Hide & Seeker


Daka Hermon


MG Horror

Word Count:

48,000 words


Eleven-year-old Justin Vaughn is having a tween life crisis, just ask his therapist. His mom recently died. His deadbeat dad is remarrying, so new stepmom. And if they get one more “past due” letter, Justin and his big sister will be sleeping in the park. No wonder he has panic attacks. But at least his friend Mutt, who mysteriously disappeared a year ago, is back home.

At his welcome home party, Mutt attacks his guests during a chaotic game of Hide and Seek. The next day, a kid from the party disappears. And then another. Police and news crews swarm Justin’s Tennessee neighborhood. Fearing he could be next, Justin decides to investigate. While sorting through clues, he stumbles upon a horrifying secret about Hide and Seek: a monster—the Seeker—imprisons kids who break the pre-established rules.

For fun, the Seeker torments its captives by forcing them to play twisted games and brings their personal nightmares to life. For Justin, this means reliving his mother’s cancer, the thing that tore his family apart. With three days left until the Seeker goes back into hibernation, Justin is kidnapped. Time’s ticking away, and if he can’t overcome self-doubt and debilitating panic attacks, he’ll be trapped in the Seeker’s terrifying world forever.

HIDE & SEEKER, a MG Horror complete at 48,000 words, is Goonies meets Goosebumps. In 2014 my opening pages won the SCBWI LA Middle Grade writing contest. I am African American and a recent mentee of Justina Ireland’s Writing in the Margins Mentorship Program. In addition to writing MG novels, I work in television production, currently at Disney and have written sitcom scripts and sketches for Nickelodeon, as well as other freelance projects for other networks.

First 300 words:

Mutt never shoulda come back. Not like this. 
Limp, blue balloons and crinkled streamers are tangled around the mailbox at the end of Mutt’s driveway. I adjust my sweaty baseball cap and sigh. Not even the decorations are excited about his Welcome Home party.
A fat, gray cloud settles directly above the house and shadows play across the tattered roof shingles. Trails of dirt, like black tears, streak the windows. I shiver.
“Justin,” a voice screeches. Somewhere glass shatters. I’m sure of it.  
Tasha skips down the street carrying a small wrapped box.  
“Hey.” She skids to a halt. Her long braids flap out behind her like a superhero cape in the wind.
“Hey, T.” I shift from foot to foot. 
“I love that shirt.”
I glance down at my wrinkled Star Wars t-shirt. Most of the design has faded. Only the outline of Darth Vader’s helmet and the words “I am” remain. 
“Let me fill in the blank,” she says. “I am happy to see you.” 
I roll my eyes and point at the box she’s holding. “What’s that?”
“A welcome home present for Mutt. A compass.” She bites the corner of her lower lip. “From both of us. I figured you’d be thinking about other things.”
“Uh, thanks.”
“C’mon.” She drags me up the porch steps. They groan a warning.
The front door flies open. Mrs. Murphy, Mutt’s mom, stands in the doorway smiling like she won the Mega Lottery. 
“Y’all came. I wasn’t sure… Mutt’s gonna be so happy.” She hugs Tasha. “How are you, sweetie? Your family okay?” 
Tasha shrugs. “My parents still say I’m not adopted. A birth certificate and baby photos don’t count as proof if you ask me. I sent away for a DNA testing kit. They can’t fake that so we’ll see.”


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