Last month, we challenged our Young Writers to submit a 400 word excerpt from their NaNoWriMo novels. From over 500 fabulous entries, we chose two Grand Prize Winners and four Runners-Up. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did!
“Phantom Mare” by Miriam G. — Grand Prize Winner (13 and Under Age Group)
Had she gone deaf?
Desperate for sound, Sharon dashed from the room. Her feet pounded but she couldn’t hear them. The door of the kitchen banged but she couldn’t hear it. She smashed into the table but she couldn’t hear it.
The world was silent.
Gasping and terrified, she dashed into the front hall. Her fingers scrabbled at the lock, clumsy with fear. She managed to turn it and yanked open the door.
Fog, unnaturally thick and white, filled the doorway, pushing to come in. Sharon shrieked, unable to hear it, and slammed the door on the fog. She locked it and waited, trembling, before forcing herself to move back to the kitchen.
The kettle lay forgotten on the burner. The burner, which she had turned on—but was now cold.
She had closed the window. Even with her mind fractured by terror, she remembered closing it. But now it was open, the fog blown in, the curtains rustling in the breeze.
Sharon stumbled toward it, grabbed it, tried to shove it closed. But it wouldn’t budge.
The fog wrapped cold, misty fingers around her, and she sprang back, tripping over a chair. She fell to the ground without a noise. The chair landed on her hand, causing a jolt of pain, but she ignored it and scrambled up.
She backed away from the fog as it slithered through the window, curling about her. She looked for the stairs, to run up them and take shelter from the terrifying fog, but the mist was already swirling up the steps.
Instead she fled down the hall, to the back door. She grabbed the knob and shoved at it before her fractured mind remembered. That door was jammed, and always had been. She couldn’t flee there.
That left only one spot for her to take refuge in. The living room. Sharon took a deep, shuddering breath, then dodged through the fog and into the room. She slammed the door behind her and waiting in the silent dark.
No fog curled under the door. Was she safe? She looked slowly around the room, her gaze landing unexpectedly on the forest picture. The horse inside looked out with black eyes.
There never had been a horse in the forest scene.
The horse turned its head to look at her, and peeled back its lips to reveal sharp white teeth.
Special guest judge Kat Zhang had this to say about “Phantom Mare”: “I love how tense this scene is! The build-up to the reveal is heart-pounding, and there’s a great rhythm to the sentences.”
Miriam G. is an aspiring novelist who enjoys writing about dragons and horses. She would spend all day at the barn around horses and all evening writing. Eventually, she hopes to publish her books. She wants to become a good enough artist that she can illustrate her books. Admittedly, she’s fond of self-inflicted pain through an accelerated math course to catch up with her older brother. She lives with her two brothers, her parents, and the sweetest, most patient cat in the world.