In the months following the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard, fourteen-year-old Joshua, a half Native American boy, is new to a Boy Scout troop and spending a week camping in northern Wisconsin. The weaker kids in the troop soon realize Joshua is not afraid to stand up to the troop’s ruthless bullies. Joshua’s bravery and kindness is infectious, and the bullied Scouts quickly find their own inner strength.
Joshua, however, is plagued by self-doubt as he realizes he has feelings for Cody, the son of the troop’s harsh and puritanical Scoutmaster. The two discover they have more in common than Scouting as they share their deepest secrets and develop a close friendship. That friendship faces its greatest challenge as the homophobic bullies claim a “faggot” has “infected” their troop. As if struggling to come to terms with his sexuality while dealing with hatred and bigotry isn’t enough, Joshua discovers the camp holds another dark mystery, one that will make him summon all his courage and learn for the first time what it truly means to be brave.
Joshua didn’t know how far or for how long he had run. He desperately gasped for air but didn’t stop running. It didn’t matter to him where he was going. As he ran, he pushed his body to its limits.
When he felt tired, he increased his speed. When cramps gripped his chest, he ignored them. The harder he pushed his body, the more he had to concentrate on moving it and the more willpower it took to compensate for the overwhelming instinct to stop. The harder Joshua pushed, the less room there was in his head to contemplate what had just happened. Total concentration went into continuing his physical exertion.
All the willpower in the world, however, would not allow Joshua to continue to exceed his body’s natural limits. Eventually, it began to weaken. His rapid speed finally slowed to a crawl, and his steady course was replaced by recurrent stumbles. Joshua tried to correct his performance, but ultimately his body gave in, and he tripped on his own feet, tumbling to the ground. A moment of elation overcame his body as it enjoyed the sudden relaxation in tension. Then everything rushed back to him, and Joshua felt the full force of reality drag him desperately back down into an inescapable dark void of despair.
Jay Jordan Hawke holds a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. in history, as well as a second master’s in Outdoor Education. He loves everything sci-fi, especially Star Trek, and hopes to be on the first starship out of here. In the meantime, he teaches at a college prep school and anxiously awaits the day when he can write full time. In addition to all things sci-fi, his hobbies include camping, reading, running, and writing. He has lived in several Midwestern states and currently resides in Indiana. Ugh – get me out of here!
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Anne Cain