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Velveteen
Velveteen
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Velveteen

Written by Daniel MarksAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Daniel Marks


· Delacorte Books for Young Readers
· Hardcover · October 9, 2012 · $17.99 · 978-0-385-74224-5 (0-385-74224-X)
Also available as an eBook and a trade paperback.

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Chapter 1

When Velveteen Monroe pictured Bonesaw's house--and she did, more often than could be considered healthy--blood striped the paint a muddy reddish-brown, internal organs floated in jars of formaldehyde, and great big taxidermy crows leered from branches that twisted from the wall like palsied arms.

Velvet always did have a vivid imagination. It was part of her charm.

But she'd never have guessed that the first thing to jump out at her in the murderer's dank living room wouldn't be a human-bone coffee table cluttered with the latest issues of Sociopath Weekly and Insanity Fair, dog-eared and swollen with scribbled Post-its like her mom's Cooking Light magazines, nor the killer himself, wild-eyed and clad in a blood-spattered rubber apron, growling maniacally.

He wasn't there at all.

The first thing Velvet noticed was a dangerously normal Kleenex cozy with the words "Home Sweet Home" cross-stitched into its side. As if there were anyone sweet dwelling in that boxy, bland farmhouse.

Bonesaw had dropped the ball on macabre creativity. It's like he never got the text message. When a serial killer decorates his home, it's his duty to opt for, at the very least, a moderately freaky and off-kilter, if not deranged, design scheme.

Everybody knows that.

It's Psychopath 101.

The couch and chairs were as sandy brown as the paint job and plainly arranged rather than all backward or spotted with gore like you might expect of a properly insane decorator. The carpet was clearance-sale beige and just the slightest bit threadbare in a meandering path that led to the old-fashioned swinging kitchen door. The only thing remotely weird was an alabaster ashtray the size of a hubcap, with a half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich stubbed-out in the middle instead of a cigarette butt.

Velvet's eyes lit on a giant TV--not one of those LCDs, but the other kind, with the big tube in the back--teetering atop a small chest. One of the stand's doors hung open just a crack, and something twinkled from its murky depths like a lonely star. She reached out and swung the door open on its squeaky hinges, half expecting to see a knife collection of the variety sold on home shopping networks.

"Look at all of you." Velvet cocked an eyebrow as she peered inside. "Lined up like toy soldiers."

Bonesaw collected salt and pepper shakers. Lots and lots of them.

Mexican guys in sombreros, turtles with top hats and canes, and even a pair of Oreos with bites taken out of them--though how delicious cookies were related to salt and pepper was beyond Velvet.

"Correction," she mumbled. "Used to collect them."

Velvet snatched a pair of hideous cacti, the pickle color having faded into a pale, sickly lime from age or, maybe, Bonesaw's relentless polishing. She launched them across the room, where one shattered into a hundred pieces and the other dug into the drywall, jutting from it like a diseased tooth. A couple of cockeyed chickens were next to get the fastball treatment, followed by the rest of the animal-shaped dispensers. They exploded against the back of the front door, salting and peppering the carpet with tiny shards of porcelain but no actual salt and pepper.

The cabinet emptied, Velvet clamped her fingers under the edge of the coffee table and heaved it forward onto its top, sending the magazines flapping across the room and the giant ashtray thudding to the floor. The peanut butter and jelly dropped away as the mammoth disk of alabaster rolled off on its side, ridges beating a rhythm across the thin pile of the carpet. It collided with the chest, and the TV rocked precariously before settling back onto its base.

Velvet cocked her head to the side; black waves of hair fell over her shoulder and cast a shadow across her face. She quickly tucked a lock behind her ear and assessed the situation for maximum destruction. A slow grin carved its way across her lips, as jagged as a jack-o'-lantern's.

"That won't do, will it?"

She spun, kicking the chest with her full weight, and watched with glee as the TV toppled to the floor with a bang. The screen exploded satisfyingly, spraying the carpet with tiny splinters of TV glass that twinkled like morning dew. The booming echoed through the small house exquisitely, the sound defiling every normal-as-white-bread corner.

If you overlooked the vandalism, the house was the kind of place where anyone could have lived.

Even the killer of four high school girls from New Brompfel Heights, New Jersey.

That crapload of crazy had all started the summer before Velvet's senior year, when Misha Kohl hadn't shown up at home after getting wasted at a kegger, but instead appeared eight days later in several different ziplock freezer bags down by the river. The town had gone shit-bag crazy over that. Curfews had been instated. Buddy-ups for the kids whose houses didn't warrant bus stops. Cameras pointed at the playgrounds like owls on the hunt for woodland scamperers.

Velvet had been pretty sure Bonesaw wasn't a scamperer.

Those cameras hadn't been about catching the serial killer anyway. They'd been about parents pretending their teenage girls were playing on swing sets rather than holing up in some sweaty basement, dodging boys' grabby hands.

Totally delusional.

Despite an obvious love of thick eyeliner, eighties Goth music, and giving her mother heart palpitations, Velvet hadn't been particularly interested in the Bonesaw case at the time. She would have, if pressed, admitted to a certain fascination with sociopaths, and she had spent more than a few "library enrichment" hours scouring the Encyclopedia of Tragedy and Mayhem, but a few missing girls didn't really thrill her as much as you'd think.

Sure, Ted Bundy was kind of hot if you squinted really hard, but he wasn't nearly as extraordinary-looking as his "survivors" always claimed on those History Channel psycho-killer shows. Velvet's interests didn't have anything to do with romanticizing psychotic personalities, anyway. What intrigued her was the whole disconnectedness-from-emotions "thing" that unites all true sociopaths, like they're part of a Moose lodge or a fantasy football league. She'd been accused of the same behavior on more than one occasion (the disconnectedness, not participating in a ridiculous pretend sports thing). Whether she was guilty of having the symptoms was debatable. Lord knows the counselors at her school were happy to discuss what they termed her "oppositional defiance" at every parent conference ever.


Excerpted from Velveteen by Daniel Marks Copyright © 2012 by Daniel Marks. Excerpted by permission of Delacorte Books for Young Readers, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.