Night of the Purple Moon

By: Scott Cramer

(The Toucan Trilogy, Book 1)


Thick fog rolled in and swallowed Abby whole. Unable to see her outstretched hand, she clenched her jaw to stop her teeth from chattering. Homichlophobia — fear of fog. Millions had the phobia, but how many of them lived in the fog capital of the universe?


Her father’s voice sounded far away. He’d been next to her a moment ago. She reached for him and grabbed damp air. A chill rippled through her and she started flailing her arms.

A hand pressed down on her shoulder. “Hey, sleepy.”

Abby opened her eyes and blinked at the silhouette, tall and lean with a curly mop of brown hair. “Dad!”

“Swimming somewhere?”

“Yeah, Cambridge.” Abby always found a way to let her dad know how she felt about moving from the city in Massachusetts where she had grown up—where her friends still lived—to a small island twenty miles off the coast of Maine. Her mom also shared part of the blame for going along with his crazy idea to move here.

“Tonight’s the night!” he said with a gleam in his eye and headed off to wake up her twelve-year-old brother Jordan.

“A purple moon?” she called out. “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

Abby sat up in bed, still shaken by her dream. Just then the long blast of a horn signaled the 7 a.m. ferry arriving from the mainland. She had to hurry to get in the shower first.

She entered the hallway at the same time as Jordan, and together they raced for the bathroom. She ducked inside first, but he blocked the door from closing. Each pushed for all they were worth. Abby, a year older and stronger than her brother, slammed the gap shut and locked the door.

“Come on,” he said, banging. “I need to take a shower.”

“Me, too!”

“Save some hot water!”

“Can you say please?”

He banged again.

Abby kicked aside Jordan’s dirty socks and underwear he’d left on the floor and turned on the shower. She stepped into the warm spray and sighed. Sunday, two days from now, could not come fast enough. Abby would spend spring break with her mother in Cambridge. For the first time since moving to Castine Island three months ago, she would hang out with her best friend, Mel.

When Abby stepped out of the bathroom, she found Jordan camped in the hall. He pushed his way past her. “Jerk,” he said. “There better be hot water.”

“Grow up!” she fired back. “And get your dirty stuff off the floor!”

Later, Abby placed her backpack on the kitchen floor, ready for breakfast. Her two-year-old sister, Toucan, sat in her highchair eating Cheerios, grinning, and babbling. “Abby, Comet, Cheeries.”

Abby planted a kiss on her face. “Morning, Touk.”

Dad was washing dishes piled high in the sink—Power cleaning, he called it. Preparing for Mom’s arrival on Saturday, he always started picking up the house the day before.

Abby poured a bowl of cereal and studied the newspaper. The front page had a big picture of the comet Rudenko-Kasparov, named for the two amateur comet hunters who first spotted the fuzzy blob in the Andromeda constellation. The headline declared: GET YOUR BROOMS READY. That was a joke — nobody would be sweeping up space dust, but when Earth entered the comet’s tail for the first time tonight, astronomers predicted weeks of colorful sunsets and sunrises and, best of all, a purple moon.

Not everyone was looking forward to the comet. One cult believed it signaled the end of the world and were hiding out in a cave, as if a hole in the ground might offer some type of protection.

Abby didn’t worry about the world coming to an end, though she was quite curious what space dust smelled like.

* * *

At school, Abby’s seventh grade teacher, Mr. Emerson, told the class he had a story about hippopotami in Africa. “There’s a connection to the comet!” he said, looking pleased. He’d spoken enthusiastically about the comet for months.

Several of her classmates rolled their eyes. Toby Jones blew into his hands and made a loud noise. “The hippo farted,” he cried.

Toby, the class clown, had another black eye today. Since January he had showed up two other times looking as if someone had punched him. His friends, Chad and Glen, laughed at the lame joke.

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