Extract from FANG GIRL by Helen Keeble

In which Our Heroine, Xanthe Jane Greene (unexpectedly undead vampire fangirl) wakes up back home…

I woke up in pitch blackness, lying on my back and utterly convinced that I was still six feet underground in my coffin and had hallucinated the entire previous night due to oxygen deprivation. “Aaaaaaaaaugh!” I flailed for a moment before my brain kicked in with three simple observations: first, I was wrapped in a fluffy fleece blanket that certainly had not been included in my grave goods; second, I’d just sat up, which I wouldn’t have been able to do in a coffin; and finally, the air reeked of hay. The first two let me deduce that I was not, in fact, buried alive. The third made my brain stall. A knock came from the other side of the—door? wall?—to my left. “Janie?” Zack called. “Are you alive again?” “Yeah.” I struggled out of the clinging blanket, banging my elbows against the walls on each side in the process. Something light and metallic clinked against the top of my head when I tried to stand up, making me duck again. I reached up and found—coat hangers? “You guys put me in a closet?” “Well, it’s not like we have a convenient crypt, you know. It was the only place

we could think of where you would be totally out of the sun.” He paused. “Um, by the way, you haven’t gone insane with bloodlust, have you?” “Uh . . .” Actually, I was feeling rather light-headed. My stomach was one big, growling void. “Give me a minute here, okay?” I closed my eyes, trying to make the hunger go away. It was only a signal from my body, that’s all. . . . I could tune it out. Warmth spread outward from my chest and down into my stomach. The cramping ebbed away. I opened my eyes. “I’m fine now.” I pushed at the closet door; it flexed, but didn’t open. “Hey, what’s up with this?” “Oh, we duct-taped you in,” Zack said cheerfully. “To make sure all the light was blocked out. Hang on.” Something sneezed on my foot. “There’ssomethingaliveinhere,” I observed with all possible calm and flung myself forward shoulder-first with full vampiric strength. Plywood burst under the impact, sending me sprawling onto the horrible floral-patterned carpet in my parents’ bedroom. “Yes,” said Zack. He was wearing pajamas, with a long strip of tape stuck to one leg. “That would be toast.” “Toast,” I repeated. “Sneezing toast.” “Not toast, Toast!” He ducked into the closet, and reemerged clutching a large,

wire cage. “I named her myself. Isn’t she the greatest?” I got to my feet, gathering up the shredded remains of my dignity, and peered through the bars. A fuzzy brown-and-white ball of fur looked back at me with round, black eyes. Its pink velvet ears quivered. “It’s a guinea pig,” I concluded in the face of the evidence before me. Well, that explained why the closet had smelled of hay. “Zack, why is it a guinea pig?” “Dad got her for you.” Zack gazed fondly down at the little fluffball. “I guess if you aren’t going to eat her, I can keep her!” I rubbed at my forehead. It was way too early in the night for this conversation, and the terrible clashing colors of the room decor were giving me a migraine. “Dad got me a . . . guinea pig?” “For breakfast,” Zack said. “That’s why I named her Toast. You aren’t going to eat her, are you?” “No!” “Woot!” Zack hugged the cage to his chest, carrying it off in the direction of his bedroom. “I hope you don’t want to eat Marmalade or Sugar Puff either!”

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