Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2013
Adult Winners

Third Place

Our third place Adult winner is Leonard Varasano of Sea Bright, New Jersey. Mr. Varasano is a published author who also won this contest both last year and the year before.

Disinterred Bones

Leonard Varasano

He finished shaving and applied makeup foundation to cover any remnant of his beard shadow. Next, he did the eyeliner and false eyelash routine followed by a garish smear of red lipstick. The last item was the platinum wig with the heavy bangs and extended nape which he pulled over his bald head and quickly adjusted. Smiling into the mirror, he just loved the ghastly grimace preening back at him. He was ready now.


The girl had argued with her boyfriend for dancing and paying too much attention to the skinny blonde in the miniskirt. He told her to piss off and soon disappeared into the departing crowd with the blonde. I'll show him, she thought as she left the school gym, swallowing the pills and chasing them with a huge five gulp slug from a tepid forty ouncer she'd hidden outside in a tree hollow. Tears streamed down her face as it began to rain. Why do they always leave me, she thought as her legs started to numb and walking was no easy task.


He watched from a distance as the school dance ended and raucous students spilled out into the night. School dances were best; there was always a laggard, and for his purpose there was nothing better than a nubile straggler walking home along a deserted road in the dark, swaying from too many inebriants.

Eyeing the ever darkening sky behind the distant Twin Lights crowning the bluffs high above Sandy Hook Bay, he sensed the weather would soon work to his advantage. He cued the car's stereo, finding the sequence of songs with the throbbing drums and his pulse quickened with the thrill of the moment set to greet him.

Pumped by the drums, feeling strong and invincible, he sees the shape begin to materialize along the side of the dark road. Through the rain. The gloom. Hitching a ride. A young girl. Bravura!


The girl watched as the car pulled off the road several yards past her position. Her legs weren't responding well as the pills were now kicking full throttle. She nauseously wished she'd been able to better glimpse the driver but the rain was really coming down and she's soaked.

Even before her hand opened the door she heard the drums. While sliding in, she absently notes there's no dome light so she really can't make out the female driver too well besides the leering smile and weird looking wig. Pulling the door shut by the arm rest, she doesn't notice the interior handle is missing. Even so, dread quickly manifests through the numbness.

“Hello... my dear,” the driver said in a strangely timbred voice.


The priests offered no compassion. Each time the killer appeared at a confessional the presiding priest would invariably urge him to tell the police. After each murder he purposely traveled a distance from the previous church to a new one in order to avoid replicating a confession before the same priest. He was astounded all their responses were virtually the same: “The Sacrament of Penance requires your genuine intention of returning to God by acknowledging your crimes with true sorrow...then and only then may you possibly begin the process absolving you of mortal sin.”

During his last confession the killer had the audacity to appear before the same priest for a second time. After the priestly rebuke the killer countered. “But I brought flowers to each of their funerals.”

“You'd better call the police!” “I can't do that!”

“It's bad enough you've murdered all those young girls...why in God's name would you need to sever their arms too?”

The killer shrugged. “Well...they didn't need ‘em anymore. least I made sure their bodies were found...their family's got quick closure. You didn't see Bundy or Dahmer doing that.”

This priest could not possibly pretend empathy. The killer's second visit to this particular church was way over the top and the cleric's disgust burst forth like a tempest, his silhouette an imposing figure behind the translucent confessional screen. “You dare confess murder to me...twice...and then mention those names in here? You need to find yourself another clergyman!”

“What about my soul?”

“Who says you have one? Normally, I cite only the goodness of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, not Buddhist dogma...but... if you refuse to tell the police what you've done to all of those innocent girls, then I believe karma...will be paying you a visit.”

Freakin' priest.


Years had passed since he'd last buried a severed limb in the marshy expanse beyond the boardwalk's end. During the killing spree, there was one close encounter with a police detective armed to the hilt with cutting edge DNA forensic technology, but the investigation hit an evidentiary dead end with a flawed laboratory analysis.

When cross-dressing for his nocturnal forays within the dim lighting of his car, his innocuous bearing coupled with a skilled falsetto voice contributed greatly to his grand success as a mass murderer.

Yet, despite the tantalizing cat and mouse duel with the law and permanent risk to his freedom, one day he had awakened to find the rage had simply dissipated from his thoughts, the urge to kill diminished along with the joy of making the police look stupid. On that day the seemingly endless succession of dead girls had finally ceased at twelve victims.

Still, he'd often visit his secret graveyard, particularly after a storm surge had potentially submerged the marsh in a violent froth of salt water. He'd pretend to be bird watching, piping plovers in particular to anyone who'd care to ask, but in reality he was searching a certain sand dune for a glimpse of an errant limb protruding from the sea reeds, growing from the unconsecrated bog loaded with the severed arms of those he had murdered.

A casual observer would think nothing of the middle-aged, balding, rotund, bird watching man who certainly did not convey the threatening image some might expect a serial killer to project. His benign, almost droll appearance actually caused people to drop their guard and pay him no further mind.


Superstorm Sandy had come and gone; a century storm which utterly devastated the Jersey Shore and Staten Island, NY. People died, towns were decimated, homes destroyed and many were permanently uprooted from their communities, financially ruined, never to return.

Sandy had indeed brought a devastating storm surge which flooded estuary areas not breached by ocean water in decades. Once the water receded, substrate from the sea floor and adjacent disturbed areas covered roads and property everywhere with a pronounced layer of sand while surprisingly, floodwaters uncovered objects long buried and forgotten which inexplicably had surfaced. One such setting was the marshy expanse comprising the dune of the brackish graveyard not far from the destroyed boardwalk's end, which hadn't been submerged by a deluge of sea water for as far back as anyone could remember.

The serial killer believed his profane cemetery would doubtless be exposed once curfews were cancelled and people returned to their towns and old habits. He felt compelled to risk sneaking past the police barriers erected to keep looters out of unprotected houses. There was an unpaved back road that few knew of, really more of an overgrown sandy path which bypassed the town's main thoroughfare.

Even if the police stopped him, he'd try and bluff his way out by showing his Audubon Society membership I.D., on the pretense of conducting a nocturnal nesting grounds storm damage assessment. He had the equipment to back his claim, including a clipboard with ornithological maps, wading boots, infrared night vision goggles and a laser tape measure.

On November 1st, All Saints Day, three days after Sandy had made landfall, downed tree branches, wires and debris could still be found everywhere. Yet, once the killer had maneuvered his way through unmanned police barriers to the back road trail, he discovered that nowhere was access completely blocked, as the few fallen boughs were from the scrub pines and sumac lining the path.

Well after dusk he parked his sedan, grabbed his tools and quickly headed into the marsh. Entering the awfully familiar trail, he activated his night vision goggles and made good time to the burial site. As he drew closer he could see that indeed, several skeletal limbs now protruded from the dune, exposed by the intensity of the storm's floodwaters.

Hastily he approached. As he stepped amongst the limbs he was startled to feel something grab his lower legs. He tried to pull away but was quickly pulled from his feet and then his arms were tightly clasped as the night vision goggles were yanked from his face. He felt sharp pangs as his body was impaled repeatedly. Simultaneously he heard awful screaming; quickly realizing the scream was his own voice ejaculating unspeakable pain and fear. His last thought was of the confessional priest invoking karma so many years before. His shriek finally ceased as he was silenced into mute, asphyxiating agony by the disinterred bones of his victims piercing his body through and through, again and again.


Five days after Sandy had made landfall, as the sun poked its first rays over the ocean horizon, the uniformed police officer stood beside his patrol car, anxiously nodding as the detective parked his unmarked car and exited the vehicle. “Hey Bro...what do we have?” the plainclothesman asked, noting the young cop's face drained of color. “I know we haven't slept in five days...but what's with you?”

The ashen cop motioned towards the dark sedan parked in the distance and then gestured towards the marshy dunes. “That car evaded our curfew barriers somehow...registered to a man...was a person of interest years ago...remember those 12 murdered girls...with the severed arms? ”

Eyeing the sedan with a sudden and fierce recollection, the detective visually followed the footprints from the driver's door to the vehicle's trunk and then through the ubiquitous sand, crossing the position of the police cars and continuing out towards the marshy dunes where they abruptly terminated in a swirl of disturbed earth bursting with a visible protrusion. “All right... no return footprints... what's with that? And what the hell's that sticking out of the sand?”

The cop handed the detective a set of binoculars, shaking his head. “That's why I called tell me.”

The detective grabbed the glasses and quickly focused them upon the image in the distance. He gasped as the shape coalesced, his scalp and neck prickling at what greeted him through the lenses: An evil mass of intertwined skeletal limbs, splayed out like a grotesque crucifix, wrapped in seeming perpetuity around the torso, neck and what remained of a ghastly corpse's face; its mouth locked open in an everlasting silent scream. Bony fingers had pierced the soft flesh beneath the jaw and now protruded through the gaping lips like ghastly phalangeal fangs. Livid marks were clawed into the fright-frozen face, and the bulging, glazed eyes, forced evermore from the sockets by skeletal fingers, now hung forth by withered strips of optic nerve resting upon the desiccated cheeks, exhibiting such terror that only a dying man painfully aware of his own demise could possibly display such an abhorrent look before a final, agonizing breath.

Breathing heavily, heart pounding away, the detective slowly lowered the binoculars and glanced sheepishly towards the grim-faced cop. The men eyed one another for a long moment of disbelief, and then in unison allowed their eyes once more to follow the solitary trail of footprints back to that awful thing sticking out of the dunes.


Continue to the 2nd place story

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