Welcome to another stop for the second annual YASpooktacular, hosted by Frenzy of Noise and Wicked Awesome Books.
This year, there are three stories written by some of your favorite authors that will be posted throughout the week. Each story is a choose your adventure, where you get to decide what path to send the character down. Sometimes you live, sometimes you die, and sometimes you fall into a pit of no return.
There are also some TRICKS or TREATS scattered throughout the story, where you can enter to win prizes and get bonus points toward the prize packs. The prize pack for Story #3 will be up tomorrow! On Halloween day, the grand prize pack will be posted. You can click the banner above to see a full list of the YASpooktacular prize packs!
When he was a young boy, Nick James’ collection of battle-scarred action figures became the characters in epic storylines with cliffhangers, double crosses and an unending supply of imaginary explosions. Not much has changed. The toys are gone (most of them), but the love of fast-paced storytelling remains. Working in schools from Washington State to England, Nick has met thousands of diverse students since graduating from Western Washington University and braving the most dangerous job in the world: substitute teaching. Luckily, being dubbed the “rock star teacher” has granted him some immunity. He currently lives and teaches in Bellingham, Washington. His debut novel, Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars was released in August from Flux.
You can find Nick on Twitter, his blog, goodreads and you can order his book here at Amazon/B&N/The Book Depository.
We were somewhere between the fifth and sixth turn when the floodlights surrounding the perimeter of the corn maze shut off. It wasn’t one of those flicker out, buzz, hum and come back twice as strong sort of things. This was off. Then black. No moon through the dense bank of clouds overhead. No headlights in the distance. Just off.
Kara hadn’t wanted to come to the maze in the first place. She’d told me that walking deliberately into a field of corn was unnatural, that only street people looking for a place to avoid the rain would crawl through these bug-infested stalks. I’d calmly responded that I didn’t think there were any street people around. “Street people” needed streets. And out in the middle of farmland, the best you could do was a rambling dirt road. Besides, it was all part of the Halloween tradition. People had been getting lost in patches of corn stalks forever. It was fun. A good scare.
Kara brought her arms close, rubbing her elbows. Her words created puffs of steam in the air. “Josh, I don’t think that was supposed to happen.”
I threw my arm around her shoulder and tugged her close. “Relax. It’s all part of the deal. Another minute and a guy with a fake chainsaw’s gonna come around the corner and make some stupid noise, expecting us to run.”
“And this is supposed to be fun?”
The maze remained dark. Flashlights clicked on throughout the breadth of the field–beams of light cutting through the air like search beacons. Then came the whispers–scores of young couples giggling with anticipation of what would happen next. A haunted corn maze wasn’t really haunted without a ghoul or two, right? This was the kind of stuff Kara needed. She was so uptight all the time. A good night of unbridled fear would loosen her up.
An announcement over the loudspeaker ruptured the silence, causing us both to jump. After a burst of feedback, an elderly man’s voice–frail and whisper quiet–crept through the narrow pathways around us like tendrils of fog. “The exits have been sealed,” he started, “and the lights extinguished. The Corn Stalker is amongst you. He will be the one carrying an orange handled sickle.” He paused. “Only the last to survive will leave this maze tonight with all of your limbs intact. I’ll be waiting for you on the outside.”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. The way he said it, so deliberately serious and creepy, made the whole gag even funnier.
Kara didn’t take it that way.
“Josh.” She squeezed my arm. “I want to get out of here.”
I chuckled. “Didn’t you hear him? The exits are sealed.”
“Seriously.” She glanced over her shoulder. “Joke or not, I wanna go.”
“We paid twenty dollars.”
She grimaced. “I’ll pay you thirty. Just… let’s-”
A scream interrupted her. It came from somewhere to our right. I couldn’t tell the exact location, but it wasn’t the I’m-having-so-much-fun-being-scared kind of scream. It was loud and short, then muffled. Then silent.
We froze in the center of the pathway. The tops of the cornstalks rustled in the distance. It might have been the breeze.
Kara squeezed me tighter. And even though it was totally lame, I found myself trembling along with her.
If we head back to the entrance and try to get out, go Penguin Pirates Reads.
If we go deeper into the maze, go to Good Books and Good Wine.