Charlaine Harris: An Apple for the Creature

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Charlaine Harris An Apple for the Creature
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    An Apple for the Creature
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An Apple for the Creature: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Includes a never-before-published Sookie Stackhouse story! What could be scarier than the first day of school? How about a crash course in the paranormal from Charlaine Harris and Toni L. P. Kelner, editors of Home ? Your worst school nightmares — taking that math test you never studied for, finding yourself naked in school assembly, not knowing which door to enter — will pale in comparison to these thirteen original stories that take academic anxiety to whole new realms. In #1 bestselling author Charlaine Harris's story, "Playing Possum," Sookie Stackhouse brings enough birthday cupcakes for her nephew's entire class but finds she's one short when the angry ex-boyfriend of the school secretary shows up. When her guardian, Kate Daniels, sends her undercover to a school for exceptional children, teenaged Julie learns an all-new definition of "exceptional," in bestselling author Ilona Andrews's "Magic Tests." For those who like fangs with their forensics, bestselling author Nancy Holder offers "VSI," in which FBI agent Claire is tested as never before in a school for Vampire Scene Investigation. And in bestselling author Thomas Sniegoski's "The Bad Hour," Remy Chandler and his dog Marlowe find evil unleashed in an obedience school. You'll need more than an apple to stave off the creatures in these and nine other stories. Remember your first lesson: resistance is fruitless! Includes stories by: ILONA ANDREWS, AMBER BENSON, RHYS BOWEN, MIKE CAREY, CHARLAINE HARRIS, DONALD HARSTAD, STEVE HOCKENSMITH, NANCY HOLDER, FAITH HUNTER, TONI L.P. KELNER, MARJORIE LIU, JONATHAN MABERRY, THOMAS SNIEGOSKI

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An Apple for the Creature

An anthology of stories edited by Charlaine Harris and Toni L P Kelner

For Martin Greenberg:

visionary, raconteur, critic, writer, and idea factory.

Writing never had a better friend than Marty.


Toni and I are absolutely qualified to edit this anthology of creepy school stories. After all, we both went to school for years. Like most creative kids, especially most creative smart kids who read heavily and enjoy learning, we had a bumpy time of it.

As a result, when the idea of a school setting came to us, it seemed a natural. There’s always something happening under the surface in any given classroom. Some kids come from homes the rest of us couldn’t even imagine, some teachers have their own secrets, and there are always dramas, ranging from does-he-like-me? to I-forgot-to-do-my-homework. Toni and I figured there are some dramas that might be a little more out of the ordinary.

We made our list (and checked it twice) of writers who’d give us something interesting, and we have been very happy with the results. Schools and students come in infinite variety, and in An Apple for the Creature you’ll have a chance to run the gamut. Enjoy! Or you’ll get detention.


Playing Possum


A native of the Mississippi Delta, Charlaine Harris has lived her whole life in various southern states. Her first book, a mystery, was published in 1981. After that promising debut, her career meandered along until the success of the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Now all her books are in print, and she is a very happy camper. She is married and has three children.

I counted once. I counted twice. Yes! Twenty-three chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing, liberally decorated with sprinkles. I put the cupcakes, one by one, into the shallow cardboard box I’d begged from the dollar store clerk. Of course I’d lined it with aluminum foil, and of course each little cake was in its own paper cup. A white sugar sprinkle rolled off, and I dropped it back onto the dark icing and gently pressed it down. I tried to ignore the siren song my bed was singing. I was up, and I had to stay up.

I’d been too tired to bake the night before. I’d gotten off work at midnight and had fallen into bed the minute I’d put on my nightshirt and brushed my teeth. Monday nights at Merlotte’s Bar are usually pretty light, and I’d assumed the night before would follow suit. Naturally, since I’d hoped to get off a little early, last night had broken the pattern. Rural northern Louisiana is not a big tourist route, so we didn’t get a whole lot of strangers in Merlotte’s—but members of a Baton Rouge bikers’ club had attended a huge motorcycle jamboree in Arkansas, and on their way home, about twenty of them had stopped to have supper and a few brews at Merlotte’s.

And they’d stayed. And stayed.

I should have appreciated their patronage, since I have a partnership in the bar-slash-restaurant. But I hadn’t been able to stop thinking about those twenty-three cupcakes I had to make, and calculating how long it would take me to mix, bake, and ice them. Then I’d figured how long it would take me to drive to Red Ditch, where my “nephew,” Hunter Savoy, would be celebrating Labor Day with his kindergarten classroom. When I’d finally trudged in my back door, I’d looked at the recipe waiting optimistically on the counter along with the mixing bowl and the dry ingredients. And I’d thought, No way.

So I’d gotten up with the larks to bake cupcakes. I’d showered and dressed and brushed my long blond hair into a ponytail. I’d recounted the little goody bags, and boxed them, too. Now I was on my way; the boxes with the cupcakes and the goody bags carefully positioned on the floorboard of the backseat.

It’s not that long a drive to Red Ditch, but it’s not that easy a drive, either; mostly parish roads through rural areas. Louisiana isn’t exactly known for its up-to-date road maintenance, and there were crumbling shoulders and potholes a-plenty. I saw two deer in time to dodge them, and as I drove slowly on a low-lying two-lane through a bayou there was a big movement in the reeds around its bank . . . big enough to signal “gator.” This would be a fairly rare sighting, so I made a mental note to check out the bank on my way home.

By the time I parked in front of Hunter’s school, I felt like it was already noon, but when I pulled my cell phone from my purse to check, I discovered the digital numbers read 10:03. I had arrived at the time Hunter’s dad, Remy Savoy, had told me the teacher had requested.

The Red Ditch school had once been a combination elementary and middle school. Since parish-wide consolidation, it was only a kindergarten for the children in the immediate area. I parked right in front of the wide sidewalk leading up to the dilapidated double doors. The yard was trimmed, but littered with pinecones and the odd bit of childish debris—a gum wrapper here, a crumpled piece of paper there. The low brown-brick building, clearly built in the sixties and not much changed since then, was quiet in the warm September sun. It was hard to believe the kindergarten was packed full of children.

I stretched, hearing my spine make some little crackling noises. Constantly being on my feet was taking its toll, and I was only in my twenties. Then I shook myself. It was not a day to think about a future of aching knees and feet. It was Hunter’s day.

I couldn’t gather my purse, the cupcakes in their broad, flat box, and the box of goody bags all at the same time. After a moment’s indecision, I decided to take in the cupcakes first, rather than leave them in the warm car. I slung my big purse over one shoulder and lifted the cupcakes with both hands. I’d gotten them this far, and they still looked great. If I could just get them into the school and into the classroom without letting them slide around . . . I made it to the front door and up two shallow steps with no incident. By holding up the box as if I were delivering a pizza, I freed a hand to turn the knob, opening the door enough to use my butt to keep the opening wide enough for me and the box. It was a relief to step inside and lower my burden until I could grasp it with both hands. The door thunked shut behind me, leaving a wide bar of light lancing across the floor. Not exactly tight-fitting.

I’d been in the school before, so I knew the layout. I stood in a sort of lobby, the walls decorated with posters advising kids to wash their hands, to cover their noses with their crooked arms when they sneezed, and to pick up litter. Directly across from the double doors lay the school office. Classroom halls began to the right and to the left of the office, six classrooms on each hall, three to each wall. At the end of these halls were doors going outside to the playground, which was fenced in.

The school office had a big window, waist-high, through which I could see a woman about my age talking on a telephone. The window gave visitors a visual cue that they should check in. This was reinforced by a big sign (ALL VISITORS MUST SIGN THE SHEET IN THE OFFICE!). I knew that the proliferation of messy divorces was responsible for this rule, and though it was a pain, it was at least a half-ass security measure.

I’d had a fantasy that the school secretary would leap up to open the heavy office door, which stood to the left of the window. That didn’t happen, and I managed it myself after a little juggling.

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