Genre: YA Contemporary Sci-Fi
Word Count: 68,000
When Baylie learns the monsters haunting her aren’t the schizophrenic hallucinations she thought they were, she must choose between others who can see the monsters and her best friend they insist is one.
I can’t look away. I try. I can’t.
Maybe I’d have better luck if Mrs. Lowry moved in some semblance of normal human motion, but she takes her swag straight from a stop animation film, all jerks and jabs and awkward pauses. With her fist clutched around the infamous red pen o’ doom, she stabs at the air to punctuate each line of the play. The movement sends the drooping skin on her arm flapping like the flipper of a trained seal waving cheerfully at an audience.
She reads, “Whence is that knocking?” Flap! Flap-flap!
“What hands are here?” Flap! Flap-flap!
1… 2, 3.
1… 2, 3.
I curse myself for keeping count, choreographing a mental waltz for my teacher’s arm fat.
“They pluck out mine eyes.” Flap! Flap-flap!
If only they would…
My classmates don’t notice or don’t care. They never do. They’re hunch-backed, zoned out, their faces fixed with boredom. The whirring of thumbs across cell phone keyboards is the only movement besides Mrs. Lowry’s rendition of Wallace and Grommet do Macbeth.
Any minute now, my English teacher will finish reliving her glory days as a member of a local Shakespearean theater group, and then she’ll ask me to finish reading today’s scene. She has every day for the past week. Today won’t be any different.
She’ll call me to the front of the class and pretend it’s not painful for me when I whisper the lines to my sneakers. She’ll be the only one pretending. My performances are a lone bright spot of entertainment for my classmates who wait like jackals for me to slip up and do something truly bizarre.
Mr. Boddy is found beside his bed with no apparent wounds, a glass is tipped over on the nightstand and milk drips down onto the carpet. Half eaten cookies sit on plate beside the glass. They smell to be almond, dusted with powdered sugar.