• Andrea Anderson



It’s Monday, and that means it’s Brandon's turn to wade through Freddy’s archaic, glitter-glue spackled, bullshit chore chart. The sun is out—crisp and round and electric and a million, a billion, a trillion miles away—and the silence cloaking the school, the grounds, the atmosphere; it’s absolute. Suffocating. Unnatural and unexplainable, like time isn’t really passing, like they’re all trapped in a giant alien snow globe, just waiting for the fucking asteroid to hit.

For the glass to break.

The world hasn’t literally shrunk. Brandon knows that. It’s the same size as it always was, just as vast and disappointing and multilayered, multitextured—but it’s so much smaller. Sharper. Narrower. Occasionally, he finds himself digging out his old history textbooks, flipping to the maps in the back that used to seem so stupid, that used to seem so impossible—like, fuck the flat-earthers, how did they manage to get the general shape of Florida so glaringly, obviously wrong? How did they look out at the ocean, out at that endless, shimmering, panoramic horizon, and decide that their best course of action was to conquer it? To build a boat, resign themselves to scurvy, and jump headfirst into shark-infested waters? Into danger? That’s all exploring really is; getting lost on purpose.

Brandon wonders, not for the first time, if that isn’t the fucking point.

Routine is important. Allegedly. Psychologically. It’s six in the morning. He’s going to scrub the sleep out of his eyes and stumble into the nearest shower—he’ll brush his teeth, take a piss, maybe jerk off, even if it feels weird to think about sex now. There’s no more internet, no more easily accessible porn, no more hyper-unrealistic fantasies of slutty cheerleaders or Calvin Klein billboard models or Armie Hammer’s huge, ridiculous hands dwarfing that skinny dark-haired kid’s waist in the big gay peach movie—there’s just Duncan, who’s straight, and Lila, who isn’t, and Natalie, who’s too sweet, too bubbly, too gratingly eager to please.

And Freddy.

There’s always Freddy.

Freddy, who’s so off-limits that he might as well be mummy-wrapped in caution tape. DO NOT TOUCH. HANDLE WITH CARE. HAZARDOUS MATERIALS INSIDE. Brandon wishes those warnings could be a little less descriptive and a lot more sarcastic—something like “been there, done that,” except no, he definitely hasn’t been there, and no, he definitely hasn’t done that. All those coming-of-age stories about sullen, nerdy teenagers learning how to fall in love and be nice to their parents and figure out precisely what they want, exactly who they want; they never take into account how much shittier it is, actually, infinitely, to already fucking know.

There’s a decent joke in there somewhere.

Brandon suspects he might be the punchline.

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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