Authors: Gitty Daneshvari
In accordance with the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, the scanning, uploading, and electronic sharing of any part of this book without the permission of the publisher constitute unlawful piracy and theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), prior written permission must be obtained by contacting the publisher at [email protected] Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.
In memory of
SCHOOL OF FEAR
The wilderness outside Farmington, Massachusetts
(Exact location withheld for security purposes)
Direct all correspondence to PO Box 333, Farmington, MA 01201
Dear Parental Units,
I write to you today with terrible news, perhaps the worst news ever! Don’t worry—your children are still alive and well. Or perhaps that is a bit of an overstatement; they are definitely still
In an unforeseen turn of events, School of Fear finds itself on the brink of total and utter ruin. Rather regrettably, one of our students (I’m not mentioning any names, but she does have a certain fondness for ferrets) informed tabloid reporter Sylvie Montgomery not only of our existence, but of our deepest secret! And now, with a mere three weeks to stop the publication of the career-annihilating article, your children have chosen to stay on and fight.
So while you may see them simply as your children or, as I once did, as an arachnophobe (Madeleine), a thanatophobe (Theo), an aquaphobe (Garrison), a claustrophobe (Lulu), and an isolophobe (Hyacinth), I assure you they are much more. Regardless of the outcome, they shall return to you different than they came to me a year ago, or even at the start of this very summer, and that is because they
different. They are School of Fearians.
With smudged mascara and a heavy heart, but still very attractive,
EVERYONE’S AFRAID OF SOMETHING:
he end is not the end. And that is certainly not to imply that the end is actually the beginning or the middle, for that would be most inaccurate. The end is simply far more than a completion point or finish line. The end is a call for courage, rallying those ready for the next journey.
Thirteen-year-old Madeleine Masterson was sound asleep, with her raven locks tucked neatly beneath a shower cap and her serene blue eyes sealed tightly to the
world. Only a year earlier, Madeleine had arrived at School of Fear adorned in a netted veil and a belt of repellents, desperate to keep all spiders and creepy crawlers at bay. While the politically savvy London native had shed both the belt and veil after her first summer, there had been quite a relapse as of late. A few days earlier Madeleine had come to blows with a brown and burgundy Balinese spider, culminating in arachnid roadkill on her forehead. The traumatic incident immediately sparked a renewed sense of panic, hence the implementation of the shower cap.
On this particular morning, it was not her usual hallucination of eight sticky feet dancing across her arm that awoke her, but something far more harmless. With her eyes still tightly sealed, Madeleine noticed a pungent scent. It wasn’t that of smoke or any recognizable danger. Thick and musty, the overwhelmingly saccharine odor lingered in both her mouth and nostrils. While Madeleine had always enjoyed the odd sweet, there was something downright nauseating about this smell. Now, if this had been any other day, she would have instantly opened her eyes and satiated her curiosity. But on this
particular morning Madeleine could think of nothing quite as frightening as facing the hours ahead.
“Madeleine,” a familiar voice whispered, warm billows of breath cascading against the young girl’s cheeks.
Having no recourse, Madeleine relented and slowly unlocked her eyes. A mere inch from her face was School of Fear’s eccentric headmistress, Mrs. Wellington. And while some people may look good up close, she certainly was not one of them. Thick layers of makeup sat unflatteringly atop the old woman’s deep and jagged wrinkles, showing her skin to be a most merciless record of time past.
“Good morning, Mrs. Wellington,” Madeleine whispered awkwardly before once again finding her olfactory gland overwhelmed by the stench. “Not to be cheeky, but what on earth is that smell?”
“I’ve never cared much for body odor, so I had Schmidty replace my eccrine glands with marmalade and honey. Lovely, isn’t it?”
“But Schmidty isn’t a doctor!” Madeleine exclaimed.
“No, but he pretended to be one quite frequently as a child.”
“That hardly matters.”
“Shush,” Mrs. Wellington replied. “You’ll wake the others. We haven’t time for idle chitchat; you must meet me in the classroom at once.”
Madeleine looked into the old woman’s face and nodded. There was an understandable urgency in the air as Mrs. Wellington prepared to face her two greatest fears: Abernathy, and losing the school. Far more than an estranged stepson, Abernathy was Mrs. Wellington’s lone failure as a teacher—a truth she could barely admit to herself, let alone to the world.