The smallest house in Britain has been sentenced to be demolished. Though hundreds of people have lived there through the years, only five people, who have never met before, stage a lock-in- intent on saving their former home. These were the only five who enjoyed the house's eccentrities, its strange noises and corner-of-the-eye illusions. The only five that missed it.
And the home is very grateful. Every room and every object in the house holds imprints of memories, ready to be played back at a single touch. These are happy, at first, but soon turn dark as the house, desperate to keep its new-found company, bombards the five with ghostly scenes and puzzles to entrap them. Soon, a harmless lock-in becomes a struggle to escape, and five people learn more about each-other than they ever wanted to.
This novel is part comedy, part horror and part fantasy, told in five parts by the quintet of heroes; Floss, Jared, Tom, Evelyn and Albert.
(In the excerpt, sentences in brackets should be read as if they are in italics, as I don't know if you can format excerpts and they're meant to be thoughts!)
Suddenly aware that Floss had already gone upstairs, Jared knocked on the front door of his old room. Back when he'd still lived there, the mini-whiteboard that now lived on their fridge at home used to rest on the door, where he'd scrawl warnings like "doing coursework, interrupt and die," or "sleeping, don't knock unless someone's dead or it's snowing." Now it was bare, even the blue paint had been stripped off since they'd moved out. The door swung open, and Floss stood there expectantly. She'd taken off her long cardigan that had covered half of the sling, an replaced it with a shawl. They could both see now that she was dressed in a rose pink top, with a small, understated silver locket. Floss dressed like she was in her fifties, and not a twenty-three year old dancer.
"I was just wondering if I could come in," Jared asked. "This used to be my old room as well."
"Of course," Floss said, understanding immediately, and stepped back to let them pass. Tom bowed his head and moved accross the hall to scope out his old room on his own, where the two of them would now be staying.
The room had changed, he noticed immediately. Where his bed had used to lie on the right of the room, it had changed to the left, and the wardrobe stood by the window instead of by the door. Grudgingly, he concurred that it was a good change, but he still felt a weird surge of annoyance, as if someone had changed around his property and invaded his personal space, when he hadn't lived there in a year, and certainly hadn't enjoyed it. Someone had also taken his posters off the walls, and the star-shaped beanbag he used to lounge on in the corner, and the square mirror that used to hang above a chest of drawers.
No, he reminded himself quickly. No-one's taken them away from you. You took those things down when you moved out, and it was the best decision of your life.
"Thanks," Jared said quietly, after he'd satisfied his curiosity. He crossed the hall to the double room. It was just as empty, and as strangely sad as his own. Tom sat cross-legged on the bed, staring out of the window at the rapidly darkening sky. At the sound of Jared's arrival, he whipped his head around and tried in vain to wipe off the tear tracks from his cheeks before his friend could see. Jared didn't say anything, but went to sit next to him on the bed. Tom's head fell onto his shoulder.
"We used to live here," Tom whispered, as if the memories had only just come back to him. "This is my room."
"Was your room," Jared reminded him. "Now it's ours. Are you ready to go home?"
Tom laughed, darkly. He shook his head, looking down at the un-covered duvet.
"Which place is home?"