CSM Creative Writing proudly presents seven collaborative short stories written in honor of Halloween. Our writers were put in pairs, with one writing the beginning and the other the ending. We hope you enjoy!
Written by Joe and Braden
Wiping sweat from his brow, Gordon straightened up and stretched his back. The yard was clean. Finally.
An endless carpet of leaves had seemed to encompass each individual blade of grass earlier (a metaphor taking almost as much work as clearing the yard), but now the yard was green once more. Now they were all stuffed into one huge, orange bag. Fine work he’d made of it too. Fine work. It was time to go inside, grab a beer, find a book, try not to step on the LEGOs in the living room, and relax a bit in front of the fire. Then he could come back and tie the bag and leave it in the trash. But not yet.
The back door was flung open as he approached to reveal his daughter, Gracie, in a pair of overalls, a plaid shirt, and a light denim jacket. “Daddy!” she yelled, even though he was only six feet away, “You finished!”
“Yup. Jump right in darling,” Gordon replied, chuckling. The leaves were waiting. She made room for him as he stepped into the house. Then she dashed into the yard with a high-pitched laugh.
As Gordon opened the fridge, he heard a prolonged rustling sound from the yard coupled with some muffled yelling. Looking outside, he saw Gracie’s denim jacket sitting on the ground beside the leaf bag. He chuckled again, thinking of the energy of youth.
He made his way to the fire, avoiding the LEGOs, and began reading. Naturally, he immediately fell asleep.
Groggily, Gordon attempted to rouse himself.
“Gordon, where is she?! I can’t find her anywhere!”
Gordon’s wife, Gertrude, would looking down at him with concern.
“She went out to jump in the leaves. I fell asleep before she came in.”
They were both worried now (Naturally. I mean, what kind of parents wouldn’t be?). Gordon and Gertrude rushed out to the front yard, but Gracie couldn’t be seen—only a flattened pile of leaves and the orange bag. Gordon got a feeling that someone was watching him. They looked around the yard until they heard “Mommy! Daddy!”
They both looked to where the voice was coming from—the tree—and saw Gracie on one of the higher branches.
“Gracie! Get down here right now!” Gertrude shouted.
At the same time, Gordon yelled, “Gracie! How’d you get up there? I’m impressed!”
Gertrude slapped Gordon.
They got Gracie down safely, after which Gertrude scolded her for climbing so high where it was unsafe and to go to her room. Grouchily, Gracie grumped off to gouge her thoughts gregariously. Gee.
So remember kids (or parents), don’t let your kids go play in the leaves unattended. They might get stuck in a tree and have to grouchily grump off to gouge their thoughts gregariously.
2. Scare Crow
Written by Grant and J. West
Scarecrows always stood alone surrounded by an empty field of dead and dying vegetation. They were the silent watchers of the fall decay and the summer growth. But whenever Laya thought of them, they were always surrounded by a field of barren earth, or the remains of the season’s crops. She hated scarecrows. Such sad creatures. Pinned up and left to rot alone. She made it a habit to stay far away from them, wishing to avoid the dread that always rose up in her gut.
So when she found herself, arms crossed over her stomach, clenching shut her jacket against the cold, staring into the empty face of a scarecrow she had to ask, what had driven her to come this far out into the field? Maybe it was because this scarecrow was different. There was something odd about it. A sense of wrongness clung to it.
The face was made from a burlap sack stuffed full of old oily rags. Color left over from what looked to have once been eyes oozed down the fabric of the bag before it ran down onto the plaid shirt. Its arms and legs hung limply and swayed slightly in the wind. Something was definitely wrong with it.
Scarecrows were usually festive and goofy-looking. This one was too…dead.
Laya glanced around, this last thought scaring her. What had made her think that? Okay, maybe the color from its eyes did look a little like blood, but why should that make her afraid? It was just dye. And she’d always hated scarecrows, ever since she was little. It was probably just that.
She vividly remembered when she had been six or seven, and Grandfather had taken her out into the field to help him put up this same scarecrow. The cornfields that day were still in their prime; still rolling with green and yellow and gold leaves. But the moment they put up the new scarecrow, Grandfather had fallen off the ladder. Heart attack. They buried him a week later.
Perhaps scarecrows killed the things around them. Perhaps they didn’t protect the crops at all.
Laya forced herself to take a step closer to it. It had been sitting in this field for far too long. She trembled as another icy gust of wind raked its claws across her face. Her hand, somehow no longer connected to her brain, was moving to take off the scarecrow’s burlap sack. Was something under there?
Laya’s mind was screaming, “No! Don’t do it!”
But her hand was no longer listening. And when she felt the scratchy fabric against her dry hands, part of her wanted to close her eyes.
And when the scarecrow’s mask came off, Laya knew why her grandfather had died all those years ago. Because what was under that mask radiated evil and power and anger. And her body overloaded with the fear. He had died of fright, and no one had even noticed.
And Laya’s last thought before her heart gave out and she buckled to her knees was of a man of hay, standing before death and destruction, scavenging for fear like a bird.
He truly was a Scare Crow.
Written by J. West and Brody
Mark lit the first candle and stared at it. It stuttered to life, the new wick quickly turning from white to black, the red and yellow embers slowly becoming a flame. He watched it flicker helplessly for a few seconds until it stabilized, and took delight as it began to burn.
It was dark in the shop, and he was the only one there this late. Mark had never liked Halloween, and so he had volunteered to work that night while all his older co-workers took their children trick-or-treating. As soon as everyone had left and the sun had set, Mark had pulled out the candles; the electricity was on the fritz again.
Mark was about to light the second candle when he heard a slam near the back of the store, near the bathrooms.
“Is anyone there?” he asked. He’d intended for his voice to be loud, but it came out just above a whisper.
There was, of course, no response. It was almost stereotypical, the way something like this would happen to him on Halloween of all nights. Mark nearly laughed, the mirth rising in his stomach like hot air.
But then the first candle went out with a small “thwpp.” And Mark froze, his hands halfway through striking a match for his second candle.
“Hello?” he asked, this time hoping there wouldn’t be an answer.
And then an icy chill descended over him, and he felt something grab at his face.
“Got your nose,” said a snide voice.
“John, you had me going. I thought there was a burglar.” Mark blew out a relieved breath.
“Yeah sure. You’re afraid of being robbed…but a ghostly visit is normal for you? You need to sort out your priorities.”
“Haha, yeah, you’re right…” Mark chuckled as he kicked his demon summoning book under a table and out of sight. “What do you want?”
“Oh I just wanted to see how you were doing. Catch up. Have some tea.” John’s smile quickly faded into a frown. “You think I don’t know that you’re summoning demons? I will not tolerate you ‘having fun’ with another being from Beyond.”
“It’s not that-” Mark began.
“Then what is it?” John nearly shouted.
“I just- I just feel like you aren’t fully interested. Like my soul isn’t really worth that much to you.”
“And a demon would treat you better? Mark, seriously, why are you acting so hostile towards me. I’ve given you all you ask. You never worry about rent, all your enemies are mysteriously frightened to death, what more do you need?”
“Working lighting would be nice,” Mark muttered.
“Fine. When you decide you still care, call me on your Ouija board. Until then, I’m gone.” John vanished.
Mark sighed. He picked up the demon book. After staring at it for a moment, he put it on his bookshelf.
The full moon peaked through the curtains as Mark tried to light another candle. A fourteen year old walked into the store. Great, Mark thought, more teenagers looking for demon books. They never take this seriously. This kid, however, was not looking for books. He was looking for blood.
Written by Brody and Likith
Screams of horror resounded through the graveyard. Kathy, who bears no resemblance to any Kathy who ever attended Colorado School of Mines, ran towards the screams. She was horrified to find a boy who had been stabbed with a sword of dry ice. Above the trees, she saw a figure riding a broom towards the old, abandoned house on the hill.
Slowly, Kathy walked up the street and opened the tall, wrought iron gates. Her coat snagged on the gate, and when she turned, she saw a black cat sitting behind her. The cat hissed, and vanished before her eyes. The door creaked as she opened it and looked inside. She cautiously stepped through the door, which slammed behind her with a resounding bang! She carefully debated between the stairs in front of her and the kitchen to the right.
A pleasant scent of chocolate chip cookies wafted from the kitchen, so she followed her nose. She sat at the cold, wooden table and grabbed one. She bit into the cookie. It was surprisingly warm, as it didn’t seem like anyone had been around for a long time, and remarkably similar to the chocolate chip cookies her grandmother used to make. Oh, how she had craved for these exact cookies, whose recipes her mom simply could not master. It would always seem like something was amiss. Neither of them could ever place a finger on it. But these were different. It was at that precise moment when she realized that an ice-cold wave took over her spine, and the blood drained from her face, making it almost waxy.
It simply could not be. Her mom didn’t even know she was here, let alone the scant chance that she did, somehow, master the recipe overnight. And her grandmother couldn’t have just sprung back from the dead. Unless…
5. Dave The Cat
Written by Braden and Grant
A cat was walking down an alley. People called him an alley cat. He didn’t know why, but people are weird like that. Because “the cat” is going to get tedious to write and readers typically connect with a character better when they have a name, the cat shall be named Dave. Now, Dave was a black cat, partly because this story is being written by a Halloween-themed prompt, partly because I didn’t want to describe him too much. Oh, and Dave has green eyes, because eeriness. And because people seem to be obsessed with eye-color (I’m looking at you, Lit Majors).
Now Dave usually just wanders the streets looking for food, like and ol’ stray would do. Except this time, he felt as if something was watching him. No, not the people passing by on the street, nor the surveillance cameras on the light posts, nor the rotting fish sitting next to a homeless guys who has passed out with a bottle in his hand. It was the bottle, you see. Something was glimmering in the reflection, but Dave hadn’t the slightest idea what it was.
He crept closer, then used his above-average sense of kitty-awareness to locate what was in the reflection: dry ice. Why? Because it was on a white board and I felt like it should be in the story.
Now it should be said that this wasn’t just normal dry ice. This was the kind of dry ice that gave people the spooks. Or at least, given the purpose of this story it does anyways. Dave was taken back. What was dry ice doing in his reflection? He was just an alley cat going about his business not wishing to be disturbed, yet there it was, staring back at him from his own reflection.
Dave was smart though, his instincts said something wasn’t right so he turned and left the alley. After all what cat would ignore their instincts. And he was of no mind to spend any of the remaining lives he had. Since the last laser pointer incident he was certain that at least one of his lives was gone.
Back to the story, since this is supposed to be about something sinister watching Dave, it was rather clear that this wasn’t the last Dave would see of the dry ice.
6. The Boy in the Abandoned House
Written by Likith and Emily
A very unusual blend of fear and festivities sets in at this time of the year. What incident sparked this all off, I can’t help but wonder. This place I have now come to call home stuns me every other day. Here, the people celebrate their differences rather than try to hide them. I think a good example is the time of year they call Halloween. Although I haven’t experienced very many of these, I enjoy the smell of pumpkin pie that hangs in the air when the Forman family next door bakes them for their kids. Last year, they were even kind enough to spare me a piece. A sudden reminder that I wasn’t as invisible as I thought.
You may wonder why it is that I feel invisible often, and it’s not because people ignore me. Well, they do, but the reason they do, is because I am a ghost. Though I can keep up the image of being a normal human boy, it requires a large amount of my energy, and I tend to become as unnoticeable as a gray wall. When people actually notice me and go out of their way just to do something for me, it’s honestly quite a surprise. Even something as simple as sharing a piece of pumpkin pie is an act of kindness that I won’t easily forget.
I spend every day living as a normal person, but being normal is hardly easy when you have to remember not to walk through objects or pretend to eat three meals a day. I’m sure that people think there is something wrong with me, as I’m constantly saying things that are nonsensical to them or perhaps just outdated. Thus, I am the outcast of my class, deemed a “weirdo” and “strange”. So I am very thankful for any kindness shown to me.
Written by: Joe and Emily
It was Halloween in the year 2057. It had been a completely normal day with the usual parties and costumes. But as soon as the sun started to set, it would mark the beginning of the “Age of Devils”. At first, people speculated that the huge, black UFOs must be some sort of trick for a movie or just some crazy rich person gone wild with special effects. As they neared, it became obvious that this was not the case because each UFO was filled with devils. The devils were over ten feet tall and gave menacing glares while chanting something that sounded like a curse.
Fire began to rain from the sky, perhaps originating from the UFOs (shaped like huge shards of half-molten rock) and perhaps originating from the spaces in between.
The spell of Halloween was broken as trick-or-treaters disappeared in gouts of flame. Panic spread like the sugary sweets had before.
Then the devils came down. They had curling horns, like a bighorn sheep’s, but covered in spines. Dark, scaled plates adorned their torsos, their pairs of arms and pairs of legs. They hefted long, flaming whips as they herded humans before them.
Some brave souls tried to fight back with street signs, power tools, or just over-full bags of candy. But inevitably, they were felled by devil-flames and sent burning into the night, beacons of despair to all that beheld them.
The invasion had begun.
And maybe prophetically, we were losing.
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