Authors: Olivia Levez
About the Author
Olivia Levez lives in Worcestershire, where she divides her time between teaching in a secondary school and writing.
is Olivia's debut novel and she is already at work on her second book, which Rock the Boat will publish in spring 2017. She writes mainly in her caravan in West Wales and was inspired by the coast to create the desert island in this book.
You can follow Olivia on Twitter
A Rock the Boat Book
First published by Rock the Boat, an imprint of Oneworld Publications, 2016
This ebook edition published by Rock the Boat, an imprint of Oneworld Publications, 2016
The moral right of Olivia Levez to be identified as the Author of this work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988
All rights reserved
Copyright under Berne Convention
A CIP record for this title is available from the British Library
ISBN 978-1-78074-877-1 (ebook)
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, and events are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
10 Bloomsbury Street
London WC1B 3SR
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For my mother, Judith
They all know what I've done. Of course they do. That's why they leave me well alone.
Hi I'm Rufus!
is fascinated, like I'm some frickin sideshow. You can tell because his eyes are on me every time I look.
I stare boldly at him â
I won't use my freezing power, not yet
â till he flinches away.
So here we all are, on a plane the size of my shoe.
The plane is tracking along the runway at Ptang-Plang Airport, bracing itself for take-off.
Outside there's the shimmer of bluesky and brightlight and palm trees.
Inside is a dog, curled up in its travel bag, panting. Even across the aisle I can smell its breath, warm and stinking in the close air.
Hi I'm Rufus!
has one of those posh voices that owns a room. It cuts through Ella Fitzgerald as she yearns through my earphones.
âPilot's dog,' he's saying.
Lucky me that he's sitting right in front. He twists so that I see the nasty yellow of his TeamSkill shirt that does nothing for his complexion. He's wearing his TeamSkill name badge with its happy rainbow colours.
Rufus reaches a freckled arm over to stroke the dog's head.
âHello, old boy,' he says.
I shoot bolts of ice at him before he flinches away but I've already seen what he's thinking:
It's the monster, the one in the files.
He doesn't give up though; he remembers his TeamSkill training and says, âI like dogs', as the dog beside me pantpantpants.
I glance out of the window, then wish I hadn't. Looks like we're heading straight towards the sea.
I turn down Ella.
âWhy d'you keep looking at me? You some kind of perv?'
I hurt almost without thinking these days.
âDo you have any friends, Fran?' Sally-the-Counsellor's voice, ever calm and ever concerned.
âMy name's Frances,' I say. âOnly people I like call me Fran.'
There were friends once, but they melted away. Things are different now I'm a monster.
That's the first time I've spoken since yesterday.
I'm Medusa Girl. Cold as rock, hard as stone.
Medusa was a monster who turned flesh into stone. A useful skill. I think of all the people I would turn to stone, and whether it's the hate that does it, bleeding out of your head through your eyes and puddling towards people like poison, or whether you shoot out white-rage like a spear of lightning.
I think of Angela with her I-really-care eyes; imagine freezing her so all of her endless questions drop like pebbles through the air.
Angela is my social worker.
She's got one of those voices that goes up at the end of each sentence. It irritates the frick out of me. If only I'd discovered my Medusa powers when we first met, maybe I could have stopped all of this from happening.
At Heathrow she had to have one last go at saving me.
âYou know this is such an opportunity? I mean, an island in the Indian Ocean? Everyone's rooting for you, Frances?'
I watch the other social workers fade away, but not Angela. She still hovers. Holds out her hand.
âWell, goodbye, Frances. Hope you enjoy the experience? Even though it'll be tough?'
When I shove my hands in my pockets she looks disappointed.
I stare at Angela, and she can't hold my gaze; she flinches away. Doesn't stop her talking though.
âFrances, remember what we discussed â before? When you come back, I really think you should visit her. She understands why you did it. She â'
My snakes hiss and spit.
âShut up. Just shut up,' I say.
My gate is called, and I turn to follow the rest of TeamSkill.
âShe's asking to see you?' calls Angela.
I don't look back.
Just then our little plane gives a great lurch and bounces into the air.
Makes my memory snap shut like a book.
Are You Sitting Comfortably?
I clench my fists as the plane curves over palm trees and parked cars and miniature buildings, then veers over the coast into the sea.
Ella Fitzgerald tries to calm me with her caramel voice but it's not working. I grip the armrest because that's going to help. Then I try to focus on the other passengers.
There's Tiny, real name Paul. Fourteen, but looks three years younger. Only clue to his age is the bumfluff that pokes through his zitty chin: those head-phone's he's wearing are bigger than him.
There's Coral, screech-laughing to the boy beside her. When she shifts position, I can see the silver stretch marks on her belly. On her arm is a badly-drawn tattoo of a baby's face.
Next to her is Joker. Sixteen-ish, cap yanked high on the back of his head. He's jiggling his knee, all pent-up fury behind the gags. Like he'd slam your head down on the point of your pencil, Heath Ledger style, if you provoked him. He mutters something to Coral and she screams with laughter, showing her tongue piercing.