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In Troll Or Derby, fifteen-year-old Roller Deb is singled out by town bullies for both her skates, and for being different. When her popular homecoming queen of a sister is kidnapped by a scuzzy drug dealer, Deb must flee the trailer park in which she’s grown up, and rescue her. Along the way, Deb becomes enmeshed in the magical realm of trolls and fairies, and the blood-thirsty version of roller derby at which these beings excel. But spending too much time among the fairies comes with a price. Will Deb choose to save her sister, with the aid of a mysterious troll? Or will she be lost to the lures of roller derby, and this magical new realm, forever?
Red Tash is a journalist-turned-novelist of dark fantasy for readers of all ages. Monsters, SciFi, wizards, trolls, fairies, and roller derby lightly sautéed in a Southern/Midwestern sauce hand-canned from her mama’s recipes await you in her pantry of readerly delights. Y’all come, anytime. Also, visit her at http://redtash.com/.
Meth fires are blue, the hottest kind of flame. I’d heard it before, probably from Derek, but now I was seeing it firsthand. Lucky me.
A sickly smell hung on the air. The remains of chemicals, plastic, and pharmaceutical ingredients brutalized my lungs, but I couldn’t back away. I wouldn’t—no matter what.
The trailer crackled with flame, and Gennifer was inside. Tall, eerie tongues of fire licked the outer walls–ten feet high, at least. I had no idea flames could reach that size.
Plasticine, sticky smoke—brown and thick—engulfed me as I neared the trailer. I didn’t know where to look for my sister, but I was sure she was inside. A moan, then a scream—I could hear her through the thin aluminum walls.
The trailer was melting into sludge and toxic smoke, and it cracked and popped on a warping metal frame. I didn’t know if I should try and run through the fire at the kitchen end of the mess, where a gaping hole belched sickening fire. Maybe I could try to get Gennifer to open or break a window and climb out from the other side. I wondered if she’d have it in her to bleed a little, to save her own life.
The window was way too high for me to reach.
“Open the window, Gennifer! Climb out!”
She was never right when she was doing the drugs Dave gave her—could she even understand what I was saying? Could she hear me?
I thought maybe I could pitch something hard enough into the glass to break her out. I ran to the woods, looking for a log or branch I could ram through the window. Everything was too rotten to be of any use—sticks and limbs crumbled in my shaking hands. Gennifer’s screams were getting louder, higher pitched. Was she on fire? Why wouldn’t she help herself?
If only I had a crowbar.
Then I saw them—tools. The trailer was up on blocks, with no underpinning. Of course Dave would be too cheap to finish out his rustic rural meth lab. I crawled beneath, the leaky septic line christening me as I stooped, groping for the abandoned tools. I hoped the mobile home wouldn’t collapse on top of me before I could crawl back out, but it wasn’t sounding so good.
Dave and his gang of junkie slaves had been working beneath the trailer, and sure enough, they’d been too distracted, dumb, or high to put away a set of screwdrivers, some ratchets, and a really, really heavy wrench.
It’s no crowbar, but it’ll have to do.
Liquid shit dripped on me, but I didn’t have time to care. My sister was screaming her head off in a burning trailer and I was reasonably certain she was out of her mind on drugs.
I flung the wrench at the window, but it didn’t break. I tried again, and again, but only managed to crack the damned glass, and Gennifer still hadn’t appeared at the window to save herself.
There was only one thing to do. I grabbed the wrench and ran to the kitchen end of the trailer. I took a deep breath of fresh air, then I hurled myself through the cloud of fumes. The fire and smoke obscured everything, and I shut my eyes against the sting of chemicals. For a moment, I thought I saw the shapes of blue and orange dancers in the flames.
I braced myself for the heat, but I didn’t feel it. Pops and hisses all around me sounded like whispers or cackles. The fire was eating through the trailer, and I felt the floor giving out with every step. I wouldn’t let it take Gennifer—I wouldn’t let it consume me, either.
The hallway was short, and the door Gennifer was locked behind very thin. Her screams were so loud, there was no point trying to yell to her that I was coming in, especially if it meant inhaling more smoke.
I swung at the handle, holding the wrench like a baseball bat. The brass knob fell to the floor, a chunk of splintered wood still clinging to it. I kicked the bedroom door in, and Gennifer stopped screaming long enough to pass out.
Lovely. Now I’ll have to carry her.
She wore a black bra and jeans, and her skin was burning with fever. I put my hands under her armpits and lugged her over my shoulder. She had at least 75 pounds on me, so I should have crumpled under her, I suppose. Instead, I stumbled into the door frame as I carried her across the spongy floor of the burning trailer.
The heat touched my hair—I could hear it sizzle, could smell it burning, even—but I felt nothing but determination as I carried my sister out of that meth lab.
With Gennifer still on my back, I jumped. She fell hard on top of me, and I was just pushing her off, struggling for breath, when the trailer collapsed onto the ground. The sound of sirens in the distance was no surprise—the smoke was so black and thick that farmers in the vicinity surely could tell this was no typical trash fire. I pulled my sister as far away from the flames as I could and watched for the EMTs to roll up.
Gennifer groaned, and her eyes flickered open for a sec. She met my gaze and frowned. She closed her eyes again and drew a deep breath.
“I’m going to kill that son of a bitch,” I said.
“Dave didn’t do it,” she said. Her words were slurred. She reached up to rub her eyes, lazily, as if waking up from a nap.
“Yeah, right, Gennifer. He’s such a saint, locking you in a burning trailer and all.”
I didn’t see the point of arguing with her, though. I let it drop.
Something sticky and hot dripped too close to my eyes, and I reached to wipe it off. Please don’t let it be crap from the sewer line. I pulled my hand away, and it was covered in blood. Even better. I won’t think of that now—nope, not at all.
The fire truck roared up the gravel driveway. Guys in black rubber suits jumped off the truck–someone put a face mask on Gennifer and asked me if there was anyone still inside.
I shook my head no, and then I fell through trees, air, sky, into the black. I felt my head hitting the hard ground near where my backpack lay, could hear the EMTs shouting, and then—nothing.
Heroines With Heart is a massive blog tour that runs throughout 2013, that features books with strong female protagonists. We have authors from several different genres, including young adult, mystery/thriller/suspense, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and Christian fiction. We are also giving away fun digital prizes and sharing new and noteworthy books throughout the year. Want updates?