Fiction Fest: More from Braden Bell’s ‘Luminescence’

Luminscence 2x3 WEBIn case you haven’t heard, the first two books in Braden Bell’s Middle School Magic series — “The Kindling” and “Penumbras” — are available for $1 each when you purchase “Luminescence” at regular price from our website. Enter the promo code “MSM0314” at checkout to take advantage of this limited-time offer.

In the meantime, take a gander at this excerpt from the third, and final, installment in the series.


Continued from the last excerpt–Conner is communicating with shadows in his room, while he worries about Dr. Timberi’s welfare. 

The sensation triggered an avalanche of feelings as Conner remembered the first time he’d felt shadows. That memory stabbed deep inside of him, with a sharp, burning blade.

Responding to the power of his emotion, and reflecting Conner’s memory, the shadows slid and bubbled, shaping themselves into the image of a smiling, middle-aged man. Dr. Timberi, their teacher and Magi mentor.

Conner choked on bitter emotion as he recognized Dr. Timberi’s smiling, triumphant face. He remembered that night. Remembered the excitement on Dr. Timberi’s face when they first realized Conner could control shadows . . . Our side just split the atom! Dr. Timberi had said, beaming with excitment. Now we must figure out how to build the bomb.

Magi could control Light. Darkhands controlled the Darkness. But Conner could do both—the only person with that power. It was an unexpected side-effect of surviving the Shadowbox, and Dr. Timberi gleefully assured them it would provide a major advantage to the good guys. They only had to figure out how to use and apply Conner’s new powers.

But before they could do anything: a fight, some smoke—and Dr. Timberi was gone.

Conner gulped against the growing bitterness in his throat.

Right then his phone pinged, breaking his focus. Excavating the phone from the debris of his desk, he read a text from his friend Pilaf. “Hey guys, I’ll pass out invitations later, but you’re invited to my birthday party this Saturday so don’t plan anything.”

Pilaf’s message tugged Conner’s scowl up into a brief smile. Good old Pilaf. No other eighth graders still passed out birthday invitations. And to Conner’s joy, the text had gone to Melanie. Which meant that they’d be together. Conner, Melanie, Pilaf—and Lexa.

Conner’s happy thoughts vanished, and he scowled as he thought about his twin sister, Lexa.

Following the strength of his anger, the shadows boiled and blended together into the form of a thirteen-year old girl. Lexa, sticking her chin up in a defiant pose. I hate him! Her voice still rang in Conner’s memory. Some of her final words to Dr. Timberi. A parting gift to the man who sacrificed his life for her freedom. He’s a mean, stupid jerk, and I hate him! I hate him!

It was Lexa’s fault Dr. Timberi was gone. Her drama-queen tantrum had led to his being captured. All because she didn’t get the stupid lead in a stupid play. Now, the man who had saved their lives multiple times, the man who had helped heal Conner’s broken mind and spirit, the man who had been their teacher, director, guide and loyal friend was in the clutches of his worst enemy. And it was Lexa’s fault.

Looking at Lexa’s image brought Conner’s frustration came screeching back, bigger than before. He clenched his fists tighter and tighter until a loud crack reminded him of the phone still in his hand.

Dropping the phone, he punched the shadows instead. As his fist scattered them, something crackled, and he thought he saw a few black sparks.

Alive or dead? That was the question. One week had trudged by since Lexa shocked the mourners at Dr. Timberi’s funeral by insisting that he was alive. One week since the funeral, and three weeks since his capture. Three weeks with no news.

Conner wondered if Lexa had just made it all up to deflect blame from herself. Maybe she even really believed it—but did that make it true?