The Fourth Piece
(Order's Last Play #1)
by E. Ardell
Publication Date: Jul 18, 2016
(Order's Last Play #1)
by E. Ardell
Publication Date: Jul 18, 2016
Admitting what you are will end everything you know. Embracing who you are will start a war...
Life is great when you’re good-looking and popular…so long as no one knows you’re a vulatto. Being half-alien gets you labeled “loser” quicker than being a full vader. So it’s a good thing Devon, Lyle, and Lawrence can easily pass for human—until the night of the party. Nothing kills a good time faster than three brothers sharing a psychic vision of a fourth brother who’s off-world and going to die unless they do something. But when your brother’s emergency happens off-planet, calling 9-1-1 really isn’t an option.
In their attempt to save a brother they barely remember, Devon, Lyle and Lawrence expose themselves to mortal danger and inherit a destiny that killed the last four guys cursed with it. In 2022, there are humans and aliens, heroes and monsters, choices and prophecies—and four brothers with the power to choose what’s left when the gods decide they’re through playing games.
Book I in the Order's Last Play series
Chapter Five EXCERPT
OTHER PEOPLE’S DREAMS SMELL LIKE oranges.
I don’t know why. Maybe it’s some kind of psychic fail-safe.
When I smell citrus, I know I’m not in my own
head. Uncle Jonas said dream-walking is the telepathic
equivalent to sleepwalking. It doesn’t happen too often,
but when I go to sleep, sometimes my mind wanders and
I wake up in different heads as far as Canada. I don’t stay
there long; the figments are lost as soon as I roll over or
scratch my nose.
I stand in a white-washed tunnel. I press my face
against a blank wall, forehead rubbing against the warm,
smooth surface. A scorching wind blows in through the
wall, drying out my skin and making it feel stretched
across my face. The wall becomes transparent, and I’m
looking through a picture window into someone else’s
The sky is green, double red suns glare down at a
bloody battlefield. Men are firing guns with bullets that
explode, showering metallic glitter that melts the skin
off the poor saps beneath the clouds. Bombs shriek
through the sky, arcing back to strike the purple soil, creating
mushroom clouds of debris and body parts. Thick
blood spatters into the air. Men and women writhe on
the ground, screaming and clutching wounds that leak
blood, guts, urine, and bile.
My stomach shudders and I swallow spit that tastes
like tangerines. I touch the window with my palms and
gasp as the clear shield between the war zone and me
shatters into tiny fragments of rock candy. I stagger forward
onto the uneven terrain. My bare feet crunch across
the hot, rocky dirt, grit working its way between my toes.
The atmosphere is hazy with dust and smoke. The sharp
scent of boiling orange juice wafts under my nose on a
I recognize this battlefield. It’s from the guy’s message.
A woman collapses, her head inches from my foot.
Her neck is twisted at an unnatural angle and her eyes
stare blankly at me.
I was here a few hours ago. A man roars as acid
glitter eats the skin off his face.
A hand closes on my shoulder from behind and I
yelp, whirling around and falling on my ass. I pass right
through the lady with the broken neck. She’s a ghost, a
shade. She vanishes, as do all the other bloody, convulsing
soldiers on the ground. The bombs stop exploding
and the acid glitter dissolves as I stare up at the person
I’d last seen face-down in a pool of glowing water.
Drowning Guy’s a pretty boy type with dirty blond
hair in an armpit-length braid over the shoulder of a tan
shirt with pockets at the biceps. His pants are tan too and
loaded with pockets at the knees, ankles, and hips. Hints
of silver, from the compartments of a thick utility belt,
gleam in the sunlight. Drowning Guy, DG, grins at me,
and extends a slim-fingered hand.
“Well, you’re a new development,” he says.
When I don’t take his hand, he grabs my arm and
yanks me to my feet with surprising strength. DG looks
about fourteen years old. He’s a head shorter than me,
and skinny, but he’s got the stance of a fighter: feet
shoulder width apart, arms loose at his sides but looking
ready to grab or block a hit. His posture reminds me of
Devon. Devon’s always ready to fight somebody with
fists or insults. The word missiles are usually aimed at
me, the distorted reflection he can’t stand.
“Can you talk?” DG asks. His voice has a chime-like
quality to it, and his phrases are accented with a
I frown. “Say something else,” I demand. For some
reason, I don’t think he’s speaking English.
“I don’t usually have dreams about men in their underwear,”
DG says, and his grin widens as I glance down
at my Houston Rockets boxers.
He laughs, the cackle setting my teeth on edge. He
sounds like the friggin’ Joker on helium. “Maybe I’m
developing new preferences,” he says.
I narrow my eyes. When I concentrate on his
speech, I hear another language over a bad English dub.
But when I let go and focus on him instead of the sentence,
I understand him just fine.
“So, who’s coming to save me?” DG asks.
Huh? Save him? “Oh, I....”
His smile fades and his eyes narrow. “You are an
under-dressed emissary come to tell me extraction is underway, right?” He bounces on the balls of his feet. “Or I’m already extracted and I’m in a coma. You’re a psy-ops agent sent into my head to wake me up?”
Damn. This guy thinks I’m a professional here to
help him. His eyes go glassy for a second and I see fear
in them. Hell, I feel the fear in him, and that flips my
SNAFU switch. This guy’s in trouble somewhere and
he’s stuck with me.
“Uh, I’m not—I’m not any of those things, but
you—you sent me a message. Earlier, when I was awake,
I saw you drowning—felt you drowning.” My lungs constrict
and I crack my knuckles to give my hands something
I’ve been in plenty dreams, I’ve even talked to the
sleepers, but never like this. No one’s ever needed me to
do anything, and no one’s ever been dying. I guess it’d
be decent of me to contact someone for him or something,
“I don’t even know where you are,” I say. In a place
with two suns, local nine-one-one probably isn’t an option.
“Can you tell me who I can call for you and how?”
This guy’s a Visitor, no, an alien on another planet. An
alien with a familiar face who can broadcast directly into
my head like only Devon and Lawrie can.
The prickling sense of déjà vu ripples through me,
and a tip-of-the-tongue sensation brings DG’s name so
close to the surface of my mind I almost say it. I know it.
“You’re not Remasian,” DG says, deadpan. “And
you’re not speaking Common Tongue at all.” He takes a
step toward to me, invading my personal space.
I want to jump back so I can breathe. I hate when
people crowd me. It’s harder to block out surface
thoughts. I keep twelve inches of space between me and
anyone who’s not family or a girl I’m messing around
DG won’t let me back away from him. He stalks
forward with each step I take back. His eyes glint and his
jaw is set like my mom’s when she’s determined to win.
“I bet you don’t even know who I am, do you?” he asks.
“You.” He reaches out and snags my shoulders, holding
me in place.
E. Ardell spent her childhood in Houston, Texas, obsessed with anything science fiction, fantastic, paranormal or just plain weird. She loves to write stories that feature young people with extraordinary talents thrown into strange and dangerous situations. She took her obsession to the next level, earning a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern Maine where she specialized in young adult genre fiction. She’s a big kid at heart and loves her job as a teen librarian at Monterey Public Library in Monterey, California, where she voluntarily shuts herself in rooms with hungry hordes of teenagers and runs crazy after-school programs for them. When she’s not working, she’s reading, writing, running writers critique groups, trying to keep up with a blog, and even writing fan fiction as her guilty pleasure.
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