Title: Screamcatcher: Dream Chasers
Author: Chris J. Breedlove (Real name Chris H. Stevenson)
Genre: YA Paranormal, YA Urban Fantasy
Seventeen-year-old Jory Pike knows a thing or two about Indian lore from her half-blood Chippewa ancestry. She can trap, hunt and fish with the best of them. She has a team of three other teen friends called The Badlands Paranormal Society. Instead of bagging groceries or playing on I-pods, they think they can excel at banishing evil spirits. They hope to cleanse houses and earn fat paychecks for their services.
Dream catchers aren't just the chic hoops tourists buy at novelty shops--they work. And sometimes they clog up with nightmares until they collapse under their own evil weight, imploding and sending the dreamer into an alternate world. Jory uses her worst nightmare to enter the dream catcher world. She’s pulled her teammates in deliberately. Everything goes right on schedule, but they’ve bitten off more than they can chew. Now Jory and her friends are there, trapped between the people who have confessed their sins to the Great Spirit and are seeking a way out, and the monsters and evil spirits which are happy to keep them trapped in the web world forever.
They were once considered Seekers in the dream world. Now they’ve become vigilantes and call themselves Pathfinders. Is it spiritual enlightenment they’re after? Or have they now become fatally reckless?
The flyer read:
DOES YOUR DREAM CATCHER GIVE OFF A FOUL ODOR?
HAS IT MOVED POSITION SINCE INSTALLATION?
DOES IT, OR HAS IT LEAKED ANY TYPE OF FOREIGN SUBSTANCE?
DO YOU FEEL AFRAID UNDER ITS PROTECTION?
DOES IT MAKE ODD NOISES?
IF THE ANSWERS TO ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS ARE
YES, THEN YOU MIGHT HAVE A SERIOUS PROBLEM.
LET THE EXPERTS AT THE BADLANDS PARANORMAL
SOCIETY INVESTIGATE AND REMEDY THE ISSUE. DO NOT
ATTEMPT TO REMOVE, DISMANTLE OR DESTROY YOUR DREAM
CATCHER. INADVERTENT TIME-RIPS OR ABRUPT FOURTH-
DIMENSIONAL TRANSITIONS MAY OCCUR, LEADING TO SERIOUS
INJURY OR WORSE.
CALL OUR RESCUE HOTLINE (UNDER THE ENCLOSED TAB) FOR EXPEDITIOUS SERVICE AND PROTECTION.
Seventeen-year-old Jorlene Pike, aka, Jory, let the flyer fall to her side. Her finger hovered over the doorbell button. This is my first customer. I hope it’s not my last. She tossed back a blanket of long, black hair and pushed. Choice Daniels, her boyfriend, Lander Cunningham and his sixteen-year-old girlfriend, Darcy, stood behind her and waited for that all important invitation.
A rotund woman, out of breath, answered the door. She wheezed when she said, “You must be the investigation team. Please come in.” The woman’s name was Marie Allison and she’d spoken to Jory two days ago. Their flight from Wall, South Dakota, to their present destination in Anaheim, California, had taken a day.
The team entered a long foyer single file. Jory noticed a hat box and two suitcases stacked against the hallway wall. Marie Allison is ready for a quick exit. She looks stressed.
“I’ve sent the family off to relatives,” said Marie. “I’m the last one out. You said it was best that we vacate the property to allow you to work without interference.”
“It’s best that way,” said Choice, grinning. He gave her a pat on the shoulder. “Would you like to lead us to the room?”
Marie nodded and led them through a sunken living room and up a spiral staircase. As they plodded over the plush carpet, Jorlene heard a faint tapping sound coming from one of the upstairs bedrooms. The noise increased in volume as they entered a locked door, which Marie opened with a trembling hand. It was the master bedroom. The king-sized bed took up the back wall, flanked by white maple end tables. It included a chest of drawers and a rose-colored porcelain vanity. A nearly three-foot diameter dream catcher sat over the scrolled headboard, hanging by its rim on a decorative hook. The largest one Jory had ever seen.
As the team watched, the dream catcher oscillated, tapping the wall at times and then vibrating into a blur. Jory detected a fetid odor emanating from it that nearly made her gag. Beaded lengths of leather-like strands ended in large, dangling feathers. Jory stepped up to the side of the bed and examined it more closely.
Darcy took out a notepad and poised a pen over the first page. Red-haired, and with a short plump body, she planted her feet firmly with her knees bent. She looked determined and seriously focused.
“The feathers are real,” Jory began, “and they’re a haphazard mixture of genuine owl and eagle feathers, denoting man and woman. The four multicolored gemstones symbolize the four compass directions. The hoop is red nettle stalk and the web strings appear to be leather. It has eight, no, make that seven connection points to the eye.” Jorlene squinted, having difficulty discerning the details. “There are three teeth hanging from each strand and I can’t tell if they are bear or wolf teeth.” She took a breath. “It’s really a mess, a true hybrid monstrosity. They added the center feather, which symbolizes the breath of life, probably to make it look busier. The teeth are out of place, replacing ordinary charms.” I’ve seen something like you before.
The dream catcher slapped the wall hard several times and then vibrated again. Jory reached out to touch it and an arc of electricity shot out and snapped inches from her hand. The onlookers reared with a simultaneous jolt. It looked to be protecting itself or threatening them.
Jory grimaced. “I think it knows we’re here.” Even though she was half-blood Chippewa, it acted like it recognized an ancestral spirit link in her. You might have been crafted decades ago, but that means you’re probably filled with white men’s nightmares. What in God’s name infested you?
“What does it all mean?” asked Marie. “Who is it?”
“Well…” Jory blew out a sigh, still staring at the dream catcher. “It’s a mess, with everything but the kitchen sink thrown into it. It’s not fully Ojibway-Chippewa from my ancestry. It stylistically resembles the basic Lakota-Sioux from the 1960s when feathers from the eagle and owl were not yet a protected species. It’s had a lot of additions over the years and was most likely sold as a tourist piece from an original Sioux craftsman.”
Jory faced Marie square on. “Do you know if you are the original owner?” She did not feel that this woman or her husband were responsible for the dream catcher’s haunted behavior. It might have been contributory, though. The catcher acted like it had taken the worst dreams that any persons could conjure up.
“I was told there were a lot of previous owners,” said Marie. “But no details were given about those persons. I didn’t think it was something you’d ask. Do you think I did this? I have had some terrible nightmares, you know. So has my husband.”
“You seem too sweet,” said Choice, buttering her up again. “It’s got some real bad juju from some past owners.”
Correct answer, but there you go again showing off your hunky features and superior intuition. Jory was certain eighteen year-old Choice Daniels was frustrated by the fact that she’d put a halt on their physical intimacy until she turned of legal age. Besides, this assignment was all business. His dark Irish good looks were a magnet to Marie’s eyes of steel. Jory would let him play it out, knowing she’d fallen for him for the same reasons.
“Are you stocked with food and medicines?” asked Darcy.
“It’s all in the refrigerator and cupboards,” said Marie. “Help yourself to anything you need. I’ve also left the check and extra keys on the kitchen counter. If you don’t need me anymore, I’d like to catch my flight.”
Jory gave her a hug and whispered, “We’ll get your house back for you.”
Marie clasped her hands church-like. “Bless you. Bless you all!” She strode from the room, glancing back with a pained expression. Her hurried steps thudded down the staircase. A minute later the front door slammed.
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Well, what makes this tome stand out? I think my book Screamcatcher: Dream Chasers is unique in that I have never seen a dream catcher used as a prop, trope or device in the plot or theme of a book on the Internet. I had to create the inside reality of a web world. My book has shades of Native American Indian lore in it (POC), and I think the characters are diverse and well-drawn. It has a slow-burn sweet romance. My publisher sees this as a mash-up between Jumanji and The Hunger Games.
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Chris H. Stevenson, (pen name, Christy J. Breedlove) originally born in California, moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009. His occupations have included newspaper editor/reporter, astronomer, federal police officer, housecleaner and part time surfer. He has been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988. Today he writes in his favorite genre, Young Adult, but has published in multiple genres and categories. He was a finalist in the L. Ron. Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest and took the first place grand prize in the Entranced writing contest for The Girl They Sold to the Moon. Other awards include YA book of the Year in the N.N. Light Novel Writing Contest, and bronze medal for YA horror in the Reader’s Favorite International Book Awards Contest.
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