Spooky Stories for Hallowe’en
Welcome to the dark side of Hallowe’en.
Open The Gathering (if you dare) to read bone-chilling tales
from writers of all ages across the county - writers who have
generously shared their stories of ghostly buildings and the
beings who haunt them, of alien invasions, demonic possessions,
horrifying encounters, murdering butchers, creatures of the
shadows and unholy contacts from under the bed and beyond
Let each terrifying detail take you right to the edge of fear - but
relax in the knowledge that none of these stories are real.
Or are they?
Index of stories
Fearless Fergus, King of the Castle
Hughie Mac Diarmada agus uan óg an Domhnaigh
Padraig Ó Gallachoir
The Dead Hand
The Mystery of Boom Hall
The Monster Invasion
The Story of Annabelle Willow
Was it all a Dream?
The Demon Tree
Pierce McKee (age 11)
“It’s going to be amazing and nothing’ll ruin it!” smiled Johnny to his friend. “Thanks for
bringing us, Mrs Willow.” said Niall. “So just how creepy is Hotel Creep going to be?” he
asked, unable to hide the worry on his face. “It’ll be fine boys.” reassured Mrs Willow as she
drove up the windy road. She wasn’t always right.
The hotel loomed in the dark distance. “It’s not at all what we expected.” the boys exclaimed.
“Let’s go inside.” smiled Mrs Willow. She’d a crooked smile that always seemed to match her
wild, grey eyebrows and green eyes that seemed to glow in darkness. As they stepped in,
they were amazed by the luxury of the hotel. It was old fashioned - the weirdest hotel they’d
ever seen - but amazing! They almost needed sunglasses – the carpet was smothered in
flower patterns, all different colours that clashed, nearly making their eyes bleed.
“You are the first to arrive!” exclaimed the receptionist in a squeaky clean, stiff white uniform
that looked whiter than white against the black bags under her eyes. “Here are the keys to
your rooms. Just please make sure that you do not come out of your rooms at night.” That
was strange, both boys thought but only exchanged looks. “Sumthin’s up.” Johnny whispered,
putting the key in between his teeth as he grabbed his bag. “It’ll be ok.” nodded Niall. Both
boys knew he was lying. Something just didn’t feel right.
Log Book Day 1
Alrite, tonight’s the night! We’re in Hotel Creep! Sumthin’s up. The receptionist told us not
to go out of our rooms after dark. Will we see ghosts tonight? We’ll see how it goes! J
Log Book Day 2
Today was perfect. Nobody got hurt and no ghosts were heard… yet. We went to a Horror
attraction ‘Fazbear Frights’ and it didn’t rain! We also went to KFC – IT WAS AMAZING! J
Log Book Day 3
I’VE FOUND SOMETHING TERRIBLE IN MY ROOM! A COCKROACH!... NO NOT REALLY,
But no, really. I was eatin’ sweets (Trick or Treat), when I dropped my bag of crisps under
the bed. I looked underneath to get them back and I noticed something strange – A TRAP
When I opened it and found a rusty knife. I thought that was pretty cool so I had a further
feel around. There in the darkness, my hand felt something soft. I pulled it out and it was a
mask! Somethin’s up. I need to find out what though… J
Log Book Day 4
I’ve just found this letter pinned to the door…
Who am I? I believe you have been snooping in my stuff. What if you tell people? I will
come and knock on your door. I’ll be the last person you’ll see. No one will ever hear of this.
You’ll never speak of this again.
A cold sensation ran down Johnny’s spine like a spider after he read that. He didn’t want to
die there. The crown covered walls, weird patterned carpet and birch wooden door would be
covered in blood! He wanted to be remembered as an animator, not this! He needed to go
downstairs and meet this ‘person’ face to face.
The stone steps down behind the kitchen were deep and dark. Darkness swallowed Johnny
up like a large black snake. His mind’s bells where ringing, “Turn back!” they yelled! Suddenly,
he saw a small light. Then, in the shadows he caught a glimpse of him, it, she - he didn’t know
- it was staring. Standing. Waiting. It came closer, its dark eyes baring into the depths of his
heart. “Don’t hurt anyone, or me, please!” Johnny begged.
It came even closer.
“I’ll… I’ll tell someone!” he screamed.
It came closer.
It was right behind him.
“You won’t feel a thing.” it hissed.
Log Book: Day 6 Hospital
I was stabbed. I crawled back up the stone stairway with it still lurking behind me. Mrs
Willow and Niall met me in reception. They looked worried. Without packing our bags, they
got me into the car and drove at top speed to Ivy Hall Hospital. On the way I heard its dark,
ghastly voice “Bye, bye!”
That’s a voice I’ll never forget. I hope to never hear or see it again. I am afraid of the dark. J
Fearless Fergus, King of the Castle
Every morning, May opened the squeaky, creaky, drawbridge to welcome visitors to the old,
cold castle by the sea. On special days she wore a long, green velvet dress when guests
feasted like princes and kings, dancing and clapping to music. Fergus thought she looked like
When everyone had left, Fergus gobbled hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, hamburgers and
ready salted crisps hidden under tables. He munched chunks of chocolate cake, raspberry
jelly and apple tart fallen below chairs. He ate and ate and ate until he could eat no more,
leaving only morsels for his special midnight guests.
At night Fergus was king of his castle. He chased mice up and down the stairs and juggled
with them before falling asleep. One night, Fergus woke from his mouse cheesecake dream
with a jump. He unfurled his curly, whirly tail, stretched out his legs and leapt out of his
basket. His eyes shone like two amber globes in the darkness.
“What was that?” He padded down the stairs into the Great Hall, tiptoed down more steps
into the chapel, stopped and listened. A scratching sound was in the distance. Fergus looked
round the walls, up at the ceiling and all over the floor. There was no sign of a mouse.
“Maybe it’s rattling inside a suit of armour,” he thought.
Walking through the armoury and into the dungeon he sniffed the air. Still no mice. He
squeezed behind a pillar, crept down a damp, slimy tunnel towards the gnawing sound.
“Maybe it’s the ghost of …a giant mouse?” he shivered. The tunnel turned and twisted deeper
and deeper down. He padded up a slope, round a corner and stopped. A shadow of a
creature covered the castle wall.
“Am I still dreaming?”
The beast howled, “AAARRRGH! AAAARRRGH!”
Fergus ran as fast as he could down the slimy tunnel. He felt the creature’s warm breath. He
ran up the steps, tiptoed along the parapet and froze, his knees knocking.
Two big eyes, set in a furry, hairy face stared at Fergus.
“Don’t run away. I’m just guarding my hotel.”
“It’s my hotel, – Dobbin’s Inn Hotel.”
“It’s MY castle, – CarrickFergus Castle. I followed the scratching mousey sound down to the
“I was chewing my bone. The sound must have echoed in the old tunnel. Years ago people
escaped from the castle through it to MY hotel.”
“I thought you were a giant mouse and you were going to eat me.”
“Cats are too chewy and gooey. Their tails stick in my teeth. Can’t we be friends?” Dobbin
wagged his hairy tail.
“We’ll hunt mice together.”
“The tunnel will be our secret.”
American tourists soon claimed they heard footsteps in the castle. News spread that
Carrickfergus castle was haunted. Visitors queued to get in and May was delighted.
Every day, underneath the castle, below the road, Dobbin and Fergus run up and down the
old tunnel, catching mice and playing chaseys all day long.
Hughie Mac Diarmada agus
uan óg an Domhnaigh
Padraig Ó Gallachoir
Tá gleann sa Ghaeltacht Lár í dTír Chonaill ar a dtugtar Gleann Mór na nGleannta. Is í seo
an gleann ina ritheann an abhainn Ea, a éirionn í gceartlár na gCruach Ghorm agus shíleann
isteach san Fharraige Mhór ar na meilte míne idir Ard an Ratha agus Baile na nGleannta.
Lé mó chuimhne féin bhi fear ina chónaí sa Ghleann a raibh Hughie Mac Diarmada air. Bhi
sé féin agus a bhean Suan ina gcónaí í dteach beag ceann tuí faoi scáth an cnoic is iad breá
sásta. Ach nuair a tháinig an Geimhreadh isteach bliain amháin stad Hughie ag freastal ar an
Aifreann. Rachadh Suan ag Aifreann a deich í dteach phobail an Éadain go dúrachta achan
nDomhnach agus théadh Hughie na cnoic os ceann an tí go dtógfadh sé cliabh monadh.
Maidin amháin Domhnaigh nuair a bhí brat beag éadrom sneachta ar an talamh rinne Hughie
amhlaidh. Bhí sé ar a ghlúine í mbeal clampa na monadh ag líonadh na chléibhe nuair a
mhothaigh sé siosarnach ínteacht ar a chúl. Amach as coirnéal a shúil chonaic sé uan óg ag
sodar is ag bocléimnigh. Bhuail uaigneas millteanach Hughie nó bhí fhios aige nach raibh uan
óg ar bith ann comh luath seo sa bhliain.
Chaith sé an cliabh , nach raibh ach trí cheathrú lán , ar a dhroim agús bhain an baile amach.
Níor lig sé a dhath air féin nuair a d’fhill Suan ón Aifreann. An Domhnach dár gcionn chuaigh
Hughie na cnoic ar ais . An t-am seo, bhí an tuan í mbeal an chlampa agus ní ligeadh an eagla
dé Hughie gabhail ina choir. Ghoid sé cliabh monadh ó chlampa na comharsan agus bhain an
baile amach. Bhí sé ag géilleadh air í rith na seachtaine ach sa deireadh b’eagán dó a rún a
sceitheadh le Suan. Ar ndóiche chur sise caol díreach go teach an tSagairt é.
D’inis sé a sceal don tSagart. Dúirt an Sagart léis go gcaithfeadh sé a fhaoistin a dheanamh is
freastal ar an Aifreann luath is an Chomaoineach Naofa a ghlacadh an Domhnach dár gcionn.
Dúirt an Sagart leis:’ Nua atá sin déanta agat tabhair leat buidéal bheag uisce coisrice agus
do chliabh agus teigh na cnoic fan am ceánna. Déan ciorcal ar an talamh leis t-uisce coisrice
agus má fheiceann tú an tuan ban taobh istigh den chiorcal , teigh ar do ghlúine agus tabhair
buíochas dó Dhia. Ach má fheiceann tú uan dubh istigh sa chiorcal cuir an cliabh anuas sa
mhullach air agus fág ansin é ’.
Rinne Hughie mar a d’iarrfadh air a dheanamh, dhoirt sé an t-uisce coisrice ina chiorcal sa
tsneachta. I bhfaiteadh na súl bhí an tuan dubh istigh sa chiorcal. Chuir Hughie an cliabh
anuas sa mhullach air agus rinne príosúnach dé agus sheas siar uaidh.
An chead rud eile rinneadh ceirtlín tine den tuan agus an cliabh agus d’eirigh an t-iomlan in
airde is chuaigh as amharc sa speir.
He just lay down on the sofa for ten minutes. The weight he felt on his chest was immediate;
was he having a heart attack?
He couldn’t move his arms. He was pinned down, he felt trapped. His hair was being pulled
back so tight it felt like it was caught in a mangle. His head was throbbing.
Then it started; it felt like one of those scouring pads scratching all over his face, up to the
hairline and out to the edge close to his ears.The weight was now on the move from one arm
to the other like a rocking sensation.
His chest was getting tighter; he was having difficulty breathing yet he could hear breathing
above him. He wasn’t sure if it was himself he heard or someone else. Now his eyes were
being pushed down hard into their sockets as if to push them to the back of his head. He had
no power to open them.
What came next made his body jerk as if a sharp nail was being dragged across his forehead
above his eyes. He felt something move towards his mouth. He tightened his lips trying to
stop any entry into his mouth. Feeling totally helpless, the ordeal continued. There was no
attempt to prise open his mouth. Then came the slimy substance on his lips.
The heavy weight was on the move; it had now lifted, and, just when he thought the ordeal
was over, a cold flat object was pressed to his face. He opened his eyes and gave out a
scream. He had frightened himself with the image staring back at him in the mirror.
With shrieks of delight a little voice shouted, “Do you love it daddy, do you love it? You look
like a scary witch. HA HA HA...
Here is the true story of the night my dead mother came to visit us...
Just before Christmas, thirty-nine years ago, my mother was taken into Altnagelvin and died
suddenly of a heart attack. To us she had been perfectly healthy. That night, my wife and I
were lying awake in our upstairs bedroom. We were both feeling tired and sad. My mother’s
death had shocked us, and we couldn’t sleep.
In the middle of the night we both heard tapping on the glass on our bedroom window.
(Usually, when my mother came up to visit us, she lived in the next street, she would never
ring the doorbell; she would always tap on the window and we would know it was her.) I was
awake, and, believing my wife was sleeping, didn’t say anything. But my wife was awake, and
she had heard the tapping as well.
We didn’t mention the tapping until - in the middle of the following night - the same thing
happened. Now there were no trees outside our bedroom window and our house was two
stories high. We were both awake and we tried to figure out what was causing the tapping on
the glass. There were no birds, no trees, no reason for the tapping to occur.
When the tapping happened on the third night, my wife said, “Maybe it’s your mother. Tell her
it’s okay and to go in peace.” With a trembling voice, I did just that. We had never heard the
tapping before, and never heard it after that, and we lived there many years after.
The thing is, when my late brother and I were young, we would joke with my mother, because
we were not too religious, but she was. We used to say to her, “Mammy, when you die, will
you come back and tell us there’s a Heaven?” She would laugh and say she would. I had told
my wife about this and at the time she said we were mad.
My wife often said, my mother had us that spoiled, that she would walk from the Waterside
to Creggan to get a ten pence stamp for us. It still makes the hairs on the back of my neck
stand up. I regret I was such a coward not to ask my dead mother what she had to tell me.
Luke Doherty (age 9)
It was the fourth anniversary since Trever’s father went missing. The sky was cloaked in red.
A filthy cloud, shaped like a devil, hung in the red sky.
Trever made his way downstairs. He almost choked. It was
horrific. The cat lay dead on the ground. ”Mummmm!!! Alex is..
is.. is.. DEAD!” he screamed. Trever tried to avoid Alex as he
tiptoed to the kitchen. Suddenly the phone rang. Trever
answered “Hello”, but nobody was at the other end…
Suddenly the post came through the door. Trever was
very confused because it was Sunday. It read…
“What?””, he said, “Cathal Meat is a butcher… No … No,
No, No, No. Is his meat… human … meat?”” As Trever
moved towards the toilet, he heard some weird noises.
It sounded like a blockage in the drain pipes. When Trever flushed
the toilet, it wasn’t clean water – it was blood…
This was not a joke. Things
were serious. Trever grabbed
his jumper and flashlight and
headed towards Jimmy’s
graveyard. On the way he passed
an old lady looking for her cat
and a huge billboard advertising
SPECIAL OFFERS on Cathal
Meat’s new finger shaped
Soon Trever arrived. “Umm… where’s Jake’s grave?” asked Trever. He thought to himself a
little while… The only place Jake could be was… Cathal Meat’s butchers.
As Trever entered the house, he heard a strange noise. “Hello!”
he said, his voice echoing around the hallway. As he tried to exit,
he froze. Turning around he saw the door shut and it made
him jump. “Hello… Trever,” came from a voice from the
shadows. Trever ran for the door but Cathal grabbed his
arm and said, “I know why you are here…”. Trever froze again.
“You do, do you?” he said his voice shaking a little.
Cathal began to grin. “Yes…” said Cathal as he started laughing. He laughed so hard he
choked. Trever ran to the basement and shut the door. Trever ran to the other side of the
room panting like a dog. He picked up the phone, but the dial was in a box marked DO NOT
TOUCH. When he opened the box there was Jake’s head…
Trever couldn’t stop staring but he picked up the dial and dialled
999 but the dial read 666. He gasped. The cloud was a devil and
now the devil’s number. “Is it just me or is that a coincidence?”
wondered Trever. Then he dialled 666 and the dial read 999.
“Yippee!” shouted Trever. Ten minutes later the cops pulled
up with guns and tazers. They arrested Mr Meat. This had been
a scary time for Trever but the moral of his story to you and others is
DON’T TRUST BUTCHERS…
The tour-guide was prattling on about some demon which prowled the area in and around
the old Grianan fort, milking neighbourhood disappearances and gossip for all their worth.
Marta had heard all these stories before. She sucked a nail with studied disdain, while tourists
milled about the crumbling fort, scaling precipitous sets of steps, admiring the view from the
impressive battlements, and eyeing up the mysterious tunnels.
Again and again the wary guide broke off his lurid descriptions of the fates of supposed
victims of the eponymous ghoul to dissuade the braver adventurers from exploring the
dark passages which honeycombed the great walls, and were rumoured to extend miles
underground – all the way down to the lough.
Marta allowed herself a secret smile. The guide might not believe his own patter, but
obviously he was reticent to take any chances with his valuable cargo. When eventually the
group settled down to picnic under the brooding, moss-endowed stone of the old feasting
hall of the clan-chiefs, Marta sat apart from the brightly clothed, camera-toting, tourists and
ignoring the odd surreptitious glance in her general direction, gazes which never really fixed
upon her striking form.
The sun was relenting, and permitted moderate campfires caressed the inner walls with
a subdued light, casting flickering shadows which danced eerily just beyond the realm of
Marta stretched; stifling a yawn as a hunched figure furtively felt its way along the rim of
darkness towards the tunnels. Its breathing broadcast excited anticipation to any who could
However, enamoured of a pretty brunette with a short skirt and shorter attention span, the
guide and his rapt audience remained oblivious to that deeper shadow; each stealthy step
bringing it closer to where Marta sat, frozen in a plateau of alertness.
“How do you like your meat?” The guide’s double entendres became ever triter, yet still
managed to elicit the required responses. “Where is Han off to?” a female oriental scowled.
“That boy always mischief.” “Not him again,” the guide sighed in exasperation. “I told him to
quit playing silly buggers. Missus Calhoun’s heart isn’t so good.”
“I think he went for a leak, Mom,” Han’s younger brother lied, scanning the battlements with a
hidden smile. This place was so different from Hong Kong. How could a sixteen year old resist
making the most of the ghost stories? Besides, Missus Calhoun was perfectly healthy. The
guide was being overdramatic. “How many time I tell watch language?” the tormented
mother rebuked. “You say ‘Han need privacy’ – no need rude talk.”
Marta could hear heavy breathing of anticipation from the shadow now, next to her, at the
tunnel opening. The shadow was preparing to pounce. There was only a slight rustle as the
overambitious visitor’s neck snapped, and his gaudily packaged corpse dragged deep into
the tunnels. “Demons indeed,” Marta scoffed quietly, scaled talons tearing off pieces of the
would-be prankster’s tender flesh and chewing as she went along. She should know; she had
lived there for centuries.
He died in A&E. Altnagelvin. A young lad, brought in by paramedics. Ambulance lights
flashing. Seventeen. Not long into the night shift on Hallowe’en.
I witnessed it. Impartial. Perhaps it was chosen as the night for evil. Perhaps because
fireworks masked the gunshots. Folk were heavy into the blue bags, easy evidenced in the
tilted swaggers through Guildhall Square after last orders. His had been a different six pack.
The lucky six.
Hovering in the corner, I watched him bleed out in hospital. No ketchup. No pound shop
scarlet fiction. Distant from the revelries of his peers. Crimson rivulets contrasting sharply
with the white tiles and his silence buried in the pointed communications of the medical team
and the flatline tone of the green-blip. I didn’t care. It was not my first time observing the
crossing of that line. I have centuries of experience.
In the carnival costumes there are zombies, skeletons, cowgirls and warlocks. An occasional
Legoman. An assortment of xenophobic politicians. Often, I’ve been mistaken for the Grim
Reaper, but I carry no scythe. No hood. No mask. I don’t hide my presence but am barely
noticed. Rarely commented on. A taboo, you might say. But would you say anything? Would
you? The thing is, no-one is scared until I come for them.
Perseverance is my greatest attribute. Hiding in plain sight takes extreme diligence. And I
do revel in the extreme. Hitlers, Stalins, Pol Pots, Bin Ladens. I’ve met them all. Groomed
their tactics. But there, my art is thinly veiled. Greater is my craft in the subtle scourges. The
foodbank queues. The shiver of a rough sleeper. Swallowed cries in unsafe homes.
Two things can blind people. Darkness and light. The difference is subtle, but significant.
Those in darkness sense their lack of vision. Seldom those in light. Strangled by the business
of their self-focus, not only are they blind to me, they generate my electricity. My sting.
Of course, I would be vulnerable to exorcism. Some try. Their resilience is to be admired.
Greta Thunberg. Malala Yousafzai. So many. So few. Once, someone wrote a speech about
that. 1940, I believe. That night, I nearly died. The thing I got wrong then was being too
obvious. Too visible. But now I rise younger, stronger, in the prime of my resurgence. My
dominance lies in stealth. Like any trained spirit, I possess - my greatest possession being
public consciousness. The Grim Reaper can keep his celebrity, but he treads my wake. My
footsteps. The fact remains, something about me and, something about you, is dead long
before his shadow melts elongated by anybody.
Look now. Really look. I’m hovering too in the corner of your room. On the edge of your
consciousness. Right where it meets with conscience. So, camouflaged you may have
forgotten my name. You’re not the only one. Even Dickens failed to notice me in A Christmas
Carol. Feel me, cold on your heart. I am the ghost of apathy.
The Dead Hand
Through headphones plugged into an old AM radio system, Roman listened to the same
monotonous dotted code that repeated over and over again. A hobby past down to him
from his grandad, Roman spent his evenings scanning through the channels often picking
up transmissions such as taxi dispatchers, kids on walkie talkies and fishermen’s warnings of
incoming storms, but no matter what he intercepted, he always returned to the dotted code.
The code had been the object of much debate within the local radio club that his grandad
founded. Dillion, the club’s treasurer claimed it must be Russian and probably a lay over
from the cold War. Long-time members, Tony and John just thought it was an old static
interference. Whereas, Herbert, the old superstitious coot, called it a ghost code.
‘What rubbish you talking?’ Roman asked Herbert when he brought the theory up.
‘C’mon lad, your grandad must have told ye about the ghost codes.’
‘Of course not. My grandad wasn’t an old fool who believed in that kind of nonsense.’
‘Oh, he believed in it alright. In fact, I was there with him one evening when a transmission
came though that scared the lord into the pair of us.’
‘Is that so?’
‘You’re damn right it is.’ Herbert cleared his throat and brought himself closer. ‘It was late
one night in your grandad’s basement. We were listening to some Brits chat about some
commotion in the Bogside before moving onto a few new frequencies. At first it was only
static, but we started to faintly hear something in the background and after a bit of tinkering,
we heard it.’
Hebert took the crucifix from around his neck and held it in his hand. ‘As clear as me chatting
to you now boy, we heard a woman cry. Not any normal cry, now. It was the kind of cry that’s
only made when you’re in the pits of despair. The kind ye hear at a young ’un’s funeral. We
tried to get rid of it, but whatever way we turned the dials, the cry remained. I went to turn
the whole thing off, but as I reached for the plug, the crying stopped, and a women’s voice
just whispered, Please, don’t go. Stay with me a little longer. There was no one else on the
transmission. Not a soul. Only me and your grandad and we never said a word. It was like she
knew we were there. So, we stayed, and she went back to the howling until it started to fade
away to nothing but static.’
‘What a load of hogwash.’ Roman replied.
In the months since Herbert’s story, the ‘ghost code’ had been the same as ever. Dull,
repetitive, and comforting. Roman closed his eyes, and turned the volume up, and sat there
thinking off how he first heard it with his grandad until he almost drifted off to that consistent
tone as somewhere, in the background, ever so faintly, someone started to cry.
The Mystery of Boom Hall
Miss O’Sullivan hadn’t always been known as Winnie the Weasel. It was Conor, after all, who
had come up with the nickname. He knew he’d be hitting a raw nerve if he said it in front of
her again and did exactly that during a telling off one day and was sent to the library to do
A dusty book caught his eye amongst the haze of boredom; Haunted Derry. As he leaned
over to pull it out, it fell to the floor, open on its back with The Mystery of Boom Hall facing
upwards. The abrupt appearance of the headmistress, Mrs Hamilton, a woman who noticed
and knew everything, brought a swift end to his diversion.
A brief scan had been enough to leave him spellbound for the rest of the day. The girl pining
for her lover, her brooch, a deadly fire. With the adrenaline of adventure and the youthful
curiosity of a cat brewing inside him, he had to see for himself.
He’d managed to rope his friends, Odhrán, Dara and Anthony, into joining him in ducking
through traffic on Halloween night on the walk towards Boom Hall, armed with nothing but
two small torches. Excited chatter had filled the early part of the journey before a nervous
silence crept in as they neared the Foyle Bridge, skulking under its carriageways and past
the graffiti-daubed columns. A muddle of feral youths in a scatter of beer cans and used
fireworks grimaced from the steps. It was a still, moonlit night, interrupted only by the
rustling of leaves and cars zipping by overhead.
“It’s fenced off,” said Conor.
“There’ll be gaps,” replied Anthony, ever confident.
Conor’s curiosity was tempered by his friends’ ignorance; he hadn’t told them about what
he’d read. To them it was a bit of fun. To him it had become more; an obsession.
Anthony found a gap in the fence and marched through the darkness towards a ground-floor
“Dara, gimme a footy, will ye.”
The others tagged behind. Guided by the light from Conor’s torch, Anthony hopped into the
room with one hand on the window ledge for support.
“C’mon ye chickens!”
At the moment he spoke, the light from Conor’s torch illuminated a figure stood behind him
in the middle of the room; a girl, dressed in a white shawl, her brooch reflecting in the light.
Odhrán yelped. Dara froze. Conor dropped his torch.
“G’on gimme some light?!” yelled Anthony, oblivious. There came no reply. The three
onlookers were diving through the gap in the fence, fired on by the adrenaline of fear.
Anthony leapt from the window into the darkness and the grass below, smacking his ankle off
a rock. Guided only by moonlight, he limped towards the fence and scuttled along the path in
a fog of confusion to find his friends.
The figure faded just as quickly as it had appeared. They say ghosts are simply spirits with
unfinished business. Boom Hall had become more intriguing than ever.
The Monster Invasion
Enya Lynch (age 14)
It was two days before Halloween and Connie Arthurs was planning her costume with her
best friend, Tellina, for the Halloween School Disco.
“How about zombies?”, suggested Tellina.
“No, everybody’s dressing up as that”, replied Connie. “We have to be different!”.
“What about Skeletons, they’re cool!”, says Tellina.
“Yeah! That’s perfect. Sorry, I have to go. I’ll grab the costumes later, cheerio!”
Connie walked downstairs to the smell of her father baking muffins.
“Hey sweetie! I’m leaving these off at Chris’ tomorrow night when you’re at the disco.” Ever
since March when their neighbour, Chris, helped them stock up on toilet rolls for lockdown,
Connie’s dad has been crushing on him.
“How do they smell?”, asked Dad.
Connie took a deep breath.
Her dad grinned, “Perfect!”.
“Can you take me to the Halloween shop? I need to buy me and Tellina’s costumes for the
disco”, asked Connie.
“Sure, I’ll take you now” replied Dad.
The drive to the Halloween shop was filled with music blasted from the radio. Once they
arrived, the place was packed.
Connie grabbed the costumes and waited in queue.
“Out of my way loser!”. It was Alice. Everybody hated Alice. She thought people would do
anything she said, “I said move!”.
Connie continued to ignore Alice, to her obvious annoyance, and eventually bought the
Later that night Connie felt excited, lying in bed, but that excitement wouldn’t last for long…
The night of the disco had arrived, and Connie was dressed, ready to go. Her dad drove her
to the disco and she met Tellina at the entrance.
“Ready?” asked Tellina.
“Ready!” declared Connie.
When they opened the door, they were greeted by deafening screams and what appeared to
be green and blue monsters chasing everybody.
“What the hell is happening?”, shouted Tellina, loud enough to be heard over yelps of others.
It was a monster invasion! Connie grabbed the first thing she saw and smacked it over the
head of an approaching monster, killing it instantly.
“Quick Tellina, help!” Alice was absorbed in slime and struggling to breathe. Even though
Connie hated her, she had to help Alice. Tellina whipped out a pocket knife.
“Why do you have that?” Connie asked, concerned,
“You never know when you’ll need one”, replied Tellina.
Tellina cut open the sac of slime and Alice was free.
“Thanks” Alice Mumbled.
They walked away…
“Come on. Don’t leave me”.
“You’ll be fine”, snapped Connie.
“You need me! I can help” remarked Alice.
“Fine”, Connie groaned, reluctantly giving in.
The next 20 minutes was filled with fighting, saving (thanks to Tellina’s handy pocket knife)
and many screams from Alice.
Just when they thought they’d saved the school, an ear-wrenching bang came from behind
them. Another monster, but bigger! Way bigger. It towered over them…
“Nobody hurts my daughter!”. Connie’s dad had slayed the monster.
“Thanks Dad!”, Connie exclaimed.
And just like that, our story has ended. Everybody is saved and Halloween can be enjoyed…
Without any monster interference.
The Story of Annabelle Willow
Grace Lynch (age 8)
On a hot sunny day, Annabelle Willow was outside sitting against an old oak tree with her
cat, Ginger. Annabelle loved Ginger more than anything. But Annabelle’s life wasn’t so nice.
Her Mum and Dad were dead. Now her Mum’s sister was looking after her. Annabelle’s
Aunt hated her dead sister, so she burnt every photo of her in the house. Cleverly though,
Annabelle had hidden one of the photos just after her Mum died and kept it.
As she sat below the old oak tree, Annabelle held the photograph of her mother in her hand.
She looked up and saw an evil looking raven perched on the branch above her. Suddenly,
it flew down right beside Annabelle. “Shoooo!” she said but the raven never moved, even a
bit. “Urgh!” shouted Annabelle. In a flash, the raven swooped down and snatched the picture
from Annabelle’s hand. “Noooo! Stop, you cheeky bird!” she screamed. But the bird kept
flying away from her. She kept running until she tripped and fell flat on her face. Annabelle
was knocked out.
The hours dragged by. Finally, she woke up. She lifted her head to see she was in a shadowy
forest. She got up and looked at her watch – it was just after midnight. The trees rustled,
almost like they were whispering to each other. Phantom mist cloaked the tall shadowy trees.
She did not like being there. Chills crawled down her spine. Was there something lurking
under the quiet of the moonlight?
Suddenly, she heard a scream. It sounded like it came from right behind her. Annabelle ran
deeper into the forest. She stopped to see something in the distance and ran until she was
right in front of a gate – an old metal, rusty gate. Annabelle reached out her shaking hand.
‘Creeeeek’, the gate opened. She saw a faint silhouette of a still house. Little did Annabelle
know, but she was in ghost territory. Shaking in fear, Annabelle walked towards the shadowy
She walked in through the side door that lay ajar, unaware that phantom listeners were in
every corner of the house. She was in a kitchen. On the table was a knife covered in what
looked like blood. “Maybe it’s ketchup?” she wondered. She ascended the stairs. ‘Creeeeeeek,
creeeeeeek, creeeeeek’. When she was at the second last step, the air suddenly turned ice
cold. Annabelle could feel her heart thumping in her chest. She was at the top. She could
hear the pacing of footsteps, up and down the landing but there was no one to be seen?
Annabelle was frozen in fear.
Then she heard someone whistling a lullaby. Annabelle decided to walk into a room that
happened to be a baby’s nursery. She walked towards the crib. Suddenly she heard a crying
baby but there was no baby to be seen! Annabelle was frightened but she was even more
curious to find out what was happening, so she walked into the next room… a library.
She went towards a desk which had a lit candle on it. On the desk there was also a
handkerchief. On the handkerchief was a red stain which looked, again, like blood. Suddenly,
Annabelle heard a clicking sound almost like a key turning in a lock. It attracted her attention.
She raced down the stairs to check the door but to her disbelief it was locked. How would
she get out? As she was struggling to open the door, something caught her eye. On the
floor lay an old newspaper. She picked it up and read the front page. ‘MOTHER AND CHILD
MURDERED AT MIDNIGHT’. Annabelle paused. She looked at the picture. It was of a woman
holding a baby. In the background was a house. Annabelle almost fainted.
The house in the picture was the exact same house that she was standing in! She continued
to read. ‘PEOPLE SAY THE MURDERER IS STILL IN THE HOUSE’. Annabelle threw the
newspaper on the floor and ran into the kitchen. The knife on the kitchen table was gone!
Annabelle started to panic. Suddenly a hooded figure with a knife in hand was coming
towards her. She ran for her life. Up the stairs. Her foot fell through a step. The hooded figure
was fast approaching.
“You’re the murderer from the newspaper!” she yelled. The murderer took her knife and
stabbed it through Annabelle’s chest.
Silence fell over the house.
Annabelle died at the scene of the crime.
Her ghost shall live on within the walls of the haunted house, protected by a pitch black
Was it all a dream?
On chilly day in October, Cara was getting ready for school and wondering why she had to wake
up this early. She made some toast and got ready for school. Then she called out ‘Bye Mum.’ She
thought it was strange she got no response, but she shook off the strange feeling. When she
arrived at school, she realised there was literally no one there, but the front door was open, and
the lights were on. She shivered as a cold breeze whooshed through her. She quickly walked to
her form room. She was now Year 9 and thought the school was good enough. She didn’t get on
with most of the pupils, but the teachers were nice enough to her. When she entered her form
room there was no sign of life anywhere. ‘Maybe it’s a bank holiday and I just didn’t know,’ she
muttered to no one in particular.
Then all of a sudden, she heard a voice softly singing a lullaby and the sky went dark. There was
a distant bang that sounded like two cars colliding and two women screaming, one of which was
the voice of the singer. Cara immediately froze and a shiver ran down her spine when she heard
all of this happen. She was now panicking and was internally debating with herself whether she
should call an ambulance with the phone in the classroom or just get the heck out of there.
She decided to call an ambulance but when she got to where the phone was and tried to dial the
number it wouldn’t work. ‘The power must be out,’ she thought to herself. Seeing as her plan of
calling an ambulance didn’t work, she decided the best course of action would be to get the heck
out of here and go home.
She peeked her head out of the door and froze when she saw a ghostly white figure gilding
down to towards her, singing softly. The figure seemed to be of a woman in her early thirties
cradling a child. She was wearing what looked to be a beautiful white wedding dress now stained
with blood and there were pieces of glass which impaled her skin which was the colour of
caramel. She was stunningly beautiful, but she gave out a sad aura and her eyes looked haunted.
Cara stood as still as a statue and held her breath while the woman glided past her. Then
suddenly the lights flickered, and the woman turned around now, fixing her with a cold stare and
suddenly lunging at her. Cara shrieked and tripped over her own feet and then she suddenly shot
up in her bed, a cry on her lips.
Cara felt relief flood her that it was all a dream. She thought to herself, ‘I’ll make myself a hot
chocolate and watch a movie after that.’ So, she got up out of bed and made herself a steaming
cup of hot chocolate. She made her way to the living room and grabbed a blanket and wrapped
it around herself.
She grabbed the remote and turned on the T.V. She swore her heart stopped when the news
channel came on and she saw a news story about a car crash outside her school. There were two
cars involved, one containing a few dunk men, four in total. They were all seriously injured but
they all survived. That wasn’t what caught Cara’s eye though. The part that caught her eye was
who was in the other car. It was a lesbian couple who just got married, and their baby girl. Only
one of the women, the one who was driving, survived. She had a few injures but she was alive
none the less. Unfortunately, her wife and baby weren’t so lucky. They had both died on impact.
The wife who had survived was barely conscious after the collision but apparently had said one
thing to the ambulance worker who was helping her ‘You want to know what the worst thing
about this is? Most newlywed couples are on their honeymoon a few days after their wedding,
I’ll be at my wife and child’s grave and my last moments I spent with them will be hearing my
wife singing to our baby girl trying to sooth her into sleep. I’ll miss them both’.’ Then she went
unconscious. Cara felt as though her insides were twisting and turning.
She froze when she heard a soft voice behind her say ‘You thought it was all a dream?...’
THE DEMON TREE
It was a twisted old hawthorn, or maybe blackthorn with pronounced knotholes, which
looked for all the world like two eyes and a mouth. The remaining knobbly branches
stretched imploringly towards a haughty blue sky, like a starving child of exploitation
reaching for the first world.
The summer sun made these emaciated limbs appear pitifully welcoming, and the three
boys hunted scurrying woodlice, heaving at bits of looser bark to prise the poor creatures
out of dark crevices, eager for that satisfying crunch provided when the robust exoskeletons
collapsed under the pressure of hand-held stones, carefully selected and retained for that
“We’d better go home,” Gortai urged, feeling a nip in the air which would announce the wane
of another day of boyish adventure; a casual check on the barren haw from the meadow
affording him the opportunity to detect the dark gathering of rain clouds along the skyline
directly behind the growth’s scrawny silhouette.
“Looks as if those branches were arms. What if the tree were alive?” Ciaran suggested.
“Naw, sure there’s other trees like it; they’d all have to be alive.”
“What if they were but are playing dead because they’re afraid of this one,” Ciaran insisted,
warming to the fantastic. “Or,” Gortai joined in the game of fancy, scrutinizing the old stump
with new eyes, “she was a witch turned into a tree by wizards as punishment for something?”
“Like freezing the other trees, which used to be able to walk around, and can only wave their
Ciaran eyed the avenue of larch, beech, oak, sycamore and chestnut with a certain, if
transient, nervousness. “Maybe we’ve wakened her by picking her scabs,” Ciaran continued
in a subdued timbre, automatically accepting the gender, still eyeing the thirty foot trees as
they swayed in the strengthening gusts.
And she’s casting an ancient storm-spell, so she can get the water she needs, to get the
energy to break the wizard’s spell completely.” They stood silent in a sudden drizzle; goose
pimples announcing the creepy feeling sneaking up on both of them. It was a dread they
might have described as sinister or even menacing, had they been older.
Now that it had been said aloud, the raised limbs of what had once merely been a wizened
play-frame with attitude; really did look as if they were calling the storm to the tree, and the
clouds were obeying. The veiling of the sun changed the angle of light. The mouth knot-hole
seemed to leer at them. They stood mesmerized for a while, oblivious to the aerosol rain
which infiltrated their clothing.
“My granny will be worrying I’ll catch cold,” Ciaran curtly informed Gortai out of the silence.
“Yeah,” Gortai returned just as brusquely, “my dinner’s probably ready.” They ran to the hole
in their neighbour’s back fence, struggled through, and ran all the way home.
Condensed excerpt from McDaid, P. (2012) Pixels: The Cause and the Cloud Cuckoo, Derry, Narwhal Publishing, pp.
Meaghan McKee (age 11)
In the dead of night, creatures crawled as a wizened hand grasped daylight within its freezing
cold, bony fingers. The night was so dark, blacker than black. Even the bravest souls would
shiver and shake in this night. Large trees loomed over graves like skyscrapers. Dead souls
roamed the world, crying out, scaring nearby listeners.
That icy morning, the condensation had trickled down the window like pure crystal tears.
Amber Grace Willow had risen from her bed and looked out of her window as a crow glided
past - his murder soon followed, as did hers…
Amber shivered as she slowly walked out of her room. She pulled her old baggy sleeves over
her hands like mittens. Light crept through the curtains of the hall. Amber blinked as her
eyes got used to dawn, and she let out a bellowing yawn. As she tiptoed into the kitchen, she
stared at the clock. It was six am. She usually awoke early when no one was awake because
it felt quieter at this time. Amber decided to get dressed and go on a walk. She ran up the
stairs and into her bedroom and threw on her neon blue beanie. Her patched up jumper
covered her bruised hands. Her old ripped jeans just about reached her ankles. In less than a
minute she was gone.
Slowly, she walked down the street with her hands in her pockets. It was winter so the sun
was only coming up. Her eyes glistened as she watched the beautiful sunrise. Amber stared
deep into the woods to try to see. She stumbled into the darkness as it swirled around her.
Tall trees loomed. Branches snapped. What was that?! Something latched on to Amber’s leg.
Quickly, she tore the thing off and dashed away. She ran so far and so fast that she didn’t pay
attention to where she was going. THUD! Amber tripped over a piece of wood. Light faded.
Everything went black.
Amber awoke in the middle of nowhere. She stood up and to her horror she was in front of a
random, shady looking hotel. The old, large, rusty letters read out “Sullivan Savoy”. They hung
there like lifeless bodies - some had even fallen off. Amber shivered as she realised, it was
night! How long was she out for? She wished she had stayed home. She was so cold, Amber
rushed into the building. Time felt like it was frozen when the door slammed shut. Quickly,
she got to the door and held the handle as if it was a million pounds. The door didn’t budge.
Tears streamed down her face as she collapsed to the cold, icy floor. She lay there in her own
sorrow. Drowning in sadness. Amber dared the ground to swallow her up. “Why me?!” she
thought to herself.
AAOOOHHHHHHOOO! Amber looked around, suddenly a bony slimy hand grabbed her
wrist. Amber let out a shriek of terror as another skeleton hand grabbed her other wrist. The
floorboards broke in two as she fell into a never-ending (or so it felt) hole of hands. After a
lifetime, she landed on a leather chair.
Black surrounded her.
Buckles tied her to a chair. A glitchy unknown voice spoke. “Hello, welcome to Sullivan Savoy,
founded in 1846, this recording is from 1918 but still is found true. Sullivan Savoy - scary? Not
really. Spooky? Not really. Bone quaking, heart racing, limb clutching? YES!” Amber’s eyes as
widened as wide as could be. Her mouth opened as if to let out a scream. “Welcome to your
doom!” boomed the voice.
Chains clanked. Skelton bones scuttled. The darkness cleared like a phantom fog. No words
were spoken but an echo fell on the now still house. Staring at the moonlit floor, Amber
scurried away as fast as she could. Noise knocked upon the walls. The ghastly ghost and
ghouls let out a lonely cry as they listened and watched.
There is a man who lives under my bed and his name is Mr. Tickles. Mr. Tickles
is no ordinary man – Mr. Tickles has an insatiable appetite, although his tastes
are rather specific. I call him Mr. Tickles because when he is hungry, he lets
me know by tickling me in the middle of the night. I have never seen Mr.
Tickles’ full form. His face, bathed in the darkness of my bedroom is only
illuminated by his glowing, crimson red eyes. His fingers, dipped in moonlight
are long and wiry, his nails sharp and pointed.
The night I met Mr. Tickles, he woke me from my sleep by tickling my feet. I
jolted awake, sitting up in bed. My mouth opened to scream when I saw the
scarlet eyes, but nothing came out. He raised a crooked finger to his lips.
Trembling, my body was paralyzed with fear. He did not speak but simply
opened his mouth and pointed in. I nodded in acknowledgement of what he
wanted, and he smiled. I heard the bed creak as he scuffled back under the
frame into the inky blackness.
On the night I left an apple at the foot of my bed, it was still there the next
morning. The night I left a plate of cookies at the foot of my bed, they had
gone stale by morning. On the night I left a chicken breast at the foot of my
bed, I heard meat being chewed and spat across the room. I woke the next
morning to a poultry massacre.
The following night I left nothing at the foot of my bed and Mr. Tickles was
not pleased. But instead of tickling me, I felt the duvet shift, and the cold
body of Mr. Tickles slide into bed beside me. My body gripped itself in fear.
His icy breath prickled the hairs on the back of my neck as he lay pressed
against my back.
A chill ran through my body as he let out a grunt and then whispered into my
ear with a deep, raspy wheeze; “You are much too small.” The duvet shifted
again, and I felt Mr. Tickles slither back out of my bed into the confines of
darkness. Silent tears blinded my vision and dripped to the now saturated
The following night, I invited my friend Jessica over for a sleepover. On the
night Jessica slept at the foot of my bed, Mr. Tickles ate well. There were no
screams, simply noises of flesh being torn from the bone and satisfied grunts
by a well-fed Mr. Tickles. As he finished his meal, I knew it would only be a
matter of time before he grew hungry again. I have lots of friends at school
- many of them I don’t need - certainly not as much as Mr. Tickles needs his
food. After all, his tastes are rather specific.
I grew up in a terrace of houses which was just beside a very large stately
house with a gate-lodge. For many years I walked past with my Mum, and
the lady who lived in the small house was always out cleaning the windows
and brushing the path. I later found out it was because she loved to talk
to people passing. Her and my Mum spent ages chatting, especially on a
Years passed and I moved away when I got married. One day I was visiting
my Mum who lived still in our family home in the terrace. To get to my Mum’s,
I had to walk pass the gate-lodge. Feeling nostalgic, I glanced up to see if
the gate-lodge still looked the same. To my utter surprise the lady who lived
there was out cleaning and called to me. I could not believe it! I went up to
her and she was asking all about my work and how married life was. She told
me she watched me go past her door as a child, then teenager and then as an
adult. We chatted for a long while and I was so surprised how she didn’t look
any different after all the years. I heard a shout and saw the ladies husband
wave to me.
I told my Mum who I was just chatting to and she looked in shock at me and
said I could not have been talking to the lady, both her and her husband had
died nearly 15 years ago! I thought maybe my Mum was teasing me, but, then
I remembered that the lady was wearing the same nylon coat she wore when
outside cleaning all those years ago! How can this be? Mum said that they
had both been killed in a car accident and the house has been empty ever
I told my Mum that the house was perfectly painted with clean windows
and drive! She said that this was impossible. Together we put on our coats
and walked the short distance to the gate-lodge. My stomach flipped when
indeed, when we reached the house, it was empty, dilapidated and dirty.
I couldn’t speak; I was totally shocked. What had I just witnessed?! What
was happening to me? How did I have the conversation just a short while
ago with these two people? Just then, another neighbour of my mother’s
neighbours, Mr Anderson, came along and stopped to talk to us. Mum told
him what had happened. Mr Anderson just smiled and said I was one of the
lucky ones, that the couple did not just talk to anyone, but only the people
who they liked. He said he could tell me stories from others who have
had these chats. Mum was not too pleased as she had spent a lot of time
talking to the couple for many years and they had never appeared to her. Mr
Anderson reiterated that they only spoke to people they liked!!!!!
I stand alone. It’s dark. I can’t see anything - but I do see my whole body,
I’m watching myself! Again, I look but all I see is a thick heavy mist all
around; even my feet can’t be seen. A blind fear now. I’m afraid to move
as I’m unaware of my surroundings. I hear the tribal wailing of the ghost
fiddles playing in the distance; a trembling starts to vibrate through
me from the souls of my feet up. Maybe it’s my mind playing tricks -
but why would my mind play tricks…wait…why am I doing this…? Who
am I even talking to? Oh shit, I’m outta here. Hesitantly, I move a step
forward; I feel there is someone right behind me, a breath can be seen
but not heard. I move again. They move too. I start to run, soon I realise I
can see. I’m in a forest with lots of old trees, erie and overhanging, they
look at me as if I’m not welcome there. Although my pathway is clear,
I focus my eyes on the path before me - afraid to even look sideways.
Careful not to trip I watch where I place my feet in between the roots
of the trees; some are narrow and thin while others thick and great in
strength. Then, all of a sudden, I don’t feel it anymore; there’s a complete
calm, no trembling, no heartbeat, no breaths. Just peace. It’s like light
at the end of the…shit I spoke too soon. My heart races and I run again.
My breath grows heavier and heavier. I can’t keep running. It’s not my
legs but the ferociousness of the beat of my heart - it’s going to get me,
I’m sure of it. Something is clipping at my heels; my heart beats louder
and my breath still grows heavy. I see no end and no help is arrivi…again
it’s just disappeared and I feel safe. Did I even move? I open my eyes.
Sometimes I don’t like where my mind takes me.