We issued the challenge—write your spookiest story. Authors Joel Sutherland and Angela Misri carefully reviewed all the entries.
This entry is from 12-year-old Audrey, one of the finalists.
“Mom, couldn’t we have stayed somewhere else?”
“Tassy, we are not doing this again. I know it’s not the best situation, but we have to make the best of it. Look on the bright side, Mr. Garrett didn’t drop us off on the street with all our stuff like he did the Mahorm’s, he gave us a week to pack.”
“Oh wow, he’s so generous!” I said sarcastically.
“Stop it Tassy! ” Tassy Morgans, that’s me. My parents always call me Sassy Tassy when they are in a good mood, but past week they haven’t been. We used to live in a little 2-story apartment building, and Mr. Garrett is the landlord. My father lost his job as a waiter, when the restaurant ownership changed. We didn’t have enough money to pay our rent. So that’s how I am here now, at the old creepy, abandoned house on Weston Street.
I grabbed the box of groceries out of the bike trailer. “Let’s go inside.” Mom grabs the rusty door handle and the door opens. I am engulfed in a rotten smell that makes my lunch bubble up my throat. I look up at my mom. Her normally pale white face is now a light shade of green and her nose is scrunched up, but she nodded and walked in. I follow. The further I went in, the worse it got. Mold was growing on every surface. The paint was peeling from the walls, cobwebs, spiders, ruined furniture, and a thick layer of dust was pretty much all I could see. And this was just the front entrance. Mom started taking off her shoes, but I stopped her.
“You want to walk barefoot in that?” I ask her.
We continued into the living room, which had a white carpet flooring. Or it might have used to be white, now it was more of a brown. The kitchen had a table with 3 and a half legs, and a broken chair. No stove, no microwave, no running water. We walk up the broken stairs, to the second floor. The windows are all boarded up, and the light bulb has so much fly poop on it, it wouldn’t help. My eyes slowly adjust to the dim lighting. There are only 2 rooms.
“I’ll go in this one.” I tell my mother. She enters the other one. I only had enough time to see that there was a bed with a red stain on the mattress because I hear mom scream. I turn around and there are rats running out of the door. Great, I should have known this place would have been infested with rats.
“Let’s g-g-go down-stairs,” she stuttered.
“That’s fine with me.”
For the rest of the day I played outside. Even though there was absolutely nothing to do, it was better than being in the house. I did find a nice patch of dirt and used my finger to draw a picture in it. Dad came home around 7:30. He was out searching for a new job, because we had to survive somehow. We had already sold most of our furniture, so that we could still get clothes and food. Mom cleaned up part of the living room so that we could have somewhere decent to sleep. Dad asked why we weren’t sleeping in the bedrooms, but mom told him to, ‘never speak of it.’ I didn’t argue, I wasn’t itching to go back up there any time soon either. As I lay down on the dirty carpet I imagined how many bugs are crawling around me. How I longed for my cozy, warm bed in our small apartment.
In the morning when mom woke me up, Dad was gone and it was still dark out. I followed mom into the kitchen. “Morning mom!” I said sleepily. “Morning hon!”
“Guess what mom? Me, Ellie, and Coco are dressing up as M and M’s for halloween! We decided Friday, but I just forgot to tell you.”
“Tassy, it’s ‘Elly, Coco, and I,’ and also, you’re not going trick or treating this year.” I gagged on my milk.
“What do you mean I’m not going trick or treating?” I yelled. “I have a job interveiw Halloween night. So you have to hand out candy.”
“What about Dad?” I ask, “can’t he do it?”
“Your father found a job at a restaurant downtown, and they are very picky about who can work there. Halloween is one of their busiest nights because they do a big show. He figured if he does a good job then, he will have a secure job.”
“Ugggghhhh!” I groaned. Sure, I’m happy that he might have a secure job, but why does it have to be on Halloween?
“Get going Tassy, it’s a longer bike ride to the school then what it used to be.” Mom threw my lunch at me.
“No one is even going to stop by this creepy house anyway!” “Bye Tassy.” I hopped on my bike and started pedaling down the street. I hate to say it, but mom was right. The bike ride was a t least twice as long as it was from our apartment. I put my bike in the bike rack and walked into school. I am almost knocked off my feet by a body slam hug from one of my besties, Elly Kaster.
“Sorry Tass! Today has been extremely tumultuous! I suddenly realized that my english essay was due today, as of yesterday, tomorrow, but anyhow, I stayed up most of the night typing, but then I got side-tracked looking at this new word that has 189, 819 letters and takes over three hours to pronounce. So I set my mind to pronouncing. But it took me like 7 hours to pronounce because I watched a video on someone saying it first just to make sure I would say it right. Then the next thing I know my alarm is going and I still hadn’t finished my essay.” She took a deep breath. She always does this because she talks so fast, sometimes I don’t even understand her. She also tends to be a bit of a chatterbox, and you could probably tell that she loves big words.
Elly is what I call a dork. She is always searching for a new word. Which leads to her always reading. ‘There are so many words in a novel, one of them has got to be new,’ she always tells me. But that’s not the only thing about Elly. She is really short and is a bit pudgy. Her hair is a light blonde with natural highlights, and she always wears it in two high pigtails. She almost reminds me of a little kid, sweet, cute, and innocent. My other best friend, Coco Shana, is pretty much the opposite of innocent.
I swear she tries to break the rules. Coco has the bad girl vibe downpat. Her hair is a dark brown and it goes down to her waist. She always wears it down. It makes her look wild. Her eyes are a crazy colour of indigo, and she is about as skinny as a twig. Her favourite colour is black and her absolute most prized possession is a black leather jacket that her uncle gave to her for her birthday. I honestly don’t know how we are all friends.
As soon as Elly spots Coco strutting through the hall she takes off running. This is going to be one hard hug.
Coco looks up just as Elly is diving towards her and I shut my eyes. BANG!
I look up. Elly is lying flat on the floor and Coco is standing beside her. She must’ve moved to the side as soon as she saw Elly. I want to laugh but I don’t because I don’t want to hurt Elly’s feelings. She is really sensitive. Just leave it to Coco to figure out how to avoid a body-slam.
Coco walked toward me like nothing happened at all. “Hey girl! What goes on?!”
“Hi Coco!” I am still watching Elly to see if she will get up. She does and skips towards us.
“Coco? Why did you move?” Elly asks, somewhat angrily.
“Hey, you know my rules! No body-slams! Were you even listenin’ when I told you guys ‘dat?” Coco also tends to talk with slang. She turns to me. “My ma said you moved into the creepy house on Weston Street. How’s ‘dat workin’ for ya?”
“It’s fine, I gue-”
“The creepy house on Weston Street?” Elly asked, her eyes widening. “Do you need yer ears checked? That’s what I said!” Coco replies, slightly annoyed.
“No way! How could you even go near that place! A couple years back a man was murdered there!”
“Well that explains the blood on the bed,” I muttered under my breath. “What?”
“Nothing,” I quickly say. “Continue.”
“Apparently the house used to be pretty nice. An old man used to live there, and he was a gardener. Well, on the Halloween night of 1989 he mysteriously disappeared. Some say he was murdered, others say he left the country. They couldn’t manage to find a body or track him down, but several people who have inhabited the house afterwards swear by their life that his ghost haunts the house on Halloween night. They say he walks around with a pair of hedge clippers, searching for his murderer.”
“Thanks Elly! For that great story! I am totally not petrified of returning home now!” I shuddered. It’s just a silly story, definitely not true. “Good thing you’ll be trick-or-treating Halloween night. Am I right? Up top!” Elly holds out her hand expecting a high five from me, but she doesn’t receive it.
“Guys… I can’t go trick-or-treating this year with you. Mom said I have to hand out candy.” I stare at the ground.
“Well I’m helping you! If this whole ghost thing is real, I’m gonna get it on camera!” Coco seemed really excited.
“I can’t trick-or-treat by myself, that would be very lonesome. So I guess I’m helping to.” Elly didn’t seem as ecstatic as Coco did, but I’m glad she said she’d help.
The rest of the day flies by fast. Math was by far the most boring class of them all. By the time I got home, I was exhausted. I managed to walk inside. It looked like mom had done some more cleaning today. The kitchen looked half decent. I went to bed fairly early that night because I figured it would be hard to fall asleep.
When I woke up it was dark out, just like yesterday. “Happy Halloween honey!” Mom greeted me with a smile. I yawned in reply. I honestly don’t know how mom does it. She wakes up before me, and manages to not be tired. “Today is orange and black shirt day, so go quickly get dressed.”
I went back to the living room and searched through my clothes garbage bag. I only have one orange shirt that has a bat on it, so slipped it and some black pants on. “Bye mom!” I yell as I jump on my bike.
School was really fun, we did some halloween crafts for art, and the school did a big party at the end of the day. As the end of the day bell rings and the hallway starts flooding with kids I yell to Coco and Elly, who board the bus, “Bye! See you at 5:30!”
“BYEEEEEEE!” I hear them scream.
The bike ride home takes me a lot longer because I go around in circles for a while. I really didn’t want to be at the house right now. When I get home I am so sweaty it’s sickening.
“Hi Tassy, how was your day?” Mom calls from the kitchen.
“Good,” I say.
“I have to in about an hour or so, are you gonna be okay?” Yeah. Apparently there is a guy that haunts this house on Halloween night with hedge clippers searching for the person who murdered him. He might kill me too, but yeah, I’ll be fine, is what I want to say, but I don’t. “Coco and Elly are coming over, so I’ll be good.”
I help Mom bag candy and put it in a bowl. Mom wanted to put up some Halloween decorations to make our house spooky, but I advised against it. “This house is already the creepiest in town, I wouldn’t go anywhere near it if I had the choice.”
At 5:30 on the dot Elly showed up. Coco came around 6, but I had kind of guessed that.
“Coco, you know you could be punctual!” Elly said.
“What’s the point? No one has showed up yet!” She grinned. Coco is crazy. We sit outside and wait. It is way nicer out there, and I didn’t like being in there on Halloween night.
I was wrong. A few people did show up for candy, but they scrambled way after. I couldn’t blame them. It was about 8 when the last person got here, roughly around twilight.
In total I think 4 people ended up trick-or-treating here. There was a lot of leftover candy. Since mom and dad weren’t home yet, we figured it wouldn’t hurt to eat some candy, and then exaggerate the amount of trick-or-treaters.
I went inside to get some bowls, but I stopped in my tracks. I swear I heard a groan. No, it’s just my imagination.
That’s definitely not! “COCO! ELLY!” I scream at the top of my lungs. They look at me. I can see that they are trying to stifle their giggles. “It’s not funny! I’m scared silly!” I grab their hands and yank them inside.
“What are we looking at?” Coco asks.
“Ugghhh!” They both stare at me; Coco in awe, Elly in fright. “I think it came from upstairs!” Coco whispers, “let’s go!” She starts tiptoeing up the stairs. Even though Elly and I are scared out of our wits, we follow.
As I’m walking I glance around, looking for anything unusual. Everything seems creepy on Halloween night, and this house is no exception. When the stairs creak, or a wind gust blows our way, it alarms me.
When I got to the second floor, I couldn’t move. My body goes rigid. Something is definitely not right up here.
“I think the sounds are coming from the bedroom.”
Elly starts, “Guys, you guys will have a splenderific life, I am destined to a life of despair. If I fall in battle-”
“What battle?” Coco whispers.
“You guys must live on and carry on my legacy. I apologize if this sounds quite tedious. My stupendous, intriguing companions, I will take on the treacherous task of investigating.” Elly looks at us expectantly.
“Are we supposed to clap now? or …” I trail off into the silence. “Elly, english please! I didn’t understand half of those words.” “Maybe you should listen more in language class.”
“Maybe you should just use less words.” Coco hisses angrily. “Have you ever heard of this one? Circumlocution. The use of too many words. It’s the perfect word to describe you.”
As they fight I shut my eyes. I try to zone out everything, but it just isn’t possible. I hear so many things; a rusty piece of metal hanging on by a screw, the door hinges squeaking, the howling winds outside, and that awful moaning that may be coming from my future murderer!
“Well, I’m going to check out what’s in there! So hmph!” Elly stuck her tongue out at Coco.
“I’m not letting you have all the fun!” They both shoved through the door. I follow in pursuit. I knew better than to fight with them. It’s much easier not to take sides and to just let them battle it out.
This room creeps me out. I may have only stepped in it once, but that was enough. I really wanted to bolt out that door, but part of me was kind of interested in what it was. I was furious with that part of me.
“It’s coming from the closet.” I can hear it now loudly. By now I’m shaking constantly, and I’ve given up trying to hide it. “You know what, you guys can do this, right?” Elly starts backing away toward the door, but Coco grabs her.
“Nuh-uh-uh! We do this together!” We all slowly step toward the closet door. I watch my shaking hand grab the door handle. It slowly swings open. “It’s just a closet, that’s a relief.” We start to turn around when we hear the groan.
Coco points to a handle. “It’s probably coming from under there!” Before we could stop her she pulled it.
“AHHHHHHH!” We all let out an ear-splitting shriek. All I see is a rotting skeleton with some bits of flesh on it. I turn around and start puking. Elly holds my hair back. Coco inspects the body a bit more.
“Guys… we got-ta get out-ta here…” Coco’s voice is shaky, somethings wrong. I stand up and look in the hole. Laying right beside the body is a pair of hedge clippers.
I don’t even think twice before I grab each of them and dart down the stairs and outside. I dive behind a bush. We all scramble together quivering. A couple minutes later I hear a creak.
“Is it just me or does that sound an awful lot like the stairs?” I ask, to no one in particular. I crawl toward the window and peer through. There’s a blurry figure slowly making their way down the stairs. I blink. It’s still there.
“Guys, come check this out!” I beckon towards my friends. They rush over. “You see that too? I’m not hallucinating, am I?”
“No, you’re not hallucinating, I see it too.”
I blink once more, just for safe measures-but then it’s gone.
“Where’d it go?”
Elly starts jabbing her fingernails into my arm. She starts tugging. “Elly we are trying to figure-ohhhh!” She points out in the distance. “I think Mr. Ghost found us.” I hit them, not taking my eyes off Ghost-man. “Run,” I say, “just run.”
We all run off in separate directions. I normally would’ve followed one of them, but right now my life was more important. I’m not sure why, but I ran back into the house. I grab a piece of old wood to protect myself. Maybe he followed Elly or Coco. Maybe I still have a chance at life. I decided my best bet is to wait the night out. At 12 Halloween is over, Mr. Ghost will go back to the closet, and everything will be right in the world once again. I sit there, huddled against the wall, making sure that I’m ready for anything that comes my way.
All of a sudden, the hair on the back of my neck stands up and shiver runs down my spine. I turn around. The door slowly opens. I guess he followed me.
“Um… I’m just gonna go…” I slowly walk backwards.
“You aren’t going anywhere!” A wide grin spreads across his face. His voice was a low, crackly sound that made you want to scream. I held it in though, for the sake of my life. I hold my board like it is a sharp sword. I charge towards Mr. Ghost, about to attack, but-
I let out a small squeal. I look up, he just cut off my board; now it’s just a stick. He grabs me by my ponytail and yanks, so my neck is fully exposed. I suddenly see my life flash before my eyes. He holds the hedge-clippers up to my neck, and when I think it’s the end I hear a-
“Ahhahhahah!” I see a jungle girl swinging towards Mr. Ghost and she karate-chops the hedge-clippers out of his hands and leaps on him. It’s Elly! I am honestly shocked.
“If you were really a ghost you wouldn’t be so solid, huh?” Elly slugs Mr. Ghost across the face. Then she tugs on the skin on his face and – pulls off a mask? “Who the heck are you!?” She demands, her fist held in the air.
I start framing his face, trying to figure out who he is. “Hey, your the guy wanted for murder! You were in the paper last week!” My fear was replaced by excitement. We caught a murderer. “Wait, why’d you come here?” I say.
“I heard this girl talking about a story about a ghost murderer at this house, and then a different person saying that some people moved in. I figured my next murders would be easier if they were blamed on a ghost.” He said dully, clearly not amused.
“Well you got caught! So ha!”
“Hey, it said that the reward for this dude is $100,000! That would be enough to pay the rent, and then we would have our apartment back!” I was practically crying with joy.
“You’re coming with us, Mister.”
He suddenly jolts up and starts to walk, but I leap on his back. He’s going for the hedge-clippers. Elly dives toward them, and then uses the method of threatening to drag him to the police station. My parents and Elly’s parents are instantly called. Once they arrive, we are given a check. Then they ask if they can take our picture for the paper. We say that we can’t do it without Coco, so they call her parents. It turns out she went home.
“All this time we thought she was so brave.” I said to Elly. We both laugh. Coco comes and they take our picture. We each have a copy to cherish forever, and to remember the craziest night of our lives.