printed copy

Unafraid: An Archangel Academy Novel

Michael Griffo

ISBN 9780758253408
Publish Date 2/28/2012
Format Trade Paperback
Categories KTeen , Young Adult

The boarding school known as Archangel Academy possesses a legacy of secrets known only to a privileged few. For in this peaceful, charming part of England lives a population of vampires at war with one another—and Michael Howard is caught in the middle of it all…

When Michael left his small Nebraska hometown to enroll at Archangel Academy, he couldn’t have imagined how much the experience would change him. Once mortal, Michael is now a vampire with a destiny that was foretold long ago, and a group of friends with their own mysterious abilities.

But there are enemies too, some of them hiding in plain sight. Being strong enough to defend himself isn’t enough. Michael must find a way to protect his entire race of vampires. Dark forces within the school will drive everyone to take sides in the escalating violence. And for all his new powers, Michael will discover that love, jealousy, and vengeance have a danger all their own…

Prologue

Outside, the earth was asleep.

All of Archangel Academy was under a spell. No creature, human or otherwise, stirred, and the only sounds that penetrated the darkness were gentle, calm, and soothing. The sighs of the midsummer breeze, the whispers of the leaves and the tall blades of grass as they swayed in the faint wind, and the collective breath of the students who were sleeping in their beds, the few who resided here before the official start of the school semester, were all that could be heard. It was a melody that became even more beautiful when it started to rain.

As the first drops fell from the sky, Michael stirred in his sleep. He didn’t wake up, not completely, but he was roused by the arrival of the familiar sound and the fresh, invigorating scent. Drop after drop after drop of water fell against the windowpane, creating a lazy rhythm, a lullaby that seeped into Michael’s dream, making him feel comforted, protected, loved.

Underneath the cotton sheets his hand instinctively reached out for Ronan’s, not stopping until it touched warm flesh and their fingers intertwined. Even while sleeping the boys knew their destiny, knew that their bodies, like their souls, were meant to be joined together, interwoven, one. They had no idea that it was a belief that would soon be put to a test.

A roar of thunder erupted from the sky, disrupting the peace that had cradled the campus. The rumbling continued, growing louder, louder, louder as it spread out, invading building after building until it reached St. Florian’s. When another wave of thunder exploded, Michael woke, startled, unsure of where he was, unsure of what had created the noise, unsure as to why he had been ripped from the serenity of his dream. He looked over and was surprised to see that Ronan was still sleeping, completely unaffected by the harsh intrusion. Michael wished he could be so lucky.

He waited a few moments until his breathing returned to normal and then quietly got out of bed, flinching when his feet touched the floor. Even though it was the end of June the floor was cold, and as he stood before the window he shivered. He crossed his arms against his bare chest and felt chilled air pierce through the thin material of his pajama pants and swirl up and around his legs. He didn’t have to look out the window to know something wasn’t right, but when he did he saw that his fears were confirmed. As far as his eyes could see, the only thing they saw was water.

Racing to the other window in the room, Michael looked out, and the view was the same, water, water, water, nothing more. “Ronan,” Michael cried out, trying to make his voice sound less frightened than he was feeling. “Ronan, wake up!”

His boyfriend didn’t stir, his eyes didn’t flutter, his breathing didn’t quicken, he remained exactly the same. Ronan slept as if the world was simply resting in preparation for a new day. To Michael, the world looked as if it had come to an end.

Bolts of lightning lit up the night sky like electric eels in a black sea, thunderclaps continued to howl like banshees, and the rain, the rain that Michael loved so much pummeled the windows with such fury it was as if the sole purpose of each drop was to shatter the glass. Hoping to prevent such a result, Michael threw open the window and was instantly battered by the freezing rain that felt more like shards of ice than water. He stepped to the side to hide behind the wall and protect his body and was surprised to find that he wasn’t bleeding from the attack. Shielding his eyes with his forearm, he glanced out the window and saw that nothing had changed. He couldn’t tell if his room was still connected to the building; all he knew was that it was somehow floating in the middle of the ocean. And the sea was no longer calm.

Whether because of the storm or because the sea was not thrilled to have a huge, foreign substance floating on its surface, the waves were cresting higher and higher with each passing second. Even with his preternatural agility, Michael had to hold onto the window frame to keep his balance. He was gripping the floor so tightly with his feet that he thought his toes were going to break through the wooden slats. And all the while Michael was trying to stay upright, Ronan was sleeping deeply in their bed.

Something flew past the moon and caught Michael’s eye. He thought at first it might just be another streak of lightning, but it was too small and not as bright. Crouching under the window, Michael rose slowly, his hands positioned in front of his face in a continued attempt to protect it from the onslaught of rain. He squinted and realized with a surge of delight that it was the lark flying in the glow of the moon. His heart swelled at the sight of his old friend, and he watched him dip and curve and weave between and above the glut of raindrops, his wings outstretched to their maximum potential. Michael thought he had never looked so magnificent. He wished that the lark would fly closer so he could hear his song, hear again his signature tune, da-daDAH- da, da-da-da, but the lark stayed away from the eye of the storm. Michael couldn’t blame him, but he wished he were closer so he could tell him how wonderful his life had become, how worthwhile the journey had been, how incredible and amazing every day had been since he came to Double A from Nebraska. But suddenly the lark flew even farther away.

Michael watched, fascinated, awestruck as a giant wave, directly in front of the window, slowly split in two and parted. Looking down into the abyss created by the parting of the wave, Michael couldn’t see ground, he couldn’t see a bottom of any kind, just infinite space. The room hung in the air, suspended, as if the millions of raindrops that continued to shower onto the roof were actually strings being controlled by an unseen puppeteer, a mastermind hiding within the clouds whose only purpose was to keep the room airborne. Until the room fell.

The abrupt descent thrust Michael upward, and he slammed into the ceiling. The accelerated speed kept him glued there until the room shifted and Michael was sent smashing to the floor. Dazed, he tried to get his bearings during the free fall, and if it weren’t for his enhanced vision he would not have seen the bed speed toward him. He jumped up without a moment to spare and heard, but didn’t see, the bed hurtle into the wall behind him; he was too busy looking around the room to make sure another inanimate object didn’t suddenly come alive and hurtle in his direction.

“What the hell is going on?” Michael mumbled to himself.

Before he could find an answer the room tilted again to the other side and Michael flew headfirst into the wall at the far end of the room, barely missing the window. Kneeling on the floor, he reached up and held onto the windowsill. He looked over to his bed and was terrified to see that it was now empty. Ronan was no longer sleeping quietly under the covers, he was floating two feet above the bed, and yet still sound asleep.

“Ronan!” Michael shouted. He knew that it was probably dangerous to startle Ronan and force him to wake up, but he was unable to control his voice. He was no longer interested in and curious about what was happening all around him, he was scared. “Ronan! Wake up!”

Ronan’s only response was physical, and it had nothing to do with the urgent tone of Michael’s voice, and everything to do with the shifting of the room. As it plummeted deeper, deeper, deeper into the hole in the ocean, the room sloped sideways, causing Ronan’s body to bounce into the wall. His right hand that had been resting on his chest fell and dangled at his side, swaying slightly. It was the only visible movement he made.

On his hands and knees Michael started to crawl toward Ronan, desperate to reach him before whatever magic that allowed him to float in midair died out or before they crashed into the bottom of the ocean floor. The latter thought filled him with dread as he realized the room couldn’t fall forever; at some point it had to hit land, and at the speed they were falling he knew that such a landing could be deadly even for them.

“Ronan! Can you hear me?” Michael cried out, but again his words fell against sleeping ears.

From halfway across the room, Michael felt cold water spray over him, making his skin grow even colder and soaking his pants until they were dripping wet. He thought it was the rain whipping against his body, but he was wrong; the ocean water was gushing in through the open window at breakneck speed. They hadn’t landed; Michael could still feel the room descending. It looked, however, as if the waves had reconnected and the room was now submerged under the hostile ocean. One of the bedside tables slid across the room, stopping only when it got wedged between the bed and a bookshelf, stopping right next to Michael. Using the solid piece of furniture as leverage, Michael pulled himself into an upright position as the water kept rushing into the room. Pouring, pouring, pouring into the room so quickly that in seconds Michael was knee-deep in ice-cold water.

Standing in the middle of his plummeting room, Ronan floating in the air just out of his grasp, Michael couldn’t understand why he was filled with a crippling fear. This was only water, there was nothing to be afraid of. I’m a child of Atlantis, Michael reminded himself. The ocean is home to me, sanctuary, there’s no reason to be frightened. And yet he was, he was absolutely terrified.

The room started to shake even more violently and his terror grew, because even though the room was rocking back and forth, pitching up, then falling at an even faster speed, he no longer moved. The water had turned to ice and had locked him into place. He tried to move his legs, break free from the icy grip, but not even his vampire strength could shatter the ice. Despite the freezing temperature, Michael felt beads of sweat race down the sides of his face, down the insides of his arms. For some reason the ocean, the water, maybe even The Well itself were all rebelling against him.

“Don’t you know that I’m one of you?!” Michael screamed.

The ice started to rise and lock itself around Michael’s legs, then his waist. He looked out the window, desperate to find a way out, anything, anyone who could come to their rescue. In the distance he saw the meadowlark, watching, staring, not coming closer, not offering any help. A cloud of smoke erupted behind the lark and raced toward the room. Michael almost cried out in joy when he realized the cloud was fog and he knew that Phaedra must have returned to save him, to fulfill the pledge that she had made to his mother when she died. But he was wrong, the fog was nothing more than fog. It didn’t evaporate and reveal a supernatural being; it didn’t offer his salvation; it was simply the result of the cold air rising from the ocean. There was nothing left for Michael to do except to try and reach his boyfriend. Ronan had the same idea.

“Michael,” Ronan said calmly; his right arm that had been dangling was now outstretched, his hand, his fingers aching to be held. “You must protect me.”

Reaching his hand out toward Ronan, Michael stretched his body as much as possible, but there were still several inches of empty air between them. “I don’t know what to do,” Michael said. “I don’t know how!”

“You will,” Ronan said. His smile was warm, his expression in stark contrast to Michael’s mask of fear. “When the time comes, love, you’ll know what to do.”

But Michael had no idea what to do. He had no idea how to save Ronan or himself or stop the ice from rising up past his neck where it now rested or make Ronan stop floating in the air, so he did the only thing he could think of, he prayed. He begged The Well to make the nightmare end. He begged for their room to return to campus and for the water to recede and for the ocean to disappear. When he opened his eyes he wasn’t sure if The Well had consented to his plea or if he had just been dreaming.

He was back in bed lying next to Ronan who was still asleep, but now safely under the covers. The rain had stopped, the room wasn’t covered in ice, and Michael could see out the windows that they were back on Archangel ground, back where they belonged. Stunned but grateful, Michael turned to face Ronan. He placed his arm over his chest and shivered not because of the cold this time, but because of the beautiful warmth that emanated from Ronan’s body. For a few seconds all he could do was stare at Ronan’s face, christened by the shadows of the night, until he knew exactly what he needed to say. “Don’t be afraid,” Michael whispered. “I’ll always be here to protect you.”

Ronan clutched Michael’s hand and smiled in his sleep. Michael felt the breath escape his lips; he knew that Ronan heard him, he knew that he believed him. And Michael finally understood his purpose.

About Michael Griffo:

Michael Griffo is an award-winning writer and a graduate of New York University. He has studied at Playwrights Horizons and Gotham Writers Workshop, and has written several screenplays.


Average Customer Review

Based on 0 reviews



Write a Review