YA Spooktacular: Story 1

Welcome to my stop for the second annual #YASpooktacular, which I get to co-host with my friend Nikki from 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 happens to the character.

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 this story (#1!) 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--all the bloggers, authors and goodies that you can win.

 I really hope you enjoy this piece, written by the fantastic Nova Ren Suma!

 Nova Ren Suma has an MFA in fiction from Columbia University and a BA in writing & photography from Antioch College. 
She has published short stories for adults in literary journals including Gulf Coast, LIT, Small Spiral Notebook, and more, and is the author of the middle-grade novel Dani Noir. Imaginary Girls, which marks her YA debut, garnered four starred reviews, including Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, and praise from The Los Angeles Times. 

Nova grew up in small towns across the Hudson Valley and can currently be found in New York City and online. She is at work on a new YA novel. 

You can find Nova on Twitter, on her blog, on Goodreads and you can order her books here.

To start the story from the beginning, click on this image!
Laura blinked, and a drop of blood dangled from her eyelashes, streaking her vision in red. As it landed on her cheek, dribbling down to the corner of her mouth so she could taste it, she turned to Raven.

Raven sensed the question on her tongue and was ready to tell her about her mother if she asked. How her mother had been a part of this, too. How even when you escape, you’re drawn back—as Laura was. As she always would be.

But Laura didn’t want to hear it. Everyone was trying to fool her, and use her, and make her do horrible things she didn’t know she had in her. Now she did one last horrible thing, and after—after she took care of Raven—she dropped the sword. When it hit ground, she saw it wasn’t a sword at all but a sharp, ragged piece of metal, mangled and bent as if rescued from a car wreck. Raven himself was a man, a dead one, as was Brian, who’d unknowingly brought her here.

Only, Brian wasn’t dead, not just yet. His mouth let out a faint, keening whimper. Then a gurgle that sounded a lot like her name.

As she crouched over him, trying to separate what was real and what wasn’t, she heard a clumsy rustling in the woods. It was coming through the trees, in the distance, near the more civilized section of the park. The part of the park where most people stayed, because they—without knowing why—were afraid to go any farther into the forest.

They should be afraid.

The noise became louder as the two got close. A girl and a boy, so careless the way they laughed, so stupid the way they crunched loudly through the leaves. Laura knew they’d step through the trees any moment now. Then they’d be hers.

* * *

Marly felt Alex take her hand and her heart leaped from his touch. She heard herself giggle at something stupid he said, she couldn’t help it. She needed to remember that he hadn’t held her hand when they were in the main part of the park, where other people could see. He made sure never to touch her at school, never ever in front of his friends. He’d deny they were together to the grave.

But weren’t they? Together?

Because now that they’d found their way off the path and into this forest thick with trees and away from any people, he was all over her.

The night seemed heavier outside the reach of their flashlights. His light was brighter than hers; hers was only a pinprick of faint light from the little blue flashlight that hung off her ring of keys. What Marly wanted was to tell Alex how she felt about him. To tell him and make him tell her back. But now, just the two of them, she couldn’t find the words. Besides, she was noticing how the trees had grown more spindly the deeper they’d gone into the forest, how the leaves had fallen as if it were winter already, though it wasn’t.

How it was too quiet. The sky too dark overhead.

And there was a smell in the air now. Something wet. Something rotting.

She stopped short, and his hand dropped from hers. When their feet ceased shuffling through the leaves, when they were utterly quiet for the first time since entering this part of the woods, that’s when they heard it.

“Is that . . . somebody . . . crying?” Alex asked. He gripped her shoulder now in the dark, like he’d throw her in front of him, using her as a human shield if he had reason to.

Marly thought it sounded more like whimpering than crying, but it was too dark to see, and the weak beam of her flashlight couldn’t find where the noises were coming from.

Alex’s flashlight beam jittered and jumped, betraying his nerves. It circled, showing skeletal tree branches and her sneakers and more tree branches and now the night sky itself, the stars, and then the ground again. He couldn’t find where the sound was coming from either.

“Hello?” he called. “Who’s out there?”

“Shh,” she said, trying to get him to be quiet. “Listen.”

A gurgling, choking sound came from the darkness, down at level with the ground.

Alex’s light flashed on a pool of red. And the next thing she knew he was running—abandoning her, and taking his light with him.

With her little flashlight, barely bright enough to illuminate her own arm, she found the shallow pond at her feet, the water glistening with movement. Her sneakers were wet, she realized, because she was standing in it.

“It’s just a pond!” she called back to Alex. “A pond with goldfish in it,” she said that last part in a lower voice, and only to herself, because Alex was long gone. What was a goldfish pond doing in the middle of the forest?

What Marly didn’t know—because she couldn’t see the bodies in the dark, because she couldn’t see the blood, because she didn’t know Laura Lester was out there, the new Laura Lester, the Laura of the forest who now could never leave—was that she should have followed Alex.

She should have run.

She shouldn’t have made it so easy for someone to push her in.


If you're brave enough, you should start again from the beginning

And tomorrow, you can enter the Story One Prize Pack by going to Tangled Up in Words

Complete this TRICK to win:

-finished copy of Fury by Elizabeth Miles
-SIGNED copy of Cryer's Cross by Lisa McMann
-1 extra entry into the Story 1 prize pack 


  1. Yes, she really should have run. I love how that came around to Marly also getting pushed in, in this part of the story.

    Thanks for the giveaway, and for hosting this event!

  2. This was a great twist, and I'm going to go back to the beginning & start all over!!

    Happy Halloween and may The Great Pumpkin shower you with Snickers ;D

  3. Thanks for hosting such an awesome giveaway :]
    I wanted to point out though that the clues in the crossword don't match on the form. I'll fill the form out by the clue in the form. I hope it's not too confusing :P

  4. And so it begins again! Bwahahaha!

    This was a blast!! Thanks!

  5. thank you! This was pretty creepy, I like how they don't end on a up note.

  6. Interesting. This is the first time I am stumbling upon Marly. I guess it's time to go find another path.


Thanks for your comment!! I appreciate you stopping by! :)