PAPERBACK BOOKS
ERIN AND THE URCHININTS



Click here for larger image

Twelve-year-old Erin thinks her best friend Rory has gone crazy. He swears he saw Mrs Nettlebeck walking along the beach yesterday – only trouble is, Mrs Nettlebeck has been wheelchair-bound for almost fifty years.  
An oversized rock pool surrounded by towering rocks holds the key to this strange occurrence and the gateway to another world deep below. They encounter nine-foot alien crustaceans called Crayons inside underwater laboratories, which are controlled by the sinister Urchinints – a megalomaniac type of coral. These, along with some other gruesome creatures, make local school bullies the Thompson Twins seem like pussycats.  
Join Erin, younger brother Shaun and best friend Rory in a fantastic hair-raising tale which could have devastating consequences for the entire human race. All their courage, strength and rock-solid friendship will be needed if they are ever to get out of this adventure in one piece.

In Store Price: $AU23.95 
Online Price:   $AU22.95

ISBN:  978-1-921240-66-9
Format: Paperback
Number of pages: 182
Genre: Fiction/
Children's

 

 

 

Author: Mark Reid
Publisher: Zeus Publications
Date Published: 2007
Language: English

HOME PAGE

Author Biography

Mark Reid was born in Plymouth , England in 1963 but spent most of his early childhood years living in Ireland , just outside Belfast .  

As a young boy, he was always fascinated with spaceships, time travel, aliens – anything to do with science fiction. Some of his earliest memories are of watching Dr Who from behind the couch, too scared to lay eyes on the Darleks.

In 1970, he immigrated to Australia with his family.

At primary school, Mark discovered there was only one thing he liked doing beside sports – reading and writing stories, usually involving monsters or aliens. Lizards and dinosaurs became other favourite subjects. On the telly, he received his science fiction fix with shows such as Time Tunnel, Land of the Giants, Star Trek and his all-time favourite, Lost in Space.

In his second year at high school, Mark wrote his first book (The Runaway Dog, an adventure story). He shared equal best story in the class and received a five dollar book voucher. But sadly that was the end of his writing days for a lot of years to come. Life took over and the dream of ever being published faded.

After leaving school, Mark worked as a shop assistant for a short time, followed by a few other laborious jobs. A brief stint in the air force then changed to unemployment before he settled into a factory job.

In 1983, he met his future wife, Sharon, and they married in 1985. Their first boy arrived in 1991, the second in 1994.

Disillusioned after twenty years in the same monotonous job, Mark was ready for a break or a change. An advertisement in the paper, ‘Become a Professional Children’s Writer’, sparked his imagination. It was now or never. Mark did what everybody tells you not to do – he quit his day job. He completed the correspondence course and, while his wife worked, he took some extra time off and wrote a book. It started off as a thousand-word assignment and turned into Erin and the Urchinints.

With two teenage boys who hate reading and have not even laid eyes on the story, he’s hoping that becoming published might change their attitude. But he’s not holding his breath.

1 — The Rock Pool  

 

“Are you sure this is where she disappeared?” asked Erin, holding her shoe upside down and tapping sand from it.

“Yep, this is the place all right. There are those strange rocks I told you about,” said Rory.

Funny, thought Erin, she couldn’t remember seeing the rocks when she was here a few days ago. It was as if they had grown out of the sand.

She glanced over her shoulder in disbelief to where Mrs Nettlebeck’s house sat on the cliff top. The old woman lived alone with only a well fed cat for company. Her husband, a retired navy officer, had passed away years ago.

It was rare for her to be seen outside the house. Since her husband had died, only her two daughters and on occasion, Erin and Rory, ever visited.

She treated the children like her own grandchildren, always fussing over them and making sure they never went hungry.

Erin tried to picture Mrs. Nettlebeck walking down the rickety steps to the beach, then along the beach to this area, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t imagine an eighty year old lady who had been in a wheelchair for nearly fifty years after a car accident, walking all that distance.

“Are you sure she wasn’t home last night? Perhaps she went out with one of her daughters. Being old doesn’t mean you can’t go out.”

“Positive,” Rory snapped. “Every night at five she feeds Snowy; then lets him in for the night, even if on the odd chance she does go out.”

“So?”

“So it proves it was her I saw walking along the beach and disappearing behind those rocks.”

Erin paused for a moment. With a straight face she turned to Rory and said, “Did you have your binoculars around the right way?”

“Ha, ha. Very funny. I don’t care whether you believe me, I know what I saw. Anyway I’m going to find out what’s behind those rocks.” Rory took off like a jack rabbit. “Race ya there.”

Erin took her other shoe off and shook out the sand. By the time she looked up Rory was gone.

Without warning, the wind blew and sand swirled into the air. The waves grew taller, and then crashed to shore.

Erin dashed towards the rocks, shielding her eyes from the sand which whipped her skin — stinging with every lash. Raven black ponytails thumped her face as she pushed against a wall of blustery wind. The nearer the rocks came, the further the cliff face stretched skyward.

Soon she was out of the open wind and shadowed by the eerie rocks. Up close she saw how unusual they were; triangular in shape, rounded on top and at least ten feet tall, standing side by side in a circle. Veins of brown criss-crossed over an orange background, making them look prehistoric.

Erin crept around the rocks. Any moment now Rory would leap out. But he didn’t. He was nowhere to be seen.

For a split second her heart skipped a beat. One of the rocks looked as if it had moved ever so slightly. Her stomach let out a nervous gurgle and goose bumps spotted her skin. It must have been the wind.

She squeezed through a small gap between the rocks. After getting half-way, she became wedged and was unable to move. She pushed and pulled until her body worked free, reaching the other side of the rocks with a little less skin than before.

The first thing she noticed was the incredible calm inside the rocks compared with conditions outside. You could see the sand swirling high into the air and hear the surf crashing to the shore, but inside—nothing. Not so much as a breath of air blew in. Complete calm, like the eye of a hurricane.

Second thing she noticed was a large rock pool the size of an average swimming pool. It was round with raised and notched edges. Slimy green and red seaweed floated on the surface.

Third and the most important, there was no sign of Rory.

“Rorreeeeee,” shouted Erin. No answer. Again she called him with no reply. Then like a ton of bricks, it hit her. He must be in the rock pool. But if he is, by now he would have…Harder and harder her heart thumped. She leant over the rock pool and scooped out the seaweed, desperate to find her friend. Yet no matter how much she pulled out, more appeared in its place.

When she reached in to grab another handful, something stirred from beneath. “Ahhhh!” she screamed at the top of her lungs. A hand burst through the water and locked on to her wrist. With all her might she pulled; frantic to release herself from the grip. It would not let go. Her heart pounded hard, ready to punch through her chest. Then in a blink of an eye she slipped, catapulting head first into the slimy kelp.

Hysterical, her hands worked overtime pulling at the mop of marine plant stuck fast to her head, blocking her airways and sight.

When she peeled off the last strand of seaweed, she twitched as Rory grinned back at her. “You gave me an awful fright,” Erin gasped.

“I can breathe. I can breathe underwater,” declared Rory. His eyes glowed with excitement.

Erin eyeballed him. “Stop it Rory! First you lead me on a wild-goose chase for an old lady who can suddenly walk after fifty years. Then you frighten the life out of me. Now you’re telling me you can breathe underwater.”

“I know it’s hard to believe, but I promise it’s true,” said Rory, picking the seaweed out of his hair.

Erin flicked her eyes down to the seaweed floating around her neck, then back at Rory. He looked sincere. He never promised anything he didn’t mean and he had been underwater for a long time.

“Well there’s only one way to find out,” she said, pinching her nose. She took a deep breath (just in case), and dived down through the seaweed.

It was hard to make out any shapes in the murky water. A bright light, off in the distance, flickered red rays of light back through the blackened space. As she swam deeper, her eyes adjusted to the nebulous environment.

Pain began to form in her chest as her lungs cried out for air. Still pinching her nose, she opened her mouth and took a deep breath. She expected to choke on the salty water. To her surprise she didn’t. Not a hint of a cough. It felt like breathing in clean, fresh, cold air with a salty taste.

A cold sensation rushed through her body; every limb, organ and vein was supplied with oxygen, energy and power.

The pain in her sore shoulder, injured in softball training yesterday, had miraculously vanished. And although Doctor Kilpatrick had told her to rest it for a least a month, it felt like she could send down one of her un-hittable, lightning fast pitches right now.

Invigorated, Erin swam back to the surface. She hauled herself out of the water without any pain in her shoulder.

Rory was leaning against one of the huge rocks, his ear pressed to it, listening while he tapped.

“What are you…?”

“Jeez! You frightened the life out of me,” moaned Rory, slapping his chest.

Erin grinned. She owed him one. “So what are you doing?”

“Errrr…nothing. Did you do it? Did you breathe underwater? You were down there long enough.”

“Yeah, it’s a wonderful feeling isn’t it?”

“Sure is,” agreed Rory. “Did you feel the water surge through your body?”

“Yeah, my shoulder feels heaps better,” she said, prodding it.

Rory’s brow creased as he leant back on the rock. “I didn’t feel anything like that.” He tapped the rock. “Does that sound hollow to you?”

“No, should it?”

“Come closer,” he said, guiding her head towards the rock. “Did you hear that?”

Erin pressed her ear flat against the rock face. “No.”

“It sounded like a scratching noise. Like something trying to scratch its way out.” Rory’s head jolted. “You must have heard it that time?”

Slow and easy, Erin moved her head away from the rock, keeping sight of it out of the corner of her eye. She tried to swallow quietly; instead a large gulp expelled from her throat.

“You’re right; it does sound like something trying to get out. What do you think it is?”

“I don’t know.”

“I think we should go now Rory. I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” Erin whispered, backing away from where she’d been standing.

A muffled giggle followed by a louder chain reaction of giggles erupted. Rory dropped to his knees in stitches.

“It was you!” snapped Erin.

Rory nodded. He rolled on the ground laughing, pretending to scratch the air. This went on for some minutes until he caught sight of Erin’s cold stare.

“That wasn’t funny.”

“You should have seen your face,” teased Rory, wiping away the tears of laughter. “You honestly believed there was something in there, while all along it was me.”

Erin’s eyes narrowed — her stare more intense.

Rory stole the odd peep in between studying his toes.

“I’m sorry Erin. I didn’t mean to frighten you, I was...”

“You didn’t frighten me,” she said. “Well…maybe a little.” She could see the funny side now. “Anyway I think we should be heading home now, it’s getting late.”

Within the space of a couple of steps, Erin was overcome by a wave of nausea. She crouched to the ground and vomited litres of the briny water she’d inhaled.

“Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that,” Rory said casually. “You may feel a touch queasy after getting out of the water.”

Erin lifted her eyes and glared at him, then wiped her mouth.

“I did the same thing. Must be something in the water,” he said in an unsympathetic tone.

The instant she stood up, Erin felt the pain return to her shoulder. “I thought it was too good to be true,” she mumbled, forcing her way between the rocks.

As they walked along the beach, Rory recounted how he’d fallen into the rock pool when he’d tried to hide, and how he’d inhaled the water by accident.

Erin interrupted, recalling her own experience in the murky pool. “Did you see a light when you were down there?” she asked, picking a shell out of the sand.

“Yeah, I did now you mention it. A red light that flashed every so often.”

“Did you see which direction the light came from?”

“No…not really.” Rory scratched his head. “Does it matter?”

“I don’t know. It’s weird enough that we could breathe underwater and that there was any kind of light down there. Funny thing is though, the light came from under the cliff.”

Rory stopped and faced towards the rocks. He moved his arms around in different directions, turning this way and that before he came to a stand still facing the cliff wall.

“You’re right!” he said, looking pleased with himself.

“Well it didn’t exactly take Einstein to work that one out, did it?”

“Who’s Einstein?”

“Never mind,” said Erin, rolling her eyes. “Not a word to anyone about this. Don’t mention the rocks, the rock pool or any of it,” she said with a finger to her lips and a stern expression.

“Okay, okay, I get the picture.” Rory paused for a moment. “Can we tell Shaun?”

“No!” Erin hissed, crushing the shell in her hand. “Especially him! If my nosey little brother finds out about this, the whole town will know.”

Erin picked up another shell. She wiped off the sand and gave an almighty throw towards the setting sun. Four times it skimmed the surface before it disappeared into the rolling surf.

“Race ya to the steps,” Rory called, as he sprinted across the wet sand, darting in and out of the creeping water line.

Erin knew she had no hope of catching up, even with him zigzagging. ‘Speedy Gonzales’, was the name some of the kids at school had given him; firstly because of his speed, and secondly because of his size. Not that he could be compared to the size of a mouse, but he was quite small for his age. He was about the same height as Shaun, who was three years younger.

She looked down at her soaked and gritty clothes. Mum’s going to go berserk when she sees me, she thought. Maybe I’ll just tell her I was taken unawares by a freak wave, after all the surf has been a bit rough lately. Yeah, that’s what I’ll say.

She waved when Rory reached the top of the steps, knowing they wouldn’t see each other until tomorrow.

 

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

 

That night Erin snuggled into bed. She wrapped herself in the quilt to form a protective cocoon. The day’s events, together with the draft coming in through the window, left her uneasy and cold.

She drifted into a hazy sleep, full of dreams with visions you could reach out and touch. In one of her dreams she was standing next to the rock pool. A feeling of calm changed to one of fear. She could sense some kind of giant creature lurking deep within the rock pool. An uncontrollable urge to jump in came over her. The creature was summoning her. When the urge reached its peak, a simultaneous crack came from the rocks around the rock pool, jolting her awake.

She sat up panting and sweating. “It was only a dream,” she murmured, laying her head back down on the pillow. “But it felt so real.”

She gazed out of her window at the full moon. Doubts filled her. What had really happened today? Did she really breathe underwater? It was hard to believe, almost dream-like. The strange rocks, the underwater light — they did exist, she was sure of it.

With a grip so firm on the quilt that her knuckles went white, she pulled it around to form a barricade from the fears that reverberated in her head. Outside on the balcony, a breeze blew through her fairy wind chimes. The soothing sound gently nursed her back into a deep peaceful sleep.

   Click on the cart below to purchase this book:                 

HOME PAGE

All Prices in Australian Dollars                                                                    CURRENCY CONVERTER

(c)2007 Zeus Publications           All rights reserved.