Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2022
Adult Winners

Third Place

Our third place Adult winner is Michael Wood of Kittery, Maine. He writes that he is inspired by the mysteries of the woods, the sea and, especially, the people all around him.


Michael Wood

Finally, in the still and dark of early morning, he left his hiding spot. Slowly, tentatively, he made his way to the kitchen island. The dark, cold granite seemed to isolate — almost amplify — the intoxicating smell that had drawn him here. Again, he could not quell the growing, insatiable hunger ruling his every move.

The blade on the counter shimmered with fast moving clouds outside allowing momentary slices of moonlight through the window’s louvred shades. He took in the abstract sight of dark chocolate crumbs and dried icing studded sporadically across slicks of smooth, even darker, blood. He lowered his face to the blade and let the smells consume him. Instinct and need guided his tongue across the knife’s edge. Sliding his tongue back and forth against the sharpness, all his senses reveled in the unique sensation of the sticky metallic sweet concoction swirling into him. His mind wandered to the beginning.

It was the open sliding door that had invited him. Experience had taught him that people living in houses so far away from anyone else rarely took the time to lock everything when they went out. As twilight came, he was already waiting in the scrub brush, just beyond the perimeter of the yard. He grew bolder, creeping across the manicured lawn, reaching the deck, moving closer as the sun’s light slipped below the trees and sent shadows stretching. Looking through the screen, he watched as she slathered frosting over a sheet of cake. Her rough, haphazard style tore at the delicate top. He waited and watched, unseen in the growing darkness. His gaze shifted to the door leading into the enclosed porch. A soft glow of light seeped around its edges.

His moment came when she left the cake abruptly, slamming the knife down and snatching a set of keys from the counter. Moments later, an engine roared, followed by headlights bouncing and flickering through the trees until they finally disappeared into darkness. It was time. He passed through the screen door to the porch. And with the sliding door leading into the house left wide open, he simply crossed the threshold and entered the home. It all looked so easy. It wasn’t.

Lingering on a stool, he let the hum of the home calm him and settled into this respite from his too frantic life. Learning to control his hunger had kept him alive. Others would rush in recklessly and make fatal mistakes. He did not. He knew to leave the cake alone — for now. He took in his surroundings. Older house. Scuffed cabinets and old appliances. The faucet over the sink mesmerized him with steady, rhythmic drops of water slowly forming and bulging before pulling away from the spigot. The smell came into him, awakening his need.

His tongue darted, moving urgently across the knife to find every morsel, every drop. Racing thoughts receded into a warm, black corner of his mind. Lights ricocheting across the room startled him back to the now. She was back. How long had it been? Time was lost to him. He raced around the dark room, slamming into furniture he hadn’t calculated on from his outside observations. Panicking, he scanned the kitchen. The pantry door caught his eye. Its missing handle revealed a circle of inky blackness beyond its solid wood panel. It would have to do. He could only hope she would not open the door.

They came in like a tornado, ripping apart the still of the house. Yelling and screaming, they thundered around the kitchen. She had a he. They were everywhere at once. Voices high. Venomous words poured from both. It was she who grabbed the knife. It was she who started hacking at the cake. It was she who bled. Crashing into the old refrigerator, they grappled with each other. The knife jangled onto the floor. Silence again. And then sobbing. Their storm had ended as quickly as it started. He had watched it all from the hole in the pantry door, unseen in the darkness enveloping him.

Much later, the low rumbling of a vehicle arriving, pausing and retreating, aroused him from semi-slumber. All was quiet. He waited a few moments then seized the opportunity to slink out of the pantry. He waited, exposed in the open. Light, subtle sounds drifted to him. Curiosity pulled him to the bedroom.

She lay sideways, curled into herself. Hovering close to her face, he could feel her breath, heavy and shallow at the same time, moving the air around him, awakening his impatience. He circled around the bed, pausing at him then lowering to get close. He touched the sheet over the man’s chest and felt the raspy heaving of the man’s breath. The air around the man tasted sour with a sharp smell of rotten alcohol coming out in waves. He pondered the thin layer of cotton separating them. Could he move quick enough if the man woke? Would the man even wake? Screeching, staccato noise filled the room.

The alarm clock pummeled his senses. In a flash, he was away from the bed, away from the man, and out the bedroom door. Back in the kitchen, everything looked different with the rising sun sending low shards of rusty light through the blinds. He was exposed. He dropped down as the floor creaked and she crossed into the kitchen. She looked groggy. He braced as her slippers shuffled past the island. She hadn’t seen him. The reprieve fueled his mind and body. He followed her silently as she moved achingly slow across the room to the front door. He was but a whisper behind her but still, she did not see him.

Sunlight drenched him when she flung open the door and stumbled through. Just as the door was swinging back, he bolted through the opening, coming up right behind her, mere inches from her matted hair. She bent, scooping up the newspaper on the porch. His wings went into overdrive, sending him hurtling past her into the dazzling, sundrenched morning. He flew higher and higher, never looking back, escaping into the warmth of a new day and back on his never-ending quest to find more open doors.

Continue to the 2nd place story

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