Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2021
High School Winners

Second Place

Our second place High School winning entry was written by Nayaab Suhel who attends the BSF Senior Secondary School in Shillong, Meghalaya, India.

A Twist to the Irish Tale of Jack the Stingy

Nayaab Suhel

31st October, 2020

The thought of this night still gives me the creeps and makes me shiver until the bed shakes. Silent Night would have been the wrong carol to hum at that time because the night was not silent.

Someone was trying to wake me up or should I say something because I was the only one in that house. It seemed as though someone, barefoot was running around my house and trying to scare me. It seemed as though the leader of those scary things had come itself and didn’t want to give the credit to the howling wolves, rustling trees or whistling winds for scaring someone.

I won’t say that I was terrified because this word won’t help me to define my fear and what I was going through. Maybe a word doesn’t exist to define so. I did not have my nails to bite at that time because I had clipped them off just the day before with a nail cutter. Hence, I was forced to chew upon my blanket and as a result, made a hole in it. The sound of someone running outside my house died down and I thought I was saved. But no, I was not! Surely the sound had died outside but it had begun inside and I could feel it around my bed! I was under my blanket and my teddy must be cursing me because of the way I was squeezing it out of fear.

With every tick of the clock my heart beat faster and made me believe that ghosts really did exist. I didn’t want to believe but I had no choice. Even the moon seemed to be afraid of that thing which was wandering. Hence it appeared that the moon stayed at his home out of the same terror that was gripping me. Suddenly I felt as though someone was sitting on my bed and I heard my bed creak a bit! I wanted to faint at that time but Lady Luck did not smile upon me. When I wanted to turn, I couldn’t. I tried and tried but couldn’t move.

Suddenly I heard something in my ears, “Child, wake up! Child wake up!”.

Before I could understand what to do, the blanket started moving and the very next moment it was not there. I screamed so loudly that the whole earth would have woken up. Even you would have screamed! Because seeing a football shaped face with a missing ear and an empty eye socket is not usual! Yes, you are right! A man with the given description was sitting beside me. He was carrying a pumpkin and it was carved in such a way that it looked like a monster ready to gobble. The pumpkin was glowing because an ember was placed inside it.

I became still as a statue. I hoped against hope that I was dreaming and started pinching myself. But no! I was not dreaming! Everything was real and so was the man. The man slowly got up and placed the pumpkin on the bedside table.

He whispered in a scary voice, “Do not be afraid of me little girl! I am Jack! Jack! Jack! Ha! Ha! Ha!”

I stammered, “Wh-who? I -I-d-do-not know any Jack.”

The man cackled, “Oooo! Ha! Ha! then let me tell who I am ! Ha! Ha! Ha!”


He pulled the curtains and the room became dark, making the pumpkin glow even more brightly.

Many years ago, I was just like you little girl”, he said pointing at me.

I had a proper face and I had a normal life like yours. But things began to change when I turned 5. I was just 5 years old when my father lost his job. I was very heartbroken because I no longer could buy chocolates nor new toys. And my mother, who used to attend big parties and spend a great deal on her clothes and jewelry, had to stop being lavish. As days passed on, our savings got over, and unpaid bills began to pile up. Out of depression, my father died, leaving my mum and me alone. My mum worked hard to earn our living but all we could afford was some bread and cheese. I used to see other kids wearing good clothes, playing with expensive toys and getting delicious meals and when I would look at my torn clothes, broken toys and-and……” he began to cry softly.

Sorry for that, I always become a bit emotional while narrating this story”, he said.

I still did not know who this man was or why was he narrating his story but I took pity on him.

He continued, “I began to curse my faith. My mother tried to keep me happy but she was not that successful. I became jealous of other children and wanted to have things, which other children possessed. To fulfil my desires, I began to steal, trick people and disturb them. My mother was upset with me and she began to stay sick. When she was on her death bed, she told me that she had saved some money and asked me to use it. Then she died. Over the years, I had become stingy and didn’t want to use the money I had. I tried to steal and trick people to save my own money. Soon people began to hate me and call me ‘STINGY JACK’. Since no one wanted to speak to me and be friends with me, I became friends with the Devil. Well, it’s true that birds of a feather flock together. But soon I began to trick the devil too. Whenever he would climb up a tree, I would put a cross in the tree and this would prevent him from coming down. Well devils are afraid of cross, you know, don’t you?”

I mumbled, “Yes”

Well, no wonder, the devil began to be cross with me. I also made him promise that if I died, he wouldn’t take me to hell.”

I was becoming very interested in the story and my fears began to evaporate.

He continued, “I think, I forgot to mention that I had the habit of smoking. It was because, I had no parents who would guide me to walk on the right path. Smoking had affected my lungs and soon I died. When I went and knocked on the doors of the heaven, angels didn’t let me enter and shooed me off. Having no other option, I went and knocked on the doors of hell. The devil too refused to let me in. That devil was my friend and he had promised me that he would not take me to hell……you remember? I had nowhere to go. I had become a ghost! The devil took pity on me and gave me a hollow pumpkin and put an ember inside it so that it would glow and act as a lamp for me. From that day onwards I keep on wandering. People all around the world came to know about me and became afraid of me. They put a cross in their houses to keep me away. People talk about me and tell my story to everyone. I have no problem with that because it’s the world’s custom to gossip about other’s life. But they begin their story with…... ‘JACK WAS A STINGY FELLOW’…. No one cares as to why I became stingy or how? They just show the negative part of the story. Hence, on the night of 31st October- my death day- I look for houses without a cross and tell my story to them. Everyone should know, what had Jack suffered from and why he was stingy!”

He stopped abruptly and rubbed his eyes which had become watery.

I felt very sad for him and realized that I shouldn’t have made him feel as though he was scary and ugly. I got up and said, “It was a very sad story, Jack. I promise I will tell the world your story.”

Will you? Really?” he sobbed.

I said, “Yes.

He got up and said, “I have to leave dear girl. Thank you for your sympathy. I need to find other houses too.”

Before he left, I asked him, “Why have you carved your pumpkin like a monster’s face?”

It is because, I used to be very lonely and a face to look at would make me feel a bit better”, he replied as he took the lantern in his hands.

I asked, “But why to chose such a scary face……. I mean you could have carved a gentle cute face?”

He bent and whispered, “Well, ghosts are not said to be scary just for namesake.”

He winked and left.

I looked out of my window and saw the pumpkin’s light fade away.

I said to myself, “Don’t worry Jack. I will tell your story to everyone and make them see the truth!”

And I kept my promise, didn’t I?

Continue to the 1st place story

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