This October our community hosted The Big Read for Edgar Allen Poe. In honor of this, Indian Trail High School & Academy’s library held a scary story writing contest. The stories had to mimic Poe’s writing style and be around 500 words. Five judges critiqued the work of our students: three staff members and two off-campus community members. One of the judges was ShawnaWard, school librarian. When asked why she voted for the winner, she said, “The writing style matched Poe’s the best and the description words were in depth. You can really imagine it happening.” The winner of this year’s contest, by majority vote, was Rachel Quist’s story Suicide. Congratulations, Rachel! She won a $15 iTunes gift card and her story featured here in the newspaper.
Rain smacked against the grimy window of a lonely house. Inside, cheap wallpaper peeled like dead skin from the walls, victim to age and abuse, and ragged furniture crowded the far too small living room. A faint glow bounced off of a television screen and onto the face of a very skinny man.
He drank from a bottle of alcohol purchased from a run down shop on the corner, the stench of which reached its putrid tendrils to all corners of the house. To anyone who would listen, he insisted on calling it amontillado in an effort to come off as impressive and knowledgable.
With a loud clap of thunder, the electricity went out, giving way to complete darkness. As if on cue, the rain came down heavier, and through the shadows came a dreadful noise. Footsteps.
The thin man whirled around, but there was no one behind him. He made his way to the dirty kitchen, his shaking hands grasping for a source of light. His fingers closed around a flashlight and he switched it on, creating a small path of light that led several feet in front of him. But with a yelp, the skinny man let the light fall to the ground and its beam blinked out. He backed against his wall, searching the darkness for the figure the light had revealed.
He could not make anything out. Shadows blended together to make everything and nothing all at once. The reedy man took cautious steps forward, away from the safety of his wall. And then, in the nothingness of that room, something brushed against his shoulder. As he turned around, his eyes met an unwelcome sight, the eyes of another man.
Except, it was also the same man. He was skinny and he had the same tired face. He wore the same clothes, had the same graying hair, even his nose was identical. But the fear so evident in the first man’s eyes was not there. Instead, it was replaced by an unfeeling, cold insanity.
The doppelganger offered a toothy grin and began to drag the man. In his intoxicated state, his attempts at escape were useless. He was shoved inside his own broom closet before being knocked to the ground. Nearly unconscious, but not quite there, the thin man watched as his double crafted a wall separating them. Brick by brick, he looked on, helpless, as the outside world was cut off.
Only after his lookalike had finished did the skinny man regain his senses. His cries, which rivaled that of the thunder roaring outside, were not enough. The darkness pressed in around the small space.
“You don’t expect anyone to save you,” a voice just outside the wall whispered. It sounded surprisingly melancholy. But no other words were spoken.
And for a long time, no noise tainted the sound of the rain, which continued until even the skinny man was no longer around to hear it.