Winner of Spooky Story Contest

Congratulations to our Runner Ups: Lillian Y. 5th grade, Not-So Spooky Story and Praneet R. 6th grade, The Haunted Souls


Grand Champion: Anna W. 7th grade

The house remembered the good old days, when it’d been a tree, growing strong and bulky, king of the Wild Wood. As it turned out, it wasn’t the king. The humans were. They came and cut down every tree in their sight, and when there were no more, they moved on to another section. The house remembered. It’d vowed, from the day it’s family had been carted away in planks and boards, in triangles and squares, in trapezoids and blocks, that it’d get back at them. It’d turn life against them, overthrow them from their current position as ruler of the world. It’d show them. Trees, unlike humans, never break their vow. Their word is always honored.

This was one of the worse nightmares. Ever. Why? It never ended. This nightmare was reality. And she just happened to be trapped in it. How could she have been so careless, throwing away her mother’s warnings, “Stay away from that house now, hear?” and “Stay safe”, so easily? Look where that’d gotten her. Here. In this house. The one that was rumored to be alive. Of course, she didn’t believe those rumors……right? She’d never been superstitious, but this house radiated “GO AWAY”. Yet despite all of the signs along the way not to go even near  this house, she’d still taken that dare and tiptoed into the house. She’d said she would only take a peek inside, but the door had slammed shut behind her before she could get back out. She’d turned that knob so hard, her hand became chafed red by the rough wood, covered in blisters that appeared out of nowhere. Since when were the locks on doors outside instead of inside? Her scream of frustration echoed throughout the house, so loud in the silent, oppressive atmosphere that it almost seemed enough to break the fragile windows.

Footsteps. She could hear them. Slow and ominous, somewhere in the house. Was she not alone? This creeped her out more than anything else. This house was supposed to be abandoned. Unless…no. It wasn’t a ghost, just the wind. Just the wind, just the wind. Still, she better keep moving. Staying in one place couldn’t be good, not here. Bracing herself for what was about to come, she slipped down the long hallway leading down to the parlor. The parlor obviously had once contained beautiful velvet sofas and chairs, but they were now ripped and torn, along with cracked teacups and a teapot, bearing the memories of warm afternoons and long chats. A thick layer of dust covered everything, except for the tablecloth, which appeared to be exceptionally clean after all these long years. Abruptly, she turned away, pained by the memory…

“Clean up, clean up, everybody everywhere! Clean up, clean up, everybody do your share!”

Dad had always loved to sing. He sang while he worked, he sang while he cleaned the kitchen counter, he sang while he dusted every piece of furniture in the house, especially the tablecloths. He would clean the cloth, flip it over, not minding a bit that the vase of flowers on top crashed to the ground. He wouldn’t dust the table, mind you, only the table, because “that’s the part we eat on”. His little ritual had continued on for years, and when she’d become of age, he let her help him. She’d kept that ritual going even after his death, a single memory in the utter darkness.

She trudged up the spiraling staircase, testing each step before putting her weight on it. A little more than halfway up the staircase, a huge crack resounded through the house. She bounded up the rest of the stairs in one leap, recklessly, no longer throwing caution to the wind. Like a xylophone, the stairs crunched into each other, leaving a huge gap that could seriously injure anyone who tried to jump it. This was the point of no return.

Considerably shaken, she turned around to find herself staring at a line of paintings along the wall. Under each painting was a plaque, engraved in spidery handwriting the name of the man in each painting and how long they’d lived.

Millicent Narle, 1810-1840. The young man’s eyes looked haunted.

George Narle, 1835-1855. The man in the photo looked boyish and young, except for the scar running down his cheek.

And the names went on, each family member having something that just wasn’t right about them until the most recent plaque: Chester Narle, 1980-2011. Chester. Her father’s name. The man in the photo stared at the space above her head, eyes vacant. She stumbled back. That wasn’t possible. He looked just like…just like dad, in the year before his death, hurried and nervous, as if some horrible secret was always gnawing at his insides, making him die painfully and slowly. How could this be? Her father’s last name was Foster, not Narle. This simply couldn’t be.

“Daddy, how come your last name is Foster?” the little girl asked.

“Ah. Now that’s no story. Not worth wasting breath on,” he answered.

“Pleeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaasssssssssse,”she begged and pleaded.

“Alright, alright. It’s simple, really. Your ancestors always stuck with their last name, but as a boy, I detested it. The name carried too much hunger for power, too much horror. So I decided to change my name to match a close friend of mine. We used to pretend we were brothers, laughing at the restraining power my parents thought they had over me……,”his voice trailed off.

“And……that’s it. Nothing much. Now your daddy’s gotta go fix that car tire. Talk to you later, ok?” he ruffled her hair.

Later that day, the little girl tripped on her way to the driveway to play hopscotch. As she struggled to get back up, she became eye to eye with the car tires. They were perfectly normal.

Immediately, she lowered her eyes from the strange painting. Her gaze fell upon the plaque, and she crouched down to see it better. Underneath the name and lifespan, there were 2 words, so shallowly carved that she had to squint to see. Body taken. She felt herself beginning to shake. Her brain was being overwhelmed by this painting, this plaque, this house. Her head was throbbing with the start of a massive headache. Someone, or something was playing with her, like lions play with their prey. Here, she was the prey. What was the lion?

Creak. Creak. She immediately snapped out of her dazed stupor at the sound of floorboards creaking. She would recognize that sound anywhere. Someone was sneaking through the house. After her. But…the stairs had collapsed. How would they have spanned the gap? Her nerves now fully shot, she whirled around and went down the nearest hallway. There had to be a way out of this horror movie. Where was the attic?? She could probably go onto the roof from there and find a way down. Her shadow danced on the walls, even though there was no visible light source. Suddenly, she skidded to a halt.

The passageway was a dead end. How could she have been so careless, yet again? The creaking was getting louder. Creak. CReak. CREak. CREAk. CREAK. CREAK. Whoever or whatever it was, it was getting closer. And closer. Heart pounding, she dove into the nearest closet, shutting the door behind her. The air inside was stuffy and musty. It was strangely lit inside, though, and when she lifted her head, she found the reason. A window. A beautiful window that signaled freedom, freedom at long last. Grinning, she pulled herself up using the first shelf. Reaching up, she climbed onto the second shelf, and then the third. To get to the fourth(and then the window) she would need to let go of the third shelf, holding on with one hand only, and pull herself onto the fourth shelf with one arm. Taking a deep breath, she counted to 3. 1…2…3…go! Her arm shot out, grasping onto the first thing she could find; what felt like a cold, smooth piece of…fabric. After pulling herself up, she got a good look at what she’d held onto. A hand. A HAND. Her scream could’ve woken the dead.

Her dad’s hand was hard and calloused, large and rough. They always held her gently; strong but comforting. The day of her dad’s funeral, she’d held his cold, large hand in both of her’s, comforting herself with the hope that he’d come back. When he didn’t, she broke inside. She’d sank into depression, no longer caring about life.

She recoiled away from the familiar hand and scrabbled at the window. She pounded at the window pane, no longer caring about secrecy. CREAK. CREAK. CREAKKKKKK. So she’d been found. Taking a nearby wooden stick, she broke the window pane, cutting her hands and arms. She scrambled through, but not before feeling cold fingers on her calves, pulling, scratching, grabbing. Wrenching free, she fell down the steep roof, crashing onto the hard ground many yards below. She lay completely motionless there.

The next day, Anastasia Foster was found wandering next to the old Narle house. Her eyes were vacant, pools of darkness. Trying to remember….what should be left alone.

Dexter’s Diction

By: Dexter D.

Sometimes vocabulary can go insane, but it can also spice up your word choice in formal writing or casual conversations. Here are a few examples of advanced vocabulary you might run into.


(v.) to agree without protesting

Though Mr. Pospieszny wanted to stay outside and work in his garage, when his wife told him that he had better come in to dinner, he acquiesced to her demands.


(n.) eagerness, speed

For some reason, Simon loved to help his girlfriend whenever he could, so when his girlfriend asked him to set the table he did so with alacrity.


(adj.) quiet, modest, reserved

Though everyone else at the party was dancing and going crazy, she remained demure.


(n.) overindulgence in food or drink

Helen’s fried chicken tastes so divine, I don’t know how anyone can call gluttony a sin.


(n.) pretending to believe what one does not

Once the politician began passing legislation that contradicted his campaign promises, his hypocrisy became apparent.


(adj.) lazy

Why should my indolent children, who can’t even pick themselves up off the sofa to pour their own juice, be rewarded with a trip to Burger King?


(adj.) clear, sharp, direct

The discussion wasn’t going anywhere until her incisive comment allowed everyone to see what the true issues were.

The ‘Write’ Idea: Tips for Aspiring Authors

By Olivia L.

Ever feel as if your creative writing has potential, but the stylistic details are a little bit off? Or that you have great ideas for stories, but just can’t make them sound right on paper? Never fear! We’re here to help. In honor of Halloween, the literary skill of this issue is suspense.

Edgar Allen Poe. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Agatha Christie. These  renowned authors have something in common- and it’s not just that they’re all on your assigned reading list. No, these writers are also masters of a little something called suspense. This element of any good mystery, thriller or generally spooky story has the uncanny ability to send a shiver up the spine of not only readers, but writers, too. Why? Because even the best of wordsmiths can have trouble making their plot lines pulsate with the nervous energy trademark to suspenseful stories. But with a little practice, anyone can use suspense to make their book a true page-turner.

Adult thriller author Steven James says that in regards to suspense, a story is “…like inflating a balloon—you can’t let the air out of your story….” If the goal of your plotline is to convey a feeling of suspense, then eliminate anything unnecessary. Flowery adjectives and entire paragraphs of descriptive language have their place, but in a more fast-paced plot line, they’ll just be letting air out of your metaphorical balloon. Keep your language sharp, and your plot turns sharper. Every aspect of your story should be more stream-lined than usual. If you’re not feeling a bit stressed by your storyline, then neither will your readers, so to create suspense, the bare minimum is key.

And yet, even if you keep your writing tight in regards to word choice, an element of suspense is not going to come automatically. Your reader also needs to care about your inevitable climax and, better yet, anxiously await it. Award winning children’s book author Gail Carson Levine suggests doing this by incorporating time, saying that “There needs to be a destination in the future that is looming.” The reader needs to have a definite idea of what they are waiting for and why it matters. Let’s say your main character’s name is Marty, and Marty is waiting to see whether he got accepted into a special school. Okay, great for Marty. But if Marty is a noble orphan with no friends and a cruel caretaker, and this opportunity is his only chance to get out of the situation he’s in until he turns eighteen…we have suspense. Before, all we had were vague details about some random kid and a letter, but now we have a clear definition of what is happening and why it is significant to the protagonist, and in turn, the reader. We want to know the outcome.

Suspense isn’t always necessary. In a story heavy on profound themes, appropriately lengthy language, and less tangible conflicts  rather than traditional, more simple plot elements, it’s probably not the best idea. But if you’ve got a plot line that’s sagging in the rising action or is starting to lose your interest, raise the stakes and tighten up the language. You’ll have suspense in no time.


By Joyce B.

I fumbled with the keys in my hand, trying to shove them into the lock on my front door. When I finally succeeded, I dropped my backpack on the floor and sighed, tired from a long school day.

Plopping down on my stool, I began my homework–there was a ton from math class.

Yes, I said stool. After all, I am rather particular about the items I sit on.

Plus, I pretty much hate those spinning office chairs, considering that one incident that happened back in (6th? 5th?) grade….

And then I begin to remember.

I had just come back from school. It was a hard day: lots of homework, and lots of projects. Everyday, I have five minutes of relief before I jump back into the twisted, stress-filled whirl pool of blood, sweat, and tears that is called school. I sat down on my chair sighing, thinking of nothing except the weekend. Suddenly, I started feeling dizzy. I was having a killer headache. I stood up to get some water to calm my throbbing head. All I could see were the colors purple and orange. I don’t know why, but I kept on thinking of one of those carnival dizzy mirrors with illusions. I looked down to rest my head for just a moment. And I saw a whirlpool. Yes, a whirlpool. I started to feel a sinking sensation, and then saw sheer blackness.

I woke up in a field of wildflowers. I had a bump on my head, nausea, and no idea what had happened. Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore, I thought, but there was no yellow brick road to guide me. My memories all started coming back. A carnival illusion, purple and orange, and a dizzy feeling. It painted a big picture that I could clearly see, but didn’t want to admit. I was in another realm.

To be continued…