Louise Bohmer & K.H. Koehler
About: In ANTI-HEROES BOOK III: HALF LIFE Jinx makes plans to revive the League of Extreme Evil, Serena finds an unexpected ally among the Supers, and a whole new mystery opens up when the Geeks cross the dimensional boundaries into Witch World.
The trailer was dark and seemingly quiet when Jinx got back to it. He hoped that Martin or Marvin had left and his mom had gone to bed. He couldn’t remember the guy’s name, only that he was an exterminator and Mom started banging him about a half hour after she’d called him to rid the kitchen of a particularly nasty carpenter ant infestation.
He didn’t want to have to deal with either of them tonight. He’d flunked his history exam, the Homecoming dance was coming up that weekend (not that he had a date or anything; he never did), and Serena was still pissed at him and refused to even speak to him in the halls of the school. His week couldn’t get any worse.
Except, of course, it could. The moment he slammed through the trailer door, he could hear them going at it in Mom’s bedroom. He checked the refrigerator and then the microwave for leftovers, but both were empty. He then went to his bedroom, slammed the door as hard as he could to indicate he was home, and lay down on his cot, pulling a ragged pillow over his head to cut the banging noises coming from the next room.
About ten minutes later, he heard his mom scream bloody murder. Springing to his feet, Jinx raced for her room, pulling open the door.
His mom lay on her cot with Martin or Marvin pinning her to the thin mattress, his big hand around her throat as he slowly strangled the breath out of her. He was calling her a slut and a bitch, and Jinx briefly wondered what she had done or said to garner this kind of rage, not that it mattered.
“Get off of her!” Jinx roared as his temper flared.
Martin or Marvin turned to glare at him with bloodshot eyes that didn’t focus correctly. “Get the hell out of here, kid,” he sputtered, and the fumes on his breath rivaled his mom’s.
Something ignited in Jinx then, something dangerous. He took a step forward as if propelled by rage alone. “No,” he growled, and he knew, just knew, that his eyes were as red as rubies in the dark. “You get the hell out of here!” And he pointed at the man.
The back of Martin or Marvin’s blue work shirt burst into flame and the man leaped from the bed. He started running in circles around Mom’s room. Giving a squeak of horror and surprise, Mom jumped from bed and started beating out Marvin’s fire—Jinx had caught the name on the front of his work shirt when the man had briefly turned toward him. She beat at him with a ancient pillowcase until it was out and the room was full of choking smoke. Marvin dropped to the worn green rug, moaning, his shirt a ragged black, burned mass.
“What did you do?” Mom screamed deliriously at him, her mascara running down her pale, thin face. “What did you do, you freak?”
“I was trying to help you!” he screamed back, fighting off tears.
“Get out! Get out of here! You’re as bad as your father!” his mom continued to wail as she checked the damage on Marvin’s back.
Jinx thought about responding to that, but it was useless. All of it. Useless. And he wouldn’t cry. Not in front of her. Not in front of anybody. He reminded himself that no good deed goes unpunished.
He turned and stormed out of the trailer. Isaac usually left their tree house open and he could get at least a few hours of uninterrupted sleep there.
Homecoming was its usual drab affair at Sky City High. Once, in the long ago past, it had been reserved for the return of school alumni, or the triumphant return of the Sky City Sharks from their state tours, but Sky City being what it was—the home of America’s greatest and most celebrated superheroes—it had been relegated to another holiday of hero-worship.
At least, that’s what Serena had heard from Nikki and Isaac. She didn’t hear it from Jinx, because she still wasn’t talking to him.
She stood at the far end of the gymnasium, which was decked out in paper flowers and streamers, near the refreshment tables. She wouldn’t have been there at all if Aunt Macy wasn’t catering the affair. She had made the mistake of mentioning the Homecoming dance three weeks ago, during breakfast one morning. Aunt Macy had immediately perked up. Serena knew Aunt Macy was desperately trying to find a way to help her transition into her new life here in Sky City.
Later that day, as she was coming out of school, she spotted Aunt Macy’s catering SUV in the parking lot, waiting for her. Since she normally took the bus home, she was naturally curious.
“I talked to your principal. Mr. Snodgrass?”
“We call him Snotgrass,” Serena helpfully informed Aunty Macy as she slid into the passenger side of the SUV.
Aunt Macy laughed. “Yeah, him. With the tweed and those awful glasses. I talked to him and he agreed to let me cater the Homecoming dance. Isn’t that nice?”
Serena had wanted to groan and roll her eyes, but she restrained herself. The last thing she needed, especially with all the shit that was going on at school, was her aunt meddling and bringing attention to herself. On the other hand, she knew Aunt Macy needed this. She’d been desperately trying to find a way to help Serena with something—homework, class projects, whatever. Maybe, she thought, if I let her do this one thing, she’ll back off the rest of the year. After all, she knew how sensitive parents were, how they had to be handled with kid gloves or you could wind up hurting their feelings and their egos.
Except her mom, of course. Her mom hadn’t been like other parents. Growing up, Serena and her mom had been more like sisters than mother and daughter. If Serena wanted to cheat on a test or stay out late on a school night, her mom never batted an eyelash. Her mom even taught her spells and how to control her Grey magic. How great was that? The only rule she insisted that Serena live by was to never, ever get caught doing anything wrong.
But that’s because she was a supervillain, once, she reminded herself. Her mom had been nice. But, of course, her mom had no scruples. That was to be expected.
Aunt Macy was different. Aunt Macy was a Norm. She was a good person in over her head. Serena had to remember that.
So Serena had even gone so far as to help Aunt Macy with the catering, which was good. It kept her busy and she was able to avoid talking to anyone at the dance, aside from Nikki and Isaac, who had spent most of the evening huddled around her. All three of them might be miserable and dateless, but at least they could be miserable and dateless together. Aunt Macy said they were too cute together and she was happy Serena was making nice friends at school. Serena didn’t bother to correct her on the nice part, or the fact that not one among them was a Norm, or even fully human.