••• The International Writers Magazine: YA Fiction by Sam North
MAGENTA by Sam North
Life begins somewhere between the fish and the stars
Magenta - the girl with the red hair and brilliant smile that hid so much pain. The girl who fled the fire and began to live again. The boy who crashed the car, and Anya, the girl who could read objects. A man searches for his runaway daughter whilst kidnappers feed the fish and tell their lies...
‘Long after my tears dried, my heart stayed with Magenta, Starfish Boy and the strange girl who read objects.’ CT
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EXTRACT from MAGENTA by Sam North
About ten minutes later a Landrover came driving out of the grounds at speed, careering along the bumpy track, through the woods, heading for the back road. Only a local or someone who knew the farmhouse well could possibly know that the track was there.
Deacon and Magenta shrank back into the trees as the Landrover bounced past them on the uneven track.
Why were they leaving in such a hurry? She shrank back further but someone was looking out of the side window and just for one brief second their eyes met and Magenta had a shock. She dismissed it the moment it happened. Perhaps he hadn’t seen her, but why was her stepfather still in the back of the Landrover with them? Couldn’t be. She had to have imagined it. Yet, for that brief second their eyes had definitely met. Could he have known it was her? Impossible in the darkness surely, but she’d know his terrible brooding eyes anywhere.
Deacon sensed trouble first, wanting to break free of her grip. She could suddenly smell smoke, heady with a stink of petrol. Heard the crackling fire.
They ran in panic for the house, all fear of being discovered gone. Deacon’s ears were pricked back as he ran ahead barking.
They swung around the stables and standing before them the whole house was burning. The stench of petrol was overpowering. Whoever they were, they had deliberately set this fire and meant it to take quickly.
‘Mother?’ She screamed. Her window was open. She had to be able to hear her.
Magenta ran for the front door, but that was already burning too fiercely for her to get close.
She ran to the rear of the house, but found the backdoor she had carefully left ajar was now locked. The old house was burning fast. They had made sure of it.
‘Mother? Steven!’ She screamed again. The roar of the flames was building in strength. She shouted for them again, but got no reply.
Why couldn’t they hear her?
She threw a brick through the kitchen window. It bounced off. Double-glazing is hard to break with just one brick. She threw it again with more force. This time it shattered.
There was an explosion somewhere in the house. Flames shot through the living room consuming everything in its path. No way her mother could have slept through that. She climbed up to the window and kicked the glass in. Deacon howled outside, doing his best to wake everyone.
She was in the kitchen running the taps but no water came out. They’d shut the water off.
She ran for the door even though she could see flames licking under it. She tried the metal handle but it was too hot to touch already.
‘Mother! Steven! Wake up. Get out.’
She remembered the old back stairs that would have been used by kitchen staff in years gone by.
She opened the door and a ton of old books fell out. She found the light switch, nothing happened. They’d cut the power as well. These people had known exactly what to do and where everything was.
There was a phone on the wall, but even as she lifted it she knew it would be dead. She realised her precious mobile was upstairs by her bed. Useless now.
Smoke engulfed the kitchen. But she had to try to get up those stairs. She had to wake her mother. It was impossible that she could still be sleeping.
She clamboured over the books, made her way through the smoke and darkness to the door up ahead. But when she got there and tried to open it, dense acrid smoke filled the stairwell and she began to choke. She had to get out onto the landing and pulled her sweater over her head to stop her hair from burning. Blue flames rapidly spread like a poured liquid across the landing carpets as everything ignited around her.
‘Mother! Steven! Wake up!’ She screamed again, rushing into her mother’s bedroom. To her astonishment the room was empty, the bedclothes heaped on the floor. She heard a car horn blast outside and rushed to the window.
Her mother was sitting in her Mini Countryman wearing her dressing gown, little Steven beside her. Their eyes connected and her mother lowered her window as Magenta pushed up the sash window. Bad idea. Flames were sucked into the room as if starved of oxygen before and Magenta realised there was no way back.
Her mother’s face was twisted in anger. ‘You wicked, wicked girl. You did this. After all we did for you and this is how you repay us? May you burn in hell, Magenta. May you burn in hell!’
Magenta was astonished. She was about to protest her innocence, but flames seemed to leap across the room towards her and with a shriek she had to run into the bathroom. Her mother had already driven off.
She was shaking now. How could anyone think she had done this? She slammed the bathroom door behind her. There was an interconnecting door to the guest room, but no escape beyond that. She ran into the guest room and shut that door too, aware that flames were already in the corridor behind it.
She still couldn’t believe her mother had driven off and blamed her for this. Sure there was that stupid incident when she was nine and she’d accidentally burned the garden shed down the night before Guy Fawkes, but surely…
She struggled with the sash window. It had to be opened. It had to be. It finally slid up and stuck fast. She looked out. Deacon was looking for her, whimpering with anxiety.
He was there below her and she realised that if she jumped she’d break both their necks for sure.
© Sam North
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