“Come on!” Chuck shouted above the cheering, “We’re not clear yet!!”
A left, a right, another left and they all skidded to a halt.
It was a dead end.
An alley with three doors. Chuck tried all three. Locked.
“What are you DOING?!?” shouted Dax, “They’re right behind us!”
“You and Alhannah cover the entrance,” he babbled, not looking back, “give me just a second.” Then, yanking his hat from his head, Chuck plunged his arm in up to his shoulder.
Yanking out the leather bag he was carrying earlier, he tossed it at Wendell. “Don’t lose that,” he snapped, “Schoolwork.”
“Hurry up!” warned Dax, “The other two found their buddies.” His ears twitched, “I can hear patrons screaming…here they come!”
There was a jingling noise in the hat, followed by a squeak and then shattering glass. Chuck pulled his arm out, shaking a soaked hand. He gazed inside, heartbroken, “Awwww, that snow globe was a collectors item.”
“Right! Focus!!” Rummaging again, he pulled out an enormous set of keys. “Ah-HAH!” he cried triumphantly. The ring was at least six inches in diameter, with dozens of odd-looking keys attached. Flipping his hat back onto his head, Chuck pointed to each of the doors methodically. “Eeenie, meenie, min…”
“CHUCK!!” screamed Dax.
“Oh alRIGHT!!” he bellowed back. He looked at Wendell, frustrated. “He’s so impatient.”
Chuck mockingly imitated Dax in silence, selecting a door. “Of course you can hear me…you have radar dishes for ears.” With deft precision, he flipped through the keys and tried each one in the door. On the seventh try, Wendell heard a ‘click’.
Chuck looked at him and shouted. “Everybody in!”
Without warning, two Vallen slammed into the opening, both fighting to get at the prey first. Dax shoved Alhannah down the alley. Momentarily wedged, the scouts roared, swords clanging and scraping against the sides of the buildings.
Dax, Alhannah and Wendell jumped through the door, with Chuck close behind. The door slammed shut behind them.
Wendell tumbled forward through the darkness…and onto the carpet, face first. A broom and mop fell forward, clunking him on the head with a double beat. Both Alhannah and Dax hopped over his prone body and landed lithely in front of him.
“Good moves, squirt,” grinned Dax, giving the gnome a high-five.
“Thank-YOU,” she bowed in return. “I learned from the best.”
With a bang, a clatter and finally a ‘Mahan’s Pink Panties!’, Chuck stumbled backwards, out of the closet, hat over his eyes.
“I’m hit!” he cried, “Blast those sniper wizards—I’ve been blinded!!” Tripping over Wendell, Chuck landing onto the carpet beside him. He pulled his hat up over his eyes and looked around.
“Did we make it?”
“How? Where?…what?” Wendell squinted, blinking incessantly.
The wizard shook his head, concerned, “Poor boy—must have hit your head too hard.” He leaned over and patted Wendell tenderly on the head. “We’ll get that speech impediment looked at right away.”
Wendell snorted in disbelief. Pictures lined the walls, a black grand piano sat in the bay window and comfortable, leather furniture filled the center of the room, facing the big screen TV. They had fallen into the bright light of Chucks living room! He could still smell hints of the meal Chuck had cooked before they’d left.
Wendell stumbled up onto his feet.
“But how did we…?” Grabbing the door of the closet, he swung it wide open, the knob banging against the wall. Cleaning supplies, a coat rack, a few small boxes and several pairs of shoes, boots and sandals littered the floor. Wendell stepped in and ran his hands over the surface of the interior walls. No portal, no open tunnel to the Black Market—nothing. It didn’t make any sense. Nothing.
“How in the world did you do that?” he asked, bewildered. Wendell reached down and helped Chuck struggle to his feet, the wizard tugging and yanking at his twisted robe. “We didn’t have a port key. You said we needed a key?”
Chuck grinned, “Some of us have a key or two of your own.” He held up the loop of keys and rattled them with a cheesy smirk. “Got mine, right here.”
He frowned at Wendell and slapped him on the shoulder, “Oh don’t burn your last brain cell over it, my boy, it’s the simple mathematical calculations of the time space continuum, angular displacement and whether or not you left the toaster plugged in and the percolator going. I wonder if there’s any sausage left?”
“The mathematical…huh?” Wendell’s face contorted in utter confusion.
Chuck whistled and laughed out loud, “Didn’t I tell you the Black Market would be exciting and educational!? WeeHAW!” He gave a youthful wiggle of his hips and then winked. “SO much fun! Good food, good clothes, cute cannibalistic chicks, fist fights with giants…then a narrow escape through the use of misdirection, blinding speed and the proper application of rolling gnomes.”
“Hey!” grunted Alhannah.
“Present company excluded of course, my dear.” He strut across the floor looking overly pleased with himself. “I’d say that was a successful trip!”
Liv Ray, Goodreads
It's a bit strange, but I think I've more unanswered questions than Wendell!
Five stars for keeping things intriguingly obscure, without wanting in most questions finally getting answered. I'm certainly glad there's no end to what will be discovered as this story continues.
Bring it on, Jaime Buckley! I'm impatiently excited to get on with this read and would buy the first copy if I had the chance!
Here's some feedback I hope you find helpful!
How I perceive your characters:
Chuck manages hilarious insanity while being resourcefully aware of how to get out of situations either dangerous or downright scary!
Dax is sorta... well- kinda... maybe a little... yeah. I'll get back to you on that!
As for the hero Wendell-- MY LIFE STORY!!! 'Cept I'm a gal -and minus all the "worlds depend on what you accomplish" sort of pep talk he gets.
Okay, okay... maybe that would be exaggerating; But I can relate to the self-reflective stuff and that's what keeps things real for me.
Francis Hammett, Goodreads (Switzerland)
Oh HELL yeah! This had some butt-kicking twists for me.
Not sure I can say much without spoiling it for others, though. I get the impression that magic in this world is accessible, but Wendell's mixing with an elite crowd here. That perhaps...I don't know yet...but the world might not look upon magic favorably overall. Have to get more of the story to figure that out.
The characters and locations are first rate. I'm hoping we'll see more of the angel. Cute. And Dathern. Would love to figure out what the hell happened to him, and why?
The BEST part?? Wendell get's him a set of balls.
Oh...that was so sweet.
What am I talking about? Read the book.
Definitely 5 stars.
Jessica R, Goodreads
This was another good book!
If you like reading about silly old men, meeting the girl from your dreams and adorable little animals...you will LOVE this Installment.
WANTED HERO Installments #2 is full of funny jokes, great characters...and a whole lot of running.
If you enjoyed the first Installment,...this one is even better.