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I’m excited to announce the winners of the “worst nightmare” contest.  Many thanks to all who entered! It was a really hard decision – there were so many wonderfully creepy/scary/interesting/creative entries – but, in the end, I had to decide.  Congratulations to the grand-prize winner, Chantel C. A minor character in the sequel to WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE will be named after her (RETURN TO THE DARK HOUSE is slated for a June 2014 release.) Congratulations to the runner-up prize winners: Emie J., Olivia H., and Jolene H.  Please check out their winning essays here:


BY Chantel Coughlin

My nightmare begins as I am putting my five-year-old brother to bed. He looks up at me with big brown eyes and asks me to tuck his blankets tighter, despite how muggy it is in the house on this hot August night. I do as he asks, giving him a kiss on the forehead, and make my way to the door, turning off the light as I go. Before I can make it back into the hall, he calls me back. He asks me to check his closet – he still believes in the boogeyman. I smile at him, and though I leave the light off, I turn and make my way to his closet, assuring him that there is nothing to be scared of.

As I’m reaching for the knob, he tells me there is a boy hiding in there. I can’t help but laugh a little as I twist the knob and pull the door open a few inches. I hear him gasp in fear, but as the door swings wide to reveal a mess of clothes, board games, and matchbox cars, I don’t see anything out of the ordinary.

I’m about to shut the door when I hear something move in the back of the closet. As I separate the clothes hangers and push aside a heap of stuffed animals to investigate, I find the source of the noise. It’s my brother. He is sitting in the back of the closet. He looks up at me with terror in his eyes and whispers, “There’s a little boy in my bed.”

I gasp and stumble backward, my heart racing a mile a minute, tripping over who knows what, in my attempt to get out of the closet – not taking my eyes off the little boy for a second. How can it be that my brother is both in his bed and in his closet? I reach up, my arm flailing around groping for the pull chain to turn on the closet light. I knock loose more games and toys on the top shelf, but I find it. I pull so hard on the string that it comes off in my hand, but at least the light is on; and now that it is, I can see that this boy in the closet is not my brother. While they look similar, the boy curled up in the corner of the closet looks deformed somehow. The left side of his face is droopy – like someone who has suffered a stroke. The other side of his face has a sinister grin, and it’s terrifying. I begin to scream, still trying to get back into the bedroom, back to my real brother, though I’m tangled in clothes that have fallen off their hangers. The other brother opens his crooked mouth and as a dry laugh escapes his throat, it sounds as though the noise is coming from everywhere and nowhere at once. He lunges at me, and then I wake up. 


RUNNER UP WINNERS (in no particular order)

By Olivia Hollar

I’m walking through the woods late at night with the smell of dirt in the air and the sound of dead leaves crunching under my feet on a freshly made trail.  After walking for a couple minutes, I hear someone or something behind me.  A twig breaks somewhere close by.  I hear and feel something following me.  I quicken my pace and glance behind me to see if I can determine what is making the noise.  I find a bunch of logs covered in moss, against a huge boulder on the side of the trail.  Since I’m out of breath and still don’t know if anything is really following me or if it is my imagination, I jump behind the logs, pulling myself up against them as close as I can. With the boulder behind me and the logs in front of me, I feel invisible to anything or anyone coming up the trail.  Luckily, in my hiding place, I can make out the pathway by looking through several cracks in the logs.