Authors: Donna Galanti
Tags: #MG, #mythology, #greek mythology, #fantasy, #myths and legends
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The author makes no claims to, but instead acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the word marks mentioned in this work of fiction.
Copyright © 2015 by Donna Galanti
JOSHUA AND THE LIGHTNING ROAD by Donna Galanti
All rights reserved. Published in the United States of America by Month9Books, LLC.
No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Published by Tantrum Books for Month9Books
Cover Illustration by Zachary Schoenbaum
Cover Design by Victoria Faye of Whit & Ware
map illustration by A. L. Soris
Cover copyright @ 2015 Tantrum Books for Month9Books
To the real Joshua
who never fails to fill me with his own kid wonder and adventure.
and when the Olympian heirs at long last act with goodness in their hearts, an Oracle will arise to restore their full power and shut down the Lightning Road forevermore
I never knew lightning could zap you without burning you to a crisp. If it hadn’t been storming something wicked that August day I never would have found out.
I looked for Finn out the window of my new room. We were supposed to work on our fort this morning, but the backyard was a muddy wasteland. The creek raced along like a roaring monster. We could go outside anyway, but that would never happen if my grandfather had a say. Bo Chez made me stay inside when it stormed like this. But even if we had to play indoors, Finn would save me from this boring day.
Thunder crashed overhead and lightning scorched the sky. My heartbeat ping-ponged in my ears, and my chest hurt. Dizziness overpowered me. I closed my eyes to make it go away. It always did.
When I opened my eyes, Finn was stomping in mud puddles as he made his way down the creek path. He looked like a giant bug with his backpack on underneath his black poncho. He was brave enough to wear a poncho. Not me. I worried about stuff like that. Like my gigantic clown feet. My stomach that poked out. The way my hair stuck up in back. Why Bo Chez had a magical crystal ball.
But Finn wasn’t a worrier. He always made me feel better about stuff, especially when I freaked out over lightning like a baby. He didn’t make fun of me. He just told me to think of it as nature’s big movie, like my favorite tornado tracker show on the National Geographic channel. If I could choose a brother, he’d be it. We were like my favorite sandwich when we hung out: ham and cheese.
I ran out of my room, tripping over boxes still packed after two months. Why bother unpacking? It was just another new town and new school with new friends to be made. Maybe if I didn’t unpack, we’d stay here forever. That was my other wish: to stop moving around.
I soon found out that was the wrong wish to make.
I raced downstairs just as Bo Chez yelled up “lunch!” and banged right into Finn sliding into the dining room. We laughed and sat down to eat. Traces of yummy warm toast filled the air, and my stomach rumbled as I dug into a Bo Chez lunch special: ham and cheese with a layer of sliced apples between two thick pieces of bread that oozed with mustard. It squished in my hands. The best crunchy sweetness ever, and I mumbled thanks to Bo Chez as he hovered over us.
“Tell us a story, Mr. Cooper?” Finn said through a mouthful.
“Yeah, a really good one, Bo Chez.” I nodded.
“You’re so lucky. He tells the best stories,” Finn whispered to me. “And you get to live with him. My dad’s just an accountant.”
Bo Chez pulled his rocking chair closer to us and sank into it. The chair seemed to disappear as he took it over, which fit my name for him: Bo Chez. The Big Cheese. He even smelled a little like cheddar cheese mixed with peanut butter.
“What do you want to hear today, Finn?” Bo Chez tapped his thick fingers on the chair.
“Tell us about the Lost Storm Master,” Finn said. Bo Chez nodded and spread out his hands, battling the air. Lightning splashed across his face and his gray hair stood up like tiny swords glittering under the chandelier light.
“The Lost Storm Master was a big barrel of a man with wild hair. He could create the fiercest of all lightning, tornadoes, and hail to defeat any creature or man.” The room grew darker. Despite having heard this tale a dozen times, I shivered. “The Lost Storm Master was trained as part of an elite group of soldiers handpicked by the almighty Zeus, king of the Greek gods. These soldiers carried ancient magic in their blood.”
Bo Chez paused for effect. The thunder outside sounded like it would split the roof open. Finn leaned in and the screen door banged with the wind as Bo Chez continued.
“When Zeus discovered the Storm Master’s fondness for a young girl, Asteria, he banished him at once, for his soldiers were not allowed to love. Zeus didn’t miss this Storm Master until the day a giant killer eagle descended upon the gods, terrorizing its citizens. It attacked with such speed and fury that no one could defeat it—not Zeus, not the other gods, and not even the entire army of Storm Masters. Zeus sent messengers to all corners of their world to find the Lost Storm Master and bring him back to save them. And he did.”
As Bo Chez went on with the story, his special crystal glinted at me from the shelf above the fireplace. It was locked in a wood and glass case and the size of a giant jawbreaker, but a mix of clear and cloudy like a glass marble. Bo Chez had told me never to take it out. Light quivered across the crystal ball now, and it seemed to spin as if it contained a storm of its own.
Bo Chez got to the part when the evil eagle attacked again. “The Lost Storm Master flung his lightning orb so fast that the winged beast caught on fire mid-air.
The murderous, flying devil perished in a fiery blast. Then the Lost Storm Master dragged the beast back to Zeus and cast it on a bonfire. All of the gods rejoiced, for they were saved.”
Finn was right. My grandfather was definitely more interesting than an accountant.
Bo Chez stood and filled our view. “Boys, I have to run to the convenience store quick to get batteries and candles in case the power goes out. Will you be okay alone for twenty minutes?”
“How many times do I have to tell you I’m not a kid anymore?” I said. You would think turning twelve last week would have changed the way he treated me.
He raised an eyebrow. “Fine. I’m only a phone call away, and stay inside and don’t touch anything you shouldn’t.”
“We won’t,” I said.
“Promise,” Finn agreed.
“And stay away from the windows if it starts lightning again.”
We get it,” I said.
Bo Chez backed his car out and reached the end of the driveway before reality sunk in. Finn and I were alone in a house full of things we weren’t supposed to touch. The anxiety was almost too much, but we had the whole house to ourselves!
“Hey, Joshua, want to play hide-n-seek?” Finn said.
“Sure.” He loved our big house for just this reason. Even if it was a kid’s game, I went along with it for Finn’s sake. “We’ll pretend the house is haunted. Find me or the ghost gets you and turns you into one!”
“I’ll count. You hide.”
“Ham,” I said.
Finn grinned and his freckles got bigger. He punched me twice on the arm, and I punched him back. Our thing. Then he bolted upstairs.
I pretended to count on the way to my bedroom as Finn stomped up to the attic. “Seventy-five!”
Light flashed across my room, and then the power went out. I grabbed a flashlight from my dresser and headed out. Long shadows flickered around me, and lightning lit up the hallway. The wooden floor creaked beneath my feet as I tiptoed toward the attic door, sliding my fingers along the cool walls.