High school sucks! But, for angelblood demonslayer Amelie Bennett, even the worst days usually go better than this. Read on for a PROPHECY GIRL excerpt of Amelie’s senior placement exam at St. Michael’s Guardian Training Academy.
PROPHECY GIRL by Cecily White (EntangledTeen, 2013)
I touched the door lightly, the creaky hinge inching open. For all the atmospheric build up of the house, I had to admit I was disappointed. There were no pentagrams, no animal sacrifices, no voodoo talismans. It just looked like a boring, old room. We’d been told to expect the unexpected for our field tests, but this wasn’t quite what I’d had in mind.
Semi-rumpled piles of dark laundry lay folded at the foot of the bed, a couple of teenage romance novels scattered around. Other than that, it was completely empty. No orb, no vortex, no giant mess at the hand of the angry demon. The only disruption I could make out was a quivery black mass in the corner about the size of an overweight Labrador.
I regarded the demon, only vaguely aware of Jack’s silent presence behind me. “Why is it acting like a spanked puppy?”
“I don’t know. Perhaps you should ask it.”
I frowned at him. “Isn’t sarcasm the opiate of the masses?”
“You’re thinking of religion,” he replied. “Sarcasm is the Xanax of the morally bereft.”
With my index finger, I sketched the requisite four binding wards (North, South, East, and West) to make sure nothing snuck through from the other side.
“I have a theory on why you never got bonded,” I said. “I think you ridiculed all your potential bondmates until their self-esteem imploded. Then, when it came time to list prefs, no girl could write your name without bursting into tears. Am I close?”
He tucked the clipboard against his chest. “What makes you think I’m not bonded?”
“Are you?” I asked, looking around innocently. “Where was she yesterday? Why isn’t she helping you with this Graymason thing? Enforcement never breaks up bonded pairs,” I pointed out, ultra-reasonably. “That would be suicide.”
“Maybe she’s dead,” he said, his face perfectly blank.
I shot him a skeptical look as the glow of the wards intensified. “Nice try, but I don’t think so. You’ve seen those guys. They’re like shells, or something. You don’t feel like that to me.”
Electricity crackled up my arms, and the skin between my fingers began to pink as I called open the Crossworld channel. I had no idea why everything was going so seamlessly. Maybe it was the mold count in the house or the last gasp of summer ragweed. With school starting and the whole business with the incident report last night, this was the second day in a row Bud had forgotten my allergy meds.
I began the portal incantation, “Caret initio et—”
“Include translation, please.”
“Seriously? Am I five years old?”
He made a few notes but said nothing. Smug bastard.
“Fine.” I cracked my knuckles and wiggle my fingers theatrically. “Caret initio et fine. There is no beginning and no end. Ab initio, ad patres. From birth unto death. Deficit omne quod nasciture. Everything that is born returns.”
In an icy hot rush, energy shot out of my fingers into a wide arc in front of me. The air between the wards began to ripple as if someone had painted the scene on a bed sheet and given it a rough shake. A sound like ripping silk echoed through the room and, when I glanced up, the portal had opened. Disaster free.
Hah! I felt a nugget of pride bloom in my chest. Take that, Jackson Smith-Hailey!
The pride might have lasted more than a nanosecond if I hadn’t caught Jack jotting what looked like a frowny-face at the top of his clipboard. Annoyed once more, I turned my attention to the center of the room.
Looking into a Crossworld portal is a little like looking in a mirror, only it’s made of thickened energy instead of silvered glass. I managed to hold it open with one hand while the other scrawled an immobilization glyph over the Chelax demon. Not that the poor thing needed it. His eyes were so wide with fear he looked like a harsh word might convince him to hurl himself into the portal.Tendrils of oily dust whipped about the room, then curled back in wild, chaotic arcs. “Something’s wrong,” I noted. “This doesn’t feel right.”
Jack gave me a dismissive touch on the shoulder, drawing the last shreds of darkness out of my head. At the same time, little spurts of golden light flashed over my skin. “Try not to think about it,” he said. “A job well begun is half done.”
“Thank you, Mary Poppins.”
I tried to focus on my breath and not on the deafening sirens in my head as the demon tumbled into the portal. I was about to turn toward Jack for approval when the world…shut off.
Whatever platitudes he was about to spout were lost under a curtain of thick, black silence. And when I say ‘black’ and ‘silent’, I don’t mean ‘kind of dim’ and ‘naptime quiet.’ It was as if someone had dropped one of those heavy, fireproof blankets the EMT’s use in emergencies over the entire building. It shut out everything. Light, street noise, air, even the sounds of birds and crickets vanished. The result was something so oppressively empty it felt deafening.
“What just happened?” I whispered, certain that anything louder than a whisper would shatter my eardrums. I was wrong. Even if I had screamed, the words wouldn’t have made it more than a few inches in front of my face. They disappeared as I said them, sucked into oblivion.
Jack’s hand still rested at my shoulder. He tightened it now. “Don’t let go of me.”
“Wasn’t planning on it.”
With sight and sound gone, the rest of my senses seemed to sharpen into hyper-focus. Jack’s touch was velvet on my arms and he smelled amazing—like shampoo and marshmallows and something uniquely musky. Sunshine, if sunshine had a smell. Sigh, I could die happy now.
Wait, not literally.
Find out what happens to Jack and Amelie in PROPHECY GIRL, by Cecily White, in stores now from EntangledTeen!