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About the author:
Michael Palmer-Cryle began writing at an early age and his first illustrated children’s book, “the Punk Puss” was published in the pages of his hometown newspaper when he was ten years of age. it was dreadful and embarrasses him deeply to this day, you will never be allowed to see it… ever. with the mortification of that event behind him, he now focuses on young adult fantasy fiction, as well as illustrated children’s books. His debut novel ‘Hieronymus Jones and the teacup squid’ is available now and book two will be released soon. Michael is an independent (indie) author, publishing under the imprint of Sleepy Goblin Press. Michael lives in Brisbane, Australia with his partner and two cats.
Here is a short sample from the book:
It slept deeply, it had not moved in centuries, a churning mass of twisted flesh. Large chunks of floating ice drifted around the creature, like satellites, as it slumbered. No light made it this far down, it slept undisturbed, surrounded by the black and the cold, it not only slept, it waited, for something far away and high above.
It was the kind of nauseating stench that made your nostrils throw up into their own mouths. A wretch inducing odor produced by a place that the boy simply could not understand, why anybody enjoyed, let alone sought out… the ocean. He gazed out of the second storey window at that shimmering blue mess of water and wondered to himself, why in the name of all that's holy would anyone willingly set foot into that quagmire of sea foam and fish farts? Hieronymus Jones hated the ocean.
Hate was not the word, wasn't strong enough, loathe perhaps? Yes, he loathed the ocean and the fact that he lived on an island completely surrounded by the stuff, irked him to no small degree. The island itself was considered by most to be quite a beautiful place, the beaches were a cheerful pale yellow and made of sand as opposed to those small rocks that pretend they
are a beach, but actually slice the soles of your feet to ribbons. The island was mid-sized, large enough that you couldn't walk all the way around it without packing a picnic lunch, a torch and a change of clothes, yet small enough that its population was only a few thousand strong. Densely forested in the centre with a natural fresh water spring that fed a small sluggish river of crystalline water, that snaked through the centre of town. This was most people’s idea of heaven, most people but not Hieronymus Jones.
It was not simply the ocean that caused him to narrow his eyes in disgust but the island itself. Not because of the forest or river or the little town with roughly hewn cobblestone streets, that the city council chose not to turn into something more presentable, no, he hated the island for what it had taken from him and for the secrets it refused to reveal. However, the boy had secrets of his own.
Hieronymus was a strange boy, a hair past fifteen, tall and pale with jet black hair, dark brown eyes and a very peculiar kind of mind.
“Hieronymus Jones!” his name had not been said but screeched and at high volume.
“Yes Ms. Cooper?” Hieronymus replied apathetically, yet sweetly enough so as not to earn further disapproval from his ageing teacher.
“Pay attention.” She narrowed her eyes causing the thin skin around them to contort into a flurry of crow's feet and other assorted wrinkles. Her thin lips pursed to such a degree that Hieronymus feared that if she were to purse any harder, her lips would dislodge from her face and fly across the room. The small classroom laughed mockingly at the expense of Hieronymus Jones, the cackle was joined by the occasional utterance of ‘loser', nothing new there. Certainly nothing for him to concern himself with. Hieronymus was very often the target of unpleasant behavior, he had learned to not care, or more correctly, learned not to show that he did.
Ms. Cooper continued taking attendance as she had been doing when she caught Hieronymus deep in, ocean hating, thought, one by one she read off the names of her class’s students, it was not a long process. The class was comprised of seventeen students, a fairly large class for a community of this size, and it was about to grow slightly larger.
The knock on the classroom door was sharp and slightly annoyed, the knocker did not wait for an invitation but simply entered, this was after all, his school. Principal Abernathy loomed in the doorway, a tower of a man, he had to dip his head slightly to avoid hitting the door’s frame as he entered.
“Ms. Cooper, you look well.” Principal Abernathy half-heartedly spoke in a monotone voice. Ms. Cooper simply made a guttural grunt in response, she was well aware that she did not look well, she looked like she was pushing ninety and was sick to the back teeth of this island and all its fricken students, she did however manage a strained smile. Principal Abernathy handed Ms. Cooper a few sheets of loose paper, his dour and slightly disturbing expression had not changed since he entered the room and would not change after he left it, possibly not ever.
“New student, transfer.” Principal Abernathy knew the grumbling that would come from Ms. Cooper and as he had no interest in any such grumblings he beat a hasty retreat. As he dipped his head and glided back out the door he simply said, “Go in now.” In a disinterested kind of way.
A small face poked sheepishly around the edge of the door and Hieronymus, who had been completely unconcerned with these goings on, saw her for the first time and sat up a little straighter in his seat.
It was extremely unusual for a student to transfer to a school this late in the year, it was even more unusual for a student to transfer here…ever. Hieronymus Jones had never heard of a student transfer to the island before, there was no mention of any transfers since the building of the school one hundred and thirty seven years ago. Hieronymus had read every record and remembered every word. This was indeed an unusual event but not as unusual as her.
“Well? Come in dear.” Ms. Cooper spoke in a softer tone than she usually did, almost welcoming. The new girl entered the room and stood to the side and slightly behind Ms. Cooper, she seemed to be studying her own feet intensely, either they were extraordinarily interesting feet or the new girl was terrified.
“Class we have a new student, everybody say hello to…what was your name dear?” Ms. Cooper fumbled through the sheets of paper she had been given moments ago, it was all for show, she wasn't wearing her glasses and was blind as a bat without them. She was simply waiting for the new girl to pipe up and introduce herself, which was taking an annoyingly long time, Ms. Cooper thought to herself.
“Green, Gertrude Green.” the new girl squeaked.
“Like Bond, James Bond.” The comment was met with far too much laughter for a very ordinary joke, but this reaction was normal when the jokes were made by Lucas Ballantyne. Tall, blonde, blue eyes. Hieronymus Jones hated Lucas Ballantyne, not as much as the ocean certainly, but still more than was average.
“Settle down,” Ms. Cooper hissed, Lucas Ballantyne curled his lip but remained silent.
“Continue , Gertrude was it?” Ms. Cooper was fast losing interest.
“Yes ma’am umm, just Gerty.” the new girl, squeaked again.
“You can take a seat Gertrude.” Ms. Cooper scanned the room with failing eyes. “There at the back next to Krystelle.” When Ms. Cooper said that, she wasn’t intending to incur the wrath of the impossibly spoiled Krystelle, yet wrath was coming her way none the less.
“Eck, I don’t think so.” Krystelle spoke in an accent that was not real and fooled nobody. Hieronymus assumed the girl had fashioned this accent after watching too much television, it was the sort of accent that used the word ‘like’ as punctuation. Tall, blonde, blue eyes. Hieronymus hated Krystelle not as much as Lucas or the ocean certainly, but still more than was average.
“Like, she looks like she was dressed by an eight year old, like twenty years ago. I like, don't want her sitting near me.” Krystelle only used “like” three times, in ways other than it’s intended use, which had to be some kind of record for her. Hieronymus looked at Gertrude, she was mortified, as you would expect, her first day and this was her welcome? Unacceptable.
“There is a spare desk beside me Ms. Cooper, perhaps that would be a better fit?” Hieronymus stated in a matter of fact kind of way. Ms. Cooper nodded her approval and Gertrude walked over to the spare desk away from that horrible girl and toward this very… odd boy.
As the new girl, Gertrude, approached what was to be her new desk, she was scrutinized by every resident of the classroom. She wore high top sneakers with different colored laces on each, light blue faded overall shorts, that ended half-way down her thigh and had a pocket on the front at her chest, and a very old and worn T-shirt that was many sizes too big for her. Hieronymus hated to admit it, but she did indeed dress oddly, however, there was something charming about the style, beguiling. Gertrude was taller than most of the girls in her new class but still a head shorter than Hieronymus, she was as pale as he was, but where his skin had an almost ashen tone, hers was like milk, pale but vibrant. There were a smattering of freckles on her cheeks and the bridge of her nose, her eyes were hard to make out as they were mostly covered by thick, wavy and impossibly red hair. That hair was long and was wild, not messy, just untamed. As Gertrude took her seat she looked at Hieronymus and for the first time he saw her eyes, absurdly green, flicked with amber and fighting to hold back tears.
“Thank you.” Gertrude barely whispered the words.
“I abhor a bully.” Hieronymus stated as if his actions were no more important than placing a lunch order, but those actions, the simple act of offering this girl a place to sit, would irrevocably alter both of their lives, for as long as they lived them.