1st Place: Carla’s Crusade to Creaven by Ashley Harvey
“What flavor did you get?” Dustin asked before sipping from his Big Gulp.
“Blue flavor, like always,” Carla responded.
Chad and Heather were walking ahead of them, snacks in hand.
“Do you think he’s ever gonna realize?” Dustin asked.
“Realize what?” Carla asked in turn.
“That Heather has a huge crush on him.”
Carla gave a small laugh, then explained: “Heather has liked Chad since the 7th grade. I
think if he would ever notice, he already would’ve.”
Dustin thought for a moment. “Well, maybe that’s a good thing. Chad isn’t exactly known
for how great of a boyfriend he is.”
“Or for how great of a football player he is?” Carla retorted, hoping to make Dustin
Dustin gave a small laugh, and said: “I wonder how he’s handling being benched. I don’t
think it’s ever happened before. His dad’s legacy usually shields him from it, even when he’s
having an “off-season.”
Carla remembered that Chad had always been a crybaby, throwing tantrums whenever he
didn’t get his way. The only difference was in kindergarten he would pout in a corner; now, he
uses his fists. Carla shuddered at remembering the photo of the holes in his wall.
Chad suddenly turned around and announced: “We’re skipping the football game, it’d
probably be lame anyway.” Chad stopped and stared at everyone for a moment, who were all
still. “Let’s go,” he commanded, with Heather quick on his trail like a puppy. Carla and Dustin
exchanged glances, deciding whether they should follow or ditch them. Either way, they would
still be together, which gave Carla a warm feeling that she couldn’t quite place. They ended up
following Chad and Heather mindlessly while talking until they realized they were in the old
graveyard across from the 7-Eleven.
“Um, Chad, why are we in the graveyard? It’s so creepy here. Why don’t we just go to
the game instead?” Heather asked, unsure of how Chad would respond.
“Stop being such a scaredy cat for once, Heather. It’s just a graveyard.” Chad ridiculed.
Dustin looked over at Carla, who appeared anxious, her eyes wide staring at the graves.
He decided to stand up for Heather. “I don’t think it’s such a good idea to hang around in a
graveyard, either.” He looked at Carla for a moment, then back to Chad. “We can still go to the
football game and cheer you on even if—”
“Stop.” Chad commanded. Everyone else froze as they watched Chad’s fists clench, his
face tense and a visible vein in his neck. “Don’t say another word.”
Dustin saw how scared the girls were, and tried to take charge of the situation. He said
calmly, “Chad, drop the fists. There’s no need for that here. Why don’t you just calm down—”
Suddenly, Chad aggressively kicked the nearest grave, unleashing his anger. Shocked,
Carla and Dustin both gasped. Heather, spooked, retreated into herself. He paused for a second
after the first blow, breathing heavily. Then, he continued beating the grave. Carla watched with
wide eyes, her jaw dropped. She wanted to stop him. Disrespecting the dead was never
admirable, and she thought about her own brother, and how he was constantly disrespected
despite her attempts to stop it. But she was afraid of what Chad might do if he were spoken back
When Chad was finally finished with the grave, it was broken: pieces of stone scattered
around the site, the text now unintelligible, although Carla hadn’t noticed if it had been before he
got to it. He heaved quick, heavy breaths.
Dustin used the calm as an opportunity to call Chad out: “Having fun with your temper
tantrum?” he asked nonchalantly. “It didn’t need to end this way. We could have just left.” he
Chad swiftly swung at Dustin without any warning. Dustin easily dodged it. Chad knew
that, whether he liked to admit it or not, Dustin was stronger than him. Now Chad was the one to
retreat, crossing his arms and huffing.
Carla now found the courage to speak: “Why don’t we just get out of here?” Then, she
quickly added “ I’m sure if anyone saw us here we’d all be in big trouble,” in an almost whisper
to save face.
The car ride was silent. Chad’s outburst had ruined the mood of the evening. However,
Heather was determined to ensure that the fouled vibes were only temporary.
When Dustin parked the car along the street in front of Carla’s almost vacated residency,
Heather unexpectedly pulled up behind him. She got out of the car and beckoned Chad to do the
“The night is not over yet, guys! Let’s have some more fun before we get yelled at for
breaking curfew!” Heather exclaimed. Carla was unsure what she meant by “more fun,” but was
more concerned that Heather and Chad were already starting on the cobblestone path toward the
front door. As Carla began to exit the car to join them, Dustin gently pulled her back into the car
by her denim sleeve.
“Are you sure about this?” Dustin asked. The look on his face told it all: he was
genuinely concerned about them all hanging out in the house together where Carla intended to
spend the night alone, especially after the earlier altercation in the graveyard, finally able to
gather her thoughts and potentially some closure. Regardless, Heather and Chad were not part of
Carla undecidedly nodded her head, and with that, Dustin turned the key and pulled it out
of the ignition.
“I’m ready when you are.”
Carla tried to stifle a smile, appreciative of his supportive role this night. They both got
out of the car and walked up to the house, stances close to each other.
Carla was surprised to find that the door had been unlocked, as Heather and Chad had
already entered the house. It was strange; Carla and her mom were always keen on keeping the
doors locked—whether they were keeping someone out or in.
They walked into the parlor, which was still fully decorated: green velvet sofas, warm,
brown-hued coffee tables with coasters left on them depicting Carla and Aiden’s old artwork, the
stuffed cat adorn above the fireplace. Carla winced at the reminder of Chia’s “accident.”
They all sat around the fireplace on the cream-colored carpet and engaged in teenage
drama-filled banter until Heather exclaimed, “Let’s play truth or dare!”
Carla had always hated truth or dare and avoided it at parties. After all, it was only a way
for girls to hear the newest gossip and for guys to make “justified” advances on the girls they
Carla zoned out as everyone else took their turns and only came back to reality when
Heather snapped in her face for her attention. She picked truth, as it was always the safer option
seeing as she could not ease her way out of the game entirely. Unluckily, Chad had a truth
prepared for her that she was not ready to face.
“Tell us what really happened to your brother.”
The room fell silent. Even the crackling fireplace seemed to hush at this moment. Carla
was stunned. She felt betrayed: like he had broken an unspoken rule.
Heather was the first to scold Chad: she lightly punched him in the shoulder and
whispered, “What is wrong with you?”
Then, it was Dustin. He didn’t directly address Chad at first other than giving him the
worst glare he had probably ever seen in his life, then harshly muttered, “Not cool, Chad.”
Afterward, he turned to Carla and softly said something only she would have been able to hear.
She was dissociating again, and she knew it. Then, there was a knock at the door.
It was strange, the knock on the door. She was sure everyone knew not to come to this
house—even potential homebuyers, who were warned with the rumors of what happened. Carla
silently made her way to the door, wondering if they were about to be in trouble for the events at
Carla swung open the door—it was so heavy and soundproof that it always swung wide
open with the autumn wind. There was no one there. Carla sighed and closed the door, convinced
that it must have been some delinquents trying to further ruin her last night.
Then there was a knock on the door again, only louder this time.
Carla swung open the door once again, and this time frustratingly shouted, “What do you
want?” but to no avail. She shut the door again.
A third knocking: the most aggressive out of the three. Carla grew frightened, as she was
familiar with this kind of knocking. But then she decided that she would not be afraid this time.
She swung open the door expecting nothing again, but a visitor was standing there this
time—and not one that anyone would be excited to see.
It flew into the house through Carla. As it approached the group, which was still sitting in
a broken circle on the floor, all members were utterly speechless. It stopped in the spot where
Carla had been sitting, and with one swift motion, flung Chad into the open fireplace.
He screamed in agony as he caught ablaze, the orange fire engulfing him. His skin started
to sear, and eventually, none was left: he was burnt to a crisp.
Carla could only manage to stand in the open doorway, appalled by what she had
witnessed. Heather screamed as she watched Chad burn. Then, she and Dustin both ran.
The figure, which slowly gained a more physical form, chased them out of the parlor and
into the rest of the main floor. Dustin ran out of the house through the kitchen’s glass sliding
doors leading to the porch with Heather on his trail—only, she was too slow.
With another swift motion, the figure caught Heather as she tried to run out the
transparent doors with the cord of the landline phone attached to the wall and strangled her with
it. She struggled, gasping for air and grasping the wire, but it would not budge; she could not
outlive the wrath of the figure.
Dustin ran into the woods behind the house, with no thoughts in his mind except running.
His sports background and adrenaline rush helped him, but it was not enough to allow him to
escape the impossible creature.
It swiftly crept up on him, now-visible feet dragging upon the leaves-covered earth. With
another swift motion, a large tree branch fell from its perch and hit Dustin square on the head.
Carla stood at the window at the end of the stairs on the second floor and watched the branch fall
with Dustin falling down with it, her stomach dropping. Then, she realized the figure was on its
way back to the house, moving slowly, taunting her, small twigs and whatnot sticking out of its
hair and clothing. She was the next—and final—victim.
Carla quickly searched for a hiding place, running past all the rooms in the hall without
thinking. Now, the only place left for her to hide was the master bedroom. She knew this never
usually worked out in the movies she watched with Aiden through her fingers covering her face,
but she rolled herself under the bed; it was the only suitable place she could quickly get into
without making much noise.
Carla tried to steady her breathing, as that was usually the cause of girls’ demise in the
movies. She hated horror movies, but only watched them because Aiden enjoyed them and
preferred her company. She began to internally manifest being the last girl, that she would walk
out of this alive, even if she was the only one.
Then, the footsteps began. Or were they footsteps? Carla couldn’t be sure what they were,
but she knew that they were sounds from no friend of hers. She could hear them getting closer,
and closer, until she saw them. Dragging its pointed toes on the floor, the feet grew closer to
where Carla was hiding. For the first time in months, possibly even years, Carla prayed; she
begged for mercy, unsure who she was begging to, but hoped that someone would listen, anyone,
and help her get out of there. But maybe she wasn’t specific enough.
The figure let out a tapping sound, almost like a clock. Carla was not sure how it was
making the sounds, but she did not let it startle her. And then she heard it—the figure started
calling her name. Carla, Carlaaaa. Only, it wasn’t in a voice she expected to hear: not a muffled,
almost unintelligible sound, not a voice that sounds like it needs to be cleared, not even a
monstrous voice that she’s heard in the movies. No, it was the voice of her late brother.
Carla gasped—her fatal mistake.
She was suddenly dragged out from under the bed by her hair, screaming for mercy at the
figure. Its hands were contorted into claws, its skin white as snow, and somewhat slimy, like a
slug or a snail missing its home. Its clothes were not the old, raggedy white dress she was
expecting—rather, they almost seemed reminiscent of hers: the mismatched socks, acid-wash
denim jeans and jacket, checkered Vans, a Cher t-shirt. She screamed, and cried, and tried to
throw herself about, but to no avail—no one was coming to help her. And she had a deep gut
feeling that no one would.
Carla never stopped resisting during what felt like an eternity of her being dragged to her
doom. When she realized she was finally let go of, she realized where she was, and subsequently,
where this all started: the graveyard.
Before she could even give a second thought, Carla was thrashed into an open grave with
a demolished headstone, dirt quickly filling in the space surrounding her. The insects made her
skin crawl, the somewhat muddy dirt was suffocating, she could already feel the maggots trying
to consume her. With her last thought, Carla breathed an almost relieved breath—her last one.
2nd Place: Flames by Jacob Nash
Aidan sat in front of the fireplace in his living room, watching a small spark of fire spring
to life. The spark spread across the gasoline-soaked logs, neatly stacked in a pyramid. As the
flames began to rise, Aidan looked around the room. It had been a while since it had felt this
small. The wind shrieked outside. Aidan threw another log into the fire in response. The act
became routine after a while.
He pulled his wallet out of his pocket and removed a few small photos. It had been three
months since he and Ena broke up. He wasn’t sure if she had moved on yet. The pictures
immortalized their time together. He looked through each picture – the two during the Fourth of
July, the two at a beach party, the two having dinner at a ritzy restaurant. He stopped when he
got to the last picture, which was him and Ena curled up together in front of the fireplace. Aidan
compared his living room to the one captured in the picture. Nothing had really changed, save
for Ena’s absence. However, this was enough to make the room feel much darker and colder.
Aidan absentmindedly tossed another log into the fire.
The blaze roared, growing bigger and brighter with each new log. Aidan wondered how
long he could keep the flames going. How much could the fire eat before it chokes itself out,
leaving nothing but cinders? It was like a game to Aidan, who sought some fruitless way to pass
the time. He looked at the last photo again. This was the last time Ena made him feel anything.
Aidan’s last traces of joy were held captive in a two-by-three inch piece of paper. Aidan’s eyes
welled up, and the picture became sullied with slick, shiny drops of liquid.
He went to grab another log, but as he turned, a spark leapt out of the fireplace. It
landed on the rug, which quickly caught on fire. Aidan dropped the log in surprise, which was
immediately engulfed. The flames spread throughout the room, much faster than Aidan had
seen any fire spread. The entire room was set ablaze in less than a minute, completely trapping
Aidan in an inferno. Aidan could only clutch his pictures close to his chest and wait to be
immolated. The fire grabbed onto his hair, his clothes, his skin, and it refused to let go. Aidan
belonged to the flames now. As a blanket of crimson wrapped around his body, he tried once
again to feel something – regret, sorrow, pain – but he couldn’t feel a thing.
Ena looked one last time at the picture she was holding. It was a picture of herself,
curled up with Aidan in his living room. It was taken a few months ago. She threw it in her
fireplace, where it was swiftly reduced to cinders.
3rd Place: Cemetery by Logan Hampsey
making it through the cemetery is my next task.
my broken-down, worn-out shoes won’t last.
i used to be scared walking through empty souls.
the cold, old, moldy graves and tombs
lay – no movement in sight,
except when i walk through, of course.
through the cemetery we go.
the smell of rotten corpses,
the darkness of the sky above,
no other cemetery is like it.
whoever dares enter must know their value.
no living, breathing lifeforms in sight.
i’ve never been inside the haunted house next door –
all i know is that there are demons inside…
it’s the only place they are welcomed,
unless they are in my head.
there are always warm, crimson splatters of blood
on all the walkways and all the tombstones.
they all gather around the cemetery –
all demons, all supernatural.
sacrifices must be made.
so petrifying that no mortal could comprehend. the
cemetery can unite our souls, or break them.
bloodthirsty intentions roaming around the boneyard.
once one finishes walking through the cemetery, they
are never the same.
nothing ever remains normal again.
they even wake up one day and find themselves
buried deep in the ground, alongside the ones before them.
the dead do not play,
the living will have to pay.
all troubles will resurface again.
once you decide your fate,
the cemetery will take all your pain away.
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