Macabre Academy Coming 2019

New series "Macabre Academy" coming soon!

Do you enjoy not-so-cozy paranormal mysteries, slow burn romances, and unconventional heroines?

Ghost summoning? No biggie. Raising the dead? Bring it on. Solving my sister’s baffling disappearance? A bit more complicated...

My name is Serena Le’Strange and I’m a necromancer. Yes, I can see dead people, but I prefer to hide my necromancy skills from others. Only my twin sister, Sabrina, makes me feel less of a freak, so when she mysteriously vanishes, I enroll at Macabre Academy to start my own investigation. 

To complicate matters, it’s no ordinary college for the magically inclined, but home to all supernaturals—even the more dangerous ones. And after meeting an incredibly gorgeous vampire and a sinfully hot reaper, I find myself entangled in a steamy, if not somewhat forbidden, love triangle. Not to mention accidentally rubbing an oil lamp and being stuck with a ghostly genie sidekick. 

But I’ll need all the help I can get if I hope to solve the mystery because someone at Macabre knows what happened to my sister, and I won’t stop until I dig up the truth.

Unfortunately, some dark secrets prefer to stay buried.


Chapter One

Death’s unique aura hung heavy in the room. As a necromancer-in-training, I had an acute awareness of the three bodies in the lab of Conjuration University, as well as the dead insects within the walls and the squashed spider in the corner.
I wiped my sweaty palms on my dark-blue lab coat and caught the other students’ distorted reflections in the glass cabinets above the stainless-steel counter, which lined one side of the room. My own image shimmered in the reflective glass—a slender, tallish girl with teal-blue hair and a peach-toned complexion, wearing a mauve dress under a lab coat with black flats.

Small groups of students in similar lab coats had gathered around the three gurneys. Human male cadavers, deceased within the last ten hours and donated to science, lay on each one.

“Now, remember, class, necromancy is considered the most ominous and perilous of all magics,” Professor Mortis said. “Those that dabble in the darkest of all sorcery and perform necromantic rituals are frequently misunderstood and shunned by their peers.”

“Why?” asked a chubby, pimpled faced student on the other side of the room.

“Other preternaturals believe that it’s dangerous to have power over life and death,” the professor replied.

Professor Mortis’s tall, lanky frame towered over most of the students, and his pallid complexion resembled the underbelly of a dying fish. He styled his dark hair in a severe side-part and wore a brown oxford shirt with dark slacks under a black lab coat. His gray eyes scrutinized the room, and everyone squirmed under his withering stare.

“A necromancer can only perform a resurrection if the person or animal has been dead for less than thirteen hours,” Professor Mortis said. “Can anyone tell me why?”

Several hands shot into the air, including mine. I never liked lab days, and this room always felt unnaturally cold. There were no windows in this basement-like morgue, and it gave me the creeps. The recently scrubbed white industrial tile walls and linoleum flooring held the pungent odor of bleach.

“Miss Le’Strange, you may answer.” Professor Mortis clasped both hands behind his back.

I lowered my arm. Determined to pass this course—I’d failed it last year after I lost credits for missing the graveyard field trip—I quickly skimmed the notes in my leather-bound necromanion to prepare for today’s lab test.

“After thirteen hours, a demon, or a spirit that hasn’t crossed over yet, can take possession of the empty vessel,” I said.

 The professor bobbed his head. “Correct.” He strolled about the room. “Can a necromancer control a zombie?”

Hands rose again. There were only thirteen necromancers in the academy, all in our early twenties, gifted with a rare and dangerous power over death. Each generation produced fewer necromancers, so it made the students unique individuals and highly competitive.

Professor Mortis pointed at Rosina Yarrow. “Answer, please.”

“Excuse me, Serena.” She pushed me aside and faced the professor. “Only advanced necromancers can manipulate zombies,” Rosina replied, her auburn curls escaping a messy bun. Her oversized lab coat barely fit her curvy body and the hem swooshed about her bare, dark-skinned legs when she moved. “And it takes total concentration to influence one.”

“Correct,” Professor Mortis said. “What exactly is a zombie?”

“A soulless, mindless, dead human,” Rosina said with a smug smile. “Furthermore, reanimated corpses like to feast on human flesh.”

“Very good,” Professor Mortis said. “Who can tell me more about shadow magic?”

I lifted my hand and dropped it when the professor jerked his chin in my direction. “Shadow magic can be used to summon ghosts. It can create zombies through reanimation and restore life to humans and preternaturals through a resurrection ritual.”
Professor Mortis nodded his approval. “It seems you’ve been taking this class more seriously.”
My chest filled with warmth and I smiled. All my hard work had paid off. All those long nights spent cramming instead of socializing and making friends had been worth it.
A shiver as cold as the grave prickled my senses. All the warm feels quickly retreated and the grin dropped from my face.
Sensing a dark shift in the atmosphere, I turned in a slow circle, scanning the room. Near the exit, the silhouette of man holding a scythe materialized. I froze, my pulse jumping. The glacial touch of death felt so strong from this preternatural being—a grim reaper—that the fine hairs along my nape rose stiffly.
My head whipped about. Everyone continued talking and no one noticed the spectral man. The professor walked right past him.
 “Hey,” I whispered to one of my lab partners, Mark Richardson, a stocky guy with a large mole on his cheek. “Do you see that ghostly man over there?” I gestured at the grim reaper standing near the counter.
Mark shook his head. “No. Pay attention.” He shuffled away from me like this was the third grade, and I had cooties.
I unbuttoned my lab coat, feeling hot and prickly, despite the chill in the room. When my initial surprise faded, I surmised the reaper must’ve been visiting the college to reap a soul, yet I hesitated to tell the professor about his sudden appearance. My lips pressed together in a slight grimace. I’d briefly studied reapers last semester, and they didn’t like necromancers messing with the balance between life and death.
Well, boohoo for him. I needed to pass this lab. I decided to ignore him.
“Can a necromancer cure illness or heal injuries?” the professor asked.
“Not theoretically,” Rosina said. “However, once a human or preternatural die, we can resurrect them, and then they become revenants. They retain all memories and brain function.”
“What keeps a revenant alive?” Professor Mortis asked.
A boy from a different group answered. “Through the necromancer’s shadow magic. Their wounds are sealed, and any illness becomes dormant.”
The grim reaper sauntered across the room noiselessly, no more than a misty shape.
Do not look at him. Maybe he’ll get bored and go away.
I clenched the cotton fabric of my lab coat, and cleared my throat. “And while any fatal injuries won’t heal, they’ll no longer be lethal. Though the revenant is technically dead, the body won’t decompose, as long as the shadow magic is in force.”
 “Correct.” Professor Mortis walked to the front of the room. “Flip to page fifty-eight in the textbook. For today’s lab, everyone should take a turn performing a resurrection ritual, then extinguish the life force through the reversal invocation.”
My group turned to the gurney. The skin on the cadaver looked sallow, and his stomach bulged grotesquely. His only clothes, a pair of faded plaid boxers. A tag dangled from his left toe with the name: Harold Faartz. The flames of three candles: a red, black, and green one, the colors representing blood, death, and the afterlife in necromancy, flickered at his head and feet. The corpse lay on a bed of hemlock, saffron, rose petals, henbane, mandrake roots, and graveyard dirt, the standard ingredients used by necromancers in a resurrection.
Pausing to sniff a vial on the counter, the reaper resumed his casual stroll around the lab.
Do not acknowledge him. Just get through this lab!
Rosina opened the textbook to the page we needed, and I skimmed the instructions.
“Even the slightest variation of the spell can weaken the intent, and the ritual will backfire,” Professor Mortis said. “There are three steps to resurrection. One, the individual must be dead less than thirteen hours. Two, the necessary ingredients, such as candles, graveyard dirt, and specific flora are required. And third, the incantation must be recited without disruption. Now, summon the soul of these humans and create a revenant. Let’s begin.”
Professor Mortis had already assigned me to go first. Drawing in a deep breath, I positioned my palms over the corpse’s chest. Shadow magic shivered through me—an icy, tingling sensation, like fresh snow on a cold winter night. My hands glowed with a neon green radiance, and my power made the body jerk as if it had been hit with defibrillator paddles.
“By my command, I resurrect the spirit of, um…” I said.
The reaper reappeared in his shadowy form much closer this time. My heart froze, refusing to beat for several seconds, then banged into my ribcage like a frantic fist. His magic slammed into me like an arctic pulse, and my body trembled.
Rosina elbowed me in the side, and I jumped, shooting her a hard glare
“Serena.” She tapped an impatient foot. “You can’t lose focus during a ritual.”
She was right, but I’d never tell her that. I couldn’t let this reaper distract me. I didn’t have time for this. My stare bore into his, and I jerked my head at the door like I had a convulsive twitch. My group gave me sideways glances. The grim reaper ignored my subtle hint to leave.
Refocusing on the ritual, I stared blankly at the body. What’s the guy’s name? 

I couldn’t think clearly with that annoying reaper watching me. My gaze went to the nametag attached to his toe. Oh, yeah.
“Harold Faartz now reenter the mortal plane.” Gritting my teeth, I held both hands over the human’s chest again. My power, like the biting chill of the grave, surged into the cadaver. I channeled his soul from across the veil separating the living from the dead and back into his body. I had to unclench my jaw to recite the rest of the spell. “Uh…bone, flesh, life, breath be revived. I now order thee to arise!”
The other two groups had recited the same incantation without interruption. Color returned to their revenants and each sucked in air. Eyes popped wide and blinked. They stiffly sat up and swung their legs over the sides of their gurneys. The resurrected humans appeared confused at first and slightly agitated. Their necromancers and the professor spoke to them in calming, hushed voices and soon put the revenants at ease. They thrust out an arm and shook hands with the necromancers.
On our table, Harold Faartz didn’t move.
I lowered my arms, and the magic settled around me. My teeth worried my bottom lip.
Rosina folded her arms over her chest, and my lab partners frowned while we waited for the body to resurrect. And waited.
A swoosh of air ruffled my hair. The candles on our gurney blew out, smoke curling up from the wicks.
“Relight the candles,” Rosina whispered.
But I couldn’t move. The grim reaper stood on the other side of the gurney now. I gasped as his features became more discernible. His short, blond hair framed a breathtaking face, his skin the color of ivory with ice blue eyes. A muscular frame filled out a black, three-piece suit over a crisp, white shirt. He was maybe a couple of years older than me, and in one hand, he held a scythe, the curved blade shiny and razor-sharp.
Hardly the apathetic specter in black robes I’d always envisioned. This reaper was young and attractive…and smirking at me.
I had the childish urge to kick him in the shins.
“Miss Le’Strange? Is there a problem?” Professor Mortis asked from across the room.
My attention stayed on the reaper, who brought an index finger to his full lips. Our gazes clashed and his stare flared with white-hot interest.
This is just too frigging weird.
“No,” I said quickly.
“Everyone knows you can’t stop in the middle of a resurrection,” Rosina whispered. “If I lose any credits, I’m gonna hex you!”
The infuriating reaper cough-laughed into his fist. Jerk.
“Relax. I’ll just say it again,” I snapped.
Professor Mortis stomped over to our group. “Why hasn’t your corpse been resurrected?”
A warm flush crept over my face. “I’m not sure, sir. Just give me a sec…”
The reaper dissolved into shadows, but I had a weird feeling that he’d turn up again. When he did, I would rip into him, especially since his little stunt might earn me a failing grade.
Professor Mortis stood in front of me. “Miss Le’Strange, you have already failed this class once, and you are now in danger of failing it yet again.”
Harold Faartz’s head popped up over the professor’s shoulder. His eyes appeared milky-white and his mouth stretched into a grotesque smile. His tongue swiped across his blue lips as he focused on the professor’s exposed neck.
My mouth went dry.
Ah, crap.
I hadn’t summoned the spirit of Harold Faartz. I’d accidentally created a flesh-eating zombie.

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