Story Contest Winner

Story Contest Winner Lucely Duell/Ganador del concurso de cuento Lucely Duell

WINNER for 2nd to 4th grade

The Ghost of Salem Inn by Lucely Duell


Going to Salem

Lucy’s sweatshirt flung into the air and landed in her suitcase.  “What to wear,” she wondered out loud.  Her best friend John approached the room and stopped in his tracks.  “What’s with all this ruckus?” he asked.  A pair of flying underwear came flying full speed at his head.


“Gross” said John.

“Its clean!  Now help me get packed!” said Lucy.

“Whoa bossy, you think I will help you when you talk to me like that?” said John.

“Yes I do,” said Lucy.

“I bet Salem kids don’t act like that,” shouted John at Lucy.

“Sorry,” said Lucy. “It’s all right,” said John, and helped her gather some items to put in her suitcase.  As soon as they finished, they heard Lucy’s mom calling for them.


“Come on kids!  The Salem Inn won’t wait forever!”

“Coming!” they both yelled, as they ran down the steep steps to the car.  As the car started up, John asked how long the car ride would be.

“I don’t know, at least three hours” said Lucy’s mom.

“No!” yelled John and Lucy at the same time.  The ride seemed to take more time than expected.  There was a lot of traffic on the highway.  Lucy had fallen asleep while gazing out the window of the car.  When she awoke, she was being lightly shaken.  It could mean that they were there already or John wanted her attention.  She was hoping that she could climb out of her car and be there.  So she kept her eyes shut and said, “yes?”


“We are here!!!” shouted John.  Lucy was so surprised to be in Salem already that when she opened the car door, she fell out onto the sidewalk.  The first thing she noticed was that she was in pain, the second thing she noticed was in a big parking lot.  Her leg was feeling hot, and so she started to cry.  She didn’t want to start her vacation with an injury.  Her mom picked her up and walked with her to the Inn.  John knew that she must be in a lot of pain for a seven year old.


John was seven also. He and Lucy has been friends since Pre School.  He was glad to hear she had stopped crying by the time they reached the Inn.  The place was beautiful!  It had a nice cozy feel, with soft warm lights, and welcoming wooden floors.  There was nothing this pretty back home.


The woman at the front desk showed them to their rooms.  It was super fancy because they had two different rooms. John and Lucy would each have their own beds, a bathroom to share and their own TV!


“This is the best!”  John said.

“Okay kids, before you start to run off and explore, would you mind getting the cooler from the car for me?” asked Lucy’s mom.  They agreed and left the room as fast as they could.  Lucy’s mom took a break and sat down on the couch.




That night when Lucy was sleeping, she heard a strange noise. 

“What was that?” she shouted across the room to John.

“I don’t know, but since you’re awake, will you come with me to grab a drink of water?” he asked.  As they walked out of the room they saw something white fly across the room.


“HELP!  Ghosts!!!!”  Screamed John and Lucy.  Lucy’s mother woke up and ran into their room.


“What’s wrong?  Is everything ok?”  She asked concerned.


“We saw a ghost, mom.”  Said Lucy.  Lucy’s mother frowned and turned on all the lights in the room.  She then pulled back the curtain that led to the front of the street.


 “There is no ghost in here.  In fact, I think you two probably just heard people walking by in the street.  You are not used to being in a city.  Now go back to bed, and stop screaming.  There are other people in the Inn and you two are being rude.”  She slammed the door shut and left the kids alone again.  They looked at each other for a minute and then out the window where there was a crowd of people gathering by the Witch House, which was just down the road.


 “I guess we could have heard people talking and thought we saw something,” John said.


 “I guess.”  Neither one was sure it was the crowd outside.  But after John got his water, the kids decided to be brave and go back to sleep.  However, they did sleep with all the lights on.


The next morning, Lucy, her mom, and John went for a nice tour of the city.  The first stop was the Salem Common where the kids looked at all the pumpkins on display.  The next stop was visiting the street fair where they each played a couple games, and John and Lucy rode on the Ferris wheel.  Now it was lunchtime.  They had a great lunch at Howling Wolf, and then went for a walk to the toy store called Mud Puddle toys.  Lucy and John each bought one thing.  It was getting close to nightfall now.  The kids were told to head up to their room and rest while mom ran out to get some more food, and peek in some more stores.


 “Kids, I’ll be right back. I’m only going up the street.  Call my cellphone if there is an emergency. I’ll bring pizzas back!”

            “Ok mom we will just stay in and watch TV” said Lucy.  As soon as their mom left, Lucy looked out the busy streets below. She noticed an owl sitting in a tree. He was staring right into their room.


            “John, come here! An owl!”  When Lucy looked back, the owl was gone. 

            “I don’t see an owl.” Said John.

            “Oh, um that’s it, I’m scared, I’m hiding in the closet until my mom gets back.  And I’m taking Mr. Teddy.”

            “Don’t leave me alone out here with some weird Owl!”  John said and they both ran for the closet.  Suddenly the lights in the closet went out.


“John, why did you shut the lights off?  Turn them on, I’m afraid of the dark!”


“I didn’t do it!” They both opened the closet door to see the whole room was dark.  They decided to run downstairs to get help but the lights in the hallway were on.  They turned back into the room and deiced to call Lucy’s mom.  As they went into the room they walked right into a liquid figure.


“GHOST!” yelled John, and he grabbed Lucy’s hand, they crawled underneath the bed that was next to them.   Then they heard a rustling outside the door.  Lucy closed her eyes and moved closer to John.


The door opened and they heard Lucy’s mothers voice calling “pizza” and just like that, all the lights went back on.  The kids crept out from under the bed. “Here we are,” they said.


“Why were you hiding under the bed?” her mom asked.

“We saw a ghost” said Lucy.


“Not this again.  You two won’t be allowed to visit Salem again if you are going to frightened by the city.”  And she handed them each a slice of pizza.


Later that night when Lucy’s mom was sound asleep, Lucy whispered to John, “we have to get evidence, or my mom won’t let us come back!”  They tried to set up a trap with a paper cup and plastic top to keep the ghost inside.  They both fell asleep while waiting. Suddenly they felt something bang into the cup and it was the same air they had run into in the hallway.  Lucy got up and slid on the plastic lid, trapping whatever was there in the cup.


They ran into the mom’s bedroom to wake her up. “Mom, mom, MOM wake up!” yelled Lucy. “What? What’s wrong?  It better not be ghosts again.”


“Check out this cup!”  Her mother put her hand in the cup that John had used for drinking water and said, “it’s an empty cup.”

“No mom, this cup.” And Lucy took the top off and took her mom’s hand, placing it in the cup. 


“OH! What is that weird liquid?” her mother asked.


“IT’S A GHOST!” the kids shout.  The lights in the room, which were off, began to flicker as the ghost in the cup tried to escape.  The closet door rattled and shook. The owl began to hoot outside the window.  This time everyone ran out of the room screaming “GHOST!”


As Lucy, John, and her mom ran down the hallway with the cup in their hand screaming, the Inn owner came out of his room.


“What’s wrong?” he asked. 

“We have a ghost in our room!” shouted Lucy.


“And we trapped him in this cup!” shouted John.  The Inn owner looked at the three scared people and sighed. 


“I see you found the Inn ghost Old Shane.”


“Who?” they all asked.


“Old Shane. He was a sailor who used to live around here back in 30s.  He loved to stay in this room whenever he came to town.  One night we heard Old Shane was lost in the ocean because his boat wrecked.  We never saw him again although many people say they can see Old Shane on full moons, and during the month of October, which was when he went missing. 


“What should we do with him?” Said Lucy showing the cup to the Inn owner.


“I’ve got an idea.” Said John.


“How about we let him go in the Witch House.  There he can stay forever.


“Great idea “said the Inn owner. 


The next day during a tour of the Witch House, John and Lucy slipped out of the bunch and let Old Shane go in the house.  An owl appeared in the big tree near the house and winked at the kids. And that’s the story of the Ghost in Salem Inn.


Illustration by Stan Jaskiel




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Story Contest Winner Neely Harrington/Ganador del concurso de cuento Neely Harrington

Winner for 5th Grade

Neely Harrington


The Girl with the Noose


I was staying at my cousin’s house for the weekend. Their house was right across the street from the playground at the Salem Common. My cousin’s house was a tall brick building and they owned the bottom apartment. Luckily, my three siblings were all going to sleep in a room down the hall, so I got the guest room across the street from the playground all to myself.


My room was a little smaller than my room at home, but not by much. The walls were covered with fading, pink roses. There were small rectangles of light where the sun was shining through the two closed windows. It smelled a little dusty but not too much that I couldn’t breathe.


After dinner I went back to the guest room and turned on the TV. I saw that Hocus Pocus was on, so I kept the TV on that channel. For a second the screen flickered and I thought I saw a little girl. “It’s probably just my imagination,” I thought. I watched Hocus Pocus until about 10:57 then I got into bed and my eyes started to get heavy. I saw a girl on the swing set at the playground. She had pale white skin and long, dark brown hair. The girl was wearing a white nightgown. She was swinging in the opposite direction of me going back and forth, back and forth. Then she started to slow down until she came to a stop. Slowly she got off the swing and turned directly at me. Her eyes were as black as coal and filled with evil. She was walking towards me. I woke up drenched in cold sweat.


“It was just a dream,” I repeated to myself. Then later in the day it was time to leave my cousin’s house. Salem was flooded with people in crazy costumes and funny getups. While I was in the car, I spotted the girl in my dream. “I’m probably going crazy,” I murmured under my breath. Right when we got home, I went on the computer and looked up Ghosts. Finally when it was done loading, I scrolled down and something caught my eye. The title said “The Girl with the Noose.” But what really caught my eye was the description underneath. It was “girl with long white nightgown … click to read more.” So I clicked on it. It read that “the first stage is that she would appear in your dreams. Second stage is she follows you and you might see her staring at you from an empty window or in a crowd of people. In the third and final stage, the girl holds a noose in her hand and the person she chose to haunt turns insane.” I was unbelievably scared. Over the next few days, I looked over my shoulder constantly expecting to see her. One night when I started to feel safe again, I woke up to go to the bathroom. So I got out of bed. I looked out the window as I walked since it had become a habit since the girl had appeared in y dreams, and there she was. She was in the middle of the road staring down in. A car was about to hit her when a bright light blinded me. When my eyes adjusted again, the car and the girl were gone. I was so scared that I couldn’t sleep. I kept tossing and turning and as I turned on my side once more, I saw her holding a noose and whispering, “you’re next.”


I’m writing this story in an asylum far from Salem. My sister has just sent a letter to me saying: “I saw her, the girl you always talked about. She was wearing a white nightgown and has pale, white skin and long, dark brown hair. She was on a swing set, swinging back and forth, back and forth.”



Illustration by Stan Jaskiel

Illustration by Stan Jaskiel



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Story Contest Winner Amy Jimenez/Ganador del concurso de cuento Amy Jimenez


Amy Jimenez                                                                                               

Collins Middle School  

GRADE: 7th


How I Became a Wall Ornament


Ah! HALLOWEEN! Such a joyous time for sweet tooths and horror fanatics. Glowing jack-o-lanterns, plastic spiders, and the costumes! There’s just something about feeling a scary chill in the air that makes it SO THRILLING! I remember my first Halloween quite well. I shall never forget it. Although I have no doubt it was a whole lot different from any of your own Halloween experiences. After all, Halloween is a whole lot different from the point of view of a piece of candy.     

For candy, being distributed during Halloween is just like any other distribution. We are bought, then we are eaten. End of story. I’m not going to go into candy sciences or start rambling about how it’s even possible that sweets can have can have consciences because that would spoil the fun. And I HATE spoiled fun. So with that all out of the way, why don’t I tell you about my first Halloween, A.K.A “the events that led me to becoming a wall ornament.”

I was (and still am) a small red and white peppermint bundled in a clear plastic wrap. I was (and STILL am) rather good looking for a little peppermint. But my beauty didn’t matter one bit because I looked exactly the same as all of my brothers and sisters. And that made me angry. All of my siblings gossiped eagerly amongst themselves about who would be eaten and who would be thrown out with the garbage. Many of them not-so-discreetly gestured towards me when talking of the potential unfortunate ones. They were like echoes in my head. And I desperately tried to block all of them out. We’d all been brought into a cute little candy store with lime green walls and white and pink checkered floors. They hadn’t bothered to decorate for Halloween. The store looked too much like unicorn wonderland, so they probably gave up trying to make it look scary. They had all us peppermints in a huge basket on the cashier counter by all of the various candy displays. And when I say huge basket I mean you could probably fit a full-sized pig in there. We spent days upon days just sitting there waiting for someone to purchase us until one afternoon, a mean-looking Burly Man burst in. Everything he was wearing was leather except his pants. He stood firmly in the middle of the store, surveying the candy displays surrounding him. While he did this, the light streaming in from the window reflected off of his completely bald head. I found this hilarious. And judging by the snort I heard behind me, so did the cashier. But the man paid no mind, seemingly more interested in examining the licorice stand. I turned my attention to the whispering around me. The other peppermints did not like this guy. They hissed insults at his choice of clothing. I was almost glad that the Burly Man couldn’t hear them. But then their sneering turned into panicked yelling as the Burly Man’s shadow loomed over them. He dipped his large hand into the basket and grabbed a fist full of screeching peppermints. I too was one of the screeching peppermints. Not that I was scared or anything. I was just-Cough-surprised. The Burly Man was a surprising guy. After he stuffed us in a paper bag and paid for us, he took us to his house. Burly Man looks to be like the type to live in a beat up trailer with dried mud on it, but I think you’d be surprised to know that he likes in a nice-looking house in a nice-looking neighborhood although his yard did need cleaning. There were a bunch of brown crumbled leaves that had fallen from nearby trees scattered all over his lawn. They all looked out of place close to the snow-white house that didn’t seem to have a speck on it. After one day of sitting on Burly Man’s kitchen counter inside a paper bag full of unhappy peppermints, I learned that he was a huge fan of classical music. All of the other peppermints noticed this too. Burly Man played his music VERY loudly. He also cursed VERY loudly. I learned this when he started hanging up fake bats and spiders that looked a little too realistic. He dropped several of them many times, which caused him to curse. The bats and spiders made me feel uneasy. Not because they looked alive, but because they could only mean one thing. Halloween was close.

                                                                                                                                                Soon enough I would learn that “close” was actually about twelve hours. After the Sun’s setting, all of the trick-or-treaters set out on the prowl for candy. Burly Man grabbed our paper bag and sat on the steps of his porch. All the children were running around the street with their buckets and bags ready to be filled with anything sweet. Burly Man offered two or three peppermints to whoever came by. Most of the children gave disappointed whines when the saw what Burly Man was offering (Rude!). But Burly Man didn’t pay any mind. Burly Man usually never paid any mind (except when he dropped things). He certainly didn’t pay any mind to his choice in clothing. Burly Man hadn’t bothered with putting on a costume. He just wore his usual attire. But I guess everyone assumed that he was dressed as a “Biker Dude.” Even with his intimidating looks and poor candy, the trick-or-treaters accepted his offerings and politely thanked him. Every time someone came by, he would pluck some of my siblings from the bag and hand them over. And every time he reached into the bag he would miss me. Every. Single. Time. Before I knew it there were almost no trick-or-treaters going around and I was the only one left in the bag. Burly Man gave a tired sigh. Then he stood up and went inside his house, leaving me in the paper bag on the porch. It was bound to happen to someone, I just wished it hadn’t been me. All of the house had turned off their lights and any wacky contraptions they had set up. At least I assumed they had. I couldn’t see anything besides the porch’s roof from the bottom of the bag. I could hear perfectly well though. Everything was silent except for some talking off in the distance. I strained to hear what words were being said, but the sound of approaching footsteps caught my attention. The footsteps increased in volume until they stopped near my paper bag. Then a pale hand reached into the bag and fished me out. Honey-colored eyes studied me in the dim light. It was a boy partially wrapped in toilet paper. Maybe it was a last minute Halloween costume? I didn’t know. He didn’t have anything to place me in, so he held me in his hand as he walked over to the sidewalk. He stopped at the edge and looked over to the other side of the street. He seemed anxious for some reason. I looked over to where the boy’s eyes were set and I saw exactly why. Across the street there was a tall, scrawny teenager pushing a little girl around. Although when I first saw the girl, I didn’t see her, but I did see the large Halloween costume she was wearing. She was wearing a round and green costume that caused her to not be able to place her arms at her sides correctly. There were also two sparkly pink antenna on her head that swayed backwards and forwards as the bully continued to shove her around. As for the bully, he wasn’t wearing a costume but he did have an orange bag slung over his shoulder that probably contained Halloween candy. I realized that the faded-out talking I’d heard earlier had been coming from the nasty teen. The bully was circling around the child, saying things that I’d rather not repeat. He was ABSOLUTELY spoiling her fun. I saw the girl try to ignore him and walk away, but the bully kept blocking her path. The boy holding me clenched me in his fist, clearly angered with the situation. I thought he would walk up to the teen and tell him that what he was doing was wrong, like a civilized person. But what the boy did next, I did not expect. He swung his arm back, and all in a flash, he threw me at the bully. I hit the bully smack in the middle of the forehead. The collision was extremely painful for both me and the bully. The bully fell back onto someone’s lawn. He hit his head on a metal bucket someone left laying on the grass. While the bully held his head between his hands in pain, I laid in the grass nearby trying to wrap my head around how it could be possible for someone to have that much acne. The bully stood up on his shaking legs, and shouted abuse at the toilet-paper-wrapped boy who threw me. Then he ran away into the dark street huffing angrily. I guess he knew better than to pick a fight with someone who had such a good arm. The victim who had watched the whole ordeal stared in amazement at toilet paper boy, who was now walking across the street as if nothing had happened. (Thankfully) he picked me up from the ground while the other child shyly walked over to us. The boy turned towards her with a blank stare. “t-thank you” she stuttered. Her eyes studied the boy uncertainly, as if trying to look for a reason as to why he would help her. Toilet paper boy said nothing, his face showed no emotion. Getting no reply, the girl continued on. “My name is Anri” she said. “What’s yours?” Again, the boy said nothing. Instead, he took the girl’s hand and gently placed me in her palm. She looked at me, then at him, confusion clearly show on her face. The boy nodded at her, then he turned away, walking in the same direction the bully had gone. The girl just stood there on the sidewalk, frozen. I thought she was going to eat me. But she only looked at me with an expression I couldn’t read. And then she walked home in silence, cradling me in her hands like I was the most precious thing in the world.

When she finally arrived, she wrapped a pink string around my middle and hung me on a nail that had been stuck in one of the yellow walls of the living room. And I have been there ever since. Anri’s parent’s never questioned my presence. I don’t think they even knew I was there. Of course, her parents usually weren’t home. Anri used the time alone to do various shenanigans. Every day after school she would arrive with a new interest. When she was younger it was just hopping from a different toy to another. But as the years passed her interests varied from sewing, to chemistry, and a lot of other random things that she eventually got bored with. And I just sat there on the wall, watching her change her mind every other week. Her parents noticed this as well, and they didn’t think there was one single thing that Anri liked that she had kept doing. But as it turns out, I know her a lot better than her own parents do. And I know that there is one interest Anri has that always lingered. Every year on Halloween, Anri goes trick-or-treating wearing the same costume she was wearing the day she brought me home. Of course she made some modifications to the costume, since she was growing. At first, I shrugged this off as just her liking the dumb thing. But after seeing her come back in disappointment every year, I figured it was something else. She was trying to find the boy. It surprised me how intent she was with her search. She said (to herself) that she’d even talked to the bully and he hadn’t know a single thing. And it continued. Every year, Anri would always leave eagerly to trick-or-treat in the cold autumn air. Every year, I would patiently await her return, hoping that she would come back with what she was searching for. And every year, she would step into the living room in disappointment–her bag full of candy, but still no information on the boy.                                                                                                      

This year, I thought it would be no different. I was wrong. I heard the front door open and close. I expected to see a pouting Anri step in with a bar of chocolate wedged between her lips. But I was greeted with a sight that I thought I would never see. Anri walked in, hand in hand with a boy who had honey-colored eyes. I felt joy spread all over me when I realized who it was. Anri had found who she was looking for. They both sat on the couch, talking rapidly about something that had happened when they saw each other. I caught something about some dude in leather getting hit by a car, but that was all I got. Then their conversation took several turns until finally coming to rest on the night they first met. The boy explained his actions while sheepishly scratching the back of his head. Turns out that he had been too nervous to talk to Anri, so he kept his mouth shut. Anri nodded, understanding his explanation. Then she pointed toward me, unfolding that she had kept me after all those years. The boy laughed, saying that he didn’t believe it. Anri laughed along with him, insisting it was true. I laughed with them, though they couldn’t hear it. They became best friends. And Anri stopped her hobby hopping when the boy started telling her about baseball. Now she was always watching baseball on the TV. I found this interest to be the dumbest one yet. But she looks so happy when she watches it, so I try not to mind.                                                                                                                  

As I look back on everything, I don’t think I would’ve ever imagined myself becoming a wall ornament at the house of a baseball-obsessed girl. But I did. Although I would’ve liked to have been eaten. Just so I could go to candy heaven and tell my siblings that I hadn’t been thrown out like they assumed I would be. But being a wall ornament is okay too. I like being a wall ornament, but I especially like how I became one.    



Illustration by Stan Jaskiel

Illustration by Stan Jaskiel



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