Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2016
Adult Winners

Second Place

Our second place Adult winner is Ryan Dale Deardorff of Overland Park, KS. Mr. Deardorff also won this contest in 2013 2012, and 2010, making him among the very few in the history of the contest to win four times.


Ryan Dale Deardorff

Dr. Philips' glasses fogged over at he gazed down at a young deputy who sat upon the shower floor. Water poured down upon the deputy's head, concealing his tears. The deputy sat with his back against the wall, constantly rubbing his hands upon his knees; fully dressed in his police uniform, gun and all.

"What happened to you Deputy Hancock?" asked Dr. Philips, removing his glasses as he lowered himself down to a squat.

Deputy Hancock said nothing as he blankly watched the water circle the drain in front of him.

"I found him like this," said a stout sheriff who stood behind the doctor. "He works the night shift, found him this morning."

Dr. Philips acknowledged the sheriff's words with a nod, but kept his eyes on the deputy sitting before him. The doctor addressed the deputy by his first name. "Carl, it's me, Dr. Philips. I've been asked by Sheriff Hill to come and have a talk with you."

Deputy Hancock remained silent.

"Carl, you know me," continued Dr. Philips. "You know I'm a psychiatrist. We've worked together on a couple occasions. You know you can talk to me."

Nothing; the deputy continued with his slow and steady wiping of his hands upon his knees.

"What happened to you?" asked Dr. Philips. "What caused this?"

"Oh for heaven's sake, Carl!" shouted Sheriff Hill, growing impatient. "Snap out of it son!"

Dr. Philips began to turn to scold the sheriff for his outburst, but paused as the deputy slowly lifted his head.

The deputy struggled to speak. "He, he's in the interrogation room," he managed to say.

"Who?" asked Dr. Philips?

The deputy slowly lowered his head again, his eyes fogged over and he continued rubbing his hands upon his knees, soaked to the bone.

Dr. Philips stood up, turned and faced Sheriff Hill. "Who's he talking about? Who's in the interrogation room?"

"Didn't know anyone was," shrugged the sheriff.

Dr. Philips put on his glasses again and then turned to look back down at Deputy Hancock. "We'll be back shortly, Carl. Just try to gather yourself."

The two men quickly walked out of the locker room and headed down the hall toward the interrogation room.

"It's not like Carl to act like this," said Sheriff Hill, leading the way. "The kid may be young, but he has experience. He's worked several accidents and homicides before. He's got a strong head on his shoulders, least I thought."

"Well, something caused him to break down," said Dr. Philips as they paused before the window of the interrogation room.

"Or someone," said Sheriff Hill, curiously looking inside the room.

Sheriff Hill grabbed for the door handle, but Dr. Philips was quick to put a hand on his shoulder. "Ben, why don't you let me talk to him first?"

The two men searched each other's thoughts for a moment until Sheriff Hill finally conceded with a nod.

Dr. Philips watched the sheriff wander away down the hall before turning the handle and opening the door to the interrogation room.

Upon entering the room, the doctor immediately shielded his nose and let out a grunt of disgust, nearly overcome by a fowl stench which filled the room. With the suspect sitting in the room, it was hardly a professional reaction from the doctor, but he wasn't prepared for it; it was simply a natural reaction. Dr. Philips lifted his glasses to rub his burning eyes and then focused them on the suspect.

The suspect was a large man, dressed in overalls with a soiled sweat stained undershirt. His head hung low, his large hands were clasped in handcuffs, folded on the table. His face was weather beaten, his hair thin, a mixture of brown and grey.

Dr. Philips circled to the front of the table in the room, still trying to get acclimated to the overpowering stench. It was unmistakably body odor, but there was something else along with it, something much more potent, a foul smell the doctor couldn't quite put a finger on.

"Won't do you any good," said the suspect, in a deep yet gentle tone.

"What's that?" asked Dr. Philips. "What won't do me any good?"

The suspect looked up at the doctor through unusually pleasant blue eyes. "I won't talk to any more policemen," he said. "Your deputy is cracked up something good. I practically had to cuff myself."

"Well, I'm not a police officer," said Dr. Philips.

The suspect's forehead wrinkled. "You one of them head doctors then?"

"I am," said Dr. Philips, "well, I'm a psychiatrist. I get called upon for my expertise in certain situations."

"This a certain situation?" asked the suspect.

"Well, there is one deputy who is, as you say, cracked up, and then... there is you."

The suspect let out a heavy sigh, then gestured over to a chair in the corner of the room. "Take a seat Doc. I do believe I have quite the story to tell."

"Can we begin with our names?" suggested Dr. Philips as he pulled up the chair.

"Rudy Blackthorn," said the suspect.

"I'm Dr. Philips."

"I'd shake your hand but...," joked the suspect, lifting his cuffs and turning up a yellow smile.

"It's okay Mr. Blackthorn," said Dr. Philips. "Just tell me your story."

"Call me Rudy," said the suspect, settling back in his chair as comfortably as he could. "I guess my story begins when my father died. Being his only kin and my mom long in the grave, I inherited the family farm. Worked it my whole life, I did. All I've known. But, I had a longing, an emptiness of sorts, so I sold the farm, made a pretty penny."

"It's all you knew?" asked Dr. Philips, "the farm that is?"

"Pretty much, never traveled more than three counties away, my whole life. Still I sold it, moved to the city, got a nice apartment..."

"Because, Rudy, you had a longing to fulfill an emptiness?"

"You're a good listener Doc. I had a lot of money, wanted to see if there was something more out there."

"Something like what?"

Rudy's eyes suddenly turned distant. He seemed lost in his memories.

Dr. Philips began to speak, but Rudy cut him off. "The city wasn't for me, Doc. Selling the farm was a mistake, so I took up stakes again, took a bus to nowhere, saw a little farmhouse with a for sale sign, bought it and then settled in, just outside of town here. It was at that little farmhouse that I finally found what I had been searching for."

"And what was that?"

"Love," said Rudy. "I fell in love."

"Well that's good," said Dr. Philips. "Tell me all about it."

"Well, I..." Rudy suddenly fell silent. He grew suspicious and then shook his head. "No, no, you wouldn't understand. You couldn't possibly..."

"Oh, come now, Rudy. Most of the conversations I have with my patients deal with love, or the lack there of."

Rudy held his suspicious expression, but continued. "It was nearing winter when I moved into the old farmhouse. Nothing much I could do outside because of the cold, so I hunkered in, kept the fireplace lit, patched the drafts in the windows. The place was in shambles, a leaky roof, groaning floor boards, a lumpy old couch to sleep on, but there was one room, a locked room, just to the left up the stairs, sealed shut."

"A sealed room," repeated Dr. Philips, growing intrigued.

"Yes, a locked room, sealed."

"Did you open it?"

"Eventually," said Rudy, suddenly getting lost in his thoughts again.

"And what was inside?"

Rudy responded in a whisper, "her."


"Well, it was her room. It was perfectly preserved. Her magazines were there, her books, her records."


"Well, the room must have been sealed long ago, preserved as I said."

"Who was she?"

"Lucy," said Rudy. "I was able to figure that much out, but couldn't find a last name." Rudy's face suddenly lit up, almost gleefully. "I slept in her bed. She had the warmest room in the house. While the snow piled up outside, I sat snug in her room, waiting out the winter. I read her books. I looked through her closet, through her drawers, got lost in every picture of her I found."

"She was dead," said Dr. Philips bluntly. "That's why the door was sealed, sealed by her family after she died. Kind of a way for the family to preserve her memory, or lock it painfully away, I suspect."

Rudy appeared ingenuous over Dr. Phillip's revelation and continued on with his story. "I found her diary, under her dresser, cleverly hidden below the bottom drawer. She kept details of her life, every day."

"So you fell in love with her," said Dr. Philips.

Rudy gave a little node. "How could I not? I read every detail of her life. All her fears. All her interests. All her loves. All her hates. Every single inner thought. She was beautiful Doc. She looked upon me from her pictures in the room and whispered to me through the words in her diary."

Dr. Philips shifted uncomfortably in his chair. "But you realized she was dead?"

Rudy blinked focus back into his eyes. "Of course, but I still fell in love. There was a connection... something. Well I don't expect anyone else to understand." Rudy's eyes drifted again. "The days ticked by," he continued. "The winter winds continued to howl. The days and years of Lucy's life played out in my mind, until suddenly I realized that the diary entries were running short. I cut down to reading just a few pages a day. Then the days grew warmer and the snow began to melt. Just a few pages remained so I read just one entry a day, treasuring each one. And then, inevitably, there was but one day left to be read." Rudy stopped speaking, his mind seemingly floating into a haze.

"What did it say? The last page."

"Sadly, not much," said Rudy. "Just that she was going to town to buy groceries that day, the date was July nineteenth."

"The day the diary stopped," said Dr. Philips. "The day Lucy died."

Rudy nodded. "So I knew her first name, and the day she died..."

Dr. Philips suddenly felt his stomach turn. The putrid smell that lingered in the room suddenly began to strangle him.

"I went out and found her," said Rudy.

Dr. Philips choked while gasping for a breath.

"Lucy Caldwell, died July nineteenth, round about thirty years ago," said Rudy. "Found her just off the road leading into town, nestled in with the other stones."

"What are you getting at?" asked Dr. Philips managing to cough out the words.

"I found a shovel in the barn," said Rudy, coldly.

Dr. Philip nearly knocked down his chair as he clamored away from Rudy, desperate to make some distance between himself and the mad man.

"You must understand, Doc, I was in love," Rudy's eyes fogged over again. "I dug her up."

Dr. Philips shook his head, trying to remove the words from his mind.

"I labored all night until finally at dawn I pulled her coffin out of her grave. Took a heap of effort, I'll tell you."

"Please, say no more," pleaded Dr. Philips.

"I just had to see her," said Rudy. "I had to be with her."

Dr. Philips stumbled over to the door, putting a hand on the knob.

"She wasn't in that bad of condition, I assure you," said Rudy, his face ghoulishly lighting up. "She looked the same as in her pictures, preserved perfectly just like her room had been. Like a sleeping angel."

Dr. Philips lost his grip on the door knob. His trembling hand simply didn't have the strength to open it.

"I lay down next to her Doc, while the sun rose this morning. I held her tight. I found what I had been missing. For the first time in my life, I felt true love."

Dr. Philips turned to face Rudy, his face growing red as he spoke with fury. "What you did was morbid Mr. Blackthorn, an abomination of the dead. Surely you must know this."

Rudy grew disappointed and slammed his clinched fists upon the table, rattling his cuffs. "I knew you wouldn't understand Doc. Just like that cracked up deputy who found Lucy and me. But I tell you I love her Doc. Those few moments we shared were beyond anything I can begin to explain."

Dr. Philips shook his head and struggled to speak, "tell me you didn't... did you?"

Rudy's anger grew in intensity. "Well I know what you're thinking Doc, but I assure you I only held her! I did not defile her! I tell you Doc, I love Lucy Caldwell with all my heart. She's extremely special to me, not like the others."


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