Thursday, 30 October 2014

Piatkus Halloween Treasure Hunt

This Halloween, follow five amazing authors through five fabulous book blogs for the chance to win a grand prize with Piatkus.

Christopher RiceKate EllisTim O’RourkeKristen Callihan and Darynda Jones have joined forces to write a spooky story. Every day from  27th to 31st October , each author’s section of the story will feature on a different blog. Each section of the story will contain a single highlighted letter. Follow the story through the blogs, collecting the highlighted letters as you go and on 31st October  you will have enough letters to spell a single word!

The creepy blog crawl starts here (you don't need to collect a letter from this section of the story):

You wake up at the end of a long, dark corridor. Someone slams and locks the door behind you. There’s no way to go but forwards. At the end of the corridor is a heavy wooden door.
In front of you is an envelope with your name on it. You open it with trembling hands. It says, ‘You have been brought here for a reason. Prove that you are worth saving. Work out the five clues if you want to live.’
You stand up, clutching the letter, and run for the end of the corridor. On the door is a keypad, containing all 26 letters of the alphabet. Knowing, deep down, that it won’t help, you try desperately to open the door. It’s firmly locked. Turning round, you see five doors in the side of the corridor. Three to the left and two to the right. Five doors, five clues. You know what you have to do.

The Hunt

Day 1, 27th October: Head on over to Chicks That Read to read the first installment of the story from Christopher Rice and to collect your first letter!
Day 2, 28th October: Go to Bookthing to read the second installment of the story from Kate Ellis and to collect your second letter!
Day 3, 29th October: Click through to Book Mood Reviews to read the third installment of the story from Tim O’Rourke and to collect your third letter!
Day 4th, 30th October: Head on over to Opinionated Cupcakes  to read the fourth installment of the story from Kristen Callihan and to collect your fourth letter!
Day 5th, 31st October: And finally go to Fiction Fascination to read the fifth installment of the story from Darynda Jones and to collect your fifth and final letter!

Visit that word and you’ll be entered into our competition to win a bundle of Piatkus books and special Halloween sweets.

ROOM FOUR Kristen Callihan

Outside in the corridor I take a deep, trembling breath, trying to banish the image of the old woman. Dreams bring up memories best left buried. Perhaps this is a dream and the corridor an illusion. Hoping to wake, I smash my head against the fourth wooden door.

Pain explodes with blinding brilliance behind my eyelids. “F*cking hell.” Not a dream, then. I have three letters: B, R and A. I need two more.

Forehead smarting, eyes watering, I force myself to enter the fourth room.

My footsteps echo in the cavernous space. My breath is frost in the darkness. From the far side of the room comes the muted tick-tock, tick-tock of a clock. I pause, blood rushing in my ears.

A child’s voice, high and soft, drifts over the icy-blackness. “Ninety years without slumbering. Tick, tick, tick, tick . . .”

My heart stutters. No, no, no. I don’t want to remember. But without thought, I whisper, “His life's seconds numbering. Tick, tick, tick, tick . . .”

Childish laughter rings out, the little voice singing, “It stopp'd short — never to go again . . .”

Numbly, I finish the old nursery song. “When the old man died.”

Terror arcs through me. I have to get out, clue be damned. I spin on my heel, slam into the door. It won’t budge. Won’t let me free. “Let me out! Let me out, you bloody bastards!” My knuckles split against the unyielding wood, blood splattering in glossy dots.

A hiss from behind, and then light flickers across the black wood door. Hairs lift on the back of my neck as I turn.

White faces, their leering grins, highlighted by the lit gas sconces. Masks. Hundreds of masks line the walls.

Sweat rolls down my cheek, my breath a pant that matches the thunderous beat of my heart. Those grins, black goatees painted upon white masks. Guy Fawkes.


And then I see her, at the far end of the room. Large eyes, button nose, cheeks chubby and pink with the freshness youth. My body seizes. She stares back at me, her little lip quivering.

No, no, no. I shut my eyes tight.


Sadie. My knees give out, grief and a cold blast of memory ripping through me.

A louder hiss. My eyes snap open as flames flare high and hot. Crackling fire runs on the diagonal from one corner of the room and stops right in front of me. Taunting.

Not real. It cannot be.

Cool air hits my neck. The door has opened. I can leave this hell. Be free.

Another wall of flames shoots out from the opposite corner, trapping the child in the middle. She cowers against the wall, her tender, little arms rising to protect her face. “Mama!”

Heat pulls my skin tight. Thick, black smoke rolls over the ceiling, snaking down the walls. My throat burns. Too much smoke. Too much heat. Too much pain. Not this. Anything but this. This isn’t real. Leave!

“Mama!” The girl is a tiny form. Orange flames lick along the wood floor, racing to gobble her up.

“Sadie!”  Fear roots me to the floor.

A roaring leviathan of fire crouches over Sadie, its hands reaching out, plucking at her hair. “Mama!”

I run. Into the flames. Agony sears my flesh. Skin blisters, cracking open, yellow fat beneath. Flames punch down my throat, claw at my eyes. Fire eating me alive. No breath. No strength.

“Sadie.” My lip splits, blood runs, and my body slows.

. . . life's seconds numbering, tick, tick, tick, tick . . .

A burst of strength and I am free. And she is before me, her little arms lifted, begging me to hold her. I gather her up, her body solid and real. Relief. Joy.

Pop! Like a bubble, she bursts. Gone. I hold nothing.


Water rushes over me, slapping into the flames. The air crackles and spits. And then all is silent but for my sobs. 

Gone. Gone. Gone.

Upon the floor, a thick swath of blackened wood forms the letter V. My f*cking clue.

Back in the corridor I stand, whole and untouched, and utterly empty.

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