Dark Territory: The Tracks, Book One

Dark Territory: The Tracks, Book One

by J. Gabriel Gates, Charlene Keel


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Star-Crossed Love, Martial Arts, and Supernatural Evil meet at the Abandoned Tracks in the Deceptively Quaint town of Middleburg...When Ignacio Torrez moved from the rough streets of Los Angeles to a small town dead smack in the middle of nowhere, he never expected to find himself in the midst of a gang war. But, he soon learns, these are no ordinary gangs. The wealthy, preppie Toppers on one side of the tracks and the working-class Flatliners on the other adhere to a strict code of honor and use their deadly martial arts skills, taught to them by the wise Master Chin, to battle one another for pride, territory, and survival. When Raphael, leader of the Flatliners, falls for Aimee, a Topper girl, the rival gangs prepare for a bloody, all-out war. The only hope for peace between them lies within the dark territory of the abandoned train tunnels where the tracks cross. Under the direction of the mysterious and frightening Magician, the awesome power within the crossing sends the rivals on a terrifying mystical quest to fight the malevolent force that threatens the existence of Middleburg.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780757315749
Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
Publication date: 07/01/2011
Series: Tracks Series , #1
Pages: 504
Sales rank: 757,861
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.70(d)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

J. Gabriel Gates is a Michigan native and a graduate of Florida State University. He has worked as a professional actor and a Hollywood screenwriter. For more of J. Gabriel Gates' writing, check out his horror novel The Sleepwalkers. Visit www.jgabrielgates.com.

Charlene Keel is the author of a dozen novels and how-to-books. She has also ghostwritten books for celebrities, doctors, and corporate moguls.

Read an Excerpt

'You really are nervous, aren't you?' she observed.
'It's just…I get these feelings sometimes,' he said. 'Like, if something bad is going to happen. Or it could be something good. I just get these feelings, you know? And this is one of them.'
Raphael's eyes opened, and vision returned to them like the fade-in at the beginning of a movie. He found himself staring out the windshield of Maggie's car into the deep green-black canopy of nighttime forest. They had stopped. The door on his side was open, and Maggie was leaning down to him, her face only inches from his.
'Come on,' she whispered. Her lips were tantalizingly close to his ear, her breath rustling his hair.
She took his hand, and Raphael got out of the car. She shut the door with a slam that, in the thick silence of the forest, seemed deafening.
'This way.' Maggie led him across a patch of tall, tramped-down weeds to a muddy trail that reached deep into the forest. The fact she was able to negotiate the terrain in high heels amazed Raphael; he could hardly keep upright wearing sneakers.
He felt drunk—or what he imagined being drunk would feel like. Master Chin's strict training had prevented any curious experimentation he might otherwise have been tempted to try. Could somebody have slipped him something? he wondered. But he'd eaten nothing since starting work that afternoon, and all he drank was a Coke, which he'd kept back in the kitchen. But the minute Maggie touched his face, he had gone fuzzy. It was like he kept forgetting where he was and what he was doing.
But when Maggie's hand tightened on his, even those thoughts were whisked away, forgotten, like leaves on the October breeze, and he followed without question.
When they were further down the trail, the moon came out from behind a cloud, and the landscape brightened. Ahead, he could see a break in the trees. The mud under foot started giving way to small stones that skittered away beneath their feet. After sliding the last few yards, they reached safe, level ground, and Raphael suddenly realized where they were.
It was the locomotive graveyard.
Throughout the large clearing, dozens of wrecked train cars sat in all stages of decomposition. Some lay toppled on their sides; some listed, half-invaded by clinging, cancer-like clumps of weeds. Others stood in place on the tracks, looking oddly fit despite their antiquity, as if an engine might link up with them at any moment and chug them back into service. Some were freight cars, little more than great wheeled boxes of rusting steel or rotting wood. Others were passenger cars, their windows broken out, their proud names—Eastern Chief or Golden Line Express—graffitied over with obscenities, or with big, colorful spray-painted murals.
Taken all together, it was a sprawling labyrinth of timber and steel, a ghost village filled with secret spaces, narrow passages, and rusting treasures.
It was a place Raphael knew well. When he was nine or ten, he and Zhai had come here to play together. They had explored the cars and talked about Middleburg's glory days when the trains still ran. In fourth grade, they learned that Middleburg had once been a mining town, and in fifth grade, they learned it was beef cattle and produce that Middleburg shipped to both coasts. When the highways came in, factories and housing developments replaced farms and ranches. For a while, Middleburg was a flourishing little industrial town, but life for the common man dried up when the trains were rerouted through Topeka, over a hundred and fifty miles away.
Geographically, Middleburg was in the dead center of the Great Forty-Eight, and although the landscape all around it was breathtaking, with forests, plains, and mountains meeting in a three-cornered point just outside the city limits, it was still dead center in the middle of nowhere.
And when the train station closed, freight and passenger lines went out of business, and this deserted tract of land on the edge of town was where all the forsaken train cars were stored.
It was the perfect place for two young boys, with lots of nooks to explore and plenty of mystery to fuel the imagination. It was also midway between their houses.
Since then, Raphael had been up there plenty of times with his Flatliner crew, having bonfires, shooting BB guns, and spray-painting the old trains with elaborate 3-D designs that were variations of their signature F-within-a-circle. But not even the Flatliners had been there lately.
That last time, for some reason, he had thought about the stories he'd heard all his life, about the Middleburg Ghost (or Monster, or Beast, depending on who was talking). Playing there as a kid with Zhai, the stories never bothered him. In fact, they had made it more exciting, more daring, to go there. But that last night—almost a year ago, now—the Flatliners had built a bonfire. A quiet mood had fallen on them as soon as they got it lit, and Raph thought the place felt a little creepy. Malevolent whispers floated on the wind, and shadows stretched around them, as thin as a spider's web, and beckoned to them. Called to them to come on over and push through the shadows, into some darker world that lay beyond. None of them, neither Raphael nor his friends, had said outright that they didn't feel comfortable there anymore. They had just stopped coming. Raphael still went there now and then, when he had something serious he wanted to think about, but he never went there at night—not anymore.
And now he was here with Maggie, and he couldn't remember why. In the distance, on the far side of the clearing, perhaps, he glimpsed an orange light. The porch light of a house, maybe? But there were no houses that close. A streetlight? But the street lights in this part of town had stopped working years ago. A campfire, maybe, built by teenagers who had come out here to party? Not likely. Raphael knew all the teenagers in town; half of them were back at Rack 'Em, and the other half, the Toppers, would never have the nerve to hang out in this solitary place full of wreckage, decay, and shadow.
As he and Maggie passed down the slope, the little flickering light was obscured by up-ended train cars, and its presence faded from Raphael's mind when he saw the steel rails of the tracks shining in the moonlight and beyond them, in the distance, the great black opening of the south tunnel. Maggie held his hand fast in hers, tugging him onward, toward what he now realized was their destination: a tired-looking, old wooden boxcar that had once been painted red, slouching wearily, as if about to collapse on the rails. It was set cross-ways over the tracks—though what force could have pushed it into that position, Raphael couldn't imagine.
They were walking in the center of the tracks now, on the scarred, weathered backs of the ancient railroad ties. He must have misjudged the distance because in a blink, they were at the door of the boxcar, and Maggie was pulling him into the musty darkness. Moonlight shone in eerie laser-like streaks through the cracks where the wall boards came together.
'We're here,' Maggie said, and he heard a metallic sound as she took something out of her purse.
Her voice sounded strange, disembodied. For a moment he thought he had lost her, that the darkness had swallowed her up and the only thing left of her was her voice. But when she pressed up against him, put her arms around him, and pushed him back against the wall of the freight car, she felt real. She kissed him, and she felt as real as anything. The thought of how it would enrage Rick to know that Maggie had kissed him was satisfaction enough for Raphael.
He hadn't meant to, but he kissed her back. She pressed even closer, and he started sliding down the wall, taking her with him, to the floorboards of the old freight car. Her breathing quickened, and she ran her hands along his shoulders and down his arms, as light as a butterfly. Relaxing into the kiss, he barely noticed the clink of metal as the cold, steel bands closed simultaneously—one around his wrist and the other onto a steel eyelet screwed into the frame of the car.
Aimee sat on her bed, staring at her cell phone. Dalton's number was displayed on its screen. To call or not to call, that was the question. On one hand, she never wanted to see or think about Raphael again. On the other, Rick had as much as admitted he was up to something and Maggie was in on it. And that thought was strangely comforting.
If Rick and Maggie were setting Raphael up, then Aimee knew there was nothing going on between Raphael and Maggie. Only, she thought as a new wave of disappointment washed over her, only he didn't have to look like he was enjoying it so much.
But, she reminded herself, it wasn't as if she and Raphael were exclusive or anything. They were the opposite of exclusive; they weren't even dating. To be mad at him for being with another girl was beyond illogical.
Seeing him with Maggie had hurt her feelings—she had to be honest about that. Her time at Mountain High had conditioned her to be honest about her feelings and about any situation in which she found herself. But feelings or no feelings, the fact was she had no claim at all on Raphael. And he didn't deserve whatever Rick had planned for him. She had to warn him. She bit her lip and pressed the Talk button on her cell phone.
It rang and rang and rang. At last, a soft voice answered.
'Hi, Lily Rose. It's Aimee. Banfield. Is Dalton home yet?'
'Well, hello, sugar.' Aimee found the old woman's voice comforting, and she warmed to it as Lily Rose continued speaking. 'It sure is a pleasure to hear from you tonight. How you doin', honey?'
'Oh, I'm good,' Aimee said quickly. 'Thanks for asking. Is Dalton home?'
'Not yet,' Lily Rose said. 'She should be here directly.'
'Could I get her cell phone number?'

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Dark Territory: The Tracks, Book One 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi im brittney i go to lakeview middle school and so did gabriels parents. Gabriel came to my school and did a very interesting speech about his life and his books he read a couple of pages and i completely fell in love with the book im only 11 but please rate my comment good and PLEASE READ THIS BOOK IT IS ONE OF HIS BEST BOOKS IN THE SERIES
CommunityBookstop on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this from HCI Teens for a honest and fair review, and oh my god this was totally different then anything I have read lately. This story had me on the edge of my seat, seeing aspects of the story of Romeo and Juliet. You have the flatliners who are a misfit group doing the best they can in a society where the Toppers succeed and the flatliners just try to get by. Nass is new to Middleburg and the last thing he needs is to join a gang but what he sees in the flatliners is more than a gang, he sees friends helping each other trying to get by. He also meets Dalton who he is smitten with. The toppers are the typical spoiled rich kids, minus Aimee who has returned to town after being in an institute after the death of her boyfriend Tyler. She meets Raph and is instantly falling for him. He treats Aimee like a person and doesn't shun her since her return. Master Chin teaches the kids martial arts and warns them that bigger things are happening.I enjoyed this the action was incredible, the humor was just as great and a refreshing read for the supernatural aspects. You really feel like your with the gang in their various situations. Definitely a great series can't wait to read the next one called Ghost Crown.
Krista23 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
For the majority of this book I could not help but be reminded of the Karate Kid movies. A new kid attending a new school, gets into some rough times with another gang of boys. They call themselves the TOPPERS and the FLATLINERS. They fight each other with martial art skills that can become deadly and serious very fast.The twist to this story that takes it away from being too similar to Karate Kid is the combination that we get to have half of the story from a Aimee, and that was nice to get some alternative perspectives into the story.There is also some supernatural twists to this one, as well as some incredibly creepy Train Tracks in which the town refers to as the "Dark Territory" some magic, kidnappings full of ransom notes and danger.I have read other books by J Gabriel Gates and appreciate the flow of the stories he tells. Just like sitting back and watching a good film. A great ensemble of characters and dialogue that really keeps the reader interested with the plot. This for instance is a 504 page book, but once you get into the story you'd never realize it was.I think that the amazing this is that this book at the time I am writing this review is only $1.30 on Amazon, both the ebopy and the physical paperback copy! Now this amazes me, it's a steal at this price and a great story with great characters. I don't know why'd you ever want to pass up this offer.Happy Reading
RavenswoodPublishing on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
J. GABRIEL GATES "DARK TERRITORY"The story of Ignacio Torrez is one that young adults will enjoy. When he moves from his rough and tumble, Los Angeles neighborhood to a small town in nowhere land he learns a valuable lesson about honor and magic. He soon finds himself in the midst of an adventure, a quest to bring peace between the Toppers and the Flatliners, two rival gangs on the verge of war over forbidden love.This book is one I would highly recommend.-Kitty Bullard / Great Minds Think Aloud Book Club
Bookworm_Lisa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
When I first looked at the description and started to read the book I thought that it would be similar to "West Side Story". You have two gangs. One is the wealthy kids who live on the hill and the other is the poor kids who live on the wrong side of the tracks. There is a romance that builds between a girl from the hill and a boy from the poor section. They live in a small town that has lost its luster since the railroad was rerouted.I was wrong. Yes, there are those elements present, but this story has quite a bit more to offer. When I would think that the story was winding down and coming to a conclusion, J. Gabriel Gates would take off in a whole new direction and breathe life into the story.There is a whole paranormal element that at times leaving you scratching you head and thinking, where did that come from? He adds pieces layer upon layer to build up to the story. At the end there are still things that you don't know and lead to interest in a future story. There is a promise of more action and battles in the war between good and evil. It's also a story of friendship and loyalty.Overall, I enjoyed this book. It is clean as far as the romance goes. Depictions of war, violence, and gang activity are my only content warnings.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If going straight, the camp entrance is right there, with the camp, in the middle of the forest. The northern border is oak trees.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Stephanie O. Book provided by the publisher for review Review originally posted at Romancing the Book When my daughter asked to borrow my ereader, I almost felt my heart stop. As an adult, I can and do read pretty much anything I want to. Mostly leaning towards paranormal romance to erotica. These are NOT acceptable for a 12 year old. My list of acceptable books for her to read, wasn’t very long. So, off I went in search of something she would like and I could approve of her reading. Dark Territory did not disappoint. With it’s large cast of characters, there were many chances to find someone to connect with. The eerie thing for me, was just how set in reality it was at times. Everyone can relate to someone. Were you the popular girl who got everything without lifting a finger? Or the book smart girl who got overlooked? How about the handsome quarterback that everyone wanted to be seen with? Or maybe, just maybe you were the guy who had to make his way out of the locker every afternoon. Never to realize that in the end each one of us, just wanted the same thing . . to be accepted, to be loved, to be appreciated for the things that you CAN do, and not dismissed for the things you CAN NOT do. I read this book has been compared to Romeo and Juliette and West Side Story. I can agree. Even throwing in there Grease (which “plays” a part in the story). All deal with what happens when two young adults fall for someone considered “too good” or “too bad” for them. When there is a clear line drawn through the middle of town, which side do you fall too? What happens when that line takes two people considered to be the best of friends, and splits them? Now add in there some supernatural events and you have on your hands a fast pace read that just might leave you with white knuckles. Let us not leave out, that the “adults” in this book . . well, they give us a good showing of just how ruthless some can be to keep their edge. Now, on to book to Two to see where this tale can go next. Favorite Quote:  LOL Moment: “Hey,” she replied softly as he walked closer. A smile touched her solemn features. “Those were some pretty slick moves back there.” “You must be talking about Ignacio’s, not mine.” “I was,” she said and laughed. Raphael laughed, too. “Ouch.”
WordSpelunking More than 1 year ago
With Dark Territory, authors J. Gabriel Gates and Charlene Keel have created an edgy, smart, fantastical story reminiscent of a modern day West Side Story with a splash of Romeo and Juliet. Dark Territory is an original, highly imaginative, thrilling story. It¿s very much a multi-layered, multi-faceted story with a great mix of fantasy, sci-fi, romance, action and social commentary. I was easily swept away by the fantasy and sci-fi elements, while impressed by the social awareness this book possesses. The intense dynamic between the two rival gangs makes for a compelling and, at times, dark story, but also a fun story to disappear into for a few hours. Gates and Keel write with attitude and sass, their dialogue is sharp and witty, their storyline is creative and well executed, and these two authors are clearly in tune with their intended audience. The fantasy and sci-fi elements are intriguing and captivating, and plentiful. There are elements of time travel, superhero like abilities, witchcraft, sorcery, and more. The action is thrilling, explosive, and doesn¿t hold anything back. The world Gates and Keel have created is well developed and captivating. Some of the situations are over the top and campy, but always fun. There is a lot going on in this book though: a lot of characters are introduced, a lot of backstories are explored, and a lot of elements are intertwined. At times, I did find myself a bit overwhelmed with the amount of story being presented to me, but this mostly occurs in the beginning of the book so it didn¿t distract from my reading experience as a whole. For the most part, the story moved at a nice pace, but there were a few chapters that moved a bit slower than I would have liked. Again, I think this had to do with the sheer amount of stuff going on. This is the first book in a series, so there are obviously numerous important aspects that needed to be explored or at least introduced, so I can understand the need to fit so much in one book. The last quarter of the book was excitingly fast paced and action filled. The fantasy and sci-fi aspects really shined in this part of the book. The baddy is superbly evil and fantastical. The ending wrapped up one mystery but left a dozen more intriguing ones open, setting up the next book nicely. This book has a big cast of characters. All the characters are well developed and I didn¿t find any unnecessary ones, which is always nice. All of the teen characters are incredibly realistic, especially in the way they talk to one another. There¿s a comforting stereotypical nature to all the characters that make them relatable, but they each possess their own intriguing aspects that make them refreshing. Dark Territory is a fun, edgy, well written book with an awesome premise, engaging characters, and captivating romance. The Tracks Series has a lot of promise and I can¿t wait to read book two. This is a book you really should read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was really worried about how to satisfy my need for great paranormal fiction now that Harry Potter has foiled his last evil wizard and the Twilight Saga has concluded-but I found the answer. It's The Tracks YA series by two of the most talented authors to come on the scene in a long time: J. Gabriel Gates and Charlene Keel. Their first book, Dark Territory, reads like an action-packed, epic movie! It's full of magic, monsters, martial arts, terrifying supernatural evil and an ill-fated (possibly) teen romance that starts an all-out war between two rival teenage gangs. This is one that all ages will enjoy. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book, Ghost Crown. If the synopsis on Keel's website is anything to go by, it will also be a winner!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Char519 More than 1 year ago
Such a joy to see what great reviews the first installment of our new YA series, Dark Territory, is getting-even from Publisher's Weekly: "The overall effect is that of a summer action flick, with all the expected over-the-top situations, sequences and dialogue." And Leah (Simply Nerdy Reviews): "Wow, I loved this book. I loved this book. I swear, it has everything; martial arts (action, action, action), romance, school plays, gangs, train tracks...Just wow. Character development definitely rocked, too, and...Oh, the romance! Once you read this book, you can never go back." Reader Sheena says, It was so hard to put it down and so good I hated to see it finish," and Allie, another reader, at 5 chapters away from the end: "I cannot put it down! It's right up there with Twilight." Dad of Divas agrees and adds, "Though the premise is different, you will see some other similarities. A strong book for all, not just young adult readers!" According to Flaming Net, "This is one of the best books I have ever read. I couldn't set the book down. The authors have written very powerful characters with strong bonds between them." And Leah, from AZteenmagazine says, "Dark Territory is an action-packed novel that will set you on edge, and keep you hanging on until the very end." If you like magic, martial arts and starcrossed love, you'll want to check this out. It's what could happen if Twilight married Harry Potter after he took lessons from Bruce Lee or Jackie Chan!
Ravenswood_Reviews More than 1 year ago
J. GABRIEL GATES "DARK TERRITORY" The story of Ignacio Torrez is one that young adults will enjoy. When he moves from his rough and tumble, Los Angeles neighborhood to a small town in nowhere land he learns a valuable lesson about honor and magic. He soon finds himself in the midst of an adventure, a quest to bring peace between the Toppers and the Flatliners, two rival gangs on the verge of war over forbidden love. This book is one I would highly recommend. -Kitty Bullard / Great Minds Think Aloud Book Club
Sheenafan More than 1 year ago
What a fantastic book. Great action scenes! Great love scenes! Suspenseful & scary. It really is a must read for all ages. It ROCKS!!!
Antonio Nieves More than 1 year ago
What a story. this is a truly different . Something very new loved it . Can,t wait for book two.