Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2016
Middle School Winners

Third Place

Our third place middle school entry was written by Sanya Shetty, a eighth-grade student attending Stone Hill Middle School in Ashburn, VA.

The Birthday

Sanya Shetty

"Abby, honey, come down for dinner! Let's talk about your big day tomorrow," Elizabeth Rudolph called from downstairs. Abby rushed down at the sound of her mother's voice. Tomorrow was Abby's 8th birthday, the day she would finally get the new bike she's been waiting for.

"Hi Mommy," Abby said lovingly, running into her mother's open arms.

"Hey, baby girl," Elizabeth smiled, planting a kiss on her daughter's forehead. "I made spaghetti for dinner. It's on the table."

Abby walked to the dining table and began eating her meal. "Mmm," she moaned with delight. The spaghetti was warm and filled with a rich, garlicky flavor. Abby licked her lips, wrapping more spaghetti around her fork.

"So," Elizabeth said excitedly, "what are we going to do tomorrow?"

Abby put her hand up to her chin, as if she was deep in thought. "Hmm," she said loudly, staring at the ceiling. Suddenly, Abby gasped, running to her mother with a big smile on her face. "I know!" Abby exclaimed, climbing into her mother's lap. "We'll cut my birthday cake as soon as I wake up, and then I can go for a ride on my new bike!"

"Okay, great!" Elizabeth chuckled. "I'll buy your cake tonight, and I'll assemble your bike in the morning. Right now, you need to go to bed. I'll come up and tuck you in if you'd like."

Abby ran up to her room as Elizabeth closely followed. She crawled underneath the warmth and safety of her bed covers. Elizabeth sat next to her, running her hand through Abby's long, golden-brown hair.

"You are so beautiful," Elizabeth whispered, as if she was afraid to say it too loudly. She squared her shoulders and straightened her posture. "I love you so, so much." Elizabeth gently caressed her daughter's forehead, placing a tender kiss on the tip of her nose.

"I love you, too. Goodnight, Mommy." Abby gave her mother a bone-crushing hug before swiftly escaping into the place of her dreams. Abby Rudolph was indeed, very beautiful. Her dark brown eyes sparkled in the sunlight, and her long, thick eyelashes curled upwards. Her hair fell in soft, gentle waves, and her smile could light up an entire city. Abby slept soundly for the rest of the night, until her mother's voice her.

"Abby? Honey, you need to get up! It's your birthday! We can't waste a minute of your special day!" Elizabeth gently shook Abby's shoulders, repeating the same phrases while attempting to wake her up.

Abby slowly opened her eyes, a huge grin spreading across her face. "It's my birthday! It's my birthday! I'm eight years old!" Abby exclaimed, jumping out of her bed. Elizabeth picked up her daughter and spun her in the air, laughing loudly.

"Let's go have some breakfast, then we can cut your cake," Elizabeth stated as she walked down the stairs. "I even got your bike assembled last night so that you wouldn't have to wait too long to ride it."

Abby squealed and clapped her hands, running to the kitchen counter. She gobbled down her cheese omelet as if it was the best thing in the world.

"Let's cut the cake!" Abby screamed, her voice bright and lively. Elizabeth went to the fridge and pulled out a beautiful cake. It was red velvet flavored with cream cheese frosting covering the surface. Elizabeth got out 8 bright, pink candles and carefully placed them in the cake. She took out her lighter and lit the candles.

"Happy birthday to you," Elizabeth sang, "happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Abby, happy birthday to you!" Elizabeth clapped her hands enthusiastically as Abby giggled.

"Go ahead and blow out the candles, sweetie."

Abby took a deep breath and blew out all the candles.  All of a sudden, her eyes glazed over and she cocked her head.

"Great! Now that we've finished cutting your cake, do you want to go try out your new bike?"

"No," Abby replied abruptly.

"Are you sure, sweetheart?" Elizabeth questioned, clearly confused.

"I said no. May I retreat to my chamber?" Abby asked in a stiff voice.

"Of course. Are you feeling okay?" Elizabeth asked. A look of concern furrowed her brow.

"I'm fine!" Abby yelled as she ran up to her room. Elizabeth didn't know what was wrong with her; she was normal just a few minutes before blowing out her candles. What happened to her? Elizabeth wondered. She decided to leave her alone for some time and went to her own bedroom. After a few hours of watching TV, Elizabeth decided to check on Abby again. She walked up to her room, but stopped in front of the door. She heard a mumbling noise coming from inside.

"Abby, what are you doing? Please, don't leave me! Abby, you were my friend! Friends don't leave each other!" Abby seemed to be crying from inside her room, talking to herself. All the lights inside were turned off.

Abby doesn't normally do this, Elizabeth thought. She is a very happy little girl. "Abby! Are you alright?" Elizabeth asked, her voice quivering with anxiety.

Instantaneously, the crying stopped. "Of course, Mother!" Abby replied with her usual, cheery voice. "I know it is only 4:30, but may I have my supper now? My stomach has started to growl."

"Already? You didn't even have lunch yet," Elizabeth questioned.

"I know, I was simply planning on sleeping a bit early today, I've noticed I've been restless these days."

"Oh, alright. Come downstairs, I'll start heating it up." Elizabeth was still worried about her daugher. Why is she talking so maturely? Elizabeth wondered. She tried to brush it off and move on.

Abby finally came out of her room, wearing a big smile. She gave Elizabeth a hug and ran downstairs. Elizabeth followed her and began prepare dinner.

"What's for dinner?" Abby asked, watching her mother heat the meal.

"Leftover spaghetti from yesterday," Elizabeth said with a smile, placing Abby's meal on the dining table.

Abby devoured it, showing it down her throat like it was her meal. As she was eating, her eyes glazed over, just like they did after she blew out her birthday candles. She started to hum and eerie tune, tapping her fingers rhythmically on the table top.

"What are you singing, baby?" Elizabeth asked quietly.

"Nothing you would know," Abby replied, not looking up from the tabletop.

Elizabeth was becoming more and more unsure of Abby with each word that came out of her mouth.

"Abby," Elizabeth began, setting her hand on the small of Abby's back, "honey, you aren't like yourself today. Do you want to maybe spend the evening in your room? Maybe have some alone time?"

"Um," Abby gulped, "that would be nice. That would be appreciated." Abby excused herself and ran up to her room. Elizabeth decided that this was just a silly phase; Abby would fine in the morning. However, the next few days were just the same. Abby was acting strangely, talking sophisticatedly, and zoning out at odd moments.

One afternoon, Elizabeth went to Abby's room to see if she was okay. She cautiously approached the door, gently knocking on it just loud enough for Abby to hear.

"Abby? Sweetie, do you need anything? Can I come inside?" Elizabeth asked worriedly.

"Leave me alone!" Abby screamed from inside the room. Abby seemed to have these odd mood swings fairly often lately.

Elizabeth started to pace in front of Abby's bedroom door, unsure of what she should do next. "Abby, I'm coming in. I just want to make sure you're alright." Elizabeth slowly opened the door, not making a single noise. Abby didn't even seem to notice. She was hugging her knees, rocking on the balls of her feet. She sat in the corner of the room with her back facing the door.

Elizabeth started to walk closer to her daughter. As she approached, she could hear Abby mumbling words and phrases which were foreign to her. Something about "trapped spirits" and "bad deeds".

Elizabeth was scared now. She didn't know what was wrong with her poor, little Abby. She somehow managed to muster the courage to speak to her daughter.

"Darling, are you okay?" Elizabeth tried to put her hand around Abby's shoulder.

Abby whipped around, fire in her eyes. Her glance was almost murderous. When Elizabeth looked into those chocolate brown eyes, she didn't see her daughter; she saw someone else.  These eyes were cold and heartless, unlike Abby's, which were warm and kind.

"I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE ME ALONE!" she screamed furiously, slapping her mother's arm away.

Tears started to gush out of Elizabeth's eyes. She quickly ran out, upset and angry. She was angry with herself for not being able to help her baby girl when she was suffering. Elizabeth ran to her room and threw herself onto her bed, not knowing what to do.

I can't help her, she hopelessly thought. I can't help my baby when she is in pain. These thoughts caused Elizabeth to cry even harder. She decided to talk to one of her close friends, Celda. Celda was a spirit whisperer. Elizabeth thought she could talk to Abby's spirit to see if there was anything wrong.

Elizabeth marched back to Abby's room, kicking the door open.

"Abby, we're going out for a ride in the car."

Abby promptly got up and followed her mother down stairs and into their car. "Where are we going?" she asked politely.

"I'm going to visit a friend of mine. I just thought you needed some fresh air, so I'm bringing you along with me," Elizabeth said. She started driving towards Celda's house, which was about ten minutes away. Once they got there, Abby started to sweat. She started kicking and screaming and flailing her arms. She kept repeating that she didn't want to go inside and that she was feeling uncomfortable. Abby begged Elizabeth to take her home, but she refused.

"Abby, just stay in the car, okay? Everything will be fine, I'll only be a few minutes," Elizabeth said reassuringly. Abby nodded her head and sat in the car as Elizabeth walked up to the spirit whisperer's door.

"Celda? I need to speak with you urgently, it's Liz," Elizabeth said frantically, banging on the door. In a few seconds, the door flung open.

"Liz?" Celda gave Elizabeth a warm hug and ushered her inside. "What's wrong? I haven't seen you in forever!"

"Oh, Celda," Elizabeth began, "it's Abby. She has been acting really weirdly the past couple of days. I didn't know who else to come to." Elizabeth ran her fingers through her hair and sighed deeply.

Celda placed her hand on Elizabeth's forearm. "Follow me." She led Elizabeth to a small room with a square table in the middle. "Sit." Celda gestured to one of the chairs in the room.

Elizabeth sat down and began explaining to Celda what had been going on with Abby.

"It sounds like her spirit is having some problems. I have had plenty of clients come to me with this kind of thing. She probably just needs a few days to rest with a few of her comfort objects. Let me try and contact the spirit world, I can see if there is something is wrong with her, but I will need a picture," Celda said.

"Of course." Elizabeth found one of Abby's pictures on her phone and handed it to Celda.

"Perfect. Now, I will need absolute silence. I would like you to hold my hand so that I can use some of your energy to contact the spirits. Close your eyes." Elizabeth clasped Celda's outstretched hand and shut her eyes.

Celda began humming and muttering a chant. Elizabeth's palms started to sweat in anticipation of what Celda would say. Suddenly, Celda pulled away from Elizabeth's grasp. Elizabeth opened her eyes. She looked at Celda's eyes and saw that they were filled with worry and fright.

"What happened? What did you see?" Elizabeth asked worriedly.

Celda gave her a pitiful look before speaking. "Liz," she started, her voice shaking slightly, "there is another spirit inside Abby's body. It's an old soul that had done some sort of bad deed. It's trapped inside of her."

Elizabeth's torso started to tighten and she almost fainted. "How did this happen? What can I do?" she cried.

"I'm so sorry, Liz. I don't know what to do. I've only dealt with something like this a couple times before. All of these cases have never ended well. I am truly, deeply sorry."

"Oh my gosh," Elizabeth shook her head. She was unable to use words to express the fear inside her. There was someone else in her 8-year old daughter's body. "What happened to her soul? Where is Abby's soul?"

"It's still in her. The older spirit has simply taken over."

Elizabeth put her hand on her forehead, not knowing how to process this information. "I need to go." She ran out of the room before Celda could respond. She went to her car and opened the door. Elizabeth immediately began speeding away, not driving to a particular place, just eager to get away from Celda's house.

Elizabeth noticed that Abby was unusually quiet. "Sweetheart, are you alright? Why are you so quiet all of a sudden?" she asked.

"Don't call me that!" Abby snapped.

"What happened?" Elizabeth asked, genuinely confused.

"You've betrayed me, I told you not to go to the spirit whisperer," Abby hissed. "Now it's my turn to betray you."

"Abby! What's wrong with you? Why are you talking like this?" Elizabeth yelled.

Abby turned and looked at her mother, her eyes lit with anger. She put on a grim smile and laughed maniacally. "It's not me who is speaking."

Elizabeth turned to look at Abby, frozen with fear. At that very moment, there was a loud crash. Abby and Elizabeth were never seen again. Ever since that day, there have been rumors that the Rudolph house is haunted. Till this day, people who pass the house hear an eerie child's voice singing the song "Happy Birthday" over and over again, like a broken record.

Continue to the 2nd place story

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