Saturday, February 13, 2010

2010 Ghost Hunting Theories Short Story Contest Winner!

Thanks for the entries to my first short story contest on my blog. I want to encourage everyone who wrote to continue to write actively and often. I opened this contest to encourage the ones I know out there who are closet writers or just starting out to take themselves seriously. I'm glad you made your submissions, it's obvious you all have a writing future ahead.

The winning entry is by Grim Wicked and if you love zombies stories, this is a must-read! Congrat's Grim! I forced the entries to be 500 words or less and this goes to show what a writer can do with so few words and still tell a riveting story.

I have chosen two honorable mentions to follow this story. Enjoy the reads! I really did! All three of you, feel free to use this for your writing resume.

Survivor’s Signal

The rains fell. Three days later everyone was dead.

The sky was a black ceiling that wept blood, clouds swelling in the distance drenching the fields at first, unpopulated areas where no one noticed and no one cared. There wasn’t a clue as to how it had started but there wasn’t anyone left to question it in the end.

The animals were our first sign. They could tell something was amiss, they always can. Days before the rains came coyotes and rats were seen emerging from their places of hidden refuge, fleeing the city in-mass like the Pied Piper had just sent calling. Then family pets disappeared. Dogs and cats loyal to their owners twisted from chains and tore through screen doors going the way of their wild brethren.

It was only when the squall swept the edges of urban areas did everything begin to change. News footage was a constant playback of the darkness fast approaching, from afar at first, then closer till it hovered over the roofs of skyscrapers. When the skies opened up over the city square panic ripped through rationale and the first wave of violence commenced.

On day one the screams began. The sound of a million people fleeing in the same direction. Horns roared their demands through gridlocked traffic and people wrapped in ponchos and trash bags fled on foot and bike; their worldly possessions carried in boxes and bags. Sirens of emergency responders raced toward the injured, their wail weaved with the cries of violence victims.

Store shelves were stripped of essentials. That’s when the fires and riots ignited. The city was a glowing ember of orange in a cauldron splattered red and soot in black. Above the clouds, day and night came and went with neither discernible to those on the ground.

The midnight hour brought the sounds of gunshots and thunder. By six the next morning, those that hadn’t escaped were either hiding or dead. The rain had stopped but the darkness remained. Gangs emerged with heavy artillery, police operations completely overrun. There was no one left to coordinate or control and by noon the city was at the mercy of the criminal element.

By eight at night a new threat emerged. The first twitch of life on a bare street came from the bodies of the dead. They stood like dark shadows behind the wavering light of pile fires, their eyes a mirror of reddish flame. They stood silent and unflinching, more vampiric ghosts than ghouls. They blended with the night from which they were born and snatched the living, dragging them toward the shadows where shriek s of terror became stillness. Through the city they roamed taking all they could find. By two a.m. the night’s warfare chorus dwindled to a pin-drop void.

On the third day the clouds broke, their pestilence carried elsewhere. Beneath the sun there was no city, just ruins, and only death called it home.

On the third day, the dead indeed travel fast.

HONORABLE MENTION: "The Mannequin in the Middle of the Road" by Courtney of Haunt Jaunts

When he'd almost hit the mannequin, Harry Jenson thought it'd be a good idea to get it out of the middle of the road. Besides, it'd make an unusual gift for his wife Nellie. So he stopped and put it in his trunk.

He hadn’t even gone a quarter of a mile when he heard the first thunk.

He looked in the rearview mirror. Another thunk.

"What the…?"

The banging grew more intense. Shivers assaulted him when he thought what it meant: the mannequin was banging to be let out.

He pulled over.

He half-expected (hoped) the banging would stop when the car did, but it didn’t. If anything, it grew even more intense. He was afraid if he looked in the rearview again he'd see the mannequin clawing through the upholstery desperate to get him.
Harry threw open the car door and leapt out.

Then he started laughing.

“Look at yourself! Afraid of an oversized doll!”

But Harry's laughter died when the banging grew so fierce the trunk thumped upwards from the force.

He looked around the dark and desolate road. He didn’t really want to free a mad mannequin and be stuck with it all alone in the middle of nowhere, but what other choice did he have?

“Um, hang on. I’ll let you out…if you promise not to hurt me.”

Harry shook his head. Had he really just said that? Was he really talking to a dummy?

Not a dummy. A mannequin. One that could move. But the banging stopped when he spoke. Maybe that was a good sign.

But what would happen when he opened the trunk? Would the mannequin climb out of its own accord? Harry didn’t think he could stand that. But if it didn’t, would he have to take it out himself? That alternative wasn't any better. The last thing he wanted to do was touch it again.

But he couldn’t stand there staring in fear at his car forever. He needed to get back on the road. He needed to get home.

Swallowing hard, he popped open the trunk.

Nothing happened. He looked inside. The mannequin wasn’t as he’d left it. It was on its back, its arms and legs raised as if it’d been kicking and pounding against the top of the trunk. Which of course it had.

But now it was just as stiff and unalive as it’d been when he first put it in his trunk. Harry moved quickly to get it out of his car.

“I’m sorry if I made you mad. I thought I was helping by getting you out of the road.”

After laying it none too delicately down, he slammed the trunk shut and sprinted to the driver’s side.

His foot fell hard on the accelerator when one last glance in the rearview revealed the mannequin rising, turning, and running after his car.

HONORABLE MENTION: "Haunted Alley" by Julie from Above the Norm

After years of renting, the Miller family bought a house. They found a 50 year old house in a nice neighborhood. It had two large pine trees in the front and large back yard with an alley behind the wood fence. The neighborhood had many kids for the Miller’s children to play with.

All the kids would love to play their favorite game, Ditchum’. The rules were that they could not go past the alley and just stay on their block. The Miller kids were told by the others that the alley was haunted. Some have witnessed seeing the ghost of an old man and a young woman. Both of their bodies were found in the alley and were murdered.

In the early 1960’s, Alice and her family lived in the house the Millers now own. Alice was in her teens, had long blonde hair, a slender build, and many plans for her future after high school. Alice had everything a girl could want but that was sadly about to come to an abrupt end.

One evening, Alice’s Mom asked her brother to empty the garbage. He was busy, so Alice volunteered to do it for him. The sun was just setting so it was just getting dark. She opened the back gate and walked a short distance to the trash cans. She heard a noise down the alley, told herself it was probably a cat, and then tossed the trash inside. Before she could turn around and dash back into her yard, she was grabbed from behind. Alice was dragged a short distance down the alley where she was strangled to death. An old man was dumpster diving in the alley tried to help but was murdered for his efforts. Alice was gone for a long time so her father went out in the alley to search for her. It took him only a few minutes to find her body and the old man’s a short distance away. The authorities figured that the old man killed her and then himself. Months after her death, the family moved and the real killer was caught.

Jane Miller did not believe in ghosts or anything having to do with the paranormal. She thought the ghost hunting shows were fake and silly. She told her kids that the other kids were just trying to scare them. One evening when Jane took the trash out, she saw a glow down the alley. She noticed that it looked like a young girl and she was smiling at her. Jane rubbed her eyes and looked again but she was still there. Jane noticed an old man digging through the trash and asked him if he saw the girl too. He just shook his head ‘yes’. Spooked and shaken, Jane quickly ran back in her yard and locked the gate behind her. What she didn’t realize was the old man was a ghost too.


  1. OMG! You forgot the link to my site, LOL! And congrats Autumn. Since you know what a geek I am you're the winner of my "Why I Dragged My Ass Outta Bed Early This Morning" contest. Yes, this means I am completely without coffee and my hair looks like the giant tsunami that hit Sri Lanka, so we'll see how convoluted this comment gets.

    Now for my Emmy moment: First I want to thank all who entered....Okay kidding. Wow, I don't know what to say other than this is cool. And thanks for the opportunity to write. Honestly, scratching 500 words wasn't as bad as I though it might be. These days the hard part isn't the writing that's the pain, it's the sitting my ass so so that I CAN write that is.

    And Courtney;

    How the hell did you know creepy-ass dolls were one of my worst fears??? If I ran into something like the thing in your story my mind would automatically think "FIREWOOD!" or "CHAINSAW!". The entire time I read your entry I kept seeing and thinking of that creepy doll autumn has and why oh why anyone would even keep it in their house, let alone touch one!!! You've heard of that freaky doll in the Florida museum haven't you??? Ah!!!!

    P.S. Thank god for spell check this morning.

  2. Geez, I proofed that comment 3 times before I hit "Publish" and only now do I see all the mistakes. I give up. Coffee beckons.

  3. Grim;
    Sit down and have a cup of coffee. I'd link to your site--but you've never given it to me so I figured it was a private site. If you'd like, I can edit it into the announcement. Yes, I know what you mean about taking the time to write. If I didn't have my laptop, nothing would ever get done because I need to be able to be in other places, like the backyard (it's in the mid to upper 70s here). Oh, and if you hate dolls--wait till you see my Halloween setup this year--they take over the house and possess it, a mannequin even answers the door....

  4. Ops, my bad. To stalk, er, I mean follow people online I usually just click their picture/icon or username but I'm easy. I'm half-way awake now.

    You can delete this if you want later. I feel overly self-promoted today and am getting quite self-conscious of it.

  5. Autumn, I know what you mean. My laptop has saved my ass more times than I can count (unless I forget it somehow or just don't feel like carrying it around). I have to admit at times it's easier to just write on a desktop some days over others though. Don't know why, I guess it's nostalgic at times, like the typewriter days (which I would love to get someday just to see what it's like to pen an entire story on one). But I still love my laptop and any other mobile device I can get my hands on these days. Without them, I'd never be able to talk to all you lovely people. And what's this Halloween thing you're thinking? I'd definitely make sure to steer clear of your street if I lived out there. Freak'n dolls.

    Happy V-Day!

  6. Hey Grim;
    Yeah, I took typing in high school on a typewriter. My uncle gave me a 1940s one that started my desire to type. In fact, right now I'm hoping to seriously take up some steampunk creating and one of the things I want is an old not working typewriter to use the parts. I love that kind of nostalgia. My first novel I did on a typewriter. It seens so funny now. I don't use my desktop for writing because I work from home and that's my work office with all the medical books and stuff around me so it makes me think of work and the left brain so I have to leave there to write. I'm building a creepy cemetery in a dark corner of my yard (will be covering that on my blog) and it will have a lantern so at nighttime I can light the lantern and sit on a lounge chair nearby with the laptop and some creepy music and write my heart out. Halloween plans... All my super souped up creepy baby dolls looking out all the front windows like they're peeking out and have taken over the house. When you walk up to the house, the garage door, I plan to project a giant movie of a creepy old-fashioned marionette puppet and then as you walk up the walkway towards the door, my goal is to get mannequins from a friend who works at a dept store (they throw them out--can you imagine?) Then, I'm going to wear a creepy 1950s belted dress and Mary Tyler Moore hair and a plastic mask that makes me look like a mannequin and move real stiffly as I hand out candy. The overall effect should be adequately scary. Last year, I did a beta testing of the dolls in the front window and the kids were so freaked out that they'd dare each other to ring the bell and they couldn't stop looking at the dolls-thinking they'd move. I hope to modify some more baby dolls with metal nuts and bolts and other modifications...

  7. Damn, I wish I had a typewriter. My grandma gave me one years ago but I never used it since one of the keys were busted and I could never find a ribbon for it. I really should go garage sailing this year and try and find one. Imagine if I did and it was haunted! Then it could write itself and my job would be halfway done. Speaking of vintage, you should seriously make some steampunk jewelry and sell it here.

    And hell no! You would never get me to go up to your house on Halloween! That sounds terrifying!!!! Can't wait to see the pictures though.

  8. Very good choice on the winner. Congrats to Grim, his story was so good. Courtney's gave me chills and got me fearing dolls even more, lol. Thanks for the honorable mention, I had a blast writing it. Also thanks for giving me and everyone else the chance to spread our writer's wings.
    ~Above the Norm~!

  9. Grim;
    You shouldn't have given me your weakness, I might have to send you a creepy doll some day just to scare you! Yeah, I've been meaning to transition from the medical transcription and write and do an Etsy shop. I'm hoping to make a lot more thematic wall hangings like the Ouija one and Steampunk jewelry. I have the advantage of being able to read the objects, so I can put together pieces that have an overpowering emotion attached to them. I believe anyone that put them on would feel it too. We're all psychic, some just get images and information rather than vague sensations. I also would love to do something with finding parts, amplifying their qualities with crystals associated with the same emotion, so a piece might be "serendipity" or "whimsy" and the stone could bring out the memories of the piece even stronger to make the wearer really feel that emotion strongly. Got lots of ideas, just need to prioritize. I will definitely keep every up-to-date on how it progresses.

    I enjoyed your story so much. I actually know I'm reading a piece that the author saw in their head because the visual on it becomes really distinct. If I pick it up and read it years later, I can see the same location in my head. Yours was definitely one of those pieces. It reminded me of a neighborhood in Scottsdale where they have the alleys behind them. Creeped me out! Please keep writing. The way you post on Above the Norm, I really would love to see you write a nonfiction too about ghostly places.

  10. Awesome. You all are such good writers. I'm so happy to read another great zombie story! I love flash fiction. It is perfect for my very short attentions span and it is a rare person who can write flash well.

  11. Thanks for the HM. I must say I sure don't envy you had to choose between Grim and Julie's...both were GREAT!

    Zombies...I should have known you'd go there, Grim! (I had a feeling you might even before you told me that's what you'd worked up.)

    Julie...LOVE the ghost story! PERFECT angle. And I had forgotten how much you like Dale! ;)

    I honestly didn't know you were freaked by dolls, Grim. Yes, I know Robert the Doll...he's on Twitter even! I'm so sending you that today....BwAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

    Fun contest, Autumnforest! THANKS for hosting it!

  12. Hey Courtney;
    I'm so glad you entered it. Your story was so chilling! I think I would have abandoned the car, myself. BTW--mannequins--uber creepy! I always dreamed when I was a teen of living in a huge old converted warehouse where it had an old freight elevator and a giant open room where I could rollerskate around my apartment and have tons of mannequins dressed up and be a window dresser and model for a living. A few years later, a movie with Diane Lane came out called "Lady Beware" and it was based on that exact plot! In fact, I should review that for the blog--that was an awesome stalker movie done when Diane was more voluptuous and cheeky.