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A Place So Wicked


No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any way by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author except as provided by USA copyright law.


This novel is a work of fiction. Names, descriptions, entities, and incidents included in the story are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, events, and entities is entirely coincidental.


Cover design by Christian Bentulan

All rights reserved. Copyright © 2021 Patrick Reuman

All rights reserved.


Up ahead stood a sign, strung up over the center of the highway by a metal arch, white letters reading against a green background: Black Falls, New York one mile. Toby let out a deep sigh of relief, feeling the pain in his buttocks pulse with the hours of sitting they had done in the car.

He didn’t understand why they had to move so far away to begin with. His dad had received tons of job offers closer to home, some close enough even that they may not have needed to move at all. Yet there they were, in the middle of nowhere New York, five hours into driving, and nearly three hundred fifty miles away from all the friends it took him years of awkwardness to acquire.

Toby wasn’t tall, he wasn’t strong, he wasn’t handsome, and he definitely wasn’t cool. But after years of blending in and working to find his place in the puzzle, he had finally found a small group of friends to be a part of. And it only took him until the tenth grade.

Then POOF. It was all gone.

Something happened to his dad at work, something that he refused to be specific about, which forced him to look for a new job. As a top software engineer, the search didn’t take long. He had offers from all across the state, even some in other states. They poured in like his father was the last software engineer on earth.

But he picked this one, at some company Toby had never even heard of, and he liked to think of himself as mildly above-average in terms of tech-knowhow. He recalled his dad bursting in through the door one night, calling everyone into the living room together, and announcing the newly acquired job like he had just won the lottery. They would be moving to Black Falls, a town that took him at least ten minutes to search for on the map before he finally gave in and used an internet map instead, which almost seemed to have troubles of its own locating the tiny dot. The town’s title on the map was in such small letters, dwarfed by many of the other towns in the area, signifying the minute size of Black Falls.

And Black Falls? What kind of dumb name was that? Toby wondered if whoever gave the town that name had simply thought it was a cool name or if there were actually Black Falls somewhere in the area. He doubted it.

His father noticed Toby’s sigh and offered a smile through the rear-view mirror. “You’re gonna love this place,” he said.

“Am I?” Toby replied.

His dad nodded. “Yep. It’s beautiful up here. Quiet. Pretty small school.”

Toby had already looked the school part up. The entire high school consisted of 534 students, about one-third of what his old school had. This was not good news in Toby’s opinion. Fewer students meant it would be harder to blend in. Fewer students meant their showing up would be noticed. They would be the new kids in town.

For his siblings, Trevor and Paisley, who were twins and thirteen years old, that probably wouldn’t make much of a difference. Whatever genes they had acquired had skipped over him completely. Both of them were popular back home. Both, as weird as it sounded, looked good, way better than him. They had no problems. Unlike Toby and his freckles and glasses. His father used to joke that Toby must have been the child of the milkman. To Toby, that reality didn’t seem all that unlikely.

“Did you know that Black Falls was actually rated in USA Today as one of the quickest up-and-coming towns in New York? Its local economy trumps pretty much every other surrounding city,” his dad said. “I looked it up.”

Toby rolled his eyes. “Nice.”

“And, not to brag, but we got one of the biggest houses there. I practically robbed the property owners. They didn’t seem to care too much, though.”

“I call dibs on whatever bedroom I want,” Trevor said.

Paisley started to interject, but their dad cut her off. “I’ll decide who gets what room. We’re not going to fight about stupid things.”

Trevor groaned. “Easy for you to say when you’ll give yourself the biggest room.”

Their mother turned in her seat, looking back at them crammed in the backseat of the car. “You can decide who gets the biggest bedroom when you pay for the house.”

They turned off the highway and glided toward a stoplight. His dad wasn’t wrong. The place was beautiful. He couldn’t quite put his finger on exactly what it was about it that made it this way. The greens: the grass, the leaves in the trees, all of it looked greener somehow, the sky bluer. Everything was just…more.

After they rounded the corner, the town itself came into view quite quickly. A whole crowd of people stood just to the left, out in front of a large church. The building had three tall pillars with crosses at the upper point of each. They were all waving and smiling at them, a mix of older people and younger with a few children scattered here and there. They were all smiling and waving as they came to a stop at a stop sign. His dad rolled the

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