From a Distant Star - Karen McQuestion

ALSO BY KAREN MCQUESTION

FOR ADULTS

A Scattered Life

Easily Amused

The Long Way Home

Hello Love

FOR YOUNG ADULTS

Favorite

Life on Hold

Edgewood (Book One of the Edgewood Series)

Wanderlust (Book Two of the Edgewood Series)

Absolution (Book Three of the Edgewood Series)

FOR CHILDREN

Celia and the Fairies

Secrets of the Magic Ring

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, organizations, places, events, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

Text 2015 Karen McQuestion

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.

Published by Skyscape, New York

apub

Amazon, the Amazon logo, and Skyscape are trademarks of Amazon , Inc., or its affiliates.

str2-13: 9781477830178

str2-10: 1477830170

str2-13: 9781477830161

str2-10: 1477830162

e 9781477880166

Book design by Cyanotype Book Architects

For Terry Goodman

This one’s for you

CONTENTS

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE

CHAPTER FORTY

CHAPTER FORTY-ONE

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO

CHAPTER FORTY-THREE

CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR

CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CHAPTER ONE

“Nowhere to go but out,

Nowhere to come but back.”

—“The Pessimist,” Benjamin Franklin King

A piercing light flashed across the sky and plunged to the earth, landing in a farmer’s field. The old dog, Mack, who had been peeing against the side of the barn, saw the disc-shaped object crash and bounce, skidding thirty feet and throwing dirt as it went. A high-pitched humming and faint glow came off the object, arousing his curiosity, and he trotted out to take a look. Getting closer, he approached cautiously, nose to the ground. The object was the size and shape of his water bowl, iridescent in color, and topped with a shiny dome.

Mack circled around, sniffing while he inched forward, his eyes glowing from the reflection of the object’s light. As he watched, the top popped open with a gentle hiss, leaving a snout-sized gap. At the same time, the lights on the object dimmed, then went off entirely. Utterly fascinating.

The old dog was sure his boy, Lucas, would want to know about this. It had been a longstanding tradition that Mack brought back anything of interest from his explorations, something that never failed to delight the boy. He always got an enthusiastic rub behind the ears for his trouble, and sometimes a treat, but as curious as Mack was, he was also wary of this thing. It didn’t smell like anything he’d ever encountered before. Under different circumstances, he’d have marked the spot and brought Lucas back later during a walk, but the boy hadn’t gotten out of bed in a long time and the dog knew the other people in the house wouldn’t help. All of them, except the girl, acted as if Mack were a nuisance. Sometimes he even had to remind them to fill his food bowl.

The night sky was bright with stars and a nearly full moon, and as his eyes adjusted, he brought his nose closer for a good whiff. Metallic, almost like blood but not quite. And there was something else too, something that he couldn’t quite place. So very odd. Of all the millions of smells he knew, this wasn’t one of them. He knew the scent of humans, Lucas being his favorite. The boy’s sweat after working in the fields or coming home from ball practice signaled his arrival before he even came into view. Later, when things changed and Lucas had less energy for their walks, the boy’s smell became tinged with a medicinal odor that seeped out of his pores and clung to his clothing and hair. The relationship between the dog and his boy changed too, with Lucas having barely enough energy to pet him, and the others shooing Mack out of the room at every turn. And now Lucas slept around the clock. It just wasn’t right.

Mack heard the creak of the screen door opening right before the woman’s voice rang out. “Mack? Where are you? Get back here now!” Her tone was impatient and he knew if he didn’t return to the house soon, she’d lock the door and he’d be stuck outside until morning. He yipped a quick response before quickly sticking his nose into the opening at the top of the disc-shaped object in order to commit the smell to his olfactory memory. This time he caught a different odor: something alarming, something alive. At the very second his