Read an extract from Crying In The Dark:

The room's cold atmosphere weighed on her soul. She braided up her hair, and grimly climbed into the fourposter. She expected it would be incredibly hard to get to sleep. But she was really very tired...

She'd been sleeping for a long time, so long that she thought it must be morning, when she woke up knowing that somebody had come into the room. It had to be Nathalie. Nathalie had crept down here and was going through Elinor's belongings. She must be either looking for something, or else planting something to get Elinor into trouble. Nathalie had once kicked up a tremendous fuss about a new black sweater, which had vanished (she said) from her clothes cupboard. The whole house had been turned upside down and the sweater had been found hidden away in Elinor's chest of drawers. Elinor was certain that Nathalie had put it there herself. But of course she couldn't prove that and she'd had to take the blame.

She opened her eyes without moving, hoping to catch her cousin in the act (not that it would do her any good. Auntie Sylvia believed any tale the cousins told against Elinor, no matter whether it made sense). It wasn't morning. It was still night, and although she'd left the curtains at her window open the room was dark the way no night ever is in a town. But there was a kind of glow around a figure seated in front of the rosewood desk, its back to Elinor. It was the figure of a woman with a big, nodding pile of whiteish hair, and a sort of train fastened to her shoulders. She seemed to be searching the desk, opening all the little drawers jerkily and fast. Something, anyway, caused the pleated robe that hung from her shoulders to move, so that the patterned silk glittered in the light that came from nowhere.

Elinor lay very still and deadly cold. It was a dream, of course: one of those dreams where you're scared to death by something that seems outwardly quite harmless. She remembered once waking in terror, waking the whole house with her screams; but all she could tell them, when her aunt and uncle came running, was: the red ball! the red ball! It's bouncing! And they had been very angry. This was the same. She was going to wake up soon, because when you know a dream's a dream its power is broken.
Let me wake up! Let me wake up! Please!

The figure at the writing desk stood, and looked towards the fourposter bed with such a face: with such ghastly white, sunken cheeks and such dread and horror in its eyes... It crossed the room. Something like flames seemed to flicker around its gliding skirts. It disappeared. Elinor sat bolt upright, screaming and screaming. She had wakened herself, and there was no one in the room. There wasn't a sound from the rest of the house. Either nobody had heard her screams, or she had only dreamed that she was screaming. She lay down again, her heart still pounding. 'Thank goodness that's over,' she whispered. She reached to switch on her light. There wasn't a bedside table or cabinet in the room, so she'd moved one of the chairs and balanced the lamp that had been standing on top of the desk (a handsome lamp with a base in the shape of a bronze dragon) on the seat. The arrangement wasn't very secure, she'd been afraid it wouldn't work. Sure enough, the lamp seemed to have slipped from the chair. She groped, but could not find it. The curtains of the fourposter bed -of course Elinor had not closed them- were looped back and tied with heavy gilt cord at each of the four posts. As she fumbled, she somehow loosened the fastenings. With a horrible soft rushing sound the curtains fell around her. The country darkness of the room turned to utter, smothering black. The canopy overhead pressed down on her, it was as if she was lying in a grave. She was buried alive, the bed was her tomb, and in a moment the old woman with the horrible face would part the hangings and look in. She tried to scream and couldn't. The blankets were heavy as lead, the earth lay on her face, the fourposter bed was her tomb, she was buried alive...

How long her terror lasted, Elinor didn't know. It could have been years, it could have been no time at all. Frantically, she dived out from under the covers and fell onto the floor, hurting her knee. She righted her lamp -luckily the bulb hadn't broken- and switched it on. Of course, the bed curtains hadn't really fallen down. The big knots in those cords couldn't come undone, they hadn't been touched for years. She climbed onto the bed again and crouched there with her head in her hands. But there was no point in crying. There was nothing to be done except try to get back to sleep.

She lay for a long time in misery, afraid to sleep and afraid to have the light on. There'd been big trouble once when her aunt had caught her reading late at night; and she was not feeling lucky. Then, as her thoughts were growing muddled and blurred at last, she seemed to hear the door of her room softly opening. Soft footsteps, a child's footsteps came pattering towards the bed. Fear rushed through her, a feeling of horror and terror worse than anything that had gone before. She could hear the quick, sobbing breath. It must be her little cousin Dekkie, He'd been crying. He had come to her for comfort, why should she feel so afraid?
'Dekkie?' she whispered. 'Is that you? Did you have a bad dream…?'

No answer, only the sobbing breath of a little boy...

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