Two CSS students win The Gazette's Halloween writing competition
Sisters Xaia Z. ‘26 and Isabelle Z. ‘24 are winners in The Gazette’s 2019 unfinished Halloween story competition, which received more than 300 entries from students across the Pikes Peak region.
Sixth grader Xaia won 2nd place, and 8th grader Isabelle won 3rd place. The contest called for 1st through 8th grade students to create a spooky 250-word ending to a Halloween themed story by staff reporter Stephanie Earls. We are so proud of Xaia and Isabelle! Their stories may be read online here at The Gazette.
When I was a little kid, afraid of the dark and convinced something sinister lurked in the shadows of my bedroom, my dad would turn on the lights, check all hiding spots, and tickle my arm until I fell asleep.
“Remember, monsters are like spiders,” he’d say. “They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.”
I’m almost 13 now — old enough to know that spiders aren’t out to get me and monsters don’t live under the bed or in the closet.
They live in the ash pit under the fireplace.
If I listen closely at night, I can hear the creeeeeeak of the trap door in the hearth as it’s pushed open from inside, and then the pop and whine of floorboards as something crosses the living room and climbs the stairs.
I sleep with the lights on, when I sleep at all.
“C’mon, lazybones. You’ll make us late again,” yelled my sister Daniella, dashing out the door for the school bus as I gobbled a few scoops of cereal and finger-combed my dirty hair.
I had bigger things to worry about than breakfast and bad grooming. Whatever otherworldly creature was stalking my home in the wee hours, it was definitely not more afraid of me. But tonight, if everything went according to plan, it would be.
At lunch, Spooky Sarah was waiting — as promised — in the hall outside the cafeteria.
“Did you bring it?” I asked my former babysitter, who was heading to art school after graduation.
Sarah’s black-lipsticked mouth curled into a grin, and she pulled a small leather pouch from her backpack. I took it and started to unlace the top, but she stopped me.
“Not here,” she said. “Only when you’re absolutely ready to use it.”
“What’s that smell?”
“Tannis root. Powerful stuff. That’s what you wanted, right?” Sarah handed me a folded up piece of paper and a pillar candle. “Make sure you follow the steps perfectly, or I’m not responsible for what happens. Let’s just say I’m not responsible, period.”
As midnight approached, I crept down to the living room and got to work.
The paper instructed me to keep the room dark except for a single candle flame, sprinkle the stinky herbs on the floor in a circle around me, and then read three lines written in a language I didn’t recognize.
I was halfway through the ritual when the metal trap door started to squeak open, and my sister flipped on the lights.
“What the heck are you….” Daniella said, her words trailing off as she saw the thing crawling out of the fireplace.
Then she looked at me, and screamed.
(Second Place, by Xaia Z.)
When Daniella screamed I didn’t want to look behind me, but I had a sudden urge to. I did, yet I couldn’t see anything. What was it.
“What is that on your head?” Daniella asked.
I felt around my whole head. There was nothing.
“What are you talking about? There’s nothing there.” I told her.
We both just assumed that we were tired, and went to bed.
The next morning, my dad said I looked a little flushed, and thought I should stay home. I told him that I felt fine because I wanted to go to school to tell Spooky Sarah about what happened.
During recess I found her sitting under the slide stacking rocks.
”Sarah… what the heck are you doing?”
“Casting spells with runes.”
“Well everything went wrong last night.”
“Okay. Three things,” Spooky Sarah started.” One, did you follow all the instructions? Two, I told you I’m not responsible. And three, what’s that on your head?”
Then I answered, “I tried, but the metal door started to open, and my sister ruined it by coming in and turning on the lights. And there’s NOTHING on my head!!!”
“ If you say so.” Sarah walked away.
“Stupid Sarah. Her spells don’t even work.”
I went to the bathroom to scream my head off, fix myself.
When I looked in the mirror, and I saw something moving around on my head. I parted my hair, and I saw 4 tiny, hairy, black legs sticking out of my scalp.
(Third Place, by Isabelle Z.)
“Daniella, what is it? What’s wrong?!” I said, waiting for some kind of response. Her finger outstretched towards a figure now fully standing from the fireplace. The figure’s two eyes glimmered with fear, yet also determination. She finally summoned the courage to speak.
“I’m here to get you away from here… from all these m-monsters.”
What was she talking about? Wasn’t she the monster? I looked over at Daniella to gauge a reaction… any kind of reaction. Her eyes did nothing but blur with tears, and her body trembled with shock as her eyes were stuck on me.
I paced to the mirror in my room, and I almost started screaming at what I saw. I had two eyes and no fur, I didn’t have my strange horns. My hands had 5 fingers each, and my skin was a monotone color, complemented by hair that swayed by my ears. Like the creature. I was the monster I’d seen in my dreams, and I refused to believe it.
Without looking at either of the people opposite of me, I grabbed Spooky Sarah’s instructions from off the floor, and just gaped at the words scrawled across the bottom:
WARNING! STRANGE SPECIES TRANSFORMATION MAY OCCUR!
I automatically remembered Sarah’s message about her not taking responsibility. My face grew hot with tears as Daniella and the creature with two eyes surveyed me. The room distorted with a strong tannis root scent… and darkness.