Best-selling Children’s Author, and main Speaker for our March meeting, Amy Sparkes, generously gave her time further to our Society and agreed to adjudicate our children’s story writing competition.
The competition was open to entries of picture book, middle grade or young adult stories, so it was an opportunity for a wide range of entrants. The competition brief was to:
Write a children’s story in 500 words.
And the winners are:
First Place – Damon L. Wakes with Small Possessions
Second Place – Valerie Powell with Real Ghosts Aren’t Scary
Third Place – Dominique Hackston with Just A Nightmare
Highly Commended – Darren Spink with This Story Consists of… MOSTLY GHOSTS
First Place: Small Possessions by Damon L. Wakes
An engaging read with a brilliant twist right at the end.
There was a presence in the house. When Eleanor left her little wooden rocking horse in the middle of the drawing room, she would find it in the cupboard. When she left her doll on the window seat, she would find it on the floor. Her mother told her that she should take better care of her possessions—if the rocking horse was broken, they could not simply go out and buy another—but it was not Eleanor who moved it, and it was not her mother either.
In the daytime, she could hear footsteps and laughter; always out of sight. In the nighttime, she heard sobbing, always close by. The rocking horse and doll were moved up to the attic, and Eleanor followed them there. She spent her nights with one ear pressed to the floorboards, listening to the eerie noises below.
At last, one night, Eleanor, found that simply hiding away and waiting was the scariest thing of all. She crept through the attic door and down the long, long staircase. She tiptoed back to her old room. She found it full of strange creatures with bulbous eyes, and curious figures sculpted of an eerie, flesh-coloured porcelain. But her attention did not dwell on these things, for in the corner of the room—huddled atop an unfamiliar bed—was a small form wreathed in blankets.
The blankets shifted, and the face of a small girl—not like Eleanor—emerged. The eyes widened. Her skin grew white as she stared at her visitor.
Eleanor simply stood there. Her skin was white already.
“Why do you weep?” she asked at last, when it became apparent that the intruder in her house would not speak first.
“Because I just moved here,” said the girl in the bed, “and now all my friends are a long way away.”
“All my friends are far away too,” said Eleanor. “I’d like to move, but Daddy says we have unfinished business.”
There was a long, sad silence.
“Do you like Barbie?” asked the intruder, holding up a figure of porcelain flesh.
Second Place: Real Ghosts Aren’t Scary by Valerie Powell
Heartwarming story with a nice twist and heartfelt message
I know all about ghosts. My sister used to tell me ghost stories and try to scare me. But I wasn’t scared. I knew she was making it all up. Because ghosts are nothing like the ones she described.
The ghosts in Ellie’s stories were really creepy. They sneaked up on you when you least expected, always at night and usually in winter when it was dark and there was a storm raging. They made weird howling noises and could come in through thick walls and skeletal fingers could grab your neck. And they haunted old houses and dark lanes and lonely moors.
Our gran lived in an old house down a dark lane across the moor and we used to go and stay with her sometimes. But there was nothing scary about Gran’s house. It was warm and cosy and she made scones and gingerbread, like a granny in a kid’s storybook. When we were in bed, my sister would make me listen to the creaks and groans that the house made when the wind was roaring round, and try to convince me it was a ghost. But of course, it wasn’t.
And sometimes we would walk back to our house in the dark. It wasn’t far – just a few hundred metres – and we had our torches, but Ellie used to pretend every shadow was a ghost and every sound a weird banshee, coming to get us. I went along with it to please Ellie and those walks were fun.
Gran went to chapel a lot and sometimes she took us with her. I didn’t really like chapel and I especially didn’t like the minister. He was scarier than any of Ellie’s ghosts, telling us we were all sinners and heading for eternal fire.
I knew I did bad things sometimes – like hiding Ellie’s X-box when she refused to play with me, or interrupting her when she was texting her friends. But I didn’t think those things were real sinning, not like the sort the minister went on about.
After Gran died, I was very sad. I missed her hugs – I liked Gran’s hugs long after I went off hugs from anyone else. Her house was empty for a bit and I used to go there to talk to her. Then it got knocked it down a big house was built instead. I felt really sad, worrying where Gran would go.
Ellis stopped telling ghost stories after Gran died. Her stories had all been about bad ghosts, so I knew they weren’t real. Not like my ghost. My ghost is good, not scary at all. In fact, when I’m feeling scared – like when that bully from school tries to frighten me, my ghost makes me feel all strong and I tell him to back off – and it works! My ghost puts an arm round me when I’m feeling sad and tells me that everything’s okay. My ghost says it doesn’t matter about her house because she doesn’t need it anymore.
Third Place: Just A Nightmare by Dominique Hackston
A gripping story in a gripping setting. It really drew you in.
Midnight finds Macy under the duvet with a torch and her favourite Famous Five book. Her cold feet inch up the bed until they steal the warmth from her thighs. Shivering, she switches off the torch, listens to make sure Rhea, the prefect, is asleep and pokes her head out. She gasps as frigid air hits her face.
Stretching, she tucks up the corner of the curtain, then wrestles her dressing-gown from its hook and spreads it over her bed. She snuggles back under the covers, her slothful eyes staring at tiny crystals as they form around the corner of the pane. Funny, she thinks, as she drifts off, it shouldn’t freeze in May.
Timmy, George, and Anne fill Macy’s dreams. They are huddled together while a storm whips around their tent. The howling wind morphs into Anne screaming.
Suddenly Macy is awake. A skull-piercing shriek ricochets around the dormitory. She peers into the dark then grabs her torch.
The beam passes from one girl to the next. A wave of dread prickles up Macy’s nape. Breath vapour hangs eerily over each pale face until the tiny spotlight hits Tash, who is sitting bolt upright; her two French plaits hanging down her back.
In Macy’s shaking hand, the beam stutters onwards to Rhea’s bed. Matron’s there, she thinks, sighing with relief. Macy leans forward, her jaw drops, her eyebrows knit together.
Tash turns, her now silent scream caught by her gaping mouth. She slithers out of bed, then charges up the dormitory. The torch goes flying as Tash dives headlong at Macy.
‘Did you see?’ Tash whispers.
Macy cannot answer. An image is searing itself into her every brain cell.
Matron was not matron, but an old-fashioned nurse, who stood with Rhea floating at chest height. Rhea’s arms were stretched over her head as the nurse shackled her wrists to a gleaming ring that protruded from the wall. The same black wrought iron ring that Rhea hangs her dressing gown from.
Macy hushes the sobbing Tash and takes a slow shuddering breath. Reaching up, she fumbles for the curtain and yanks it open. Moonlight floods in, shining its way down the length of the dormitory. Macy’s eyes follow the glow.
She slumps with relief. ‘Just a nightmare,’ she says. ‘Just a nightmare.’ She cuddles and rocks the younger girl until they fall asleep. They wake to Rhea prodding them.
‘Get dressed and stand facing the wall!’ Rhea shouts. ‘Inspection in five.’
Within five minutes both girls are in their uniforms and standing at the end of the line. Despite her nose pointing to the wall; Macy watches Rhea out of the corner of her eye. Her skin tingles as her hairs stand on end. Rhea massages her wrists.
Macy turns to check on Tash. She is white and wide-eyed, staring at the angry red welts that Rhea is trying to hide.
Highly Commended: This Story Consists of… MOSTLY GHOSTS by Darren Spink
Brilliant scansion, tightly plotted and good fun.
Greenie the ghost has been learning to scare
But scaring is harder when no-one is there
So, Greenie creeps into a yard overgrown
And finds little Ava, all tired and alone
The window is open as Greenie comes creeping
And tired little Ava has just started sleeping
So, Greenie jumps in with a cry and a BOO
But Ava sits calmly and says “Who are you?!”
“I’m Greenie the ghost and I’ve come here to scare you!”
“But Greenie” said Ava “I’m sleeping, how dare you!
You’re not very spooky or scary or creepy,
So, leave me alone as I’m grumpy and sleepy”
But Greenie is cunning and jumps from the bed
Then waits in the cupboard and calls his friend Red
They jump out together and cry a loud BOO
But ONE was not scary and neither was TWO!
So, Greenie calls Pinky and Blackie and White
As FIVE spooky ghosts give a scarier fright
But Ava yawned “Greenie, you’ll have to give in..
I’ll never be scared and you’ll just never win”
Greenie says “Right, I need TEN on my side..
We’ll each find a different location to hide…
We’ll scream all together, the spookiest BOO
And scared little Ava won’t know what to do!”
But Ava once more wasn’t frightened or scared
She stood on her bed and then promptly declared
“Not even TWENTY would give me a fright
So, take all your friends and get out of my sight!”
And finally, Ava had quiet in bed
But quiet can sometimes be scary instead
The house became spooky, the yard overgrown
And suddenly Ava was….
SCARED ON HER OWN!
She covered her eyes and hid under the sheet
With only the sound of her little heart beat
And then with a whimper, she wearily cried
“I wish I had someone to lay by my side”
But what happened next was to Ava’s surprise
As Greenie came back after hearing her cries
“Maybe” thought Greenie “I won’t cry out BOO,
To be a good friend is now what I should do”
They lifted the covers and snuggled up tight
And Greenie helped Ava sleep all through the night.
Well, not every ghost can be scary and creepy
A ghost can be friendly and help when you’re sleepy
So, just when the quiet can scare you the most
Imagine a snuggle with Greenie the ghost.