If you haven’t heard, my new novel, Little Red Riding Hoodie: A Modern Fairy Tale, is part of the Kindle Scout program. That means readers can vote to have it published by Amazon. (Click this link to vote for it.)
As part of the book’s campaign, Amazon puts the first several pages of it on the Kindle Scout site to give you a taste. But for LRRH, the preview cuts off in the middle of Chapter Two!
That’s too bad because, not only does it leave you hanging, the excerpt cuts out before we get to see Sally’s strange dreams and the first hints of the novel’s magical elements appear.
Want to know how the chapter ends? I thought you might! You can read the first chapter-and-a-half on Kindle Scout and then pick it up below. Don’t forget to nominate Little Red Riding Hoodie for publication!
Little Red Riding Hoodie Chapter Two Excerpt (Cont’d)
After the meal, she put the dishes in the dishwasher and then went to her room to do her homework. She sat at her tidy, little desk, switched on her Disney Princess lamp, and got out her math. Mrs. Lamay had assigned thirty problems tonight. Sally didn’t think the woman understood that sixth-graders had better things to do with their evenings than puzzle over math. She always assigned a lot of homework. Fortunately, Sally had gotten half of them done at school, so the evening’s task wasn’t quite as daunting.
As if on cue, Alison texted.
OMG, can u believe how much math we have?
Yes, Sally could believe it. She didn’t understand why Alison always seemed shocked by Mrs. Lamay’s assignments. She replied:
Shoulda done em in school
She hadn’t finished the next problem, when Alison texted back.
Who has time for that?
Sally told her she had gotten half of hers done at lunchtime, while they were talking, and she told Alison she’d never get them done if she didn’t get on it. The texts came in less frequently after that.
When she finished her math, she got up and went to the dryer, got out Tommy’s sheets, and made his bed. With that done, she went out into the living room. Her father was watching SportsCenter, but his eyes were only half-open. Tommy was again engrossed in a game.
“Time for bed, Tommy,” she said.
“I don’t hafta ’til Dad says,” he replied without looking up.
Sally looked over at her father. She doubted he would be saying anything more tonight.
“Don’t mess with me, Tommy,” she said. “You know your bedtime is 8:30.”
“Come on,” she said. “The game will be there tomorrow.”
He got up and shut off the tablet, leaving it on the floor as he headed towards his bedroom. She sighed and picked it up, so her father wouldn’t accidentally step on it if he somehow managed to get off the couch and into bed.
“Tommy, don’t forget to go to the bathroom,” she called after him. “We don’t want a repeat of last night.”
Ten minutes later, he was in bed, and she tucked him in.
“Sleep well, Little Man,” she said as she turned off the light.
Then she went back to her own room. She still had to do the reading for Mr. Frank’s Social Studies class, which she’d been dreading. She really should have done it first, but she thought it would be easier than the math, and besides, she hated Mr. Frank and Social Studies.
She was only a page into the path of a bill through Congress, when her eyelids grew heavy. It had been a very big day. Try as she might, she couldn’t keep them open. Moments later, she was fast asleep.
Sally heard a clinking in the hallway. She couldn’t say for certain what it was. She scanned the hall of the school, examining the smoke-swirl pattern in the grey tile floors, looking for the source of the sound between the gun-metal grey lockers. After a moment, she saw it. A gold coin rolled down the hall and then, as though possessed of a mind of its own, turned a corner and continued out of sight down the adjoining hallway.
Then she heard something else. It sounded like a whisper – a deep and ominous whisper. She could not make out what was being said, but it sounded as though someone was chanting over and over again. It came from behind her.
She turned around. Up the stairs came a pack of the most frightening dogs she had ever seen. They were large – bigger than she – with strong, wide legs and thick, white hair and wolfish faces. Their eyes were the most malevolent red she had ever seen, and their jaws dripped with hungry drool. They growled excitedly and charged straight towards her.
She ran. She ran as best as she could. She could hear their claws skittering on the tile floor, struggling to find purchase. She could feel their breath hot on the backs of her legs.
She turned the corner, hoping to delay them. It worked a little. The first two dogs had trouble cornering on the slick surface, and the remainder crashed into them, sending the whole pack tumbling down the hallway. But the dogs at the back recovered quickly and renewed the chase.
Panting desperately, she ran from door to door looking for shelter. Every one was locked. She struggled briefly and then moved on. The dogs were gaining ground.
At last, she found one unlocked. She opened it and rushed inside. She slammed the door shut just as the lead dog crashed into it. The force of the blow knocked her backward. Terrified, she returned quickly to the door and locked it. The rest of the pack arrived and barked and growled angrily at the glass window on the top half of the door. Some of them left their saliva on it as they clawed and bit at it in their desire to sate their hunger for her.
“Hello, Sally,” a voice said behind her.
She turned around, startled. It was Mr. Pipich. He sat on his desk and smiled at her. He seemed oblivious to the attack she had narrowly avoided.
“I wonder if you’ve met our new student,” he continued. He gestured to the other side of the room.
There was a girl in a red dress and cape standing there. She looked up. She had a wolf’s head.
Sally woke up with a scream. She couldn’t remember ever having had such a terrible nightmare. Her heart pounded, and she felt cold. Her hands shook.
She stood up slowly. Her back ached from having fallen asleep at her desk. The clock read, “12:23.” Numbly, she got undressed and slipped between the sheets.
She left the light on. The images from the dream were too intense, too near. She pulled the covers up tightly to her chin and feared she wouldn’t be able to sleep again tonight.
But the day’s events were overwhelming, and they, in addition to the fear her nightmare generated, exhausted her once again. Without realizing she was even slipping away, she was soon unconscious and didn’t dream again before morning.