Palmville is a place where weird things happen to children. Every child's greatest scare becomes his worst nightmare. Twenty children residents of Palmville all experience a daymare for which there is no reasonable explanation until they realize that is only just a dream.


Coming-of-age / Young adult fiction


Aquilla Dorville (Saint Lucia)

The Halloween Prank

It was a cold, foggy, clammy night when Jade and Jada were walking down the dark deserted path that led toward their home. The two girls had come from their best friend Ana’s party and trick or tricking. There was not a person in sight. The only company for the girls was the silvery moon lighting the path. As they walked, the two girls felt an eerie silence and it felt like they were being followed. Suddenly, they heard a low growl coming from the bushes nearby. Jada noticed two pairs of gleaming red eyes in the bushes. “Look at that!” Jada whispered softly to Jade while tapping her on the shoulder.

“What are you talking about, Jada?” Jade replied confused.

“B-bu-u –t-t, it was there. “she stuttered pointing to the bush were the eyes disappeared. At the same time the bushes began to shake. The girls started to shiver fear. The hearts thumped loudly in their chest. Their legs began to shake just like Jello. In a blink of an eye, Jada bellowed, “Run, run it’s a monster!” like Usain Bolt , the two girls scampered along the path in search of safety. Jada tripped on the root of a mago tree which jutted across the path. “Help!Jade !Help!” Jada gasped while holding onto ankle. Trying to move, she called out to her sister again and again. Jade, meanwhile, did not even notice that her twin sister had fallen. As she turned back to look for her sister, she slammed into a tree. Slam! Thud!

In a split second, Jade felt a draft as the monster pounced on her. It was unlike anything she had seen before. She felt the colour drain from her face as she was face to face with a monster. Its coarse black hair stood upright like spikes. The monster’s eyes glowed with a ghastly red glare. Saliva dripped down from its wide jaw. The expression on its face was of pure evil. For a brief moment Jade was completely hypnotized. Then, as she attempted to escape, she heard a gruesome but familiar laugh. It was then she recognized it was their friend, Tom who was dressed as Big Foot. Tom howled in laughter, Gotcha again, the score is 4-2. “

Red in the face, Jade yelled, “What is wrong with you, Tom! I hate you, Tom!” It was then both Tom and Jade noticed that Jada was missing so they retraced their steps. Finally, they found Jada wincing in pain by the blueberry bush. Relieved, she cried, “What took you so long! Jada’s face fell when she saw Tom dressed like Big Foot. Jade then explained what happened. It almost seemed like smoke was coming out of her nose and ears. Fuming with anger, she growled, “I will get you Tom. I will get my revenge. “
Just then the children heard growling in the bushes. “Tom cut it out ! WE know that it was you. Enough of already. “ cried Jada exasperated.
“Huhhh! Growling? I t was not me guys. I swear. “ Tom responded fearfully as he moved closer to where the girls were standing.
Everyone huddled together realizing that something or someone else was in the bushes. The growling got louder and a pair of piercing devilish looking eyes emerged.
“Oh no !” the children all exclaimed in unison. Then out of the darkness emerged an enormous figure came out of the bushes. The monster stood there with a menacing green on its face. Saliva was oozing out of its wide jaws reaching all the way to the ground. It looked hungry. As it moved closer to the children it bared three roars of jagged teeth. It was difficult for the children to determine its true size or colour in the thick darkness but its shadow seemed more terrifying that the grimly monster itself. The shadow seemed to cover the entire pathway both from the left and the right. Then it roared like the sound of a thousand nightmarish ghouls. The children stared at the beast emerging from the darkness before them unable to move a muscle.
“We are all going to die!” Tom cried, “We are all going to die. “
Tears rolled down their eyes as they felt the heat of the approaching fiend in the darkness. Paralyzed with fear and unable to move, Jade said to Jada sensing the inevitable doom, “I love you. “ Last words out of the children’s mouth before the monster pounced in front of them.

Competition: June 2015 Pen Factor, Round 1


Read Reviews

Review 1:

Compelling hook?


Strong characters?


Attention to mechanics
  • The grammar, typography, sentence structure and punctuation would benefit from a further round of editing to avoid distracting from the quality of the story.
Narration and dialogue: Balance
  • Your story struck a good balance between narration and authentic dialogue.
Narration and dialogue: Authentic voice
  • Your characters’ voices were convincing and authentic.
  • Your characters were multidimensional. I found them believable and engaging and they genuinely responded to the events of the story.
Main character
  • Connect us to your main protagonist with a deeper characterization. Could your protagonist have a few more distinguishing character traits?
Character conflict
  • The reader’s experience of the story is heightened when the characters’ goals, conflicts and purpose are clear. Perhaps giving this aspect of the story further attention could be worthwhile.
Plot and pace
  • Maintaining the right pace and sustaining the reader’s interest is a challenging balancing act. The story had a clear and coherent progression with a structured plot. A truly absorbing story!
Suspense and conflict
  • The joy of reading often lies in the element of suspense prompted by internal or external conflicts. The first page should introduce some intrigue, something that causes the reader to turn the page. Think about the conflict and tension in your story. How effectively has it been introduced?
Technique and tight writing
  • When writing is tight, economical and each word has purpose, it enables the plot to unravel clearly. Try and make each individual word count.
Point of view
  • The story successfully solicited the reader’s empathy through the clever use of the narrator's point of view. You show great deftness in handling point of view.
Style and originality
  • Creating a unique writing style while maintaining quality of prose is tricky. As writers, we face the daunting task of making sure we are not being predictable. Can you find a way to give the content and characters more of a unique edge? Perhaps say something boldly, something fresh or show an unorthodox approach to a topic?
Opening line and hook
  • Great books, nowadays, start with a powerful opening and compelling hook in order to keep the reader engaged. Have you baited the reader enough?