This is the first part of the chapter. I'll share the rest of it in a future post. There might be a few edits still to be made, but I don't anticipate any major changes at this point. So, without further ado, here's the beginning of chapter one. Please let me know what you think. Enjoy!
The Deliverers 2: Order of the Crystal Lion
Chapter 1--Back in the Saddle Again
Bam! Eric Scott’s face was smashed into the Plexiglas that ringed the skating rink.
“Hey, where’d you learn to play hockey, Dork Magazine?” the larger of the two boys who had run into him said.
Eric glared at them. They were his cousins, Jeff and Gordy Bungee, and they had been playing hockey almost since they could walk. Eric, on the other hand, could barely skate.
“Oh yeah? I’d rather be reading than banging into walls!”
“All right, enough jawing, ladies!” a dark haired, heavyset man yelled from behind the bench. “Let’s get back to practice! Eric, come here.”
Eric skated over to the bench. The big man leaned over the railing.
“Eric, what’re you thinking? You can’t let anyone check you like that. You’ve gotta be tough. When someone tries to check you into the boards, give them an elbow or something. Let them know you won’t take that kind of stuff. Now get back out there, and don’t let me see you getting pushed around anymore.”
“Okay, Uncle Rocco,” Eric said. What did he want him to do, he thought, beat them over the head with his stick? He could barely stand in these stupid skates.
His Uncle Rocco was coach of his cousins’ hockey team, the Slayers. He did not like hockey, really, but his mother had asked his uncle to add him to the team. She thought he needed more of a male influence. He’d been without one since his father had died more than a year and a half ago.
Now, he skated unsteadily out to center ice, where the other boys were working on their passing.
Eric tried to get into the drill, but when someone passed him the puck, it either went under his stick or he sent it in the opposite direction of where he wanted it to go.
“Why am I doing this?” Eric muttered, as yet another pass skidded under his stick and slid down to the far end of the ice.
“C’mon Eric!” Uncle Rocco yelled. “Head up, stick down!”
Eric sighed as he slowly skated to retrieve the puck. He was bowled over by Gordy, who beat him to it.
“Enough with the drills, let’s scrimmage!” Gordy yelled.
“All right,” Uncle Rocco called back. “Let’s see what you boys‘ve got. Starters versus scrubs!”
Gordy and Jeff were starters, and skated to one side of the ice. Eric made his way to join the scrubs on the other side.
Gordy waited for the faceoff across from a smaller, skinnier boy. All of the scrubs were on the scrawny side, Eric noted, including himself. When Uncle Rocco dropped the puck, Gordy was on it like a flash, sending a perfect pass over to Jeff, who was streaking down ice. Eric, following him on the wing, tried his best to keep up with him. But after a few seconds, his heavy breathing had fogged up his face shield, and he could not see a thing.
Man, how embarrassing, he thought as he tried to see through the fog. His attempts to see were unsuccessful, and he slammed into the boards.
“No, no, no!” He heard Uncle Rocco scream. “What’s the matter with you, Eric? Are you blind?”
“Yeah, kinda,” he said, pulling off his bulky hockey glove and running his bare hand across the inside of his visor to clear it.
Just at that moment, something hit him in the head. Looking down, he saw the puck laying a couple of feet away from him on the ice. Excited, he turned toward it—and was slammed headfirst into the boards by Jeff.
He lay there on the ice, feeling like a rag doll. Lifting his head slightly, he saw Uncle Rocco standing over him, flanked by his two cousins. His uncle was shaking his head. Then, Eric blacked out.
# # #
Eric was still a bit lightheaded on the trip home in his uncle’s SUV. Luckily, his helmet had absorbed most of the impact. He looked out the window at the winter scenery zipping by, but had to turn away when the movement started making him feel nauseous.
“Man, for a second there, I thought you were dead,” Jeff said, chuckling from the seat next to him.
“What?” Eric asked.
“At the rink. You were laid out on the ice for, like, five minutes.”
“Yeah,” Gordy said from the front seat. “I thought Jeff killed you for sure.”
“Enough, boys,” Uncle Rocco said. “You did okay for your first time, Eric. You took a hard hit, but we’re not going to let that stop you. You’re a Bungee, and Bungees bounce back.”
“He didn’t bounce back this time. He went splat!” Jeff said, laughing.
“Shut up!” Eric snapped. “I’m not playing hockey anymore. And I’m a Scott, not a Bungee!”
“You’re my sister’s son, and that makes you at least half a Bungee,” his uncle said. “It’s my job to make sure you do bounce back. You’ve had a tough break losing your dad and all, but I’m going to do my best to help you forget all that.”
“I don’t want to forget about it!” Eric yelled, then sank back in his seat as flares erupted in his skull. “I’ll never forget my dad,” he murmured, but no one seemed to have heard.
I wish Stig was here, he thought. Then I could have some fun. Eric had made some new friends, some very different new friends this past summer. He’d met them on an incredible adventure that he still didn’t quite believe had been real.
A talking owl named Stig had taken him on something called an Assignment on another world. There, he’d had an adventure and wound up saving an entire world. He also realized that the accident that had killed his father had not been his fault.
When he had returned home, the feelings of guilt that had plagued him were gone. He was happy, or mostly happy. Then, his mother had decided that he needed to go and “hang out with boys.” She thought he spent too much time inside reading, or drawing. So she’d asked his Uncle Rocco to include him in some “male activities.”
The hockey disaster was just one of many. He just wasn’t an athlete, but what could he do? He couldn’t tell his mother, she’d just worry. So for now, he had to put up with it.
What he really wanted was to go on another Assignment. All through the fall, he’d looked for a sign, but none had come. He was beginning to think his friends had forgotten about him. He wished he could see them again. He needed them.
“I miss you guys,” he said in a whisper, as closed his eyes and laid his head back against the headrest.
So it was that he missed the large snowy white owl that flew in front of the car.
“Woa!” Gordy said, “Did you see that?”
“Yeah, that was some bird,” Uncle Rocco said.
“What was it?” Jeff asked.
“I think it was an owl,” Uncle Rocco replied.
Eric’s eyes snapped open and he sat straight up in his seat.
“A white owl?” he asked.
“Yeah, I think so,” his uncle said. “It just flew across the road.”
Eric looked out his side window, but could not see anything. Could it be…he wondered.