About the Book
Surviving high school takes on a whole new meaning for Therese Monkhouse when she discovers her chemistry teacher is out to kill her. Monk becomes entangled in a nightmare of class bullies, possessed students, and bizarre dreams as she battles to save herself and her friends from a sinister force that has turned their world upside-down.
Coopersmith, on recess patrol around the Year Ten courtyard four days later, stopped and stared at the two girls speaking softly to a group of girls. She knew them by sight but not by name.
“—And I heard that she just got sprung from hospital.”
“Yeah, I know. I heard Monk is behind bars for that one.”
The two speakers turned careful, speculative eyes on her, and continued to whisper behind cupped hands while the others strained to hear.
The girls all seemed to be looking at her and exchanging whispers as she walked passed them.
Coopersmith went looking for McCann after recess finished. She finally found her hiding at her desk marking English essays.
“Hi, Gab,” Coopersmith said quietly.
McCann looked up and gave her a broad grin. “Hi, Michelle. What can I do for you?”
“Cut right to the chase, huh?” Coopersmith grinned. “Why is everyone staring at me?”
“Who’s staring at you?”
“Looks like half of Year Ten.”
“Perhaps they think you’re beautiful?” McCann said, grinning.
Coopersmith felt herself blush and rolled her eyes. “No, I don’t think that’s it.”
McCann patted the seat she had in her cubicle. Coopersmith sat down, staring at the mess that McCann referred to as a desk.
“Well,” McCann said. “Rumors fly at the speed of light in a girls’ school. This particular bunch is talking about how Monk hospitalized you and is now in prison awaiting trial.”
Coopersmith raised her eyebrows in astonishment.
“Ah,” McCann said. “That little gem was started by Catrina Walsh and Cathy Daniels.”
“Are they the two Year Ten girls who look like they could be on the cover of schoolgirl Vogue, but have the eyes of Jack the Ripper and his pet dog Slasher?”
“That’s good,” McCann said between snorts of laughter. “That would be them.”
“How can anyone believe anything that stupid?”
“You’re in school with a bunch of horny, underage girls. Stupid doesn’t really enter the equation. Only spite does.”
Coopersmith shook her head. “No kidding.” She sighed.
Two days later, at the end of the last period of the day, Coopersmith dismissed her year ten maths class with a silent sigh of relief. It had been a quiet and easy lesson.
Monk had sat silently through the class with her eyes downcast, drawing patterns on her desktop with her forefinger between bouts of copying example problems from the blackboard. She looked miserable, often at the point of tears, and she flinched when even her friends talked to her.
Coopersmith was worried about her, but couldn’t think how to approach her without starting an argument. She leaned back in her chair, chewing her lip.
Slowly the classroom emptied out, except for one student who sat with an almost unnatural stillness.
“Therese,” Coopersmith said quietly. “Something wrong?”
Monkhouse gave her a wry smile. “Perhaps I should be asking you that.”
“Pardon?” Coopersmith asked.
Monkhouse slowly and painfully got out of her seat, and Coopersmith suppressed a flinch. She walked over to Coopersmith’s desk and dropped her backpack before it with a sigh.
“Bloody thing is heavy,” she muttered, staring at it, lost, for a moment or so. She looked up at Coopersmith, intense, sky blue eyes sad. She blushed. “I’m sorry.”
Coopersmith raised an internal set of eyebrows. “What for?”
Monkhouse looked down and shifted from foot to foot. “For yelling at you. For being rude to you. I didn’t mean it to happen like that. I just got mad, that’s all,” she whispered.
“Therese?” Coopersmith said softly. “Look at me.”
Monkhouse’s head stayed down, her face a mask of tension.
“I don’t bite,” Coopersmith said gently. “C’mon now . . . look at me.”
Monk looked up, pale as death, hectic spots on her cheeks. Her eyes swam with unshed tears. “Yeah?”
Coopersmith gave her a kind smile. “Forgiven.”
A sliver of hope entered Monk’s mesmerizing blue eyes. “Really?”
“Really,” Coopersmith said, heart lightening at the relief in Monkhouse’s eyes.
“Thanks,” Monkhouse said softly. “Miss Coopersmith?”
“Could you please call me Monk? I hate being called Therese.”
A comfortable silence hung between them for a moment or so.
“I have to go and catch my bus,” Monk said. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”
“No worries,” Coopersmith replied easily. “Can I ask you to do me a favor?”
Monk stared at her evenly. “Okay,” she said after another moment of silence.
“If you ever want to blow my head off like that again, could you please give me fair warning? Like, ‘Miss Coopersmith, I’m getting mad at you’?”
“Because I’m asking you to do it.”
Monk stared at her, intense, blue eyes curious. “All right.” She smiled.
Coopersmith stood and began packing up her books, Monk watching her closely.
“Penny for your thoughts, Monk?” Coopersmith asked.
“Is that Miss McCann’s copy of War of the Worlds?” She pointed to the battered paperback on Coopersmith’s attendance folder.
“Yup.” She glanced at Monk. “Just finished it. Good book, huh?”
Monk nodded, spark in her eye. “Not bad. But I’m more an H.P. Lovecraft fan.”
Coopersmith grinned. “You like reading horror?”
“Yeah. Do you?”
Coopersmith widened her grin. “Sure. I love old horror movies as well.”
Monk laughed softly. “So do I. I love ’em. Ever seen Max Shrek’s version of Dracula? The silent movie version?”
“Oh, yeah. I’ve seen it.”
“I’ve come to suck your blood,” Monk said in bad, nameless eastern European accent. “Although I’ve never understood why a vampire needs to announce that? Isn’t it obvious? And they never exactly knock on people’s doors selling bibles, now do they?”
Coopersmith laughed. “That was good. I have no idea. How difficult is it for the good guys to spot a vampire? And then to wonder where it sleeps during the day, although there’s fresh cemetery dirt on the castle floor and a big coffin in the dungeons? And they’re standing on it?”
“I know,” Monk said, rolling her eyes. “Hello? How can you have a distant family member, who has the same name as someone who died hundreds of years earlier, who hates sunlight, and honestly not wonder? It ranks right up there with the dumb blonde taking her clothes off while there’s a heavily breathing maniac in work boots stomping around the deserted house.”
Coopersmith nodded and grinned. “Said girl gets bonus points for running out the front door naked while all her neighbors are at home.”
“I don’t suppose you’ve seen the old Frankenstein movies?” Coopersmith asked.
Monk grinned. “Yes. How on earth could you miss the big guy staggering around in platform shoes holding his arms out for balance?”
“There’s one line in one of those movies where Victor Frankenstein actually says, ‘you have a civil tongue in your head. I know because I sewed it there myself.’”
Monk laughed. “You’re kidding me.”
“Nope. Keep an ear out for it.”
Coopersmith led the way out of the classroom, Monk trailing behind her. By the time they reached the door to the staffroom, both were slinging movie quotes back and forth and laughing loudly.
“Miss Coopersmith?” Monk asked, wiping the tears off her face.
“Do you mind if I borrow Miss McCann’s book? I don’t have anything to read while I’m waiting for the bus. I already finished my English novels.”
“Your bus doesn’t take that long to come, does it?” Coopersmith asked.
“Yeah, it does.” sighed Monk sighed. “If you look to the left as you go out the front door, all the skeletons in Saturday Night Fever poses are the people on my route that died waiting for the bus.”
Coopersmith snorted laughter. “How about we keep each other company, then? I’m on bus duty this afternoon.”
Monk gave her a shy smile. “Thanks. I’d like that.”
Coopersmith dropped her books off at her neat desk and walked down to the bus stop with Monk. By the time Monk’s bus came, and they parted company, the seeds of an easy, close friendship had been planted.