Remembering Kaylee Cooper, by Christopher Francis
Genre: middle-grade paranormal-fantasy
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Release: September 30, 2014
Cover Artist: Christopher Francis: Website.
Kaylee Cooper is certain that Alex will become friends with a ghost this year. Alex thinks that he is far too old to be listening to a first grader and encourages Kaylee to stop jeopardizing his important sixth grade social life. Kaylee doesn’t listen and finds awkward ways to spend as much time with Alex as possible, even if it means following him into the boy’s washroom.
Fed up, Alex develops a strategic plan to ultimately help him get rid of Kaylee Cooper for good.
However, he soon learns about the mysterious legend of Screaming Ridge that pulls and unlikely group of friends together, including the girl of his dreams, and the school’s meanest bully. When they discover that the legend is real, and that Kaylee Cooper is at the core of the mystery, Alex stares death in the face and helps save her from an eternal life of misery and confusion.
Mrs. Stoolpigeon stood at the front of the class writing a complicated paragraph on the whiteboard. Each word was carefully printed, making sure the sentences were in straight lines and evenly spaced apart. The whole process was painful to watch. No wonder the students often dosed off during one of her lessons. Alex liked to use that time to daydream.
As he glanced out the window that morning, a dark cloud slowly covered the sun. He crouched down in his seat again and added another fact to his list.
Fact # 4: The Storm
Alex remembered that night with perfect clarity; the smell of worms drowning in the cornfields, the faint white flashes in the sky exposing the black funnel clouds along the horizon. The intense winds, the crackle of thunder, the heavy rain pounding his face as he powered his bike along the flooded side roads were all too fresh in his memory.
“Holy cow, holy cow, holy cow, holy cow.” Alex had watched in horror as the power lines ignited sparks along the tarmac. The water on the ground reflected each explosion, like small rockets blasting aimlessly out into the trees.
The storm was the biggest to ever hit the tiny town of Timpleville.
As Alex glanced around to make sure he was still on the road, a white cat appeared in front of him. The tiny animal’s back arched as the bike raced toward it. Alex’s fingers searched frantically for the brakes as the handlebars shook wildly from side to side. Skidding helplessly along the slippery surface, Alex managed to swerve to the side, missing it by inches. However, before he could regain his balance, Alex crashed over a guardrail and into the raging creek below.
The intense rain caused the icy water to rush violently downstream. What was usually a two-foot deep stream with a gentle trickle had turned into a monstrous surge climbing well over Alex’s head. This same creek, where Alex used to catch crayfish with Henry during sunny afternoons over the past summer, was instantly a horrifying mess of furious waves and debris. Still trying to hang onto his bike, Alex frantically reached out for a large rock jutting out from the base of an uprooted tree. His hand scraped painfully along the jagged surface, ripping open his skin. The fast water tossed him around like clothes in a dryer. He had no choice but to let go of his bike and hope it would wash up along the bank.
Flickers of light bounced between the clouds as Alex clawed desperately at anything he could get his hands on. His fingertips scratched the sides of the riverbank, pulling up nothing but mud and grass. Alone and sinking, his screams left Alex with a mouthful of creek water.
Under the chaos, Alex found himself in a world of darkness. His muscles quickly tired from the pained attempts at keeping himself up and he gradually found himself slipping farther under the water. His body numbed as he was tossed and turned about. But as his head was pulled under, a cool, peaceful sensation came over him. The deafening sounds of rushing water totally disappeared, and the quiet grumbles beneath the surface left Alex with a feeling of acceptance. His mind became clear. Alex knew there was no point fighting it anymore.
As he choked and gasped out his last few breaths, Alex relaxed his body and closed his eyes. He imagined Daisy standing by the edge, waiting calmly for him to climb up and out of the creek. Alex would speak confidently to her and tell her how wonderful he thought she was. His friend Henry would be there, too. Alex would shake Henry’s hand and apologize for spilling beef curry all over his head. Alex also thought of his parents. His mum would give him a big hug and tell Alex that everything was going to be okay. His dad would smile and place his hand on Alex’s shoulder. The sun would be out. There would not be a cloud in the sky.
However, there was still something left inside Alex. There were too many people in his life that he cared about. Besides, his social life was just getting started, and he was friends with ‘the’ Daisy Darlington. Alex was not going to give up now. Just as life entered back into his body, a hand reached down into the raging creek and yanked Alex up to the surface.
He never knew who saved him. The girl quickly disappeared into the darkness.
That night, Alex was convinced he was rescued by a ghost.
As strange as that was, what stood out for Alex, was what Kaylee said to him the next day at school.
“I know who saved your life.”
About The Author:
CHRISTOPHER FRANCIS Born in Brisbane, Australia, Christopher was accepted at age 19 into Sheridan College’s Animation program before earning a degree in Sociology from McMaster University. He then enjoyed a two-year adventure overseas working with children, before completing his Bachelor of Education degree at York University. He is now teaching junior and intermediate level students in Burlington, Ontario. Through Christopher’s experience working with children, he found writing and illustrating to be one of his passions. Currently working on a middle grade series, he recently completed and illustrated the first three books. He has also created seven other children’s picture books and illustrated children’s novels for independent authors
Find Christopher Francis Online: Website (http://www.francisart.com/)| Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/chrisifrancis) | Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/@chrisifrancis)| Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8379239.Christopher_Francis)