The Gathering

Welcome to the dark side of Derry 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 the grave. 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? Happy Hallowe’en…

Welcome to the dark side of Derry 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 the grave. 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?

Happy Hallowe’en…


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<strong>The</strong><br />

gathering<br />

Spooky Stories for Hallowe’en<br />

Welcome to the dark side of Hallowe’en.<br />

Open <strong>The</strong> <strong>Gathering</strong> (if you dare) to read bone-chilling tales<br />

from writers of all ages across the county - writers who have<br />

generously shared their stories of ghostly buildings and the<br />

beings who haunt them, of alien invasions, demonic possessions,<br />

horrifying encounters, murdering butchers, creatures of the<br />

shadows and unholy contacts from under the bed and beyond<br />

the grave.<br />

Let each terrifying detail take you right to the edge of fear - but<br />

relax in the knowledge that none of these stories are real.<br />

Or are they?<br />

Happy Hallowe’en…<br />

Page 2

Index of stories<br />

<strong>The</strong> Unknown<br />

Pierce McKee<br />

Fearless Fergus, King of the Castle<br />

Morna Sullivan<br />

Hughie Mac Diarmada agus uan óg an Domhnaigh<br />

Padraig Ó Gallachoir<br />

Rude Awakening<br />

Vera Doherty<br />

Mother<br />

Jack Scotlock<br />

<strong>The</strong> Butcher<br />

Luke Doherty<br />

Preferably Rare<br />

Perry McDaid<br />

Possession<br />

Sue Divin<br />

<strong>The</strong> Dead Hand<br />

Chris Radcliffe<br />

<strong>The</strong> Mystery of Boom Hall<br />

Ciarán Logue<br />

<strong>The</strong> Monster Invasion<br />

Enya Lynch<br />

<strong>The</strong> Story of Annabelle Willow<br />

Grace Lynch<br />

Was it all a Dream?<br />

Eimear McAnee<br />

<strong>The</strong> Demon Tree<br />

Perry McDaid<br />

Amber<br />

Meaghan McKee<br />

Spooky House<br />

Anita Jackson<br />

Mr. Tickles<br />

Martin Wilson<br />

Lady Labyrinth<br />

Brian Hasson<br />

Page 4<br />

6<br />

7<br />

8<br />

9<br />

10<br />

11<br />

12<br />

13<br />

14<br />

15<br />

17<br />

19<br />

20<br />

21<br />

21<br />

22<br />

23<br />

Page 3

<strong>The</strong> Unknown<br />

Pierce McKee (age 11)<br />

“It’s going to be amazing and nothing’ll ruin it!” smiled Johnny to his friend. “Thanks for<br />

bringing us, Mrs Willow.” said Niall. “So just how creepy is Hotel Creep going to be?” he<br />

asked, unable to hide the worry on his face. “It’ll be fine boys.” reassured Mrs Willow as she<br />

drove up the windy road. She wasn’t always right.<br />

<strong>The</strong> hotel loomed in the dark distance. “It’s not at all what we expected.” the boys exclaimed.<br />

“Let’s go inside.” smiled Mrs Willow. She’d a crooked smile that always seemed to match her<br />

wild, grey eyebrows and green eyes that seemed to glow in darkness. As they stepped in,<br />

they were amazed by the luxury of the hotel. It was old fashioned - the weirdest hotel they’d<br />

ever seen - but amazing! <strong>The</strong>y almost needed sunglasses – the carpet was smothered in<br />

flower patterns, all different colours that clashed, nearly making their eyes bleed.<br />

“You are the first to arrive!” exclaimed the receptionist in a squeaky clean, stiff white uniform<br />

that looked whiter than white against the black bags under her eyes. “Here are the keys to<br />

your rooms. Just please make sure that you do not come out of your rooms at night.” That<br />

was strange, both boys thought but only exchanged looks. “Sumthin’s up.” Johnny whispered,<br />

putting the key in between his teeth as he grabbed his bag. “It’ll be ok.” nodded Niall. Both<br />

boys knew he was lying. Something just didn’t feel right.<br />

Log Book Day 1<br />

Alrite, tonight’s the night! We’re in Hotel Creep! Sumthin’s up. <strong>The</strong> receptionist told us not<br />

to go out of our rooms after dark. Will we see ghosts tonight? We’ll see how it goes! J<br />

Log Book Day 2<br />

Today was perfect. Nobody got hurt and no ghosts were heard… yet. We went to a Horror<br />

attraction ‘Fazbear Frights’ and it didn’t rain! We also went to KFC – IT WAS AMAZING! J<br />

Log Book Day 3<br />


JOKES!<br />

But no, really. I was eatin’ sweets (Trick or Treat), when I dropped my bag of crisps under<br />

the bed. I looked underneath to get them back and I noticed something strange – A TRAP<br />

DOOR!<br />

When I opened it and found a rusty knife. I thought that was pretty cool so I had a further<br />

feel around. <strong>The</strong>re in the darkness, my hand felt something soft. I pulled it out and it was a<br />

mask! Somethin’s up. I need to find out what though… J<br />

Log Book Day 4<br />

I’ve just found this letter pinned to the door…<br />


Who am I? I believe you have been snooping in my stuff. What if you tell people? I will<br />

come and knock on your door. I’ll be the last person you’ll see. No one will ever hear of this.<br />

You’ll never speak of this again.<br />


A cold sensation ran down Johnny’s spine like a spider after he read that. He didn’t want to<br />

die there. <strong>The</strong> crown covered walls, weird patterned carpet and birch wooden door would be<br />

covered in blood! He wanted to be remembered as an animator, not this! He needed to go<br />

downstairs and meet this ‘person’ face to face.<br />

<strong>The</strong> stone steps down behind the kitchen were deep and dark. Darkness swallowed Johnny<br />

up like a large black snake. His mind’s bells where ringing, “Turn back!” they yelled! Suddenly,<br />

he saw a small light. <strong>The</strong>n, in the shadows he caught a glimpse of him, it, she - he didn’t know<br />

Page 4

- it was staring. Standing. Waiting. It came closer, its dark eyes baring into the depths of his<br />

heart. “Don’t hurt anyone, or me, please!” Johnny begged.<br />

It came even closer.<br />

“I’ll… I’ll tell someone!” he screamed.<br />

It came closer.<br />

Johnny ran.<br />

It was right behind him.<br />

“You won’t feel a thing.” it hissed.<br />

Log Book: Day 6 Hospital<br />

I was stabbed. I crawled back up the stone stairway with it still lurking behind me. Mrs<br />

Willow and Niall met me in reception. <strong>The</strong>y looked worried. Without packing our bags, they<br />

got me into the car and drove at top speed to Ivy Hall Hospital. On the way I heard its dark,<br />

ghastly voice “Bye, bye!”<br />

That’s a voice I’ll never forget. I hope to never hear or see it again. I am afraid of the dark. J<br />

Page 5

Fearless Fergus, King of the Castle<br />

Morna Sullivan<br />

Every morning, May opened the squeaky, creaky, drawbridge to welcome visitors to the old,<br />

cold castle by the sea. On special days she wore a long, green velvet dress when guests<br />

feasted like princes and kings, dancing and clapping to music. Fergus thought she looked like<br />

a princess.<br />

When everyone had left, Fergus gobbled hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, hamburgers and<br />

ready salted crisps hidden under tables. He munched chunks of chocolate cake, raspberry<br />

jelly and apple tart fallen below chairs. He ate and ate and ate until he could eat no more,<br />

leaving only morsels for his special midnight guests.<br />

At night Fergus was king of his castle. He chased mice up and down the stairs and juggled<br />

with them before falling asleep. One night, Fergus woke from his mouse cheesecake dream<br />

with a jump. He unfurled his curly, whirly tail, stretched out his legs and leapt out of his<br />

basket. His eyes shone like two amber globes in the darkness.<br />

“What was that?” He padded down the stairs into the Great Hall, tiptoed down more steps<br />

into the chapel, stopped and listened. A scratching sound was in the distance. Fergus looked<br />

round the walls, up at the ceiling and all over the floor. <strong>The</strong>re was no sign of a mouse.<br />

“Maybe it’s rattling inside a suit of armour,” he thought.<br />

Walking through the armoury and into the dungeon he sniffed the air. Still no mice. He<br />

squeezed behind a pillar, crept down a damp, slimy tunnel towards the gnawing sound.<br />

“Maybe it’s the ghost of …a giant mouse?” he shivered. <strong>The</strong> tunnel turned and twisted deeper<br />

and deeper down. He padded up a slope, round a corner and stopped. A shadow of a<br />

creature covered the castle wall.<br />

“Am I still dreaming?”<br />

<strong>The</strong> beast howled, “AAARRRGH! AAAARRRGH!”<br />

Fergus ran as fast as he could down the slimy tunnel. He felt the creature’s warm breath. He<br />

ran up the steps, tiptoed along the parapet and froze, his knees knocking.<br />

Two big eyes, set in a furry, hairy face stared at Fergus.<br />

“Don’t run away. I’m just guarding my hotel.”<br />

“Hotel?”<br />

“It’s my hotel, – Dobbin’s Inn Hotel.”<br />

“It’s MY castle, – CarrickFergus Castle. I followed the scratching mousey sound down to the<br />

dungeon.”<br />

“I was chewing my bone. <strong>The</strong> sound must have echoed in the old tunnel. Years ago people<br />

escaped from the castle through it to MY hotel.”<br />

“I thought you were a giant mouse and you were going to eat me.”<br />

“Cats are too chewy and gooey. <strong>The</strong>ir tails stick in my teeth. Can’t we be friends?” Dobbin<br />

wagged his hairy tail.<br />

“We’ll hunt mice together.”<br />

“<strong>The</strong> tunnel will be our secret.”<br />

American tourists soon claimed they heard footsteps in the castle. News spread that<br />

Carrickfergus castle was haunted. Visitors queued to get in and May was delighted.<br />

Every day, underneath the castle, below the road, Dobbin and Fergus run up and down the<br />

old tunnel, catching mice and playing chaseys all day long.<br />

Page 6

Hughie Mac Diarmada agus<br />

uan óg an Domhnaigh<br />

Padraig Ó Gallachoir<br />

Tá gleann sa Ghaeltacht Lár í dTír Chonaill ar a dtugtar Gleann Mór na nGleannta. Is í seo<br />

an gleann ina ritheann an abhainn Ea, a éirionn í gceartlár na gCruach Ghorm agus shíleann<br />

isteach san Fharraige Mhór ar na meilte míne idir Ard an Ratha agus Baile na nGleannta.<br />

Lé mó chuimhne féin bhi fear ina chónaí sa Ghleann a raibh Hughie Mac Diarmada air. Bhi<br />

sé féin agus a bhean Suan ina gcónaí í dteach beag ceann tuí faoi scáth an cnoic is iad breá<br />

sásta. Ach nuair a tháinig an Geimhreadh isteach bliain amháin stad Hughie ag freastal ar an<br />

Aifreann. Rachadh Suan ag Aifreann a deich í dteach phobail an Éadain go dúrachta achan<br />

nDomhnach agus théadh Hughie na cnoic os ceann an tí go dtógfadh sé cliabh monadh.<br />

Maidin amháin Domhnaigh nuair a bhí brat beag éadrom sneachta ar an talamh rinne Hughie<br />

amhlaidh. Bhí sé ar a ghlúine í mbeal clampa na monadh ag líonadh na chléibhe nuair a<br />

mhothaigh sé siosarnach ínteacht ar a chúl. Amach as coirnéal a shúil chonaic sé uan óg ag<br />

sodar is ag bocléimnigh. Bhuail uaigneas millteanach Hughie nó bhí fhios aige nach raibh uan<br />

óg ar bith ann comh luath seo sa bhliain.<br />

Chaith sé an cliabh , nach raibh ach trí cheathrú lán , ar a dhroim agús bhain an baile amach.<br />

Níor lig sé a dhath air féin nuair a d’fhill Suan ón Aifreann. An Domhnach dár gcionn chuaigh<br />

Hughie na cnoic ar ais . An t-am seo, bhí an tuan í mbeal an chlampa agus ní ligeadh an eagla<br />

dé Hughie gabhail ina choir. Ghoid sé cliabh monadh ó chlampa na comharsan agus bhain an<br />

baile amach. Bhí sé ag géilleadh air í rith na seachtaine ach sa deireadh b’eagán dó a rún a<br />

sceitheadh le Suan. Ar ndóiche chur sise caol díreach go teach an tSagairt é.<br />

D’inis sé a sceal don tSagart. Dúirt an Sagart léis go gcaithfeadh sé a fhaoistin a dheanamh is<br />

freastal ar an Aifreann luath is an Chomaoineach Naofa a ghlacadh an Domhnach dár gcionn.<br />

Dúirt an Sagart leis:’ Nua atá sin déanta agat tabhair leat buidéal bheag uisce coisrice agus<br />

do chliabh agus teigh na cnoic fan am ceánna. Déan ciorcal ar an talamh leis t-uisce coisrice<br />

agus má fheiceann tú an tuan ban taobh istigh den chiorcal , teigh ar do ghlúine agus tabhair<br />

buíochas dó Dhia. Ach má fheiceann tú uan dubh istigh sa chiorcal cuir an cliabh anuas sa<br />

mhullach air agus fág ansin é ’.<br />

Rinne Hughie mar a d’iarrfadh air a dheanamh, dhoirt sé an t-uisce coisrice ina chiorcal sa<br />

tsneachta. I bhfaiteadh na súl bhí an tuan dubh istigh sa chiorcal. Chuir Hughie an cliabh<br />

anuas sa mhullach air agus rinne príosúnach dé agus sheas siar uaidh.<br />

An chead rud eile rinneadh ceirtlín tine den tuan agus an cliabh agus d’eirigh an t-iomlan in<br />

airde is chuaigh as amharc sa speir.<br />

Page 7

Rude Awakening<br />

Vera Doherty<br />

He just lay down on the sofa for ten minutes. <strong>The</strong> weight he felt on his chest was immediate;<br />

was he having a heart attack?<br />

He couldn’t move his arms. He was pinned down, he felt trapped. His hair was being pulled<br />

back so tight it felt like it was caught in a mangle. His head was throbbing.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n it started; it felt like one of those scouring pads scratching all over his face, up to the<br />

hairline and out to the edge close to his ears.<strong>The</strong> weight was now on the move from one arm<br />

to the other like a rocking sensation.<br />

His chest was getting tighter; he was having difficulty breathing yet he could hear breathing<br />

above him. He wasn’t sure if it was himself he heard or someone else. Now his eyes were<br />

being pushed down hard into their sockets as if to push them to the back of his head. He had<br />

no power to open them.<br />

What came next made his body jerk as if a sharp nail was being dragged across his forehead<br />

above his eyes. He felt something move towards his mouth. He tightened his lips trying to<br />

stop any entry into his mouth. Feeling totally helpless, the ordeal continued. <strong>The</strong>re was no<br />

attempt to prise open his mouth. <strong>The</strong>n came the slimy substance on his lips.<br />

<strong>The</strong> heavy weight was on the move; it had now lifted, and, just when he thought the ordeal<br />

was over, a cold flat object was pressed to his face. He opened his eyes and gave out a<br />

scream. He had frightened himself with the image staring back at him in the mirror.<br />

With shrieks of delight a little voice shouted, “Do you love it daddy, do you love it? You look<br />

like a scary witch. HA HA HA...<br />

Page 8

Mother<br />

Jack Scotlock<br />

Here is the true story of the night my dead mother came to visit us...<br />

Just before Christmas, thirty-nine years ago, my mother was taken into Altnagelvin and died<br />

suddenly of a heart attack. To us she had been perfectly healthy. That night, my wife and I<br />

were lying awake in our upstairs bedroom. We were both feeling tired and sad. My mother’s<br />

death had shocked us, and we couldn’t sleep.<br />

In the middle of the night we both heard tapping on the glass on our bedroom window.<br />

(Usually, when my mother came up to visit us, she lived in the next street, she would never<br />

ring the doorbell; she would always tap on the window and we would know it was her.) I was<br />

awake, and, believing my wife was sleeping, didn’t say anything. But my wife was awake, and<br />

she had heard the tapping as well.<br />

We didn’t mention the tapping until - in the middle of the following night - the same thing<br />

happened. Now there were no trees outside our bedroom window and our house was two<br />

stories high. We were both awake and we tried to figure out what was causing the tapping on<br />

the glass. <strong>The</strong>re were no birds, no trees, no reason for the tapping to occur.<br />

When the tapping happened on the third night, my wife said, “Maybe it’s your mother. Tell her<br />

it’s okay and to go in peace.” With a trembling voice, I did just that. We had never heard the<br />

tapping before, and never heard it after that, and we lived there many years after.<br />

<strong>The</strong> thing is, when my late brother and I were young, we would joke with my mother, because<br />

we were not too religious, but she was. We used to say to her, “Mammy, when you die, will<br />

you come back and tell us there’s a Heaven?” She would laugh and say she would. I had told<br />

my wife about this and at the time she said we were mad.<br />

My wife often said, my mother had us that spoiled, that she would walk from the Waterside<br />

to Creggan to get a ten pence stamp for us. It still makes the hairs on the back of my neck<br />

stand up. I regret I was such a coward not to ask my dead mother what she had to tell me.<br />

Page 9


Luke Doherty (age 9)<br />

It was the fourth anniversary since Trever’s father went missing. <strong>The</strong> sky was cloaked in red.<br />

A filthy cloud, shaped like a devil, hung in the red sky.<br />

Trever made his way downstairs. He almost choked. It was<br />

horrific. <strong>The</strong> cat lay dead on the ground. ”Mummmm!!! Alex is..<br />

is.. is.. DEAD!” he screamed. Trever tried to avoid Alex as he<br />

tiptoed to the kitchen. Suddenly the phone rang. Trever<br />

answered “Hello”, but nobody was at the other end…<br />

Suddenly the post came through the door. Trever was<br />

very confused because it was Sunday. It read…<br />

“What?””, he said, “Cathal Meat is a butcher… No … No,<br />

No, No, No. Is his meat… human … meat?”” As Trever<br />

moved towards the toilet, he heard some weird noises.<br />

It sounded like a blockage in the drain pipes. When Trever flushed<br />

the toilet, it wasn’t clean water – it was blood…<br />

This was not a joke. Things<br />

were serious. Trever grabbed<br />

his jumper and flashlight and<br />

headed towards Jimmy’s<br />

graveyard. On the way he passed<br />

an old lady looking for her cat<br />

and a huge billboard advertising<br />

SPECIAL OFFERS on Cathal<br />

Meat’s new finger shaped<br />

barbequed treats.<br />

Soon Trever arrived. “Umm… where’s Jake’s grave?” asked Trever. He thought to himself a<br />

little while… <strong>The</strong> only place Jake could be was… Cathal Meat’s butchers.<br />

As Trever entered the house, he heard a strange noise. “Hello!”<br />

he said, his voice echoing around the hallway. As he tried to exit,<br />

he froze. Turning around he saw the door shut and it made<br />

him jump. “Hello… Trever,” came from a voice from the<br />

shadows. Trever ran for the door but Cathal grabbed his<br />

arm and said, “I know why you are here…”. Trever froze again.<br />

“You do, do you?” he said his voice shaking a little.<br />

Cathal began to grin. “Yes…” said Cathal as he started laughing. He laughed so hard he<br />

choked. Trever ran to the basement and shut the door. Trever ran to the other side of the<br />

room panting like a dog. He picked up the phone, but the dial was in a box marked DO NOT<br />

TOUCH. When he opened the box there was Jake’s head…<br />

Trever couldn’t stop staring but he picked up the dial and dialled<br />

999 but the dial read 666. He gasped. <strong>The</strong> cloud was a devil and<br />

now the devil’s number. “Is it just me or is that a coincidence?”<br />

wondered Trever. <strong>The</strong>n he dialled 666 and the dial read 999.<br />

“Yippee!” shouted Trever. Ten minutes later the cops pulled<br />

up with guns and tazers. <strong>The</strong>y arrested Mr Meat. This had been<br />

a scary time for Trever but the moral of his story to you and others is<br />


Page 10


Perry McDaid<br />

<strong>The</strong> tour-guide was prattling on about some demon which prowled the area in and around<br />

the old Grianan fort, milking neighbourhood disappearances and gossip for all their worth.<br />

Marta had heard all these stories before. She sucked a nail with studied disdain, while tourists<br />

milled about the crumbling fort, scaling precipitous sets of steps, admiring the view from the<br />

impressive battlements, and eyeing up the mysterious tunnels.<br />

Again and again the wary guide broke off his lurid descriptions of the fates of supposed<br />

victims of the eponymous ghoul to dissuade the braver adventurers from exploring the<br />

dark passages which honeycombed the great walls, and were rumoured to extend miles<br />

underground – all the way down to the lough.<br />

Marta allowed herself a secret smile. <strong>The</strong> guide might not believe his own patter, but<br />

obviously he was reticent to take any chances with his valuable cargo. When eventually the<br />

group settled down to picnic under the brooding, moss-endowed stone of the old feasting<br />

hall of the clan-chiefs, Marta sat apart from the brightly clothed, camera-toting, tourists and<br />

ignoring the odd surreptitious glance in her general direction, gazes which never really fixed<br />

upon her striking form.<br />

<strong>The</strong> sun was relenting, and permitted moderate campfires caressed the inner walls with<br />

a subdued light, casting flickering shadows which danced eerily just beyond the realm of<br />

clarity.<br />

Marta stretched; stifling a yawn as a hunched figure furtively felt its way along the rim of<br />

darkness towards the tunnels. Its breathing broadcast excited anticipation to any who could<br />

hear.<br />

However, enamoured of a pretty brunette with a short skirt and shorter attention span, the<br />

guide and his rapt audience remained oblivious to that deeper shadow; each stealthy step<br />

bringing it closer to where Marta sat, frozen in a plateau of alertness.<br />

“How do you like your meat?” <strong>The</strong> guide’s double entendres became ever triter, yet still<br />

managed to elicit the required responses. “Where is Han off to?” a female oriental scowled.<br />

“That boy always mischief.” “Not him again,” the guide sighed in exasperation. “I told him to<br />

quit playing silly buggers. Missus Calhoun’s heart isn’t so good.”<br />

“I think he went for a leak, Mom,” Han’s younger brother lied, scanning the battlements with a<br />

hidden smile. This place was so different from Hong Kong. How could a sixteen year old resist<br />

making the most of the ghost stories? Besides, Missus Calhoun was perfectly healthy. <strong>The</strong><br />

guide was being overdramatic. “How many time I tell watch language?” the tormented<br />

mother rebuked. “You say ‘Han need privacy’ – no need rude talk.”<br />

Marta could hear heavy breathing of anticipation from the shadow now, next to her, at the<br />

tunnel opening. <strong>The</strong> shadow was preparing to pounce. <strong>The</strong>re was only a slight rustle as the<br />

overambitious visitor’s neck snapped, and his gaudily packaged corpse dragged deep into<br />

the tunnels. “Demons indeed,” Marta scoffed quietly, scaled talons tearing off pieces of the<br />

would-be prankster’s tender flesh and chewing as she went along. She should know; she had<br />

lived there for centuries.<br />

Page 11

Possession<br />

Sue Divin<br />

He died in A&E. Altnagelvin. A young lad, brought in by paramedics. Ambulance lights<br />

flashing. Seventeen. Not long into the night shift on Hallowe’en.<br />

I witnessed it. Impartial. Perhaps it was chosen as the night for evil. Perhaps because<br />

fireworks masked the gunshots. Folk were heavy into the blue bags, easy evidenced in the<br />

tilted swaggers through Guildhall Square after last orders. His had been a different six pack.<br />

<strong>The</strong> lucky six.<br />

Hovering in the corner, I watched him bleed out in hospital. No ketchup. No pound shop<br />

scarlet fiction. Distant from the revelries of his peers. Crimson rivulets contrasting sharply<br />

with the white tiles and his silence buried in the pointed communications of the medical team<br />

and the flatline tone of the green-blip. I didn’t care. It was not my first time observing the<br />

crossing of that line. I have centuries of experience.<br />

In the carnival costumes there are zombies, skeletons, cowgirls and warlocks. An occasional<br />

Legoman. An assortment of xenophobic politicians. Often, I’ve been mistaken for the Grim<br />

Reaper, but I carry no scythe. No hood. No mask. I don’t hide my presence but am barely<br />

noticed. Rarely commented on. A taboo, you might say. But would you say anything? Would<br />

you? <strong>The</strong> thing is, no-one is scared until I come for them.<br />

Perseverance is my greatest attribute. Hiding in plain sight takes extreme diligence. And I<br />

do revel in the extreme. Hitlers, Stalins, Pol Pots, Bin Ladens. I’ve met them all. Groomed<br />

their tactics. But there, my art is thinly veiled. Greater is my craft in the subtle scourges. <strong>The</strong><br />

foodbank queues. <strong>The</strong> shiver of a rough sleeper. Swallowed cries in unsafe homes.<br />

Two things can blind people. Darkness and light. <strong>The</strong> difference is subtle, but significant.<br />

Those in darkness sense their lack of vision. Seldom those in light. Strangled by the business<br />

of their self-focus, not only are they blind to me, they generate my electricity. My sting.<br />

Of course, I would be vulnerable to exorcism. Some try. <strong>The</strong>ir resilience is to be admired.<br />

Greta Thunberg. Malala Yousafzai. So many. So few. Once, someone wrote a speech about<br />

that. 1940, I believe. That night, I nearly died. <strong>The</strong> thing I got wrong then was being too<br />

obvious. Too visible. But now I rise younger, stronger, in the prime of my resurgence. My<br />

dominance lies in stealth. Like any trained spirit, I possess - my greatest possession being<br />

public consciousness. <strong>The</strong> Grim Reaper can keep his celebrity, but he treads my wake. My<br />

footsteps. <strong>The</strong> fact remains, something about me and, something about you, is dead long<br />

before his shadow melts elongated by anybody.<br />

Look now. Really look. I’m hovering too in the corner of your room. On the edge of your<br />

consciousness. Right where it meets with conscience. So, camouflaged you may have<br />

forgotten my name. You’re not the only one. Even Dickens failed to notice me in A Christmas<br />

Carol. Feel me, cold on your heart. I am the ghost of apathy.<br />

Page 12

<strong>The</strong> Dead Hand<br />

Chris Radcliffe<br />

Through headphones plugged into an old AM radio system, Roman listened to the same<br />

monotonous dotted code that repeated over and over again. A hobby past down to him<br />

from his grandad, Roman spent his evenings scanning through the channels often picking<br />

up transmissions such as taxi dispatchers, kids on walkie talkies and fishermen’s warnings of<br />

incoming storms, but no matter what he intercepted, he always returned to the dotted code.<br />

<strong>The</strong> code had been the object of much debate within the local radio club that his grandad<br />

founded. Dillion, the club’s treasurer claimed it must be Russian and probably a lay over<br />

from the cold War. Long-time members, Tony and John just thought it was an old static<br />

interference. Whereas, Herbert, the old superstitious coot, called it a ghost code.<br />

‘What rubbish you talking?’ Roman asked Herbert when he brought the theory up.<br />

‘C’mon lad, your grandad must have told ye about the ghost codes.’<br />

‘Of course not. My grandad wasn’t an old fool who believed in that kind of nonsense.’<br />

‘Oh, he believed in it alright. In fact, I was there with him one evening when a transmission<br />

came though that scared the lord into the pair of us.’<br />

‘Is that so?’<br />

‘You’re damn right it is.’ Herbert cleared his throat and brought himself closer. ‘It was late<br />

one night in your grandad’s basement. We were listening to some Brits chat about some<br />

commotion in the Bogside before moving onto a few new frequencies. At first it was only<br />

static, but we started to faintly hear something in the background and after a bit of tinkering,<br />

we heard it.’<br />

Hebert took the crucifix from around his neck and held it in his hand. ‘As clear as me chatting<br />

to you now boy, we heard a woman cry. Not any normal cry, now. It was the kind of cry that’s<br />

only made when you’re in the pits of despair. <strong>The</strong> kind ye hear at a young ’un’s funeral. We<br />

tried to get rid of it, but whatever way we turned the dials, the cry remained. I went to turn<br />

the whole thing off, but as I reached for the plug, the crying stopped, and a women’s voice<br />

just whispered, Please, don’t go. Stay with me a little longer. <strong>The</strong>re was no one else on the<br />

transmission. Not a soul. Only me and your grandad and we never said a word. It was like she<br />

knew we were there. So, we stayed, and she went back to the howling until it started to fade<br />

away to nothing but static.’<br />

‘What a load of hogwash.’ Roman replied.<br />

In the months since Herbert’s story, the ‘ghost code’ had been the same as ever. Dull,<br />

repetitive, and comforting. Roman closed his eyes, and turned the volume up, and sat there<br />

thinking off how he first heard it with his grandad until he almost drifted off to that consistent<br />

tone as somewhere, in the background, ever so faintly, someone started to cry.<br />

Page 13

<strong>The</strong> Mystery of Boom Hall<br />

Ciarán Logue<br />

Miss O’Sullivan hadn’t always been known as Winnie the Weasel. It was Conor, after all, who<br />

had come up with the nickname. He knew he’d be hitting a raw nerve if he said it in front of<br />

her again and did exactly that during a telling off one day and was sent to the library to do<br />

lines.<br />

A dusty book caught his eye amongst the haze of boredom; Haunted Derry. As he leaned<br />

over to pull it out, it fell to the floor, open on its back with <strong>The</strong> Mystery of Boom Hall facing<br />

upwards. <strong>The</strong> abrupt appearance of the headmistress, Mrs Hamilton, a woman who noticed<br />

and knew everything, brought a swift end to his diversion.<br />

A brief scan had been enough to leave him spellbound for the rest of the day. <strong>The</strong> girl pining<br />

for her lover, her brooch, a deadly fire. With the adrenaline of adventure and the youthful<br />

curiosity of a cat brewing inside him, he had to see for himself.<br />

He’d managed to rope his friends, Odhrán, Dara and Anthony, into joining him in ducking<br />

through traffic on Halloween night on the walk towards Boom Hall, armed with nothing but<br />

two small torches. Excited chatter had filled the early part of the journey before a nervous<br />

silence crept in as they neared the Foyle Bridge, skulking under its carriageways and past<br />

the graffiti-daubed columns. A muddle of feral youths in a scatter of beer cans and used<br />

fireworks grimaced from the steps. It was a still, moonlit night, interrupted only by the<br />

rustling of leaves and cars zipping by overhead.<br />

“It’s fenced off,” said Conor.<br />

“<strong>The</strong>re’ll be gaps,” replied Anthony, ever confident.<br />

Conor’s curiosity was tempered by his friends’ ignorance; he hadn’t told them about what<br />

he’d read. To them it was a bit of fun. To him it had become more; an obsession.<br />

Anthony found a gap in the fence and marched through the darkness towards a ground-floor<br />

window.<br />

“Dara, gimme a footy, will ye.”<br />

<strong>The</strong> others tagged behind. Guided by the light from Conor’s torch, Anthony hopped into the<br />

room with one hand on the window ledge for support.<br />

“C’mon ye chickens!”<br />

At the moment he spoke, the light from Conor’s torch illuminated a figure stood behind him<br />

in the middle of the room; a girl, dressed in a white shawl, her brooch reflecting in the light.<br />

Odhrán yelped. Dara froze. Conor dropped his torch.<br />

“G’on gimme some light?!” yelled Anthony, oblivious. <strong>The</strong>re came no reply. <strong>The</strong> three<br />

onlookers were diving through the gap in the fence, fired on by the adrenaline of fear.<br />

Anthony leapt from the window into the darkness and the grass below, smacking his ankle off<br />

a rock. Guided only by moonlight, he limped towards the fence and scuttled along the path in<br />

a fog of confusion to find his friends.<br />

<strong>The</strong> figure faded just as quickly as it had appeared. <strong>The</strong>y say ghosts are simply spirits with<br />

unfinished business. Boom Hall had become more intriguing than ever.<br />

Page 14

<strong>The</strong> Monster Invasion<br />

Enya Lynch (age 14)<br />

It was two days before Halloween and Connie Arthurs was planning her costume with her<br />

best friend, Tellina, for the Halloween School Disco.<br />

“How about zombies?”, suggested Tellina.<br />

“No, everybody’s dressing up as that”, replied Connie. “We have to be different!”.<br />

“What about Skeletons, they’re cool!”, says Tellina.<br />

“Yeah! That’s perfect. Sorry, I have to go. I’ll grab the costumes later, cheerio!”<br />

Connie walked downstairs to the smell of her father baking muffins.<br />

“Hey sweetie! I’m leaving these off at Chris’ tomorrow night when you’re at the disco.” Ever<br />

since March when their neighbour, Chris, helped them stock up on toilet rolls for lockdown,<br />

Connie’s dad has been crushing on him.<br />

“How do they smell?”, asked Dad.<br />

Connie took a deep breath.<br />

“Yummy!”<br />

Her dad grinned, “Perfect!”.<br />

“Can you take me to the Halloween shop? I need to buy me and Tellina’s costumes for the<br />

disco”, asked Connie.<br />

“Sure, I’ll take you now” replied Dad.<br />

<strong>The</strong> drive to the Halloween shop was filled with music blasted from the radio. Once they<br />

arrived, the place was packed.<br />

Connie grabbed the costumes and waited in queue.<br />

“Out of my way loser!”. It was Alice. Everybody hated Alice. She thought people would do<br />

anything she said, “I said move!”.<br />

Connie continued to ignore Alice, to her obvious annoyance, and eventually bought the<br />

costumes.<br />

Later that night Connie felt excited, lying in bed, but that excitement wouldn’t last for long…<br />

<strong>The</strong> night of the disco had arrived, and Connie was dressed, ready to go. Her dad drove her<br />

to the disco and she met Tellina at the entrance.<br />

“Ready?” asked Tellina.<br />

“Ready!” declared Connie.<br />

When they opened the door, they were greeted by deafening screams and what appeared to<br />

be green and blue monsters chasing everybody.<br />

“What the hell is happening?”, shouted Tellina, loud enough to be heard over yelps of others.<br />

It was a monster invasion! Connie grabbed the first thing she saw and smacked it over the<br />

head of an approaching monster, killing it instantly.<br />

“Quick Tellina, help!” Alice was absorbed in slime and struggling to breathe. Even though<br />

Connie hated her, she had to help Alice. Tellina whipped out a pocket knife.<br />

“Why do you have that?” Connie asked, concerned,<br />

“You never know when you’ll need one”, replied Tellina.<br />

Tellina cut open the sac of slime and Alice was free.<br />

“Thanks” Alice Mumbled.<br />

<strong>The</strong>y walked away…<br />

“Come on. Don’t leave me”.<br />

“You’ll be fine”, snapped Connie.<br />

“You need me! I can help” remarked Alice.<br />

“Fine”, Connie groaned, reluctantly giving in.<br />

<strong>The</strong> next 20 minutes was filled with fighting, saving (thanks to Tellina’s handy pocket knife)<br />

and many screams from Alice.<br />

Page 15

Just when they thought they’d saved the school, an ear-wrenching bang came from behind<br />

them. Another monster, but bigger! Way bigger. It towered over them…<br />

Slash!<br />

“Nobody hurts my daughter!”. Connie’s dad had slayed the monster.<br />

“Thanks Dad!”, Connie exclaimed.<br />

And just like that, our story has ended. Everybody is saved and Halloween can be enjoyed…<br />

Without any monster interference.<br />

Page 16

<strong>The</strong> Story of Annabelle Willow<br />

Grace Lynch (age 8)<br />

On a hot sunny day, Annabelle Willow was outside sitting against an old oak tree with her<br />

cat, Ginger. Annabelle loved Ginger more than anything. But Annabelle’s life wasn’t so nice.<br />

Her Mum and Dad were dead. Now her Mum’s sister was looking after her. Annabelle’s<br />

Aunt hated her dead sister, so she burnt every photo of her in the house. Cleverly though,<br />

Annabelle had hidden one of the photos just after her Mum died and kept it.<br />

As she sat below the old oak tree, Annabelle held the photograph of her mother in her hand.<br />

She looked up and saw an evil looking raven perched on the branch above her. Suddenly,<br />

it flew down right beside Annabelle. “Shoooo!” she said but the raven never moved, even a<br />

bit. “Urgh!” shouted Annabelle. In a flash, the raven swooped down and snatched the picture<br />

from Annabelle’s hand. “Noooo! Stop, you cheeky bird!” she screamed. But the bird kept<br />

flying away from her. She kept running until she tripped and fell flat on her face. Annabelle<br />

was knocked out.<br />

<strong>The</strong> hours dragged by. Finally, she woke up. She lifted her head to see she was in a shadowy<br />

forest. She got up and looked at her watch – it was just after midnight. <strong>The</strong> trees rustled,<br />

almost like they were whispering to each other. Phantom mist cloaked the tall shadowy trees.<br />

She did not like being there. Chills crawled down her spine. Was there something lurking<br />

under the quiet of the moonlight?<br />

Suddenly, she heard a scream. It sounded like it came from right behind her. Annabelle ran<br />

deeper into the forest. She stopped to see something in the distance and ran until she was<br />

right in front of a gate – an old metal, rusty gate. Annabelle reached out her shaking hand.<br />

‘Creeeeek’, the gate opened. She saw a faint silhouette of a still house. Little did Annabelle<br />

know, but she was in ghost territory. Shaking in fear, Annabelle walked towards the shadowy<br />

house.<br />

She walked in through the side door that lay ajar, unaware that phantom listeners were in<br />

every corner of the house. She was in a kitchen. On the table was a knife covered in what<br />

looked like blood. “Maybe it’s ketchup?” she wondered. She ascended the stairs. ‘Creeeeeeek,<br />

creeeeeeek, creeeeeek’. When she was at the second last step, the air suddenly turned ice<br />

cold. Annabelle could feel her heart thumping in her chest. She was at the top. She could<br />

hear the pacing of footsteps, up and down the landing but there was no one to be seen?<br />

Annabelle was frozen in fear.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n she heard someone whistling a lullaby. Annabelle decided to walk into a room that<br />

happened to be a baby’s nursery. She walked towards the crib. Suddenly she heard a crying<br />

baby but there was no baby to be seen! Annabelle was frightened but she was even more<br />

curious to find out what was happening, so she walked into the next room… a library.<br />

She went towards a desk which had a lit candle on it. On the desk there was also a<br />

handkerchief. On the handkerchief was a red stain which looked, again, like blood. Suddenly,<br />

Annabelle heard a clicking sound almost like a key turning in a lock. It attracted her attention.<br />

She raced down the stairs to check the door but to her disbelief it was locked. How would<br />

she get out? As she was struggling to open the door, something caught her eye. On the<br />

floor lay an old newspaper. She picked it up and read the front page. ‘MOTHER AND CHILD<br />

MURDERED AT MIDNIGHT’. Annabelle paused. She looked at the picture. It was of a woman<br />

holding a baby. In the background was a house. Annabelle almost fainted.<br />

<strong>The</strong> house in the picture was the exact same house that she was standing in! She continued<br />

to read. ‘PEOPLE SAY THE MURDERER IS STILL IN THE HOUSE’. Annabelle threw the<br />

newspaper on the floor and ran into the kitchen. <strong>The</strong> knife on the kitchen table was gone!<br />

Page 17

Annabelle started to panic. Suddenly a hooded figure with a knife in hand was coming<br />

towards her. She ran for her life. Up the stairs. Her foot fell through a step. <strong>The</strong> hooded figure<br />

was fast approaching.<br />

“You’re the murderer from the newspaper!” she yelled. <strong>The</strong> murderer took her knife and<br />

stabbed it through Annabelle’s chest.<br />

Silence fell over the house.<br />

Annabelle died at the scene of the crime.<br />

Her ghost shall live on within the walls of the haunted house, protected by a pitch black<br />

raven.<br />

Page 18

Was it all a dream?<br />

Eimear McAnee<br />

On chilly day in October, Cara was getting ready for school and wondering why she had to wake<br />

up this early. She made some toast and got ready for school. <strong>The</strong>n she called out ‘Bye Mum.’ She<br />

thought it was strange she got no response, but she shook off the strange feeling. When she<br />

arrived at school, she realised there was literally no one there, but the front door was open, and<br />

the lights were on. She shivered as a cold breeze whooshed through her. She quickly walked to<br />

her form room. She was now Year 9 and thought the school was good enough. She didn’t get on<br />

with most of the pupils, but the teachers were nice enough to her. When she entered her form<br />

room there was no sign of life anywhere. ‘Maybe it’s a bank holiday and I just didn’t know,’ she<br />

muttered to no one in particular.<br />

<strong>The</strong>n all of a sudden, she heard a voice softly singing a lullaby and the sky went dark. <strong>The</strong>re was<br />

a distant bang that sounded like two cars colliding and two women screaming, one of which was<br />

the voice of the singer. Cara immediately froze and a shiver ran down her spine when she heard<br />

all of this happen. She was now panicking and was internally debating with herself whether she<br />

should call an ambulance with the phone in the classroom or just get the heck out of there.<br />

She decided to call an ambulance but when she got to where the phone was and tried to dial the<br />

number it wouldn’t work. ‘<strong>The</strong> power must be out,’ she thought to herself. Seeing as her plan of<br />

calling an ambulance didn’t work, she decided the best course of action would be to get the heck<br />

out of here and go home.<br />

She peeked her head out of the door and froze when she saw a ghostly white figure gilding<br />

down to towards her, singing softly. <strong>The</strong> figure seemed to be of a woman in her early thirties<br />

cradling a child. She was wearing what looked to be a beautiful white wedding dress now stained<br />

with blood and there were pieces of glass which impaled her skin which was the colour of<br />

caramel. She was stunningly beautiful, but she gave out a sad aura and her eyes looked haunted.<br />

Cara stood as still as a statue and held her breath while the woman glided past her. <strong>The</strong>n<br />

suddenly the lights flickered, and the woman turned around now, fixing her with a cold stare and<br />

suddenly lunging at her. Cara shrieked and tripped over her own feet and then she suddenly shot<br />

up in her bed, a cry on her lips.<br />

Cara felt relief flood her that it was all a dream. She thought to herself, ‘I’ll make myself a hot<br />

chocolate and watch a movie after that.’ So, she got up out of bed and made herself a steaming<br />

cup of hot chocolate. She made her way to the living room and grabbed a blanket and wrapped<br />

it around herself.<br />

She grabbed the remote and turned on the T.V. She swore her heart stopped when the news<br />

channel came on and she saw a news story about a car crash outside her school. <strong>The</strong>re were two<br />

cars involved, one containing a few dunk men, four in total. <strong>The</strong>y were all seriously injured but<br />

they all survived. That wasn’t what caught Cara’s eye though. <strong>The</strong> part that caught her eye was<br />

who was in the other car. It was a lesbian couple who just got married, and their baby girl. Only<br />

one of the women, the one who was driving, survived. She had a few injures but she was alive<br />

none the less. Unfortunately, her wife and baby weren’t so lucky. <strong>The</strong>y had both died on impact.<br />

<strong>The</strong> wife who had survived was barely conscious after the collision but apparently had said one<br />

thing to the ambulance worker who was helping her ‘You want to know what the worst thing<br />

about this is? Most newlywed couples are on their honeymoon a few days after their wedding,<br />

I’ll be at my wife and child’s grave and my last moments I spent with them will be hearing my<br />

wife singing to our baby girl trying to sooth her into sleep. I’ll miss them both’.’ <strong>The</strong>n she went<br />

unconscious. Cara felt as though her insides were twisting and turning.<br />

She froze when she heard a soft voice behind her say ‘You thought it was all a dream?...’<br />

Page 19


Perry McDaid<br />

It was a twisted old hawthorn, or maybe blackthorn with pronounced knotholes, which<br />

looked for all the world like two eyes and a mouth. <strong>The</strong> remaining knobbly branches<br />

stretched imploringly towards a haughty blue sky, like a starving child of exploitation<br />

reaching for the first world.<br />

<strong>The</strong> summer sun made these emaciated limbs appear pitifully welcoming, and the three<br />

boys hunted scurrying woodlice, heaving at bits of looser bark to prise the poor creatures<br />

out of dark crevices, eager for that satisfying crunch provided when the robust exoskeletons<br />

collapsed under the pressure of hand-held stones, carefully selected and retained for that<br />

purpose.<br />

“We’d better go home,” Gortai urged, feeling a nip in the air which would announce the wane<br />

of another day of boyish adventure; a casual check on the barren haw from the meadow<br />

affording him the opportunity to detect the dark gathering of rain clouds along the skyline<br />

directly behind the growth’s scrawny silhouette.<br />

“Looks as if those branches were arms. What if the tree were alive?” Ciaran suggested.<br />

“Naw, sure there’s other trees like it; they’d all have to be alive.”<br />

“What if they were but are playing dead because they’re afraid of this one,” Ciaran insisted,<br />

warming to the fantastic. “Or,” Gortai joined in the game of fancy, scrutinizing the old stump<br />

with new eyes, “she was a witch turned into a tree by wizards as punishment for something?”<br />

“Like freezing the other trees, which used to be able to walk around, and can only wave their<br />

arms now.”<br />

Ciaran eyed the avenue of larch, beech, oak, sycamore and chestnut with a certain, if<br />

transient, nervousness. “Maybe we’ve wakened her by picking her scabs,” Ciaran continued<br />

in a subdued timbre, automatically accepting the gender, still eyeing the thirty foot trees as<br />

they swayed in the strengthening gusts.<br />

And she’s casting an ancient storm-spell, so she can get the water she needs, to get the<br />

energy to break the wizard’s spell completely.” <strong>The</strong>y stood silent in a sudden drizzle; goose<br />

pimples announcing the creepy feeling sneaking up on both of them. It was a dread they<br />

might have described as sinister or even menacing, had they been older.<br />

Now that it had been said aloud, the raised limbs of what had once merely been a wizened<br />

play-frame with attitude; really did look as if they were calling the storm to the tree, and the<br />

clouds were obeying. <strong>The</strong> veiling of the sun changed the angle of light. <strong>The</strong> mouth knot-hole<br />

seemed to leer at them. <strong>The</strong>y stood mesmerized for a while, oblivious to the aerosol rain<br />

which infiltrated their clothing.<br />

“My granny will be worrying I’ll catch cold,” Ciaran curtly informed Gortai out of the silence.<br />

“Yeah,” Gortai returned just as brusquely, “my dinner’s probably ready.” <strong>The</strong>y ran to the hole<br />

in their neighbour’s back fence, struggled through, and ran all the way home.<br />

Condensed excerpt from McDaid, P. (2012) Pixels: <strong>The</strong> Cause and the Cloud Cuckoo, Derry, Narwhal Publishing, pp.<br />

134-6.<br />

Page 20

Amber<br />

Meaghan McKee (age 11)<br />

In the dead of night, creatures crawled as a wizened hand grasped daylight within its freezing<br />

cold, bony fingers. <strong>The</strong> night was so dark, blacker than black. Even the bravest souls would<br />

shiver and shake in this night. Large trees loomed over graves like skyscrapers. Dead souls<br />

roamed the world, crying out, scaring nearby listeners.<br />

That icy morning, the condensation had trickled down the window like pure crystal tears.<br />

Amber Grace Willow had risen from her bed and looked out of her window as a crow glided<br />

past - his murder soon followed, as did hers…<br />

Amber shivered as she slowly walked out of her room. She pulled her old baggy sleeves over<br />

her hands like mittens. Light crept through the curtains of the hall. Amber blinked as her<br />

eyes got used to dawn, and she let out a bellowing yawn. As she tiptoed into the kitchen, she<br />

stared at the clock. It was six am. She usually awoke early when no one was awake because<br />

it felt quieter at this time. Amber decided to get dressed and go on a walk. She ran up the<br />

stairs and into her bedroom and threw on her neon blue beanie. Her patched up jumper<br />

covered her bruised hands. Her old ripped jeans just about reached her ankles. In less than a<br />

minute she was gone.<br />

Slowly, she walked down the street with her hands in her pockets. It was winter so the sun<br />

was only coming up. Her eyes glistened as she watched the beautiful sunrise. Amber stared<br />

deep into the woods to try to see. She stumbled into the darkness as it swirled around her.<br />

Tall trees loomed. Branches snapped. What was that?! Something latched on to Amber’s leg.<br />

Quickly, she tore the thing off and dashed away. She ran so far and so fast that she didn’t pay<br />

attention to where she was going. THUD! Amber tripped over a piece of wood. Light faded.<br />

Everything went black.<br />

Amber awoke in the middle of nowhere. She stood up and to her horror she was in front of a<br />

random, shady looking hotel. <strong>The</strong> old, large, rusty letters read out “Sullivan Savoy”. <strong>The</strong>y hung<br />

there like lifeless bodies - some had even fallen off. Amber shivered as she realised, it was<br />

night! How long was she out for? She wished she had stayed home. She was so cold, Amber<br />

rushed into the building. Time felt like it was frozen when the door slammed shut. Quickly,<br />

she got to the door and held the handle as if it was a million pounds. <strong>The</strong> door didn’t budge.<br />

Tears streamed down her face as she collapsed to the cold, icy floor. She lay there in her own<br />

sorrow. Drowning in sadness. Amber dared the ground to swallow her up. “Why me?!” she<br />

thought to herself.<br />

AAOOOHHHHHHOOO! Amber looked around, suddenly a bony slimy hand grabbed her<br />

wrist. Amber let out a shriek of terror as another skeleton hand grabbed her other wrist. <strong>The</strong><br />

floorboards broke in two as she fell into a never-ending (or so it felt) hole of hands. After a<br />

lifetime, she landed on a leather chair.<br />

Black surrounded her.<br />

Buckles tied her to a chair. A glitchy unknown voice spoke. “Hello, welcome to Sullivan Savoy,<br />

founded in 1846, this recording is from 1918 but still is found true. Sullivan Savoy - scary? Not<br />

really. Spooky? Not really. Bone quaking, heart racing, limb clutching? YES!” Amber’s eyes as<br />

widened as wide as could be. Her mouth opened as if to let out a scream. “Welcome to your<br />

doom!” boomed the voice.<br />

Chains clanked. Skelton bones scuttled. <strong>The</strong> darkness cleared like a phantom fog. No words<br />

were spoken but an echo fell on the now still house. Staring at the moonlit floor, Amber<br />

scurried away as fast as she could. Noise knocked upon the walls. <strong>The</strong> ghastly ghost and<br />

ghouls let out a lonely cry as they listened and watched.<br />

Page 21

Mr. Tickles<br />

Martin Wilson<br />

<strong>The</strong>re is a man who lives under my bed and his name is Mr. Tickles. Mr. Tickles<br />

is no ordinary man – Mr. Tickles has an insatiable appetite, although his tastes<br />

are rather specific. I call him Mr. Tickles because when he is hungry, he lets<br />

me know by tickling me in the middle of the night. I have never seen Mr.<br />

Tickles’ full form. His face, bathed in the darkness of my bedroom is only<br />

illuminated by his glowing, crimson red eyes. His fingers, dipped in moonlight<br />

are long and wiry, his nails sharp and pointed.<br />

<strong>The</strong> night I met Mr. Tickles, he woke me from my sleep by tickling my feet. I<br />

jolted awake, sitting up in bed. My mouth opened to scream when I saw the<br />

scarlet eyes, but nothing came out. He raised a crooked finger to his lips.<br />

Trembling, my body was paralyzed with fear. He did not speak but simply<br />

opened his mouth and pointed in. I nodded in acknowledgement of what he<br />

wanted, and he smiled. I heard the bed creak as he scuffled back under the<br />

frame into the inky blackness.<br />

On the night I left an apple at the foot of my bed, it was still there the next<br />

morning. <strong>The</strong> night I left a plate of cookies at the foot of my bed, they had<br />

gone stale by morning. On the night I left a chicken breast at the foot of my<br />

bed, I heard meat being chewed and spat across the room. I woke the next<br />

morning to a poultry massacre.<br />

<strong>The</strong> following night I left nothing at the foot of my bed and Mr. Tickles was<br />

not pleased. But instead of tickling me, I felt the duvet shift, and the cold<br />

body of Mr. Tickles slide into bed beside me. My body gripped itself in fear.<br />

His icy breath prickled the hairs on the back of my neck as he lay pressed<br />

against my back.<br />

A chill ran through my body as he let out a grunt and then whispered into my<br />

ear with a deep, raspy wheeze; “You are much too small.” <strong>The</strong> duvet shifted<br />

again, and I felt Mr. Tickles slither back out of my bed into the confines of<br />

darkness. Silent tears blinded my vision and dripped to the now saturated<br />

pillow.<br />

<strong>The</strong> following night, I invited my friend Jessica over for a sleepover. On the<br />

night Jessica slept at the foot of my bed, Mr. Tickles ate well. <strong>The</strong>re were no<br />

screams, simply noises of flesh being torn from the bone and satisfied grunts<br />

by a well-fed Mr. Tickles. As he finished his meal, I knew it would only be a<br />

matter of time before he grew hungry again. I have lots of friends at school<br />

- many of them I don’t need - certainly not as much as Mr. Tickles needs his<br />

food. After all, his tastes are rather specific.<br />

Page 22

spooky house<br />

Anita Jackson<br />

I grew up in a terrace of houses which was just beside a very large stately<br />

house with a gate-lodge. For many years I walked past with my Mum, and<br />

the lady who lived in the small house was always out cleaning the windows<br />

and brushing the path. I later found out it was because she loved to talk<br />

to people passing. Her and my Mum spent ages chatting, especially on a<br />

Saturday afternoon.<br />

Years passed and I moved away when I got married. One day I was visiting<br />

my Mum who lived still in our family home in the terrace. To get to my Mum’s,<br />

I had to walk pass the gate-lodge. Feeling nostalgic, I glanced up to see if<br />

the gate-lodge still looked the same. To my utter surprise the lady who lived<br />

there was out cleaning and called to me. I could not believe it! I went up to<br />

her and she was asking all about my work and how married life was. She told<br />

me she watched me go past her door as a child, then teenager and then as an<br />

adult. We chatted for a long while and I was so surprised how she didn’t look<br />

any different after all the years. I heard a shout and saw the ladies husband<br />

wave to me.<br />

I told my Mum who I was just chatting to and she looked in shock at me and<br />

said I could not have been talking to the lady, both her and her husband had<br />

died nearly 15 years ago! I thought maybe my Mum was teasing me, but, then<br />

I remembered that the lady was wearing the same nylon coat she wore when<br />

outside cleaning all those years ago! How can this be? Mum said that they<br />

had both been killed in a car accident and the house has been empty ever<br />

since.<br />

I told my Mum that the house was perfectly painted with clean windows<br />

and drive! She said that this was impossible. Together we put on our coats<br />

and walked the short distance to the gate-lodge. My stomach flipped when<br />

indeed, when we reached the house, it was empty, dilapidated and dirty.<br />

I couldn’t speak; I was totally shocked. What had I just witnessed?! What<br />

was happening to me? How did I have the conversation just a short while<br />

ago with these two people? Just then, another neighbour of my mother’s<br />

neighbours, Mr Anderson, came along and stopped to talk to us. Mum told<br />

him what had happened. Mr Anderson just smiled and said I was one of the<br />

lucky ones, that the couple did not just talk to anyone, but only the people<br />

who they liked. He said he could tell me stories from others who have<br />

had these chats. Mum was not too pleased as she had spent a lot of time<br />

talking to the couple for many years and they had never appeared to her. Mr<br />

Anderson reiterated that they only spoke to people they liked!!!!!<br />

Page 23

Lady Labyrinth<br />

Brian Hasson<br />

I stand alone. It’s dark. I can’t see anything - but I do see my whole body,<br />

I’m watching myself! Again, I look but all I see is a thick heavy mist all<br />

around; even my feet can’t be seen. A blind fear now. I’m afraid to move<br />

as I’m unaware of my surroundings. I hear the tribal wailing of the ghost<br />

fiddles playing in the distance; a trembling starts to vibrate through<br />

me from the souls of my feet up. Maybe it’s my mind playing tricks -<br />

but why would my mind play tricks…wait…why am I doing this…? Who<br />

am I even talking to? Oh shit, I’m outta here. Hesitantly, I move a step<br />

forward; I feel there is someone right behind me, a breath can be seen<br />

but not heard. I move again. <strong>The</strong>y move too. I start to run, soon I realise I<br />

can see. I’m in a forest with lots of old trees, erie and overhanging, they<br />

look at me as if I’m not welcome there. Although my pathway is clear,<br />

I focus my eyes on the path before me - afraid to even look sideways.<br />

Careful not to trip I watch where I place my feet in between the roots<br />

of the trees; some are narrow and thin while others thick and great in<br />

strength. <strong>The</strong>n, all of a sudden, I don’t feel it anymore; there’s a complete<br />

calm, no trembling, no heartbeat, no breaths. Just peace. It’s like light<br />

at the end of the…shit I spoke too soon. My heart races and I run again.<br />

My breath grows heavier and heavier. I can’t keep running. It’s not my<br />

legs but the ferociousness of the beat of my heart - it’s going to get me,<br />

I’m sure of it. Something is clipping at my heels; my heart beats louder<br />

and my breath still grows heavy. I see no end and no help is arrivi…again<br />

it’s just disappeared and I feel safe. Did I even move? I open my eyes.<br />

Sometimes I don’t like where my mind takes me.<br />

Page 24

facilitated by<br />

Anne McMaster

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