If election season hasn't already maxed out your bandwidth for ghoulish tales, read on. We bring you spooky stories submitted by readers of the Los Altos Town Crier.
Update: Thanks for sending in your votes – Emily Hughes, Alex Kemble and Viansa Schmulbach each won a prize in this year's contest.
‘Halloween Night in the Crocker Manor’
By Alex Kemble, age 11
“I dare you to go there for trick-or-treating tonight, Jack,” teased Daren. My name is Jack B. Vilasilon and my friend here is Daren A. Kunier. There is one place not even the people with guts dare to go – the Crocker Manor, the scariest place in Delaware – and my buddy here dared me to go into the place of frights.
I took his teasing and flipped it around, saying, “Fine. But if I go there, you give me $10 and half of your candy, got it?” He agreed to the challenge and I started my adventure to the Crocker Manor.
At first it wasn’t that scary, as some would say. I opened the doors and peeked inside. I entered and then I heard something. “Leave while you are alive, fool.” I sat and stared into the darkness, expecting something to pop out. There was nothing – but then the doors shut behind me!
I walked in deeper and deeper until the darkness took over and I couldn’t see anything. I bumped into something square and solid, a drawer, of course. I opened it up and I found a flashlight. I turned it on and a shadow of someone disappeared. I chased after it like a fool, thinking it was Daren playing a prank, to find nothing but a dead body. What the heck happened here?
“I see you found my body, young one,” said a mysterious voice sadly. I looked and found a ghost. “Crocker?” I questioned. “Yes, but you must go and never tell anyone,” he said. “But I’m lonely, so will you come back?”
“No, I must go forever – and I never want to come back.” I said.
“Well I’ll kill you!” Crocker said.
I’m now a ghost, forever alone.
‘Pansy Pumpkin’s Transformation’
By Nancy Eranosian, Los Altos, retired
Pansy tried to read the new sign posted just over her head: “Halloween pumpkins, $4.99.” That must be why all these people were crowding into her pumpkin patch!
“Pansy,” Mother Seed whispered. “Sit up and glow. Now’s your chance.”
“Chance for what?” Pansy whispered back.
“To become a jack-o-lantern! Otherwise, you’ll be left behind.”
“I’ll do my best,” said Pansy. She didn’t know what a jack-o-lantern was, but she sure wanted someone to choose her. She’d heard about relatives left in the field going bad: soft sides, misshapen heads, rotted bottoms. To avoid their fate, she sat up tall and glowed as much as her golden complexion allowed.
Eventually a small hand patted her side and a child squealed, “Look, Mama. It’s perfect – it’s as big as me!”
“You’re right, Mickey,” replied Mama. “You think that’s the one for you?”
“Yep,” said Mickey. “Can I carry it to the car?”
“Sure, but let me help you.”
Pansy felt herself being lifted and carried across the pumpkin patch. Mother Seed whispered farewell as the other pumpkins called out, “Goodbye, Pansy, make us proud!”
The next day, Pansy found herself on the kitchen floor. Both Mickey and his mom knelt nearby.
“OK, Mickey,” said Mama. “Time to make our jack-o-lantern. What do we do first?”
“Cut a hole at the top!” exclaimed Mickey.
“That’s right,” replied Mama. “You have to cut zigzags around the pumpkin stem and gently pull the top off. You can fit it back on again like a hat.” Then Mama eased the top off the pumpkin. Pansy suddenly felt lightheaded with this weight removed.
“Can I scoop out the inside?” Mickey asked.
“Yes, and use this spoon to clean out the seeds.”
“Eww, it’s all squishy!” cried Mickey.
Pansy giggled. Maybe her insides were squishy, but Mickey was tickling her! Her lightheadedness disappeared.
After Mickey cleaned out the seeds, Mama shaped two triangles for eyes, a triangle for a nose, and a smile to complete Pansy’s face. Mickey carried Pansy to the front porch, where Mama positioned a candle inside Pansy’s interior and lit it. Then Mickey replaced the stem on top of Pansy’s head as Mama had shown him.
“What a cute jack-o-lantern!” cried the trick-or-treaters on Halloween.
Pansy glowed through her toothy grin, confident that Mother Seed and the pumpkins back in the patch would be proud!
By Viansa Schmulbach, fifth grade
The fourth-grade girls were going camping. Maria had been waiting for this the whole week. Maria was an orphan, and all her family members had died. She was the youngest in her family. She was naturally pretty, with perfect clear skin and flowing coffee-colored hair. Today, she was wearing a nice pink dress with matching barrettes.
The first nights were perfect. They started on Monday, Oct. 9. The lady in charge, Mrs. Kirk, told them that they would stay until early Saturday. She had her hair tied up in a ponytail and had a special twinkle in her eye. She seemed to never be serious. Then on Friday, the 13th, she took them on a hike. The group was told to stop in front of a cheerful forest with birds chirping. Everyone gasped in amazement.
Mrs. Kirk smiled for a moment, then her face went completely serious. “Everyone, remember this,” she announced. “You may visit now, but you cannot visit after the sun sets. Understand?”
The campers nodded, but still Mrs. Kirk had this awful feeling that they would forget. Maria was the first to rush into the forest, and she was also the most amazed by it. When Mrs. Kirk called them, she was very upset that she had to go.
“I’ll come again,” she whispered to the woods, “I promise.” And she rushed off to join the other campers.
That night, when everyone was tucked into their sleeping bags, Maria snuck out. She ran far to the woods. She recognized the beautiful view and rushed into the woods. But as she got deeper into the forest, it didn’t seem the same. The cold nagged at her, and she decided to leave.
As she walked, she heard some strange noises. They seemed to surround her, and she remembered Mrs. Kirk’s words: “You cannot visit after the sun sets.” The loud noises seemed to come closer and closer. Wolves, lions, and even human screams. She could barely make out some faint figures in the background, all in a circle around her. Definitely humans. She seemed to recognize them. Her grandmother, her grandfather, her aunt, her uncle, her mother, her father, all of her family members. The only one missing was her. Suddenly she realized what was going on. One last sound emerged from the forest. Her scream.
‘The Two Frightened Mice’
By Emily Hughes, age 11
“What was that, Dad?”
“I don’t know Jeremy.”
The mice stood silent for a while.
“Do you think it was the cat?”
“No, we ran pretty fast and quietly.”
“Maybe she is sniffing us out.”
Jeremy thought about this for a second.
“Do you think we should go back to the burrow?”
“To get our cover blown and endanger the family?”
All was silent until they heard more rustling.
They crouched low on the ground and crawled quietly.
“Dad, I think the cat can hear us!”
“No, we are not making any sound and we are mice.”
The two mice ran as fast as they could, until they reached a tree that they scampered up.
“D-Dad, should we run home? I can see it from here.”
“No, a cat on Halloween is most dangerous this time of the year. We don’t want the cat to find out where we live.”
“Isn’t Halloween dangerous enough without the cat?”
Jeremy and his dad sat in the tree for about an hour and finally decided it was safe to come down.
They scanned the area; no sign of the cat.
“OK, Jeremy, we will run straight to our house quickly and quietly.”
“Ready. Set. Go.”
They ran quietly to their house and opened the front door.
“Where are Mum and Elaine?”
Before his dad could answer, they saw a note on the fridge. It read:
We didn’t know where you and Jeremy were, so we went looking for you.
Mum and Elaine
“What does it say?!” asked Jeremy.
“They are searching for us.”
Any Small Kindness
By Laura Allan
“I think it went down there!” one of the boys cried. “C’mon, let’s get it!”
The small group of teens in masks turned down the alley and disappeared out of sight. While being a black cat had some serious pitfalls on Halloween night, one advantage was that you could blend into the shadows. Inky watched their retreating forms until they vanished into the night. Good riddance, he thought. A human that wasn’t offering food or chin-scratches was no good to anybody. He hopped down off the fence and sauntered back to the main road.
Tonight, he absolutely had to find a safe porch to sleep on. Being a stray was no picnic, and he remembered all too fondly a warm bed and the sweet little girl who had given him a name. Now was different though. He had to fend for himself.
Inky located an empty porch of an old-looking house and trotted up its steps to sit on the front windowsill. It looked a little frightening, so the kids were staying away. Perfect. Inky circled once, twice, then sunk down for a long sleep.
No sooner had he closed his eyes than he heard the sound of a kid whispering.
“Hey, let’s get this house – it looks like a good one.”
Inky opened his eyes to see several kids approaching with toilet paper and eggs in hand. Their eyes glittered with the delight of Halloween mischief. Onyx let out a low angry growl, and the kids froze.
“What was that?”
Not another sleeping spot interrupted, Inky thought. Not another warm place destroyed. Inky raised his back into a spiky black arch. The porch light glinted off his yellow eyes, freezing the children where they stood. He gave a loud hiss and yowl, and the children scattered, shrieking as they ran.
“It’s a monster! Run!”
A light came on inside and a woman came running out onto the porch, shaking her fist.
“And you stay away!” she shouted.
Then, she spotted Inky. Her eyes softened and she smiled.
“Well, seems like we have a little gargoyle out here,” she cooed.
Inky mewed and began to purr.
“How about a reward, huh? Kitty come inside? I think I have some cream in the fridge.”
The woman held the door open and, with tail up, Inky trotted in. For once, being a black cat on Halloween was not such a bad thing.
‘The Story of Goodie and Baddie: A True Story’
By Enid Davis, Los Altos
One Halloween when Kylie was 3 years old, her grandmother pointed to a shadow on a window of a painting of an English cottage that hung on her grandmother’s living room wall.
“Do you see that figure standing at the window?” her grandmother asked.
Kylie responded with, “That black thing?”
“Yes. That’s either one of the two witch sisters who lives there,” replied Grandmother. “Their names are Goodie and Baddie.”
“Really?” The little girl wanted to know more.
“Yes, really. Goodie is sweet-tempered and loves pink dresses and everything sparkly and nice. Baddie is grumpy, naughty and always getting herself and Goodie into trouble. Of course, Goodie saves the day in every adventure.”
For the next six years, Goodie and Baddie found themselves depicted in drawings, games and stories. Goodie was the preferred witch, but Baddies’ antics provoked the giggles and the disbelief. For example, there was the time Baddie painted Goodie’s bedroom black and filled it with nasty crawling creatures that became hard to catch because they disappeared into the black walls, floors, furniture and bedding.
Six Halloweens later, Goodie and Baddie realized that they had not left their cottage for a long time. Kylie was growing up. Goodie said it was time to pack their bags and move closer to Kylie.
Goodie and Baddie arrived at Kylie’s middle school and found the sixth-grader working at her desk in a science room. Baddie looked at all those chemistry bottles and lab equipment. Oh, the chaos she could cause here, she sighed.
Goodie tiptoed up to Kylie’s desk. She pulled out a lipstick from her sequined purse and drew a door on Kylie’s forehead. Then, without knocking, she and Baddie climbed through the door and into a quiet place in the back of Kylie’s brain.
“Now what?” grumbled Baddie. “What do we do?”
“We wait,” Goodie responded. “Someday, if Kylie becomes a mother or grandmother, something at Halloween time will remind her of us and our stories. Then I will fly out of our hiding place on my lovely pink broom and you will follow on your speedy black broom and Kylie will tell our tales all over again.”
“Do you promise?” Baddie asked, not sure that she could wait so long to be free.
“Have I ever been wrong?” asked Goodie.
Meanwhile, while walking among the students, the teacher stopped at Kylie’s desk.
“You have lipstick on your forehead,” the teacher told her.
Surprised, Kylie rubbed it off.
Now the door to the stories was completely invisible, and the witch sisters stretched out in the back of their beloved Kylie’s mind for a long nap.
'Treat or Trick'
By Kirstie Andrews, 10
“Chloe, we can't be late!” my best friend Cassy yelled from across the block.
“I want to get 100 pieces of candy tonight,” Cassy said.
“One hundred?” I said in astonishment. “Last year we only got 50.”
Our first house was Mrs. Williams. There was a bench with fake spiderwebs and two carved pumpkins. Cassy, dressed as a witch and I as an angel, yelled “Trick or treat” as Mrs. Williams opened the door and we received our first piece of candy!
House after house, door by door, we received candy. About a half hour later, we heard Lucy, a friend, say, “Hi, Cassy and Chloe, happy trick-or-treating.” An hour later, we each had 99 pieces of candy. Just one more to reach our goal of a 100 pieces!
The last house on the street was the haunted house. Everyone knew it, and no one dared to go close. It was a big, tall black mansion.
“Come on Chloe,” Cassy yelled as she ran ahead of me and pushed open the gate with REAL spiderwebs.
I gulped as we walked up the path over broken stairs to the front door. The door creaked open. Cassy seemed excited as she ran inside, but I walked cautiously. Cassy picked up a big white sheet that lay over an old chair.
“BOO,” she said as she put the white sheet over her.
“No playing around,” I said. “There might be real monsters in here!”
“There is no such thing as monsters, Chloe,” said Cassy. “Now lets just find the candy bowl and then we can go!”
I thought she was crazy! All I saw were spiderwebs and old furniture, and then I saw it, a piece of candy. I ran over and just as I put my hand on the green Jolly Rancher, a hand grasped me tightly. I screamed in terror. I wiggled my hand free, ran past the sofa, the grandfather clock, and the old chair with no sheet. Cassy was trailing close behind me screaming, and then she stopped and started laughing.
I halted on the porch, turned around and at the front door, I saw Lucy, dressed as a vampire, laughing with Cassy. I made the maddest face I possibly could and then broke out laughing. Lucy tricked me right after I got my 100th treat!
'Loyola Corners Witch'
By John Allan
Many years ago, the railroad used to run along what is now Foothill Expressway, and there was a train depot at Loyola Corners where Tom's Depot restaurant now stands. Just down the road is a clock tower. Every Halloween, a witch flies across the face of the clock, causing it to stop for a couple of minutes before it starts running again. It remains slow until it is reset later in the year. Check the clock next time you drive by: Is it a couple of minutes slow?
Stopping the clock seems to be the only mischief caused by the witch. Why does she do it? No one knows for sure, but one story is that she was the daughter of the station manager many years ago. The story goes that she planned to run away with a young conductor on the express train, but she was late getting to the station and missed the train, and she never saw him again. Heartbroken, she headed west to Half Moon Bay, where she grew giant pumpkins and won many prizes.
Legend has it that now, each Halloween she stops time just long enough so that maybe she can catch the ghost train this time when it comes by, and she can again be with her young conductor. Wait; is that a train whistle I hear?
The Little Witch
By Aadi Shah, age 6
Once upon a time there lived a witch named Little Witch. She loved winter. She could skate, sled, make snowballs and ski.
"I love snow," she said. She also liked the summer. She could swim and eat ice cream the most. "I love swimming," she said. "I love ice cream," she said.
She loved to make potions. One day the potion was gone. "Where did it go?" she asked her mom.
"I don't know," said her mom.
"Okay," said Little Witch. She searched and searched and searched. She could not find it. She finally found it. She was very happy. She made an apple with it.
She ate the apple. She loved the apple so she made more.
The Haunted House
By Jyotishko Koley, age 7
Once there was a skeleton. It went through a forest. It found a haunted house. Once a group of people came. It was nighttime. Two of the people are guards. When the rest of the people thought they could sleep the lights went out. The next day the guards vanished. The bravest person wet to look for them. But when he went deep into the forest a devil attacked him. All the other people stayed inside. A vampire lived in there. It bit one of the people. He died. A zombie came. It turned another person into another zombie. Then some ghouls came in. Two people died. The last two people that were alive got medals.
The Skeleton in England
By Amogh Rajagopal, age 7
Once upon a time in England there was a skeleton. He was really creepy. He lived near a home. The people who lived in the home had a child. The child's name was John. He was scared of skeletons. One day a skeleton came out at midnight. First he looked at John's friend's house. John's friend's name is Ricardo. When she skeleton came into Ricardo's house the skeleton spit venom at him. Then the following day Ricardo was sick. Then he was sick for a week. Every day John would take his homework. Then one day the skeleton came. The skeleton screamed at the sunlight. After that at midnight the skeleton came to John's house. Then John became a skeleton. Then his parents touched John and John became a boy and the skeleton died. Then Ricardo came to school.