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!


3. Chapter 3

I walk down a street of fog.

The entire street is grey. Grey houses. Grey paths. Grey roads. Grey cars. Grey fog.

And grey people.

A person suddenly appears in front of me. His skin is decayed, and his eyes are dull. I can see his wrist bones showing through his skin. He's dead.

I try to scream, but I can't.

And that is the most terrifying part.


My eyes flicker open. I am biting my lip, and I am lying sideways on a hospital bed. Monitors beep next  to me, but apart from that, there is silence. I am alone.

I think about what I heard yesterday. Snatches of conversation, as I drifted in and out of consciousness. Car. Head. Nose badly injured. Mouth needs operation.

Vocal cords damaged.

I know they've already operated on my nose and mouth, and I'm glad for that. If I run my tongue around my teeth I can feel a few artificial ones. But it is the last remark I am really worried about.

If my vocal cords are destroyed...

What a cruel twist of fate. Right after I am freed, I am imprisoned, again-- this time for eternity.

I will never sing again. I will grow old and die, and nobody will ever hear my voice. No shops will ever sell At Last. Nobody will come to my concerts. I will be just another human being on this planet. And now, a mute one.

I'm mute. Dumb and mute! I beat one of my hands into the pillow angrily, screaming silently in my mind. I accidentally rip out one of my IVs, and a monitor begins to bleep rapidly.

The doors slam open and a doctor, along with a nurse, enters my room. I stare at them, my hands tearing my hair, eyes shooting bullets. Get out, I want to scream. Get out, get out. Silently, tears begin to drip onto the blanket.

Instead of getting out, they come closer. The nurse, a rather portly but kind woman with dark hair in a bun, strokes my back. "Calm down," she says. "Calm down. We'll help you."

I bury my face in her shoulder as I stretch out my arm to the doctor, who reinserts the IV. Then I turn to look at him, one arm still around the nurse, and gesture helplessly to my throat. Help me, I mouth.

The nurse detaches herself from me and opens the door of a cupboard next to my bed. She takes out another pillow and puts it on top of my other one. Then she helps me lie onto them. I move stiffly, like a robot.

The doctor clears his throat and consults his clipboard. "Adeline," he says.

Addie, I mouth.

"Addie," says the doctor. "I can see you have heard about your vocal cords."

I bit my lip as a tear oozes out of my eye, and nod.

"I am hear to reassure you that all is not lost. Our doctors have treated you accordingly, and because of them, you will still be able to talk." I blink at him, surprised. "Go on, try it."

I swallow, and then begin. "Adeline Mersh," I say, and burst into tears.

The voice I hear is not mine. It is low and hoarse, the complete opposite of what I used to have.

The doctor looks slightly taken aback. "Well... that result isn't quite what I was expecting... I was told that your voice would be completely normal again... You vocal cords weren't even that badly damaged! We were expecting you to regain your voice completely, and you would have even been able to sing again..."

"Sing?" I ask. "Then why... why can't I... talk properly?"

The doctor looks genuinely sorry for me. "I have no idea, Addie," he says. "But don't worry. I'll talk to the resident voice specialists, and we'll figure it out. But you've got a few days of rest ahead of you, either way!"

I manage a smile. Even though I'm still really afraid, I can see this doctor is really trying to make an effort. And a few days of rest can never go astray... "Thank you," I say.

"My pleasure." He rises and waves goodbye to me as he walks out the door, followed by the nurse. I wave to both of them.

Once they are gone, I curl up and cry.


I nap for an hour, and wake up when I hear a knock on my door. "Come in," I say groggily.

It's Steve, the last person I would expect to see here. "What are you doing here?" I snarl.

I see him wince at my voice. "Nice to see you too," he says. "I've brought you a little something. Here." He tosses something towards me, and I catch it.

It's a shell. A rather beautiful one, all the same, but... why a shell? "Uhh... thanks?" I say.

"Put it to your mouth," Steve says.


"Just do it."

I roll my eyes, but I do it.

"Now breathe."

"This is dumb," I mutter, but I take a deep breath.

Almost instantly, I feel something go down my throat. It seems like it is just air, but it feels smooth and wonderful, like the air does when I sing. My eyes widen, and I wait until the feeling is no more before I remove it from my mouth.

"What..." I begin to say. Then I clap my hand to my mouth in wonder. "Oh..."

I have my voice back

"What... is this, Steve?" I ask, marvelling at my voice.

"That doesn't matter," he says gruffly. "I just... figured you needed it."

"Oh, Steve!"

"Don't get all mushy on me," he warns. "I'll see you in a week." He leaves, and my doctor enters.

"That cheered you up, didn't it?" he said. "I've come to tell you that your uncle is on his way back from Italy, and will be here tomorrow."

When I say nothing, he looks at me questioningly. "What happened?"

"It's back," I say, smiling so hard it feels like my mouth is going to tear. "My voice... it's back."

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