October 29, 2020
Happy Halloween to the 826 Boston community! Get into the spirit with this collection of scary student-authored stories from When The Lights Go Out Books 1 & 2. You can purchase both publications here.
And Then I Realized
My name is George S., I’m 12 years old, and I’ve published my work in 8 chapbooks, not including this one.
I’m in my room, where a large chandelier softly swings above my head and carpeted floors rest under my bed. The
slow, creaking closet door opening
wider, wider, wider,
gets me out of bed.
I get up,
only to find it was just the wind.
I’m swept away through a giant portal
—sucked through an abyss of wonders—
to a cold slimy wet swamp.
Suddenly it’s as if I’m a puppet, and my head is jerked around like a top, spinning endlessly.
The entire swamp is then flipped above beside all around,
until I’m back in bed. My head buzzes, rings, explodes;
I think I’m dead.
Then a blast of numbing, debilitating, cold
knocks me out. I wake up hovering, motionless, freezing.
This is what death is, then, I think
as a glowing bright orb encases me in white light,
so bright my eyes nearly burst from pain.
And then I wake up, masses of mush moaning in despair. As my vision clears,
I see chaos, destruction, and zero percent of the human race
In their right mind, just an empty, decrepit city with nothing but murderous beggars and heartless criminals who are the last of humanity after an epidemic of plague and famine.
Andrew is 15 years old.
It’s not that big; it only has two floors besides the attic. I’m the only one in it. I’ve been the only one here for five years. Aside from Fred. He’s my only friend. I visited his cobweb today; he caught a fly. That fly was Jerry. I never really liked Jerry. I was happy when he went away. He was in my house. He was a visitor. I never really liked visitors.
A cloud of exhaust filled the air. Its foggy gray reached the window of an old and decrepit house. Through a shattered window it crept, alerting something that was there, yet not. Wind, cold and swift, leapt through the broken window. Something that was there, yet not, came out from its abode to watch what had caused the horrid visitor of gray to come onto its property. What it saw was angering, to say the least.
My family is moving into a new house. We pulled up to it in our cramped car, its worn wheels struggling to push us along the road. As the moving truck in front of us stopped coughing up exhaust, it paused in movement as well. Dad said we used to live here, that this place was full of good memories. Mom never said much about it. Neither of them said much after I asked why we left.
I just figured that they left because it looked like something from a horror movie. Looking out from the window at my side, I stared up at the decaying frame and crumbling walls before me. I could only think of how miserable my life was going to be from then on.
I hate it. I hate visitors. I screamed and cried out, telling them to leave. I yelled for hours on end. None of them heard me except for the little one. I hate little visitors. I detest big ones. I hate them all. They’ll leave though, Fred told me so. His lanky eight legs are always comforting to look at. Fred is my only friend.
A family, unfrightened except for one, is a family with non-believers, a family all the more fun. This contest none has yet won, but in time it will all come undone. In that time, I may still speak in rhyme. Or maybe I won’t.
I’ve been in this house for three days. Three days in this old, dusty, and broken-down house. The screams went on for hours but Mom and Dad said they didn’t hear anything. It sounded angry. The voice came in from all angles. It was everywhere. I don’t know if I can last much longer here, but at least Dad started doing some pest control. He killed this one really gross spider.
Fred was my only friend.
The house was quiet for the next few days. Visitors cleaning up now-vacant cobwebs and something that was always out of sight being subdued in its own sorrow. Sorrow can change into rage.
Today was my fourth and worst day in this house. The screams came back again and they were even louder than before. For some reason, no one else can hear them. If I didn’t really think before that this place was making me go insane, I do now after seeing whatever “it” was. A wispy silhouette, whiter than snow. Weirdly, it looked like a boy around my age, maybe a year or two older. Before I could notice anything more, it vanished.
One of them looked at me. The little visitor. The girl. I’m used to the hollow looks. When the people don’t know that I’m there. But she squinted her eyes at me; turned her head in confusion. Now that I think about it, she was also the only one who could hear me. What is she?
Questions have arisen in this house, between two of the people. Answers have been kept from one. Big visitors tell big lies.
I haven’t seen that thing around for a while. Not closely, at least. I feel like I can always see a bit of it from the very corner of my eye. Is it watching me? I try to talk to Mom and Dad about it, but they’ve been acting weird lately. For some reason, they just keep asking me what I am.
They visited my house. I visited them. Having a body again felt weird, at least compared to what I remember. I remember. I know who the big visitors are now. They used to live here, they used to have me. Now they have her.
Answers unshrouded. Mysteries unveiled. He knows what has been. She has yet to see. Their story may soon come to an end. Fred will be replaced by a new friend.
My parents got even weirder after they asked me what I am. It’s been a few days since then, and Dad hasn’t gotten out of bed. On the other hand, my mom won’t get in bed. Most of the time, she’s just shakily pacing all over the house, muttering to herself. She’s quiet most of the time, but she screams out loud sometimes: “He’s here.”
Who is he? What is he? I have an idea, but I don’t want to think it’s true. That thing I keep seeing. That thing that keeps watching me. It doesn’t stay on the main floor of the house for long. It’s probably in the attic. It’s time for it to get out of my house.
Pearl Feels Grossed Out
Najma is 9 years old.
Once upon a time, in a magical fairy-tale world where spiders had magical powers, there was a girl named Pearl. Pearl and her family lived in a big house. Pearl had curly black and blue colored hair and brown eyes. She wore a pink shirt, black jeans, a pink headband, and black shoes.
One day, Pearl was home alone. Her mom was at work, and she was so hungry. She decided to order a half-cheese and half-garlic pizza. When the pizza came, she opened up the box and took a slice. But then, as she was about to eat it, she saw a humongous bug hiding under the cheese! It was an ugly spider with green skin and big bumps on his back. It was as fat as a yak!
The spider said, “Oh boy, you get pizza!”
Pearl said, “Yeah, I do!”
Then the spider started to crawl onto the floor. It was too huge to pick up, so Pearl decided to call 911. Before they arrived, the spider picked her up and gobbled her up in one bite.
She was so scared, she started kicking the spider in its stomach. Pearl thought that the spider was a soccer ball! The spider spit her out. She called 911 again, and then the police came, put the spider in a cage, and took it away.
“That was gross and disgusting!” Pearl said. She only ate the garlic slice, but she didn’t really like it.
His watch reads 5:45 AM. His feet tap lightly on old wooden floors. The man’s eyes glide around his diner, lingering on the two women in the corner, and the boy with the headphones. The man plays with his lighter, watching the small flame spark to life, then die out.
The diner is usually busy all day, but that evening the moonless sky is somber and dark, the streets are painted with water, and the air in the room is thick, yet empty. Wind and rain slap the glass windows, and faraway bursts of lightning cause the old lamps to flicker and the door hinges to rattle.
The man sets his lighter on the countertop, then fishes out a newspaper from his beige suit. He shifts his equally beige hat to shield his forehead, making a shadow over his eyes. He inhales.
Assured his eyes are hidden after peeking at his reflection in his wristwatch, he looks to the corner and stares at the two familiar women. They wear identical carmine dresses with white buttons, stained with blotches of black soot. Their fingers are intertwined. One has a bear’s den of tangled dark hair and takes slow and labored breaths; a light shade of pink shows through her cakey white makeup.
The man’s jaw clenches and his hands grip the newspaper—nails cutting into his rough and calloused palms—as he notices her eyes’ frantic movements under her tightly clasped eyelids. He shifts his attention to the other, shorter, woman, with dark skin like old coffee and piercing tawny eyes. She faces forward at the boy, her gaze unwavering, oblivious to everyone in the diner.
The man’s lips curl inward as he tries to hold back a laugh. The newspaper, now stained with blood from his palms, falls to his beige shoes. He stares at the ceiling above the women and chuckles loudly and darkly. His tone wavers, from stout and guttural bursts to superficial high-pitched giggles. When a man like him laughs, he is up to no good. This man has a passion for fires.
The tall woman begins to cough uncontrollably and cry. Her eyes remain shut, but continue to dart around the room as she rocks back and forth and releases pained wails. The raging storm shakes the building, causing the lights to flicker furiously, leaving the four in brief moments of pitch-black—almost tangible—darkness.
The tall woman begins to scream, loud, loud, loud, dark smoke pouring out of her lips. Her vocal cords strain, producing a faltering, scratchy sound like dragging a fork over a plate. The boy feels the numbing tingles you would feel after hearing a sound like that, and the woman keeps screaming and screaming, coughing, and coughing. Her frenetic knees bounce up and down. The shorter woman holds her hand tightly.
The young man’s headphones are now off, and he looks around the diner and knows something is wrong. He’s scared. The man looks him dead in the eye and pours the bottle of alcohol over the floors. He walks out from behind the bar and continues pouring it all over the diner. He drops the newspaper, and on top of it, the bottle of alcohol.
The boy runs to the door and shakes it, but the handle doesn’t budge. It’s locked. His eyes begin to water at the smoke accumulating in the room. The dark-skinned woman closes her eyes for the first time in the diner and takes a deep breath. The boy watches in horror as the women’s bodies dissipate into the smoke.
BAM! The room shakes, and thunder sounds a deafening rumble after the building is struck by a bolt of lightning. The lights flicker and the man’s old employees simmer away into clouds of smoke. The lights burn out. The boy screams, and the man laughs as he bends over and lights the newspaper on fire. The newspaper, doused in alcohol, bursts into flames. Soon the entire diner is a fireball, filled with smoke.
“Catch!” The man screams, throwing the lighter to the boy, who does catch it. Immediately afterward, he collapses, his lungs a chimney, filled with smoke.
The man runs through the fire, through the kitchen, and out the back door. He brushes away fire from his suit and hops in his car. He laughs as he skips town, knowing he’ll get away with what he’s done. Framing the boy would be just as easy as last time, when he framed the women who haunt him today, his former employees.