Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2021
Middle School Winners

Third Place

Our third place middle school entry was written by Madeline Thach, a homeschooled seventh grader from Colleyville, Texas.

A Hawaiian Halloween

Madeline Thach

What do you think about this one?” Cait asked, holding up a shimmering chunk of hardened lava.

Perfect! That one’s big enough to show some layers, so we can talk about the way lava cools on top of itself. Our report is going to rock - literally!” Lanakila joked.

I can’t believe that today is Halloween and it’s 80 degrees outside! When we lived in Michigan, I always had to wear a heavy coat over my costume.”

I guess I never thought about that. I’ve never been anywhere that cold before.”

How many more rocks do you think we need? The bucket looks pretty full to me.”

I think we’re okay on rocks, but, we need to find a patch of clean sand so we can take a sample.”

Got it. Then, we can go home and put on our costumes in time for trick-or- treating. I’m so excited for my first Hawaiian Halloween!” Just then, a piercing shriek split the air. “What was that?”

It sounded like a girl.” Lanakila squinted in the direction of the scream. “I think she’s headed this way!” In the distance, they could see a tween girl charging toward them.

It’s Ashley from school!” Cait cupped her hands around her mouth and shouted in the girl’s direction. “Ashley, what happened?”

It tried… to get us...” Ashley said as she stopped in front of them and gasped for breath.

What tried to get you?” Cait asked.

A monster… a tentacle… the lava…”

Ashley, are you okay?”

Ashley took a deep breath.

I think so. I was helping Delilah take some pictures of the lava lake for her school report when a huge black tentacle rose out of the lava. It waved around in the air and started to reach for us. I screamed and ran away from it as fast as I could while Delilah rolled her wheelchair away in another direction.”

That sounds really scary! I’m so sorry,” Lanakila said, putting her arm around Ashley.

How long was this tentacle?” Cait questioned her, pulling a small lime green pad and a pencil out of her pocket.

Really long. Like, the length of a semi truck!” Cait nodded and took a note.

What else can you tell me about the creature?”
“The tentacle had two sets of little pink suction cups, if that helps.” “Interesting. What do you think the creature was?”

Ashley shrugged.

I don’t know. It kind of looked like an octopus, but, I’ve lived in Hawaii my whole life, and I’ve never seen an octopus even half that size!”

You mentioned that you were taking pictures of the lake when you saw the creature. Could you have captured a photo of it?” “Maybe. Would you like to see the pictures I took?” “That would be great!”

Ashley pulled an old cell phone from her pocket.

This is Dad’s old phone. He let me borrow it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have a very good lens.” Ashley flipped through slightly blurry pictures of the bubbling lake from several angles.

Ashley, do you know how the lava lake was formed?” Lanakila asked. Ashley shook her head.

I have no idea. Maybe it’s Bigfoot’s footprint that filled up with the tears of a lava monster!”

Actually, the lava lake was once connected to the ocean, but, when Kileau erupted in 1983, lava flowed into the channel between the lake and the ocean and hardened, blocking water from coming into the lake. Then, one of the streams of lava that constantly flows from the volcano was diverted into the lake, and eventually, all of the water evaporated, leaving behind a pit full of lava. It’s still molten today, because fresh, hot lava is constantly trickling into the lake. A few years ago, the lake was about to overflow, so, a small pipe was inserted into the lake to carry the excess lava to a special building. There, it is regularly emptied into pots to harden before being cut into chunks and sold in the Kileau Volcano Souvenir Shop. Sometimes, local craftsman purchase the larger blocks and use them to carve things like ornaments, small bowls, and jewelry,” Cait explained. “Weird, right?”

Wow! You’re a real expert on this, Cait,” Lanakila complemented her.

Hold on. I think I saw something weird in that last picture,” Cait said. “Can you go back?”

Sure.” Ashley scrolled in the opposite direction.

There! Do you see that?” Cait pointed to a small black line in the center of the lake.

Here, maybe I can blow it up.” As Ashley zoomed in on the strange mark, the photo became even more blurry than before. However, the girls could still discern a wavy black line with a pointed tip rising from the lava lake.

Fascinating. Could you text me that picture?”

Of course.” Cait’s phone beeped.

Got it. Ashley, could you take us to the spot where you saw the Unidentified Lava Lake Creature?”

I guess, but, first I need to send a message to Delilah and make sure that she’s okay.” Ashley sounded uncomfortable.

Don’t worry. We’ll all go together,” Lanakila assured her.

Delilah responded. She says she made it back home and is feeling okay.” The other girls nodded understandingly. Delilah had been paralyzed from the waist down since a car accident many years ago. “Come on, the lake is this way.” Ashley began to walk across the black sand.

As the three girls were making their way across the beach, a yell rang out from the direction of the lava lake. Suddenly, a figure came charging towards them.

Anyone feeling a sense of deja vu?” Lanakila asked.

Hmm, I know that voice,” Cait said.

This time, the runner was a teenage boy with sandy blonde hair and twinkling green eyes. When he caught sight of the girls, he slowed his motion to a saunter.

Hey, girls. What’s up?” he asked calmly. Cait eyed the teenager suspiciously.

Justin, why were you running away from the lava lake?”

And, were you the one who screamed earlier?” Ashley added.

I didn’t scream, it was more of an... exclamation of surprise.” Justin dug his hands into his pockets nervously.

So, it was you after all. Just as I suspected,” Cait pronounced, writing a note in her pad.

What? I didn’t say that!”
“Moving on. What made you scream?” “You mean ‘exclaim in surprise’?” “Whatever.”

Well, I had challenged Marty to a race around the lake, and we were about to start when this weird black thing began to come out of the lava. It was really long, and it had two rows of little pink suction cups on the back of it.”

Like a giant tentacle?” Ashley suggested.

Yeah, it did kind of look like that. How did you know?” Ashley winked at Cait and Lanakila.

Please continue,” Cait prompted.

Anyway, it kept coming out of the lava, and we were starting to get nervous. After it seemed to max out in length, it probed around in the air for a few seconds. When it began to reach for me, I, um, exclaimed in surprise and started heading your way while Marty ran in the other direction.”

Very interesting story, Justin. Ashley just had a similar experience,” Cait said.

Really? You saw it, too?” Ashley nodded.

Yeah. I even got a picture of it. See?” Ashley showed Justin the photo she took.

You’re right! That’s exactly what I saw.”

As of right now, we have two witnesses, who both saw a strange black tentacle- like object rise out of the water, wave around in the air, and lunge at them. Both report it being extremely long with two rows of pink suction cups on one side. Anything else?” Cait asked, reading from her pad.

Both Ashley and Justin shook their heads. “Nope.

Not that I can think of.”

Got it. According to my book on logic, this type of mystery is best solved using the scientific method. So far, we’ve completed step one, which is gather data. We’ve also done the second step, compare and analyze data. Now, we need to follow step three, form a hypothesis.”

Hy-poth-a-what?” Ashley sounded out the word.

Hypothesis. It means to look at all the data you’ve collected and make a reasonable guess about the topic you’re studying. In this case, that means we need to figure out what we think you saw using the information we have. For example, could it be an enormous octopus?” Cait wondered.

Ooh, ooh, how about a prehistoric sea creature?” Ashley suggested. Cait wrote the idea down.

Let’s face it, guys. It’s probably just a robotic arm controlled by some dude hiding in the bushes,” Justin said. “Don’t forget, it is Halloween.”

Cait took a note.

Lanakila, you’ve been really quiet this whole time. What do you think?” Cait asked.

I have a feeling that whatever it is, it’s trying to be helpful, not mean,” Lanakila said quietly.

Lunging for kids is not helpful,” Ashley pointed out.

I guess you’re right,” Lanakila said.

You make a good point, though. We don’t really know anything about this creature’s intent.” Cait added the brainstorm to her pad.

That’s assuming it’s even real in the first place,” Justin added.

How do we figure that out? Say, ‘Excuse us, Mr. Terrifying Creature, do you intend to spread love and acceptance through the world, or are you a cold blooded killer seeking revenge by murdering innocent teenagers?’ and wait for it to answer?” Ashley joked.

That’s another good point. Animal personalities are difficult to understand and take decades to unravel. So far, we all agree that it’s some kind of animal that’s been previously unknown to humans. It could be a huge octopus, a surviving dinosaur, or an entirely new species like no other animal on earth.” Ashley, Justin, and Lanakila nodded. “Now that we have collected and analyzed our data and formed a hypothesis, it’s time to engage in peer review.”

Peer review?” Ashley wrinkled her nose. “Does that mean we have to squint at what we wrote until we come up with a better idea?”

No. Peer review is what scientists call presenting their hypothesis to another scientist and listening to what that person thinks. In this case, we should probably consult someone who’s an expert on animals, especially sea life, since we think the creature could be some type of octopus or other sea-dwelling animal.”

Are you thinking what I think you’re thinking?” Justin asked. “MOM!” Cait and Justin exclaimed together.



Cait pressed the doorbell to the Weikman residence. Almost immediately, the door opened.

Hi, kids. I was just setting up our Halloween display for the trick-or-treaters. Did you have any luck finding those lava rocks for your report?” Mrs. Weikman asked.

Actually, we’re here to talk about something else,” Cait said.

Did Brandon tease you about your new haircut again? Sweetie, you know I think it’s really cute. You’ve always wanted a bob.” Mrs. Weikman adjusted the placement of a giant fuzzy spider on the entry table.

No, Mom. It’s about a tentacle.”

You saw an octopus? How wonderful! Tell me all about it!” Mrs. Weikman enthused.

Well, I’m not sure if wonderful is the right word, but anyway, here’s what happened.” Cait launched into a diatribe about Ashley and Justin’s experiences, showing her mother the photo Ashley had taken.

Interesting. And you’re saying that whatever we’re dealing with is in the lava?” All four kids nodded.

Hmm. I must confess that in all my studies of marine biology, I have never come across anything quite like this. Let’s sit down and discuss it!” Mrs. Weikman led them into the living room and waited until everyone had sat down to begin. “So, it sounds like you have several hypotheses, right?” Mrs. Weikman asked.

Well, our main theory is that it’s some type of octopus. We think it could also be a descendant of a prehistoric sea creature, such as the Plesiosaur,” Cait explained.

Interesting theories, but, I’m afraid that none of them match up. The octopus is very shy and lives only in water, and this creature can clearly survive in lava and seems extroverted. I’m not familiar with any species of dinosaur that could survive in lava, either, and it’s unlikely a species this extroverted would still be undiscovered.”

Oh,” Lanakila said quietly.

I think it’s just a robot arm,” Justin asserted.

I’m sorry girls, but, I think Justin is right. This is probably just a silly Halloween prank.”


Okay, are we ready?” Cait asked. She, Lanakila, Ashley, and Justin were all assembled on the shore of the lava lake. “Let’s review Operation Convince Mom. Lanakila, you will hide behind that rock formation and act as my correspondent, using a walkie talkie to communicate with me. Justin, you’ll be with Lanakila, filming everything with Mom’s video camera. I’ll be over here, taking notes. Ashley, you will stand in front of the lava lake and try to look yummy. If the creature tries to eat Ashley, we’ll run out and try to stop it. And remember: don’t tell Mom about any of this until we prove our theory. Is everyone clear?” Ashley raised her hand. “Yes, Ashley?”

Could I have a different job? I don’t want to be the bait.” Ashley had been outfitted with a makeshift krill costume consisting of an old pink shift dress with pipe cleaners for legs and a felt tail. The girls had finished off the look by gluing a pair of goggly eyes to one of Justin’s old beanies and sticking two more pipe cleaners through the top for antennae.

Listen. If we want to figure out what this creature is, we need bait. Somebody has to be the bait, and we picked you. So, go be our bait!” Cait said in a tone similar to that of an Army general.

I don’t know. What happens if the octopus eats me?” Ashley asked.

We’ll give you a nice funeral!” Cait said, exasperated.

Look at it this way: it’s your latest role. You’re playing the star in Anna Krilenina! You could put it on your resumé,” Lanakila said positively.

I’m sure the directors would be very impressed,” Cait said sarcastically. “Moving on. Does anyone else have any questions?” Ashley raised her hand. “No, you may NOT have another job!”


This is Coral Coconut calling Purple Pineapple. Come in, Purple Pineapple. Over,” Cait said into her walkie talkie.

Purple Pineapple here. We hear you loud and clear. Over,” Lanakila replied. “Are you in position, Purple Pineapple? Over.”

Yes. Over.”

Has Blue Banana activated the surveillance yet? Over.”

I can’t tell. Over.”

Please hand me to Blue Banana. Over.” “Copy that. Over.”

Blue Banana here. What’s the deal? Over,” Justin said into the microphone. “This is Coral Coconut. Is the surveillance activated? Over.”
“It has been activated and appears to be currently recording. Over.”

Excellent. Stand by until further notice. This is Coral Coconut, over and out.” Cait cupped her hands around her mouth. “What light through yonder window breaks!” She shouted to Ashley. The secret phrase was meant to alert Ashley that everyone was in position and she could begin attempting to attract the creature.

What did that mean again?” Ashley yelled. “It’s time!”
“Time for what?”

I cannot believe her.” Cait muttered to herself and marched across the sand. “You’re supposed to get the octopus’s attention, remember?” Cait spoke through her teeth in a low voice.

Oh. Got it! Hey, octopus! Look at me! I’m a yummy, juicy krill! Don’t you want to take a bite?” Ashley waved her arms around as Cait slunk back to her hiding place. A few sightseers glanced in Ashley’s direction, probably assuming this was her Halloween costume.

This is Coral Coconut. Do you read me, Purple Pineapple? Over.”

Roger, Coral Coconut. Over.”

Is the bait visible from your station? Over.”

She’s in clear view and being taped as we speak. Over.”

Great. Continue observing and keep your walkie talkie on at all times. Over and out.”

From their two stations, the three kids could see Ashley hopping around on the beach and singing a song at the top of her lungs. “Wait, is that... ‘Twinkle Twinkle Little Star’?” Cait mumbled to herself.

I’m a giant tasty krill, come and eat me if you will.

I’m so fresh and helpless too, I would bite if I were you.

I’m a giant tasty krill, come and eat me if you will,” Ashley sang in a cheerful voice.

Fifteen minutes and several more rounds of ‘I’m A Giant Tasty Krill’ later, a black tentacle began to rise from the lava lake.

Purple Pineapple, come in! Do you see that?!” Cait exclaimed.

If you mean the black thing, yes! We have it on video. Over,” Lanakila reported. “This thing is huge! Do you still have it?”

I’m panning up to catch the top. That’s where the action is.” Justin explained.

It’s doing the probe’s reaching’s heading in Ashley’s’s...not heading in Ashley’s direction? It’s not heading in Ashley’s direction! What in the name of Darwin?!”

The tentacle began to reach in the direction of an African-American woman wearing a blush pink tee shirt and a scarf over her head. The world seemed to move in slow motion as everyone on the beach silently turned to the tentacle, open mouthed. Suddenly, the moment was shattered by a chorus of blood-curdling screams, followed by hysteria among the tourists. People ran madly in different directions, shouting and crying. The head-scarfed woman grabbed her bag and took off running.

After her, everyone!” Cait screamed over the noise, trying to catch up with the woman. “Wait! Stop! We need to talk to you!” Cait’s voice was swallowed by the commotion. It was all she could do to keep up with the lady, let alone overtake her. Finally, Lanakila and Justin appeared beside Cait. “Where’s Ashley?”

Behind us, I think,” Justin said. A few moments later, Ashley jogged up.

Hi! I saw you guys take off and figured something was up. Are we playing tag?” Ashley asked.

No. There’s this woman, and - look, just catch the lady with the pink scarf, okay?” Cait said between hyperventilations.

Fun!” Ashley exclaimed. Up ahead, Justin had picked up speed and had almost reached the woman.

Excuse us, ma’am! We need to speak with you for a moment!” Justin said. This time, he got the attention of the runner, who turned around to face him.

Oh, thank goodness,” the woman said, placing her hand over her heart. “I thought that creature was chasing me!” Cait noticed that her shirt showed a pink ribbon with the words ‘I Fight Like A Girl: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month’.

It’s very nice to meet you. I’m Cait Weikman, that’s my brother, Justin, and she’s Lanakila. We’re investigating the strange creature in the lava lake.”

And I’m Ashley!” Ashley skipped up and beamed at the woman.

Um… is that your Halloween costume?” The woman raised an eyebrow. “Oh, this? No, it’s actually the latest fall style - crustacean chic,” Ashley said.

What Ashley means to say is that she was dressed as a krill to try to attract the creature for our investigation. However, the creature seems to have been more interested in you, which is why we would like to ask you a few questions,” Cait intervened.

I’m happy to help your investigation, if it won’t take too long. I’m Candy, by the way.”

Don’t worry, it won’t. So, let’s start with the obvious question: why were you at the lake?”

Since today is the last day of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I was asked to collect the final donations for my breast cancer charity. I thought there would be a lot of people at the lake who might be willing to help out. I never thought we would all be scared away by a giant monster! If today wasn’t Halloween, I probably would have called the police,” Candy said.

Actually, there have been several other sightings earlier today,” Justin informed her.

Continuing the investigation, is there anything particularly unique about you physically that might set you apart from all the other tourists on the beach?”

I’m currently undergoing chemo for breast cancer, if that’s important.

It could be. Anything else of note?”

Not that I can think of. I’d love to stay longer, but, I need to get moving. My charity is hosting a benefit this evening at the Town Hall, and I’m in charge of setting up. I hope someone figures out what’s going on with that creature before somebody gets hurt!” Candy waved to the group before walking off.

Now, we have some evidence to transmit. Justin, can you figure out how to download the video from the camera onto your phone?” Cait asked.

Already done. I started the download right before Candy took off and it just finished processing. Should I send Mom the video?”

Go ahead. I’m going to send her my notes.” Cait pulled out her phone and typed a message to her mom. “Okay, it says it was delivered. Now we just have to wait for her to respond.”


We’ve been waiting forever! Your mom is the slowest message answerer on the planet!” Ashley complained.

Technically, we’ve only been waiting for nine minutes,” Cait said, checking her watch.

But it feels like an eternity!” Ashley raised her hand to her forehead dramatically. “I can’t take it anymore!”

Cait rolled her eyes.
“Practically speaking, do you think Mom’s okay?” Justin asked. “I hope so. She usually replies to my messages pretty quickly.”

She’s been kidnapped! The only clues are a shattered window and a few scratches on the floor. No one will ever find her until she comes back as a ghost to haunt your old home.” Ashley spoke in a spooky voice.

We’re really going to have to do something about her.” Cait spoke under her breath.


A few minutes later, Cait’s phone rang.

It’s the kidnapper!” Ashley gasped.

It’s Mom,” Cait said dryly, holding her phone to her ear. “Hello?...Hi Mom. What’s up?...Really? Still?...Okay...Thanks for letting me know. Bye.” Cait put her phone back in her pocket. “Bad news, girls. Mom still thinks it’s a robot.”

Now what?” Ashley asked.
“Forget it, I guess. Come on. Let’s go.” Cait began to trudge across the sand. “Wait!” Lanakila shouted. “I have an idea!”

Cait spun around.


My grandfather, Kuku Kane, is an expert on Hawaii. He spent his life studying the geology, topography, biology, and every other -ology of these islands. If this creature is real, maybe he could help us figure out what it is.”

And his name is Kuku Kane?” Ashley asked incredulously.

No, that’s the native Hawaiian way of saying ‘Grandpa’.”

This Kuku Kane guy sounds amazing. Where does he live?” Cait asked.

That’s the hard part. He lives on the outskirts of town, about five or six miles away.”

Six miles? There’s no way we’re hiking that far today,” Cait said. “Is there any way we can get there faster?”

Lanakila grinned. “Absolutely.”


This was an awesome idea!” Cait yelled over the noise of her glossy apple green moped.

They’re like motorcycles, only cooler!” Lanakila shouted back. Her moped was sparkly and magenta.

And they had unicorn helmets!” Ashley cheered as she rode her purple moped wearing a matching helmet with a spiraled ‘unicorn horn’ coming out of the top. “It’s too bad I took off those pipe cleaner legs and the felt tail - I could have been a krillacorn!”

Plus, with Lanakila’s rewards points, we got them for $10 a piece!” Justin added through his royal blue full head helmet. His moped was the largest of the four and sported a silver stripe down the side.

But remember, we only rented them for three hours,” Lanakila pointed out.

So, let’s burn rubber!” Cait exclaimed, zooming down a bend in the road.

Now baby lets ride, weve got nothing but time, you get all the reaction, youre the main attraction...” Ashley sang the Jeremy Renner song as they sped down the lonely road.


We’re here!” Lanakila announced fifteen minutes later, parking her moped on the side of a quiet street. Cait, Justin, and Ashley followed suit, stopping their rides behind Lanakila’s.

Which house is Kuku Kane’s?” Cait asked, unbuckling her helmet and flicking a piece of her wavy, ash blonde hair out of her face.

This one.” Lanakila pointed to a small one-story house with cheery yellow siding and a blue front door. “It’s pretty hard to miss.”

Before we just barge in on this guy, let’s figure out a plan. Lanakila, how do you suggest we approach this?”

I think the best plan of action is to ring the doorbell and wait for Samantha to come to the door and take us to Kuku Kane.”

Ashley raised her hand.

Quick question: who’s Samantha?”

Kuku Kane’s housekeeper. She’s lived with him for several years now, so she knows me pretty well.”

Sounds like you have this down to a fine art. Anything we should know about Kuku Kane before we go?”

Um, well, he’s...” Lanakila swallowed hard. “Blind.”

Oh,” Cait said quietly.

He has Retinitis Pigmentosa, an inherited disorder that eventually causes blindness. He’s been completely blind for over ten years now, I think.” Lanakila blinked back tears.

I’m so sorry. It must be hard on you,” Justin said kindly.

Anyway, his other four senses are really sharp, so he manages pretty well. I visit him as much as I can.”

On a lighter note, would anyone like a piece of watermelon gum? It’s sugar- free,” Cait offered.

Sure!” Ashley exclaimed, popping a pink stick in her mouth. “Mmm, good!”

No thanks,” Justin said hurriedly.

I’m okay,” Lanakila said.

Okay, everyone, let’s go!” Cait clapped her hands like Ashley’s dance teacher. As a group, they walked up the sidewalk to Kuku Kane’s house and paused at the door. “Lanakila, why don’t you ring?”

Lanakila reached out and pressed the doorbell, which promptly played the first few lines of ‘Mele Kalikimaka’ inside the house. A pretty young woman with a Swiffer in her hand opened the door.

Hi, Lanakila. Back to visit Mr. Kamiya?” she asked.

Yes, please.”

I’m sure he’ll be happy to have the company. He’s in the living room, reading.”

Great! May we come in?”

Of course.” The four kids filed in, and Samantha shut the door. “Enjoy your visit and me know if you need anything!” Samantha waved and walked away.

Lanakila led them through the house to a comfortable living room. The leather furniture was clean and shiny and the colorful pillows had been recently plumped. In a corner of the room, an older Hawaiian man was seated in a leather recliner with his pointer finger on a book. His silver hair was neatly combed and he was wearing a pair of dark sunglasses and a ‘VISIT HAWAII’ tee shirt that looked especially white against his bronze skin.

Good afternoon, Kuku Kane. How are you today?” Lanakila asked, standing beside the man.

Quite well, Lanakila. I can tell you’ve brought some friends with you,” Kuku Kane observed, closing his Braille book.

Three of them, actually.”
“Any friends of Lanakila’s are welcome in my home.”
“Hi, Mr. Kuku Kane. I’m Cait. Lanakila has told me all about you!” “Nice to meet you. It seems you have an affinity for watermelon gum.”

Cait blushed.

Maybe.” She took a seat on the couch.

My name is Justin, and I’m Cait’s older brother.”

You’re not so hot on the watermelon gum, hmm?”

You’ve got that right.” Justin sat down, mumbling a list of the reasons why watermelon was gross.

My turn! I’m Ashley, and I’m excited to meet you!”

Hello, Ashley. You know, my sister used to wear that same brand of lip gloss. It smells wonderful!”

Thanks...I think?” Ashley took a seat on the couch with Cait and Justin.

Now that you know everyone, we’d like to talk to you about an research project we’re working on,” Lanakila said, squeezing onto the couch with the other three.

Fill me in!”

So, basically, there have been several sightings of a strange tentacle-like appendage rising up from the lava lake. The story is the same each time: the tentacle waves around in the air, reaches towards someone, the person runs away, and the tentacle disappears. But, the creature completely ignored Ashley when she was dressed as a giant krill. We think it’s an octopus, but, Justin and Mom think it’s just a robot,” Cait debriefed him.

Do you know the people the octopus appeared to be interested in?”

Yes. They include Ashley’s friend Delilah, my brother Justin, and a woman named Candy.”

Interesting. Tell me about each of them.”

Delilah is 12, has long light brown hair and olive skin, and is paralyzed from the waist down from a car accident,” Ashley rattled off.

I’m 14, with pale skin, green eyes, and ash blonde hair. I have Type One Diabetes, play soccer, and love sesame seed bagels with peanut butter,” Justin said.

It’s totally gross,” Cait added.

Candy was probably in her 30s and had dark skin. She said she was undergoing chemo, so she was probably bald. She was a volunteer for a breast cancer awareness charity,” Lanakila said.

Let me think,” Kuku Kane leaned back in his chair. Everyone was quiet. A few minutes later, his face brightened and he sat up. “I think I understand what’s going on.”

Great! We can’t wait to hear your theory!” Cait exclaimed.

Before I give voice to my hypothesis, I would like to conduct an experiment.”

What kind of an experiment?” Lanakila asked, concerned.

You’ll see.” Kuku Kane turned and shouted, “Samantha, would you take me on an outing?”


In the fading light, Samantha parked Kuku Kane’s convertible Jeep in the parking lot near the lava lake.

Thanks for the ride, Samantha,” Lanakila said, unbuckling her seatbelt.

No problem, Lanakila. You guys go and have a nice time. I’ll drop those mopeds off and come back to pick you up in thirty minutes.”

Excellent, Samantha,” Kuku Kane said, opening the car door and lowering himself out. “Are we ready?”

Ready!” Cait, Lanakila, Justin, and Ashley chorused.

To the lava lake, then!” Kuku Kane began walking across the fine black sand, tapping his long, white cane ahead of him.


A few minutes later, the group arrived at the shore of the lake, which had been completely vacated of tourists.

That’s weird. What happened to all the people?” Cait wondered.

Maybe they went home to put on their costumes for trick-or-treating,” Ashley suggested.

I guess so. Anyway, what’s the plan, Kuku Kane?” Cait asked.

We’re going to stand here very quietly and wait.” “And...that’s it?” Cait asked.
“That’s it.”

Everyone stood on the beach in silence, staring at the lake. Finally, the tentacle appeared above the surface of the lava.

It’s here!” Ashley exclaimed.

Shhh! Don’t let it hear us!” Cait hissed.
As the tentacle continued stretching, a black spherical object appeared above the lake.

Um...guys? What’s up with the round thing?” Ashley asked, sounding scared.

There’s no reason to be alarmed, Ashley. It’s all part of my hypothesis.” Kuku Kane smiled calmly.

Whatever you say.”

When the larger tentacle reached its full length, instead of probing around, it immediately reached in the direction of the group.

It’s coming for us!” Ashley shrieked, hiding behind Justin.

Everyone, remain calm. Everything will be fine.”

The tentacle brushed past the kids until it stopped near Kuku Kane. Stretching out the tip of its tentacle, the creature gently touched the man’s forehead before retreating.

Mahalo, e ka mea hoʻōla akua,” Kuku Kane thanked the octopus in his native language. After a brief meditation, he reached up to remove his sunglasses.

Ugh,” Ashley mumbled, expecting to see a white film over his eyes.

What a beautiful sunset! I missed all of the colors of nature.” Kuku Kane’s warm brown eyes traversed the group. “I always thought you would grow up to be a beautiful young lady, Lanakila. I haven’t seen you since you were a tiny baby.” Kuku Kane dropped his cane and reached out to give Lanakila a giant hug. you can see us?” Cait asked in disbelief. “Absolutely. What else did you think I meant?”

Cait’s eyes looked like they might pop out of their sockets.

But...that’s not scientifically possible! There is no cure for blindness!”

There is now: one touch from the not-a-robot.” Justin subtly admitted that he had been incorrect.

Not what, Justin, who.” Kuku Kane pointed to the lake, where the spherical object had grown to become the bulbous head of an octopus.

Wow. Just wow.” Cait was speechless.

Awww, look! There’s a little one!” Ashley cooed. A tiny octopus head had appeared beside the larger one. “Hi, hi, hi!” She ran up to the lake and bent down. “Can I call you Alice? That sounds good with Ashley.” The octopus’s head bobbed up and down. “Alice, are you learning to be a healer just like your dad?” Alice made a tiny noise. “Good for you! I’m sure you’ll be great at it. Say, my friend Justin has diabetes. Can you cure him?” Alice made another noise. “It won’t hurt to try. Hey, Justin! Come over here! Alice wants to try to help you!”

What do I do?” Justin asked, jogging over. “How about you stick your finger out?” “Okay.”

The baby octopus tentatively raised a thin tentacle out of the lava and reached toward Justin’s outstretched finger. Alice closed her eyes and delivered a touch to the tip of his finger.

Did it work?”

Well, there’s only one way to find out.” Justin took a sanitizing wipe from his pocket, wiped his hands, and inserted a test strip into his blood sugar meter. Pricking his finger with a small needle, he transferred the blood to the strip and read the meter. “I don’t believe it. My blood sugar is in the exact middle of my range! I haven’t gotten a reading this good in weeks!”


So, you’re saying that you knew the octopus was a healer all along, and that he was trying to teach his baby how to heal people?” Cait asked. The group was walking back to Kuku Kane’s Jeep.

That was my theory, yes. In fact, ancient Hawaiian legends portray the octopus as a mystical and powerful healer.”

That’s amazing! Wait until I tell Mom!” Cait exclaimed.

Would you mind keeping this our secret? Who knows what people might do to the octopus if they found out it can heal people,” Kuku Kane said.

Okay, but, what about all the tourists who saw the octopus before? Won’t they tell people about it?” Cait pointed out.

Since today is Halloween, they’ll probably assume the whole thing was a prank, just like Justin and your mom. I think that’s exactly why the octopus chose today to reveal himself.”

Does that mean we’ll never see Alice and her dad again?” Ashley asked.

Not necessarily. I have a feeling we’ll encounter them again, possibly next Halloween. We’ll just have to see.”

What a day! Let’s hurry home so we can put on our costumes and go trick-or- treating before all the good candy is gone!” Ashley exclaimed.



Cait groaned and sat up in bed.

What time is it?” She mumbled, turning to face her alarm clock. “5:30 AM? Why is my alarm clock going off at 5:30? I get up for school at 6:45!” She rubbed her temples. “Oh! The octopi!” Cait leaped out of bed, pulled off her pajamas, and put on an electric blue tee shirt, orange shorts, and sneakers. Buckling on her watch, she yanked open her bedroom door and ran down the hall to Justin’s room. “Psst! Justin!” Cait poked her head in the room.

Hrrgh,” Justin mumbled.

Justin! Wake up!” She whisper-yelled. Justin rolled over. Sighing, Cait crossed the room, picked up the water glass on Justin’s nightstand, and dumped its contents on his head.

Hey! What are you doing?!”

Shhh! We don’t want to wake up Mom and Dad! We’re going to see if the octopi are still there, remember?”

Oh! Right!” Justin slid out of bed.

Put on some neon clothes so we don’t get run over and meet me on the back porch in five, okay? I’m going to get our bikes from the garage.” Cait slipped out of Justin’s room.


As promised, Justin appeared at the back door a few minutes later wearing jeans, sneakers, and a glow-in-the-dark Avengers tee shirt.

Seriously? The Avengers?”

What - you said neon colors.”

Whatever. Let’s go!” Cait buckled her helmet, climbed on her bike, and began riding in the direction of the lava lake.


Fifteen minutes later, the siblings parked their bikes on the sand. The rising sun cast a feeble glow on the landscape.

Cait! Justin! What are you doing here?” Lanakila asked, running up to them with Ashley on her heels.

Checking to see if the octopi are still here,” Cait said.

Us too! We’ve been here for twenty minutes, but, we haven’t seen anything yet. Maybe they were waiting for you to show up!” Ashley suggested.

We’re about to find out, I guess!” Justin said. The kids walked to the edge of the lake.

Hello? Alice? Alice’s dad? It’s us, Lanakila, Justin, Ashley, and me. Are you still there?” Cait called, but the bubbling surface of the lake remained unbroken. The group scanned the lava for twenty more minutes, to no avail.

I guess they’re gone,” Ashley said sadly. A moment later, a tiny tentacle appeared above the lava, waggling side to side as if to say, Bye! I’ll miss you!

Bye, Alice!” Ashley exclaimed, waving. “Aloha!” Lanakila said.
“See you next year!” Justin called.

Thanks for everything!” Cait added as the tiny tentacle disappeared under the lava.


Back in her room, Cait took off her clothes and slipped back into her pajamas. Her bedroom clock said 6:35. Good, she thought. Just enough time to get comfy again before I have to get ready for school. Cait got back in bed and closed her eyes. Alice and Daddy Octopus, thanks for the memories. This was a Hawaiian Halloween Ill never forget!

Continue to the 2nd place story

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