Page Count: 162 pages
Cover Design: Abigail Owen
Be good, or the Blacknoc Curse will come for you.
Samuel dreamed of being a lot of things, but a monster trapped in a forest realm never entered his mind. The Blacknoc Curse wasn’t supposed to be true, only a children’s story meant to persuade them away from evil. Yet, here he was tasked with hunting cursed kids. There’s nothing left for Samuel except the horror surrounding him.
Layla, a young girl tormented by the same curse, is dropped into the terrifying forest every night, running from the monsters intent on taking her life. She meets Samuel and vows to save all the children, especially Samuel, from their torment.
Working together can they defeat the Blacknoc Curse?
I crouch down next to the girl, careful not to touch her. “Look. You’ll be okay as long as you stay with me.”
She sniffles and cups her face. “This can’t be happening.” She wipes a tear off her cheek. “The legend of the curse is really like what my great-aunt said.”
I stand and pace. My monster self cannot be still when on constant alert. “It’s all true. A real cesspool of teeth.”
“When I woke back in my room, the scratches on my skin from last night were still there. Grandfather thought I’d done it to myself. I told him what happened, and he didn’t believe me.”
“He won’t be able to help anyway.”
She moans, and I stifle a grunt. There I go again with my optimism. As long as I am cursed to this flesh, there just isn’t any room for the stuff. But I can’t avoid the truth of her fate.
I kneel to her level. “What’s your name?”
I smile. A fitting name for a gorgeous girl. “Layla,” I repeat, as if the name carries me back to a reality where humans live in harmony away from monsters. I hurriedly add, “Nice to meet you.” Then I remember our situation. My comment is inappropriate. There’s nothing nice about the forest. Social etiquette must have died along with my soul.
“And you?” She looks up at me with a curious gaze. “Do you have a name?”
It’s been so long since I’ve heard my name. Who said it last? Josh? Pa calling me to supper? I stop to think for a second and then allow it to roll off my tongue.
She hugs her knees, leaning forward, dangerously near my barbed hands. “What a keen name for a monster.”
An odd musk from between the trees reaches me. The stench of fear grows potent as low branches snap. Someone small and clumsy runs toward us.
I leap up. “We need to go now.”