It’s time for this year’s Halloween Round Robin! And this year we have not one but TWO fabulously spooky tales written collaboratively by eight talented Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction authors to share with you 👻 We’ll be sharing one today and one tomorrow – keep an eye on the blog so you don’t miss out!
Caroline James left us in a spooky situation and now it’s up to Victoria Cornwall to save Bella … or will there be further spookiness to come? Come back every hour until 2pm to read a new extract AND enter competitions to win chocolate & book prizes. Alternatively you can wait until all parts have been put up and read the story in its entirety!
Each author taking part has no idea where their part of the story will go, which leads to a few spooky surprises along the way. But you’ll need to read on to find out more 😉
Remember to read right until the end to find details of the competition!
A ROCKY HORROR HALLOWEEN – PART 3 BY VICTORIA CORNWALL
Bella glanced up from the card to Justin. He smiled. This time Bella noticed that his smile didn’t reach his eyes. A shiver of fear raced up her spine. She looked to the others for support, help or, perhaps, reassurance. One by one they turned their cards to show her that her name was starkly written on each one. She didn’t understand this murder mystery game. Surely the cards should have the words of either murderer, victim or detective on them, not a name. Not her name. None of this made sense.
‘You’re the one who is going to be murdered,’ announced Chloe, smiling.
‘Why me?’ asked Bella.
‘Because, Bella dear, you are the only one amongst us who is still living.’
Bella couldn’t avoid the truth any longer – she did not feel safe. Up until now she had doubted herself, ignored her gut feeling and gone with the flow. The party invitation had surprised her, the setting had unnerved her and the costumes had made her feel the odd one out, but now she was certain that these oddly dressed people were not the class of 2008. Yes, people change, but there is always something in their eyes or mannerisms which relate to the child they had once been and she had seen nothing. She would even be surprised if they knew the steps to the Time Warp.
Bella carefully placed her card on the table with trembling hands. She was in a whole heap of weird trouble and, like any brave, intelligent, independent woman, Bella turned and ran like hell.
Bella heard their laughter echo after her as she ran from the room and to the front door. She grabbed the handle, but it would not turn. She pulled frantically, but the door would not budge. A strange chanting began to radiate out of the room as Bella considered her next move.
She left the hall and ran through a doorway, along a corridor and into a room, then another room and another. Every part of the house was clouded in darkness with only the occasional flickering candle to light her way. Cobwebs hung from chandeliers like frayed rags, as eyes, staring out from dark portraits, appeared to follow her every move. No room made sense, no window offered her an escape and time and time again she ended up in the same room she had started in. And all the time she heard their chanting, filtering in through the doors, the walls and up through the floorboards.
Suddenly, her mobile rang. Bella frantically searched her pockets to stop the noise before it was heard.
‘Hello, is that Bella?’
Bella frowned. The voice sounded vaguely familiar but she could not place it – another thing to confuse her in a world that was becoming stranger by the second.
‘It’s Mike. I work with your brother on the Search and Rescue team.’ Mike? Who was Mike? ‘We met the other day in the supermarket, third aisle by the pumpkin display. I made a poor joke about carving pumpkins together.’
Bella felt a flood of relief. Yes she remembered Mike. He was tall, dark and handsome, in a rugged kind of way, with a firm looking body and an amused glint in his eyes. It had been a normal brief encounter, when two people meet casually for the first time. This she could understand. This she could make sense of.
‘Yes, I remember you,’ she whispered back.
‘I got your number off your brother. Fancy meeting up for a coffee sometime?’
‘No I can’t. I’m in a house with four people, dressed in stockings and fishnets. They are claiming to be dead.’
Mike remained silent on the other end of the phone. Somewhere in the depths of the house the chanting grew louder.
‘I understand,’ he said eventually. ‘Maybe another time. It was nice to meet you anyway.’
Bella clutched the phone. ‘No! This is no brush off, Mike. I’m in trouble and I could do with some help. Preferably from someone who is not going to send me off to the lunatic asylum.’ Another silence. ‘Mike? Are you there?’ asked Bella. ‘I need help.’
‘Where are you?’ he asked.
Bella scrambled for the invitation in her pocket and read the address. ‘The Old Rectory, Cemetery Road, Ugerthwaite’. Bella heard Mike’s intake of breath. His reaction didn’t sound good. ‘What? Do you know it?’
‘I’ve heard about it. I always thought it was one of those urban myths.’
‘What have you heard?’
‘Two hundred years ago four people were murdered in the Old Rectory on Halloween night. In the 1930s a group of ghost hunters did a séance there and strange things have been happening ever since. Rumours have grown over the years and the tale goes that on Halloween night their ghosts rise up and entice a single female virgin to the rectory.’
‘Well that can’t be true. I’m not a virgin.’
‘The tale did sound absurd,’ said Mike.
He sounded as if he was smiling. Bella wondered why. Suddenly she realised what she had said and began to smile too. Strange how you can find humour at the bleakest times of your life, she thought.
‘Besides, the rectory is a ruin now,’ said Mike. ‘It burnt down years ago.’
Bella glanced around her opulent surroundings illuminated by candlelight. ‘It doesn’t look like a ruin now. At least it doesn’t to me.’
‘Really? Strange. Apparently seeing a black cat is a warning sign … or so they say.’
Bella sobered. ‘I saw a black cat! How do they entice their victims?’
‘By pretending to be from their past.’
Bella clutched the phone even tighter. ‘They invited me to a Rocky Horror Party.’
‘That explains the fishnets and stockings, although it raises a few questions too.’
‘I was in the school play. I played Magenta.’
‘Ahhh, I see. Bella, I don’t want to scare you but—’
‘No chance of that. I am already!’ she whispered back.
‘—I think you should get out of there as fast as you can. Maybe they are less fussy about capturing virgins these days and I’m over an hour away to be of any help.’ Bella nodded frantically. Yes, she must get out now. ‘And Bella …’
‘Don’t eat or drink anything they give you.’
‘Why?’ Bella frowned as the room began to distort around her.
‘The tale goes that they always offer their victims a drink.’
Her eyes narrowed as she tried to focus on a small shape slinking towards her on the floor. It briefly came into focus. It was the black cat and it appeared to be grinning at her.
‘Too late,’ murmured Bella. Her tongue felt thick and dry with tannin, yet still held the sweet notes of blue black grapes. ‘I’ve already drunk it and I’m not feeling too well.’
The mobile fell from her useless hand. Bella stared at it dumbly lying just out of reach. She stumbled as her knees buckled. She tried to remain standing, but the task seemed too great. The room tilted and she found herself falling backwards. Time slowed as her strength drained away. Suddenly the floor banged into the back of her head. She lay still, dazed and helpless, listening to the haunting distant chant growing louder and louder and Mike’s frantic voice calling her name from the phone by her side.
😱😱😱 Victoria Cornwall just stepped this Halloween Round Robin up a notch! How is Kirsty Ferry going to save Bella now? You’ll have to wait another hour to find out when Kirsty finishes off the first of our Halloween Round Robins.
If you enjoyed Victoria’s writing, you can find her books available to purchase from all good online book stockists and retailers – and her new Christmas book, A Daughter’s Christmas Wish, will be released in November! Click the image below for purchasing options.
To be in with a chance of winning a Victoria Cornwall paperback and some chocolate simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):
Where did Bella and Mike meet?
To enter, send your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Victoria Cornwall comp’ by Friday 2nd November. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Monday 5th November.