Authors: Linda Joy Singleton
Tags: #fiction, #teen fiction, #young adult, #young adult fiction, #ya, #ya fiction, #murder, #paranormal, #paranormal young adult, #goth, #Thorn, #Thorn series, #mystery, #goth girl mystery
Buried: A Goth Girl Mystery
Â© 2012 by Linda Joy Singleton.
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First e-book edition Â© 2012
E-book ISBN: 9780738730158
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seven-year-old girl was forced to marry a dog to ward off an evil curse,” Rune announces as she pulls up a chair beside me on the semi-darkened stage in the school auditorium. She's all dark drama, with black eyeliner, blood-glossed lips, and pronounce-me-dead face makeup, and she thrives on saying shocking things.
Shocking works for me, so I scoot closer, my thrift-store army boots scraping the shiny wood floor.
“Have you ever heard anything so sick, Thorn?” she asks.
“Never!” I say with exaggerated disbelief, knowing that's what Rune expects and not wanting to disappoint. We haven't known each other long but were fated to be BFFs; not just because we're the only goths in our ultra-conservative school, but because she's the polar opposite of boring.
Every day she comes up with weird facts that sound unbelievable. Like yesterday, she told me about a woman who saved a chicken by giving it mouth-to-beak resuscitation. Rune has this theory that like the moon, the earth has a light side and a dark side, but on earth the darkness comes from human beings. She insists her weird facts are evidence that modern civilization is deteriorating.
I can't speak for the rest of civilization, but after what I found this morning, I'm afraid things at my house are fast deteriorating. Only I don't want to think about this, so I gesture for Rune to go on.
“Girl Marries Dog,” she announces as she unzips her backpack and withdraws her lunchâan apple and an energy drink. “That was today's headline on the
“You think that's bad?” I loosen the spiked collar that's been chafing my neck. “Catherine the Great of Russia was in love with her horse.”
“But did they get married?”
“Don't think so.”
“Well, I think forcing a little girl into an interspecies marriage is unnatural.” Rune takes a bite of her apple and pauses to chew before adding, “Yet tragically true.”
“You can't believe everything you read online.”
“This site only reports authentic news. For the sake of that poor girl, I hope the dog was a family pet, not a stray. A stray would be filthy and have fleas.”
“Better hygiene than the guys around here,” I can't resist adding, since Rune and I are always complaining that we'll grow old as virgins because cool guys are a rare and mysterious species at Nevada Bluff High.
Rune nods. “The Cowboys are disgustingly proud of their spitting skills and sweat.”
“I'd take sweat over gag-me cologne. Preps like the Jay-Clones are worst.”
“Another tragically true fact,” Rune says like she's telling a joke, but neither of us smile or (heaven forbid!) giggle. Giggling like cheerleaders is something we scorn, so we just share an understanding nod, not saying anything else while she pops open her energy drink.
I don't take my lunch out of my backpack because I'm not hungry.
Okay â¦ that's not really the reason. I have to be honest with myself, if not anyone else. My reluctance to eat has nothing to do with appetite, and everything to do with avoidance. I glance uneasily at my backpack. I do
want to open it. Buried underneath books, assignments, and my sack lunch is the letter my mother never expected me to find.
A normal person wouldn't have found it, tucked under a Bible inside a drawer of Mom's desk. But before leaving for school this morning, I got one of my
and just knew it was there. And I knew from the first lineâ
the serious and very alarming matter of your eldest daughter
âthat I was in trouble. Since then, my emotions have jumped from outrage to anxiety. Now I'm imploding inside and want to scream at someone, or maybe just talk.
I consider confiding in Rune.
Only I don't â¦ because I'll have to either lie or reveal my three secrets.
Secret #1: First Names.
I'm sure hers isn't Rune any more than mine is Thorn, but we have an unspoken understanding not to talk about it. So I don't ask and neither does she, which heightens our trust in each other. We're a lot alikeânot just on the outside, draped in black and metal with wicked piercings, but deeper, like soul sisters. If I show her the letter, I know she'll be on my side and say things that will make me feel better.
But she might also say, “How did you find a letter that was inside your mom's desk?”
No. I'd better keep the letterâand my secretsâto myself.
“Where's Amerie? She's late.” I glance at my rhinestone clock ring. The ring was a great find (only $2.95) at a secondhand shop called
At the time, I was only wearing eight rings and couldn't resist one more. Usually I enjoy hearing it tick when everything around me goes quiet, but now it's just another annoyance in an already bite-me bad day.
“Dunno what's up with Amerie.” Rune's shrug swings her pink-streaked black braids over her mocha shoulders. “She was all acting mysterious when she said to meet here.”
“But why here?” I gesture around the cavernous auditorium, which is not someplace Thorn and I usually hang out. Amerie, on the other hand, thrives on anything to do with theater. She also thrives on punctuality, usually.
“I bet it's about the Singing Star competition. Ever since Amerie volunteered to help with it, she's been totally obsessed.” Rune rolls her kohl-shadowed eyes. “Can you believe she asked me to sign up, even though I can't sing?”
“Your voice doesn't suck but contests do.”
“I told her I'd only do it if I could sing about weird facts.”
“Like the dog wedding,” I say, grinning.
“I'll bring my dog and hum a wedding tune.”
“As your bridesmaid, I'll throw doggie treats instead of flowers.”
“Yum,” she jokes, pantomiming begging like a dog.
“You really are a sick puppy.”
“And proud of it.” Rune tilts her dark head and flashes me a challenging grin. “Gonna sign up?”
“Don't be insane,” I say, sharper than I intend.
“You play a mean guitar and your voice isn't bad either.”
“Messing around my guitar is just for fun. And karaoke is not singing. You swore never to mention my unfortunate lapse in judgment.”
“I'd never tell anyone else, but can't we talk about it? We're alone in here, so no one else can hear. But people should hear you sing and play guitar. You're, like, multiÂtalented. If you entered, you could win.”
“Win what? Public humiliation?” I pick up a napkin from our makeshift lunch table and flick it at her. “No way.”
She catches it and wipes her hands. “Seriously, Thorn, you should do this.”
“Subject dropped.” I shake my head like this is the dumbest thing she's ever said, but she's struck a nerve.
Secret #2: Dreams of Being a Professional Musician.
Music matters more to me than I care to admit. It's like if I speak this dream, it'll shatter and die. Still, sometimes I allow myself to imagine strumming a guitar and performing my own songs in off-the-path caf
s. My blood is infused with rhythm and I only feel whole when I'm lost in a song.
Lately I've even been thinking that maybe â¦ just maybe â¦ I might be good. But I'd never enter a talent show, especially at school, so I say in my firmest tone, “I don't believe in contests.”
“Why not?” Rune's pierced brows rise.
“They're exploitive and unfairly judge people based on biased and subjective opinions. I absolutely refuse to enter. If that's why Amerie asked us to meet us here, I'm gonna be pissed.”
Checking my clock-ring again, I scowl.
Talking about singing and not talking about the letter has me on edge, but there's something else, too. Ever since I walked into this hushed, empty auditorium, I've had a creepy feeling. Like some invisible something is watching. And I can't shake it off, even though it's obvious Rune and I are the only ones here.
I order myself to stop stressing and pull my lunch bag from my backpack (carefully avoiding the letter) and eat my sandwich, chips, and carrot sticks. Lunch is like the only “exhale” part of the school schedule, when I can hang out with my best friends and talk about interesting stuff like tat art, vampirism, music, and theories about how the education system conspires to turn kids into obedient robots. The whole grade system is bogus, forcing unique personalities into A, B, C, D, and F categories. I choose Eâ
none of the above
. Why does any one person have to excel in all subjects? If we were all the same, we'd come in Barbie-sized boxes and have Mattel stamped on our plastic butts.
Fortunately, not all school is brain numbing. I've just come from my lit class where Ms. Chu read from a verse novel about dead mothers. Lit is my only nontorturous class. The rest are so boring, I find myself staring out the window and mouthing words to songs that only I can hear.
I'm startled to actually hear music. But it's very real and coming from Rune's earphones. Rune leans back in her chair; her eyes are closed as she taps her purple-tipped, two-inch-long fingernails to death rock.
She doesn't notice when I turn away, my hand trailing along the metal curve of my chair as my thoughts drift with my gaze. It's weird being on the stage, with its deep blue velvet curtains sweeping off to the sides like wings ready to fly at the sound of applause. Not that I care about applause or acting or anything like that. The closest I've come is helping Amerie run her lines. Where is she, anyway?
Frustrated, I cross the stage and snoop in boxes stacked in a corner. I peek inside one labeled
and find bizarre objects like false teeth with fangs, sequined high heels, a plastic bloody severed hand, and a scraggly black beard woven with plastic spiders. There are also random props against a back wall: a couch with mismatched cushions, a stuffed parrot in a cage, a wooden cane with a tiger's head, and a sarcophagus.
How would it feel to lie inside the sarcophagus?
I think of the insanity level of my life with five siblingsâit would be cool to have my own Egyptian-coffin retreat. Whenever I needed alone time, I'd climb inside and shut out the world until there was only silence. Except it would be cramped and stuffy and I might get claustrophobic.
Sucking in a deep breath, I turn back toward Rune. I take a few steps, then stop when I notice a circle of metal chairs, most facing in but several tilted at odd angles like a meeting had ended abruptly.
Golden light glints from one of the chairs.
A compelling feeling steals over me. Rushing wind roars in my head, making everything spin. Whirling, I'm losing myself. Something else is taking over.
Psychedelic colors explode around me as if I'm the nucleus of a wild storm. I struggle for control, but it's like being strapped in on a dizzying roller-coaster ride. I'm powerless and know there's no course except to surrender, because this has happened beforeâalthough never with such intensity.
I ride a wave of urgency, moving forward, stretching out my arm, reaching for an unknown something I must possess. My fingers curl around a necklace. A heart-shaped golden pendant the size of a quarter hangs on a black shoelace. It's shiny and tacky. Yet I can't resist clasping the pendant to my chest with a reverent, loving touch.
My touch changes everything.
I'm aware of being at school, yet I'm somewhere else, tooâa night world where chilly wind bites my skin and sets me shivering. It's like being trapped inside a dream. Terrifying darkness surrounds me and I smell wild grasses and damp dirt. The only lights are far above, twinkling stars filtered by ominous clouds. Unseen forest creatures rustle around me, whispering in a conspiracy with shadowy trees. And a shrill cry like a dying animal pierces the night.
, I tell myself. I'm not in the woods and it isn't night. There are no wild animals. I'm in the school auditorium in the middle of the day and none of this is happening.
As if my words summon power, I really am back at school.
I blink fast, confused and breathing heavily as if I've just run around the two-mile school track. I look down at my hand and see the necklace. I don't want it, but know it wants me. I glance over at Rune, who's still swaying with her headphones. She hasn't noticed anything.
Only seconds have passed, in a prophetic eclipse that only I could see.
Yet I'm not afraid. I've always had this freakish talent, and each experience is different. Sometimes I choose to touch the objects, and other times, like now, they choose me.
Secret #3: Psychometry.
I'm a Finder.