The Coquitlam Public Library and the Port Moody Public Library once again partnered with the Tri-City News to present the Scary Story Contest, which asked young people to write a terrifying tale in time for Halloween. Dozens responded and librarians narrowed down entries to shortlists of about half a dozen stories in each age category. Here are the winners:
FIRST PLACE (ages 11 to 14)
The Person Who Stole My Heart ... and My Liver, and My Stomach
By Wen Qin Li
The insistent beeping of the heart monitor was the first thing I heard. My sleep-heavy eyes blinked open to almost complete darkness, with flickering lights from the hallway. The hospital was empty, unmade beds put to the side, as if people left in a hurry. The room had a spectral feeling to it, as I lay staring at the bone-white ceiling and curtains before sitting up. I knew something was wrong, for when I had fallen asleep some hours ago, the hospital was buzzing with energy. Glancing at the clock, I noticed it had stopped, at exactly twelve. I stood up, feeling the coldness of the tiles. With the little light from the hallway, I made my way to the open doorway.
The hall was silent, and the lights were dimmer than their usual intense brightness. With the quietness and near darkness of the hospital, it seemed no different than an old mausoleum, having housed plenty of corpses. Taking hesitant steps, I shuffled down the hallway. The lights overhead flickered, plunging me into darkness for a second before lighting up again. The hallway stretched out before me, getting darker and darker as I wandered.
As I passed by another door, I heard a sloshing sound. Stepping back, I realized my foot was now wet. Squinting at the sticky liquid on the floor, I froze when I recognized the liquid to be blood. I stood there for a moment, then panic took over and I ran back down the hall. The lights kept flickering as doors whizzed pass me on either side. My heart was jumping into my throat, and I was beginning to feel uncoordinated, stumbling and tripping over my own trembling legs. Racing down the endless hallways without thinking, I could only hope to find the exit of the hospital.
Out of breath, I halted in front of a lengthy window, the edges looked to be cracked and the glass smudged at a few places. I shifted my gaze from the floor up to the clear window, expecting yet another empty room. My eyes were met with bright lights and a macabre sight. In the center of the room, there was a patient on the operating table, who seemed to be peacefully asleep. What caught my attention the most was the bucket on the side, filled to the brim with a long tube, part of it still connected to the body lying on the table. Bloody pieces of what I assumed to be organs were neatly lined up on the tray on the nearby counter. Bile rose to my throat, and I tried desperately to fight it down. Standing next to the mess on the table was a man with a scalpel. In his hand was the victim’s heart, dripping with blood and still beating in his steady fingers. My hand went to my mouth as my stomach spasmed, causing me to shift my gaze downwards. I looked up to see the surgeon staring back through the glass.
SECOND PLACE (ages 11 to 14)
Man’s Best Friend
By Natasha Mayzel
Two figures sneak through the cemetery. Sneaking, wholly unnecessary, as they are alone. At night. In a cemetery. But if they suppose they wish to sneak, who should stop them?
They sneak to an ancient mausoleum, where a discussion takes place, then a map drawn, knives sharpened.
Hidden away at the edge of the cemetery, bathed in the spectral light of the moon, a plot is born.
The dark and stormy weather was reflected upon Mr. Thomas’s mood as he was preparing for tonight’s auction, then as he and Mrs. Thomas tucked little Jen into bed. His mood, unlike the weather, improved greatly once he and Mrs. Thomas arrived at the grand ballroom the auction was held at, and was in the company of those of considerable wealth.
It seems like Mr. and Mrs. Thomas will have a good evening. I’m afraid I cannot say the same for those at home.
The figures slip from an alley, into the darkened street. Now, quite fitting to the circumstances, they sneak to the backside of the house and break the lock to the kitchen window.
The plot born of spectral moonlight and a musty mausoleum, begins.
Jen was always a sound sleeper, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas counted on it, but tonight, she awoke at a loud thud coming from the kitchen. Frightened, Jen sought comfort in the form of her loyal dog, Tuesday, who slept on a cushion by her bed. She put her hand over the side of the bed, letting Tuesday lick her fingers, and safe, with her dog by her side, she fell asleep.
The kitchen window opened soundlessly. The same cannot be said of the figures. The first, landed in the kitchen on sure feet. The second, fell to the floor with a thud that shook the silverware. Both froze at the sound of padding footsteps on the stairs. Tuesday came around the corner and growled low in his throat.
“Take care of it,” the first one hissed.
Jen awoke at another noise. She put her hand over the side of the bed for Tuesday to lick. Again, she fell asleep.
The figures swept through the house, jewelry, silverware, all brushed into their growing bags.
A thud from the hall woke Jen with a jump. Noticing Tuesday was gone, she crept out of bed, tip-toed down the hall and opened the bathroom door…
…and screamed at the macabre sight.
Tuesday’s limp form lay in the washtub, and on the wall, with terrible, crimson letters was written: Humans can lick hands too…
Heart racing, she spun around, to a figure in black standing in the doorway. That wasn’t Tuesday beneath my bed!
A bag was thrown over her head. She wanted to scream, she wanted to kick, but she was trembling, and her tongue felt like lead, and her tears felt like flames tracing down her face and Tuesday, Tuesday, Tuesday- !
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas came home that night, shocked and devastated. Jen Thomas did not.
THIRD PLACE PLACE (ages 11 to 14)
By Annaliesa Coupe
We were crowded outside the door of the arena. To celebrate my friend Sarah’s birthday, she took us to Chase Arena, only the newest and coolest party place around. It’s like hide and seek tag, I think. But a clown is ‘it’!
They let us in and led us to our arena. It was a maze of walls and ramps, and a door on the far wall.
“The clown will come soon,” our guide said. “Remember, three rounds. Ten minutes each. Good luck.” With that, she locked us in.
Sarah clung to my arm. “Let’s go!” she hissed excitedly.
Our party spread throughout the maze, and soon red lights flooded everything. An alarm sounded.
“Attention,” a voice over a speaker commanded, “The clown is OUT!”
We squealed and squirmed as we heard large pounding footsteps by the other door. The clown?!
Sarah bolted to where most of the other girls were.
I was about to follow her when the clown came near. He followed them instead. I noticed he carried a metal bat.
A bat. A metal bat. This was alarming.
I ran in the opposite direction, ducking behind a wall. I slunk into the shadows.
A scream pierced my silence, followed by a clunk and a whimper. Another scream. That sounded real.
I abandoned my place and stayed as far as possible from the clown as I could.
But before I could go much farther, I spotted blood running down a ramp behind a wall. My heart beating in my throat- I rounded the corner. Amanda, from my class, was lying there, bruises marking her forehead. How… macabre! A huge cut was bleeding uncontrollably from her head, as well as her neck and arm. Her face was spectral as that clown’s white face paint. I gasped as quietly as I could. What was the point of this… “game”?
I remembered something I learned in health class. I glanced around for the clown before kneeling beside Amanda. I stuck my finger under her nose. There was no breathing flow.
That could only mean one thing- the clown! Or… the killer clown. Enough was enough.
I managed to make it through the round. Only two more to go… I hoped tonight I’d be lying in my bed- not my mausoleum.
“You made it through round one… congratulations! Team meeting time,” The speaker voice announced cheerfully. “The next round will start in two minutes.”
We met around Amanda’s body.
“They got Sarah,” Anna wept. “She was the birthday girl!”
“And Tess. And Lily,” Samantha added sadly.
“We need a plan…” I said slowly.
“Time’s up!” Red light flooded the arena. We scattered. The pressure was on.
I heard a crack and Samantha’s scream. I cringed into the shadows.
But soon he cornered me.
“Don’t,” I warned. He squinted and smiled.
“I’ll give you anything you want,” I begged.
“Will you?” He flashed his teeth, revealing two fangs. Wait… Chase Arena was …where vampires quenched their thirst?!
Then he swung the bat.
FIRST PLACE (ages 15 to 18)
By Ciara Albrecht
A girl stands in front of a mirror, in a round room with marble walls. Built like a mausoleum, it houses the dresses of prom queens past, remnants of their tiaras gleaming in the dim lights. Her skin has a spectral quality, almost translucent in nature. She wears a blood-red silk ball gown, with white lace circling bony wrists. The color is everything she imagined, a deep velvet all her own.
Her eyes have sunken into her skull after late nights spent working, but it all will be worth it for the look on their faces. Awashed with awe, they wouldn’t notice the stains on her fingers or how her face was tinged purple and pink.
They will love me, she thinks.
She plucks a necklace from the assistant, the woman stiff as a board, and she pushes the body out of the way of the door. As she walks, she imagines a tiara. Adorned with strands of hair pulled from the undeserving owner, the black clashes with blonde as she crowns herself. She twirls the skirt, blood splashing marble walls, just like it had hours earlier. She laughs at the macabre scene, leaving behind the assistant's corpse, withering and drained of blood.
Her mood is spoiled by stained lace. She sighs. She will dye it red as well. She kneels before the store owner, impaled upon a stiletto heel. Smiling, she yanks it out and they let out a shuddering gasp, reaching out to her before falling limp. She grabs her cup and shoves it under the wound, the blood pools in the bottom and she pours it over the lace. A laugh escapes her lips as she leaves through the back door. She wipes the bloody shoe on her soaking dress and marches towards the graduation.
That night, a body was found in the school gym. Lying amidst the decorations for the dance, a streamer is wrapped around her neck like a scarf poorly disguising the stab wound. Her black hair spills over the wooden floor, raggedy and unbecoming of a prom queen.
The girl who reported it shuffles her feet and holds a tiara to her chest, her high heels clacking on the floor as she is dismissed by the officer. He watches her leave, her red gown swaying as she walks. He looks down at the red dye splattering the floor and he wonders why—
No one else saw the body.
SECOND PLACE (ages 15 to 18)
Follow Your Gut
By Charlotte Moon
“Have fun!” Mom waves goodbye. Butterflies jump in my stomach. It feels weird to be going trick-or-treating without her. Carter doesn’t seem to mind. He giggles when our neighbour Holter, opens the car door for him, chattering about Minecraft, candy, and Naruto—who he’s dressed up as tonight. Holter nods but says nothing. Must be hard to talk under his mask. He’s dressed as the scream.
We park on the best trick-or-treating block in town. It smells bad in the car. Carter squirms impatiently.
“Holter, our seatbelts won’t undo.”
Holter grunts, pressing a button beside the speedometer. Our seat belts snap open. Carter’s eyebrows shoot up. “That’s some high-tech childproofing.”
Stepping outside, I gulp lungfuls of brisk night air. Holter should try mouthwash.
I jog after my brother. Mom told me to keep him safe.
It’s late, the streets are now deserted. Bags full, we’ve hit every house on the block. Satisfied, we head back to the car. Carter shows Holter his loot. Holter says nothing. He’s been standoffish all night, speaking to no one, practically a stranger under that mask.
Holter unlocks the car and waves us in.
Something seems off. My insides churn. I freeze. Inside the car, Carter glances at me questioningly. Not sure I should, I get in the car with my brother. “Keep him safe”.
We start moving. I can’t shake this queasy feeling.
In the stillness at a stoplight, like thunder through a mausoleum, a growl echoes through the car.
“Jeez, want a Snickers?” Carter offers Holter. Gosh! Was that Holter’s stomach?
Suddenly we swerve — in the wrong direction.
“Where are we going?” I yank at my seatbelt. It won’t budge.
“STOP THE CAR!”
We skid down a narrow gravel road, the lights of the freeway fading.
We grind to a stop.
Rummaging through the glovebox for something, Holter steps outside. He stalks around the car, opens our door, and sets a rusty carving knife and long-tined fork on the seat next to us.
He pulls off his mask.
I shut my eyes against a putrid stink of dead things, hot rancid breath falling thick on my face.
Carter shrieks. My heart lurches. Inches from Carter’s face, sickly scaly skin stretches over a head without eyes, smooth except for a gaping hole, filled with jagged, rotting teeth.
I see the knife coming toward Carter’s throat. Instinctively, I kick Holter—no, the monster in the gut. The monster topples backward out of the car, its knife sticking in the seat beside me. I grab it, slice through our seatbelts, and yank Carter out the other side, the monster, grasping behind us. I slam the car door behind me, a macabre crunch of metal on bone. A spectral scream follows us hungrily up the gravel path as we scramble away.
The car revs to life, killing our hopes of escape.
I push Carter into the ditch at the side of the road. “Stay quiet.”
A moment later, the car is upon me.
My world goes black.
THIRD PLACE (ages 15 to 18)
The Other Side
By Jordan Hachey
It was a Tuesday afternoon. We had just landed in Bodrum, Turkey. After picking up a rental car, we departed to visit my parents. While my husband, Yusuf, drove and my son, Emir, sat eagerly in the back, I reminisced about my childhood. As we passed the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, a renowned Bodrum tourist attraction, the rain started to pour.
“Baba, look out!” exclaimed Emir, as a caracal scampered in front of our car. Yusuf slammed hard on the brakes. I screamed as we skidded across the road. I sensed the weight in the vehicle shift, the blood rushing to my head as I realised we were flipping over.
I slowly opened my eyes. An appalling wreck stared back at me. The car? Destroyed. Shattered glass and debris littered the road.
“Emir!” I yelled as I struggled to turn around.
Emir was gone.
Macabre thoughts suffocated my mind, but I pushed them aside. To my left, Yusuf was unconscious, his head flat against the deployed airbag. My leg was bleeding. An intense, piercing pain in my chest overpowered all sensations. I rolled myself out of the wreck, fighting through the agony. I desperately needed help.
The doleful rain had stopped. Oddly enough, the ground was bone-dry. How long had I been unconscious? And where was Emir?
An unbearable ten minutes ticked by. I scoured the area, but Emir was nowhere to be found. Yusuf was conscious and barely hanging on. Finally, the ambulance arrived.
“My son, he disappeared!” I explained as the paramedics loaded us into the ambulance.
They advised me not to worry; it was imperative to get Yusuf and I to the hospital.
Yusuf was rushed into surgery. He was in critical condition. The doctors assured me they would fight to save him. As for myself, the nurse’s assessment implied I didn’t need urgent care. I merely awaited a chest scan.
As I lingered in the waiting room, I observed a distressed man arrive, his clothes drenched in blood. Shortly after, a stout woman was brought in with a chef’s cleaver wedged in her skull. Her ghastly face was visibly riddled with fear. What had happened to these ill-fated people?
Hours had elapsed since they left with Yusuf. The pain in my chest was nearly gone. Why was the dry air so unbearably hot in here?
“Carina Yavuz?” a spectral-looking nurse called out.
I felt morbidly uneasy.
“Sorry for the wait, Hon. I heard about your son. Bittersweet he won’t see you for a while, isn’t it?” she enquired with a fake smile.
“I don’t understand. Where are my son and husband?” I asked bewilderedly.
“Your husband is just fine,” she said, grinning wide. “He almost got pulled to the other side, but we narrowly managed to save him. He’s not going anywhere.”
“But what about Emir? I searched all over but-“
“Don’t you understand, sweetie? Your son didn’t make it,” she said sympathetically.
“He’s… dead?” I said, as dread filled my heart.
“No, Hon. You are.”