• Andrea Anderson



Natalie knows she’s a liability.

She’s not big and strong and fast, not like Duncan, and she’s not ruthless and clever and sneaky, not like Lila, and she’s not brash and brave like Brandon or sharp and smart like Freddy – and she’s never going to be. It isn’t in her DNA. She’s just not built for it.

She’s soft.

She’s fragile.

She can scream, and she can run, and she can look up at the sky and not see any birds and think, with an uncanny, almost daring amount of confidence, that something isn’t quite right. Something else is going on. It isn’t just the birds, though. It’s all the dust in the library, heavy and thick, and it’s all the mildewed water stains ballooning across the bathroom ceilings, tea-colored, shapeless, and it’s the faded stack of Twelfth Night notes in her English binder that look like hers at first glance but aren’t hers, can’t be hers, because she doesn’t dot her i’s with little hearts anymore and hasn’t done since the sixth freaking grade – it’s the geese that should be flying south by now and the finches that should be building their winter nests in the trees by now; but aren’t. The weather is getting colder, crisper, bleaker, and the air is weighed down by all the silence.

She isn’t big.

She isn’t strong.

She isn’t fast or ruthless or clever or brave – but what she is, other than soft, other than fragile, other than a butter-bred silver-spooned liability –

She’s observant.

She’s aware.

She’s the only one who seems to realize there’s so much more to be frightened of than what’s standing right in front of them, hiding in town, corralled in the stupid 4-H barn, and she isn’t sure how to explain that. Or if it’s even safe to. Or if she even should. Not because they might not believe her – they would – but because they might draw the wrong conclusions.

For example: she’s almost positive that they’re the outsiders. The interlopers.

That they’re the ones who shouldn’t be here.

SCREAMERS is a Young Adult horror/fantasy novel that I'll be finishing a first draft of for NaNoWriMo this year. It features a motley crew of irreverent teenagers, several reminders that the concept of "survival" is always relative, and a century-old murder mystery that ultimately matters a lot more to the story than the zombies do. I will be posting six character intros prior to November 1st, as well as a weekly excerpt/progress update once NaNoWriMo begins. Thanks for reading!

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