Cheerleading Can Be Murder (Horror High #1)

By: Carissa Ann Lynch

Horror High Series: Book One


Prologue





The Sociopath



Do you want to know what death smells like? What it really smells like?

Take a pound of raw meat—I recommend ground chuck. Stick it in a vacuum-sealed container. Place the container in the fridge and leave it there. A few months later, take it out. Remove the lid.

Nothing can prepare you for the brick wall that smacks your face, filling every orifice of your body simultaneously.

That smell…not only will it blow you away, but smells like that, they stick with you.

Lifeless meat in a tight, confined space produces a smell sharp enough to burn the lashes off your eyelids.

So, for the rest of the day you’ll be moving along…and then some small thing reminds you—little Tommy’s Happy Meal or a dump truck rolling by on garbage day—and your nose twitches, remembers, and the hairs inside your nostrils stiffen. Your throat tickles in the back, bile rising, and your belly rolls uncomfortably. You try to push the thought aside, to forget that smell, but…you can’t.

Like I said, smells stick with you. Even months—maybe years—later, you’ll be walking along, minding your own business, when something—anything, really—reminds you of that smell.

I know what death smells like…

The house is empty, silent. The quiet consumes me, a welcoming blanket…a sign that it’s finally time.

The mini-fridge was my grandma’s idea. A teenager now, she thought I deserved my own little space for drinks and snacks.

I squatted down in front of it, listening to its hum. My heart pumped, excitement building. Today was the day.

It’d been nearly six months now since I started my little “experiment.” I’d kept a journal, taking notes on my observations regarding the specimen. A disciplined endeavor.

I’d done a lot of monitoring, but today was the day to really observe, up close and personal.

I opened the fridge, enjoying the sticky “smooch” sound of the rubber seals on each side separating. A couple cans of soda sat on the top shelf. Generic cola, probably expired. On the bottom was my Tupperware container, its red cap securely fastened in place. Keeping all the smells inside…

Carefully, I slid the container off the shelf, carrying it to the center of my bedroom floor, tiptoeing like a gymnast on a balance beam. I plopped on my belly, burning my bare knees across the carpet. I pressed my face to the plastic, looking inside like it was a tiny window. I made a funny face, pressing my lips to the side and blowing, exposing my teeth.

Two eyes, wide and frozenly frightened, stared back at me through the plastic container. The eyeballs mushy now, there were tiny bits and pieces of egg-white eyeball chunks floating in the fluids surrounding its face. The once shiny black coat faded now to a murky brown color.

Excitedly, I lifted the lid. Taking in the smells of death.

“Meow.” I grinned at my stinky friend.

It was a smell I’d never forget…hopefully.





Chapter One





Dakota



In exactly six minutes, the morning bell at Harrow High will ring, inducting me in as a new freshman. Considering it was my first year of high school, I should have been excited about so many things, like hot senior boys, invitations to unchaperoned parties, and getting my driver’s license in the spring. Alternatively, I should have been worried about mean older girls, finding my classes, and remembering my locker combination. But there was one thing, and one thing only, that I was excited and worried about—Harrow High’s varsity cheerleading tryouts.

I cheered in elementary and middle school, but what I’m talking about now is the Big Leagues. Harrow’s varsity cheerleading squad was one of the best in the nation for cheerleading competitions, and the basketball team they represented on game nights wasn’t too shabby either. I wanted it so bad I could taste it, and I’d been preparing for this my whole life with dance lessons and intense gymnastics training. I was skilled and peppy enough to deserve a spot on the team, but it simply wasn’t that easy. There were so many factors standing in my way of getting a fair shot at my dream.

Here’s the deal—only six girls could make it, and for the past few years, the same six girls had held tightly to their positions. This year was different though because two of the six had graduated, leaving two vacant spots. Everyone who tried out was supposed to have an equal advantage, including the four returning cheerleaders, but I had no doubt that those same four would get their spots back.

The first of the four returning members was Tasha Faraday, a lovely senior with dirty blonde hair, killer legs, and double D breasts despite being perfectly petite. Looks aside, she was a brilliant tumbler, the designated flyer for all pyramids and stunts, and an all-around terrific cheerleader. Her attitude and personality? Well, let’s just say those qualities paled in comparison to her cheerleading abilities and attractiveness.

Tasha’s two sidekicks, Tally Johannsen and Teresa Darling, made up spots two and three. They were great cheerleaders too, but nobody could steal Tasha’s spotlight, not even her two blonde co-stars. Everyone at Harrow High referred to Tasha, Tally, and Teresa as the Triple Ts. In middle school, they were legends. Now it’s my chance to join them.

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