Book Excerpt


“Help!” I call out.
    I edge my way forwards. The dumbwaiter shakes, and I’m pushed back. The dumbwaiter drops—I scream—and it stops as if my scream had commanded it to. Now the dumbwaiter’s stuck in the chute, and I’m clinging to the sides in scary blackness.
“Help!” I call out again.
Why doesn’t someone come? My heart’s pounding. My palms are sweating. I’m afraid to move a single inch. If the dumbwaiter falls again I could trap my hands on the wall. I could lose my fingers. I could lose my toes. I curl up into the smallest, tightest ball and clench my teeth.
The dumbwaiter descends.
My stomach stays at the top but the rest of me falls. I’m in a Tower of Terror and I want this to end. But it doesn’t end. What’s happening? One minute I’m in my bedroom, now I’m falling in a dumbwaiter. Nightmare.
That’s it! I’m having the most fantastical falling dream. It’s the thought I cling onto as I reach out and try to hold on.
But now the chute isn’t there any more, and I’m not going straight. I’m spinning and spinning and sparkling lights fly past.
At last the dumbwaiter slows—rises—stops with a jolt and—feet first—I fall out.


I wait for the world to stop spinning so I can run from Aunt Dottie’s basement kitchen back to my room.
But this doesn’t look like her kitchen.
Everywhere’s full of dark shadows of every size and gruesome shape. I scream and grab onto the dumbwaiter. It feels harmless again—solid. I jump back in and hold on.
I shake the dumbwaiter, but I’m scared it might break, so I jump back down. My heart’s racing; I can feel it thumping as I hunt with my eyes for the door. There are two: a closed one on my right and an open one on the far side.
But my feet won’t move.
I’m sweating. But at the same time, I shiver.
Stay calm. Stay calm.
There’s a dim light on the other side of the open door. It’s spilling part way into the room onto hanging saucepans. Some as large as cauldrons. Where am I? A lower floor, perhaps? Dug under Aunt Dottie’s basement. I stare at the open door. Above it I can see a row of bells. Why? Are they left over from her hotel? This is definitely not her kitchen. That big black stove wasn’t in it. Or that rocking chair. I hold my breath.
It’s empty.
My breathing starts again. This time too fast. I take a couple of cautious steps and bump into a table. Something rattles on it. Something heavy. I want to hold onto the table, but I daren’t touch a thing. Footsteps. I hear footsteps. The room swims: the pans, the bells, the stove, the chair, start to fade. A buzzing noise. In my ears. Louder.
Everything goes black.

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