Just when you thought it was safe to open the newspaper, it’s the return of ... Ghastly Ghost Stories!
Want to scare the wits out of your fellow Evening Sun readers?
Enter our annual Halloween fiction contest!
The Evening Sun’s Ghastly Ghost Stories competition is returning for another year of spooky fun.
This year the contest will be open to students grades 5-12 and to adults. Entries should be 1,500 words or less. Prizes will be awarded for the best story in each age group; fifth and sixth grade, seventh and eighth grade, ninth through twelfth grade and adults.
The winning story in each category and selected others will be published in The Pumpkin Vine, a special section of the paper that will be included in the Thursday, Oct. 29 edition, prior to the Norwich Pumpkin Festival. Winners will receive a certificate of accomplishment and gift certificates from First Edition Bookstore in Norwich! Questions? Call Melissa Stagnaro at 337-3071.
Submit your most terrifying tales via e-mail only to:
The Evening Sun
Put “Ghastly Ghost Stories” in the subject line!
DEADline Thursday, Oct. 21!
To get things started, our ES staffers have penned their own terrifying tales. Can you do better?
The Ghost Town of Baskerville
By Brian Golden
Sam Pryce walked slowly down the vacant streets of Baskerville pondering his current situation and what to do about it. At 42, he was convinced this was likely his last stroll down Main Street and he was more than ready to kick back, relax and watch the ball game. As he turned left down Maple Street and reached into his back pocket for the key to his apartment, a slow procession of school buses, and fans of the town’s football team, limped by.
Must’ve been one hell of a game, he thought idly as he opened the door and stepped inside. Probably beat us by 50 points or so.
The Baskerville football team’s lack of ability was a sore point for locals and it had been years since they posted a winning season, much to the dismay of everyone in town, minus Sam. He had very little use for pretty much anybody or anything these days and the sooner he could beat feet and start over somewhere, anywhere else, the better.
Stepping into his apartment, Sam flicked on a light, tossed his coat on the couch and proceeded into the kitchen for a cold one, grabbing the television remote and a bag of chips from the shelf above the sink. He glanced around the nearly empty apartment and pondered what tomorrow would bring.
Time enough to think on tomorrow when tomorrow gets here, he mused. Maybe it’s best I just go, there’s nothing for me here and it’s not like anyone’s really gonna miss me.
Since the loss of his wife Megan five years past, Sam had been running on auto pilot, content to live cheaply and alone. The money from the sale of their house made it easy for him to simply disappear for the most part, and the only friends he’d retained, Mike and Debbie Watson, were his sole connection to his previous life.
Have to give Mike a call and tell him what’s up, he deserves to know, thought Sam. Probably going to give me an ear full, but maybe he’ll understand.
The fact of the matter was Sam had finally realized there were simply too many memories here in Baskerville and he was sick and tired of rehashing the same old depression again and again. It was too much for him and he needed a new start. The trouble was, he wasn’t even sure where to go or what to do. He’d never lived anywhere else, besides his four years at the state university, and he was unsure how he would feel about leaving his hometown for good.
With a sigh Sam turned on the ball game and settled into his favorite chair. Megan had hated the ratty old thing but allowed him to keep it stashed in his game room back in the day. Now it was one of his only possessions.
Closing his eyes tiredly, Sam took a deep breath and tried to relax. A half-hour later found him deep in slumber.
Sam awoke with a start and flinched as the strange, bone-deep chill bit into his body. He found himself still seated in his beat-up recliner and wondered crazily what was happening. The light of a chill Harvest Moon shone like liquid silver through the apartment’s small windows and Sam could see frost gathering quickly, impossibly fast, along their frames.
What in God’s name is going on, he thought as he jumped up and walked cautiously toward the window. It feels like it’s about twenty below in here.
As he neared the now-frozen window, his breathing short and fast, Sam felt keenly a strange sense of terror emanating from outside the apartment. And it was getting closer. Retreating backward, he tripped heavily over the small end table adjacent to his chair and fell hard to the floor. The feeling of fear had increased with each passing moment and Sam was convinced he was on the verge of a stroke or heart attack. Just as he felt the approaching menace reach his side, he clenched his eyes shut and began to pray senselessly. In the next moment – nothing.
Opening his eyes warily, Sam could still feel the residual effects of the mind-numbing fear which had debilitated him. Looking up, he saw the windows now frost free and unbelievingly he stared at the mysterious figure, clothed in a misty white ankle-length nightgown, standing before him. A sense of peace and calm washed over him and before he could speak the figure of his wife turned to him with a sad smile, lifted a hand in fairwell and vanished.
What just happened to me, he wondered. Am I going insane?
The next morning found Sam determined to speak with Mike and Deb about last night’s strange occurrence. He waited as long as possible and finally picked up the phone just after 8 o’clock. When the answering machine picked up after a half-a-dozen rings he hung up the phone with a frown.
Mike should be up and getting ready to go into the office about now, he thought. Wonder what’s going on?
A half-an-hour later he called again, with the same result.
At 10 o’clock, after two hours of receiving no answer, Sam decided to walk over and see what was up. He grabbed his coat and keys from the couch and headed quickly around the corner to Mike and Deb’s. The town seemed strangely quiet and Sam was confused as to the lack of traffic. People should be up and about by now and a feeling of strangeness permeated the air. The smell of late fall and the changing leaves seemed foreboding rather than comforting and Sam began to fear the worst. Something was very wrong.
Mike and Deb’s two-story home seemed perfectly normal, yet Sam spied the family’s small car still in the driveway wondered uneasily what was going on. When his repeated knocks went unanswered, he sat, confused, on the front steps. Remnants of last night’s fear threatened to overwhelm him and finally he decided to try again. When he again received no answer, Sam tried the door. Unsurprisingly it was unlocked, as crime in a small town like Baskerville was, for the most part, nonexistent.
“Mike, Deb, where are you guys?” he shouted, walking down the hallway into the large kitchen and den. “Anybody home?”
In the kitchen, the remains of last night’s dinner sat untouched at the table, along with a half-a-glass of red wine and Mike’s briefcase. A quick walkthrough and it was obvious, no one was home. Sam proceeded outside and tried the neighbors house. Up and down the street he knocked on doors, rang doorbells and shouted, all to no avail. It was as if the entire town had up and moved. No cars moved on the street and the town had an air of emptiness. Confused and more than a little frightened, Sam stumbled aimlessly through the city. Hours later he had come to the conclusion that the Town of Baskerville, unexplainably, was abandoned.
Sam Pryce never did find out what had happened that strange, autumn evening. He was certain that his terrifying experience that night was in some way related to the disappearance, just as he was convinced his wife’s shadow had saved him somehow. He was sure no one would believe his strange tale and spent several days searching for someone, anyone he remembered. It was as if the community of Baskerville had ceased to exist. Sam had never had many friends and had been considered somewhat of a loner. Now, truly alone for the first time, Sam considered his options. Ultimately, he decided to stay in Baskerville, hoping that someday this strange occurrence would be explained. As his sanity gradually slipped away, Sam would wander about town, speaking to people that weren’t there, conversing with strangers invisible to anyone but himself. Forgotten by the rest of the world, the Town of Baskerville remains an empty shell of its former self, population – one.