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Challenge #2

  • October 7, 2014
    Ah, the ghosts and goblins are to be coming out soon, and with them, the second challenge has risen from the grave courtesy of our winner, Adrienne Lewis! Here's this month's challenge!

    Genre can be horror or paranormal
    5000 word count limit
    The character will be named Shay McDaniel. She's a little skeptical about the paranormal, but likes to read anything about it for entertainment.

    Beyond that, it's all up to you! Want a funny little ghost like casper around? Go for it! Want dracula to suddenly pop up and twilight-esque romance in the horror? Do it! I look forward to all your submissions, and may the ghosties stay far away from you while you write! Deadline, again, is by the end of the month.
  • Member
    October 9, 2014
    Shay McDaniel, sensible librarian by day, part time investigative reporter in her spare time. This weekend, she was taking part in a story about the local paranormal society and they were going to investigate a supposedly haunted centuries old asylum. She wasn't phased by the stories she'd read about it, though she did love a good ghost story, she didn't really believe in them. Her parents were quite practical in her upbringing, and well, let's face it, ghosts just weren't practical.

    So, here she was at dusk in front of Boomer Asylum with a team of paranormal investigators waiting to enter the place, where they would stay the entire weekend. They had all sorts of gadgets with them and she had her recorders, batteries, notepads and mac, not to mention her iPhone and flashlight (solar powered with battery backup). The team consisted of Jay Snood, lead investigator and dead ringer for Don Knotts; Patty Pruit, technician who sort of looked like Goldie Hawn; and then her favorite, Johnny Depp look-a-like Peter Primsworthy, paranormal expert and a supposed psychic (ok she didn't buy that psychic crap either).

    The front doors were rusty and creaked loudly as they entered, sending echoes throughout the abandoned building. They kicked up some dust as they walked, making Shay sneeze. The team went about setting up some equipment while she took some pictures of the downstairs rooms. The more she explored further down the hallway, into the interior of the asylum, the darker it got and eventually, she needed her flashlight.

    The rooms were filled with cobwebs and she could see spiders scurrying out of sight as the flashlight illuminated their hiding spots. She hated spiders! Abhorred the filthy beasts. She was at room 11 when she heard a noise from further down the hall. Pointing her light in that direction, she noticed footprints in the dust and figured a member of the team had come down and was exploring this area, so she went to see who it was. She followed the footprints to room 13. When she looked in, no one was there.

    Figuring these were from earlier, she decided to go back to the main area and meet up with the team to explore. It was later then she expected as it was already pitch black outside when she reached the main area. Everyone was in a group, deciding who would pair up to explore the various sections. This would make it safer and allow them to explore more of this huge asylum. As luck would have it, she was paired with Peter.

    They explored the north and west wings without much happening. Peter's gizmos would ring off now and then and he would say he sensed an entity nearby, but as far as Shay was concerned, there was nothing to prove that this place was haunted nor in the existence of ghosts. She still wasn't sure if these paranormal investigators just set of their devices on their own for their show. After all, they needed ratings to get money for advertisers.

    “Honestly, Peter, I really don't believe in ghosts, paranormal encounters or whatever you want...,” she said as she turned to face him and was stopped mid-sentence. Over Peter's shoulder, directly behind him, she saw a man. Her eyes had to be deceiving her though because she could see the wall through him.

    The man was dressed in a black, old style suit and wore a top hat. He sported an evil looking grin and leaned in toward Peter, as though blowing in his ear. Peter, seeing the look on Shay's face said, “Don't worry, he's just being mischievous.”

    “I don't know what you're talking about, Peter,” she said, convincing herself that it was just her imagination playing tricks on her.
    Peter could tell that she was struggling with what she had seen so he let it go and continued to investigate, recording with his EVP. Shay was bending down to see an old photo of a man that looked very familiar. Peter heard a chuckle from behind him. As he turned to look, Shay shot up.

    “You jackass! How dare you goose me!”, Shay was livid.

    Peter was trying to explain he hadn't done it but she would hear none of it and stormed off into the next room, alone. He decided not to follow since she was so mad.

    Shay happened to run into room 13. She was so upset, she didn't notice that the door closed behind her and that her breath was showing as the room got colder and colder. She felt a hand on her shoulder and turned, expecting to see Peter. She instead saw the man from the old photo. Her mind couldn't comprehend what was happening and for an instant, she was unable to move.

    Morgan Stimble, incarcerated to Boomer Asylum for a “jack the ripper” style killing spree was standing before her. Her mind had finally put together the image with her research she had done before coming to investigate. It was impossible though. He had been dead for many years now. The only way he could be standing here is if..well. No. She wouldn't even allow that train of thought. It had to be an illusion or some trick they were using.

    She reached out and her hand went through the image before her, coming back ice cold and almost frost bitten. That's when he started coming toward her and she heard him speak.

    “Hello beautiful. Your ass is just as firm as it looks. Thanks for the feel,” he said, winking.

    She was both disgusted and terrified as he moved closer toward her. He had something in his hand that she couldn't quite make out. Not until he raised his hand and moved forward. Just at the last instant, she saw the gleam of a straight razor as it slashed through the air and into her throat.

    She screamed and felt at her throat but nothing was there. Running forward, she slammed into the door, fumbled with it and bolted through it as she opened it, right into the arms of Peter. He had come running when he heard her screams.

    “Oh My God!! It's real. It's all real. Ghosts, spirits, haunted houses,” she stammered as she clung to him, hysterical.

    He held her for a while and then led her out of the asylum and drove her home as she wouldn't go home alone. He helped her check her house, turning on all the lights and then said good night. After he left, Shay stumbled up to her bedroom, dressed for bed and as she got into bed and turned off the light, she heard:

    “Welcome home dear,” from a not unfamiliar voice as an icy hand caressed her shoulder.
  • Member
    October 13, 2014

    * Adult content, read at your own risk :) *

  • October 15, 2014
    The night I discovered the world was not black and white, was the night my entire life changed. And I would never know if was for better or for worse…

    It all started when my friend, Kara Linstrom, called with an exciting—enter sarcasm here—proposition. “Shay, I’ve got the most awesome thing to tell you. Remember when I told you I was planning a trip? Well, you’ll never guess where to.”

    I rolled my eyes and smiled. Kara was ever trying to get me excited about something she knew would definitely not interest me. “I give up. Where are you going?”

    “Bran Castle! Can you believe it? We are doing a two-week stake-out with the East End Paranormal Project at Bran Castle! This is so exciting!” she squealed.

    “Wait, what do you mean, ‘we’?” I asked, sincerely hoping she hadn’t included me in this. I received my answer soon after that thought went through my mind.

    “I mean you, me, and Tad. I thought it would be something fun for us to do together. I know you like to read those books on the paranormal and whatnot, so why not actually do something and put yourself in the middle of a place that’s known for its paranormal activity?”

    Tad Campbell was our friend from high school. He taught art classes three days a week at the senior center in town. Sighing, I rubbed my forehead. “Kara, liking to read about it and putting myself in the middle of it are two very different things. And anyway, I don’t believe any of that crap is more than some person’s delusion.

    “If you don’t believe it, then what’s the harm?”

    I opened my mouth; then closed it. That was a good question. What was I so afraid of? It wasn’t like there would be something waiting there. Rodents, maybe. But ghosts? Vampires? Yeah, right. However, that didn’t mean I was eager to go spend two weeks in a huge castle and sleep in strange places.

    “Can’t you just count me out? Why can’t you and Tad go?”

    “Shay, I can’t refund your ticket now. You’ve got to go,” Kara said.

    “But I don’t want to go…” I whined into the phone. Who wanted to go to Bran Castle at this time of year? Who wanted to go to Bran Castle period? Sure, I loved to read stuff about the paranormal. But mainly it was to get a laugh from the ridiculous stories. The National Inquirer could be a hoot sometimes. Of course, I didn’t believe there was anything there except spiders, cobwebs, and rats hanging out in that castle. But I wasn’t stupid either. There could be looters staying there who could probably kill us or something. But Kara was being persistent.

    “Come on, Shay. Just go with us. And if you don’t like it, then you can post it in your blog and tell everyone what a crock it is.”

    Oh, yeah. My blog, which centered on debunking myths, ghosts, and paranormal beasties… I stayed silent a few moments. She kind of had a point. And it would prove entertaining for my readers. I hated it when my friends made sense. Sighing, I nodded; even though she couldn’t see me. “All right, fine. I’ll go.”
    Kara squealed in delight. “Yes! I was hoping you would. Meet us at the airport on the 14th. Write this down…”

    And she rattled off details about the flight number, time, what to pack, and all that good stuff. After we hang up, I looked around. I couldn’t believe it. I, Shay McDaniel—self-proclaimed skeptic of the supernatural—actually agreed to investigate the place that had inspired Bram Stoker’s famous paranormal tale. Seriously… What the heck had I been thinking?


    On the morning of the 14th, I took a taxi to the airport—I didn’t want to pay the extra money to keep my car in the parking lot, so a cab was the best way to go—and when I arrived, I took my small suitcase and carry on, and headed inside to find Kara and Tad.

    “Shay!” I heard a voice call. Frowning, I turned and saw Kara and Tad waving at me from the self check-in kiosk.

    Waving back, I hurried over and smiled at the duo. “Hey. I’m here. So we’re really doing this, huh?”

    “Yes, we really are. You could try to be more enthusiastic about this,” Kara said with a slight grimace.

    “We’re going to Bran’s Castle. Who would be excited about that?” this from Tad. “The place with probably overrun with rodents and bugs and other things I don’t even want to think about.”

    Just hearing him rattle off the unsavory things possibly awaiting us in the Romanian landmark was enough to make me want to turn in the other direction and run after the cab. I must have made some kind of face because Kara said, “Look! You scared her. Now she won’t want to go.”

    “No, no. I’m fine. Let’s just hurry and check-in so we can get through security. We don’t know how long that will take.”

    “Okay…” With that, Kara went to the kiosk and did the check-in for us since she bought the tickets; then handed us our boarding passes. We headed toward the security gate soon after.

    Security and bag checks, and carry-on scanned, we sat in terminal waiting area. It was pretty boring. Kara was listening to music. Tad was playing a game on his phone. I was reading, but I wasn’t interested at all in the book. For some reason I was feeling uneasy about this trip and that was silly. I didn’t believe there were ghosts or something in that castle, so what was my problem? Rubbing the back of my neck, I turned my attention back to my book.

    A few hours later, we began boarding the plane. Kara found our seats and saved them while Tad and I stowed the carry-on bags. We got settled into our seats while others boarded. About a half hour later, the flight took off.

    It took forever. I’d never been on a fourteen hour flight before. And I never wanted to do it again. We had to take connecting flights, landing in Paris for a few hours before boarding the next plane to Romania.

    Finally, we landed and went to baggage claim. Finding our bags, we left the terminal and looked around. The research team was supposed to be meeting us. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a few people coming toward us. Could they be the ones?

    “Are you Kara Linstrom?” The guy in the front of the pack said to me.

    I shook my head. “No. That’s her,” I said and pointed to Kara.

    He held out his hand to her. “Glad, we found you guys. I’m Aaron, this is Maggie,” he gestured to the woman to his left. “And this is Mike,” indicating the man on his right. “And we are part of the East End Paranormal Project. As I’m sure you know, we investigate haunted landmarks and either verify or debunk any evidence of paranormal activity. Mike is our techspert. He sets up the cameras, recorders, and other tools we’ll use. Maggie is our medium. She will be able to sense if there’re any spirits present.” He paused and glanced at me and Tad to include us in the conversation. “It’s not an easy task, I’ll admit. But it’s a good experience and will be a good story to tell others even if we don’t find anything concrete. So shall we head out?”

    Kara looked at me and Tad. I looked at him. We both shrugged and nodded. She turned her gaze back to Aaron and nodded. “Yeah, I think we’re ready.” And off we went.

    When we left the airport, there was van waiting for us. We all loaded inside and took off. I didn’t keep track of how long it took for us to reach the castle. But it seemed like forever before we made it. We had to ride a boat to get across the lake to the castle. Once there, we were met by another woman who called herself a priestess. She led us in prayer and blessed us—I resisted the urge to roll my eyes—before we went inside.

    The inside was considerably different than I expected. There weren’t cobwebs hanging in every corner. There weren’t any rodents that I could see. I was worried over nothing. This would be a cakewalk. We set up in what looked like a drawing room of some kind. Maggie gave us different tools to use; pendulums, dousing rods, thermal scanners, digital cameras. You name it, we had it.

    Aaron finished setting up his pack and camera, and then looked at the rest of us. “All right, we’re going to split into groups of two. Kara, you will go with Mike. Tad, you’ll go with Maggie. And Shay, you’ll be coming with me.” I gave a mental sigh. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be paired up with the guy, but I had the feeling he knew I totally wasn’t buying this whole thing and wanted to convert me into a believer. “Midnight is five minutes away and we’ll start.”


    I really had nothing to worry about. We were almost three hours in and there wasn’t anything to be found. Nothing turned up on the scanners, the dousing rods weren’t moving, and the pendulums weren’t spinning. It was actually very boring. Every now and then Aaron would say, “Did you hear that?” I would respond with, “No. It’s your imagination.” We continued on our search, keeping in touch with the others through the walkie-talkies.

    Aaron and I went down to the dungeon. This part I thought was really cool. Since there wasn’t really much in the way of electricity, we had to use flashlights to look around. I shivered when I heard the tell-tale sounds of squeaks and scurrying feet. I knew there were rats or mice down there with us and I wasn’t too happy about that at all. There wasn’t anything strange down there that I could see; few skeletons, some medieval torture devices and chains hanging from the high ceiling. That was all I could see. Just to make sure though, we took pictures and used the pendulums and dousing rods. Still it didn’t turn up anything. Deciding to give up, Aaron and I turned to go back up the stairs. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen next, but when we heard screams from somewhere in the castle, both Aaron and I jumped. I didn’t think we could hear anybody from this far. That was the reason for the walkie-talkies. We took off at a run, nearly tripping over each other in our desperation to make it back to the others. We burst through the doors and heard more screams. By this point, I was scared. Was I right in my guess that looters were hanging around and killing anyone who stumbled upon them?

    “Kara! Tad!” I continued to shout as we ran throughout the place. Doors slammed and more screams sounded. What was happening to my friends? We saw parts of equipment strewn across the floors as we ran; then that’s when I saw it. A small trail of blood leading toward the next set of stairs… This wasn’t happening. This couldn’t be happening.

    “I’m going to see if I can find someone to help. You stay here,” Aaron said in a shaky voice. I was too numb by the sight to say anything. I merely nodded.

    At my nod Aaron left. I stood there for all of two minutes before I realized that I had never been afraid of anything before in my life. And I wasn’t going to start now. If my friends were dead, then I owed it to them to find them and take their bodies home to their families. Aiming the flashlight toward the stairs, I continued to follow the trail of blood. My grip was shaky and I made it to the top of the staircase. I glanced down the hall, but I couldn’t see much. I turned to go down there, but I tripped over something. I aimed the light to spot I tried over and saw a tennis shoe. A woman’s tennis shoe. And it was very familiar. I knew what I was going to see even before the light made it to the woman’s face.

    I moved the light upwards and swallowed the scream I knew was coming when I saw Kara’s face. There was blood all over her and it looked like she’d had her throat cut. But on closer inspection, it looked more like someone or something had ripped it out. I stifled a sob and reach up to close her eyes. Another twenty minute search and I found the bodies of Tad, Maggie, and Mike. Each dead by the same means: throats torn. What could have possibly done that?

    I heard footsteps thundering down the hall and I raised the flashlight to use it as a weapon if need be, but all I saw was Aaron. I let out a sigh and lower the flashlight. “Did you find anyone?”

    He shook his head. “No… We’re stuck here until morning. The boats don't run after sundown.”

    Stuck… We were stuck in this god-forsaken place until dawn? I nearly whimpered, but I wasn’t going to be a baby about this. My friends had had it even worse. Before I could open my mouth to say anything to Aaron, the sound of a door slamming sounded behind me and we turned to it, but didn’t see anything. I turned to look at Aaron and suddenly he was yanked toward something. I quickly moved the light up and what I saw made me turn tail and run. A man was sucking the blood from Aaron’s neck! Had some sicko deluded himself into thinking he was a vampire? Looked like it.

    I ran for my life only to realize I ran away from the stairs not toward them. Oh, God. I was in big trouble. Before I could make it to the end of the hall, a blur went past me and there I saw the same man who had been drinking from Aaron as if he were a water fountain. I gasped and turned to go back, but he grabbed me and held me in a death grip. I was well and truly scared at this point. His breath blew against my ear and I struggled to get away. This…whatever he was, had killed my friends.

    He sniffed my hair—gross!—and sighed. “I can read every thought in your mind. Every part of you is rejecting everything you’ve just seen… But I will make a believer out of you…” and then something sharp sank into my neck. It was his teeth. He’d sunk his teeth into my neck. The thought was so farfetched that I… I passed out.


    I woke up some time later. Or at least what I thought was some time later. Alone, thank God. Maybe this was all a dream. However, the strangest thing was that I had awakened inside a box of some sort. Why would I be waking up in a box? Frowning, I pushed against the top and it lifted. It was like opening a door from the under the floor. Pushing it completely out of the way, it dropped to the side and the sound was so incredibly loud. God, that thing had to weigh a ton. But it didn’t seem to be a problem for me. Guess this wasn’t a dream after all. That…thing must have put me in here after he got done. He had better have done anything other than drink my blood. Geez that sounded so strange.

    I got up and stepped out of the box to inspect it. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say I woke up in a coffin. The idea was laughable. I think even chuckled a bit. Stepping away from it, I decided to find my way out of this room. I had to see if Aaron was okay and we had to do something about our dead friends. No one would believe that ‘vampire’ had done this. Just thinking about Kara and Tad made me want to cry, but I didn’t feel the sting of tears and that was weird… As I turned away, I caught sight of myself in the mirror and I froze. My hair was longer. My skin was almost perfect. I looked down at my hands. My nails had gotten considerably longer. What was going on here? Running to the mirror, I noticed my eyes had taken on a strange shade of hazel; almost yellow. My eyes should have been brown. I swallowed and opened my mouth. I knew what I would see before I did. My canines had grown…


    I couldn’t go back home. There was no way I would have been able to explain my sudden aversion to light or my incurable thirst for blood; I would have been put away and experimented on and there was no way I would have let that happen. The term ‘night owl’ had taken on a whole new meaning for me. I instinctively knew when the moon rose and set. Hunting for my prey had proved easy. I usually went after ones who attempted to prey of those weaker than themselves and showed them exactly who the predator was. I didn’t kill them; just scared them a little and took what I needed, and then I left them alone after tinkering with their memories of me. It was simple and helped me survive…

    A month ago, if someone told me I’d be one of those shadows lurking in the night, I’d have laughed in their face. And really, why would I have had a reason to believe them? But these days, I’ve learned to embrace the night. I welcome the darkness.

    As I step out into the night, I leave you this lesson: Listen when others tell you there is more out there than you could imagine. You’ll never know when the monsters are lying in wait. Waiting to steal your soul…