FIRST PLACE: 11-14 YEARS
Sofia Pareja, 12, Port Coquitlam
It started with the howling.
The sound was quiet at first, just some noise in the background of the radio or the TV. No one noticed it much. As the days passed by, though, it got more noticeable. It was in the background of all transmissions. Radio, TV, phone calls, they all had this strange, ululating shriek in the background.
The townspeople were already nervous. The first blood moon in a hundred years was due to pass over the town in a week. That normally wouldn’t scare people, but for the last few weeks the animals had been disappearing. Pets, farm animals, even animals from the zoo had been disappearing, leaving a bloody, gruesome splotch behind. Rumours and conspiracy theories flew around the town, but no one had any idea what was happening. The strange howling noise drove the town into a panic.
They put up a curfew. No one was allowed outside between 6 pm and 7 am. The town police rounded up a group of brave volunteers to be the night patrol, searching for the source of the howling. It was in the background of everyday life now, a constant reminder that something was there. Most people tried to ignore it, and hope that it went away.
The night patrol didn’t find much at first. They searched every nook and cranny, trying to find the source of the noise. The noise didn’t seem to be coming from anywhere specific, although some people claimed that it came from the ground. They spent many sleepless nights, searching dark alleys, and responding to the endless calls about missing pets. After about a week or so, they finally had a breakthrough. A farmer in town had reported a large hole in one of his fields that might be related to the noise.
The night patrol was sent out to investigate this hole. It wasn’t that big, but it was deep, and it stank of death and decay. There were twenty people in the night patrol group, so they decided to send ten down to investigate. The rest went back to search for new leads.
The hole led to a big underground cavern. The walls were wet and slimy, and there were many tunnels going in different directions. Suddenly, they heard a scream, a louder, less muffled version of what they’d been hearing all week. They hurried into the direction of the scream, holding out weapons just in case. When they reached the end of the tunnel, they found a horrifying sight.
A giant humanoid monster was sitting at the end of the tunnel. Animal bones and carcasses surrounded him, and the monster was eating a small cat. The missing pets were cowering in the corner, blood pooling on the ground beneath them like ichor. The monster turned towards them, smiling hungrily.
The group sent down into the hole never came back, but after they left, the noise stopped. Almost as if the monster was full at last…