The Good Student Part 1 ebook (edited and revised) is now available on kindle and epub. LINK.
Bitter Book 5 is also available. LINK.
Preface from Mooderino
“How can you say that?” shouted Claire. It’s an unusual talent to be able to hit the bass notes while being shrill enough to disturb dogs, but Claire had a gift. “What are you even saying right now?” She turned to me and waved me away. “Ignore her, she doesn’t mean it.”
It felt a bit odd that Claire was this eager to step in like her drunk friend was trying to get off with the biggest scumbag at the nightclub. Actually, I guess it wasn’t that odd.
“I know what I’m doing,” said Jenny, very firmly. “I’m going with him.”
As you may have noticed, no one was asking me what I thought about any of this.
“No, you aren’t,” said Claire, equally firmly.
The crowd around us were remarkably quiet as they watched the two girls throw down over the wisdom of going off with me, and indeed, getting off with me. I couldn’t say for sure, but my guess would be that most of them were siding with Big Nose over Scarface. Mind you, I was naked, so their judgement was skewed by insider knowledge.
Much to my surprise, I was fine with their stares. This body was no more than a Tussaud’s wax statue as far as I was concerned — absolutely nothing to do with the person it was modelled after (which is the main requirement at Madame Tussaud’s).
People seem to be fine with showing off their privates these days. Social media is full of people posting their junk and even videos of themselves shagging. Upvotes from strangers make them feel better. Maybe this was how it felt to have people look at you fully exposed and not feel horribly embarrassed. I had just sent my first dick pic, and thousands of people had received it without even owning a phone. I’m a pioneer at heart.
“Don’t get involved,” said Jenny. “This is between me and him.”
“I’m getting involved because you told us to, remember?” Claire shot me a sideways glance, trying her best to exclude me from the debate. “You said we weren’t to let you go off with him, no matter how much you begged us to let you.”
It seemed Jenny had made some kind of werewolf pact with the others, where she told them to lock her in a room and not let her out until the full moon passed. I was the full moon in this scenario. Well, I was to fifty percent of the crowd.
“I’m not begging you,” said Jenny.
“I’m not going to let you beg him, either,” said Claire. They both looked over at me and grimaced.
I looked up at the spire looming dark and foreboding with a hole in its side and dust still falling. Ships were circling overhead. “I really needed to get going,” I said.
“Don’t move,” said Jenny.
“Shut up,” said Claire.
Strong-willed women who speak their minds, who doesn’t want to see more fo that? Those shows on TV where a bunch of women sit around a table and discuss the latest news and gossip in front of an audience of housewives with nothing better to do, quality broadcasting.
“You said you would do this,” said Claire, “you said you’d get weak and give in to your cravings, and we were to drag you away even if you fought us. You made us promise.”
I was sort of flattered. Sort of, but not quite. A girl was so attracted to me she had to be held down so she wouldn’t throw herself at my cock, but at the same time, clearly she was mental.
“I don’t care what I said,” shouted Jenny, flailing her arms like someone was trying to get her into a straight jacket and she was doing her best to stop them. “He’s empty carbs, I know that, but he’s delicious. I don’t care how fat I get.”
Presumably, she was being metaphorical. If she wasn’t, and this was her announcing her intention to let herself go and put on weight like a married woman living in a semi-detached in Croydon, I was going to have to politely decline the offer. It’s not that I’m shallow, I just don’t want to live in Croydon with a fat chick.
The fairies hadn’t moved in to break things up, and the people watching were fascinated, even the ones who were the walking dead, which just goes to show you how much enjoyment you can get out of other people’s problems.
I stole another look up at the spire. Where had Joshaya gone? I had expected him to come leaping down, and then I’d be able to slip away in the chaos.
“This is all your fault,” said Claire. She was looking at me when she said it, but I was fairly confident she was referring to someone behind me.
“How is it my fault? I agree with you.”
“You do?” said Claire, not used to being told she was right. Like, ever.
“Of course. Jenny’s much better off here, or anywhere that I’m not. I expect to die at any moment, and she’d only get in the way, I mean, get in harm’s way.” I turned to Jenny. “Once this is all sorted out and I come back, we can figure out what to do then. No point picking out new curtains while the walls are crumbling around us.” A slab of stone hit the ground beside me and shattered. “See?”
“Did you make that happen?” asked Maurice, his tone very accusing.
“No,” I said. “That’s part of the wall I was thrown through earlier. Nice body, by the way.” I patted my stomach. “Resilient as fuck.”
“Shut it,” said Claire, not in the mood for guy talk. Maurice snapped his mouth shut.
“She’s got you on a short leash, hasn’t she,” I said, grinning.
“No,” said Maurice, and then said nothing more because his girlfriend was glaring at him.
“Whatever it is you need to do,” said Jenny, “we can do it quicker together.”
There’s an awkward time in a relationship when you’ve become so used to spending time together, and really enjoying it, that when the guy wants to go see his mates, the girl assumes she’s going too, and he has to find a gentle way to tell her she isn’t. That time was now.
“It’s more of a one-man job,” I said.
“One man, one woman,” said Jenny. A bold counter-play.
“Let him go,” pleaded Claire. “You know he has to do this by himself.”
I was drawing the subtle inference that they had discussed this many times before and there were many different levels to the discussion I wasn’t aware of. Which was fine by me. The problem with secrets is that wanting to know is far more engrossing than actually knowing. Whatever it was that had got their knickers twisted, they were more than likely wrong. I say this as a guy whose panties are near-permanently bunched up and has had a lot of experience in discovering there was never a reason for it, like when traffic finally starts moving and there’s nothing that would have caused it. I mean, yeah, there’s all that blood on the road and broken glass, but who knows how long that’s been there?
“No,” said Jenny. “I need to do this. I need to find out for myself.”
“Even if it kills him?” said Claire.
“Yes,” said Jenny.
Now I was getting the subtle inference that maybe I should find out what the hell they were talking about.
“Can you two stop squabbling like a couple of old women and chill out?” I said in my best hostage negotiator voice. Hostage negotiators insult the hostage takers, right? That’s how they trick them into making a fatal mistake. “I’m not going to die, not unless you lot are around to let it happen, like last time.”
There was an awkward pause in proceedings. The crowd watched avidly — I was sure I could smell popcorn, although that would be unlikely since popcorn hadn’t been invented yet. I was saving that revelation for when I had to prove myself some kind of miracle worker.
“Where’s the corn gone? What’s this white fluffy stuff? Yes, I am your new Messiah!”
Dumb People + Free Snacks = Religion
“Forget what happened before,” said Jenny, in the calm voice she only used when she had decided to ignore my wishes and was planning to use physical techniques to make me see sense. “We’re going to do this together, just you and me. I will follow your orders, you will not run away from me. This will be a good way to see if we really are compatible. If not, then we can go our separate ways knowing we gave it our best shot.”
There’s something about a woman being reasonable while she looks at you with the cold eyes of a killer that suggests you should agree with her now, and lace your shoes nice and tight for the future and the opportunities it might bring.
“The thing is,” I said nice and slowly so as not to spook her, “you might not be able to go where I’m going.”
“I will find a way to follow you.” Did she mean to make that sound so threatening?
“Why?” I said, finally having to ask. If she was going to force her companionship on me whether I wanted it or not, she could at least explain the logic behind it. I certainly had no idea why she’d decided I was the guy she should hitch her wagon to. Don’t get me wrong, it was a very nice wagon — a great ride and the view from the back was amazing — but she could do so much better.
“Stop being an idiot,” said Jenny. The air was heavy with romance, as I’m sure you could tell. “You’ve always doubted my feelings for you, and that’s fine. You don’t have to feel secure. You just have to let me come with you. Not that you have much of a choice.”
I was getting a lot of mixed signals. Some of them said run, others said hide.
“She’s snapped,” said Claire. “I knew it would happen eventually.” She turned to me. “You did this.”
I was at a loss to understand what I was being blamed for. “I’ve had enough of this. Where’s Flossie? I need a ride, for one. You’re staying here.” Sometimes a man has to take a stand.
“NO!” yelled Jenny. A shockwave blew through the square, knocking everyone to the ground.
Everyone except for Jenny and me. And a tall guy with dead eyes.
“Ah, Joshaya,” I said, “there you are, you insufferable fuck.”
Jenny’s emotional outburst (women, huh?) had been strong enough to flatten even the dead. I, on the other hand, was far too numb to human emotions to be affected. And the only other person left standing had to be someone of immense power, although he was staggering a bit.
“Where is your body?” said Joshaya. Why climb down from the spire when you could just transfer to another body already down here? “Give it to me.”
“His body is mine,” said Jenny. She turned to me. “Your body belongs to me. My body belongs to you. That’s how it works.”
I felt I was getting the better deal. “What’s so special about my body?”
“It’s the only one that I want, that’s what,” said Jenny.
“Really, you don’t think you could find another one that would serve the same purpose?”
“No. The emotional backlash would kill anyone else.”
This was a sexual thing? My body was the only one that could stand to be at ground zero when Jenny detonated?
“What about this body?” I said, holding my arms to the side.
“I would shred it in a night,” said Jenny, which was both appalling, and also quite tempting to test.
“You are both vile, disgusting animals,” said Joshaya. “You deserve each other.” Our union had received his blessing, apparently. “But his body will be claimed by me.”
Jenny and Joshaya both seemed determined to take possession of my body. Far more than I’d ever wanted it.
Jenny began to glow around the head, like a halo. The face she was pulling wasn’t very angelic, though.
“Jenny, don’t!” called out Claire.
No one could move under the pressure of Jenny’s rage. Even I found it a little oppressive.
Joshaya, however, seemed to be withstanding it, even though he was facing it at near-point-blank range. Or this new host was. Or his puppet.
I left my body and everything froze, including Jenny’s out of control mood swings.
The undead soldier Joshaya had taken control of had a single vine sticking out of him, as all his avatars did. It rose high into the sky, lost among all the other vines.
I floated over and grabbed it, writhing and pulsing in my hands, and began pulling. Joshaya controlled his minions from afar. That was how he liked to do things, but I’d seen his true form.
It took a while — I always hated rope-climbing in PE — but the vine came down slowly. I could have cut it, but that would just let Joshaya get away. The vine was quite thick and hard to get a good grip on, but I had the time.
Wrapping the vine around the soldier made it easier to stop it slipping out of my hands. Joshaya eventually came into view, a teeny tiny fairy desperately trying to fly the other way.
Once he was down to about eye-level, I let go and jumped back into my temporary body.
Time restarted, as did Jenny’s wrath. This time, Joshaya was directly in the firing line. He screamed and both he and the body he was controlling flew backwards. Jenny was sent flying in the other direction.
I was the last man standing, which meant it was the perfect time to do a runner. I turned and prepared to make for the nearest exit, but there was no way out. The ships that had been circling were all coming in to land.