise that sounded nothing like
the bat screeches she'd heard on Scooby-Doo cartoons. This
sound was a combination of a sheep's bleat and fingernails
being dragged across sheet metal.
She felt a tingling at the base of her skull, as if someone
were lightly brushing fingers across her skin. Fear hit her
like a punch to the stomach, and she began whispering aloud.
"It's a bat, just a bat, nothing else, just an ordinary furry,
pug-nosed, beady-eyed, leather-winged bat-bat-bat ..." And
as she said this in a breathy whisper that was almost a chant,
she thought of a polar bear standing in a blizzard. An image
that was white, whiter than white, blank, nothing.
The bat was bat-sized again, flying fast and silent as it
continued on its nightly mission to keep the insect population
Damara let out a shaky breath. She'd kept it from happening
Maybe she shouldn't have come here. The dark, the shadows, the
shapes ... They were like black construction paper, black
Play-Doh, black paint ... just waiting for her to reach out,
take hold, and being using them to make something different,
new, and special. The shadowy forms of the park attractions
seemed to lean in closer toward her, as if they were listening
to her thoughts, eagerly waiting to find out what she would do
Damara squeezed her eyes shut. "Polar bear, polar bear, polar
bear, polar bear ..."
White ... blank ... nothing.
She could hear her father's voice, half angry, half scared.
You have to be more careful, Dee. You could ... could hurt
someone. Not that you'd ever do it on purpose, sweetheart. You
wouldn't, you're a good girl, your mother and I know that. But
if you're not careful, what happened to your brother ...
That was definitely a polar-bear thought, and Damara squashed
it good and hard. She shouldn't have come here, shouldn't have
let her fight with Tristan get to her like that. She should -
She heard the scrape of a shoe on gravel coming from somewhere
out in the darkness. Damara's first thought was that Tristan
had somehow figured out what she'd planned tonight, that he'd
been watching from his bedroom window across the street, saw
her crawl through her own open window and snuck out after her.
It would be just like that buttwipe to follow her and ruin her
chance to rub her adventure in his face tomorrow.
She turned toward the sound - though in the dark it was hard
for her to tell exactly which direction it had come from - and
was about to call out to Tristan, when she heard a voice.
"Dee? Where are you? I know you're here somewhere! I heard you
She took in a small gasp of air, and her heart - which was
already pounding fast - began to race. Omigod! It was Daddy!
"You know you're not supposed to leave home, Dee. Not unless
you have to. You know what can happen."
Damara wanted to run, but her feet refused to move. Normally,
she wasn't afraid of Daddy. He was kind, sweet, funny ...
until he thought that there was danger of her doing it again.
"I was going to call out before you left the yard, but I
decided to wait and see what you were up to."
His voice sounded closer now, but Damara didn't see any sign
of him in the darkness. She wondered why he didn't have a
flashlight, but then she realized that since she'd taken the
one in the junk drawer, Daddy probably hadn't had enough time
to look for another before setting out to follow her. That was
a lucky break, for if he didn't have a light to shine on her,
if she was quiet enough and fast enough, maybe she'd be able
to get away and hide from him, maybe even sneak past him and
head back home, take off her clothes, hide the flashlight, and
crawl back into bed before he got back. Then she could try to
pretend that she'd been asleep all along. She didn't really
think it would work, knew that Daddy had probably checked her
bedroom before going outside, but it was the only plan she
could come up with to escape her daddy's anger - and the
punishment he was certain to dole out for her midnight
expedition - and she had to go with it, regardless of how slim
her chances for success were.
"What you're doing is dangerous, Dee. For any kid, not just
you. Hell, it's dangerous for an adult to be wandering around
here in the dark." He chuckled then, the sound so close that
Damara thought she could almost feel her father's breath on
her face. "People's imaginations can run wild in the dark,
sweetheart. They can get really scared and do some foolish
things that might get themselves hurt. But we know what
happens when your imagination runs wilds, don't we, Dee?"
She could tell that Daddy was fighting to sound calm, but she
could hear suppressed anger in his voice, alongside fear. Fear
of her, of what she might do.
"C'mon, Dee. Just tell me where you are so I can find you and
we'll go back home together. I won't even tell your mom about
tonight. It'll be our little secret, okay?"
Damara heard another scrape of shoe on gravel, and she was
certain Daddy was real close now, maybe close enough to reach
out and grab her if he knew which direction to reach in.
Damara grabbed hold of the flashlight and pulled it out of her
pocket. She guessed which direction her father was and threw
the flashlight the opposite way. A couple seconds later
plastic clattered on asphalt, and without waiting to see if
Daddy took the bait, Damara started running. Her sandals made
a thwop-thwop-thwop sound as she ran, and she wished she'd
thought of taking them off before she'd started running. Too
She'd been inside the park long enough for her eyes to adjust
somewhat, and she headed toward what she guessed was a
building of some sort. She had no idea whether the door would
be locked or not - assuming she could even find the door in
the dark - but since Daddy didn't have a flashlight, even if
he figured out which direction she'd run, she wouldn't have to
go inside to hide. She could go around the side of the
building, flatten herself against the wall, and wait until
Daddy got tired of looking for her and gave up. All she had to
do was reach the building ...
And that's when Daddy turned on his flashlight.
* * *
Jerry Ruschmann saw his daughter scamper away from his
flashlight beam as if she were some manner of nocturnal animal
that he'd startled. He started to call out to her again, but
he stopped himself. If words were going to make her come to
him, they would've done so by now. He tried to track her with
the flashlight - one that he kept in his nightstand drawer in
case the power went out in the middle of the night - but she
was moving so fast, all he caught were glimpses of her long
brown hair flying in the wind, skinny arms and legs pumping as
if her life depended on her mustering all the speed she was
Excerpted from Pandora Drive
by Tim Waggoner
Copyright © 2006 by Tim Waggoner.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted January 13, 2007
Posted January 27, 2007
This author has some serious issues! It's disgusting, vomit-inducing garbage. I am a fan of horror books, but this one is just awful. I'm glad I got this book for free. I threw it out as soon as I was done with it.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 19, 2006
This book kept me interested all the way through. It's filled with all the good stuff you would want in a horror book. There was some very gory scenes which made it very creepy. This one definetely had me hooked from the beginning.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 23, 2006