Use code DAD23 for 20% off + Free shipping on $45+ Shop Now!
Deadly Little Voices
Formats and Prices
Format:ebook $7.99 $9.99 CAD
This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 6, 2011. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.
Also available from:
Copyright © 2011 by Laurie Faria Stolarz
All rights reserved. Published by Hyperion, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher. For information address Hyperion, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011-5690.
Jack and Jill ran up the hill, both for a little fun.
Jack’s plan was deception while Jill sought affection.
And Jack wouldn’t quit till he won.
A VOICE STARTLES ME AWAKE. It’s a female voice with a menacing tone, and it whispers into my ear.
And tells me that I should die.
I sit up in bed and click on my night-table lamp. It’s 4:10 a.m. My bedroom door is closed. The window is locked. The curtains are drawn. And I’m alone.
So, then, why can’t I shake this feeling—this sensation that I’m being watched?
I draw up the covers and tell myself that the voice was part of a dream. I remember my dream distinctly. I dreamt that I was in my pottery studio, using a spatula to perfect a sculpture I’ve been working on: a figure skater with her arms crossed over her chest and her leg extended back. I began the sculpture just a few days ago, but I haven’t touched it since.
I look down at my hands, noticing how I can almost feel a lingering sensation of clay against my fingertips.
That’s how real the dream felt.
I take a deep breath and lie back down. But the voice comes at me again—in my ear, rushing over my skin, and sending chills straight down my back.
Slowly, I climb out of bed and cross the room, wondering if maybe there’s someone else here. Standing in front of my closet door, I can feel my heart pound. I take another step and move to turn the knob.
At the same moment, a voice cries out: a high-pitched squeal that cuts right through my bones. I steel myself and look around the room.
Finally, I find the source: two eyes stare up at me from a pile of clothes on the floor. I’d recognize those eyes anywhere. Wide and green, they belong to my old baby doll, from when I was six.
She has twisty long blond hair like mine and a quarter-inch-long gash in her rubber cheek.
I haven’t seen the doll in at least ten years.
Ten years since I lost her.
Ten years since my dad scoured every inch of the house looking for her and, when he couldn’t find her, offered to buy me a new one.
My arms shaking, I pick up the doll, noticing the black X’s drawn on her ears. I squeeze her belly and she cries out again, reminding me of a wounded bird.
I rack my brain, desperate for some sort of logical explanation, wondering if maybe this isn’t my doll at all. If maybe it’s just a creepy replica. I mean, how can a doll that’s been missing for ten years suddenly just reappear? But when I flip her over to check her back, I see that logic doesn’t have a place here.
Because this doll is definitely mine.
The star is still there—the one I inked above the hem of her shorts when I became fascinated by the idea of all things astrological.
I pinch my forearm so hard the skin turns red. I’m definitely awake. My backpack is still slumped at the foot of my bed where I left it last night. The snapshot of Dad and me in front of the tree this past Christmas is still pasted up on my dresser mirror.
Aside from the doll, everything appears as it should.
So, then, how is this happening?
In one quick motion, I whisk my closet door open and pull the cord that clicks on the light. My clothes look normal, my shoes are all there, my last year’s Halloween costume (a giant doughnut, oozing with creamy filling—a lame attempt to rebel against my mother’s vegan ways) is hanging on a back hook, just as it should be.
Meanwhile the voice continues. It whispers above my head, behind my neck, and into the inner recesses of my ear. And tells me that I’m worthless as a human being.
I open my bedroom door and start down the hallway, to go and find my parents. But with each step, the voice gets deeper, angrier, more menacing. It tells me how ugly I look, how talentless I am, and how I couldn’t be more pathetic.
“You’re just one big, fat joke,” the voice hisses. The words echo inside my brain.
I cover my ears, but still the insults keep coming. And suddenly I’m six years old again with my doll clenched against my chest and a throbbing sensation at the back of my head.
I look toward my parents’ closed bedroom door, feeling my stomach churn. I reach out to open their door, but I can’t seem to find it now. There’s a swirl of colors behind my eyes, making me dizzy. I take another step, holding the wall to steady myself; the floor feels like it’s tilting beneath my feet.
On hands and knees now, I close my eyes to ease the ache in my head.
“Just do it,” the voice whispers. It’s followed by more voices, of different people. All trapped inside my head. The voices talk over one another and mingle together, producing one clear-cut message: that I’m a waste of a life. Finally, I find the knob and pull the door open, but my palms brush against a wad of fabric, and I realize that I haven’t found my parents’ bedroom after all.
It’s the hallway closet. A flannel sheet tumbles onto my face.
Instead of turning away, I crawl inside, and remain crouched on the floor, praying for the voices to stop.
But they only seem to get louder.
I rock back and forth, trying to remain in control. I smother my ears with the sheet. Press my forehead against my knees. Pound my heels into the floor, bracing myself for whatever’s coming next.
Meanwhile, there’s a drilling sensation inside my head; it pushes through the bones of my skull and makes me feel like I’m going crazy.
“Please,” I whisper. More tears sting my eyes. I shake my head, wondering if maybe I’m already dead, if maybe the voices are part of hell.
Finally, after what feels like forever, the words in my head start to change. A voice tells me that I’m not alone.
“I’m right here with you,” the voice says in a tone that’s soft and serene.
An icy sensation encircles my forearm and stops me from rocking. I open my eyes and pull the sheet from my face, and am confused by what I see.
The hallway light is on now. A stark white hand is wrapped around my wrist. It takes me a second to realize that the hand isn’t my own. The fingers are soiled with a dark red color.
Aunt Alexia is crouching down in front of me. Her green eyes look darker than usual, the pupils dilated, and the irises filled with broken blood vessels. Her pale blond hair hangs down at the sides of her face, almost like a halo.
“Am I dead?” I ask, rubbing at my temples, wondering if the red on her hands is from a gash in my head.
“Shhh,” she says, silencing the other voices completely.
“Am I dead?” I repeat. My throat feels like it’s bleeding, too.
She shakes her head. A smear of red lingers on my forearm. I see now that it’s paint. “Come with me,” she whispers.
I blink a couple of times to make sure she’s really here—that she’s not some apparition straight out of my dream. Dressed in a paint-spattered T-shirt and a pair of torn jeans, Aunt Alexia leads me out of the closet and back into my room. She helps me into bed, taking care to tuck my doll in beside me. And then she starts humming a whimsical tune—something vaguely familiar, from childhood, maybe. Her lips are the color of dying red roses.
I pinch myself yet again to make sure I’m not dreaming. The time on my clock reads 4:43.
“Has it really only been a half hour?” I ask, thinking aloud.
Aunt Alexia doesn’t answer. Instead she continues to hum to me. Her voice reminds me of flowing water, somehow easing me to sleep.
I’ll bet you were flattered to learn that I’d had my eye on you long before I first stepped into the coffee shop where you worked. I’d sit in the parking lot during your shifts and watch you through the glass. Some days I’d park just down the street from your house. Other days, I’d watch you walk home from school.
When I finally did show my face, I noticed that you liked to watch me too. I’d see you checking me out as I pretended to do homework at one of the back tables of the coffee shop. One time I spotted you applying a fresh coat of lip gloss when you thought I wasn’t looking. I’d never seen you wear any before, so I assumed it was to impress me.
For months your hair was always the same-in a long dark braid that went down your back-but after I’d started coming around, you wore it down and loose. Am I correct in thinking that wasn’t a coincidence?
It was a while before we said anything more than coffee talk-a large mocha latte one day, a double-shot espresso the next-but I knew a lot about you. That you were sixteen and had never been kissed (cliché, but true). Are you wondering how I knew that? Or is it possible that you already know?
You remember, don’t you? That time, in your room, when your father called you to the kitchen? When you left your diary out on your bed? When your balcony door was left partially open? I fantasized that you’d left the diary there on purpose. That you knew I was lingering right outside. That you wanted me to read it.
Did you miss not having your diary for those days that I kept it? Or maybe you’d fantasized about me reading it too?
I also knew that you used to skate (I’d seen the trophies in your room). And that aside from the spray of freckles across your face, you couldn’t have been more different from the rest of your family-especially your mother: the one who got away.
I’d never let you get away.
The first time I saw you was one day, right after your school had let out. I’d been sitting in my car, waiting for the final bell to ring, when you came stumbling up the sidewalk with a giant backpack over your shoulders. I watched you in my rearview mirror, noticing the defeated look in your eyes. Like a wounded dog, resigned to death.
It was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
You were already dressed in your coffee shop attire: black pants, white blouse, and a long bib apron to cover it all. There were groups of kids walking in front of and behind you. One of them had shouted something out-something about the fact that you’d chosen to wear your work uniform before you’d even punched the clock. But you just kept moving forward, sort of hunched over and looking down at your feet, failing to acknowledge that someone was making fun of you.
That’s how I knew that people probably didn’t understand you the way I would. And that’s when I decided to make my move.
I remember the first time I saw you. It was just after I’d gotten trained to work the front counter. You were sitting at a table at the back of the coffee shop, taking sips of the mocha latte I had made for you, with extra whipped cream and a smiley-face drizzle of chocolate syrup (I wonder if you noticed), and trying to do your homework.
I thought it was kind of peculiar that someone who was studying didn’t mind being wedged in between a table of mothers with their food-throwing kids and a quarreling couple on the brink of breaking up.
But there you were in my direct line of vision, with sandy-brown hair and deep blue eyes, with dark-washed jeans and a sun-faded sweatshirt.
Which is why I never questioned anything.
You were older than me, definitely in college. I knew because you made reference to a class you were taking: “I need the fuel to pull an all-nighter. I have a huge exam tomorrow.” You gestured to your book entitled Romantics in Literature. It was exciting to imagine you reading love stories at night.
I wondered what your name was, and if you’d ever go out with someone still in high school. But part of the beauty of it was the fact that I didn’t know these things.
And that you didn't know me.
You had no idea who I was, or what the kids at school said about me behind my back.
Or straight to my face
I remember the day we made physical contact—when I handed you your coffee and your finger brushed against mine, but in a totally obvious way. You gazed into my eyes, causing my pulse to race.
“Sorry,” you said, with a smile that didn’t show any hint of remorse. “What’s your name?”
I opened my mouth to tell you, half excited (the other half shocked) that someone like you would ever want to talk to someone like me, let alone ask my name.
“On second thought, don’t tell me,” you said with a grin. “It might be more interesting if we keep this game going for just a little while longer”
“This game?” I asked. My face was on fire.
You winked and told me that it was my turn “I’ve already made my move. Now it’s all you. As soon as you’re ready, you know where I’ll be.” You motioned to your usual table at the back of the shop And that’s where you sat for the next several months straight.
I DIDN’T TELL ANYONE about what happened last night, when I was hearing voices, because the truth is that I’m scared to death of what it might mean.
Kimmie, Wes, and I are sitting at the kitchen island at my house, surrounded by empty Dairy Queen bags and munching the sort of processed, grease-laden, and overly sugarfied snacks that’d be sure to make my health-freakish mom shrivel up, melt down, and evaporate into a Wizard-of-Oz-worthy cloud of smoke quicker than you can sing “We’re Off to Eat a Blizzard.”
If my mom were home, that is. But she’s at work, teaching a class full of preggos how to do a downward-facing dog in a way that blooms the hips and flowers the pelvis, thus preparing the body for childbirth (or for a centerpiece arrangement; take your pick).
For some reason, Kimmie’s being super reflective today, insisting that we talk about my recent breakup with Ben. “Do you think you’ve given yourself sufficient time to mourn?” she asks, ever dramatic.
“Excuse me?” I pause from popping another fry into my mouth.
“Because if not, you could one day wind up a victim of your own subconscious’s desire to sabotage your every relationship.” She pulls an issue of TeenEdge from her backpack, flips open to a bookmarked page, and reads aloud: “The end of every great relationship is really like the end of a life, because with it comes the death of something that used to be, followed by a mourning period.”
“Since when do you read that swill?” Wes asks.
“Hardly swill. It’s genius,” she says, correcting him. “Consider yourself lucky that I decided to share such genius in your presence.”
“Except I’m not sure I’d call anything that comes out of TeenEdge ‘genius,’” he says, pointing to an article titled “How Duct Tape Changed My Life.”
“Well, I think it’s a fairly accurate assessment,” I say. “About the end of relationships, I mean.” Because with most endings, there also comes a loss. And I feel I’ve lost my best friend.
I realize how dumb that probably seems, especially considering that Ben is neither lost nor dead. I mean, I see him all the time. He’s in my lab class. And in the back parking lot after school. He’s down at the east end of the hallway when I go to pottery. Not to mention in the corner study carrel in the library during every single B-block.
Sometimes I catch him looking at me, and I swear my skin ignites. It’s as if a million tiny fireflies light up my insides, making everything feel fluttery and aglow. It’s all I can do to hold myself back and turn away so he doesn’t see how achy I still feel.
Because we’re no longer together.
I know how pathetic this sounds, which is why I don’t utter a word of it to Kimmie and Wes. But still, as deflated as I feel, I refuse to spend my days and nights brooding over our breakup. I don’t write his name a kajillion times on the inside covers of my notebook, nor do I check and recheck my phone in hopes of a call, message, or text from him.
The truth is that Ben wasn’t the only one who wanted to push the pause button on our relationship.
“I wanted to take a break as well,” I remind them.
“At least that’s what you keep telling us,” Wes says, giving me a suspicious look.
“Of course, how am I ever supposed to get that break, when Ben’s so obviously present, and at the same time absent, in my life?” I continue.
“Elementary, my dear Chameleon,” Kimmie says. Both she and Wes insist on calling me reptilian names whenever they feel like it, which is reason number 782 for why I hate my name.
“You need to rebound with a bloodhound,” she says. “Preferably an immortal one with the power to shape-shift into a really hot guy.”
“You want me to date a dog?” I ask, half tempted to flick one of my fries at her face.
“Not a dog.” She rolls her eyes. “Hook up with your preferred type of predator.”
“Shall it be werewolves, vampires, angels, demons, or zombies?” Wes says, painting his lips with a ketchup-loaded french fry to make his mouth look bloody.
“Haven’t you heard?” Kimmie asks, lowering her cat’s-eye glasses to glare at me over the rims. “Immortals are the hot new accessory of the season. Everyone’s trying to score one before they go out of style.”
“So true,” Wes says, pushing his ice cream to the side. “As if us guys don’t have enough pressure trying to look good, be charming, wear nice clothes…Now we have to run around on all fours and gnaw at people’s necks to be considered sexy.”
“Stop it, you’re turning me on,” Kimmie says, using a napkin to fan herself.
“Thanks,” I say, “but I prefer my men human.”
“Yeah, I suppose I do, too. I’m old-fashioned that way.” She lets out a sigh.
“Adam is human,” Wes says, perking up, curiously excited to point out the obvious.
“So nice of you to notice.” I pick a strand of curly blond hair (fingers crossed that it’s mine and not the cook’s) out of my pool of ketchup.
“Yes, but being a mere mortal does not automatically make him rebound material,” Kimmie says.
“Excuse me?” I ask, utterly confused.
“Adam’s the kind of guy you fall in love and live happily ever after with,” she explains.
“In other words, not the kind of guy you get caught macking with behind your boyfriend’s back…But obviously, that happened anyway.” Wes covers his mouth at the horror of it all, clearly trying to be funny.
But I’m far from amused.
“Honestly, Wesley Whiner, are you trying to get this ice cream dumped over that crusty coif of yours?” Kimmie positions her Blizzard over his new haircut, which is basically a modified version of a Mohawk (buzzed on the sides with an inch-wide landing strip down the center of his scalp).
“I’m sorry,” he says, meeting my eyes, his face even graver than when Mr. Muse threatened to confiscate his bottle of hair gel in gym class.
“That’s better,” Kimmie says, putting her ice-cream weapon down.
“I promise not to joke about Adam,” he continues, “or any of your other hedonistic love trysts again.” He takes an overenthusiastic bite of ice cream, and even I can’t help letting out a laugh.
In a nutshell, Adam is Ben’s ex–best friend. About three years ago, a lot of drama went down between the two of them—drama that involved Ben’s then-girlfriend Julie. Apparently, Adam had been dating Julie behind Ben’s back, and after she died, Adam blamed Ben. A lot of people did. The rumor going around was that Ben had gotten so angry when Julie had tried to end their relationship that he pushed her over a cliff. In the end, it turned out that Ben wasn’t to blame for her death. And thankfully, a jury of his peers agreed.
Like me, Ben has the power of psychometry—the ability to sense things through touch. When he touched Julie on their hike that day, he sensed the truth right out of her: basically, that she and Adam had a secret relationship going on. And so he touched her harder, eager to know more. Julie got spooked and started to back away. That was when she fell backward off the cliff and died almost instantly.
“Might you and Adam ever make things official?” Wes asks.
“We’re officially friends,” I say, hearing the irritation in my own voice.
“Yes, but are you officially putting your tongue down his throat?” He checks his profile in his pocket mirror, giving a stroke to his Elvis sideburns.
“I haven’t seen Adam in a couple of weeks.”
“And did that encounter involve an exchange of saliva?” he persists.
“I think I’m done with this inquisition,” I say.
But it’s not that I don’t deserve it.
Adam and I started getting close a couple of months ago, when I thought his life was in danger. It’s worth pointing out that my power of psychometry works a bit differently than Ben’s. He’s able to picture images from the past or future through his sense of touch. Meanwhile, my love of pottery allows me to sculpt prophetic clues—clues that have some sort of relevance to the future. And sometimes, though this may sound nuts, I hear voices when that happens.
In the case involving Adam, my senses proved right. He was in danger. Luckily, with Ben’s help—and after Ben saved my life for the fourth time, nearly getting himself killed in the process—things ended up safely for Adam.
But as Adam and I were working together to keep him out of harm’s way, he admitted to some pretty shady things—things he seemed completely transformed by and at the same time remorseful for.
Things that were pretty amazing to hear.
Adam was being so open and honest about his past. Meanwhile, I felt as if the secrets between Ben and me just kept getting bigger. And in the end, those secrets—that lack of trust—were basically what tore us apart, more than any kiss between Adam and me ever could have.
It’s been exactly six weeks since Ben and I decided to “take a break.” Six weeks of watching Ben’s superhero popularity grow, especially among the female population at our high school. And six weeks of Adam’s coming around on occasion, wanting to spend time with me.
“Well, at least you haven’t heard any voices or sculpted anything psycho lately,” Kimmie says.
Part of me feels guilty for not telling them about last night. But I’m not quite ready to hear them draw parallels between my aunt Alexia and me.
My aunt Alexia, who’s been labeled by doctors as mentally disturbed, with suicidal tendencies.
Who’s been in and out of mental hospitals for as long as I’ve known her.
And who claims to hear voices, too.
Aunt Alexia has been staying with us for a couple of weeks, but last night was the first time she ventured out of the guest room for more than five minutes. My parents assure me that giving her space is the right thing to do, that someone with a past like hers needs time to adapt to her new surroundings.
But my theory—and one I’ve only ever shared with Ben—is that Aunt Alexia is psychometric, like me. That she’s able to predict the future with her art. And that if I don’t come to terms with my own psychic ability soon, I may one day end up like her.
THE FOLLOWING DAY IN SCULPTURE class, I try my best to concentrate on Ms. Mazur’s lecture about avoiding excess water in our works-in-progress, but I really just want to sculpt.
“By adding grog, your pieces will have less of a chance of shrinking as they dry out,” Ms. Mazur explains.
“It’s all about the shrinkage prevention,” Kimmie jokes, waving a sad little wand of clay at me.
I ignore her comment and make an effort to refocus on what Ms. Mazur is saying. She’s in the middle of explaining something about plasticity now. I gaze down at my ball of clay, imagining what I might sculpt.
After a few moments spent spacing out, I notice that Ms. Mazur is no longer talking. The students in class, Kimmie included, have already added their groggy bits to their hunks of clay, and begun to wedge them out.
I do the same, noticing right away how much easier it is to work with the grittier texture.
“Big difference, wouldn’t you say?” Ms. Mazur asks, returning to her desk at the front of the room.
I close my eyes and a series of images pops into my head, including the skating sculpture I’ve been working on—the one from my dream last night.
I start to replicate the skater’s silhouette when all of a sudden I feel hot, like my skin is burning up. I touch my forehead. It’s soaked with sweat.
“Camelia?” Kimmie says. “Um, no offense, but why does it look like you just got jiggy with Mr. Floppy here?” She hands me the paisley scarf from around her neck and then confiscates her clay wand.
I let out a breath, feeling more overheated by the moment. My shirt sticks against the sweat on my chest.
“Camelia?” Ms. Mazur asks. She stands up from her desk and places her hands on her hips. A pencil falls from behind her ear.
- On Sale
- Dec 6, 2011
- Page Count
- 288 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers