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A scare, a laugh, a twist, a poem from the grave

We were looking for scares and laughs. You gave us both.

The Mail Tribune's Halloween Stories writing contest netted 27 entries — poems, frightening stories, humorous yarns among them, a true variety.

We selected our three favorites for publication, along with the entry that received the most reader votes online. The finalists included a frightening tale that had us looking over our shoulders, a clever and humorous look at a school for witches, a story about costumes where nothing is what it seems, and a truly blood-chilling poem from the grave.


By Maude Lay Elton, 1889-1955 (submitted by her granddaughter, Marylata Elton)

When I am cold and dead and dumb and in my grave below

I’ll have my ghost come back to Earth and go where’er you go;

And though in life you’ve sealed my lips, in death my ghost runs free

To maim and wrangle all your joys for the pain you gave to me.

To follow you from place to place, to shiver in your path,

To point at you with fingers thin and hiss and mock and laugh

When nights are dark … and memories hold you in their spell,

My ghost will drip in through the rain and drag you down to Hell.


By Rachel Martino (submitted by her father, Ralph Martino)

A strange, old, withered witch stepped up to the podium.

“Hello students of Frog-spawnia! Today I am here to give a speech about the most wondrous spectaculous thing, magic. Now, I have long accepted that you are all incredibly stupid and probably cannot even speak Frog-spawnian, but please do not fall asleep because snoring irritates me."

This greatly surprised the audience because they had long ago accepted that snores were a rather pleasant sound and hosted competitive snoring competitions weekly.

“Magic is not a noun. You cannot hold it, eat it, touch it or even digest it!” She raved.

“If magic ain’t a noun, what is it?” asked Pickory-Dickory, an exceptionally dumb young warlock.

“Silence!” the old witch screamed, and with one sharp flick of her hand, Pickory-Dickory became a frog and took up the hobby of licking bugs from behind people’s ears.

“Magic is a verb. It is the act of taking the impossible and turning it into reality. It is the act of taking life into your own hands and sculpting it into something new, something terrifying, something surreal,” she cackled. “Now, students, turn to page 48 in your books and read the selection on Wizzywunks.”


"Midnight Jaunt"

By Linda Shaddon

The new fallen snow created a soft blanket across the park as Macey strolled to the other side.

The brightness of the full moon reflected against the white of the snow, reminding her more of noon than midnight. She continued walking with only her thoughts to accompany her.

Macey had been a bit short with the children tonight. A tug of guilt made her promise herself to give Sarah a whole dollar for her tooth as soon as she returned home.

Macey laughed to herself. She imagined leaving a note for her husband, then taking off for the south of France. There would be no talk of diaper rash, who won the spelling bee or a silly lost tooth.

Macey sighed as she headed home. She didn’t notice other footprints in the snow, following her every move in the quiet of the night. He followed her until he was certain they were alone and made his move.

As the last breath left her body, her final thought was of a lost tooth and the disappointment that her little girl would know in the morning.

A tear trickled down her cheek as the moonlight danced upon the crimson snow beside her.


By Emily Christiansen

Kevin was looking through the eye-holes of his mask, looking for more houses to get treats from, as tonight was Halloween.

Kevin loved everything about Halloween, especially the scary costumes. He spent all his time trying to make his spookiest costume yet, and each year was better than the last. This year he had outdone himself. He had dressed as a swamp beast, complete with teeth, webbed fingers, and a basket covered in weeds. He looked terrifying.

This year he decided to go to the neighborhood that his mom said he shouldn’t go to. He turned down the street and saw someone who had also dressed up as a swamp creature.

This costume, however, put his to shame. It was just so realistic. He went up to him and said, “That is an amazing costume!’’

The person looked up and asked, “What costume?’’

Kevin was confused for a moment, but as he looked around, he noticed that all the costumes were life-like. In fact ...

Kevin’s face went white with horror as he realized that everyone around him was an actual monster! He let out a terrified scream and ran all the way home.