SHE CAME FROM THE HILL
Genre: YA Gothic Fantasy
Word count: 56,000
Clay went to Strawberry Hill for the camping, not the ghost hunting. His friends’ stories about a dead little girl and her rainbow-winged fairy friends are not exactly the stuff that nightmares are made out of. He plays along anyway and even carries the EMF detector, which can double as a football on a long boring night.
The quiet ghost hunt ends in an attack by a stone creature whose bite gives Clay the power to heal . . . for a price. Clay doesn’t plan to learn what that price is until his crush is hit by a car. Talking to Song Lei is awkward, but healing her is easy –no matter the price. Clay uses the power of the stone creatures to save her life.
The creatures are not fairies. They are the fey and the origin of terror. In return for Song Lei’s life, Clay must return to Strawberry Hill at midsummer. But an enemy of the fey lurks in the shadows, determined to kill Clay before midsummer. If the shadow succeeds, both Clay and Song Lei will die. If Clay can survive and return, Song Lei will live, and hopefully he won’t end up as another ghost on Strawberry Hill.
Nothing thrived at the far end of the park. Even laughter from the playground died at the first stunted tree. Clay could have skipped the shortcut had Alex, who had the communication skills of a bad WIFI connection, called an hour earlier. Proper packing takes time. He tightened the straps on his overnight pack and hoped the added weight wouldn’t wreck his tires on the rocky path.
Clay didn’t stop pedaling or turn around when footsteps crunched behind him. Creeping sounds were part of the dead forest. He left the park behind in record time. An orange car rocketed past, tires squealing. Clay made a mental note to avoid orange cars when he got his license in eight months. That guy was going to kill someone.
He coasted down the road and skidded to a stop in Alex’s driveway. His friends were scattered around the yard, none of them in uniform. He straightened his scout shirt. They needed to take scouting more seriously.
Alex aimed a small camcorder at him and pushed a button. Light flashed in Clay’s eyes, blinding him.
Clay put his hands over his face. “Alex!”
“The enhanced light works!” Alex switched the light off, leaving Clay seeing spots.
“What’s the camera for?” Clay shrugged off his pack.
Alex shut the tiny screen, leaned forward, and whispered, “The camera sees what we can’t.”
“Like what?” Mr. Walters never let anyone leave the campground at night, no matter how quietly they sneaked out of the tent.