Thank you so much to all our Halloween Short Story Contest submitters! We had such a great time reading all the submissions and we will definitely hold this contest next year!
The winner of the contest (among twelve amazing submissions) was Sophie Robinson for her interesting and spooky story "Are You Sure?" which is published below!
Honorable Mention goes to Mila Berry for her creativity and awesome disclaimer, and to Helen Renken for her hilarious plot twist!
An Excerpt from "Jello" by Helen Renken
High up on a hill there stood a house. Its rickety old wood could be seen from down below in the town. The howling of the wind whisking through its empty rooms and hallways could be heard at the supermarket even on a busy day. Its shadow made by the moon would stretch to the town’s outskirts. No one dared go up there. Tales of unspeakable horrors lay up there. An old cat who changed from animal to man, with one good eye and crooked teeth who ate his own family. A monster with seventeen eyes and a craving for little ones. But no story compared to the one I will tell you now…
An Excerpt from "The Macabre" by Mila Berry
The year is 1682. Ryan Adams had been sick recently with consumption. Lots of people had it, and he wasn’t expected to live for another week. He kept coughing blood into his shirt. It had been really hard. He wanted to get up and play, but he was too weak. He just couldn’t do anything but lay there by the fire and wait for death…
Are You Sure? by Sophie Robinson
A car lay unmoving on the side of a dark road. The fence pole it had hit stood like an executioner over the crumpled car. Nothing was in sight except for a couple houses farther along the road.
“Stupid! Stupid!” A lanky teen beat his fists on the car as he cursed himself over and over again. The family inside the house down the road watched him through their curtains.
“Daddy, did another one hit the fence? Did we get another one?” the little girl asked. She stood in pink barbie pajamas, arms crossed against the chill of a house at night.
“Maybe, pumpkin. But you don’t have to help tonight. Go back to sleep,” the father told her, closing the curtains before turning to her.
“Are you sure?” she asked again.
“Yes, baby. Daddy and I can handle it tonight,” the mother told her as she kissed her curly blonde head. The mother picked the girl up.
“Promise you’ll stay in your room now?” the father asked as he followed the mother up the stairs.
“Yes daddy.” She nodded, as if agreeing with herself.
“Pinky swear?” the mother asked, sternly looking at the little girl.
“I pinky swear, I won’t come out like last time. But if I did help, I wouldn’t be in the way.” The little girl replied as seriously as she could.
“I know, but princesses need their beauty sleep, right?” the father told her as they reached the top of the stairs. Three doors stood at the top, only one was open.
The mother put the little girl down and led her to the open door. A dim light poured from a butterfly nightlight in the hall.
“Goodnight, my sweet little darling,” the father said to the little child as she entered the room.
“Goodnight Daddy! He’ll be back in the morning, right? It won’t be like last time, right?” she called.
“I hope so! I will see you tomorrow, I love you forever,” he replied as the mother shut the door. The father paused and opened the door to another room. It was pitch black and deathly silent.
“Don’t worry. We’ll get him back soon. He won’t leave this time,” he told the mother.
“I miss him, and if that’s him, it won’t be like last time.”
In silence now, the pair moved in harmony down the stairs and back to the window. The teen was still cursing and contemplating his phone.
“Is it him?” the father asked. The mother was silent, watching through the crack in the blinds.
“Love, we need to decide.” The father asked her again, his voice more urgent. “Is it him?”
The mother sighed.
The teen was a mess. A cut on his head dripped blood down the side of his face. He reeked of cheap beer and smoke.
“Stupid idiot! What were you thinking?” he asked himself out loud. He surveyed the wreck of his dad’s car and contemplated his phone.
“Dad is going to kill me, mom is going to kill me. I’m dead, dead and gone. Idiot! The stupid pole came out of nowhere.” He ran his hand through his sticky hair. He quickly decided to call his parents. He practically punched in the numbers before his mind and his guilt could convince him otherwise.
“Uh, h-hi mom.”
“Collin! Your father and I were wondering where you were!”
“S-s-sorry,” he muttered sheepishly.
“We heard from Ricky’s mom that the party you were at had drinking and drugs involved! Please tell me that you weren’t doing any of that, I told your father you were smarter than that.”
“Collin! You better not come home high! If your father sees you like that you know what will happen! To you! To me!”
“I’m really sorry mom, I am!”
“Where are you? I’ll take the car and come get you.”
“Uh, about that, uh…”
“Collin. You better not be implying something. I will kill you before your father even gets the chance.”
The teen was thinking hard. He frowned at the ground, swaying slightly. The booze was clouding his mind.
“You see, I, uh, took the car, but it ran out of gas. I won’t be home for a while.”
“Okay… But you better not be with a girl and be lying to me now.”
“Just…be safe. Please. See you in the morning. I love you. Always.”
“Bye mom. Love you too.”
He pressed the end call button and hung up. He stared at his phone. The conversation felt final.
“Oh, god. I’m an idiot, what have I gotten myself into?”
The mother answered the door when the teenager knocked. The father watched from the shadows.
“Uh, hi. I don’t know whose fence I hit over there, and your house is the only one that seems occupied,” he stuttered.
“Oh! That’s our fence, but are you alright?” the mother asked.
“Yeah, I got this cut but it stopped bleeding.” He still stood in the doorway, shifting from one foot to the other.
“Come in, please. We can’t just leave you outside!” The mother beckoned him in.
“Alright. Thanks.” He unsteadily stepped into the light of the house.
The mother closed the door behind him and steered him into the unlit kitchen. The father flicked the light on and suddenly the kitchen was illuminated. It looked just like any other kitchen. Linoleum floors, humming fridge, and dishes stacked neatly next to the sink.
“Darling, can you get me the first aid kit?” the father asked as he examined the gash on the boy’s forehead.
“Of course, love,” the mother said as she moved back into the living room and towards a hallway.
“Son, did you call anyone?” the father asked as the teenager sat awkwardly on the kitchen chair.
“Yeah, I called my mom, but she knows that I’m not going to be home anytime soon,” he answered quickly.
The mother came back into the light again, this time carrying an old first aid kit. She cracked it open and she and the father examined its contents.
“We need to restock soon. We’ve used it all up,” the mother announced.
The father nodded and selected hydrogen peroxide and gauze.
“This will hurt, kiddo. Sorry,” he apologized as he began to dab at the gash.
The teenager flinched, but didn’t say anything. The kitchen was silent as the father affixed the gauze to the boy’s head.
“There. Now, we’ll have to watch that for a few days. Make sure it doesn’t get infected,” the father said finally, breaking the silence. The mother nodded and moved to the countertop.
“I’ll make us something to drink. Do you have any preferences?” the mother asked.
“Anything is fine, thanks,” the boy answered, his adrenaline slowly wearing off. The antiseptic was sobering and his mind was clearer.
“So convenient! And polite!” she exclaimed. “I’ll make us some tea.”
“Thank you for helping me,” the teen said, fidgeting in his seat.
“Oh, it’s no problem, my boy!” the father told him.
“Yes, we always want to help, especially kids in trouble.” The mother laughed and handed out mugs. Green for the father, red for herself, and black for the teenager. The parents idly sipped their tea and watched the teen drink his own.
Suddenly, the pair turned. The little girl stood in the door.
“Mommy, I got scared, sorry.” The little girl tried to make herself smaller in the dark door frame.
“Sweetheart, you promised me!” the father told her sternly.
“I know, and I’m sorry! I just was scared, and I wanted to help!” she cried as tears started to roll down her pale face.
“Oh, my little angel, don’t cry!” the mother told her as she knelt and wiped tears from the little girl’s face. The mother turned to the father.
“I suppose she could help now. It’s almost done,” the father said reluctantly.
“Wait, help with what?” the teen said, fuzziness filling his head once again. It felt like he was drunk, and high, but a thousand times worse.
“Don’t worry. We’re not going to hurt you,” the mother reassured him. “We’re family, after all.”
The boy tried to stand, but his legs gave out.
“Love, I think it’s time,” the mother said to the father as she effortlessly caught him. The father nodded and swung the teen into his arms.
“Let’s go!” he told the two. “Let’s get this kiddo off to bed. It’s been a rough night for him.”
The procession made its way up the stairs: the father first, the mother second, and the little girl trailing joyfully behind. They opened the door to the black room and flicked on the light. A room covered in baseball and swimming trophies came into light, a guitar sat in the corner next to a beanbag covered in dust.
“Mommy, I’m gonna stay with him,” the little girl said as they gently placed the boy on the bed.
“Alright love. It’ll be good for him, you can help him in the morning,” the mother said as she pulled the sheets over the boy’s body.
“Goodnight darling, goodnight kiddo. See you in the morning,” the father said as he turned the light off once again. The mother joined him in the hallway and he swung the door shut with a bang.
“It’ll be okay. We’ve got you back now. You won’t leave like the ones before,” the little girl told him quietly. “All you have to do is wake up.”
Suddenly the boy sat bolt upright.
“Hush, calm. Don’t worry,” the little girl told him from her sitting position at the end of the bed.
“No! Get away from me!” He screamed and looked wildly for a way out. The little girl was in the way of the door so he broke for the window. His head felt like it was stuffed with cotton. He couldn’t tell why, but he was terrified. Frantically, he looked out, and saw a fence and an empty road. Nothing in sight.
“Let me go! Please! I need to get home,” he pleaded to the little girl who had not moved since.
Where’s home? He tried to remember, but he couldn’t.
“You’re home. Be calm. You’re my brother, and you are safe now.”
“Get away! Help! HELP!” he cried.
“No, you’re my brother. We’re a family,” she whispered.
“I’M NOT YOUR BROTHER!” he screamed at her, blackness once again filling his vision.
“Are you sure?” ♦