by Nick Green
Don’t ask Leo Lloyd-Jones. Ask him how to steal a car, or why he got excluded from every school in Salford, but don’t come to him for help. This whole thing must be a daft mistake – and if anyone finds out, he’s done for.
Earth is on a deadly collision course that nothing can prevent. The only real hope is Project Firebird, deep inside a blast-proof bunker that shelters the brightest and bravest young people. Leo has got mixed up with the likes of Rhys Carnarvon, the celebrated teenage polar explorer, and other child prodigies chosen to keep the flame of civilisation.
Among them is the streetwise Paige Harris, a girl Leo likes a lot (but not in that way). Paige is desperate to rescue her little sister from London before the catastrophe strikes. But no-one is crazy enough to try that. Almost no-one.
‘That which you have there, is a frog.’
Lenka stood in the doorway, smiling. Dressed in a casual blouse and vaguely military trousers, she looked wide awake and not surprised to see them. Leo managed to get his head to stop swimming. Puking on her boots would not be attractive.
‘What is going on here?’ she asked. ‘The midnight feast?’
Rhys wrung the hem of his t-shirt awkwardly. ‘I’m sorry, Doctor Mironov. We couldn’t sleep.’
‘A North American wood frog.’ Lenka nodded at the frozen thing. ‘Rana Sylvatica. A very special animal.’
‘Why –’ Leo coughed. ‘Why have you got dead frogs in your ice box? You’re not French.’
Lenka giggled like a schoolgirl. ‘No, Leo. I’m from St Petersburg.’ She took the lolly in her hand. ‘And this frog, he’s not dead. He’s sleeping.’
‘It’s frozen solid,’ Paige protested.
‘That’s how wood frogs hibernate,’ said Lenka. ‘They’ve evolved to stay alive inside a solid block of ice.’
Rhys made an odd strangled noise. Now he was the one who looked green in the face.
‘We keep these specimens for demonstration purposes,’ said Lenka.
‘Demonstration?’ Rhys spluttered. He seemed unable to take his eyes off the frog. ‘Demonstrating what?’
Lenka tapped her capped teeth with one perfect fingernail.
‘You weren’t supposed to be told this yet. But since you ask, let’s strike while the ironing’s hot. Come. I’ll show you.’
Nick Green lives in the UK. He is the author of seven fiction books to date, including the middle-grade CAT KIN trilogy published by Strident. His other books include THE STORM BOTTLE, a fantasy adventure about the dolphins of Bermuda, and most recently the FIREBIRD trilogy, a YA science fiction epic.
Nick will be awarding a $20 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.
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