Artwork by Timi Conley.
This year's scary story contest winners can be found here. Below, enjoy the rest of this year's entries.
Tiny House of Horrors
By Jim Baird
I’m an investigator for a community policing nonprofit we started after the watershed winter of 2017, after the November elections were queered by an unknown hacker that still lurks among us. Every electronic election system suddenly failed on Election Eve. Next day, long lines at polling stations eventually melted away, just as the coming winter’s ice and snow would have, but they failed to show up to certify the season.
The bitterly divided Supreme Court refused to even meet in the same room, or to listen to any election arguments, from the national to the local. The hopelessly turgid houses of Congress threw up their hands in adjournment, so the debate commission decided the Presidential race. They at least had a Twitter tally, unconfirmed, that awarded the office on an interim basis to Ronald Comberover, who declared, as his first official act, the cancellation of all rules and regulations anywhere and everywhere along with the immediate firing of all government employees.
In the middle of the winter the same hacker deleted the internet. The attack fell with a heavier thud than the drop of any second shoe, a crippling blow that foresaw the rapid collapse of every level of authority along with the whole financial system.
With the very same keystroke, the hacker managed to precipitate all the money that resides in the internet cloud and convert it to hard cash. From towering clouds there rained, swirling, hour after hour, every denomination of crisp, unfolded currency. With a new kind of marketplace magic the money fluttered down, borne by capricious breezes, into the direst pockets of destitution, displacement, dislocation, and detriment, so that suddenly the have-nots became their opposites, their pockets all stuffed with grinning Benjamins.
Suddenly the new cash economy was pushed along by the shoeless, the shirtless, the toothless and worse, most of whom had long fantasized about tiny houses as romanticized by popular TV shows.
I’m headed for Tinyville, a former homeless camp turned trendy location down by the Oconee River where the tiny-house boom is mushrooming. Complaints have been sprouting thickly about one of its residents.
The suspect I seek has been upsetting his neighbors with curious ceremonies he conducts in his yard, and by the oaths and rants he issues from the massive bed in his tiny lair, where he spends much of his time with a laptop, the door and windows open. His grunts, belches and farts can be heard all through the tiny ’hood.
He’s told neighbors that he has “come out,” that years before, in the delirium of a fever dream, he’d signed up to work as an agent for the secret kingdoms of the night world, a realm of magic, of unknowable places and hidden spaces.
He’s told them that nights, when humans sleep, the little ones sing and laugh as they do the real work of the day, and they joke about humans’ foolish use of daylight hours. The work they do, he says, is beyond human understanding, and by the end of every night, when the first rays of dawn light steal across the land, scores, nay hundreds, of scurrying night creatures who are touched by those rays transform into little sticks and twigs, to be raked and piled and burned in mass funeral pyres by sleepy humans keeping their ideas of order.
He’s hinted that same light might begin to affect select humans that way some day. I’ve heard that elected officials have begun mysteriously disappear daily, from the highest level to the lowest.
The tiny house he keeps squats on a knoll above the whole tiny complex. In front of his house a fire ring holds mounds of little twigs and sticks. In wider circles stand more stick mounds.
They say he lights a new pyre every night, but every day there are just as many mounds as the day before.
His door swings wide in reply to my knock. His sheer size shocks the senses, as he must weigh 400 pounds. He gestures from his bedstead toward an odd little door on an outside wall. A closet, he says, where I will find what I want, and when I pull on the knob the door hinges squeak. Then they shriek, and I pitch forward, toward faint rays of far away light. The falling feeling gives way to one of floating, then one of flying, and I’m free.
By Jay Barnes
“Alex… Alex! Wake up, man!”
I started, and a filament of drool disconnected from my lower lip and landed on my lap. Steve was standing over me, holding a cup of what smelled like some freshly brewed Joe's.
“Drink this. It's the new Creature Comforts, Georgia Theatre, Downtown Parking Authority Boot-Me Blend. With hazelnut creamer.”
Did I… Yes, I did say hazelnut. “Thanks, Steve. What brings you here?”
Steve grinned. “Don't you remember, amigo? You asked me to help inspire you, get you feeling creative. Farm your brain for ideas.”
My waking mind was still cloudy; I tried to recall the dream I was having, but it was fading quickly. I had been fleeing someone, or something—
“Alex! Focus, man! Drink your coffee. Now, are you ready to write?”
Oh, writing; right. That was why I had asked Steve over here… right? Where was 'here,' anyway? This wasn't my place. Looked like one of those no-tells off of Atlanta Highway or 441. No wonder I had fallen asleep, it was so dim in here. Besides a crooked wall lamp, the only light came from my laptop, showing a dutifully blinking cursor in the top left of a blank document. The little light revealed faded wallpaper and stained carpeting.
“Yeah, writing. I asked you over here… for…”
“Dude! The annual Halloween Short Story contest? Sponsored by only the most prestigious and highly acclaimed alt-weekly in the world, renowned for its in-depth local reporting, political exposés and opinion pieces. Also, excellent restaurant reviews.” I got the impression that Steve hoped he wasn't laying it on too thick. He jiggled my wireless mouse to awaken the laptop, which had powered down.
I still couldn't remember. Yes, a scary story contest… entered many times over the years… never even made Honorable Mention… this would be my year… with Steve's help…
“So… a Halloween story?”
Steve hopped on the bed, perfectly reclined. “You had writer's block, remember? Said we could work out some scary ideas together.”
“Yes,” I replied, taking a sip of coffee. It was really sweet, even given my favorite creamer, hazelnut. I know all the baristas around town; maybe since Steve had gotten it for me, someone had overloaded it. “Here's what I have so far,” I said, reaching for a hastily scrawled list. “Killer clowns invade the University and scare millennials.”
“Brraaap, wrong! Too current. Besides, Stephen King did It years ago.”
“No clowns. OK: a satellite releases radiation over Five Points, reanimating the corpses of recently deceased hipsters, who return to feast on the flesh—”
“You'd get calls from lawyers in 49 states, even if the first one is public domain. Try again.”
My list wasn't that long. “The Dawgs get a new head coach, who is secretly an agent for the Reptilians—”
“There are about a million videos online.”
He snickered. “I don't internet. What else?”
“Frathouse flambé? Sorority Slasher?”
“See: every horror flick from the ’80s. C'mon, Alex—you're more creative than this. I can feel it.”
The laptop screen had gone out again; it was too dark in here without it. I still couldn't remember what motel we were in. That thought seemed to get my mind working, though…
“All right, bear with me here… might get a little meta… Some poor writer is in the same boat as me, trying to come up with something good. Writer's block it ain't; it's writer's total amnesia.”
Out of the corner of my eye, Steve seemed to… flicker? “Good. Keep going, Alex.”
I sipped my coffee. “So, he meets up with who he thinks is an old friend, who helps with this awesome story, but it turns out that the friend is a demon or psychic vampire or something, feeding off of his creative psychic energy.”
For a split second, Steve wasn't there. There was just—emptiness—where he was sitting.
“Dude! Get with the times. I identify with the term, non-corporeal manifestation. Good idea, though also done by Stephen King. Drink your coffee.”
I took a big drink, and began to relax again. Steve was my friend, he had always been my friend. He would help me win. Staring at the blank page on my laptop, I began to think.“Ciné shows nothing but the Twilight saga—both screens—in an endless marathon, and some poor schlub is forced to watch for eternity.”
Steve licked his lips. “Now that's scary! C'mon, let's keep brainfarming. We're close.”
By Aesa Benton (grade 5)
What if demented animatronics lived in a giant mansion and attacked you? Well, that's what happened to me. My name is Kennedy Dolan. I live near Jolly Lane, where my friend Aesa lives. I was lost, trapped in the woods. On that particular October night, I found myself deep in the woods near the botanical gardens in Athens, taking a shortcut to my friend’s house. There was a big storm, so I was trying to seek shelter. In the distance I saw a big, abandoned mansion. Although I had noticed this dilapidated mansion many times on my way to my friend’s house, this time I bolted towards it and in relief, I opened the big wooden door. At the back of the door I suddenly glanced at something on the ground. It was a sticky note that said “welcome” on it. I shrugged it off and walked away.
I entered what seemed to be a fancy bedroom. I saw there was a window. I peeked at the window, and saw a figure in the distance. I could vaguely see that it had four dangly limbs. One hand looked like it was a drill head, another looked like a claw. That freaked me out, so I closed the big window. I ran away from the room and dashed up the wooden stairs, then I saw what looked like a mechanical beast. The beast had glove like hands and a gigantic mouth. I saw a switch on its back, so I pressed it. Then it noticed me with its devilish glaring eyes. It turned around to show off its hideous face. It had shark-like teeth and a top hat that was made up of what looked like rotting flesh. The look of it sent chills down my spine.
This animatronic beast started stomping uncontrollably towards me. It said, “I WiLl rIp YoUr SpInE oUt!”
Then I said, “WHAT ARE YOU?!” Then he angrily roared at me. He was bolting straight for me. I shouted in shock, “Nope, nope, SO MUCH NOPE!” and then I headed to what seemed to be a basement. The lights were flickering on and off nonstop! There were spare parts of the same robot I had seen earlier. I picked one up out of curiosity. The beast head directly looked at me. I slammed the spare part down, and shouted “AGHHH!”
I then saw another animatronic beast from the window. He crawled out of an air vent, and suddenly he was in there with me. I fled as fast as I could, but he grabbed at me with his massive claw. I tore the claw off his arm. I found a massive machete on the ground. I picked it up and threw it straight for his head. The machete was stuck in his cybernetic eye. I timidly went up to him, then roundhouse kicked him in the face. I tried to pull out the machete and gouged his eye out. He shrieked in pain, and then ran away.
I suddenly said, “YES! Now’s my chance!” I fled as fast as I could out of the mansion. I pulled out a lighter and tried to burn the entire mansion down to rid Athens of these mechanical beasts. Next, I ran as fast as I could back to my house and called Aesa on the phone to tell my friend what had happened. Aesa said, “Yo, dude. That is insane! That kind of makes me think about Five Nights at Freddy’s.”
Well, that's the story of how I almost got killed by murderous mechanical beasts one stormy night in the deep dark night in Athens, GA. Welp, I’m out!
(BTW, I don’t own the FNAF franchise! Scott Cawthon does! Thanks Scott, for all those awesome, terrifying games!)
The Final Stretch
By J. Bielli
Lonnie had had the same dream a million times. Everyone had. The one where you’re in a rush to show up to graduation to give the valedictorian speech and realize at the last minute as you stand clutching the podium, your lips to the microphone, not only are you late and unprepared, but you are totally naked. As the warm rush of panic sprouts from your guts and takes all the blood with it as it surges to your head, enveloping all the blood vessels and nerve endings there, you’re overcome by a feeling that you might faint, your vision failing and gravity pulling you down, until you wake with a start, your sweaty face smashed into your dank pillow, holding on for dear life and realizing you are no longer in dreamland and no longer naked.
Lonnie had suffered the same scenario in high school before the impending prom, though she was never naked in front of her date; instead, she was naked in front of her parents and desperately trying to explain that there was no “funny business” going on. But now she was in college, a senior at the University of Georgia in Athens, majoring in English literature and minoring in intense anxiety, if you could call it minor. Her stress level was at an all-time high, and she worried that she would even make it to graduation. She worried she wouldn’t find a job, that she wouldn’t like teaching, that she wouldn’t fall in love, get married, settle down and have kids. She worried that she would adopt more cats in addition to the four that she already had, her ex-boyfriend referring to this as a Big Red Flag.
But she knew her fears were unfounded. She knew she would graduate—at the top of her class, no less. She had several job prospects lined up in cities of her choosing. She had confidence in herself and knew that love and marriage, and perhaps children when she was ready, would come later. And actually, she didn’t care if she did become a creepy old cat lady. She liked cats.
Because of this, she was able to brush off the incessant naked-graduation dreams, until they stopped. Rather abruptly, right at the beginning of her final semester. She felt strangely calm, as if heading into the final stretch, she knew she was home-free. She could literally slide by with barely passing grades in all her classes and still graduate. She knew she would never allow that to happen, but she found comfort in taking the pressure off a little bit. Maybe she would skip a class or two, go to the lake, get drunk at noon. Maybe.
That was, until she was introduced to Professor Dyer’s class. His was a beast. She had always sailed by in her creative writing classes, accumulating kudos from her awed instructors. Dyer was different. He stared right through her, unimpressed by her beauty, ambition and amiability. He graded her work with a scalding red pen that practically sliced through the paper. She went to see him in his office to try and understand why.
“You have to find a style that suits you. One you can make your own,” he told her as he drummed his fingers on his desk, his wiry gray hair peeking out from beneath a tilted fedora. Lonnie’s lower lip was quivering, and she was trying not to cry. She had worked so hard and come so far, but was he really going to fail her?
The professor slid his glasses off his nose and leaned in toward her. He looked at her intently, his eyes taking her in from the bottom up. She shivered. This guy was old enough to be her grandfather. “But Professor Dyer…” she pleaded, her eyes glossy with tears. “Shhh,” he said as he held a finger up to her lips. Was that turpentine? She didn’t notice the handkerchief in his other hand, or if she had, she probably wouldn’t have found it strange as it fit his character, as much as if he had pulled out a pipe. He inhaled her scent as he whispered, “You have so much potential.”
He knew the shoes wouldn’t fit, but the lipstick was just the right shade. Her supple skin slid over his own as he embraced the elasticity of youth he had long ago lost, and he smiled to himself in the mirror beneath her blond bangs.
By Kevin Brisbin
Walking along the second floor. Autographed photos line the walls. I lay my hands upon the smooth, wooden railing. I marvel at the chandelier hanging over the lobby.
This is my chance. A chance I would wait forever for.
I don’t belong here.
I’m such a plain girl. Only good at waiting tables. Who, just today, really tried to learn how to walk in heels. Needed to borrow my aunt’s jewelry and a few bucks from coworkers for my ticket.
I watch the row of glass doors. A mixture of fear and excitement hits me every time a man enters.
None of them is Adam.
I’ve been his waitress for almost a year now. He lives near the restaurant. He stops in for lunch any day he doesn’t have a class or work.
Since his first visit I’ve traded with everybody to have his table.
He’s studying to be a doctor. Bright blue eyes. Dark brown hair. Leading up to exams, he forgets to shave and has the hottest five o’clock shadow.
I wish I was impressive in some way. He tells me I should go back to school. I smile, “someday.”
Truth is, I barely graduated from high school. Poor grades; no money; no clue what to major in. College would be a disaster for me.
Adam hasn’t been in for a couple of weeks. The last time we talked, he was devastated over his GPA. I need to see him again. I want to tell him how great he is. How he’s made me want more out of my life. Instead of just getting through the day.
He had told me how excited he was about seeing this concert at the Performing Arts Center. I decided I would get a ticket and come too.
I wonder if he’ll recognize me. Hair done up. All the makeup, jewelry and wearing my best dress. I feel different.
I’m gonna walk right up to Adam and say, “Please don’t worry over your grades so much. I think you’re the greatest person I’ve ever met. I have faith in you.”
I won’t say all that. It’ll probably freak him out. Maybe just, “I have faith in you.”
I need a cigarette.
I move past people. None of them give me a glance. Wish I wasn’t surprised. I’m a plain girl, no matter what I’m wearing.
It’s a tobacco-free campus. I find a good place I won’t be seen and can still see the entrance. I exhale the first drag. Someone is behind me. I freeze.
“Don’t turn around,” a man’s voice demands.
Out of instinct, I do the opposite.
The man looks surprised. Then mad. He comes at me.
Pain in my stomach.
I look down. He pulls a knife away.
I want to scream.
He lunges again.
Pain in my chest this time.
I’m on the ground. I don’t really feel anything, but I know I am on the ground.
He takes the jewelry and my purse.
I can hear him running away.
I stare at the sky. The stars are beautiful. I wonder if Adam stargazes.
Walking along the second floor. Autographed photos line the walls. I lay my hands upon the smooth wooden railing. I marvel at the chandelier hanging over the lobby.
This is my chance. A chance I would wait forever for…
Last One Standing
By Mark Bromberg
It was a dark and stormy night at the Wild Rumpus.
An Apparition materialized in the crowd waiting to march in the parade. He wasn’t dressed as a Trumpkin, or a Hillarybot, not even a Jillenstein monster.
“Dude, what are you supposed to be? one guy asked.
“I’m from the future two weeks from now,” the Apparition said. “And I know who wins the election—”
“Oh, man, not tonight. I’m burned out from all the weird stuff. I just want to have a few beers and hang out, K?” He turned and walked away looking for a brew.
The Apparition sighed. “No vote. Burned out… another one for the Brimstone Party,” he smiled. “Quite a trend.”
It went like this for 30 minutes, and the best answer the Apparition could get was a wobbly “um… the lesser of two evils?” reply, even though no one could agree exactly what that might be.
The Apparition put those answers in the Haven’t Done My Homework column. “Excellent,” the Apparition smiled to himself. “Well done.”
Tuesday, Nov. 8 came, dark and stormy. The Apparition was at all the polling places, but never said a word—he obeyed all the legal rules about electioneering. Yet people passed by and for their own reasons decided they were too busy, or it was raining too hard, or the kids in the car were too hungry, for anyone to stop and vote, even for the lesser of two evils.
So when the votes were counted, the country discovered the Apparition had won in a landslide.
And his running mate, Apathy, true to his name, never had to lift a finger.
The Vegan Sandwich Maker
By Phyl Campbell
As I watched Claudette, I could imagine her cooking beside her father, back when Etienne’s was new to Athens. Etienne’s was closed now—except for a few parties whose reservations were being honored. Claudette hadn’t taken the closing well, but threw herself into honoring the few remaining diners with new culinary experiences.
She took a freshly baked loaf from the oven and began slicing. “It’s a shame your type is the skinny girl, no?” Claudette nearly shouted over the grinder so she could be heard. “She cannot keep you warm at night. She cannot be soft to hold.”
I really wasn’t in any position to argue, so I didn’t. I was bound and gagged. Probably drugged, too, though shock was not out of the realm of possibility. Where was Lindsay? She was supposed to meet me here to get her last paycheck before we went to dinner at this salad bar she’d been dying to try.
My arrival must have taken Claudette by surprise. She whacked me in the back of the head and I woke up at the table. I couldn’t tell what time it was. I was worried, but Claudette had always had a soft spot for me—or so I hoped I had not imagined.
Claudette shredded a head of lettuce next. Then she sliced a tomato, juices barely escaping the skin as she wielded her knife around the luscious red fruit.
“All those vegans working at my father’s restaurant. Turning up their noses at my father’s food! How can anyone resist this?” She gestured to delicacies in front of her.
My mouth watered. Everything Claudette prepared smelled good to me.
“When the customers ask what is good,” Claudette ranted, “the waitress is supposed to say ‘EVERYTHING!’ She is not supposed to say—here Claudette pretended to flip her hair and made her voice into a pretty good imitation of Lindsay and the other waitresses—‘I don’t know. I don’t really eat the food here.’” In her regular voice, volume rising, she ranted, “You work in a restaurant, you love to eat the food! You love to drink the wine! YOU! LOVE! IT! ALL!”
I could really use some wine. But I just nodded and let Claudette rant. Not that I had much choice.
“But no! Stupid girls. And they—they ate my FOOD’s food!”
I nodded. I tried to look sympathetic. I’m not sure if it worked.
“I made steak tartare. They wanted something more simple. So I prepared friand foie gras—the most delicious duck pasty—and they turned it down. FOR TOFU BURGERS! My father turns over in his grave, you know?!”
Wouldn’t duck taste like chicken? I’ve never actually tried it before, and I could see Lindsay turning up her nose. Steak, however, always sounded good.
Claudette went back to sandwich preparations. “I need cheese. But what kind? Cheddar? Brie? Oh, how silly of me. I’ll have American on my vegan sandwich.”
Surely Claudette Etienne understood that cheese was not vegan, but I didn't dare correct her. I couldn't anyway.
My stomach rumbled.
“Oh, but where are my manners? Try this: friand foie gras." She removed my gag and fed me. “Bon appetite!”
I swallowed the roasted duck pasty gratefully and smiled at her. “It’s good.”
“Of course it’s good. I’m Claudette Etienne, no? I know food!”
The grinder started to gurgle. Claudette turned to it and clapped her hands with delight as finely ground red meat coiled out and into a bowl.
“What’s that?” I dared to ask.
“It’s vegan.” She sank her fingers into the sausage like it was therapeutic clay and sighed contentedly.
I’m no chef, but it didn’t look like tofu. Maybe bean paste?
She scooped a ball of vegan into her hand, formed a patty, and then slapped it onto a sizzling burner. She lightly seared each side, then placed the patty on her freshly baked bread. She added cheese, lettuce and tomato.
“For you, mon pere.” She took a bite of her vegan sandwich. Red juice dribbled down her chin, but it wasn’t from the tomato.
The next thing I knew, Claudette spat out the food, threw down the sandwich in her hand, and ran to the fridge. She grabbed a bottle of cheap wine, popped the cork, and gulped deeply. Then, she gargled another large swallow and spat into the sink. “That wasn’t vegan! She said she was vegan!”
I guess I knew what happened to Lindsay.
The West End Ghost
By Kathy Carter
This a true ghost story that I witnessed a few years ago. My husband and I had just moved to Athens about six years ago and settled into a four-unit complex in a very nice, quiet neighborhood. I have always been aware of the presence of spirits since I was a young girl. I guess the term is “sensitive.” In fact my first experience was when I was 7 years old and saw a head of a man sitting on the top of my bedroom door.
After the moving van arrived, we decided to unpack a few boxes. Seeing that it was getting late and we were very tired, we went to bed. As I was settling in bed and turning over on my right side, I saw a black figure standing near me. Being so tired, I told the shadow figure to leave me alone, that I was too tired to be bothered with.
A few months later, odd occurrences started to happen. One morning while I was drying my hair upstairs, I heard a crash downstairs. I went down and searched and ended up in the kitchen where I saw my husband’s coffee cup just sitting on the floor, not a scratch or chip on it. Then I heard my hair dryer upstairs. I went up, and sure enough, it was on. I could not turn it off; when I tried, it would turn on again. Then the water in the sink turned on by itself. Well, enough was enough, and I shouted to stop! Everything went back to normal.
Months later I would hear bangs—very loud bangs—mostly upstairs. Then coming down the stairs one morning I thought I had tripped; trying to get up, it felt like someone was holding my ankle.
A year later the handyman of the property was renovating one of the empty units. I had heard from a neighbor that a man had unfortunately ended his life in the end unit. Hearing this and being very curious, I did some research on the internet and found the story to be true. Knowing this, I asked the handyman if I could enter that unit and do a sweep of the area, and he agreed. He knew I was interested in the paranormal. I grabbed one of my ghost tools—an electromagnetic field device. it measures unusual electrical spikes. I am familiar with this device because I did some investigations in New Mexico and New England with great results.
I entered the unit and went right away to sweeping the rooms, and one room, the living room, had high EMF spikes. I worked my way up the stairs to the top rooms. I found nothing out of the ordinary. While I was getting ready to descend the stairs, I felt a tug on my shirt collar. I was not scared, just taken a back a little. Then I said, “I know you are here.” I told the handyman what happened, and he just smiled at me. A very odd thing is that males that stayed in that unit never stayed very long.
Another strange thing happened. When I happened to look out the back door one evening, I saw a black figure carrying what seemed like a round cylinder. We had security lights in the back, and I should have been able to see features, but I could not see anything. Just a figure in black. Then, poof, he was gone!
So, the dark figure I saw the first night, the presence I felt and the figure outside—are they one and the same? I will never know.
By Celia Cerbone (age 11)
As I walk home to my dorm from the Ramsey Center after watching the UGA volleyball team, all I can think about is my friend that went missing, Savannah. She disappeared a month ago. As I am thinking about her, my eye catches the sign for the Georgia Museum of Art. I suddenly become interested in going. I’ve never been to the museum, but you can’t blame me; it is my first year here.
As I walk into the museum, the only thing I see is this painting of a naked lady. She is lying down on her stomach, her head is resting in her arms, she is lying naked, she is laying down on a greenish bed, her eyes are staring at the viewers like she is trying to figure them out, her ankles are hanging off the bed and they are crossed, she is tan, short brown hair, she looks very calm and peaceful, she takes up about 5-and-a-half feet, and the lights are shining on this painting. The only thing I can think about is it is staring back at me. I start feeling weird like I’m trapped in a room where no one can hear me, or escape. I want to get out of here but I can’t; it’s like I’m entranced by this painting. Finally, the person who worked there announced the museum was closing. I was forced to leave, but something was telling me that the naked lady’s eyes were following me out.
Between classes my friends invited me to the restaurant called The Grill, but something was telling me I had to visit the painting. When I walked in the museum nobody else was in the gallery where the painting hangs. Time just stood still as the painting and I stared at each other. Soon I could have sworn the painting’s eyes flickered. That didn’t cause me to leave. As I wake up the next day it is 10 a.m. My roommate has already left! I take my shower, brush my teeth and got dressed. When I got to school I already missed my first class. The day went by really fast, and I had to research a project in the library. When I finished researching, I didn’t want to, but I felt like I had to go visit her. As I walk in the gallery where she hangs I did the same thing I did last night. Just stare! When they announced the museum was closing in five minutes I couldn’t control myself anymore. I hid in the bathroom till all staff members left the museum. Finally, I was alone in the museum with all the paintings especially the naked lady. It was dark, and I got chills down my spine. My pulse was beating so hard I think that is what made the painting shake! After that, it is a blur. The next morning the guard found my body naked and under the painting dead! But I wasn’t alone; there were thousands of other girls. These were the girls that went missing. This painting would draw these girls in. I saw Savannah. She was one of those girls too.
By Cassandra Collins
It had been a long double shift at St. Mary’s Hospital, but getting off at 9 p.m. was great, especially on a Saturday night. I decided to go to Insomnia Cookies to get my favorite snack. Driving down Clayton seemed more empty than usual. The students were back for the semester and the streets were practically empty. Once I got closer all I could think was if there will be anywhere to park, but there were plenty of spaces. My lucky day. The fall weather was giving nice cool breezes. I wasn’t even in the shop yet and could smell the sweets in the air.
Once inside I go to the register and place my order with the only clerk in sight. “Hi. How may I help you?” she asks with a smile.
“Two peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies please, and milk.”
She gets my order and I proceed to pay her. “Thank you,” I state and take my treat and sit down at the counter to eat. I can’t help but notice a guy in a heavy coat standing outside across the street just staring at the cookie shop. I couldn’t make out his face because of his hood but it was a little strange. I shrug it off and continue to eat and drink.
I look up again and see that the guy was closer and was in the street. I think that he should move before a car comes by and hit him, but there’s nothing. No vehicles, no people, no cops, nothing. I try to make small talk with the clerk. “It’s getting chilly out there, isn’t it?”
She only smiles at me then looks down at the register. I think how odd she is and then my attention turns back to the street to see if the guy is still there, and sure enough he was, except this time he was even closer, right outside the shop. I watch as he produces a thick black club from his coat and starts to make his way to the door. I am surprised but not stupid, and run to the door to lock it. He tries to open it to no avail. He then begins to bash at the glass with the club and I back up. “Call the police!” I yell out to the clerk, but she just stands there still smiling and then looks back down.
I reach in my pocket for my cell but I forgot I had been listening to Pandora so I left it in my car. I run behind the counter thinking that she would react, but nothing. I go for the phone by a shelf, but there was no dial tone. I go back to the front and see the guy still hitting the glass so I grab a broom and snap the bristle part off with my foot; that way I have some type of makeshift weapon.
Suddenly I hear the glass shatter and the guy is in. The clerk hasn’t moved and I’m there face to face with a mad man. He swings and misses me as I accidentally slip while dodging him and hit the floor. I’m hit in the back and can feel the pain radiate through my body. I turn over and brace myself for another hit and close my eyes and start screaming. Suddenly I feel hands jostling me and someone yelling “Ma’am!”
I move my arms and see that it’s the clerk and she’s assisting me off the floor. “Are you OK?” she asks.
I look around in shock and expect to see glass on the floor and a maniac ready to kill us. “Where’s the guy?” I ask.
“What guy?” she says. “You got your order and fell asleep midway through eating. You were stirring quite a bit in your sleep. When you fell on the floor that’s when I knew I had to check on you. I thought you were drunk from the Georgia game.”
I shake my head and compose myself. “I’ve been awake too long. Thanks.”
“Sure,” she says.
I walk out so sure everything was real but I was dreaming. I laugh it off while getting in my car and start to driving towards Broad Street. When I get to the light by the BB&T, I look to my passenger seat and see a large black club lying there. Then I look up and see the faceless guy in my rearview mirror.
By Ben Credle
"Last song, guys. We've got to shut it down so you can get off the streets before the curfew."
Scattered booing filled the tiny venue at The World Famous, but the singer continued, "Hey, it looks bad for us if our fans get killed by the wolf thing." The boos were drowned out when the drummer started. My phone said 11:15.
"Finish this for me," Kristy said, handing me the drink I'd just bought her. I drained the deliciously complicated Earl Greyhound while I watched Kristy dance. Squirrel Fight sounded pretty good, but she was fantastic. Wavy red hair, skintight hoodie and an inappropriately short plaid skirt. An odd combination, but I had no complaints.
The chill hit us when we got outside. The streets were weirdly empty for a Friday night. But with three girls murdered in a month, nobody was taking chances.
"Do you have any cash I can borrow? Yvonne's coming over to cut my hair tomorrow, and she likes to be paid cash."
I reached for my wallet, already knowing the answer: I had $4. "We can go to the ATM by Caledonia."
"That one? Let's just hit the one in the parking deck," she said, pulling my hand.
The one in the deck charges fees. But I decided that worrying over $1.50 was not my sexiest quality. "Fine."
"Thanks babe, you're the sweetest."
The ATM in the lobby of the deck was out of order, because of course it was. "Want to hit the one at Caledonia now? We've still got," I eyed my phone, "10 minutes. We can make it."
"Forget it; she can take a check. It's cold out there, and you're warm in here." She ran her hands under my shirt, the crimson nails lightly clawing my back. I reached for her, but she scampered through the door into the deck itself. I followed her into the silent dimness. The low angle lighting elongated my shadow across a few forsaken cars. It made surreal jagged movements as I looked for Kristy.
"Back here," came her whisper, followed by a little giggle that echoed into the gray and black expanse. How much had she had to drink? I followed the sound around a lifeless concrete column, to a sheltered corner. She leaned against the wall, laughing and inching her skirt up teasingly. Well, if you're going to be out after curfew, there was no better reason.
I moved to her, and kissed her red lips, my hand working downward. She sighed, but I heard something deeper. Heavy breathing that was almost a growl. Maybe it was just an odd echo, but motion in my peripheral vision stopped me.
Coming out of the blackness 15 feet away was a huge shape, like a giant, stooping man lurching toward us. I turned to face it and swept Kristy behind me. As it moved into the yellow light, I could make out a thick neck, a long snout and pointy ears. The arms were manlike and impossibly muscled, hands ending in glinting claws. It edged sideways, trying to cut off our escape. I moved the same way, pushing Kristy so I stayed between her and it.
"Run!" I yelled, shoving her. She did, her heels making clacking sounds that echoed across the concrete.
As I turned to follow, claws caught my shoulder and spun me hard into the wall. I bounced and fell face-down on the ground. The thing leapt onto my back, and claws raked through my shirt, all the way down my spine, gouging skin and grating across bone, then tearing at my pants, ripping the fabric. Then the attack stopped, but I still couldn't move, pinned under the heaving weight.
A low voice like a shovel digging gravel said, "You lying bitch, you said he'd have money!"
Twisting back, I saw a slobbering face above me, grotesque but human, wearing a kid's werewolf mask tied to the top of his head. Metal claws were strapped to the backs of his enormous hands, one of which held my wallet. His gaze was on something in front of me. I turned and saw Kristy standing there, arms crossed.
"His phone's worth 400 easy," she said. "If you don't crush it."
The clawed hand formed a fist and crashed down on the back of my skull, grinding my face into the gritty concrete. As consciousness was torn away from me, I heard the rockslide of a voice answer, "Whatever you say, Red."
By Zack Easley (grade 5)
One spooky, foggy and dark Halloween night there was a boy whose name was Alan. Alan was at the yearly haunted house held at Lay Park in Athens, GA. Alan was so excited to experience the haunted house. He had heard all about how scary it was, and so Alan and his two best friends, Brian and Wilburt, headed to the Spook House.
The boys bought their tickets and entered the haunted house.
When the boys reached the middle part, they noticed they were the only people there. They realized that they had closed the haunted house. They tried to leave, but all the doors were locked. They were trapped! Suddenly, an old man with green eyes and sharp nails came out of the shadows and told Alan and his friends a story about a cyclops. He told the boys that the cyclops goes around abducting kids on Halloween night. Alan and his friends were terrified. All of the sudden, they heard a scratching sound and then saw something moving around in the dark. Without warning, a monster popped out. It was the cyclops! The cyclops had one green eye, a body bag, a suitcase and some weird looking hands. He was huge, something like 10 feet. The man that told them the story disappeared.
The cyclops had a trumpet and played it and more cyclops came from the dark and took every person at the haunted house that night. All the cyclops looked the same, but they were taller than the first cyclops. When the cyclops took the boys they busted right through the wall and ran off into some fog. When there parents found out they were sad and they said,
“Now we have no one left to play with and now we are so lonely.”
After that night the cyclops returned and took every person in the entire world! Now that the cyclops has no one left to take, a man stood up and tried to stand up to the cyclops and got crushed. One week later the cyclops died of old age.
Did you ever think that a cyclops could die? Because if you did, you were right, they can. Now that cyclops are extinct, there are giants that take kids now, and giants can’t die, which is not a good thing.
Don’t look out your window tonight or you might see a giant man standing outside looking at you. Happy Halloween, and try not to freak out when I tell you a secret at the end. For now here are some details about the cyclops. The cyclops was about 10 feet tall with one green eye in his forehead and only wore what looked like a skirt and has razor sharp teeth and looks like a giant vampire.
By the way, I’m the cyclops. Look out for me on Halloween night. I will be standing outside your window, so be aware of your surroundings or you will end up like Alan and his friends. See you on Halloween!!! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
By Roy Felts
One more snooze. Doesn’t really matter. Just get ready really quick today. Tomorrow I’ll get up early. Tomorrow, a new me!! Get up early, exercise, eat breakfast early, and get to work early. Won’t that surprise everyone, “Lazy G” getting to work early. Wake up early tomorrow and everything will be new and perfect. Then I’ll be fit, and meet someone and be perfect
Nobody would notice if I skipped work today. They will fire me anyway; everyone books online. My boss thinks I’m wasting time on social media, but if MyAthens would just choose one Instagram then it’ll all be perfect. UGG, doing all their social media for free, answering the phone is so stupid. I’m at a dead end, dead place, dead, dead, dead. No talent, no love, no future, no no no no
I’m just staying here. Stay-crash-shack. Why did I say I was shacking? Maybe no one noticed. I meant to say crash, not shack. They didn’t notice. Such an idiot. Crash/Shack/Crash/Shack/Crash/Shack/Crash/Shack/Crash/Shack/
When was that? Well that’s when my truck died, and I got my Saturn with the leaky window. Six years with a leaky window. But now the Honda is great, but I really need to vacuum it out. What if I go on a date and my car is all gross and gross? They’ll think I’m gross and we won’t go out again. I know, I’ll treat “Acorn” to a spa day. I won a car wash at bingo last time. Has it expired? Will Bulldog Carwash still take it? I’m so stupid, it has expired, just like everything. I’ve wasted everything
Where’s Benny? Benny always sleeps with me. What if she’s in the kitchen sick? Or Dead? Why didn’t I take Benny to the Vet School like I said I would. Benny Benny Benny Benny Benny Benny Benny Benny Benny Benny. You always sleep with me, except when I’m lazy and don’t take you outside at night. Don’t be dead Benny, I promise we’ll go to Memorial Park this weekend and I’ll love on you and we’ll play rope-rope. Don’t be dead Benny, I’m sorry Benny.
SO HUNGRY. Can I still go to Snelling? All you can eat pizza and breakfast. LET’S SNELEBRATE / Celebrate good times, come on! / We're gonna have a good time tonight / Let's celebrate, it's all right. They have that bacon, all I can eat bacon, stringy, chewy bacon, greasy, stringy, chewy bacon. Everybody loves bacon and I needs me some bacon. Do they ever have steak? Bacon & Steak Bacon & Steak Bacon & Steak Bacon & Steak Bacon & Steak Bacon & Steak that’s my new restaurant. We’ll serve bacon and steak and everybody will love me. meat meat meat meat meat Lumberjack special, 10 percent off if you are wearing flannel. I could really sink my teeth into some
GLORIA HONEY, I JUST FINISHED SPEAKING WITH THE DOCTOR AND THERE IS NO SIGN OF RABIES IN YOUR SYSTEM AT ALL. IT’S BEEN TOO LONG AND YOU JUST NEED TO WAKE UP FROM THIS COMA. I HEARD ABOUT A GIRL IN TENNESSEE WHO WAS IN A COMA FOR SIX MONTHS, AND WHEN SHE WOKE UP, SHE WAS RIGHT AS RAIN. SHE WENT ON TO MARRY A DOCTOR AND GOD GAVE THEM THREE BEAUTIFUL CHILDREN. WHEN YOU WAKE UP YOU COULD BE NORMAL JUST LIKE HER. I THINK HER NAME WAS JUNE, OR JULIE. IT WAS J SOMETHING AND SHE HAD RABIES, JUST LIKE YOU, WAS IN A COMA, JUST LIKE YOU, AND IS JUST PERFECT NOW. DADDY AND I HAVEN’T SEEN EACH OTHER MUCH SINCE YOUR “INCIDENT” AND WE’RE GOING ON A REAL DATE. NO, I WON’T TELL YOU WHERE WE ARE GOING; SINCE YOU FELL IN WITH THAT ARTY CROWD YOU ONLY EAT TOFU FROM THE GRIT. OK, WE’RE GOING TO LAST RESORT, THEIR CAKES ARE SO YUMMY. NOW, I KNOW YOU HATE TO BE ALONE, SO PASTOR BUCK IS COMING TO SIT WITH YOU THIS WEEKEND. I KNOW YOU NEVER MET HIM, BUT HE GETS ALONG SO WELL WITH ALL THE YOUNG PEOPLE AT CHURCH AND WHEN I TOLD HIM ABOUT YOU, HE JUST HAD TO COME AND HELP OUT. LET ME JUST BRUSH YOUR HAIR SO YOU LOOK PERFECT WHEN HE GETS HERE. AT LEAST IT HAD TIME TO GROW OUT, MAYBE YOU’LL THINK ABOUT KEEPING IT WHEN YOU WAKE UP.
Bobo and Skippy Scare Some Children
By John Gaither
I knew these guys in Athens who wanted to dress up like clowns and then run around and scare children. I told them it was a bad idea. People get serious when they think their little children are threatened. Somebody might get shot. Besides, what’s the point? Little kids have it tough enough without messed-up people terrorizing them. Why not go scare a politician, or one of the hereditary elite? It didn’t seem right.
These guys, they didn’t care about that. They said they only wanted to scare somebody, but they were talking themselves into something nasty. A room in their house had the windows spray-painted black and there were chains bolted to the wall like a dungeon. One day they said they wanted to practice on something, so they got a big dog from the animal shelter but it bit them both and chased them around the house before it ran off. They tried to act creepy toward some people at a bus stop but they just got pepper sprayed.
I could see they were headed in the wrong direction. So when they said they were going to do the clown thing, I said I’d help them. I said I’d drive and get video of the whole thing so we could have some happy chuckles watching it. I said I could prepare all the makeup, the white-face greasepaint stuff and the red lips and eyeliner and everything. They got all excited about how they were going to look and what characters they should be. They were going to be Trump and Clinton but they couldn't agree on which one would get to be Trump, so they decided to settle on plain old Bobo and Skippy.
They came out to the farm in Oglethorpe County late at night. I call it a farm even though it’s not under cultivation. It is pretty far back from the road though. They wanted to get ready for the school bus in the morning. I had their special greasepaint already mixed up. I used a lot of phosphorus from match heads and pine resin and alcohol and paraffin and a lot of magnesium powder too. I spread it on their faces a little at a time so that each layer had a chance to dry a bit before I put on the next. That way, I was able to get it on really thick, like a half-inch or so.
We went outside for a smoke. I knew they weren’t carrying any matches in those red-and-white striped pants with no pockets, so I gave them this old butane lighter I got from my uncle, one that you could adjust the flame up to about an 8-inch jet. It was good for surprising people. Then I took a couple of steps back.
I could smell the fumes coming off that makeup so I figured they’d light up pretty well, but it was quicker than I thought. As soon as the lighter flared up, there was like a whoomp sound and their faces were all on fire. They ran around some but the flames got down in their lungs so they just fell down and thrashed for a while. And that was it.
I rolled them over on their backs. Their faces were still kind of glowing and smoking. The slow-burning stuff in the greasepaint was still cooking. I got some pretty good video but it was kind of dark and it was starting to smell like a barbecue, so I took off.
I came by early a couple of days later, to see how they were doing. They looked about right. Coyotes and crows had stripped most of the meat off their faces. I put them in the back seat and drove over to the bus stop and set them up on either side. The bus came up and everybody could see a couple of clowns whose faces had been eaten by coyotes, down to the bloody skulls.
You see, I felt bad that they didn’t have a chance to live out their dream. All those goofy things they did, that was like reaching out for something. I wanted to show them the way. Even though they made some mistakes, I found a way for them to scare some children.