Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2005
Middle School Winners

Third Place

Our third place middle school entry was written by Barton Graded School eighth grader Katey Hahn of Barton, VT.

Selena and the Ghosts of Hallows Eve

Katey Hahn

No, she couldn’t know, of course not. How could she? thought Selena.

“Uh, Selena? I asked if you were going trick-or-treating this year?” Tammy, the new girl to the eighth grade, was walking alongside Selena to math class, chattering all the way.

Selena came back from her uncomfortable thoughts to realize that Tammy didn’t know, couldn’t know, what happened to Selena’s mother five years ago on Halloween.

“Oh, um, sorry. I don’t know if I’m going trick-or-tricking. Usually I don’t. Why?” Selena found her desk in the math room, and Tammy slid into one beside her.

“Well, if you were, I thought maybe you’d want to go with me. I mean, this will probably be one of my last years, since I’m 13, and if I don’t go with a friend, I’ll be stuck with my little brother, and all he does is—“

“Alright eighth grade, pull out your homework,” Mrs. Franklin calmly cut through the clattering of the classroom with her patient voice. All noise came to an abrupt stop.

“Well, anyway,” Tammy whispered out of the side of her mouth, “you can think about it, Selena.”

Five years ago, Selena was eight years old and dressed as a witch for Halloween. Her father and mother walked her up the streets of her small Delaware community, and everything was normal; she got her candy and was scared at everything that moved. A typical Halloween. Then something weird happened. Selena had always had a strong connection with her mother. They knew what the other was feeling; they knew the right words of comfort for each other. Selena was always aware of their special bond. But on that eerie night, Selena couldn’t feel her mother. The part of Shilly, her mom, which lived inside of her couldn’t be found.

They were walking up Gold Street when it happened. Shilly’s eyes glazed over. Selena could feel something going dead inside her, like a light flickered off and she couldn’t see or feel the part of her mom that used to be there. Shilly kept glancing behind her, like someone was following, and Richard, Selena’s dad, noticed too. Then, without warning, Shilly screamed. Selena’s heart leapt into her throat.

At that moment Selena wasn’t aware of what her mother screamed about, all she knew was that their connection reawakened. Like something took over Shilly’s mind for a moment, but let go when she screamed.

Selena felt her mother’s fear, all around her. The trees on one side of the road and houses on the other seemed to be hiding secret spirits. Selena felt exposed to the dreaded thing. It was coming for her, it traveled through the darkness and tugged her away till she screamed and clung to her mother—

And that is all Selena remembered. Next thing she knew, her father was coaxing her awake. She was lying on the ground, shaking like an earthquake. Why weren’t the houses falling to the ground? she wondered. I’m shaking enough to crumble the foundation of earth…

“Selena, oh my god, you’re okay! Are you okay?” Richard’s voice floated in her mind. Finally giving in to reality, she saw she was still on Gold Street, but the darkness had stopped reaching for her. A large group of trick-or-treaters huddled around her. The ghouls and skeletons and the occasional fairy stared at her with worry in their eyes.

Her father helped her to her feet. She didn’t get an explanation; they just stumbled home in a daze and didn’t sleep that night. Later, she finally found out that Shilly had kept on screaming, and when Selena clung to her, she broke away and walked stiffly into the woods, whether unwillingly or to face her fear Richard didn’t know. No shriek of her name could call her back. Richard would have gone in after her if it weren’t for Selena who had fainted and lay on the ground. The whole time he was tending Selena shadows flew behind the trees but no sounds came.

It wasn’t until the morning after Halloween, when Selena knew she needed to search for the connection. Any memory of her mother that could invoke her spirit. But she couldn’t do it. She was too afraid of what she would or would not find.

Selena had never gone trick-or-treating since.

It was one week from Halloween. Selena knew that Tammy was getting impatient. If only Selena could face her fear. But this time her fear wasn’t her mother. It was her dad. After the searchers had failed to find her mom, her father had been touchy about the subject of Shilly. He was willing to talk about it with Selena or her twenty-year-old brother Jeremy, if they needed to. He didn’t become emotionally detached or anything, because he loved his children too much. But really, there was no point in talking to him about Shilly, because though he tried to stay happy about it for his kids, al he really wanted was for them to shut up. Besides, talking about Shilly with anyone was usually what Selena tried to avoid. It was the thing she feared most. If she talked about it, who knew what undiscovered clue she would find in her memory that told her what really happened. She always feared the worst.

But maybe this Halloween would be different. She was going to find out.

Richard was sitting on the couch in the living room, watching TV. Selena shuffled in, plopped down next to him and tried not to draw attention to herself.

They watched in silence for a while. The Thursday night reality shows were on, and the drama of the insignificant squabbles was escalating.

Selena took a deep breath, and just spilled it out.

“Dad, can I go trick-or-treating with Tammy?”

The question hung in the air in clear view, it seemed, to anyone who walked in. Certainly if anyone was to walk in now they would see the words and how Richard was squirming inside because of them. The only part he registered, it seemed, was trick-or-treating.

“Oh, well, what?”

Self-doubt trickled into Selena’s mind and she almost backed down. But she had never been one to give up. She plowed right along.

“Can I go trick-or-treating with Tammy? She wanted to go with me, and she’s new so it would be nice if she had a friend. Plus if I don’t she’ll be stuck with her six-year-old brother.” She ignored the cold stream of doubt and focused on the TV. She knew her dad would need time to process this. What if something else happened? Will I be forced, after five long years, to remember her? were probably some of the questions running through his head.

“Don’t worry dad. You don’t need to come.”

Richard sighed and said dismissively, “Okay, if you’re sure,” and with that, the discussion about Halloween was over. Selena got the hint and made a beeline for the exit.

She ran up to her room to call Tammy. She was glad that he said yes, because Tammy was really nice and she didn’t want her to be disappointed. But on the other hand, Selena had half hoped Richard had said no. But this way is better, she decided.

After one ring Tammy picked up the phone.

“Hello?” she asked eagerly. A phone call was probably a pleasant surprise to Tammy and her family since they just moved here and didn’t know very many people.

“Hi, it’s Selena.”

“Oh hi! So did you ask your parents?” Tammy asked.

“Yep. My dad said I can go!” Despite everything, Selena was starting to feel excited.

“Awesome! We have soccer practice tomorrow, so how about we go look for costumes after?”

“Oh right, soccer! Sounds like a deal. See ya then!” Selena practically shouted.

“Bye.” Tammy and Selena hung up.

Selena had almost forgot about soccer. Ever since her mother’s disappearance, she had flung herself into so many activities to keep her mind occupied that she couldn’t keep track. She was in soccer, the writing club, chorus, an art class, and basketball would be starting up soon. The only one she actually liked was the art class. Her quiet personality and a bunch of activities where she had to be around people didn’t really mix. That’s why she was so uncomfortable with her life right now. She felt muddled. But what was she supposed to do? Sit around and let certain memories catch up with her?

One week later Selena was standing in front of her mirror in her blue room. A witch with a crooked nose, a green face, pointed hat and a spider-infested dress stared back at her. Her straight, whitish blond hair didn’t really go well with the green, but her wide blue eyes gave the right effect for a witch. That was the only flaw she ever found with her face. Her eyes gave her a permanent deer-in-the-headlights look. That, and she didn’t much like her pointy, elf-like ears. But they were tucked under the hat.

Seeing herself in this costume reminded her of picking it out. Her and Tammy had so much fun shopping. Selena found that Tammy’s personality fit right into her own. A quiet and shy but also strong and independent Selena clicked with the talkative and outgoing Tammy. If Selena ran out of things to say, it was okay, because Tammy never did.

After trying on many costumes and laughing till they hiccupped, Tammy decided on a troll with a particularly gruesome face, and Selena on a witch. She had been thinking, and she had come up with a plan. She was going to find her mother. And in order to do that, she needed to relive that night five years ago.

After winking at her witchy self, she went out to meet Tammy


Tammy and Selena had made it to Harris Avenue. They both had two bags of candy so far, but Selena had a feeling they wouldn’t get much more because they would be taking a left up Gold Street next. In her stomach she felt a weight pulling her down to stay on Harris Avenue, so she knew something would happen soon.

“Wow this is really great,” Tammy said as they made the turn. “Oh, did you see that house? They had a skeleton, and it glowed and moved and I saw it…”

Selena was trying to listen, but she was also trying to find the exact spot where it happened.

Okay, she thought. This is Gold Street, we’ve passed the church, and the tiny purple house, and the culvert… Oh my god.

She stopped dead and stared across the street. The trees hadn’t changed at all. They still looked like black spiders, silhouetted against the pale sky, which was lit up by the full moon. Though it was a cloudy and hazy night, that couldn’t cover up the brightness of the moon. It lazily melted into the trees and cast shadows on the ground where anything, even Shilly, could be hiding.

“Uh Selena, should we keep going?” Tammy hovered behind her nervously, sensing the disturbance in Selena.

“Yeah, hold on okay? I’m just going to go in the woods for a sec.” Selena kept her eyes on the woods and, as though she were sleepwalking, went towards them.

“Well okay. Do you want me to come?” Tammy asked.

Selena didn’t answer, and she looked like she didn’t hear, so Tammy gratefully took it as a no.

She had a plan, but it wasn’t thought through very well. Mostly because Selena didn’t really know what would happen. She could of, all these years she could have known but had been too afraid. Afraid that her mother, the one thing she depended on to come back and rescue her from this life, was—

No. She wasn’t going to say it because it was not true. She wasn’t a liar.

As she walked towards the forest, she went over what she knew (or thought she knew): On Halloween, it’s easier to talk to the dead, because the veil between the worlds is thin. Possibly spirits were hiding her mother. In fact, she could feel some sort of presence lurking just behind the first trees. If she went right to a spot her mother was in, and remembered everything she could about her, finally, after five tedious years, she would connect with her mom and find her. She would face her fear, because her mother was still alive. She was, she was, she WAS.

That was her plan.

She came to the edge of the road. One more step and she would be inside. Nothing else mattered in the world. Selena took the step.

At first, nothing happened. She could feel doubt pouring through her. But then the leaves on the ground and the bare branches started rustling. It was not a windy night. Slowly whisperings formed in the movement of the forest, as if it took a moment for them to recognize her.

All of a sudden voices pounded in her ears.

“Oh look, another one!”

“She looks familiar…”

“Exactly like the one we took a few moments ago! Or was it years? You see, girl, time passes slowly in the spirit world, especially on All Hallows Eve. But you’ll shortly see that for yourself.”

They’re talking to me! Selena’s thoughts raced wildly. They’re talking about how I look like my mother!

“Oh your mother, was it? Well you’ll be a nice addition too, always looking for more. Alright, she’s thinking too fast, if we don’t move quickly she’ll be gone!”

No! thought Selena. Okay, it’s time. Let’s see…

Birthday parties, her mom always made the cake. Christmas, decorating the tree, happy faces. Her mother always had a happy face. Until Halloween. Her mom wore sunken eyes on a pale face as she stepped into these very woods.

That’s what she needed! That face. She just needed to keep looking at that. Next she explored every emotion in her heart. Feeling happy and content being sandwiched between her parents for Halloween. Then the scream, the bone-chilling fright, and the face. Nothing.

Don’t worry, she reassured herself, it’s just taking longer because I haven’t felt my mother in long time.

She had no other memories. Years of repressing them had worked.

Where was it? she thought. Where was her mom?

Finally, as the spirits gathered up and swarmed around her, she realized the thing she had been hiding from. The most terrible truth she ever had known. Her mother was dead.

The notion hit her like a blow to her heart, and she stumbled to the ground. Gasping for breath, she was desperately trying to get control of her mind, because as the truth was exposed that her mother was never coming back, so was everything she was hiding. The essence of her soul.

The spirits hungrily swooped around her, diving into her subconscious to eat away at her mind. She flailed in terror, as one spirit whispered,

“I see you…you are ours.”

Horror controlled her body as spirits let her in on the secret that they did with their prey. Taken and tortured they were, stripped of feelings and thought, just like they were doing to her now. What they had did to her mother.

This last sentence sent her head spinning in fury. They took her mother away from her! Well they weren’t going to get her too, were they?

Selena was never one to give up.

Suddenly, before they could take it away, a new thought exploded into her mind, as if her mother sent it to her from behind the walls of death.

“Your mother is dead but you are alive.”

She hung on to this one thought, a thread that lead her back to reality, because it was reality, the only part of it that mattered to her now.

The spirits shrieked in agony as Selena pushed them out of her mind and body and closed the door to her subconscious. This was exhausting by itself, but of course they didn’t disappear. Mouths wide open they started to suck her into the Otherworld where they could finish devouring her, because they never gave up either.

Besides, they were dead, so what did they have to lose? And the girl would be dead soon too, they thought, or worse. Another soul to share the misery.

But Selena couldn’t pay attention to any of that, because with the words of her mother ringing in her head, her love of life was renewed. She finally had a purpose again. To live the life her mother gave her, because she owed it to her. Simply that.

She plucked up her courage out of the jumble of other emotions swirling inside her, attempted a grim smile and turned her back on the ghosts. Her will was so strong that the vacuum mouths didn’t suck her in, more like she just walked in place. But finally she broke free, like she had the help of an unearthly power, walked out of the woods and didn’t look back.

After hardly any time at all, Tammy saw Selena burst out of the woods screaming, “She’s dead but I’m alive! She’s dead but I’m alive!” Selena ran across the road, slammed into Tammy, and they both tumbled over the grass. Hats and masks went flying, but they kept going anyway. Finally they stopped. Selena was laughing hysterically, one because she was so happy and re-energized, and two because she was trying to smother the horror of the ghosts ripping through her mind, and the black holes of their mouths. Tammy was utterly bewildered.

“Uh, Selena, what, uh, happened?” Tammy sat up and stared at her.

Selena stopped laughing, and started shaking instead. She sat up. “You’d never believe it. I don’t know if I do, either. But Tammy, I should tell you something. My mom is dead. Yep, that’s right, she’s dead. Five years ago exactly she disappeared. But you know what? I can finally face those facts. I can get my life back and move on. But I’ll never forget her. Ever.”

Continue to the 2nd place story

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