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Boys & Girls Come Out To Play Ch 1 The Warning

by Shnarkle 

Posted: 19 September 2009
Word Count: 1086
Summary: First draft of a horror story that has been percolating around my head, and very different from the Shnark. This is the first chapter.

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The Warning
“You are going to come and play with me, aren’t you William?” the girl’s voice seemed to echo strangely, in an almost other worldly way. And he felt it wasn’t really a request, more a command. Aged about nine, she stood about two metres in front of him; ramrod straight, with her feet together and her hands clasped tightly behind her back. She wore her almost black hair in plaits which reached just below the front of her slight shoulders, each plait finished off with a small delicate red ribbon. Her round, deathly white face was completely devoid of expression, with dull, black glazed eyes that looked like windows into a bottomless void. Thin mauve lips made a severe cold slash across her face, where a softer, fuller mouth should have been.
Her long dark dress featured hundreds of tiny blue and purple flowers, and its high collar and hem were finished with fine white lace. Her feet were clad with functional and sturdy brown boots.
“You are going to come and play with me, aren’t you William?” she said again. An identical girl suddenly appeared to her left, only with green ribbons in her hair.
“You are going to come and play with us, aren’t you William?” they chorused together; although something about the sound of their combined voices was deeply unsettling. They seemed strangely out of synch, with one a split second behind the other, and still the faint echo persisted.
“You are going to come and play with us, aren’t you William?” they insisted; their faces as blank as stone. The moment they had finished speaking a third identical girl appeared, this time wearing yellow hair ribbons, and all three began repeating the phrase over and over again; each time the phrase grew in volume, and each time it became more of an irresistible command. On and on it went, louder and louder, with no change of expression on the girl’s faces, until it reached a peak with the shouted command, “William!”
William awoke with a start, his heart pounding in his chest so hard he thought it would explode, and his rapid rasping breathing catching in his throat like steel fingers trying to choke the life out of him, as sweat poured down his face where he hid under the duvet. He was terrified. Absolutely, totally terrified. Terrified that if he looked up from his safe haven beneath the duvet he would see the three girls standing at the foot of his bed. Terrified at what foul creature might be lurking outside his bedroom door, waiting to pounce and rend him limb from limb. Terrified at who, or what might be standing in his garden right now, looking up at his bedroom window with red, inhuman eyes. All manner off horrors seemed possible in the lonely still darkness of his bedroom which was usually his happy bolt hole from the rest of the family, but now, at this precise moment took on the dimensions of a truly deadly, nightmare world of danger. As his panic rose to even greater heights he knew that he had to do something, and do it now before he was completely paralysed with fear. Slowly, with a trembling hand, he reached from the depths of his duvet to switch on his bedside lamp and bathe the horror stricken bedroom with welcome, comforting light.
Sure enough, as he slowly peered over the edge of the duvet, and more and more of his bedroom came into view, he realised with a flush of the most intense relief that it had been a dream. There were no frightening girls standing at the foot of his bed. There were his Manchester United posters intact on the wall with Ryan Giggs smiling comfortingly down at him. There was his computer table, his chest of drawers; everything was as it should be.
He sat up in bed, still shaking from the effects of the dream, and looked at his alarm clock. 2.55 am. Something strange was going on here. He’d woken at the same time for the last three nights as a result of the most vivid dreams he’s ever had. He’d actually felt that he was living inside the dreams in real time. First there had been the dream about a large, rambling old house. It was a house he’d never seen before, but after the dream’s vivid virtual tour he felt he knew it room by room, inch by inch. Then last night there was the dream about jumping over a skipping rope which was held by unseen people just out of his field of vision. The rope had whirled faster and faster, slapping ominously on the ground as he jumped; and he knew, just knew that his life depended upon him successfully jumping the advancing rope each time it arced towards him. Equally instinctively he knew that untold horrors lay in wait should he stumble or fall.
And now tonight, the most vivid and unsettling dream of them all. He wondered who the girls were and what it could all mean. As an eleven year old schoolboy it was highly unlikely that he could decipher such messages, but he certainly felt in his heart that he was being told about, or more accurately warned about something, and that if he valued his life he’d better take heed.
Leaning down over the edge of his bed, his fingers scrabbled around the carpet for the TV control he’d carelessly tossed aside just before he’d settled down; finally grasping the remote and levering himself into a sitting position. He stabbed at the power button; he’d watch a bit of MTV to take his mind off his dream before trying to get back to sleep. The TV screen burst into life, featuring nothing but wall to wall white noise like you get when you hadn’t tuned to a station properly. With a “Tut “ William pushed button after button on the remote, trying to coax some sort of programme out of the TV, but all he managed was more white noise. Perplexed, because it had worked perfectly only hours earlier, he was just about to switch the TV off when the screen cleared and the image of three girls appeared, staring coldly out at him; and through the speakers, loud and clear he heard them chorus, “You are going to come and play with us, aren’t you William?”
William screamed. And screamed; until he thought he would never stop screaming again.


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Comments by other Members

clyroroberts at 21:47 on 19 September 2009  Report this post
Hello. I've no idea about the children's horror market but here goes . . .

I think this has some good images and the sense of fear comes over well. The scene ends well - it would probably terrify my kids which is the main thing. Negatives - Lots of alliteration in the language which makes it read younger in places, nothing wrong with alliteration but it can be done too much. And some changes of tense that need sorting.

I'm not much into horror but I'll happily keep reading with this one.


Pat M at 15:26 on 20 September 2009  Report this post
WOW!! This is truly scary stuff. Are you intending it for under 11s (judging by the age of your mc.) Absolutely brilliantly scary, but wonder if it might be a little too much for that age and give them nightmares???

I tried to look at the grammar etc, and found this one,

Aged about nine, she stood about two metres
2 'abouts' close tog,

then I just got lost in the horror and couldn't concentrate on anything else.

catching in his throat like steel fingers trying to choke the life out of him
brilliantly descriptive, in fact that whole paragraph is!

It was a house he’d never seen before, but after the dream’s vivid virtual tour he felt he knew it room by room, inch by inch.

This is the most scary bit for me as I have that very same dream!
Please hurry with the next chapter!


Freebird at 13:00 on 21 September 2009  Report this post
This is a brilliant beginning - it gives me the creeps just thinking about it. Love the title too - you just know that something horrid is going to be happening under the guise of an innocent nursery rhyme.

So you do horror as well as you do humour!! I'll be very intrigued to see how this one develops.


Shnarkle at 15:39 on 21 September 2009  Report this post

Thank you so much for your comments. I'm pretty much happy with the first chapter as it stands, with the exception of a few revisions as have been suggested.

However, I need a bit of advice. It would be easy to go down the road of supernatural things only happening to William, who is roundly disbelieved by all and sundry. This is pretty formulaic of so many horror stories and doesn't really bring anything new to the table.

I am seriously thinking of William's parents also being subject to the strange goings on; however this could possibly over complicate matters. It's easy to dismiss a boy's concerns as overimagination; but if something weird happened to an adult there may well be wide ranging ramifications, with various agencies and departments being involved; and I want to get the family away from their home to William's great uncle's house fairly quickly. At the same time I'm finding it difficult to resist the horror potential of William's parents realising that some seriously scary s**t is going down.

Any suggestions or comments would br gratefully welcomed.

SusieL at 20:14 on 21 September 2009  Report this post
This IS scary - plays on many peoples fears - which is always the most effective technique.
I did wonder whether, in the last paragraph, it might be more scary not to have the girls appear on the tv - just have their voices coming out of it? Dunno - just a suggestion to ponder.
With regard to how much you involve his parents in the horror-side of things - I guess it depends on whether it will work within the parameters of the plot. It could potentially be more scary if the parents experience this stuff as well, as every child likes to wake from a nightmare and be comforted, whereas if the parents are going through the same things, then there's no escape (cue evil laughter). But, then again, it could be overkill (pun intended).

Shnarkle at 20:30 on 21 September 2009  Report this post

How spooky! I originally had just the girl's voices coming over the white noise on the TV, but added the visual at the last moment. In retrospect I think it may be better to leave out the visual as I agree it is probably scarier.


Freebird at 09:45 on 22 September 2009  Report this post
Hmmm, now you've got me pondering your plot instead of my own! There is so much you could do with this to really freak your reader out! Could we have a synopsis, or would that spoil it for us?

Is it really one girl or several? Could we have Mum inviting someone round and they bring their twin daughters...

Or the parents take William to a psychologist and just as they are all reassured that it's in his mind, the next clients come in - girls with plaits.....

Is the girl someone that's dead and used to live in the house?

Gosh, you've really got me thinking now. When are you going to post the next chapter?


ShellyH at 10:37 on 22 September 2009  Report this post
I thought this was great sharkle, very scary and very different from your other stuff. Just a thought, but could you use something other than the tv, it's just that as soon as he turned it on I guessed voices would come out of it. Maybe he could use his ipod or something.
I thought some of Freebirds ideas were good. If you wanted a parent involved, how about just one of them having the odd experiences, then the other could be the voice of reason.
Good stuff though.

Shnarkle at 10:44 on 22 September 2009  Report this post

I've grasped the bull by the horns as it were, and involved the parents as you shall see in chapter 2 which I've just uploaded; although because this is coming to me so quickly it's in a fairly raw form, but I think it reads OK.

The idea is to get the family out of the house to stay with William's great uncle, who lives in the old house Will saw in his dream. It is there that the really terrifying shenanigans will take place; although I shall be very careful to try to be original and not follow the formula horror track which I think has been done to death.


Shnarkle at 11:28 on 22 September 2009  Report this post

iPod...brilliant idea, I shall credit you in the "thanks to" column when it becomes a best seller!

ShellyH at 12:46 on 22 September 2009  Report this post

Pat M at 19:49 on 22 September 2009  Report this post
In my 'other life' when I was teaching, one year I had identical girl triplets in the class. I keep thinking about them now and getting goose-pimples.
Really looking forward to the next chapter...I think!


Pat M at 19:55 on 22 September 2009  Report this post
Sorry, forgot to add, when I read the last line again, I just thought maybe it should end on the word screaming either missing off the 'again' or make it 'never again stop screaming'

It just feels like a stronger word to end on. Just a thought.


Shnarkle at 20:16 on 22 September 2009  Report this post
And one well put Pat. It shall be ammended.


Issy at 20:37 on 22 September 2009  Report this post
OMG what a beginning, I was terrified, let alone your mc.I don't know how you are going to follow this but will go over to chapter 2 when I've recovered.

Is it maybe one of those awful dreams where you think you are awake and you aren't. I used to get them a lot and they are appalling...

I do think you have clicked into something here, which children will recognise and want to know how the mc deals with it.

There are a few minor points - may have been picked up already, I haven't read the other comments as time a bit limited at the moment.

Aged about nine, she stood about two metres - maybe cut the "abouts" or find an alternative for one of them as both in conjunction stop the flow of the language in my view.

Para 6 - William awoke with a start - Maybe reduce a bit as it goes on a bit too long I feel

As an eleven year old schoolboy it was highly unlikely that he could decipher such message - slight shift of viewpoint to the author I felt, maybe stick with the mc's reactions.

The out of synch is terrifying - but I don't know why. Just one of the things that touch at some deep psychological level.

This is not just good, it's brilliant.

SusieL at 21:01 on 22 September 2009  Report this post
Pat - you think girl triplets are bad? My husband is a triplet, all boys - and they're identical!! ...I think I married the right one. ;

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