Fifteen-year-old, late-bloomer Jean Elliott dreams of becoming a Genie like her mom. When her family relocates to Tokyo, Jean is forced to use sleight-of-hand tricks to fool everyone at school into believing that she’s a normal Preternatural or risk expulsion. When her power finally appears, it comes in the form of the Queen’s Gift–an unspeakable magic that strips power from all Preternaturals and heralds the arrival of the new queen.
After an absence of two hundred years, not everyone wants the monarchy to return and they’re willing to go to great lengths to keep the status quo. When buried secrets rip Jean’s family apart, she has a choice to make: Walk away and hope for the best or embrace the power that’s known to lead to madness in order to save her family.
Jean’s greatest dream has turned into her biggest nightmare and no matter how hard she tries, there’ll be no wishing the Queen’s Gift away.
The crowd thinned and a pale boy with long, greasy brown hair, drunkenly stumbled toward us. He swayed on his feet, teetering like a twirling nickel on the verge of toppling. His glowing red eyes clashed with his alabaster skin.
“He doesn’t look well.”
She shrugged. “Stefan’s a Vampire. I’m sure he’s fine.”
I didn’t think so, but I kept my mouth shut. I’d already upset her once. I didn’t want to do it again.
When we got closer, the vamp’s eyes rolled back in his head, leaving them zombie white. He crumbled to the marble floor in a heap of pale flesh. His face hit last with a loud splat.
Blood gushed out, forming a puddle. The smell of wet pennies filled the air. My stomach flopped and I moved back. No way was I going to hurl on my first day of school. “What’s wrong with him?”
Karen glanced at Stefan, boredom plainly scribbled on her face. No one else paid any attention to him other than to step over his thin body. Several people tracked his blood down the hall without breaking in conversation.
This place wasn’t a school. I’d landed in a house of horrors. “Shouldn’t we call for help?” My voice squeaked.
Karen’s nostrils flared and her stomach growled as she leered at the blood. “It happens all the time with leeches. You’ll get used to it.” She forced her gaze away. “Stefan must’ve forgot to get his iron shot from the school nurse this morning. Mr. Bastock should be along shortly to clean him off the floor.”
What was she talking about? He wasn’t a spilled soda. The guy needed help, not a thorough scrubbing. I hoped the man coming was some kind of doctor. The small puddle of blood turned into a crimson lake within seconds. How much blood could he lose before it would be too much?
Karen’s stomach gurgled, then roared. Several students scrambled out of the way. I froze, afraid to move. Only prey ran.
“Excuse me.” She hurriedly wiped her face with the back of her hand, but in her haste she’d missed a speckle of drool clinging to the side of her mouth.
My stomach clenched tighter and I nearly lost my breakfast. “Who’s Mr. Bastock?” I asked to take my mind off barfing.
“He’s our janitor,” she said. “He comes from a long line of South African dung beetles. He loves cleaning up crap, literally.” She looked past me. “Here he is now.”
A lanky man with four spindly arms, a bulbous nose, and jet-black hair scurried forward, pulling a squeaky, three-wheeled cart behind him. The cart held a bucket of clear water, along with a few cleaning supplies. A mop poked out of the bucket. Its handle slid side-to-side, leaving a trail of water on the floor behind him.
Mr. Bastock stared at Stefan, tsked, then rolled him into a ball and plucked him off the floor as if he weighed no more than a Cheeto. He tossed Stefan over the cart like a dirty rag and picked up one of the cleaners. He sprayed the contents on the floor, then grabbed the mop, wrung it out, and began to scrub. Within seconds, the floor was spotless and a lingering antiseptic smell was the only indication that anything had occurred.
He took a moment to admire his work, then stowed his equipment before wheeling the limp vamp off toward the elevators.
“Told you,” Karen said. “I would’ve thought you’d be used to leech strangeness by now. Stefan Franks can’t be the first one you’ve seen faint.”
I watched the elevator doors open and close, then took a deep breath and met her gaze. “We didn’t have a lot of Vampires at my last school.” It was the truth, sort of. Truth was, we didn’t have any.
Outside of books, Vampires didn’t exist in Common schools.
Mom said she’d kept me in human schools because she wanted me to learn about Commons firsthand, but I think the real reason was because she didn’t want me to feel different. And I hadn’t. I’d never had to worry about slip-ups, Preter social interactions, or anything…until now.
That didn’t mean I was entirely sheltered. Mom insisted that I read a lot of books. My academic knowledge of Preters was sound, but nothing beat experience.
“No Vampires?” Karen burst out laughing.
The sound startled me. It was the second scariest sound a Ghoul made. According to the textbooks, chewing was first.
“You must’ve gone to a small school.”
I nodded. Silent lies were still lies.
“I hope you’re not expecting the vamps to sparkle or explode into flames in the sunlight. If so, you’re going to be really disappointed. About the only thing that happens to a leech in sunlight is they break out in hives. So not attractive.” She sobered, then added, “But I wouldn’t hook up with one, if I were you. They do still bite.”
“Thanks for the tip.”
About the Author
T.R. Allardice writes young adult, new adult, and humorous horror stories. Most of what she writes incorporates several genres. The content won’t always be ‘safe’. What’s the fun in that? She is a member of the Horror Writer’s Association, Novelist Inc. and the Author’s Guild. She has thirty-one books published under another pen name. To find out more about her upcoming work, go to: www.trallardice.com
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