We’re over with Heath who’s still in his golem form of Aurox. Why do I get the feeling that his transformation back into Heath will be the big arc of the book? I’d like to hear how that sales pitch went between PCK, the editor and her agent.
‘So PCK and I were thinking that this book could be a bit more padded than normal.’
The editor knocked back another slug of gin and nodded thoughtfully. Intern suicides were getting hard to explain but she could always put up the job on Craigslist. Offer them twenty bucks and a reference letter if they survived. ‘What would it be about?’
‘Well, the soul of Heath would be inside the imperfect body of a perfect killing machine who was made to follow Neferet’s orders to the letter. The conclusion will be his soul awakening and going back over to the side of good.’
‘I see.’ She said. The editor poured a couple of fingers worth into her glass, reconsidered and doubled it. Then she pushed the glass over towards the agent and began to chug the bottle. ‘So dumb guy get put in dumb body, realizes he is dub guy. ‘s a story for the ages, I’m sure.’
Heath is following Neferet around and noticing that the daylight is pissing her off. Being as PCK believes in tell not show, she has Neferet explicitly state how she hates being forced out into the daylight. You know how the old trope of having someone hiss when bright or sunlight falls upon them means they’re evil is so ancient it’s been parodied to death? Those parodies are so subtle compared to this that the next person to write one should be given an award. I should start it, the Better than Shit award or BSA.
Neferet turns on the OnStar and tells it to give directions to Will Rogers High School, Tulsa Oklahoma. Why, PCK? Unless they’re putting cash in your pocket, I don’t really care what navigation system Heath follows. I also don’t care exactly which high school they’re headed to. Was this just so your students could squee when they recognize something familiar in a book? ‘Oy my god, that’s an explicit reference to something I know! I now identify with this book so much more!’
They go to the school and walk inside where they run into a security guard. Wait, what? Most larger schools in the US have a police officer on campus. So I looked it up and, sure enough, the city of Tulsa founded the Tulsa Public Schools Campus Police which has been in operation since at least 2008. So I don’t know why there’s an aging security guard other than it’s another trope PCK wanted to stuff into the book. Neferet asks him if there are some tunnels around the school. He says there are some old ones that used to serve as the bomb shelter. Neferet smiles and dazzles him, but not with her magic for some reason.
“Incapacitate him, but do not kill him,” Neferet had ordered. “Oh, and give me that key.”
Aurox hit him hard enough to make him unconscious. He didn’t believe the old man was dead, but he wasn’t certain. There was no time to check. He handed Neferet the jangling keys and she began hurrying in the direction the man had unwisely indicated. She paused when she came to the large room on their left, glancing in the windows of the closed doors. Aurox looked with her. It was an elegent room. Large, decorative lights hung over tables and bookshelves.
Wait, I though Aurox was supposed to be good at following orders? So if Neferet said to incapacitate him but not kill him how can he not be certain? Wouldn’t his desire to follow the orders of his master cause him to do it perfectly or at least err on the side of caution? And being as he’s not creative, this could have led to a hilarious misunderstanding where Heath broke the guys knee or tied his shoes together because either would hamper him but not kill him.
After giving an old man a concussion, they go into the basement where Neferet whines that it stinks. It turns out that the bad undeadlings have taken up residence there. Some of the undeadlings wake up, Neferet threatens them with Heath before then listen and Dallas wakes up to talk to her. Neferet wants them to come to school and she tells Dallas about Stevie and Rephy boning. She says she wants them there because his hatred will bring chaos.
Wow, first bringing in new hires and now new students? Neferet is a master of chaos. Next she’ll have the stuff in the student store completely changed out with different brand snacks. How then will Zoey and her friends fare when they can no longer get nacho Doritos but only ranch? The forces of good stand no chance.
Neferet then has a different idea. She tells Heath to go back and tell Dallas to make the guard think he was attacked by vandals. Because vandals love to go out in the day time, assault a security guard and then disappear. Also, why doesn’t Neferet just do this herself? If she couldn’t mess with people’s minds, that would make sense but we’ve seen her screw with Zoey’s memories. It’s just busy work and padding.
Over to Stark who’s having a dream as exiting as unflavored gelatin. He’s dreaming he’s on a beach and endlessly shooting arrows which is basically the screensaver of the brain. Stark thinks about how nice it would be if Zoey were then in a bikini or even topless and then he’s there cuddling with her. There’s some thinly veiled references to sex which is odd, considering Stark is a teen who’s getting laid on a regular basis and inside his own head. Usually when I’m thinking about fucking in the privacy of my skull, I’m pretty explicit and don’t dance around it like I’m visiting my grandparents during an anniversary celebration.
The dream goes form sex to terror, perfectly normal when talking about Zoey, as Zoey is suddenly being taken away by shadow tentacles. See, Stark, that’s what you get for binge watching hentai before bed. Stark grabs his sword and begins whacking at the darkness but getting nowhere. It turns out the dream about a man wielding an ineffective phallic object isn’t a metaphor for ED but a prophetic dream sent to him by god.
In the dream Stark stood there, sobbing and lost without his Zoey. In his mind he heard a voice strong and clear: This will happen unless Zoey Redbird publicly breaks from Neferet. She must stand up to the Tsi Sgili and stop these pretenses of a truce between them.
What? So Zoey doesn’t even have to defeat the bad guy anymore, she just has to tell everyone that she’s not associated with them. That’d be like if all Aragorn had to do was send out a press release before the credits rolled.‘Attention: The MOG(Men of Gondor) are not in any way affiliated with Sauron a.k.a. the necromancer.’
Stark wakes up for real this time and starts hugging Zoey, telling her he had a “massively bad” dream of “apocalyptic proportions”. I didn’t realize that Zoey getting taken by darkness was on par with a meteor the size of Texas. Speaking of LOTR, he compares it to Shelob taking Frodo but worse. Which is exactly how shitty fan fiction would put it or a hack trying to remind the audience that they’re “hip” to all the nerd things the kids like.
Zoey says that, hey, the voice he heard might not have been god. Sure, I suppose Kalona could have been screwing with Stark for reasons. I can’t think of any good reasons other than maybe Kalona thinks Zoey telling everyone publically that Neferet it evil, again, will somehow bring about her fall from power. They kiss and Zoey shuts Stark up with sex because you’ve got to pacify your boyfriends when they won’t stop voicing their concerns.
Over to Zoey who’s whining about being dropped off at school by the bus. She tells the slaves that Shaylin’s aura powers, if you remember, should be kept secret. Right, because suddenly claiming that a new kid has powers and it means Heath is back and the other vampires should trust him wouldn’t seem suspicious at all.
‘Wait, don’t kill Kalona! Uh, this new kid has the power of truth speaking and cannot tell a lie. He said that Kalona is actually housing the soul of Bram Stoker and he’s super pumped about making a new vampire series set in a high school.’ ‘Are we actually going to believe that?’ ‘Why not, they have the power of truth speaking and that means they couldn’t lie about it.’
They mumble at each other, reminding the audience that they’re going to try and block Neferet’s mind reading by thinking about other things. They meet Neferet who’s being insincerely nice. She shows them the other undeadlings which pisses Stevie off because how dare a vampire show up at a vampire high school.
There’s some tension and Dallas mentions that Zoey did kill some of them. No one seems to react to this news which is par for the course around here. The undeadlings kill people and theauthor must remind us they’re bad. Zoey kills people by throwing them into traffic or burying them alive, that’s just something Zoey had to do. Dallas gets called off to the computer lab because of his technomancy while everyone instantly know the other undeadlings are there just to cause trouble.
Everyone sort of scatters towards class and Rephy does the old, let me talk to you alone so I can hint at things to Zoey. Zoey dismisses Damien to chat with Rephy privately. It’s a good thing there aren’t any other students attending this school or they might be overheard. He tells her that Kalona is nearby and he’s telling her so Zoey doesn’t think he’s keeping things from everyone. Zoey asks if Rephy knows what Kalona wants. He shouts no and Zoey says she’s not accusing him but Rephy came to her.
“Yes, but I—” His face went still again. Then his eyes met mine and the sadness in them was so intense that it made my stomach ache. “He’s calling me.”
‘And he just won’t stop, no matter how many times I beg. Even when I get a new number he somehow finds it and starts again!’ Please tell me, PCK, that this is a problem that Zoey’s magic can solve. She might have to cast a terribly complex cantrip to do it though. Something like ‘spirit, let Rephy have peace of mind’ while waving around the burning contents of a leaf bag.
Good to see the Kasts haven’t killed you yet. WB!