Hi everyone! So, for this special day of Samhain (more commonly known as Halloween) I wanted to write a story based on a yearly tradition I had as a high schooler. Every year, my group of best girl friends used to go to this haunted house attraction during October called Frightmare on Market Street. Of course, this story is much more demented than what usually happened, but it was oh so fun to write even though I disturbed myself a few times. I’ve included the blurb and book cover below, and after that I thought I’d give you all a preview of the
first second draft, which is currently with the editor right now. Also, don’t forget that today is the final day to enter the YA Week of Creep giveaway; the submission for it is at the bottom of this post or just click that link in front of the semicolon.
Kelsey and her friends are spending Halloween night at the Haunted House on Main Street, their town’s biggest spooky attraction. Every year, they visit, but Kelsey never seems to find the thrill she wants. This time, she convinces the others to attempt the Nine Levels of Hell, which is rumored to be so terrifying that no one has ever made it all the way through. When one of her friends is kidnapped and another found dead, Kelsey and her remaining comrades must escape the haunted house before being caught by the chainsaw man.
Nine Levels (Excerpt)
Kelsey huddled closer to her best friend, Sierra, and shivered in the limb-biting, cold night. Pale, orange light beamed down on them from the street lamp, but it didn’t provide any warmth. It was only the end of October, but the nights were already freezing. Beneath her wool-lined jacket, Kelsey’s cellphone vibrated and chirped.
“That better be them,” Sierra said through chattering teeth. “We’re almost to the front of the line.”
Kelsey glanced to her left where another three or four groups of people stood. Most of them were college girls looking for a thrill, but there was one group of guys who looked like they were a grade lower than her and Sierra. The bluish glow from her phone alerted her to a new text message from Kara that read, “C the line b there in 2.”
She texted back, “K hurry we’re @ the front.” Once it sent, she locked the screen and shoved it back into her pocket. The line moved forward, but Kelsey lingered.
“They’re close. Kara said she saw the line.”
Sierra had moved several feet forward. “Wanna meet them? I’ll hold our spot.”
“Yeah, I’ll be back.” She stepped off the curb to maneuver around the crowded sidewalk lined with people yammering about the haunted house. The Main Street haunted house was the biggest, most frightening Halloween activity in town. Even though it was advertised as a haunted “house,” it was really more like an abandoned, underground warehouse made up to look like a haunted house.
Kelsey and her friends went every year, but while her friends were screaming and running as though their life depended on it, nothing ever surprised her. One time, she faked a scream when the chainsaw guy loomed over her with his noisy prop, but in the end, she walked away with a shrug. This year was special, though. They were attempting the Nine Levels of Hell, an off-shoot of the main house that was so scary an entire varsity football team couldn’t get past level three. That was the rumor, anyway.
“Kels!” Kara called. Jeff and Cory followed behind her, as always. They followed her everywhere as if doing so would make her sleep with them. It was a well-known fact that Kara was the hottest girl in school, despite what the “popular” girls wished, with her long, slender legs and perfectly obedient hair. Not like Kelsey’s auburn curled hair that would rather puff around her head than form controlled spirals.
“Sierra’s holding our place. We’re probably next by now,” she said as she and Kara hugged.
“S’up,” Cory said. He hugged her as well, but Jeff just grunted and nodded his head.
Kelsey led the others up the line until they met Sierra, who was waiting next to a guy dressed in a black cloak. He had white and black paint on his face to make it look like a skull. In one hand, he held a plastic scythe, and the other hand rested on the thick, red cord that blocked off the entrance to the haunted house.
“See, I told you they were coming,” Sierra said to him.
“Yeah, yeah. You’re lucky it didn’t hold up the line.” He continued on with his spiel about the rules, which they had heard a million times before. At the end, he said, “If you want to try the Nine Levels of Hell, then you’ll take the right tunnel instead of the left tunnel.”
“Is it true you give us each fifty bucks if we make it all the way through the nine levels?” Cory asked from behind Kelsey, Kara, and Sierra.
The fake grim reaper rolled his eyes. “I wish people would stop spreading that rumor. No, we don’t pay you.” He unhooked the cord to allow them access to the Haunted House. Sierra grabbed Kelsey’s hand and they entered through the first door.
Just on the inside, light from the street illuminated only the front foyer. Beyond it, darkness hid the hallway. A small, neon glow of paint from somewhere within the black painted walls indicated the path that they would take. Kelsey imagined they would need to move in closer before they could see the trail more accurately.
“I think the guys should go first,” Sierra said. Her hand was already trembling in Kelsey’s.
“Agreed,” Kelsey said.
Corey stepped slightly behind Jeff’s bulking form. “What? No way.”
“I think that’s the smartest idea. The guys are way stronger than us and could totally protect us from anything scary,” Kara said in her most pouty voice. As if to solidify this fact, someone screamed from somewhere in the house. Corey didn’t look like he had changed his mind, but when Jeff grunted and pushed past the girls, he couldn’t refuse.
“Fine, but if the chainsaw guy shows up, you’re on your own,” he said.
Kara walked a step behind them with Kelsey and Sierra bringing up the rear. It wasn’t the ideal place to be, Kelsey thought, but it wasn’t as bad as being in the front. Sometimes, people in the back of the group could miss jump scares, but there was also the risk of something creeping up behind them. A roll of thunder rumbled through the darkness. Of course, it wasn’t real thunder, but the surround sound was impressive, nonetheless.
LED lights lined the edge of the floor, and Kelsey kept her eyes focused on them as they walked. They weren’t even in the main house, yet, and her body was already buzzing with adrenaline. Glow in the dark paint decorated the wall at the end of the entrance room leading to two separate paths, which Kelsey had only looked up to see when Corey asked which side they were supposed to take.
“Wasn’t it the left?” he said.
“No, dumbass. He said the right,” Sierra said.
“Are you sure?” Kara asked.
“He definitely said right,” Kelsey agreed.
“Right it is then,” Corey grumbled. He and Jeff led them through the right doorway and into a spinning corridor. It might have been just the walls spinning around them, but between being painted in black and white spirals and rhythmic flash of the strobe light, Kelsey wasn’t sure whether or not the ground was actually moving. Either way, the room made her stomach lurch.
Her friends held out their arms to maintain their balance as they crossed the corridor. A low groan echoed from behind them. Kelsey wanted to look over her shoulder to check if they were being followed, but she could barely look away from the ground in fear of seeing something too scary. The guys hopped down two stairs and disappeared around a black corner. Kara bounced on the balls of her feet toward the next room, clearly trying to be graceful as she stumbled to level herself out. While Sierra took her time transitioning from the spinning corridor to solid ground, Kelsey gratefully obliged and lingered with her.
“The scares haven’t even started and I already want to barf,” Sierra said.
After a moment, Kelsey asked, “Ready? I don’t want to be too far behind. Remember, they love to really scare people who linger.”
“Yeah.” They maneuvered around the darkened corner until they couldn’t see anything in front of them. The walls felt cool and bumpy beneath Kelsey’s fingertips. She felt around until she found another corner, which led into the next room.
The others stood a few feet inside the dimly lit room and crowded around a roped off corner. A flicker of light briefly illuminated the room to reveal ghastly corpses adorned with white gauze and bloody paint. Thunder crashed above their heads. The girls screamed, which made the guys laugh.
“This is the first level of Hell?” Corey said with a scoff. “It’ll be a piece of cake. If they’re all like this.”
“They get scary each level,” Kelsey said. She looked around the room to get a better idea of the potential scares.
The center of the room was clear while all corners had been roped off. The left corner next to her and her friends had the ghouls, some of which were clawing their way out from graves. Others leaned against the wall or headstones. One in particular reached out to them, its skeletal face was frozen in agony. It looked much more detailed than Kelsey had seen in previous years.
The group moved to the back of the room where a doorway led to the next section. In the corners on either side, more of the white billowed around the walls. There didn’t seem to be any ghouls in either of them. Kelsey stared at the left side, hoping to find something no one else had. Lightning flashed again. For a moment, she thought there had been a shadow behind the gauze. When a second flicker of light lit the room, though, Kelsey saw nothing.
Kara backed away toward the door. “Let’s go before—” She shrieked as a pair of arms grabbed her from within the darkness of the doorway. The ghoulish arms wrapped around her chest and waist and pulled her into the black emptiness. Kelsey and the others screamed, but she had disappeared before they could react.
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