Publication date: March 2013
Genre: YA Paranormal
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/hells-hollow-summer-stone/1114839279?ean=2940016355757
As I tried to hug Gran, she jumped to the ground and twirled around. “Did anybody follow you in here?” She closed the door and pushed her chair up behind it. “They’ll be coming for me,” she whispered, sounding scared and certain.
“Mother,” my mom cooed. “No one is coming for you. Come sit down and tell me why MK is passed out like this in the middle of the day.” I didn’t know how she stayed calm with Gran acting so crazy. The room felt hot and too small. Besides the two beds and Gran’s chair, there was only room for the dresser with the TV and radio on top and a decaying brown recliner.
“This,” Gran explained, “is what happens when you follow along. Pills go in, MK goes down. They’re trying to control us. Are you sure there wasn’t anyone behind you? They’ll be after me again. It’s that Johnny Rocket fella. He’s a bruiser. Did you see him in the hall?” She peeked behind the curtain. “I don’t know if I can take him down on my own. Why do you leave me with him when you know he wants to axe me?”
“Mother, try to focus. What about your pills?” Mom asked her.
Gran pointed at MK with a look that said something along the lines of she took them and I had nothing to do with it.
“Oh, Mother!” Mom stood up and turned to me. “I’m going to talk to the nurses. Looks like MK has been getting both of their doses again.” She glared at Gran. “Keep an eye on her, Seraphina.”
“An eye? An eye?” Gran called out, backing up against the wall as if I was about to peg her with an eyeball. “You keep your eyes to yourself, young lady. I’ve got two of my own and I don’t need any more thank you very much. I once knew a man in San Francisco who could take his eyeball out at will. Made a horrible sucking noise when he smushed it back in, like the sound of the bathtub emptying. Dangerous places bathtubs. I don’t fancy them myself. Fancy is as fancy does, so don’t go getting up on your high horse. Your horse, your horse, of course, of course.”
“It’s okay, Gran,” I promised, trying to unknot my stomach muscles and calm her at the same time. “My eyes are staying in my head.”
“Damn straight they are,” she mumbled, squinting her own at me like she didn’t trust me. “Straight as an arrow on a hot tin roof.” She pushed the chair under the doorknob.
I sat on her bed. “Can I ask you something?” It seemed hopeless given how out of it she was, but I had to at least try, besides maybe it would bring her around.
“Depends. Who told you to ask?”
“Just me. I was wondering about your sensitivity.”
“We don’t talk about that,” Gran parroted. “No siree, your mom says we don’t talk about that. Bad things could happen. We could bring down the apocalypse like the horsemen in colors of finery of the finest fine. Just like pine. Do you smell peppermint? Is it Christmastime?”
“No, Gran. There’s no peppermint. Listen, Mom’s out with the nurses,” I said. “She won’t talk about it with me, the sensitivity stuff. Come on, Gran, please?” Hope was trickling away. Some days she seemed so with it, so almost normal, and then some days were like this, where she couldn’t string together a complete thought.
“All right, quick then, what do you need to know?” She sat down practically on top of me, her head swiveling toward the door and back to the window.
“Is there a way to … you know, keep it from making you… I mean, is there some way to control it, to protect myself? Like, is it possible to… give in to it and still stay sane?” I couldn’t believe I’d actually thought it, much less said it out loud.
“Lordy be, if I’d figured that out I wouldn’t be in this joint. But there’s gotta be a way. They’re keeping it from us so we all end up in here with the crazies. It’s mind control. That’s why I won’t let them cut my hair. It’s a terrible waste. My locks protect me from those radio waves Johnny Rocket keeps sending. He thinks he can make me do whatever he damn well pleases. But I’m on to him. Don’t you end up in this trap, you hear me? It’s beastly. Of mice and men. Scattered on the shores like so much garbage. You figure out how to block those radio signals, then come back and spring us. All right?”
I could almost feel the wildness of her thoughts, like a storm wind, reckless and raging.
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