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Read "Home Sweet Home," a Novel Excerpt Contest Runner-Up!

In February, we challenged you to submit a 400-word excerpt from your NaNoWriMo novels. From over 650 fantastic entries, we chose two Grand Prize Winners and four Runners-Up. We hope you enjoy reading them as much as we did! (For more excerpts, check out this forum thread.)

"Home Sweet Home" by Shiloh D.

Jax was locked in combat. Sweat dripped down his forehead. His heart hammered so fast, he felt it in his collarbone, choking him.

His eyes zipped around the room, searching, when—

Bzzt. Crackle, snap.

The lights began flickering wildly. A hot and metallic smell tainted the air. He heard several circuits short out behind the wall. He bolted into the kitchen, something he should've done before.

His sweaty fingers fumbled to grip the knife's handle as he pulled it from the rack. The blade was serrated steel. He lunged, slamming it into the wall, but only a thin red scratch appeared. The floorboards writhed underneath his feet.

The fire alarm began wailing.

His breath was hot. He heard a snake's rattle right by his ear and jumped violently, dropping the knife.

He sprinted to the refrigerator, opened it—and stopped for a moment, overwhelmed. Tomatoes? Cheese?

No, eggs.

He grabbed the entire carton and began flinging eggs at the house, one by one—for it was the house that was attacking him. His hand closed around the last egg, a pale green one, when the snake's rattle shook again. What was smooth became smoother. Jax stared in horror at the egg, which had gained eyes.

And scales.

A forked tongue.

A sinewy body.

It wrapped around his hand, ropelike. Shaking, he closed a fist over its head—please, let it not be venomous—and p-u-l-l-e-d the snake off.


The water pipe burst. The walls sweated beads of boiling water.

He darted into the living room and looked around for a weapon.

His dad wandered out of the office. "Jax, the lights are fli—"

"Dad!" Jax grabbed his father and shoved him into the room's center. "Here! Take him!"

The fire alarm broke off. The lights brightened.

There was silence.

A figure shimmered into existence. Impassive eyes impaled Jax.

"Jax, you know it's against the rules to use people as defense," his mother said.

"But, Mom," Jax said weakly, "you and Dad, you're husband and wife! If I used him, you'd stop attacking, right?"

“We’ll learn about animate-object dueling later. I’ll cook some breakfast,” she said tersely.

She popped her left shoulder, and somewhere in the kitchen Jax heard the stove click on.

See, Jax's mother was the house. She wasn't a realtor. Nor was she an interior designer.

Instead, she could control any house she occupied like a second skin. 

author photo

Shiloh D. is a self-proclaimed wordsmith. She spends her time catching lizards, reading, and searching Merriam-Webster for long and complicated words, most of them creative insults. She and her twin sister have a 15-inch pet snake, whom they found and captured in their backyard in 2020. Shiloh is proud to say that she’s no mooncalf, gobemouche, or pickle-herring, and she hopes she’s not an anonymuncule either.

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