Jenna Walker has always been fascinated by the legend of the Marked Monster, the scarred half-bird, half-beast creature that is said to roam the forests around her hometown. Is the Marked Monster real or is it just the stuff of myth? Jenna decides to find out once and for all with a campout at her house where she and her friends can search for the legendary beast. But as Jenna starts to learn more about the Marked Monster, she realizes that this legend might be more than just myth, and more sinister than she ever could have imagined. Will Jenna meet the Marked Monster face to face and will she be marked for life?
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December 27, 2011
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Excerpt from There's Something Out There by P.J. Night
What happened in the woods that night changed everything, forever, and if the girl had known what was going to happen, she never would have left her house.
But she didn't know, see? She didn't have a clue what was waiting for her, so when she heard the scratching, she thought it was the stray cat that had been coming around. The one with the tattered ear and the hungry eyes.
The sun was just about to set. She could see it still shining in the west, like an orange ball of fire on the verge of falling into space. So, she thought, I'll just put some food at the edge of the yard. For the cat.
She poured a cup of kitty chow into a plastic bag and grabbed her coat. Then she walked out the back door, into the dying light, like it was no big deal, because it wasn't ... not yet.
At the edge of the yard, she looked for the cat by the tree stump where it usually waited for her. The cat's fur was so black that at night, all you could see was its eyes gleaming in the darkness. But tonight, the cat was nowhere to be seen.
"Here, kitty, kitty," she called softly, kneeling down and snapping her fingers like she always did.
Still the cat did not appear.
The girl sighed. The air was damp, as if the fog were rushing in faster tonight than usual, hardly waiting for the sun to finish setting before blanketing the woods in a thick mist that was impossible to see through. She felt so sorry for the poor cat, sleeping in the woods all alone, even when it was cold or windy or wet.
Then she heard it again: the scratching. Just beyond the tree line. And--what was that? A whimper?
The girl glanced behind her at the house, still all lit up, so warm and cozy. She wanted to go back there.
So why was she walking toward the woods?
Because she couldn't bear it, the thought that the cat was sick or hurt, or in trouble.
If she could help the little cat, she would.
"Here, kitty," she called again, pushing through the tree limbs. "I won't hurt you. Here, kitty."
That the woods should be so chillingly quiet, the girl realized, was weird. Very weird. But instead of feeling afraid, she was curious.
She should have been afraid.
On she continued into the woods, all the way to the clearing where she'd spent so many summer nights on campouts, telling stories in the flickering light of a campfire. She knew that clearing as well as she knew her own bedroom, but she'd never seen it the way she did tonight.
It was hard to see through the mist, but she could tell right away that the clearing was not empty.
And whatever was in it was a lot bigger than a stray cat.
The girl hid behind a thick-trunked tree, her heart thundering in her chest, and stared with wide eyes. She couldn't have looked away even if she'd wanted to.
Well, to be honest, she did want to look away. But her eyes were locked on the creature, and she wondered, suddenly, if she was dreaming.