Danny Marina’s new step-father takes him to the laser tag stadium, the movies, the go-kart track. He and his mother now have a new house and more money. Then Danny finds the cameras–in the living room, his bedroom, the shower. Which leads him to uncover the secret web site, the one devoted to him and his step-brother Eric.
Danny’s Mom doesn’t believe him–doesn’t want to believe him. Faced with the unthinkable as his stepdad brings home strangers, Danny and Eric hop a bus for Florida. Frightened, and only with each other for support, they flee to Aquapura, a crappy, decrepit resort town. But the streets of Aquapura have dangers of their own. A grinning hotel owner named Lucian ropes the boys into a prostitution ring, pimping them out to traveling businessmen who flash enough cash. The work crushes Danny’s body and threatens to steal his soul.
As an escape, Danny fills his notebook with a strange and secret story. He spins the tale of Ganymede, a teenaged boy from ancient Greece. Zeus, the king of gods himself, snatches Ganymede up to Mount Olympus, where he is pulled into a web of intrigue and adventure that threatens the very gods.
As his life under Lucian’s thumb worsens, Danny escapes deeper into Ganymede’s fictional life. Except the more Danny writes about Ganymede, the more it becomes clear he’s writing about himself. And over time, Ganymede’s life crosses Danny’s in strange and impossible ways. Danny needs to use Ganymede’s strength to fight back and create a better life for himself and for Eric. But can a teenager use the power of a god?
I dropped my seventh journal in the lake yesterday. I sealed it in three zip-lock bags and tossed it off the dock that sticks out behind our house. The dock is a fall-apart piece of crap, but I like it because it flips the sky the finger 24/7.
Anyway, I always throw my journals into the lake when they get full. I figure three bags’ll keep them pretty safe. Maybe some archaeologist will find them someday, or maybe not. This is journal number:
2 to the third power
An octopus and a spider both have eight legs. You buy an eighth of pot. There are eight notes in an octave. You can write H8 for hate, but H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so you’re really writing 88 or 88. 88 is 134217728. Add those digits together and you get 35. Add those digits together and you get 8. “Section 8” means “crazy.”
I’m writing this at eight a.m. on the eighth day of the eighth month.
I always say the same thing at the beginning of my journals, so here we go again. My name is Daniel Marina, but I go by Danny. I’m sixteen years old–eight times two. I have black hair and brown eyes and my nose is too long. I outgrew my mom two journals ago. She says I’m handsome, but moms have to say that, and I don’t believe her. I get zits on my forehead when I’m stressed out, which is most of the time, and I make sure my hair is long enough to cover them. It probably makes the zits worse, but if no one can see them, what does it matter?
My mom’s name is Callirhoe (rhymes with Zoe) Marina. She goes by “Callie.” We live in Lake Trichonida, which is in northern Michigan. Everyone calls it Lake Trick, and the school sports teams are the Tricksters. Trichonida is both the town and the lake, and it’s where I tossed all my other journals. Me and mom live in a cottage right on the lake. Lake Trick is a resort town, and our house used to be a vacation cottage my grandpa rented out to summer people. He left it to Mom when he died. Now we live there year round. It’s too small, but it’s right on the lake, which makes up for it. I spend more time in Lake Trick than in the house. The water holds me up and surrounds me like air and silk. I dive down to the bottom and feel rocks like cold bones in the darkness, then blast up to the surface and drink in air thin and sweet as tree sap. I’m reborn a dozen times a day.
I don’t know my dad’s name, and it’s a good bet my mom doesn’t, either. I do have a sort-of dad, though. I call him Uncle Zack, even though he isn’t my uncle. He’s an old friend of Mom’s. I think they used to be lovers (the thought always creeps me out), but neither of them will tell me for sure. Uncle Zack ruffles my hair hard like he’s trying to erase the question and says, “That’s not anything you need to worry about, buddy.”
Uncle Zack’ll talk about sex, though. He’s better than the Internet–he answers questions. Just try googling anything with the word “sex” in it and see what kind of stuff you get. I mean, I like porn and stuff, but porn doesn’t tell you what you really want to know. Like why lambskin condoms don’t stop disease or why those new polyurethane condoms supposedly feel better than latex ones or how to give a woman head and shit like that. Thanks to Uncle Zack, I’m probably the best-educated virgin in America.
We don’t just talk about sex, though. Uncle Zack and I go camping two or three times a year. He taught me how to set up a tent, start a fire without matches or lighter fluid, and clean a fish. Tell the truth, I hate fishing and can’t stand pulling out fish guts–it’s like sticking your hand in a bucket of snail snot–but I pretend I like it because Uncle Zack loves fishing and I don’t want to hurt his feelings.
Uncle Zack also taught me how to ride a bike, how to use a skateboard, and how to swim. He has two ex-wives and four kids. His ex-wives hate him. I don’t know why that is. All his kids live out of state and he never gets to see them. I don’t know why that is, either. Almost all his money goes toward alimony and child support.
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Steven Harper Piziks was born with a name that no one can reliably spell or pronounce, so he often writes under the pen name Steven Harper. He lives in Michigan with partner and sons. When not at the keyboard, he plays the folk harp, fiddles with video games, and pretends he doesn’t talk to the household cats. In the past, he’s held jobs as a reporter, theater producer, secretary, and substitute teacher. He maintains that the most interesting thing about him is that he writes books.
Steven is the creator of The Silent Empire series, the Clockwork Empire steampunk series, and the Books of Blood and Iron series for Roc Books. All four Silent Empire novels were finalists for the Spectrum Award, a first! http://www.theclockworkempire.com