TITLE: Monsters of Wintervast Island
GENRE: YA Magical Realism
A ’90s-obsessed gamer girl, still an outsider even to her unlikely group of friends, struggles to find a missing boy on an island where H. P. Lovecraft-esque occurrences are a regular part of the day.
I slid the knife into my skin, cold metal seeking warmth against the snow falling endlessly around me. The scent of my blood spread into the storm, wind-thrown away from me like a fishing lure. I removed the knife, pain not even crossing my mind, and waited.
As if I had summoned it, an equinocus, or snow pony, appeared twenty yards away.
I held my breath, shutting out the chill, and absorbed the sight of it. Someone from the mainland might have marveled, starry-eyed, at the part-horse, part-apparition like it was miracle. But for me, someone who knew the tales of the equinocus, I saw it for what it truly was.
The Fat Man stood beside me, squinting through his facemask until he saw it, too. He muttered into his earpiece, “Snow pony, ten o’ clock from my position. Move in.”
Two ghost-like puffs of breath escaped the equinocus’s nostrils as it watched us. Its powdery ears, seemingly made of fine snow, twitched toward the Fat Man’s gruff voice.
“Earn your pay, girl,” he grunted, raising his rifle loaded with lard-filled bullets. I knew what he wanted, but my legs refused to move. For a moment, we stood at an impasse, none of us breaking the frozen spell.
He jerked the gun barrel toward the equinocus and barked, “Now, Stacie.”
For the money, we need the money, I chanted to myself, shutting down the small voice in my mind that wondered how the Fat Man knew my name.