by Katherine Dell
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Be careful what you wish for.
After moving from Vancouver to isolated Hazelton,
BC, high school senior Rachel Barnes hopes she’ll finally find
closure and a sense of direction after tragedy has torn her family
apart. When she and her friends discover the old spirit box her
grandmother gave her, they see it as a chance to wish their troubles
away. But the Great Spirits—deer, crow, bear, and the mythical
wendigo—give away nothing for free.
So instead of worrying about fitting in and finding a boyfriend, Rachel
finds herself in a race to control the malevolent spirit who’s
taken up residence in Mason Allen, who she fears and craves
in equal measure. What began as a harmless game forces Rachel to
confront her past—and offers her a future she never imagined.
Step into a reality that is not as it seems in Book 1 of the Harmless
I watch as Julie fills the mugs with water and puts them in the microwave. When they’re done, she plunks a tea bag in each and brings them over to the kitchen table. Sitting with a huff, I plunk myself down on a chair. Wrapping my fingers around the steaming cup of tea, I breathe in deeply. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same effect as that mist. My problems are all still here.
“For the tea? No problem.”
“No, for not leaving.” I drown my tea bag with my spoon, pushing it to the bottom. “I just invited people over for some drinks and cards and . . . that happened!” I motion to the box laying open in the living room. “You guys are never going to want to hang out with me again.”
“I wouldn’t say that. Sure, this is probably the strangest thing any of us has ever seen, but we all like you. Hey.” She gives my shoulder a little push. “Don’t frown too much. You’ll give yourself wrinkles. You’re too pretty for wrinkles. On a different note, I guess we know that wishing box works. I can’t wait for mine to come true. Could you imagine?”
“Why? What did you wish for?”
“For a new community center,” she says. “One with a gym, and a games room, and a place to take classes and work out and stuff. I’ve been on the committee at school for it for, like, two years. It doesn’t seem like it’s ever going to happen.”
I know the project she’s talking about. My grams dragged me to a craft sale at the community center once. The building looks like it’s made entirely out of school portables, like a patchwork quilt. The town has been raising funds for years to build a new one. It’s just one of the many projects Julie gets involved in around here. That’s why she’s a lifer. She loves this town. She’s never going to leave it.
Julie’s watching me over the rim of her cup. “So what was your wish?”
I let the waiting air in my lungs huff out. “I wished that . . . that I knew what I wanted, and that I’d find it here in Hazelton.” Saying it out loud doesn’t sound as awesome as it did in my head. The look on her face makes me wonder if my best friend just found out what a nut bar I really am.
“I like it,” she says finally. “I hope you find whatever it is you’re looking for too.” She sounds convincing. Thank God. I don’t know what I’d do without my rock.
“Do you want me to call my mom and ask her if I can stay over? Or you could come stay at my place if you’re too creeped out to stay here alone.”
She knows what I’m thinking without me saying a word. “It’s okay. I’ll be fine.” I’ll be no more screwed up than I already am.
“Okay. I’ll at least help you clean up a bit.” She puts her mug in the sink before going to the living room. I see her hesitate for a second before bending down to sweep the carved animal pieces back into the box. “The wendigo piece isn’t here.”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s probably under the couch. I’ll find it later.” Maybe it’s best if no one else but me touches the box from now on. “Do you want me to take you home?”
It takes only ten minutes to drive from my place to Julie’s. Surprisingly, I feel relieved to be driving home alone. I hear my thoughts better this way, just me and the dark of the night. The moon is almost full, but its light barely touches the blackness out here.
Julie’s place is a bit out of town, and on this road there aren’t any streetlights—or houses. A heavy fog hugs the ground. It’s hypnotic, swirling in my headlights as I drive. What happened tonight? There must be some explanation for those orb lights and those terrible sounds that came from the box.
The fog swirls on the road. The fog swirls in my mind.
I feel my body tense before I even know what I’m doing, and I see something ahead on the road. My knuckles turn white on the steering wheel. My foot hits the brake. I brace myself, but it’s too late to stop before I hit it. I have two choices: either hit whatever’s blocking my path head on—or hit the ditch.
The fog is thick. The road is slick. The tires are screeching.
I swerve. I miss it. And that’s when I finally see its full outline. Standing in the middle of the road, silent and still, is a massive, snow white deer.
Katherine Dell is a young adult fiction author fascinated by the supernatural
and the stories that surround them. She began her writing endeavours
in 2011 when she wanted to reinvent herself from her previous career
as an event planner. When she’s not writing, she can be found in
cold hockey arenas sipping coffee, working on her tan at little
league games, or trying to keep her dog out of her many gardens. She
lives with her husband, two boys, and fur babies, in Calgary,
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