The Dead House: Naida

A Companion Novella


By Dawn Kurtagich

Formats and Prices




$2.99 CAD


ebook (Digital original)


ebook (Digital original) $1.99 $2.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around October 11, 2016. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

A digital short story from The Dead House author Dawn Kurtagich

There is a box.

A box that should never have been discovered.

And a warning beneath the lid.

This was for Kaitlyn. It was a mistake.

Forget this box and leave the Isle.

Don’t look any further.

I’m begging you.

After the inferno that swept through Elmbride High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear, Naida Chounan-Dupre was locked away for the good of society.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

Because you can’t play with the devil and not pay the price.

The chilling, psychological horror of The Dead House returns with never-before-seen footage of the Naida tapes.


This was for Kaitlyn.

It was a mistake.

Forget this box and leave the island.

Don't look any further.

I'm begging you.

NCD, 2005


2 February–23 April 2005

The cameras flash



A girl with wildly curling hair hides her face as two officers move her from the local police headquarters and into an unmarked vehicle, its windows blacked out. She glances at the crowd once before climbing inside the car, an officer beside her. In her expression we read nothing.

At the very last moment, she holds up a small square of paper.

Not Guilty.

Even in the face of overwhelming public anger, she is determined to defend herself.

The door closes, and the crowd screams.


I wrote it all down, because I said I would.

I taped as much as I could, because it proves I was to blame.

But now I can never show another living soul.

I bury this as proof, hoping that one day, when I am gone,

having served my time, her name will finally be cleared.

That people will know she existed.

And that I did too.

And that I'm sorry.

I am so, so very sorry.



Wednesday, 2 February 2005

County Police Station

Holding Cell

Time Not Noted

They said I'm lucky.


To have this pencil and this notepad, they mean.

"On account of your… disability," the guard said, peering at me through the glass door.

Naida Chounan-Dupré. Disabled. Mute. Crazy. Prime suspect in arson and murder and whatever else. I am Naida Chounan-Dupré: Mutilated. Disfigured. Fool.

Heading for psych evaluation. Cutting out your own Mutilating yourself is the fastest way to head there. Tongue. I will never be able to say that word again. Ever. Tongue, tongue, tongue. Tonguetonguetongue. TONGUE. It loses all meaning if you say write it enough.

If they find me incompetent, I suppose they will put me in a room on some remote ward in Claydon, just like Kaitlyn. And Blessed Gorro. Here I am, scribbling away just like she always did.

I've been in this holding cell for a long time now. Just waiting to see what happens. I've got a piece of paper—Not Guilty scrawled on the back. The words make no sense to me, but I hold them for Kaitlyn.

Kaitie… I'm sorry.

They sent in a nurse to change my drains. There are two of them, under the left and right sides of my chin. They drain the fluid from my surgery into two little bags glued onto my skin. After a while, they get full and heavy. The new ones are more comfortable. If comfort matters.

I miss Scott.

I miss Haji.

I miss them I miss them I miss them.

No one will tell me what's going on.

They took me from the hospital on Wednesday. Today is Saturday. I've been in a holding cell for two days. Might not sound like much, but you can't smell what I smell. And you, most likely, are not claustrophobic. I never knew I was. And I'm not really sure I am. But being in this little room for two days is enough to make anyone wish they had a rope.

No one will say anything.

They wouldn't let me see Scott when he came.

I'm glad.

I'm too broken. Too ugly. Too guilty.

Just got back from another desk. More questions. More not listening. At least they called Seanmhair. I wasn't allowed to call her myself because I'm not eighteen yet.

Not that I could have anyway. Because I don't have a tonguetonguetonguetonguetongue… I don't know what they said, or what she'll be thinking. I don't want to see her either. I don't want to see anyone. I'm too ashamed. Too angry…

I think I've started to hate the world. To hate myself and to hate the Gods. And she would see that. My grandmother sees everything. What I've done would be a blazing fire in the mirror of her face, and I… I just can't.

If they lock me away, it might be a good thing.

They said I could have a lawyer. I just shook my head and wrote: My grandmother. Fairy Island. They can't refuse me that. They have an obligation because of our status. Because of the history of our persecution and because the island is protected, and so are the island's people. So I suppose she's coming now.

But they did insist on a social worker. She's coming in an hour, they say.

In the meantime, I have to see a nurse. They want to check me over. The thought of them forcing me to open my mouth, to look at what I've done to myself, is nauseating. They insist on refusing to call it what it is: MUTILATION. Self-mutilation. They always smile and say, Glossectomy. Then they get all concerned and tell me for the millionth time that I could have died and that I am a very lucky girl.

But maybe they won't go there. Maybe this is just a preliminary evaluation. Probably.

I'd feel more human if I had my shoes, but they took them along with my jacket and belt.

They got the cotton-swab sample from my mouth and my fingerprints so now they have everything they need. My DNA is officially in the system. I'm a criminal.

You know… she burned up in those flames. That's what they keep yelling at me. She burned up in the flames, and so did Brenda.

She burned up in the flames.

They moved me to a cell. Tomorrow they tell me if I'm crazy or not.


It's not Claydon. But it is a psych ward. Mentally incompetent to stand trial. Officially. This isn't just any psych ward, though. It's for the criminals they can't imprison.

I'm being held at Her Majesty's pleasure—which means I could be here for years. Decades. Until I die. Or they could release me tomorrow (unlikely).

I deserve this.

Haji was right. I opened a door, and I couldn't close it.

From what I gather, Kaitie closed it for me. Like she said she would. Like I begged her not to. That DCI Floyd Homes guy—he kept asking me what Kaitie and I talked about when she came to the hospital. He kept shouting that I'd made her do it, convinced her to do it, convinced her she had to burn—

But he had it so wrong. I begged her not to go. I begged her to let me try to find another way. But she could see that I had nothing else to try. She could see that she was the only one who could.

And she knew that we both knew it was the only way.

They dragged me into a room by myself and didn't remove my cuffs. I think I'm dead inside.


I met a girl today. Found out her name is Jeanie when the guard pulled her off me. She got a chunk of my hair and a good blow across my cheek. One of my drains tugged, which was excruciating, and my nasogastric tube, the one they attach my nutrient packs that look like vomit to, also tugged.

"Bottle it up, Jean!" one of the male nurses shouted. I heard that when the guard had her restrained, but my ears were kind of ringing. Never been hit before. Cut out my own tongue; can't take a hit in the face.

Jeanie spat at the nurse. "It's Jeanie!"

He dragged Jeanie off before I could get a proper look. Saw a mat of hair—longer on one side—blond and blue—shaved to the scalp on the other. Skinny, but covered with wiry muscle. Strong.

At the last moment, she lifted her head and grinned at me. Couldn't help myself when I grinned back. Not felt something since before… Never thought a slap to the face would do such a job of getting me to forget.

For a while, anyway.

A female nurse took my notepad, and another one cleaned up my drains. When the doctor came in, he asked to speak to the first nurse in private. She must have got a telling off, because he gave it right back and the nurse won't speak to me.

I'm… delighted. I'm so fucking happy that she's pissed off.

Jeanie's back. She's three doors down my hallway. Went to see her.

"Knew you'd turn up," she said. She was on her bed, leaning back against the wall.

I raised an eyebrow that said, Oh, aye? Why's that, then?

"Saw you smilin' when I left," she carried on. "Knew you needed that hit. Saw it the second they led you in." She tapped the side of her head. "Too many memories."

I did nothing.

"Yeah, well. Don't get too used to it. First-time welcome and all that. I don't fancy getting shot up with sedatives. Haven't had a shot in three weeks. Plan on keeping it that way."

I raised my hands and shrugged. Why do it?

She didn't say anything for a while, and I guess she didn't understand I was asking her a question. She took out a bag of tobacco and some Rizlas from her underwear and began rolling a cigarette. When she was done licking the thing and spitting the pieces of stray tobacco from her tongue (it was beautiful: pink and white—but at the same time it disgusted me with its waxy film), she looked up at me.

"I was you once," she said. "No bad habits. Clean, really, excepting some hard memories. 'Course, I could talk, but still. I was like you."

I frowned.

"Took me a while to realize something important about this place, so I'll help you out."

I stepped closer without meaning to.

She leaned forward, the roll-up between her fingers as she pointed. "It can get worse, love. It can get so much fucking worse."

Funny. I thought places like this were meant to be helping people like me. I thought places like this were meant to be "treatment facilities." All I get is a ten-minute conversation with a doctor every Thursday (a different doctor almost every time, because they work on rotation). What that means is simply this:

I have been here six weeks.

I have written out my story five times.

No one sees.

Nice system.

There is a word inside me—one I can't hold.

Jeanie says that this place has its rules. Its secrets.

"It's like anywhere else," she said, gnawing on the bone of a chicken leg from yesterday's lunch. "There are patterns. Even in shit holes, there are always patterns." She snorts. "I know them so well I can leave whenever I want. Sick, right?"

I couldn't stop looking at the chicken bone and wondering what sorts of bacteria had grown on it since it had been sitting on her desk. I didn't believe her for a second, but she quieted the Word in my mind, so I listened. If she could really get out of here, she would. And I would go with her, to clear Kaitie's name. Somehow.

Jeanie likes me because I'm quiet. Can't tell secrets to anyone if you never talk.


  • Praise for The Dead House:

    "What an evil and original story. You can't stop reading Kaitlyn's diary. But is she real? It's a mystery inside a mystery--and the shocks keep coming. Scary stuff!"—R.L. Stine, author of the Goosebumps and Fear Street series
  • "All I could think when I finished THE DEAD HOUSE was that the author, Dawn Kurtagich, has an amazing mind. Creepy, but amazing. I loved it."—Christopher Pike, bestselling author ofThirst
  • "Full of twists, buried secrets, and enough disturbing corpses to please the most discerning horror lover, THE DEAD HOUSE is a thoroughly engrossing read. Diary entries, psychiatrist records, and transcripts from the investigation keep the pages turning late into the night. This is a harrowing tale, cleverly told."—Kendare Blake, author of Anna Dressed in Blood
  • "THE DEAD HOUSEis a seamless blend of the supernatural and the psychological. Creepy, compelling, and compulsively readable."—Victoria Schwab, author of The Archived and Vicious
  • "Kurtagich weaves a terrifying and mind-bending tale reminiscent of H.P. Lovecraft. This is one of the best horror debuts I've read in a long time!"—J.R. Johansson, author of Cut Me Freeand The Night Walker series
  • "Not for the faint of heart, this is a gory and grimly compelling story, made more so by the novel's visual elements."—Booklist
  • "This creepy boarding school novel meshes real world issues with a paranormal mystery in a fun but scary debut... Fans of horror novels will appreciate the creepy photographs scattered throughout, and the multiple perspectives are smoothly integrated... A worth addition to high school horror collections."—School Library Journal
  • "Told through a retrospective collection of found evidence surrounding the deaths of several students in a boarding school fire, Kurtagich's debut novel is deeply disturbing and fraught with emotion."—Publishers Weekly
  • "Kurtagich maintains the creepy and dark tone through to the end, where readers are not given a neat, tidy ending - the ghosts still haunt, pieces of the story remain missing, and life goes on despite the terrible tragedy at the prestigious Elmbridge High School."—Voya
  • "...Will keep many readers anxiously waiting to see what comes next."—School Library Connection

On Sale
Oct 11, 2016
Page Count
32 pages

Dawn Kurtagich

About the Author

Dawn Kurtagich is a writer of psychologically sinister fiction, and she has a dark and twisted imagination! She lives in Wales, an ancient and mountainous country within the UK (go to England’s Midlands and turn left towards the sea). However, she grew up all over the world, predominantly in Africa. She is the author of The Dead House, And the Trees Crept In, and Teeth in the Mist.

Learn more about this author