Welcome to the first annual spooky stories contest. Below are six stories submitted as part of the annual contest. Use the links below to read each one. A special thanks to all who submitted.
The Tell-Tale Donation
By Kara Daddario Bown
I don’t know what I expected, as I returned to the past on Hollow’s Eve. I watched the silhouettes of former classmates, illuminated by light streaming onto the pathway. What made me return when I declined the last fifteen invitations, I’ll never know. Perhaps it was the nostalgic longing I felt this time of year. Whatever my motivation, my RSVP left me standing in the night, a voyeur to the unfolding party. I entered the room and was greeted by a crackling fireplace and the strong handshakes of men from my formative years.
Hesitation fled and I only looked down at my watch once that evening, startled back to the present moment by the sound of rain on the roof of the building. Someone suggested a tour of the new wing and we strolled into the hallway. As a group of gentlemen rounded the corner, I paused outside the library, home to authors who were my most cherished friends. I fumbled with the light switch and resolved to enter a dark room. That’s when I heard it, in a faint voice, “Giveth.”
“Whose there?” I called, maintaining composure should it be someone having fun at my expense.
“Giveth to me,” the voice replied.
“Who are you?” I asked anxiously.
A bookshelf rustled and, one by one, titles flew off the shelves.
“GIVETH,” the voice bellowed.
Before my eyes a man appeared, dressed in the school blazer with a 1916 patch affixed to the pocket. Perhaps, an alumnus lost on the tour.
“Hello,” I said, “I’m Tom Smith, class of ’04.”
“I am the Ghost of Endowments Past,” he said, “and I’m here to show you how your miserly $25 donations haven’t made a dent in the science wing capital campaign.”
“I thought consistent giving of any amount was appreciated!” I exclaimed.
He shook his head and snapped his fingers. We were still in the library, but it was daylight, and students bustled in from the corridor. At a table sat a boy, rapturously reading The Things They Carried.
“Is, is that me?” I stammered.
“Yes Tom,” the ghost replied. “Don’t you remember when O’Brien visited campus and read the last line in the final chapter? Do you remember how you felt your soul stir?”
I nodded in affirmation.
“Well, how do you think the school could afford to pay such a notable author?” the ghost asked.
“The endowment fund?” I answered with a question.
“Yes, Tom, Yes! Listen carefully – You will be visited by two more ghosts before the night is through. Goodluck and farewell.”
He disappeared in a poof of smoke and I found myself in my apartment, the sound of the television clamoring in the background. As if the entire situation weren’t surreal enough, I stood outside myself, looking at a situation which occurred hours before.
“Scary, huh?” said a voice behind me. I turned to see a man my age at the door.
“Who are you?”
He smiled. “I am the Ghost of Endowments Present.”
We watched together in silence as I cavalierly flipped through correspondence.
“See there,” the ghost said, “see how you discarded the letter from the annual fund and paid your Netflix subscription instead?”
I nodded sheepishly.
“Every decision has a consequence,” he warned. Another poof of smoke and I was back on campus, standing in a classroom. Boys faced a screen where a woman with vocal fry spoke about collagen injections.
“This is what you think,” said a boy who appeared next to me.
“Are you the Ghost of Endowments Future?” I anticipated.
The boy nodded.
“What class is this?” I inquired.
“It’s pumped up, trickle down, Kardashian economics. Due to a decrease in donations, the school can only afford online courses produced by Kris Jenner.”
The horror! The horror! I had seen enough. “Spirit,” I cried, “wake me from this nightmare!”
The young man waved, returning me to the darkened library. I heard the commotion of fellow alumni returning from their tour. I sprang from my seat and raced pasted them to the reception hall, grasping for the checkbook and pen in my jacket pocket. I scribbled a week’s worth of wages on the check and handed it to the alumni director as I ran out the door. I vowed to do better, as I turned to face the formidable building. The hairs stood on the back of my neck as I heard a voice rumble from the stone exterior, matching the beat of my racing heart. Giveth, giveth, giveth.
Kara Daddario Bown is a local freelance writer. She has performed at The Moth StorySLAM and GrandSLAM and her work has been published in The Belladonna, The Pennsylvania Gazette, Philadelphia Stories, and The Penn Review.
Morning on Wayward Island
by Jenny French
Preston woke up with his cheek against something hard and black. His head felt heavy, but he raised his eyes and saw flames. They were little, dancing flames, and then he saw the shiny black andirons of his own fireplace, so he sat up.
He put his hand to his head, because it felt wobbly. Sure enough, there was his big hat, still on! When he pulled it off, the pointy end was missing. Smoke was coming out of it.
He blew on what was left of the end to put out the fire, and then he put the hat on again. It seemed safer to wear it, at least until he found out why he had been sleeping on the hearthstone.
Mom Marelda was dreaming. She kicked in her sleep, and that woke her up. She was lying on the hay in the little barn her family had recently built for the dragon. She was glad the hay was still there, because the dragon had a nasty habit of setting it on fire. It felt warm and dry now, in the thick morning mist that always enveloped Wayward Island in the fall.
But why was she sleeping in the barn? She had no idea.
And she was changing phases again! She would appear as a crescent, then a quarter, and so on until she was full. She liked being full best because then her son, Preston, and her daughter, Invenue, could see her whole outline and feel more comfy. But sometimes when she was only a crescent, it was fun to suddenly shine as a hologram in the sky, and scare strangers.
This morning, Marelda seemed to be out of phase. She had already DONE half and should be waxing, but instead, she was clearly back to quarter again. It was unnerving.
Invenue was already out in the pasture, playing catch with her purple bowling ball with the dragon. She was only three seasons old, but she had come out as a giantess and wouldn’t listen to anyone. She often just did what she wanted, at least until Daddy Duncan came back. The dragon was catching the ball in his fangs, one in each hole, but getting it stuck and having to sneeze it back to Invenue. Each sneeze brought a little column of fire with it, so the ball was getting red hot.
Marelda tried to gather her children and find out what was going on. She saw Preston standing on the porch, rubbing his eyes. His hat was still emitting wisps of smoke that rose into the morning air. He saw a glowing quarter of his mother outside the barn, but he had forgotten what phase she was supposed to be in at the moment. Invenue could not be seen, but the trumpeting sneeze of the dragon and then his “excuse me!” told exactly where the two of them were.
“Invenue! What are you up to?” called Marelda.
“I’m up to four, Mama!” came the cheerful little voice. How such a big girl could own such a little voice was a mystery.
“Four what, dear one?” said Marelda.
“Four for me, three for the dragon, silly!” she replied. Marelda had reached the pasture by then. She grasped Invenue by the back of her huge diaper and half-dragged her toward the gate, luckily becoming airborne within a few feet. Marelda was nothing if not an ace in the air. Her invisible wings were strong as steel, and she flew Invenue over to Preston.
“Here, dear, hold on to baby for a bit while I make breakfast.” Preston crossed his arms and scowled. “Okay–if you promise to make whiz-bang marshmallow surprises for us, Mom.”
“We’ll see! Your dad wanted komodo rex melts again. You two can flip for it.” She crossed her fingers that Invenue would hold still.
It was at that moment that Daddy Duncan apparated in the yard. “What in the world is going on here!?” he sang. He loved to sing.
Preston was overjoyed at the sight. “Dad, the baby needs a time out! Could you please send her to Mars for the day? I’ve had it already. The hearth wasn’t a good place to sleep. Look at my hat!”
Daddy peered at it. “Well, that’ll certainly keep you cool on a hot day!” he sang. Preston just shook his head.
Marelda asked her husband what was up. “Well,” Daddy Duncan said, “I was trying to make song angelists at dawn, but my old wand must have heard ‘somnambulists,’ because there were no angels singing at all. Instead, when I looked at my crystal ball, you were sleepwalking across the yard toward the barn, and Preston was sleepwalking from his room toward the fireplace, and Invenue was sleepwalking toward the pasture.”
She sighed deeply and turned toward the kitchen to make breakfast. “Leave it to you to stir up some excitement!” she said, and then she picked up both the basket of marshmallow surprises AND the box of komodo rexes, and climbed the steps to the kitchen.
The Owl and the Cat
By Catherine Ingalls
A full moon lurked across the sky, its golden tint shining like fire. A silhouette of a nimble, sleek cat walked along a fence. It leapt onto withered, hay-like grass. Bones on the ground rattled with the wind and leaves. The sticky, thick water of the marsh bubbled and foamed as a greenish-black eel slithered amongst the bank. The large moon was swiftly covered by grey clouds and the night went pitch-black. A loud creaking split the air and crows flapped and flew away. A large, heavily speckled owl with round, amber eyes gave a screech.
The wind gracefully carried the owl in its currents. The clouds disappeared, showing the golden moon, but the owl had disappeared. The owl flapped his wings. “Who dares come into my forest?” he boomed. Crows cawed, “Not me, not me, not me,” they chorused. The little mouse next to an oak stump squealed, “Have mercy!” and she rushed down her den. The owl wasn’t content. He wasn’t looking for prey, oh no, something much different than that.
An old cat hissed and bared his teeth. This young, lean shape was no match for him, and he leapt away. Silky leaf-green eyes narrowed as he saw a large owl flying with the wind. With that, he leapt off of his crooked fence and yowled. “You’ll never catch me, you lump of feathers!” The owl struggled to break free of the strong wind currents. With a strong beat from his wings, he dove down to swipe at the cat. The cat leapt away and raked the owl’s wing. “Coward!” Thunder erupted from the sky as he spoke. Heavy rainfall made feathers and fur stick to their bodies. The cat chuckled and hissed. The owl has found his opponent.
With much grace, the owl landed on his talons on a thick maple branch. The cat taunted him with insults and paw-swipes. The owl clacked his beak and flapped his wings. “You hurt me on such a cursed night? I hope the lightning strikes you into dust!” The owl hissed at the black cat. The cat slid out his claws and with that, he clawed his way up the tree. The owl was spooked but he couldn’t fly. The cat slid out all of his claws and bared his teeth. “You’re no match for me!” The cat yowled as he lunged at the owl. The rain became a light mist and lightning stuck the ancient maple. The owl screeched and clawed the cat’s eye with his talons. Red, sticky liquids flowed near his eye, making the cat half-blind. “Fool!” The cat yelled. Fire engulfed the tree, and the owl was truly afraid. The cat raked the owl’s chest, but yet the owl refused to lose this battle. He flapped the flames near the cat, but the fur was too wet. The cat laughed and chuckled. The owl could not stand the heat and he threw the cat into the flames. “I’ll get you one day, you clumsy one-winged bird!” The cat’s claws popped off, and he fell into a blazing branch. His leafy eyes flashed before he was gone.
The owl flapped along the wind currents and saw a ragged, old black cat, sitting on a crooked fence. The owl shook his head in disbelief: “Here we are, again. His temptations to destroy are still in him, and he’ll never stop his search for me.” The owl flew into the golden moon.
Catherine Ann Ingalls is 11 years old and is in 6th grade at Saint Genevieve School in Flourtown. She also sings in the choir at St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill. She lives in East Mount Airy and loves reading, writing and drawing.
By Elodie Breslin
In a land far, far, away there is a place called Dragonlandia. Dragons lurk around every corner in this place. There are three types of dragons: the wind dragons, the plant dragons, and last but not least, the ember dragons. The wind dragons live somewhere that nobody knows. Old legends say that they live anywhere that a certain flower grows. This flower is called the wind whisper flower. The plant dragons live in the fern forest, a place with amazingly beautiful plants. The ember dragons live in the tall, tall mountains.
Getting into further detail, the wind dragon look like large lizards that are shiny and white. Their wings look like bat wings but white, shiny, and scaly. The plant dragons almost resemble sloths with scales that look like fur and their slow-moving behavior. They also have moss growing on their backs and barely ever fly. The ember dragons color ranges from deep maroon to bright red. Their scales are usually larger than the others.
Willow is a wind dragon, and a beautiful one at that. She slowly glided down to a wonderful wind whisper flower. She scooped it up and ate it. Her eyes shined against the morning sun making them easy to spot from above. An ember dragon soared down from above the clouds and looked at Willow. “What are you doing eating a beautiful flower like that?” Talon asked in the traditional dragon language. “It’s what I eat,” whispered Willow, not being the talkative type. “Humph…” grunted Talon. Talon flew up looking at where Willow was. He had never seen a wind dragon. Willow was in the winding woods.
Willow looked around for another flower but could not find one. She looked for some more. She really couldn’t find any. She looked around. None of the dragons could find any flowers. Willow knew what she had to do. Willow stretched her wings out wide. She jumped and pushed down her wings. WOOOOOOOSSSSSSHHHHH! She took off heading for a mythical place called the cave of whispers. Ancient dragon legends say that the whispers in the cave are from fallen dragon warriors. Willow didn’t like the sound of that. It scared her, thinking about a bunch of dead, creepy, and scary warriors watching her.
She slowly walked into the cave when she arrived. She looked around at all of the crystals. Each one of them had a faint outline of a dragon. She came here because a great warrior named “Bellator” (which means warrior in Latin) died long ago, but his voice is still here. She looked around until she finally found the crystal with Bellator on it. “What do you desire, fair maiden?” said Bellator. “I was wondering if you could answer my question. “Of course, child. What do you wish to know?” inquired Bellator. “I wish to know where the wind whisper flowers grow,” said Willow. “They grow in a place called fern forest,” replied Bellator. “Thanks so much, Bellator. Until we meet again.” “Safe travels!” he said as Willow left the cave.
She flew for days upon days until she had reached the northern border of Dragonlandia. She had arrived at the Fern Forest. She swooped down from the clouds and landed in the middle of the forest. “Hello…. Traveler…” said one of the plant dragons. She talked very slowly because she was a plant dragon. “Hello, I’m Willow. Nice to meet you …?” said Willow shyly. “Honey… nice to meet… you too….” she said slowly. “Anyway, I’m looking for a flower called the wind whisper flower, do you have any?” asked Willow quickly. “No… but I know… a dragon who grows… them.” “Really? Who?” she said excitedly “her name is… Flora… she lives just… down… the street.”
“Let me take… You… to her…” “no, no! It’s fine!” Willow said sharply, not wanting to spend another hour on this quest. She flew to Flora and she gladly gave her some of the flowers. Willow held the flowers in her mouth while she was flying. It was very hard to resist eating them. She planted them when she got back to the winding woods. She also got some honeysuckles (what the plant dragons eat) and some flying fish. (what the ember dragons eat) She set a piece of cloth over some stumps and placed the food on top. Every dragon came to celebrate with her! Even Talon and Honey came! (even though Honey and her friends were late to the party… by about two hours.)
Elodie Breslin, 10, lives in Chestnut Hill with her mom, dad, sister Coraline and cat, CatTwo (yes that is his name, she says). She goes to school at Our Mother Of Consolation and enjoys writing, drawing and singing.
Visiting the Wild West
by Maddie Jones
Sam studied the place in his finger where the needle had stabbed him. Sam was a scientist who wanted to make time travel possible. He had been sewing decorations for his latest machine. It was supposed to make you go back in time but since nobody believed him there were inspectors coming later to check out the machine and make sure it was safe. Sam was going to try to make it attractive for them.
“Hello? Anybody there?”
Sam jumped. There was a booming voice outside his door. He hoped the person on the other side of the door would go away, because unfortunately this was his landlord, Robert, wanting this month’s rent. The door creaked. Robert was coming in. Quietly, Sam looked around to find a place to hide. His eyes shot to the time machine and he dove into it as the door opened. Through the crack in the door of the time machine, Sam could see Robert coming in and looking around for him. Robert stayed by the door for a second and then began looking around the room. Finally, he got to the corner with the time machine and reached for the handle. Suddenly everything went black. Sam thought that meant that Robert had left, so he got out. The moment he got out of the time machine he was swept off his feet by a pack of horses who were being whipped by what looked like cowboys. He looked at his feet to find himself standing on a dirt road. He was not in his house anymore. Now Sam was interested. He looked around to try to find out where he was. He found a woman doing the laundry a few houses down the road. He walked to her.
“Excuse me, Ma’am but where are we?” Sam bent down to talk to her. She was on her hands and knees next to the washtub.
“Why, We’re in the Wild West.” She spoke with a twang so strong that he believed her at once.
“Well, what do you know. The machine worked.” He murmured to himself as he walked away from the lady, now busy at work again. Now Sam wanted to see all that he could. But before he could move one step farther, a voice rang in his ears, and he stopped in his tracks.
“Hey, Blockhead! You want to come to our territory and stride around on our roads?! Not a chance we are going to let that happen!”
Sam turned around to face the thick man on a horse who had been talking to him.
“The name is Prowler. Listen to me boy, you don’t want to go ambling on our horse tracks and better yet, you don’t even want to be in this area. It’s for the cowboys.”
With that, Prowler galloped away on his horse leaving poor Sam all alone.The first thought that came to Sam’s mind was that he should look around and do a little sightseeing. Sam visited the Boothill graveyard. He stayed there for a little but, having had no breakfast that morning, he was very hungry. Sam went to the town square to get some food but at the moment Sam was not just thinking about food. Sam was worrying about how he was going to prove to the inspectors that the machine worked. Sam decided the best way to let the inspectors and Robert know that the time travel machine worked was returning to his apartment, bringing them here, back to the Wild West and thus, they would know that the time machine was a success!
“Darn! Someone broke the door off the time machine! How am I going to get home?” Sam looked around before locating the steel door in Prowlers hands. Quickly, Sam grabbed a nearby rope and whipped Prowler with it. The force of the rope sent Prowler off his horse and onto the ground. Then Prowler grabbed his own whip and attempted to strike Sam with it but Sam dodged it. The fight had begun. Suddenly Sam got an idea. Sam whipped the horse and all the things on the horses back flew in different directions. Luckily, The door flew right next to Sam and, ignoring Prowlers cries of fury and pain, Sam ran as fast as he could to the machine, with the door dragging at his feet. With a wave Sam fastened the door onto the machine, stepped into it and headed home.
Maddie Jones, 9, is a 4th grader at Penn Charter School
The Very Deathly Hallows
By Georgia Hansen
The world I live in now is dark; the world I live in now is filled with terror and fear.
The world I used to live in was calm and peaceful. But now with Voldemort in control of this world, it’s not so peaceful anymore. And now I sit in a hollow tree trunk thinking about how I can protect my twin siblings, 6-year-old Georgette and Frank, while defeating Voldemort.
“Cecilia, where’s mommy and daddy? asks Georgette snapping me out of my thoughts on the best way to get rid of Voldemort once and for all.
My eyes fill with tears as I try to think of the best way to tell them that they died at the hands of Voldemort and his followers.
“They are.. ummm… they..” I stammer but judging by the way Georgette and Frank turn their heads and by the way their shoulders shake I know that they have guessed that they will never be coming back. We won’t ever hear our dad’s contagious laughter or see our mom’s twinkling eyes.
As I move to comfort them, Frank’s sudden outbursts freezes me.
“You want to know what I think, Voldy? That you are cruel and I will find you and…” He can’t get the rest of the words out as I clamp my hands down on his mouth. When I think he has calmed down a bit I, unclamp my hands. His head turns towards me, and I can see that his eyes are filled with hatred. I start to speak but movement from the entrance stops me. Before I can call out, a question stops me.
“Excuse me, are you Cecillia daughter of Voldemort?”
Before I can answer the question a shriek from behind me stops me. I turn around quickly seeing Georgette and Frank jumping up and down with their curly red hair flying every which way, screaming “Oh my god! It’s Harry Potter! The boy who lived!”
I can feel my brown eyes roll, as I shush my siblings the question comes again. “Excuse me, are you Cecilia daughter of Voldemort?”
“No I am the eldest daughter of Milia and Aaron Wade,” I reply with confusion. Grief was evident in my voice. As I say that, a confused looking boy with messy brown hair and twinkling green eyes appeared.
There is no doubt that this boy is indeed Harry Potter. That stupid scar everyone loves gives it away. The next thing I know Georgette and Frank are hugging their role model. The next thing I see is a black streak across the sky, I blink, and the tree is engulfed in flames. The next thing I know Harry Potter and I are on our backs coughing.
“Wha-What was that?” I ask.
“It was a death eater,” he replies.
I look around for Georgette and Frank , but I don’t see them. Then I hear the screams of terror from the tree.
“Save them! What are you doing? Save them!” I sob.
But the grim expression on his face says it all. That its no use. That Georgette and Frank are as good as gone. I fall to the ground in the fetal position with sobs wracking my body. I was supposed to save them, I promised Mom and Dad. I feel like something is pressing against my body but I don’t think much of it until I hear the wind. The wind sounds like a bunch of tiny children screaming all at once. I open an eye and I am on a mountain top and I see Harry sitting by himself.
I walk over and say “Why did you come to get me? I could have gotten out of there by myself.” It takes him a moment to answer I can almost hear his brain weighing out the best possible answer. He finally answers, “The truth is, I came to get you because I am the final horcrux. I need you to destroy me.”
Before I can say anything, cloaks of black descends on us. We jump up and the next thing I hear is “Hello Cecilia don’t you want to say hello to your dad?”
As I sat there pondering all of these words all the destruction, pain, death, and suffering it all made sense I knew what I must do. I must destroy the final horcrux and the final horcrux is me.
“Thank you Harry for everything that you did to help me but now I have to destroy the final horcrux and that’s me.”
Harry waves his wand and said, ”Wait… I think there is another way.” To be continued….
“Thank you Harry for everything that you did to help me but now I have to destroy the final horcrux and that’s me.”
Harry waves his wand and says, ”Wait… I think there is another way.”
To be continued….
Georgia Hansen, a former Chestnut Hill resident is 14.