PARANATURAL IS BACK! I'm still on the tail end of recovering from COVID, but that just means a cough and staying cooped up for now. Thank you so much for your patience, and (I hope) for your excitement! We are in a part of the story I have been so thrilled to reach for so SO long. Please enjoy my horrible freaks whom I adore, and please consider backing Paranatural on Patreon so I can continue putting this much time and effort into my pages!
High atop West Hill—past streets lined with sharp fences, unused pools, and signs that threatened swift death at the hands of roving neighborhood watch warbands—there sat a crown of brick, stained glass, and crawling veins of ivy.
Mayview Academy, it was called, though the building had a look that screamed Saint Someone’s. Those screams fell on deaf ears, however—nothing was sacred in the halls of the Academy, no matter how much it resembled a cathedral. During the day, Mayview Academy served as a trophy case for youths predestined for grand colleges, success, and loveless marriages, and a ruthless crucible for sharpening its underclass, their future accountants, stockbrokers, lawyers and ex-wives.
Tonight, though, the Academy was playing host to something worse than wealthy teens: a midnight meeting of the local PTA.
“Mr. President Junior?” a woman in a suit and skull mask asked suspiciously. “Your name’s not on the list.”
Cody and Hijack had reached their final obstacle. A golden gate and two bored guards were all that stood between them and disrupting Davy’s plans.
“Haven’t you heard?” Cody answered, studying his cuticles instead of making eye contact. “I’m the next step in vampire evolution. No invitation required—step aside.”
Davy’s Faveys were breathless behind him, exhausted by the sprint from the limo’s front door back to Cody’s, which they’d opened like a tin of pricey chocolates. Now, though, they swapped nervous glances—hadn’t Cody claimed that his dad was expecting him?
The other guard at the front gate, a grim nosferatu in full SWAT gear, put a hand on the shoulder of the Death Cultist beside him.
“That was really cool,” he said. “We’d better let him in.”
“...Tch!” The cultist snuffed her cigarette, and soon the gates were parting with a slow and haunting creak.
The Hijacks could hardly believe what they were seeing. Here in the cobblestone courtyard at the front of the Academy alone, countless villains, once clandestine, had gathered for an unconcealed soiree. There were cultists with their masks off, tilted jauntily aside; vampiric cops as pale as sallow February snow; what looked like skeletons and zombies brought to life—there were even a few stray spirits here, perched like awkward school dance sideline gargoyles outside the conversation.
It was absurd. Dr. Zarei had trained for years to uproot evil here in Mayview... and here it all was, flourishing in bloom!
“So you’re the mayor, huh?” an animated corpse was asking Spender’s father. “Well, I didn’t vote for you.”
“Aha! Yes. Quite.” Mayor Spender tried to force a laugh that withered to a wheeze. “I suppose I, er, wasn’t on the ballot back in your time. Aha ha.”
“Couldn’t’ve cast one even if you were!” the fleshless cadaver cheerily chirped.
“Ah. Quite, quite. Very important issue, er. Women’s... suffrage?” the mayor guessed, studying the worm-stripped bones he was reluctantly conversing with—unnerved, as politicians always were, by any form of gender ambiguity.
“Felon,” said the skeleton.
“Ha ha.” Mayor Spender tugged at his collar; the Hijacks noted several half-healed bite marks. “Someone ought to... get around to, um... re-enfranchising, er—well not the dead—well not NOT the dead, but, um.” He jabbed a finger in a random direction. “If you’ll excuse me,” said the mayor, and he took off at a jog.
“Brraaiiinss...” groaned a zombie passing by on the hunt for hors d’oeuvres, and the Hijacks gulped a fearful swig of pet store water.
They were soon freed from their trance of disbelief by the metallic clang of Mayview Academy’s gates closing tight behind them. Cody must have sensed the spirits’ shock—he gave their bag a reassuring squeeze.
“Eyes wide, ears open. Or whatever it is that goldfish use to hear,” Cody whispered through a pleasant smile’s edge. “This is how I’m thanking you for helping me—every face here is a villain worth reporting to your mom... and mine, once we go find her. You’re not vampirically bound to keep these creeps secret like I am.”
Cody gestured with a subtle nod up towards a banner hung above the school’s huge, gothic archway entrance. The Hijacks blinked in staggered tandem—the bolded letters “PTA” came into focus through the plastic... but then they made out other words between them:
“WELCOME, LOATHSOME VILLAINS of the
PHANTOM THREAT AUTHORITY”
“What’d I tell you?” Cody laughed. “Your standard PTA meeting.”
The Hijacks didn’t have much time to bask in their bewilderment. Footsteps just as fast and light as rainfall on a rooftop were approaching out of nowhere in an instant; as the Hijacks struggled to swivel towards their source, a raspy breath presaged still stranger sounds that would soon follow.
“CODY, sweetie!” croaked the Witch. “IS that you? Why, it simply CAN’T be!”