Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2004
Middle School Winners

Second Place

Our second place Middle School category winner was written by Rachel Rangsikul, a student at the J.M. Alexander Middle School in Charlotte, NC.

Gone But Still There

Rachel Rangsikul

My name is Lydia Rosenbom. Everyone just calls me Rose. I am an only child. I live in a small condo with my parents. I have a lot of friends, but many enemies. I don’t like the girls in my school and they don’t like me. That’s just my life. But the friends I do have are some of the very best! Like my best friend Sammie. I just met her this year but we hit it off the very first day. She is the best! We don’t argue (yet) but even when we fight over a boy she will just say, well I know it makes you happy so you can have him. Isn’t that sweet? And Jessica is sort of crazy. She talks a lot too. Well so do I, so I guess we go well together. We both are weird and strange. But I believe that’s what makes us unique. At least to us it does.

It all started when I was on the phone with Sammie. My mom called me into the kitchen, I told Sammie to hold on. I walked into the kitchen wondering if I did something wrong again. She said to me that she and dad never have spent any time together since I was born. I thought to my self, what about the time you went to Paris,  France for you anniversary? Or last weekend when you went out for dinner, then dancing? But, oh well, I’m only 13 nothing I can say that will change her mind. She said she had big plans with dad to go downtown to a masquerade party. She said I would need a babysitter. I was praying that I would get to stay home by myself, or stay at Jessica’s house then we could go trick- or- treating. I went totally mute when I heard the word grandparents.

I dropped the phone that I was holding behind my back. I could hear a faint sound yelling my name. My mom wanted to know what was wrong. I was still in shock. I grabbed the phone and ran to my room. I shut the door and held the phone up to my ear. “Hello?!” I could hear Sammie yell. I told her I would call back. I sat the phone down and fell on to my bed. I stared up at the ceiling still mute.

An hour later my mom came and knocked on my door. When she opened it I just managed to say “why?” She asked me why I was so upset.

I explained how I love my nana and my papa, but why them? I begged her to let me stay at Jessica’s house. Jessica’s mom and my mom were really close.

But she said my nana called last night. And of course mom had to tell her that she and dad were going to spend some quality time together. So, nana suggested that instead of spending tons of money on finding a babysitter, that I would just go to her house for the weekend. She only likes me because I’m young and don’t have arthritis. That way I can clean the litter boxes, feed, and bathe the little beasts. I hate cats! They smell, scratch, bite, and leave surprises under the pillow.

I begged, and begged for mom to let me take Sammie, or Jessica. She agreed to let me take both! She must have knew the misery I would have been in if I didn’t have anyone to share it with. As soon as she walked out I reached for the phone and dialed Sammie first. At least my acting skills will come in handy. When she answered I tried to make going to my grandparents house sound like fun. Surprisingly it worked! Then Jessica was next. She could come, but only because her mom was about to call to see if she could stay with us for the weekend, anyway. Her mom has a business trip and her dad works from 8 to 10 o’clock every night. And her parents don’t trust a 13 year old to stay home alone. Now I may actually have a decent time… or not.

Grumble, grumble, grumble, that’s what our car sounded like going down the gravel road. The small two lane road led to nana and papa’s house. My mom’s car can only seat four, and she has a small trunk. All of Jessica’s bags went in the trunk. I don’t know why she needed so much stuff, its not like we’re spending the week here! So my suitcase and book bag had to be scrunched up in the front with me. Sammie’s bags were stuffed in the back with her and Jessica. And what made the two hour trip worse was that my mom played music like, “The wheels on the bus” and “BINGO”. I tried to tell her we were not three anymore. But every time I tried to get a word in she would just turn up the music or sing louder. She probably didn’t want to hear me ask if she could take us back home or anything like that.

Eventually we pulled up to my nana’s and papa’s house. And of course there were half of the cats sitting outside glaring at us. And I saw “him” sitting on the front porch. He was so gruesome. It was my nana’s favorite cat. His name was Sugarpie. Every time I would come over he would always be sitting there watching me. Like he had nothing better to do. I noticed every time I would get out getting my bags he would run inside. And every night when I would go to pull my sheets back there was a pile of kitty droppings.

So, I would sleep on the couch every night.

Same as always, nana comes running out of the house with her arms open wide ready for a hug. And papa would just sit on the porch chomping away at his chewing tobacco. But just as I saw nana run out side I noticed something very different about her. It looks as if she had lost weight, and she had some drool on the side of her mouth. When papa came out he was different too. He had no chewing tobacco in his mouth, but I could tell he was staring at us hard. It was just so weird. They looked so hungry. And the lawn was a mess with all the grass grown up. It was normally neat and tidy. Papa always cuts the grass, rain or shine. I also saw two stones in the grass. I just thought it was rocks. I never paid attention to it. But, maybe I should have.

Nana grabbed me and held me tighter than ever. She smelled really bad. Like, something died. I thought she was just plucking chickens again. She asked who my friends were. When I told her she said they look tast… I mean… pretty nice. My mom told nana goodbye, we had our hugs and kisses. Then she left. As we walked up to the porch Jessica whispered in my ear asking me what I was so scared of. Cats, I thought to myself. When we got up there papa said “Hi!” and when he hugged me he said I smelled good. After that I sort of pushed away. I saw nana elbow him. That’s when he said he meant if I had any perfume on. I don’t wear perfume. I’m allergic. I thought they knew that?

When we stepped inside we all started sneezing except for nana and papa. Nana looked over at me and said that they have been so tired they didn’t feel like cleaning. That’s not like my nana. She always cleans even if there is a new episode of Dr. Phil on. The living room was covered with dust.

Nana told us to go upstairs to unpack, and then wash up for dinner. I pulled Sammie and Jessica up the stairs as fast as I could. I ran into the room, shooed all the cats out the door, then shut and locked the door. I told them how something was wrong. It was never this messy. Nana dusted even with a cold. Sammie told me just to lighten up a bit, so what if they were lazy. Jessica said the room was beautiful. She jumped onto the bed. When she landed a poof of dust popped up. We started coughing uncontrollably. Sammie went to open the door to let some of the dust out. When she did papa was standing in front of the door. Which was not like him, he was a strong believer in personal space and privacy. He told us dinner was ready.

We walked down the stairs and saw a feast in front of us. Nana said we looked hungry so she thought that we should eat up. We all sat down and ate in silence. Nana and papa just stared at us. Eventually nana said, well eat some more! Jessica asked for the rolls. Sammie thanked nana for cooking this big meal. It’s strange, because she didn’t even know Sammie and Jessica were coming. She roasted a whole chicken, made sweet potatoes, rolls, baked apple pie, green beans, corn on the cob, and sliced some water melon. We normally just eat some cold beanie weenies. She said, the more plump you are the better!

After dinner we went upstairs to our room. Again I shut and locked the door. Jessica said she felt bloated. So did Sammie and I. We thought it was just because we ate a lot. But when we woke up we couldn’t fit into our jeans. We actually had to wear our pajama pants that day. For breakfast, papa made eggs, ham, grits, and biscuits. After we ate, our pajamas even felt tight. I walked outside after breakfast. Then I noticed all of the other houses were empty. They usually were lit up with smoke coming out of the chimneys. But now the doors and windows had wood boards nailed to it. It looked dead. Just like my grandparent’s house. I thought that everyone just moved away. But why would everyone move away?

Sammie followed me outside. Soon Jessica came. I yelled into the house telling nana we were gonna walk up to the general store. We barely talked. Or at least I didn’t. I had more important things to think about. I almost lost track of where we were going. But I saw the big sign that said, The old general market.

When I walked in the man behind the counter looked at us strange. We walked around, got some candy sticks and went to pay. The man behind the counter asked us did we walk down here? I said, “Of course, my grandparent’s only live a mile away.” He said the closest houses are four miles away. I said my nana and papa live down Cherry Oak lane. He said no one lived down Cherry Oak lane. He explained that everyone moved out or died. I told him that my nana and papa live down there, and that I only want to pay and get out. He rang us up and said good bye. And strangely he said, “Good luck.”

As we walked back up to nana’s house we ate our candy and talked. I mentioned how everything was different. Sammie said it was probably just in my imagination. I asked her why our pants were not fitting any more. She said maybe it was because we were eating a lot. I told her we eat a lot at school too. She just shrugged her shoulders.

When I walked into the house I didn’t say anything and I told Sammie and Jessica to be quiet. I could hear them talking. They said that dinner would be great! They said dinner would be stew, with carrots, potatoes, and little girl. I almost shrieked when I heard it, but Sammie put her hand over my mouth. We ran back outside. I knew something was up. Jessica said we should run up to the general store and tell the man that my nana and papa were cannibals! I told her they weren’t cannibals, because if they were they would have already eaten us. Jessica reminded us of the story about a witch whose house was made of candy, and two little kids came and ate until they were fat, then the witch tried to eat them. Sammie had a scared expression on her face. She said the food we ate made us fat in just a day. I mentioned how my nana smelled, and there were two rocks in the grass. Jessica said she saw those too. And that they looked too perfect. We ran over to the rocks. I tried to hold back the tall grass because I saw writing on them.

When I held back the tall grass Jessica read out loud what it said. The first one said, Sylvia “nana” Smith, the second one said, Peter “papa” Smith. Then under them both it said 1959- 2003. Jessica gasped. I felt so weak. Sammie said if they died, how are they still here? There were three houses up the road from them. We ran up to each one and looked in the yard. Each one had stones for each person who lived there. Then at the last yard the stone read, “Died of poisoned water source.” That was it! Everyone died because of bad water. We ran up to nana’s house. We saw them in the yard so we hid. They got in the truck and drove away. They were probably looking for us. When they left we ran inside. I saw hanging up on the fridge was a notice telling them that their land was contaminated. And that they needed to leave, ASAP. So when they didn’t move the contamination killed them.

We heard the trucks rumbling sound pull up. We snuck out the back door. When we walked around to the front they were just walking into their house. Nana turned around and saw us, her eyes were glowing a bright fire red. She elbowed papa and they started to run after us. We screamed for help. Nothing much that could do, we were a mile away from civilization! I opened the truck door, we all scurried in. I used the screw driver to open the bottom of the truck and hot wire the truck. I know I’m only 13 but this was life or death, and I watch too many movies. We pulled away and rode up to the general store and called my mom. In a couple of hours she came to pick us up.

Later that night my mom looked on the computer and saw that Cherry Oak lane was contaminated and everyone there moved out, or died. I never spoke of that weekend again. I wonder how Nana and Papa are doing.

Continue to the 1st place story

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