Fourteen-year-old Diana is the only person left after aliens invade Earth and cast a freeze of snow and ice over the world. Investigating her local junior high—the only un-frozen building around—Diana discovers messages scrawled on a trophy case . . . and they seem to be speaking to her. She follows their directions and meets four giant aliens and a human boy: her long enemy and bully, the handsome and obdurate Stuart, who, it turns out, has lied and tricked the aliens into setting up a love-match between himself and Diana.
The aliens settle in to watch, and Diana begins the fight for her personal safety and freedom from Stuart, who really is convinced that he can break her down and make her love him.
Fireworks and drama ensue.
“Would you go out with me if I was nice to you?” Stuart asked.
“Broken legs, Stu. You’re not in any state to go about running marathons,” Diana said.
“But a guy with broken legs could dream about what he wanted someday, and that would be motivation for him to get his body fixed up again,” Stuart said, his eyes fixed with sharp want on Diana.
“Stu, I’m going to tell you a story about you. One day there was a little boy who had no positive relationship models in his life, and he met a little girl, whom he wished to befriend. He copied the unhealthy behaviors he’d seen in his home and started beating her up. Now she hates him for very good reasons and he has realized that hitting is probably wrong. The end,” Diana said.
“That’s a terrible story. I don’t like that story,” Stuart said, his face flushing with the gentle heat of embarrassment.
“The next part is where aliens descended and stuck the boy and the girl together because they wanted to see how hard the girl would work to be safe. The answer is that she would work very hard, and the aliens like that story, so it’s ongoing,” Diana said.
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Caleb was wearing the clothes he had had on in the boat; he was dripping wet and his shirt and pants clung to him like a second skin. His hair was heavy with water; his shoes were making deep impressions of wet in the nondescript carpet.
Caleb’s heart was pounding. He could still feel the way the surface of the lake had jammed against every inch of his skin. The boat had landed upside down on him, driving him down under the water. Caleb touched the fingers of his right hand to his temple; he thought he could feel the shadowy impact of the boat railing there.
I died, Caleb told himself, cold shock filtering through his skin. I’m dead, he repeated in his mind.
“I’m dead,” Caleb said blankly. He could hear the gentle rustle of papers and the murmur of low voices through the walls on either side.An accountant wakes from a lake accident and finds himself in a mysterious room containing clues from his past and an eerie book in which words spontaneously appear. Caleb fights to escape the room and get back to his life.
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Eighteen-year-old Samuel lives in a rented room in the Tavern Motel and works at the local pipe factory. When he meets a girl at a bus stop and she doesn’t call him back, discontent burbles over in Samuel’s heart. Driven by disdain for his poor clothes and his cheap room, Samuel walks away from his life to find something better.
A hit man, a smoking dog, and a room full of dirty onion peels finally bring Samuel face to face with the parts of his life that he thought he had left behind.