TURNED (Book #1 in the Vampire Journals)
TURNED (Book #1 in the Vampire Journals)
Copyright © 2011 by Morgan Rice
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“Is it physical
To walk unbraced and suck up the humors
Of the dank morning? What, is Brutus sick,
And will he steal out of his wholesome bed
To dare the vile contagion of the night?”
--William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar
Caitlin Paine always dreaded her first day at a new school. There were the big things, like meeting new friends, the new teachers, learning new hallways. And there were the small things, like getting a new locker, the smell of a new place, the sounds it made. More than anything, she dreaded the stares. She felt that everyone in a new place always stared at her. All she wanted was anonymity. But it never seemed meant to be.
Caitlin couldn’t understand why she was so conspicuous. At five foot five she wasn’t especially tall, and with her brown hair and brown eyes (and normal weight) she felt she was average. Certainly not beautiful, like some of the other girls. At 18, she was a bit older, but not enough to make her stand out.
There was something else. There was something about her that made people look twice. She knew, deep down, that she was different. But she wasn’t exactly sure how.
If there was anything worse than a first day, it was starting in mid-term, after everyone else already had time to bond. Today, this first day, in mid-March, was going to be one of the worst. She could feel it already.
In her wildest imagination, though, she never thought it would be this bad. Nothing she had ever seen—and she had seen a lot—had prepared her for this.
Caitlin stood outside her new school, a vast New York City public school, in the freezing March morning, and wondered, Why me? She was way underdressed, in just a sweater and leggings, and not even remotely prepared for the noisy chaos that greeted her. Hundreds of kids stood there, clamoring, screaming, and shoving each other. It looked like a prison yard.
It was all too loud. These kids laughed too loud, cursed too much, shoved each other too hard. She would have thought it was a massive brawl if she didn’t spot some smiles and mocking laughter. They just had too much energy, and she, exhausted, freezing, sleep-deprived, couldn’t understand where it came from. She closed her eyes and wished it would all go away.
She reached into her pockets and felt something: her ipod. Yes. She put her headphones in her ears and turned it up. She needed to drown it all out.
But nothing came. She looked down and saw the battery was dead. Perfect.
She checked her phone, hoping for some distraction, anything. No new messages.
She looked up. Looking out at the sea of new faces, she felt alone. Not because she was the only white girl—she actually preferred that. Some of her closest friends at other schools had been black, Spanish, Asian, Indian—and some of her meanest frenemies had been white. No, that wasn’t it. She felt alone because it was urban. She stood on concrete. A loud buzzer had rang to admit her into this “recreational area,” and she had had to pass through large, metal gates. Now she was boxed in—caged in by massive metal gates, topped by barbed-wire. She felt like she’d gone to prison.
Looking up at the massive school, bars and cages on all the windows, didn’t make her feel any better. She always adapted to new schools easily, large and small—but they had all been in suburbia. They had all had grass, trees, sky. Here, there was nothing but city. She felt like she couldn’t breathe. It terrified her.
Another loud buzzer sounded and she shuffled her way, with hundreds of kids, towards the entrance. She was