The Journal-World asked young writers across the Lawrence area to submit their best scary stories, and today we’re pleased to share with you the winners of our annual contest.
We asked for stories that begin and are inspired by this sentence: “I was about to go trick-or-treating when I saw a shadowy figure watching me from across the street.”
We received hundreds of entries and the judges had a difficult time selecting just three winners.
In the high school category, the winner is Addie Wendel, 14, a ninth-grader at Free State High School. Here’s her story:
I was about to go trick-or-treating when I saw a shadowy figure watching me from across the street. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see something weaving through the trees, cautiously making its way towards me. The October breeze swept my hair off of my face and I paused for a moment and watched it. Small and lithe, the figure was visibly feminine, and she stopped as she noticed me watching her. I walked away, feigning indifference, testing to see if she would come out. The girl took the bait. Whirling around, I spotted her. She was ashen and child-like—dreadfully frail— and she ran quickly in the opposite direction. The wind tugged at the ebony hood of the figure, releasing long, pale curls into the night air. I caught up with the girl, pulling her around to see her face.
Her eyes stood out the most— large, silver orbs— deeply set and ringed with dusky purple. Her blanched hair was perfectly coiled, and wispy ringlets tried to hide her milky complexion from the soft light of the harvest moon. She was probably about eight years old, and I could see that I had frightened her.
“Are you alright?” I asked her. She didn’t reply, staring at me with her doe-eyes. She reached out, and her hands were cold and pallid. One bony finger pointed at me and beckoned for me to follow. In a hushed, haunting voice, she spoke one word.
She dashed away, the raven tails of her tattered cape flying in the wind. Past the dimmed porch lights and costumed children, chasing the ever-darkening horizon. We entered a forest, deep with leafless trees and evergreens. She paused abruptly, giving me the time to catch my breath. It was cold now, and I could see the air leaving my mouth in bursts of fog. A crow called, his raspy song reaching out for his mate in the dark. Suddenly, I was afraid. I had no means of getting home, and the girl didn’t seem like she wanted me to. I turned around; hoping to see the dim lights of my street in the distance, but the road was gone. Now all that was left were the trees and the girl. The wind cried out, making the entire forest dance and whisper in the gale. I looked around for the girl, or another familiar face, and I found her resting at the base of a pine tree. Her haunting eyes were hidden, and as I approached, the rancid smell of decay and evergreen wafted into the air. In her hand, I could faintly see the form of an animal. Moving closer, I saw the grotesque form of the crow that I had glimpsed only minutes ago; its broken wings splayed across her lap.
Without warning, the bird—which was dead only a moment before—took to the air. The girl opened her silver eyes to watch it go, and fell to the ground in silence.
The winner in the middle school category is Jasmine Colbert, 13, an eighth-grader at Perry-Lecompton Middle School. Here is her story:
I was about to go trick or treating when I saw a shadowy figure watching me from across the street. As each of its limbs split to two, fear and adrenaline coursed through me. Eight glowing red eyes were peering at me eerily. Its glittering white fangs were dripping an iridescent green liquid onto the ground.
“Hello?” I asked fearfully. My voice quivered. Its only reply was a sort of wheezing, raspy sigh. An odor reached my nose; a disgusting, putrid smell, mingling with…mothballs?
I screamed, and ran back to my house. The door was locked. Finally, as I gave up pounding on the door for my older brother to wake up and save me, I turned around.
Bright red eyes were glaring into mine creepily. Fangs glistened in the dim glow of the porch lights. Bristly hairs vibrated on its long spindly legs. Pincers snapped near my face. I cried out in fear.
“Jamie…” it rasped. I couldn’t breathe, its pungent breathe filling my nostrils. “Jamie…” it repeated louder.
“No, no, no, no!” I screamed. “Please, no! Someone help me!” My throat ached. Laughter erupted from the spider. It reached up with one spindly, bristle-haired leg, and pulled its ugly face off.
“You should see your face, Jamie!” my older brother exclaimed. His face peeped out of the fat, hairy spider costume. All the relief that filled me was overcome by white hot rage.
“Gosh! You are such a jerk! I thought…” I paused, not wanting to embarrass myself further by telling him I was scared.
“You actually thought that was real? You crack me up, Jamie,” he laughed incredulously. I grabbed his hair and pushed him to the ground as hard as I could, only to come face to face with another spider!
“Not Funny! I already know the trick!” I growled, yanking on the long fang, trying to pull off what was sure to be a mask...except it wasn’t plastic. The green goo burned my hand, the flesh being eaten away. Screaming in pain and shock, I looked down at the milk-white bones of my hand.
My brother’s screams mingled with my own as the spider descended upon us. Miniature spiders spilled out of its gaping jaws. I screamed again as the small legs and hairy bodies covered us, their bites stinging like bees.
“…And the spider ate her and her brother…Human-flesh-eating spiders!” the girl shrieked, her friends gasping in horror.
“Ewww!” they all cried. They didn’t even notice the giant tarantula in the room with them, hiding in the shadows for the next unlucky victim.
The winner in the elementary school category is Emily Silvers, 9, a fourth-grader at Saint John Catholic School. Here is her story.
I was about to go trick-or-treating when I saw a shadowy figure watching me from across the street.
I wonder who would be following me. Could it be Callie, the ghost my mom was telling me about? Callie supposedly comes out every Halloween to scare young children. She lives in an old, rundown, mansion which my friends and I call “The Haunted House of Doom,” about two blocks away from my house. This mansion has siding falling off, the roof has holes, and is covered in cobwebs and vines. I’ve tried to go trick-or-treating there before, but my knees started quivering and I ended up running away before I stepped on the porch. It gave me nightmares for two whole nights.
“Crackle, crackle.” I thought I heard someone. “Oh no!” They seem closer than before. I turned around to see nothing but the empty street behind me. “I have to keep going.” I reminded myself. I walked up to the next house and rang the doorbell. “Trick-or-treat,” I announced cautiously. The lady at the door greeted me with a package of M&Ms, a sucker, and a package of Lemon Heads. Wow, I’m scoring a lot of candy from my neighborhood.
As I continued on, I heard the crackling noise again. But now it sounded more like tree limbs blowing against each other in the wind. All of a sudden, the house lights seemed to go out. It was pitch-black and the wind stopped blowing. I couldn’t hear any sounds. So I kept going, trying to convince myself it was okay. The next thing I knew, I saw two figures appear; one was twice the height of the other.
It may be Callie and her mom, Persia, the queen of “The Haunted House of Doom.” I couldn’t be sure in the dark, but who else could it be?
“Please, leave me alone!” I yelled behind me.
I hurried up the street to my house. As I reached my sidewalk, they caught up to me and the taller figure reached out and touched my shoulder. They yelled in unison, “Boo, we got you!” Suddenly they appeared in the light! It was my mom and my brother. “You scared me half to death.” I over exaggerated.
“Come on, let’s go home. It’s been a long night.” My mom said to me and my brother. “How long were you guys planning this?” I asked them. “About a week.” They both said at the same time. “One week!” I exclaimed. “I have to admit it was a really good prank you pulled on me, but I’ll find a way to get you back. You know, I haven’t been to the last house on our block yet. Will you both go with me?”