This is a sneak preview of a novel I am writing entitled “Echo.”  I started writing it as a children’s novel (junior-highschool age) but the themes might be too complex.

Suddenly, the full moon broke free from the night sky, as if, all along, it had been battling to shine.

For years, the utter blackness of night was wrought with worry and despair, the fear of the unknown, a reminder that powerful tyrants were in control of a once-free people.  But on this fateful evening, gleaming white light flooded the land of Lexicon.  A soft glow illuminated the town’s buildings, gently waking its people from their slumber.  They rose from their beds and gathered in the streets and commons, wondering aloud the meaning of this unfamiliar white light.

Murmurs and chatter hummed across the slum neighborhoods.  They began to question if the tyrant lords of the Grand Chamber were as powerful as they had once thought.  “Worry and despair no longer,” a young boy proclaimed, “for now you can see, even in the darkest of dark.”

A monstrous white marble building perched atop a wide grassy hill stood the epitome of undeniable power: the living and working quarters of the tyrant lords, called the Grand Chamber.  Now barely visible in the moon’s white light, a shadowy figure emerged high atop the glowing mansion.

It was Echo.

Standing upon its enormous marble dome, his black and white fur coat shined brilliantly. Even from afar, the half-wolf, half-Husky’s icy blue eyes seemed to glow.  The moonlight reflected brightly off of the Grand Chamber, projecting Echo’s shadow against the sky.  When they saw the shadow of the brave beast, hovering high above the tyrants’ heads, onlookers were drawn to it like a beacon, this curious but awe-inspiring face of hope for freedom.

Echo stood firmly, quiet and brave, waiting patiently as the humans and animals of Lexicon began to gather below.

No, Echo had never howled before.  He never had to.  And now, he and the other animals of Lexicon were strictly forbidden from using nature’s powerful gifts.  For on this night, Lord Veras, leader of the tyrant rulers of the Grand Chamber, threatened to punish any violators of their new “Laws for Society” with instant execution.

Far across the grassy commons, past the long dirt road and the cobblestone street, and the giant elm tree overhead where the avenues meet, Turtle Timekeeper began to strike the clock tower bell.  It was six o’clock, minutes before dawn.  At sunrise, the Laws for Society would take immediate effect.

All of the great animals of Lexicon were to become subject to the laws of the evil Lords.  Just as their human counterparts had already befallen, the animals were to be stripped of their natural freedom.  The Laws for Society would make the animals no different from living slaves.

And so there stood the majestic beast named Echo, half-wolf and half-Husky, whom many called the quiet leader of Lexicon.  Three times the size of an ordinary wolf or dog, Lexicon legend claimed that such a beast’s howl was so powerful that it could shake stone buildings to the ground.

But Echo had never howled.  Because he was a quiet leader, he never wanted to; because he was a great leader, he never had to.

Echo wasn’t even sure that he could howl if he tried.

Echo was leader of the animals because he led by quiet example.  He was noble, courageous and selfless, but most of all he was humble.  He never called himself a leader, or asked for praise, or trophies, or recognition.  Echo lived a quiet life as a quiet leader, because Lexicon needed him to be that.  The people and animals of Lexicon needed an inspiration, a symbol of what was right in a world gone wrong.

For Echo, the difficult life of a quiet leader was rather simple: he believed it was his purpose for living.  And because Echo inspired Lexicon by his heroic and compassionate example, both animals and humans alike began to act like him.  They, too, emulated his noble and courageous example; they wanted to do Good.  So for themselves and for each other, they cared and tried their best.  They looked out for one another, gave what little they had to feed the hungry or help a stranger in need.  Even in the darkest of times, animal and human alike stood together in order to survive.

And so on this dark morning, on the darkest of days in Lexicon, Echo stood atop the Grand Chamber building in defiance of government oppression.  He stood against their tyranny, as a symbol against the evil Lord Veras and his dreaded Laws for Society. Echo stood in defiance of death itself.

But above all else, the quiet leader stood because he believed in others, even strangers.  He believed that everyone had goodness within themselves.  Echo believed that for their goodness to reach its fullest potential, people needed to be free.  To be truly good, people needed to be free so they could choose to do good.  This government, the lords of the Grand Chamber, sought to force men and women to do good things.  But Echo knew that for freedom to be crushed by the iron fist of government was no different than human goodness to be forced by that same fist with its one index finger outstretched.

He chose to risk his own life to show the humans of Lexicon what the animals knew already: the nature of animals is to be free.  So too is freedom the nature of human beings.  And with their natural state denied, there was little point to living at all.

Echo bowed his head slowly.  “I know in my heart,” he whispered to himself, “what I must do.”

Echo paused for a moment, and closed his eyes.  Then, through his long whiskered snout, Echo began to draw in the biggest breath that his lungs could hold.  The wind purred as it was inhaled deep into the beast.  Below the people and animals of Lexicon looked on with both fear and excitement.  Echo had never howled before.  Lord Veras’ evil henchmen raised their weapons and toward the dome of the Great Chamber, pointed at Echo, prepared to execute the majestic beast if he were the first to violate the Laws for Society.

Echo stopped inhaling and held the huge breath.  His lungs pinched.  Eyes still closed, he began to wait until his heart told him to howl…

Hope you like this introductory draft.  Hope to continue this piece in the near future.