TITLE: THE TASTE OF LIGHTNING
GENRE: YA Contemporary Fantasy
Seventeen-year-old Pia Xun is so over being called spoiled brat and ching chong and psycho stalker. That last one’s thanks to the deity living in her body, who insists she follow around stupid Lauchlan McCrea for his protection or whatever. But when she learns what happens when Lauchlan's gone, she finally starts to take things seriously, nicknames be damned. Because Hell on Earth? Kind of a big deal.
I was standing in the newsagency pretending to browse a stack of glossy magazines when this middle-aged woman wandered up to me.
“Hello,” she said, loud and slow. “Can you –” she pointed at me, “– please help me?” She pointed at herself.
Possibly a few k’s short of a marathon.
I gave her my most patient smile. When she was sure she had my attention, she gestured out to the city street. People hurried past, not bothering to wait for the crosswalk signals as they ducked between cars and buses, their business outfits and school uniforms already sticky from the Australian summer heat. The scent of pastries and coffee wafted from the adjoining café, where Lauchy was downing an iced coffee with his precious posse. Dear old Metal Mouth was the reason I was stuck here this morning thumbing through magazines rather than lounging in bed.
“Can you tell me how to get to Raine Square?” the lady said. Still loud. Still slow. She was drawing attention. Soon Lauchy and his friends would notice me, and if that happened I would never shake the “psycho stalker” tag.
I set down my magazines and took her outside. “It’s a bit of a walk.” Didn’t think she got most of the instructions, but I tried anyway.
She beamed. “Thank you.” This time she spoke normally. “I didn’t realise you’d be so good at English until you opened your mouth.”
What the actual hell?