To celebrate James Dawson's Hollow Pike paperback release, Indigo arranged an excellent blog tour allowing bloggers to post deleted scenes from the book. Due to a technical issue, I'm posting this a few days later than scheduled, but I hope you still enjoy this slice of uncut Hollow Pike!
Deleted Scene – Night Whispers
This is ‘the extended cut’ of the bedroom scene in Chapter 4 of Hollow Pike. In this early version, when the novel was still called Bracken Hill, Lis could actually hear the ravens that were haunting her.
Her eyes snapped open. Her sleep had been warm and thick like treacle, yet she had woken. Why?
Sitting upright, Lis pushed her hair back from her face and stared through the sepia light that filtered through the translucent drapes over the French windows. She could hear talking in the distance. Was it Sarah and Max? A quick glance at her mobile confirmed the time at 4.15am. Maybe baby Logan was having a bad night. She strained to catch the conversation.
It wasn't Sarah's voice. Or Max's for that matter. The speaker had a shrill, coarse whisper, although Lis still couldn't hear what was being said.
Suddenly something knocked against the terrace door. Three short, sharp taps on the glass. Instantly recoiling, Lis pulled her sheets up around her face and flattened her back against the wall. She slowly edged down the bed towards the door, aware that any quick movements would alert whoever was on the terrace to her presence.
‘Come outside ...'
The words came through clearly this time, freezing Lis to the spot. Tears stung her eyes but she dared not even blink.
‘Come outside!’ the voice repeated more firmly in its strange, genderless tones.
‘We have much to discuss,’ cried a second voice, even more bizarre than the first. Lis inhaled sharply, hardly daring to look at the door. There were at least two of them. Shadows moved outside the doors, followed by yet more frantic tapping against the glass. It sounded like fingernails. Lis sank from the bed onto the floor, keeping her body as low as she could. She knew the dainty French windows wouldn't take much force.
‘What is your name, stranger?’
‘Let us in!’
They were talking directly to her. She was being watched, and on the other side of the fragile barrier, someone was waiting for her. She closed her eyes and pressed her body into the wall, clinging to the darkest shadows, hoping the intruders would give up and leave.
Lis held her breath. The curtain was still and she heard no voices.
She waited, counting out the empty seconds, but only getting to about fourteen before her muddled mind lost its way and she had to start again. Could she have been sleepwalking? She tentatively put one hand forward and began a sort of crawl towards the doors. She needed to listen more closely. Were they still there, but speaking more quietly? Her breath came in short, raspy bursts as she practically slithered towards the door, all the time listening intently. Still she heard nothing.
Lis stopped when she reached the curtain. With all the bravery she could muster, she turned her ear towards the window before reaching out for the cool, hanging fabric. Should she look out into the darkness beyond? Her fingers teased the edge of the drapes.
‘Please let us in!’ the voice practically screamed.
Lis flung herself away from the door, certain the glass would break.
‘Sarah!’ the word caught in her throat, barely audible. ‘Sarah! Max!’
She pushed herself along the carpet, never taking her eyes off the windows as the tapping persisted.
A pyjama-clad Max barged into the room, nearly hitting Lis with a heavy corner of the door. Sarah was close behind.
‘Lis! What is—’
‘There's someone on the terrace!’
Sarah entered the room, pulling Lis up off the floor and into her arms. Max headed straight for the French windows, grabbing a wrought iron candlestick from Lis’s desk. ‘Max, no!’ pleaded Sarah. ‘Call the police!’
Max ignored her and pulled back the curtain. Lis twisted her face away from Sarah's shoulder to catch a glimpse of the prowlers. Max threw a glance back at his wife and squared his broad frame.
With a single bold move he twisted the key in the lock and shoved the doors wide open. Birds squawked and scattered everywhere as Max pounced into the velvet darkness. Instantly security lights flooded the entire terrace, chasing away every last shadow.
Max turned quickly, brandishing his makeshift weapon in all directions. He darted along the terrace and up the wooden stairs leading to the garden's rambling flowerbeds. There was nothing. Somewhere high above, an owl sang his haunting melody and a chill night wind swept through the chattering leaves – but Max was entirely alone.
He trotted back down the decking as Sarah and Lis emerged from the bedroom. ‘There's no one here, Lis. Nothing, honestly.’
Lis looked frantically from her brother-in-law to her sister. ‘I swear there was, Sarah. I'm not messing around!’
Sarah stroked her hair back, gently. ‘What did they sound like? What did they say?'
‘They were speaking in really weird voices, saying “Let me in! Let me in!”’
Max took a further glance over the terrace. ‘Lis, love, the security lights didn't come on until I went out.’
Lis cast an appeal straight into her sister's eyes.
‘Look, Lis. You said it yourself ... you're having these incredibly vivid dreams. Of course you're scared, but there's nothing here.’
Max wrapped a giant arm around her tiny frame. ‘It's OK, Lis. We don't think you're going mad. It could have been some of the lot from your school. We did once find some lads drinking in the top garden. But if they were, they're long gone, Lis. I'm gonna call the police first thing though. Little hooligans.’
Lis, feeling bolder, stepped away from Sarah and surveyed the whole garden. It was still and tranquil. There was nothing here to hurt her. She wondered whether her twisted dream-life could be starting to creep into reality. The voices had seemed real, but then so had her encounters in the forest. She’d read all about sleepwalking and how real it seems at the time. She shivered at the thought.
Almost reading her mind, Sarah took her hand. ‘Come back to bed with me. Max, spare room?’
He smiled amiably. ‘Yeah, OK. Break from your snoring.’
Sarah raised a weary eyebrow. ‘Very funny. I'm going to check Logan. Go get cosy in our room, Lis. I'll be through in a sec.’
Lis tried to gather strength from the normality of Sarah and Max and their kindness. She drew herself upright, almost casting a warning shot to the night.
She had moved two hundred miles to live here. She might well have been so terrified that she felt almost physically sick, but she wasn't going to run away. Not this time.
HOLLOW PIKE by James Dawson is published by Indigo and available to buy in paperback £6.99, eBook £4.49. Visit http://www.jamesdawsonbooks.com/