She’s Bad News
What would you do if you woke up with super powers?
For Bella Brown, life hasn’t gone according to plan. She’s almost thirty, still living in her uneventful hometown, and her dreams of becoming an investigative reporter have fallen by the wayside.
That is, until she wakes up one morning to find she’s been gifted with some amazing new abilities. What’s a girl to do with heightened senses, super speed and the ability to lift a truck one-handed? Bella quickly discovers that her new powers can easily help her land front-page leads at local newspaper The Hartleybourne Gazette.
Soon Bella’s out every night chasing down local criminals for stories, while keeping her powers a secret from everyone besides flatmate Chloe. But when a burglary-gone-wrong accidentally turns her into the mysterious Hartleybourne Heroine, Bella finds herself on the front page for the wrong reasons. Her secret becomes harder to keep as she tries to track down the source of her powers, and especially when crime reporter Matt Gilmore is intent on unmasking the town’s new vigilante…
Suddenly, having an extraordinary life is far more dangerous than she ever imagined.
SHE’S BAD NEWS
In this extract, Bella is visiting the doctor after waking up with the mysterious new abilities. It’s clear that her apparent ‘hangover’ is something else entirely…
“I’m sorry to have to ask you this, Bella, but are you familiar with the term hypochondria?”
Dr Caulton made the noise again. A quiet grunt of indignation. I couldn’t tell if it was just a habit, or if he was trying to dislodge something that was lingering in the back of his throat.
“Of course I know what hypochondria is. But I’m not a hypochondriac. I’m telling you, something’s not right.”
The look on his face said it all. He was blatantly judging me, probably making a silent diagnosis of severe overreaction while rattling off an inner monologue about wasting NHS money. I hadn’t been blessed with the overnight ability to read minds, but this one was hardly a challenge.
“I’ve explained this to you once, but I’m happy to go over it again,” he said, turning to his screen one more time. I could read it from the cheap plastic chair I was sitting in, the one he really wanted me to get out of. Even though I shouldn’t have been peeking, I couldn’t help it. There it was, a list of previous ailments that had put me in this very chair before; a migraine, stomach cramps that didn’t seem normal, and a bad cold that Layla insisted I get checked out in case I’d unwittingly unleashed a virus into the office air con. “If it gets in, that’s the end of us,” she’d said. “You’ve seen all those zombie movies. That’s how it begins! Go and get something for it, just don’t stay in here.” Then she’d stormed off, hand over her nose as if that alone would stop a deadly epidemic. No, I wasn’t a frequent visitor to Dr Caulton’s office. In fact, I tried to avoid rooms full of sick people whenever possible. So there was no need for him to be getting all judgey.
“Bella…you’re perfectly fine,” he concluded.
“But I’m not fine, am I?” I pleaded. “Okay, I feel a bit bad for coming here but trust me, I am not myself. I’m not some paranoid worrier checking out Yahoo Answers every time I have a sniffle. Believe me, I’m different. I want to be in this seat as much as you want me out of it but trust me, I’m not myself.”
How could I make it any simpler?
Then again, my situation wasn’t entirely simple. There seemed to be…well, nothing wrong with me as such. But that was the very issue. I was in perfect physical health. I was suddenly strong, and fast, and…well, I had never been any of those things before.
But in the eyes of a medical professional, I was totally fine.
I had already been subjected to a blood test, and I hated the sight of blood. “It’s just…” I trailed off, distracted by the posters on the surrounding beige walls. ‘CONCERNED ABOUT DEMENTIA?’ was pinned haphazardly to ‘CAN YOU NAME ALL THE TYPES OF STI?’
I wasn’t in the mood for a pop quiz about gonorrhoea, so I turned back to the matter at hand. Dr Caulton pulled his eyes away from the screen, rubbed his brow, and turned to me. Any moment now he was going to roll up a pamphlet and try and swat me out like a fly. “Bella,” he said, with a slight edge to his voice. He was already agitated due to the fact I’d bagged an emergency out-of-hours Sunday appointment just to tell him how fine I was. I understood, but still. Why wouldn’t he believe me? “I understand your concern, but having examined you I really do think there’s nothing to worry about…”
I slid off the chair, annoyed. “But my eyes. How do you explain my eyes?”
“Your sudden change in eyesight is very strange, I’ll agree. But I can’t see anything wrong at this stage. However, I’d suggest you get a sight test. Just for peace of mind.”
“Don’t you want to refer me to a specialist or anything?”
Hmph. There it was again. “At this stage? No.”
“But my hearing. I can hear everything! I can’t sleep because of it.” How could I, when I could hear the whole town around me invading my quiet-time? If it wasn’t the sound of sirens zooming about the place, it was my own building preventing me from slumber. Guy From Upstairs and his late-night party anthem workout which now seemed extra loud, clashing with the noise of the couple downstairs having quite experimental sex. It finally took three camomile teas and Adele ballads on full volume before I finally crashed out at 4am.
“I can give you something for insomnia.”
“Well that might be helpful, actually. But there’s also my strength…”
Oh God, my strength.
After the bike incident, I’d rushed back through the streets to the flat, trying to make sense of what had happened. Hands shaking, I stood at the front door, fumbling in my pocket for the communal key. Shirley still hadn’t bothered to get the age-worn door fixed, so it constantly jammed. Giving it the usual tiny shove, I was shocked when the whole thing fell off its hinges.
Either the door had finally given up on life, or something was amiss. Things seemed lighter all of a sudden. Bikes, bags, furniture…they barely weighed a thing. I hurried straight into Chloe’s room, where she kept her home fitness equipment piled up in one corner, and moments later there I was, in front of my flatmate’s full-length mirror, lifting 30kg with absolute ease. I’d watched Chloe struggle, face sweaty as she pushed herself to move the bar with even less on it. Up, down, up, strain! And there I was, holding it like it was nothing.
Author Bio – Elle Spellman is a writer and comic book geek living in Bristol, UK. She’s been writing since a very young age, spending her childhood afternoons penning stories about fictional adventures, and illustrating them too.
Now, Elle tends to write contemporary fiction with kick-ass heroines and a little bit of magic. She’s Bad News is her debut novel, and she’s just finished working on her second. Her other interests include running, wine, red lipstick, the paranormal, and all things Batman.
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Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17378224