Foster High School recently hosted its scary story contest for the third year.
The English Department along with the school librarian came up with the idea three years ago and now it is a tradition, said Aracelis Urbina, Foster High English Language Arts and Spanish teacher.
Teachers assign students the task of writing a scary story incorporating narrative techniques, Urbina said. While others assign this as a creative writing assignment, she added.
More than 70 entires get narrowed down to eight finalists. To select the winners, the entire school reads the stories in their English class and vote for their top four.
• 1st Place: “The Creeper” by Faisal Sulayman
• 2nd Place: “Unsea of Trees” by Sophia Curry
• 3rd Place: “The Obsession” by Erykah Landreth & Paulina Fuerte
• Honorable Mention: “Found Out” by Monica Hniang Dawt Chin
Second Place: “Unsea of Trees”
by Sophia Curry
I am poisoned, even still, in death. They say there is only one God; but they are wrong. Death is a god, and he is taunting me. The living are wrong, you see, because they have not yet been dead. When I was sixteen I was raped of life — a cruel injustice that henceforth followed me into the afterlife. Yes, the living are wrong. There were no sunny meadows, laughing flowers, or silver brooks awaiting me. Only Death. And Death is not kind.
I have long since decided that I was not going to sit about and weep over the fact that I was dead. It would do me no good. Rather, I sat in the middle of the hushed forest, under the pretty maple tree that served as my hasty grave, and willed. I willed that someone would stumble this far into the woods and find me. I willed that someone would die for me.
Now, I was also aware of the fact that I could very well leave my spot beneath the tree and venture off in search of the living by myself. I often mused over the thought, flipping it over in my head, debating within myself. But it came down to the fact that I just didn’t want to leave my body. I couldn’t bear to look at it; I had once before, when the rotting had just begun to set in, and the image had never since left my mind. Many years ago, when my body had been shoved into a hole meant for a small animal, it left many of my bones snapped and lying out in the open for any scavenger to take. My toes and fingers stuck out through the sodden ground like spring’s new flowers, just beginning to blossom. My torso was contorted, the maple’s roots seemingly bending my body as it saw fit. It was the most dreadful sight I had ever seen. But even that paled in comparison to what my once lovely face had become.
I don’t remember much about my life before death’s cold grasp, but one thing I do remember was that I was beautiful. My papa used to call me his hanabira, or petal. I had the creamiest pale skin that stretched across my perfectly rounded form. I remember that I would run my hands over my arms when I was upset or nervous. I remember that it was soft. I remember that those same hands had long fingers. I remember the sensation of them brushing back my silky black hair behind an ear; and I can remember the way my gray eyes would glimmer in the right lighting.
Yes, I was beautiful. But now I’m dead. And the dead are not beautiful.
When I had the courage to peer over at my body, my terror overtook my curiosity. My mouth was rigid, forever open in a silent cry for help. A cry that went unheard. My once luminous eyes were gone, leaving only hollow dark pits. And oh how I wept over my discolored skin, where I had chunks of rot and fungi spreading. It was fitting for a tortured spirit. It made me live up to my human name, Ame Yami, the darkness in rain.
The dead don’t have names.
And I hated it. Despised it. I hated the fact that I was dead and the demon who did this to me got away. I hated that I was forever stuck inside this dense stand of trees. I hated that I knew what I had to do to escape. But I was tired of this death, and underneath all human skins there are monsters lurking; what was one more?
So when I saw her for the first time, I only hesitated for a second.
She was beautiful, prettier even than the girl that haunted me from the past.
And she was lost.
I stayed where I was at, closed my eyes, and began to sing a lilting tune, drawing her forth with my moaning voice.
“Come my child, lay on my lap, brush away the wild, take a nap;
Wipe your tears, Mother is here, for all the years, don’t worry my dear.”
Twigs snapped beneath her feet. Her humanity soaked through the air like perfume, and I could hear her heart pounding from where I sat under my tree. I repeated the rhyme again, and forced myself to remain seated, even as she drew closer.
And c l o s e r.
Her breath came sharp in my ear. Oh it was so wonderful, that essense of human wafting off of her. I wanted it. I wanted her.
“H-hello?” She hedged softly. I inhaled deeply and stopped singing.
“Hello,” I purred into the desolate silence, opening my eyes. The girl stood before my tree, her hands fidgeting as she looked upon me, her ebony hair cascading around her like a dark halo. She was dressed like me, in a school branded uniform, only hers had her name sewn on. Kou Akemi, it read. Beautiful peace, a pretty name for a pretty girl.
I wanted it.
I levelled my gaze back at her so I was staring her in the eyes. Liquid amber gaped back at me. “Are you okay?” She whispered, her scrutinizing eyes fixated on my neck, where phantom blood still oozed.
I raised an eyebrow, haughtily, and ignored her question. Her concern would do her no good. Instead I raised my voice, which was scratchy and thin from my screaming before death, and said, “Are you lost Akemi?”
Her chin trembled and I smelled fear in the wind. She knew something was wrong.
I rose from my tree and stepped toward her, noting with some surprise that she stayed, rooted to her spot. “No … I am not.” She lied, her shoulders curving inward as she watched me circle her, turning with me like sequenced clock hands.
I was a starved predator and she was plump prey.
“I think you are lost, Akemi. I think you are lying to me.” I was moving closer to her, the mossy forest floor alien beneath my bare feet.
“I-I’m not,” she sputtered, her golden eyes widening in terror. “My group is just that way!” Her porcelain arm shot out and pointed behind her. “I-I … I better go join them. Because they are probably looking for m-me.”
I smiled maliciously. “Oh Akemi, you’re not going anywhere.”
She was whimpering underneath her breath, her body preparing itself to run, when I pounced. She shrieked, a piercing final plea for help. Her skin was silk beneath my fingers as I sunk into her very soul, claiming it as mine. I could feel her revulsion and fear in every cavity, in every cell. She was still squirming and crying when I was inside her mind, until it was me squirming and crying. It was human.
It was mine.
I drew myself up into a sitting position, and smiled down at Akemi’s body—my body—and felt alive. I was alive. I could feel my blood pulsing through my veins, I could feel every strand of hair that sat upon my head, and I could feel my heart thumping in my chest.
I did not say farewell to my tree or to my body. I just walked through a forest that was suddenly a stranger to me and made my way to the school group, following the chattering echoes of teenage laughing and squeals.
And deep in the woods, I heard a lost girl’s wail.