Gazette reporter Stephanie Earls has written the beginning of a spooky tale. How it ends is up to you. Creative writers in grades one through eight are invited to finish the story, in 250 words or fewer, for the chance to win Halloween-themed prizes and publication in The Gazette. Email entries to [email protected] by Oct. 23. Entries must include the writer’s full name, grade level, school and contact information.
The Coffin Window
The zombie twitched to life, its milky eyes aglow with an eerie green light as it clawed the air for its next victim.
At least until the breaker tripped.
By the time my mom could reset the power, the first trick-or-treaters were hitting their stride across the street and a ghost was hovering on the sidewalk in front of our house.
“Good job,” said the ghost, surveying my now-static Halloween displays with what I hoped was appreciation of the best decorated yard in town. “If only it had a motion-activated animatronic zombie.”
I couldn’t see the ghost’s face behind the crudely cut eye holes of the costume, a sheet so long it trailed the ground on all sides, but I sensed a smile.
“Ancient house, ancient electrical. Guess I’m going to have to get rid of one of these guys,” I said, gazing around mournfully.
“Why don’t you run some of them on a different circuit?” the ghost suggested. “Plug the cord inside, fish it through that window there and — voila — back in business.”
“Good idea,” I said. Why hadn’t I thought of it?
I collected the extension cord and went inside to the big window in the sitting room that opened onto the front porch.
I plugged in the line, flipped the latch and gave the window an upward push. I felt a crack — not of breaking glass, but a skeletal, seismic pop emanating from what seemed like the building itself.
“It’s painted shut,” I yelled.
Beyond my own reflection, I could see my friendly neighborhood ghost had moved to the porch and now was directly on the other side of the glass. The voice sounded much closer though.
“Do you know why this window is larger than the others? Because in olden times, when the dead would lie in state, at home, they needed a window big enough for a casket to fit through. They called it the Coffin Window,” the ghost said. “You broke the seal. Try again. You push, I’ll pull.”
I planted my feet, leaned in and heaved.
This time, the window slid up so fast it was like it had been greased. So fast I lost my balance and nearly tumbled through the open casement — into a deep, cold, starless twilight that hadn’t been there when I walked inside a minute earlier.
A hand on my shoulder stopped my fall, but only long enough for the ghost to say two words, a sinister smile in its voice.