Just back from rehab, Casey regrets letting her friends Shana, Julie, and Aya talk her into coming to Survive the Night, an all-night, underground rave in a New York City subway tunnel. Surrounded by frightening drugs and menacing strangers, Casey doesn’t think Survive the Night could get any worse...
...until she comes across Julie’s mutilated body in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Casey thought she was just off with some guy—no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music. And by the time they get back to the party, everyone is gone.
Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subway tunnels, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them they’re not alone.
They’re being hunted.
Trapped underground with someone—or something—out to get them, Casey can’t help but listen to Aya’s terrified refrain: “We’re all gonna die down here.”
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|Publisher:||Penguin Young Readers Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
DEAD PEOPLE DON’T REALLY LOOK LIKE THEY’RE sleeping.
I’m not an expert. I’ve only seen the one. She was my roommate at Mountainside Gardens Rehabilitation Center. Rachel, only she pronounced her name Rock-el. I used to say it wrong on purpose.
Rachel was a boozehound. I had to dump all my perfume because the nurses said she’d drink it once withdrawal set in. I thought they were full of it, but then Rachel found out this girl down the hall had nail polish remover. She snuck out one night and stole it.
I found her in our bathroom, slumped next to the toilet. Sweat drenched her bleached-blond hair, making it clump around her hollowed-out cheeks and blue-tinted face. Skinny red veins spiderwebbed over the whites of her eyes, and blood and snot dripped from her nose. Dried vomit clung to her chin and her cracked purple lips.
I didn’t tell anyone outside of the clinic about Rachel. Not my parents. Not even Shana.
I also didn’t tell anyone back home about Moira, who ate her own hair, or Cara, who screamed whenever you touched her, or Tori Anne, who begged for drugs even though all her teeth were rotting out of her skull. You can’t tell people stories like that without giving them ideas.
Like, That’s really fucked up.
Or, What were you even doing there?
Or, Maybe you’re just like them.
• • •
“End of the ,” I say. “Last house on the left.”
Dad pulls our Subaru around the corner, past a wooden sign that reads FLYING EAGLE ESTATES. I press my face against the car window. Identical brick mini mansions spiral off in every direction, all surrounded by lush green grass and towering pine trees. When I was little, I used to think Madison’s neighborhood looked like something out of a fairy tale. We’d spend hours darting across the pristine lawns and hiding behind gnarled old oak trees, pretending to be warrior princesses.
“I remember where Madison lives, Casey,” Dad says. “You used to spend every weekend here.”
I twirl the turtle charm on my necklace. I got it because of my last name, Myrtle, and also because I was going to study them back when I was planning on being a marine biologist. But marine biology means college, so who knows anymore. “You excited to see your friends?” Dad asks.
“Sure.” I stretch the word into two syllables. How excited can you be to see “parent-approved” friends? I mean, really? Dad shoots me a look. “I am,” I add, flashing my “normal teenage girl” smile. “Really.”
Dad nods, but he doesn’t look convinced. We have the same face: long, straight nose, stubby chin. We even have the same dark eyes and thick brows that tell the world exactly what we’re thinking at every moment. Right now, his brows pinch in at the middle, creating tiny worry lines on his forehead.
I flip down the sun visor and scrutinize my reflection. Pale skin, circles under my eyes, and a fresh zit coming in on my forehead. I should have insisted on a post-rehab makeover.
I push my hair back to check out the freshly shaved side of my head. At least that still looks badass. I stole my dad’s electric razor a couple of days after getting back and buzzed my brown locks. You can’t see it when my hair is down, but Mom freaked anyway. Which was the entire point.
I make a face at my reflection and pinch my pale cheeks. A faint burst of red appears on my skin, then disappears a second later. I sigh and flip the sun visor up.
“Feeling okay?” Dad asks.
Translation: Did the thousands of dollars we spent on Mountainside actually fix you?
“I’m good. This is pie.” Pie’s my word. Kind of like “it’s a piece of cake,” only I used to scarf down these cherry–cream cheese pies my dad made every weekend.
It’s also my classic nonanswer, and I feel guilty the second it’s out of my mouth. “I feel stronger,” I add.
“Well, I guess I’m glad,” Dad says. I reach for the air conditioner and Dad drops his hand on mine before I can pull it away. He squeezes, his eyes still on the road. I let him leave his hand there for a full three seconds before shrugging it off.
We roll up to a white house with forest-green shutters and a wraparound front porch. Madison leans against one of the columns flanking the front door, her long, tan legs stretched out before her. All my old friends and soccer teammates crowd around her, talking and laughing.
It feels stuffy in the Subaru all of a sudden. I switch the air-conditioning off and roll my window down. Dad cuts the steering wheel to the left, pulling up alongside a row of freshly planted yellow tulips. I squirm, uncomfortably, in my seat.
“Something wrong?” Dad asks.
“No,” I say, too fast. It’s a scientific fact that dads don’t understand teenage girl politics. Like how your former best friend might invite you to a sleepover just to be nice, and not because she actually wants to spend the night with the school cautionary tale.
I grab my polka-dot Herschel backpack and push the door open. The smell of tulips overwhelms me. It’s like the way you imagine flowers smell, not how they really smell. Except these do.
Madison turns at the sound of the car door slamming. I step onto her lawn, and her face lights up.
“Casey!” she squeals. “You came!”
She hands her lemonade glass to the girl standing next to her and races across the sloped lawn toward me. Watching her, I feel a phantom twinge of pain in my knee, the injury that started this all. Madison throws her arms around my shoulders, and suddenly all I can see is tan skin and blond hair. She squeezes too tightly, giving me the feeling this hug is more for the girls on the porch and my dad than it is for me. I rock back on my heels.
“Oof,” I groan. She’s not much larger than me, but she works out six times a week and never eats junk food. Her body is all muscle. Life is a contact sport for Madison.
Dad unrolls the car window. “Madison, it’s nice to see you again,” he says. Madison releases me from her strangle-hug. She’s already wearing a pair of polka-dot pajama shorts and a loose-fitting T-shirt. He turns back to me and his eyebrows do the furrowing, worry-line thing again. “You have your cell, right? You’ll call me if you need . . .”
“Anything,” I finish for him. “I know. I will.”
Dad stares at me for a beat too long, a nervous smile on his face. I should feel guilty about that smile. But I’m so tired of everyone looking at me like I’m a bomb about to go off.
I already went off. I’m better now.
Dad rolls his window up, waving one last time as he steers the car away from the curb. I wiggle my fingers at his taillights, halfheartedly.
“There’s lemonade on the porch,” Madison says, looping her arm around my shoulder. “And hummus and stuff.”
She winds her thick blond braid around her finger. The gold “best friends” bracelet I gave her back in sixth grade dangles from her wrist. Something about it makes me sad. Like the strangle-hug made me sad. She’s trying too hard to remind me that we’re friends.
“Do you have Funfetti icing?” I ask, looking away from the bracelet. Funfetti was practically a fifth food group our freshman year.
“Ha,” Madison says, and flicks the pendant on her bracelet. “Is it weird being back?”
“No, it’s pie.” I smooth my hair over the shaved side of my head. Shana said my old haircut didn’t match my personality, but Madison wouldn’t understand. She hasn’t changed her hair since elementary school. “I’m doing good. Great, actually.” I stop walking and lower my voice so the girls on the porch don’t overhear me. “Look, I’m not really a drug addict. My parents overacted. They thought I was, like, shooting heroin into my eyeballs or something.” I laugh, but it’s stilted and awkward. Madison stares at me, frowning.
“Anyway,” I continue, clearing my throat. “I just had a bad reaction to my painkillers.” At least, I think I had a bad reaction to my painkillers. The night I went to rehab is a blank spot on my memory. I don’t remember anything that happened, but Shana told me I passed out, and she said it could have been the pain meds, which is good enough for me. Apparently it happens all the time.
“I wasn’t anything like the girls there,” I finish, thinking of Rachel and Moira and Tori Anne.
Madison wrinkles her nose. She looks skeptical. “Painkillers can be addictive.”
“Hence the rehab,” I say. “And they were prescription, anyway.” My doctor prescribed oxycodone after a girl the size of a Clydesdale slammed into me during a soccer game last year, ruining my knee. “My parents just flipped because I passed out, but my doctor said lots of people have bad reactions. It wasn’t a big deal.”
“I don’t know. I’m not even eating white flour anymore,” Madison says. “I read this article that says it’s basically as addictive as cocaine.”
I tug on my Myrtle necklace. What are you supposed to say to a girl who doesn’t eat bread? That’s not even human.
“Is there rehab for pasta?” I ask. Madison laughs too loudly for my stupid joke and takes the steps to the porch two at a time.
All the girls are already dressed in their pajamas, except for Stacy Donovan, who’s wearing Nike athletic shorts and a neon blue sports bra. I’m pretty sure she was born wearing athletic shorts and a sports bra. She smiles at me when I step onto the porch.
“Cute jeans!” she calls.
“Um, thanks,” I say. A pair of tight, dark-wash jeans with a ripped knee hangs low on my hips, accentuating my long legs and thin waist. I spent all afternoon trying on everything in my closet, and I finally landed on my best jeans and a slouchy black T-shirt.
“Do you want to get changed?” Madison asks. I glance down at my backpack. I brought my matching pj’s with the giant strawberries on them, like I’m twelve.
“I’m good for now.” I dump my backpack on the ground and take the glass of lemonade Madison offers me.
Kiki Charles waves from the porch swing, where she’s sitting with Amanda Rice and a girl from the JV team I don’t recognize. I wave back. Kiki and I used to partner up for early morning sprints, and Amanda always offered to paint my nails blue and yellow—the team colors—on the bus to away games. But that was all pre-injury, pre-Shana, pre-rehab. I barely saw them after I quit the team last year.
Amanda leans forward, balancing her lemonade glass on her knee. “Please tell me you’re taking calc this year,” she says. “Algebra 2 was horrible after you left. Mr. Nelson was up to two puns a day by the end of the year, and I had no one to groan with in the back row.”
“Tragic,” I say, and the corner of my mouth lifts into a smile. Talking about school is the high school girl equivalent of talking about the weather. But it’s still better than the alternative.
“You have no idea,” Amanda says. “Did you know he likes angles, but only to a certain degree? Ooh, and he kept threatening to kick Kevin Thomas out of class if he had another infraction.” She shoots me a disgusted look over the top of her lemonade glass. “Get it? Infraction.”
Madison rolls her eyes. “No one has suffered like you’ve suffered,” she says.
I take a drink of lemonade, grimacing as I swallow. It’s sugar-free. “So.” I clear my throat, shrugging the tension from my shoulders. “What else have I missed?”
“Tuesday’s now sloppy joe day in the cafeteria,” Madison says with mock enthusiasm. “And Sean Davenport’s dating Clare Ryan this week, so that’s . . . special.”
I frown, trying to picture our high school quarterback with Clare, the drama weirdo who wears a beret to school every day. “What happened to Sarah?”
“Sarah’s a born-again Christian now,” Kiki explains, wrinkling her nose. “That’s a whole different drama. Oh, and Sam cut his hair. Have you seen—”
“I’m so behind already,” I say, interrupting her before she can start talking about my ex-boyfriend. Madison slips an arm over my shoulder.
“I went to junior prom with Henry Frank and he spent the entire night making out with Lisa Jones in the third-floor stairwell,” she says.
“Asshole.” I tuck my hair behind my ear, flashing her a smile. I know she’s trying to steer the conversation away from Sam, and I feel a rush of gratitude. It’s almost like old times. Like in fifth grade when this girl in the cafeteria made fun of me for getting ketchup on my white tank top, and Madison retaliated by dumping a carton of chocolate milk over her head.
Then Amanda Rice leans forward, wrinkling her nose. “Did you shave your head?” she asks.
Shit. I push my fingers through my hair and touch the buzzed sides of my head. It feels like peach fuzz. “Not exactly.”
“Did you do it in rehab?” Amanda asks. Madison shoots her a look—her “we talked about this” look. Which means they must’ve had an entire conversation about me before I even got here.
I look down at the ice melting in my lemonade glass, trying to ignore the heat climbing up the back of my neck. I imagine Madison telling them not to ask me about rehab. Madison saying they should pretend everything’s normal. That we’re all still friends.
“It was just a question,” Amanda mutters.
I smooth my hair over my ears. “I didn’t do it in rehab.”
“It looks, um, really different,” Madison says in a fake cheery voice. “But whatever, right? It’s just hair. It’ll grow back.”
“Yeah.” I fumble with Myrtle and look down at my shoes. You should be allowed to scream in public whenever a conversation gets really awkward. And then time could reset itself and you get a do-over.
But I can’t scream without everyone thinking I’m a crazy junkie, so I pinch the skin on my palm and stare at the mole in the middle of Amanda’s forehead. She’s still talking but her voice sounds like static. All I hear is a low buzz as she drones on.
The sound of a motor cuts through the hum. I turn to watch a rusty sky-blue Buick rumble up the street. I grin, recognizing Shana’s car immediately. She inherited it when her grandmother got too old to drive. Her grandmother’s CHASTITY IS FOR LOVERS sticker still decorates the back bumper, but Shana scratched out “lovers” with her keys and carved “fuckers” into the paint next to it. She left her grandmother’s rosaries dangling from the rearview mirror but hot-glued the head of her little sister’s My Little Pony to the car antenna.
Shana pulls up next to the curb, and the little horsey head wobbles above the car like crazy. Obnoxiously loud rock music drifts out of her cracked windows. Julie fills her cheeks with air and presses her lips against the back window. Aya sits next to her, eyes squeezed shut as she croons along with the music.
“Oy, Case!” Shana hollers. She honks, twice. “Get that cute little ass down here!”
The soccer girls go silent. Madison frowns.
“Are they drunk?” she asks.
“No,” I say, although they probably are. Julie fogs up the back window with her breath and draws a penis in the steam. She doubles over with laughter. I start to smile, too, then bite my lip when I see the look on Madison’s face.
“What are they doing here?”
“I don’t know,” I say. I really don’t. I haven’t seen Shana since getting back from rehab. She must’ve called my house to figure out where I was.
“Casey!” Shana lays on her horn. Without realizing I’m doing it, I pull my backpack up over my shoulder.
Madison freezes, a carrotful of hummus halfway to her mouth. “Wait, are you leaving with them?”
“I . . .” I hesitate.
The thing is, I never worry that Shana talks about me behind my back. If she had something to say, she’d say it to my face. And Shana would never invite me out just to be nice. Shana repels “nice” like water repels oil. She’s the antithesis of nice. She’s real.
I glance back at her car. She stares at me from the front seat, one eyebrow cocked. Like a dare.
“I’m sorry,” I finish lamely.
“Whatever.” Madison picks up her lemonade, shaking the ice at the bottom of the glass. The best friend charm glints on her wrist.
“The next time you have a sleepover . . .” I start, but Madison snorts and gives me a look that’s pure venom.
“Sorry,” I say again. I set my lemonade glass on the porch railing and start down the steps.
“Casey,” Madison calls. I stop at the edge of her lawn and glance over my shoulder.
Madison stares at Shana’s Buick. For a split second, I see things like she does: the rusted car that could break down at any moment, Shana drumming her hands against the steering wheel. Julie lighting a joint in the backseat.
Madison shifts her eyes back to me. I wind the backpack strap around my fingers, suddenly uncomfortable. I think of Rachel’s puffy face and bloodshot eyes and have to clench my shoulders to keep from visibly cringing. I can’t imagine what Madison sees when she looks at me. Only that I don’t belong on her perfect lawn or in her perfect life. Not anymore.
Madison just shakes her head. “Be safe,” she mutters.
I MET SHANA TWO DAYS AFTER SCREWING UP MY knee. I was slumped in a wheelchair in my hospital room. Alone. A thick cast covered my leg from ankle to mid-thigh, making it stick straight out in front of me.
The Voice blared from the TV mounted on my wall. Madison said she was going to call so we could watch it together, like we always did. But the show had started twenty minutes ago, and she had never called. Something squeaked outside my door. I glanced up and saw Shana watching from the hall.
Everyone at my school knew Shana. They said she had sex with our geometry teacher freshman year. She could get you weed and fake IDs. She skipped more classes than she attended. I’d heard her mom was a nurse at the hospital, but it was the first time I’d actually seen Shana here.
She sat outside my door in a wheelchair she obviously didn’t need, her blue-tipped hair framing a pale, pointed face.
“Want one?” She held out a carton of cigarettes.
“We’re in a hospital,” I said.
“Oh. Right.” She slid a thin black cigarette out of the pack and placed it between her lips. “Christ, what are you watching?”
“Something crappy.” I only said it because I was pissed at Madison, and The Voice was her favorite show. But Shana smiled.
“Complete crap,” she said. “This show is the crap that crap craps out.”
I laughed. It was the first time I’d laughed all day. “I guess,” I said. “It’s not like I have anything better to do.”
“Bullshit,” she said, shaking her head. “Follow me.”
She wheeled away without another word, chair squeaking. You know that story about the guy who plays his flute and all the kids follow him out of the city? That’s how I felt. Like if I didn’t follow Shana, everything would change. Or nothing would.
I wheeled after her, down the hall and out the back door, to a grassy stretch next to the dumpsters. I expected her to pull out a joint and offer me a hit.
Instead, she rolled to the edge of a hill. She glanced over her shoulder at me and wiggled her eyebrows.
“Look,” she said. “No hands.”
She launched herself down, lifting her arms high above her head. The wind distorted her scream, turning it feral. It blew her hair back in a rippling sheet of blue and blond. And then she was rattling down the hill. Her laughter bubbled above her, hanging in the air long after she disappeared.
I followed her to the edge, my heart pounding. I wanted everything she had—the hair, the laugh, the scream that sounded half wild. I launched myself over the side of the hill with a single push. A scream ripped from my throat and it sounded almost, but not quite, like hers.
My wheelchair rattled beneath me, threatening to fall apart. My stomach plunged and the wind made my eyes water. Adrenaline charged through my body, but then it was over, and I was rolling to a stop next to Shana. A wide smile cut across my face.
More, I thought.
Shana looked back at me, eyes glinting. “Tell me you didn’t love that,” she said.
• • •
I hurry away from Madison’s house, trying to ignore the whispers that erupt behind me as soon as I’m out of earshot. This will be all over school on Monday. Not that it matters. Rehab did a pretty good job of destroying my reputation already.
I pull open the door to Shana’s rusty Buick.
“Hey, slut,” Shana says, winking at me. Platinum blond hair frames her face, but now the tips are dyed bright pink instead of blue. Thick eyeliner circles her eyes. I can’t help smiling as I slide into her car. It doesn’t really matter what Madison and the rest of my old soccer friends think about me. Shana makes them look like little kids.
“Bitch,” I say, and Shana’s lips curl into an amused smirk. They’re slathered with pink lipstick the same shade as her hair.
“Rehab made you feisty,” she says, wrinkling her nose at me.
I brush an empty Funyuns bag off the passenger seat and pull the door shut. Madison and the rest of my old friends watch from her porch. I turn away from them, heat climbing up my neck.
“Let’s go,” I say. “They’re staring.”
“Because they’re jealous.” Shana’s voice is always a shock the first few times you hear it. It’s deep and gravelly—the voice of a forty-year-old smoker, not a high school girl. She’s talked her way into bars and clubs all across Philly. Which is insane, since she’s a tiny pixie of a human being. Underneath all the makeup, she looks like she’s thirteen years old.
“Don’t you realize how hot we are?” Shana says. I roll my eyes, but her words loosen something in my chest. It’s the way she says we. The way she thinks I’m more like her than I am like Madison.
She pulls away from the curb, blowing Madison a kiss as we roll past her house. She says, “I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say we could get the entire state of Pennsylvania to bow down and worship us.”
I twist around to face the back. “Hey, guys!”
“Stop. Too much energy.” Julie yawns. She’s stretched across the backseat, a bare foot propped against Aya’s leg. Her bushy mane of hair falls past her hips. Only one eye peeks out beneath the crazy curls.
“Sorry!” I grin, tapping my fists against the back of my seat. All the nerves and anxiety I felt walking up the stairs to Madison’s porch have disappeared. I feel relaxed for the first time since leaving Mountainside. No one is judging me here.
“So,” I say. “Where are we going?”
“Jesus, do you want an itinerary?” Shana rearranges her loose, gauzy tunic so the neckline falls over her shoulder. I can see her black bra through the fabric. “Does it matter?”
“No. It’s pie.” I shift in my seat. If my parents find out I ditched Madison’s sleepover, I’ll be grounded for the rest of my life, but I push that out of my mind.
“We rescued you from suburban hell,” Aya adds. She squints at Julie’s foot, a nail polish wand clutched in her manicured fingers. Three toenails are already fluorescent pink. “Aren’t you excited to see us?”
Instead of answering, I crawl halfway into the backseat and plant a messy kiss on Aya’s cheek. “Mwuah!”
“Hey!” Aya giggles, and shoves the wand back into the polish, screwing the cap shut. “Watch the—Oh my God, what did you do to your hair?”
I touch the side of my head, and nerves start flickering through my stomach again. Shana jerks around to look at me, and the entire car swerves. I start to push my hair down over the buzzed side, but she grabs my arm.
“Don’t be shy.” Her fingernails cut into my wrist. “Let’s see.”
“It’s not a big deal,” I say. But I brush my hair back behind my ear. Wind leaks in from the cracked window and tickles my skull. Shana cackles and drops my hand.
“You look completely deranged,” she says. She pulls out of Madison’s neighborhood and hits the gas. I jerk forward, catching myself a second before I slam into the dashboard.
“Is that a good thing?” My voice sounds needy, which I hate. Shana has this way of looking at you when you do something lame. Like she’s trying to solve a math problem. Like you don’t quite add up. I glance at her, preparing myself for The Look. But she grins.
“Are you kidding? It’s amazing.” She squints at me. “Why? Didn’t those boring little soccer girls like it?”
“I think they were confused by it.”
Shana throws her head back and laughs.
“Of course they were,” she says. She wraps a pink strand of hair around her finger. “Fuck ’em. You look like one of us now.”
I grin and push my hair to one side to better show off my buzz. Shana nods her approval.
“Completely deranged,” she says again. This time it sounds like a good thing. Like something to aspire to.
“If I rub it, can I make a wish?” Julie asks. Aya snorts.
“That’s not the first time she’s said that today,” Aya adds. Julie smacks her on the shoulder.
“Why are you painting her toes in the car?” I ask, shifting my attention back to them.
“I thought we might need road-trip activities.” Aya purses her perfectly lined cherry-red lips. I stare at her mouth, jealous. I can’t wear lipstick without smearing it everywhere. I blame my parents. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup until I was sixteen.
Aya wrinkles her nose at Julie’s foot. “On second thought, the pink makes your skin look green.”
“I think it’s rad,” Julie says, wiggling her toes.
Shana’s car skids to a stop at a red light, and my head slams against my headrest.
“Oops. Sorry,” Shana says with mock sincerity. When I first started hanging with Shana, I used to bitch whenever she went over the speed limit or rolled through stop signs. But that just made her drive like more of a maniac.
Shana grabs my backpack and pulls it onto her lap. “What did you pack for the sleepover?”
I cringe, thinking of my strawberry pj’s. “Nothing,” I say, reaching for my bag. The light turns green and Shana’s car jerks forward.
“No, let me see.” She steers with one hand and yanks my backpack open with the other. She pulls out my pajamas and smirks. “These are precious.”
I want to die. I snatch my backpack from Shana’s lap, but she holds the pajamas out of my reach. She grins, wickedly, and unrolls her window.
My stomach drops. “What are you doing?” I hiss.
“Liberating you,” she says. She thrusts my pj’s out the window, her fingers clenched tightly around the cotton shorts and tank top. They flap in the wind like strawberry-print flags.
“Shana, don’t,” I say.
“Casey! Maybe Madison and those other girls love their adorable matching sleepwear, but you’re nothing like them.” Shana shakes her head, like she sees something in me that I don’t. “You are oversize band T-shirts. You’re black thongs and men’s boxers.”
Her words stir something inside me. It’s like she’s describing a completely different world from the one I grew up in. Her world is exotic and daring and sexy. It’s seductive.
Shana glances at me, her eyebrow cocked. “Do you really want them back?” she asks. I roll my lower lip between my teeth. I glance at the pink pajamas, then back at Shana.
“Do it,” I say. Shana grins and lets go.
The pink cotton shorts and tank top whip away from the Buick, narrowly missing the windshield of a white minivan before fluttering to the pavement. I watch them grow smaller, and it’s like a weight has been lifted.
“You’re psychotic,” I mutter. But I’m smiling.
“Face it, you’re going to lead an incredibly exciting and dangerous life.” She winks at me. “Whether you want to or not.”
Exciting. It makes me think of discovering secret clubs in the city and partying with dangerous people and dating older men.
But then Rachel’s bloated, vacant face pops into my mind. I squeeze my eyes shut, trying to force the image away. There has to be a way to live an exciting life without winding up like her.
I look around for a distraction and my eyes fall on the book wedged beneath Julie’s thigh. I grab it from her and flip through the pages.
“This is in French,” I say. Julie nods.
“Yeah,” she says in her slow, even drawl. “It is.”
“But you don’t speak French,” I point out.
Julie purses her lips, tapping a finger against her chin. The black onyx ring she always wears glitters at me. “The meaning of the book transcends language,” she says.
“I don’t get it either,” Aya says. She pulls a tiny silver compact from her purse and checks to make sure her chignon is still perfect. She adjusts the silky scarf tied around her head so the bow is right below her left ear. “She’s been weird ever since her brother brought her this weed from Colorado.”
“Hey,” Julie says, frowning. “I was weird long before that.”
Aya rolls her eyes. Neon blue liner wings away from the corners of her lids, the lines so perfect they look like art. Aya has a beauty channel on YouTube. She only has ten thousand followers now, but we all know she’d be famous if she put a little effort into it.
“Why are we talking about you two? You’re boring.” Shana swerves in front of a white SUV. A horn blares. “I want to hear all about rehab,” she says, flipping off the SUV over her shoulder. “Did you screw any of the nurses?”
“The nurses were all female,” I say. Shana blinks.
“So did you screw any of the nurses?” she asks again. Julie groans and flops back against the window.
“I heard lots of girls experiment in rehab,” Shana says.
“You’re thinking of college,” Aya interrupts, examining her cuticles. “You can’t start sleeping with girls until you spend thousands of dollars getting an art history degree. Everyone knows that.”
“What if I don’t go to college?”
“Then you’ll just have to stick with boys,” I say, grateful for the subject change. Shana pretends to pout. She shifts gears and merges onto Oldtown Highway. I watch the speedometer needle shoot from fifty-five to seventy.
“So. What’s new?” I ask before Shana can start asking about rehab again. “I hear Sarah Johnson’s a Christian now?”
Julie snickers. “That girl is dumb. I told her I was an atheist, and she said she didn’t know there was an atheist church in town.”
“Hand me my bag,” Shana says, waving at the slouchy leather hobo bag on the floor next to my feet. I thrust it toward her and she pulls out a tiny bottle of Jack Daniel’s. She takes a swig, then hands it to me.
“I’m okay, actually,” I say, waving the bottle away. The needle on the speedometer’s hovering around eighty now, but I resist the urge to buckle my seat belt, knowing that Shana would notice.
Shana groans. “Please tell me you’re not going to be all boring now?”
“She just got back,” Aya says. “Give her a break.”
“What?” Shana rolls her eyes. “She went for drugs, not alcohol.”
Excerpted from "Survive the Night"
Copyright © 2016 Danielle Vega.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
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