Genre: MG Horror
Word Count: 31,000
My Main Characters Most Fearsome Obstacle:
Pen’s most fearsome obstacle is sleepwalking. Not so much the sleepwalking itself, but the waking up. Because Pen knows good and well that at the end of every sleepwalk there are two things waiting for you—a ravenous monster and a hot oven. Will he sizzle you in a stew? Or perhaps make a stir-fry of your fingers and toes? It’s likely he’ll do both, and add in some braised calf for good measure. Pen knows the rules—if you meet a ghoul, don’t fall asleep.
When eleven-year-old Pen trades her sock for a watch with the man on the other side of the fence, she doesn’t realize she’s given him the final piece he needs to turn her into a four-course meal.
Then she learns the terrible truth: ghouls are real, and they’re everywhere. They take jobs as teachers and babysitters, secretly imagining how scrumptious the kiddies will taste in their soufflés. They use dreams to lure children to their doorsteps in the small hours of the night, while the rest of the world is tucked under their cozy covers.
Then there is the Great Ghoul, a ghoul so nasty and foul that he makes all other ghouls look like grandparents who shower children with sweets.
And he has his sights set on Pen—the one that got away.
She’s the only one who’s met a ghoul and lived to tell the tale, the only soul who knows the truth. If Pen can find a way to trap their leader, she can expose the detestable breed to the world, and get them locked up for good. But to find him, she’ll have to allow the beast to lure her in for a midnight snack.
First 250 words:
Something was scratching at Pen’s window.
She lay still in her sleeping bag on the hard floor. Complete darkness filled the room, except for a small circle of light on the far side of it. Everyone else in the house was fast asleep. Their snores went straight through the thin boards of the house, and collected in Pen’s room.
Pen’s room was in the attic. And the small circle of light on the far side of the room was the attic window. The thing outside was still scratching at it.
Thousands of tiny goosebumps were prickling Pen’s arms. It must be a giant, she told herself, trying to find his way in and snatch me up.
Pen knew all about giants because her uncle had told her. She knew well that it was the habit of giants to come out at night and pluck little children from their windows.
She decided to get up and have a look. It would be best to know which sort of giant was about to snatch her up. Would it be a Masher, or a Cruncher? Mashers liked to dance on top of piles of children and make a fine wine of their juices. Crunchers, on the other hand, popped the children right into their mouths like jellybeans, bones and all. Either way it was rotten luck, but at least she could prepare for one or the other.
But when Pen reached the window and looked outside, it was neither a Cruncher nor a Masher.