Halloween Ghost Story Contest -- 2022
Elementary School Winners

First Place

Our first place Elementary School entry was written by Olivia Reynolds of Marietta, Georgia. Ms. Reynolds also won this contest last year with her story Trick the Trickster.

Black Shuck

Olivia Reynolds

Chapter One
 A Trip to the Countryside

The fog descended, gripping the distant hillside in its talons. It pushed cool crisp air laden with a fine mist across the valley below. The wind picked up, causing the trees to sway. Leaves colored the landscape in a burnt red, orange, yellow, and brown. A gust disturbed the water on the lake, creating slight waves that lapped at a darkly smooth and fallen tree, partly submerged.

She was setting out the last of the oversized spiders and hanging decorative ghosts from the trees when her mom called her in for dinner. Before Agnes turned to head inside, she stretched the last of the fake webbing across some branches on the nearby sycamore and then ran down the gravel path. Her boots kicked loose rocks up that made a distinctive “clack” as they struck the ground behind her.

Reaching the gray porch, she stomped her boots on the mat in front of the door to rid them of mud. The smell drew Agnes inside. She was immediately swarmed by two dogs. First, a little papillon jumped on her legs and then a black labrador retriever licked at her hand. She smiled and gave the two a pat on the head. She glanced at her black tights. I knew it! Now I will have to run it through the wash to probably only get half of the dog hair off! She couldn’t help but grimace at the white fur that stood out so well. Agnes sighed and shooed the dogs away.

She moved to the coat hanger, which was located not far from the door, and hung her fuzzy, light-brown coat. Strolling through the kitchen gave her a tantalizing view of a cake artfully shaped into a pumpkin. Orange icing coated the dessert and brown leafy tendrils fell down the sides. It lay untouched on the white-marbled counter. She made her way to her seat in the dining room, which was visible from the kitchen. There, laid out on the table, was a traditional feast of fall family favorites. Heavily spiced and roasted scents wafted across the room.

This looks good, she thought while sitting down.

Her mom shooed her little brother into the dinning room, and soon after her grandma and grandpa joined them.

“Did you finish decorating Agnes?” Grandma asked.

“Yes, in fact just as mom called me in.”

Grandma nodded her head in thanks.

After Agnes’s dad arrived, and everyone was seated, they ate and interesting conversation developed.

Their grandpa questioned everyone in his distinctive East Anglian accent.        

Agnes and brother Tommy stared at each other bewildered. Before the trip to their grandparent’s house in East Anglia, they were trying to learn the region's dialect of English. It seemed worth attempting to understand what their grandpa was saying, but after a while they conceded failure. After all, what does this sentence mean, “Sit you down, time I get the dinner ready.”? Does it mean,“Sit down while I am getting dinner ready,” “I have cooked dinner, sit down,” or does it mean something completely different? It is most likely the second one, but with so many potential interpretations it is close to impossible to learn it in the two day notice they were given for the trip into the English countryside. Thankfully grandma speaks both with and without the dialect.

“Grandpa is interested in hearing  a spooky story” grandma spoke, clearly wanting to get on with it.

“Oh, me me!” Tommy raised his hand high, stretching his arm out into the air as far as he could.

“You went last night, with the mummy story. Give someone else a turn,” mom said. “What about you Agnes? Do you have one in mind?”

“I sure do,” she grinned. Agnes cleared her throat and began. “Before coming here, I researched myths of this region. I found something particularly unsettling, a beast. This creature is a ghostly huge black dog. The dog known as Black Shuck has fur that sticks out in every direction, outlining him. It appears skinny to the bone and has devilish red eyes that miss nothing. It roams the countryside of East Anglia.” She paused to give her grandma enough time to make sure her grandpa clearly understood her story without being delivered in his dialect. “If you ever have the misfortune to encounter it you will soon die, or at least become seriously ill. Looking it directly in the eyes means certain death.” She paused again, this time for effect. “It is believed that on August 4, 1577, during a dry lighting storm, Black Shuck broke down the doors of a church, harming four worshipers.”

“Frightening  story,” her mother commented.

“It’s scary enough to give you goosebumps,” Grandma pronounced.

Suddenly struck by something, Grandpa recounted hearing of such an unspeakable event. As if on cue, thunder roared and the window overlooking the lake lit with a momentary flash.

Grandpa pressed on. “There have been other stories of the creature. Most sound absurd, but then there are those.. Well, we can hope if there was such a thing long ago, it no longer roams these parts.”

Agnes smiled and turned to look at her brother. Tommy stared at her wide-eyed and then she realized that that must have been one of the scariest stories that he had heard of. After all, he was only five. Sorry Tommy! I didn’t mean to scare you. She knew that saying that out loud would only lead to a retort about how she was the one scared of her own story. Agnes would prefer to keep quiet, because deep down, it had in fact chilled her.


Finally, she thought, he is asleep. She checked the clock on the wall, which was just barely lit up by the night lamp. 11:46 pm! That is okay for some, but terribly late for us. That was her last thought before drifting to sleep.


She woke up with a startle.

Chapter Two Bones

The trees towered high above her head. As the wind blew harder, leaves seemed to whirl around her like a tornado. This blocked Agnes’s view and she tripped on a tree root. Mud splattered all over the left side of her face. Well that’s just great, she thought while slowly getting up. At least Tommy isn’t here to taunt me. Her eyes burned from the mud. Agnes wiped her face with her coat sleeve and then she resumed walking along the trail, now careful of where she placed her feet.

As she hiked, thoughts of last night crept into her mind. Was that a dream, she questioned herself. Probably…but it sounded so real. If it wasn’t a dream, then it was most likely the dog at the house across the street. This made her feel more at ease.

After a while of walking, Agnes came upon a river. She was confused. Grandma told her that this trail goes on for about a quarter of a mile and she had not walked that far. Maybe I have to cross the river?

After scanning the area, the only way she had found was by scaling a log that stretched across the river. If I fall in at least it would get this mud off of me. Anyway it might add some more fun to the hike.

Agnes walked over to the fallen tree and placed a foot on it. It seemed to be stable, so she lifted her other foot on it. Next, she reached out to grab hold of a sturdy-looking branch and then carefully placed one foot in front of another till she had reached where it met the tree. From there on were only frail and broken branches. She daringly moved her foot forward nonetheless, but placed it slightly off-centered. The log slowly began to turn over. Oh no…oh no. The only thing she could do without being dumped in the river, was to make for the other side and hope she didn’t misplace her foot again. Agnes ran. She bent her body around slender branches and struggled to keep from being tilted and falling in. Almost there! Once she was about three feet from the riverbank, she took a leap.

“Grass!” Agnes exclaimed the moment she landed safely on the other side.

She laid down and faced the sky, breathing heavily. That was a close one. How am I gonna get back?! Agnes thought crossly. Then she got up and decided that she would deal with that later.

Ambling on further, she let her mind drift yet again. What in the world is that stench? It smells rotten. Her curiosity got the better of her, so she went looking. She pinpointed the smell just behind a tree. Agnes carefully approached it. Near the twisted roots of the old leaning tree she saw it. Bones?

Chapter Three

Agnes ran as fast as she could back home, fear coursing through her veins. Thoughts stirred in her mind as she waded through the river. What ate the poor creature or creatures? It seemed to have been killed not long ago. What was the eaten animal? Would it eat me? Snap out of it Agnes, just get home. She tripped over a rock and then tripped immediately again. Agnes grunted while getting up for the second time. Faintly she recognized panic was causing clumsiness. While resuming the sprint back to her grandparents,  she wiped the mixture of mud and dirt off of her face. What seemed like minutes  getting there, now seemed like hours getting back. Hurry Agnes, hurry, she implored herself.

“Yes!” she exclaimed as the one-story, cream-colored house crept into view.

Once close enough, she leapt onto the porch and pushed through the front door. She leaned against it, causing it to close, and slowly slid down until she was sitting on the black rug, breathing heavily. Soon enough, she was yet again covered in dog hair.

A while of searching around the house and calling for the others revealed she was alone. Agnes assumed they just went out to the store. She peered out the window, checking the gravel driveway for the two cars. They weren’t there, supporting her suspicion.

“They could have at least left a note,” she whispered under her breath, annoyed.

Agnes plopped down on a leather chair and thought about what had happened. The first thing that came to mind was, how did I get across that river? It had all been a blur while running back. Suddenly she noticed that everything just below her knees was soaking wet. Well now I know, she thought wryly.

She rose to her feet and went in search of dry clothes.

Minutes later, cars rolled into the driveway. Soon groceries were brought in and Agnes had a chance to speak about the new discovery.

“On the trail, I found bloodied bones. They looked as though they were being chewed on,” she said, still distraught.

“I doubt that you saw actual bones on the trail. After all, it seems highly unlikely since we have a fence that wraps around the place and dogs that deter predators.” She looked to the gentle giant labrador and to the fierce little papillon. “Or maybe only one. Not many carnivores come around here, I hope you know that. It could have been just some of those fake bones we put out. The winds yesterday may have carried them down the trail,” her grandma reasoned while looking to Agnes’s grandpa for support.

“I believe you Agnes. I would like to see the bones myself,” Grandpa mused.

Grandma rolled her eyes.

“Okay, I will take you to them,” offered Agnes, eager for someone else to see what she saw.

Chapter Four

In short order, she and her grandpa set out to get their eyes on the bones. Once they got to the river, they switched to rain boots and waded through the water. Reaching the other side without a hiccup, the two climbed the slight riverbank and resumed following the trail. It wasn’t long before she was again met with the putrid rotting smell. They approached the tree and peered around it. The bones were gone.

“I swear they were there!” Agnes exclaimed.

He shook his hand as if he was saying he needed to think. Grandpa studied the ground for evidence. His eyes went wide. He waved Agnes over and pointed to a root. There it was, a massive claw mark that ran deep through the root. What made that mark? She could just catch a whiff of newly exposed wood underneath the stench of rot.

Grandpa stood abruptly and made his way back to the path. Agnes followed. Before she could reach him, he took off on a run. Catching up, she found him at the wooden fence. Agnes stopped and stared questioningly. Still as unpredictable as ever, she thought. Grandpa pointed to the fencing and explained they needed to inspect for damage done by whatever came through.

Once she nodded, signaling understanding, Grandpa set off carefully and methodically looking over every board. Agnes decided to go a little farther ahead of him. She searched for signs of anything unusual, but not quite as carefully.

Nope. No. Never mind. Nope. No. No. No. Nope. This sad rhythm went on for another half hour until the sun started to set.

We need to get home, she thought while looking at the sliver of light that broke through the trees. She walked over to Grandpa. Once she got his attention she pointed to the sky which beamed its misty dusk light through the trees. He waved his hand in dismissal. Okay if you say so, she sighed and walked back to the wooden panel she left off on.

No. No. No. Nope. “Ahh!” Agnes tripped and landed on the ground with an awkward splat.

Grandpa came rushing over, only to stop in his tracks staring. She followed his gaze towards her feet. A broken piece of the fencing had tripped her.

She shook the splintered board off and jumped up, turning around. What could do that?! A giant hole was punched into the fence. Clearly something powerful and razor sharp did this. She slowly approached, but stopped in hesitation. An animal so angry and with the strength to do this…this has to be related to the bones, right?. If it is, then it must have removed the bones… it probably was here just this afternoon. Her heart sank. It could be watching us right now.

At a loss for words, Agnes pointed urgently in the direction of the house. For a second, Grandpa stared at her with confusion, until it hit him. They both ran. Agnes looked back to see that nothing was following them, but the thought of it kept her from moving slowly. Twigs and leaves crunched under their feet as they were less concerned with where they stepped. Staying on the trail was unimportant now. Reaching the river, they splashed through, adrenaline keeping them moving. Hurry!

The house came into view. Once close enough, Agnes again jumped onto the porch, but Grandpa took the stairs. They made it inside and rested against the front door. Grandpa stood still, his face clearly troubled.




“Why won’t they believe us?” she whispered under her breath. Agnes was lucky that the others weren’t near enough to hear her complain.

It had been a while since they had returned and shared their findings.

“It will be hard to convince everyone right now. It sounds too much like a Halloween prank,” Grandpa responded.

“Dinner!” Her grandmother called.

Agnes got up from the leather couch and headed into the dining room, frustrated by her family’s disbelief. 

Chapter Five 
A Scare in the Moorland

Dew from the morning soaked into her shoes. The wind blew harder, rattling the trees around her. The distant hill’s trees started to slowly lose their leaves but they were still dotted with colors. The vast moorland was awash in magnificent greens and browns.

The excitement of Halloween Day helped erase the events of yesterday. The morning was bustling with games, the afternoon with baking. Realizing they had forgotten to buy their costumes, Agnes was sent out to the General Store. She sorted through what was available, made selections, and paid the cashier. Satisfied, she headed home. The moon was out and the first stars flickered.

An eerie silence seemed to slice through the air. Agnes felt a shiver run down her spine. Something was following her.               

She quickened her pace. Blood drummed in her ears. Maybe dad or mom will come to see what is taking me so long, she hoped, panic-stricken. No, why would they do that?. They had taken Tommy to pick out a pumpkin. Just then, Agnes thought that she caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of her eye. She stopped. Her heart pounded in her ribcage. No… was that…


There, out of the shadows it came. About ten feet in front of her, appeared a nightmarish sight. B..Black Shuck! Its head twitched to the side. Agnes felt its devilish stair burn into her skin. Should I run?! Where too? What should I do?! Just then it charged.


The beast was gaining on her fast. Agnes expected to hear the thud of the monster's paws hitting the ground, but it was oddly silent. Please let this be a dream!


Agnes slammed into the ground, the breath knocked out of her. No! The beast stood above her pinning her to the ground. Its long claws dug into her coat. Agnes squeezed her eyes closed and felt around on the ground for anything that may help her get away. Please let there be something! Yes! She grabbed hold of an oblong rock and used it to strike the head of the monster.

It moaned, momentarily disoriented.

Agnes opened her eyes. The beast was still holding her down with its giant forepaws. Its belly was heavily rounded. She gulped. It must be well-fed, Agnes thought, even though the bones still protruded. She noticed that she was still holding the rock. Get off! Out of desperation, Agnes threw it sideways as though it were a ball. Just then did she take notice of her mistake. You fool Agnes! The creature, undeterred, turned to look at her with the glowing orbs. It looked like it was smiling. They locked eyes. It darted for her face and everything grew dark.

Chapter Six

Agnes jumped up, startled. She looked around her surroundings, realizing it had just been a dream. The tile floor chilled her feet. Agnes donned a pair of socks and walked to the bedroom door, careful not to wake her brother.

“What are you doing up so early?” her mother questioned, as she entered the kitchen.

“I must have just woken up early.”

Her mother nodded while ambling to the coffee pot to fill her cup. Agnes proceeded through the house, seeking the living room.

“Good morning,” she said to Grandma while sitting down.

“Good morning. Your mother and I were just talking about going to the store to get costumes. We are planning to walk there for exercise. It will also give you a chance to get close to the hills of the moorland. They are stunning. Agnes began to panic. I think I already have.

“W..Well..,” she searched for an excuse. “We will be walking quite a bit later this afternoon and we won’t want to be tuckered out. We could drive, but it would be so much more special if we made the costumes ourselves!”

“Hmm. You are right. It would be special if we made them. I’ll go tell your mother.” She got up and walked out of the living room.


Chapter Seven
 A Shocking Discovery

Later in the day they began to make their own costumes. Agnes could clearly tell that her brother was going to be a cowboy. What should I be? Maybe a ghost, she thought. It seems simple enough. She grabbed a white sheet and cut it so it would drape over her just right. Then Agnes made the ends jagged. After that, all she needed to do was to cut out the eye holes. Done, she thought. That was simpler than I expected it to be.

“Do you need help Tommy?” Agnes questioned while noticing him failing to cut out a star.

He nodded. She walked over, picked up the scissors, and followed along the outline. After cutting a star out of the yellow construction paper, she glued it onto the gray circle paper. Next, it was fastened onto a brown shirt. She started on a larger star for his brown hat.

“There you go Tommy.”

“Thank you,” he mumbled.




Trick-or- treating was a success. Agnes and Tommy had more candy than their bags could hold.

Of course they ate too much, which of course made them sick.       

It was late before she started to get better. Agnes checked the time on the wall. It read 10:54 pm. Feeling that her mouth was dry, she walked to the kitchen for water, her feet dragging the whole way. Discomfort slowed her down further as she tried to stifle a yawn. Definitely still somewhat sick, she thought, and tired.

Her eyes drooped as Agnes made her way into the kitchen. She pulled a glass from the top cabinet and filled it at the sink.

While sipping the water, she turned to look at the dark sky through the glass front door.


A flash of lightning brightened the night. Agnes froze. In that fraction of a second, she saw it. Black Shuck. The glass slipped from her fingers. The sound of the shattering across the tile swept through the house.

The dog had something in its mouth that squirmed around. She felt certain.

“What was that?” her dad's voice rang from down the hallway.

She was speechless.

One by one everyone woke up.

“ was Black Shuck,” Agnes stammered. Their expressions conveyed doubt.

“It's true,” she pressed, shivering.

“It’s time for you to get to sleep,” mom responded.

Ignoring her mother, Agnes approached the door and peered out, expecting to see the piercing red eyes staring back at her. Still unable to make out much in the darkness of the night, she flicked on the porch light. Nothing. She nearly relented when something caught her eye. There, laid on the front door mat, were two tiny scraps of fur with red beady eyes. She gasped.




Dear Grandma and Grandpa,


I just wanted to thank you for the most eventful Halloween I have had. It was fun and hopefully we can do something like it again next year, perhaps at our house instead? Anyway, how is the new pup? Have you figured out the breed yet? We tried a blood test, but it came back unknown. Oh, and in the spirit of the holiday, we named our pup, “Hallow”.  I still can not believe we found those two on our trip. It was a perfect ending.


I hope it doesn’t come back to bite us.





The End.

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