Fri08292014

News

A flood of candidates seek seats on high school board

Two incumbents and five newcomers are vying for seats on the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees – a significant increase in the number of candidates who have run over the past 10 years.

According to data from the Sa...

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Schools

One more candidate joins MVLA race

When longtime incumbent Judy Hannemann declined to run again, the deadline to file for the upcoming Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District Board of Trustees election was extended by a few days. Mountain View resident Sanjay Dave registere...

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Community

CSA salutes 'Hometown Heroes' at breakfast

CSA salutes 'Hometown Heroes' at breakfast


Mendoza

The Community Services Agency’s 2014 “Hometown Heroes” fundraising breakfast is scheduled 7:15 a.m. Sept. 19 at the Computer History Museum, 1401 N. Shoreline Blvd., Mountain View.

“Hometown Heroes” honors individuals and businesses for...

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Sports

No suit, no sweat

No suit, no sweat


Courtesy of the Gallagher Family
Joe Gallagher – a 12-year-old from Los Altos Hills – swims from near Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco shore. His uncle, Joe Locke, an accomplished open-water swimmer, accompanied him.

For his recent s...

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Comment

Back to school, back to thumbs: Editorial

The kids are back in class at our local schools and a new political campaign season is underway, so we have our thumbs out and ready to go.

Thumbs-up: To last week’s community workshop for rebuilding the Los Altos Community Center. The Aug. 19...

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Business

Sweet Shop celebrates five-year anniversary

Sweet Shop celebrates five-year anniversary


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Sweet Shop at 994 Los Altos Ave. marks its fifth year in business Sept. 7. The shop is a popular after-school stop for families and students.

When Stacy Savides Sullivan opened the Sweet Shop at 994 Los Altos...

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Books

"Jack London" chronicles author's adventurous life


Much has been written about American author Jack London, primarily known for his early-20th-century Western adventure novels, including the classics “White Fang” and “The Call of the Wild.”

In Earle Labor’s biography of the literary icon, “Jac...

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People

JEFF JOHNSON

JEFF JOHNSON

Jan 10, 1967 - Aug 10, 2014

Jeff was born and raised in Los Altos. He was a graduate of Los Altos High School. He then went to Foothill College where he had an opportunity to spend 3-months in Europe through a study abroad program. That experience...

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Travel

Visiting Vancouver Western Canada's premier destination has much to offer

Visiting Vancouver Western Canada's premier destination has much to offer


Photos courtesy of TOURISM VANCOUVER
Outdoor adventures abound in and around Vancouver, including a boat excursion into Horseshoe Bay and a jaunt on the Cliffwalk at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, among the most popular attractions in British Col...

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Stepping Out

'Water' rises in Mtn. View

'Water' rises in Mtn. View


Kevin Berne/Special to the Town Crier
Elliot (Miles Gaston Villanueva) struggles to understand Odessa’s (Zilah Mendoza) online activity in TheatreWorks’ regional premiere of the award-winning drama “Water by the Spoonful.”

TheatreWorks’ regiona...

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Spiritual Life

Spiritual Briefs

Meditation group meets at Foothills Congregational

A Weekly Meditation Practice group meets 7-8:15 a.m. Tuesdays at Foothills Congregational Church, 461 Orange Ave., Los Altos.

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host o...

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Ghosts and haunted houses are back with reader-submitted spooky tales


Local writers outdid themselves for this year’s spooky stories contest. Following are most of the submissions we received. Stories that do not appear in print will be run online at losaltosonline.com. As always, we’re asking you to vote on your favorite story. Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with your choice and the top two authors with the most votes will receive cash prizes. We will announce the winner in an upcoming issue. Now, on to the tales!

Hunting Ghosts

By Alex Kemble

Penelope and Frank were exploring a house, inspired by a show on television called “Ghost Catchers.”

This house was around 600 years old. The owners died of a plague and no one has touched the house since – even the relatives didn’t want this house.

This house was full of rats with broken glass on the ground from its ruptured windows. Penelope and Frank heard rats skittering on the floor and the wind howling. They did not like it one bit.

Frank tripped on something. On closer inspection, it was the body of a human. It had a necklace right next to its decaying hand. Penelope tried it on as it was beautiful. Frank screamed, which became muffled after a few seconds, leading to none at all. Dead silence.

Penelope was frightened, with her courage wavering. With careful steps she found a body outline like Frank’s in the dark. She shined her flashlight upon him and was in shock. His body was mangled horribly. There were deep scratches everywhere on him, with limbs missing. Penelope ran as fast as she could. She heard different sounds.

Her panting, the wood creaking and ... footsteps. She heard a voice: “The necklace, the necklace!”

The final thing she saw was Frank, and the dead man from earlier. Their parents waited outside. The last thing they heard were screams of agony. ...

The Old Mansion

By Leah Strickland, age 10

Jenny opened the old shed door. The rusty hinges creaked as it opened. She squinted in the dim light, looked around and saw the large, heavy costume chest. She tried to drag it, but she was too small.

She went inside to get her older brother Matt to help. Matt was 13 and very strong. They got the chest into the kitchen and opened it. Jenny saw an old cake costume with a number 6 on it. She couldn’t wear that; she was 9, not 6! There was also a purple crayon costume. She loved the color purple, and loved art! It was a perfect fit, so she grabbed her cat-shaped candy bag and ran down the street to her friend Lisa’s house. She couldn’t believe it. Lisa was dressed as a red crayon; they were a perfect pair! Lisa’s mom served them “eyeball” skewers that were actually just peeled grapes.

Then it was time to trick-or-treat. They went to every house on the block. Then Lisa noticed a new, big, gray mansion a couple blocks down.

“Let’s go there!” she said.

As they walked toward the door, they heard a loud scream from inside, followed by lots of laughter. That was when red liquid started to drip from under the door, forming a small red puddle. The girls screamed and ran back to Lisa’s house.

As they ran, the mansion door opened. The lady at the door saw the girls running away, looked down and giggled. She went back inside and told her 11-year-old twin sons, Ben and Samuel, what the screaming had been.

“When Ben tripped me and I spilled the punch, I screamed,” she said. “That probably scared them. Then you two started laughing and they must have gotten very scared. The punch dripped under the door and it probably looked like blood. Then they ran away.”

Ben and Samuel laughed and laughed.

At Lisa’s house, they told the story to Lisa’s mom. She did not believe it and asked to see the mansion. They went outside, but the mansion was gone.

Back at the “mansion,” the kids were in bed and the mom had packed up the decorations. She put away the spooky mansion false front. She would not put it up again until next Halloween.

The Crow that Came to Supper

By Andrew Pejack

Beneath the cold October soil lays a man whose story I must tell, for one day, a bedfellow of that man I shall become.

Mr. Caugh was a cruel man by any measure. Destiny had given him the surname “Caugh,” which was identical in sound to the call of the common crow. “Caw! Caw!” was often heard among the oaks of our town, and was as natural as the wind creaking the carob trees. Predictably, Mr. Caugh took this as a mockery of his name.

One day, Mr. Caugh took the dreadful notion to poison the crows. He would put deadly weed-killer into bits of common bread and scatter them about, not caring one bit for other animals that might be harmed as well! A soul as black as the crow’s back!

Some years later, as Mr. Caugh sat down to supper, a crow appeared at his open window. Mr. Caugh raised his fork with murderous intent, but in that instant, the crow spoke:

“Mr. Caugh, I am Crow. We have counted the full moons, waiting for time to remove you from our midst, as it does with all living things, but yet you linger. I am here to tell you, Mr. Caugh, that you will die this very day.”

Mr. Caugh replied with scorn.

“Bah! There is nothing you can do to hurt me, Crow! You weigh no more than a dirty sock! Now let me eat in peace!”

Crow calmly replied, “The deed is already done, Mr. Caugh. We have been saving the poisoned bread, and in fact have put it into the soup which you are eating.”

Mr. Caugh turned red, and his body shook with anger and fear. As Crow watched, Mr. Caugh collapsed to the floor, and within a moment, was dead.

“Caugh! Caw!” cried Crow, and catching a gust of wind, he flew high above the oaks and was gone.

The story could stop here and satisfy most, but for one ominous truth: The crows never put poisoned bread into Mr. Caugh’s soup. Merely the fear of dying was enough to still his heart. A crow’s life is ruled by caution; a man’s life, by fear. This the crows knew.

And so, dear readers, whenever you hear the caw of a crow, remember Mr. Caugh beneath the cold October clay, and how he came to be there.

The Head of State

By David Seltzer

Locusts were considered a delicacy in the Central American country ruled by the old colonel, where the people subsisted on plantains and carrots.

So when the insects swarmed earlier than usual one March day, the peasants took it as a sign from the heavens to finally revolt against the dictator who, long ago, had led them to independence and straight into abject poverty.

In a gluttonous release of pent-up hunger, engorged on the harvest of locusts, the rebel leaders saw to the decapitation of the colonel – burying his remains outside the capital, but for his head, which they left as recompense for the flying insects.

A sister city of that capital is Los Altos, where we know most everyone residing in our neighborhoods, at least by sight. But, sometimes, even here, there is a house apart, maybe a bit unkempt, where life exists only behind the walls, unobserved. Perhaps the lawn is uncut, the porch in disrepair, maybe papers are strewn about in front.

That’s what mystery is supposed to look like. This time, though, the house looked just like any other.

It was a well-maintained ranch-style house. Yet the neighbors couldn’t recall anyone ever coming or going through the front door, and the shades on the front bay window overlooking the street had never been raised. A dry, hacking cough seemed to occasionally come from the house, but the neighborhood kids paid it scant attention, until the Halloween night when the lightning struck.

The colonel’s head, which could think and dream and occasionally choke when recalling the gallows, remained alive only by consuming the carrots, which reminded him of home and colored his hardened skin orange. He longed to look outside onto the Los Altos street from the house that imprisoned him, but the solar-powered front window blinds had broken and were fixed in the down position.

On the Halloween of the lightning, as he sat in his position by the window, the electric charge raised, along with the blinds, the eyebrows on his bright ochre head. His eyes, stunned by electricity, were backlit amidst the lightning flashes.

Those children brave enough to approach agreed that the mystery house displayed the most lifelike jack-o’-lantern they had ever seen, and they were rewarded by a hail of insect-shaped candies that fluttered like snowflakes from the crisp October sky.

The Witch Behind the Gate

By Laura Allan

At the end of the street stands a big black gate with vines all up the sides. I heard tell an old woman lived there, a witch, though no one I know had ever seen her. Each boy on the block when I was young would whisper stories about that gated house. That if you went inside, you didn’t come out, and many had tried before.

It was said that the witch gave out whole candy bars on Halloween, the big ones the size of your head. Unknowing kids would be lured past the gates to walk across the soft grass to her porch. They’d see the bowl, unattended at the door, and reach to snatch up their treasure. But as their fingers closed around the candy, her fingers would close around them. They’d be snatched away into darkness, gone forever.

Some said she ate them, others that she sold them to the circus. But the ones I believed said she turned them into dogs and kept them as pets. There were always dogs at the gate on Halloween. Sometimes a big one with a low bellow, other times small ones that yapped over and over. As you walked past the gate, they would bark at you. They would warn you to stay away from the house with the vines up the gate, to avoid their terrible fate.

I watched that house down the street and wondered who lived inside. I never saw someone go get the paper, never saw a car come out of the garage. But the dogs always barked, and the vines grew ever up that gate, holding fast to that house just as the legend did.

And every Halloween the other kids and I would run past, giggling. We’d dare each other to touch the gate, see how close to the dogs we would get. I’d hide my fear behind my mask as I reached out a finger to touch the cold metal.

When I grew up and got too old for trick-or-treating and fear of witches, I walked past that house one Halloween. I looked into the yard, to the porch of my childhood legends. And there I saw a bowl. It was brimming with full-size candy bars, as big as your head.

I looked at those candy bars, heard the dogs howl, and even all these years later … I shivered.

I Heard Footsteps

By John Frazier, age 10

It was a dark gray, silent night. I lay awake in bed as the clock struck midnight. Everyone in my family was soundly asleep but for some reason I couldn’t sleep. Suddenly I heard footsteps, thump, thump, thump, with an occasional dry, cackling laugh. I went out to see what it was but all I saw was an open door to the backyard with chilly, howling wind. My heart jumped a beat as I crept outside. I thought “what am I thinking it was probably just the wind.” But out of nowhere my mind changed! There were so many questions running through my head as I saw a dark figure standing by the pool but it vanished in an instant. Surprisingly the pool turned a blood red and a man on a raft floated to the surface. To my horror, half of him was fleshless! Just then something hard hit me on the back of the head and everything went black. When I awoke the dark figure was on top of me and he said “I’ve been watching you so if you so if you ever hear footsteps don’t come out. And from that night on I heard footsteps every night but I knew not to come out.

The Ghosts of Spiderweb Manor

By Eliza Morgan, Age 11

1782

Sarah Corpse paced the hollow floors of the prison that used to be her house, Spiderweb Manor, and dreaded the attack that was sure to be coming. Yes, she could see the figure sprinting toward her, and made one last enchantment.

Lamp of flesh,

Lamp of bone,

Make me a ghost

So I can haunt my home.

Smiling devilishly in the flickering glow of the lamps, she lay down and enjoyed her last moments of life. As a ghost, she would stay awakened and haunting until someone put her to sleep. But nobody knew how. And they certainly weren’t going to find out.

Present Day

Jack and Lauren were walking back from trick or treating. They had a rough time. Everybody kept calling them Jack O Lauren, like jack-o’-lantern.

“Bleh,” said Jack. “Did you hear them calling us that?” “Sadly”, replied Lauren. “We need a break. Should we stay overnight in that old mansion – what’s it called? Spiderhead?”

“Spiderweb,” Jack answered. “And sure. Let’s go.” And the two set off toward the mysterious manor, with no idea what it held. Lauren pushed open the front door – creakkkkkk…….

As soon as they went in, the door slammed shut. “Ya know,” said Jack, “I’m starting to think we should go back.” “Yeah,” said Lauren. But the door was locked shut.

Heee Heee Heee came a haunting laugh. Suddenly a bloody, transparent figure appeared in their path. “I am Sarah Corpse and you are under my power! You shall never get out!,” cried the spirit. She started chanting.

“Objects that aren’t rooted down hit these children until they are found.

“If you ever are! HEHEHEHE!,” cried the witch.

Desperately, Lauren picked up a lamp and threw it at the witch. “Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!” cried the witch.

“You FOOL! That lamp was my lifeline!” The witch vanished. The objects stopped hitting Jack and Lauren. The doors creaked open. And Jack and Lauren ran.

The Witch’s Return

By Joseph Morgan, age 7

1800

On a dark and stormy night a witch with a magical wand appeared in the darkness and was planning to scare the trick-or-treaters out of their candy. So the witch made water balloons with her magical wand and hid behind the bushes. It was tradition for the witch to throw water balloons at the trick-or-treaters. Later the first trick-or–treaters started to come. Only a few trick-or-treaters barely got hit with the water balloons because the witch didn’t have good aim. Then a trick-or-treater with armor came and the witch threw the water balloon at the trick-or-treater with armor. It bounced off the trick-or-treater with armor and hit the witch in the face! The witch flew home with no candy!

A Ghostly Reality

By Robert C. Frostholm

At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect. After all, no one really believes in ghosts, do they? I didn’t. Not really.

Sure, in the back of my mind there was always this question mark. I wasn’t ready to completely dismiss the concept, but I certainly wasn’t willing to share with my family and friends that I harbored any notion of their existence for fear of being, well, teased to say the least.

Go ahead. Try it. Try to tell someone close to you that you believe in the afterworld of spirits, goblins and ghosts and see what reaction you get. A laugh? A sarcastic sneer? Perhaps they will take a step back, eye you up and down a few times before asking just how crazy are you. Exactly my point. Never, ever admit that you believe in such things. It can ruin a friendship. It can cause the strongest love to begin to melt. The consequences are huge.

The fact that ghosts really do exist has no bearing. They do, you know. They’re everywhere. All around us. You have to look carefully to see them. They don’t like sunlight so the best time to seek them out is at night, when it’s dark. In fact, the darker, the better. A nearly moonless night when the moon is in its waning crescent phase, just as it will be this year on October 31.

What a coincidence that the best night for viewing ghosts will be on Halloween. Don’t let that scare you, though. Most ghosts are harmless. I say most because I know of a few that delight in frightening the living. It’s just their jealous nature.

The undead are revered and thought to be excellent targets to try to scare. So that’s what we do – try to scare you.

In reality, we are simply lost souls who, for lack of a better term, missed the boat to the other side – the afterlife. I know this because I am one of them. And this Halloween I will be among the hundreds of lost souls, wandering the streets of Los Altos, hiding in dark corners, looking for someone to scare.

Maybe it will be you I’ll scare. I’ll be walking behind you. You’ll feel my cold breath on your neck. You’ll hear my rasping howl. You’ll get a chill that transcends your entire body as my spirit passes through you.

Inspired Pumpkin

By John Allan

Jennifer sat quietly playing video games while her Mom was in the kitchen. She glanced up, and saw a young girl slowly materializing and coming through the wall.

“Wow! Neat trick,” she said to the girl. “Who are you?”

The girl smiled and replied “I am from the future, and I came here because you are the one who carved the famous pumpkin. It was that pumpkin that inspired the most famous woman in the world to invent a way to save sunshine so that it could shine on solar cells at night and on cloudy days. That invention changed everything!”

“But I haven’t carved our pumpkin yet,” protested Jennifer. “Besides, what was so special about it?”

“No one knows,” replied the girl. “The woman said it was the pumpkin that inspired her, but she would not give any more details. She kept it as her secret. Sadly, she passed away last week, so I thought I would come back here and discover the secret myself.”

“Well, you’re too early,” said Jennifer.

“Oh no. I must have made a mistake in counting leap years, and that got me here on the wrong day. And I have no more time here; I have to go.”

“Why must you leave so soon?”

“The app on my iPhone 91c only lets me travel into the past for 5 minutes,” replied the girl.

“91c?” Jennifer exclaimed.

“Yes,” replied the girl. “It is rumored that they are introducing a new model at a big event in a few weeks. Everyone is very excited! But I must go now.”

And with that, the girl walked toward the wall and slowly vanished, leaving Jennifer amazed and by herself.

Then she heard her Mom call from the kitchen: “Jen, you have been playing your video games long enough. Why don’t you come in here so we can carve the pumpkin?”

Spooky Story

By Kirstie Andrews

It was late, around 11 p.m. I was camping with my dad, sister, and a friend named Kayla. It was the night after Halloween. My teeth were still sugar coated from all the candy, no matter how hard I brushed them. We were sitting around the fire outside telling scary stories. I smile at my friend Kayla after she finished her scary story.

“Good one” I said. I looked over to my little sister Abigail, or Abby for short. She was holding tight onto my dad's shoulder, shaking. I smiled again.

“You scared Abigail!” We high-fived. “Not funny.” Abigail responded, “I was not scared, just nervous.” I laughed.

“Who wants to go next?” Dad asked.

No one wanted to go next and tell a spooky story. “I have to go to the bathroom.” Abigail said.

It was pitch dark but there was a full moon. The bathroom was far away - a little outhouse a quarter-mile away. “I'll take you,” my dad told her. “Wait here, I'll go and get flash lights.” Once he left, I said, “Abby, I hope you don't get scared.” Kayla caught on and chuckles, “Yah, lets make sure the boggy man doesn't case you.”

I chuckled this time. “I bet you are way to scared to go by yourself!” I taunted. “I bet,” I continued, “that the first sound that you would hear, you would come back running and screaming.” I laughed.

Abigail's face was bright red. I turned to Kayla. She gave me the face that said, I went too far with this and that Abigail was only 6. My laugh seized. I looked back over to Abby. She was standing up.

“I am not young,” she yelled, “I can go into the woods by myself! ”I stood up from the log I was sitting on. The fire was still crackling. “Abby,” I said, “I was joking.”

My heart was pounding. I didn't need her to go off into the woods and get hurt. She huffed and turned. Then she ran off into the woods. I stood there paralyzed.

“DAD!” I screamed, “Abby is in the woods.”

My dad came scrambling out of the tent with two flashlights. “What?” he asked. “Abby is gone. She ….”

Before I could finish, we heard a loud, long scream. My heart raced. It was Abby, I could tell.

Before my dad could say, “Peyton, stay in the tent with Kayla,” I raced out into the woods to follow Abby.

“Abby!” I yelled. “Come back.”

I went through vines, and tree stumps. I tripped over roots and rocks. I got caught in spider webs. I looked down and stopped running. My heart was beating. I saw splatters of blood. I looked back and saw darkness and trees. I looked forward and saw the old outhouse. I ran over to it.

“Abby!” I yelled. All of a sudden from behind the outhouse, I hear a shuffle. I feel my heart stop. I screamed. I was in the woods all alone.

“BOO!” Abby yells from behind the outhouse. She jumps up. “Ha! Scared you Peyton! Got you good!”

The Heart Locket: A Los Altos Ghost Story

By the Dennis Wade Calvert Family

Clara ran down the dusty path next to the wooden racks used to dry apricots. The old racks were filled with yellow cornhusks and orange morton squash and pumpkins ready to adorn the town solstice celebration. She called to her mother who was in the kitchen cooking a salt lime beef stew for dinner for Clara's father, Grandpa Derk and the four farm workers. "Mama, mama, I dropped my heart locket in the well. What should I do?"

It was Oct. 31, 1912. Clara Gilden was eleven years old and lived on the homestead her Grandpa Derkem Gilden owned and farmed. They grew Blenheim apricots on twelve acres west of University beyond Adobe Creek near the lone tangled olive tree.

Her mother opened the screen door for Clara, "Oh my, I'm so sorry you lost your locket, Clara. Did you forget what daddy told you? He wanted you to stay away from the well, because the soil is too soft in the west paddock. Clara, I promise we will find your locket in the morning at first light. Grandpa and Rathbun can get a rope and a cauldron and scoop it from the well."

Clara's eyes turned to Derk, "Please find it grandpa, it means so much to me. It has the most beautiful little pictures of mama, daddy and me. It's my heart locket, and I want to keep it forever!"

The evening air was cool and Halloween was mysteriously quiet. Clara placed a jack-o'-lantern on the front stoop with a cup of fresh cow milk for Miss Harnel's spooky black cat. Clara wore her white shawl, but the heart locket was gone.

At 7:30 a.m. the next day, Clara, her father, and her mother boarded the SP Peninsular Train at the Los Altos First Street Rail Station. They never arrived at their destination in San Francisco. The family and townspeople searched for months with no signs of them. They just vanished. All three disappeared and were never seen or heard from again. It remained a mystery for years!

Grandpa Derk became despondent after they were gone. He sat alone waiting for them to return. He never spoke and died the next year. One hundred years went by, and the land passed on to Grandpa Derk's great-grandson. The farm was eventually subdivided into several smaller parcels, and a Spanish style home was built adjacent to the original farmhouse facing the dark westerly mountains.

It was the afternoon of Oct. 31, 2012, when Lisa Gilden found the heart locket under a loose board by the tall yard staff. Lisa was 11 years old and was the great-great granddaughter of Grandpa Derk. She was in Derk's shed in the back yard carving a pumpkin on the rusted metal tabletop covering the old bricked up well.

Lisa carefully opened the tiny hinges of the tarnished locket and saw three photos. She gazed at them for a long time. The heart locket seemed to shine in her hand and the eyes of the people in the framed gold leaves appeared to come alive and be real. It was as if they were trying to say something to her. Lisa couldn't believe what she was seeing. At first, she was startled. She heard faint whispers coming from the photos and the words seemed familiar.

Lisa called out, "Daddy, I found a necklace in the old shed. You've got to see it. It's kind of weird. I think it's coming to life!" "Sweetie,” replied her father, there's a lot of strange stuff in Derk's shed - be careful. I'll look at it when we are done. Please help me with the decorations. We need to pin the spider web and skeleton on the front door. I want to frighten the trick-or-treaters tonight, and don't forget the candy bowl, Lisa."

"Ok dad, for sure. The locket is pretty, but it has pictures of three old people that are kind of scary. I guess I can show it to you later."

She ran to her room and placed the heart locket on the top of the old white shawl in her hope chest.

Lisa's Halloween costume was the Bride of Frankenstein with long black braids, dark lipstick and a flowing white gown. Her dad and mom wore matching Batman masks. More than 20 friends and neighbors came to the door and were surprised by the spooky pranks and lots of candy. It was a great Halloween!

They turned off the front porch light and prepared for bed when they heard a single knock at the door. They dismissed it as a late trick-or-treater and did not respond. Suddenly, the knock repeated and then became an annoying loud rapping on the door. Lisa's mom almost called 911, but was interrupted by her dad.

"Honey, it's probably one of Lisa's school friends asking for one more chocolate handout. I'll get the door. Lisa, you better come. I'm sure you'll recognize this last Halloween ghoul."

The outside visitors were relentless and kept pounding on the door. "We're coming, we're coming, just hold your horses!" Lisa's dad called out.

When they opened the door, they were shocked and horrified. Three people, a man, a woman and a young girl all holding hands, met them in old clothes with dark gray scarves around their necks floating above the threshold. They were literally hovering above the welcome mat. Their scuffed leather boots were not touching the ground. The three people looked unreal!

The little girl started to shake and slowly turned her body around, and focused on Lisa. It was really eerie! The girl whispered in a soft voice, "I am Clara Gilden, where's my heart locket? My mama promised I would find it here. Please give it back to me."

Lisa recognized the pale white face of the little girl and her mother as two of the photos in the heart locket she found by the shed. But how could this be happening?

Lisa and her father were speechless. There was no movement from anyone. They all stared for the longest time into each other's eyes. The three ghostly spirits began to radiate a bluish tinge from the stoop light as Clara rotated her head completely in a circle to speak. Clara spoke familiar words to Lisa, "You can keep my white shawl, but please give me the heart locket."

Lisa suddenly knew what she had to do. She ran to her room, opened up the hope chest, found the heart locket lying on the white shawl and returned to the door. Lisa carefully placed it in the tiny outstretched hand of Clara, and Clara's mother attached the heart locket around Clara's neck.

At that instant, the three haunting figures began to glow brightly and slowly swirled around and around ascending up into the air by the front path. Clara looked down at Lisa and faintly said, "Goodbye Lisa. Thank you for my heart locket."

Lisa and her dad stood silent at the front door for a long time. They watched the three ghosts disappear into the fog creeping down the Black Mountain foothills towards the old irongate to the farm.

Haunter

By Eeli Ram

Rocking catatonically, Sam still couldn't say with certainty what happened that Halloween night. All Sam knew was THIS Halloween, he would stay cloistered within his apocalypse-proof bunker. Location undisclosed.

This year, there would be no haunted house. No chattering skeletons. No rabid bats fluttering through putrid rot. No creaking coffins. No toppled tombstones leaning on bloodied hands clawing newly turned soil. For Sam, the short scare season was now a lifetime nightmare - a nightmare for which he would never forgive himself.

You see Sam wasn't always this way. He once was a professional haunter. A businessperson who turned a huge profit on terror. Each year, his customers paid big money to adventure through an increasingly sophisticated and realistic nightmare. Last Halloween, Sam transformed a warehouse with props and 106 actors to staff his Zombie Nation: The Ultimate Banquet Haunted House. Sam was not a Goth, nor did he watch horror films. Sam chased the mighty dollar with the simplest formula: Revenue - Costs = Profit. Sam feared costs and did a good job of scaring them away. When he first got started in the business to reduce costs, he played organ music as eye mask-clad customers crawled through the local recycling center. Truly scary. Some years, to keep costs down, he forgot to purchase expensive permits and insurance. This year, when a troop of traveling “actors” volunteered for the zombie jobs, Sam jumped at the chance.

Sam was a haunter natural. He designed the maze like layout with dead ends, false doors and sudden turns. The walls were constructed, then textured with a variety of wretched smelling blood and guts goo. Electrified walls kept groping hands from lingering too long. Strobe lights valiantly cut the dark and helped to whisk guests through the halls towards the main banquet room.

Eerily, a continuous loop showing Guy Fieri revealing best butchering techniques for a country BBQ entertained the guests while they waited their turn for the final room. It was there that each guest was invited to dine with the “dead.” The ultimate celebrity chef mashup.

Flickering candles revealed two hand-carved wooden troughs on either side of the table. No knives. No forks. No spoons. A rotisserie mounted with a mammoth sized circular saw. It's difficult to know exactly what happened next because there are no witnesses and presumably, no survivors. The zombie "actors" moved on to the next ultimate banquet.

Why I'm Scared

By Robert Beliveau, age 9

The reason why I am afraid of the dark is because I think that monsters are in it. This story has it all …

One day, you start seeing weird things like moving shadows, books falling off shelves, weird noises and glass shattering. But one day you decide to put a stop to it.

You grab all your friends and you realize that there is something living upstairs. You head upstairs. You accidentally press a button on the floor that is connected to a trap door. Your closest friend disappears.

As you try to turn on a light switch, a big, silent hand descends from the ceiling and grabs your soccer friend. Now you only have your best friend left.

Your best friend gets tired so he sits on a chair and the chair grabs him and starts floating. Because of the high altitude, he can't scream.

You decide to take roll call. You ask if your closest friend is there. You don't hear anything. So you move on to your soccer friend. Again, you don't hear anything. Frightened, you ask for your best friend's name. You hear a groan. You turn around. You black out.

The next morning, you wake up in a hospital in critical condition. You ask the doctor what happened. He says that he will take you back to the house. You say OK.

All of the same things happen to you again, but you look closer. A couple of people walk out of the floorboards with cameras. You ask them, “What are you doing?” They say, “We were just filming a horror movie scene.”

Everything makes sense. All of the stuff that you saw was fake. But you ask, “Where are my friends?” They point to a bookcase and out pops all of your friends. They all say, “THAT WAS AWESOME!”

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