In 1924, the Oakland Tribune and American Theatre held a contest in which people submitted their dreams. The winning dreams got made into films and the dreamers won $25. This surreal piece came from a dream submitted by Mrs. L.L. Nicholson. It more closely resembles a dream than many films since then, including Hitchcock’s Spellbound. It involves a couple on a trip and a missing baby.
The winning continuation of the Halloween Mystery Contest story was submitted in a comment by Paper_flower. Congratulations to this fantastic writer!
Read the winning story here by scrolling down into the comment area. I have only posted the winning comment entry. Enjoy it and have a happy Halloween!
If you want to enter the mystery contest, just finish the mystery I’ve started below by entering your part of the story into a comment. The contest is open to all writers of any age and skill level. Have fun and take the story in any direction you like. None of the comments will appear until a winner is picked.
I’ll post the winner on Thursday, October 28.
The beginning of the story takes the form of a hastily written email complete with misspellings and awkward phrasing. Just finish the story by entering your text into a comment and make it as scary as you can!
Here’s how the mystery email starts:
To: [email protected]
Date: 10/30/2009 12:31 pm
Subject: I’m Don’t Know What to Do – Please Call Me!
Jen, oh my god I really don’t know what to make of this or do. You must call me soon. Right away!!! I can’t believe this! Am I going crazy or is this for real? Anyway I guess I better lay it out for you as quickly and simply as I can.
Oh well… ok, so it was the other day, Wednesday I think, right after you told me on the phone that you would meet me for lunch at Mr. Pete’s and we’d go from there to the park. Remember I was in a hurry doing laundry? Well I got mad because the washer got stuck, you know how with too much in the load the spin thing goes all out of whack and wobbles until the whole thing just stops dead? That happened.
So I was all pissed and I had a pile of Jake’s whites in my arms and I was tripping over crap on the floor and his shoes and I tried to reach with my finger to push my coffee cup away from the edge of the dresser but it spilled and I got ever madder.
So I threw the clothes down and yanked his drawer open and it came all the way out of the whole dresser and made a big crack and it smashed my foot. Well after I stopped cursing and being all curled up on the floor holding my foot I tried to put the drawer back in place. But i saw a little package on the floor underneath where the drawer should be. It was wrapped in brown paper and twine. I picked it up.
This is really freaking me out, Jen. So anyway, I held the little package and then I just thought, ‘Who cares? I’m just gonna open it and if Jake gets mad well then he can do his own laundry for a while.
So I unwrapped it and it turned out to be a really old black book with a leather cover that smelled that way old leather things get in an attic you know? It was even crumbly at the edges and the spine was broken and the whole front cover was almost wiggling right off. But I opened it and it was filled with writing. Some in ink. Some in pencil that was faded.
The very first thing on page one said, ‘London is a town with much to offer me and it is with a sinking heart that I leave it, bound for Austria on the fourth, then on, several days later, to Sarajevo.’
That’s how it started, Jen. So I read that and then my finger went in the pages at the back of the book and there was this lump. I flipped to the back and some pages were all stuck together. Glued, Jen. Glued together to make a pouch. It felt like something was in there, so I tore it open and some pictures fell out. Four little photos. And then I picked them up and I looked at one which was of a woman in a black dress with a big locket on a chain around her neck. She was beautiful even though the photo was very old and hardly even there any more. I saw photos of two different houses lying on the floor. Just houses with lots of trees around them. But then I saw the fourth photo Jen. And oh god I don’t know what to do and I screamed. My body was shaking and I just let out a scream I was so scared Jen. The fourth little photo on my bedroom floor had a date written on it right on front Jen. 1897. That’s what it said.
And I picked it up to see it closer. I couldn’t breathe it was jake
can you help me now jen? I’m so scared now because it was him.
Now, continue the mystery by leaving a comment.
I’m about to show you why I have so few friends. It’s because I don’t put up with ‘team mentality.’ Hey kids, come over here and join my poetry team! Yeah dudes! Get with it! Get hip to my dang poetry team, bro! We could win! We could take the whole prize, sista! Yeah, baaaaaaby!
I’m the kid eating the Twinkies, picking my nose, twirling the Frisbee on my finger and looking at you like you’ve got a gun. That’s me. You scare me, poetry dude.
For some reason, in our young national culture, we enjoy teaching our children to compete via talent shows of all stripes. Since it’s National Poetry Month, the Louder Than a Bomb demo video caught my somewhat jaundiced eye. I put up with it all the way through even though it made me squirm. Poetry as in your face talent competition doesn’t fit my world view.
Right away the video starts out with total obnoxiousness. The guy says, ‘We de-emphasize the competition, but you want to win!’ A-hole. What an idiot. Kids, remember, always run from a guy that says something like that. Run and don’t look back.
I feel the same way about film festivals, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars and the Academy Awards. I even feel the same way about online writing contests, though I’ve hosted them myself. They are intended to boost traffic on a web site. They serve no real purpose and offer no true value at all. Contests are held to make mediocrities feel like they can hand out prizes. A kid who is going to be a poet is going to leave by the back door every time.
National Public Radio’s web site is hosting a three-minute fiction contest. NPR book critic Alan Cheuse will choose a winning story to be read on-air and the best entries get posted on the site. The rules are simple. You just write something that can be read in under three minutes.
My camera is a digital one. Not the old kind with rolls of film in it. I took this photo to show you something about the street where I work. Lots of people there do things the old way. They read newspapers and get on buses to go across town. Things like that. I always think of lists and smeared fingers when I see a newspaper. And I think about people looking for jobs or fast horses. They’re always folding the pages and scanning them while they wait for something else, like a sandwich or a cup of coffee. So that’s why I took the photo of the paper as I passed. No one was using it. They’d left. The place was empty. Not even a person behind the counter, though the door was open. People sometimes leave papers for the next person. Happens all the time on the subway or a plane. ‘Well I’ll just leave it right here in the seat so the next person can have something nice to read.’ Really they’re just littering like a Christian.
I went home and bought a Kindle. Now I can read my news each morning in electronic ink without any smears. It’s under my control and I can have it all delivered before I wake up. When I canceled my paper delivery the representative of the Times spent forty-five minutes on the phone with me trying to find an argument that would keep my driveway on their delivery route. I asked why I should pay for something I can get for free online. He told me that all the people who work at a newspaper need my money so they can keep gathering important news. I told him if someone’s willing to do it for free then it’s free. He said he certainly hoped I would return soon and have a nice day.
I felt like I had started a war.
Candlelight’s favorite children’s author, Artie Knapp, working with the Wilmington News Journal, sponsored a fourth grade student essay writing contest and the winners have been announced! The students were asked to write about Clinton County, Ohio where they live. Their essays were judged by education majors at Wilmington College.
This is one of those encouraging activities that can really make a kid feel like they’re at the top of their game. It makes them want to keep writing and reading and learning. Artie tells me that Clinton County has been absolutely devastated by high unemployment since DHL moved out. Rachel Ray and Jay Leno have recently done free shows there to help feed some of the people who are hurting. I think these three kids who can write so well are really helping everybody in their county to feel good this holiday season.
Excellent job, kids! Keep up the fantastic work and keep writing!
Here is the third place winner by Katlyn Jamiel, a student at Sabina Elementary School.
What I like best about Clinton County
By KATLYN JAMIEL
I love Clinton County.
These are some things that happen in Clinton County. Clinton County has good places to have a home. In Clinton County police keep us safe. In Clinton County you meet new and nice people. Clinton County has nice jobs for parents too. Sabina is a nice place because it is very small and has nice homes. That’s some of the things I like about Clinton County.
In Clinton County these are some festivals and parades that go on during the year. One of my favorites is the Clinton County Fair. I like all the rides that they have at the fair because they are fun to ride, because they’re all different.
These are some activities that I do in Clinton County. I go to the bowling alley and I go to the YMCA to exercise and swim. I go do putt-putt golf and sometimes I go to the track too.
These are some of the restaurants and shops I go to. I go to Subway and Frosties too. I also go to West Side and IGA. I go to the China Buffet and Family Dollar. I go to Walmart and Dollar Tree. I also go to Corner’s Pizza and Charlie’s place too. These are some of the places I go to.
I go to school and the library too. I like Clinton County because there are a lot of fun things to do with my family. When I moved to Sabina it was a great feeling. Clinton County is a wonderful place because there are a lot of fun activities and some great jobs for parents. Clinton County is a wonderful place because it has a lot of space for new houses. When you first move to Clinton County you won’t believe what you see. I like Clinton County because it is a nice peaceful place. Clinton County is a great place because your kids get a good education. At Clinton County schools you learn new and great things.
If you lived in Clinton County you would have a lot of fun with your family and friends because there are a lot of activities, like putt-putt golf, the bowling alley, and more. Your kids will like Clinton County because there are a lot of parks and a lot of nice children. I like Clinton County because there are a lot of new restaurants. I like Clinton County because Walmart has a lot of good things at a lot of good prices. I like Clinton County because there are a lot of wonderful people. (When I go to school I learn a lot of great things like multiplying and dividing. I like going to school because I get to learn a lot of great things.) I like Clinton County because every time I go somewhere in Clinton County I fell like I’m learning more and more about it. I like Clinton County when Halloween comes because you get to walk around town and you get candy and you get to dress up into a costume.
I also like Clinton County because at Wilmington College I got trained by a Wilmington College coach. I like Clinton County because I get to go to Wilmington park and practice soccer. I like Clinton County because there are ducks you can feed at the Wilmington park and there are picnic tables where you can eat too. I like the Sabina park because you get to watch baseball and ride your bike and run track if you want to. I like Clinton County because most of my family lives here and I get to see them a lot.