HH Com Rd 2 - #44 (533)

Hook here

Moonface hovers over the bed and watches the sleeping child breathe. It's a long time since she had breath of her own. How did it used to feel?

Moonface muffles the child's ears and screams. The window rattles. Smell scrabbles up the pink curtains. The child sleeps on. Good. The scream wasn't meant for her.

Clatters and shouts come from below. Feet pound up the stairs. The door smashes open. The child's father races into the bedroom. He looks up. His face pales. He grabs a chair, leaps on it and fiddles with the glittery lampshade hanging from the ceiling. Moonface zips towards him. He can't see her, even though she's close enough to see the sweat trickle into his eyes. Behind him, the mother slumps against the doorframe. She gasps and points a shaky finger at the bed.

'She's there. Susie's there. In bed. She's all right!'

The father tumbles off the chair. Both parents dash to the child, who wakes and starts to cry.

'What's wrong Mum? Is it Moonface again?'

The mother picks her up. 'Come on sweetheart. You're going to sleep in our room tonight.'

The father crumples to the floor. He holds his head in his hands. 'That's it. We're moving out. You win, Moonface. You win!' he shouts.

Moonface cackles and bounces around the walls like a demented balloon. Winning gives her a cold fuzzy feeling. Smell meows from halfway up the curtains.

'Dearest Smell, we're so clever,' Moonface says. She has trouble with the letter 's'. She says 'dearetht' instead of dearest, 'Thmell' instead of 'Smell'.

A long time passes. One spring morning, Moonface is hovering in the attic. Attracted by a chugging noise outside, she drops the rat she's been swinging around by the tail and drifts to the window. A van pulls up in the road and a man gets out. He hammers a sign into the weed-strewn front garden. Moonface knows the routine. After the board goes up, a family of livings moves in. There'll be games to play, mirrors to crack. If there's one thing Moonface hates, it's unexpectedly floating across a mirror.

'It's a strange thing, Smell dearest,' Moonface says, when the van has driven away. 'But I think it might be amusing to have livings in the house again. It's all very well playing with rats, but they break too easily.'

Smell paws the rodent's lifeless body and purrs like a chainsaw.

(start here)
Chapter Two

'It's pure dead brilliant. When can we move in?' said Jack Hawkett. He gazed around the hallway of 62 Ghoulstone Villas. So what if swirly paper hung in strips from the walls. So what if the smell of boiled sprouts scented the air. This house felt right. He could imagine himself living here.

'It's not bad, is it?' Dad said. He strode up and down. Clouds of dust puffed from the carpet. 'It's a mess now, but we can do it up. And it's in our price range.'

Miss Lucre, the estate agent, flashed her teeth at Jack and Dad. 'Glad you like it. Now, I'd better give you a copy of the House Ghost Profile,' she said and handed Dad some papers.

'A house ghost. Great. What's the profile say, Dad?'

'Well, there's two. One called Moonface. And a haunter cat called Smell.'

Jack peered up the stairs, hoping to see one of them. 'What else does it say?'

A crease appeared between Dad's eyebrows as he read. 'Oh, just the usual stuff. Read it later. Come on, let's see the bedrooms. You can choose which one you'd like,' he said, stuffing the House Ghost Profile into his back pocket.

Upstairs, Jack soon spotted 'his' room. It lay at the back of the house, overlooking the garden. Sunlight poured through the floor to ceiling windows and slanted across the worn parquet floor.

'Can I really have this room if we move in?' Jack was already planning where to hang his signed poster of the Ghost Pistols. He'd have to get rid of the shredded pink curtains and the tatty glittery lampshade though. Far too girly.

'Course you can, son. But don't get your hopes up, we might not -' Dad stopped suddenly and put his fingers to his lips. A faint squealing came from above.

'Probably one of the house ghosts messing around in the attic. They can be a bit high-spirited, so I'm told. Don't worry, they're harmless enough,' Miss Lucre said, fiddling with her hair.

You're story picks up energy and vitality at chapter two. There's time enough to establish Moonface and Smell (best name for a ghost EVER!) as nasty little nuisances later.

This is fun. Again, not my area of expertise so I have no idea if it's overused, but I like this a lot.


Zuleme said...

I read tons and tons of children's books and I like the idea of this one a lot. And the cat ghost named Smell.
Cool. I'd read the rest of this.
Dial-A-Ghost is one of my favorites.

Heidi the Hick said...

Books that kids and parents will both like are treasures. I like this because it takes a scary and eery subject and turns it into fun.

I agree with Miss Snark that it picks up in Chapter Two. I think that's where the book should start. I know it's hard to get rid of something you wrote, but it can be worth it to lose it if it means improving.

Inkwolf said...

I like this one! I'd definitely read the whole thing.

A Paperback Writer said...

Chapter two was very interesting. I never would've read it if I hadn't seen Miss Snark's comment, as the first chunk was confusing and, well, to use my students' term, "lame." Get rid of it and start where the great Snark told you to.

skybluepinkrose said...

I like it, too, and ditto the opinion about starting at chapter 2. That will also give you a chance to say Smell is a ghost cat the first time we hear of her/him. In the second para. of chapt. 1, "Smell scrabbles up the curtains" is confusing because I have no way of knowing this isn't an odor, and I don't know what I should be smelling.

writtenwyrdd said...

I liked the first chapter, but the story really begins with Ch2. The mention of ghost names might wait until you can rework Ch1's info into the text.

McKoala said...

The section with the Dad and the boy is much more immediate than the first part. I also didn't like the present tense in the first part, because I couldn't see a good reason for it.

Angus Weeks said...

The writing is really energetic. I've found a lot of COM Round 2 to be too tiresome to get through, but this one zipped right along and took me with it easily.

I agree with Miss Snark about dropping the first section. While it's very well written (and interestingly creepy) I think Chapter Two offers the reader more to engage with. I'd be instantly hooked as a reader by the House Ghost Profile and would want to read on about it. I also like the subtle way you hint through her nervous actions that Miss Lucre may be hiding the real truth.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree. I loved the first part. The second was okay and interested me, but the first REALLY hooked me. It totally set the mood of the ghosts. Malicious enough to enjoy tormenting people, but not malicious enough to scare the child with the scream. I loved this.

Zuleme said...

Just wanted to add that I loved the first part, though I would probably call it a prologue. I loved the way it sets up the ghost characters. They really sound like trouble.
After reading all of the submission, this one is my favorite. I would love this book.

533 said...

Thanks to Miss Snark and to all of you who commented. I must crack on now and get this story done(currently 2/3rds of the way through the initial draft.)

This COM has been a great learning experience and it's been fun.