This is a YA novel I titled ‘Storm’. Here’s the Hook and my first chapter. If anyone gets a chance to read through it, let me know what you think.
The FBI blackmailed Storm Crandall, but only after Storm hacked their database. At sixteen, she’s under cover at a high school, looking for clues involving five missing girls. Besides computer skills, Storm has game in the magic department. A sect of the
With two FBI agents posing as her parents in the city of
Storm’s FBI handlers discover their young charge can do more than type fast. Their first encounter with the creature behind the disappearances shows the agents they need Storm for far more than information gathering as a high school spy.
Teaming up with an enigmatic young man attending classes with her, Storm begins unraveling a horror no one anticipated. When the case morphs from serial kidnapping into a supernatural witch hunt, Storm and her friends, under the guidance of the FBI agents, scramble to stay alive while tracking down monsters, both human and inhuman.
She shoved her hands deeper into trench-coat pockets too shallow of depth for her wrists, shivering as an early fall breeze instantly induced visions complete with motherly reminders to dress warm. She hadn’t. Rounding the corner, with her book-bag shifting uncomfortably against the small of her back, she glanced up in time to see three of
“Hey, Secret Squirrel, what’s the mission today?” The young man mocked, leaning down toward her from the right. “Slow down. We’re the
The girl sighed, remembering how she had watched this same welcoming committee bothering other students from the car window. She had been driven to school during the first week since transferring to Warren G. Harding. Instead of continuing with the stalker escort, she came to an abrupt halt.
“My name is Storm Crandall. Can I go now?”
Her three unwanted companions started laughing. Storm noticed all three boys were at least four inches taller than her five foot four height. The one who had spoken to her, with long unruly dark brown hair, sounded shrill when he laughed and looked to be nearly six feet tall. His lean face contorted as he kept repeating her first name. The other two looked like twins. Both wore their sandy hair cut short and their stocky frames made them appear shorter than they actually were. Other kids were streaming by them, anxious to get past and glad someone else was filling in as a before school target.
“You an X-Man, Stormy?” The talkative one asked derisively, moving to block her from going on.
“It’s a hippy thing,” Storm answered with a shrug, used to having her name held up to ridicule and never shy about defending it. “I’m named after my Grandma. She was a flower child until she married my Grandpa when he was in the Marines.”
“It must be the hair, Dave,” one of the twins commented, gesturing at Storm’s hair. “It’s almost white. We thought maybe you’re an albino or somethin’.”
“Nope.” Dave looked into Storm’s eyes. “She’s no albino. Albino’s have pink eyes. Hers are… I don’t know… green or something. Anyway, Stormy, this is Chuck and his brother Marty. I’m Dave. Now we’re all friends. What you have in your bag there, Stormy?”
“Books and a lunch,” Storm answered, trying to edge around Dave. “Look, I don’t want to be late.”
“We have plenty of time, Stormy,” Chuck’s brother, Marty spoke for the first time, running a hand under the book bag strap on her left shoulder. His voice sounded like ground glass, caught in a mode between man and boy, changing tone with every word. “We always inspect new kids’ bags.”
Marty tried to pull the strap down off her shoulder. Storm drove her heel down onto Marty’s instep, causing the boy to fall sideways on the wet sidewalk, gripping his injured foot and howling in pain. Storm used the ensuing confusion to make a run for the school. With Dave and Chuck in avid pursuit, Storm ran around a tall figure standing in her path. As she glanced back, trying to gauge if she would make the school entrance or not, Storm saw the boy she had passed stop Dave and Chuck with only a gesture of his hand. Slowing to a walk, she watched as Dave waved his hand angrily, while yelling something about Marty. In the next instant, the hooded figure she had passed engulfed the waving hand in his own. A moment later Dave was on his knees, twisting in pain. Chuck backed away at a gesture from the boy still gripping Dave’s hand.
A crowd began gathering, watching the event, well away from the action. The boy holding Dave’s hand shook it slightly and then released it. Turning, the taller figure sifted through the crowd as Storm made it to the school entrance. The young man walked quickly toward the school, his head down and hands stuffed inside the pockets of his denim jacket. He looked familiar to Storm, but the warning bell sounded, indicating students had five minutes to reach their first period class. Storm glanced once more at the approaching figure before hurrying off, hoping to make a stop at her locker before first period class.
Distracted by the incident outside, Storm had been able to forget for a moment she was the only supposed sophomore in her first period Physics class. The juniors and seniors sharing the class with her had looked at Storm as if she had a third eye. It struck her then - the reason Storm thought the young man stopping Dave and Chuck had looked familiar. He was in her Physics class. She remembered the denim jacketed figure at the back of her class when she had been forced to introduce herself on the first day of her transfer. Although the figure wearing it had never looked up from his desktop, she remembered the Marine Corps insignia on the jacket from having seen it on the old uniforms of both her Father and Grandfather’s pictures. Passing him on the sidewalk, Storm had noticed the same Marine Corps eagle, globe, and anchor insignia on the left shoulder of his denim jacket.
Hurrying to her locker, Storm felt the first pangs of excitement since being reassigned to
“Who can tell me what this formula means?” Powanda asked, pointing at the first line on the chalkboard.
“Final velocity equals initial velocity plus the product of acceleration and time elapsed,” Storm answered, as Powanda gestured at the only student with a hand in the air.
“Quite right, Ms. Crandall. Now then…” Powanda listed values in a word problem, involving the formula.
Storm could feel enmity rising around her as she quickly noted and solved the problem in her notepad. Again, she was the only one to volunteer the answer. When Powanda asked about the second equation, he had a second volunteer. Storm heard a smooth tenor voice recite the formula definition without hesitation. She turned in time to see the young man in denim finish his answer. His black hair was cut military style, white-walled around the sides and back, with a short patch of black at the top. Burn scars from a point at his lower left eye socket down in a spreading fashion over his cheek bone and jaw stood out in sharp relief to his lean features.
Everyone else studiously refrained from looking back at the speaker. Storm watched him finish reciting with interest, until the young man glanced her way. She met his glance for a long moment before turning her attention to the front slowly, heart pounding inexplicably. A beautiful young woman with coffee colored skin smiled over at her knowingly. Storm thought she looked like the singer, Beyonce.
“That is correct, Mr. Stanfield,” Powanda said, launching into another story problem involving the formula’s use. “I’m going to give you a few minutes and if I don’t see more hands up, I’ll be picking volunteers.”
Storm concentrated on solving Physics equations. The first period passed quickly. As the bell rang indicating the end of first period, Storm gathered up her book and papers and slipped out of her seat lithely. Threading her way through the other students, Storm reached Stanfield’s desk as he stood up.
“Hi, I’m Storm Crandall,” she told the young man with only a slight tremor of tone. “I…I wanted to thank you for helping me this morning.”
Stanfield looked down at Storm appraisingly, a slight grin relieving his grim countenance. He held out his hand. “No problem.
Storm shook his hand, smiling up at him as current raced through her hand and straight into her brain. “I’ll have to come up with a different route from now on.”
“No you won’t,”
“Hey, cool off, jarhead,” an amused voice ordered from behind Storm. “I see that look of foreboding washing over that ugly ass face of yours.”
“We’re in a few classes together,”
“I’m a sophomore,” Storm shrugged. “We have chemistry together next too, don’t we?”
“Powanda refuses to use the curve anyway,”
“Ah… sure,” Storm agreed and a split second later,
“He likes you. He doesn’t like them,”
“Long white blond hair, nice figure, IQ off the charts, he’s hooked,”
“Why’s he like you?”
“Logan and my older brother served together in
“Tha…that’s impossible,” Storm stammered, looking into
“He pulled three guys out of their armored vehicle after a damn supped up IUD went off under them. That’s where he earned the scars, and one of the guys he saved was my brother,”
“Holy crap,” Storm intoned with a gasp of breath. “How’s your brother?”
“TDS? Oh, temp duty station, right?” Storm asked absently, her mind racing from one fact to another. “How the heck could
“Ran away after his fifteenth birthday, forged birth certificate, and forged driver’s license,”
“Wha…what’s he doing here?” Storm began making serious calculations in her head.
“Finishing high school,”
“You mean he wants to go back in?” Storm asked incredulously, sitting down at the front of the classroom with
“You ain’t one of those anti-war, Kum Ba Ya whackos, are you?”
Storm giggled, pushing
“You baby sittin’,
“Why, you need watchin’, Carol?”
“Why not?” The young man who had taken the seat behind Storm replied. “I can use all the help I can get. Smart mouth here is Carol Wangden. The red head is Nancy Alverson on the other side of her. I’m Kevin MacGraff, Storm. I saw
“I watched them hassling other kids last week when I was riding to school,” Storm said, giving the three newcomers a little wave of recognition. “How do they get away with it? In the school I transferred from, they’d have probably been expelled.”
“Dave’s old man is a
“So he’s untouchable?” Storm persisted.
“You ask a lot of questions,” Carol commented, looking at Storm with some annoyance. “You’re a sophomore, right? We shouldn’t even be talking to you.”
“You need the most help in here, Marie Curie,”
“Who’s Marie Curie?” Carol asked in confusion, garnering immediate laughter.
“I rest my case,”
Mrs. Deemer, iron gray hair tied back in a bun, with ankle length print dress covering her rail thin figure, looked around the room with almost an angry stare. She tapped her right hand on her thigh repeatedly as she scoured the classroom, a grim set to her features. Storm had grown used to this repeated formidable opening gambit. It quieted the room without a word. The rather tall middle aged woman instantly knew who was missing without an attendance sheet. As in days past in Mrs. Deemer’s chemistry class, the final bell rang seconds after her mental attendance tally. A pale, lanky young man with unkempt brown hair hurried into the room, slipping into a seat still unoccupied near the door. Mrs. Deemer smiled. It was not an attractive facial expression on her.
“Detention, Mr. Cavanaugh,” Mrs. Deemer called out happily. “That should give you time to do today’s homework paper you didn’t do last night and get a good start on tonight’s assignment. See you after school.”
“But…” Cavanaugh objected, as an undercurrent of light laughter tittered through the room as everyone could tell the young man had not done the day’s assignment. “I…”
“Aye, yi, yi… I know all about it,” Mrs. Deemer finished for him. “Now then, who can tell me the symbol for Neptunium, since all of you were supposed to be memorizing the periodic table since school began? Yes, Storm.”
“Good guess, now the atomic number?”
“93,” Storm answered, smiling at Mrs. Deemer’s insinuation she guessed.
“Hmmm… maybe not a guess,” Mrs. Deemer replied. “Number of neutrons?”
“I wish,” Storm replied, causing a slight stir of amusement amongst her classmates, who had been groaning with each of her answers.
“Let’s go for the bonus round.” Mrs. Deemer nodded. “Melting point?”
“Six hundred and forty degrees Centigrade,” Storm stated after a moment’s hesitation and then added, “sometimes I get the melting and boiling points reversed.”
“I’m afraid, my dear, you will have to remain quiet for the remainder of class so I may put the rest of these less enlightened guppies through their paces,” Mrs. Deemer said, approvingly.
“You’ve been very impressive since transferring in,” Mrs. Deemer told Storm. “I see you’re only a sophomore. Are the sciences an endeavor you wish to pursue?”
“I want to be a forensic pathologist,” Storm answered.
“You wouldn’t be putting an old woman on, would you, my dear?” Mrs. Deemer asked, smiling with a more benign look. “A CSI fan, huh?”
“I know I’m probably too young to know what I’ll end up to be in the job market,” Storm admitted with a shrug. “But with the science mixed in with day to day breakthroughs in technology, I just don’t see any end to the challenges.”
“How are your math scores?”
“Straight A’s so far.”
“Well,” Mrs. Deemer considered thoughtfully. “A young woman with drive and a head for math and science can write her own ticket. If you need any help or guidance, I hope you will think of me. You know my office hours. I have some projects you might be interested in helping me with if you have the time.”
“I’d love to assist you in anything you have in mind,” Storm replied with enthusiasm. “It means a lot to me.”
“I’ve been teaching a long time,” Mrs. Deemer sighed. “It means even more to me. You better get going to your next class. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“I’ll be here,” Storm said happily, quickly gathering her things and speeding up her pace to compensate for lost time. Her next class was World History. While Storm did well in the subject, it held the bottom position on her list of required classes.
“We have history together too,”
“I didn’t even notice you in there,” Storm admitted, smiling up at the much taller
“Yea, I get that a lot,”
The two walked into the class, taking seats in the front center row, with Storm in the first seat and
“With the in crowd already, huh?”
“Just what we need,”
“Are you taking chemistry in another period?” Storm asked, changing the subject and blushing at
“I received permission to take it in summer school at
“I passed the prerequisite exam they gave me,”
“That’s over by Perkins’ Park where all those kids disappeared, isn’t it?” Storm asked, remembering the map she had been shown.
“I’ve only been working at the King since school started. The last disappearance happened the week before I started work there. I stayed with my Grandfather nearer to
“I read they don’t have a clue,” Storm continued casually, as the World History teacher walked by them and took up a position to the front right of Storm.
Mr. Kensington immediately picked up the clipboard from his desk, and began calling out attendance. He looked as if he should have been sitting in the class rather than teaching it. His long light brown hair tied in a ponytail at the back of his neck seemed more an affectation rather than his choice of hair style. Kensington taught as if he was the font of all knowledge in the universe. Although over six feet tall, the extra thirty pounds he carried gave him a baby faced look. Storm knew he had to be in at least his mid twenties but the pouting condescension in his teaching mannerisms suggested an immaturity many years younger.
“We are going to discuss gun control as a world wide thesis, and the United Nations’ highly intentioned goal to take away the right of private firearm ownership,” Kensington stated succinctly. “Many of you will wonder what this has to do with World History. Anyone want to take a stab at what this bold endeavor by the UN would have to do with World History? Yes, ah…
Kensington’s mouth worked for a moment before he was able to speak.
“I…I don’t think you… ah… where did you get that quote?”
“Hitler's Table Talk: His Private Conversations, Second Edition (1973), Pg. 425-426,”
“Yes… ah…” Kensington jotted down some notes. “Don’t you think firearm regulation has legitimate points as per the UN attempt to control… I mean limit… violence?”
“Life is not guided by colloquial quotes,” Kensington chuckled, rolling his eyes. “The Founding Fathers did not mean the Second Amendment to be an excuse for thwarting the government’s attempt to protect us.”
“You asked for comments, Sir, and the quotes I gave reflect my feelings on any attempt to take away our Second Amendment rights,”
There was an undercurrent of approval as Kensington hearing the buzz looked around the room sternly. He turned again to
“You must really feel used then, Mr. Stanfield,” Kensington pointed out with a hint of annoyance in his tone. “Our government sent you off to be maimed in a war based on lies.”
A momentary stillness seeped over the classroom. Storm watched
“We are at war for Western Civilization, Sir,”
Storm thought Kensington looked as if his head would explode. The hand not holding the clipboard clenched into a fist, as vocal agreement in his class was clearly audible.
“You are quite the one with quotes, young man,” Kensington said finally. “Turn to page 127 in your books. We will discuss Greek contributions to Mr. Stanfield’s Western Civilization.”
“I was out of line, calling attention to your injury,” Kensington said quietly.
“No trouble, Mr. Kensington.”
“Yes,” Kensington sighed. “You used them very well. Good day, Mr. Stanfield.”