The Hole by Guy BurtThe Hole by Guy Burt

The Hole

byGuy Burt

Paperback | May 1, 2002

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–Publishers Weekly

On a spring day in England, six teenagers venture to a neglected part of their school where there is a door to a small windowless cellar. Behind the door, the old stairs have rotted away. A boy unfurls a rope ladder and five descend into The Hole. The sixth closes the door, locks it from the outside, and walks calmly away. The plan is simple: They will spend three days locked in The Hole and emerge to become part of the greatest prank the school has ever seen. But something goes terribly wrong. No one is coming back to let them out . . . ever.

Taut and eerie, suspenseful and disturbing, The Hole is a compelling novel of physical endurance, psychological survival, and unforgettable revelations made all the more stunning by its shocking end.

“A frighteningly good plot . . . Expertly borrows the horror and tension that made William Golding’s Lord of the Flies such a success.”

The Times (London)

BB/Ballantine Books/ 44655 /$ in USA • $ in Canada
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Guy Burt won the W. H. Smith Young Writers Award when he was twelve. He wrote The Hole, his first novel, when he was eighteen. He is also the author of Sophie and The Dandelion Clock. Burt attended Oxford University and taught for three years at Eton. He lives in Oxford.
Title:The HoleFormat:PaperbackDimensions:160 pages, 8.26 × 5.44 × 0.55 inPublished:May 1, 2002Publisher:Ballantine BooksLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0345446550

ISBN - 13:9780345446558


Read from the Book

In the last Easter term, before the Hole, life wasbright and good at Our Glorious School. Chargedwith the fresh self-confidence that steps in onthe brink of adulthood, we all knew our futures aswe walked out our lives under the arches and belowthe walls.The story begins, though, a little later than that; andperhaps it is still not finished. At least, I have not yetfelt in me that the Hole is finished. But telling this storywill, I hope, move me a step further away from it, and maybehelp me to forget some of what happened.It was a clear, unseasonably warm day when the six figuresmade their way across the sun-washed flags of the quad tothe side of the English block. Down there, in the darkhollow of a buttress, a rusted iron stairway circled its wayinto the ground. One after another, they followed its spiraland disappeared into the triangular shadow. A long timepassed, and the sun shifted in the sky and slipped its lightthrough different classroom windows, briefly illuminatingbattered leather briefcases and untidy stacks of paper. Theaccumulated and forgotten detritus of the spent term grewwarm for a while, and then a thin cloud began to draw overfrom the east and the classrooms were dulled. A singlefigure appeared at the head of the iron staircase andpaused, looking carefully around the deserted driveways andempty cricket pitches. With hands hooked into the pockets ofhis clean gray trousers, he set off towards the woods thatflanked the pavilion, fair hair flapping gently in thegrowing breeze.And although it was not yet apparent, this figure--dwindlingtowards the late spring green of the woods--was now, fromone viewpoint, a murderer."It's not even as though anyone would mind," Alex said, andwent off to the small lavatory set back around the corner,tak-ing her large and shabby knapsack with her. There wasanother small room there, which had most likely served onceas a storage closet. Mike couldn't guess when this place hadlast been used for anything. The smell of it was dry andcool. There was dust between the stones of the floor thathad set, become fossilized. Mike doubled his sleeping bag up behind his back as a sortof cushion. The Hole was blank and harsh in the naked light of the bulb,like a badly adjusted TV picture. Frankie was searching through herbags for something, pulling out articles of clothing and other junk,stuffing them back in again, working seemingly at random. There was afaint, glassy sound of water into water, and then the hiss and roar of the huge gray cistern. Frankie triumphantly flourished an octagonal cardboard box. "Anyone want some?" she asked happily. The others looked at her. "What is it?" Geoff asked suspiciously. "Turkish delight," returned Frankie. "Lovely. I got twoboxes, just in case." "No thanks," Mike said. He wondered idly what the second box might be in case of. "Me neither, if it's all the same to you," Geoff said. "That stuff--it tastes like . . . I don't know, it tastes . . ." "It's rose-flavored," Frankie said. "No, it tastes like . . ." Alex returned, shaking her hands violently at the wrists. "Ah, for heaven's sake!" shouted Frankie, and a small plume of white sugar powder leapt up from the box she was holding. "You got water all over me." "Did anyone think to bring a towel?" Alex asked. Mike shook his head. Ithadn't crossed his mind. "I have," said Liz. That followed, Mike decided. You'd never expect someone like Frankie to remember towels, but Liz would. He wasn't sure why he had this impression of her; it just seemed natural. "Thanks," said Alex. "That water's too cold for me.""What time is it now?" asked Frankie. "Nine. Why do you need to know?" Geoff said. "You keep on asking me what bloody time it is." "I'm tired. And I forgot my watch," Frankie said. "How can you be tired?" Alex asked. "All we've done since four o'clock is sit around chatting." "I haven't," Mike said. "I joined a rather fascinating little trip tosee some rock formations and then hiked across the moors for an hour ortwo." They laughed. "That's exactly the sort of thing Morris and friends would get up to," Geoff said. "Thank God we didn't go," Alex said, with a shiver. "Last field trip was a nightmare. I spent the whole week soaking wet and half-blinded by rain." She pushed her hair back from her face and continued. "And I hate mountains. I'm not a mountain person. More a living-room person, I think." "You can thank Martyn for it all," Frankie said. "Yeah," Mike said. "Out of the field trip and into the Hole, to coin a phrase." "I quite like it down here," Alex said. "I know it's not exactly comfortable--or big, for that matter--but you get the impression that, with a little care, it could be almost cozy. Some curtains, and tasteful rugs. You know." "Funny," Frankie said. "Very funny. Ha ha." By now, Mike thought, the field trip probably would havebeen across a mountain or two. He'd been on the previous expeditions,and had really rather enjoyed himself. But, of course, the chance tobecome involved with one of Martyn's schemes was worth any sacrifice.Which was why, he reflected wryly, he was stuck in a cellar under theEnglish block instead of above the snowline in the Peak District. Aroundhim the others had arranged their possessions on the floor of thecellar. Geoff, lounging on one elbow next to him, waved a hand vaguelyover his knapsack and the untidy pile of clothing and tins of food thatwas spread next to it."What I still don't get is how this place could just be here, but neverbe used," he said. "It would make a great common room, or music room, orsomething." "Half Our Glorious School isn't used," Frankie saiddismissively. "My dad says the whole place needs a bloody good changeof management." "Then your dad has the full support of the entirestudent body," Geoff said. "Frankie's right," Alex said. "There areplaces like this all over the school. That bit behind the physicsdepartment, for example. What's it used for? Nobody ever goes inthere." "That's the butterfly collection," Liz said unexpectedly. Mikealways felt a lift of mild surprise when Liz spoke. "They only open itevery five years or so." "You're joking," Geoff said, staring at her. "Butterflies?" "Typical," said Frankie with a snort. "Betcha it's somebequest or other. People are always bequesting things to us.""Bequeathing," Mike said. "Whatever." "I hereby bequeath to Our GloriousSchool my entire collection of compromising photographs of the teachingstaff, to be left on permanent display in the dining rooms," Mike said."I'm hungry," Alex said. She took off her round wire-rimmed glasses andstarted to polish them with a hanky. "How about a nearly bedtime snack?""Let's see what we have," Frankie said at once. Mike grinned. "Calmdown, ladies," he said. "One at a time." "Condescending bastard," Frankie said. "This says French toast. I think I'll eat that." "French toast?" Geoff said. "Sounds rather rude. 'Ello, darlin', howabout some French toast, then?" Mike shuffled lower on his sleeping bag and closed his eyes against the hard light of the bulb. "I thought French toast was when you stuck your tongue out and licked the butter off," he said. Alex snorted with laughter, and then stopped herself rather guiltily. "Disgusting, Mikey," Frankie said. "Not as disgusting as that Turkish stuff," Geoff said. "It tastes so bloody pink, that's all." This is how it all began. But remember, we were very young then.I can hear Martyn saying to us, before we went down there, "This is anexperiment with real life." That was what he called it. "Isn't that a bit ambitious?" I asked, and he smiled. Martyn's smile was wide and easy, and it sat happily in Martyn's round fair face. Teachers knew what Martyn was. He was a thoughtful, rather slow boy who could be trusted with responsibility. He was always friendly, always willing tochat with old Mr. Stevens about fishing or stop by to take a look at Dr.James's garden. He was a good boy; sensible. Stanford once said, "Thatboy is a damned fine head of library," which I think probably surprisedthe staff as much as the pupils--Stanford not being known for tenderwords about anyone. We also knew who Martyn was, and revelled in the complete and wonderful illusion he had created. Because we knew that itwas Martyn who was behind the Gibbon incident; Martyn who orchestratedthe collapse of the End of Term Address; Martyn who was perhaps thegreatest rebel Our Glorious School had ever seen. The duplicity of Martyn's life was, in our eyes,something admirable and enviable. Perhaps if we had taken the time toexamine this, we might have been closer to guessing what was later tohappen. But it never occurred to us that the deception might involvemore than the two layers we saw. Strange how time changes things around us. Strange how we change with time. Sadly, schools deal in the sale and exchange of knowledge, not wisdom. And it was wisdom that we could have used back then, all that time ago. And we were not equipped. We were not ready. "Isn't that a bit ambitious?" I said, and the voice was a child'svoice, trusting and entirely innocent. And the voice that answered itwas old; far too old for the round, smiling face and pale blue eyes."Oh, I don't think so," Martyn said to me.From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

“An impressive and chilling debut.”

–Publishers Weekly

“A frighteningly good plot . . . Expertly borrows the horror and tension that made William Golding’s Lord of the Flies such a success.”

The Times (London)