Archive | March 2017

Chapter 8: Cynara

Monday, September 18, 2000 

Cynara had been the new student at more schools than she could count, in at least eight states, two provinces, and a territory.  None of them had ever been like this.

Of course, none of them had been full of fae.  That was mark one.  The horns, the tails, the cute snake-boy with the green hair and the chalk-white skin, the cuter-still dark-haired one with fire in his eyes and tattoos slinking across his bare chest.  The casual discussion in class of fae, of Daeva  – Jaya and Professor VanderLinden, of course – and Mara and Grigori – Luke and Director Avonmorea – and all of this other stuff that her father had only talked about on rare occasion when drunk.   Continue reading

Chapter 7: Abednego

Saturday, September 16, 2000

He should have stocked his room’s tiny kitchenette.

One of the Fifth Cohort — Wylie or Wayne or something like that – had warned Abednego. “Look, best thing I can tell you is, stock that fridge and keep it full, keep the cupboards full. Sometimes you’re just not going to want to go out to the dining hall.”

Sometimes, like when the halls were dark, the floor glowing with an eerie red light, and screams echoed in the distance like a haunted house.

The Fifth Cohort didn’t inherently hate Abednego, the way the older classes did, now that they knew who he was — who his brothers were.  But they had no reason to be nice to him, either, and so he’d ignored probably-Wayne’s advice.

And now here he was, stepping out into the horror show.  He’d skipped dinner the night before after tripping over an invisible foot on his way out of his last class and running into a much-more-visible elbow on his way into the dining hall.  His stomach was growling.  And — he’d checked twice — the only thing in the kitchenette was a stale bagel from Monday.  He wasn’t that worried about the dark halls.

He closed his door with a firm thump, wishing once again for a lock.  So far, nobody had messed with his stuff, but he’d gone back to habits he’d been able to relax when Meesh and Shad had left home: everything important was locked in boxes, the boxes were hidden under innocent-looking piles of clothes, and he’d dumped miscellaneous crap on top of the clothes.  It had worked most of the time to keep his brothers out of his things.

Nothing had worked 100% of the time, not with Meesh and Shad.  Not even them going away to school for four years.

The hallway was just light enough to move down it.  It had to be on purpose, another tool in the freak-show toolbox.  They couldn’t scare Abednego.  He put his hand on the left-hand wall and started walking.

The hall seemed to twist more than it ought to; the floor seemed to dip and bump, when yesterday it had been flat and smooth.  Abednego muttered to himself and kept going.  As long as he kept his hand on the left-hand wall, as long as—

A pit in the floor caught his foot and he went sprawling.  He landed hard, catching his jaw on a surface that felt more like concrete than the fancy, soft carpets.  For a moment, his head swam and he lost track of where he was.

He staggered to his feet.  The red lights were gone, and he couldn’t see his hand held a foot in front of his face.  He reached for the wall.  It ought to be to his left, but he couldn’t feel anything.  He shuffled carefully sideways.  The walls were still out of reach.  Another step.  His fingers brushed against fabric.

He snatched his hand back quickly.  No, the last thing he wanted was to deal with the populace of Addergoole in the dark in unstable terrain.

“Ah-ah-ah,” the shadows chided him.  “Not getting away that easily.”  The voice was distorted, sounding like metal tearing.  The hands that grabbed for Abednego felt like claws, but the grip was like a vice.  “You’ve walked into our territory, and it’s Hell Night.  You’re ours now.”

He could get out of a grip.  He had loads of practice getting out of being grabbed.  He twisted and squirmed, just right, and he felt the hands sliding off of him.  It hurt like hell and it would leave a line of bruises, but he was free.

A sharp pricking at his throat became a line of warm pain.  “What did we tell you, new boy?  You’re mine now.  Say it, and the pain will stop.  Try to get away, and the pain is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.”

“I can deal with pain.”  It was a stupid thing to say.  It was the sort of thing that Meshach would have beaten him bloody for, just to prove he was wrong.  But this wasn’t Meshach.  This place might be creepy, but it didn’t have anyone as bad as Abednego’s brothers.

The blade at his throat bit deeper.  Abednego could feel the blood trickling down into the collar of his shirt.  “Pain, sure.  Lots of people can deal with ‘pain’.”  The voice was changing.  The distortions were fading away, leaving an angry male voice.  “The question is, what happens when we go beyond pain?  What happens when I start cutting bits off?”

“You—” He thought about saying you can’t and decided he wasn’t that stupid, even now.  Tell someone they couldn’t so something to you, and they’d go above and beyond just to prove they could.  “Please don’t.”  Sometimes that worked.  Sometimes.

The pressure against his throat let up but did not go away altogether.  “You’re mine. All you have to do is acknowledge it and you’ll be fine.”

Abed shifted, testing.  Suddenly, a hand was holding his hair, pinning him in place.  “None of that now, boy.  Say the words, or I start cutting bits off.”

“The words?”  Much to his horror, his voice came out as a squeak.  His captor laughed.

“Say you’re mine.  Say you belong to me.”

This was seeming like a worse and worse idea.  “I don’t even know who you are,” Abed tried.  “Isn’t it customary to buy me a drink first?”  Or get him medical attention?

“You’re a funny one.  Say the words, and I promise I’ll buy you a drink tonight.  Don’t say the words, and you’re going to want a whole lot more than one drink.”

There was something in the voice, a sort of panicked desperation, that Abednego recognized – not from Meshach, but from Shad.  He wasn’t getting out of here without saying the damn words, because the guy with a knife to his throat had a probably-metaphorical knife to his throat.

“All right.  All right.  What’s your name?  I bet you know mine,” he added bitterly.  Since he’d spilled the beans at the stupid party, everyone knew who he was.

“I’m Rafe.  And you, Abednego, are mine.”

“Yeah.”  He slumped a bit.  He’d been screwed worse, a time or two, but agreeing he belonged to a shadowy guy with a knife did not seem like it was going to be a party, even if he could get away.  “Whatever.  I’m yours.”

Chapter 6: Arnbjörg

Friday, September 15, 2000

Arnbjörg wasn’t sure how she’d ended up walking back to her room with Jaya.  She’d managed to evade four of the creeps and two too-friendly sorts, but then there was the cute horned girl walking along next to her, tail bobbing along under that schoolgirl skirt.

“I was bummed when you didn’t show up to the dance Saturday.”  She grinned, a shy thing with a little head tilt.  “I was gonna ask you for a dance or two.” Continue reading

Chapter 5: Leofric

Thursday, September 14, 2000

Leofric squinted one eye, the other still buried in his pillow, and peered through his hair at the digital clock across the room. A seven, a five, a one… which blinked over into a two as he watched. Seven fifty two.

First period started at eight o’clock.

“Shit!” In a flurry of limbs, long hair and blankets, Leofric scrambled out of bed and hastily threw on clothes — shirt, change of pants, socks that don’t match but who cares, one shoe — and spent a good minute frantically searching for his other shoe. No time to brush his teeth; if he made it out of the labyrinthine dormitory level in only five minutes, he’d be lucky.
Continue reading

Chapter 4: Cynara

Monday, September 11, 2000

“Creepy.”  Cynara stared at the barn, at the lift slowly lowering the Jeep, at the warehouse they were coming down into.  “This is not exactly inspiring any confidence in this Adder’s Who—”

“Addergoole.”  Luke Hunting-Hawk was not the most talkative of travel companions, and he clearly didn’t want to be out here hauling her in.   He’d been wearing the same pissed-off since he showed up at the motel room door to collect her.  “It’s the Addergoole School.”

“—Addergoole School place.”  If she went on talking, it might distract her from the mess of this whole situation.  “Look,” she tried, just to say something, “running wasn’t my idea, you know.  I didn’t even know we were running.” Continue reading

Chapter 3: Abednego

Saturday, September 9, 2000

“So what’s Abe short for?”  The girl scooched closer to Abednego, her plastic cup sloshing green frothiness precariously close to the top.  Her eyes were almost the same green as the drink; her hair, spilling over her bare shoulders, Abednego’s clothed shoulders, and the back of the couch, was nut-brown and soft as silk; the scattering of freckles on her pale skin were green, too.

Her presence, and the four frothy drinks Abednego had already drank, the loud music and the friendly fellow students and the tusks and horns, scales and animal ears and bears, oh my, were all going to his head.   He smiled crookedly back at her, wondering how he’d ended up with the hottest girl in…

…never mind, there was no such thing as the hottest girl in Addergoole, they were all, everyone here was, immensely distractingly gorgeous. Continue reading

Chapter 2: Arnbjörg

Friday, September 8, 2000

“This sucks.”

Arnbjörg had been at Addergoole for a week, and absolutely nothing she’d seen in that time had made her hate the place any less.

She slouched across the dining hall, ignoring Aelgifu waving at her. The girl — “Fifth Cohort,” that meant she was only a year older than Arnbjörg — and her girlfriend were insufferably nice and insufferably cheerful about everything.  It was enough to make a body want to puke. Continue reading

Chapter 1: Leofric

Tuesday, September 5, 2000

Leofric pulled his backpack out of his gym locker, slinging it over his shoulder with a cheerful smile at one of his classmates (kinda tall, muscular, and answering his smile with a glower that practically said “what’re you looking at”) before making his way past and out the door. It was the end of the school day, which normally he didn’t care about much — but this school day was only the second at his new school, Addergoole. His new boarding school. New, underground boarding school.

Plus, he had PE last, which meant that he got out earlier than the other classes and could avoid the usual packed halls. Leofric had been surprised how such a tiny school — barely even a hundred students! — could get such crowded halls, but as he’d realized yesterday after classes ended, the halls were really narrow.
Continue reading