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by Aaron Frale

Tuners - Aaron Frale
Part of the Tuners series:
  • Tuners
Editions:Kindle: $ 3.99
Pages: 283
Paperback: $ 13.99Hardcover: $ 24.99
Pages: 283

Being too close to the truth got Jon Xiong's mother killed. While searching for answers, a murderous cult shows up at his door.

A secretive organization called the Tuners comes to his aide and teaches him about his rare ability to travel between worlds called tuning.

He grapples with his new superpower and is stuck between those who would maintain order in the multiverse and those who would destroy it. Jon must avoid the same gruesome fate as his mom and figure out what happened to his family.


Jon Xiong’s earbuds crackled, overpowered by a blast of static. His music interrupted like a radio station losing signal. In a silhouette of purple light, a blonde in a blue plaid skirt and a white button-up shirt seemed to step into existence in front of the Forever 21 sweater display a few feet from Jon’s location. She was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, and he had a brief moment where he thought he had imagined her. 

As real as anyone else, she pulled a pair of pink headphones from her ear and stuffed them into a hipster backpack. She spoke into her phone. “I’m in U-42—In pursuit.”

She turned and crashed into Jon. They tumbled to the floor. She was on top of him. He looked into her crystal blue eyes and was utterly lost for words. He stammered, but nothing came out. 


“Sorry,” she muttered and pushed herself up.

Jon lifted himself to standing, and by the time he turned around, she was gone. The only thing that was left was her white smartphone with the pink case that she had dropped in the collision. He scooped up the device. The make and model were unfamiliar to him. The lock screen had a picture of her and another girl who might have been a younger sister.

Jon was seventeen, had spiked hair and a skateboard. A white cord snaked from his backpack to his earbuds. He was always listening to music, and the soundtrack of his life irritated his dad. His father hounded him to take the earphones out and pay attention once in a while. Jon, on the other hand, wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he didn’t listen to music.

A flurry of blond hair and a blue skirt zipped by the window of the store. He dashed after her. After a quick scan, he saw the direction she had gone. Jon darted off and wove in and out of the people. At one point, he got stuck behind a large group of elderly women power walking in their jogging gear. Another group of girls sneered at him when he pushed through. 

Finally, he made it to a large intersection where the mall branched in several directions. He looked every which way and didn’t see her. He thought he had lost her when he noticed that she had gone down a set of stairs. It was a small service entry. He had almost missed it.

A man in a large coat held her by the neck. He had black hair, a black beard, and was missing a couple of teeth. There was a scar on his forehead. It looked as if someone had carved a star into his flesh. The man held a blade to her throat. It was an odd weapon that erupted from his knuckles like if Wolverine had one giant fierce claw. She struggled to free herself but couldn’t escape his grip.

Jon thought fast and put his skateboard on the floor. There was a No Skateboarding sign right in front of him. As chance would have it, his favorite punk song, The Idiots Are Taking Over by NOFX, queued up on the playlist always rolling around his ears. Jon kicked his feet off the ground and skated toward the staircase. A hefty mall cop from across the way saw Jon and yelled, “You, stop right there!”

He jumped the board onto the railing of the stairs. He ground his way down, and the black-bearded man turned at the last moment. The board cracked the dude in the teeth, and the guy went sprawling down to the ground, dropping the blonde in the process. Jon whirled around and stuck his hand out. She took it, and he helped her to her feet. 

He locked eyes with her for a brief moment.

“You dropped this,” he said and handed her the device. 

His heart pounded because he wasn’t sure what to do next. He didn’t talk much to girls, much less ever saved one before. Jon had never been good with women. He didn’t really know what to say to them, and they always ignored him.

“Thanks. I got it from here,” she said and swiped the phone. 

“Um—What about him?” he stammered.

She ignored him and turned towards the man sprawled out on the ground. The guy was rubbing his head and groaning. She pulled out her pink headphones and put them in her ears and jacked into her device. She swiped at an app Jon had never seen before and placed her hand on the man’s shoulder. She said into her phone. “I got him. I’m tuning now. I just got a local to deal with. Hey, you.”

“Jon,” he said.

“Jon, could you go upstairs and get mall security. Don’t worry. This guy isn’t going anywhere.”

“Um—okay,” Jon said and turned toward the stairs. He got up two steps and said, “Maybe I should just call…”

The blonde and the man were gone. 

Seconds later, the overweight mall cop appeared at the top, gasping for air, exhausted by his run across the mall.

“You come up here!” the cop said between breaths. “Don’t—make me—come down there.”


About the Author

Good times and hope for a better future. Maybe some fun time travel adventures or interdimensional travelers. A toddler stuck in a barbarian and his mom in a halfling. "Comedy and" is my jam. When not writing, I can be found teaching, podcasting Aaron’s Horror Show, and screaming while playing guitar for the band Spiral. Life has brought my wife, myself, and my son to Montana, where we reside at the moment.