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  • Bonechiller
  • Written by Graham McNamee
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780307975935
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  • Bonechiller
  • Written by Graham McNamee
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780307975942
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Bonechiller

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Written by Graham McNameeAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Graham McNamee

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On Sale: May 30, 2012
Pages: 176 | ISBN: 978-0-307-97594-2
Published by : Ember RH Childrens Books
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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

Danny is sick of running. Harvest Cove is the latest nowhere place he's drifted through with his dad. In summer, people come to stay in cottages on the vast lake. In winter, Harvest Cove is a ghost town hidden away in Canada's Big Empty. Danny's been running forever, but Harvest Cove might be his last stop. The place has a way of making people disappear.

As the cold sets in, Danny and his new friends stumble on a centuries-old nightmare. They start seeing things. Impossible things. And in winter, there's no escape from Harvest Cove.

Excerpt

I stumble on home in the dark, dizzy and delirious.

The wind whips up, cutting right through me. So I start to jog. Back at the house, Dad will have a fire going and the place will be nice and toasty.

He’s the caretaker at the Harvest Cove marina, for the off-season, while the owner winters down in Florida. Staying at the small marina house comes with the job. There’s a bait and rentals office on the ground floor, with the living space up top.

It’s a temp job. Everything’s temporary for us. In the spring we’ll be moving on to the next town, next life. I’m not going to think about it.

I think about Ash instead.

Back on the first day of school, I was slouching in my seat. Trying to lay low. New place. New faces. Same old same old. Then in walks the boxer-girl who knocked me out. I slouched some more, hoping she didn’t see me. I was staring at the floor when a pair of black army boots stopped beside me. I looked up into the dark eyes of my assassin.

“Hey, killer. Ready for a re-match?” She was grinning wide.

Then she grabbed the seat right in front of me, and I had to stare at the back of her neck the rest of the day. A very nice neck, I discovered. And a very nice rest of her too.
Now, licking my lips as I jog, I can taste her Mars bar. So what do I do when I see her at school tomorrow? She’s going to act like nothing happened. Guess I’ll play along with–

What’s that? Out of the corner of my eye, I catch something big moving in the ditch on the right side of the road. I only get a blurry glimpse before it dips out of sight. Something pale and quick. And big!
Slowing to a walk, I try and focus in the dim light from the crescent moon. Without moving too close to the ditch, I can only make out shades of gray–dark, darker and darkest.

Nothing’s dumb enough to be out on a night like this. Like my grandfather used to say–a night not fit for man or beast. Or me.

So I start jogging again. All the insanity that’s gone down tonight has got me wired and twitchy. That, and a case of hypothermia, must be toying with my brain.

Coming up to Fourth Line, I pick out the firefly lights of houses set back from the road. The wind brings the smell of burning wood from cottage fireplaces. The taste of smoke in the air teases me with a promise of warmth, making the cold seem even colder.

Passing the Line, I catch a flash of something pale in my peripheral vision, emerging from the right-side ditch to cross Fourth Line, then diving back into the deep shadows of the ditch on the other side.
That was something–definitely something!

I slow to a stop, listening hard. But there’s nothing past my own panting, and the hollow whisper of the wind.

Maybe it’s just a plastic bag. There’s tons of trash blowing around out here, with the local dump only a mile off. But even I know that’s weak. It would have to be one huge bag. And whatever it is, it’s going against the wind coming off the lake.

Might be one of Mangy Mason’s big Alaskan huskies. He’s this ancient guy who lives in a rusting trailer on the lakeshore, and lets his dogs run wild. They’re harmless, right?

Should I take a peek?

There’s a shiver doing laps up and down my spine, from the cold, but also from that phantom itch you get when you feel someone staring at you. Someone, or something.

Take a peek? Hell no!

Just as I’m going to bolt, I hear it. A growl, so deep it shivers my eardrums. Like when you max out the bass on your speakers.

I’m paralyzed for a long moment. Then I force myself into a staggering jog, eyes locked on the far side of the road.

I stick to the left side. The edge next to me drops off into the deep dark.

Just as I hit Third, I see it.

And it’s no dog.

It’s big! And long. And fast. It isn’t much more than a blur as it flashes across Third Line and vanishes back in the ditch on the other side. It looks eight to ten feet long.
That can’t be right. There’s no way.

It’s running on all fours, I can tell that much.But running silent as it speeds through the debris in the ditch. Not a sound–no scratch of gravel, cracking twigs. Nothing.

My brain stalls on me.

Stunned, I slow down and try to remember what you do when confronted by a wild animal. Make some noise? Try to scare it off?

Then I hear that growl again, keeping pace with me in the dark. Shivering me bone-deep.

Just run!

At top speed, I can make it home in five minutes.

But that’s a long time on a dark road, too far from the nearest house for anyone to hear me scream.

Shut up and run!

I sprint against the wind, arms pumping. My runners chew up the gravel. I’m flying now. Raw fear makes me ignore the burning in my chest as I heave for more oxygen.
Up ahead, I can just make out the light at the end of the road, marking the turnoff for the marina. First Line, finish line.

Crossing Second, I can’t help looking back. My vision is blurred with tears from the frigid wind.

Nothing. Nothing. Maybe it’s had it’s fun, and now–

No. Diving from ditch to ditch, it clears the Line without even setting foot on it this time. My eyes must be screwing with me. There’s no way anything can move like that. If it’s making any noise now, I can’t tell past my own gasping and my shoes pounding the snowy gravel.

Focus on the light! Eyes on the prize.

That beacon in the black grows slowly. So slowly. As I close in on it a few more lights from the marina wink in and out through the trees.

I might just make it.

Then my foot hits a patch of ice.


From the Hardcover edition.
Graham McNamee

About Graham McNamee

Graham McNamee - Bonechiller

Photo © Bodegadesigns.com

BONECHILLER was inspired by a nightmare. The story takes place in a small northern town with a dark secret. Based on a real town where my uncle had a little lakeside cottage we visited in the summer when I was a kid. A place of warm, sun-filled memories.

But one year we made the mistake of going up there in the dead of winter for some ice-fishing. A very bad idea. Because when the cold took over, our cottage country hideaway turned into an icy ghost town. All the cabins were boarded up for the long winter, and there wasn't a soul to be found. The wind chill off the frozen lake bit at our faces with icicle teeth. A snow squall blew in just as we got there, burying the roads and trapping us in the cottage for two shivering nights. The thermometer bottomed out, and we slept with our boots on.

Outside, the squall was howling, heaping drifts up against the cottage and trying to pry the wooden planks off the boarded windows. I stayed up half the night peering through knotholes in the wood, trying to spot the 'thing' that was making that howling noise. More than just the wind, I was sure there was something alive out in the freezing dark. Something big and mad, and hungry. In bed, even with my ear muffs on, that arctic howl found me. And when I finally slept, 'it' came to me. A huge snow-pale beast with blade-like teeth, ice pick claws and big silver eyes. It chased me through my dreams, through the ice-bound town. And when it caught me--it always caught me--all I could do was stare at my own reflection in those hideous, silver-mirrored eyes. And scream until I screamed myself awake.
After two nights of nightmares we finally made it out, driving over the frozen lake to get back to the main road. I remember looking through the rear window, searching the snowy landscape for my beast. The dreams haunted me for months after. And the cottage was never the same after that. Because even in the heat of summer I knew something was hiding, and only waiting for the deep freeze to come back out.
So here's my nightmare, my beast. My Bonechiller. Sweet dreams.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Graham McNamee works at the Vancouver Public Library. His novel Hate You is an ALA Best Book for Young Adults and his novel Sparks won the PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship.

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