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This is the adventure novel Realm -  Series Part I & II

Chapter 1

Wardenclyffe, Long Island, New York

Mr. Gusterson didn’t see the bikes until they flew past his front yard. The three cyclists came barreling down the middle of the street like bats out of hell, soaring past the old-timer in a flash of bright-colored steel. “Damned kids,” he grumbled, turning his lawnmower around and working toward the opposite side of the lawn. Gusterson shook his head in disgust and snarled as he watched the three youths, wearing bike helmets with black, magnetic lenses, fly down the street in reckless abandon. “They need to slow those things down before someone gets hurt,” he mumbled and then uttered a few ripe words before going back to mowing his grass. “Kids today just don’t know any better.”

   Fiercely pumping the pedals as hard as she could, Bonnie Wells wasn’t about to give up, her legs aching as she strained to pass Freddie and Henry. The three teens carelessly tore past Gusterson’s front yard at breakneck speed, with little traffic to slow the chase.
   The two boys were neck and neck until Freddie surged ahead, taking the lead. The race was fast, and Bonnie struggled to keep up. “Faster, faster,” She huffed as she breathlessly leaned into the handlebars, forcing her tired legs to pump harder. Bonnie was headstrong and determined not to let the boys win. “I’m coming through!” she yelled, her legs burning as she began to close the gap. 
   The three teens were nearly on top of each other when Freddie braked his bike so hard he almost lost control while struggling to hold it upright. His rear wheel skidded to the side, squealing as it slid across the pavement, leaving a black path of burnt rubber. Freddie could feel the asphalt tearing into the hot sole of his sneaker as his left foot scraped hard against the pavement, trying to bring his bike to a stop. 

   Bonnie, who was tailgating Henry, swerved her bicycle to the right trying to avoid a collision. Her front wheel bounced up over the curb and onto the sidewalk wobbling across Mrs. Perkins’ manicured lawn. Bonnie held her breath as she squeezed the hand brakes, leaving a path of torn grass as she came to a dead stop, only inches away from a newly planted bed of marigolds and colorful perennials.
   Henry wasn’t as lucky; he smashed into the rear side of Freddie’s Mongoose knocking Freddie and his bike to the ground. The impact lifted Henry’s rear wheel, catapulting him over the handlebars and crashing to the side of the road. 

   The two boys untangled themselves and staggered to their feet, shaking off the impact as they gathered their thoughts. “What the hell, Freddie? Are you trying to get us all killed or something!” Henry straightened his helmet and checked himself for cuts and scrapes. He thought for sure that Freddie was pulling off one of his stupid pranks. 
   Bonnie took a deep breath, thankful that she didn’t run over Mrs. Perkins’ flowerbed, but even more relieved to see no one coming out of the house. Mrs. Perkins knew Bonnie’s parents, and the last thing she needed was for her father to hear she was recklessly racing her bike. 

   Bonnie was a bit rattled as she dismounted and looked over at the boys standing on the side of the road. It didn’t take long for her temper to start brewing as she wheeled her bike off the front lawn. She grumbled to herself, feeling somewhat embarrassed and guilty about tearing up Mrs. Perkins’ grass, even though it was an accident.
   Bonnie’s anger seethed like a volcano until she reached Freddie, and then she exploded. “Are you crazy, Fredrick! I almost ran over Mrs. Perkins’ flowers back there,” she yelled, her face turning red as she pointed toward the flowerbed. “I’m just lucky there isn’t anyone home.”
   Freddie didn’t move. He just looked at Henry without saying a word. He was stupefied, his face pale, his eyes wide open, and unable to speak.
   “What’s wrong with you? Snap out of it. You act like you’ve seen a ghost or something,” Henry said, still fuming over the crash but then realized that something else was going on with Freddie.

   “Are you okay? You don’t look, right?” Bonnie queried, pulling her bike up close to Freddie.
   Freddie shook his head and stared at Bonnie with a blank face and then looked at Henry and back to Bonnie again before saying something. “What…you guys didn’t see that?” Freddie’s eye grew wide, his mouth wide open as he stood there in shock. 
   “See what?” 
   “ME!” Freddie said, practically shouting as he held up his palms and hunched his shoulders in disbelief. “I was standing right there on the side of the road, holding up something with words written on it. I almost ran over myself for cripes’ sake.” He looked at Henry in disbelief. “You really didn’t see it?”

   “What are you talking about? I didn’t see anything.” Henry shook his head, not sure if Freddie was joking or not. 
   “I’m telling you that I saw myself standing right there on the side of the street. I was holding a sign and waving it back and forth, but the whole thing was sort of blurry, like fading in and out.” Freddie paused for a moment to catch his breath, a confused look in his eyes. “And then, when I was about to run over myself, the image disappeared. It was like a hologram or a ghost. I don’t know any other way to explain it.” He stared at Henry and Bonnie as though expecting an explanation.

   “You’re not taking any drugs or medication, are you?” Bonnie glared into Freddie’s eyes suspiciously.
   “Of course not, don’t be stupid!” Freddie was losing patience. 
   “Then what the heck are you talking about? It sounds to me like you saw something that wasn’t there?” Henry said, trying to make sense of the situation. 
   “Maybe it was a mirage or something,” Bonnie added. “Like when you look down the road on a hot day, and it looks wet and wavy.”
   “It was more than that,” Freddie said, frowning with tight lips.
   “ You don’t see anything now, do you?” Bonnie asked.
   “Okay, then it was probably just your imagination playing tricks on you, don’t you think?” 

   “I don’t know about that.” Freddie bowed his head and rubbed his forehead, wondering if he was going nuts or what. “I don’t know, maybe? But it was still scary.” Freddie was beginning to feel aloof from his friends, realizing how weird it all sounded, but he didn’t know what else to say.
   “You’ll feel better when we get to my place and have something to eat and drink. A little sugar and caffeine are good for the brain and helps you to think better,” Henry said jokingly, trying to calm Freddie down.
   “Yeah, sure, okay, but let’s get the heck outta here before I’m totally freaked out,” Freddie said, convinced of what he saw but knowing how crazy it was. Freddie said nothing more while getting back on his bike. He just wanted to get to Henry’s house where he could unwind and think. 
   The race was over as they all peddled slowly down the street.  


Moments later

   Bonnie and Henry may have found Freddie’s state of mind somewhat peculiar, but had they remained at the scene a minute longer, they would have been baffled and confused as to their friend. 
   Within seconds after getting back on their bikes and continuing to Henry’s house, another occurrence took place. It happened in the same spot as before, but no one saw it as they rode away. 
   At first, it was only a flash, and then it fluttered in and out just as Freddie had described. It appeared like a hologram or a ghost, only this time, it was an image of Henry holding a sign, and on it were the letters, B_ _ _ _   _ _ E  _E_. There were other letters, but they were too blurry to make out, making the sign impossible to read clearly. Henry’s image wavered in and out for a few seconds, and then it was gone. 

   However, within a minute, another image flickered in and out. Only this time, it was Bonnie, and she too was holding a sign. The image stayed a moment longer, and the only letters visible were _ _ _ _ _ TH_ K_ _, and then the apparition disappeared.

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