An Excerpt from The Misadventures of Valerie Venicia Prima

It was hard for a girl to enjoy the sunlight, no matter how good it felt, when she was being chased. This, strangely enough, was the only thing Val could think of. That and what an incredibly stupid idea it had been to wear high-heeled boots. The six men behind her were gaining and she was running out of breath. She considered pulling the old pitiful orphaned teenager act in one of the many stores whooshing past her. It would make it easier to hide. Unfortunately, she had shoplifted from most of them. She ducked into an alleyway, only to find more people who had been instructed to kill her. The large, burly leader lifted her off of her feet, one handed by her throat. “You’ve cheated the Duke one too many times, girl.”

“It was kind of hard not to. What with him being a blithering idiot and all.” Val butted him with her head and the man threw her in surprise. She found herself wishing that humans were right about fairies being able to fly. If only she could sprout large, gossamer wings and escapes easily. The really ironic thing she thought is that I’m trying to get somewhere where everyone will want to have me murdered. She tripped on a cobblestone and fell face first in a puddle of mud left over from the storm the night before. Sadly, Val used the sleeve of her also ruined sweater and wiped the excess dirt off of her face. To perfect the moment, the men were once again closing in. Val climbed desperately up the fire escape next to her. But much to her dismay, none of the thugs were afraid of heights. Just get to The Establishment. She told herself. It’s not like they’ll want to go in there. She jumped ultra-heroically off of the building only to fall into someone’s lap. A bench was stationed below. “Sorry!” she yelled and sped off again to keep the boy from answering. As she ran around the bend, she shuddered. The building was so official looking. It was all white and the pillars looked more menacing than the thugs who were after her. Val bounded up the stairs only to trip on the stiletto heel of her boot and topple back down. Dejectedly, she trudged up once again, looking back once she was at the top. Sure enough, the men were lurking in the shadows. They would probably come back only in greater numbers. She opened the embellished doors, stepped into the cool, dark lobby and approached the woman at the front desk. This in itself took about five minutes. Spatial skills were not her strong suit, but even Val could tell that the door and the front desk were about a mile apart. Thus rendering the walker breathless and sweaty by the time she reached it.

“Hi. I’m here for a court date?” the woman, who was working furiously on a cream-colored typewriter looked up at Val skeptically and then turned back to her work. Val sighed. “That I missed?” The woman looked up again and raised her eyebrows. “That was six months ago?” nothing. “I’m Val? I was falsely accused of disorderly conduct during Midsummer’s day?” most people knew who Val was, but this lady was giving her nothing. Without looking up, she spoke. “Room two forty-six. Go down the hall, turn left at the glass doors and you’ll find yourself in the typing pool. From there, go down the marble stairs, through the dining hall, and turn right at the elevator.” Val would have asked her to repeat it. Several times in fact, but the woman had walked away, towards another cluster of secretaries. They were all dressed alike in cream-colored dresses and matching blazers. Val would have liked to push them down the stairs of the building and into one of the muddy puddles that she had encountered, but she was already in enough trouble. Well actually, that was a lie. She wasn’t really in enough trouble. Not enough to have any sort of fun.

Val walked down the hall, but made a right instead of a left at the glass

doors. She took an elevator up to the top floor and walked into a conference room full of men in suits. “I don’t suppose any of you know where room two forty-six is?” the white-haired man at the head of the table looked up from his papers. “Venicia Valerie Prima?” Val stiffened at the sound of the name.

“Um, Val is fine. Really.” This was the issue with Val. She was aware of the nerve it took to correct a councilman, but she honestly meant it. The man rang a silver bell next to him on the table. Out of a window in the wall, Val saw an assistant get up quickly from her desk. She scurried into the room and looked at Val as if she were covered in green slime.

“Katarina? Take her to the lower department and, just, make sure she doesn’t cause any more upset.” The two girls walked out together, neither of them very comfortable with the situation.  As they walked down the hall and into the elevator, people looked up from their typewriters and files. The hallways which had been bustling with life about fifteen seconds ago were suddenly silent.“So.” Val looked up brightly at the assistant. “Don’t get out much?” she was led into the elevator once again. “I haven’t seen you around. I guess fun is sort of not authorized, what with you working for the establishment and all.” This was getting more than a little bit creepy. The assistant looked down at the floor as if the meaning of life were written there. Val was all for intimidating people, but this was ridiculous. She looked around, hoping for a decent escape route, but it was no use. Val knew for a fact that she could not leave the building if she wasn’t authorized to. Finally, they reached another elevator, at which they made a right. The assistant knocked timidly on the door. “Councilman Tristan?” she whispered. Nothing happened.

“May I?” Val asked. Before the assistant could answer, she banged on the door with her fist several times. Sure enough, a man opened the door. The room was spacious and paneled in dark wood. A white Persian rug was sprawled out on the floor. There was a stain on the rug that was ominously dark. It looked a great deal like blood. A unicorn’s head was pinned above the large, rosewood desk. Below the unicorn’s head was that of Councilman Tristan. He was short, but trim. His hair was steel grey, and his face was excessively severe. The lanky man at the door might have been the exact opposite.

“Yes. I mean Hello. I mean what is it?” He said. He was taller than Val, which wasn’t hard, but he was also taller than Katarina, which was. His wheat-colored hair couldn’t have been cut for months, and his suit was entirely rumpled. He looked like the day that he was having wasn’t going much better than Val’s was. The assistant fiddled with a silver chain around her neck. “I’m so sorry, councilmen. Are you in the middle of something? I can come right back later.”

Councilman Tristan looked up. “No, it’s no trouble. Just training the new blood” He gestured in the direction of the door opener, who waved furiously, knocking his hand into the wall.

“Actually.” Val interrupted, “There is trouble.  I’m also here and I don’t think this treatment can be very legal. First of all, the instructions I got on getting here were not in the least bit comprehensible . My glamoure is entirely messed, I can’t go into the human dimension, and my landlord has mysteriously kicked me out.”

“You’re the one who–”

“Caused the mayhem on Midsummer’s Day, yeah. Also, I will personally murder every person in this room if I can’t meet with someone who can give me some help.”

“Very well.” The councilman at the desk got up and walked to the doorway.

“Councilman Walker? Valerie here is your first case. Good luck.” He walked through the doorway and beckoned for the assistant to follow him. “You’re going to need it,” he muttered. Val walked to the seat facing which was behind the desk. Councilman Walker stayed where he was.

“Explain to me why you’re not in jail, please.”

Val shrugged. “I haven’t done anything bad enough yet I guess. Can I call you Walker?”

“Um….no. Have a seat.” Val turned and gave him a look that had gotten her jumped more than once. “Oh! You are um, seated. So I guess I’ll just be seated too, and then we’ll both be. Seated.”

“I like this plan.”

“None of your sarcasm, please. We are dealing with matters that are serious and sarcasm is just well, it’s negative. And we are positive and did I ask you to sit down?”

 “I am. Sitting.”

“So you are! Okay we’re in business!”

He jogged behind the desk and plopped himself down. “So, Valerie. What can I do for you?”

“It’s Val.”

“It’s requirement that we don’t use nicknames, Val. Valerie. Tell me your problem and I will solve it.”

“Problems. Plural.”

Walker straightened himself behind the desk. He took an official looking red stamp and slammed it menacingly on a piece of paper.

“And your full name is Venicia Valerie Prima?”

This was where Val’s palms became moist with sweat. That name was supposed to control her. It was something only The Establishment knew. Only they didn’t.

“You’re a Lucan.”

“Hm?” she was drawn out of her reverie.

“Yup. Lucan all the way. Since I was born.”

His brows furrowed. “You can’t actually change that you know. Unless you’re an Establishment Employee.”

“Yes. I was joking.”

“Ah.” Val looked over the desk at the stamped piece of paper. It was blank, save the stamped part, which said “denied” and a few drawings of cats.

“Nice form you’ve got there.”

“What? Oh. No. It’s just….”

Val smiled. “It’s an intimidation thing. I get it. It’s sweet, honestly.”

“Valerie, we have matters to discuss that are actually important so let’s get those matters out of the way so that you can leave and I can bury what’s left of my dignity. Please. You haven’t done anything bad enough to get arrested.”

“No.” She was close, though. That she knew.

“Alright. Well, as for your glamoure, and your home, and your human dimension access, there’s really nothing I can do. You have to pay a um, a fine. And you’ll get those back.”

“That is completely unfair. I don’t have money!”

“Then I would suggest that you go out and, you know, get some.”

Val snorted. It was sort of really out of the question. Lucans didn’t get money. They had it. Unless their mothers had died having them and their fathers had spent it all in underground Nox casinos. Like Val’s had. A poor Lucan was something of a paradox. But then, so was Val.  Her best option was to get married. Like that would ever happen.

“Walker, we’re on the verge of war with the Nox. Everyone knows it. My original plan was to hightail it out of here. Take off and hide out in Humanville for a while. If I stay, I’ m not going to make it. Can you not cut me a break?”

“We are not going to have a war, Val. The Establishment will make sure of that. And it’s not your problem anyway! If I didn’t know any better, I would think you were just trying to get my sympathy so that you could go out and mess around with humans like you usually do.”

He was right. But they were going to have a war. “Well, yes, that’s fairly accurate, but isn’t it kind of risky? Aren’t the stragglers picked off first? And I can’t leave so, if I die, it’s your fault. And don’t give me that ‘Oh, The Establishment will give all criminals their Glamoure and Teleportation rights back if we have a war ’ nonsense because there’s no way The Establishment is giving rights back for a war that they’re denying exists.” She paused for dramatic effect. “Can you think of any portion of that little sentiment that wasn’t true?”

Walker paused. But it was because Val was right. And she knew it.

“No. But it doesn’t matter, and I am not getting fired on my first DAY. And any more of your shenanigans, and you will be executed. So don’t do that. And do what I tell you.” It was hopeless. Should she storm out? What would do the most damage control?  “It seems to me, that The Establishment is going to have me killed. They’re just not going to do it themselves.”

Perhaps not the best tactic. Val stormed out, nonetheless. She ran out of the lobby and down the stairs. She ran straight into the boy into whose lap she had fallen that morning. Val was running, and she had a lot of momentum. And they were on those treacherous marble stairs. After some tumbling and screaming (on Val’s part), they were at the bottom.

“Wow. You must be a very busy person.”

“I am nothing. I am a tiny blip on The Establishment’s radar about to be eliminated.”

She pushed herself off of the boy and started to leave.

“You’re a bleeding blip. Are you hurt?” She looked at her knee. Her pants were ripped there, and blood was coming out of her knees. It stung a little.

“I’ll be fine.” She looked at the boy. He wasn’t bad looking. He was the opposite of bad looking. He had dark, curly hair and green eyes and a dimple. Val was so not interested. Besides, his black ensemble and slight southern drawl were extremely strange for a Lucan. Unless…

“You’re a Nox.”

He widened his green eyes in faux surprise. “No, really?! Yes. I am.”

“You’re not supposed to be friendly.” She ran a hand through her tangled hair, out of habit. But her hands were covered in dirt and blood. And she didn’t own a shower anymore. “And you’re uncharacteristically hostile. You’re supposed to be snobbish and cheerful.” He had a point. He also had those green eyes, which were looking at her curiously. He was charming for sure. Val was less certain about what he wanted with her.

“Why are you talking to me?” He shrugged his narrow shoulders. “Because you looked upset? And I wanted to help?” He was also the strangest fairy, Nox or otherwise, that Val had met. Ever.

“Well, if you’re talking uncharacteristic, I think I’m kind of the runner up. You know that you’re supposed to try to slit my throat, right? On the verge of war? Nemeses? Do any of these terms sound familiar to you?”

“Ma’am, you looked like you could use some help is all. I’m a Nox yes, but I do know what Chivalry is. It’s that thing that helps me to pick up girls.” Val tried to suppress a giggle, but it was no use. The boy was funny. “I’m really fine. Nice to meet you. You’re very strange. Bye!”  She tried to flounce away, but busted a heel.

“What did they do to you?”  Val turned around on her broken stiletto.

“Huh?”

“The Big Bad Establishment.” Was this a practical joke? It would make sense.

“They kicked me out of my apartment, robbed me of my Glamoure and my teleportation rights. You?”

He shrugged again. “The same.”

“I was causing mayhem during Midsummer’s Day. Not that much, only a little. And I got completely busted. What did you do?” She really was curious. He seemed like the Slithering Out of Anything type. How could someone as smooth as this get caught?

“Oh, well, will you look at the time?” he murmured.

“I’m not wearing a watch.” She looked at his slim and very bare wrist. “You’re not wearing a watch.”

He laughed a little bit uneasily. “Which must mean I’m late. See you around, Val.” Val raised an eyebrow. “Now how would you know my name?”

The Nox boy turned and shrugged again as he walked into the building.

“How could I not?”

 

Miranda Hoyt-Disick
Age 14, Grade 9
Riverdale Country School
Gold Key

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