This thrilling book kept me gripped from the beginning! Heart stopping action, a girl with the world on her shoulders and secrets soon to be revealed. Read on for an extract from this amazing story by Alex Cotter. Check out the rest of the blog tour happening all week!
Mum wasn’t always this way. Though without a TARDIS, I can see why you might find that hard to believe. You just see what’s in front of you. Like people walk along the beach and they’ll look up and spot The Lookout. Rising tall and uneven – teetering – right at the edge of the cliff. And their very first thought is: Blimey, that house is going to topple any minute! I swear I see those exact words written on their faces. Sheer fear. That our pebbledash cream walls, our stained slate roof might suddenly fall. Flatten them against the sand, like Dorothy’s house landing on the Wicked Witch of the East. When actually – things take much longer to fall than that, right?
“Noah! Answer me: Rice Krispies or Cheerios?”
You have to shout a question to Noah, and you have to shout it at least four times. Before he emerges from deep inside his head, like some hibernating hedgehog blinking into the light – Someone wants me? Away with the fairies, Dad calls it, when Noah glazes over like he’s fixed to a phone. Except Noahnever needs a screen.
“Huh?” He lifts his eyes finally. They look bloodshot and swollen. I heard him creep downstairs again last night.
“Krispies or Cheerios?” I shake both boxes impatiently. I don’t even know why I give him the choice.
Noah mumbles, “Krispies,” in a tone like it’s the obvious answer. When last week all he ate was Cheerios. He starts studying me as I pour him a bowl, slop in milk.
“Did you hear it last ni—?” he asks carefully.
“No!” I say, before he can finish the question, rolling my eyes for extra measure.
“You really didn’t hear anything?” Noah sits back,incredulous, wedging both hands in his thick red hair so it stands to attention.
“Uh huh, that’s what ‘no’ means,” I tell him, ignoring the niggle in my tummy. What I heard, I remind myself stiffly, are the noises any ancient house by the sea makes: gulls shriek, radiators tick, waves crash, beams creak.
“You can shape sounds into whatever you want,” I tell him in the grown-up, sing-song voice I use a lot lately. “Like the way you can make star signs fit your life.” Which makes me think briefly of Asha (when I’m really trying my best not to), checking hers every day.
“I’m not making it up.” Noah pulls his sulky face. Alleyebrows and bottom lip.
I shrug dismissively and turn to put the milk back. I’vedecided it’s best not to give him a “platform”. That’s the posh word this pamphlet in the school library used. All right, so the pamphlet was about OCD and phobias and stuff. But I reckon it’ll have the same result. If I don’t encourage Noah’s fantasies, if he’s no one to share them with, hopefully he’ll stop having them altogether.
“Aw, Noah, will you give off night raiding,” I groan, staring into the empty fridge. “I’ll have to shop again now!”
“I haven’t; it’s not me!” Noah complains. Before we both glance up at the familiar creaking sounds above. The house’s way of saying: she’s awake at last. I zip back to the cluttered kitchen counter: kettle for tea, bread in toaster; while I wait: load dishwasher, pack lunches.
“Eat!” I remind Noah what he’s supposed to be doing as I rush out with a mug of milky tea and some heavily buttered toast. Calling back, “You don’t want to be late,” because it’ssomething Mum would say. The Other Mum that is. The one you’d need a TARDIS to know about. I slow my pace only when I’ve passed through our tiled, dim alleyway of a hall and I’m facing the stairs alongside our many-greats-grandfather clock. It started after Dad upped and left, I suppose, so that’ll be four months and two days ago. (I can give you hours if you want.) I started worrying about our house. Like, really worrying. Just like Dad used to. Hesays old houses have voices. Now all I hear are The Lookout’s creaks and groans whenever we move. Like every tread I take, up the wonky stairs, or across the uneven wooden floors above, gives it pain.
It’s called The Lookout because our ancestor, Tom Walker, who built it, lit his lantern to warn ships about the rocks below. But I like to think it’s because it takes care of us. Which is why it’s imperative! Quintessential! Unequivocal! And every other big word! That I look after it back. So I climb daintily, like it’s some test and if I fail monsters will get me – moving my feet to the part of the stairs I know are more solid; putting most of my weight on thescratched wooden bannister. Even though the extra strain in my arms makes me think of being little and on Dad’s back on walks; trying my best to be as light as possible so he won’t remember he says I’m getting too heavy to be carried.