Molloy, Lynne, Daisy, and Toni are headed for summer school at Salem University, where they’ll officially be freshmen in the fall. But their journey takes an unexpected detour when they’re stranded by a violent storm. They take refuge at the deserted Nightingale Hall, an off-campus dorm haunted by a tragic past.
What the four girls don’t know is that someone else has taken shelter there: a psychopath who’s on the run after murdering a prominent psychiatrist.
The electricity is off. The phones are dead. Someone has locked the doors from the inside and nailed all the windows shut. There’s no escape for Molloy and her friends, who are at the mercy of a madman with no intention of letting any of them leave—at least not alive.
This ebook features an illustrated biography of Diane Hoh including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.
About the Author
After contributing novels to two popular series, Cheerleaders and the Girls of Canby Hall, Hoh found great success writing thrillers, beginning with Funhouse (1990), a Point Horror novel that became a national bestseller. Following its success, Hoh created the Nightmare Hall series, whose twenty-nine installments chronicle a university plagued by dark secrets, and the seven-volume Med Center series, about the challenges and mysteries in a Massachusetts hospital. In 1998, Hoh had a runaway hit with Titanic: The Long Night and Remembering the Titanic, a pair of novels about two couples’ escape from the doomed ocean liner. She now lives and writes in Austin.
Diane Hoh (b. 1937) is a bestselling author of young adult fiction. Born in Warren, Pennsylvania, Hoh began her first novel, Loving That O’Connor Boy (1985), after seeing an ad in a publishing trade magazine requesting submissions for a line of young adult fiction. After contributing novels to two popular series, Cheerleaders and the Girls of Canby Hall, Hoh found great success writing thrillers, beginning with Funhouse (1990), a Point Horror novel that became a national bestseller. Following its success, Hoh created the Nightmare Hall series, whose twenty-nine installments chronicle a university plagued by dark secrets, and the seven-volume Med Center series, about the challenges and mysteries in a Massachusetts hospital. In 1998, Hoh had a runaway hit with Titanic: The Long Night and Remembering the Titanic, a pair of novels about two couples’ escape from the doomed ocean liner. She now lives and writes in Austin.
Read an Excerpt
By Diane Hoh
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIACopyright © 1995 Diane Hoh
All rights reserved.
The rain came at them out of the darkness at a wind-blown slant, silvery sheets of it slapping against the car. The windshield wipers made a steady, annoying, whoosh-whoosh sound as they worked frantically to do their job.
"We should have left Briscoe this afternoon instead of waiting until after supper," Lynne Grossman told the three passengers in her new silver Toyota Camry. The car had been an unabashed bribe in return for Lynne's grudging participation in a two-week July math refresher course at Salem University in preparation for freshman year beginning in September. The trip to the university was her first long drive in the new car. "This weather stinks! It's raining so hard, I can't see three feet in front of the car, and the defogger isn't working."
"We couldn't leave earlier," Daisy Rivers said. She was occupying the passenger's seat. Her left hand repeatedly dove into a bag of cheese snacks, but she chewed and swallowed before she spoke. "I was working, remember? Unlike you, my parents didn't buy me a brand-new car, and they're not going to. If I want one, I have to earn the money myself. My boss said if I worked up until the very last minute, he'd hold my job for me while I'm at Salem for two weeks. I need that job when I get back, Lynnie."
"I know." Lynne swiped at the misted windshield with one hand. "I didn't mean it was your fault, Daisy. Quit being so hyper." She said it calmly, matter-of-factly, as she said almost everything. The fact that she now owned a car wasn't the only difference between her and Daisy. Lynne was tall and athletic, with smooth, silky, very short, dark hair. She was efficient and even-tempered, except when her unexplained ability to grasp mathematical concepts made her crazy.
Daisy was tall, too, but there the similarities ended. Daisy Rivers was thin and blonde and deceptively fragile-looking, with small bones and a heart-shaped face. But she was anything but fragile, and anything but calm. She was energetic and high-powered. It was hard for her to sit still for more than a few minutes. When she wasn't sitting in a car, she was in a state of perpetual motion, impatient and always prodding others to move at her pace. Few did.
Being a friend of Lynne's was easy. Being a friend of Daisy's was not. But Daisy was loyal to the core and fiercely protective of her friends, and most people felt that made it worthwhile.
Daisy was no more interested in taking the summer math session than she was in hopping a shuttle to the moon, but her acceptance at Salem was conditional take the course and pass it or we won't take you. No choice. She would much rather have left Briscoe for New York City the day after her high school graduation and make her mark out in the world. No more classes, no more homework, no more papers to write, and no more math. That would have been her first choice.
But Daisy Rivers had been poor all of her life. She was smart enough to know that without some formal training, the dresses, skirts, blouses, and pants and jackets that she designed in a huge sketch pad, would never become reality. Without Salem University, she would stay poor, and that wasn't what she wanted.
College might be a drag, but it was the only way to get to where she wanted to be.
"We've already been driving for almost three hours," Toni Davinci complained from the back seat. "If we don't get out of this car soon, my body is going to stay permanently frozen in this position,"
"I second the motion," Molloy Book agreed. She was slouched down beside Toni, her long legs in black leggings stretched out in front of her, her feet in black flats propped up on the armrest between Lynne and Daisy. "I hate this weather! It gives me the creeps. But right now I'd take my chances out there if it'd get me out of this back seat."
Lynne leaned forward, peering through the misted windshield. "Oh, no!" she cried in a voice that made both Toni and Molloy sit upright, Lynne pointed. "A detour sign! Oh, I don't believe this. I don't know my way around this area well enough to take a detour."
The other three stared through watery windows at the huge orange sign lit by a hanging lantern. DETOUR, ROAD FLOODED.
"There will be other signs, pointing the way," Molloy said. "They'll show us how to get back on the highway."
Lynne groaned. "This is all I need! A stupid detour! As if bad weather and a defective defroster aren't enough."
"Calm down," Daisy said. "We have to be almost there. Let's just go. Anyway, a detour is better than driving on a flooded road, right? I can't swim."
"Neither can I," Toni echoed from the back seat. "What's the detour road look like? It's not one of those awful dirt roads, is it? It'll be a sea of mud after all this rain."
"How should I know?" Lynne snapped. "I told you, I can't see a thing." But she steered the car off the highway and onto the side road. Without the illumination of highway pole lights, she drove more slowly and, after a few minutes, said in dismay. "It is a dirt road! And Toni was right, it's all mud. I can feel the tires sliding."
Molloy slid back down in the back seat. This trip was supposed to be a lark. Of the four of them, only she had been enthusiastic about attending the special math session at Salem. But her enthusiasm had more to do with the fact that her boyfriend Ernie Dodd was already on campus. He was attending full summer school in an effort to get a jump-start on his college education.
She couldn't wait to see Ernie. He'd been gone two weeks already and it seemed like two years. They had talked on the phone every night, while her parents sat in the living room pretending to watch television. They weren't. They were straining to hear every word of her conversation, their mouths pursed in disapproval. Not that they had anything against Ernie personally. How could anyone not like Ernie?
But the Dodds, all eight of them, lived on the "wrong side of town." Molloy's family lived on the "right side." Ernie's father worked in a factory. Molloy's parents owned their own small but successful dry-cleaning shop. A Dodd wasn't exactly what they had in mind for their daughter. What they had in mind was a handsome, cultured, premed or prelaw student driving an expensive car, whose family lived on the right side of town.
Ernie Dodd hoped to be a writer, a profession Molloy's parents considered financially precarious. His car was an ancient pickup truck with its back window missing, and he honked the horn at the curb when he came to pick her up, instead of coming up to the house and knocking. Not that she blamed him. Her parents treated people who came to the house to sell magazines or vacuum cleaners better than they treated Ernie.
He was absolutely, positively, not what they wanted for her.
But Ernie Dodd, tall, awkward, and always, always badly in need of a decent haircut, was exactly what she wanted for herself. Ernie was funny and sweet and thoughtful and never, ever apologized for who he was or where he lived, which Molloy would have hated.
But because she had insisted on attending the same college as Ernie, her parents had refused to help her so she was going to have to work her way through, with the help of several small scholarships. Other people did it. She could do it, too, and would, if it meant being with Ernie.
Her parents would come around one day. Ernie was hard to resist.
They had been on the dirt road for fifteen minutes, the rain hammering down on the car roof, when Lynne said, "I have not one clue where we are. All I know is, we've been driving for hours. We should have reached Salem by now. Maybe we're lost."
"We're not lost," Daisy scoffed. "How could we be lost?"
"Well, where are all those other detour signs you mentioned, Molloy? I haven't seen a single one."
"We just haven't got to them yet," Molloy replied with less confidence than she felt. "So that means we're right on course. When we're supposed to turn, there will be a sign telling us to turn."
"Unless the wind blew it down," Toni said. She clutched her violin case tightly. It contained her most precious possession, the violin she had treasured since she was six years old and had lovingly nicknamed Arturo. She often joked that if a thief ever broke into her house, he'd have to kill her to get the musical instrument away from her. She was only half-joking.
Toni was only taking the math course at Salem because her friends were. She understood mathematics as well as she understood music. They seemed similar to her, and neither had ever given her a problem. But she was anxious to get to college. Attending summer school meant that in August, when they all entered for real, Salem wouldn't feel so new and strange. She hated that feeling being someplace new, not feeling like she belonged.
It was hard to imagine any of her friends ever feeling like they didn't belong. Molloy had been president or vice-president of practically everything in high school, and Daisy was always surrounded by a group of people. It was hard, too, to imagine either of them afraid.
I'm afraid now, Toni thought, her hands seeking comfort from the violin case. Lynne isn't that familiar with this car yet, the road is a sea of mud, we can't see out of the windows, and I haven't noticed the lights of a single house since we got on this road.
"Maybe we should turn around and go back," Toni said hesitantly. "We could find a gas station on the highway and ask for directions."
"That wouldn't take away the detour," Lynne pointed out sensibly. "We'd still have to go this way." Her head turned from side to side. "Anybody see any lights?"
No one did.
"When they build a road," Lynne said angrily, "why can't they build it straight? It's making me crazy, one curve after another, and I can't see them until I'm right on top of them."
"They don't make them straight," Daisy said, because sometimes there's a town in the way, Lynne. What do you want them to do, mow down everything in their path just so you won't have to turn a corner?"
Lynne shot her a disdainful glance.
Taking her eyes off an unfamiliar road for even a second in such bad weather conditions spelled disaster. The car swerved on the muddy surface and the rear wheels slid to the right.
Lynne gripped the steering wheel and fought to straighten the car. But in her panic, she overcorrected.
The car skidded, slid, then the wheels took hold and the car shot across the road and dove, nose down, into a shallow ditch overflowing with rainwater.
The engine made a soft, sighing sound as if to say, "Now look what you've done!" and died.CHAPTER 2
It's A good thing I saw their headlights coming down on the back road and came out to check. If I hadn't been looking out the upstairs window just then, I'd have never known anyone was out here. I suppose they saw my light, too. That's why they're headed this way. They saw my light and now they think there's someone up here to save them. That's a laugh.
Shouldn't have had my light on. But I was on the back side of the house and didn't expect anyone to see it. There's nothing out there but woods.
What are they doing out in this weather, anyway? Lost, I suppose. That damn detour. If it weren't for that, I'd be long gone, myself.
Things were going to be okay. They were. No one knew where I was. And who would have thought to look for me here? I could have stayed until the roads were clear, and then split. But now, I've got unexpected visitors. They could ruin everything for me.
Any second now, they'll be at the top of the hill, they'll see the house, they'll want to come in and get warm and dry.
Well, I'm sorry, little Missies, I was here first. Squatters' rights. In pioneer times, people were killed for infringing on squatters' rights.
Now there's a thought.
I wonder if it's easier the second time?
Maybe I won't have to use such drastic measures. I could try and scare them off first. Since they don't know I'm out here. And since they probably aren't expecting to meet anyone out here in the middle of the woods on a night like this. Scaring them could send them racing back down that hill.
If scaring them doesn't work, well, it's all their fault. They've spoiled everything. So if more drastic measures are called for, they have only themselves to blame. Not me. It's not my fault.
Why are people always getting in my way? Why can't they leave me alone?
Before the night is over they'll wish they had.CHAPTER 3
Ernie Dodd sat in front of the computer in his small, cluttered room in Devereaux Hall on the campus of Salem University, his fingers poised but unmoving on the keyboard. A large, framed photo of Molloy sat at his elbow at an angle that made it look as if she were smiling directly at him. Shaggy, dark brown hair touched the shoulders of his denim jacket as he tilted his head to listen to the words of the campus radio announcer who had interrupted Ernie's train of thought by beginning his announcement with the phrase, "Special bulletin."
Something about the weather, Ernie guessed.
Instead, as Ernie listened attentively, he heard, "This news just in. University officials have announced that the body of Dr. Milton Leo, a member of the Salem faculty and a practicing psychologist, has been discovered in his campus office. According to police, Dr. Leo's death was caused by repeated blows to the head with a blunt object. There was no forced entry of the premises, and the whereabouts of the assailant at this time are unknown.
"Police report there is a list of suspects who will be questioned immediately. Those names have not been released.
"Dr. Leo's only survivor is a daughter, Tanner Melissa Leo, a sophomore at the university.
"This station will provide more details on the incident as they arrive."
Then, as abruptly as it had ended, music began again.
Murdered? Dr. Leo had been murdered?
Ernie, his hands still poised on the keyboard, felt sorry for Tanner, who had only recently reached some kind of peace with her father. Because of a divorce when she was very young, she hadn't known him when she was growing up and had only come to Salem to live with him so she could go to college. They'd had some rough moments; everyone knew that Dr. Leo was a cold fish. Completely the opposite of Tanner. But was that reason enough to bash in the guy's skull?
Ernie's eyes moved to Molloy's photograph. He thought of Molloy finally making it to Salem even though her parents didn't approve,
"They're never going to like me," he told the photo matter-of-factly. "We both know that, Molloy. And it's going to make for a pile of problems somewhere down the road."
Didn't matter. Well, it mattered, but they'd handle it. He wasn't giving up Molloy. He'd put up with a lot of garbage in his life because he knew that was just the way things were.
But then, on a really rotten, cold, rainy day in October of his junior year of high school, he'd met Molloy Book.
At Christmastime of that year, Molloy had said, although he hadn't asked how she felt about him because he hadn't had the nerve, "I really like you a lot, Ernie Dodd. And I think I'm always going to." And all he'd given her, all he could afford to give her, was a stupid tape he'd made of her favorite Christmas song, and his football sweater. She didn't seem to care that it wasn't a cashmere sweater or expensive jewelry.
He wasn't giving up Molloy. Not for anything.
Thinking about her sent his eyes to the watch on his wrist. The placement of its hands jolted him upright. Eight-thirty! Eight-thirty? That couldn't be right. If it was really eight-thirty, Molloy would be here by now. She had said six, and she was never late. Six o'clock, she'd said. Two-and-a-half hours ago?
Ernie got up and strode to the window, tried to look out. He saw nothing but a slick veneer of rain sliding down the glass.
Maybe that was why Molloy was late. Lynne was driving a car she'd hardly driven at all and with the roads so bad, they'd probably decided to take their time. Hadn't Banion said something earlier on the radio about the highway between school and Twin Falls being flooded? Closed down temporarily? Lynne would have had to come that way from Briscoe. So maybe they'd stopped somewhere. That would have been smart. Waiting it out, until the rain let up.
Ernie went to the phone in the hall to check the time. His watch could be wrong. "The time is now eight-thirty-two p.m., Daylight Savings Time," a smooth voice assured him.
He should have been paying attention, instead of getting so totally lost in his writing. It was a short story for his comp class, due Monday, and it was almost done. He hadn't realized how much time had passed since he first sat down in front of the word processor.
Excerpted from Captives by Diane Hoh. Copyright © 1995 Diane Hoh. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
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