This will be a sequel to my '09 novel, "Winlock Manor." Quick rundown of that:
There is but one main point of interest in the dull, quiet neighborhood of Elm Ridge: the legend of Winlock Manor, a century-and-a-half old mansion that is rumored to be haunted. When 13-year-old Danny Wilson and his friends Lucas Kemper and April Meyers narrowly avoid being captured by an army of ghosts that invades their neighborhood, kidnapping everyone in it, the teens decide that there's only one thing to do: head to the manor and somehow rescue everyone. They encounter many obstacles -- physical and magical -- along the way, not to mention an evil sorcerer, but with the help of the manor's caretaker, they succeed in their quest.
Now for the sequel:
Danny has been feeling great ever since his adventure at Winlock Manor. Soon, however, he begins having terrorizing nightmares that feel too real to just be in his head. Through the dreams, he is summoned by a strange spirit to the gates of Winlock Manor. Once there, with Lucas, April, and April's little sister Gracie alongside him, they are transported into a strange parallel world that makes the terrors they experienced at Winlock Manor quite trivial. They must get out of this strange place before their minds are taken over by the evil forces that reside there.
Not quite complete, but it's coming together.
Danny was running for his life. His heart pounded against his chest as he bolted through the darkness. That was significant: he was running through what seemed to be nothing but darkness; a black space filled with nothing but abstract forms. Fear, despair, death.
He was running from something, but he didn’t know what. He could feel its malevolent presence overshadowing him. It was enough to make anyone flee for their lives. Danny was afraid he would run into some unseen obstacle, but that could not stop him from trying to escape the evil presence that loomed ever closer with each passing second.
Suddenly, Danny fell through a hole. Or at least, that was what it felt like; he couldn’t tell in the pitch darkness. But he felt weightless, falling through empty space. He could almost imagine that he might be dead.
Then, the temperature seemed to drop several degrees. A chill ran up Danny’s spine, and the hairs on the back of his neck rose in fearful anticipation. Somehow, the evil presence—whatever it was—was becoming more present.
Then, from out of the darkness, a voice spoke. It was deep, menacing, and powerful. It reminded Danny of Sheol’s voice, but magnified so that it filled the entire realm of darkness that Danny fell through.
“I know your fears.”
Danny perked up. Could this be . . . ?
“You!” he shouted. “You’re the one who’s been giving me nightmares! You’re the one who’s been trying to tell me something!”
“Yes,” the voice confirmed, laughing slowly. “Unfortunately, you have been too dense and fearful to know what I have been trying to tell you.”
“What do you mean?”
“The front gates of Winlock Manor. I continually planted the place in your dreams, but you never understood the message.” The voice chuckled. “So slow to understand.”
“Well then, tell me now!” Danny demanded. “What do you want me to do?”
“Go to the front gates of Winlock Manor,” the voice said. “There, I will bring you into my realm. My kingdom. My glorious darkness. My world of shadows.”
“Sounds pleasant,” Danny replied sarcastically. “And why should I listen to you?”
Out of nowhere, Danny found himself able to see his surroundings.
He immediately wished it were still dark.
He was surrounded by swirling black clouds, almost as if he were inside a tornado. All around him, images swirled. Images of hideous creatures: ghosts, monsters, and far worse things that could have come from the deepest pit of hell. They all leered at him, baring their fangs and gnashing their teeth, shrieking and cackling.
The voice answered Danny’s question. “You should listen to me because all of these beings are under my command. They dwell here in my kingdom, apart from your world. But I can unleash them. I can set them upon those you care about.”
Danny gasped. Images of his mother, Lucas, April, and many others from Elm Ridge were swirling among the evil spirits, screaming in horror as the creatures directed their hungry gazes at them. Danny knew it couldn’t be real. He knew that this was another nightmare.
But he was still afraid.
If the voice was speaking the truth, they were all in danger. It was the ghosts invading Elm Ridge all over again. He didn’t know what to think. What if none of this was even real? What if it was just a normal part of the dream?
No, it couldn’t be. This felt too real. This was a vision, given to him by some evil force that wanted him to obey its orders. But why? And where did it come from? It spoke of some “world of shadows,” but Danny had no idea what that meant.
“So?” the voice asked. “What is your decision?”
Danny was completely at a loss for words. Half of him wanted to say “no,” but the other half was worried that the voice really did pose some sort of threat. If the people he loved really were in danger . . .
“I don’t trust you,” Danny shouted over the wind blowing the dark clouds. “How can I be sure that you’re really a threat? And that you’re even real?”
He had said the wrong thing.
“I am sending my servants toward you now, as we speak,” the voice said with menace. “I am going to wake you up now. Do make sure that you make the right choice when you meet them.”
Suddenly, all of the demonic creatures surrounding him cackled and screamed louder than ever, a terrifying cacophony that rang in Danny’s ears like a death threat. The images of his family and friends cried out in horror, bellowing in pain and suffering.
Danny felt as though he were falling once again, and sat bolt upright in bed.