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Eddie & The Lizard Man is the first book in the “Curious World of Eddie Billings” book series. In this first installment we are introduced to Eddie Billings, a lonely young man obsessed with conspiracy theories who believes his boss Kevin Kennedy is a Reptilian or “Lizard Man” planning something evil for the inhabitants of the small town of Linemell. Fueled with a desire to know the truth, Eddie sets out to prove his theory by following Kevin to a mysterious meetup where things get even stranger than Eddie could have anticipated. Is Eddie right about Kevin? If he is, what is a Reptilian doing in the small town of Linemell? Is any of this connected to Eddie’s puzzling past? Enter the “Curious World of Eddie Billings” to find out!
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Eddie is convinced that a ruthless and cunningly deceptive reptilian race of aliens has invaded earth and is out to destroy its inhabitants. The threat comes even closer to home when Eddie suspects his boss Kevin Kennedy to be one of these slithering imposters.
“But why would a Lizard Man be in the small mountain town of Linemell where Eddie lives?”
This question and many others like it cause Eddie to launch his own investigation of his boss and other peculiar happenings that are becoming more and more frequent in Linemell. Does awkward Eddie have the detective chops to uncover the truth behind the reptilian conspiracy before it’s too late? Enter “The Curious World of Eddie Billings” to find out!
(artwork in the book is Black and White, not in color)
I remember how intimidating reading was for me when I was in middle school. Many of my friends had no problem getting through thick books like “Lord of the Rings” while I struggled with books like “The Box Car Children.” I wanted to read more grown-up books but they were just too long and scary. That’s why when we set out to write “The Curious World of Eddie Billings” series, we did so with the reluctant reader in mind. Here’s how we accomplished that:
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In the center of the small town of Linemell, a place shrouded with its own curious secrets, crept a quaint road named Main Street. On one side of the street were family-owned shops and restaurants, and on the other side stood a towering, old brick building that dated back to the time of the great pioneer, Daniel Boone. In fact, one of the town’s proudest moments was the night Daniel Boone slept in Minnie Ponder’s spare bedroom in that very building.
However, since then the building had changed hands a number of times. Mrs. Ponder eventually sold the building to a businessman who turned it into a hardware store. Then, that businessman’s grandchildren, who inherited the building, sold it to another businessman that turned it into a mattress store. After a good run, that businessman retired, closed the store and the space remained vacant for a number of years. That is, until another businessman, Kevin Kennedy, moved into the area and opened an antique shop in the tired, old building; an antique shop called Kennedy Antiques.
Now, if you’ve never been in one, there is something wonderfully mysterious about an antique shop. They are filled with fascinating items like old dressers with secret compartments and shelves stacked with leather-bound books and clocks and vases.
It’s the perfect kind of place for a bird lover to find an 1879 carving of a cardinal. Or the perfect kind of place for a cartographer to find a hand drawn map of the Pigeon River. But even more than that, it was the perfect kind of place for someone like Eddie Billings to take a part-time job, or at least that is what he thought when he took the job.
But who is Eddie Billings? Well, one could say Eddie was an awkward sort of guy of average height with light brown hair and inquisitive blue eyes. That he usually dressed in mismatched clothes found at a thrift store or that he didn’t have many friends or get out enough. And all of those things might be true.
However, the most important things to know about Eddie Billings are that he was an overly-curious conspiracy theorist, junk food enthusiast, tinkerer and, in this particular moment, a disinterested antique store clerk, who was dusting off a porcelain angel figurine when his eye caught a clock sitting on top of an old bookcase – it read 2:50 p.m. He thought to himself…
“Only ten more minutes. Only ten more minutes and my shift is over. If I’m lucky, maybe today’s shift will be a good one.”
Now, Eddie’s shift began at 1:00 p.m. and ended at 3:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. His main responsibilities were to assist customers, arrange inventory, and keep the place clean, which was what he was occupied with at the moment… Well, that – and counting down the minutes to 3:00 p.m.
You see, Eddie didn’t mind arranging inventory or keeping things clean. He could do that all day long and be quite content. It was assisting customers that made Eddie anxious. That’s why a “good shift” to Eddie was a shift that didn’t involve assisting customers or even seeing a customer. So far, today’s shift had been a good one.
So with only ten minutes left on the clock, Eddie remained pessimistically optimistic that this shift could actually end up being one of the rare and cherished “good ones.”
As Eddie continued cleaning various items arranged on various counter-tops, shelves, and display cases, he heard a faint, dissonant whirring sound coming from the back of the dimly-lit antique store. Intrigued, he slowly peeked his head around the corner of a large wooden dresser. He looked toward the dark hall that led to the back office where his boss, Kevin, worked behind closed doors.
As Eddie peered down the ominous hall, suspicion surrounding the strange noise began to fill his mind.
“What is that, a fan? No, it can’t be. The pitch changes too much. A radio? No, there’s not any static. Maybe it’s some sort of communication device…”
Then Eddie had an epiphany…
“Like an alien communication device!”
Now, granted, an alien communication device isn’t the kind of thing to jump into most people’s minds. But then Eddie isn’t like most people. Remember, he’s an overly-curious conspiracy theorist. And overly-curious conspiracy theorists are very good at coming up with creative explanations for things that seem out of place.
Now, what’s the best way to describe Annabelle Schmell? Well, people might say she was a bright-eyed young lady. That she was friendly and had a way of making others feel comfortable. That she usually wore cute dresses and Mary Jane shoes and loved photography. And all of that would be true. But what most people didn’t know was Annabelle Schmell saw Eddie differently from everyone else.
Eddie had known Annabelle his entire life. When she was five, Annabelle made a habit of intentionally breaking her doll as an excuse to visit Eddie at Mr. Billings’ repair shop. She would do this to get eight-year-old Eddie to fix it for her. Why, you might ask, did she do this? Clearly, she was smitten. But Eddie always saw Annabelle as the naggy little girl his parents made him be nice to. During Eddie’s high-school years Annabelle became a bit more tolerable and even fun to be around at times. But once he graduated, he didn’t see much of her. He still thought of her as an annoying little sister.
Eddie closed his notepad and slid it and the pencil back in his shirt pocket. Annabelle finished crossing the street and plopped down beside him on the bench. She wore a canvas backpack over her navy-blue sweater and toted a drink from the Mighty Mug. Eddie eyed the beverage enviously. The smell was unmistakable.
A Mocha Latte.
Annabelle smiled. “You didn’t answer me. How are you doing?”
“Oh, sorry. I’m doing good. What are you up to?”
“Nothing much. Just got a Mocha Latte and thought I’d work a cryptogram before heading up to The Wicked Wood.” She glanced at Eddie with mischievous eyes. Eddie faked an uninterested laugh as he tried not to take the bait.
“Ha, ha, right, the ‘Wicked Wood.’ That’s just some old wives’ tale made up to scare schoolchildren.”
Eddie sensed Annabelle knew he couldn’t help but wonder why she was going to The Wicked Wood. So he wasn’t surprised when she baited him further.
“Oh, it’s much more than a story,” she said. “Lenny Baskin was snooping around up there a few days ago trying to find the old Moonshiner’s Ghost. And guess what happened?”
Eddie tried to look disinterested. Annabelle lowered her voice to almost a whisper and leaned toward him.
“I’ll tell you what happened. Lenny saw the ghost…right before it put a spell on him.”
“Put a spell on him?” Eddie repeated disdainfully, as he lost interest for real.
“Yeah. He said his head got all foggy and he felt like sleeping.” Annabelle started getting animated. “Next thing he knew, branches and leaves were grabbing him. He said if he hadn’t fought the spell the forest would have eaten him up.” She paused for effect. “Never to be found.”
Eddie rolled his eyes. “Annabelle, high schoolers have been telling that story for years to scare the lower grades. The spell-casting part is new, but I imagine each year the legend keeps getting more ridiculous. But it isn’t real.”
“You’re one to talk. Why is this story any different than the ones you believe?”
“Because my stories – I mean conspiracies – have tons of data. And I seriously doubt Lenny Baskin actually went to The Wicked Wood.”
“Well it doesn’t matter, I’m going up there anyway. My senior project is called ‘The Legend of The Wicked Wood,’ and whether the legend is true or not, I’m going to have a killer paper.”
“It’s a waste of time. If you want to do a paper on something really interesting you should look into how the government controls people’s minds through milk and tap water. It’s why I only drink distilled water, and never drink milk.”
Annabelle appeared somewhat deflated by Eddie’s remark. She stood up.
“Fine. I’ll leave the conspiracies with ‘tons of data’ to you.” She turned to cross the street.
Eddie had a sinking feeling in his stomach. Annabelle had just shared something with him she was excited about, and he shot it down. Dog moaned a disapproving moan. The kind of moan that says, “You don’t have many friends as it is, so don’t lose this one.”
Eddie watched Annabelle approach her car. The further away she got, the greater the sinking feeling became. He’d never felt that before. Then something else rose up inside him and he called after her.
She quickly turned to look at him, her eyes filled with anticipation.
“Um…Your paper…It’s gonna be killer.”
“Thanks, Eddie!” Annabelle called back across the street as a smile crept onto her face.
“Oh, and uh…” He paused.
Her smile got even bigger. “I will.” She climbed into her car and drove off. As Eddie watched Annabelle drive away, presumably to investigate The Wicked Wood, Dog let out a bark. The kind of bark that says, “Now that’s more like it.”
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