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Something strange, something magical, is going on in the dusty hills behind the small town of Villaloma. Yet each time Linda Peters puts on her running shoes and sets out to find the enchanted kingdom she imagines—full of dancing elves, unicorns, and more—something stops her. And with school starting soon, she only has a few more chances to really search the hills.
While Linda’s frustration and doubt grow, her cousin, Nugu, looks for answers in his books and wonders if maybe, just maybe, Linda’s stories are for real.
The day finally arrives when Linda can run far, the day she is sure she will find her magic city. But when she and Nugu feel their goal must lie just beyond the next hill, they only find more hill.
Is it all a figment of an over-active imagination; a wistful fantasy?
Or is there truly something magical in those hills that only the strong of heart—and leg—can discover?
Crack! Like a firecracker, the screen door’s sharp retort pierced the tranquility of the warm summer afternoon. With it appeared a girl, beautiful as all five-year-olds are: tousled hair, rosy cheeks, a smattering of freckles, and a flowery dress dancing around healthy legs bruised and scraped by kicking balls and climbing trees. Her hair was the color of honey, her skin tanned by long days in the sun. Her bright, green eyes exuded wonder and vibrancy. By all measures, Linda Peters was a perfectly healthy, perfectly normal girl only days into kindergarten.
The flowered dress danced about her anxious feet as they thumped a rhythm on the wooden planks of the big porch. Before the old screen door could bounce again off the doorframe, her bare toes reached the cool, green grass of the lawn. They gently touched the ground as she ran and giggled. Soon she was in the garden amidst the flowers. She stopped and looked around, breathing only slightly heavier than normal. A strand of loose hair drifted across her eyes. She tucked it behind her ear, reflexively. Around her were flowers of every color: reds and pinks and whites and purples; but she wasn’t so interested in them, rather…
“Linda!” a small voice called. Linda looked to her left and saw an orange and black butterfly gracefully drift toward her. She held out her hand and the butterfly landed on her finger, its long proboscis gently probing her skin. Butterfly kisses. Her dad called this kind of butterfly a "Monarch" and said it was special. Linda knew about butterflies. They were insects: head, thorax, abdomen; six legs, four wings! And they ate nectar, while the babies, the caterpillars, gobbled leaves to grow big and fat before becoming beautiful butterflies.
Only this wasn’t an ordinary butterfly.
Author bio and links
S. S. Dudley grew up in Wyoming, USA, an avid reader and lover of the outdoors. He studied at the University of Wyoming and the University of Illinois. He started his first book (an epic fantasy hand-written in with a blue fountain pen…) when he was 13, but never finished it. At some point (as his mother recently reminded him), he decided that he needed to go do something (like get a job) for a while before he could, or should, write. He did, and spent time in Colombia, Panamá, Antarctica and the dark recesses of large science buildings on college campuses. That done, he now writes, lives and runs in Northern California with his wife and two children. He can be found at:
twitter at @SS_dudley.