The Isle of the Lost (Page 7)

Magic Mirror on the wall, who’s the stupidest of them all?

Carlos De Vil looked up from the contraption he was assembling and shot the new girl a shy smile. “It’ll be okay. Mal just likes to be left alone,” he said. “She’s not as tough as she seems. She only talks a big game.”

“She does? What about you?” the blue-haired princess asked.

“I don’t have a game. Unless you consider getting beat up and pushed around a game, which in a way I guess it is. But really it’s not that entertaining, unless you happen to be the one doing the beating and the pushing.”

Carlos turned his attention back to the mess of wires in front of him. He was smaller and younger than the rest of the class, but smarter than most of them. He was an AP student: Advanced Penchant (for Evil). It was only right, since the infamous Cruella was his mother. His mother was so notorious, she had her own song. He hummed it under his breath sometimes. (What—it was catchy!) Sometimes he would do it just to send her into hysterics. Then again, that wasn’t so difficult. Cruella’s witch doctors believed she was sustained by pure metabolic fury. Privately, Carlos thought of it as her Rage Diet: no carbs, just barbs—no hunger, just anger—no ice cream, just high screams.

His thoughts were interrupted by his friendly new seatmate. “I’m Evie. What’s your name?” she asked.

“Hi, Evie, I’m Carlos De Vil,” he said. “We met once before, at your birthday party.” He’d recognized her the minute she walked in. She looked exactly the same, just taller.

“Oh. Sorry. I don’t remember much about the party. Except how it ended.”

Carlos nodded. “Yeah. Anyway, I’m also your neighbor. I live just down the street in Hell Hall.”

“You do?” Evie’s eyes went wide. “But I thought no one lived there but that crazy old lady and her—”

“Don’t say it!” he blurted.

“Dog?” she said at the same time.

Carlos shuddered. “We—we don’t have dogs,” he said weakly, feeling his forehead begin to perspire at the very thought. His mother had told him dogs were vicious pack animals, the most dangerous and terrifying animals on earth.

“But she’s always calling someone her pet. I thought you were a d—”

“I told you, don’t say it!” warned Carlos. “That word is a trigger for me.”

Evie put up her hands. “Okay, okay.” Then she winked. “But how do you fit in the crate at night?”

Carlos only glared.

Their first class was Selfishness 101, or “Selfies” for short, taught by Mother Gothel, who took way too many self-portraits with an old Polaroid camera.

The photos were littered around the classroom: Mother Gothel making a duck face, sleepy-eyed Mother Gothel in an “I woke up like this” pic, Mother Gothel in “cobra” pose. But Mother Gothel herself was nowhere to be found. She was always at least a half hour late, and when she finally arrived, she was irritated to find the students there before her. “Have I taught you nothing about being fashionably, annoyingly late to every engagement?” she asked, letting out an exasperated sigh and collapsing dramatically into her chair, one hand fanned over her eyes.

For the next half hour or so they studied Portraits of Evil, comparing the likenesses of the most famous villains in history, many of whom lived on the island and some of whom were their parents. Today’s class just happened to feature Cruella De Vil.

Of course.

Carlos knew the portrait by heart, whether or not he was looking at it.

His mother. There she was in all her finery, with her tall hair and her long red car, her eyes wild and her furs flying in the wind.

He shuddered again and went back to tinkering with his machine.

Class ended, and students began to file out of the classroom. Evie asked Carlos what his next subject was, and looked happy to discover they both had Lady Tremaine for Evil Schemes. “That’s another advanced class—you must have a really high EQ,” he told her. Only those who boasted off-the-charts evil quotients were allowed to take it. “It’s this way,” he said, motioning up the stairs.

But before they could get too far, a cold voice cut through the chatter. “Why, if it isn’t Carlos De Vil,” it said behind them.

Carlos would know that voice anywhere. It was the second-most terrifying on the island. When he turned, Mal was standing right behind him, next to Jay. Carlos automatically checked his pockets to make sure nothing had disappeared.

“Hey, Mal,” he said, trying to appear nonchalant. Mal never spoke to anyone except to scare them or to complain that they were in her way. “What’s up?”

“Your mom’s away at the Spa this weekend, isn’t she?” Mal asked, elbowing Jay, who snickered.

Carlos nodded. The Spa—really just a bit of warmish steam escaping from the crags of rock in the ruined basement of what had once been a proper building—was Cruella’s one bit of comfort, her one reminder of her luxurious past.

How far the De Vils had fallen, just like the rest of the Isle.

“Y-yes,” he said uncertainly, unsure if that was the correct answer even though it was the truthful one.

“Right answer,” Mal said and patted him on the head. “I can’t exactly give a party at my place without my mother yelling at everyone, not to mention the whole flying crockery issue.”

Carlos sighed. Like the rest of the Isle, he knew parties brought out Maleficent’s worst behavior. There was nothing she hated more than people openly having fun.

“And we can’t have it at Jay’s because his dad will just try to hypnotize everyone into being his servants again,” Mal continued.

“Totally,” agreed Jay.

Carlos nodded again, although he wasn’t sure where this was leading.

“Great. Perfect. Party at your house. Tonight.”

Party? At his house? Did he hear that right?

“Wait, what? Tonight?” He blanched. “I can’t have a party! I mean, you should understand, my mom doesn’t really like it when people come over—and, um, I’ve got a lot of work to do—I have to fluff her furs, iron her undergarments, I mean—” He gulped, embarrassed.

Mal ignored him. “Spread the news. Hell Hall’s having a hell-raiser.” She seemed to warm to the thought. “Get the word out. Activate the twilight bark, or whatever it is you puppies do.”

“Bowwow,” barked Jay with a laugh.


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