Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2017
High School Winners

Third Place

Our third place High School winning entry was written by Daniella Escobar of the North Broward Preparatory School in Parkland, FL.


Daniella Escobar

It’s during bleak, desolate winters, that I find myself in these states of pensivity. When the daytime sun is eclipsed by the imminent snow, and the once lively trees become barren twigs. As warm days are reduced to icy ones, which create, cold, lonely rooms. Rooms like the one I have the misfortune of being confined to now.

It’s really not my fault. It’s my parents who are paranoid, not me. I don’t belong here.  

The same man walks in, wearing the same pristine white coat and same enormous glasses as when he brought me here this morning and diagnosed me with anxiety, an “incredibly dangerous” mental health disorder that needs “constant attention to be cured”.

“You’ve been here a few hours already,” the doctor confirms. I didn’t care to remember his name. He didn’t deserve that of me.

“I feel it’s time for you to interact with the other patients, Max,” he concludes.

I don’t fight him, because if he had the power to send me here, to lock the door and throw away the key, then he’s unrestricted in what he can do to me now. So I nod, and he unstraps me from the straitjacket that I’ve been sitting on my bed trapped in for hours, and we begin our lovely stroll to psychotic central.

The rest of the hospital makes my dreary, bitter room, seem animated. The halls have chipping, faded paint. The kind of sterile hue that brings about unease. The nurses, well, they don’t really smile a lot, do they? Lifeless eyes stare me down as I pass. Fresh meat, they must be thinking. Along with any hospital seemingly comes the presence of death--or at least the intense awareness of it. The atmosphere elicits feelings of darkness, like someone bled to death in the room next to yours.

We enter a room larger than the rest, filled with couches and chairs, bookcases and board games, and an aged grand piano. The patients are scattered, only a few who chose to congregate. Similar to how I imagined them. Unruly hair, baggy white clothing, and that look of insanity in their eyes.

I don’t wait for the doctor to give me the okay, I step towards a folded chair situated under a table and sit down.  

I’m left to myself for only a few moments before a girl with charcoal strands streaming down her shoulders bounces onto the seat across from me. She stares at me for a moment. Presumably, she’s the only one here with a glow in their eyes.

“I’m Abigail,” she launches her hand out for me to shake. I reluctantly return her gesture. She’s all smiles amid this dispiriting, stale room. The other patients don’t even bat an eye.

“You don’t seem so loony,” she tilts her head to the side, still staring. “Or maybe you are…  It’s always the quiet ones you gotta watch out for.”


“Hmmm. Well, Max, in my expert opinion, I’m going to label you normal. But at any point, you could mention your best friend Bob who lives in your head and prove me wrong.”

I shrug my shoulders.

“I see you’ve made a new friend,” a boy who joins us at the table states. He’s got the same murky hair, overgrown and out of place.

“Presumably normal Max, meet my definitely abnormal brother,” Abigail responds.

“The older and better sibling. You’re just mad mom liked me better.”  

“Liked? Not anymore?” I pop my head up and ask.

I was just trying to make conversation, but Josh’s confident exterior shifts to a guarded and quiet one. Abigail flinches, but she chooses to respond like she was unphased.

“Mother doesn’t exactly have much of an opinion anymore now that we’ve made sure she’s 6 feet under,” Abigail leans in close and lowers her voice. She enunciates her words slowly.

“You wanna know what we did to her, Max?”

“Abigail!” A nurse shouts as she rushes over.

“You were supposed to come to me over an hour ago for your medication,” the nurse reprimands, “and you know doctor Romano will not be pleased to hear you were resisting medication…” an evil smile spreads across her face.

“NO!” Abigail shrieks and throws her body off the chair, trying her hardest to get away.

4 more nurses rush over and hold Abigail down. The first nurse pulls out a needle.

“NO! I’LL BE GOOD THIS TIME I SWEAR!” She’s thrashing on the floor.

The nurse stabs the needle into Abigail’s arm, her screaming diminishes as the glow evaporates from her eyes…

From across the room, a woman with pale blonde hair smiles.



The darkness in my room is like a smog that clogs and suffocates all of my senses. When my nurse, who I now take little comfort in knowing is Jackie, said lights out, I didn’t take it as literally as this. The wind whirls outside my window and the thin blanket I was so graciously provided does little to prevent the icy hold of my “medical restraints”. I’m shivering.

I close my eyelids. Or maybe I didn’t. It makes no difference.



The blood-curdling scream is Abigail’s voice.




“Abigail was a mentally ill individual. There was only so much that we, as nurses, could have done,” is the deceptively sincere explanation we were given.

My instinctive first impression was that the nurses and doctors here lacked a heart to have a job like this. Now I know that it’s actually their soul that’s astray.

Abigail was murdered. The only thing to fear here aren’t our mental illnesses, it’s our caretakers, if you’d mistakenly imply they care for us.

Murders? In a mental hospital? Get me out of here.

Josh sits at the table on the opposite side of the room as mine. I stare for a moment, debating giving him alone time to grieve when a woman quietly joins me at the table. She has a knowing smile and pale blonde hair.  

“You’re Max.” How did she know that?

“If you’re expecting me to know your name too, I don’t.”

“Oh, you will soon enough.”

“What’s that suppose to mean?”

She grins again, but it isn’t warm. It's the type of wicked smile that makes its way into your nightmares.

She kicks her feet up onto the table and leans back.

“You wanna hear a secret, Max?”

I cautiously nod my head.

“There’s a lot of… people, in this hospital. People who are telling me gruesome, unpleasant things.”

I’m puzzled, but let her finish.

“Now the nurses, they think I’m batty,” she gives me a sickening smile and mockingly snickers, “absolutely deranged. But I feel like I can trust you with my secrets,” her face loses all emotion as her cold eyes stare through my soul.

“I can do that, Max,” she pauses, “can’t I?”

I swallow down the lump in my throat.

“Yes,” my voice comes out shaky.

“Wonderful. Now, Maxie, I’ve got this... ” she stops as if to look for the right word, “ability… of mine. This fascinatingly, horrendous, ability.”

A deep breath in.

“I’ve had it since I was a little girl, 5 or 6 I would guess.”

A deep breath out.

“These spirits that talk to me can talk to me, and only me. And they are quite lonely individuals. Despair stricken… which erupts out of them as intense anger.”

The same eerie smile spread across her face.

“And you know what they do with all that anger?”

I felt small. Like the most powerless insect in the presence of this alpha lion.

“They take it out on others. They come out in the middle of the night and they murder them where they lay and they do it again and again, night after night… but not without telling me all about it first.”

The hair rises on the back of my neck. Make it stop. I can’t hear another disturbing thought leave her mouth.

“Why are you telling me this?” It doesn't come out confident like I would’ve hoped.

“Because Abigail was the last,” she leans in.

“Josh is the next,” she’s so close to my face that I inhale her crazy.

“And you’ve got a day to live.



The unforgiving winds outside have become a secondary trouble as horrors of ghosts circulate throughout my mind.

Abigail’s haunted screams are on a loop. Her brother’s will soon echo louder.

I can’t let it consume me.  

You’ve got a day to live

But I know it will.

There’s a knock on the door. My blood turns cold. No, it’s nothing. It has to be nothing. My breaths are numbered, but I’m not at zero yet.

The knock advances to a bang. An antagonizing bang. Cold transitions to frozen. Frozen in place.

An enraged, incessant collision against the metal door.

It’s joined by laughter. Ominous, foul, laughter.

“Why’d you do it, Max?”


“Why’d you do it!”


It sounds like a woman’s voice.

Not even the rapid thumping of my heart could drown out the sickening blare.

The booming stops, but my quickening pulse isn't so foolish to believe it’s over.



A crimson substance begins to ooze out from below the door.


It’s blood.

“STOP IT!” I retaliate. It’s not my time yet.

“LEAVE ME ALONE! Someone help me!” I wail.

“NO ONE HELPED THEM!” The voice shouts back.

“STOP! S-” a nurse unlocks the metal door and trudges inside the room to find me sweat soaked despite my glacial surroundings.

The screaming receded. The clanging disappeared. The blood faded out of existence.

“Did you hear the ghosts? Did you see the blood? You need to get me out of here! It’s not safe!” I warn.

Her baggy-eyed face smirks down at me.

“I knew you were looney.”

She pulls out a needle. The same treatment Abigail who murdered her mom was given.


She jabs it into my skin.


The room gyrated in loops. Round and round, tangling and twisting reality.



The nurses and doctors were unable to paint another suicide amid a consecutive murder. Nevermind that our safety was in peril, the staff started to fear for their own. And so we were granted the truth, which had eluded us all with Abigail. Interrogations of patients were held to find the one responsible: the executioner of the mentally ill. The psycho among the insane.

Josh’s murder was the match that sparked the flame.

The hospital contacted detectives. They pulled up in their police cars and walked straight through the doors, unaware of the evil inside.

Currently, I was the next culprit in line to enter their quarantined area for questionings.

The woman was sitting in the back of the room with a sneer across her face.

She said there were ghosts here. Vile, indignant, spirits.  

Are they the ones who killed Abigail and Josh? The ones who are coming after me tonight?

I’d like to think I don’t believe in such childish terrors. There can’t possibly be monsters under my bed.

But then what did I see last night? What horror did I experience?

My thoughts can’t settle on a solution.

Is it possible that she’s the murderer?

Think about it, Max.

She’s a mental patient. Delusions are her specialty. Ghosts telling her about their victims? Doubtful.

Assume it was her.

And it’s been her the entire time.

She told me this was going to happen. She knew because she killed them. She's the reason why Abigail’s screams have been on repeat. Why Josh lost his life.

And the ghosts didn't tell her because there are no ghosts… but if there aren’t any ghosts, again, what did I see last night?  

The tangled theories don’t make sense. But I know with certainty that she is involved. She could’ve at least prevented their deaths, even if she didn’t commit them. An accomplice in part.

I rise from my seat to confront her, but my actions are interrupted by two men.

Two trench coats, two fedoras, and two eyes that despite the delirious air breathed in justice.

“Have somewhere more important to be?” the shorter one raises a brow and voices.

I haven’t been around normal people in what feels like eternity. It’d be refreshing under different circumstances.

“Yes actually, I-”

“This takes priority, Max,” he puts his hand on my shoulder and guides me to a seat.

“So from what we hear,” the other started, “you were friends with the victims.”

“I just met them a few days ago.” Is this really necessary?

“Well you didn’t see them talking to anyone but you before they died, did you?” he implied.

“It’s not like that.” The smug look on her face stares me down as I fidget in place.  

“It’s not like that,” he mocks. He stands up from his chair and paces the table for a minute with his head down before finishing.

“So Max, tell me then, what’s it like? Witnesses say Abigail was egging you on before she was dragged away, maybe you would've done it right there and then if she hadn’t been taken.”

Stop it.” he can’t frame me when the real atrocity is just a few tables behind them.

“Others say you were giving Josh dirty looks yesterday, sitting at that table staring at him for hours.” I didn’t give him dirty looks. That’s wrong.

“These people are mentally ill.”

“Aren’t you?”

We stare at each other in angered silence, his because he believes he’s caught the killer, and mine because I’m not who they should be worrying about.

“I’m not the one you should be questioning.”

“Then tell me Max, who should we be asking?” A sarcastic smile.
“The woman.”

“Which one? There’s a lot of women here.”

“The one sitting right behind you.”

They both turned their bodies to peer behind them. They stared for a moment too long.

“What woman?”



Sleepless in a world that escapes sensibility. One that escapes all things pure, and all things sane. Nothing is fine, no one is okay, and everyone is dying.

And you’ve got a day to live.

The room feels hot.

It’s a boiling, doomed, humidity.

Like I know something’s coming. Like I know what’s about to happen.


The metal clang echoes throughout my whole body and shakes me to the core.


I have to see her when the door opens. I have to know.

There’s a pause. The door handle starts to jiggle instead.

Here she comes.

It stops while it’s facing down. The door is unlocked.

You know what, I’m ready. I’m ready to face them, to know who is responsible for so much pain and so much death.

The handle pushes free. The door opens, and the room fades to black.  



There’s blood everywhere.

Soaking the bed, splattered against the walls, and coating the floors. And guess who’s gotta clean it up.

I should be used to it by now, I’ve been working here for, what is it, 30 years now? But I’ve never seen a suicide as violent as this one.

Doctor Romano examines the body of the dead patient as I begin mopping up the floors.

I stop mopping to look at him too. Poor kid, he was a young one.

“What was wrong with him, anyway?” I ask.

Doctor Romano flips up a page on his clipboard and peers down at the writing.

“Schizophrenia. An incredibly bad case of it, too.” He cringed down at the paper.

My eyebrows scrunch together.

“How bad?”

“Bad enough to murder his entire family in the middle of the night. Cops turned him into us after he was ruled mentally insane at his hearing…”

“Why was that the verdict?”

He flipped the page back down.

“Max claimed a woman told him to kill them. The woman is simply a figment of his imagination, a hallucination deceitfully forged by his subconscious,” he sighs.

“Yesterday’s detectives sensed something was up with him. They went back to the station for the warrant to take him in… and were supposed to pick him up this morning. Looks like I’m calling the coroner instead.”


Doctor Romano abandoned the room, leaving me alone in this forsaken, bitter jail. Snow falls outside, the only innocent in a world of monsters.

Continue to the 2nd place story

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