Happy Halloween! It’s time for another Halloween Round Robin from Choc Lit, back by popular demand. Five talented Choc Lit authors have been working collaboratively on a wonderfully spooky short story – The Ghosts of Maplewood Hall – which we will be sharing in five parts in the run-up to Halloween (with the final part falling on the big day itself!) Come back every day to read a new extract AND enter competitions to win chocolate & book prizes.
Each author taking part has no idea where their part of the story will go, which leads to a few spooky surprises along the way. But you’ll need to read on to find out more
Our very own Queen of Spookiness Berni Stevens is rounding off our Halloween story today. We’ll leave you to decide whether our Round Robin this year has been a trick or treat. We know what we think!
A Round Robin is best enjoyed if you read each part in order.
The shadowy figure of Bella shimmered and dissolved back into Kate, who staggered and would have lost her balance if Martine hadn’t rushed to catch her. The sounds of the ball stopped, and doors banged shut with ferocity.
‘Kate …’ Martine gave her friend a gentle shake.
Kate didn’t answer.
‘Not yet,’ Sebastian moved between them. ‘The demon is still here.’
‘Bella …?’ Edward looked at Sebastian, using the name for a question.
‘Is not … was not a demon or a witch. That was not Bella.’
‘How do we get whoever it is out of Kate?’ Martine’s head hurt.
James was staring at her and Kate as if they’d sprouted horns, and perhaps they had. She felt anything could happen here tonight.
‘Marti … what the hell are you talking about?’ His face was ashen.
‘It’s Samhain,’ she said. James still stared at her blankly.
‘The night when the veil between the living and the dead is at its thinnest,’ Sebastian said. ‘And the boundary can be crossed.’
Martine repeated Sebastian’s words to James, who now looked as if he might be sick. He was probably regretting finishing off the pizza everyone else had rejected.
‘Can you see the ghosts yet?’ She asked him.
‘I don’t believe in ghosts.’
That would have been funny under any other circumstances. Here they all were on a ghost-hunt in a haunted house – on Halloween – or Samhain – and the leader of the expedition didn’t believe in ghosts. Perfect.
Sebastian held his arms away from his body. ‘What am I? Scotch mist?’
‘Pretty much,’ she agreed. ‘Still see-through anyway.’
‘Now you’re talking to yourself.’ James muttered.
The sound of scuffling and cursing came from the doorway, as Patrick elbowed Ollie out of the way, and tumbled into the room. How come she’d never noticed the weakness of Patrick’s chin before?
‘Get away from my sister!’
James turned to glare at Patrick, ‘Get lost you stupid git,’ he said.
‘Guys, you’re a couple of wimps,’ said Martine rolling her eyes, and was rewarded with laughs from both James and Sebastian, which was actually a little weird. ‘We still need to get this whoever or whatever out of Kate,’ she said again to Sebastian.
‘I will assist you, Lara.’
“That would be Martine.’
It was Sebastian’s turn to look confused, which was a good trick for someone who was mostly transparent. ‘The other man calls you Lara.’
‘It’s kind of a joke,’ Martine began patiently. ‘Never mind. Can we do an exorcism or something?’
‘Exorcism?’ James looked horrified.
‘No need. Please light a fire to cleanse away the demons,’ said Sebastian, and began to chant in a lilting foreign language.
Martine emptied out her rucksack, picking out the rubbish that had probably lived at the bottom for years. Tissues, old receipts, a pair of fluorescent green socks (so that’s where they went) various sweet wrappers, and a very fluffy extra strong mint. Discarding the mint, she stuffed the rest of the rubbish into the fireplace.
‘James, got any matches?’
Still frowning, he handed her a box of matches, and she lit the little mound of rubbish.
Bright flames leapt up at once, as Sebastian chanted louder.
The temperature in the room dropped suddenly and disembodied voices joined in the chanting.
Suddenly Kate slumped to the floor, and black smoke curled out from her mouth and nostrils, as the chanting got louder and louder. Unfortunately this was the time both Ollie and Patrick decided to take a proper interest in the activity, and seeing Kate and the smoke, they both shrieked in a high falsetto, and pelted from the room still screaming.
The only thing missing was the tinkling soundtrack from The Exorcist. Mike Oldfield had a lot to answer for.
When the boys’ screams had faded in the distance, the chanting stopped abruptly as if someone had thrown a switch. The silence was deafening.
James went to kneel behind Kate and gently cradled her head. Martine could hear him talking softly to her as he stroked her hair back from her face. Deciding her friend would be safe now, she turned back to look at Sebastian. He held out his hand to her, and it looked pretty solid, so she took it.
‘Are you here … or somewhere else?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want me to be?’
‘Here, in my time.’
‘So shall it be.’
Hand in hand they turned to look at Edward, just in time to see him walking away with a pretty dark-haired girl on his arm. Martine blinked as they became fainter – then they faded away altogether.
We knew we could rely on Berni Stevens to finish off our Halloween tale in spooky style. We hope you enjoyed the story! Choc Lit authors are a talented bunch Now it’s time for the Halloween festivities to begin but not before a final competition! Remember you can still enter all of the competitions listed on each extract until Thursday 2nd November.
If you enjoyed Berni’s writing, you can find her books available to purchase from all good online book stockists and retailers. Click on the image below for purchasing options.
To be in with a chance of winning a Berni Stevens paperback and some chocolate simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):
Which items does Martine use to start the fire?
To enter, send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading ‘Round Robin comp 5’ by Thursday 2nd November. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Friday 3rd November.