The sun disappeared behind the pointed silhouettes of the rooftops of Whiffington Town, like a hungry black dog swallowing a ball of flames. A thick, eerie darkness fell like no other night Whiffington had ever known. The moon itself barely had enough courage to peek around the clouds, as though it knew that tonight something strange was going to happen.
Mothers and fathers throughout Whiffington tucked their children into bed, unaware that this would be the last bedtime story, the last good-night kiss, the last time they’d switch off the light.
Three o’clock. CREAK . . .
A strange noise broke the silence.
It came from inside one of the houses. With the whole town fast asleep, who could possibly have made that sound?
Or perhaps not who
but WHAT? . . . CREAK!
There it was again. This time from another house. Creak! Creeaak! CREEEAAAAAK!
The sound of creaky wooden floorboards echoed around the hallways of every home in Whiffington.
Something was inside.
Something was creaking
Something not human.
There were no screams. There were no nightmares. The children slept peacefully, wonderfully unaware that the world around them had changed. It had all happened silently, as if by some strange sort of dark magic, and they wouldn’t know anything about it until they woke up the next morning, on the day it all began . . . Let’s start on the day it all began.
On the day it all began, Lucy Dungston woke up. Right. Well, that’s a start, but it’s not very exciting, is it? Let’s try again.
On the day it all began, Lucy Dungston woke up to a rather unusual sound . . . OK, that’s a little better. Let’s see what happens next . . .
It was the sound of the alarm clock ringing in her mom’s bedroom. Well, it’s got a bit boring again, hasn’t it? Let’s try that bit one more time . . .
It was the sound of the alarm clock ringing in her mom’s bedroom, because Lucy’s mom wasn’t there to switch it off. You see, Lucy was about to find out that while she was asleep in the night her mom had disappeared . . . OH. MY. GOSH! Imagine waking up to find that your mom has disappeared in the night! It gives me the creepy tingles every time I tell this story. I bet you’re thinking,
This is going to be the best scary story ever. I can’t wait to read it and tell all my friends that I’m really brave because I wasn’t even one bit scared. Even though you were totally scared all the way through. Well, this is only just the beginning. Wait until you read what happens later when the Creakers come out. Let me know if you get scared . . . because I am!
Back on the day it all began, Lucy climbed out of bed, slipped on her fluffy blue bathrobe, and walked across her creaky floorboards, which were warm from the morning sunlight creeping in through the curtains. Would you like to know what Lucy looked like? Of course you would! Here’s a picture . . .
As you can see, she had shorter hair than most girls’, and it was as brown as mud, or chocolate, and even though Lucy liked it to be short, her mom insisted she wear bangs.
“It stops you looking like a boy!” her mom would say (this was before she disappeared, of course). This really wound Lucy up, as her bangs always seemed to flop into her eyes, meaning she constantly had to lick her hand and slick them over to one side just so she could see.
Her eyes, once the bangs were out of the way, were greeny-brown . . . or perhaps browny-green. Either way, they were a bit green and a bit brown. You could say there was nothing particularly remarkable about Lucy at all, and it’s true; she was no different from any other child in Whiffington, which is another way of saying she was quite remarkable indeed.
Anyway, more about that later.
“Mom?” Lucy called, padding across the landing toward her mom’s bedroom.
But of course you already know there was no reply because her mom was gone!
Lucy’s heart started beating faster in her chest as she gently opened the bedroom door and stuck her head inside.
Mrs. Dungston’s book was still on the bedside table, a bookmark poking out, with her reading glasses perched on top. Her empty cocoa cup with the yellow polkadot pattern sat beside it. Her slippers were neatly positioned on the floor. It was all as it usually was. Except for the piercing ringing of the alarm clock and the spooky empty bed.
Lucy stopped the alarm clock and ran to check the bathroom.
Empty toilet (although Lucy would have been very surprised to find her mom hiding there).
She ran downstairs.
Empty living room.
” she called, a note of panic rising in her voice, and her heart leaping like a frog in her chest.
She was beginning to get an awful feeling that something terrible might have happened . . .
Copyright © 2019 by Tom Fletcher; illustrated by Shane Devries. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.