Authors: Carrie Harris
It was pretty ridiculous, but I had to admit it: I could handle mad scientists and their flunkies, but I couldn’t manage to sort out my feelings about a trio of girls. (And that was without bringing Kiki into the equation.) Each one of them brought something to the table. Europa was sweet, Calamity was dangerous, and Amethyst was smart. And those labels didn’t even begin to scratch the surface.
I couldn’t work out my feelings about them, because I cared about all of them. And if I couldn’t choose, I had to let them go. Just like the menagerie. It was the honorable thing to do.
It took every ounce of willpower I had, but I slid off the back of the unicorn. The she-yeti
shuffled uncertainly. The cerberus nosed at my pant leg.
I turned to face the animals. “You shouldn’t come into the camp,” I said. “They’ll just cage you again. They’ll say it’s for your own protection, and they’ll give you fancier accommodations, but it’ll still be a cage. You’ll never be free if you come with me.”
The unicorn nuzzled my shoulder, and I petted her silky nose.
“Can you hunt?” I looked around the circle. “There’s plenty of land out here. This forest is big enough that you could go unnoticed if you’re careful, but I need to know that you’re going to be okay. I’m not sure how often I can get out here until I get my driver’s license.”
The he-yeti whuffed in my direction, nodding and urging me forward as if to say not to worry. But of course I was worried. They were my responsibility now, weren’t they? Was I just wussing out, or was I doing the right thing?
Sir Tal would say to follow my heart. So I clapped the yeti on their shoulders, scratched the heads of the cerberus, patted the unicorn one last time, and kept my hands off the liger because he wouldn’t let me touch him anyway. And then I turned my back on them. I’d come to check on them as often as I could, but I’d never tell a soul about them. I’d report the bad guys, of course, but as far as I was concerned, they’d been doing all their illegal testing on dogs. The kind with one head.
“Bye,” I said. “I’ll miss you guys.”
I didn’t need to be That Creature Guy. Part of being a hero is not bragging about the stuff you’ve done. I knew, and that was enough. And the girls knew too. Really, three girls were too much to handle, so it was probably for the best.
I made my way out of the underbrush and into the edges of Nightdark Camp. Behind me, I heard the faint cracking of branches as the menagerie rolled out. In a few seconds the animals were gone. My eyes welled up a little and it took me a minute to collect myself, but finally I did.
“Hey, guys!” I called. “I’m back! Those Apples tried to cage me, but I used my dragon’s-breath potion, and … it was the awesomest thing I think I’ve ever done.” I sighed happily as the girls rushed to smother me in hugs, squealing.
What can I say? Girls love a hero.
Carrie Harris is a geek-of-all-trades and proud of it. She’s always been a bit of a brain, so she wrote a zombie book—
Bad Taste in Boys
. And she has hair, so she wrote a werewolf book next—
Bad Hair Day
. Luckily, she won’t be running out of body parts anytime soon. Carrie lives in Michigan with her ninja-doctor husband and three monster-obsessed children. Learn more about her at