I recently had the honour of being asked to sponsor a competition in Cambridge. It was organised by a number of school who come together to form the 'CB4 group'.
Children were given the first chapter of my book, Doorway To Danger. Based on this, they had to create their own version of the story. Winners in different age categories, along with an overall winner, were announced at Heffers Bookshop, Cambridge, on 25th November. They all got copies of my books, and runners up received posters and bookmarks.
The winners of the CB4 Writing competition, with members of Cambridge FC,
who presented them with their prizes.
Unfortunately, I wasn't able to attend the prize giving, so I filmed a video instead, in which I announce the overall winner (Frankie) and read out his story. You can watch this below. Frankie's story was excellent - and very, very creepy, so be warned... it's the stuff of nightmares!
Below, you can also find a written copy of Frankie's winning story, including my opening chapter that inspired it.
Well done to Frankie, all the other winners and everyone else who entered the competition. Keep up the great work!
Here is the full story: my opening chapter is in blue, followed by Frankie's story in black!
‘There are people coming!’ Thatch shouted, floating into the upstairs bedroom as fast as he could manage.
‘People!’ Rose shrieked.
Willow put her hand on Rose’s shoulder to calm her.
‘But there have been no people near this house, since... well, since Eric came,’ she said.
She glanced over to Eric, who was floating above his favourite chair. The thick glasses twitched on his nose.
‘And I arrived over ten years ago,’ he said. ‘I came looking for ghosts, but I never thought I would end up as one.’
‘We know,’ said Thatch. ‘The amount of times you’ve told us that!’
‘Show Eric some respect!’ Willow said sternly. ‘He’s older than you Thatch.’
Thatch rolled his eyes. ‘We’re all ghosts, what difference does it make? I’ve been stuck here longer than he has.’
Willow looked down at the floor. Suddenly, any excitement about the people coming towards the house disappeared, replaced with a great fear. Willow had been in the house longer than the other ghosts – over ninety years. She knew all too well what happened to people who stepped through the front door.
‘Are they definitely coming this way?’ she whispered.
‘I saw them out of the front window,’ said Thatch.
‘Is one of the people a girl?’ asked Rose eagerly.
She had been the youngest when she died. Only six years old. Willow still remembered watching it happen, seeing her panic, unable to help – she had never cried so much. That must have been over forty years ago.
‘It’s a girl and a boy,’ said Thatch.
‘Will they want to play with us?’ Rose continued, bouncing up and down.
‘Careful,’ Willow warned her. ‘Don’t use up too much energy.’
Thatch hovered eagerly by the door. ‘Come on, we need to get moving, or we’ll never reach the front door in time to see them come in.’
‘Is it safe to move?’ asked Willow. ‘He isn’t about, is He?’
‘No, I think He is sleeping. We’re safe.’
Thatch, Willow, Rose and Eric moved out of the room.
The procession down the stairs was slow. The ghosts needed energy to move; they mainly got this from the heat around them, but there wasn’t much of that about at the moment. The house was almost unbearably dark and cold.
Only Thatch had found a way to conserve energy while moving quickly.
When they reached the first floor landing, Willow held onto Rose’s hand. She never felt safe wandering around the house, and always stayed alert to danger. Thatch sailed through the air ahead of them. Willow knew he enjoyed the risk of moving from room to room.
‘Slow down,’ she said through gritted teeth. ‘He will notice us.’
‘If you want to miss seeing these people arrive, fine,’ Thatch replied in his loudest voice. ‘Anyway, stop fretting – I haven’t seen Him for ages.’
‘I have felt His presence around us,’ said Willow. Eric nodded. ‘And if new people are coming, you know He will be desperate to get to them before we do.’
Thatch glared at her and soared down the next flight of stairs.
Willow looked around cautiously, calculating the best place to hide if He appeared. She and Eric gripped Rose tightly between them and travelled towards the front door. Thatch was there, gazing out of a small pane of glass.
‘Are they still in the garden, Thatch?’ asked Eric.
‘Does the girl look playful?’ asked Rose.
‘Quiet, I’m trying to see,’ said Thatch.
The other ghosts glided up to the window and peered out together.
Thatch was right – a boy and a girl. It was too dark to see them properly, but Willow squinted her eyes and stared closely. The boy was tall and thin, with short blonde hair that was almost spiky. Willow didn’t know much about boys, but this one had a look on his face that reminded her of Thatch in a bad mood. The girl had long hazelnut hair, pushed back from her face, revealing shining eyes that Willow could only describe as adventurous.
‘She’s wearing trousers!’ Rose exclaimed. ‘Why is the girl dressed in boy’s clothes?’
‘Girls do that now,’ said Eric. ‘I think what she’s wearing are called jeans.’
Just then, the girl looked towards the house. All the ghosts gasped. Willow backed away. The girl was staring through the glass, directly at them.
‘Can... can she see us?’ Rose asked breathlessly.
Thatch frowned. ‘No, she... she can’t... We don’t have enough energy to be seen. Not even I do. We’re too weak.’
The girl looked back at the boy, standing a few feet behind her in the garden.
‘Listen. The boy is speaking,’ said Eric, pressing his ear to the glass.
‘You’ve got to be joking, Becky,’ they heard him say.
The girl grinned at him. ‘Come on! You’re the one who said to come this way, Finn.’
Becky and Finn, Willow thought, fear now running through her. Please do not come any closer. Run away! Do not enter this house!
‘W-w-what’s up?’ Finn was shaking, too scared to scream, while Becky was peering through the window. She had was definitely looking at someone or something. Even Becky was starting to shake and she was the bravest in the neighbourhood. ‘I…think I saw some pale light for a moment… come on!’ she advanced towards the house, running now and opened the door and stepped into the house. Eyes wide, he ran after Becky, wondering what that thing she saw was. Now Finn was at the door, he stopped, only to trip over a piece of concrete and through the door. He immediately felt drowsy, like he just got into a deep sleep.
Becky woke up and yawned. She then saw five children above her, two of them were horror struck, while the others were crying, to stay in the air they were all different, but they were all as pale as a glacier. She swivelled around to Finn who looked as if he was fading but a bone was forming underneath him. The she stepped on something. She gasped SHE was completely white but not only that, she had a bone under her, and was two inches above the ground. A word formed in her head ‘Ghost’. She looked at her surroundings. It was as bad as it was outside; dark purple wallpaper were torn from walls, revealing broken wood underneath, a cracked leather chair was covered in dirt and one of the armrests were missing, a posh table was covered in cobwebs and lopsided, at that exact moment, a creak echoed in the air and one of the table legs snapped, revealing woodworm inside. A shiver shook down her spine, leaving her freezing, as cold as ice. Then a tap made her look; it was a little girl, no older than six, looking up at her ‘ah poor thing’ she thought ‘only six and she’s already a ghost’. The girl spoke ‘who… who are you?’ ‘Becky’ she replied, who are you? ‘Rose’, uttered the little girl. Becky, surprised tried to run, but she floated to the door. But instead when she should of come through the door, she hit the air, as if there were a brick wall and fell to the floor. A screech cut through the air.
A hand grabbed her and pulled her across the floor and rushed into an old closet covered in moss, the oldest ghost pulled open the door and rushed inside. All ghosts shook and shivered. A ghost with thick specs was clutching Finn, who was still asleep on the floor. She heard a creaking of a worn old door. Becky looked through the keyhole. She had saw nothing like it. A serpent head an emerald green peered at the ancient house unblinking, a loose frill drooped down. At the end of the neck, was covered in soot black feathers, as you would see on a raven, followed by vulture wings with curved claws more like a scythe at the end of the wings. Talons at the end of scaley legs moved and twitched like a lizard and the body ended in a spiked, long scaley tail. ‘It’s here, it’s here!’ the ghosts whispered terrified. The creature crept to the bones that Becky and Finn had left behind and then it Gnawed Becky’s like a rat and held the bones in its mouth and crept away.
Finn woke to feel freezing and looked up seeing Becky and some children shaking, clutching each other, he started to panic seeing he was a ghost and so were they but before he could scream, Becky covered his mouth and whispered…‘don’t you dare!’ she didn’t say it in anger, she said it with fear in her eyes, as well as her voice. He had never seen her so scared before, but the other children were staring ahead, not moving, holding each other and the youngest uttered a sob. It must have been half an hour before they had opened the moss covered door. Whatever they were staring at, was gone. They all slowly floated up. The ghosts whispered with fear ”is he gone?” the little one whispered .’yes, I think so’ said the oldest. “umm…w-who are you?” shook Finn. ‘willow, Thatch, Rosé and Eric’ they whispered, look at him. ‘Do you want to play?’ said the little one, only about six years old. The oldest floated towards the little one ‘look Rose, we have to ask him who he is first. Rose nodded. ‘So…who are you? Why are you here?’ the oldest asked. Finn exploded with words, explaining every detail to the ghosts and they listened to every word, and they explained why they were in this worn-out house and horrible secrets. The Becky stepped forward ‘Do you think you will return to life once he is dead?’ Willow shrugged ‘perhaps’ she answered. Becky spoke ‘well let’s kill him’. She said and explained her plan…