Read the winning and notable entries from the writers who brought us the best tales of the year.
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These stories are written by talented writers ages 9 to adult for audiences of their peers. Stories cover a range of scary and unnerving topics you will find in the horror genre. Some stories may not be suitable for younger audiences. Reader discretion is advised.
ArachnophobiaAnalia D. Alvarez-Khammee
As Keena drew a spider on her sketchbook, she pushed her pencil so hard that it sounded like she was scratching her nails on a chalkboard. She was sitting on a brown curved bench at the neighborhood park in Okinawa. The spider she drew was hairy with eight eerie penetrating eyes. At the same time, children ran around playing as their parents talked, making each other acquaintances.
She was so occupied with sketching that she hardly noticed five of her classmates nearby, known for their mischief and frequent stupidity. Aho, the leader of a friend group who often led them to make bad choices, was so popular that even the school lunch staff would greet her in the halls. Aho"s best friend was Bafforo; although tall and buff, he also had a soft nature and a nice way to get along with his friends. He was also a nerd at the photography club, which he enjoyed.
The other three classmates were Sakura, Sakuna, and Sakoro; they were triplets. They looked exactly alike but had utterly opposite personalities. Sakura was known for being bubbly, loud and had many friends. Sakuna was cool, composed, and collected. Every time Sakuna spoke, it felt as if the world was falling apart. And Sakoro always looked so sad; he was such a big scaredy-cat; no one knew why he was in a group full of mischievous souls.
“Wait, guys, is that Keena?” Aho pointed out. Bafforo turned his head as if he were a dog and someone had yelled, “Squirrel!” to distract him. He was preparing his camera as he ran over to Keena to capture her focused look. “OYA! What the heck!?” Keena squealed in surprise. “I needed to catch a picture of you when you are focused; it"s the kind of face that draws people into you,” Bafforo said.
Sakuna looked disgustingly at Bafforo as if he were dirty trash on the sidewalk. “Wait, guys! We should totally invite Keena to come with us!” Aho exclaimed.
“Invite to where?” Keena asked with a perplexed tone.
“To the Arachnid Pond!” Aho responded.
“The what?” Keena replied with a shrill voice.
“You haven"t heard about the myth?! C"mon, it"s one of the biggest stories in Japan!” Aho declared with a cryptic voice. “It is believed that the spiders guard a pond to keep wanderers from discovering its secrets.”
Keena"s confused looks let Aho know she needed an explanation.
“Ok, it"s a dried-out pond in the middle of the woods near the Kurashiki Dam,” Aho continued. “It is said that at first glance, it looks like an ordinary pond, but there are so many spiders that it looks as if it is full of water.”
“But of course, it"s just a myth. We just want to see if it will make a good Snapchat Story.” Said Sakura, adding to Aho"s somber tone.
Keena looked down at her disgusting-looking spider drawing while giving Aho"s invitation a swift thought. “Sure, I"ll go. I guess.” She agreed almost from courtesy.
Moments later, they made their way to the bus stop to board the next bus to the dam. As they waited for the bus, cars drove by while Keena imagined what they would look like if she drew them. The bus eventually came and slowly stopped in front of them, sounding like a small gas leak from a human body. The six of them boarded the already packed bus, there was no space to sit, so they simply stood, holding whatever they could so they didn"t fall. Several minutes later, they found themselves at the Kurashiki Dam surrounded by wooded mountains.
They climbed only halfway before spotting the pond. “There it is!” Sakura yelled. Bafforo began walking faster so he could take pictures of the pond. Suddenly he stopped. “What happened Bafforo?” Sakoro uttered. With his face pale as a ghost, Bafforo looked back at Sakoro, quickly changing to a green face as if he were about to throw up in loathing. And he did.
Sakoro jumped, not wanting to know what made Bafforo so frightened. But Sakoro"s curiosity got the best of him as he looked at the pond, instantly regretting it.
There were millions of spiders crawling on top of each other with their eerie eyes, hungry for a meal.
As the rest of them came to realize that the myth was indeed real, they paused in their tracks. Aho, trying to hide her stabbing fear, said to the others, “Why are you all so pale? They are just spiders; it"s not as if they"ll hurt you!” barely able to move her lips. Trying to act cool, she walked closer to the pond inviting the rest of them. “Bafforo! I thought you were going to take pictures of the pond! C"mon, guys, let"s take a selfie!” she added.
The rest of the group reluctantly walked towards the pond. “Get closer so we can take an actual good selfie!” Aho urged as to not be the only one so close.” They unwillingly stood behind Aho to take the selfie. “Keena, you"re not in the frame! Get behind Bafforo!” Aho continued as no one else could say a word because they were quivering in their boots. They were almost to the edge of the pond wishing this was just a nightmare. Keena painstakingly walked behind Bafforo. Keena"s instincts told her that this was a bad idea, but she ignored her thoughts. “Pose!” Aho said.
Sakoro looked sick. “Three...” Sakoro was standing next to Bafforo and really close to Keena. “Two...” Sakoro could no longer hold it in; he turned around towards Keena and bent down. “One!” BLEGH!! Sakoro vomited, and Keena smelled the horrid odor, looked down towards the ground at the vomit, and wanted to throw up as well. She backed up a little, forgetting that there was a pond full of spiders directly behind her. CLICK. FLASH. Aho caught the moment with the camera as Kenna fell backward into the pond.
Sakuna looked back, raising his shoulders as he made a loud piercing gasp. “KEENA!” Aho frantically screamed. Keena didn"t know what to do. Swim? Jump? Walk? Fight? She just let go of her body for a moment and looked at Aho with eyes that said to declare her gone. The pond wasn"t as shallow as she had initially thought.
She began to sink.
The spiders, hungry as they were, started entering through her nostrils, mouth, and ears. Some ravaged her skin slowly as she began to die.
Keena knew it was not her time just yet, even though there was no chance she could get out of this mess. She struggled to get up. She kicked and punched. She had so much blue blood on her clothes from the spiders popping like caviar in your mouth. She could barely breathe as she struggled to try to escape while holding her neck, gasping for air, and trying to keep the spiders from overrunning her body. Her efforts were futile.
The spiders crawled into her brain. She began to cry as she experienced a severe headache. The spiders ate away her eyes, bleeding from her sockets. She felt more and more spiders entering her body, under her skin, in her muscles. It hurt immensely; everything throbbed and ached. Sakura, Aho, and Sakoro ran away in fear as fast as they could. Only Sakuna and Bafforo stayed at the pond.
“KEENA! GIVE ME YOUR HAND!” Sakuna cried as Keena continued to sink in. But Keena couldn"t hear anymore and could no longer hear the spiders hissing in her ears. Keena felt she was in hell and began hallucinating, imagining herself sitting on a park bench, drawing. She thought about her family and wanted to have dinner with her mom and brother, regretting all that she had not done. Keena knew she couldn"t escape and live with her injuries. Nobody could help her anymore. She would not see her family again. She must let go now.
Keena stopped fighting.
“Keena! Listen to me! Are you still there? GRAB ON TO MY HAND!” Bafforo desperately yelled. Keena just wanted to sleep, to stop breathing. Bafforo collected himself, gathered some strength, and reached into the sea of spiders to stretch and pull her out from the pond. Bafforo struggled to grab her from her shoulders, violently pulling her from her clothes while holding his breath. The swift motion lunged Keena through the air, hauling her on the ground. “KEENA! KEENA!” Neither Bafforo nor Sakuna touched her after being pulled out to avoid the spiders lingering all over Keena.
Keena"s heart was beating fast, then for a second, she looked like she was focused. It was the same face that pulled people in, as Bafforo had once said. Keena"s heart steadily slowed down to a stop; her last gasp was hopelessly loud. She looked like a sleeping baby; the only difference was that she was dead.
“Keena..?” Sakuna called, knowing well his friend had drifted away forever.Notable Entry
The BoyOliver C.
On a foggy and winter dayA little boy went out to playIn the park, with no onePlaying in the snow, just having some fun
Just a block from this parkIn the corner, where it is darkLives an old and ragged manHe was a bit off, his name was Dann
And lived in a house made of strawRumors said, that wizards foresawHate manifesting in Dann"s heartBecause he felt so apart
All the shriveled and dying treesDying from the freezing 10 degrees
When he was young, he was rejectedAnd not at all was he respectedFrom all his wizard peersNow that it has been so many years
He must do what he thinks is rightAnd please himself to his delightThe boy that was playing in the snowWas conveniently the son of Joe
Joe was a wizard that once did him badWhat a delight to make him sadThe deadly spider will make someone fallEspecially those who are quite small
All the shriveled and dying treesDying from the freezing 10 degrees
All you do is take one, tell it who to killWait a few minutes and it certainly willSo when the boy went and sat on a chairAnd just as he was unaware
Dann sent the spider to hide then slaySo it then quickly scuttered awayAnd crawled right next to his earThe bug got much much more near
He crawled right into the boyWaiting for the victim it could destroyThe spider let its poison seep through his veinsNow all the boy felt was deathly pain
After the boy"s last yelpBefore he could call “help”He died right on the old seatThe murder now was complete
All the shriveled and dying treesDying from the freezing 10 degreesNotable Entry
How I Flew AwayChloe T. and Madeleine Y.
Holding the burning tree branch as high as I could, I screamed at the birds. Scalding their feathers, they squawked and flew away one by one. As the last one left, I rushed to Miro’s side. He was the last survivor other than me, Luki and Tari having been taken away 3 nights ago. I still remember the pain in Tari’s eyes, the desperation in Luki’s.
I vowed to fulfill Miro’s last wish, as I had grown attached to him in the long time I’d spent prowling the Wasteland with him, undead vultures circling the sky above our heads. He’d always been a mentor of sorts, a teacher I looked up to. So as I looked into the eyes of the acrid smelling beast, I cried. Tears fell out of my eyes as I thought about Miro, Tari and Luki. Of everyone I failed, of every last bird I failed to kill.
Looking into the eyes of the vulture currently hovering over me, I thought back to Miro’s last words, laughing a bit at my name. I was hardly anything compared to the great king Midas, turning things into death instead of gold. Being jostled out of my pre-death monologue, I seemed to finally remember that an undead creature was about to eat my soul and I jumped up and fled. I ran for miles and miles, until I couldn’t feel anything anymore. I was just a soul telling an empty shell to run.
After a bit more walking, I stopped, almost collapsing onto the ground. Ignoring the calls of my stomach, I laid there, prepared to sleep for the night. I thought back to the death of all three of my dead friends. Miro, Tari, Luki. The fear in all of their eyes as they were dragged away- black, brown, and blue. Then the pain as the birds flocked around them, stabbing into them with their talons. Finally, the understanding as they knew there was nothing to be done. As they died. In front of me. Tears stained the ground beside me, like a river rushing out.
I had reflected on my mistakes, determined not to let myself die as a sudden rush of will rushed through me, going over every mistake I had made in the last battle against the birds with Miro. Gathering up my priorities, I was prepared to make shelter and survive long enough to kill every single bird in the sky, get revenge for my fallen friends- friends that were more like a family.
Squinting at the beating sun, I saw swarms of the oily black feathers prowling the grounds, ready to pounce on anything alive. Adjusting the makeshift bow that Miro had helped me make, I thought back to how Tari always told me I cared too much. Maybe he was right. Thinking back to when he was dragged away, I’d recalled how my screams echoed through the sky, a shrill sound piercing the coarse calls of the flying undead.
Taking off the vest that Luki had found for me in the ruins of the Old World, a single tear fell out of my eye. Followed by another for Miro’s advice, and another for Luki’s blinding smile. The tears came out now, faster than before. I willed myself to stop crying, the pain and dehydration choosing now to come and catch up with me. I tore my gaze from the sky to look down at the ground, muttering a quick prayer, praying that the souls of my three friends would find their way above the skies. I looked up, a great fury blazing in my eyes as I vowed to avenge my lost friends - My new family. Pushing the grief away, I looked up at the sky once more with teary eyes.
Lifting my bow, I aimed it at one of the stray birds still gliding around in the sky. I narrowed my eyes, letting the arrow fly through the air. It missed, causing the bird to flap away in search of prey. I tilted my head a bit, confused. A whole night of preparation, and I still missed. If I couldn"t shoot just one bird, how was I supposed to defend myself? Shaking the tears from my eyes, I looked up at the sky once more, watching as the birds flapped away. Kicking the sand, I raced off towards the direction of the birds, determined to taste revenge for once. After Tari and Luki’s death, I was almost unable to even walk. That wouldn’t be the case this time. I’d make sure of it. I ran with rage flowing through my veins, each step an announcement of my revenge.
Finally, I had done it. I’d reached the birds. My lungs screamed for air, but I ignored it. No time to rest when I could be avenging my family. I looked up at the darkening sky. Strange. It was sunny today, but there was a large, black cloud gathering over me. As I stared at the cloud in confusion, realization struck me. That wasn’t a cloud. It was a flock of birds. My mind froze for a moment, unable to think of what to do. The cloud dived closer, and my mind seemed to finally catch up as I remembered the existence of my bow.
A manic smile was present on my face as I shot down the birds, their limp bodies falling onto the ground. I had a vivid vision of shooting all the birds down, finally claiming victory for my friends and I. As I felt my leather quiver for another arrow, the only thing my hand felt was my back. Nothing. I had run out of arrows. My adrenaline was replaced with panic as I ran off, terrified for my life. I couldn’t go down like this, not like my friends.
I looked behind me to see the birds flying towards me, somehow able to see their piercing red eyes. I looked around in panic for something to attack with, but nothing seemed useful anymore. Giving up, I turned to face the birds and threw my only line of attack and defense. My bow. My last physical memory of Miro. Overconfidence crashed over me as the bow flew through the air. I was confident that the bow would take all of them down. Somehow, it would. I knew it would.
I was wrong. The bow only took three down at most. I looked around, terrified. In a panic, I threw Luki’s vest at the birds too. It missed. There was nothing left. The memories were gone. I was just a kid in the Wasteland. Nothing without Miro. Nothing without Luki. Nothing without Tari. I stood there, frozen in fear. Then, they came.
A piercing scream cut through the air. For a moment, I wondered who it was, hoping for someone to save for a sense of fulfillment. Then, I realized it was me. They tore into me like a dessert. Birds everywhere, anywhere. I couldn’t see a thing, and yet I could see myself bleeding out. It was painful.
Scream after scream, I felt as if I had ripped my vocal cords. Their sharp talons stabbed into me, like a million knives. I fell onto the ground, seeing my own blood pour out of my body. I imagined myself. A young kid dying in the desert while I should be playing video games. That was the last thing I was doing before the Attack. Another scream. My throat hurt, I didn’t care. I screamed again.
It felt as if Miro, Tari, and Luki were screaming with me. I could see them next to me, birds tearing them apart. Their screams before they died harmonized with mine, creating a symphony of terror. As if tired of my screaming, a large bird lunged at my throat, tearing it out as more blood spilled onto the golden sand. My chest ripped out. My spine was tearing out of my back, the white bone stained red. Arms, mauled until they didn’t look like arms anymore. Legs, ripped to shreds. As if it wasn’t painful enough to still be alive, the bird tore my throat open, as if it was a toddler opening a pack of delicious candy. The birds surrounding me joined it, tearing into my throat. At this point, I was dead. Blood spilled everywhere. The once-beautiful desert now stained with the blood of the last survivors.
At last, the birds had finished their feast. I was nothing more than a skeleton. In the last moments of my life, I hoped I would go above the skies, reaching levels of space like no one had before. How was I to know that I would only be able to plunge deeper than the bottom of the earth itself? Deep in the earth, stuck with the worst of the birds, ready to tear me to shreds again and again.Notable Entry
My Teacher is a Vampire!Maddox Ryan
Today we are doing retirement cards for my math teacher. I mean, I feel bad and all, but sometimes she could be really mean. While my class was writing I decided to do a really bad move. I threw my spare pencil right at her paper work. It made a pencil mark right across her paper. I have no idea why I did that, but she turned around and said in a terrifying voice, “Who did that?”
Everybody pointed at me.
“Detention Mister Ryan,” she said, as she gave me the hairy eyeball.
And that’s where I am right now. Anyway, some people call me the most horrible kid in the middle school. Others say I have no sense of kindness. But honestly I’m really kind. It’s just a misconception. After detention I went back to class. Everybody was done writing except me. So I had to stay an extra 15 minutes to write a retirement card. After that I went where the rest of the class was going to meet the new teacher.
When we opened the door to the new teacher’s office for now, all of us screamed in horror! He looked exactly like a vampire! When he opened his mouth we could see his pointy teeth, which made it worse. Then our math teacher entered.
“Aahh,” she said. Meet Mister Tanfire. Odd name said a kid in the class. But our math teacher seemed to know who. “Detention Missus Pylin,” said our math teacher. Nane Pylin stormed out of the room in anger. Terribly sorry Mister Tanfire. “It’s ok,” he said in a weird voice. Well, off to social studies, said our math teacher. I couldn’t focus on social studies because I was a little scared to be honest.
Today is the first day with the vampire and everybody is not happy about it. At least math is at the end of the day. In English we had a test which I got a D on because math was right after English. In math I was expecting it to be pre-algebra or something like that, but no, he was teaching us stuff that vampires do! Like turning into a bat or how to bite someone and drink their blood. Everybody was terrified because of what he was teaching us. At the end of math I overheard people saying crazy things like, “I’m running away,” “I’m homeschooling” and stuff like that.
Two weeks have passed since the new teacher, or should I say, vampire moved to the math classroom. Today he said we have a test tomorrow which he didn’t tell us what we were testing on. That made it a little weird. Today we were focusing on biting the human arm. Finally he told us that was what we would be focusing on. In class almost a dozen people got an F on the pop quiz he gave us. I got a D- but I could take that. Anyway, that was our last class so when I went home I tried convincing my mom and dad about the vampire but they just shook their heads. Today was test day and when we walked into the classroom he said take your seats please. He said today is the day, but first I need a demonstrator. Nane’s hand shot up and she walked over to him.
“Here, let me show you have to bite.” Nane said, “What?” and then he bit her. She screamed and ran out of the homeroom with us following behind her.
When the teachers saw us running they were a little bit confused but when they saw the vampire they ran with us. We all ran out of the school and teachers were letting kids get into their trunks and seats in their cars but then they ran out of room. That left me and two other kids named Jen and Shawn. Jen said split up and Shawn said stay in a group and me and Shawn both agreed that we should stay together. Jen said, “You owe me one.” When we went into the forest we built a shelter with sticks. We stayed there for hours waiting until somebody found us. It was night now so that made it creepier.
“What’s your name?” Jen asked.
“Evan,” I said.
Just then there was a snap of a stick, and we heard the vampire’s voice. “I will find you three.” We didn’t say a word or move a muscle. But then he found us. Jen screamed and ran out and so did Shawn. That left me. That day I did not want to die, so I punched the vampire right in the face and ran for it. He hissed at me and turned into a bat. Then he flew at me! Luckily I walk to my house from school so I knew where it was. By then the vampire lost me, so I was good. I ran to my house and grabbed a flash light but I was really quiet so my parents didn’t hear me. When I went back into the woods, Shawn scared the living daylights out of me. He said that he saw the vampire going west and I told him that I was gonna kill him once and for all. So me and him headed west. And then we found him. I turned on my flashlight and pointed it at him. He hissed and fell to the ground, and exploded into dust. I had done it. I killed a vampire.
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I’m On TV
School wasn’t open for two weeks and news reporters were everywhere. The crazy thing is that they interviewed me! They were asking simple questions like ‘what happened at the school’ and ‘who did the attack’ so I told them the truth. I said it was a vampire. They looked at me like I was mad. I said it was true and I killed it with the flashlight. Anyway that was the end of that interview so I guess that’s all I have to say for this book.