Stephen Hines

Author of Rebirth Defect, Valedictorian USA, Zombie Fabulous, Crackerstacker, and Hocus Focus  

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Hocus Focus

Cover art by: Korinne Digel


(Hocus Focus's release date: 12/20/08)

Available through Amazon, this website, and at the following retail outlets:


 Sample Chapters:


Chapter One

 “Hmmmm. Unusual.”

“Uh, what?” I said.


“Yeah, uh, I heard that. What’s, like, unusual?” This Dr. Third dude was ticking me off. Here I was, the new kid in town, getting ready to start school at Aulmpitt Junior High, moved here by my psycho over-protective mother because I was about ready to be expelled, and he’s sticking his big bald head and hairy nose in my face and saying, “Unusual.”
“You have seen quite a bit with your young eyes, haven’t you, young man?” he said.

“Uh…I guess. Why?” I was starting to get a little weirded out by this dork. What the heck? Who hasn’t seen a lot with their freaking eyeballs? All I saw was a bunch of weird Chinese or Japanese crap on the walls of his office.

“Hmmm…well anyway, Lenny, your prescription has changed a little. We are going to have to give you some stronger contacts than you are used to. These are some very special new lenses that are not available to most people. Okay?”

“Uh, yeah. I guess. So, uh, what’s so special about them?”

“Let’s just say only people with certain conditions can get them. So you might not want to tell all your friends at school, okay?”

“Uh, okay. It’s not like I have any friends here. We just moved here from Columbus.”

“Well, then we do not have to worry about anyone getting jealous of your special new set of eyes then, do we?” Dr. Third said, smiling like a big bald half-Japanese fat kid eyeballing a piece of chocolate cake.

“Yeah,” I mumbled.

“Here,” he said. “Take this out to Mrs. Condescending, my receptionist. She will get your new lenses for you. They might take a little getting used to, but I am sure an exceptional young man such as yourself will get the hang of them quickly enough.”

“Uh, exceptional? Right. Sure.”

“One more thing, Lenny. It may seem like your eyes are fighting with the new contacts at first, but eventually your body will be one with them. Eventually you will be seeing things you have never seen before.” He ripped the paper off his notepad, handed it to me, and I got the heck out of there. That geek was giving me the creeps.

As I was heading out I heard him say, “Be sure to stop back if you have any problems or concerns, Lenny. I’m here to help. And we’re also open until seven on Thursdays if you need to come in late.”

Mom kind of gave me a weird look when I came out into the lobby, like she could tell how weirded out I was, but she didn’t say anything. I just got my lenses and got the heck out of there.

Chapter 2

On the way home I couldn’t wait to ditch my glasses, but Mom was being all paranoid about me trying to put contacts in my eyes in a moving car. She was all, “You’ll scratch your eyes and go blind. Then we’ll have to come up with the money to have eye surgery, and blah, blah, blah!”

When we got home I threw the old four eyes into the back of my dresser drawer and whipped out the new contacts. As soon as I got into the bathroom I popped ‘em in.


Nothing weird. Things were a little blurry though. Nothing “special” like Dr. Third said.


All the sudden, things cleared up in the mirror and I freaked. Dude, I didn’t even think about it. I just punched as hard as I could. The mirror crunched and cracked into a spider web. My knuckles were cut up and bleeding. My heart was going psycho. But at least, in what was left of the mirror, I didn’t see my stupid freaking Dad’s face anymore.

Faster than you can say holy crap, I fished those stupid contacts out of my eyes and got out of that bathroom.

Chapter 3

“Lenny! What are you doing up so early? Don’t you need to get your rest for your first day at your new school?”

“I don’t know,” I grumbled. “Just woke up and couldn’t fall back asleep I guess.” Mom was getting up to make coffee and start looking for jobs in the newspaper, and, as usual, she could tell right away that something was wrong. So instantly she was trying to pry something out of me. She never seems to get it that I don’t always want to talk about how I feel.

“Did you have another one of those nightmares, honey?”

“No,” I lied. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that, in my dream, Dad was living with us again—as drunk and stupid as usual. Right before I woke up he was hitting me and Mom again.

“You sure there’s nothing wrong, honey?”

 “Nah. I’m going back to bed for a while.”

    “Good, honey. You’ve got a big day today. You want to get off on the right foot at your new school.”

“I know.” I didn’t really want to get more sleep, but I wanted to be by myself. Especially after that stupid dream.

So I flopped on my bed and put my headphones on like I always do. Music helps drown out my brain when it won’t shut up. Only, the first song that came up on the disc mix I had in my CD player was “Pet Cemetery” by the Ramones. Any other time that song would’ve been great, but that stupid dream was still hanging around and weirding me out. I started thinking about how, when I’m awake, Dad’s dead and buried—at least as far as I’m concerned—but when I’m asleep he’s like one of those stupid dogs that was buried in that Stephen King book. He keeps coming back like a freaking zombie to torture me. Loser.

So I just skipped to the next song and rocked out to some Black Flag. There’s something about Rollins’ screaming that makes me feel tougher. It always helps me get psyched to do something I’m nervous about…like starting at new school.