Genre: YA thriller
Word Count: 64,000
My Main Character's Most Fearsome Obsession is:
NORTHERN GHOSTS is a YA thriller complete at 64,000 words, inspired by Sebastian Junger’s non-fiction account of the Boston Strangler in A DEATH IN BELMONT.
The squatter is a veteran with PTSD, and though Travis forces him to leave the house, he can’t get him off the property. Ghost, as the man calls himself, holes up in the barn. When Travis discovers the soldier might be his long-lost uncle, Ghost’s choices make more sense. He won’t go, Travis thinks, because he subconsciously wants to be reintegrated into the family, and Travis is just the sixteen-year-old to make this happen. But when the veteran starts raving about blood and people in pain, Travis worries that Ghost’s mental illness isn’t so harmless after all. Travis might not only have stumbled across a lost relative, but The Hilltop Strangler, the serial killer who’s been stalking high school boys, and plucking them out of their yards before brutally murdering them.
Determined to keep his mother safe, Travis vows to confront the soldier. But he doesn’t have all the pieces of the puzzle and The Hilltop Strangler might be closer than he ever imagined. If Travis isn’t careful, he could become the killer’s next target.
The toilet gulps and sputters twice. The water from the bowl rushes downward, heading into the pipe. All seems fine—like the toilet’s not Satan—but then another gurgling sound erupts, and water squirts out of the tank, pushing past the cover like it’s nothing, pours down the sides, and splashes onto the floor.
“I told you not to flush.” The words come out of my mouth before I can stop them.
The repairman leans toward the torrent and says, “Hmm.” He scratches his chest through his old gray work shirt near its sewn-on nametag that says, “Gary.”
“I’ll go get towels.”
“It’s not so bad.” Gary waves his hand at me, dismissing my concern.
“You have no idea. That toilet’s completely evil.”
He glances at me. When he sees I’m serious, he backs up a step, maybe trying to save his shoes. The water keeps coming. He has to lean far over to jiggle the handle.
This house blows.
“I’ll be right back,” I call as I vault over the growing flood and race out of the room.
My eyes had left Gary only for a moment, a second. “Don’t flush it unless you want all hell to break loose,” I’d said. He’d nodded, examining the toilet with a grim face, and I thought he’d understood. But as he’d inspected the demon-latrine, a text from Mom had distracted me.
Are you doing okay? I heard something weird at work. Stay inside. For me, Travis, please.