**Prescott Journal Scary Story first place winner**
Forever at the Little Blue Church
By Francis Racine
FLIP, FLAP, FLIP, FLAP.
The wipers on Jack Johnson's recently purchased 1955 Chevy sure weren't the best. Every time they swiped on the windshield of his car, it left giant streaks of water, effectively blocking any visibility he hoped to have.
"Jack, you should pull over, it seems dangerous," his wife Sheila said.
"No it's alright," he answered. "It's just a bit of rain. It will pass, honey."
What had started as a romantic honeymoon trip for the young couple was quickly becoming an excruciating nightmare.
First, Jack's lemon of a Chevy had decided not to start on the first day of their honeymoon, courtesy of a clogged carburetor and now the rain was about to wash away all their meticulous plans.
Silently she prayed for the rain to dissipate.
Yet it didn't. On the contrary, it seemed to grow stronger as they made their way down the long and oddly deserted highway two.
Sheila could hear the loud droplets pounding the metal roof of the car. "My God, Jack, will you just pull over already!" the young bride yelled. "We can't see anything in this rain."
She peered outside from the foggy window next to her, revealing an eerily dark landscape. So dark in fact, that she had a hard time discerning where they were.
"Alright, alright, I'll pull over right now," Jack answered apologetically.
He turned the big steering wheel towards the side of the road and instantly heard the sound of crushed stone being run over by his car.
Sheila ran her hand on her window, wiping off the fog from its surface. What she saw made her skin crawl. Standing silently and eerily were several tombstones. "This is beyond frightening," she said. "Of all the places we had to stop next to, you stop next to a cemetery?"
"Oh come on Sheila," Jack said with a smile while lighting a cigarette. "Don't you find that little blue church cute? Even in this rain, it still looks pretty!"
Sheila, whose gaze had never left the cemetery, gasped loudly, before pushing down the door's lock with all her might. "I just saw someone walking around in the cemetery!" she yelled to her husband.
As soon as she finished her sentence, the heavy downpour that had been assaulting the area suddenly stopped. The couple, baffled, stared at each other in disbelief. That's when Sheila saw the old woman.
She was wearing a long black dress and her long, grey knotted hair went down to the bottom of her back. She was quickly and expertly making her way around the tombstones, approaching the car.
Sheila uttered a piercing yell, as Jack tried in vain to start the Chevy, which, conveniently, didn't.
"Do you need a mechanic?" a ruffled voice asked from the car's backseat. "I used to be one."
Sitting in the back was the shell of what had once been human, several years ago. Several bits of flesh were missing from its face and one of its eyeballs had vanished, leaving behind an empty, black hole.
Husband and wife both bolted out of their car. They then came face to face with hundreds of spectral beings. Some were in skeletal forms, while others looked as if they were living.
"Don't be scared," said the old woman. "We're all dead here."
"We're not!" Jack yelled.
The rotting being that had been sitting in the back seat of the car suddenly opened the rear door and, with much difficulty, made his way to the front of the Chevy, pointing to the front bumper. "Then tell me," he started, "how did this happen?"
The car's front end was totally mangled, the metal bent in ways it shouldn't. The windshield was broken in hundreds of pieces.
"Now come and don't be afraid. We'll show you around your new neighbourhood."
The couple, holding hands, followed the grey haired woman, as she made her way into the cemetery, under the watchful eye of the hundreds of dead.
*Second place winner*
By Sandra J. Jackson
"Rob!" Maggie pounded on the bedroom door; the light went out. "Rob!" she cried louder.
Maggie turned and pressed her back against the door and allowed herself to slide down to the floor like the tears on her cheeks.
Only a few hours ago they'd been enjoying their travels. They'd arrived at the bed and breakfast weary but happy. Their hostess, an old woman, had been accommodating.
I should have paid attention to my intuition, Maggie thought. But after her earlier experience at Fort Wellington, Maggie had believed her heightened sensitivity was more residual. After all, having the ability to sense spirits or other worldly entities needed to be tempered with logic. If she jumped at every slight temperature change or goosebump on her skin she'd be locked away. And that mask, Maggie conjured up the memory of the strange horned mask hanging in the parlour as she continued to reconstruct the night's events.
The old woman had told them she'd picked it up on her travels to Africa. She'd said it was used to ward off evil spirits. Finding the story interesting, Maggie had researched it herself. The old woman had been mistaken, the mask welcomed evil spirits.
Maggie opened her eyes and stared at the window at the other end of the room. The moonlight backlit a rocking-horse with a rag doll perched on top. Its hands tangled in the yarn mane. The sloped ceilings of the room drew Maggie's eyes down to the twin beds on either side. Piled on each bed were numerous dolls. Maggie looked up at the dresser beside the door and into the glass eyes of a china doll.
A loud click brought Maggie to her feet. Her trembling hand tested the door knob. It turned in her grasp. Her heart raced as she tugged the door open to a darkened hallway.
"Rob?" she whispered.
The eerie ticking of the grandfather clock downstairs filled the black void, the only sound in Maggie's ears apart from her thumping heart.
She tiptoed across the hall; her skin prickled. The door to the room she'd last seen Rob lay wide open and drew her forward. Maggie stopped outside the room and strained her ears. "Rob," she managed a strangled whisper and stepped inside.
Maggie's breath turned to vapour and billowed from between her lips. She shivered. The double bed they'd shared looked as though no one had slept in it. The chair where their suitcase had laid was empty.
Maggie's throat ached as panic began to take hold. Had Rob left? She pushed the thought aside and left the room.
Maggie placed her hand on the ice cold railing and took a step. The stair creaked beneath her weight. As she took another, the grandfather clock struck three. Maggie jumped and grabbed the hand rail tighter.
Once at the bottom, Maggie entered the parlour; her gaze fixed on the empty space where the mask had hung.
A whisper of laughter caught her attention. "Rob?" Maggie called. She spied him sitting at a table; the old woman served him breakfast.
Maggie ran but stopped as her hands pressed against cold glass. Maggie banged on the window. The old woman stared at her. Suddenly, the whole room moved. Maggie watched as the old woman moved closer to Rob, Maggie called his name, but he did not hear her. The view of the room changed through the glass and Maggie saw the old woman once again standing in front of a mirror. Her face morphed into the mask and back again. Maggie gasped then she looked at the doll the old woman held in her hands. The woman raised the doll up and Maggie saw her reflection in the dolls eyes. She screamed. The old woman laughed and turned away from the mirror.
"This is Maggie." The old woman placed the doll in Rob's hands.
Maggie stared into Rob's face. He could not see her, and Maggie would remain forever trapped inside a china doll.
*Third place winner*
The Debt Collector
by John Paul Tucker
"After midnight--the spectre comes knocking." The eyes of the tale bearer grew large. "Perchance a greedy person open the door and look the phantom in the eye, which is decidedly not an eye but a solid gold coin, the finely clothed skeleton drags its victim into the dark, where it strips its prey of flesh to dress its cold white bones--the Debt Collector."
"And he'll come for you first," burst out his friend, "who owes every soul in Prescott a dollar."
Raucous laughter filled the dining room.
"As lean as a whip and as cruel," sighed the tailored young man across from his two sparring companions. "Miserly. Suspicious. Not a friend on either side of the St. Lawrence."
The young man, his top hat and gloves propped on the table beside his frothy mug, had chilled his companion's warm chatter.
"You knew the usurer?" asked the storyteller, swallowing a generous fork of the Daniels' pot pie.
"After his dogs I knew his foot best."
His companions laid their forks aside. Knew his foot? Their friend was a respected merchant, treating them to a hearty meal behind steamy windows in the best dining room in town.
"I was his bondservant to pay my mother's debt. A loan, for a roof over our heads" -- He laid his hands on his waistcoat and mimed a swelling belly -- "and porridge in my pot."
"Unthinkable!" cried his friends in unison.
"I scraped his plates, stoked his coal iron, collected his usury, and made my bed in a closet for fear of his dogs. Six months his servant, I discovered he furnished my plate with the same fare as his four-footed sentries--pork rinds and turnip.
"On collection runs I visited my mother--an answer to her prayers she said--and upon returning was paid for my tardiness with boxed ears. Later, I fell ill with fever. He threw me out. Stumbling home, I fainted. A gentleman plucked me up, set me in his carriage and rushed me to the Asylum. A nurse recognized me and located my mother. Months later, my health restored, I pleaded with my mother that I might return to pay off our debt. She relented on condition that I return home every third night. 'Tell him he'll save money on board,' she said. I trudged the long road back.
"The heavy brass knocker squelched when I lifted it, so little had it been used. Not a snarl or bark assaulted the locked door, so I opened the delivery panel. I shouted a halloo into the gloom, expecting a rack of snarling teeth. Not a growl rippled the silence. I called again before I wormed my way inside. I did not at first comprehend what my eyes beheld. Something glinted from a heap at the foot of the stairs."
The young merchant lifted his pint and drew a long draught.
"I ran for the constable."
"That's it?" blurted his two friends at once.
"Apparently, the old moneylender had contracted pneumonia--putrid bowls lingered by his bedside. The Sergeant said he had likely fainted and tumbled down the stairs. If the miser hadn't starved his dogs, he might have fared better. He paid his debt in flesh till his bones shone white in the gloom. After their gaunt master was bankrupt, the hellhounds attacked each other... But I've put you from your meal."
"So it's true," said the chronicler of the Debt Collector. "What of your dear mother?"
"The miser had ferreted his money under his bed. When the magistrate heard our story he awarded it to my mother. 'For payment due,' he said."
"And the coin?" asked the storyteller. "In place of the phantom's eye?"
The young man paused. He stood and snugged his tall hat over his brow.
"My mother said it best: 'A cruel life begs a cruel end.' Perhaps he had it clutched in his gnarled fingers when he fell. Wedged in one eye socket was a gleaming gold coin."
By C.Vande Burgt
The year was 1955,we had just moved to Prescott. It was a bit of a shock to my system. We were a few blocks from the St. Lawrence River. The kids in the neighbourhood were a pretty tight group. I was the new kid from the city. The girls were a different bunch. They would run away from me.
One day they actually sought me out. They said I had to earn my way into the group.
I was to go into the haunted house on Dibble Street and bring back proof. I crossed my fingers and said yes. The day arrived and I started out the door to get my bike. Dad called to me that Mom was at work and he had to go out. I was in charge of my little brother. My heart sank. One thing that five year old could not do was keep his mouth shut. I was going to have to pay him off.
I had my two wheeler and Tag-along had a bike with training wheels. We got to the driveway of the house and my brother freaked out. He said, "I am going to tell on you!" The first of many Snicker bars went into his chubby hands. We drove down the laneway just as it started to thunder. The house was huge. No trespassing signs were all over it. I reached for the door and my brother yelped. He had fallen through a floor board. One thing he did when scared was wet his pants. Now I had a soggy,Snicker covered kid on my hands.
I pushed on the front door and it flew open. We hurried inside and the door slammed behind us. I just wanted to get something for proof and get the heck out of there. The storm was getting nasty. I decided it was just too creepy .I pulled the door but it would not open. I was scared and sure we would die there. My brother noticed I was in a panic and emptied his bladder again!. Just to add to our fright I heard a noise on the porch. Oh, God the place is haunted!
I grabbed my sponge of a brother and ran for the nearest door. It happened to be the cellar. I pushed him down the stairs and we hid in the dark. I was sure we were not alone because of all the scurrying noises around us. The banging from the porch got louder. Someone was trying to open the door! I reached around the darkness for a weapon. My hand found something round and I held onto it for dear life. Hoping to throw it at the thing upstairs. There was no way out!. The door to the cellar opened and there stood a man all dressed in a black rain slicker complete with a big black hat. I whispered to my brother that we had to make a break for it, run up the stairs, push the man in black out of the way and go out the open door. That was the plan anyway. I grabbed my weapon and my drenched little brother and tried our escape. It was a huge fail! The monster grabbed both of us! It was yelling too. The face of our foe appeared... It was my Dad in an old raincoat and hat.
The moral of the story is.. if you go to a haunted house, do not leave your bright red bikes in plain sight. The girls came by that night. I showed them a glass doorknob that I had from the house. They all laughed and said, "We had already decided to be your friend before we told you to go into the house." Are you crazy. It was a joke. I was grounded all that summer but I am proud to say all the girls are still my friends after 60 plus years. The doorknob is packed away but never forgotten.
By Frank Taker
Danny Cochrane had two problems on his mind, Halloween and Martin Lowe.
He was twelve this year and Halloween had become a kind of social non-event. No way was he going trick or treating, that was for little kids. That left the school dance and wearing a costume a hundred kids had worn before him--Jeez.
Martin Lowe posed a different challenge.
Danny was average, okay grades and moderately popular in an anonymous kind of way. It was just enough to satisfy his doting parents.
Martin was a different story. He always wore his sleeves rolled down to hide the bruises. His worn out clothes and the fact he didn't shower too often led to him being nicknamed 'Road Kill'. Until he glommed onto Danny he was a bully magnet.
It was a situation Danny tolerated until the 'Stick' made its appearance. It was signed by 'Rocket' Richard and left to him by his Uncle Louis. His popularity took a decided upturn and Martin Lowe wasn't going to spoil it. Every time he appeared Danny ridiculed him and joined in the taunts. Martin learned to stay away.
That is until the evening of Halloween, when he appeared on the door step of the Cochrane home on Dibble Street.
"What you doin' tonight?" he asked in his whiny voice.
"I know something cool we could do."
"How cool could it be if you know about it?" Despite his tone Danny was intrigued.
"I heard Mavis Stone's older brother talking about the lights at midnight."
"By the river, down from Fort Wellington. There's a big rock and if you stand on it at midnight, close your eyes and hold your hands up a big light from space shines down."
Having nothing else to do he agreed to go. Martin had one last request.
"Can you bring the stick, it might help?"
Midnight found them both looking at the boulder.
"You go first," Martin said.
Danny nodded and handed him the stick. "Don't drop it doofus. Got your watch?"
"Okay tell me when it's exactly midnight," he said and clambered onto the rock.
After a minute Martin called out "Now!"
Danny closed his eyes and raised his arms.
Initially nothing happened. Then a blinding flash of light crashed through his mind. After what seemed an age he opened his eyes. Everything was completely black, like being in tar. He felt like he was standing on top of a small ledge and there was nothing underneath him.
Desperately he called out Martin's name.
He called out again. The blackness started to spin and turn grey. All of a sudden it was daylight. In front of him a police officer was speaking to another man. It was weird, he looked like Martin only much older.
Danny tried saying hello but they didn't pay any attention, just carried on talking.
"So are you are saying that you killed Danny Cochrane Mr Lowe?"
The older man sighed. "Thirty years ago today, so help me."
Danny suddenly realised they were talking about him.
"How and why?"
"How? With a stupid hockey stick," he gave a bitter laugh. "The why? He was my only friend and he turned on me."
"What did you do with the body."
"Under an old stone slab," he pointed at the river. "lifted it up one day and found a large stone chamber underneath. Dropped him in and filled it with stones."
"Why are you telling me this now?"
"I'm terminal, weeks left that all. Time his folks knew the truth."
The blackness unexpectedly rose back up and Danny was whirled back into it. Once again it turned grey and disappeared. This time he was back on the boulder.
The memory of what he had just witnessed had also vanished from his mind. He looked down at Martin and jumped off the rock.
"Hey I'm sorry buddy, I treated you like a jerk."
Martin handed him back the stick and smiled.
By Tammy Richmire
It was a pitch-black night, there were no signs of life anywhere. Stores, houses and roadways were gone. The whole town was a pile of rubble as far as the eye could see. All that was left were the headstones and some of those had crumbled too.
Tari looked around and started seeing spirits rising from the ground. One after the other they started slithering toward her at the speed of light, making a deep buzzing sound. They flew around her tiny body until she was weak with dizziness. She tried to cover her ears to stop the buzzing but she couldn't move. She closed her eyes trying to make them disappear but it was no use she couldn't stop them.
She noticed that the incessant noise had stopped. She dared to opened her eyes...they were gone! As her eyes adjusted, she focused on a decrepit old woman hovering in front of her! She tried to scream but nothing came out of her mouth.
Tari stood frozen with fear; she made peace with her fate. The decrepit old soul pointed a long, sharp brown fingernail; shook her ratty gray hair. The banshee opened her mouth to reveal jagged, black teeth howling.
"Go to the light, go to the light, go to the light!" She repeated over and over and over.
Then she vanished.
Tari's legs turned to jelly; paralyzed, she fell to the ground with a thud.
When she awoke there was a chant in her head, 'please be a dream; please be a dream', but she came to the grim realization that it was not a dream when she saw the creepy old lady kneeling down beside her yelling.
"You didn't go to the light -- i told you to go to the light! " Again, repeating herself multiple times and....vanishing into thin air.
Tari was finally able to move; she got to her feet.
Unsure why or how she ended up at Sandy Hill Cemetery, 18-year-old Tari stood, frozen. It was mid-October and the weather was damp. Her legs were numb but she was determined to run. She did. Running as fast as she could she passed hundreds of spirits soaring through what used to be the town of Prescott, Ontario. They didn't bother her at all. They went about their business, fluttering in and out of the rubble, and communicating with each other in their odd fashion that made Tari almost laugh out loud.
Their communication reminded her of her cell phone but when she reached into the back pocket of her jeans it wasn't there. Tari panicked and started to cry; she wondered if she would talk to another living soul again.
She could barely see and there was no way to know how far she was from civilization, or if civilization even exists anymore. Her legs were weak and her 130lb-body struggled to function but she wasn't stopping for anyone! Unti...
"Go to the light," she heard the raspy voice yell from a distance. Repeating those haunting words. " Go to the light."
Tari ran faster and faster until she reached a sign that said 'Welcome to Cardinal'.
There were stores, houses, lights and roads! Tari was overwhelmed with delight! Finally, her nightmare was over.
Tari fell to her knees to catch her breath; she took in the beauty of Cardinal. Compared to what she had just been through...This. Was. Heaven!
Tari's cell phone rang, startling her. She shook her head, confused. Why wasn't the phone there earlier? Regardless, worrying the caller would hang up, she quickly answered. She was hoping beyond hope that there was a living human being on the other end.
She looked at the screen and read 'unknown number'.
"Hello! hello?" she yelled into the phone, excited.
A familiar, creepy, raspy voice on the other end cackled. "I will find you and I will make you go to the light," the cackling persisted as before.
The phone went dead...
And Cardinal, like Prescott, turned....pitch.....black!