For Steve
Cyber.kdz :4
Blackout in the Amazon
Available Now from Avon Camelot Books

Tereza is ecstatic! Her mother is taking her on vacation... to the Amazon Rainforest! Of course the Kids are jealous -- but none more than Josh who knows there will be a total solar eclipse in the Amazon while Tereza is there. With an invitation from his friend, support from his mom, and lots of work to earn the money needed, Josh joins Tereza and her mother. But, only days before the eclipse, in the dead of night, a riverboat pulls up to the bank near the campsite. The intruders are tree poachers who think nothing of destroying the precious rainforest -- or killing anyone who gets in their way. Luckily, Josh, Tereza and a new-found friend have the equipment to contact the Cyber.kdz. It's up to Sanj and Loren to help get their friends out of the rainforest alive!

Below, you can read the Prologue and the first chapter of Blackout in the Amazon.

 

[PROLOGUE]

Tereza looked up.
Shades of green, hundreds of them, spun overhead.
She closed her eyes tight and took a breath. She was dizzy and the dancing colors didn’t make her feel any better. After a moment she tried again.
Emerald. Olive. Lime.
What was going on? She shut her eyes against the confusion. Then she opened them just a crack.
Jade, viridian, avocado — all spinning lazily in the air.
Dizziness overcame her again and she squeezed her eyelids tightly together. But the green images spun in her mind. Even in her confusion, the artist in her thought about using the swirl of colors in a new art piece. Perhaps a graphic work with imbedded animation. The way the greens blended with each other was so beautiful — like the spin art she did as a child. Maybe she could add it to her series on the rainforest.
She opened her eyes again. The colors slowed. She managed to stare hard until they finally stopped.
She was looking into a mass of leaves and creepers. Then she remembered where she was. She didn’t need to make the shades of green into a graphic piece on the rainforest. This was the rainforest.
She stared through the understory into the canopy above. Lianas and vines hung from branches high overhead. Tall trees spread their limbs to create a constant roof in which hundreds of flowering plants lived. Colorful blossoms dangled below broad leaves. A scarlet parrot flew past. A monkey disappeared into a dense mass of branches.
Tereza looked away from the canopy and turned to her left. Two bodies lay sprawled on the ground. She rolled on her side and propped herself up with her elbow. Josh was closest — just a foot away. His clothes were covered in mud but he didn’t look injured.
A woman lay on the other side of Josh. Tereza had to concentrate to clear the fuzziness out of her head. Mar... Marisa. Yes. Marisa Renno. She didn’t look good at all. The side of her face was badly bruised and there was a large bump on her head. Her torn left pant leg exposed the dark red-brown of dried blood.
Tereza sat up slowly. Her feet felt heavy. No, not her feet... just one foot. She looked down to find a chain, orange with rust, wrapped around her ankle and secured with a padlock. Her eyes followed the chain across the ground. The other end was locked around the trunk of a large tree. Two more chains led from the tree to Josh and Marisa’s ankles.
Tereza looked around. A few meters a way, a small river flowed by. A run-down boat lay quietly tied to a crude stone pier. Most of the rainforest trees had been cleared from an area around 10 meters across, but still the branches of the remaining trees formed a green roof above her. On the other side of the clearing, three rough shacks stood, worn and tired with rusting corrugated metal sides and roofs. Two logs lay like benches near the remains of a fire; a thin tendril of gray rising lazily from the ashes. The smoke floated up through beams of sunlight that filtered down through the green roof; disappearing and then reappearing in the light and shadow. Tereza thought how beautiful it was; the contrast between the gray wisps and the deep green forest wall behind. Then her eye caught the shacks and the rust-stained walls. It brought her back to the present. To her present. Which didn’t look all that great.
What a place to be. What a situation to be in. She thought back to the events of last night; of the last few days. How unlucky they had been. She thought further back — three months — to when this whole thing started. And she wondered if she would be alive to see it end.


[1]

From: Tereza, tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
To: Cyber.kdz, thekids@cyber.kdz
Date: Sun, 19:33 (Sun, 22:33 GMT)
Subject: Vacation

Queridos Amigos,

I’m sure you are all going to miss me terribly! Next month I’ll be offline for 2 weeks. Mama and I are going on vacation! I’ll miss you too, but I’m sure I will survive. Because I’m going to the rainforest! Mama says it’s time we took a real vacation. School will be out for winter break and Mama was impressed by my grades so far this year. Especially algebra. I hate algebra but my teacher, Sr. Correia, is so good-looking I have to impress him!

Mama let me choose where we will go. You’ll never guess... give up? The AMAZON!

It’s true! I read about a camp, Campo Verde Sol, in the Ja˙ National Park. The park is the largest in all of Brasil. It’s named after a river that feeds the Rio Negro near the Amazon. This camp sounds fantastic. Only 30 people can stay at one time. You rent a small hut to sleep in. There are hikes through the rainforest each day if you want, or you can just walk around nearby on your own. Everyone who works at the camp knows something about the rainforest environment. I plan to bring my sketch pad and paints. There are thousands of shades of green in the rainforest and I want to paint every one of them!

I am so excited! I wish I could take all of you with me!

Beijos,

tz


From: Sanjeev, sanj!metalman@music.indiaU.edu.in
To: Tereza,
tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
Date: Mon, 11:06 (Mon, 05:06 GMT)
Subject: Re: Vacation

totally cool, tz. wish you’d take me too. i got way too much studying for summer school. drag. and no good concerts coming up. they closed garageland for repairs ‘cause the fire department said they didn’t meet code. bleak summer. the amazon sounds pretty great right about now.


From: Tereza, tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
To: Sanjeev,
sanj!metalman@music.indiaU.edu.in
Date: Mon, 07:01 (Mon, 10:01 GMT)
Subject: Closing

Querido Sanjeev,

I am sorry to hear that your summer is not so much fun. I’ll think of you when I am in the peaceful rainforest wading in pools of crystal water.

Do you think, just once, just for me, you could use a closing on your emails? It’s not that hard.

Com esperanša,

tz


From: Sanjeev, sanj!metalman@music.indiaU.edu.in
To: Tereza,
tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
Date: Mon, 16:19 (Mon, 10:19 GMT)
Subject: Re: Closing

sure i can. bye. Sanj.


From: Tereza, tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
To: Sanjeev,
sanj!metalman@music.indiaU.edu.in
Date: Mon, 07:22 (Mon, 10:22 GMT)
Subject: Thank you

Querido Sanjeev,

Soooo funny...

Um beijo,

tz


From: Loren, loren.jouet@sun.com.fr
To: Tereza,
tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
Date: Mon, 11:44 (Mon, 10:44 GMT)
Subject: Re: Vacation

Mon ami,

It is clear to me that you will have an incredible time. We will miss you.

Ton ami,

Loren


From: Deeder, rodan@netherspace.nl
To: Tereza,
tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
Date: Mon, 11:51 (Mon, 10:51 GMT)
Subject: Re: Vacation

TZ,

Totally hot trip! (Probably is hot there!). I’ll be on Texel Island visiting my aunt when you’re gone. Eating candy and hanging out by the sea. I can pretend I’m in Santa Monica. Gaaf! Yeah!

That means we’ll both be offline. What will happen to the Kids?

The Deedman


From: Tereza, tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
To: Deeder,
rodan@netherspace.nl
Date: Mon, 16:16 (Mon, 19:16 GMT)
Subject: The Kids

Querido Deeder,

I think the Kids will survive without us. Besides, nothing’s going on now. It’s been quiet for a while. That’s OK with me. We could all use a vacation.

Beijos,

tz


To: Tereza, tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
From: Paul,
commx@nyc.net.us
Date: Mon, 14:53 (Mon, 19:53 GMT)
Subject: Re: Vacation

Hey Tereza,

We have to go on vacation too. Our parents are taking us to upstate New York to visit our cousins. BORING! They don’t have a computer. They don’t even own an old Atari system. They live in some cottage in a forest. Nothing to look at but trees. No TV! Boring! Boring! Boring! Commander X is in big trouble.

Commander X

****** "Why bother talking... just blast ‘em to bits." Universal Admiral Karok ******


From: Tereza, tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
To: Paul,
commx@nyc.net.us
Date: Mon, 17:04 (Mon, 20:04 GMT)
Subject: Vacation and Sig

Querido Paul,

Maybe it will be fun in upstate New York? You never know. Keep an open mind. Trees are a good thing.

By the way, what is that sig file you’ve added? It doesn’t seem very friendly.

Abrašos,

tz


From: Paul, commx@nyc.net.us
To: Tereza,
tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
Date: Mon, 15:04 (Mon, 20:08 GMT)
Subject: Re: Vacation and Sig

Tereza,

> Trees are a good thing.

Easy for you to say. You’re into all that nature stuff. I’d rather play laser tag.

>what is that sig file you’ve added

It’s a quote from my favorite movie. Star Destroyer 6: Destruction of the Universe. It’s so cool you can’t believe it. There’s this fight where the Gagorons are blowing the Trills to bits so they get the space cadets to help defend Base 1. They totally destroy the Gagorons’ Master Battle Cruiser and then the Gagorons want to make a truce. So the head space cadet radios back and asks Admiral Karok what to do. My sig file is what he says. It’s great! Everyone in the theater yells like crazy. The space cadets start picking off the Gagorons one by one. BLAM! You should see it, it’s a great movie.

Commander X

****** "Why bother talking... just blast ‘em to bits." Universal Admiral Karok ******


From: Tereza, tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
To: Paul,
commx@nyc.net.us
Date: Mon, 17:11 (Mon, 20:11 GMT)
Subject: Your movie

Querido Paul,

I don’t think your movie is playing in Brasil yet. I guess I’ll just have to wait until it comes out on video...

Abrašos,

tz


From: Tereza, tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
To: Becky,
historian@nyc.net.us
Date: Mon, 17:12 (Mon, 20:12 GMT)
Subject: Your trip

Querida Becky,

Paul told me you are going on vacation at the same time I am. I hope you are looking forward to it more than Paul.

Beijos,

tz


From: Becky, historian@nyc.net.us
To: Tereza,
tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
Date: Mon, 17:49 (Mon, 22:49 GMT)
Subject: Re: Your trip

Dear Tereza,

Yes, I am! I can’t wait to go. It will be nice to get out of the city. Paulie’s upset because our cousins don’t have a TV. I’m looking forward to some peace and quiet. You can’t believe what it’s like to live with Paul blasting aliens all the time!

We aren’t leaving for a month. It seems like a long way away.

Becky


From: Josh, joshthealien@aol.com
To: Tereza,
tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
Date: Mon, 14:58 (Mon, 22:58 GMT)
Subject: Re: Vacation

TZ!

You are so lucky! I can’t believe how lucky you are! I really can’t!!!!!!

I was just reading the latest Sky & Telescope which had a list of all solar eclipses for the next 20 years. There is going to be a TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE in the Amazon next month!!!! Can you believe it??!! I pulled out my atlas and found the Ja˙ River. The path of totality goes right over it!!! You are so lucky!!! And get this. 7 minutes 3 seconds of totality!! That’s about as long as it gets! Oh, man, I can’t believe you are going to be there!!!

Josh the Alien


From: Tereza, tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
To: Josh,
joshthealien@aol.com
Date: Mon, 20:02 (Mon, 23:02 GMT)
Subject: Eclipse

Querida Josh,

That sounds interesting. I’ll keep a watch out for the eclipse.

Beijos,

tz


From: Josh, joshthealien@aol.com
To: Tereza,
tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
Date: Mon, 15:06 (Mon, 23:06 GMT)
Subject: ARE YOU CRAZY!!

ARE YOU CRAZY!! You don’t "keep a watch out" for an eclipse. You go to the exact path of it. You get cameras and camping gear and you wait. IT’S AN AMAZING THING! It’s not like you’re standing around and you look up and say "OH, THERE’S AN ECLIPSE. HOW NICE"!!!! There won’t be another eclipse like this for a thousand years. And it only happens over a very small part of the earth. Some people travel thousands of miles to see an eclipse! And you’re going to be there anyway. Don’t you see how great that is?!?!

J


From: Tereza, tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
To: Josh,
joshthealien@aol.com
Date: Mon, 20:10 (Mon, 23:10 GMT)
Subject: Calm Down

Meu amigo,

Please don’t shout! You are so excited. I understand that. If you like these solar eclipses so much, why don’t you come down and see it for yourself?

Abrašos,

tz


From: Josh, joshthealien@aol.com
To: Tereza,
tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
Date: Mon, 15:12 (Mon, 23:12 GMT)
Subject: Yeah, Sure

TZ,

Sure. I’ll just head over to the bank and withdraw a thousand dollars and buy a plane ticket. Why not? Or maybe I should put it on one of my credit cards? I could even fly first class.

I don’t think so. Get real.

J


From: Tereza, tereza.ctmc@macnet.com.br
To: Josh,
joshthealien@aol.com
Date: Mon, 20:17 (Mon, 23:17 GMT)
Subject: Mr. Negative

Meu amigo,

If you thought positively for a minute, instead of being so negative, you could probably figure out a way. I can ask Mama if you can join us. I’m sure she will let you. She’s already paid for our sleeping hut so it won’t cost more. That means you will just need to get airfare and pay for food. You could do it, Josh. O cruzeiro do sul awaits. It would be fun. Come.

Com esperanša,

tz

Look for
Cyber.kdz :4 - BLACKOUT IN THE AMAZON
in your local bookstore!

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