Today we have an exclusive first look at the sequel to ‘Missing in Somerville‘ by A.J Raven. By the looks of it Jerry and his friends are trying to re-enter their normal highschool life after solving the Devona case. However, a new threat might be just around the corner for the teenagers. The snippet below might be altered, or edited, before publication, but it’s enough to give us a sense that A.J Raven is back with another YA mystery!
You can also check out an interview and if you are a fan of paranormal mystery then his ‘Arousing the Legacy‘ is for you! Let me know what you think of the new chapter and if you have read the author’s previous works!
“Jerry, when are you going to start doing it again?”
I tried not to roll my eyes for the umpteenth time. “For the last time,” I answered keeping my voice calm as we walked through the corridor towards the chemistry laboratory. “What would you have me do, Justin?”
“I don’t know,” said my tall friend as he faked a shrug. “I thought you were going to continue solving cases.”
Now I rolled my eyes at him. Enough was enough. Leave it to Justin to continue pestering me to do something that would give him attention. “Yes, Justin! There’s a whole pool of unsolved cases out there waiting for me to take a dive.”
“Maybe,” he answered with a smile. “Who knows?”
“You know it’s only been a couple of weeks since we solved the Devona case, right?”
“I know, I know,” he said as we reached the laboratory. There was silence between us. He took in a deep breath. “Fine, I’ll give it a rest.”
“Thank you,” I faked a smile and mentally started to count down the time until Justin would touch the topic again. Stop it! Don’t be paranoid. I entered the lab. The rest of the class was already there. I saw my childhood friend Ashley Burroway, Ash for short, near one of the working stations and walked towards her.
“Justin sill asking you to take on another case?” she asked with a smile as she handed me a lab coat.
I nodded taking the coat from her. It took me some time to get accustomed to the smells of the chemicals all around me. My brown-haired friend put on her safety goggles and opened her textbook. “If you ask me,” she looked straight at me. “I don’t want to repeat such an experience again.”
“I hear you,” I said and looked around. Justin was talking to some of the boys in our class. I knew that the only reason Justin wanted me to take on another case was because he missed the attention it gave him. The moment Somerville High’s newspaper published my story; it became the talk of the town. It was the first time the school’s newspaper was read by almost everyone. Everyone wanted to read my take on the Devona case. The police did a good job keeping the local media away from me and my friends but it was tough avoiding students and the faculty. Justin took the opportunity to break the ice with his crush Lucy Broadway. My other friend, Nick, enjoyed the attention too, but not as much as his best-friend Justin. Ash put up a defensive air and avoided answering the questions she was asked. The last member of our group, Kate, who already had an ‘I don’t care attitude’ did just that…she didn’t care. Knowing her reputation in school, no one dared stop her to ask a question.
I too was bombarded with questions. How did you figure it out? Did the police help you crack the case? Do you think of yourself as Sherlock now?
I answered the questions I could but like everything else in this world the interest dwindled and people started to talk about other things. Apparently the ‘mystery of the week’ plots on famous TV shows were better than the real thing. None of us were affected by the dying attention than Justin. According to him Lucy was losing interest. Even though I told him it was just a figment of his imagination and he needed to work on his confidence. And besides if Lucy was the kind of girl who liked him because of the attention he was getting, then she wasn’t the type to waste time on. Ash and Nick were back to their old selves and didn’t mention the case unless necessary. None of us wanted to go through the ordeal again. Well, none of us except Justin.
“Jerry, are you even here?” Ash snapped her fingers in front of my eyes.
“Huh!” I blinked.
“Seriously, Jerry,” she rolled her eyes. “Sometimes I think you aren’t even listening to me.”
“I do listen to you,” I lied pushing my glasses up my nose. “I do listen.”
“Of course you do,” she said turning back to her textbook as I put on my lab coat.
Our chemistry teacher Miss Patience walked into the laboratory and everyone stopped talking. She wasn’t the kind of instructor that students wanted to cross. She looked at the class, gave a little nod and started to write on the board behind her.
“Where’s Nick?” I asked Ash. Her eyes were on the board, pen writing down every word. I saw Justin looking directly at us. He averted his gaze when our eyes met. I wanted to bet a hundred dollars that he thought Ash and I were planning to take on another case.
“Don’t know,” she answered, her pen still moving.
‘Weird,’ I thought to myself. It wasn’t like Nick to miss class without telling us. Even if he did skip class, he and Justin did it together. I tried not to think about it too much and looked at what Miss Patience was writing on the board. The class dragged on as Miss Patience talked about ways to influence chemical reactions. As far as I could tell, heating things up seemed to do the trick for a lot of them. Want to get a reaction? Try heating up the molecules. I guess the same thing was going to come true for me and friends as well. There was no way we could’ve avoided what was coming for us. But at that time, writing down notes in the lab, none of us had the slightest idea how things would change in just a few days. I wonder what I would’ve done if I had known. Kept hidden inside my house? Not talk to anyone? Resigned from my position as a content writer for the school’s newspaper?
That’s the funny thing about not knowing things beforehand. You always end up wondering about the ‘what if’ once the experience is over, and you manage to come out alive.
After an agonizing hour, the bell rang and everyone got up to leave. Miss Patience wrote down something on the board and I heard the whole class groan. I took off my lab coat and saw her walking out without looking at the students.
“It’s the start of the week and we already have a chemistry paper due on Monday,” said Ash as she read what Miss Patience left for the class on the board. I couldn’t tell if she was excited or annoyed. Knowing the kind of student Ash was, she would never voice her annoyance even if it was eating away at her. Contrary to Ash the rest of the class was definitely complaining. Some students even made profane gestures at the board.
I walked towards Justin. “Where’s Nick?”
“He’s not here today,” he answered as the three of us walked out the lab. “He told me he wasn’t feeling well,” he added seeing a questioning look on my face as we walked through the corridor. “It’s nothing serious.”
“I hope he feels better soon,” said Ash. She took out her cellphone and checked her messages. “Kate wants to meet me in the cafeteria.” She looked at us wondering if we wanted to come along.
“I have to go meet Alyson,” I answered. Alyson Richards was in charge of the school’s newspaper, she was also the daughter of the school’s principle. She kind of looked like Halle Berry, but a bit taller, with long black hair. She was the one who asked me to write something interesting in order to be part of her team. Long story short, the whole ordeal led me and my friends to Devona and the horrifying experience that came along with it.
“I’ll come with you,” Justin told Ash. Seeing him without Nick looked a bit weird.
“Okay, see you Jerry,” Ash smiled and I saw her walk away with Justin towards the cafeteria.
I turned around and started to walk towards Alyson’s office. The Devona case had certainly given me a lot of attention, but there were only so many missing person cases in town. I wanted to write something interesting for the newspaper again. I reached the office and taking in a deep breath opened the door.
“Hi, guys,” I said entering the room. There were three students typing away on their laptops. There was bespectacled, brown-haired Matt, braided black-haired Sophia, and the ‘nervously chews on the end of a pencil’, red-haired Melissa. All three of them were my seniors.
“Hi, Jerry,” they all said in unison not stopping from the tasks they were busy with on their laptops. I was used to such a response. They were good people but publishing a monthly newspaper, with weekly online updates, was not an easy job. There were two more boys on the team but they mostly did their work in the Computer lab, managing data, making sure everything ran smoothly.
Before I could sit down on the door opened and Alyson walked in holding a bunch of papers. “Oh! Jerry!” she exclaimed looking at me. “I was just waiting for you. Follow me.”
Wondering what she had in mind I followed her to her desk. She placed the pile of paper on it and sat down. I took the seat in front of her, a questioning look on my face.
“I have two things for you to do,” she said as she went through some papers from the pile and started to separate them into two stacks. She was creating the stacks on the basis of something I couldn’t figure out. Color? Word count? Most of them looked like research articles.
“There’s a girl named Amy Romero,” she continued. “She showed interest in taking pictures for the paper.”
Amy Romero? The name sounded familiar. I nodded at Alyson, not sure what she wanted me to do.
“She’ll be here in a while,” said Alyson. She stopped stacking the papers and looked at me. “I want both of you to cover the school’s basketball team before the championship starts. Get some interviews, talk to the cheerleaders, and all that.”
“You do know about basketball right?” she asked.
That was a weird question to ask. “I know the basics,” I answered with a smile. As in ‘you have to throw the ball through the basket’ kind of basic.
“That will do,” she smiled back. She took a pause and her smile widened. “Now, there’s another thing I want you to do.”
I noticed a change in her voice. She sounded a bit hesitant. “You read the paper last week?” she asked opening the top drawer of her desk.
“No,” I answered shaking my head. I didn’t read newspapers. If something big happened in town it was bound to reach my ears sooner or later. I saw her pull out a newspaper and place it on the desk. I picked it up and read the headline.
“Pritchett, James (31), Murderer Escapes from Prison.”
My mind began to race. Oh, no! She better not!
“You have experience with these kinds of things,” Alyson smiled at me.
What’s that supposed to mean?
“It won’t be anything like the Devona case,” said Alyson trying to read the expression on my face. Even I wasn’t sure what my face was trying to tell. “I just need you to do a bit of research on him. Create an interesting article for our readers. Give your own two cents about the whole thing.”
“Phew!” I let out a sigh of relief. “For a moment there I thought you were going to ask me to find him.”
Alyson gave out a laugh. “I’ll leave that to the police.”
We heard the office door open and a girl walked in, a camera handing around her neck. The office staff didn’t even look at her. “That’s Amy,” said Alyson as she signaled the girl to walk towards us. I recognized her. She was in my year but mostly took art subjects.
“You’re the guy who cracked the Devona case,” she said looking at me. “I’m Amy,” she held out her hand.
“I’m Jerry,” I said pushing my glasses up my nose. We shook hands. She had a nice grip.
“Well, you guys can get to it,” said Alyson after the introductions were made. We nodded and I followed Amy out the office.
She tapped her camera as I closed the door behind me. “Alyson wants weekly pictures for the electronic version and then a whole bunch of pictures for the published newspaper by the end of the month. So, shall we start?”
“I guess so,” I answered taking a good look at the girl. She was an inch shorter than my five foot six. Her black hair was tied into a ponytail and her brown eyes were wondering if I had anything else to say. “We should head down to the court and see if we can get some cheerleaders to talk to us. You can take the pics.”
“Sounds good,” she nodded and lead the way to the basketball court. I felt my cellphone vibrate and took it out. It was a text message from Ash. “Where?”
“I’m going to the basketball court for news stuff,” I texted her back. Thank Heavens for cellphones. They were the perfect devices to ignore the kind of awkward silence I was experiencing with Amy.
“We are here,” said Amy and she opened the doors to the basketball court. My heart skipped a beat as I took in the sight.