Colleen is a tortured 8th grader. It's been the same misery every school year since kindergarten. Day after day of relentless teasing and bullying, ever since her ugly secret got out eight years ago- part of her brain is from a chimpanzee. That's why she never saw it coming when Erin, the popular new girl in school, wanted to hang with her.
Erin's got a big secret of her own. She's from the future, and she needs Colleen's help. The world has been destroyed by global warming. Erin's people, the last band of desperate humans, are struggling to survive the oppressive heat of 2463 Earth. Now they're dying off by the thousands from a strange and lethal virus. And the only cure is found on a tiny island in present day Indonesia inhabited by the Korombai tribe, ruthless cannibals from which no one has ever returned.
But what can a scared, withdrawn 13 year old girl do to save the world? Colleen will learn that her "curse" may turn out to be the greatest "gift" of all. She'll have to discover a courage and strength she's never known to battle all the hell-ish foes in a desperate crusade to save humanity.
But will she have to sacrifice her life to do it?
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.56(d)|
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The Colleen Colgan Chronicles, Book IFlowers from Cannibals
By Richard Phelan
AuthorHouseCopyright © 2010 Richard Phelan
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePolar Bear Plunge
Colleen stared into the death black eyes of the 1200 lb. Polar Bear and it made her shiver. Tufts of wind danced in an out of her straight brown hair, intermittently exposing then veiling her young, tanned face. Her youthfulness was contrasted by her eyes, old eyes, not in actual years but in life, worn prematurely by the experience of the miserable. The unforgiving Indonesian sun kept her complexion dark, to the point it completely camouflaged her Irish lineage. Even from the safety of her perch high above the Polar Bear habitat she could feel the piercing gaze of the ferocious white carnivore. She knew every animal at The Indonesian National Zoo yet this untamed beast was the lone inhabitant that made her heart race. Confinement revealed a rarely seen side of apex predators, a tamer almost lazy disposition. In the wild hunger drove their instinctive predatory behavior, but keep them fed on a scheduled pattern and somehow they lose that edge. The lone exception was, of course, polar bears. It didn't matter with them. They would attack and eat anything unfortunate enough to cross their path, either on the frozen tundra of the arctic or in a zoo, any zoo in the world. That raw savageness is what drew her to them every day.
"Excuse me!" barked a large woman with a thick accent as she nudged Colleen down the metal railing. "My kids can't see."
"Sorry," Colleen offered, never one to argue. She simply yielded to the bulky woman and her equally proportioned offspring, knocking her soda over in the process. Without a word she picked up the now empty cup and tossed it in the trash can.
She stopped before making the full pivot back to the railing. Someone was watching, she could feel the eyes on her. Even at thirteen years old Colleen had a sixth sense that was keenly developed, more so than even most adults. But at first glance it seemed like the typical zoo crowd, the same ones she'd seen every day for the last four years.
That's when she spotted her, lurking half-hidden between a beguiled father fumbling with a zoo map spread wide in his arms and Misha, one of the zoo's "animal guides", giving bear facts to all who where listening (which weren't many).
"Polar bears are one of the few animals who see humans as prey," she inflected with panned enthusiasm.
But Colleen wasn't listening to her. She was mesmerized by the tall curly haired red head with the bleach white skin staring intensely at her with hypnotically dazzling blue eyes. Colleen's eyes darted down to her shoes, a submissive gesture that was second nature to her. She whirled back to face the bears, acting disinterested yet at the same time pondering who the mysterious girl was and why she was so interested in her.
She could feel people crowding in around her, pressing her against the railing. Everyone was captivated by the mother polar bear anxiously pacing back and forth in front of her cub, annoyed by something unseen.
Curious as to what it could be, Colleen leaned forward to get a closer look. It was then that she felt hands on her back. Before she could spin around, a powerful thrust from behind sent her see-sawing over the railing. She frantically grasped for the something to anchor her but before anyone realized what was happening she was over the edge, plummeting towards the icy moat below.
She felt like she was falling in slow motion, distorted screams of the crowd somewhere above her, while she flailed her arms and legs as the cold bluish green waters inched closer.
"This can't be happening!" was the last thought that went through her mind before she smashed face first into the deep blue-green pool. The stinging cold of the simulated arctic waters bit at her skin like someone pricking her with a million needles. She surged to the surface, desperate to ease the burning cold on her face. She broke through to a chaotic scene playing out 10 feet above her. People were leaning out over the railing yelling hysterically.
"Are you OK?" she heard one woman call over the cries.
"Don't move!" a middle aged man ordered. "We'll get you out."
Treading water, she could hear panicked yelling beyond her view. "Get help, Hurry!"
She knew she had to move, acutely aware that polar bears loved the water and could maul and drown her quickly. However, the immediate danger came from the numbing of her arms and legs which were submerged in the frigid waters. She would drown or go into hypothermic shock before anyone could save her, even if the bear didn't come after her. So she started to breast stroke to the edge of the pool, directly towards the grunting polar bear.
"No!" a mother screamed from above as she shielded her children's eyes.
"My God Colleen, Swim this way!" Misha cried as she recognized the girl bobbing towards the angry carnivore. "Someone get Dr. Colgan, now!" she yelled to anyone who would listen.
But for Colleen all the panicked yells dropped away. She couldn't hear or see anything except the agitated full grown mother polar bear crouched directly in front of her. She was going to die, that she was sure of. She had wished for death many times before, but this was different. She hated being the center of attention. She didn't want to die in a freak accident, filmed on someone's camera phone, sure to be re-played a million times on TV all over the world. She was sick of being a freak show.
But there was one chance- a door to the bears left, the one the vets and habitat cleaners use. She knew it had a key punch access code on each side of the door. Better yet she knew the code, the same as she knew every code to every animal habitat in the zoo, a fringe benefit of being the zoo keeper's daughter.
Her legs felt like cement columns. She lifted her hands up slowly, "Easy Blizzard. I don't want to bother you or Squall," she said referring to the young polar bear cub squatting behind its mother.
Slowly she hobbled to the left of the huge polar bear, making sure to leave a wide berth between them. Without a breath she crept over to the door. But before she could punch in the code the white behemoth started lumbering towards her.
Colleen slammed her fist into her head. "C'mon! C'mon!" She screamed out-loud trying to remember access code.
"24652!" she trumpeted. Her hands were shaking uncontrollably, so she punched the keys one by one as a child would type a paper, then yanked on the door, but it wouldn't budge.
Colleen forced herself to take a deep breath. Deliberately and slowly she punched in the code again. At the same time she could hear the low grumbling of the bear grow louder with every stride. Another hard yank on the knob, but still it wouldn't yield.
"What the....!" she groaned in despair, noticing the key punch board wasn't lit. The terrible realization struck her like a blow to the gut- since power was cut to the door, it would automatically remain locked.
Yet she could feel the cold breeze from the air conditioning units buffeting her face, keeping the habitat cool in the hot Jakarta summer. All the electric units were working which meant this wasn't a power outage.
Colleen gulped. "Someone deliberately cut the power to the key punch lock," she realized. "This wasn't an accident."
Suddenly, the huge carnivore charged.
Colleen screamed but her howl was cut short as the bear drove its massive shoulder into her. She careened off the wall and dropped to the ground with her head bouncing off the white painted concrete sending dizzying jolts of pain through her entire body.
More screams of horror from the stunned on-lookers.
"This is how I die," she thought, gasping for breath.
The massive bear pinned her to the cold hard cement floor. Blizzard stuck its neck out and roared into Colleen's face, its black lips vibrating off razor sharp fangs like a flag flapping in a gale. So close she could feel the wild bears hot moist breath on her face and it smelled like death to her.
Intense paralyzing pain pulsed through her head. "Not now!" she pleaded. Her vision began to blur, but with trembling hands she squeezed her thumb and pointer fingers together, driving the nail of her thumb deeply into the flesh of the other. Harder and harder she pushed until blood dripped off her index finger. The sharp pain flooded her nerve endings, easing the throbbing in her head but she was worse off for it. Now the man-eater could smell blood.
"Please don't eat me," she cried. "Please don't eat me, please don't eat me," she blurted over and over again. Time seemed to stand still for a sickening moment as she waited for the ripping of Blizzard's dagger-like fangs into her flesh and the fatal crush of its powerful jaws on her skull.
Miraculously it never came because Blizzard barrel-rolled off Colleen as if performing in a circus act. The bear ended the maneuver with its huge plate sized front paws in between its wish-boned back legs, staring at her with its head cocked to the side, reminiscent of a confused dog.
Colleen climbed cautiously to her feet. "Oh thank you Blizzard! Thank you, thank you," she huffed. She wasn't going to be tabloid news on this day after all, despite someone's best efforts.
Energy drained out of her spirit like water bubbling out the spout of a hose. Her legs buckled under all the stress of last couple of minutes and she fell on her backside. Too empty to pull herself back up Colleen watched in amazement as Squall, Blizzard's six month old cub, sauntered over to her and sat in her lap. Blizzard rose on all fours, turned away from Colleen and trotted in the opposite direction, through a large vinyl flap to the indoor part of the enclosure.
"Colleen! Are you alright?" a familiar voice called from up on the viewing platform.
"I'm fine, Dad," she replied feebly, stroking the fluffy white baby polar bear.
"Stay there!" he shouted. "We're coming to get you out."
"Like I have a choice," she chuckled sarcastically.
Colleen's father led staff members down a rope ladder that was uncoiled over the wall. As they climbed down an inflated raft floated over the top of the wall and landed, right side up, in the pool in front of the bear exhibit.
"Let's get you out of here, before Blizzard decides she's hungry," Dr. Colgan said as he threw a blanket over his daughter's shoulders.
"Did you see that?" Colleen asked, barely able to speak. "Blizzard let me pet Squall."
"It's a miracle you're still alive."
"Because Blizzard trusts me."
"More likely because Blizzard was confused by what was happening," Dr. Colgan explained. "That won't last long. Now let's get you out of here pronto." He grabbed his daughter put her in the raft and helped her climb out of the polar bear habitat.
As Colleen hoisted herself back over the railing into the viewing area, the large crowd that had gathered exploded with applause.
She blushed with all the attention.
"Thank God you're in one piece," Misha cried as she hugged Colleen tight. "I thought you were a goner."
Dr. Colgan stepped in between them. "We're heading back to the house for a talk," he said with a mix of muted relief and exasperation.
A few men pushed through the crowd. They had Jakarta Rescue printed on their shirts.
"Stay here for a minute," Dr. Colgan instructed Colleen. He set her down on a wooden bench set back from the metal railing which had failed to contain her minutes ago.
Like an apparition materializing out of thin air, the mysterious curly haired red head was sitting next to her.
Colleen recoiled from her in shock.
The red head grabbed her hand reassuringly. "It's OK. I'm not going to hurt you."
Colleen swiveled her head frantically, searching for her father. Questions raced through her mind. Had this girl tried to kill her? If it was her, would she try it again? And yet she couldn't bring herself to accuse the stranger directly. "You were staring at me earlier, right?"
"Yes," the red head replied.
"Did you see who pushed me?"
The girl didn't say a word but nodded in agreement.
"Who did it?"
The girl leaned in close. "It was them. They tried to kill you," she said in a hushed voice as if someone might overhear her.
Colleen's teeth were chattering despite the 95 degree afternoon. "Them?" she asked doubtfully. "Who's "Them"?"
The girl with the ivory snow complexion glared intently into Colleen's eyes. "Those who seek the apocalypse."
"The apocalypse?" she challenged. "I have no idea what that is and why it has anything to do with me?"
"They came a great distance to find you, and will never stop," said the girl.
"What did I do to them?" asked Colleen.
"It's not what you've done. It's what you will do."
"Huh?" she said completely baffled by the girl's riddles. The hair on the back of Colleen's neck straightened and nerves tingled in waves over her scalp. She was left with a mix of confusion and fear. How could anyone know what she would do? Besides, why would anyone want to kill her? She knew that millions of people didn't like her. In fact many were disgusted by this pretty thirteen year-old, thinking her an unnatural concoction of man and animal. Yet she had never received a single death threat. The more she ran through the events in her mind, the more logic pointed right back to the girl beside her, but the same question still remained.
She craned her neck and spotted her father walking back toward her. She turned back to the blue-eyed stranger. "What is your ..." she began when she realized the auburn haired stranger was gone. She had melted back into the crowd "Like a ghost through a wall," Colleen mumbled nervously.
Chapter TwoThe Agony of a Life Saved
Dr. Colgan guided his only child through the winding, coble-stoned pathways to the zoo keeper's estate located in the back of the zoo grounds. The center piece of the sprawling estate was a huge white stucco house capped with rounded red stone shingles and guarded by an eight foot gothic black wrought iron fence which kept it inaccessible to the public. The estate was the most appealing privilege of the zoo keeper appointment.
He and Colleen entered through the front door into a cavernous foyer, framed by a high vaulted ceiling. On the right, French doors opened to a spacious study dominated by a regal Mahogany desk. To the left was an open formal dining room complete with a large banquet Cherry wood table. Wide Mahogany stairs spiraled down from above and opened up directly in front of them.
He led Colleen into his study and directed her to a leather seat in front of his desk.
As she sat down, he turned and closed the French Doors even though there was no one else in the house.
"Not a good sign," she thought.
Dr. Colgan pulled up a chair and sat hunched forward with his hands placed gently on her knees. " Honey, I'm really scared. I told you, if you're getting overwhelmed then let's talk these things through."
Colleen furled her brow. "What are you talking about?"
Dr. Colgan rubbed his bloodshot eyes. "All I'm saying is that I'm here for you. Don't ever think you're alone. We can work through it."
Colleen shifted in the chair. "Do you think I jumped into the polar bear exhibit?"
"I think sometimes things become too much for you to handle and your emotions make you do irrational things."
Now she sat up. "You don't understand. Someone pushed me in that pit. I didn't jump."
He gave his daughter a soft but wounded smile. "It's ok. I want to talk about this. I want to deal with it so let's get it out in the open."
"Dad, you're not listening to me. I'm not sure what "it" you're referring to but I'm not making this up. Someone tried to kill me."
Dr. Colgan didn't immediately respond. Instead he rubbed his face repeatedly with both palms causing his short brown hair to stick up in front, "How am I supposed to believe that? Did someone push you into the tiger habitat last week and the lion habitat the week before that and almost every other animal habitat that you have entered since summer began?"
"That's different. I knew I wouldn't get attacked and guess what?" she explained. "Not a scratch. It wasn't a death wish. But this was different. I would never try that with the polar bears. That's a suicide mission. I tried to escape but someone cut the power to the key punch lock on the exhibit door."
Excerpted from The Colleen Colgan Chronicles, Book I by Richard Phelan Copyright © 2010 by Richard Phelan. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Contents1-Polar Bear Plunge....................1
2-The Agony of a Life Saved....................9
4-A New Friend....................29
5-The Science Project....................37
6-An Uneasy Arrangement....................43
7-Climbing through Wormholes....................47
11-The Devil Wears a White Robe....................91
12-A Man named Rufus....................99
16-Here There Be Cannibals....................151
17-Of Monkeys and Men....................161
19-Sir Edmund Hillary We are Not....................175
21-Sacrifice for Friends....................201
22-Demons of a Different Kind....................213