Bright Fire Release Blitz
by MJ Austin
Genre: YA Fantasy
Mondays are the epitome of all evil. It’s just a fact.
Do you ever get those feelings deep in the pit of your stomach? The ones that make you feel all queasy and anxious? Well, that’s how I feel right now. I am standing at my locker at a way too early hour, and I am in Dragon Bitch mode; which is surprising because today is my birthday.
Normally, I love my birthday. I officially turn 16 at 11:59 tonight, and instead of reveling in the excitement, am I staring at my locker without really seeing it. I just keep trying to figure out what’s causing this annoying pinch in my stomach. I jump when I hear the locker next to mine slam shut.
“Jeez, Lyla,” I huff. “How many times do I have to tell you not to do that? Now excuse me while I find a doctor to remove my heart from my nasal passage.” I’m not in the mood for the early morning antics of Lyla Browning, even if she is my best friend.
“Soooorrry, but it seems to be the only way to get your attention. I say ‘Happy birthday, Dell’ and what do you do? You ignore me and stare at your locker. What is up with you?”
“Nothing, just a funny feeling.”
She eyes me for a minute, then shrugs her shoulders and in a matter-of-fact tone tells me, “It’s probably PMS.”
“Yeah, maybe I dunno…” I trail off, the feeling still bugging me. I understand that she is trying to snap me out of it so I muster up some enthusiasm and sing, “Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me.”
She perks up instantly, and before I can clamp my hand over her mouth she starts bellowing out “Happy Birthday” in the middle of the hall that is seriously starting to fill up. By the time she finishes, everyone is staring at us, and my face is burning red.
“Aww come on, you love me and you know it,” she beams.
I smile because I do love her. Lyla and I have been best friends since forever. We first met in kindergarten when this little twerp, Zach Moreno, decided to pull my hair, and she punched him square in the nose.
We’ve been joined at the hip ever since then.
“But hey, you should be thrilled you’re turning 16.” she nudges me in the ribs a little.
“Yeah, I know, but my parents still won’t let me get my permit till I’m 18.”
“No offense, but your parents are a little…intense.” She says.
“What do you mean by that?” I ask getting a bit defensive.
“Well, it’s just that lately they seem to be taking your safety to the extreme. You can’t have sleepovers anymore, a car or a life. I mean it’s sweet that they care, but I thought parents got more lenient the older you get.” She fidgets with her wavy blond hair, afraid that she has gone too far.
The truth is she’s not wrong. My parents are great people, and I love them, but lately they have been too over-protective. When I ask them about it they just tell me, “the real world is full of dangers, kiddo.”
and that’s the end of that conversation. “Yeah, I know, I’m sure that is just their way of showing me that they care.”
“By the way, are we still on for binge night Friday?” She sees right through my attempts to change the subject. Binge night has been happening every Friday since the 6th grade. We start off at the roller rink and end up at my place with a large bag of cheddar popcorn, candy, and cokes.
“Uh, duh.” She says rolling her eyes. She grabs her stuff out of her locker. “Come on, we have homeroom.”
I turn to grab my bag out of my locker when the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end. Everybody gets those feelings now and then, but it was so intense I had to shiver to shake it off.
“Dude, what is your problem? Take a picture it lasts longer.” Lyla clicks her tongue, her usual reaction when something annoys her.
I whirl around to see who she is talking to and meet the gray eyes of Alec Hales, who is staring at me intensely like he’s waiting for something to happen. He would be the hottest guy in school if he weren’t so weird. He continues to stare at me unabashed. I can’t help but stare back.
“Come on,” she grabs my arm. “This guy is freaking me out” She throws him the stink eye, and we head to class.
I spend the rest of the morning stumbling through class in a daze worried about that creepy stare. I’ve never seen anything like it.
What’s worse is that I’m pretty sure he’s the reason I had a chill that ranked 100 on the creep factor. OK, Dell get a grip, I tell myself as I walk into the cafeteria.
I do my normal scan and Lyla’s waiting for me at our usual table in the corner of the room, trays in tow. We are not the least popular students, but we are definitely not a part of the in-crowd. Lyla could be, but she sticks with me. Aside from her slightly crooked nose, she is the picture perfect replica of a Barbie doll, with her blond hair, green eyes, and mile-long legs. You get the picture. Me, on the other hand, my height is OK, not too short or too tall, but my drab brown hair and beanpole body are nothing special. The only thing I have going for me is my clear blue eyes. Lyla always calls them hypnotic.
“Ugggghhh,” she whines as she rolls her shoulders back and forth. “I think the teachers are secretly evil demons sent to torture teens with tests on Mondays. Seriously, who wants to take tests on Mondays?”
“Who wants to take tests at all?”
She throws a piece of lettuce at me. With a mouth full of food she asks, “What are your birthday plans?”
“Dinner with the family.”
“Same old, same old,” she laughs “maybe we can do something special for binge night like go shopping before the roller rink.”
“Yeah, that would be…” I trail off instantly when I feel the same eerie feeling I had by my locker. I lean into Lyla and whisper, “Is Alec staring at me?” She lifts her head up, and I pull her down. “Can’t you be discreet?” I hiss.
She subtly does a sweep of the cafeteria and relaxes, “Nope; nowhere in sight. Why do you ask?”
“I just got this creepy feeling earlier and again just now. I thought maybe it was his intense stare earlier.”
“Wow, I hope your weird doesn’t rub off on me. Do you think it happens to everyone when they turn 16?” she jokes.
I laugh half-heartedly unable to shake the strange feeling.
M.J. Austin has always found the world of fantasy preferable to the real world. She channels this love of mystical worlds and creatures into her writing. She is an avid reader and proud bookworm. She has a Master’s Degree in Project Management, but her true passion is writing.
When she isn’t working or writing she is diving into random projects as often as possible. She lives in Tennessee with three children, husband, and three dogs.
Read more about M.J. at http://www.mjaustinbooks.com