Here are the openinge chapters of The Creatures In Sky Reach Tower I hope you enjoy them.
Postman Jack Stott loved ripping open children’s brightly coloured envelopes and stealing any money or gift vouchers he found inside. But stealing from children was not the best part of his job. What really excited him was listening in at people’s letterboxes. Any secret, no matter how embarrassing was safe from Jack’s ears. He loved to discover how silly people were and how much better than them he was. So much cleverer.
It was now mid-morning and not only was it starting to drizzle but Jack had reached the part of his daily round that was the least enjoyable. He stood at the end of the path that led to Sky Reach Tower with his fists clenched and his face twisted into a scowl that could peel paint. The security door to this ten storey apartment block was always locked and he was forced to deliver his mail to a bank of outside letterboxes. He was sure Sky Reach Tower was bursting with all sorts of secrets just waiting for him to discover. Just yesterday he had glimpsed something very strange watching him from a first floor window. Something that didn’t look like any animal he’d ever seen before in real life or on the telly.
Jack snatched a wad of junk mail from his bag and stomped toward the row of mailboxes, but then he stopped. His scowl widened to a smile. The front door to the tower block was wedged open with something red and white. He went closer.
‘A traffic cone?’ Jack gasped and glanced left and right to see if someone might be playing a trick. The rain-soaked path and pavements were deserted. Jack didn’t care who had done this or why. Now he could get inside. He could listen at letterboxes that he’d never listened at before. A whole ten floor’s worth of letterboxes.
Almost wetting himself with excitement, Jack opened the door. He picked up the cone, flung it into the nearby bushes and went inside.
The place had a sort of damp, animal smell and the grey ceiling of the lobby seemed darker than is should be. He strode past scratches on the wall that could have been claw-marks and went into the lift. Even though he’d pressed the button for level 10, the doors opened at level 4.
‘Whatever,’ Jack declared and stepped out.
Before him was a single traffic cone. Red and white plastic tape spooled in a coil on the floor. Jack guessed that the cone that was wedging the front door must have been taken from here. It looked like the cones and tape had made a flimsy barrier in front of the lift door. Even stranger than this, at either end of where the barrier would have been, was a set of traffic lights mounted on tripod frames. They were just like those used for temporary roadworks only smaller. Both lights glowed red. Stranger still, to the left of this arrangement was a blackboard on a frame. Written in white chalk on the board was-
4b WATCH OUT
MAKE SURE THE LIGHTS ARE
‘Whatever,’ Jack said and eager to begin letterbox listening he stepped over the tape and stood before the black glossy door, which seemed to be the only apartment door on this floor. His grin vanished. There was no letterbox. Of course, what and idiot he had been. All the letterboxes were in the wall outside and so there was no need for each apartment to have one as well.
Something behind him, slick and metallic whispered ‘yesssss,’ Jack spun around and clutched the wad of junk mail tighter. It was only the lift doors closing.
Behind his back, the dark surface of the apartment door rippled. A bubble, the size of a football bulged out at the top and slid down the door. It stopped level with Jack’s left hand. Silently, the bubble became a cluster of spikes. The spikes formed a claw.
Jack cried out and looked down at his hand. Where was the mail? He scanned the floor and even looked in his bag but could not find the mail anywhere. He glanced at the door.
He jumped back. A letterbox, wide and silver, just like he’d imagined the perfect letterbox to be. How could he have missed not seeing that before? Jack forgot about the lost mail. He grinned and rubbed his hands together.
Both knees clicked as Jack crouched down. He pushed open the letterbox lid. It was warm, like something living. Inside he saw darkness and things that glinted. He turned his head and brought his ear closer to the letterbox.
The door bulged outward.
Jack’s scream was cut off as the letterbox clamped around his head and with a wet slurp, Jack was sucked inside.
A few seconds later, the letterbox burped. Jack’s postbag and a spray of shredded mail shot across the landing. The letterbox gave a wide yawn and then sank back beneath the smooth, black surface of door 4b.
Noah Redway looked through the glazed door of the school library and his stomach tightened. Kelly Tremaine was sitting alone at one of the three round, wooden tables. Her hair, like a fantastic explosion of copper springs, bounced as she glanced from her iPad to the pages of notes on the table beside her bag. Noah wasn’t surprised that she was by herself. Just like him she was a loner and labelled weird by most of the other kids in year eight but she never let it bother her. Noah was sure she’d make a good friend but that was never going to happen. Being friends meant sharing secrets and as his mum always warned, their secrets were far too dangerous to share with anyone.
Noah reached for the door handle. He’d just do the geography homework assignment given to them by old Dog Breath Mc Fadden and if she started being friendly he’d think up something bad to say and make her walk off. Sometimes he hated having secrets. Sometimes he just wanted to be ordinary.
Noah pushed the door open. At the far end of the room the Year Ten girl who was obviously the librarian for the evening bobbed her head as she watched him. White wires from her earphones dangled down her body like broken puppet strings. As Noah closed the door a furious buzzing came from his inside blazer pocket. He glanced at Kelly, she was looking at him now. Feeling hot and stupid he fumbled out his phone to turn it off but saw the screen. The breath snagged in his throat. Noah pressed the phone to his ear.
‘Derek, what the hell are you doing using your emergency-.’
Derek’s voice, normally scratchy like someone with a sore throat sounded now like someone being strangled.
‘Nooooah, Nooooah. Ya better come home quick. And whatever ya do, don’t use the lift.’
The call went dead. Noah darted another glance. Kelly didn’t seem impressed.
‘Dog Breath wants this lot in for tomorrow,’ she said. ‘Are you going to help, or what?’
The phone vibrated. Noah turned his back on her. He felt the heat of her stare but that didn’t matter right now.
‘Derek. What’s up?’
Derek sounded even more strangled than before.
‘I keep dropping the blumming thing.’
Noah cupped his hand over the phone. ‘Put it down and hit the loudspeaker icon then. You know how useless your claws are at holding onto anything plastic.’ The phone went dead.
‘Who are you talking to, your cat?’
Kelly was sitting straight-backed watching him. He’d been careless. No, not just careless, totally stupid. The puzzled frown left Kelly’s face and she smiled. He thought it was a nervous smile, like her mouth had got cramp, but it was still a smile. Mum’s warning whispered in his mind.
You can’t afford to make any close friends.
This was the part that he always hated but he had to do it.
‘My phone conversations are none of your business,’ Noah said.
Kelly’s mouth became a line, then she said, ‘I thought you might be different, but you’re like the rest of the idiots around here. Just because I live in a kid’s home you think I’m a freak.’
‘No I don’t. I-.’ The phone vibrated again.
Chair legs screeched as Kelly stood up. ‘Okay. If that’s the way you want it.’
‘Oi! Keep it quiet,’ demanded the Year Ten glaring at them.
Kelly flicked her hand at the school iPad. ‘You can finish the rest yourself.’ She snatched up her bag, strode past Noah and slammed the door behind her. Noah watched her retreating back through the glass and then kicked the leg of the table. ‘Damn.’
‘That’s it,’ called the Year Ten and pointed to the door. ‘Out.’
Noah picked up Kelly’s notes and the iPad. His phone buzzed like a demented wasp. Noah slapped the phone to his ear. ‘Derek, what’s going-.’ Derek’s screech was deafening.
‘I think 4b’s eaten the postman.’
There was a clatter, another screech and the call went dead.
Kelly Tremaine walked through the open gate of Greenlands, the place she hated most in the world. Well, hated just slightly less than Westhaven High School; they were both filled with people who loved telling her what to do. She opened the faded green front door that would be locked at ten o' clock sharp and the lovely smell of damp carpet and cooking cabbage welcomed her home. She closed the door behind her and turned around at Big Carol’s raised voice.
‘Get out of my kitchen.’
With a clatter of running feet on tiles, the kitchen door flew open. Anne Gobbet, laughing her head off and chased by Katya Romanskova, came rushing toward Kelly.
‘Watch out carrot head,’ Gobbet shouted. Kelly stood her ground. She dipped her head and shot Gobbet a ‘push me and you’re dead’ look. There was no body contact as Gobbet and Katya dashed past and galloped up the stairs. Their feet became exploding bombs along the landing.
‘Hello, Kelly love.’
BC filled the kitchen doorway. Flush-faced and in her white gown Kelly thought she looked like a huge cherry-topped meringue. She liked meringues and she liked BC for always being kind to her but tonight she was annoyed and all because of that stupid Noah Redway.
‘How’s my little kitchen angel?’ BC asked.
‘I wish you wouldn’t call me that,’ Kelly said and headed up the stairs. On the landing she bumped shoulders with Johnathan, his beany hat pulled down to his eyebrows and his face in a book as usual. He didn’t even look at her as he squeezed past. She watched him go down stairs absorbed in his fantasy world. If only she could find her own private place and escape from this horrible life and the guilt of what she had once done.
In her bedroom, standing in the dark with her back against the door, she closed her eyes and dug her fingernails into her palms. Why the hell had she given Noah Redway a chance to be her friend? She should have known he’d throw it back in her face. ‘Oh God,’ she groaned. ‘I even smiled at him.’ Then she thought about what he’d said to the person on the other end of the phone. Kelly opened her eyes. She raised her hands and looked at her fingers. ‘He was talking with someone who had claws?’ Noah Redway was either completely mad, or … she ran her thumbs over her fingernails and then she decided. She would give him one more chance to be her friend. A chance to let her into his secret if he wanted to, though she could never tell him her secret. It would be like ripping open her heart.
Noah ran down the path toward Sky Reach Tower. He punched in the security code, let himself in and dashed to the lift. He stopped with his finger paused over the call button. Derek had warned him not to use the lift. Why? Was Derek playing one of his usual jokes? Or? Noah lowered his hand. Or was something really going on? If it was then why hadn’t his mum called him instead of Derek? Of course, she couldn’t. It was Wednesday. She would be at the indoor market in town picking up end of day food bargains.
The thought that there might be some truth in what Derek had said washed over him like cold water. Noah strode past the lift and opened the door to the stair. He rushed up the single flight to level 1 where he lived with his mum, Derek and quite often now, Madnoz, who spent most of his time squeezed under the sofa.
Noah entered the apartment and slammed the door after him, eager to get to Derek and ask him what the hell was going on. He strode down the hall and passed the open door to his bedroom. Glancing up at the ceiling he saw that Derek’s sleeping bar was vacant. In the living room a cartoon was playing on the TV and a plastic washing up bowl a quarter filled with Derek’s nose drippings was on the floor directly below another ceiling bar. Perhaps Derek had seen him enter on the CCTV and scuttled off to hide.
‘Derek?’ Noah called. No answer. ‘Madnoz?’ He thought he heard a slushy, squishing sound from the living room, which would make sense. But then Noah heard a scream. It wasn’t human, or even non-human but the sound of aircraft engines. Noah turned and retraced his steps past his bedroom and the front door and headed for the end of the hall. Derek was in the games room playing Flight Simulator on the big screen. The sounds stopped and as Noah was reaching for the handle, the door slowly opened. A brown foxy face looked up at him and grinned its seventy one and a half pointed teeth.
‘Hello Noah, mate,’ said Derek. ‘Boy am I glad you’re back.’
I hope you enjoyed this opening section of the novel that I am currently writing. If you would like me to mail you when the complete novel is available then please click the link below.