Addie Mersh is a singer. Well, sort of. Her recording manager won't even let her record a single song, and when Addie tries to find out why, a horrible car accident stops her.
Now Addie's vocal cords are beyond repair. She can barely speak, let alone sing. Her dreams no longer have a chance to become reality.
But then she is offered a magical shell, which gives her a voice again. Confidence restored, Addie auditions for the X Factor, where she wows the judges with her stunning voice.
But is there more to Addie's new voice than a beautiful sound? There is something deadly and sinister about it, and Addie is about to find out why she was ever given the shell at all...
For the X Factor competition!


2. Chapter 2

Oh. My. Gosh.

This could be it. This could be my chance. My chance to show the world who I am. 

Addie M. That name will flash in fluorescent lights at my concerts. It will be engraved in sparkly swirls on the cover of my album. Addie M-- At Last. That is what it will be called...

All I have to do to get there is get through auditions, bootcamp, judges houses, and all of the live shows...

No. I can't do this. The full weight of audition for the X Factor hits me. If I want to fulfil my dreams, I will have to win. And I can't do that.

What if Steve never allows me to record because, privately, he thinks I'm horrible? Maybe my uncle had asked him to do it as a favour to me, but he has never let me because my voice is terrible. That must be it. 

"I'm sorry, Sanny," I say. "I--"

"What? You're not going to do it?" Sanny looks shocked. "Why not?"

"Steve thinks I'm terrible," I say. "That's why he never let me record. I know now."

"What are you talking about, Addie?" Sanny crosses her arms over her chest. "You're an incredible singer! Why have doubts now?"

"But it's true, San," I say. "I sound like a bullfrog with a cold."

"Addie. Listen to me." Sanny puts her arm on my shoulders. "You. Have. A. Fantastic. Voice. Steve is a jerk. Don't take what he does to you to heart. I'm your best friend, Addie, and if I say you have a good voice, you have a good voice. I promise we'll find out the real reason Steve doesn't allow you to record, but that's not it."

I shrug and turn away, wanting to believe her with all my heart, but I am afraid. I am afraid of what will happen if I say I will do it. I am afraid of what I will become. And the thing I am most afraid of is-- what if Steve says no? I'll have to ask him. He has to give me leave from the school. And I don't think he will.

"It's just so difficult, Sanny," I begin, allowing my knees to give way so that I sink onto a boulder directly below me.

"Difficult? What's difficult?" Sanny plonks herself on the boulder beside me. "I'm here to help you work out the kinks. If Steve says no, I'll make him say yes."

I laugh, despite my worries. Sanny is tiny, and although she is the bravest person I know, she is not the most intimidating. But her confidence is catching. If Sanny thinks I'm good, well, then, I must be.

"I'll do it," I say.

"YAY!" Sanny squeals, and flings her arms around me.

"Ouch," I say, rubbing my ear. "Don't be so excited, Sanny. We still have to ask my uncle. And Steve."


"What?" Steve looks at me like I've just sprouted bananas out of my ears.

I swallow. "I'm going to audition for the X Factor," I repeat. "You're not letting me record anything. It's obvious, so I'm going to go and make my own way in the world."

"No," Steve says.


"No," he repeats, but I hear the quaver in his voice as he lifts his chin. This gives me more courage. Steve's scared of me! He was scared this would happen from the beginning.

"Why not?"

"You dare to contradict me?"

I almost burst out laughing. "Please, Steve. You may be good at getting vain and vapid teenagers to do what you want, but you dare to contradict me just makes me want to contradict you more." I take a step closer to him.

"I've been trying to get something recorded for four years. I'm not allowed to record year-round like others do. Why don't you just put up a neon sign saying "I'M NEVER GOING TO RECORD ANY OF YOUR MUSIC, ADELINE" and be done with it?"

Steve's eyes look from side to side nervously. Sanny nods encouragingly to me.

"These are my dreams, and this is my life, Steve. It's obvious that you don't plan to do anything with it. And who knows, when I get up there, I might bring more publicity to the school..."

There is silence for a few moments. During that tiny space of time, my heart seems to twist and cave in on itself. If he says yes, I could become...

"Fine," Steve says, shooting me a look of cold fury. "But don't expect me to support you."

Addie M Addie M Addie M. I can barely breathe. I whirl around, turning my back on Steve, and leap out of the room. I feel like I have wings. I'm flying, I'm flying.

Addie M. I have a chance to be Addie M. I laugh at the red and gold leaves soaring above my head on the breeze, and twirl around, eyes locking onto the tiniest slice of blue sky peering through the clouds above me. Everything seems so crystal clear. I never noticed how much Steve imprisoned me until my dreams set me free.

"Sanny!" I cry. "Sanny, I'm free!" Breathless, I stop twirling and leaping and look at the recording studio. It is so drab and gray. So, so dull. It's the house with no windows and doors I sang about earlier. It might have windows and doors for people to look through and long through, but it has no windows or doors when it comes to dreams doing the same.

"I'm never going to come down from my tree house in the sky!" Laughing, I begin to whirl around again.

I don't see the car until it is too late.

It hits me somewhere in the front. I don't know where. By the time I've registered it, hazily, there's another pain in my back from where I have fallen onto it.

"ADDIE!" I hear Sanny scream. "Addie, Addie, Addie." There are sobs, and the sound of footsteps, but I don't know who it is because... I can't see...

My face.

The car hit me in the face.

It hit me in the face.

The face.

Or the chest.

I don't know.

It hurts too much.

It hurts like fire.

More than fire.

Like ice.

Like ice and fire

all across my--


who's Adeline

Addie M

why is there all this pain

Adeline Merschwimmer

i need to sleep

Addie, Addie


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