SECOND PLACE: 15-18
Claire Zhang, 17, Port Moody
A voice, so gentle that it could only be deadly, engulfs me. I see nothing but the endless black fog of the night. I feel nothing but the crunching of autumn leaves under my boots. I hear nothing but that beautiful, beautiful voice.
Which is strange. On a night like this there should be fireworks. Children should be screeching with delight, parents should be yelling out cautionary warnings, and a colourful array of candy wrappers should be littering the streets. This street however, is completely and utterly empty.
A chill shakes me to my core. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice a dark, narrow alleyway and quickly decide that a shortcut may be useful on a night as strange as this.
The moment I turn the corner, an appallingly gruesome and deeply rotten stench makes my stomach churn. Trudging slowly forwards, I realize that this little alley is not surrounded by the brick walls which I had vividly seen a moment before, but is instead comprised of a six-door hallway, each one crimson and polished from head to toe.
This time is different. This time, the voice resonates in my bones and shakes the very ground. Andthistime,itisdistinctlycomingfromthedoormarked6 :00.Swiftlydecidingtoputanend to this taunting, I force the door open.
The odour, a magnified version of the rancid stench I smelled before, is what first meets me. It numbs my mind and waters my eyes, but I soon become thankful for this blurred vision.
In front of me lies a corpse in the process of decomposition. Insects fill his eye sockets, flies buzz around his matted hair, and the sound of rats squeak out through the tatters in his clothes.
Ululating with pure terror, I slam the door shut. The voice, this time full of anger and urgency, reverberates through the door marked 7:00. Without a second thought, I lunge through it, hoping to find the culprit at work.
What welcomes me instead is a stream of red ichor, as dark and shiny as the crimson polish on each door. The source, this time a child, lies motionless against the back wall. Gaping wounds are in the shape of slashes across her abdomen, and they seem to ooze an endless supply of blood.
I feel my lungs jump into my throat. Frantically trying to escape these horrors, I throw myself though the next door, marked 8:00.
I am met with nothing but darkness. I can’t see. I can’t feel. I can hear a distant clock tower ring 8 times, but then I hear nothing at all.
I can’t breathe.
Before sinking completely into the black night, two words — so gentle and beautiful that they could only be deadly— escape my lips: